Therapy or Obsession?

Everything in moderation. Even the Bible says so (well, not quite). Common sense (and maybe our mothers) tells us that a fine line exists between when something helpful becomes hurtful.

Dark chocolate has health benefits. What astonishing news this was to me! So of course I added a small serving to my diet.

Too much dark chocolate will pack the pounds on my mid-section. But what is too much? Who decides that?

As Therapy

Half-a -year ago, I picked up the crochet hook after a long hiatus. My mother and grandmother practiced old school child-rearing. They introduced my sister and me to all sorts of home crafting: embroidery, machine sewing, knitting, crocheting.
All those things were offered to me. I even tried three off the four options. But the only one I ever enjoyed was crocheting, and even that didn’t inspire my imagination the way writing stories did.

I picked up the crochet hook because the women in my church determined to make hats and scarfs for homeless families in our community. Such an awesome cause. I couldn’t exactly promote the activity if I didn’t participate.

One of the women gave me an extra set of crochet hooks and reminded me how to make a chain. My first scarf was hideously malformed.
Her items were smooth and appealing. I wanted to conquer this crochet thing so I could make scarves like that.

Something so pretty couldn’t be bad.

Once the scarves weren’t much of a challenge, she taught me about the magic ring. And I used the skill as a foundation for making hats for all the women on my Christmas list. Who doesn’t want a handmade gift?

I found crocheting in the evenings was a perfect way to unwind after work. Whether the work involved teaching students or writing stories, I’m not as young as I was last month. So, I get tired in the evening.

While my husband watches his silly sitcoms, I keep my hands busy with hook and yarn. Sometimes, I put my earbuds in and listen to an audiobook (since reading was my evening activity of choice before this crocheting craze).

It was sheer therapy. And I made slippers, headbands, cup warmers and more hats.

An Obsession

One day while I was struggling with a stitch, my church friend fired up her tablet. She logged onto her Pinterest boards and clicked through to a YouTube instructional video. It was amazing.

Pinterest dazzles me. If I start scrolling through kitten pictures, I can lose an hour without blinking.

There were so many crochet projects pictured. Sweaters, shrugs, blankets, baby booties, flip-flops, handbags and you name it.

Tons of the pins claimed to link to FREE patterns. Patterns that I could read and understand for stitches I knew how to do.

And you know what a sucker I am for anything free. Who isn’t?

In no time, the biggest board on my Pinterest page was the one I’d called “Crochet Project Ideas.” I found the easiest crochet heart pattern and whipped out half a dozen in various colors. I’ll glue those to a ribbon and make a bookmark.

Next, I saw these pretty coasters. Hadn’t I purchased coasters as a Christmas gift? Wouldn’t it be more fun and personalized if I made them instead? *nods head vigorously*

All remained therapeutic until I found a lovely granny square afghan. I whipped out some red, white and blue granny squares.

Then Pinterest showed me a different pattern for the crochet staple. And another. One with a daisy in the center got pinned to my project board. Once I found the starburst pattern, my evenings morphed into a granny square manufacturing line where I was the sole worker.
Soon enough, I was making one square before I did my morning chores. Another square on the back end of my lunch break.
Yes, my crochet habit began to affect my ability to concentrate on writerly pursuits, especially when they were tedious ones like line editing.
I surrounded my arm chair with the different starburst centers and the four skeins of yarn I was using. I surfed the web for the perfect way to join my granny squares into an afghan. You might be surprised at the number of YouTube videos on the subject.
Hours later, I’d found the winner.
Writing? What’s that? I’ve got to get these squares connected.
I dropped off the cliff into obsession.
But aren’t the fruits lovely?

A byproduct of my granny square obsession.

Do you struggle with hobbies turning into obsessions? What’s your Kryptonite?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
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Dating Tips from Wonder Woman

Superheroes can’t date. Or maybe they can date, but they can’t fall in love.

“Love is like a bullet in the head” – DeadShot from Arrow

This doesn’t mean our gal Wonder Woman doesn’t have dating guidelines. After all, she’s a pretty opinionated person. How could she be an American icon without addressing the institution that births so much romance?

Green Lights

Some things the opposite sex says and does make even WW consider the whole dating game. After all, she’s entitled to a night out that doesn’t involve fighting and chasing.

Or maybe you think a good date involves a little bit of both of those things.

In any case, here are a few green lights that let you know a person might be worth dating:

  • They don’t have Superman hair
  • They offer up genuine compliments
  • Their flirting isn’t status quo with everyone they meet
  • They smile more than they frown
  • They can talk about things that interest you (talking about books earns triple points)
  • They take pride in their appearance
  • They are more interested in YOU than in giving you the low-down on themselves

It doesn’t hurt anything  if your eyes don’t bleed when you look at them. And if you have a shared hobby that can act as a first date locale, it’s even better. (I’m thinking Giants baseball, but WW is looking hard at the Air Museum.)

Red Flags

Sadly, it’s much more likely for the red flags to start popping up after a few dates. Most people but on their best behavior when they first ask someone out on a date. If you spot any of these flags BEFORE the first date, run fast and far in the other direction.

These are obvious signs that a date will be less than fun:

  • They check themselves out in the mirror or fish for compliments
  • All conversation revolves around them
  • They interrupt you when you’re talking
  • They say negative things about other people
  • They flirt with others while you’re together
  • They don’t like to read (WW shook her head over this one, so I lined it out)
  • They spend more time checking their phone than interacting with you
  • They flash cash or name drop or try to impress you with superficial things

Yes, these are all huge hints that as far as this relationship goes the bridge is out ahead. It’s one reason why WW prefers to hang out with her friends over spending time with someone she might find attractive or date-able.

Keep it Fun

Dating can be an entertaining aside, but WW opposes the idea that dating never leads to anything more. Most people use the dating game to sift through possible marriage candidates.

WW has no intention of putting a non-hero in the line of fire.

However, if two people honestly are just looking for companionship, dating can be one way to find it. Friends can date. Dating doesn’t automatically indicate a romantic liaison.

If you’re dating just for fun, let people know up front. Maybe not before the first or second date (because “I’m dating just for fun” puts some people off), but definitely before things heat up to a beyond-friendship level.

Do you have any dating advice for Wonder Woman? Is Steve Trevor her one and only love? Do you agree or disagree with her tips?

This Wedding is Scrap(book)ed!

That’s a wrap folks! I finished the wedding scrapbook.

The most amazing part to me is that it happened within three months of the big day. Others have waited a year after an event before seeing the photographic memorabilia I scrapped together.

Even more amazing, I set my mind to it and finished it off within a week.

What was left to do? Plenty.

Showers

The last bridal shower occurred the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We stopped in to enjoy the festivities on our way to the beach to spend the holiday with my sister.

The pictures my husband took were saved with those pictures. But none of them were on our shared drive when I went looking for them.

Thankfully, the bride’s mother helped me out and sent a few photos my way. I happily used all those and nagged my husband to give me access to the ones he took.

The only shower game involved guessing facts about the wedding dress. Harder than it sounds.
The only shower game involved guessing facts about the wedding dress. Harder than it sounds.

Showers – done.

Why no rehearsal?

Our wedding photographer took several hundred pictures of the decorating and wedding rehearsal. None of those made it into the scrapbook.

Why not? Isn’t the rehearsal important?

Yes, it was a long and important day.

Thad & Kacy Wedding 2016 - 0129

But I was tired. And the BIGGEST day was the wedding itself.

Why spend energy on the rehearsal when I could apply it to the main event?

At least, this is the excuse I’m using. Hopefully, my son and daughter won’t be too unhappy about the exclusion of that busy day of preparation.

Wedding Day

Thousands of photos exist of every aspect of the big day.

A great shot of the entire wedding party
A great shot of the entire wedding party

I’m not exaggerating.

It took me several hours to view them all and pick out the ones I want to use. As I type this, I’m reminded I still haven’t sent the photographer the list of photos I want tweaked and doctored.

*Stops typing on this and opens a Facebook private message window*

I’m back.

It was a beautiful wedding. I’m posting a few photos with this post, but they are weak representations of a wonderful day. (And these are excellent photos, so I guess that tells you something about the wedding.)

The lovely couple getting ready to start the ceremony
The lovely couple getting ready to start the ceremony

How was I supposed to condense the awe and incredulity into a finite number of twelve-by-twelve scrapbook pages?

It took almost as long to select the photos as it did to lay out the pages.

In the end, the actual wedding took up as much space as all the events leading up to it. Which is exactly as it should be.

I’ve got a page for the girls and one for the guys. Some shots of the important implements, like the rings and bouquet. The ceremony has three pages.

The happy couple
The happy couple

How do I decide what portions of the reception to include?

More hours selecting and printing pictures nets four lovely pages for the hours-long reception.

The biggest conundrum was how to finish off the last page since I don’t have any photos of their honeymoon (which would be the natural way to end it).

I settled on an awesome shot of the happy couple being flagellated with the streamer-thingies used in place of rice or birdseed or bubbles. Add some sparkle and encouraging sayings and that’s a wrap.

As always, there’s just enough in the book to incite a full-fledged jaunt down memory lane. Isn’t that the point of a scrapbook anyway?

What Makes a Mother Proud

In accordance with my monthly hobby goal, I’ve spent several hours with pictures, paper and glue since February 1. Leafing through the photos, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia, I did more than walk down memory lane. I renewed my sense of motherly pride.

When I was growing up, I wanted both of my parents to be pleased with me. I spent years following instructions, doing chores diligently, and conforming to their will. Then my dad left. The sky crashed down. Rather than be a casualty, I put up a shell and pushed my mom away.

How many times did I get straight As in school only to hear something like, “But what’s this A- in Geometry”? I could always be pushed harder. Whatever I achieved, it wasn’t the top. There was no basking in one moment before looking for the next mountain to climb.

Mountaindream

I promised I would never do that to my kids.

You know what happens when you say you will never do something? Yep. That despicable thing is the first thing you do. (Never say never is a good policy. Of course, you said never…so)

My oldest son could read in kindergarten. He learned all of his multiplication tables in 2nd grade. He tested in the 97th percentile in math in third grade.  He was an intellectual superstar and he wasn’t too bad at basketball either.

I had high expectations for him. He always met them. I praised him and let him bask in his accomplishments. Of course, I bragged about him until I’m positive people dodged me because they wanted to gag over my motherly enthusiasm.

Life was grand. And then…

My youngest son needed speech therapy in kindergarten. He needed occupational therapy because his handwriting was terrible and he held his pencil wrong (still does, BTW). His fantastic imagination and memory held academic shortfalls at bay in first grade. He didn’t learn how to read until late in his second grade year.

I was no less proud of him than my older son, but I despaired of helping him succeed. Suddenly, I was at the bottom of a steep learning curve.

All of this came back to me as I finished that same boy’s high school scrapbook. Seeing pages upon pages of accomplishments and awards filled my heart to bursting. He came so far. I always knew he would. He exceeded all my expectations.

The older got straight As and the younger carried a B average. “Still above average,” I told my straight-A-over-achieving self. The older was valedictorian of his high school class while the younger was a National Honor Thespian. Scholar athlete versus most improved band member.

What's not to be proud of?
What’s not to be proud of?

Thankfully, I learned not to compare them early on in their lives. They are both extraordinary in their individualism. If they dream it, I believe they will achieve it. That’s not the mother in me talking either.

What makes me proud? Watching my sons grow into men who have convictions and live by them. Seeing them follow their dreams – whether big or small.

Am I proud that the oldest is a college graduate and the youngest made the Dean’s list last term? I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.

Seeing how far they have come gives me hope that they will continue on, surpassing their dad and me.

Isn’t that what all parents dream for their children?

Another New Year – Another chance to NOT Break a Resolution

I’ve joined the multitudes that don’t actually make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of the time, I break them. Statistically, most resolutions are broken by February 1st.

In the past five years, I’ve set goals for myself in several broad areas: physical, spiritual, emotional and relational. I wish I could say I had met all my goals. Most years I meet as many as I don’t meet. Last year, I met all but one goal.

Since I’ve embarked on the journey toward fulfilling my life-long dream of becoming a published author, I’ve mixed up my categories for the coming year. My categories are: hobbies, physical, spiritual, writing and other.

My Goal sheet
My Goal sheet

I made a handy-dandy chart and have my goals for the first two months already filled in. Why didn’t I complete the whole year?

I want to be realistic. I’m not setting myself up for failure, but I might need to keep a goal for several months before actualizing the desired result.

For example, you’ll notice that my physical goal for January and February is to lose five pounds. I intend to lose five or more pounds each month. I didn’t fill in the goal for March because if I haven’t achieved my goal weight (or more specifically the correct fit of my clothes), I might repeat the weight loss goal for another month.

Since I already have stated word count goals for my writing, I wanted to use project goals in that category. The reason I didn’t put a goal for March is because I’m not sure if I will actually be finished revising the first book of my series in a month. Since this is my initial revision phase, I’m not certain how long the process will take.

Of course, it’s obvious I expect the book to be ready for other eyes by March. My goal in the “other” classification for that month is to get the first book in the trilogy out to beta readers.

Most of my publishing goals and deadlines have been entered in the “other” category. Writing and publishing are separate aspects of my new career. If I’m going to be a professional writer, I need to always write (or rewrite) and not sit on my hands once I begin the quest for an agent or publisher.

What do you think about using goals to motivate you at the start of a new year? Do you still make resolutions? Is setting goals the same as making a resolution?

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