Take Care of You

Later this morning I'll be on a plane to Florida for some client meetings. It's a tough time to be out of the office and to be out of town. I'm very busy at work, and this is an important month in our house.

Sam in 3rd grade
  • My baby (Sam) is about to turn 18, and at the end of this month he'll graduate from high school. The month is full of ceremonies and end-of-high-school celebration events that we're all excited to attend.
  • My husband, Mike, is preparing for an important exam and then will be leaving on Sunday to spend the summer in Washington working as an engineering intern.
  • I have two business trips this month — this week and a couple of weeks from now.

In order to accommodate the travel and family schedules, I've been working pretty long hours at the office to get everything done. I realized this morning that I'm doing something again that I have a habit of doing — when the schedule gets packed, the first things to drop out are the things I do for my health (physical and mental).

Yesterday I felt like I had to get to the office early to get a jump start on the day, so I skipped my workout. And then I skipped lunch — just stayed at my desk and kept working.

The day was full and long, so writing . . . didn't happen.

If it was just the one day, probably not a big deal. But it's a pattern — this entire week has been like that, and other weeks in the recent past.

Why is it that when something has to go, we drop the things that matter only to us? I run for my physical health — to take care of my body so that it will sustain me for the rest of my life. I write for my mental and emotional health — to pursue a lifelong dream and passion. It doesn't matter to anybody else whether I do these things. I do them for me. So it's easy to tell myself that if I can't do everything, I should let these go.

This morning I woke and realized I need to pack for my trip, get some materials together for the client meetings, and take care of some things around the house before I leave for the 90-minute drive to the airport. And I almost just jumped into that mad scramble instead of taking the time for a workout or writing.

But then I stopped. And thought about it.

And put on my running shoes and went outside for a quick run in the glorious north Texas spring morning.

And while I was running, I thought . . . maybe we all need a reminder that our health and our dreams shouldn't be the first thing we sacrifice when other demands press in.

Women have a tendency to do that, though, don't we? We take care of everybody else first, and if — if — there's a little time left, then maybe we think about our own dreams. But taking that approach can mean that days, weeks, years go by and we never take any action toward the things we've dreamed about.

I certainly wouldn't suggest that we stop taking care of our responsibilities or the people we love. Those things are important. Vital. And they bring us joy too.

But it's also vital to take care of ourselves — body, mind, and soul.

So today, I ran. And today, I will write.

But right now . . . I'm going to get ready to catch a plane.

What do you give up first when you feel like you're running out of time? Do you put yourself at the bottom of the list always?

What little step can you take — today — to change that?

Greenville, Texas 
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Book Review (& FREE BOOK): Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

When everything that matters most to you seems to be falling apart, where do you turn?

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Darlene Henderson and her husband Brad move their family from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas, moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them expected, especially for 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple's marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both Darlene and Brad begin to wonder whether the shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she works with at the school for special-needs children where she's employed. Unfortunately, this attention comes at a time when she's feeling vulnerable and unappreciated at home.

The small-town life that they though would be a haven from big-city dangers might just prove their undoing.

I received my review copy of Beth Wiseman‘s recently released novel, Need You Now, several weeks ago. Unfortunately, I had overcommitted myself to reading (judging two fiction contests and reading chapters from my critique group). Adding this to the heavy obligations of my law practice and a long daily commute left me with too much to do and not enough time to get it done. I put my review copy of the novel on my desk and planned to get to it “soon.” Every time I saw it on my desk I felt guilty. “I need to get that read so I can write the review I promised.” But other deadlines pressed and it got put off.

Last week I finally couldn't stand the guilt, so I picked it up at about 7 pm on Wednesday, determined to get some chapters read before bed.

At midnight (on a work night! when I had to get up at 5 am!) I finally put the book down, having read it to the end. That's how compelling I found this book.

Beth Wiseman is an award-winning, bestselling author of Amish fiction. I've never read her other novels, but the description of Need You Now (her first contemporary novel) intrigued me, so I happily accepted a review copy. She opens the story with a clever and suspenseful scene that immediately grabs you and draws you into the story. One by one, Wiseman layers on the complications and the conflicts, creating a family that the reader cares about in a situation that any of us might find ourselves in. There is no good place to put this book down–and that's why I ended up reading the whole book in one marathon sitting. Wiseman keeps you reading to find out whether these people will survive the crises that threaten to destroy this family. Will Darlene and Brad find out in time what their son is up to, and what Grace is doing to herself? Will Darlene be able to resist the temptation of a kind, understanding, attractive man? And will Brad emerge from his preoccupation with work in time to save his marriage?

I thought this book was a well written and engrossing story of how a family can fall apart little by little when nobody's paying attention, and how total destruction can be averted if people are willing to take the right steps at the right time. The characters are well drawn and believable. Although I've been employed full-time for quite awhile, I recognized in Darlene many of the career moms and homemakers that I've known, and, in fact, myself when I was at that stay-at-home mom stage of my own life. She loves her family and loves making a home for them, but sometimes feels isolated and unappreciated–even a little invisible to her family.

If I have any reservations about this novel, it's that I felt like a little too much blame was laid at Darlene's feet for taking a job instead of staying at home. There were a few places where I felt like the implication was that if she'd been home, none of this would have happened. Maybe, or maybe not. Darlene wasn't the only parent not paying close enough attention to what the kids were up to. Throughout the novel, Brad was completely preoccupied with his work and his hopes for making partner at his accounting firm. And frankly, those teenaged kids seemed a little ill-equipped to handle life–and just a little petulant about being asked to get their own breakfast sometimes.

Nevertheless, this is an outstanding novel that both entertains and challenges the reader. Maybe the lesson to be learned from the Hendersons' story is that family is just too important to take for granted.

I heartily recommend Need You Now to my friends who enjoy women's fiction. You can learn more about Beth at her website, and connect with her on Facebook. Need You Now is available in bookstores. You can find it both in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

Would you like a free copy of Need You Now? Leave a comment (and your email address) below. I'll draw a name later this month.

Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .

Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog

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Journaling for Non-writers – Guest Post by Author Mari McCarthy

I'm pleased to welcome author Mari L. McCarthy to I Was Just Thinking. . . . In her guest post today, Mari shares some encouraging thoughts about what journaling can mean to you even if you don't think of yourself as a writer. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to learn more about Mari and a fun opportunity to change your life through her upcoming online journaling challenge!
Have you always assumed that journaling is not for you because you don't think you're a good writer, or you simply don't like to write?
If so, take another look! It's a fallacy to think that journaling is all about writing. Though writing is involved, it is not the main concern. As a comparison, think about fine art or music. Skill with the paint or piano helps, but creativity and self expression are far more essential.
Unlike fine arts, journaling is generally not done for an audience. No one else has to see your pages, so you need not fear that someone will judge your technical abilities.
But here's the main thing: journaling is not about writing; rather, it is a process of asking questions and performing whatever actions seem necessary in search of answers to those questions.
Who am I? What's my life about? Why do I feel so ____? What do I want? What is the story of this experience I am having? How can my life contribute to a better world, or at least a better me? How can I get what I want?
You know, those types of questions. 
Journaling is about recording, analyzing, coaching, coping, seeking, playing, and a long list of other activities that are vastly more essential to your journaling experience than writing is.
Yes, a notebook or computer file is usually involved; yes, words are part of the picture. But your journal may also include photos and drawings, sketches and doodles, souvenirs, artifacts, musical notations. Online you might do video journaling. If you use your computer to journal, you may include snippets from the internet or articles you come across. Your journal may be spoken into a recording device. You might keep a visual journal, using words only sparingly.
In all these modes of journaling, the medium matters less than the content, and far less than the fundamental, ongoing activity of keeping a journal, whatever your reason for doing so. It's your self-expression, your awareness, your self-confidence and self-love, your peace of mind and the treasure of documentation that you're building when you journal.
Now here's the real kicker: you may be more successful with journaling if you do not consider yourself to be a writer, than others who recognize themselves as good writers. Why? You guessed it … the writer will always be evaluating the writing – which is really beside the point!
As the “non-writer,” you'll be focused more appropriately on your journey, the feelings and discoveries that the process inevitably brings. You won't even consider whether or not the spelling and grammar are proper; you won't worry about whether your writing makes sense.
Think of keeping a journal as something like your eating or sleeping habits. It's part of the actions you perform every day so that you can go on living.
Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari publishes many ebooks and e-workbooks to help journalers accomplish amazing things. She also conducts online Challenges, and – whether you think you're a writer or not! – you won't want to miss her upcoming Start Journaling and Change Your Life in 7 Days Challenge, June 4-10.

Do you keep a journal (paper or online)? Did any of Mari's thoughts above resonate with you? Leave your thoughts for Mari in the comments below.

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