Is writing ever wasted?

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

Wrapping up the Month of Little Things is a photo reminder of those precious moments. It’s easy enough to do; there are a lot of phone apps out there for you to create A Picture A Day composite. I use Photo 365, because if your day is too awesome for one memory, this app lets you post more than one photo to the day, even though only one is visible on the calendar. I don’t stress if I miss a day or three, but since I take so many pics and screenshots, I almost always fill a box.

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I spy a happy plant–Sprout is a baby tree, actually–WiiFitness activity, Swarm checkin moments and other celebrations. and coffee shops. Three days in a row writing in coffee shops

Speaking of writing, remember that brief tirade of stress yesterday about my contest and procrastination? I chose to cut one entry from the final submission package, which was, surprisingly, a good thing.

I posted a photo yesterday on Instagram of the holiday memoir I was working on. That’s the one I removed from the contest submission. The writing of it was not a failure, it was not wasted time.

First off, that piece only somewhat fit the category requirements for Holiday Memoir. The event I wrote about did happen at Christmastime, but it didn’t have anything to do specifically with the holiday. I liked that entry, but I found a better one from an earlier piece of writing that came from my journal. In fact, all three pieces were previous half-written material, but they fit the contest requirement because none of them have been published.

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Farewell…for now

So that vignette didn’t make it. Big deal, or no big deal. Does that leave me with another half-finished piece of writing? Absolutely. But now I have a piece that I can tweak into something else in the future. Besides, I would have had to do some serious editing to make that fit the required word count, and I was not prepared to do that. I let it go.

I had to edit the other three entries anyway, and I forgot how tough tight writing is. Every word occupies valuable real estate on the page. The word count for poetry was 100; mine was 85, cut down from 120 words. the Holiday Memoir category was between 200-400 words; I got mine down from 533 to 371 words. The First Page of a Novel had a word count of 250; I made it at 199 words. Since I waited until the 11th hour to submit–literally, about 11:30pm–there was no way I would’ve been able to do justice to make that 789 word moment into a cohesive, intriguing 400 word story. I cut it entirely.

When I wrote it, I expected to have a ruthless editing session to make it work, but by the time I got past the backstory into the actual event, it was a mess. It takes a talented writer to condense 400-ish words, chopping a piece in half. It also takes time. I have the talent but not the time.

Still, what made that exercise so good is that I was writing. I wasn’t spending time planning or blogging or planning blogposts. I wasn’t editing or rewriting or thinking about writing–I was writing. Not journaling; creative writing with a purpose. I felt free. I missed that feeling of initial creation. I’ve been so bogged down in external nonsense that I forgot to write for fun. That’s one of my ROW80 goals achieved.

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Celebrating THON on this #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Thanks for meeting us here at Miracle Coffee. It’s our annual tradition to watch the Penn State THON Total Reveal in a coffeeshop, and he chose here this time. He’s a fan of the blended Miracle Mocha. I’m trying that as a hot drink. *sip, sip* Mmmmm, if you like sweet, this is good hot or cold.

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Check out the window reflection: perfect for THON

How was your week? We kinda celebrated my husband’s birthday on Monday. He flew out of town for a business meeting the next day–*”in New Jersey and the weather was terrible” he says*–yeah, his Tuesday flight was cancelled and his Friday flight was delayed. This weekend is more of his Birthday Week. Everyone should have one of those, or a Birthday Month. I highly recommend that!

I got some writing done, but my ROW80 goals, geez, those are a struggle. I’m not making an effort, I guess. You know how that is, the laundry takes over the cooking takes over the writing time takes over the TV time takes over the email time takes over…you get it. So here’s my embarrassing goal work:

1 & 6–I still haven’t published Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I haven’t touched it in awhile, really, because I got lost in the timeline and names and such. I need to make time to review that Scrivener email and stuff. Why haven’t I? You know, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a great form of procrastination: if I don’t know how to fix it, I can ignore it. The same goes for my memoir; I’m so focused on the messy rewrites that I can’t move forward. I’m stuck.

Do you ever feel that way? Yeah? Can you offer any suggestions?

2–I keep moving my search for a blog hosting site day-to-day, week-to-week, no matter how small I break down the tasks. It’s probably not hard–in fact, I’m probably spending more time shuffling it than the review will actually be–but I don’t know why I’m not making the time.

3 & 4–I am having fun with my planner, and that at least is keeping me on track with blog posts and to-dos. Unless I ignore them and move them to another week. *Smiles and sips coffee drink self-consciously*

Everything else–playing and reading and writing just for the thrill of it–I’m successful to moderate degrees.

Wait! It’s 3:15pm, and we missed Family Hour. Just as well; hearing the cancer stories of survival and watching the slideshow of those who will never see another THON always makes me cry. See? Hand me a napkin, please. *sniffle sniffle, wipes eyes*

Have I told you about THON? Maybe we talked about it when I briefly mentioned my alumni experience or back when I reminisced about my undergrad experience. It’s a group of Penn State students and alumni who raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that pays the doctor bills and traveling expenses for families of kids with cancer. It’s part of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Yes, Hershey, the chocolate town, and after 43 years, we’ve raised:

$137.6 Million dollars.

Yes, million with a capital M. It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Yes, World.

THON is in the last hour. Go Go Gadget is playing. Back when I danced, Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band was the go-to group, but they broke up and then the lead singer died about 15 years ago.

It’s 3:50. Almost time for the last Line Dance. I still sing some of the verses from dancing in my THON as an alumni 6 years ago. Yes, I danced as an undergrad and as a something-something-year-old woman. My partner and I will do it again in four years from now, every 10 years. Some people run marathons; I stand and stay awake for 46 hours.

10…9…8…7…6

What a magical countdown.

5…4…3…2…1

“Dancers, you may sit down.”

What magical words after 46 hours on your feet.

This year…hold on, the cards are being raised and flipped…I have 9.77 Million more reasons to be a proud Penn State alum.

Wow. *sniffles even more* What a great way to end the weekend: For The Kids.

A Super-Bawl #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Isn’t this place cool? It was great to rediscover No.VI Coffee last month when a friend checked in on Swarm. I’m usually only up this way when I have a particular doctor appointment, which I did a few days ago. Remembering that checkin, I came here to write all afternoon–I was quite productive–and raved about the place to my husband. We’re always on the search for new coffee shops to visit, so that’s why we’re here today. Thanks for meeting us here.

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Such a polite sign….

As I said, writing was productive after the crazy start to my week. I did some blog posts, critiqued the pieces for my writer’s group, and did some blogging and planning. Yeah, I haven’t touched my memoir or Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks in a few weeks, and I’m feeling really guilty about that. There’s so much I want to do, need to do, and stuff keeps falling through the cracks between my laptop keys.

My husband’s enjoying time on his tablet, so we have time to chat. Want another cup of the Mocha Java French press? It’s good, right? Until you get to the very bottom, that is, so enjoy it now.

Get this: for some reason, I felt compelled to open my Timehop app. By connecting your social media, it shows the history of you. Well, on this date three years ago–it was a Thursday–I was sitting in this very shop also eating breakfast. It was a Caribou Coffee then, but now it’s a local shop.

This is the first time Timehop has gone back 6 years. I really didn’t get into social media until 2010, which blows my mind in so many ways. On this day, I was prepping for THON and just connected with my Moraler. Gosh, the thought of that still makes me cry and….

Sorry, give me a moment. Hand me that napkin, please. Thank you.

*wipes eyes in a self-conscious but thoroughly happy way*

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February 7: A Day in my History

Sorry, just the mention of THON always brings tears. Not in a sad way but in a super duper happy proud way. I danced as an undergrad, and six years ago I had the honor of raising enough money to dance for the THON Alumni organization, DMAIG. Yes, 46 hours awake and your feet to raise money for children’s cancer. I’ll tell you more about it later; I just can’t talk anymore.

*sniffs into a third napkin*

Have you ever done something so worthy, something so proud, that you can’t forget it? That’s THON for me, the greatest thing Penn State has done and will ever do.

It’s a sunny day out, and he’s getting a bit antsy in here. It’s a sunny, snow-free day, super-nice for February in Michigan. Let’s head out for a drive, or maybe a wander around a bookstore. It’s great sharing today with you. What’s new in your world of magic?

The post-wedding #WeekendCoffeeShare Sunday

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

If we were having coffee, it’s a quiet day and we may have stepped out for a bit. My rarely-gets-sick husband is not feeling well. It’s nothing contagious, but still…I’m concerned.

He was out of town on business last week and may just be worn down. I understand that. After last Sunday’s wedding, the heat and the long drive, I was pretty much a lump for a day. But it was worth it. I haven’t seen my friend since THON and it was fun dancing with her again. This time, however, I got to sit down throughout the night.

I made a little adventure out of it. I scoped out a local coffeeshop and decided to write before the drive home. I passed a covered bridge along the way and drove through it a few times just because I could. It seemed the thing to do whenever you pass a covered bridge. I knew I back on the East Coast–yes, I consider mid-Pennsylvania East Coast–when I saw this, and when I passed a diner with Diner in the name. Here in Michigan, everything is called a “Coney” restaurant. As you would imagine, chili dogs are the signature dish everywhere, and those are supplemented by normal diner food. But they’re not diners; that’s a distinction for another post because I’ve gotten way off topic.

Back to that coffeeshop, HeBrews. Local-baked pastries. Pour-over coffee in for-here mugs. High-top tables with two separate cozy rooms. I sat down with my journal, but after 25 minutes or so, I put then pen down. I couldn’t write. I just had to Be. Okay, I shared a few pictures to my Instagram feed and I texted a short 360-degree video to my husband. After that, I sat there, a stone with the perfect seat, staring out the window and over my shoulder at the coffee bar. It was too peaceful to write. I watched cars drive by on the main street outside, the people walking by on their lunch break, and the regulars in the coffee shop getting “the usual.” Two women joined me in my spacious room, a mother-daughter afternoon outing sitting in the corner. I couldn’t hear what they said, but I commented on the girl’s pants on her way out: light and flowy, what I thought was a skirt, made better as unexpected pants.

It’s been so long since I’ve done that–just sit–and I wish you could have been there. We would be together without saying a word.

After the wedding–adventures in pictures

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.”~H. Jackson Brown, Jr., American writer

This weekend’s wedding adventure.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: driving to PA wedding

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”~Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch artist

If we were having coffee, it’s a quick stop for a cup of to-go Joe. I’ve got a long drive ahead of me after an early morning work shift. I signed up for that months ago, so I’m committed, but I could use the sleep. My friend is getting married on Sunday, and I am driving 7 hours from Michigan to Pennsylvania to be there.

This woman was my personal Moraler when I danced in Penn State’s THON 2010. Because I danced as a undergrad, I was eligible to dance in THON as an alumni. My dance partner and I met online, and together we raised over $7000, qualifying us as dancers who raised the most money. This bride-to-be was the student who was there to support her dancer with whatever I needed. When you stay awake and stand on your feet for 46 hours–yes, two days–you need a lot of support. She decorated my hotel room thanks to my husband’s sneaky assistance, she brought me tennis balls to rub my feet with and her boyfriend-now-husband-to-be brought me mac-n-cheese from the Diner when I desperately wanted some at whatever weird hour it was.

She supported me; I’m supporting her. We are both tickled-excited I can make it.

I spent the latter part of this week doing those last-minute errands: pickup new glasses; schedule last-minute manicure; hair style; and write. Yes, writing is important enough to me, but this week is was squeezed in. My husband helped choose gifts from the registry. He helped me choose a new dress at the mall last week. I went to my monthly art group and created the first step of an altered book. My life has been all over the place this week, and no matter how much I plan to “pack ahead of time,” I’m up the night before stuffing my suitcase.

But I wrote. I wrote in coffeeshops. I tried new coffee, and a delightful new loose-leaf tea while out. I hugged my husband everyday. I did the important things.

Have fun this weekend. I’ll have lots of pic to share next week.

Amazing results: THON 2015 and Zentangle Diva Challenge

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”~Francis of Assisi, Italian Saint

This past weekend, 708 Penn State students stood on their feet and did not sleep for 46 hours to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund dancing in THON. The 2015 Total Reveal, they raised…wait for it…wait for it…

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Annual tradition: my husband and I watch Total Reveal from Starbucks

$13,026,653.53

Yes, in one year, Penn State students raised over $13 million dollars.

Pretty darn impressive.

This week’s Diva Challenge #206 is a twist on the normal: use tools that you don’t use for Zentangle. Items that you don’t normally associate with the fine art of Zentangle.

By fine I mean small and detailed, so I took a leap into something wide.

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I used a set of Pitt brush pens, a gift from my husband a few years ago. The sepia-colored pens have a paintbrush-esque nib, so the ink flow is harder to control. I associate Zentangle with black-n-white or very bright colors, so it was challenging to use the browns and oranges. Honestly, using these pens on small, ink-soaking tiles made me nervous, so I pulled out my small sketchbook of smooth Bristol paper.

I didn’t know what to expect, especially from these unfamiliar colors. I used Hollibaugh as a string and tangled inside. The artwork was just fine when it was done, but I found four random Prismacolor pencils to add some shading: a brown, orange, pale yellow and bright yellow. Everything flowed together even though they weren’t made for each other.

It’s delight-full when things work well together and succeed.

My THON 2015 discovery

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”~Helen Keller, American writer

It didn’t take me long to discover the reason I was not meant to attend and dance in THON this year. During THON, I connected with some old friends and THONmates on social media. We shared memories and stories, and I relived THON through them. While the students and other alumni danced on the floor, I danced with my friends. Together.

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Catnap and I are watching in Canton, MI

All my best to the dancers and the children this weekend. May everything be successful. FTK.

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The Men’s Hockey team kicked it during Saturday night’s Pep Rally

Thursday THON #tbt

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”~Paramahansa Yogananda, Indian leader

This was almost the ideal Throwback Thursday. Five years ago, on a Thursday as well, I was in State College getting ready to dance in THON. I met my personal Moraler, Kristen, that (this) night. She would be there for me throughout THON 46-hour-awake-and-no-sitting marathon.

I hoped to dance this year. Breaks my heart that I’m not.

I danced back in 2010 as an Alumni Dancer. It was the first time on a THON floor since my college junior/senior year. I was older as an alum, certainly the oldest of all four Alumni Dancers….and I was proud of it. Just like people stare at a 73-year-old Boston Marathon runner, students could stare at me all they wanted.

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Spoiler alert: I made it! My dance partner, Candace, made it. My husband made it, with a special all-access pass for those final two hours. My Moraler, and Candace’s Moraler, made it, sitting in the stands with “We {heart} Alumni” signs.

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My dance partner, Candace, agreed to dance every ten years. I’m holding her to that! But I had so much fun that I planned to dance every five years. Finding a partner and fundraising didn’t work out this year.

“There’s a reason things happen” is a common saying. I guess there’s a reason for this, too. Maybe it’s just for me to reflect on.

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