My Saturday Morning Ritual, Procaffeinating — Daily Quote

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It is the final Saturday in February and the close of the longest month on the calendar. Yes, I know there are only twenty-eight days, but they pull double duty to outlast and outperform their competitors. Endless gray, gloomy, monotonous hours make it almost impossible to discern day from night and create a gaping hole of misery. This year forty-five inches of snow followed by ice and bitterly cold temperatures convinced me hell really had frozen over. I have a secret weapon. It helps me stand up, wake up, and face the next twenty-four hours. What would I do without my morning cup of Joe?

My black gold gives me courage, puts vim in my steps, stiffens my backbone, and lets me know I will persevere. My stalwart friend guided me to this point where we can applaud February’s backside and welcome March with her promise of spring in a mere twenty-one days. Of course, February won’t go without a final salute and another layer of snow. I think I will pour a cup of coffee and see if March will melt the white, fluffy flakes and save me from another adventure in shoveling.

How do you take your coffee?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 27

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Yesterday magic happened. I finished my work in record time, my Pandora’s box of unwanted emails remained silent, my phone did not ring, and silence spread with the warm sunshine. A dozen long overdue tasks mysteriously migrated to the Ta-Done tab. A pair of Mourning Doves found a snowless patch of ground in my garden for sunbathing, my muse whispered in my ear, and I wrote. Then I sat and indulged in a brainstorming session for my new project.

Last weekend a failed water fitting behind the refrigerator derailed my intention for a full two-day writing extravaganza. The required cleanup consumed my energy and left me discouraged and a little sad. Hope rises when we least expect it, and yesterday added fuel to the thought of resurrecting my plan. My calendar holds a handful of commitments blocked into my weekend schedule that I cannot change. But I am determined to minimize the distractions and maximize the pockets of time available for me to write.

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 609 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Identify Your Gift, Work Your Talent, and Realize Your True Nature — Daily Quote

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I see prime examples more often than I would like. They are the people with extraordinary gifts who work in professions removed from their core strengths. You’d never know their true potential. They might be a ground-breaking architect, the next Albert Einstein, an Ansel Adams phenomenon, or a Nobel Laureate. Instead, they bag your groceries, deliver your latest Amazon order, pour your morning latte, or complete your tax return. Those paychecks ensure you pay the rent and put food on the table while it strips fulfillment from your grasp. Life is insidious. It undermines what exists in our DNA for the false safety inherent in making a living and shouldering the mantel of becoming a responsible adult. There are countless stories depicting artists as unsavory characters, leading unenviable lives, except for their brilliant talent. The underlying message is, “don’t pursue the genius inside of you.”

Louise Nevelson said: “My theory is that when we come on this earth, many of us are ready-made…Some of us–most of us–have genes that are ready for certain performances. Nature gives you these gifts.” When I ask people about their unique talent, few can answer. Finding the clues to identify your calling is a simple process of observation. Listen when others comment about you how well you perform a task that is so difficult for everyone else. Pay attention when time slips away while you accomplish the work you love. Your ability lies in that activity. But knowing still isn’t enough.

Natural talents require nurturing to develop to their fullest, and that demands dedicated practice. Keep the day job and invest in working artist’s hours. Early mornings, late nights, lunch breaks, and weekends provide untapped moments to live, breathe, and fuel your passion. It is the one thing that will guarantee you a fulfilling life.

Are you honing your rare gift?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 26

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Yesterday I wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep. It is a forbidden weekday luxury. So I made a steaming hot pot of strong coffee and rustled up the energy for putting in my appearances, taking care of business, and faking my way through the day. Nobody seems to notice, and no one truly cares, if they have reliable and timely information. We have agreements, understandings, and minimum levels of acceptable performance. A couple of slack days following the successful completion of a large project never raise too many eyebrows.

Working at home makes it is easier to hide behind the computer screen and muster enough enthusiasm to skate through an hour-long call. I’m uncertain I would be as fortunate if the meetings were still in person. Thankfully, we have reached Friday, and the prospects of a pleasant weekend color everyone’s conversations. Predictions of 40-degree temperatures and a chance of rain are a welcome relief from the past weeks of snow and cold.

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 339 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Treating Your Brain Like an Elite Athlete – Daily Quote

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It has been a succession of endless, busy, stress-filled days. Work deadlines required late nights, early mornings, and the effort has left my batteries drained. During the week, I pause when I remember and only for a few seconds before I and push myself pedal to the metal to reach the endzone. But you can’t sustain that pace for long. I need less thinking, fewer decisions, and a real break. The signs are easy to spot if you look. I’ve noticed my lack of energy, lack of motivation, and my “fuzzy-headed” inability to concentrate.

My feeble, overworked prefrontal cortex sends me SOS messages, and I ignore them at the peril of sacrificing productivity. Scientists have identified this region as the center responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and performance management. I have learned downtime is just as important as working hard. Elite athletes know the importance of recovery days. They schedule their downtime slotting them at strategic intervals between periods of intense training. It is time for a relaxing cup of tea, a blazing fire in the fireplace, a book, and perhaps a nap. No, there will be a nap. Then I will return to my regularly scheduled productivity.

How often do you take breaks and recharge?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 25

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Some days have a mind of their own. They grab hold of your agenda, and like a new puppy with a chew toy, they shake and gnaw and rip and tear until it bears no resemblance to what you remember. In the aftermath, your adorable destructive mutt looks at you with pride and exhaustion before they collapse, ready for a nap. It is your responsibility to salvage what you can from the gooey, slobbery mess and throw the rest in the trash. There is nothing left to do but return to the drawing board, start again, and hope for a better tomorrow.

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 417 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Never-Ending Work of Learning New Lessons – Daily Quote

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I was that strange kid who couldn’t wait to start school. No teacher taught me how to read – I learned before kindergarten. I completed most of my homework while I sat listening to lectures. Extra credit work was fun, and I enrolled in every advanced placement class my school offered. As a result, A’s populated my report card. My lower marks reflected my associated boredom level.  An instructor once reprimanded me for working ahead in a math workbook, even though the answers were correct. I didn’t stop. Her class was boring.

I love challenges. Cracking a code, solving a puzzle, or learning a new skill is exhilarating. Throw me in the deep end, and while I might thrash around and almost drown, chances are, I will soon be swimming like Michael Phelps. A wise man enlightened me on the benefits of becoming a perpetual learner. He warned me that no one knows less than the person who thinks they know everything,

This week, I started an online course, studying a topic I don’t yet understand. I am pushing my limits, making connections, and it is as scary as Nik Wallenda’s volcano walk. I am happier than a teacher on a snow day.

Are you pushing your limits?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 24

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Yesterday dawned with warmer temperatures, melting snow, an enormous pile of projects I needed to accomplish, and a demanding day at the office. Do we say that anymore? Technically, an employer’s worksite “office” no longer exists and has morphed into what used to be my living room. It’s been almost a year, and working from home still feels odd.

Maintaining a functioning home life has its demands. Tuesday demanded the final driveway cleanup to remove the last of the ice and a long-delayed trip to the grocery store. Grocery shopping is among my least favorite activities, ranking just below my bathroom janitorial responsibilities. I find the best plan for managing an unsavory task is to roll up your sleeves, plug your nose, dive in, and get the job done as quickly and efficiently possible. Occasionally, my scheduled writing sessions take on those characteristics. It can feel like one more thing to cross off the list. Experience has taught me those feelings evaporate when I plant my butt in the chair and let my fingers touch the keyboard.

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 468 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Defy the Deafening Crowd by Standing Alone, Solo, Party of One, and Find Beauty— Daily Quote

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I spend a lot of time alone. The day job involves spreadsheet and data manipulation that requires concentrated thought. People jib-jabbing in the background is a distraction that leads to errors, mistakes, and reworks that I prefer to avoid. Writing is also a pursuit best undertaken by a party of one. Lately, with almost 45 inches of accumulated snowfall, I have spent many hours alone, outdoors, in the cold, and contemplating snowflakes.

Studies say alone time can enhance creativity, increase your productivity, and improve your concentration and memory. But we live in a society that condemns a person alone. We see them as someone who should be pitied, ridiculed, or befriended to save them from the realm of losers. The world views solo operators as being inconvenienced or suffering a punishment. It is a fate to be avoided at all costs. I am wired differently. As a child, teachers, parents, and friends coaxed, urged, and required me to join the rest of the family, but it has never been my default mode. I relish personal explorations and the ability to remove myself from the fray to determine how social connections influence and shapes my internal processes and perceptions, be they for good or ill.

But enjoying solitude doesn’t mean I don’t also derive joy from being with friends, and family, meeting new people, or building relationships. Being alone and loneliness are two very different things. I miss our Friday night dinner ritual with friends, sitting in a café to write, and connecting with strangers, face to face. Standing in the cold lets me appreciate the bustle of a crowd, the touch of a loved one’s hand, and the laughter of my companions.

Do you enjoy being alone?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 23

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Another Manic Monday, as the Bangles say, complete with a crazy job schedule and more driveway drama. The 2-4 inches of predicted snow materialized as 3 inches, covered by an inch of freezing rain. The result was a slushy, crunchy, slippery disaster waiting to happen. One thing changed yesterday, and I welcomed warmer temperatures that climbed above thirty-two degrees. Snow shovels don’t move ice and slop, so I swapped it in favor of a flat blade and got to work.

As I finished my thankless task, the sun broke through the gray clouds, the wind blew, and the cement dried. A lake has formed at the end of the drive. Mountains created by the plow cover the storm sewer and impedes the flow. I didn’t have the energy to cut a channel to the drain, to let the water escape. It looks like I have a project for Tuesday.

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 396 words.

Did you write yesterday?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer