And So It Begins

February starts tomorrow. Where I live, it is the longest, shortest, coldest, cloudiest month of the year. It is my least favorite month. This year instead of wallowing in my usual February funk I’ve decided to actively change my attitude toward February. I doubt it will ever replace August as my favorite month, but maybe by the end of the next 28 days, we will be cordial. One of my new year goals was to expand my writing repertoire so this month I’m writing a novella. It is a new length of fiction for me, and my first paranormal story. The story has been banging around in my head since last spring, so it feels incredible to let my characters loose on the page.
The other change I am planning this month is breaking up with my phone. Why? Because my screen time tracking app numbers appalled me. I spend enough time on my phone some weeks for it to qualify as a part-time job. As a writer, I love connecting with readers, as a reader I love connecting with other readers and geeking out over books. But I also want to make sure that I’m not drowning my sorrows in my phone, chasing little hits of endorphins, the way some folks pursue alcohol or drugs. ADHD folks have higher rates of addiction to alcohol and substances than the general population and are at a higher risk for screen/technology addiction.  As part of my self-care this month I’m going to change the way I interact my phone and adopt more healthy habits.

I found a fantastic book to help me with my phone addiction. How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price is the how-to book I’ve needed to make the break with my device. Price approaches the process of phone addiction with charm, wit, and facts to back up and support her suggestions for mindful use of our phones. She is not a zealot or Luddite. Price has a realistic outlook when it comes to the convenience of smartphones and does not recommend or suggest that you switch to a flip phone and head off into the wilderness unless that is what you want to do.

The beauty of her approach is her myriad of sound suggestions of how to practice mindfulness while using our technology. Catherine Price offers actionable recommendations and a plan to follow to make sure that way you interact with your phone fits your life and is designed by you, not app designers using the best brain hacking technology money can buy to have you staring at your screen instead of your family.

I encourage you to evaluate the time you spend with your phone, to decide if your interactions are positive and support your goals. I have a long list of items to accomplish this year, and I know I have to make some changes in how I use my time if I am going to achieve them. My first step is to make sure time spent on my phone is time I’ve chosen to allocate instead of merely being sucked into the vortex of apps designed to keep me tied to my screen, oblivious to the world and distracted from my goals. For the next month I’m going to follow the steps outlined in How to Break Up With Your Phone and work on my phone habit. Wish me luck and if you decide to join me, drop a comment here. I’ll post a follow up in March.

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.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Recover and Reset

I had planned on taking a break from novel writing over the Summer. I had home projects planned. I had visions of spending lots of time at the pool, hiking, and gardening and hanging out with my kids. I had planned on some promotion and marketing of my novel, Sum of the Whole,  set to release on June 19th

But then my mom had some serious health issues, and then this happened:

 My kiddo tumbled off the pirate ship. Surgery, two pins and one hot pink cast later I needed to change my ideas about summer.  Heartrending? Yes. Stressful? Yes. Overwhelming? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Anxiety level off the charts? Yes. So I did the thing I always do when I don’t know what thing I should do next, and want some imaginary control over my life. I wrote.

 I wrote an outline while my mom was in the hospital.

The day after my daughter got home from the hospital I started writing my next novel.

I’ve left the deadline the original one that I set when I had planned out my summer and work projects. I don’t expect to finish writing it this summer, but when I sit down in the Fall when the kids go back to school I will be a bit ahead of schedule. It also gives me a sense of accomplishing something on those days I feel stuck.

My advice when life veers off the expected trajectory, take time to recover and reset.  Do the thing that grounds you, the thing that makes the rest of the world fall away even if it is just for an hour. Do that. And remember this:

“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu 

 

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A Reminder: Slow Down

 

I am traveling this week with my family, and decided to re-run this post about taking time to slow down. It is from last October when during a pretty chaotic time.  The winter proved to be just as chaotic and stressful.  If you did not get a chance to read it then here it is:

Taking the Time to Slow Down

Spring! Ohio style.
I will be back next week with a brand new post.

Reminding Myself to Slow Down

Many of my friends posted pictures of their kids going to Homecoming dances this week, and my oldest had a birthday last week and just started a new job that involved a move.  I was reminded that life occasionally feels like you have been shot out of a cannon, and as my oldest friend used to add “without a net”! I know my kids will not always be happy having imaginary train trips on the stairs with all their animal friends. I know that soon the sand box at my mom’s will look like this:

 

And I know that I will look back at the time and wonder where the hell it went.
ADHD people often live life in a blur, we have a great time but sometimes in our rush to get to the next thing we forget to stop, and soak up life,  we are distracted.  Being distracted and busy can interfere with all of our relationships. Establishing respectful communication and listening skills are lessons kids learn best by practice and modeling.
I know if I want my kids to learn how to listen and focus, I need to stop and focus on them when they talk, to really listen, and ask questions if I don’t understand what they are trying to tell me. It is sometimes a struggle when I feel like I need/want to do fifty other things, besides stoping to read a book we have already read a least a hundred times, or listen to them telling me about an event at school.

My goal for myself is to slow down,  remembering to appreciate this time, when boo-boos can still be healed with a kiss. Exploring, getting your hands dirty, and playing are what life is.  I will take the time to do the little things, to ride a magic carpet made of cardboard, to sit in the playhouse and read books, and to stop and dig in the dirt with my kids if that is what they want to do. I can pretend it is for them, but really, it is for me.