Sunday, December 27, 2015

Finishing 30-Day Contemplation

Only three days to go!  Yes, I know this is a 30-Day Challenge, but since December has 31 days, I figured I'd round out the month with a bonus day of contemplation.  Besides, St. Ignatius was not around when living apostles were on the earth, so he didn't have the chance to reference the reading I've added for Day Thirty-One.  You will find a link there to a document written 16 years ago.  It is the testimony of the fifteen men that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sustain as prophets and apostles for our day.  Whether or not you subscribe to the belief that God speaks to prophets in our day, I encourage you to read their words and see how they jive with how you feel about Christ.

I think these last Exercises are particularly fitting as we draw to the end of a year.  The new year is a popular time to make resolutions to change.  What I love about the most important work of Christ's life--and it continues today--is that He continually invites us to change and turn to Him.  I encourage you to contemplate what you can change about your life, commit to a plan to make that change happen, and then do it!

Day Twenty-Nine
Question:  How have I changed this month as I have searched myself in relation to Christ and His example?
Read:  John 17:3, 11:25-27, and 14:6
Ponder:  Can I set my spiritual sights higher?  If so, what particular steps do I want to take?

Day Thirty
Write what you feel about Christ now that 30 days have passed.  Compare what you wrote with your first entry.
Read:  Isaiah 40:5 and Psalms 119:24
Ponder:  What is most precious in my life?

Bonus!  Day Thirty-One
Question:  What more do I want to learn about Jesus Christ?
Read:  "The Living Christ: The Testimony of The Apostles"
Ponder:  How can I get to know my Savior personally?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Order Obeyers and Boundary Breakers

One of my dear friends is a boundary breaker.  We had been friends for several years before I began to realize the extent of her shenanigans.  During that time, she had related her kidhood stories of cutting school or sneaking into bars as an underage teen, or inadvertently causing property damage through her pranks.  (Name withheld to protect the repentant.)  She has a great sense of humor about those wilder days, and the stories are all the more funny because she turned out to be a nice--but still fun and funny--Mormon mommy today.

Her one story that hit me profoundly, though, had nothing to do with getting into trouble.  It was how she got out of it.  As her high school graduation approached, this friend of mine knew there was no way she was going to graduate with the grades she then held in her classes.  But she also knew that she held a secret power; a gift that had served her well and saved her many times before.  She went to her teachers and sweet talked her way into passing grades.  And then, because they knew of her gift, two of her cronies asked her to talk to their teachers about their grades.  "Sure, why not?" was her reply, and so she cajoled three diplomas for students who had not earned them.

That story rocked my world.  I was not a cajoler.  I obeyed order.  I was the student who knew how to get straight As, and so I worked and crammed for them.  My parents had told me at the beginning of my high school career that I would be paying for my own college tuition, and I could do that either through a job or through scholarships.  Scholarships sounded easier, so I got really good at the game of schoolwork and tests.  I had no idea there was an entirely different game being played by those who didn't care about school.

I thought rules were rules and success meant working within that framework to receive their highest reward and result.  The fact that my friend proved that some rules were arbitrary and associated rewards depended more on the discretion of authority figures than on adherence...well, it has given me pause.

As an adult, I've appreciated that the laws of man are themselves often arbitrary.  I once observed in small claims court a self-admitted speeding driver argue that she shouldn't be ticketed because of the circumstances.  She and the police officer agreed that she had been over the speed limit on a city street by about six miles per hour.  But it was after ten p.m. in a commercial area where most stores had been closed for hours.  The judge agreed and dismissed the ticket.

I thought the judge got it right in that case, which surprised me.  This was about the time that I realized adults don't really know what they're doing with society.  Politicians might pass a law...and a judge will later overturn it when it's been tested.  Business owners will try one strategy...and it may sink their business or attract a conglomerate buyer.  School administrators will swear by one curriculum...and then trade it in for the next trend in teaching.  Everything is fluid.

Like my friend, my own #3 realized this truth at a much earlier age than I.  I have referred to her as "Little Miss Loophole" because she loves to push boundaries.  I've discovered that trend is actually one of her traits.

Last week was spirit week at the charter school she attends.  Monday was Jr. High vs. Sr. High, and each group was to dress respectively in either all red or all blue.  Two minutes before heading out the door, I saw my eighth grader wearing all blue--the Sr. High color.  I questioned her, and she said no one would care.  I mostly just cared that she get out of the house that morning, so I let it go, figuring her teacher/s would call her on it and she could deal with the consequences.
I was right.  So was she.

During advisory, #3's science teacher--who has known #3 for four years and knows she is a smarty-pants as well as a smart-aleck--came into the classroom.  She noticed #3 and called her up.  "Why are you wearing all blue?" she asked.  #3 lied, "I got confused about which color our grade was wearing today."  "Uh huh."  The science teacher didn't buy it.  "You got confused?"  "Yep."  "Well, you're out of uniform.  You'll need to go to the front office and borrow a uniform."  #3 was not going down that easily.  She looked to her advisory teacher, "Do I really need to go change?"  The advisory teacher clearly had not been bothered by #3's so-called confusion, but she also wasn't going to undermine another teacher.  She sent #3 to the office.

Pushing uniform boundaries
way back when.
The school's secretary, who also knows #3 well and probably would have made her change clothes, was gone for a funeral, so #3 spoke with someone filling in.  The conversation went something like this:  "How may I help you?"  "My advisory teacher sent me here to get a uniform because I'm not in uniform today."  "But you're wearing all blue."  "Yeah, but I'm in eighth grade.  I mixed up which color I was supposed to wear."  "Then you just won't be counted in the total for spirit week."  "Yep."  "Do you want to change?"  "Nope."  "Okay, then don't worry about it.  Just go back to class."  #3 went back to class, was relieved that the science teacher was gone, and was not surprised that her advisory teacher said nothing.

I was somewhat disappointed, but not too surprised, to learn that only one teacher was willing to enforce the school's own rules.  I called her out on her lying.  #3 distracted me with another story.

At least ballroom dancing won't
tolerate rule bending.
Riding in the school's elevator is against the rules.  The school has a keyhole underneath the elevator button, which works to divert children at the elementary school.  The students there all assume the doors won't open without a key, so no one abuses the system.  At the secondary school, however, it didn't take long for students to learn that the elevator works just fine without a key.  Students routinely press the button as they walk past, and so the doors are often open when #3 is making her way to the staircase.  She and her friends began accepting the literally open invitation for a lift.  Apparently, the rest of her schoolmates are boundary (and button) pushers, but ultimately order obeyers: they open the elevator, but don't ride it.

A few weeks ago, the elevator carried #3 and friends upstairs and opened right as the school's director was walking by.  In telling me the story, #3 admitted to feeling startled.  The director stopped and watched the girls as they hid their panic and brazenly said hello on their way out of the elevator and down the hall.  Mr. Director called #3 by name, "Miss White, could you come back here for a moment?"  She knew she had finally been caught!  She turned back to bow to her fate while her friends ditched her for their classrooms.  (I was silently cheering as she related the story to me.)  "I need to ask you," the director continued, "How are you feeling?"  "Uh, fine."  Fine as in rattled and anxious!  "Good.  I know you got checked out for a headache a day or two ago.  I'm glad you're doing better."  Phew, escaped!  "I am.  Thanks."  She gave him a weak smile, and he returned a genuine one.  Then, she turned around and went to class.

So much for authority figures.  #3 is the dangerous combination of smart and not caring about rules that don't matter.  She has a bright future ahead of her.

Oh yes, and happy birthday #3.  I love you, you little boundary breaker.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week Four of 30-Day Contemplation

Going through the Exercises this month, there have been a few times that I've thought the day's topical question seems, at first glance, to not apply much to me.  I've thought, "If these Exercises have been created for the general public, then of course there will be some that I don't struggle with."  However, as I study, I find that each day does hold something for me personally.  (I guess our individual mortal  experiences all fit into the same general categories.)  It may be that I remember past experiences that remind me that I did struggle with a certain vice earlier in life.  Or, more often, I find that I hadn't given the topic a fair consideration.  A first-glance look at things doesn't take me very deep, so I'm glad to be going deeper.

I had this experience recently with the topic of being a peacemaker, which is the question of Day 23 this week.  One of the value experiences I completed in October for the LDS Young Women's Personal Progress program (Divine Nature #7) is about becoming a peacemaker through study, habit, and prayer.  In Matthew 5:9 (sermon on the mount), Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Before I studied the topic deeply, I hadn't considered that bearing peace is part of our divine nature.  Heavenly Father is a being of peace.  Christ's atonement makes peace possible through repentance and forgiveness. The Comforter speaks peace to our souls.  Children of God know who they are and they carry peace in their hearts and share it with those who accept it.

As we celebrate Christmas this week, you might consider adding to your contemplation that day.  Elder Christofferson, a current Apostle of the Lord, encourages us this month "to sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior's Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, your offering, and your life."  (Go here to read his invitation in a short article, "Be at Peace".)  Please also enjoy this two-minute video, a reminder to be at peace with your Savior.  

Day Twenty-Two
Question:  How can I be sure the friendships with married people of the opposite sex are just that and not adulterous?
Read:  1 Timothy 5:11 and Proverbs 6:32
Ponder:  If I am married, am I working to make my relationship satisfying for both of us?  If I am single, am I pursuing relationships in a Christ-like manner?

Day Twenty-Three
Question:  How can I be a peacemaker?
Read:  Mark 5:34 and Colossians 3:15
Ponder:  Do I act as mediator with family members who are having difficulty getting along?  Do I go around at a low "boil" most of the time?  Do I hold grudges?

Day Twenty-Four
Question:  Am I truly changing the way I think and act as I strive to become more like Christ?
Read:  Ephesians 3:16-19 and Matthew 6:21
Ponder:  Am I experiencing a mighty change of heart?  Am I clearing my mind with meditation and listening for His voice?  Am I taking action when I do hear His voice?

Day Twenty-Five
Question:  If I believe in the Second Coming of Christ, what am I doing to prepare for the Lord's return?
Read:  Matthew 24:42, 46
Ponder:  What changes do I have to make in order to be ready for the Second Coming?  Am I willing to entertain the thought that His return may be in my lifetime?

Day Twenty-Six
Question:  How can I help from becoming discouraged when I fall short of my spiritual goals, such as controlling my temper or being judgmental or negative about those around me who are striving to live Christ-like lives?
Read:  Matthew 6: 1-15 and Titus 2:14
Ponder:  Do I believe that I can be perfected through Christ?  How can that happen?

Day Twenty-Seven
Question:  Can I imagine the tender look of love in His eyes when Christ says my name and reaches out to hold my hand, when I "knock" as He has commanded?
Read:  Luke 11:9 and Revelation 3:20
Ponder:  If He is just on the other side of the door, why don't I knock more often?  What is it to entertain the presence of the Lord?  How can I prepare myself for the real meeting with the resurrected Lord?

Day Twenty-Eight
Question:  As I read about His life in scriptures, how do those incidents resonate with me?
Read:  1 Corinthians 14:1 and John 13:15
Ponder:  What patterns of the Lord's life are those I would and could emulate as I walk in His footsteps right now in my life?  What characters do I identify with?  Why?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Week Three of 30-Day Contemplation

Week Three!  We're about halfway through our month-long exercises.  How has it changed you, or what have you gained from it?  I'd love to read your thoughts and comments (below).  I am two days behind, and I should have known that would happen in December.  If, like me, you have missed some days, just come back where you left off and finish whenever you finish.  The days that I have given enough time to these exercises, I've really enjoyed the study and focus.

Here are the exercises for this week.  I also found this photo quote on  I think the Atonement applies to the focus for several of the next seven days.

Day Fifteen
Question:  How can I forgive someone who has really betrayed me or hurt  me?
Read:  Colossians 3:12-17 and Matthew 5:44
Ponder:  Am I enjoying at some level the negative feelings that this hurt has provoked?  Do I want to hang on to them and seek revenge?  Could my self-condemnation be preventing me from coming to Christ?

Day Sixteen
Question:  Am I valiant in my belief of Christ?
Read:  2 Timothy 1:7-8 and Revelation 12:10-11
Ponder:  Do I counter negative comments about Christ?  Do I speak of the teachings of Christ in the company of non-believers?  When asked, am I ready with my testimony of the Church and of Christ?

Day Seventeen
Question:  How do I know my Heavenly Father loves me?
Read:  John 3:16-17, 1 John 4:7, 10 and Jeremiah 31:3
Ponder:  Do I project the negative feelings I have for authority figures onto my Heavenly Father?  Do I seek Heavenly Father in prayer and ask to feel His love and counsel?

Day Eighteen
Question:  What is the pure love of Christ?
Read:  1 Corinthians 13:1-4 and John 10:9
Ponder:  Am I willing to live in a greater and deeper state of happiness and joy?  Am I willing to discipline myself spiritually, so that I experience the pure love of Christ on a daily basis?

Day Nineteen
Question:  How can I recognize Lucifer's enticings in my life?
Read:  Romans 16:18-20 and Luke 22:31
Ponder:  Being in constant contact with the Lord is the strategy that keeps Lucifer and his minions from bothering me.  Do I recognize the pattern of discouragement and enticement as part of his campaign?  Am I willing to fully resist?

Day Twenty
Question:  Do I spend as much time learning about the Savior and meditating on His words as I do watching television or involved in other electronic media?
Read:  Romans 10:14 and 2 Peter 1:3-9
Ponder:  What books about the Savior and His teachings could I read this year to increase my knowledge?  Will I search for ones that interest me so I have the desire to read them?  Am I willing to share what I am learning with a friend or family member who may want to read the same book at the same time?

Day Twenty-One
Question:  How can I resist being envious of the success and belongings of others?
Read:  Romans 13:13 and 1 Timothy 6:4
Ponder:  Do I realize that I have a spiritual purpose in this life?  If so, what am I doing to pursue that path?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Week Two of 30-Day Contemplation

*Please read the two posts in November for an explanation of this post.

If you have stayed with the daily schedule, then you are almost one week into the Exercises.  Here is the next set of topics for days eight through fourteen (Dec. 8-14).  If you are off schedule, as are some of our family, just pick up the next exercise and finish in January, or whenever you finish.

I think I understand why St. Ignatius originally set this up as an all-day-every-day-for-30-days method.  I've found that I want two or three days to ponder each topic, so the pace is a little quick.  That said, I do like that after spending several days thinking about Christ, we are now transitioning into evaluating our own standing before and with our Savior.  I especially look forward to Days 12, 13, and 14 this week.  Those are Exercises that take years to get a handle on, let alone mastering.

Some of these exercises encourage meditation.  I usually meditate to silence or to spa music.  However, I've found an app with free guided meditations, most of which I like.  One of the five that I've listened to mentioned Christ and one of his teachings.  It is "Class One: Meditating With A Candle".  It goes well with yesterday's question, "Who am I really?"  That particular guided meditation is helpful in letting go of darkness and tension, and recognizing the light that we each have in ourselves, which is the light we all share as children of God.  Give it a try if you're interested.

And now, for the next week of exercises:

Day Eight
Question:  What is really happening when I take the sacrament?
Read:  John 6:54 and 1 Corinthians 11:26
Ponder:  What promises have I made to Christ?  How will my life change if I truly take on His name?

Day Nine
Question:  How do I guard against pride?
Read:  Proverbs 6:16-17 and 8:13
Ponder:  Am I being truly honest with myself?  With others?  Do I do the right things for the right reasons?

Day Ten
Question:  Whom can I serve?
Read:  Joshua 24:15 and Galatians 5:13
Ponder:  Am I overlooking family members or friends in order to serve in my church or my community?  Or, am I too focused on family and not offering my skills to a wider community?  What answers do I get when I pray to the Lord about this?

Day Eleven
Question:  How do I control physical passions or addictions?
Read:  1 Corinthians 10:6 and 2 Timothy 2:21-22
Ponder:  How can I take my Savior's hand and rise to set a righteous example for others who also struggle?  How can I build a spiritual network of support when I am tempted?

Day Twelve
Question:  How can I stay in a grateful frame of mind for my many blessings for just one week?
Read:  2 Corinthians 9:15 and Ephesians 5:20
Ponder:  What ten things would I list as the most important blessings I have received from my Savior?

Day Thirteen
Question:  How can I elevate my thoughts?  Find a mountain of dispassion to climb and rest upon?
Read:  Psalm 119:99 and Exodus 26:30, 34
Ponder:  Do I really want to work to keep all idle, unclear, or negative thoughts out of my mind?  Am I willing to discipline myself to practice meditation techniques to rid myself of these?

Day Fourteen
Question:  How can I withdraw my negative projections from individuals and institutions so that I do not gossip or think negative thoughts about them?
Read:  Matthew 5:11 and Proverbs 21:23
Ponder:  Do I project onto the world my own unfinished or unresolved issues?  What can I do to work on them?  Can mediation help with the detachment necessary to accomplish this task?  Should I get counseling help to accomplish this?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Multipotentialitism and NaNoWriMo!

It's been almost a year since I defined motherhood as my purpose until my kids are grown.  That adventure has continued to be fun and fulfilling.  In the past year, I've delegated more of the demands of my church calling and I've passed along to others half of my responsibilities at work.  My time is now more balanced and I can enjoy the seven afternoon and evening hours with my family without feeling like I'm neglecting other responsibilities.

Last year, I mentioned that I might dabble more in writing.  I've recently received some encouragement to write more blog posts, which I very much appreciate because I've been toying with the idea of becoming a part-time writer, semi-professionally...maybe.  (I'll go ahead call myself an author when I someday get published.  When that day comes, I'm also going to color my hair so my photo for the book jacket is a little more interesting.  I'm thinking lavender highlights: they look natural at first, but on second glance, you think, "Wait, hair isn't supposed to be purple!")

This past summer, I listened to Gretchen Rubin's audiobook of Better Than Before, and it held an idea that resonated with me: When you were in fifth grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?  The point of that idea is that at about age ten or twelve, we have a good gut feeling for our interests and abilities.  Over time, though, money needs, job opportunities, and well-meaning advice complicate things and we often take a different course in adulthood.  But what if we listened to that kid in us who knew years ago what we probably would still like to do today?

I suppose I've always known that I would grow up to be a multipotentialite.  (See Emilie Wapnick's TEDx talk for the definition of this career path, of sorts.)  From fifth to seventh grades I added multiple interests in my answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I wanted to be a writer, an inventor, an artist, a game show hostess, an attorney, and/or a hotel manager.  As college leered, the hotel manager seemed the most realistic of the five very different career interests.  I declared a major in business management and never looked back.  But now I am.

Listening to Gretchen's book, I realized that in one way or another, I've continued to play in each of the arenas on my list.

  • Management:  I didn't go into hotel management, but I did get a business degree in finance.  I very much enjoyed the subject, and I've worked as a bookkeeper/treasurer in a couple of small businesses.  More importantly, I've used the principles I started learning in business school to lead in my church and to manage my household.  My tagline as a business-minded mother is that I am running my family on purpose, rather than off purpose.
  • Attorney:  I've coached four mock trial teams at Freedom Preparatory Academy and Provo High School.  Thinking like a trial attorney is so much fun!  I've loved teaching teens to think critically and to explore both sides of a case, forming arguments for and against, and sleuthing for dubious details.  I also realized that pursuing a career as a real attorney would probably turn me into a negative person, always looking for ways to snare people with their words and actions. I'm glad to have not taken that course, but to still have some fun with it.
  • Game show host:  I didn't realize I was fulfilling this one until I thought back on the various games I've created for teaching and for fun.  In the past eight months alone, I organized four group games to rotate through at a ward party; I put together a Jeopardy-style game for our LDS Primary's teacher training; last week I held a competition at the charter high school to help the students with a business-writing assignment; I've helped student body officers create a two-week-long, customized game of Assassin (we called it Target Tag) as a fundraiser; and I made two video quiz shows to cover all seasons of "Malcolm in the Middle".  (If you want to play that one sometime, I'd love to host!)  I love playing games, and I like creating them too!
  • Artist:  My artistic talents were never great, but I LOVE designing and building furniture.  #3 and I are planning to make a large piece of artwork to hang over our piano.  And every time I hear a concert violinist, my soul sheds tears, so I'll be pursuing violin lessons in the near future.
  • Inventor:  Patent attorney fees have gotten in the way of this one a bit, but I have designed re-usable display boards that my children have put to use through years of science fairs.  I'm constantly coming up with business and product ideas...and trying to convince my children to run with them since I don't have the time right now.
  • And then there is writing.  Writing!  I only recently realized that I've practiced this skill consistently, from the multiple journals I've kept since high school, to my lengthy emails (I apologize if you've been on the receiving end of any of those), to scripture study notes that become drafts of church talks, to blogging about our family.  When I am a dissatisfied--or highly satisfied--customer, I always prefer to write a letter or an online comment rather than being verbal in person or on the phone.  I just really love writing.
For 21 years, my writing has been mostly utilitarian.  I haven't done much creative writing since high school.  In my 10th and 12th-grade years, I had English teachers who showed me how to pull creative thoughts from my brain to a page.  Going back to the magic age of fifth grade, I remember very well the praise I received for a few short stories I had written...

My family was headed to a reunion of sorts, and my parents knew my great uncle would be there.  He was a writer and poet who taught at SFSU and the University of San Francisco.  My parents encouraged me to grab my little portfolio of stories on my way out the door, so I did, though I didn't know why it mattered.  That afternoon, as we relatives all sat around chatting after the meal, my dad told me to show my folder to Uncle Stan.  It was one of those few moments that stand out clearly.  I remember the room we were in, the chair that my Uncle Stan sat in as he held my blue vinyl folder and perused my work.  He praised my writing, and suddenly it clicked that I had a professional praising a work I had very much enjoyed creating.  It was thrilling!  My favorite story in the portfolio was based on a drawing I had seen.  My fifth-grade teacher had brought a series of pencil sketches to jog our creativity.  We were to choose one and write about it.  In the picture, a woman was sleeping in her bed.  A book lay open on her nightstand.  (Are you ready for the creepy part?!)  A plant was growing from the open pages on her book, it's trailing vines cascading toward the bed and floor.  Was this a twist on Jack and the Beanstalk?  Did the plant represent the woman's dreams that were formed by what she had read as she fell asleep?  I took it a different direction.  I wrote a story about a murderous plant that would slowly elongate its tendrils to strangle people in their sleep.  

*For the record, I had a happy childhood and I don't like horror movies, so I don't know where that dark angle came from at such a young age.*

Thanks to the encouragement from authors, family, and friends, I've decided to give writing a serious go.  I had a dream at the end of this past September that prompted a story line.  Kent and I spent a weekend conversing about the plot and characters.  In October, I tagged along with Kent on a two-day business summit where I holed up in the hotel room and wrote for thirteen hours.  I cranked out eight chapters that weekend, and couldn't wait to get back to my keyboard!  At home I found myself stealing twenty minutes here and there to go write a little more, because it always energizes me to put words on paper, er screen.  I soon discovered that I can get by on six hours of sleep pretty easily for five days out of each week.  So now I wake at 5:00 a.m. to write for an hour each day--and I'm not taking that hour from my family time.

In mid-October, Kent introduced me to a podcast based on a writer's manual of the same name, The Story Grid.  I've made both resources part of my daily and weekly education to develop my skill.  One episode mentioned Scrivener, a software for writers.  It was the fourth or fifth time I had heard this software recommended by other writers, so I decided to use their 30-day trial.

My timing was interesting.  Scrivener is a sponsor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and they offered a 50% discount of their software for anyone who successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000-word novel draft in the month of November.  I figured, if I can't (yet) get paid for writing, at least I could save $20 on the hobby, right?  So I accepted the challenge.  And I disappeared for a month.

My November's numbers:  50,000 words (which equals about 200 book pages) in 30 days is 1,667 words per day.  I quickly found that it took me about 90 minutes to write my daily quota.  I could happily spend three hours at a time writing, but that was rarely an option.  Near the end of November, when I was also updating my front room...
Bookcases!  For the first time in eleven months,
our front room is not under construction.
...I missed a few days of writing and had to make it up with several long sprints over Thanksgiving Break.  November 30 I was still down by 4,175 words, and I had to have it done before picking up my kids from school at 3:00 p.m., because nothing productive happens after that point.  I wrote from 5 to 6 a.m., then for two hours after breakfast.  I set an appointment for an oil change and showered, figuring I could write while I waited for my van to be serviced.  At the shop, seven minutes after plugging in my clunky, hand-me-down-laptop that only holds its charge for half an hour--but it handles word processing!--I was joined by an older gentleman who regaled me with his stories for the next hour.  (Argh!  But yea!  I have more material for future stories!  And he has nearly convinced me to go into intelligence work.  My fifth-grade self never considered being a spy...but maybe.  Hmm.)  Back home, I snarfed lunch and got back to my keyboard with an hour to spare.  At 2:38, I finished what I thought was my last chapter for the day...and I was 49 words short.  At 2:47, I finished a scene and uploaded my draft for NaNoWriMo's confirmation that I had done it!  I hadn't.  Their word count software was different from mine, and I was about 180 words short.  Grr.  At 2:50, my calendar notification reminded me to pick up the kids.  I ignored it.  At 2:55, it reminded me again.  At 3:03, I uploaded the new draft with the beginning of a new scene...success!  NaNoWriMo acknowledged my 50,015 words and sent me this lovely, digital certificate:

At 3:07 p.m., I texted success, "Done!", to my friend, Mindy, who had been checking on me all month.  Then I may or may not have broken the speed limit to get to the school, hoping the children hadn't minded waiting in the cold.  They didn't.  It took me at least ten minutes to round them all up.  (Why had I hurried?)

My manuscript now stands at 73,385, including my words from October.  I still have a character to kill off and a twist on a love triangle to write.  Looks like I'll be cutting out about 20,000 words before I'm ready to publish a 400-page women's fiction novel.  Luckily, the self-publishing prize codes from NaNoWriMo don't expire until June, so I can take a break from break-neck writing and its consequential driving habits, and maybe try out another new interest.  (Just kidding--I'll wait until January to start violin.)  I'm going to spend the rest of the year enjoying the festivities and supporting my multipotentialite husband and children in their many and varied interests.  Happy busy December!