Writing In Retirement Blog

New Year’s Resolutions: Twelve Drummer’s Drumming

NYResolutions

The New Year approaches faster than a bullet. It is that time to think about New Year’s Resolutions. To me it is daunting to make a commitment for a whole year, but yet, it is helpful to have some goals to focus on too. As a retiree, I find goals are harder and harder to think about as you have lived so much of life you pretty much know how to do it to your satisfaction! Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on things that will make your life better and improve yourself

In the last month, I have read several articles about dividing up your goals into segments –  some suggestions were: 12-week goals, quarterly goals, or dividing the year into two-month sections. However, the idea that appealed to me the most was setting a goal monthly and working just on that one goal for a month. Once the month was over – you move on and see if you can improve in another area. Focussing on a goal for a month seemed a doable proposal.

I made a list of things that I would like to work on, and they fell into four areas: writing, diet, exercising and organizing. Then I prioritized those goals – a better diet and exercise appeared to be on top, followed by writing and organizing. But I knew if I tried to lump these all the goals in one category into a three-month time frame, I would fail.  I thought about several ways of dividing these goals into monthly chunks. I hit upon working on one goal each month: one goal in the diet category, followed by the next month an exercise goal, and so forth. Every quarter I would then switch back to the second diet goal, followed by the exercise goal, etc.

It looks like this:                   hot chocolate

Jan – Diet goal one:  cut out extra sugar in my diet (Cookies, candy, cocoa, deserts,etc.)

Feb – Exercise goal one: walk for 10 minutes each day

March – Writing goal one: Submit at least one short story to a magazine

April –  Organizing goal one: Organize my bedroom closet

 

May – Diet goal two: Eat three servings of fruit each day

June – Exercise goal two: Do five upper extremity exercises (Two sets each) with stretchy bands four days a week old-woman-with-walking-stick-vector-stock_k42366727

July – Writing goal two: Pursue self-publishing a book of my poetry

August – Organizing goal two: Organize my desk (again). It should need a good cleaning by then!

 

September – Diet goal three: Eat four servings of vegetables a day

October – Exercise goal three: Do chair exercise tape exercises three days a week

November – Writing goal three: take and finish the NaNoWriMo challenge

NaNoWriMo.2

December – Organizing goal three – Organize the Christmas boxes and boxes and boxes of Christmas ‘stuff.’

Christmas Deco

 

 

What do you think? I surely will be able to keep at least a few of those month’s goals, and if I don’t succeed one month, then I will just go on to a new month’s goal. I also, hereby give myself some leeway to cheat if I absolutely need to!

Comments?

Poems for Christmas

I want to share some poems with you for Christmas. I hope you enjoy them.

 

The Colors of Christmas

     By Marie Staight

The colors of Christmas

Fill my heart with joy.

In the darkness of December’s showy business,

They comfort every girl and boy.

 

The greens speak of everlasting rebirth –

Entwined in wreaths with no beginning or end.

A reminder of the event of childbirth,

A miracle of the Great God-send.

 

Royal purple welcomes the King.

Blanketing the baby’s nativity.

Its richness adding to our worshiping,

Symbolizing the baby’s majesty.

 

The red bows and mistletoe berries

Bear the sign of blood to come.

Passion and courage, red carries

A rhythm like a drum.

 

White is my favorite Christmas color.

The angels donned in white –

Sing to the shepherds – of the babe to be discovered

In a manger simple and right.

 

The Christmas twinkling lights all multicolored.

Show us the rainbow of love –

Promising renewed days unencumbered

With Blessings showered from above.

 

So sing of the Christmas colors,

Of merriness, blessings and great joy.

Come celebrate in Technicolor,

Ringing the silver bells for the Baby Boy!

 

Oh Where Has Christmas Gone?

  By Marie Staight

Oh, where has Christmas gone?

Amid the bustle and blaring horns?

Has the reverence for the day withdrawn?

Hiding the fact of the princely newborn?

 

The trees, the bells, the singing, all

Are meant to celebrate the birth.

But they hide in our conscious like a ball

Of fluff, buried in potter’s earth.

 

The Nativity story told so true

Should shine and thrill us every time.

No room in the Inn for the two

That bright star shining in the night time.

 

The shepherds hearing Angels Sing

Of a miracle child born in a manger.

Three Wise men traveling to bring

Presents to the babe, a stranger.

 

Oh, where has the Christmas Spirit hidden?

Can I find it under the tree?

Will the music that I listen

Bring fresh meaning to the highest degree?

 

It is the Babe in Bethlehem

The miracle so blessed

That we must adore again

Singing praises to the Lord God’s best.

 

Oh, where has Christmas gone?

It snuggles in our hearts.

Praises to the Holy Babe,

That Christmastime imparts.

 

Merry Christmas to All!

Comments welcome.

Are Good Intentions Enough?

Yesterday real-life got in my way of writing this blog. The rush of Christmas activities and obligations ate into my writing time. It didn’t help that my WiFi suddenly went offline for an entire evening and early morning – just the times I prefer to write. Of course, I had good intentions to sit down to have a productive session writing, but then again I had no firm idea as to what I should write about. All that mulling around in my head different ideas and soon the Christmas cards needed addressing; the cookies needed to be put into tins; and oh my, it was time to go to the nursing home for my weekly visit. Where does time go?

woman-writing-1

So the blog did not get written. I had good intentions to get it done, but are good intentions good enough? Does it take you off the hook for not writing? Is interference by real-life a valid reason for not writing? I think it is. After all one has to manage one’s life, as well as indulge in your passions. Balance is the key to a satisfactory life is it not? Or am I just making excuses for being disorganized and lazy?

It is the bane of a writer’s life to think that if they just did a little more, sacrificed more, wrote more – their written words would be brilliant. I am not so sure that this isn’t an excuse either. One just has to do what you can do. Sure there may be regrets, but other parts of your life should be paid attention to along the way, because no matter what –  you will have regrets about something.

Writing, for me, is a reflection of life. So how can you write about the foibles of life if all you do is push words upon a paper and have no experience behind those words? Taking part in life’s experiences whether getting out my Christmas cards, cleaning the dishes, visiting a friend – all of these things make me a more balanced person. So it’s the time of year to enjoy oneself and take a bit of a break from the weekly hassle of deadlines. Permit yourself to take a break. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Christmas Tree

Comments are always welcome.

My Letter to Santa

Santa letter

Hello Dear Santa,

It’s me – Marie?  The one who had my roof fixed last year so the reindeer wouldn’t fall through the roof when you came. Remember me? I hope you are well and all ready to make your long pilgrimage this year. Rest up, because as I have learned as I age, you need all those little naps to get through the hard days.

I have to say I did enjoy all the presents you brought me last year especially the shirt with the peacock on it. That was a nice ‘tip of the hat’ to my one published endeavor. Thank you for all the movie tickets and of course, the candy and cookies were wonderful too.

This year I have been a very good girl. Writing a blog post every week; writing various poems and stories for my writer’s group, and even posting on Facebook so all my friends could see what I had been doing.  I’ve been reading too and studying about the craft of writing.

For Christmas this year I would like peace on earth, a new President, some surprises, and most of all – this year I have a special request, Dear Santa.  I’d really, really would like a great idea that would stick in my mind. An idea that I could fashion into a fabulous story – maybe even novel length? I promise I will do the work. Outline the plot, build the characters, work out clever scenes that progress the story. I’ll show not tell. I promise I will edit it so that the story will be brilliant.  One last request concerning this Christmas wish – Please, this time when I send out query letters, let one of those agents recognize that the story shines and that it is worthy of being published.

I would ask Dear Santa that you also bless all my writer friends with bright ideas and ease of writing about those ideas.  I know they all struggle as I do, and it would be wonderful if they too could have success with their writing.

Belle has been a very good dog this year too; she asks me to ask you for some good treats for her.

Thank you, Santa for all the wonderful Christmas presents I have enjoyed over the years. I know I will appreciate any of the presents that you bring this year.

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Love,

Marie

P.S. I’ll leave out some cookies for you and some carrots for your reindeer.

P.P.S. I’ll make sure Belle doesn’t eat the carrots – she loves them too!

 

 

The Annual Christmas Letter: Six Tips

For many years now, I have written a Christmas letter to enclose with my Christmas cards. I’ve tried to make the letters interesting. I’ve written funny letters and sincere ones. Lately, I’ve been enclosing a story I’ve written along with the letter. This year I did a poem to include in my card.

Here are a few tips I’ve come up with to help you write a decent Christmas letter.

Reading letter

Your initial Greeting should be positive and reflect the season. Something as benign as Season’s Greetings from the Staight Family works well.

 

Keep the letter short. Condensing a year’s worth of events in a short letter can be difficult. You just need to hit the highlights and be brief. I refer to my calendar which helps refresh my memory as to the important events of the year.

 

Be aware of who will read your letter. Letters that go out to business or casual acquaintances do not need to include all your family’s antics. Whereas, if your letter goes out to good friends and family, you can include some of those interesting stories. But even then – keep it short.

 

Avoid Bragging! Reading braggadocios Christmas letter seems to be the number one way to put off people. You can write letters that forthrightly tell your accomplishments during the year, but embellishing your achievements is not necessary.

 

Be creative. Dry letters that give just the facts can be tedious and boring. I try to pick a theme such as a favorite Christmas song or story and write from that perspective. As an example, last year my roof was damaged by Hurricane Irma, so I wrote a parody of the song ‘Up On the Rooftop.’ You can also make a Top Ten List or do a parody of a story inserting activities and highlights of your life in the parody. One of the letters most commented on by friends, which I sent out was ‘ghostwritten’ by my dog telling her perspective of what had happened that year. I purposefully had terrible spelling and capitalization throughout the letter. Friends seemed to get a kick out of trying to figure out what the dog was saying.

 

Make it personal. I always sign the letter in my handwriting and often enclose a short comment to each person.

 

Christmas letters should be friendly and informative. They are a wonderful way to record your family history. I keep a file of the letters. It is amazing how often I refer back to them to confirm when I traveled to England or when a favorite relative died. Good luck writing your Christmas Letter. Better get to it because Christmas is 22 days away!

 

Comments are always welcome.

 

Key for Writers: Commitment

Keys

 

Commitment is the stuff character is made of: the power to change the face of things.

 

I keep a jar of fortune cookie sayings on my desk, and I pulled out this one just now. It gave me a start as I know it was the right saying for the right time. It got me started thinking about commitment to writing. It’s a real key to writing.

Sometimes when facing a blank page, when you feel your well of words has dried up. When you feel like nothing will appear on the page. You just have to sit down and face that blank page and begin to write. One of the definitions of Commitment is – to engage oneself.

That’s what you have to do. It’s not that you have to think about stuff, it’s rather that you have to ‘do.’ Put one word after the other, and things will begin to percolate, and before you know it, the words will appear and with it ideas that will make sense.

If you are looking for a magic pill that will make you a writer – forget it. What it takes is everyday commitment to write. That’s the way you learn to put together the elements that make a story. It also is the way to get past ourselves – the many excuses we use not to put down the stories that circulate in our brains. The ‘someday stories,’ the ‘someday book,’ the ‘someday I will submit this story to a publisher’ stuff can be cured by the commitment to do.

We are soon to see a New Year start. Why not get a jump on that and write down your goals of commitment to writing?  It’s doing that get you somewhere.

Comments are always welcome.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is one of those holidays to which we all look forward. Not just because of the food, or the football games – although that is a delightful part of it – but for the fellowship with families and friends. Oh yes, there is always one relative we would rather not sit next to, but then again perhaps they feel the same with us! It is the one day we put all that aside and enjoy the bounty which blesses all of us. To that end, I have written a cinquain poem (a five line poem) about Thanksgiving and then followed that with a prayer. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Enjoy your blessings.  Marie

eating-healthyCinquain for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

 Gratitude, Harvest

     Gathering, Eating, Praying

 Fullness, Kindness, Happiness, Love

       Blessings

 

 

A Prayer for Thanksgiving       ThanksPrayer

Dear Heavenly Father

Bless the elements of this planet and help us be good stewards of the earth, air, fire, and water.

Bless the creatures of this earth whose bounty and beauty we enjoy.

Bless this country in which we live. Help us to mend our differences and live in peace with our   neighbors.

Bless this gathering of souls that we might break bread and be merry.

Bless this abundant meal and the hands that have prepared it.

Let us express our gratitude freely on this Thanksgiving Day.

Amen

 

Comments are welcome.