Talk about Joy and Blessing!

Writers’ retreats are one of the highlights of the writing life. Talk about joy and blessing!

Last week ten of us bubbled over as we arrived at Green Lake Conference Center’s Christian Writing Center. Yup, that’s it. An eight-bedroom, half-timbered English mansion overlooking … ah …  you guessed it … Green Lake. (The windows under the two gables on the far right of the second floor mark the location of my room. The large window to the left on the first floor belongs to the great room. More about that later.)

After lots of hugs plus helping each other unload our cars and get settled in our rooms, we enjoyed a Sunday supper of homemade veggie soup, ham & Swiss and Reuben stuffed breads hot from the oven, cold apple salad, and delicious caramel cheesecake one husband made for our enjoyment. Not a good start for our diets, but most excellent, and we didn’t waste a bite!

We put out jigsaw puzzles, colored pencils & coloring sheets, and games. One of our favorites is “Pilgrim’s Progress.” These along with long walks outdoors in the beautiful sunshine and a fire pit by the lake in late afternoon gave us plenty of activity when taking breaks from writing.

Oh, and we can’t forget the impromptu birthday party for the 82-year-old among us. Cake, ice cream, cards, and more laughter.

But …

We all agreed that the best part of each day came in the evening when we gathered by the fireplace in the great room. Debra accompanied us with her Q-chord as we sang to the Lord. His precious presence was so near and dear. And every night He gifted each of us with personal blessings and encouragement as we prayed and were prayed over.

Then, of course, we read manuscripts and shared stories. We couldn’t help but laugh as Kathi read from her father’s memoirs of growing up during the Great Depression. She’s editing and polishing them for publication. Her dad sure had an eye for hilarious goings-on in his small, northern Wisconsin community.

(By the way, the photo above is a view of Green Lake taken by Debra from the lakeside grounds of the house.)

The Lord blessed us one last time as we departed on Friday morning. We had all packed up before the pouring rain began, and each made it home safely before the big April blizzard hit over the weekend.

YOUR TURN TO SHARE! What special event to you look forward to experiencing each year with family or friends?

 

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14 Murder, She Wrote Tips for Balancing Your Writing Life, Part One

Actually, all but one of the 14 Tips came from the beloved TV series featuring fictional mystery writer, Jessica Fletcher. I know–a strange source of wisdom. But when the flu hit, I was so sick I couldn’t read. So I resorted to watching re-runs of Murder, She Wrote and was surprised to pick up some hints on balancing my writing life–a subject I had been pondering lately anyway. So here is Part One of my …

14 Tips on Balancing Your Writing Life

Let’s start with daily life–things we often crowd out in the busyness of our lives. No wonder we get frazzled and bored! Something that never plagued Jessica. So let’s see how we’re doing in taking …

  1. Time to exercise and eat right–Okay now, don’t boo and hiss. You know we need to do these things–like it or not. And I noticed Jessica not only rode her bicycle around Cabot Cove a lot, but she also jogged regularly. I kinda prefer walking outdoors, a half hour of gentle exercise to a CD indoors, and working out at Planet Fitness. Now–if I could just get myself to do those things on a more consistent basis! (One of my goals this year.)
  2. Time for family–Like Jessica, I’m a widow. So family time is now relegated to visiting, attending weddings and funerals, holiday celebrations, camping, birthdays, and the like. Sometimes, like Jessica, it means boarding a plane to do these things with out-of-state family. At home, I host holiday celebrations and enjoy visits from my sons and their families. Family gives a sense of connection and belonging that we sorely need for good health.
  3. Time for friends–Busy as we are, it’s easy to feel we don’t have much time for this, but Jessica always made time for her friends. Whether coffee and dessert around her kitchen table, her famous clam chowder and lobster dinner for a dining room full of friends, or dropping by to visit Doc Haslett or the sheriff. And she always made time for a friend who stopped by for help or advice. Friends are a precious gift that enrich us emotionally. We need to make time for them. This is Susan Engebrecht and me enjoying a fun time at Green Lake Conference Center in WI.
  4. Time for neighbors–Where would I have been without my neighbors when Jim died? They were totally outstanding in providing meals and helping me prepare for out-of-town family as well as coming to his funeral. They watched over me in the weeks and months to come, helping with every need they noticed–even told me to call in the middle of the night if I needed them. But this didn’t happen by accident, anymore than it did for Jessica. It was the result of developing relationships through the years. Getting together for meals, helping with each other’s needs, taking time to chat and visit–even if only for a few minutes. Taking care of each other’s yards and homes while the other was away. Helping to celebrate special occasions. I’m so grateful for the blessing of wonderful, caring neighbors.
  5. Time for home and yard care–Oh, yah! Being a widow does not excuse me from these duties. I neither have a maid nor a yard man. Though I have to say that my sons help me a lot with my one-acre yard and doing house repairs as needed. Friends and neighbors help out at times, too. But, like Jessica, I do all I can to keep my house and yard neat and clean as well as decorate for holidays. (Right now I have my Christmas tree decorated for St. Patrick’s Day!) In warm weather, I like to putter in my flower beds and small garden, too. In winter, I snow blow my driveway and shovel my sidewalks–just like anyone else. Physical work is good for the body and mind. It always feels good to look on a finished job with a cheerful, satisfied heart.
  6. Time for hobbies–Oooo! This is hard for me. I’m more likely to cut back on time for this than any of the others. How about you? Spending time on hobbies totally unrelated to writing feels non-productive. But I’ve noticed Jessica often took a break from writing to go fishing. It’s not likely I’ll ever take up fishing–though I have no problem with someone else doing this, but I do like working jigsaw puzzles and singing while accompanying myself with my Q-Chord. We all need refreshing breaks that carry us with delight into a totally non-work activity each day. And I’ll keep reminding myself of this until I get it right. LOL
  7. Time for community events–All right, let’s get out that lawn chair and head for the Memorial Day (or other) parade that celebrates our country and community. Jessica even showed up for hometown political rallies, dedications of new firetrucks, charity efforts, and more. Being an active part of community events gives us a sense of belonging and is anything but boring. Especially when shared with family, friends, and neighbors. What can be better than allowing out minds and hearts to be stimulated by new sites and sounds that we’ll never experience at home?

And this ends Part One of my “14 Tips.” But come back in two weeks to see what Jessica and I share in Part Two which covers the “writing” side of a balanced life. You won’t be sorry!

In the meantime–Did ideas for balancing your own life surface as you read this post? Please share. (We can all use good ideas!)