Recommended Reading for Writers – Taking Control

For those of you who enjoy a stroll through the Cow Pasture, sorry if my lack of presence has disappointed you. OR, maybe like me, you have been too busy with your hectic life and holiday schedules you didn’t realize I was missing. The point being, it’s okay. I understand.

From October through December is probably the busiest and fastest moving months of the year. They are also, often the most anxiety-producing, at least for this writer. Between family holiday get-togethers, cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, and all the other holiday festivities, it gets more difficult every year to manage time, stick to a writing schedule, or slow down enough to enjoy the moments.

Throw in a few family health crisis on top of the mix, and you have the recipe for neglect. Something has to give and more often than not, it’s writing – be it a blog, WIP, or networking via social media.

Of course, truth be told, I laid off most social media a long time ago. Not, because I don’t want to connect with you and other writers, I do; but, because it seems to have turned into more than a network. Instead of a way to network, it has become a platform for everyone to spout their opinion or a propaganda tool. I wrote about this topic once before in my article, Has Facebook Become Toxic? It’s all too much sometimes for this writer. I don’t want to belabor the point, but, suffice it to say, I don’t need the added anxiety.

As writers, I believe, we put more pressure on ourselves than most people, and it seems to escalate during this time of year. Who thought November would be the best time of the year to run a 50,000 word novel challenge. Yet, NaNoWriMo is one of the most popular challenges for writers. Even I jumped on the challenge bandwagon this Fall. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, but I did take on the 10 K Social Writing Challenge through ChapterBuzz. I admit, my anxiety increased, substantially as I attempted to stay on track, I also made enormous progress on my novel, Hello Hell. We writers are a glutton for punishment sometimes.

Whether it’s a blog post, short story, or current WIP, it seems there is always another self-imposed deadline. Throw in this hectic time of year, other family crisis, the news, and the result is escalating anxiety.

Some things are beyond our control and those we must learn to accept as part of life, but we are not without resources and choices. Deciding what or who takes priority in our lives and how to manage it is up to us. Which brings me to one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time, Winning the Anxiety War by Piper Bayard, guest blogger for Writers in the Storm.

If increasing anxiety has invaded your world, especially this time of year, check out this article, Piper’s  take on the role of social media plays in our increasing anxiety, as well as her suggestions on how we can manage –  Three Elements of  Compartmentalization.

“Media Is A Battleground. Messages Are The Weapons. Our Anxiety Is The Prize. He Who Holds Our Anxieties, Holds Us.” Piper Bayard                                                         Click to Tweet

What about you? How do you manage all the demands on your time during these winter months? How do you glean the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, from social media, or have you, as I pushed it to the back burner?

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

 

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Platitudes on Aging and Other Annoying Things

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I hate platitudes. You know those annoying statements people say to make you feel better about a situation. I come from a line of women who live long lives, into their eighties and nineties. Based on that kind of lineage, I anticipate a long life too. I’d prefer to be one of those women who age gracefully (whatever the heck that means).

My mother, a proud woman, wore her crown of white hair and the wrinkles on her face with pride. Coloring her hair would have been an insult. “I earned every one of these gray hairs raising six kids, ” she said, more times than I can count. Never at a loss for words, Mother had quite a few trite statements and tiresome clichés in her repertoire of advice. None of which prepared me for the grim reality of aging. I would’ve preferred the truth.

In honor of all aging women, I want to share a few of my mother’s favorite platitudes, sprinkled with a bit of honesty. So, grab a bottle of wine or two and brace yourself, ladies. You’re in for a bumpy ride.

Those aren’t wrinkles; they’re lines of wisdom.

No, they’re wrinkles. Your face is just the beginning. Those suckers spread faster than lines on a Google map and it ain’t pretty. You’ll wake one morning to find perky boobs that once pushed lace-trimmed bras out in nose snuggling cleavage deflated like helium filled balloon gone bad. Sexy bras get shoved to the back of the drawer and replaced with thick strapped, hard-wired versions. Once upon a time, I could slip into a sexy little lace number as quickly as it came off. Now, it’s like gymnastics — shaking, pulling, and tucking those girls into their rightful place and praying to God, they’ll stay.

Those aren’t hot flashes, they’re power surges.

Yeah right; slap CEO on my nametag and call-it-a-day. Panting, turning red in the face, and wiggling out of one’s clothes at an alarming rate, is not offering sexual favors or a lap dance. It’s a damn hot flash, and on those occasions, rest assured, I can kick ass and take names.

Your best days are in front of you. (What a crock.)

My best days were when I had the energy to work ten-hour days, enjoy happy hour with friends, make dinner, help the kids with homework, and have wild sex on the dining room table (or other impulsive places). Wild sex these days is watching the movie version and reminiscing. My body doesn’t bend that way anymore and this ain’t Hollywood. Those grunting and moaning sounds ricocheting off the walls have more to do with the pain in my hips and knees than pleasure.

Age is just a number.

No, it’s a flagrant reminder you’ve been usurped. Younger, thinner, more beautiful women are the ones turning the heads. The only heads I seem to turn these days are old men at Target. And trust me nothing brings the truth home more than an old man at Target, making a move on you.

The trick to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.

Seriously? I don’t think so. Aging is taking me kicking and screaming. I’m a proud woman (got that from mom) and vain. I never leave the house without makeup, earrings, or perfume. Penciling in the lines takes longer, but I refuse to be one of those women with lipstick half way to her nostrils. Did I mention you’ll need a magnifying mirror in your bathroom and reading glasses in every room of the house?

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.

Freedom to roam around in circles, parking lots, highways, and room-to-room because you’ve forgotten where you are or what you’re doing. Some call this sightseeing, strolling, being disorganized, missing a turn. I call it, “Where the hell is my car? What did I come into this room for and where am I going?”

You haven’t changed at all.

Yes, I have. My face sags, my ass sags, my boobs are hard-wired, I get lost in the driveway, and can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less the last time I had spontaneous sex. My gnarled hands couldn’t open a jar or pick up a penny if you held a gun to my head. The pain of getting up and down makes me hesitant to sit. I don’t sashay, I waddle on legs stiff as iron pegs with feet, and the popping sound is not my gum, it’s my knees. Sedans (too low) are history. Give me an SUV with GPS; my sense of direction went south with my looks. And, driving at night might as well put Stevie Wonder behind the wheel. I can’t see shit.

My husband in a moment of great wisdom told me, “Honey, God made our eyes so vision would fade as we age.” He removed his glasses. “I can’t see a thing. You’re as beautiful as the first time I saw you.” He’s such a sweet talker; I’m swooning.

Gray hair is beautiful.

A few gray hairs, I can abide, but when I wake up and look as if someone dumped fertilizer on my head while I slept, enough is enough. My hairdresser is on retainer, and if my husband has to skip a meal or two for me to afford a cut and color, well all I can say is, “I’m watching his health.”

It’s better than the alternative (my all time favorite).

Ok, there’s some truth to that statement, but not much. Still, it gives me hope. They say all will be made whole in Heaven and I’m counting on it. Is sex included?

The truth

Aging sucks and someone (my mother) should have warned me. So here are a few words of wisdom from my hard-knock school of aging.

1- Repeat after me Botox is my friend. Your husband won’t notice, remember he can’t see.

2- Put your hairdresser on retainer, Clairol says, “You’re worth it.”

3- Sweating the small stuff will give you wrinkles, so don’t.

4- Invest time and money in yourself. Your husband won’t miss the groceries you’re not buying, and besides, you’ve paid your dues.

5- Enjoy the moments and laugh a lot. If we gotta go, go out with a smile on your face. How you get that smile is up to you.

To be fair.

Aging isn’t all dome and gloom. There are advantages. Life experiences have taught me about people and trust. Trivial things matter less, and I’ve figured out the important things in life. The best thing about growing older, however, is letting go of all the nonsense. Whiners and stupid people best stay back, I’ve lost my tolerance. Grow up, life isn’t fair, and there are no guarantees. Political correctness, I flushed it down the toilet where it belongs. I feel a freedom to say exactly what’s on my mind and without apology, and if someone doesn’t like this old lady, tough shit.

Your turn is coming.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Join the conversation. Talk to me or tell me your story. I’m all ears.