Friday, January 31, 2014

My 500 Words

Finish this if you know it:  "The best part of waking up..." Do you remember those warm, family-friendly commercials from Folger's in the eighties?  The coffee advertisements featured college kids surprising their families early in the morning, smiling children, and people with heads still on pillows, stretching and smiling, ready to start their morning.  "The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup."

For me, the best part of waking up is my not having to be in bed any more.  I love the early morning. I've always been a light sleeper.  Rather than see myself as an insomniac, I consider myself to be a morning person. Any time after midnight is considered morning, technically.  My mornings just start earlier than some people's.  When I go to bed at night, I console myself with the fact that in just a few hours, I can wake up, and start a new day.

I love the quiet, and having the house all to myself is such a gift. When my eyes first flutter open, I know about what time it is.  The first time, it is around 1:00.  I can usually convince myself to fall back to sleep if I don't engage my brain at that hour.  The next time I wake, it is close to 3:00.  I know if I bound out of bed this early, I will regret it shortly after lunch.  If I'm able to fall asleep then, I realize the NEXT time I wake up, I can stay up.

Seriously, every morning is like Christmas when I was a kid. I fall asleep anticipating being able to start my morning routine. Any time after 3:30 is free game for me.  Sometimes I lie there, and think, but not usually.  I love to bound out of bed, and start my day.  I no longer fret about how many hours of sleep I have had.

When I was teaching fifth grade, I played the "If I Fall Asleep Now, I Will Have Slept ___ Hours" game ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  Now that I'm retired, I just don't care how many hours I sleep.  I can wake up whenever I want, and know that no student will suffer from my lack of sleep.  I thought perhaps retirement would find my sleeping at least until sunrise, but that just hasn't happened.

I blame my writing.  I love to write so much, that now my thoughts are occupied with topics, memories, scenarios, settings, and descriptions rather than students, lesson plans, and the latest Pinterest pin I want to try with my kiddos.  I no longer have running lists of things to prep for school, but I have filled those slots with things I want to remember to write.

I have been retired for 250 days.  I have 259 drafts/published pieces on my blog.  I haven’t missed many days of writing in January, and there have been days I started drafts for later.

When I came back from Daddy's funeral, I spotted an invitation to a writing group (not personal, by the way...just a "you might be interested in our group...”) called My 500 Words.  Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and realized this was right up my alley.  I'm easily writing 500 words each day, but what I didn't have was a writing community, people like me who are driven to tell their stories.  The goal was to write at least 500 words every day for the month of January.  I joined the group on the third of January.

Writing every day is not a challenge for me.  Attempting the prompts has been, though.  We are not required to utilize the suggested topics, and yet, I wanted to try.  There were a few that I just couldn't do.

Writing my own eulogy eluded me for days.  It had been less than a month since I listened to Daddy's, so eloquently delivered by one of his dearest friends.  As I read the others posted on our Facebook wall, I felt less and less adequate.  My own mood was a little darker, and I could not muster up the enthusiasm to just have fun with it, and be lighthearted and silly.  The worst thing in the world to me would be to make everyone at my funeral even more depressed with a depressing memorial service.  So I decided I would set that topic aside for sunnier days for a better result.

There were a couple of days I didn't write; days where I was so busy living, there wasn't time to focus on telling a story.  I didn't fret about it at all.  I knew I was tucking away stories to tell at a future time by taking the time to get out into the world, and have some experiences.  "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

This is true, too:  "All writing and nothing new to write about makes Denise's writing lifeless." There were some days that were sad.  I know when I have the time to write about them, I will be able to bring those feelings to life on the page so that others can feel what I felt because even when I'm not writing, I'm considering how I would describe what I'm feeling.  There were moments of hilarity that will help me when I write about joyful moments that create deep belly laughs.  There were days when boredom threatened to settle over a day, and I had to find something to do to keep just ahead of that dreaded condition.

My 500 Words didn't change what I did; the group changed how I felt about what I did.  Nearly immediately, I bonded with new friends over our passion for words and stories.  We gave positive feedback, and offered suggestions to one another.  One new friend even challenged my way of thinking, and made me consider how I presented my story so that I was able to think more critically. I appreciated the challenge; how else will I grow if I am not mindful of the message my words convey?

Today concludes our January writing challenge.  Many have worried about tomorrow.  What will happen?  What will we do?  We are writers.  We will do what writers do:  WRITE.  The camaraderie and community will continue, and for that, I am grateful.  Even if the group disbanded, I know we would all write anyway; it's just nice to know that we will still be together.  The group has become an online family.

The best part of waking up is knowing I have something to do that I love.  That anyone else would be interested in what I have to say makes my mornings that much sweeter.  Thanks for checking in on Randomocity today.  I love sharing my morning with you.


  1. It was great meeting you through "My 500 Words." I hope to continue to read more from you for months, and years, to come.


    1. Thanks, Tyjuana! I have enjoyed the camaraderie of My 500 Words so much. I hope our online family remains intact for a very long time.

  2. I've been touched by your writings, Denise. Thanks!
    I must say the 500 word challenge has been interesting and helpful in ways I never expected.
    I'll be following your blog.
    All the best,

    1. Barbara, thanks so much for checking in. FOLLOWING? Yay, a non-relative! ;-)

  3. To love what you do each day so passionately ..."every morning is like Christmas when I was a kid ... I love to bound out of bed, and start my day." What an inspiration you are!!


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