It’s funny to begin this practice of “FO Fridays” realizing that I didn’t F much of anything this week, at least from my Martha-eque Monday To Do list. We did finish most of the house; all that’s left is packing some odds and ends into storage. Otherwise my week has been full of Starts.
Personality-type-wise, I prefer Finishes to Starts. And I prefer either one to the neverending reality of Practice, where finishing isn’t a goal, or even a thing at all. This may be the biggest lesson of my life: that in the most important areas, starting and keeping on are the whole point. A lot of my Starts this week fall under that umbrella.
Starting with Benny.
I’m returning to some Benedict-ish practices, and renewing others.
I keep a desk planner open next to me all the time. After years of test-driving different formats, this year I finally found the perfect setup: seven days on one side, blank page on the other. I jot down prayer concerns that come up during each day, or quick insights from prayer and reading. I record my writing word count on each day. And on the blank side, I take notes on the week’s chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict and two very helpful modern reflections on the Rule (by Sr. Joan Chittister and Norvene Vest).
My planner is from the shop Couple of Artists on Etsy. The makers repurpose old book covers and assemble filler pages in a bunch of different styles, so they’re flexible, refillable—and just plain cool.
In addition to restarting my planner-usage and Rule notetaking, I’m restarting my practice of praying the Daily Office. I first started almost a year ago, using the Martha’s House podcast (now discontinued). As the podcast became less ideal for me—for a variety of reasons—I’ve been looking for a different approach. Or even a small collection of approaches that I can mix-and-match. When using a gadget is convenient, the Martha’s House prayerbook is still online in text form, with an audio version of the midday prayer.
Often, though, I find myself wishing for a “real” book. At the suggestion of my Martha’s House mentor, I ordered this one and it arrived yesterday. It looks like it might be just the right thing, liturgical but simple, classic but modern. I’m looking forward to continuing and deepening my prayer practice.
Starting with running (again).
I’m back on the None to Run plan, this time as part of a more formal 12-week challenge. I hated to do this, but I decided to start over at Week One. I’d gotten through Week 4/5 in Virginia Beach, but the humidity forced me to stall out there… and when we got deep into the work of moving, I stopped completely.
I don’t feel defeated by it, though; my experience this summer showed me what works and what doesn’t for me. And also that what works (or not) for me is really all that matters.
So I restarted this week, having given up the VB humidity but traded it for a neighborhood whose streets resemble a mountain of spaghetti—emphasis on the mountain. Windy roads, not straight shots, and hills in every direction. Starting fresh feels smart.
My favorite experience from this week, in a screenshot of my post to the N2R Challenge forum:
Starting with writing and working.
I did not do as much writing as I’d hoped. After being away from my story for the weeks of moving, it is taking a bit to get my head back in the game. But I’m into chapter 13 of 20, and on track to complete it by my goal (Sept. 20, before the WFLY Children’s Book Conference begins on Sept. 21). If I’m very good, by this time next week I’ll be reporting (and celebrating) my first finished first draft!
I have, however, mostly nailed down a plan for Advent AltarBoxes, and the contents will begin arriving soon. I won’t write the reflections and prayers until my book draft is done, but now that I know what all the items will be, my brain is already pondering the writing to go with them.
And, finally, I did finish arranging my office! It’s small, it’s snug, and it’s full of stuff—but that’s part of the deal when the work is creative. I want to have inspiration all around, tools close to hand, WIPs on view (or I won’t FO them), and enough space for a yoga mat in the middle of it all.
F-ing this week of starts.
I will probably never feel like I did enough of what I wanted to in the course of the week. But as I look at where I’m headed—and where I’ve come in this week of Getting Started—I feel like I’m on the right track. I feel settled, and glad to be here. And I feel ready to step forward, to keep taking steps forward. Starting here.
Stay well, friends. 🙏🏻