Where do you get your best writing done?

I admit it: this is a writing prompt that I pulled off of a web page.  It’s all good, though.  I think it’s great to write about random things.  I have been thinking that I need to write every day.  Even though I really write all day at work, management communication and technical writing are not very creative.  When I need to write well, I do always have to create a good “writing environment.”  I basically have different writing environments: home and library.

When I’m at home, I like to sit at my dining room table, facing the window that looks over my very busy neighborhood.  While I am writing, I can see the number 7 subway trains going back and forth, full of people.  If I have the windows open I can hear the automated train announcement: “This is a Manhattan-bound 7 local train.  The next stop is 69th Street.  Stand clear of the closing doors, please.”  Usually, I shut the windows and turn on the fan or air conditioner.  I write better when I am not distracted by the outside noise.

Sometimes, I like to go to my school’s campus at Rutgers University-Newark when I have to get some voluminous academic writing done.  I love the Dana library on Saturdays and Sundays.  Usually, if I go to the fourth floor, there is no one else around.  I get the entire floor to myself!  I like to sit at the big table that seats four people and spread all of my books, notebooks, and papers around.  I look like an old professor working on something very important.  This serves to intimidate any undergraduates that might walk in and want to sit there to talk.  This is a time that I usually turn my phone off.  I can get so much work done in this environment.

Having a writing environment is important.  I wonder what it is that makes us write better in certain settings?  Maybe we just feel more comfortable and need less time to warm up.  A few minutes ago, I decided that I really wanted to write a blog post.  It’s nearly 1 AM so there isn’t much reason to do so.  But now that I have done it, I am quite happy with myself.  Good night!

Happy Holiday to….ooo….ooo…ooo…ooo…YOU!

Happy Holiday to….ooo….ooo…ooo…ooo…YOU!

I have been seeing a lot of posts and memes on Facebook lately describing feelings of excitement for the upcoming Christmas season.  Most of the posts have indicated a desire to begin listening to Christmas music now.  My particular favorite meme had a picture of a wide-grinned woman wearing a lighted wreath around her face with the caption “Me at 12:01 AM on November 1.”  The memes inspired me to put on my Spotify Christmas playlist.  Right now, George Michael is singing “Last Christmas” in the background.  This song now has such irony since George Michael passed away on Christmas Day last year.  Music always plays a role in my life, but its importance is even greater at Christmastime.

Christmas officially began on Thanksgiving Day at the Goodwin house.  My dad would play all of the classic Christmas hits on the vinyl records that my parents have owned since the 1970s.  The first album was always the Andy Williams Christmas album that began with “Happy Holiday.”  Its big band opening was the perfect anthem to herald in the season.  Of course, just at the end of the song, the record would skip and we would have to smack the player.  We got used to singing it that way!  We would decorate our home with garland and stockings and put up our fake tree.  My mom would spend all day (and the night before) cooking and baking.  I don’t know how it all got done, but it was always perfect.

As we get older, many things change, including the way we celebrate the holidays.  After I moved out of my childhood home to live life on my own, and later with my husband, Christmas remained the glue that held my family together.  We began the tradition of having Christmas Eve at Aunt Carol’s house and Christmas Day at my parents’ home.  On Christmas Day, it was just the four of us: our original family unit of my mom and dad, my brother, and me.  No matter what was happening in our life we always came back to Christmas.  The music continued to play.

Then in 2010, my brother reached out to our half-sister, my father’s daughter.  After an ambivalent beginning, the five of us began to form a new family.  We all welcomed each other into our homes and began scheduling three Christmases!  My dad insisted that the family have Christmas dinner, even if it was the day after Christmas.  His vision of family is something I have always loved.  It was somewhere between “The Godfather” and “Roseanne.”

After my father suddenly passed away in 2013, one of the first things we all thought of was how much he loved the holidays.  What would we do without him?  How could we even think of doing it without him?  We were hurt.  We were lost.  We were heartbroken.  We realized how much we took our holidays with him for granted.

We managed to still get together that first Christmas without him.  Somehow we managed to put up his tree.  My brother even assembled the train set and Christmas village under the tree.  I was so happy to see that.  The lights on the tree and in the village had a new meaning for me.  It was like Daddy was living on in a new way.  I began to think of all of the little things he would say and do during Christmas and it made Christmas happy for me.  He loved repeating the lines from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  We used to think he was such a dork, but I giggle every time I think about it now.

The years have gone on and I still have my many Christmas memories and continue making new memories as our family has so greatly expanded.  All of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and their families make the holiday a wonderful time.  The new version of Christmas makes me just as happy as the Christmases I knew as a boy.  It was my conscious choice to enjoy it.

We all have a choice to make–not just at Christmas, but every day–to be happy or to be sad.  We can control the thoughts we allow ourselves to have.  How will you be guided?  Will you listen to the holy spirit or the evil spirit?  They are both right there.  The evil spirit is constantly talking and the holy spirit is constantly listening.  One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Psalm 46:10, which says “Be still, and know that I am God.”  There are so many times that when things get crazy, we can just “be still.”  When the evil spirit is telling you, “Why bother?  The holidays are ruined!” you can just “be still and know.”  It’s amazing what happens when you push negativity out of your mind and allow His spirit in.

So go ahead, put on the Christmas music.  Find your DVDs of “A Christmas Story.”  Most importantly, plan to spend Christmas with your family this year.  It can be your biological family or your chosen family.  The people in your life love you.  They might just need you to call them. Who cares if it’s November 1st?


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