Category Archives: Daily writing prompts

A Whiff of Hope

Today has given me hope, just a whiff but there nonetheless. After weeks of stress piling on top of stress today was surprisingly normal. Some problems got solved, progress was made. No huge strides but for the first time in a while I have a vague memory of what life was like “before.” Memories of feeling grateful and at peace, excitement about the future, confidence in myself.

It’s starting to come back. It might take time but I can feel it, see it in the haze in front of me, smell it like the whiff of burgers on a grill somewhere in the distance on a hot summer day. It’s there, waiting for me.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Whiff.

What Happened When He Got Me Alone on the Beach?

I have been spending a lot of time these days reading about how to write better. I like the way I write, my voice, but there is still a lot to learn. As I am learning I am also working on the rewrite on the Clay/Caleb story. And when I say “rewrite” I mean just that. I am essentially rewriting the entire story but I think it’s coming out great.

Today I have been working on the scene where the main character (now named Jessica) meets Clay. Below is the part of the story where Clay and Jess are dancing. This is the main reason I haven’t had as much time recently to post on WordPress.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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The people dancing around us began to blur, like I was in the center of a carousel that spun ever faster around me. I stumbled, unaware I had moved until I almost fell. Something kept me upright and I sank against what was either Clay or a randomly placed telephone pole.

A thought slogged through the mud and muck inside my brain but couldn’t come to the surface. There was something I was supposed to be doing. What was it? Think!

A breeze hit the sweat on my neck, sending a shiver down my spine. I looked around and realized I had made my way to the water. How did that happen? The waves kissed my ankles as they ran up to greet me.

The horizon tilted like the labyrinth game I had as a young girl. How I had loved tipping it one way then the other, careful to keep the marble from falling in the holes. The game was less fun when you were the marble.

“Whoa. Easy there. Why don’t you sit down for a few minutes?” The voice came from above.

“God?” I asked.

Laughter.

Okay, not God. Still, sitting sounded like a good idea. I landed awkwardly with a splat, my elbow stuck up by my shoulder until it was abruptly released. The water receded, then came rushing back. I kicked my feet, sending a spray of water sailing into the air.

Suddenly I couldn’t stop giggling. As the water continued its attack I hit it with both palms, scaring it away. I dug my feet into the soft sand and gazed up at the stars twinkling like the fireflies I had tried to catch by the pond on my grandparents’ plantation.

I felt as carefree as I had when I was that little girl. Where had she gone?

I felt a weight being lifted off of me. The burden of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations eased. The crushing loneliness I’d felt since their death receded with the next wave and floated out to sea.

“Feeling better?” asked the voice from above that I now knew wasn’t God.

Looking up I saw Clay’s face, one half illuminated by the moon, the other half still cast in shadow, giving him an almost sinister look. All he was missing was the mustache. The moment passed as he crouched down beside me. Up close he was stunningly good looking and I found myself wondering how it would feel if he kissed me.

“Do you think you can stand?”

I nodded.

He held out his hand but I just stared at him. As he waited, a flush swelled from my chest and up my neck, warming my cheeks. He’s waiting. Do something!

Can You Learn to Love Something You Hate?

I’m a business analyst, an Oracle Systems Analyst to be specific although my title is unimportant. I am the person people come to when the system isn’t working. I am a problem solver. I figure things out. Each issue that comes my way is a little puzzle I need to solve to get the answer.

I like puzzles. I enjoy taking bits of information and figuring out how they fit together, what they mean. It’s rewarding to look at something from different sides until suddenly I can see what wasn’t clear in the beginning.

Or that’s how I used to feel.

These days the questions I get require no thought. Instead I’m forced to defend the system.

Them: “Why can’t I turn this requisition into a purchase order? There’s something wrong with the system!”

Me: “Well, you already created purchase orders with these requisitions. This can only be done once.”

Them: “I can’t validate this invoice! I try and try but it never does anything. There’s something wrong with the system!”

Me: “The invoice is on hold because you don’t have enough money to pay it. The hold says insufficient funds.”

Them: “Why hasn’t this purchase order been approved? There’s something wrong with the system!”

Me: “The buyer needs to approve it.”

What happened to the puzzles I used to solve? It’s exhausting constantly defending the system. Yes, there are times when it doesn’t work properly. I would love to fix those issues, given the chance. Instead it’s an endless barrage of people who blame the system for what is almost always a user problem.

In the end, this is a minor complaint I have. There are many other reasons I’m unhappy with my current job. Overall there’s a general feeling of discontent among my peers. We’re all waiting for the next thing that they will do to make it just a little worse to work here.

Morale is low, and getting lower all the time.

So why do I stay? Well I suppose the short answer is because there are benefits to where I work:

1. I am not required to work more than 8 hours in a day – this is almost unheard of in IT.
2. I get over 4 weeks of vacation a year and can earn compensatory time if I choose to work more than 8 hours in a day – meaning I can take off as much time as I want in any given year.
3. I am well paid given the number of hours I typically work – I could certainly make more but I would also be working more.
4. I work from home one day a week – working in your PJs is awesome!
5. The company-paid retirement is more than double a typical employer contribution and I’m 100% vested – I do want to retire eventually so this is important.

All great points….although maybe not as important in the end as job satisfaction. I’m still deciding where the tipping point is. I’m also struggling with whether I’m using these “reasons” as excuses as fear is definitely present. My job right now is secure. I make plenty of money to continue with our current lifestyle with few concerns. I’m unhappy but I’m safe. My kids’ future is safe.

If I leave I don’t want to leave for another business analyst job. I want to make a real change, and that’s terrifying. I am the only income. My kids depend on me and although I do have savings there is little else to fall back on. But this is perhaps a topic for a different day.

I read a question the other day that has stuck with me, and it’s really the reason I’m writing this post.

Can you learn to love something you hate?

This question has been bubbling in my mind for a few days. Some of the problems I have at work (not mentioned here) are beyond my control and ultimately could force me to leave. But, if I take those out of the picture, could I learn to like what I’m doing?

There was a time when I enjoyed the work. This isn’t what I always want to do, but could I make staying here better until I figure out what I really want to do?

So I started a list of all the things I hate about my job, all the little frustrations, the irritations. I wrote down anything that came to mind. What I discovered is that this list was almost exclusively “feelings.” I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel like I’m making a difference. I don’t feel challenged.

There were of course exceptions but largely it’s my attitude toward the job that is making me so unhappy.

This is something I can control, something I’m going to work on so that I can be happier while I work out what I really want to do with my life.

And in the end, as much as I’d like to be doing something else for work, I am grateful for this job. It allows me to spend time with my kids and pursue other interests. It provides enough money so that we can do most of the things we want to do. Perhaps best of all, my discontent with my current job is what ultimately led me to writing and what is prompting me to search for work I can feel passionate about.

Will I learn to love my job? Probably not entirely, but I can make the time I spend working better.

What Are You Thinking?

“What are you thinking?”

It’s a simple question. One I should be able to answer. But it is not always as easy as it seems it should be.

Sometimes I am flooded with ideas, as if I’m in an open field with thousands of balloons floating by. To answer this question would require me to pluck one and hold onto it long enough to describe it to you before the string once again slips through my fingers. And these are tricky thoughts that don’t want to be restrained. They often float right above my fingertips, just out of reach. It takes time to encourage one to drift low enough, to persuade it to hold still for just a moment so I can describe it.

Other times, I am puzzling over just one idea, like an archaeologist who has found something they can’t yet identify. It takes careful excavation to be sure it doesn’t break apart. I first dig with a shovel but then once it breaks free I pick at it with smaller tools, chipping away at the earth that has crusted around it, breathlessly hoping there really is something underneath. It isn’t until I brush off the dust and rinse it clean that there is anything to be told.

When you ask, “What are you thinking?” I want to tell you. I want to be able to share these thoughts. But often I can’t. The balloons just won’t hold still or the petrified ground around my idea is still too thick for me to explain.

And so I respond, “Nothing.” Or worse, “I don’t know.”

I can see the look in your eye when I say this. I know you don’t believe me. You’re right to doubt, however not for the reasons you fear. I don’t give you this answer because I don’t want to tell you, or because I’m afraid you will be upset. I don’t say this to torment you, or to make you guess what is on my mind.

I say this because I have no better answer. The balloon has slipped through my fingers. The idea is still just a hard lump of stone.

So instead, while we wait…can I ask you, “What are you thinking?”

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Torment.

Do You Want Me to Drive?

Do you want me to drive?

I look at you sitting beside me. Why won’t you let me drive? You’re clearly tired of driving. You’ve been driving for hours.

Do you want me to drive?

There’s no reply, because I haven’t asked the question out loud. You don’t know I want to help. I can’t say the words.

Do you want me to drive?

Do you want me to drive?

Do you want me to drive?

I repeat the words over and over, hoping just once they will escape so you can hear them.

Inside my head a battle is raging. Say it! I scream to myself. Just say it! Of course he wants you to drive. What do you think is going to happen if you ask?

Do you want me to drive?

The words still don’t come out. A sign for a rest area appears. It’s 2 miles ahead. Now’s my chance. I can do this.

Just ask him to stop at the rest area, then ask him. I shift in my seat, nervous for no reason.

Can we stop? Do you want me to drive?

This should be easy, but it’s not. The rest area is now only 1 mile ahead and still I’ve said nothing out loud. I need to say something soon or I will miss my chance.

Can we stop? Do you want me to drive?

Now half a mile ahead. It’s too late. If I ask you now you won’t have time to decide before we miss the turn off of the highway. I’m furious with myself but also a tiny bit relieved. The pressure is off. I have more time. I can ask you later.

Do you want me to drive?

Suddenly you seem to answer at least one of my unasked questions. Without a word you pull off into the parking area.

Can we stop?

Yes. Your reply is as silent as my question.

We stand. We stretch. We use the restroom. As I’m waiting I formulate a plan. I’m going to ask you. This is my chance.

Do you want me to drive?

We begin the short walk back to the car. I take a deep breath. This is it. I’m finally going to do it.

“Do you want me to drive?”

I did it! This time I actually said it.

At first you say no. You’re tired of driving but for some reason you feel like you need to do the driving. Maybe because this road trip was your idea.

You don’t know how hard it was for me to ask the question. You don’t know I need you to say yes. Then finally…

Yes. Thank you. That would be great.

***************

Recently I took a road trip with a friend and on that drive I was humbled by this reminder that although I have grown a lot over the past several years, I still have work to do. It wasn’t so long ago that these moments were commonplace. The most trivial, mundane thought would get stuck in my head, trapped, unable to come out.

Do you want me to drive?

Why was I afraid to ask such a simple question? The friend I was with was not going to judge me for asking. He was not going to be angry at the question, or offended I had asked. This had nothing to do with him at all.

And yet I was, for the most part, utterly unable to ask.

Do you want me to drive?

It was a moment that passed quickly. He had no idea this was going on in my head, and once I was in the driver’s seat there was no reason to bring it up. It was inconsequential, yet fundamentally important at the same time.

There are countless times in the past 7 years when I have been conscious of this happening. I could as easily tell you about the onion rings another friend offered me and my complete inability to say yes when he offered to share them. That incident was 3 or 4 years ago and yet I could describe it in as much detail as this more recent occurrence.

Do you want me to drive?

I’ve written a book about how I’ve drastically changed my life (Thriving Not Surviving) and yet I sometimes still struggle with such simple things as asking a question.

Do you want me to drive?

Who am I to pontificate, to go on and on about how people can better their lives? I’m nobody. I can’t even ask a question.

Do you want me to drive?

Except that I have learned things. I have done things. I have achieved things.

I have inspired others. I have motivated others. I have changed the lives of others.

The past 7 or 8 months I have spent a lot of time considering what I want to do with my life. Eventually I need to make a career change. What I am doing does not align with what I want to do. There are many options. I have many choices. I just don’t know yet which way to go.

But one thing is clear to me. I want to make a difference. I want to help others. People matter to me. I want the things I do in my life to align with that value.

I don’t know how I will do this. But even if I can help just one person it will be worth it. And then maybe we can both ask that question.

Do you want me to drive?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Pontificate.

My Winding Path

Tomorrow marks the 7 month anniversary of this blog. This experience has changed me in more ways than I can say, but I don’t believe I need to. Most of you reading this are bloggers yourself and so you know what being part of this community can mean.

I started out without a plan, and I suppose I still don’t have a set course. I know I want to write. And with a few exceptions I have written almost every day for the past 7 months. I have written and published my first book (Thriving Not Surviving) and am in the process of writing a novel (explained in this post With Eager Anticipation I Watch My Story Unfold). But mostly I’ve just written what I feel.

There have been a faithful following that have read everything I write. I thank all of you for your continued support and encouragement. You have changed my life. I can’t possibly list everyone here, but in particular I want to thank the authors of the following blogs, you each know why:

Walt’s Writings

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

Pointed Home

There are others who read when they can, which is also appreciated. I know everyone is busy and I can’t possibly find time to read everything I would like to, so I am grateful when others make time to read what I am putting out into the world. Thank you.

Finally, there are some who have newly stumbled on my blog and probably aren’t entirely sure what to make of it. I want to welcome you on this circuitous journey I’m on.

This past weekend I disappeared for the second time in a month. I went up to the mountains and stayed in a condo that didn’t have internet. I went hiking and generally spent the rest of my time reading, writing, and thinking about writing. At first I intended to write out my posts longhand and then publish them when I got home. I started with ubiquitous and what transpired were several pages that would some day get to the word, but not very quickly and to be honest it’s still not finished.

What I worked on instead was figuring out some key elements of my story and beginning the process of my first rewrite. This will be a huge effort but one that is necessary given that the story at this point is little more than a bunch of random thoughts thrown together, out of order, based on the word of the day. I feel there is enough content at this point that it is time to take on this task.

Now I find myself at a crossroads, unsure how to proceed with the blog.

Should I return to writing about my personal metamorphosis as I had before I dove into fiction? Looking back, those posts certainly received more “likes” than the ones I’ve written for my novel.

Should I post the rewrite as I complete it? I’m not sure if this would increase or decrease interest in reading the final product. But it would force me to keep making progress on what is destined to be a laborious task.

Should I work on the new story idea that came to me this weekend? I constantly have new ideas for things I want to write, but while hiking this weekend something entirely new began to take shape.

I don’t know what is best. But I do know that I want to keep writing, and I hope you will continue to read, and comment when something moves you. I am grateful for each of you.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Circuitous.

Why Was She Doing This to Me?

Rummaging through the top drawer of my dresser Lily finally found what she had been searching for. She brandished the tiny bikini she had made me buy while we were on vacation in Key West.

“No.” I shook my head for emphasis. “Absolutely not.”

“This is why we bought it. You’re wearing it.” There was no arguing with her. I caught the scraps of material as she flung them at me.

Heading to my closet she flipped through my dresses, looking for something scandalous I was sure.

“Perfect!” She turned holding a black spandex halter top dress.

I grabbed the hanger from her, rolling my eyes. Heading into the bathroom to change I asked, “Why do you hate me?”

“I don’t hate you.”

“Then why are you doing this to me?” My tone was whinier than I had planned.

“You never know. “ Her grin was apparent in her tone. “Tonight could be the night that changes everything.” Her pithy comment might have been more premonition than speculation.

“I don’t want things to change, Lily. I’m happy the way things are!”

“No, you’re not,” Lily replied, knowing me all too well.

“Well I was until you decided to make me go to this ridiculous party!” I was yelling but I wasn’t angry. I knew she was looking out for me. She truly did want me to be happy. And so I would humor her and go to this party. I would give it an hour then beg her to take me home.

As I stepped back into the room she gave a low whistle. “You’re hot stuff!”

I swatted at her, embarrassed as always by the compliment.

“Do we have to go?” I tried one last time.

“We do. We’re already late. I’ll drive. Tonight is about you returning to the living. Just relax and try to enjoy it.” Although her words had been resolute she knew how hard I had taken the failure of my one and only significant relationship. She knew how anxious I was about social situations in general.

She looked me straight in the eye, one hand resting on each shoulder. “It will be okay.”

I nodded. “I believe you.” But I didn’t, not really.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Pithy and is part of something longer I’m working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after What Would I Do for My Best Friend?