Category: For The Writer In Me

Writing related experiences, guest posts, reblogs, interviews, etc.

#4 – Simplify Gift Giving All Year Long #selfcare #lesstress #2019

I stopped “stockpiling” gifts a long time ago and I regret it.

And waiting in a long line at big box store the other day, I was reminded of how stressful gift shopping at Christmas (or at any time of year) is for me.

Perfumes, body care, make-up, specialty coffee sets and everything else under the sun are overflowing off of the shelves for Christmas…It’s a perfect opportunity to lessen future stress and start stockpiling again for future birthdays.

Like this hot sauce set I picked up:

 

Knowing that a relative enjoys hot sauce and their birthday is at the end of the month, my gift is already bought!

It felt sooo good to tick that gift off my list that I promptly headed to my local Dollarama and bought ALL of the birthday cards I need for until December 2020.

Just that little task lifted off my shoulders made me decide to dedicate an afternoon next week to “stockpile” gifts for the next 6 months.

Does shopping stress you out? How do you deal with this time of year?

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

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#3 – Flip The Script #2019 #selfcare #lesstress

I hate it when people ask intrusive, rude or inappropriate questions that they have no business asking.

I usually don’t bat en eye with acquaintances – like the service guy who came to fix an appliance who had the nerve to ask me if my curls were “real”.

I mean, would he have asked that question if I were a woman of a different shade? Or if I were one of those Kardashian-type women? Of course not.

I served him with a large dish of “Yes, this is my “real” hair and I can’t believe that you asked me such an inappropriate question” followed by a hot order of stink eye.

Needless to say, I don’t think that he will ever ask any woman of any shade that question again.

But I digress.

I do have a problem when it comes to closer relationships and the awkward fine line of figuring out what to say without coming off as bitchy, cold, angry, or plain old p*issed.

And with the holiday season approaching, it is going to be a prime time for intrusive questions. My usual “go-to phrases” are getting old so I googled around for some new ones to add to my repertoire.

My new favorite responses are: “I don’t know” and/or “Why do you ask?”

I’ve tried it a few times and it has been awesome. “I don’t know” is a non-response that fits a number of different situations and “Why do you ask?” puts Nosey Nancy on the hot seat to explain herself. theIt is turning out to be a great way to decipher the motive behind the question.

What are some of your favorite responses to intrusive questions?

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 – Give Back What Isn’t Yours #selfcare #2019 #lessstress

I have become way too accustomed to taking on responsibilities that don’t belong to me or that are dropped into my lap with the “because you are good at solving problems” compliment.

And it has become such a reflex that I was taking on problems on without even being asked.

Now, I’m on a  challenge to break that bad habit and I came up with this visualization trick after listening to a podcast…

I picture myself standing with my hands behind my back while someone is throwing problems at me. Because my hands are behind my back, every problem that hits my body falls to the ground. As I look down at each one of those problems, I ask myself these sets of questions for each one at my feet:

Are any of these problems really my responsibility to handle?” (Yes or no)

“If not, who do these problems really belong to?” (Assign a name to it)

“If I take responsibility for these, what will the ripple effect on me be? If I don’t take responsibility, what will the ripple effect be on me? What kind of emotional, physical, financial toll will I be under?” (Think it through in detail.)

Little anecdote: Last summer, my niece wanted to take a long weekend trip outside of the city and I agreed to accompany her (she had just turned 18 and her little friends had no budget). Before I knew it, I was in full ninja-travel planning mode until my texts to her about coordinating our schedules went unanswered for days and days at a time.

I used my visualisation trick and I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t get frustrated about a trip that I really didn’t need to take.

If the trip didn’t happen, there was no skin off of my nose, right?

I switched gears and sent my niece my travel criteria. Then I sat on my hands and went on with my life.

Not only did I save myself the stress of trying to pin down a teenager, but my niece quickly learned that trips don’t magically plan themselves and that she could have stretched her budget if she had taken action earlier.

Think about it…what are you taking responsibility for that doesn’t belong to you? And wouldn’t it feel so much better to unload other people’s jobs?

Believe me, it feels good. 🙂

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

 

30 Things To Start Doing Before 2019 #selfcare #2019 #lessstress

Okay, so it’s NOT 2019 yet but my mind is almost already there…

Last year, I shared two end of year posts, one was on my blog and the other was over on Planet Simon.

Starting on December 1, I thought I’d share a new list with you:

30 Things To Start Doing Before 2019. 

This year’s list has little to do with clearing clutter and organizing your life but lots about self-care and life lessons to reduce stress.

Self-care is much more than a trendy buzz word/hashtag all over social media with pretty pictures of spa days, mani/pedis and luxurious bubble baths…It’s about doing crucial things to maintain your well-being, mentally, spiritually, physically…

You get the drift.

And life lessons? Well, I’m sure that you have already realized that the life sends us lessons and if we aren’t good students, the universe will send us the same lesson over and over and over again until we smarten up and learn from  them.

Self-care and the take-aways from life lessons are different for everyone depending on your personal experience and your perspective on life. Feel free to take what resonates with you over the next month, use them as a springboard to create your own list and share your own tips in the comment boxes throughout December.

Get rid of unnecessary stress and make YOU a priority going into the New Year!

FYI – I’ll be away from the blog (but still on Instagram and Twitter) doing other things so I’m taking this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Holiday season, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

O is for “Ohana” #nanowrimo #fiction

“I ended up here in Maui because I killed my son.”

I heard the words and saw Galen’s lips moving but my brain just could not compute the information.

What?! 

“Excuse me?”

It was as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice water onto my head. Instinctively, I started to pull my hands away from his but Galen refused to let go. His deep blue eyes pleaded with me not to be afraid.

“When I was living in New York with my ex-wife and my son Ben, I was obsessed with climbing the ladder at work. All I could think about was becoming a reknown investigative journalist. I spent way too much time chasing the next story, taking stupid risks and traveling the world without them. I basically neglected my family and one day, my wife decided that she had had enough. It wasn’t until I came home after one of my long work trips and found that she had left with Ben that I realized that I had been putting them last. Ohana wasn’t one of my priorities when it should have been.”

I frowned not only because I didn’t know what ohana meant but because I was anxious for Galen to cut to the chase. Now that Galen was giving me the back story, I didn’t want it. I just wanted to know how I had ended up sitting with a self-confessed killer.

Ohana means family,” Galen explained, reading my face and answering the question I hadn’t asked. “When Ben became a teenager, he started spending entire summers with me, where ever I happened to be in the world. By then, I had given up on becoming a famous journalist and had taken up contract work to have more flexibility especially when he was around. His mother and I were getting along really well and I thought that we could actually have a chance at being a family again when I made a fatal mistake that changed things forever.”

Galen’s tears made my heart bleed but I refused to shed any of my own until I knew the whole story.

How could he hurt anyone, much less his own son?

“You…you said that you killed your own son?” I questioned with quiet intent.

“It was my fault. I should have been looking out for him and instead, I was distracted by work.”

Galen took a deep breath and closed his eyes as if he was re-visiting that fateful day in his head.

“It was the summer we spent here in Maui and I was doing a bunch of important telephone interviews that day. In the midst of it all, Ben asked if he could go surfing with some boys he had made friends with. I didn’t want to dampen his fun and though I didn’t care much for those boys, I said yes. But I didn’t think to ask where they were going because I felt guilty at being unavailable and didn’t want to put a damper on his fun.”

Galen opened his eyes and looked down at our intertwined hands.

“It wasn’t until Ben wasn’t home for dinner, that’s when I really started to worry. And just when I… and when the police came to my door, I knew that he was gone.”

“Gone?” I repeated, knowing exactly what he meant.

Galen nodded and finally let go of my hands.

“Ben and those boys had gone to Olowalu Beach on an extremely busy day and he wasn’t that great of a surfer. Ben didn’t know about the large coral heads just under the surface of the water in specific spots. It was my fault that I never told him. My ex-wife never forgave me. She hasn’t spoken to me since his funeral, not once in the five years since it happened.”

Oh my God…

“But… it wasn’t your fault Galen. It was an accident.”

I couldn’t even imagine what I would do if something happened to my kids.

“I might as well of killed him myself Katie because I should have been “parenting”. If I had taken the time to ask, I could have warned him about the reefs. At least that’s how I felt back then. For the first couple of years after he passed, I stayed in New York and dug myself a deep dark hole that I refused to crawl out of. And when I did get myself out, I came back here to visit the spot where I lost him and I could feel him, truly feel him here. Ben had a beautiful soul and it’s as though he’s always with me when I’m on this island. I changed my life completely by deciding to spend most of my time here. For the past three years, I’ve been all about living in the moment, being of service to others and taking advantage of every day. That’s why I decided to get out of the rat race.”

Galen stopped talking and I was at a loss for words. I crawled into his lap and hugged him because it was the only thing I could think to do.

“I’m so sorry for your loss Galen. You are brave. I don’t think that I could ever revisit or stay in a place that took one of my children away.”

Galen held onto me tight. His pain was palpable.

“You never know what you’ll do until you’re faced with hard challenges. Some of us run and hide, others stay and face the music. Being here in Maui, has been a bit of both for me.”

I knew exactly what he meant. His words resonated deep in me. I had run away to Hawaii to escape my diagnosis but at the same token, Hawaii had made me realize that I needed to go home and face the music too.

“Like I said Katie, we’re are all products of our pasts. What made you come here?”

After all that he had just shared with me, how could I tell him that I was dying?

“I came here to escape,” I hesitated. “I mean, it recently hit me that there’s so many things I want to do before I die. That I’ve wasted years putting myself last and time isn’t infinite, my time is running out. I’m scared that…I mean…I’m dying and never would have lived.”

I waited for a reaction from Galen that never came. Instead he kissed me on the forehead and held me tighter. It was clear that he hadn’t taken me literally.

“We’re all dying Katie. Some of us are already dead but we just don’t know it. The key is to live while we still have the chance.”

I couldn’t have agreed more and offered my lips to him once again.

This time, Galen didn’t hold back with his kiss…

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

Kate is Living To Die #nanowrimo #fiction

Repost

I suddenly realized that I had much better things to do with my time, especially now that I had some living to do….

“Of course, I can’t give you an exact time period but from my experience with this kind of illness, I’d say, give or take 12 to 24 months. I’m so very sorry. Are you sure that there is no one I can call for you?”

Why is this office so sterile white? White walls, white shelving, off-white accessories…

“No. I’ll be fine.”

The doctor’s voice sounded a thousand miles away and even my own voice didn’t sound like mine in my own head.

“Kate, I don’t think that you should be dealing with this news alone…”

They could at least have splashed a little color on a few of the walls, especially in the waiting room where it is so depressing…

“No. I’m okay.”

The doctor’s eyes pierced holes into my face, probably wondering how much longer she would have to wait before I cracked and crumbled into pieces onto the floor in tears. She gave me a doubtful look before scribbling something down vigorously on her prescription pad. I looked at the array of diplomas, degrees and certifications that littered her wall behind her, boasting her credentials.

All of those credentials and none of them can help me…

“I’m referring you to a therapist. It would be good for you and your family to speak with him. He can give you some coping strategies to help you through the difficult times to come.”

She scribbled something else on another page of her pad.

“And this is a prescription for something to take the edge of your nerves.”

The doctor tore the sheets from the pad with such force that it startled me back to attention. I took them without saying a word and shoved them into my purse.

“And I’d like to see you back here next week so that we can discuss your options.”

“Options? You just said that it’s terminal.”

I knew that I was looking at her all kinds of crazy. What kind of quack was she?

“I’m referring to options related to delaying the effects of the disease and to make things more…cope-able.

Cope-able? Was that even a real word?

“I apologize. I should have made that more clear, Kate.”

The doctor pushed back from her chair and stood up, signaling to me that my time was up, in more ways than the obvious one. I did the same, not feeling any sensation in my legs. My head felt disconnected from the rest of my body and I steadied myself by placing a hand on the edge of her desk. The doctor caught me by the arm to help me balance.

“You’re not okay. You need to let me call someone for you. What about your husband?”

“I’m divorced,” I spat out. The doctor looked uncomfortable.

“I forgot. I’m sorry. What about one of your children?”

“They both live abroad,” I lied, watching her face as she ran out of options. “I told you, I’ll be fine.”

The doctor nodded and gave up. She walked me out of her office door and back into the corridor but not before giving me a look filled with genuine sadness and pity.

“Don’t forget to have the receptionist give you an appointment for next week, okay?” she said loud enough for the receptionist to hear. “We’ll discuss a plan to…deal with all of this.”

“Okay.”

The doctor nodded, to the receptionist, handed her my chart and called the next patient into her office. I took a moment to observe the faces in the deathly quiet waiting room that was overflowing patients. I felt invisible – most of them were focused on their smartphones while others looked off blankly into the distance worried about their own fates. But they weren’t invisible to me. I wondered which one of them would be joining my express ride to the other side.

“Mrs. Kavanaught? You need an appointment with the doctor for next week, right?”

I turned my attention to the always upbeat and pretty receptionist. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five years old.

Twenty-five… That was only 14 years ago. When I was twenty-five I was young and vibrant too…

“Mrs. Kavanaught? You need an appointment with the doctor for next week…”

My heart was racing but my spirit was calmly and clearly speaking to me.

“No. I don’t.”

The young girl looked confused.

“But the doctor said that you needed an appointment for …”

I ignored her and walked away to the elevators, my sole focus was on getting back to my car without passing out. As the elevator doors closed, I looked back to see the receptionist on her feet and staring at me as if I’d lost my mind.

Maybe I had.

But no, there would be no need for an appointment next week or any other week for that matter. I suddenly realized that I had much better things to do with my time, especially now that I had some living to do.

It was time for me to start living to die…

Kate

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews