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Tiny cup in the big picture

When I was a toddler in the church nursery, I once told my teacher I drank beer with one grandma and coffee with the other. Being part of a small town, Ms. Simmons knew both of my grandmothers and that they would never act so irresponsibly as to give a child so young what she considered adult beverages. When she told my mom this amusing anecdote of the day, Mom replied, “Oh, yes. She drinks root beer with MeMaw Sharp and coffee and milk with MeMaw Catherall.”

I’m not sure that quite settled the scandal for Ms. Simmons.

MeMaw Catherall was probably the person in my family to whom I am most similar. Lifelong card-carrying Democrat with a fiesty temper (although she could work a silent treatment like it was her job), she loved long country drives. She got anxious a lot, but it never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do.

And she loved coffee, a love she passed on to me. She gave me my first taste, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Coffee and I broke up for a few months when my doctor was trying to figure out my digestive issues, but since giving up the coffee had zero positive effect on my malady and eleventy dozen negative effects on my overall vigor for life, we reunited.

My favorite mornings are when I get up in time to make and enjoy my first cup of coffee at home. The cup only lasts five or ten minutes, but the bliss? I carry that bliss all day.

I like to think that my history with coffee reads like coffee’s own history. An awakening of the senses. An alternative to traditional breakfast drinks (although my traditional breakfast drink was juice as opposed to beer). A touch of scandal.

Friday Five3

I really love my schedule this month. Tomorrow I am hosting a write-in for my writing group (DFW area writer friends – email or DM me for details if you want to come!), and next weekend I am reading all weekend, and the weekend after that I am hosting my Hemingway party. I don’t usually like to plan all my weekends, but I don’t mind so much when it looks like writing and reading and drinking.

Five things that go with July’s apparent theme:

  1. The reading weekend is in conjunction with 24in48 – basically, as it sounds, you pick 24 hours out of July 22 and 23 and read like crazy. I’M SO EXCITED. If you’re in the area and want to come wrap yourself up in a blanket and read (and not talk other than to ask “May I have more tea?” Or, you know what – just help yourself. The tea is there for the taking.), that’s cool. We can be (silently) excited and literate together.
  2. Shawn Smucker’s The Day the Angels Fell comes out on September 5, but it’s available for pre-order now. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy, so this is one of the books that I’ll be finishing during 24in48. From what I’ve read so far, I can attest that you will want this book. Go! Pre-order!
  3. My favorite thing I’ve read this year about modesty culture – refusal to accommodate uncontrolled men. I also appreciate her comment moderation instruction to “Be feisty but gracious!” Words to live by. Thinking of making that my mantra.
  4. An artist reimagined the 50 states as food puns. I think Alahama is my fave. Or Kenturkey.
  5. And just in case you’re curious – this is what I’m having for dinner tonight.

What have you been doing/reading/eating lately?

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Farm stand, sky and coffee. Pretty great trip!

June was fast-paced with pockets of slow. It’s a busy month at work, so of course I took a week and a half off, because I enjoy full mailboxes. It was a week well spent, though.

This was the first year I got to go to Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s writer’s retreat, and I am hooked. It was so refreshing. It was fun to meet people in person whom I’d only met online, and we got to drive through some beautiful scenery (note bottom left photo – Virginia is freakin’ gorgeous). I also got to spend lots of time with a couple of good friends on the way there and back since we drove from Texas.

No matter how busy it is, though, summer is always a heavy reading time for me. I picked up Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking and Susan Hermann Loomis’s In a French Kitchen, both of which I liked. I loved Meagan Spooner’s Hunted. It may be my favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. My favorite thing I read this month, though, was Fredrik Backman’s novella called And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. You can read it in one sitting, and if you have someone in your life who is losing their memory, I recommend reading it someplace private where you can ugly cry.

I am growing tomatoes! I have two plants, and they have actual, real green tomatoes on them. I have spent more time on my porch watering and talking to them this month than I have spent on my porch the rest of the last year.

Speaking of the last year, today is my apartmentversary. I have officially been here one year in this great neighborhood where, for the first time in a long time, I did not wake up to fireworks still going off at 4:00 in the morning. Do not ask me if I have finished unpacking yet. It would be a shame for me to be forced to lie to you.

What are you into this month? I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – drop over there and join the fun!

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My Instagram is cute. My house is not always cute. Sometimes, parts of my house look like this. It’s okay…ish. It could be better. I like it when it’s better.

My schedule has changed recently, so things are falling through the cracks. Things that I’m usually pretty good at, like keeping up with my meal planning calendar and laundry. It’s been a long time since the table beside the couch looked like the picture above. I can’t say that I’ve missed that.

I recently lamented to friends that I was disappointed with how my year of wild is going. As someone who is mostly organized but is also a little fond of and prone to chaos, I was looking forward to wild really shaking my year up. A still life of cups and glasses was not the chaos I had in mind. On the surface, wild hasn’t stirred around much. My life is just as un-wild as it ever has been.

Or so it would seem.

One facet of wild that I am particularly interested in cultivating is freedom. Freedom from shoulds. Freedom from lifeless traditions. Freedom from good advice that doesn’t particularly work for me in practice.

In this way, this year has been super wild, and my progress on my resolutions shows it. I am farther along toward my goals this year than I was at this time last year. Who knew that, instead of just saying, “I do what I want!” while still bending over backwards to fulfill obligations that aren’t really mine to fulfill, intentionally embracing saying no in order to cling to what fulfills me would result in getting what I want done?

Everyone, you say? Literally everyone knew that? Okay. That’s fair.

Anyway, I apologize to wild for being disappointed. Although…don’t go anywhere, wild. We’re not done here.

Perhaps it doesn’t look wild to me because I use structure, but I think this is a misunderstanding of the term. Sometimes I expect wild to be loose and flowy, but then I watch an animal stalk its prey (and by animal, I do mean my mom’s barn cats). Wild definitely requires a certain measure of focus for survival.

So this week, I begin testing a new time management structure. I was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s best practices post. The ones that really stick out to me are actually writing when I have made time to write, setting boundaries but writing them in pencil, and fill your well (because if I’m not reading or eating right or staying active, everything else goes awry). I have added a second job writing SEO content, so it makes sense that my schedule could not continue as it was without something important taking the hit. I imagine it will take a few weeks of tweaking, but I’m confident that it will work.

For those who want to put a little structure in their schedule, it’s pretty simple. I started by making a list of priorities. For me, I thought about what I would need in order to consider myself as having my life together. Keep in mind that I am single and childless and that, for the most part, I operate on a pretty low supply of give-a-damns when it comes to other people telling me what my life should be. If this does not describe you, you’re going to have to concentrate a little more to get past the voices that want to shout over you. When you are listing your priorities, your opinion is the one that matters the most.

[Aside – this is not advice to shut out other people altogether. If you are in a committed relationship and you want to remain in it, you might want to list it as a priority. Please don’t ever use “I’m focusing on me right now” as an excuse to be an inattentive asshole. If you want to break up, just break up. Don’t be passive and shady about it. /psa]

After I had my list of priorities, I divided them into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. I listed each one as specific tasks to complete. For example, for my body weight, I need to drink 100 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated, so that’s what I listed as one of my daily health goals. Decide what you can reasonably do, and quantify each goal on your list. Once you have these lists, document them. I keep a goals calendar, but you can keep up with them in whatever way works for you. It helps you chart your progress.

What process do you use to meet goals?

Dale Bigsby

Photo, squirrel name, and office window credits go to my coworker Jessica. Post title inspired by this Facebook group and NKOTB.

Meet Dale Bigsby. He is the squirrel that likes to hang out by Jessica’s office. Summer days at work are super busy, but not so busy that I can’t go across the hall on occasion to say hello to Dale. Or Tank to his friends. I still call him Dale. Sometimes Mr. Bigsby. We are merely work acquaintances, but I hope that by the end of the summer, we will be on nickname basis.

When I walked in this afternoon, he was in his usual repose position:

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Dale Bigsby is all of us in this Texas heat.

But he heard us talking about what a cute little one he was, and then he had to get up and check us out. Then he looked like he was about to chase a bird, but upon hearing our counsel (that he probably wouldn’t catch it because birds can fly and he cannot), he decided that continuing his busy schedule of lying down was a wiser course of action.

I feel like this squirrel understands me.

Stay tuned for updates on what I am certain will be a riveting adventure in our budding interspecies friendship.

Not-Friday Five

Not Friday Five

So Friday got away from me last week, but I have some gems to share with you from the Internet, so here we are on Monday.

Summer is my second wind of trying new things. It’s also the season that I tend to eat the best (because really, it’s just too hot to eat anything but salad and fruit. And also snow cones). So a lot of the things that stick out to me that I want to save for later are food and indoor fitness related, because running outside right now until October? That’s ridiculous. And then there are the things that always stick out to me, like livable wages and social experiments. So…enjoy!

  1. I also like tacos, though, and so I need this book. I’m not sure this can be considered a cleanse in the traditional sense, but I’m willing to listen. Because tacos.
  2. I like stories like this, even though they’re clickbaity and possibly staged and insert-all-the-cynical-things-here. All wages should be livable. Living is what working is for.
  3. I might take tap and ballet again. That would be fun. And also indoors. Win-win.
  4. This made me laugh and laugh. Also, I can attest – accurate. Don’t #notallmen me. Because that’s not the point. The point is that it doesn’t have to happen every time; it happens enough that, statistically speaking, it’s likely just as much the result of societal conditioning as it is individual asshattery, so we as a society should look into cutting it out. Also, if you feel defensive, maybe ask yourself why. Is it because it really didn’t apply to you, or is it because maybe it applied a little and you feel uncomfortable that you may have made this impression? Honor that discomfort. Maybe deal with that instead of reacting defensively. As an aside, when I use this kind of response when people compliment me, and they like it, it makes me like them even more. My people.
  5. Last, I love this. This Gen-Xer agrees.

I’m thinking about sending another newsletter soon. I have some writing news that’s exciting and different. So if you want to hear me yammer on about it, you can sign up here. Also, there’s usually a recipe. I mean, it’s summer, so it may be for a snow cone. But it would be a delicious snow cone!

 

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More of these in my house, please. I love seeing flowers on the table when I walk in.

It’s almost mid-year, which is about the time I remember, “Oh, I made resolutions!” So let’s check in and see how they’re going.

  1. Word of the year – wild. I’m not sure how to answer this. Wild has been pretty vague this year. I catch moments of it, but it hasn’t disrupted things the way the last few years True, fun, beauty. Oh, the havoc they wreaked! But wild? I would expect wild to be…well…wilder.
  2. Read 100 books. SHUT UP, GOODREADS. I KNOW I’M BEHIND. Maybe I should read wilder books. Two birds, one stone.
  3. Learn conversational Spanish. Huh. Forgot I made that one.
  4. Making my home more welcoming. I have had people over more often – does that count? I have embraced the practice of inviting people over regardless of the mess. So maybe this one has morphed into welcoming despite the state of the home.
  5. Make strides in health goals. Plateaus are the worst. I was doing really well, and then plateau. Now I don’t want to do anything – exercise, eat right, sleep well – because it’s a lot of effort for nothing. This last weekend, I actually considered starting a detox program designed to hydrate you and adjust your gut bacteria and all other sorts of weird things just because I know it would be enough of a shock to leap off the damn plateau. This program? Requires me to give up coffee. I HATE PLATEAUS SO MUCH I CONSIDERED GIVING UP COFFEE. Thankfully, that brief moment of madness has passed. Summer is usually good for less ridiculous eating. I’ll give summer a chance.
  6. Finish a manuscript (lol) and publish a calendar. While finishing a manuscript seems like a strange, wonderful dream at this moment, I have been working pretty steady on my calendar project. It’s coming along slowly but steadily.
  7. Run a 5K. Maybe in October, and maybe at the beach! I’ve got a group that I’m going to try walking the July 4th race with, but there will be no running of a 5K in July. Because Texas.
  8. Attend a writing retreat – coming in June! I’m road-tripping to Virginia with my friend Michelle (and maybe others) to attend a retreat hosted by the leader of one of my online writing groups. YAY!!!!!
  9. Get paid for writing – also done (wow, my writing goals are going well. I’m so impressed with me). I have started SEO (search engine optimization) writing, and I’m addicted to it. I got my first paycheck for writing on May 11th.
  10. Continue/establish traditions. I already have my meal plan and grocery/booze list for the Hemingway party started, if that counts. That’s the only tradition I can think of right now.

So I’m not doing too shabby with my goals. This reminder was helpful.

Did you make resolutions? How are they going?

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