V.J.'s Weekly Challenge #80: habit

“Be careful of the habits you make,” my father used to lecture, cigarette in one hand, whiskey in the other. “They will either make of you a slave or a master.”

Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, and I hated that his sermons were always: “Do what I say, not what I do!”

Slave, master…such nonsense to a kid who just wanted to play and had no obligations.

I tried the bottle, and smoked just to spite him – neither habit stuck. I vowed not to be like him. Funny enough, that didn’t work out very well either. Luckily, Dad modelled some good habits too – always rose early, started with a good breakfast, kept physically fit, and had a stellar work ethic.

And he kept his personal struggles to himself.

“No need to take your bad mood out on everyone else,” he’d say as he strode out the door ready to take on the world.

He was a motivator of men, my father. People lined up at his funeral to tell me how he had changed their lives. I wasn’t sure they were talking about the same man that raised us with such a tyrannical fist. Obviously, my father’s habits helped him master the external, and reduced him to a slave in his private life.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my father’s words and questioning my habits – not just the easily detectable, but what lies behind them. Sure, I have a tendency to snack at bedtime, but why? How does this serve me? Am I eating because I’m really hungry? Seldom? Then what emotion/ need/ lacking am I stuffing back down?

This week, I invite you to join me in thinking about the habits that either enslave or empower your life. As always, interpret the challenge as you will.

To participate, create a post and then link back here, or drop the url to your post in the comments below. Look forward to your responses.

Subtract Expectations, Open to Possibility

The snow has been falling all day, filling in the roads behind the plow’s efforts. I am a bit of wreck as I write this. Tomorrow, I am planning a surprise party for Ric’s 70th birthday. The hall is booked, and I’ve delegated all the pieces, but the guest list is shrinking as people are reluctant to travel in this weather.

When you read this, I will be recovering from the day’s activities.

For now, I am consciously subtracting expectations, and adding trust. As far as I know, Ric has no idea.

Wish us well.


I love the responses to this week’s challenge. We really are a creative community.

To That Place Again, parallax

2-1= 1, I Write Her

Holiday Aftermath, Eugi’s Causerie

Subtraction, THE BAG LADY

Yearning, Culture Shocks

Fragility of Aging, Stuff and what is…


No Worries, one letter UP

Two Minus One, Sgeoil


Thank you all! See you tomorrow for a new challenge.

V.J.'s Weekly Challenge #79 – subtraction

I adopted my father’s rage at a young age, and learned to wrestle with the best of them, typically boys, ’cause Father said never hit a girl. Most days, I’d return from school with debris in matted hair and torn stockings. Mother would shake her head, muttering:

“No one will ever love you.”

I heard: you’ll never be good enough for love, so I married a man whose every complaint was prefaced with: If you loved me enough, you would….

It wasn’t until I was thirty-nine and he decided to move on that I declared war on the messages that were influencing my choices.

“I am good enough for love!” I shouted to no one in particular, like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.

Then someone suggested I lose a few words to make the mantra more empowering.

“I am enough for love!” I tried on for size, deciding that the good was redundant.

Then: “I am enough!” or “I am love!”

and eventually settled on “I am!”

I am is a much lighter loader to carry, and oh, so freeing.

This week think about what you might subtract from your life to free up energy – emotionally, physically, or psychologically. Naturally, creative discretion is yours – this doesn’t need to be a personal subtraction; global issues work too.

To participate, create a post on your own site and link back here. Or leave a comment. Looking forward to all responses.

Decisive Action

Life presents challenges and I stumble to keep up. Chronic illness continues to form the backdrop of my life, so it becomes the baseline for any actions I take. Ric and I made a commitment to our health and our community this year, and that means that I have been more physically active than usual. Since my envelope – capacity for energy – has not increased, I am called to make decisions.

Taking a break over Christmas was part of that process. Still, the emails continue to pile up and the number of unread posts becomes insurmountable. I am seeking a solution that simplifies my life once again. Here is what I’ve decided:

  • Posting less. For now, I am trying to post only once per day, alternating blogs (I have two). Longterm, I would like to achieve a device-free day.
  • Selective reading. Some of you wow me with your prolific creativity, and I try to follow and encourage, but it has become too much. In order to spread my attention across the blogging community, I will limit myself to one or two posts from a single source.
  • Scheduling posts in advance. I love the prompts, as witnessed by my weekly challenge. Keeping up with them all, however, just adds to my current stress. I will participate when possible, but preference will be given to pre-scheduling posts. It’s like buying a bit of security.

This forum for connecting means so much and I want to continue to grow my relationships. Would love to hear how you juggle it all.

Thanks to all who participated this week. I missed your unique insights. Nice to be back.

Eugi’s Causerie
I Write Her
Reena Saxena
Stuff and what if…
one letter UP
Zebra’s Child
bushboys world

See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

V.J.'s Weekly Challenge #78: action

Rumination is one of my fortes. I get something stuck in my head and it will spin there nonstop if I let it, even disrupting sleep.

It happened recently with one of our daughters. I took something she did personally, and blew it out of proportion, convincing myself that there was no hope for our relationship. (Did I also mention that my rumination tends towards the dramatic.)

It went on for days and nights until maturity grabbed me by the collar and insisted I do something about it. Rather than open the wound further by confronting her, I decided to take action instead. I sent her a text offering to babysit the kids while she and her husband went out for dinner.

A peace offering for my soul.

The thing about ruts is that they remain until we are willing to take the necessary action to lift ourselves out of them.

This week, marking a new year, think about where action is needed in your life, or in the world in general. The word itself does not need to appear in your post, but the movement should be obvious.

To participate, create a post and then pingback here, or leave a link in the comments. All are welcome.

Look forward to your responses.

Time For Pause

The current struggle: keeping up with holiday festivities, fighting a stubborn cold, and caring for grandchildren, has taken its toll. I am behind in reading posts, and feeling overwhelmed by social media.

Time for a pause.

I will be scaling back activities till the season has passed and I’ve regained a semblance of normalcy.

Not sure yet how the New Year will unfold.

Best to all for a good holiday season. May health and happiness be yours.

Thank you to all the inspired participants this week:

Reena Saxena
Stuff and what if…
one letter UP

Fa La La La La…

Soon, he’ll ramp up the Christmas tunes, my Santa-husband. I’ll be putting the last touches on the table setting, and stirring the soup pot. Even though it is daylight, our festive lights will be blazing. We are celebrating with family today.

First, I will wrap up this week’s challenge, anticipating no fuel left in my tank at the end of this day.

Music speaks a language not defined by phonetics or dialect. It touches our lived experience and evokes the irrational.

Ric likes the old crooners – long drawn out carols that quite frankly, grate on my nerves. I like the new, the discoverable. Mostly, when the family is gathered around, I prefer the lilts of my children’s voices without the added noise in the background. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Thank you to all who participated this week. I enjoyed the videos, and how naturally this prompt wove itself into your writing.

I Write Her
Heart to Heart
Reena Saxena
Stuff and what if…
Reverie in Reverse
one letter UP