As a full-time writer who works from home, I’ve become somewhat of a workaholic. I love what I do and I’m always working – on my work in progress, on proposals for future projects and on planning and promotion. If I don’t have my rear in the chair and fingers on the keyboard, I’m working in my head. My brain never willingly turns off the light and hangs up the “closed” sign.
I’m not complaining. However, sometimes I forget that I’m so much more productive after a short break. Here are my top ten ways to refill the creative well:
10. Play on Pinterest. It’s my happy place. There, everything is beautiful and the food is calorie-free.
9. Exercise. Okay, maybe this isn’t my favorite thing to do. You might say, I enjoy having exercised. Well, except for walking. I do love my walks and sometimes I forget their therapeutic power.
8. Clean house. I know. That’s weird. But some of my best ideas and breakthroughs come when I’m up to my elbows in dishwater.
7. Watch TV. Yes, I have been known to take in a series or several during the course of the season. And when the season is over, I may or may not turn to Hulu and Netflix… Gotta love a good binge session.
6. Read. This is one of the gems that tends to go by the wayside unless I consciously make time. I’ve been making time.
5. Cook/bake. I love to try new recipes. Sadly, when I bring them out from behind the Pinterest veil, the dishes are no longer calorie-free…no matter how I try to pretend. ;)
4. Play with my dog. She grounds me and helps me remember what is right in the world.
3. Get together with/talk to friends. This is another one that gets neglected. I try to make time at the end of my deadlines to see friends.
2. Work in my art journal. This is yet another love for which I have to consciously carve out time. I’ve made a deal with myself that I will take fifteen minutes that I might otherwise spend on social media and play in my art journal. I set a timer. It’s like a daily mini-vacation. If you’re attending the Romance Writers of America’s national conference in New York, Kathy Garbera and I are presenting a workshop on using art journaling to foster creativity. I hope you’ll join us.
1. Spend time with my family. In fact, when College Girl was home for spring break earlier this week and she and I spent some quality time together in the art room. We made our own journals. Here’s the one I made:
What do you do for fun or to refresh your spirit?
The Norwegian had to work on Valentine’s Day (we celebrated in the evening). It gave me a wonderful opportunity to spend the day with my other best guy, my father. We went out for lunch and then we did our favorite thing — we took a long walk — about three miles in all — around a lake not far from his place.
My dad and I have always been close and we enjoy walking together. When he and my stepmom lived in North Carolina (before she passed away), he and I would make time to hike on the Appalachian Trail each time I visited. Now, he’s back in Florida and closer to us. We don’t have the gorgeous wooded trails down here like we did up there (at least not in our area), but we do have each other’s company. However, now that we’re living in the same town again, we talk on the phone nearly every day, but we don’t walk together as much as we should. Isn’t that crazy? He’s busy, and sometimes I get so wrapped up in my deadlines and other demands that I lose sight of what’s truly important.
After our Valentine’s Day together, I spent some time reflecting on how lucky I am to have this time with my dad — time to walk and share our thoughts on the large and small things that make up our lives. He has such a great outlook and he’s fun to be around. Our walks are filled with great conversation and laughter and just the right amount of companionable silence. I’ve made a Valentine’s Day vow to make sure we do this regularly. I guess it simply took a walk with my father to remind me of what’s really important.
What’s important to you? I’ll give a $5 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.
P.S. The two landscape pictures are from our walk around the lake.
When I was young, my mother used to bake the most delicious red velvet cakes. Even the icing was from scratch. She’d stack it high and sprinkle it with flaky coconut. It was heaven on a plate. Mostly, she made it for special occasions like birthdays and Valentine’s Day, but every once in a while she’d surprise us and make one just because. Maybe that’s why I always associate red velvet cake with comfort, happiness and love.
I associate other foods with love, too: My grandma’s pumpkin bread; my mother-in-law’s snickerdoodle cookies; and just about every meal the Norwegian prepares. He really is a fabulous cook. As a family, we put a lot of time and thought into our weekly meals and we make a point of sitting down together for dinner every night. We like to cook together, too.
The two of us have passed on our love of cooking to College Girl and when she feels homesick, she’ll fix some of our family favorites. She says it’s the next best thing to being home.
Given my love affair with food, it’s no wonder it usually plays a starring role in my books.
Do you associate certain foods you with good memories? If so, what are they?
I had lunch with one of my oldest buddies yesterday. She and I have been friends for thirty-five years. Hard to believe. Because it seems like only yesterday we met and formed that bond that (little did we know then) would span the years. Sadly, we only get to see each other once or twice a year, even though we live in the same town. Juggling work and family and other obligations, life takes over and before we know it another year has passed. That’s when we put on the breaks and carve out time to sit down and catch up. Of course, when we do get together we pick up right where we left off. Isn’t that the mark of a good friendship?
On my way home from lunch, I was thinking about the power of girlfriends and how lucky I am to have so many wonderful women in my life. The connection I share with them runs deep and rich. In addition to my friends who go way back, there’s a group of moms I grew close to when our kids were in school. Even though our daughters are in college in different parts of the country, we’re still in touch. I have a small group of trusted friends who are also writers and we know we can count on each other for advice, inspiration and to be there through life’s ups and downs.
I love this quote from Elizabeth Foley, “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”
That’s so true and so important. Even though miles (or even cross-town traffic) separate some of us and we don’t get to see each other often, what’s important is that we always pick up right where we left off and we feel good and uplifted by our time together. Which reminds me of another quote: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.“
Isn’t it wonderful that we have girlfriends who inspire us to keep singing?
Tell me about your best friend. I’ll give one person who responds a $5 Amazon gift card.
I’m taking a break to celebrate the holidays with my family. So, I’m sharing a blog that originally ran in 2012. I tweaked it just a bit to reflect what’s happening right now, but the message is timeless. Happy holidays, everyone!
We have nine days until Christmas. Where has the time gone? Is it just me, or has this year flown by? It feels like it shouldn’t even be Halloween yet. Probably because Halloween came and went without even a carved jack-o-lantern or toasted pumpkinseed in our household (and I love toasted pumpkin seeds…). Halloween was preempted by deadlines and obligation. There was just no time. Missing that, we held on tight as we careened into November, which is birthday season in our family; then the birthdays gave way to Thanksgiving. Now, here we are sprinting toward the end of another year.
I realized the other day, I need to slow down and smell the Christmas cookies. Actually, I need to make time to bake some. I need to make time to enjoy my family and the meaning of the season before it’s over and we’re halfway through next year.
It’s time to take a deep breath and live in the moment.
I’m reading a great book called Ten Zen Seconds by Eric Maisel. Chapter nine, Embracing The Moment, really spoke to me. It’s about the difference between “passing the time” (or in my case, racing through it) and “being present.” Living in the moment. It’s really given me pause and made me think.
How is it that we get so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy life? We get so caught up in planning and scheduling and racing from one thing to the next that we neglect to live. Events that are supposed to be fun and memorable become burdens or worse yet, they slip by because we don’t have time or we’re present in body, but not in spirit as our mind wanders, planning what’s next .
The commitments and obligations won’t evaporate – and the truth is, we probably don’t want most of them to go away. I just finished back-to-back deadlines (and thank goodness for book contracts!). I’ve barely made a dent in my Christmas list (probably good for the budget). My daughter just got home from college and my father just returned for the holidays (one of the most important events I’ve been anticipating all year. I don’t want to take for granted a single moment with my family). I am determined to slow down and savor the rest of the month.
What’s your best tip for enjoying the spirit of the season? How do you keep up with family, friends, work, housework, decorating and all those holiday concerts, pageants, and parties and keep your sanity? How do you live in the moment during the holidays?