Focusing on the Process–Controlling the Work

On New Year’s Eve, I had only one writerly meeting or event on my calendar for all of January, and honestly I was feeling a bit lonely. Still transitioning from the move, and catching up from the busy-ness of the holidays, I was having all the feels… both good and bad. I decided to focus on the process of being an authorpreneur… social media posts, writing, house-hunting, content development, organizing my volunteer projects, reading… you get the idea. I kept reminding myself what I can control is the work, to focus on the process and let God determine the results.

Wow! What a whirlwind the last few weeks turned out to be! I am exhausted but thrilled with how things worked out, and it’s not over yet…

I received a cry for help from a very talented writer, speaker, organizer, mentor, who happens to also be my friend. Being that she is so talented in so many areas, loves to be of service to others, and hates to disappoint anyone, she was drowning in tasks and committments. After a few emails back and forth, Tex Thompson decided she needed to get away from all the distractions and get her year figured out.

She rented an Airbnb cabin minutes from my temporary home, and moved in for a couple days to catch her breath and let me throw her a floatation device. We looked at her systems for email, calendaring, and project management. We analyzed what was working for her, and what was pulling her under the waves. At the end of the two days we had the emails under control, I had introduced her to Asana, and we had delegated a number of her tasks to very willing and able people, leaving Tex the things that she loved and that energized her, things that required the RedHat treatment. She was so pleased and relieved that she wrote a blog post about it.

After packing up Saturday, Tex whisked me back to the Metroplex for the afternoon and evening. She gave me a tour of the Dallas Makerspace, and it was amazing!

What a fabulous concept. I wish I lived close enough to take advantage of such a smart space sharing community. Then we set up shop in a small conference room and worked on our individual to-do lists for a couple hours until dinner time.

A friend that Tex had been wanting me to meet had invited her to dinner, and Tex saw that as the perfect opportunity for me to meet Nancy Golden and learn more about the four-month old Carrollton League of Writers that she was directing. We had a lovely evening at the Golden home and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire family and their gift of hospitality. Before it was over, not only did I have new friends, but an invitation to join their group at a retreat the last weekend of January on Lake Texoma. Of course I said yes.

In the midst of that, I was invited to speak for Dallas Area Writers Group, Tuesday, January 8, in Cedar Hill, TX on just a week’s notice. Two of those days were spent figuring out how to make transportation work since I had moved to Granbury, and am unable to drive. Then I had a couple days to customize my presentation on research for writers for their needs.

The leadership team at DAWG was wonderful! They figured out the transportation for me, welcomed me with open arms, took me to dinner where I was able to meet the rest of their board members, and were one of the most engaged groups I’ve ever spoken for. It was a joy. Their brand new president, Catie Riley Wright, was my chauffeur back to Granbury after the meeting, and after riding and talking together for more than an hour, I arrived home about 10:30 that night feeling blessed to have another writer friend, and that I had been useful to the thirty or more attendees that night.

I had two days to recover from that, and prep for the next big event. What had originally been scheduled as a WORD Board Meeting (I serve as secretary), turned into an almost five day marathon. We prepped the agenda and created a schedule before heading out Friday the 11th. Our Director of Operations, Bud Humble, lives about forty-five minutes from me and offered to come get me and Gizmo (and our stuff!) and transport us to Arlington where WORD had rented an Airbnb. Since our board members are scattered over a number of counties in North Texas, we found it cheaper and more efficient to just plan a lock-in/work weekend, and make the most of it while team-building –oh my, we have plenty of new inside jokes and midnight traditions. Five of the board members slept over the entire weekend, our Director of Events and one of the WORDfest co-chairs came just for the day Saturday as we took care of WORD business and event planning, and that afternoon were joined by a few experienced grant writers to help us figure out our options and next steps. The five who stayed at the house were working on one thing or another from 8 am – midnight. And that included prepping food for Sunday’s WORDworks.

WORDworks was a new event, but very much at the heart of our mission to support writers organizations. We invited the leaders of all our member organizations, including a couple editors and publishers. From 1 – 5 p.m. WORD board members facilitated six separate brainstorming and problem solving sessions. It was fabulous seeing leaders of groups that had existed over thirty years supporting fledgling groups, and individuals who had been in leadership roles their entire careers encouraging and supporting new group leaders. The room included people who were knowledgable in the business and money side of non-profits as well as a tax accountant who specialized in serving authors. We discussed everything from promotions and social media to conflict resolution and programming. It was so successful that WORD has been asked to facilitate similar leadership summits on a quarterly basis.

First ever WORDworks … click on the photo to see who attended and which organizations were represented.

After the leaders left, the remaining WORD board got comfy, got food, and spent the next few hours making notes, debriefing, and brainstorming how we could better serve Writers Organizations ‘Round Dallas with all that we had learned that afternoon. By 9 pm, we were down to the last three board members. We were up until after midnight concocting new plans and last minute preparations for Tuesday’s event. Yes, I said marathon, but at that point I was thinking masochism might be more accurate. We had scheduled a meet and greet, mix and mingle for Tuesday evening in Dallas for local members and writerly folk, and I had worked out my schedule and transportation to be part of the fun.

But in the meantime… Monday afternoon Daniel Wells, WORD’s Vice President, dropped me, Gizmo, and our stuff off at my son and daughter-in-law’s apartment. (How wonderfully convenient that they live just three miles from the Airbnb where we had been staying!) I arrived, hid all my stuff in the bedroom, walked Gizmo and the two little girl dogs, and took a breath just in time for the Vice-Chair of BoucherCon2019 to arrive for our afternoon meeting. (Did I mention I’m also coordinating social media for that event? Nothing like packing everything in together.) Carolyn and I had a lovely visit, she loved all the pups, resolved some stickiness, and brought me up to speed on some Bouchercon culture and traditions that I am excited to become part of for this 50th Anniversary Event in Dallas next fall.

An hour later my daughter-in-law came in from work, we visited as she started dinner and my eyes rolled around in my head. Another hour or so and my son came in. I’m so grateful I was able to spend the evening catching up with them. Unfortunately, I was beat, and we all opted to turn in early. Tuesday morning was supposed to be a lazy R&R deal, but so much for best laid plans. A few fires to put out, a noisy neighbor, a shower that I was incapable of adjusting, and I was ready to go ten minutes after Tex arrived to collect me, G, and our stuff. We headed back to Dallas before rush hour for an early dinner at one of our mutually favorite Indian/Asian restaurants. Even with everything in both of our days running behind schedule and out of control, we were able to eat dinner, relax, laugh, get me to the meet and greet called Igniting Incidents, and her to the class she was teaching all on time.

Igniting Incidents ended up with a very small dim flame, but for those who did attend, we had a lovely time getting to better know each other, discussing what we write, learning more about the different groups we represent, and enjoying some lovely beverages and appetizers. Amanda Arista, WORD’s Director of Events, did an excellent job choosing the venue and organizing everything at Times Ten Cellars, and our wine server, Jeanie, did a fabulous job making us all feel welcome and personally cared for.

And I even got a picture of Daniel, who is usually busy organizing behind the scenes, or behind the camera documenting everything.

After getting off work in Granbury at 6:20 p.m., my most wonderful husband drove over 90 minutes to Dallas, visited and snacked for about an hour, loaded up my stuff (which Jeanie had graciously offered to hide in the manager’s office at the back of the restaurant), and drove us the 90 minutes back to Granbury.

It was good to be back in my own surroundings, small and temporary though they are, with the one I love. Shortly after 11 p.m. we unloaded the car, walked Gizmo, unpacked what had to be unpacked, and were lights-out by midnight. Today, I scheduled nothing. Not a thing. But so much is running through my head, things I want to act on or write down before I forget, than I can’t seem to stop. I’ve been updating documents, social media, and drafting reminder emails. Gizmo and I enjoyed the weather and sat out in the sun while I wrote the first half of this post.

I must end this now with a big, loud, THANK YOU!

  • THANK YOU to my husband, Steve, who encourages me to stretch my wings and follow my passions. He rarely complaines (patience of Job, that one!) when I volunteer him to help, to drive, to back my play. I am so blessed.
  • THANK YOU to those who find enough value in my skills and contributions to go out of the way and chauffeur me and G.
  • THANK YOU to those who allow me to do what I love to do, namely teaching productivity, writing, literature, and social media in the ways I am able.
  • THANK YOU to my WORD friends (after three days of working until we entered the simple zone, baking cookies at midnight, and cooking and cleaning together in our jammies and fuzzy slippers, we are way past co-volunteers!) who have patience with my limitations, who abide by the service-dog rules, who cover for me when I need a break, who remind me to eat, take meds, and pace myself, and most of all who make me feel like a valued part of the team.

One of my biggest fears post-stroke was ending up useless and forgotten. I’m not who I once was, nor able to do what I once did, but gradually and steadily I am finding new skills, new ways to apply old skills, and new opportunities to contribute to organizations I am proud of.

This coming weekend is dedicated to family. The following weekend is the Carrollton League of Writers retreat. February currently has only one entry on my calendar–can’t wait to see how God will determine the results as I continue working the process. For now, I’m going to think about what to feed my man for dinner, and then I need an early bedtime.

2 thoughts on “Focusing on the Process–Controlling the Work

  1. JENIFER Lyn SHYRIGH

    You do inspire me. I am struggling in my life to find focus and here you right about the topic and what happened to you. I don’t have lots of friends or at least people I feel like I an call to confide in. So I slowly am working on my writing of the past 15 years. I feel uplifted everytime I read what you have wrote. Keep up the focus and the great work. PS we got a 9 week old boston terrier puppy, I AM VERY BUSY

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    1. Jenifer, have you looked around to see if you have any writing groups in your area? There’s also a number of good ones online. “10 minute novelist” is one of my favorite groups on Facebook. I found I was getting too depressed post-stroke staying home alone. And then consequently the more I got involved with what I was able to do, that acted like therapy and allowed me to do more. I am so thrilled that you find encouragement in my posts here and on Facebook. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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