Life

To Plan or Not To Plan

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I love planning now although I feel like a child doing it will all my sticker packs. As a kid growing up, I hated it didn’t see the point in planning, but I also had fewer responsibilities in life. I miss those carefree days of making sure my chores were done and being ready for dinner. Sometimes my imaginary friends made me late for those types of events. 

When I got to college is when I started planning more because I was taking more than full loads and trying to remember what assignments were due was not something I committed to memory. After I forgot I couple times, I started carrying around an organizer. However, when I got a job while going to school full time and was also in other organizations my planning became trickier. The limits of my memory were stretched with everything I was trying to contain for classes, work, and extracurricular events. 

When my baby was added to the mix of going to grad school, working, and keeping up with laundry I knew I needed to get serious about a calendar. So, I decided to try out a few different planners to see what I enjoyed the most. 

When I decided to become a serious planner, I didn’t know what would work for me. I liked to plan out most of my life with a paper calendar, and yes I still use a written one.  I was once told by a pastor I was doing research with, “Why remember things you can write down?” Her planner was large enough to take someone out. With my child growing, I really got into planners and was obsessed for a while. I would try all the new planners coming out. 

These are a few I checked out:

Passion Planner

Happy Planner

Franklin Covey Planner

Moleskin

Erin Condren

Day Designer

When I became a mother, I realized that my sleep-deprived mind could barely remember the way to work or how to do laundry. Planning became mandatory to keep my sanity and my small family running smoothly. Games, plays, and school events quickly filled up the spaces left between chores and work. 

I have found a planner I love and use one with stickers because it is relaxing to me. It makes me want to look at my planner and add things to it. It has taken me years to find a planner I like and stick to it. I am totally up a creek without a paddle if they stop making it. I do use my phone calendar as a reference point, but there is just nothing like writing it down for me.

One thing I have never done was plan out anything that I was writing after I came back to the writing life. Most would say, “Well Esme, this is why you don’t finish anything.” I would reply with, “Nope usually fear that keeps me from finishing.”

However, I primarily wrote short stories and poetry the majority of my life, and they for me didn’t require a lot of planning just a lot of revision. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I got a book idea. This book was massive and perhaps would have to be written in a series to do it justice. 

So, I started the piece much like anything else I had ever written I began with a character and gave them life. I like to write by just letting it fly out of my head on to paper, but it has left me with my character in a place I am not sure how to get them out of. After about a year of this on and off again I had a few good little stories, but it was still all over the place. 

It wasn’t until this year that I really started to plan out my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I had to scrap nearly everything I had written up to that point and do an outline of all the characters in my story as well as what they were going to do. I took a long to time to figure it out, and in fact, I have put my novel on hold until I can plan what is next in my story. 

I have been writing 4 stories at the moment they come together into one picture. Which honestly is how I feel like God writes my life out, but God also says I know the plans I have for you! So, I feel like planning my novel would be the best benefit in every way possible. In fact two months ago my mother told me the same thing. Yes, mom, you were right okay. (She is way too often and don’t tell her I said that.)

In other words, this woman who wasn’t a planner in the beginning soon ended up being one, and moral of the story is even when you get older your mother is right. 

~Esme

Improve Your Year by Picking a Word

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I am starting the New Year late. It is the first week I have started to feel like myself again after the holidays. Every year I have been very precise about planning out my goals for the new year. However, after deep reflection of my life over the last six weeks I have decided to change some things. I went through this last year and saw everything I had not gotten done for the year and with deep sadness, I was at a loss of how to proceed. 

I put so much pressure on myself to accomplish great things that when I end the year no seemingly closer to my goal, I wanted to hide. 

I picked myself up I decided that instead of doing all of these crazy goals for this year that I would just do two. Writing has really been a focus of mine for the last six months. I have been moving back into this passion after years of trying to resist it. 

My two goals are to 

1. Finish the novel I have been working on 

2. Send out some other work for publishing. 

I am excited to just try to do these two things for a busy year I have ahead. 

I have also chosen a word to help me keep focused this year. I did this last year as well to keep me going through a very tough year. It took me a while to think about what this word would be. I took quizzes online and listened to podcasts trying to figure what my word should be. Last year it had come so naturally to me, but this year it was a battle to come across the right one. 

This year it is abound. 

Now you might be thinking why not flourish, and I am right there with you, but for me this year it is abound. I was reading a book by Max Lucado Unshakeable Hope. There is was a the end of the book, “He wants us to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) 

It jumped off the page at me abound. I had been struggling so much this year with hope. I hope that I would get to keep my home, that I would be able to care for my daughter, that I would find someone special for me, and that I would amount to anything as a writer. I had been so beaten down especially in the family losses over the last couple of months I didn’t even know how to stand up anymore to have faith in this moment of my world crashing in. 

Most would put it off as me worrying too much and that I needed to have faith.

 Let go, Let God. 

Someone is coming. 

God will never leave you homeless. 

These were all phrases coming from the right hearts, but it didn’t give me any comfort at night when I was already to the point I had lost my hope. When too many bad things where sturring up so much pain in my life.

Let me tell you something, for me, I could not have faith until I had some hope. I can even think of when I first came to be a Christian it was because I finally started to have confidence that God really did love me for me before I believed wholeheartedly in Him. I spent the better part of last week filling myself up with God’s hope for my life and what difference it has made for me on the inside. 

I have decided to make this word abound or my overflow focus on God. Last year it was about getting through the year and this year I want to be basking in the presence of God. 

The top three reasons I chose to do a word again this year.

1. Helps me have focus not just on steps to make a goal but a feeling I want for the year.

2. They are more fun to me than a goal because I can play around with the definitions. 

3. It is easy to pair it with a quote or scripture for the year. 

I found out too when it is the background of my phone or cover on social media I see it more often, and it helps me keep my focus. 

Is picking a word for your year what you should do?  

I will leave it up to you. 

Is it too late to choose a word?

Never but just so you know sometimes the word chooses you.

When I Unplug

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Our car drove into the driveway, and I had taken fallen asleep again in the backseat. The car door slammed shut, I woke up, and we were at grandpas again. I loved the wide of open spaces and woods to explore. I walked into the dark two-story house because they never had their lights on during the day. 

There was a TV right inside the front door that was never on. My grandmother sat in the kitchen reading newspapers. I walked through the living room and around the corner to the porch door. I could hear the squeaking of the porch swing where I found my grandpa each time we came to visit. He would sit on the porch swing for hours just staring at the road and the field across the street. 

He was overall a quiet man, and when I came here after a brief talk about what I was learning in school, we were silent. It was not an uncomfortable silence or cruel it was the way my grandfather was. I thrived on quiet myself because in the field across from his swing was an open field where my imagination took flight. There were jolly green giants, princesses being rescued, and an assortment of made up creatures. At least twice a month we made this trip on Saturdays to their farm and the quiet.

Some of my fondest memories are of my grandpa and our time together. I wish he could have seen me grow into the woman I am now, and I could have known him as an adult to ask him the questions I never thought of as a child. I am confident my life would be different. 

Since then the days of swinging with grandpa, almost 20 years ago, things have changed a lot. The age of the internet, cell phones, and tablets came into public existence. Now there are things continually calling for your attention literally. Our phones, tablets, and computers have notifications from apps, texts, and phone calls. I am not sure there is an escape from the internet now unless you are in a remote area. Televisions blaring in every room of the house and now at eating establishments. If I am not on technology, I am talking about something to do with it. 

Did you see that movie? 

Did you watch that show? 

Have you heard that song? 

Did you see that video? 

Did you see that picture? 

It honestly makes me feel overwhelmed. I cannot get lost in my own imagination when there are things continually buzzing and ringing in my ears. So I unplug from it all because my mind longs to be quiet.

I have found weekends liberating for this last part of the year. Aside from a few weekends, I have tried my best to stay of technology in particular social media. My phone goes into silent mode starting Friday night, and it does not change until Sunday morning. It is not a matter of being completely, but it is a matter of deciding when I will check my electronic devices. I am taking the control back instead of letting electronics control me. 

Do I sometimes miss things? Yes. 

Do I miss important things? No. 

I have shut off as many notifications that are not important to me as possible. This has become vital to my family life and my creative life. I thought I would be missing out on too much in other people’s lives, but the truth is I didn’t. People had called me when someone I knew died, and if I had missed it they are dead already what I can do? I have found more peace and creativeness by now allowing outside forces into my home through my phone. 

Yes, this is also why sometimes it may take me a couple hours or sometimes days to get back to a friend. I am not saying we all must forgo social media and technology, but sometimes it is nice to leave my phone in the house and sit outside to watch the wind blow. In this world of instant everything, I miss the days of before cell phones and the internet when it took 15 minutes just to connect. It made you really question whether this phone call or internet time was worth it. 

When I am nature, my thoughts come back to the surface, and I can ponder again. 

Unplug with me and let our imagination run free.


Find Your Book

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So can I ask what the last book you read is? 

Be honest with me. I will not judge you. 

No, not an article on Facebook, or the last news report but a book. These things called books are now a foreign idea. 

These strange things called books have a beginning, middle, and end. These rectangular devices range in page number from around fifty pages and up. Books can be paperback or hardback. You can buy them at almost every store now you walk into. My favorite is just loaning them from the library these days.  

Even now with a couple clicks on your phone, you could have a digital book downloaded. (The digitals don’t smell the same as the originals though.) 

Books are everywhere, and they influence more in the world than you think they do. Books of faith cause wars and unite people with the same verse. Books can evoke a whole spectrum of human emotions within a short period. They can help you de-stress and make staycations more interesting.

It has been a while hasn’t it since you read something that was not on social media…..

Now probably five years ago I would have told you I only have time to read things for school an nothing else. I don’t have time for this, and I really don’t like reading anyway. Yes, I know a writer just said she didn’t like reading. 

Yet social media is mainly reading have you noticed that? You are now reading about how someone is doing instead of them telling you on the phone. It also reminds me texting is even reading. I hear the excuse of I don’t really like to read often, and when I listen to it I want to counter with you must not like food either? Was that too harsh or rude? Perhaps instead you are saying what does reading have to do with eating? In a word a matter of taste.

I do not like every food on the planet. There are some foods too spicy, or I don’t like their texture. There are many foods in existence that seem way too out there to even try. However, I do like a lot of different foods, but I didn’t know until I tried them. 

I believe reading books is a lot like eating food. I did not know what kind of books I liked until I tried them out. When I was a child, I read the books my parents wanted me to understand, when I got access to a library I found I was trying to keep up with what friends were reading. Even though I did not like what my friends read and I struggled really struggled with reading, so I kept looking. I found out I love mainly non-fiction books and I wanted to learn more about the world I lived in. Non-fiction children’s books also had awesome pictures.

Then I was in college and did not have time to read anything but the books required for classes. English classes were required and as it turned out in some of my classes fiction books were the required reading. I found a new section of books I liked to read, coming of age. It was also because I was coming of age in my own way. When I was in graduate school, I was always reading the academic work written in my field of study. So, it was not until I graduated from graduate school that my mind became still and I longed to fill it with something new. Into my head walked hoards of fiction books. 

I started to read what everyone else did again, and it got me nowhere. So, I began to experiment by getting different types of books that seemed appealing to me. It was not long before I started reading post-apocalyptic books. The end of the world was exciting to me, but I realized post-apocalyptic movies were what I liked the most. I decided if I liked those types of movies then surely I would like those types of books too. Now I don’t like every single book out there on the subject, but I did find a start again for my taste in literature.

Can I ask you do to something for me? Please don’t give up on reading and keep searching for the types of things you like to read. Use the library to find the kinds of books you want without spending a fortune. If you get a chapter in and you don’t like it take it back and get a different book. Read with your children and most of all read to your children. If they are not interested in what you are reading to them, let them pick out a book, or read your favorite book to them as a child. They will see your excitement and want that for themselves.

Don’t give up on books they are still being written for you.


A Word to Describe Me

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If I was turning my life into a word what would it be…Love? Family? God? Self? 

Can life be described in just one word? 

We are gifted in the English language to have so many words to identify ourselves with, and yet these words also are not full enough to say who we really are. I find when you ask someone who they are they usually describe themselves by whatever they do in life. I think for many years it was what I felt gave me purpose. 

My favorite word is a worshiper of the Lord Almighty.

I often find I describe myself as a Christian, single mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer, a runner, a working mom, tired, hungry, happy, sad, or a person who does know what is going on. I think I am missing the point because any of this words of the world have their own meaning to each individual. Even though I have tried hard to put myself and my world inside a box of words, there are always more to be added. There is not one word so descriptive no other word will do.

I have so many words to string together could one word really satisfy me? I would say in many ways it could not, but I also think many times we use just one word to describe the world around us. Beautiful, ugly, rich, weak, crazy, fat, and thin these words seem to be the ones I hear out of the mouths of people often. 

Are these words exact about what they are describing? 

Many years ago I wrote so I would not cry and be sad. It is not how I started my writing, but it is what it turned into for a while. The emotions I felt were so real and intense I did not know what was going on. Then I strung words together only to find I was not just sad and crying for no reason, but I was heartbroken. I had lost the one man I loved dearly. 

For people to describe me as sad was an understatement and for others to say I was uncaring was hurtful. However, the blank pages did not judge me like we often judge each other. The pages let me pour out my grief in a way I could not with another person.

Maybe where there is now beauty in someone’s life where there was pain and suffering. I have come across things that seem ugly now, but was so beautiful and still is if you would just look a few steps closer. It is a matter of what we are willing to see in someone or something. 

I love words and the process of what happens when you put them together to create people, moods, and settings. I try to stay true to the words I use to describe someone, but sometimes even I am fooled by my perceptions. I usually try to keep quiet, I would never want to hurt anyone with an incorrect word even if they were not around to hear it.

Please be patient with people in this world. It may be easier to yell and be unkind, but it is not helpful to anyone. I love what joy words can bring. When we use these words in positive ways, we get a father proud of his children or loving his wife. A mother so strong she will not let her child see her cry when they lose their home. A child full of hope everything is going to be alright against all the odds. A friend who makes her best friend laugh when they feel the world is falling down. A teacher who encourages her shy student to keep pursuing his dreams. 

My point? One word is not a good judge of who a person is really. You start to fixate on that one-word description and then some words that might follow. There is so much more in a person than what we are seeing.  

My second point is to use creativity whether it be writing, painting, drawing, sowing, or the other 500 things I have not written to figure out who you are, and what is going on in that head of yours. Paint your fears, draw your dream, and write your future.

What word describes you?

To Write or Not To

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I find there is so much going on in my head that it is hard to get it all out on to paper. Why is this so hard? It is not really that writing is hard, but the discipline of writing daily had been a struggle of mine. I have been letting life get in the way so quickly when it comes to this passion of mine. My life has a way of forcing me to take more breaks than I would like. An illness, death in the family, or a trip out of town seem to be on rotations often enough to keep me out of my flow. Then before I know it it has been three weeks since I even looked at anything and then I am behind on my deadlines again. It’s even funnier to me because I am a huge planner and for everyone else, I’m on time, but when it comes to myself, I usually let it go. 

I have an excuse a lot too that I don’t want to write crap which is a lie cause pretty much everything is crap the first time around and if it isn’t then I am standing to applaud you right now. I have once again gotten out of my habit of writing, and it sucks if I’m going, being honest. I am behind in all of my personal writing already. So, every day I am writing a little bit because if it is just some, it is better than none. 

In truth, it is hard to go day to day with all of these characters living in my head. They try going on grand adventures and end up making messes all over the place. Often I lock them in a room tell them to sit down and be quiet which is not very nice of me. I should be offering them food and drinks and talking to them where they want to go (no I am not crazy I am trying to be funny). It is hard for me to focus some time on the mundane things during my days unless I write. For instance, I may end up washing my hair three times a morning before I realize I have. We might happen to cross paths, and it looks like I am somewhere else it is because I am in my fictional world trying to figure it out. This does not mean I cannot come back to reality it just means I might daydream a lot more than the average adult or child for that matter. Please don’t take it personally when you see me at the gas station, school event, or in a store and I don’t register we have met okay. You could stop me and ask if I have written anything that day. I would not take offense, and it would make me aware I am in that other place.

Still, the question remains perhaps why are you complaining about writing or all these ideas? I assure I am very grateful for the ideas and time when I get it. There is a quote “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway. I think Hemingway was brilliant in many of his works. I am not sure; however, the negative image you may see in your head it what I want you to see. I do think it takes all you have to write and the things I write become part of me. In many ways, writers make their work their life and indeed the blood of their being. What would they have without it? I know now writing is not my life and it is not my blood because Jesus is, but it has become an event I have to make time for.

I am headed back to the planning route because it is what works for me. I am saying no to some things, so I am sure I have time to write. I feel like it is what I was called to do on this earth. Although I am not always sure why and I a lot of time don’t know how any of this will make a difference maybe for someone.

Make time for the things creative in your life it will bring you so much joy to share with others. If you have stopped doing whatever creative outlet you had, it is never too late to pick them up again or start something new. You may have a book inside you that you have not let out yet, a painting that is set in your head, or a quilt that needs to be sown. Do it, be brave and choose to write, dance, sing, and paint. Create because you will not regret you did it only that you didn’t.


~Esme


The Heat

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The heat makes people crabbier than the rush of the holiday season. I know I used to work in retail during the holidays, and I might say at times the at heat and holidays were a tie but seems like the weather has been worse as of late When I get too hot I just don’t want to be close to people at all. We have had a relatively mild summer but it has been very humid here, and it reminds me of a trip I took a couple of years ago to Louisiana.

While I am on the mend, I would like to share musings I wrote down during the trip.

I had started this month off with excitement, and I was on task for my novel to be complete. I had planned out my writing days. I had a clear direction of my book although I had not written anything out formally. I was determined to get this book finished because I had been picking it up and setting it back down all year.

I knew I was going to a conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I tried to make every effort to be ahead of schedule on writing so I would not be losing my writing time because of the trip. Things did not go as planned. I did not get ahead, but I did get behind. I decided to pull up my big girl panties though and take it in stride.

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I had learned that over the course of that year I really liked writing in certain ways and the musical genius of Miles Davis helped me get where I was going in my book. My novel was still there, and I would complete it in due time, but it may be a week later than I thought.

Writing did not always go as planned, and even in the book, I am found my characters had minds of their own and went off doing things I didn’t want them to do. I had to figure out how to pull in the reins on them, and I am at the conference. I am taking in everything in all the words, sites, sounds, and feelings. It was truly amazing.

After the conference was over, we went to New Orleans in the French Quarter, and what an architecturally exquisite place. I could not stop staring at all the building how strange they seemed as if looking at jewels for the first time. We ate at Cafe Du Monde where lines were long, there were people crowded in the tables and all around the outside. The pigeons were on the hunt for any beignets dropped or tossed. The beignets were like eating air and were just something everyone should just try once in their life. It was really an experience, I hope one day to go to a cafe in Paris one day, but until then this one will be fine.

We went back to Baton Rouge, and in the morning all of our phones were going off. Family and friends wanted to be sure we were safe because a shooter was on the loose in Baton Rouge. The killer had been staying in the same hotel we were at. All of the sudden I was just still my whole body stiff and in a daze. Then, I began to pack and worry about what might happen if we didn’t leave right now. It was hard in those moments knowing only a few miles away was a man killing other people because he thought it was right.

The fear was paralyzing, but after speaking with the person, I rode down there with they were convinced this wasn’t going to stop them from doing what we had planned to do. I saw bravery in someone else that day that I had admired. I wasn’t sure when I would get to the point in my life, but if I could just learn something from her, it would be not to let fear control me. I had been learning lessons about fear all year and each time it I was gaining more understanding. I must keep walking forward and not let fear control me. Today I will use my writing to write the fear out me and everything that happened to me.


~Esme