The Cleaning That Never Ends

brush-cleaning-scrubber-45059Do you remember “The Song That Doesn’t End”? DON’T watch it unless you want to hear that song in your head for the rest of the day…

I only mention it because I feel like I could replace “song” with “cleaning” and that would sum up the situation here at Casa de Hall. Specifically, my upstairs office:

This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

I started cleaning it last month not knowing what it was. And I’ll continue cleaning it forever just because…this is the cleaning that never ends. 

And it’s not like your everyday cleaning. Oh, no. It’s my writing life. A great big pile of my writing life. And you know how you like to think you’re a relatively spiritual person, not attached to things in this world? Yeah…when it comes to writing–your words and such–it’s not so easy. Suddenly, you’re a raving egotistical maniac!

Or maybe that’s just me. The point is, suddenly, I’m reading reams of stuff because it’s my stuff. These are my precious, precious words. And even though my brain is screaming, “Cathy! You don’t have time for this!” my eyes are scanning the lines. My stomach is lurching.

Because these may be my precious words but many of these words–TONS OF THESE WORDS–are not good. In point of fact, they’re rather bad. Eventually, I realize that this essay or that manuscript stinks and I give it a toss. But my hands are slow in doing what my brain (and stomach) knew the minute I scanned the first line.

It gives me a whole new perspective on agents and editors who blithely toss my precious words after reading the first line; they’re not invested. It’s easy to toss when you’re not invested.

And so I’ve had to detach in order to get any cleaning done. Asking, “How Important Is It?” has been helpful, too, which you’ll see when you read my post over at The Muffin. My poor little ego has been bruised and battered through this process, but I’m sorta making progress on the upstairs office.

Not a lot of progress, mind you. This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

Ugh.

(Sorry about the song. If it makes you feel any better, it’s stuck in my head, too.)

 

Thanks, January

So at long last, we say goodbye to January. It really is like the longest month ever, with its 31 days and its bitter cold and the starkness that follows the festive color and coziness of the holidays. I mean, that right there is January in a nutshell: January is the serious month of the year,right?

Or maybe that’s what it was for me and other folks were out there swinging from the New Year rafters and jumping feet first into their veggies and tofu diets–for the first couple of weeks at least. Then, I’m pretty sure they were right there with me in the January trenches, thinking ah, well. Here we go again.

clouds-hd-wallpaper-landscape-67832Except by the end of the month, I quit. And I’m not gonna lie, just typing “I quit” right now still makes my palms sweat a little and I get a sick clunk in the pit of my stomach. But I’m also–and you can imagine me singing along with Michael Buble here because that’s exactly what I’m doing–feeling good. 

 

There’s lots more to the story so you’ll want to read Just Quit over at The Muffin.

BUT. I’d just like to add that timing is everything when it comes to quitting, just in case there’s anyone thinking of making changes right now. The timing for me came when I’d had years of preparation and the means available, yes, but it was more–and mostly– about the changes in me and in my life now. 2019 Cathy has something to say that’s different from 2017 or 2015 and especially 2010 Cathy when the writing world was new.

So I guess I should thank that interminably long month of January for the time to process all that. And I hope that you have a January–whenever it may come–when you’re ready to do some thinking about your new dawn, your new day, your new life. (Yeah, you knew I’d work in a way to sing again, right?)

 

 

The Upside of Cold Weather

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Yeah, that’s a blanket in my office chair. And I’m wearing a sweatshirt. Also, the space heater is running below AND Libs is squinched up next to me. It’s THAT cold.

 

I know it’s a LOT colder in a lot of places in the world, that people are dealing with blizzards and ice and below-freezing temperatures. And I’m not complaining that it’s been pretty darn cold here in my corner of Georgia; I’m just saying that when it gets cold like this, in GEORGIA, for cryin’ out loud, I don’t go out. Well, I go out but mostly when I need supplies.

So I’ve had a LOT of time indoors since January 1st. And when one spends a LOT of time indoors, one tends to notice the sorts of things one ignores when one is gallivantin’. To wit, cobwebs in the corners, stains on the carpet, junk spilling out of drawers…it’s enough to make one want to brave the cold. But instead, I’ve knuckled down and tossed and scrubbed and vacuumed (with that attachment that reaches the recesses of corners).

And I have to say, all that cleaning has reaped benefits (besides the obvious lack of cobwebs and dust and clutter in the house). When I clean, my brain goes into a different zone and I’ve been finding LOTS of ideas amongst the messiness of my life. I explain it way better over at the Muffin in “Ideas Are All Around You” so I hope you’ll take a look.

I also hope that if you’re somewhere cold and stuck indoors that you have plenty of heat! And after heat, I hope you find lots of ideas while waiting for the thaw. And lastly, I hope you have sense enough to write down all your great ideas.

Because I might’ve found lots of great ideas, but I have no idea where I put ’em.

Starting the Year With Joy (And More)

Happy New Year, y’all! I hope 2019 started with all things wonderful for you and yours! I know lots of people choose a word for the year, but I’m not very good at choosing a word. I felt like I needed a good handful of words to get me through 365 days and so, after some long thinking (that looked suspiciously like a long nap), I chose peace, love, and joy.

Yay! Exactly what I need for 2019! But then I thought there was something very familiar about those words. I mean, besides the fact that I still had Christmas cards hanging about and peace, love, and joy are big themes of the season. So I decided to get a cuppa and think upon it.

There’s a shelf above my sink where I keep my coffee cups (and why do we call mugs “coffee cups” or “coffee mugs” but a more delicate cup, the one that comes with a saucer, a “teacup”? I only drink tea and I drink it out of the coffee mugs. Mister Man only drank coffee but he was just as likely to drink his coffee from a teacup. Is a puzzlement.)

Anyway, when I reached for a cup, here’s what I saw:

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Hahahahhaaaa! My favorite tea mug! I guess as long as I don’t break that cup, I won’t forget my words for 2019.

And honestly, I needed those words, when a few days into the new year, I received an email that…well, you can read for yourself over at the Muffin in “The Value of a Professional.”

I feel like I have LOTS more to say about the value of a professional so I hope you’ll all give it a read and then come back in a day or so (or possibly six) when I expound on that topic. Meanwhile, in spreading a little joy, I have an update about my friend, Sonia, and her book, Finding Joy in Giving Back to God that I shared with you here back in early December.

41Uy077Uf1L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Sonia has not only sold her first batch of books, but several more batches (and I’m getting ready to order 50 more books for her)! A pastor from another church contacted her, asking her to speak to a group of parishioners, and so this weekend, she’ll have her very first speaking engagement (which is why I need to order more books!). She asked if she could share my Muffin post “A Christmas (Publishing) Miracle” and of course I said sure and brought her a copy of the post this morning.

Oh, my, that Sonia is a force to be reckoned with! Almost every day, she has news or questions or I-don’t-know-what-all, but mostly, she’s just full of joy. Not because of her accomplishment–though I think she still can’t believe how far the book has come–but because she’s helping so many people in different ways. That would make anyone joyful!

And her joy brings me joy. That’s the way it works with joy and with peace and love, now that I think about it. I can’t imagine a better way to start a new year, can you?

 

Before the Year Ends

bake-bakery-baking-264779So we’re fixing to close out 2018 and I thought I’d give you a peek into what goes on around here during this time of the year.

I LOVE HOLIDAY BAKING COMPETITION SHOWS! I have no idea what most of the fancy ingredients are and I sure don’t know how to pronounce them (or use them).

Honestly, I don’t much care for baking. I have my standards that I fix during the holidays and though I might be impressed by some amazing dessert I see on a show, I don’t have time to be messing with new stuff that may or may not come out amazing.

So I began to wonder–puzzling till my puzzler was sore–just why I sit glued to the screen, watching these shows and wearing out the Food Network (which I NEVER watch any other time of the year). And then a friend said, “Ummm…you think it might have something to do with your competitive spirit?”

Which is her nice way of saying, “Yo, Cathy. You are extremely competitive.”

Oh my shoe pastry! Or is it choux? Whatever. I love competition. I love watching people race against the clock! I love watching creativity-in-action, especially when things go wrong! I love when the dark horse surges ahead or when the contestant who didn’t believe in herself (or himself) suddenly comes into her (or his) own.

In the end, I don’t care much who wins, though it’s usually the one I was rooting for, and I celebrate along with him or her. Because there’s something else I love to see: that victorious moment when a contestant gets validation for all the hard work and realizes a dream come true. That’s pure joy and that’s what I love to see most of all.

And so here it is, almost Christmas, and it occurred to me that every day is kind of a competition, isn’t it? It’s a race against the clock to get everything done, to beat the obstacles that come along, threatening to derail you from the sweet dreams of your finish line.

Maybe it’s just messing up the timing on the fudge and how the heck can you save this treat? Or maybe it’s pulling out the Christmas stuff and finding a gift tag with a note from a loved one lost and how can you celebrate without him?

But then miracles of miracles, divine inspiration hits and you figure out the fudge solution! And a grown-up kid (or two!) show up on your doorstep unexpectedly and you go out to eat and laugh and fuss and laugh some more.

There’s a moment that comes along in the midst of it all, the realization of deep down joy, and my heart is full of gratitude. Because I know that despite the obstacles, be they big or small, joy has returned, and that’s a gift worth celebrating any time of year!

(Joy to you and yours today and always!)