How to Beat Writer’s Block

It happens to the best of us — and the worst of us, for that matter. That horrible time when you’re just stymied for an idea … or just a spark of an idea … or just anything at all to write about.

Here’s what I do when it happens. Who knows? Maybe it will work for you too.WP_20150920_10_14_03_Pro[2]

  • Stare at the screen for an indescribable period of time, focusing on the little blinking icon that indicates where you begin typing, only you’re not typing. You’re not doing anything but staring at the little blinking icon. It’s taunting you, that little blinking icon. It’s laughing at you. You hate that stupid blinking icon.

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Pastor-ly Thoughts

sunshine-2I think I’ve mentioned before that Husband is a minister, right?

If not, it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s not information I volunteer very often, as it tends to put a damper on conversations. Plus, people start apologizing for their language, even when all they said was “heck.” It’s hellishly annoying.

Anyway, I bring it up now because it explains why I know about the situation I’ll be sharing with you today.

It’s often difficult for small, rural churches to find a pastor, as I’m sure you can imagine. Because of their limited resources the pay isn’t much, and the work itself usually doesn’t offer much of a challenge. Recently, Husband heard of a church in rural Montana that, along with their presbytery, came up with a clever solution to their problem.

Elbow-River-and-Falls-Kananaskis-Country-Alberta-CanadaThe church is described as “very small” and “very rural.” It has 12 members and is located nearly 20 miles from the nearest paved road. Obviously, not a real hot-spot for a pastor requiring a living wage.

Here’s the plan they came up with: They put the request out to retired pastors to come for only a year or two. Their workweek would only be one or two days, figuring that in the off-time the pastor could explore Montana, write a book, and think deep, pastor-ly thoughts.

Since the pay isn’t much, they came up with a compensation plan that included fly-fishing and archery lessons, a book of the month about Montana or by a Montana author, a small weekly stipend, a monthly goodie basket, and free use of the church manse (aka parsonage). So far their plan is working out quite well.

SweatTreatsBasketAnd there’s just something about the inclusion of a monthly goodie basket that makes me smile.

I told Husband that when he retires, we need to look into that place. I want to see what they put in their monthly goodie baskets. 🙂

Lutherans Do It Right

Since we both had a long weekend coming up, Husband suggested we escape somewhere quiet, where we could both relax, recoup, and so I could write.

That’s actually what he said: “and you can write.”

What can I say? Some girls are just lucky.

The tricky part was finding a place that wasn’t too expensive, was far enough away that we felt like we were getting away, but not so far away that I’d get carsick. After much discussion back and forth and exploring all possible options, we finally decided on a retreat center located in Carefree, Arizona, about an hour and a half from our home. Yeah, yeah … big whoop. But there are retreat centers, and then there are retreat centers.

This one was run by Lutherans, which neither of us are but as I was raised Lutheran, we figured that gave us an in. Best part? They were running a special of $50 a night.

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of place can one get for $50 a night? It crossed my mindWP_20150907_09_31_56_Pro[1] too, but I survived Hotel Horror with relatively few scars and really all we were wanting was someplace quiet. We figured as long as the bed was one step above a cot and we had a private bathroom, we’d be doing pretty good.

The retreat center is called Spirit in the Desert. Let me show you around the place.

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A Mountain View

Last weekend, Husband and I spent some time at what only can be described as a luxurious religious resort in Carefree, Arizona.

I know, I know, sounds weird. But honestly, if you’re going to be religious, you might as well enjoy yourself.

It’s much too much to tell you about in this small post — you’ll get the full run-down on Wednesday. For today, I’m going to show you the view from our little private balcony where we ate our breakfast each morning (yeah, admit it — you’re just dying with envy right now).

It was a lovely desert mountain, dotted with expensive, luxury homes at the base, as well as on the top half of the mount.

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On Wine, Jalapeños, and World Famous Chili

We arrived at the party late because as Husband said, nothing our friend does ever starts on time. He was right. The dinner party was to start at 6:00, we arrived at 6:30, the food wasn’t ready until 8:30.

But there was beer, wine, sangria, and over in the corner of the room I spotted people making simple cocktails. Except for Husband and Friend, I knew no one at this party.wine-beer-cocktail

Normally this would have caused me deep distress, but I decided to relax and observe, just like a real writer would. (Make note of that, please. I was impersonating a real writer.)

Husband brought me a glass of wine and soon we were in the midst of a conversation with a woman from Seattle. Her place was near the ocean and we simply must visit her, we must, she’ll give us her card, she’s completely serious, we simply must visit her.

I was half-way through my glass of wine when I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since 10 a.m., and there were no appetizers in sight.  As Seattle Woman talked, I whispered my dilemma to Husband. He spotted a basket of muffins in the far corner of the kitchen – leftovers from their breakfast, perhaps?

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Stormy Weather

sunshine-2I know a lot of people think the weather in Arizona must be pretty boring. Just a lot of hot air, right?

That’s only true for our politicians.

Point of fact, we can get some real doozy of storms, especially this time of year when we are in the midst of what many call our monsoon season.

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Hotel Horror, With Complimentary Breakfast

Husband and I took a little excursion this past weekend. We were going to yet another wedding and Husband had a meeting to attend, but we also wanted to relax and enjoy the small, mountain hotelcommunity in which we were staying.

Small mountain community. Sounds like the setting for a horror flick, doesn’t it?

You know, it’s always a treat to see what Husband’s deal-sleuthing will grant us. We’ve been in charming little bed and breakfast-like places, we’ve also been in five-star hotels with fantastic breakfast bars. It’s part of the thrill — you never quite know what you’re going to get.

When we walked into the lobby of this hotel, we saw a sign: “Please pardon our renovations. Thank you for visiting us!!!”

Hmm. Three explanation points. That should have been the tip-off.

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Friendship

sunshine-2Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make us smile, isn’t it? Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers on the breakfast table, a familiar song on the radio that brings back pleasant memories, or running into an old friend, it’s those little moments that help brighten our days.

But sometimes those little moments are really big moments in disguise, because the memory of them keeps us smiling for a long time after.

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Beer — The Elixir of Life?

beer-4-1326034-639x424Before we go right to discussing the merits of beer, first let me tell you a little something about my heritage.

On my one side are Germans, and as I’m sure you’re well aware, Germans like beer. No surprise there, right? On my other side are Norwegians and they like beer too. Actually, Norwegians like a lot of beverages, many of them alcoholic in nature. The point is, beer is right up there.

By all logic, I should like beer. It’s in my blood.

But I don’t, and here’s why: when you are seven years old and you see a glass of what looks like apple juice and you really like apple juice so you drink the apple juice only it’s not apple juice so you spit it out and then get in trouble for spitting … well, it can cause some bitter feelings toward beverages impersonating apple juice.

This happened more than once, by the way, I was a slow learner.

Anyway, I realize I’m now a grown up and should be over this, but some childhood traumas take longer to heal from than others. And fake apple juice is huge. HUGE, I say!

So much so that if I were to hear a health report saying the secret to a long healthy life was a daily intake of beer, I would not be able to comply. I would think about it, though. Case in point:

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