Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The writer's guide to surviving the holidays

Hi, Seekervillagers. Myra here. We’re rapidly approaching the time of year when I usually find myself running behind on just about everything. And this season is shaping up to be crazier than ever! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it’s nearly time to haul out the Christmas decorations.

Then in mid-December, our missionary kids will return from Ethiopia to spend the next five or six months with us! Which is great news--we have grandbaby #7 on the way (child #4 for this daughter). But our “downsized” house will be bursting at the seams for a while!

Oh, and did I mention my husband just had knee replacement surgery??? Can you spell C-R-A-N-K-Y? (And I’m not just talkin’ hubby here!)

So forgive me, but busy and distracted as I already am, I’m reprising a large part of this blog from my December 8, 2009 post. I hope you’ll agree these snippets of wisdom are well worth repeating.

How do you find the stamina and motivation to keep writing when holidays, family visits, illness, or other interruptions are running you ragged? It isn’t easy, but if you have a strategy in place, your writing life can survive.

And one of the best strategies this time of year is to stop feeling guilty for what you aren’t getting done--whether it’s shopping, baking, sending cards, keeping up with e-mail and blogs, or--yes--even pounding out the pages of your next book manuscript.

Easier said than done, but a few years ago I read a great little book that’s full of big ideas on how to stay motivated and prioritize your life: 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, by Steve Chandler. Here are a few of the sections I found especially inspiring:

#4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Chandler points out that a huge obstacle to success is letting our worries and fears distract us from our real goals. Anyone here guilty of that? Just last week guest blogger Bonnie Doran posted on this very subject. If you need some encouragement to release the fears that hold you back, be sure to check it out!

#6. Simplify your life. I always intend to simplify, but somehow things keep getting more complicated. Chandler’s advice? Make a list of every small task you need to get done in a certain period of time, like over the weekend. Then do them all in one concentrated burst of action--a “manic blitz.” Don’t put anything off, just get it done.

#40. Find your soul purpose. You’re not going to be much good to others unless and until you’re happy with yourself and excited about your work, so take the time to discover what really makes you happy.

#59. Upgrade your old habits. According to Chandler, bad habits can’t simply be broken. You have to replace the bad habit with positive action. Like eating a healthy snack instead of one heavy on calories and fat. Like doing a workout video instead of watching TV. (Hmmm, notice the connection between food and weight loss this time of year???)

#68. Get up a game. Competition can be healthy--as we “contest crazies” here in Seekerville can testify! Competition forces us to reach deep inside ourselves, helping us grow and improve. The real victory comes not from besting someone else, but from bringing out the best in ourselves.

#73. Use the 5% solution. “Great things are often created very slowly,” Chandler writes. What if you brought 5% more purposefulness into each day? What kinds of changes would you see in your life?

#74. Do something badly. We’ve all heard the old adage, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But what if that isn’t necessarily true? Whether it’s writing that first draft, baking Christmas goodies, composing a Christmas letter, or cleaning house for company, maybe we don’t have to be perfect. Maybe we should give ourselves permission to do something “badly.” Can you let go of perfectionism enough to just get started on some task that’s facing you—including the first draft of your next book?

#85. Replace worry with action. Worry only increases the problem, but when we get busy and act on our worries and fears, we regain control.

#101. Teach yourself the power of negative thinking. This one might well be my favorite. Saying NO can be a powerful thing. It means standing up for ourselves and our beliefs, taking a stand against things we simply won’t tolerate. Ask yourself what you really don’t want in life, and experience a burst of energy to turn that into positive motivation!

Anything you’d add to this list? What are your biggest challenges during the busy holiday season?

If you’d like to win a copy of Steve Chandler’s impressive little book, just mention your interest in a comment!

90 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Great tips. Interesting sounding book. Thanks for working it into your busy schedule.

There's enough coffee for everyone.

Marianne Barkman said...

Oh, Myra....I think you need tea instead of coffee! Slow down and enjoy those children and grad babies this winter! Thanks for the post

CatMom said...

Wow, Myra - - after reading about what all you've got going on in your life at this already-busy time of year, my life seems pretty calm now, LOL.

But I do appreciate your taking time to share this post with us--another one for my keeper files!

I think I've always tried to tackle too much during the holiday season--wanting things to be picture-perfect. Well, that's sure not going to happen, so I've finally learned to not be so hard on myself and just do the very best I can. (Especially since I had my spinal surgeries--that really helped me realize I can't do it all)

Please put me in the drawing for that book--sounds like a goldmine of great advice!
And I have to add---I LOVED your book, WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY - - oh my!! I completely lost myself in that story each time I read another section--it was wonderful.

I'm putting out some Georgia pecan waffles with warm syrup for anyone who wants breakfast. And also a batch of peach muffins--right out of the oven. Enjoy!!

Hugs, Patti Jo

p.s. Praying your husband recovers completely from his surgery. ~ And CONGRATS on the expected grandchild---how exciting!!

Melissa Jagears said...

Oooo, I need that book.

And what to switch out the nightly chocolate chips for that is still sweet but not so terrible for me.....

And I need to tighten up my life. Basically kids, cleaning and writing is all I need to be doing right now. That's plenty!

Annie Rains said...

I like the 5% more purposeful idea. I could spare another 5% in my day.

Please enter me for a chance to win that book. Sounds like a must read.

And thanks for the wonderful post.

Happy Tuesday, Seekerville!...But after the nice long weekend, it feels like a Monday.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Fabulous and so timely, Myra.

I chose not to stress over the holidays a long time ago. Best thing ever.

Put me in for the drawing!

Peace, Julie

Debra E. Marvin said...

Oh I hope hubby heels well.. and quickly! Are you simplifying your holiday, Myra?

I think a lot of us get so caught up in traditions and the perfect holiday we have in our head that we just put too much emphasis on the wrong things. I hope it's a non-stressor this year for all!

For motivation, I'm trying to picture the end product(s) like Contracts, Checks and Book Covers!

Jackie said...

Hi Myra,

Thanks for these great tips.

The best advice to me at this moment in my life is that I don't have to do everything perfectly.

We had the best vacation ever this year and I had planned to scrapbook about our trip by Christmas. I was even going to make a scrapbook for my son on his "Semester in Spain."
You've given me the freedom to stick the pictures in a photo album like the old days. That's a huge burden off my shoulders. Thanks!

Thanks for sharing this great advice, and I'd love to have my name in the drawing.

Jackie said...

I know a lot of us are thinking of things or people we're thankful for this month.

I'm so #Thankful for Seekerville!

Glynna Kaye said...

Excellent post, Myra! I think it's the "guilt" that's the hardest to release--you feel guilty for NOT writing OR you feel guilty FOR writing and neglecting other things. :)
Sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to stop and smell the roses (or the roasting turkey or the Christmas tree).

Debby Giusti said...

Myra, thanks for a wonderful blog that frees us from some of the holiday pressure!

Perfection, although often a good trait, can also be such a negative force. I have to remind myself that some things just need to get done...not necessarily done well!

For the last five years, I haven't had time to send Christmas cards to friends. This year, I'm hoping to make that a priority. I've lost contact with so many and want to reconnect. My plan is to write those cards early in December instead of later in the month when Christmas prep devours all my time.

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks for the post this morning, Myra. Slowing down and not stressing is good to remember.:-)

I bought Steve Chandler's audio CD several years ago. I have the one, '100 Ways To Motivate yourself', he's really very good.

I haven't listened to it in a long time—thanks for reminding me! :-)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Wow Myra, your life sounds as crazy as mine. I am so glad you shared these again. I need to keep them in mind because I arrive home tonight after traveling for 5weeks and know catch up is going to be CRAZY. Hang in there.

Jeanne T said...

Myra, what fabulous tips. I can definitely use some of them this holiday season. I'm all about simplifying. I especially like the one about doing those small tasks in a blitz.

I also needed the reminder that I don't have to de everything perfectly. Good enough is, well, good enough for some tasks. :)

All of these tips were great. Thank you for sharing them.

Please put me in the drawing for that book. :)

Audra Harders said...

I need all the help I can get during the holidays, Myra! I loved your bursts of inspiration back in 2008, and they're just as timely now.

I used to be a HUGE worrier. I took after my Dad : ) After Gary and I got married, my worries increased 10-fold due to Gary being self-employed (read: feast or famine), we bought a house that needed lots of TLC, and we found out we were expecting our first bundle of joy.

Talk about hair turning gray worry! All Gary could say was, "when did worry ever change anything? Let God handle it." The Lord spoke to my heart through my husband that night--a night I'll never forget.

As the holidays draw close this year, please remember worry never changes anything-in fact it keeps you from making a difference.

Enjoy the holidays and let everyone see joy on your face rather than frowns!!!!

Karen Kirst said...

Good morning, Myra,
How excited you must be to spend time with your kids and grandkids. I know how hard it is to have family living on another continent and only see them occasionally. I hope your visit goes well!
Thanks for all these great tips. I feel like there is always something competing for my writing time. Sometimes I have to make hard choices and write even though I feel like I'm being selfish. Maybe that's the nature of working from home. My fav tip is the one about losing the need to be perfect and just do something without putting so much pressure on yourself.
Have a wonderful day!

Pam Hillman said...

Lord, Myra, I need a copy of this book! lol

Once at work, a co-worker and I were grumbling and complaining and one of us said, "it's time to decorate the old Christmas tree", and a younger, much more energetic co-worker never let us forget it. I think she started decorating around Halloween and every year, she'd remind us of our Eeyore comments about decorating the tree. lol

Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville! Finally getting the computer fired up after taking care of hubby, dogs, and me. Hubby is doing his PT exercises and making steady progress, so maybe . . . just maybe . . . I'll actually find a little time to write today!

HELEN, thanks as always for getting the coffee brewing bright and early!

MARIANNE, I am definitely a tea drinker. Already had my three cups of Earl Grey Green this morning.

Myra Johnson said...

PATTI JO, my ray of Southern sunshine! Nope, we can't do it all, and it's nice when we start to realize we're the only ones putting that kind of pressure on ourselves.

OOOOOOH, I can already taste those Georgia pecan waffles! Sure beats cold granola! And thank you for the sweet words about my latest book!

Connie Queen said...

This is what I do:

Luckily, Christmas w/my family is at my sister's house this year. BUT, if I was on a deadline, I'd pay someone to help clean. If I have clutter, I pile it in the extra bedroom, attic or wherever, and save it for when the New Year burst of energy kicks in. It doesn't have to be done the month of Dec.

Having 8 kids, I've grown tired of Christmas shopping and I'm not one of those who have it done by June. My husband and I go one peaceful night with Christmas wish lists in hand, go out to eat, and get it all done. This helps me.

If all else fails, "take a chill pill." Not getting my writing done makes me grumpy. Decide ahead of time to set a short amount to write, do it, and then enjoy time w/the family. I'll get just as much writing accomplished but be happier.

MYRA, I'd love to win the book. Your list is helpful. My favorite is the 5% purpose.

MELISSA, I always open the bag of chocolate chips. Nothin's better.

Myra Johnson said...

MELISSA, I have to agree about the kids and the writing. Cleaning? As little as you can get by with!!!

ANNIE, 5% does sound doable, doesn't it? ;-)

JULIE H.S., you are smarter than many of us! I do plan to do a little more than usual this Christmas since all the kids & grands will be here. But my girls will be a lot of help.

Myra Johnson said...

DEBRA, I've learned over my lifetime that there's no such thing as a "perfect" Christmas. (Hmmmm, that sounds strangely almost like a certain book title . . . ) What makes the holidays special for me is having family nearby. The few Christmases we celebrated alone were sooooo depressing. Last year I didn't even decorate. :(

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE, I really had good intentions, too, about making an album of our Africa pictures from last summer. Guess what. They're still on the computer.

And bless you for being thankful for Seekerville! The Seekers are so VERY thankful for our Seekervillagers!!!

Myra Johnson said...

GLYNNA, there may be a turkey roasting in your oven, but the only way that will happen at my house is if my daughters take it upon themselves! I am SO not into cooking!

However, I am more than ready to let go of some guilt! My biggest guilt source the past, oh, nearly two weeks or so, is not writing. And I know there is a certain agent who will not be happy to hear that. ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

DEBBY, I think we all have a perfectionist streak about some aspect of our lives--that ONE thing we feel we have to do and have to do well. For 40+ years, mine has been to write a scintillating and imaginative Christmas letter! Somehow, I don't think that's gonna happen this year.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY H, I need to pull Chandler's book out again, myself. I could use a refresher on staying motivated and reorganizing my priorities. And the audio version sounds like a good companion for long commutes.

SANDRA!!! Welcome back to American soil! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!!!

JEANNE, "good enough" is generally my philosophy about certain housecleaning chores. ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

AUDRA, what excellent advice!!! Worry never changes anything. I need to remember that more regularly. You have a very wise husband!

KAREN K, it can definitely be hard for a writer working from home. Friends and family don't always understand that sitting at a computer and stretching our imaginations is actually working. We have to be diligent and sometimes even forceful about guarding our writing time.

Mary Connealy said...

You stand a lot of conventional wisdom on it's head here, Myra...and I like it. Great post. All of this is worth repeating and re-reading.

Myra Johnson said...

PAM, if that coworker wanted to start decorating at Halloween, I'd just tell her to go for it. Anyone who has more energy for a task than I do is welcome to take over!

CONNIE, I have barely even started thinking about Christmas shopping. On the other hand, our Ethiopia daughter and s-i-l have been sending us their order lists for a few weeks now. I order what they want for the kids and each other from Amazon or elsewhere online and stash it in the corner of hubby's office.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, reading a good book on motivation and sticking tidbits in a blog post isn't quite the same as actually putting all that good advice into practice. But I try. And every once in a while I see signs of success. ;-)

Sherri Shackelford said...

All great advice! I have two kids with birthdays in December - the 23rd and the 30th. The biggest challenge is making each event feel special.

kaybee said...

Thank you, MYRA. Good advice for The Holidays -- and any other busy time.
I stress some, but not as much as I used to -- or could. Most of my expectations are things I've laid on myself. I do like to give gifts, lots of them, so I start buying or making them in January. (OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR.)
I still send cards, but I buy them half-price the week after Christmas (OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR) and set aside an evening to work on them. If I don't have time for the personal note, oh well. And I start adding bits of décor here and there throughout November: like one day I'll do snowmen, one day the vintage Santas. I still have a problem with the tree -- my husband's family tradition is to put it up Christmas Eve, and by then I'm usually toast, but we're working on it.
Writers and nonwriters need to remember what The Holidays are all about. I still lose my focus, even after all my organizational strategies (and these are just the ones I told you about).
And yes, it's hard to find time to write
More later,
KB

Hallee Bridgeman said...

I have the privilege of not having to work outside of my home -- which means that my work day is the hours when my children are at school. Consequently, when they're home, I refuse to work. It's hard to not feel guilty about not writing during school holidays, but I've learned to sit back and enjoy the time off and consider it a time of renewal and refreshing my mind.

Hallee

kaybee said...

MELISSA, you eat chocolate chips RAW? Good for you.
Milk choc. or semisweet?
My sister-in-law eats frosting straight from the can when she is stressed.
KB

kaybee said...

I want to be able to relax and enjoy December. Which is kind of stupid -- who REALLY enjoys December? Apart from Christmas, I mean.

Jill Weatherholt said...

These are great tips, Myra! Oh..."replace worry with action." I could be Wonder Woman if I implemented that into my life. Please enter me in the drawing, the book sounds like a must read. Thanks!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Gut reaction?

THE HOLIDAYS????

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Then I saw: Do something badly and I was instantly pacified.

Thank you.

Myra Johnson said...

SHERRI, it's gotta be hard combining birthdays with Christmas--more accurately, separating December birthdays from Christmas! My daughter's sister-in-law actually has her birthday ON Christmas!

KB, we do need to keep reminding ourselves "Jesus is the reason for the season." Not the decorations, not the cards and letters, not the shopping and gifts.

Myra Johnson said...

HALLEE, when my girls were growing up, I didn't write when they were home from school either. Or in the summertime. Those 18 years of childhood go by a LOT faster than we ever expect them to!

KB and MELISSA. Two words for you. Trader Joe's. They have the BEST dark chocolate mega-bars!!! Hubby and I eat 1 square each every day for our lunchtime dessert. And usually after supper as well. ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

JILL, I think I could do better about replacing worry with action if only I had more energy! Unfortunately, I used up most of it on that stupid worrying!

TINA, yes, the holidays are almost upon us. Two weeks until Thanksgiving. I am already considering my restaurant options. Or maybe will throw a frozen pizza in the oven. That is how I do Thanksgiving "badly."

CaraG said...

Long live negative, which doesn't deserve its bad rap.

When I took a drawing class, the professor taught us to focus on the negative spaces. If we could get those down, then the subject matter would emerge. What an “aha” moment for me. The positive power of negative has stayed with me ever since, so you had me from the get-go with your power of negative thinking. And how similar are the two outlooks. Identify the negative and the positive emerges.

Glad you did repeat these timely snippets of wisdom. I wouldn't mind reading them again every year at this time.

I would love to win a copy of Steve Chandler’s book. Motivation never gets old. Thanks for the chance.

Hope the knee replacement recovery goes well.

Anna R. Weaver said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Myra. Those are some great tips! I'll keep you and your hubby in my prayers. Recuperation can be just as hard on the family as it is on the one doing the healing.

Myra Johnson said...

CARA G, how interesting about art and negative space! Makes me think of sculpting or carving and how you chip away everything except the actual figure you want to create. When we get rid of what's unimportant, we're left with what really matters.

ANNA, it's true--hubby's surgery and recovery has been stressful for ME! We both knew going in that it would be tough, but the carrot on the end of the stick is his being able to walk normally again and do the things he used to enjoy.

Connie Queen said...

Kaybee, Wow, you start in January? And you make some of your gifts? I'm impressed. I used to sew dresses for my daughters and quilt. Would like to quilt again someday.

Dawn Crandall said...

Sounds like a book I've needed since this summer--I struggled with having pregnancy brain on top of having ADD. Now that I'm through the first trimester (and half way through the second!), I'm still struggling to get my pre-pregnancy efficiency back!!

Dawn Crandall said...

Sounds like a book I've needed since this summer--I struggled with having pregnancy brain on top of having ADD. Now that I'm through the first trimester (and half way through the second!), I'm still struggling to get my pre-pregnancy efficiency back!!

Myra Johnson said...

DAWN, congratulations on your expected new arrival! When is your little one due? We have a new grandbaby due February 27 and are so glad our daughter will be back in the States and right here in town for the birth! Sonogram says it's another girl--can't wait!

(Of course, our second grandSON was supposed to be a girl, so we know how those sonograms go--LOL!)

kaybee said...

SHERRI, I can relate. My older daughter is Dec. 3. Just early enough not to run into Christmas. A friend of mine has a son who was born Dec. 23, and she does a "half-birthday" in June. Cool.
MYRA, I don't think anyone cleans like our mothers did.
HALLEE, sounds like you have a good system -- giving family full attention, concentrating on writing when not around.
CONNIE, 8 kids? SO cool.
PAM, when I worked in an office we were reluctant to decorate, so Claudette, the secretary, put the tree away every year FULLY DECORATED. Sometimes I wish I could do that at home.

kaybee said...

CONNIE, yeah, I do. It is tricky -- I can't buy or make anything for a small child because their sizes will change. And I have to be careful about some things, because interests may change or they may have bought it for themselves by Dec. And of course I don't buy the candy for the stockings because I would eat it by Dec. It's risky because you don't know who is going to be into what by the holiday, so I stick to things I know they would like regardless. The real issue is finding room for all of it in my house. But I kind of have to do it this way because I don't get a Christmas bonus from my day job and I've never been disciplined enough to do a Christmas club. It's cool because by the time my husband gets HIS bonus, I'm all done, so he can have it all to himself to spend.
If I didn't do it this way I would have to borrow my brother-in-law's handicap tag so I could get a parking spot, and that is illegal.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, KAYBEE, I have a friend who built a new home several years ago and had them put in a closet JUST for the DECORATED Christmas tree! I still have serious closet envy over that!

Myra Johnson said...

Well, it's almost lunchtime on the East Coast, so I'm setting out the buffet table. We have clam chowder, oyster crackers, sliced cheddar, and Caesar salad. I ordered some Christmas cookies from the Seekerville bakery, too! A little early, I know, but since we're talking about the holidays, why not? There's hot spiced cider on tap as well. Enjoy!

kaybee said...

MYRA, "When we get rid of something that's unimportant we find out what really matters." Love it. I'm almost 63, and I've been taking inventory of the things I will probably never do (hand-quilt, learn golf) so I can concentrate on the things I want to do. Which leaves family, friends, church work, some crafting and WRITING. Which is enough. While it's important to keep sharp and explore life, we also need to focus on what is important, especially at the holidays. I worked for one company for 12 years and never went to the company holiday party. Which is probably why I'm not working for them now...
People, don't do anything at the holidays you don't enjoy. I gave up making the cutout sugar cookies for several years because it was too much work and the rolling and cutting bothered my back. I may take it up again, but only if I want to. I don't always make a gingerbread house, LOTS of work and no little ones to help me, but I usually do something in Rice Krispies which is my profile picture that Mary thought was a rocket. It's a Rice K tree with Peep snowmen carolers. Rice Krispies are my preferred medium for the holidays.
KB
Jolly in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

MYRA, what a great lunch. I love clam chowder almost as much as I love chocolate.
Don't worry about the writing, you will get back to it. Your family comes first, especially if they're coming from the mission field.
KB

kaybee said...

MYRA, I have closet envy over the Christmas Tree Closet too. Look at it this way, at least it wasn't a whole room.

Meghan Carver said...

Sounds like a terrific book, definitely one I need to read. I definitely need to replace worry with action. Concentrate on the here and now and what I can accomplish today rather than fretting about what I may not get done until later.

Jan Drexler said...

One thing that has helped immensely with the holidays over the last couple years is that we decided we wouldn't travel during them. THAT relieves a lot of stress!

So what we do, we do at home - family and friends around, enjoying the snow and the season.

And if something doesn't get done? It doesn't get done. Maybe I'll do it next year.

Of course, I don't have grandchildren yet. I have a feeling these relaxed years are just the calm before the storm....

Myra Johnson said...

MEGHAN, that's where I am right now with hubby recovering from surgery. There's only so much I can do and still be available when he needs something. The good news is he's getting more mobile every day.

JAN, I don't care much for traveling during the holidays either. I feel sorry for our kids, though, who usually travel here or to in-laws' for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's a lot harder for a family with kids to pack up and go than it is for an "old retired" couple--LOL!

Myra Johnson said...

Good advice, KB--don't do anything over the holidays that you don't enjoy! Sometimes that's easier said than done, but it's a worthy goal to aim for and a good way to set priorities.

Dora Hiers said...

Great reminders, Myra. I'm with you on #6, and I definitely need to work harder on #85. Hope and pray hubby recovers nicely and that you can slow down and enjoy time with your loved ones while they're here. Miss you!

Myra Johnson said...

DORA, simplify and replace worry with action. Important areas to work on. Thanks for visiting today, my sweet friend!

Mary Connealy said...

I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping.

I'm awful.

About ten years ago, after years and years and years of giving gifts to my four daughters each of which was greeted with those five little words all gift givers long to hear, "Did you keep the receipt?"

I just quit trying.

I now just buy ANYTHING and keep the receipt. You can't believe how painless Christmas became when I checked out emotionally from the gifts. I now think of the gifts as a 'shirt boxed size gift receipt'.
I hand it over and wish the a happy shopping trip.

I don't even make sure it's gonna fit.

Mary Connealy said...

I do almost all my shopping online.

I do almost anything to NOT have holidays at my house.

I give donations to anyone who even gives the slightest glimmer of a hint that they're okay with that.

I use frozen pie crust.

And I keep writing.

Mary Connealy said...

Holidays are really no trouble at all............

Of course I haven't had a family of SIX move in with me lately!!!

I'm sure they're all QUIET little things!

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, you crack me up! See, I have this one daughter whose "love language" is gifts. So if I don't get it right--and from the heart with feeling--her feelings get hurt.

As for her three teenage sons . . . thankfully we are just about to the point where an iTunes or Amazon gift card or even just cash makes them very, very happy.

And oh, yes, I'm sure our Ethiopia kids who will be living with us for six months with kids age 11, 8, and 3 and a baby due in February are going to be quiet as teensy little MICE.

(Notice I used the word MICE just for you, Mary.)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Gift cards.

I love gift cards.

And now I have a new room to STOW the kids....

Sigh of happiness and glee!

I do host stuff, in that way I'm the "anti-Mary".... and I bake like crazy and I made sure I had no deadlines after this week :)

So the next few months are mine and mine alone to do what I will.

But gift cards. Buying chocolate and shrimp. Most people will LOVE you if you bring one or the other or both to a party.

How stinkin' easy is that?

I love the holidays, I love going crazy, it suits me.

And then the lull of January ROCKS!!!!! Semi-annual Seeker Virtual Retreat to Australia coming this January!

Myra Johnson said...

Hmmm, RUTHY, maybe I will send my kids to live in your NEW ROOM for 6 months!!!

And you can come to my house and bake.

Melissa Jagears said...

Kaybee, definitely milk chocolate chips, the best tasting is Hershey's. They're also the cheapest. win win

Courtney Phillips said...

My biggest challenge lately has been a case of writer's block caused by a critique group experience. Because of other opinions, I tried to redo my entire story, switching my heroine into a soft-spoken character and changing some scenes.
And when I did this, I discovered I could barely make myself sit down to write--I'd rather clean the kitchen than write! (I should've known then that something was wrong.)
So today I returned to that draft of the story that included a sarcastic heroine, a bitter teen, and a hero who hasn't yet figured out how to be a hero. And I feel like I can write again.
It seems so simple now, but I like my characters, and I believe that I'll stick with writing the story the way that is natural.
Sometimes, you just have to trust the instincts God gave you! That's how I'll power through the holiday season.

Myra Johnson said...

COURTNEY, I can really relate to your experience of not even caring to write the story after changing your characters so much. It's so true--if you try to force characters into a mold that just doesn't fit them or your vision for the story, they will rebel and the writing will become a major struggle.

So, though sometimes objective readers can offer helpful insights, ultimately you're wise to trust your instincts. If you're being told your heroine isn't likable, maybe you can find ways to show her vulnerable side even through her sarcasm.

My character Natalie in One Imperfect Christmas is a good example of a troubled heroine many readers have difficulty liking. They either really relate or want to slap her around and send her to therapy.

Courtney Phillips said...

Exactly! Glad to hear you know what I mean:)
Now I'm curious about Natalie. . . Going to search for that book on Amazon.

Missy Tippens said...

Some great tips, Myra! I'm the world's worst at putting things off when I don't think I have time or the energy to do them just right. So I'm a procrastinating perfectionist, I guess.

I like the suggestions that go along with the problems!

Myra Johnson said...

A procrastinating perfectionist--love it, MISSY! You know, I think those two traits do sort of go hand in hand. Perfectionists aren't willing to start a project they don't have a good chance of doing perfectly.

Sitting here this evening with the gas logs glowing in the fireplace. A cold front blew through this afternoon, and when I went out to check for the mail a few minutes ago, I was being hit by big, wet snowflakes! Yikes!!!

And no mail yet, either, at 7:00 p.m. :(

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Myra, do it!!!! I've got three extra bedrooms and the kids will be all over that new room.... And it's far enough away from the main part of the house that you can't hear them...

PERFECT!!!!! :)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

OOOH- permission to do something badly. Thanks Myra. Just what I need to read. Doing something badly means at least you've BEGUN, right? That's the difficult part for me most of the time, and especially at the holidays.

We draw names with my husband's large family early in the year. Believe it or not, this weekend, we wrapped, boxed and shipped the gifts! That was a big one off the list!

I think I'd like to read this little book. Thanks for offering it! Yes please! may at maythek9spy dot com

Enjoy your family. Praying for your hubby's quick recovery and tranquility for all! /gasp/ Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas!

Walt Mussell said...

The problem with having that manic little burst where I do everything on a weekend is that my wife will see it and then add to the list.

Yes, I'm interested in the book.

Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY, thanks for the offer, but . . . I WOULD MISS THEM! Um, maybe we'll just tough it out in our house.

KC & MAY, so true, just beginning can be a huge step! I'm at that point with my next book, trying to get up the nerve to just dive in and start writing. I keep feeling like I need to do a little bit more research, though. {sigh} Soon, though . . . And yay for you getting your shopping done! Wanna come do mine???

WALT, you make a good point. Get too much done and people will think you've got time to do more! Sounds like a good excuse to keep procrastinating. Just a little, anyway. ;-)

Cara Lynn James said...

Wonderful reminders, Myra! I especially like the one about getting everything done and over with. My problem is I do a little bit and then take a looong. 'well deserved' break and then never finish what I started.

Janet Dean said...

Wonderful post, Myra! Packed with wisdom. I think we all relate to the wild schedule and extra work that surrounds Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love the traditions, decorations, cards, songs, and special food. Thankfully my dh enjoys them as much as I do and is a huge help!

Janet

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

2009 is a lifetime ago!

And I never saw it, so it's all new to me.

I love this. Great post. Life happens and sometimes it happens really, really, really fast! Hahaha!

We had 6 kids in ten years, moved twice, hubby changed jobs four times, I changed jobs three times, we built on our house, and have had his parents staying from Mexico several months at a time. Order from chaos and having fun with what we do, that's what it's all about!

Wishing you a smooth and peaceful next few months!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, man, Myra, I am late to the party, and this is definitely one day I shouldn't have been -- this was GREAT (even the 2nd time around!!), and I SO needed this!!

BLESS YOU!!!

HUGS,
Julie

Edwina said...

As usual, I seem to be bringing up the rear! But it's worth it to read these great tips! Thanks, Myra!
Would love a copy of the book!

Dana McNeely said...

As a less-than-one-year reader of Seekerville, everything in this post was new to me, but I agree with others - even the 2nd time around this would be helpful. The tips are great - I'm going to read these to my hubby who can benefit from the slow down, relax, you-don't-have-to-do-everything mentality.

Sharon Timmer said...

Thanks Myra - I am interested in winning s copy of this book!

Myra Johnson said...

CARA, I like rewarding my hard work with some "quality" down time, too! And I've been doing a lot more housework lately with a laid-up husband. Also having to keep the house a little neater (aka vacuuming up dog hair from our shaggy, shaggy shedder) since we have home health care and PT coming 3-4 days a week!

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, glad your DH is a big help with the holiday hoopla. Mine usually is, too. Hoping he'll be getting back to his old self before we get too far into the holiday season. The PT told him yesterday he's at the 3-week level with most things at only 1 week post-surgery. Sounds good to me!

Myra Johnson said...

VIRGINIA, you have definitely had a busy life! As long as your family is happy and healthy, that's all that matters.

JULIE, I personally should be reviewing these tips every few weeks!!!

Myra Johnson said...

EDWINA, come by anytime, early, late, whatever! We're always glad to have you!

DANA, yes, some things are definitely worth repeating. Even if we hear it a million times, good advice doesn't always sink in until we're ready to receive it.

SHARON, glad you came by to visit!

Jackie McNutt said...

As a reader I liked your article. Nice to still see the humorous side of a busy life! Good reminder for all of us.
Thank You
mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

Myra Johnson said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, JACKIE! Thanks for stopping by!

Chill N said...

MYRA, this was a wonderful post. I particularly like the idea of making a list of small tasks and then taking care of them in a "manic blitz." It's those small, nagging things that get to me ... this suggestions gives me a method for getting to them.

Planning to read all the comments this evening. Sorry for the late 'arrival.' Our electricity was out for hours last night ... on a very cold night. I am not pioneer material :-)

Oh, "When The Clouds Roll By" is next in my to-read stack. The cover is beautiful, and I'm looking forward to reading about Hot Springs!

Nancy C