The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – April 30

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I woke to rain spattering on my window and wished I had the luxury of pulling the covers over my head and going back to sleep. But the planting crew with my new trees confirmed an 8 am start time, so I reluctantly threw back my covers, forced my feet to connect with the floor, and stumbled to the shower. Coffee, always the first order of my day, was finished when the trucks pulled in front of the house.

Five hours later, the weather cleared, transplanted trees and bushes settled into their new, forever homes, and my muse whispered in my ear. She planted seeds in my mind and prodded my characters to resume their tales. My muse is a cruel mistress, and she demands my obedience. But I have been working without her guidance for too long, and I will gratefully do her bidding. She says she has been watching me, and today we start the actual work.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 517 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Wet Feet Can’t Diminish the Enjoyment of a Beautiful Spring – Daily Quote

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. Doug Larson

April showers, they say, bring May flowers. But this Spring has been a dry one for my area. The data shows that compared with annual averages for the last four months, we are running at a 4-inch precipitation deficit. That hasn’t stopped my feet. They somehow make it their mission to sink my shoes into every puddle, damp spot, or hidden sloppy mucky area within walking distance. There are few things more annoying than wet, cold, squishy feet.

Right now, I don’t mind too much. Birdsongs fill my daily walks, and tender green shoots, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths make me smile. Lilac, Viburnum, Honeysuckle, and Purple-leaf Sand Cherry bushes provide pleasant scent sensations, and they motivate me to return to enjoy the short-lived fragrances. I monitor the azalea bushes and the dogwood trees as their buds swell and burst into bloom. The slushy swale at the bottom of my backyard always surprises me and sucks me into the muck, even though I know it is there.

Soon, summer blooms will replace spring blossoms, and my vegetable garden’s demand for water will exceed Mother Nature’s supply. Any summer rainfall is a welcome relief, and one less gallon I need to carry to ensure a steady supply of tomatoes, basil, and peppers. The prediction for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday is rain, and I, for one, am happy to endure the showers so my plants can grow.

What is your favorite part of Spring?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – April 29

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Spring has sprung. May 1 is the last date this area expects a hard frost, and my yard work is in full swing. Yesterday began the carefully choreographed parade of contractors that starts with the call to mark the buried utility lines in the yard. Next on the agenda is the sprinkler system turn on, winter damage assessment, and flagging the sprinkler heads.

Thursday’s schedule involves planting two new trees. The Black Tupelo in the front yard replaces the canker-infested Blue Spruce we removed in February. I selected a Bald Cypress and a handful of Red Twig Dogwood shrubs to create an attractive accent against the white fence in the backyard. They will help control the standing water that pools along the fence line during wet weather.

The big event is Friday and Saturday. Weeping pine sap from the Blue Spruce killed the front lawn and left the soil too acidic for a successful reseeding. The crew will remove the dead grass, backfill with new soil, level the area, and lay new sod. They will also redefine the existing garden beds, and establish new layouts around the fresh plantings, then top-dress with mulch.

I’m also power washing the house and fence, adding new perennials to freshen the curb appeal, and in a few weeks, when the weather is warmer, setting out tomatoes, basil, peppers, and perhaps a few other vegetables in my garden plot. Even with the added activity, I haven’t forgotten my focus.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 389 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Avoid Shortcuts, Refuse Mediocrity, and Sidestep the Wrong Way – Daily Quote

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

We live in an impatient world. Who doesn’t want everything faster, better, cheaper? And I have a proven track record—I lack patience. I am a rabid proponent of making things simple with an uncomplicated roadmap towards accomplishing my goals. Straight forward, easy-to-understand procedures, logical steps, clear guidelines, and well-thought-out strategies rule my day. Shortcuts, however, are not part of my program. I’ve never met a proposed alternate route that hasn’t cost more money, time, and work than following the intended path. Let’s face it when you watch a movie, and one character proclaims they know a shortcut, we recognize the group is in serious trouble.

The problem with shortcuts is they encourage us to accept speed over quality. Taking the easy way out doesn’t guarantee success, quite the contrary. Opting to short circuit established guidelines puts you on a path littered with avoidable difficulties, annoying problems, and eventual failure. “Good enough” rarely satisfies anyone, and we often spend more effort reworking, fixing, and apologizing for poor outcomes. No one rewards mediocre results. The accolades go to the players at the top of their game, and those who provide exceptional quality.

Blood, sweat, and tears, guts, determination, and a desire for excellence are the mile markers lining the road to success. When it comes to attaining anything worthwhile or meaningful in life, there are no shortcuts, no get-rich-quick methods, no overnight sensations. Businesses take years to reach millions of customers, artists work for a lifetime to hone their craft, and we gain experience in tiny incremental segments with each passing day. Thought, diligence, and sustained effort carry you further than selecting the simple yet wrong way.

What are you working toward today?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – April 28

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Tuesday ended up being a day filled with challenges and unexpected opportunities requiring on-your-feet-thinking and spur-of-the-moment decisions. It was a day when you gather as much information as time allows, work the details on the back of the envelope, pivot, make a bold decision, and hope for the best.

Normally, those days leave me exhausted, but the scenarios I tamed left me excited and invigorated. It was a great day to get some words written.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 520 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Dare Feeling Uncomfortable, Upend Your Daily Routine and Unkink Your Creativity – Daily Quote

If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you're writing, ask yourself what's bothering you and write about that. Sometimes your creative energy is like water in a kinked hose, and before thoughts can flow on the topic

It was an accident—a string of unfortunate incidents leading to my little discovery. Are you ready for a story? Then stick with me. When I started my planning for 2021, I discovered they changed the format of my favorite planner. The changes were deal breakers for me, and so I embarked on an exhausting, pain-in-the-butt process of finding a new planner that checked all my must-have buttons. I didn’t find a year-long calendar to fit my needs, but I found a 90-day, undated version I thought I might like. Apprehensive and not wanting to commit, I ordered one copy.

Q1, 2021 saw me venturing outside my box and loving it until it came time to order the book for Q2. Cue the dramatic music. They listed my new favorite as sold out, with no availability date noted. I contacted customer service, and they said they expected a shipment in June or July. They might as well have told me it was gone forever because I was back to beating the bushes to find a suitable replacement. I settled on another 90-day planner and ordered 4 of them. You understand. I wasn’t going through this chore again, and the company offered a buy 3-get-1 free deal.

Being between a rock and a hard place, I figured I would make it work. Each day is on a 2-page spread. It turns out I like attempt number two, even better than my first trial version. I liked the page one layout, but I was dubious about the second page that they billed as a spot for doodles, overflow information, and—cue more dramatic music—an area to journal.

Yeah, I hate journaling, and I have burned my previous journals in sacrificial bonfires for self-serving vanities. But this is different, and the additional blank space is an enormous advantage. I use it for notes, scribblings of idle thoughts, and random, half-formed mental images, or what I call word vomit. I have learned this insignificant exercise, un-kinks the hose, and lets the words I want to write gush onto the page. It is becoming part of my writing ritual.

How do you start your writing session?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – April 27

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Monday hit me like water from a fire hose. Every project seemed to reach three-alarm levels, and I scrambled to stay ahead of the blaze. Fires out, crisis averted, and I was left soaking wet and exhausted. Boy, so glad I decided Monday morning was a good day to increase the mileage on my daily walk. That is how it works when you attempt to stuff ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound sack. Push on one side, and something squeezes out of the opposite corner.

Never fear. Superman saved the day and set everything back on the correct course. This Superman may need a few hours in the Fortress of Solitude to restore the enormous energy drain Monday extracted. I hope the week gets easier.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 413 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Face Your Fear, Dare to Create, and Feed Your Soul – Daily Quote

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. Alan Alda

Yes, Virginia, creativity requires courage and an ample supply of bravery. What other pursuit requires you to bare your soul, put your heart and mind, and your blood, sweat, and tears into inventing every line in a piece? Then when you finish, you must push your baby into the world for the critics to eviscerate?

Courage and bravery are keys to facing your fear. You’ve been there. You’ve stood on the brink, staring at a formidable project that scares the crap out of you. And you wonder if you dare to accept the assignment or if you should walk away. If the soul of a creative person lives inside you, then exercising your creativity is not an option. Your drive to create, to imagine that your dreams and wishes are more than gossamer thoughts, fuels your brave warrior.

The fighter must learn the Litany Against Fear:

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
― Frank Herbert, Dune

A funny thing happens when you face your fears head-on – the situations that scare you contain opportunities for growth, healing, and stunning accomplishments. When you dare to attempt something no one else would consider, you set yourself on a course of acquiring skills, insights, and perspectives that are unique to you. You cultivate rare gifts, and those gifts are more precious than rubies.

How brave will you be today?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – April 26

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Sunday provided a rare opportunity to decompress. It felt like an episode from a dystopian show where everyone disappears, and you find yourself alone. Eerie, surreal, and utterly wonderful. I had the house to myself, devoid of nerve-jarring noises, and with no distractions and zero interruptions, I found time and space to write. Tragically, after an hour, someone broke the spell, and we were back to business as usual. But for sixty blissful moments, the muse whispered in my ear, my fingers flew across the keyboard, and words appeared on my screen. I live for pockets of time when everything works.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 525 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Trap of Stressing Out During Your Daily Relaxation Time – Daily Quote

After a week of the contained chaos that is my job, I need some solitary running time. On Sundays, I can unwind and reconnect with the natural world. Linda Jones

The best things about Sundays are the total lack of expectations. It comes with a sense of personal freedom and the license to do whatever you feel like doing. This Sunday morning calls for partly cloudy skies, a chance of rain, and temperatures near 40 degrees. Perfect weather for a long brisk walk to get the blood pumping, muscles moving, and the brain thinking about something other than the ever-present To-do list.

Working from home eliminated my hour-long daily commute and created space in my schedule to get outside and stretch my legs. I didn’t realize how much I missed walking. In high school, I didn’t have a car. So if I wanted to go somewhere, I walked or rode my bike. They designed college campuses for walking, which saved me from the dreaded Freshman fifteen. My first job after graduation required a mile walk between the train station and the office. It didn’t matter if it snowed with sub-zero temps or you sweltered in unbearable heat with no relief from a cooling lake breeze. Classes, jobs, and responsibilities don’t care if you need an umbrella, a change of shoes in your briefcase, or hats, scarves, and mittens.

Somewhere along the way, getting outside became optional and demanded perfect conditions. I fell out of the daily routine and out of practice. There was a time when I could cover a mile in about fifteen minutes, which works out to about 4 miles per hour. But since I restarted this spring, my mile pace is taking almost twenty minutes, or a 3 MPH pace. This will never do. I have a new goal. I can always count on my competitive personality to turn a relaxing walk into another opportunity to measure, record, and monitor my progress.

How do you spend your Sundays?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer