New Year, New Retreat: How’d I Do?

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Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? How did I do this weekend?

I’ve reproduced the quixotic list I put on the New Year, New Retreat post. I think I knew as soon as I hit publish that the list was a bit grandiose for the amount of time I had left in the weekend. It was too much to get done in half a weekend. Half of the list has been on a list in some form or other for the past six months. I did get some of it done, though! And as I went back through my notes and thought about it, I did pretty well. Here are the results:

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

DONE

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH IT

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

TENTATIVELY PLANNED WITH PRIMARY DATES AND MOST RESOURCES

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

I DID ONE.

5. Wales book outline.

STARTED A LIST, NOT NECESSARILY IN ORDER

6. Labyrinth book outline.

DONE-ISH

So, actually not bad with the admission that I did some finishing touches this afternoon between grocery shopping and a church activity. And I now have some things to concentrate on for the next few weeks.

Happy New Year!

New Year, New Retreat

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My first retreat of the year. A weekend devoted to writing memoir. I’m glad that it’s occuring at the end of the first full week of January. As you know from my previous writing and posts, I try to assess my life, goals, and writing at various times throughout the year and recalibrate. And coming at the traditional New Year, after all the major holidays are winding down and finished, January is always a good time to reassess nearly everything.

From past experiences, I know that this weekend’s retreat will be prayerful, but in addition to that it is primarily a writing weekend. This is the first retreat that I’ve brought my computer to, partly because it’s a newly acquired computer, and partly since it was offered as an option for our writing this weekend. I hesitated because despite my bringing my Kindle on retreats, I still try to unplug and get back to basics, but here I am: pad, pen, headphones, and computer.

I feel like this is an opportunity to jump start my commitment to writing, whether here on Griffins and Ginger Snaps or my ongoing book projects, journaling or what have you that I keep listing on assorted organizing apps. As I prepared for this weekend, I considered what I might want to accomplish before I returned home on Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with a to-do list or unrealistic expectations, but I also want to get things done. I’ve started a few ongoing series that I want to keep fresh and consistent. Talking about my Election Connection series on Twitter got me two likes (one from Alyssa Mastromonaco and one from Jon Favreau), and as you may remember, I collect likes just as I used to collect autographs when I was a kid. It was thrilling to get that small acknowledgement from two people I respect so much. But I digress.

As I thought about this weekend, made my packing lists, and prepared my mind, I really wanted to put a spotlight on my priorities and my intentions, and the three things that immediately came to me was

spiritual
political
writing.

This weekend allows me to remind myself that my writing is so many things for me. It is a creative outlet of course as it gives me space to express myself, my thoughts and beliefs. It lets me share with others and absorb new ideas. It is therapy. It is spiritual, prayerful even.

What do I want from this weekend and this ongoing year?

Do I really know?

Spiritually: Well, I definitely want to increase my spirituality and my faith. I want to use what I learned on my Cursillo weekend more consistently and routinely; pursuing persistently.

Politically: I want to encourage friends, family, and strangers that being political is life-saving. It is life-empowering. While politics can seem a far off, abstract, divisive, talking aimlessly without really listening, doesn’t affect me in real life, it actually affects our daily lives and trying to respond to that and protect ourselves from the current climate of racism, lies, and disinformation (propaganda) is all of our responsibilities; to ourselves and to each other. This is an election year. Well, they all are, but this presidential one has serious ramifications and consequences. The GOP is taking away Americans’ health care, women’s autonomous rights, LGBT+ rights, fair and free elections, and so much more that I can’t even get it all out without screaming into the void. I will not be silent.

Writing and Publishing: I want to write. Well. Constantly. Consistently. Be published. Finish a project and then start another one.

This retreat is one way, the first step to get that focus, write what I need to write, what I want to write, center on my personal priorities, set up my writing, schedule my goals and subjects, and just get shit done. And it’s only the start of what could be a great year.

I arrived here on Friday night in the dark amid a mixture of rain and sleet. It was cold, but I was pleasantly warm once I entered the building. I was greeted by familiar faces and the hushed tones of others settling into their rooms. I expected to be assigned my regular room, the one I had requested, and was taken aback and surprised to be given a different one. Simultaneously a short, internal struggle and confusion took place while outwardly, I took it in stride. As much as you read my rants, I’m not much of a complainer, and this new room was just as comfortable as my regular one, just as close to the bathroom, and included a recliner next to the window. I checked out this different recliner in this different room, which was mainly what I was looking forward to in the old one. This one was blue, rather than red, and slightly too close to the wall (which I rectified immediately), and it worked out just as well, just as comfortable, and after unpacking and settling in, I sat down, reclined, and got out my kindle. Before long, it was time to meet the group I’d be spending my weekend with. As an aside, after lunch, my intention to write was undermined by the comfort of the chair as it put me to sleep, easily for an hour. I was lucky that I set an alarm or I would have missed the next session.

Three things I noticed that were unusual for a retreat weekend: First, I made dinner (homemade chicken pot pie, and it was delicious) and ate before I left for the retreat center. We often grab something on the go or I eat in my room while my husband takes the kids to Sonic or McDonald’s. Second, I brought my computer, which made me feel odd at first. I’ll get used to it, but it’s such a different mindset to be in. And, third, I’m in a different room (which I may have mentioned), and that will take a little time to adjust to.

Morning brings bright sunshine to make up for the night rain, warm oatmeal, inspired daily readings, book recommendations for writing and for writing memoir, prompts, and then writing. What’s seemingly wonderful is the time given to write, think, pray, rest; whatever needs to be in order to get the mind in the writing place. There are no wrong answers. A bottle of soda, a handful of M&Ms, reading my devotional, listening to Saturday’s Lovett or Leave It, also the first for 2020, stepping out into the cold courtyard for a moment of fresh air. Inspiration is everywhere. Motivation, however…

How will I tackle two sessions before mass, and one after? Will lists be enough? Will focusing on three separate topics keep me going? And once this weekend is finished, how will I keep the momentum moving forward?

I’ll leave you with a list of what I plan for the rest of the weekend, and I’ll check in on Monday (another “New Year”) with what I actually got done, word counts, new words learned (thesaurus.com is a lifesaver), and other motivation that I hope you can use for your own writing or New Year’s goals.

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

5. Wales book outline.

6. Labyrinth book outline.

30 Days of Nano – Day 10

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Incentives

I’m going to presume that you’ve kept some of your Halloween candy from last week. We have a lot of the mini ones, so they’re pretty tiny.

Why don’t you reward every 2500 words with a mini candy bar? Or add a quarter to a jar, and see where you are at the end of November. Choose a word count and take a walk about the neighborhood or get an extra coffee.

My incentive is getting to read another chapter in my Neil Gaiman book, The View from the Cheap Seats.

What are some of the incentive you use when you want to write but need that extra push?

Intentions

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Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I gave up the word resolutions. The connotation of New Year’s Resolutions is the assumption that they won’t be kept. We go in thinking pessimistically and so our resolutions tend to be grandiose and next to impossible to accomplish. Then, as predicted, like clockwork or a calendar page turning, we give them up and go back to our bad habits.

I settled on goals for awhile, which was a little more proactive, and a little more doable, but for me, goals set a finite destination to what I want to acocmplish and goals wasn’t quite the word I was looking for.

My new word (third if you’re counting) for 2018 is Intention [s], either singular or plural, whichever one fits at the moment. I can wholeheartedly thank Gen Padalecki for the inspiration and the introduction to that word in this context. I must confess that I did not watch her entire vlog or read her blog for that day. As soon as I heard the word intention, I was off to the races. It hit me, inside and out, mentally and physically. That was my word, the word I’d been searching for.

So, now that we are here between the end of the third week and the end of the fourth week, not only of January, but of our new year, what are the intentions you’ve been keeping? Have you added any more since your initial goal-making or resolution claiming or habit-making or -breaking in the last three weeks?

Where do you stand? And where are you venturing? Give your intentions a thought or two, and get back to me. As this morning’s quote reminds us, writing down our goals makes them a little more tangible, and if they’re tangible, they’re doable.

Project Rock and The Rock Clock

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On Facebook, I’ve been following Dwayne Johnson, known from his wrestling days as The Rock, for maybe a year now. I enjoy his upbeat, positive, motivational view of life. He is one of the most encouraging people I have ever had the pleasure to see even if it’s only been on social media and through his acting roles.

I loved him in the Escape to Witch Mountain reboot. That was my favorite book and movie as a child, and if the original pops up on the television, I will sit and watch it again no matter what else I’m supposed to be doing.

The most recent movie I’ve seen was The Game Plan on the Disney channel. I don’t know when the movie was actually released, but it was recently re-aired on one of the Friday nights in the last couple of weeks.

Following his Facebook, I get to see posts about his new baby daughter, Jasmine, his upcoming Disney animated feature, Moana, still in production (with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda), and most recently his Rock Clock.

I hadn’t realized that The Rock Clock was part of a new venture called Project Rock.

I’ve been using the Rock Clock for about a week now. All in all, I like it, although I need to adjust the volume, and it doesn’t have a snooze button. The Rock doesn’t believe in a snooze button. I actually do, but I’ve been adapting to give it a try.

If you like, you can even get up on Rock Time, but I’ll warn you: that’s about 4 or 5 in the morning. I have not attempted it and don’t plan to.

After you get up and at it, whatever time you’ve set the alarm for, there is a daily inspirational message from The Rock. I’ve seen two that he filmed in the gym right before his workout, one driving to work in his pick-up truck (he loves his pick-up truck), and one still picture with a motivational phrase as a graphic.

I have to say there are worse ways to wake up. Even if I’m tired, and I don’t really want to get up, I still get a positive vibe from the app, and from The Rock.

I know that whatever time it is that I’m viewing his daily message, I will see his smiling face, his positive outlook, and hear the joy in his voice to begin another day.

It rubs off.

In this morning’s message, he dropped whatever he was carrying. He laughed it off, kept walking and narrated that he was going to keep walking. What a great message to keep moving forward no matter what tries to get in your way. He even mentioned that he had to clean up the spill, but the smile didn’t leave his face.

One word of caution: his language is on the adult side. He is uncensored, but there’s no bullying, no denigration, just pure and honest, and unadulterated happy to be alive, and happy to share his day with you.

There are twenty-four options for your alarm sound; I use the one of him singing Good Morning, Sunshine. I’ve also tried the regular beeping alarm, which he also voices.

Here is what he has to say on his home page of the Project Rock website:

WE ARE ALL A PROJECT.

We all have hopes, goals, dreams and aspirations, and I’ve officially made it my project to help as many of you get after your goals as possible. Let’s get after it and chase greatness… together.

-Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Recs – Organization Helpers

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Some of my favorite organization helpers, both on and offline:

Unfuck Your Habitat – obvious language warning. Great hints, tips, and motivation

The January issues of pretty much any and every women’s magazine on the newsstand, especially Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Martha Stewart Living. Those for will probably have a special organizing issue for the first two months of the year.

Day Planners/Schedule Keepers: I prefer Mead, which can be found at Target and Franklin Covey. Check online (Pinterest) for specialty downloadable ones.

List Apps: 2Do is what I’m currently using and I am very happy with it.

Note Apps: Notes and Sticky Notes are both very good.

Save/Read Later: Pocket(Read it Later)

Organizing your Notes/Note-taking: Evernote is the best there is, and can be synched between mobile devices, tablets, computers, and anyone’s computer through an internet browser. Don’t forget to sign out when you’re finished. Evernote also does what Pocket does and can be used for checklists.