Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summertime Blues Got Ya' Spinnin' Your Wheels?

Have you got those “in over your head, too much to do, not enough time to do it, hubby doesn’t help enough summertime blues”?

You’re not alone. By August, it’s prevalent. Most of us are growing tired of the lack of scheduling that summer permits, and ruing the speed with which weekends fly, caught up in weddings, showers, reunions, vacations, festivals, etc.

It’s a difficult time. The press of yard work weighs on everyone. Gardens, lawns. Home repair. When you live in a climate that only allows four to five months of usable outdoor time, that time disappears quickly.

“To Do” lists help, but who wants to spend their short summer days striving to complete a list that no one else gives a fig for, while your children run and play without you?

It’s okay to take some time off. Cut yourself some slack.

All right, I know, you’re glancing up at the byline, wondering who ghost-wrote this for me. Ruthy never allows time off, you’re thinking. She’s an evil taskmaster, a heartless workaholic who never lets us rest, lambasting us with story after story of successful people who nevah, nevah, nevah give up! Let’s get her! Aaaaaaarrrrggghhh!

Guilty, on so many levels, but I’m also a mom. A wife. Sister, friend, daughter-in-law. I used to be a daughter, but losing one’s parents makes you realize that time does run out, eventually. The regrets and wishes that are inherent to loss can offer guilt or maturity. I’m going with the latter.

September is coming. With it will be the return to scheduling, normal routines, and blocks of time where writing doesn’t have to take second fiddle to everything else you’re expected to do. In studying Bishop T. D. Jakes works, I’ve grown to appreciate the minister’s strong-minded empowerment of women. Sometimes that empowerment means cutting ourselves a little slack. Smelling those roses we’re so fond of.

If summer has gotten away from you, so be it. For September, plan your work then work your plan. Kids are only little once (this includes grandkids) and families need to gather for happy times as well as sad ones. Don’t begrudge yourself that opportunity or feel bad because your writing’s on hold for a bit. The norm always returns, and with it comes a new chance to strut your stuff. Just maybe the time off will re-spur your goals and increase your focus.

I’m Catholic. We’re real good at guilt. Second only to Jews (note my respectful nod to Jewish mothers everywhere) and Italian Catholic mothers. (A category all their own). Guilt can instigate good behavior when used in moderation, or it can create a whole new generation of Oprah guests, willing to spill their guts on national television.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time off to be the woman you were meant to be when summer craziness invades your home. It will all come together again. Flowers will fade, the leaves will turn and you can herald the return to normalcy by getting back to work with a whole new level of industry.

And then it’s Christmas, but that’s another column entirely.


Ruthy (obviously the meds worked wonders today)


  1. Ruthy, I love your post!!! And this new mellow version of our Tyrant!!! In honor of this softer you, I've brought tapioca pudding and tea sandwiches without the crusts. :-)

    I believe in goals, in following your dream, but I've been around long enough to know little kids grow up and those I love aren't forever. Nor am I. So I applaud your advice to refill our tanks in what's left of the summer by spending time with family and friends. And I'm guessing, we'll still find ways to get some words on paper.


  2. Oh my goodness Janet, I do love tapioca pudding, especially for breakfast. Can I have some? Please.

    Ruthy, I'm glad you are going to smell those roses. I bet you even have some in your yard. You are right, we need to celebrate all that life brings us.

    I'm sitting here watching a bald eagle fly about 20 feet off the lake looking for his breakfast. Now that is taking time to enjoy God's creation. But then I'll get busy and get back to writing. I'll be refreshed.

    Thanks for the reminder Ruthy. I'm like you==workaholic. So these reminders are good for us. Enjoy your time.

  3. Did you have to mention Christmas, Ruthy?

    Seriously, though, wonderful advice. When summer vacation begins I always cut my writing hours way back. I still write some each day to keep working on the craft, but more waking hours are spent with my family and friends than in my writing haven. It's a nice break from the regular hours.

    I'm not so much a tapioca person, so I've brought a delightful cinnamon rice pudding to the banquet today. Help yourself!

  4. Sandra, wish I was sitting beside you watching that bald eagle.

    Sandra, the bowl of tapioca is huge. Dig in!

    Eileen, thanks for the rice pudding. It's yummy. If we just had some chocolate, the pudding buffet would be complete.


  5. Wow, Ruthy. I'm doing it. I'm going to take some time off. Stop and smell the roses.
    I need to just get these last 20,000 words written, and one other book revised, then get to ICRS and home and get my cherries picked, pitted and frozen, then can the stuff in the garden and help Ivan bale hay.

    But after that, I promise...Uh, my roses all died. I forgot to water them. Rats.

    Maybe I can smell some lilies, they're doing all right.

    Remember the drawing for Calico Canyon is still going on. Any comments left this week gets your name in the drawing. Today and tomorrow are left. I'll draw a winner Friday, late evening.

  6. Mary, somehow I missed that school is out, but surely you don't have students in the summer. Good thing! You're too busy!!

    Whoever wins Calico Canyon is one lucky gal! Loved that book!!!!!


  7. I laughed, I cried, I thought to myself ... wait, this is Ruthy????

    Wonderful post, my friend, beautifully written and sooo timely. Believe it or not, God just convicted my heart about this very subject not two days ago, so what a confirmation your post is, my friend!

    All too often my deadlines and computer rob me of the real joys in my life -- a cup of cinnamon hazelnut coffee with my husband on the porch swing, watching the baby fawns play in the dappled woods behind our house ... or a phonecall from an old friend who just wants to catch up. Thank you for confirming what God wants us to do. Guess I'll comply -- it's pretty tough to go up against both God AND Ruthy!


  8. Even with this "softer side," I recognized Ruthy's voice immediately in this post. And if anyone deserves to stop and smell the roses ... have at it, girlfriend! (And wedding corsages or frosting roses don't count.)

    Tapioca??? One of my faves! Pass me the scoop, Janet! Oh, and I'll share my super-size box of Godiva truffles (forget the pudding--let's go for real calories!).

  9. Ruthy, thanks for the reminder to walk away from the keyboard occasionally. You always tell it like it is!

    (who has an Italian Catholic mom and IS one too) :)

  10. Why is it, though, that the things my kids like to do aren't the things I like to do? Anyway, thanks Ruthy for making me feel good about taking my kids to the pool and getting a Mt. Vesuvius headache that lasts the rest of the day, which I always get when I'm out in the sun for that length of time.

    Summer's hard. I always look forward to it, then when it gets here, I can't wait until it's over! I want my writing time back! Sorry. :-)
    Hey, but I did finish Calico Canyon today! Mary, all I have to say is, Girl, you're good. Love, love, loved it!!! I wanted more kissing, though. Next time, Mary, more kissing. At least Julie has another "Passion" book coming out soon!!! I bet there's lots of kissing in it!

  11. Oh no, Mary, are you telling me that when the little slaves...uh...the kids leave home, I'll have to start raking hay again?


  12. Are y'all kidding me?

    Ruthy didn't ASK us to take a break.

    She practically ORDERED us to.

    There's a big difference.....

  13. Hey Mel,

    I don't know ... I think Mary got a wee bit racy in this one, what with the scene where he's on top of her in the cave and all that talk of her time of the month ... I was downright proud of you, Mare! :)

    And thanks for the plug for A Passion Redeemed (which comes out in Sept., along with Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide and ANOTHER book of Mary's ... sigh). Yep, plenty of kissing in book 2, although my publisher got the ruler out on this one and slapped my hands a couple of times ... but it's all healed up by now ... :)

  14. School isn't out. I work year round. I didn't include the 40 hour a week job, maybe I can buy roses and smell them at work.

  15. No, Melanie, there will NOT be more kissing. I'm shocked you'd suggest such a thing.


  16. Well, he did FALL on her, Julie. And they were married.
    But still, pretty racy. For me!!!

    Yes, if you want racy Christian fiction, I'm your girl.

  17. And Ruthy telling us all to rest is just another kinda fiction she's writing.
    I think the last time you took some time off, you re-landscaped your yard and served a dinner for 80 with two hours notice.

    PS...Walmart invented their deli for crowds, girl.

  18. Well, it was a LITTLE racy, Mary, but I still wanted more kissing. But it's okay. My books are a little racy. For Christian romance, anyway. God created romance and sex, after all. Don't blame ME!!!

    I was so geeked out about how funny the whole situation was. I mean, a guy who's afraid to touch his wife because he doesn't want to kill her? Oh, my! But I had to hold back my laughter, because every time I laugh, my kids want to know what's so funny, and that slows down my reading.

  19. Our church just buried a 24-year-old Army sergeant, older brother of one of my Sunday School kids years ago, so, you are too right. Time goes too fast when you wonder how long we really have together.

    Um ... think I need something with lotsa carbs right about now.

  20. Step up to the buffet table, Ann. I think someone just dropped off a gallon of Blue Bell and some king-size chocolate-chip cookies.

  21. Ruthie, I had to laugh about "stopping to smell the roses." I have 100 of them in my kitchen right now to put together for a wedding this weekend, and smelling them is all I've been able to do today.

    Truthfully, thanks for the reminder to live life and not always try to manage it.

  22. Oh my goodness gracious sakes to Betsty, welcome one and all!

    Yup, it's like the 'softer side of Sears' in Seekerville today.

    Ruthy has a heart.

    Who knew?????

    So nice to see you all here and please, just ignore Mary's whining about her workload. Blah, blah, blah...


    Hey, and I love tapioca and rice pudding, especially with cinnamon. Yum, thank you ladies. Talk about an all-American celebration. Rock on, ladies!

    My post today was kind of a tag on to Myra's the other day because it's so hard for motivated people, or those of us who need motivation to allow ourselves time to just 'be'...

    And for us Martha types, it sure don't come naturally!

    What you don't realize is that this is actually a typical diabolically planned Ruthy plot that allows me to surge ahead while the rest of you loll the days away in languid splendor...

    Nya ah, ah!!!!


    I have to say that the occasional time off (like I was forced to do prelim to Beth's wedding last week) allows my brain time to feed on new ideas, plot twists and character turns.

    Do you guys find that, too? That even in 'off' mode, the voices don't quit and the thoughts bounce from lobe to lobe like a well-designed 70's pinball game.


  23. Ah, the voices. Constant reminders that I couldn't quit writing even if I wanted to.

    Or are we maybe just schizophrenic?


    Nah. Creative geniuses. That sounds much better.

  24. Mare, it's cruel to strap you to a desk year round! Even if that desk is equipped with a computer, Internet access and a phone. Sorry.


  25. Julie, thanks for the plug for Courting Miss Adelaide. :-) You're a sweetie.

    Oh, gals, I'm a guest at Running With Quills today. That's a blog with big name authors Jayne Ann Krentz, Stella Cameron, Elizabeth Lowell, Lori Foster, Susan Anderson and Elizabeth Guest, a friend of mine and the reason my cover is spotlighted. If you haven't, come see me! Please! I want to blow their minds with my numbers. LOL Speaking of numbers, they get oodles of hits.


  26. C'mon, Janet, baby, give us a link.
    You can do it.

    Running with Quills

  27. here its winter and tax time!
    in australia most schools only get 6 weeks off over summer.
    and that includes Christmas so after the end of school year, end of year for everything else then Chrsitmas celebrations everyone is ready for January and a few weeks break but its all back in the swing in Feb.
    our financial year ended june 30.

    I am not a writer but I have less than 9 weeks till i head to Canada for a holiday and to be bridesmaid in a wedding (the bride hasn't met 3 of her bridesmaids yet) I have tax and book work to do. a bridesmaids dress to make, clean my room, spare room and the garden before i go.
    on paper it looks easy!
    today im off to the smaller big city an hour away I get 2 anda bit hours (i dont drive so have to use the bus get there at 2.30 and have to be ready to leave before 5pm.
    But I like the idea of taking a break. Summer is often hot and i tend to read more in summer for some reason.

  28. Only six weeks break from school, and that includes Christmas? That's it. I'm moving to Australia.

  29. Ann, Tina's an Italian mother and the daughter of an Italian mother, too.

    That's a two-fold whammy on her kids, ya' know. I mean seriously, Italian mother and grandmother???? What chance do those kids have? I think they give them plastic furniture cover material on their First Communion, for heaven's sake.

    But you can't beat real Italian cooking and I love a good guilt trip so I take lessons from every Italian mother I know. In upstate NY, there are plenty to choose from!

    And have I gone on record over here as saying that I LOVED Calico Canyon?

    Oh... My.... Stars.....

    So freakin' funny. Maybe because God had a lapse of judgment and sent me four boys a couple of decades back or because Mary is THAT talented, but I inhaled that book, laughing all the way, just like a sleigh ride. All I needed were some jingle bells. Every gray hair I color and every hole I've patched in 154 yr. old farmhouse walls came from boys and their antics.

    So Mel, I totally understand.

    And hey, Mary's been dieting for six years that I know of. How's it goin', Mare? Inquiring minds want to know. Fess up, tell all.

    And no scolding me, you're the one who brought it up. Sometime. Somewhere. Maybe it was in private...


    Not any more!

    Love you from afar.


  30. Six weeks off, Jenny? That's it???

    The American teachers' unions would have a conniption if such a thing were suggested!

    Wowza. And that includes Christmas...

    I'll offer that option at our next school board meeting.

    Then I'll duck, LOL!

    Glad you're coming this way, though, Jenny. Where's the wedding and how come the bride doesn't know the people in her wedding? Because they're so far out of town, like on the opposite side of the planet?


  31. I'm so the opposite. Summer invigorates me. My only problem is that it goes too fast. Before I know it, it's back to school and we haven't done all the things I'd hoped.

    Then I spend the next ten months impatiently anticipating those cherished two.

  32. Patricia, hey, girl!

    You've pegged the 'other' side of summer. I can't remember a summer that I accomplished all the work and/or fun I thought I could crowd into those ten + weekends. Good heavens, it goes fast, doesn't it?

    But fall here in WNY (Lake Ontario keeps us mild for weeks longer than other areas) is usually stellar...

    And then winter sets in for more months than I care to count right now, LOL! I love that Christmas lights brighten the darkest two months of the year up here. Of course I'm redneck enough (or chicken enough) that I don't go crawling onto rooftops to pull them off if January's too icy so I sometimes have Christmas things I'm pulling off the upper reaches of the house in spring.

    But they're cheerful!


  33. Firstly Ruthy we are internet friends.
    one from texas, calgary and me aussie.
    the wedding is in Brampton near Toronto. I have the lining for my dress still no cotton. they were out of the the colour i need so my friend will send it up (our town doesn't have a place to buy cotton)

    second holidays. Here in Australia most states have 4 terms of about 10 weeks with 2 week holiday between terms. around april, July, sept/oct then the year ends mid Dec. starting the end of Jan. we use to have 3 terms and 8 weeks end of the year in summer. 6 weeks goes fast when you include christmas. but adding all the end of year windups you would have mid year, and add christmas parites etc it gets really hectic in Dec.

  34. Hey Jenny,

    Just had to chime in here, as I live in Brampton. What a small world. Do you have friends or relatives here? Where exactly is the wedding?

    If it's 9 weeks away, sounds like you'll be here in September. Usually a gorgeous month. Warm in the daytime and a little cooler in the evening. And school will be started again. (Yee-haw). Already I can't wait.

    Good luck with your dress.

    Sue (from Brampton)

  35. Thanks for permission, Ruthy. I'll go eat a doughnut and watch TV now. :)


    PS. A really excellent post. Thank you!

  36. Ruthy Sweetheart, I knew something was up when God nudged me over to Seekerville. Talk about being MIA! And feeling doggone guilty about it!! Thanks for your grounding (not grounded, as in teenagers, LOL) words. My brain is hatched, my temper is cooked, and in all the chaos out here in Colorado, it took some straightforward, yet mellow, sanity from upstate New York to make me smile. You go girl!! I can't wait until October, not September, when I can rejoin the ranks once more.

    My loving blessing to you all!!

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