Return of the Spiral Notebook

If you have followed this blog from the beginning, you might remember one of my first posts was about the simple spiral notebook. At that time I was a mostly stay-home parent with young children. I kept a spiral notebook at hand to jot down ideas, and storylines, and thoughts that I wanted to explore as blog posts, and short stories. Then my kids went to pre-school, and I had much more time to devote to my writing, and I dedicated two hours and forty-five minutes to my writing Monday through Friday (the time I had between when I arrived home from dropping them off and when I had to leave to pick them up). It was miraculous, and I managed to get a collection of short stories written and published, and then wonder of wonders they went to kindergarten and later on to grade school, and I had much more time to devote to writing. I focused on writing novels and managed to write four books in two years, not a prodigious sum but for me, but it was doable and not overwhelming.

And then we bought the house next to ours to renovate as a rental and future home for any family member that might need to live close enough for us to care for them. I have done ninety percent of the renovation myself. I was sick and had surgery in December of this year. And then my mom and dad had some health issues that required me to make the eight-hour drive to their house on a regular basis. And then my sweet dog passed away suddenly in the Spring, leaving me short one office companion, and melancholy. 

All of this means that this year, I’m not sure that I will manage to produce two manuscripts to submit to my editor. It also means that I have been carting around my faithful spiral notebook so that when I’m in the middle of painting, or plumbing, or laying floor tiles, and come up with a new thought/idea/storyline/blog post I have a place to capture it. I know that some people use their phone for these types of things but let us say a cheap notebook and pen is more forgiving of paint-stained fingers.

At this point, you may be asking what my point is, and it is this: Never be afraid of adjusting your goals to fit your life, don’t feel bad about it, do what you need to do, and hold tight to those ideas for future projects. Life is full of seasons, don’t give up, be willing to bend, and ready to snap back when the storm has passed. 

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted.    You can find her on Facebook by clicking here. Or if Twitter is your thing follow me @BMurphySideshow 



Books available at


NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip


Sum of the Whole 

Tips for Coping with a Family Member’s Illness: Trying to be Still when All You Want to do is Run

We all have times in our lives when we have to wait to see how things will work out. We can’t flip to the end of the story to see if our favorite characters make it.

I am in that space right now. My dad is dealing with some health issues. No matter how hard I try I can not bend the space-time continuum to see if everything will be okay, and I get to enjoy my dad for many more years. Life stress can cause anyone to indulge in, or develop unhealthy behaviors.

Stress, for those of us with ADHD can lead to some incredibly destructive behavior. Our normally hyper-charged system goes into overdrive from the extra adrenaline in our systems.We often suffer from raging insomnia, and do wildly impulsive things based on our addictions of choice. We make poor decisions because we are tired. Our struggles to focus are intensified as routines are interrupted by ourselves, or the need to care for others.

We struggle to keep still, to fight our urge to bolt. Our desire to seek the comfort of distraction and movement intensifies. Excess is the hallmark of our lack of coping. We may find ourselves over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, over-exercising, over-reading (yes, it is possible), starting a new hobby, or deciding that now is the time to start building that addition / greenhouse / remodel a bathroom.

Unable to cope with our discomfort and lack of control, we start every project on our to-do list, creating even more stress. You do get a lot of things done, but you often end up exhausted and more stressed, as well as adding to the stress of those around you.

 This is not my first time at the cancer rodeo, standing in the chute, waiting to see how bad, or short the ride might be. These are five tips for coping when a family member has health issues:

1. Breathe. Stop, and make yourself take ten slow breathes.
2. Sit. Stop, and make yourself sit. Set a timer and take ten minutes to check in with yourself and what you are feeling. If possible sit outside. Spending even just a little time in nature is good for you.
3. Hug. Hug the people around you, hold on tight (not in a creepy way). Remember they are stressed too.
4. Stop starting new things. Finish what needs to be finished.
5. Set a timer for a certain time everyday to stop what you are doing and think about the person you are worried about, pray, meditate, send woo, send love, chant, whatever your spiritual beliefs are just do it. Just doing this one thing consistently kept me grounded through a best friend’s battle with cancer.

I hope these help. They have helped me keep it together when my life felt like it was exploding.