Time to be still

blogIMG_5629 (2)The creativity grindstone has come to a halt. I just can’t seem to squeeze out any creative juice. This Mama/Nana has been busy of late and yet stuck in the mundane mud.

My imagination has gone on hiatus. My inspiration to write is sadly missing…again.  I can’t quite put my finger on the cause, whether it be too much else to do, feeling weary and tired, or just a lack of motivation. Or maybe it’s just the dreary weather.

But I find myself sitting in front of the keyboard and drawing a blank.

I know there are words, ideas, and images up there somewhere in the expanse of my brain that seems cluttered with other thoughts right now. So I think I need a blogging break.

I need some time to think. I need some time to just be…well, not chained to the keyboard desperately attempting to put some coherent thoughts together into meaningful sentences.

So, I’m taking a bit of a break. I’ll be back after I just sit still awhile.

“Stillness is where creativity and solutions are found.” ~ Meister Eckhart

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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When the keyboard is silent

blogIMG_7029.jpgWhen you’ve been blogging for a long time, you start to notice certain patterns. It doesn’t mean you like the patterns that emerge, it just means you begin to understand them, acknowledge them, and if necessary, work to change them.

So here’s my dilemma. After blogging for over 10 years total (sporadically for a couple of years on another site and consistently for almost 9 years on this WordPress blog), I’ve definitely noticed a pattern in my writing.

I get bogged down at certain times of the year and experience a bit of writer’s block. One of those times is in late winter, especially if it drags on too long. I’m not that great of an analyst, but I’m chalking my lack of writing inspiration up to a bit of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but different from the usual.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is defined this way: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

As usual, I’m not like most people. I don’t feel the typical SAD symptoms in fall. I LOVE fall! Fall invigorates me and I’m one happy camper throughout the season. And when winter arrives, I’m all for it. I love the colder temperatures, hauling out the winter coat, scarves, gloves, and boots. Fresh snowfalls make me happy.

But as winter trudges on into February and March, that’s when I think SAD kicks in. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I become depressed, but I definitely become weather weary and that hinders my creative juices for writing.

The dreary skies, the browns, grays, and blacks of the landscape void of color, the lack of sunshine here in my neck of the woods, all of those things contribute to my overall feeling of BLAH.

And when I feel blah, I don’t feel like writing. Creativity sinks into the doldrums. There seems to be nothing awe-inspiring or word-inspiring to capture with my camera. That also hampers my blogging ideas because, as a very visual person, so often a picture is what fuels my fire to write.

It’s been an ongoing problem. I usually post three times a week here at Mama’s Empty Nest. But all throughout the month of March, I only managed to post twice a week and often only actually writing once while using a photo and quotation for those Words for Wednesdays, which made for a grand total of nine posts. Sad or SAD, I don’t know which.

Whatever it is, I don’t like it. The calendar page just turned over to April. And April Fool’s on us – the temperature took a nose dive and it snowed on April 1st. 

I sat staring at my computer screen and keyboard willing something – ANYTHING – to come to my mind to put into words. I even changed the desktop photo to something colorful to try to jump-start some words.

I sat. I stared. I sat. I stared. Nothing.

I grabbed my trusty and well-worn quotes notebook and shuffled through the pages upon pages and the loose notes stuffed in there.

And the best I could come up with was this post, spurred on by the quotation you will find at the end of this rant. ACK!

I’m hopeful though. As I sit writing this, the sun is shining on my front porch. I can spy blue skies and fluffy white clouds through the office window. Surely spring is coming.

And hopefully, inspiration will bounce back into my brain fogged over by too many dreary days, setting my fingers to fly across this keyboard, and produce something worthwhile to read.

Send some sunshine and color my way this April, will you?

“This is how you do it. You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman, English author

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

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Spectacular sunrise at my home…but still no inspiration.

Sometimes, here in the blogging world, those of us who weave our words together to create posts for our readers to enjoy just get stuck.

Speaking for myself when that happens, I fear perhaps that I’ve run out of things to say. Creative impulses seem stymied. The juice that I squeeze out of my thoughts which provides the ‘ink’ for my words showing up on your screen just doesn’t flow.

I sit idly staring at my own blank wall – the desktop computer monitor where I compose my blog posts – and no spark of inspiration ignites in my brain.  

You can call it writer’s block. You can call it no inspiration. You can call no light bulb moment.

You can call it a lot of names, but to a blogger, it’s discouraging especially when you’ve boasted in cyberspace that you will have a new post up so many days a week.

So what to do, what to do? I look through my list of ideas that I’ve jotted down in the past. Sometimes one of those ideas leaps off the page and smacks me in my cerebral cortex and words coagulate together to form some kind of cohesive expression.

Other times, I glean through my trusty notebook of quotes and someone else’s words will jumpstart my inspiration motor and I race to get the words in writing before they disappear round the bend.

Often a photograph I’ve taken visually provides blogging fodder and I manage to combine the written word with a visual picture to produce a meaningful blog post.

But occasionally, nothing works. That’s when I get by with a little help from my friends.

I run in a tight little circle. What I mean is I have a small circle of blogging friends that I follow.  I log into my WordPress account just about every day and I click on links to read blogs from my circle of writer/photographer friends.

And sometimes, something they’ve posted provides a little jolt of stimulus or plucks at a thought in my mind that could possibly be developed into a new blog post of my own. It’s what we bloggers do, we help each other even when we don’t realize we’re doing it.

I’ve been pretty wordy since the beginning of this month, this November Thanksgiving season, but I needed just a few more brainstorms to complete this month’s posts.  And the insights, the creativity, the vision of what to write just wasn’t coming to me.

Maybe because my plate is full with other things including preparing plates of Thanksgiving goodies for my family. Maybe because I just lack motivation because I’ve certainly been there before and have the T-shirt to prove it.

Whatever the reason, my friends helped me out, and that’s a good reason to be grateful. So I add my blogging friends to my thankfulness for Thanksgiving list and I want to share with you my friends who helped me get by.

First of all is my friend Beth Ann who writes at It’s Just Life.

Her posts are always entertaining and often showcase something I didn’t know or see before. On top of that, she generously donates to a different charity each month based on the number of comments she receives on her blog. How cool is that?

She and I share an affinity for teapots among other things. Recently, she too encountered an ‘hmmm…what shall I write about moment’ and the result was a list of ‘what am I’ statements which provided her readers a little peek into her life at the moment. I thought it was a fun thing to do, so I’m copying her following in her footsteps.

Her statements, my answers:

What I am reading: More than one book at a time including a few open on Kindle and my ongoing project of reading my way completely through the Bible in a year. But right now, I’m reading and intrigued, for personal reasons, by a newly published book, The Rose and the Serpent by Ron Shafer. I know Ron and have known him since I was a child. He’s a brilliant scholar, a fellow believer in Christ, well-versed in literature and the Bible, and a world traveler. He happened to be my college freshman year English professor and also my adviser. But more than that, I’ve known him to be my friend. And I’m excited that he’s launched a book series of his own. Ron’s debut novel can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or on Westbow Press and also on Nook and Kindle. 

What I am listening to: I confess I don’t listen to much lately unless it’s the constant chatting of my sweet little granddaughter. Often, I just like silence. But if I’m in the mood for music, I may log in to Pandora and listen to some oldies. Yeah, I’m a throwback. And as soon as Thanksgiving is over, Christmas music will be in the air at my house.

What I am watching: Okay, confession time. Guilty pleasure is watching Dancing with the Stars on TV. Honestly, I don’t watch much else except this time of year, I do tune in regularly to all the Christmas shows on the Hallmark Channel. Groan if you want to.

What I am doing: Walking three times a week or so with one of my best friends — good for my body and my soul.

What I am looking forward to: The holidays. I can’t wait to celebrate my second grandchild’s first birthday soon, see her sweet little face, and cuddle with her. I’m also excited that all of my chicks and roosters will be back in the nest for Christmas this year. The perfect Christmas gift for me.

What I am writing: I’d like to say I’m writing my novel and a devotional book I started a couple of years ago, but both are on the back, back, way back burner. I’m lucky if I can churn out these blog posts right now.

What I am looking at: You know what they say – a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m looking at the photos I took this fall.

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Glorious autumn right in my own back yard

What I am excited about:  Papa cutting back some hours at work come January and the two of us traveling a bit next year.

And now, let me share how another friend inspired this blog post.  Robyn, who writes at Believe, is a young friend.

I can’t even remember how our paths crossed but I’m so blessed that they did. This teenaged girl faces her own adversity every day yet always inspires me as I read her words. And she is a very gifted writer for someone so young.

Recently, she honored me with a peer blog award. It’s one I’ve received before, so I could have just thanked her and moved on.

But because she has become such a sweet friend, I wanted to show how much I appreciate and respect her nominating me. The award is called the Liebster – a German word for favorite or beloved. It’s just a lovely thing to call a fellow blogger a liebster, so thank you, Robyn.

In receiving the award, the nominees are to answer questions provided by the nominator. So here goes, another peek into my life as I answer Robyn’s questions. And let me tell you, I had to seriously contemplate to answer a couple of these!

If you could write the soundtrack to your life, what would be the first three songs? (Click on the links below to hear the songs.)

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Crazy Love 

Homeward Bound

What is the one book that has most inspired your life? Hands down, it has to be my Bible. No other book inspires me, guides me, touches my soul, and sometimes makes me cry more.

If you could live anywhere you please, without that pesky restraint called money, where would it be and why? As hokey and corny as it sounds, I’d live right here where I am but I’d make sure all my family and many of my far-away friends lived right here in my area too.

Where would you go on your dream vacation? I suppose many folks would choose some exotic, tropical, beachy place and while that would be fun and enjoyable, it wouldn’t be my dream vacation. No, send me off to often chilly, sometimes damp England, home of my forbears.

What’s your favorite thing about fall? EVERYTHING. Okay, seriously… just about everything. Cooler day temperatures. A chill in the air. Sunshine causing the changing trees to radiate with the colors gold, red, and orange. Lacy glimmering frost on the grass in early mornings. The crunch of dried fallen leaves and acorns under my feet. Nighttime bonfires. Pumpkin bread baking in the oven. Hay rides to the pumpkin patch. The smell of fall, yes there is a distinct aroma in the air. I love it all and it is my favorite season.

And my blogging friends are some of my favorite people. I do get by with a little help from my friends.

“Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all. For we are connected, one and all.”  ~ Deborah Day

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Lumber in the attic

blogIMG_7809It happened.  My brain has turned to mush.

I don’t know how. I don’t know why.  All I know is I’m left with the result…mush brain. 

Maybe it was just too much time spent playing Trivia Crack – no, wait – shouldn’t being able to recall answers to all those tidbits of information sharpen my mind, not dull it?

Maybe my mind just went on vacation…and didn’t take the rest of my body?

Maybe perusing Facebook just sucked thoughts and coherent sentences right out of my head?  After all, some of the stupid stuff posted there does boggle my mind.

Maybe my diet is lacking in food that boosts brain function…things, according to WebMD, like blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, beans, pomegranate juice, freshly brewed tea, and dark chocolate?

Nah,  I drink plenty of freshly brewed tea, eat enough blueberries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and – yes!!! – dark chocolate to keep my brain fully functioning, I think.

I could blame watching too much television…but I hardly ever watch it.

Perhaps stress, worry, and upset has something to do with it – I’ve certainly encountered enough of that to qualify for a reason.

But still. I don’t know why there’s a puddle of mush in my skull where my brain used to light up and fire away so much writing fodder for this blog that it kept me awake at night.

And I can’t really explain why my creative muses have packed up and vacated the premises.

All I know is I’m left with a mush brain.  A brain that can’t (or won’t) come up with one creative idea to morph into a blog post.

That explains my sporadic posts and downright absence from the blogosphere for the last few weeks for you, my readers. But not for me.

I just didn’t understand it until I ran across this quote, attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes stories.

“A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

I actually do have a little “lumber room library” both on my computer and in a paper notebook where I jot down blogging ideas and even though I’ve accessed my library over and over again, I still haven’t been able to nail down an idea and hammer out a worthwhile post.

Digging a little deeper into that quote though, I found what Doyle actually wrote in his novel, A Study in Scarlet:  

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that this little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it, there comes a time when for any addition of knowledge, you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”  

Aha! That’s it! There’s way too much lumber in my attic brain.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Swimming through the wall

blogIMG_5042“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” ~ Michael Jordan

I’m not saying Michael Jordan is a great philosopher.  Or a wise sage.  Or an inspirational guru.  But I will say this: that quote I found that’s attributed to him speaks to me right now.

You see, I’ve hit a wall.  I’ve been away from blogging for about a month.  I haven’t written a darn thing in that entire time.  Oh, I was busy. I spent the better part of a month at my daughter’s home helping with my adorable and precious new grand-baby, cleaning, laundering, cooking, etc.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to write.

But I’m home now, back in the empty nest and even though there’s plenty to do, my camera is laden with photos galore, and my computer sits idle, I can’t think of a thing to say.  I’m not sure if it’s that I’m exhausted in many ways, or that my emotions have been on high alert, or that I just am speechless right now, but I’ve hit the wall hard.

It’s not a brick wall because if it were, I’m fairly certain I have the willpower to knock it down – yeah, I’m strong-willed like that.  No, this wall is different.  It’s fluid.  It swallows me up.  It causes me to drift away.  It ebbs and flows.  It sucks me into its whirlpool effect.  And it’s drowning my words.

The photo above seems to be a perfect representation for how I’m feeling and for this past week’s photo challenge theme: Wall.

I took the photo during the long wait outside the labor and delivery department in the hospital while my grand-daughter was making her entry into this world. 

It was around two in the morning and a running water sculpture encased in glass kept grabbing my attention while we waited…and waited…and waited.  It just kept running and bubbling along ticking off the hours as we patiently anticipated our first grandchild’s birth.

I snapped the photo because I needed something to occupy my time and I thought the water ‘wall’ would make an interesting photo. 

I never thought it would describe exactly how I’m feeling right now nor did I imagine it would personify a photo challenge. 

But I do know one thing.  Eventually, I’ll push my way through the wall, even if I have to do the backstroke.  My words will come back.  I’ll rise to the surface and be able to express all the joy and love that is captive in my heart.   And I’ll be writing again.

“A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.” ~ Martin Heidegger

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com