Lori Robinett: {Creating} My Path

musings of a wife, mother, writer . . .

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Take Care of You

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What is it about us, as women, that makes us think we have to do everything? Is it learned behavior, or is it in our genes? I, like many women, have many roles to fill. Who am I? I am a mother, a wife, a stepmother, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, an employee, a paralegal, a writer . . . and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

The struggle to balance those roles is just that – a struggle. I would not get through the day if I didn’t have a game plan. I’m a bit of a control freak, I’ve been told (and you may notice a bit of that in my main characters – that’s a piece of me in them). I don’t deny it (though my philosophy with most things is deny! deny! deny!), I try to work with it. I start each day with a plan. Personally, I swear by my Franklin Planner. My life is in that book. My first boss out of college, Virginia Stewart, was a good influence on me. She trusted me, she taught me, she encouraged me. She let me take time off work to attend classes towards my masters degree, and other classes that were simply meant for self-improvement. One of the classes she sent me to was the Franklin time-management one-day seminar, and she bought me a binder, the first year’s filler, and a storage binder. That’s something that made a truly lasting impression on me – that she thought enough of me, a lowly young secretary, to invest in me like that. I should track her down and write her a thank you.

OK, so now you know my method of management. A couple of years ago I tried something different – divided each day into three sections – work, family and personal. I think it is important to realize that these three facets of your life work together, and mesh with each other, to form a total picture. One cannot exist without the other, at least in my life. My work is what keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. My family is, well, my family – the most important facet of my life. Separating them in my planner didn’t really work. There is too much overflow and overlap. So, I’m going back to the traditional planner with a daily task list. Maybe I’ll try something different for home, though.

My personal life has somehow been glossed over for the past several years or so (well, until 2005). My daughter is now 17. She’ll graduate this spring and will soon be off on the grand journey called College. She no longer requires my constant attention. I should be able to carve out enough time to have a personal life, to explore my own wants, desires and needs. To be honest, I am a better parent and a better wife when I allow myself that time. Yesterday, I was ready for Christmas to be over, to have time to myself. While my DH snoozed on the couch and watched Cowboys for Christmas, I played in my scraproom. It was WONDERFUL. I felt so refreshed afterwards.

So, you may ask, why do I suddenly feel this need to carve out personal time? To allow myself that luxury? A pivotal moment in my life occurred on February 28, 2003. My best friend died of cancer. She was 35 years old, with a loving husband and two wonderful children. We were best friends in high school, when we talked for hours on the telephone, cruised the loop together in her mom’s yellow Mustang, and double dated. We got dressed up for Prom together, and cried on each other’s shoulders when things didn’t work out with a boyfriend. We thought we had the rest of our lives to do . . . whatever. Anything. Everything. Then one day she had a routine mammogram, and the results weren’t good. She called me, and I helped her walk down the hallway of the hospital after her masectomy. She didn’t look good then, but the chemo and radiation seemed to work. A couple of years later, she attended a breast cancer survivor seminar/luncheon with me, and I thought she would make it. Less than six months later, she was dead.

You never know when your time will be up. You have to do it – whatever “it” is – now. For me, writing is important. It is my legacy for my daughter. One day, I want her to read my work and be proud that I am her mother.

Most important takeaway: Don’t put off the good stuff until tomorrow.

Artist’s Date

Like many of you, the events of last Friday have weighed heavily on my mind. I just could not bring myself to post, and so I didn’t. One of these days, perhaps I will share my thoughts. But for now, I need to turn my mind elsewhere. I find myself in need of an Artist’s Date, and think I need to plan one very soon.

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One very important part of doing the Artist’s Way is the Artist Date. This is one to two hours a week, which you spend by yourself – this is a very special time just for you. No kids, no husbands, no friends. Just you and your Inner Artist. We tend to get so caught up in life that we just don’t take time to nourish the creative soul that is hidden deep inside us. This is your excuse – it’s your assignment, so it officially needs added to your to-do list.  I don’t care how important you are, I don’t care how busy you are. If you want to do this and be successful, you need to do it all the way. Think of it this way – you are refilling the well. You have a deep well of creative ideas which you draw on when you write, but if you keep dipping a bucket of creative ideas out each day, you are eventually going to run the well dry. Not a good thing. You want your well to be full of FRESH creative ideas. If you hole up in your home or office and spend your free time writing (which, let’s face it, many writers think they have to do), your writing loses its freshness. I know you are busy. So am I. But if you want to be a SUCCESSFUL writer (or artist, or photographer, or sculptor, whatever), you have to get out there and experience life.

I’m not asking you to spend a lot of money here. I’m a struggling writer, myself. All I ask is that you get out your day planner or calendar, and mark out 2 hours for you to take your Inner Artist on a date. Do it today – don’t put this off. Give some thought to what you might want to do. You could go to a movie, visit a museum, take a class, go for a walk, go for a bike ride, take a bubble bath, spend a couple of hours in the salon being pampered. Whatever you do, it should take you outside your normal weekly path. Do something different, something to pamper yourself and stimulate your creativity.

If you need more ideas, just let me know and I’ll send you my Artist Date handout of ideas. And comment below – tell me and the others your ideas for dates.

Journey vs Destination

Family Truckster

When we last spoke, I told you about Lisa Bearnson’s instructions on how to find Joy in the Journey. And that’s really what this blog is all about, that’s what I am all about – the Journey. Many years ago I recognized that I often enjoyed the Journey more than the Destination. When I was little, the trip across Kansas in our wood-grain-sided station wagon was an adventure. Mom and Dad were waaaay up front, and my little brother and I were aaaallllll the way in the back, in that huge expanse. We had packed Hershey’s chocolate bars for snacks, but Bro & I discovered that they melted quite well in the sun, then we could squish the chocolate out the end and suck on it. I don’t recall Mom’s reaction, but I’m sure she wasn’t quite as amazed as we were at that discovery. We watched out the window for antelope and buffalo, and got excited when we actually saw one. Bro irritated me, I irritated him. “Mom, he’s touching me!” “Mom, she crossed the line!” We had staring contests. Mom instituted the “Let’s See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest” game, but neither Bro nor I were good at that game. But it was still a fun trip.

When I grew up and began to make purchasing decisions, actually getting something wasn’t nearly as satisfying as pouring over the details, making lists, researching the pros and cons. That’s true for everything from decorating my house to deciding which fitness watch to get. Again, it’s the Journey that brings me the most satisfaction.

My writing life may be the same way. When that perfect day happens, and I actually get a book published, will I be satisfied? Of course I will. You’ll probably hear me whooping and hollering all the way over there. But the Journey has been wonderful so far, and I expect it will just get better. My critique group has become my touchstone. Those women are hard on me – they tell me what I’m doing wrong, what doesn’t make sense, what I need to do better, but they also support me in a way that no non-writer could. Those I’ve met at conferences have shared their experiences, encouraged me to persevere even when the market is tough and have passed along their knowledge. The online writer’s community is also supportive and full of information. And then there’s the personal Journey. I’ve learned so much about myself since I began writing. It has made me a better wife, mother, person. I’m sure I have a lot more to learn on this Journey, but I fully intend to enjoy every moment of it and find Joy in this Journey.

How about you? Do you enjoy the Journey or the Destination more?

The Joy is in the Journey

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I went to a scrapbooking crop last year to benefit the Buddy Pack Program with the Central Missouri Food Bank and had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Lisa Bearnson, founding editor of Creating Keepsakes and entrepreneurial scrapbooker extraordinaire. Her keynote talk was on Finding Joy in the Journey. She impressed me beyond belief, so I’m going to share a bit of her talk here, though I am sure I am not doing it justice.

To begin, she told a little bit of how she got started. She was working as an editor for WordPerfect magazine. OK, let me digress for a moment. WordPerfect used to be THE word processing software. I took classes on it, I was good at it, and was even offered a job teaching people how to use it back when I worked at Central Missouri State (now UCM). I read WordPerfect magazine. This was all back in the late ’80’s/early ’90s, before Bill Gates took over the world. So, anyway, Lisa was working for WordPerfect magazine. She had lunch with a friend, was complaining about her job, and her friend asked her what kind of magazine she’d rather be working in. She said scrapbooking, of course! (my takeaway: wouldn’t it be nice if we could all answer that question so quickly?). She told her husband about it that night and he supported her, said let’s do it. (my takeaway: wouldn’t it be nice if we could always be supported that quickly, that easily and that unconditionally?) They got together with another couple, each mortgaged their homes for $50,000 and went to a publishing seminar, where they approached someone with PrimeMedia (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong, but I don’t want to go look it up right now. I’d rather just tell my story. Bear with me.) He laughed at them, said they hadn’t done a year’s worth of market research. Said that they needed at least a million dollars to start. Said it was a stupid topic for a magazine. They did it anyway. It was successful. And that same company bought Creating Keepsakes years later. Apparently it wasn’t such a stupid idea.  Take THAT, Mr. Expert!

I loved that. So here’s what I’m going to try to do, and what I encourage you to do.

  • Don’t listen to experts. They don’t really know everything.
  • Do listen to your gut.
  • Don’t be afraid to say yes.
  • Do take chances.

What would you rather be working on right now? Seriously. Comment below and let me know.

Hobbies to Fill an Empty Nest

I’m starting to prepare for the empty nest that I’ll be faced with next year. Still can’t believe that my baby is a senior in high school. Nearly 17. Dang. These past 17 years have flown by. But I digress . . . one of the things that I think will help me cope with her going off to college are my hobbies. They keep me busy.

I’m a writer. I love to write, have for years. One of my short stories was published in The Storyteller this summer, which thrills me to pieces. I’ve had one other story published, and it took first place in their People’s Choice (fiction) award! It would be so cool to do that again. I also write web copy for a riflescopes company, which has been a blast. I get to research for my fiction writing and use that research to write non-fiction copy, and get paid for it. Very cool.

I’m a scrapbooker. I have a studio, which I love escaping to every now and then. For me, it’s about recording the stories of my family, my life. I imagine my grandchildren looking at those albums, the albums being passed on for generations. Of course, they’ll probably get tossed some day. Nah – someday I’ll be a famous writer and those scrapbooks’ll be worth a mint! (don’t tarnish my dream, just go along with it)

I’m a runner. A very, very slow runner. But I run 2 miles three times a week. It’ been great. I love the feeling of freedom, lacing up my shoots and going out, just me and the road. And the occasional coyote. One scared the bejesus out of me a while back. Yikes. Unlike those who run with an iPod, I run with nothing – that’s a great time to noodle ideas, to think about my characters, and indulge my competitive side (though let’s face it, I’m only competing with myself . . . at my last race, I was beaten by an old couple WALKING. Yes, you read that right. Old. Walking.).

All these hobbies take time and compete for attention, but together they make me complete. Is it too much? Nah. There just aren’t enough hours.

What are your hobbies? Do you ever think you need to give one up, or is there one you want to take up?

The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages

Whenever I get stuck in my writing, it’s time to get back to basics. For me, that’s The Artist’s Way. If you’re having trouble – I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book. But you don’t have to buy the book to get started and get those creative juices flowing. If you want to be a writer (or an artist or an astronaut or a wallaby wrangler . . . fill in your own blank), no one’s going to do it for you. Get off your butt and do it yourself. 

Morning Pages are the most basic component of working through The Artist’s Way. You need to get a journal. Any journal will work. I get mine from Wal-Mart for $3.97. Get whatever works for you – a spiral notebook, a pretty journal, or just loose notebook pages. But no wimping out – no tiny little journals. I want some real writing to happen here! It is best to do your Morning Pages in the morning. It’s up to you just how early. When I first did AW, I kept the journal beside my bed and literally wrote 3 pages of brain dump before I even got out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I had to get up and pee first. But if I could wait, I did. TMI, I know – but that is the answer to a question I’ve been asked more than once! The most important thing is to do this in a place that is yours – a quiet, out of the way place where your kids/husband/dog/cat won’t bother you. This is not high quality writing – it is just stream of consciousness writing. Brain dump. Write whatever comes to mind. Julia Cameron says these have to be written in longhand, which is certainly preferable. But if you can’t hand write three pages, type them. Don’t complain to me (or Julia, or whoever) about it.

Just do it.

However it works for you – do it.

Three pages every morning. Write whatever comes to mind. The idea is to get all the gunk out of your head. At first, your pages will probably read like a daily to-do list. Your dreams may appear on the page, and you may find yourself remembering more of your dreams. This happened so frequently to me, I decided to get a book on dream deciphering! Eventually, you will begin to register answers to questions that you’ve been pondering. Write down your questions, and let your muse work. The way I think of it, my muse (whose name is Wendie) sits on my shoulder and whispers the answers in my ear. Sometimes I will literally write on the page something like, “Wendie, I just don’t know what should happen next. How will Tiff react when she finds out about Aidan’s past?” Or in my darker moments, “Wendie, if you wanted to kill your husband, how would you do it?” (By the way, DH, if you read this – this is referring to a character – not you!!) And the answer appears magically on the page. You will likely find yourself feeling like a conduit for . . . well, for your muse, or your Creator (God, whatever term you want to use). This is a good thing. It teaches you to show up at the page each day, and to write. Your fingers can make words appear on the page. This will kick start your creativity, and you will learn that you do not need to wait for inspiration in order to fill your page

One thing is very important – do NOT read your pages. Do not allow anyone else to read your pages. Once you’ve written, flip the page or stick them in a drawer. If you’re tempted to flip back, rip them out and stick them in an envelope and seal it, then date the outside & hide it under the worn out panties hiding in the bottom of your underwear drawer.

Make the experience pleasant. Personally, I fix a cup of good coffee with a decadent creamer, light a candle and use a beautiful fountain pen. Honor yourself. Don’t skimp. No matter how busy your life is, you can spare 20 minutes a day to concentrate on you. You deserve it.

The Value of Vacation

ImageWe (we being my kiddo & I) escaped to Florida on vacation over the summer. It began as a mother/daughter trip, then we invited my uncle & cousin along, then my parents. My cousin wasn’t able to go, but the rest of us embarked upon our journey in late May. It was a good trip, with the highlights being, in no particular order, seeing Harry Potter’s Wizarding World (more on that in a moment), experiencing Blue Man Group, petting a penguin, and meeting an astronaut. We left on a Monday, came home on Friday. The perfect amount of time – we were all still happy, all still having a good time, but were just starting to miss home (admission of guilt: I really missed my little dogs . . . missed my hubby, too, but REALLY missed my dogs!).

Looking back over the week, I realize it was money well spent. Airline tickets, rental car, hotel, food (Joe’s Crab Shack is my new favorite place to eat), admission tickets (seriously, there is a LOT of money going thru the gates at Universal Studios) and souvenirs add up to a LOT of money. But the memories are priceless. The experiences were amazing. And that is the value of vacation: experiences. We need varied experiences to enrich our lives. They don’t have to be once-in-a-lifetime trip-around-the-world experiences – they just have to be different from your normal routine. Even if you can’t afford a “real” vacation this summer, treat yourself with new, exciting experiences.

Need some ideas?

Watch a movie you wouldn’t normally choose.

Read a book you wouldn’t normally read.

Eat at a new restaurant.

Drive a different route to work.

Spend a Sunday doing NO work – I mean NONE. Sit on your deck and read, or watch all those episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation that are taking up all the space on your DVR (surely I am not the only one . . .).

Feel free to add some ideas of your own below.

(P.S. Harry Potter rant follows. Getting into Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure was expensive. And I hate rides. They make me sick. My kiddo has a medical condition and can’t ride roller coasters. If you don’t ride rides, Islands of Adventure is a giant waste of time and money. If you’re like me and go purely for Harry Potter, yeah, it’s cool to see Hogsmead. Going through the castle is interesting. But they could’ve done SO much more with that place. Maybe a couple of stores actually set up to look like the real stores instead of like dollar stores. A flying broomstick would’ve been a fun touch. Perhaps a rail station to take you from one end to the other. A store where you could buy pens and scrolls. I looked all over for connections to the books – maybe an autographed book. Nothing. Waited in line over an hour to get a wand at Ollivanders, only to find out that the 2 minute show only let’s ONE person get a wand. Everyone else gets to stand shoulder to shoulder to butt with the gazillion other people who want a cheap wand that doesn’t even begin to warrant the spending of $39. Thought a goblet might be a nice souvenir, but was sorely disappointed in the cheap plastic one with LED lights blinking in the base. OK, rant over. Proceed.)

The Wild One’s Hunger by Ericca Thornhill

Amazon carries The Wild One’s Hunger

I am pleased to share my space today with Ericca Thornhill. We’ve known each other for years, and I am proud to count her as a friend and am honored to have her as a critique partner. Her first book has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press, so I asked her to share a few words with us about her work. Ericca, welcome aboard!Lori, thanks for inviting me to post on your blog, it’s quite a treat.
I really enjoy your writing, so it means a lot to me to get a chance
to write to your fans!Do you remember the days when writing was just fun to do?  My sisters
and I would spend time in our room writing plays, with a part for each
of us. Once my sister got a diary with a beautiful brown binding and a
little key, and we took Mark Twains’ Adam and Eve story to new lows,
with the humor of middle schoolers.  We illustrated our story as Adam
and Eve learned to live with the dinosaurs.
I think that most writers start this way. Writing is in our blood,


it’s something that we do for fun. I never knew that I was a writer,
isn’t that strange?  I thought that I was a reader, and a drawer, and
a scientist. If someone had said to me that I was a writer, I would
have wondered what they were talking about.  Even though I submitted
to the school literary journal, I wrote for fun, I never thought I’d
try to make it into anything.
And as I grew, great insights would fill my mind, and I’d stay up all


night writing novels. It only took me about five novels to make me
realize that I was a writer. I guess that sometimes things are so
obvious that you can’t see them clearly.
And now as I write, the frenzied midnight writing sessions and middle


school humor has calmed down a bit. I’ve re-learned a lot of those old
rules that I never paid attention to in high school, and reached
success by looking for what the Wild Rose Press wanted.  Changing from
a nonwriter to a writer has changed how I write. But I never stopped
writing.
I wish you good writing time.

Ericca Thornhill has published her first romantic fantasy novella with


the Wild Rose Press. Entitled “The Wild One’s Hunger,” it delves into
the dream of one perfect soul made just for you. It can be ordered at:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=4981

Walking on the Moon

ImageIn Eureka Springs, Arkansas, that is! It was one of those moments that was corny and goofy, but so memorable! And what a great conversation starter, right?

I was in Eureka Springs for my annual trek to the Ozark Creative Writers conference, which is held the second weekend of October each year. The conference is good, like a family reunion. But this is the best kind of family reunion, because you can ditch your family and go shopping! Which I did. Twice.

The first day my favorite stops were the Paper Odyssey, where I bought way more handmade paper than I will ever use and a couple of dog stamps that can sit on the shelf in my scrap room next to the other rubber stamps that I never use. But, hey, I was doing my part to support small business. Then I went to Happy Things, one of the coolest toy stores I’ve ever been to. Part of the reason I go in there is to pet Rudy, the standard poodle that sports dreadlocks. She sits on her throne of red velvet accepting the adoring strokes of her public like a queen. When I go away, I miss my puppies something awful, so I grasp at every opportunity to pet other dogs while I’m out, further cementing the suspicion of my own dogs. They’re sure I’m a traitor, and when they sniff my jeans when I get home, they know I’ve been petting other dogs. They’re right.

The second day I went shopping I was lured into climbing up a flight of extremely narrow wooden stairs to the second floor by a little wooden sign that proclaimed “Moon Rocks!” My current work-in-progress is a sci fi, working title is Lunacy. So who can blame me for taking that sign as a  . . . ahem . . . sign. In that little shop with the creaking wooden floors (I wonder if they thought that through . . . a ROCK store on the second floor? Hope they don’t find any big meteorites.) I met Steve and he showed me some of the meteorites they’ve found, including one that was traced to the moon, close to one of the Apollo landing sites. There’s a slice encased in plastic and they let you walk on it. Hence, you get to “walk” on the Moon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I have a T-shirt to prove it. And a card with a smidgen of moon dust encased in a tiny little pocket. It’s inspirational. For me, anyway.

What inspires you to write? Anything you display near you as you write, put in your pocket and rub? Hmmmm . . . bet my friends who write erotica will have fun with that question . . . :o)

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