This fall has tested my mettle.

I’m spending more days in the office. Not just more days, but really every minute that both boys are occupied at school is a moment that I’m in the office. Although that’s great for getting work done, it’s put pressure on how to accomplish school volunteering opportunities, running errands in a timely manner and exercising (remember that yoga high I was on? Haven’t been to a class since this summer). Add to that increasing school responsibilities for my 7 year old (book reports in the first grade?), being co-president of our neighborhood ladies club and attempting to keep the house relatively functional and I have often felt at my wit’s end this fall.

It was already weighing on me emotionally and then the stomach flu found three out of four of us. Not just any stomach flu, but the one that laid the adults up in bed for 48 hours and took a week before we felt a semblance of normal again. That put us all behind the proverbial 8-ball and amped my panic meter to 11.

With the holidays approaching, I’ve been freaking out a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot. I’m fussing at the hubby about needing support but unsure what really to ask for. I’m short with the kids. I’m frustrated that I can barely get done what I HAVE to get done not to mention feeling the things I WANT to get done slip through my fingers – exercise, write, read a magazine without thinking about the laundry I should be doing since the boys are out of clean underwear.

Then, I went to book club. Ah, book club. Books are my salvation. No matter how busy I am, I always have time to read. Before bed, in car pool, while eating breakfast. I sneak it in whenever I can. If I’m not reading a book, I feel unmoored. So of course I wasn’t going to miss my monthly book club. Particularly because the author was coming to join our group to discuss the book.

First off, I loved the book. I highly recommend it. I’m not just saying that because the author happens to be a very sweet woman, although she is, or because I am always fascinated by Poe’s stories, although I am. It’s just a compelling read with complex characters that are navigating the constantly shifting tectonics of the day, its social morays and their own moral compasses.

I’m off track – see what books do to me? – because what I mean to say is that this author, this woman, this mother of three spoke wise words to me that have kindled an awakening fire: Keep writing.

Yes, I know. Every book on writing, every author in a tip article, every English teacher ever always says to the aspiring writer: Just keep writing.

What was different this time is the context — that this woman who has been in my shoes, who put aside her personal work for her children’s early days and eventually came out the other side to live her dream of being a writer said to me that each step is another step closer.

So I may not be able to work on that novel huddled away in a folder on my desk top as often as I’d like or write here on this blog as much as I used to or even journal more than once every few months. But the fact that I do any of those things at all at any interval is keeping me on the right path.

I find myself inspired by that reassurance. I find my characters voices whispering to me again, very faintly, but there. It may take me years, I may be insanely frustrated that it isn’t happening at the snap of my fingers, but only I can make it happen at all. And every step is a step forward.

(It didn’t hurt that this lovely woman flattered me by saying she liked my writing. A little ego-stroking can be inspiring, too, and who am I to waste that?)

As the holidays bear down, as the task list grows longer, as I remember I still need to track down my flu shot, I am going to take a deep breath, take a realistic look at how I spend my days and do a better job of working in the wants. Even if it’s just a 15 minute yoga session with my handy app or a game of tag with the kids to squeeze in some exercise my body; even if it’s a snippet in a journal during car pool or a commitment to check in with my characters while the hubby has the kids in the bath to exercise my creativity, I am going to accept the challenge that my inspiration is taunting me with.

What challenges do you need to accept?


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