Thursday, May 29, 2014

Initiative: How Will You Start?

It’s somewhat ironic that I’m just now getting around to my post on initiative, since I’ve been wanting to write it for about a month and a half. I suppose we’ll consider that our example of what not to do.

According to, “initiative” is “an introductory step; leading action” or “readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise.” Clearly, initiative is that sense of get-up-and-go that characterizes great leaders and people of action. It’s that first step in a journey, that first building block we lay down to build a wall. It’s also one of the hardest things for me to practice. Back in January, I blogged about diligence. And, while I consider diligence, or perseverance, to be incredibly important, it can’t accomplish much without initiative. Unless you start a project, you have no project to be diligent about. Never relinquish the initiative

Creativity is a beautiful gift given to Mankind by the Creator Himself. It opens our world to so many possibilities. But it has to be channeled. How do we channel it? With initiative and discipline. Here are some things that can help you do that:

  • Prioritize your life. My life is a balance of various responsibilities, interests, goals, and some chaos on occasion. I’m sure yours is similar. And some days, that mixture can be overwhelming. Do I go with this or that? Which is more important? We only have so many hours in a day. How are we going to spend them? You need to keep your priorities straight. Which comes first: God or me? Do I spend the more valued time in my day writing or surfing Pinterest? If you’re married, who comes first: your spouse or your neighbor? How important is sleep? Church? Family? Work? Play? The answers to these questions are as unique as each person; only you can choose where each part of your life falls on the priority list.
  • Focus your energy. Starting a million different projects at once will just drain your energy and desire to finish any of them. Writers have dozens or hundreds of story ideas, but we must work on only a few at a time or we’d just become exhausted. It’s the same for anyone else: you only have so much energy and time. Use those assets wisely by choosing the the projects that are important at this moment.
  • Learn to say “no.”  This is such an important part of the puzzle for me. How many hours have I wasted on stuff that doesn’t matter because I just wouldn’t tear myself away? I have this week off of work, so I’m using it to get back on track with my writing and blogging. I got sick Sunday night, so that complicated things. But then, when I was feeling somewhat better Tuesday morning, I wasted at least an hour, if not more, on Youtube! Do you know how mad I am at myself? That time was wasted; it didn’t help me in least bit. And I remember thinking, “You need to get off.” But I didn’t. Especially in this age of Internet and instant distractions, we must learn to say “no,” or we won’t accomplish any of our goals.
  • Remind yourself. I think that we sometimes discount the importance of reminders. God told the Israelites to set up stones of remembrance, and the concept holds true for us today. Remembering the past helps us make good decisions and live a full life. Without reminders of where we’ve been and where we’re going, it’s easy to get off track. I’ve never picked words for my year before, but this year, I have four. One of them is “initiative.” And when I’m facing a project I haven’t started or a job I haven’t done, I can remind myself of those words. Then I’m more likely to do those things. There are many ways to set reminders: sticky notes and To-Do lists are classics, but sometimes what you need is a friend who knows your goals and weaknesses or maybe even a graphic on your computer screen. Get creative: they’re job is to remind you.

How do you convince yourself to start things? Let me know in the comments: I’d love to learn something new!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Flash Fiction

Ta da! I finally finished my flash fiction entry! Extremely late, I know. I’m very sorry for that, everyone. But, for what it’s worth, here it is. Thanks to Rcubed for my prompt! My entry topped out at 837 words, including the prompt.

I was the only one not crying at the funeral. The only one not caring, if you ask the family gossips. But they’d only to be talking about themselves. You see, they might have been bawling their eyes out while I stood stiffly at the side of his grave, but they weren’t showing real grief.

I don’t cry much, but, if ever I had the occasion to shed tears, Daddy’s funeral would have been it. His favorite verse had been read; the preacher was saying his final words; but I refused to blend in with my hypocritical family. So I didn’t cry.

My heart broke anyway.

I was the only one not cheering at my college graduation. The only one too stuck up to join in, if you ask my classmates. But they’d be wrong. They cheered because they were happy. I felt no joy, only a vague sense of ending. So I stood as solemnly as I had at the gravesite eight years before, surrounded by people who didn’t understand.

People never understand.

I’ve gone on to have success as a marketing strategist for years. But two decades of loneliness and distancing myself from everyone have affected me. I know they have.

What’s the point?

I’m sitting in another empty hotel room, “celebrating” another brilliant success for the company. I’ve done them a great service today, or so says my boss. Honestly, though, I just feel tired. My head hurts. They always shower me with accolades after an assignment like this, as if I need their support in order to keep doing it. It’s not as hard as everyone seems to think, though, travelling every few weeks. They act like I’m being uprooted, but that would require that I’ve actually put down some roots.

The phone rings. Room service is late, so maybe it’s the hotel, calling with an explanation. Then again, it’s probably just my boss’ secretary, adding something she forgot in our discussion earlier today.


“Is this Aubrey?”

“Yes. How can I help you?” My pulse picks up at the unfamiliar voice.

“This is going to sound strange, but my name is Danielle. I’m across the hall from you, and I know you’re miserable.”

I jerk away from the phone, eyes widening. Shivers race down my arms. With a deep breath, I replace the device against my ear. “I don’t know anyone named Danielle.”

“No, we’ve never met.” Her voice is calm. It would be soothing if my gaze wasn’t cutting frantically back and forth. I can’t seem to slow my breathing.

“Aubrey?” Her voice grips my attention again. “I know you’re still that angry young woman standing at her father’s gravesite.”

The phone slips from my fingers. My throat closes up and stops the flow of air. Staring at the phone bouncing lazily at the end of its looped cord, I fight the sob welling within me. How does this woman know about Daddy’s death?

When I grit my teeth into a stubborn line, I pick the phone back up. My voice shakes just slightly. “Who are you?”

“A messenger, Aubrey. I’m just a messenger who wants the best for you.”

My chest feels tight. “A messenger for whom?”


I freeze. “God told you to call me?”

I’m talking to a crazy person.

“Yes. Don’t run from Him. You don’t have to be that lost little girl.”

Clenching my jaw, I pull the phone away.

“Don’t hang up!”

“What?” I bite the word out.

Her voice softens. “Look in the drawer.”

Without another word to her, I hang up. Half-expecting her to call back, I glare at the receiver. But nothing happens. Sighing, I lean back on my hands. Good riddance. My gaze flits to the drawer.

Just ignore her.

I pull it open and snort. A Bible. Of course. What was I expecting? I haven’t opened a Bible since I read the verse at Daddy’s service. Sighing, I thumb through the pages. They manage to look unthreatening. Why have they scared me for all these years? A glimpse of bright blue catches my gaze. Flipping back to it, I find a colored index card with some words written across it with no heed for the lines: Why did I let my anger and fear trap me for all those years?

A tremor floats through my stomach.

You’re still that angry young woman…

Gasping, I grip the book more tightly. What is this sensation ripping through me? My shaking fingers nudge the note out of the way and my eyes widen. The card marks Daddy’s favorite verse, Joshua 1:5. I focus on the last phrase: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

When did I start crying? Tears erupt from inside me and plop onto the thin pages of the Bible. Tears that I couldn’t shed years ago? Perhaps. But suddenly I realize something that’s eluded me my whole life.

I may have been the only one not crying, but I was never the only one grieving at the funeral.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

So, I missed my flash fiction deadline...

I just want to apologize, ya'll, for not getting my flash fiction up on Saturday. I actually don't even have it finished yet, because it has been a crazy week and a half. I was really excited about this challenge, but I'm so sorry for not finishing it on time with you. I will finish my entry, hopefully by the end of this week, and I will get feedback for each of you. I'm just getting it back to you a little later than planned.