Over the last couple months, I realized that Tuesday is the hardest day of the week for me to focus.
I used to think it was Monday that I dreaded. I muddled through Sunday night: I double-checked the upcoming family and work schedule, sorted through weekend emails, planned the week. But by Monday morning, I found I am often invigorated to start the work week. It’s usually filled with calls, meetings, travel, a few social gatherings.
Then Tuesday hits. Blah. I finally realized there was a negative Tuesday power in my routine. The work week isn’t half over, my energy is sapped. And why, why are there are more Tuesday problems than ANY other day in the week? That is my drag day, filling spare moments in the kitchen, longing to flatline that stress.
I decided–let’s change it! To conquer my Bluesday, I am going to try to change up how I approach that day. I am going to schedule time to work with a friend or at the library, meet someone for lunch, specifically work on a fun, new project, set aside time to write or take pictures, vary my exercise routine. Today’s visit to the dentist does not count.
Hopefully this positive attitude will spike the Tuesday mood, flow into Wednesday and the rest of the week. I think the key to successfully working solo most of the time is figuring the triggers to anti-productive, negative attitudes and behavior. Then change it.
When I visit my local ELA Library, I usually do a quick pass through the New Mystery section. If the latest Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman) or Kinsey Milhone (by Sue Grafton) novel is available….YES. Mine, grabbing it like a child and holding it close.
I then put aside whatever I am reading and delve into those books.
Most genres I can set aside at the appropriate times. But, when I get engrossed in a mystery, forget it. The details, the short section breaks, the quickening pace, keep the pages turning long after they should.
Here are a few of the reasons why I should not even start a mystery, unless I have a day to focus on it:
Dinner -what dinner? Are you really hungry tonight?
These woeful eyes staring when their walks are delayed.
Pages might get warped near the shower.
At 11 pm I will resolve to read “one more chapter”; suddenly it is 2 am. And I have to be up in 4 hours for work!
Can’t read it when at the gym. So postpone the workouts, right?
The same often happens with the latest Stephen King or a few other authors, but it always happens with a tight mystery.
The journey continues.
Note: feel free to substitute “binge watch the latest HOT series”, “start a puzzle”, “search online for cheap airfares” in the title, depending on your tastes.
There are exercises we can do to practice and improve our writing skills. And I think that the writing process itself can be a mental exercise. Occasionally it is physical exercise: when we pace the room, walk our dogs to help ideas ferment, or we frustratingly throw our ideas at the wall.
In 2016 my resolution was to work on my writing or photography for 10 minutes a day. Those structured minutes often blossomed into 50, 60 minutes as I got engrossed in my daily project. I updated both my personal and work blogs frequently, explored other blogs, conversed online with fellow writers, read works by a variety of authors, and started to head into unexpected areas.
This year, without a specific plan, I recently realized that I am filling that allotted time with additional work tasks. I miss my creative outlet. Ideas remain spinning in my brain, wisps of characters evolving then vanishing, months without poetry.
I am going to mentally slot that time back into my day. It is a gift to myself—just 10 minutes a day.
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway said:
You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
Books, Books and more Books! With an overwhelming selection of enticing-poorly written-predictable-and keep-you-up-all-night reads today, how do you choose books for your book club? For our club, each host gets to pick their book and shape their meetings around the selection.
We have a few members who get stressed (and hilarious) when it comes time to make their book selections. Just stay calm, since there are a myriad of resources to find your selections.
Here are a few ideas for you to help you pick your next read:
My last post was about why I love my book club. Since people have asked us about how to set up/run/host a book club, know that there are many options to create a club that works for you. Some groups are very organized and intense, and some (like ours) are a bit less formal in pre-planning and execution.
Here are some ideas to think about, when setting up your own group:
Consider inviting varied members who are willing to research the book, develop questions and will be involved in the discussions.
Mix up the genres of books you read.
How will you make your book selections? My next post will explore this topic, since there are so many resources.
Choose where/when you will meet. Our group meets at someone’s house at night; others go to a coffee shop, out for lunch, or meet at a local bookstore or library.
Possibly have some set times, such as 30-60 minutes for catch up, then giving a specific time for the book discussion to start. We started doing this, and this structure helps our meetings run smoother when some people come who have not read the book.
Decide who you will have a discussion leader for each meeting who will do research on the author bio, background on subject matter, pose pointed discussion questions. Will it be the current host? Hire someone?
Pair up the book with a movie or tv show. For example, we have read and seen the movies: Chocolat, Wuthering Heights, The Help and A Man Called Ove(the latter two were seen in the theater).
Decide if you will record a member rating for each book.
Mix it up! At our December meeting, we choose an easy book with a holiday theme, wear Christmas sweaters, and do a white elephant.
Enjoy reading and each other!
Now, gather some people, then start reading. And talking.
To answer the most frequently asked question first—Yes, we discuss the books in our monthly meetings! We do not just drink wine.
I am honored to have been part of our book club since its inception in 2003! Our first book was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, shortly before it was debunked as a fraudulent biography. Ironically, there was a lot of discussion at our initial meeting about which parts of that book seemed fake (and later, how easy it should have been for Oprah’s team to research the story before catapulting it to stardom).
In 14 years, we have welcomed new friends to our group, had our dear friend Janaki move, seen births, deaths, kids grow through school and beyond, job changes, and illnesses. I personally have enjoyed books and genres I never would have chosen and found some authors I now covet—Lianne Moriarity, Fredrik Backman, Kristin Hannah. In our discussions and debates, I still learn about my friends’ histories, dreams, passions, losses.
My friend Theresa, who launched our book club, says that she is very proud of our club’s longevity as a no judgment book club. If you only read the back page but want to listen to the discussion….come on in. Only read one book a year and come only twice a year…we will be happy to see you. Listen on Audible at double-time speed…more credit to you.
People often ask me for reading suggestions. This can be a baited question, since there are so many types of books. Do you like novels, chick lit, romance, biographies, non-fiction, science fiction, history? If for a book club, will you read recently released books? Or only ones that are available at the local library?
For several book ideas now, here is the list of books that our book club read in 2016, and the start of 2017, in the order that we read them:
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman The Martian by Andy Weir The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith The Wedding Pearl by Carolyn Brown Before the Fall by Noah Hawle My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans 11/22/63 by Stephen King
My personal favorites from this list were My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry, A Man Called Ove,11/22/63, and Whiskey & Charlie.
If you want to start a book club, it just takes a little time and a few friends. There are many options to best set up and run your club, choose your books,etc. My next post will address these topics.
I wrote most of this post before the world went crazy with people sniping and commenting for and against the Woman’s March last weekend. To me, this event was democracy at its finest. Aren’t we lucky to live in a country where we we can stand up for our beliefs, try to affect change?
If you chose not to join, that is absolutely your right. If you participated, I hope it encourages you to engage. Instead of women (and men) ripping on each other for their choices about the rallies over social media, and the negativity that has spread, try to TALK to people who might think differently than you: learn WHY we joined, we watched, we marched, why we spoke. Don’t let the outcome of this worldwide event divide us further.
I choose HOPE as the new administration starts office. I also choose awareness, involvement, and vigilance. And don’t be daft enough to ask if I voted—of course I did.
I joined an overwhelming estimated 250,000 women and men this past weekend during the Woman’s March in Chicago. My first protest rally ever! The thought that people were marching around the country and world only lifted my spirits more. The aerial shots are amazing.
It was a gorgeous, sunny January Chicago day. I was buoyed by those around us—every age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability represented. The mood was so empowering, curious, bold, and positive, volunteers and vendors welcoming, the police calming and strong, drivers engaged as we marched through the city after the rally.
Amazingly, we ended up 10 feet from the main stage during the rally. We listened to a wide range of speakers talk passionately about their life experiences. And many who work on the front lines daily with organizations involving women, immigration, Native Americans, LGTBQ, Chicago Teacher’s Union, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and many more spoke. A complete list can be found here.
(note: leads from Hamilton spoke, then led the crowd in singing “Let it Be”)
The organizers tried to cancel the march, since the route was overflowing with participants (5 times the expectations!). But the masses ruled that day, filling the streets with pink hats, engaging signs, strollers, wheelchairs, joy, purpose, calm. The shouts of “this is how democracy works” filled the air, as the streets of the Loop became one. From what I heard, there were zero participant arrests among 250,000 in Chicago.
Why I participated
People have asked me, why did I choose to be part of this event? I joined for myself, for my daughters, and family, for my friends, for those on the bubble of so many women’s and human rights issues in our town and country. Not agreeing with the misogynistic words and previous actions of our new President, I wanted be part of an event that lets this new administration that we will be watching what they do with women’s rights, with immigration, with health insurance. It far surpassed my expectations.
So what now?
As one speaker said, “if do you do nothing after today, then this just becomes a giant pep rally.”
I think we need to personally choose the area(s) we want to help galvanize, by involvement and/or supporting financially. There were many number of issues discussed at the event; it would be impossible to be involved in all of them.
We need to watch the changes this administration implements, to not move women’s rights backwards. I will take some time to select which group(s) to become more personally involved with.
For work, I will continue to speak and write about promoting women working in technology, since we are woefully under represented.
And if you chose not to participate, or do not understand our fears and anger, that it okay too. We are fortunate to live in a country where we can have a variety of ideals. .
And why did I share my personal story? So I remember. And am counted in one of the largest single day demonstrations in the world. Time to march forward.