How I spend my time

I’ve been working on a new memoir for the past year or so about aging successfully. One chapter is like this one about how I spend my time. So I’d like to try my thoughts out on you. Would you be interested in a memoir with information like this?

I spend a lot of my time at my desk in my writing room. I d write a lot but I must make a true confession – I also spend a lot of time on the internet and on social media because I have a great relationship with my Facebook community.

This morning I got out of bed at five forty-five, went off to the bathroom, got on the scale after shedding my pajamas, and then I dressed in my leggings and shirt to go to the gym. Once there, I vary my workouts. Lately I stay on the elliptical for about thirty-five minutes and then walk on the treadmill for twenty-five to give me a full hour of cardio and about nine-five hundred steps. I am truly obsessed, probably motivated by my Fitbit, with getting at least twelve thousand steps every day.

After my cardio workout, I did some Yoga stretching. Other days I work out with weight machines or with free weights. And at least twice a week I take a Pilates class. All in all, I spend an hour and a half to two hours at the gym – most every day. Otherwise, I take a big long walk for an hour and half to the beach and along the Strand.

Then home, then breakfast, which will consist of fresh berries and either peanut butter or granola with almond milk or a protein bar. I buy bars with ten or more grams of protein because if I don’t have enough protein I get very cold. Like right now, my hands and feet are so cold the tips of my fingers are almost numb.

After breakfast I shower and get dressed for the day. And during the week, I skip the makeup but slather my body and face with serums and moisturizers, and you know, I think it helps. I compared my relatively smooth face to a friend’s yesterday and hers is much more wrinkled than mine. (Excuse me for being catty, but at least I didn’t name names.)

Then it’s time to sit down at my desk in my writing room. Right now, I have five main projects: writing my new memoir, writing a small stone, journaling, writing a blog post, and reading.

My New Memoir. My goal is to write about my life right now, how I got here, and what I foresee for the future, including my thoughts about my end of life. And I think that’s working out. Initially, I wrote down a list of topics to pursue, and so far I’ve made that happen. However, I’m finding that writing about how I spend my time is hard. I want to be meticulously accurate and truthful in my account so it will be meaningful to others when/if they read the finished and published book – at least that is the plan. I know others are writing about their coming old age and thoughts about death. So, I feel like I have to beat them to it.

Writing Group. I’ve been attending a once a month writing group for the past two to three years. We meet in each of the two leaders’ homes on alternate months and call this group Fem Ring and ourselves the Femmers. Believe me I have no idea why. The name was in place before I joined though I do think it has something to do with a birth control device – which I have to say, none of us in the group need anymore.

We sit around in a circle on easy chairs and if needed, blankets to cozy up. We start the group with meditation. Then we write to a prompt for about forty-five minutes. After our writing we go around the circle and read what we’ve written. Comments are always uplifting and encouraging. And by that time our two and a half hours are up and off we go until the next month.

I find this format very challenging. Writing in real time and then reading what I write right afterward is a real confront. And you know what? Almost always some one in the group writes something that is well worth publishing.

Writing Conferences. At least two times a year I’m invited to appear on a panel at a local writers’ conference, and I gladly accept. Usually the topics are building a platform, writing a memoir that people outside our family want to read, poetry – all subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I always enjoy the experience. The last conference panel I appeared on was about creating and publishing an anthology, and I got to be the moderator. I felt very qualified to do that since I’ve had poems in several anthologies, I’ve helped create a poetry anthology, and I’ve been included in a book of prose writing about overcoming the bad things that happen in our lives.

Small Stones. I began writing small stones – a one-or two-line piece about anything at all – several years ago. And that isn’t easy. I’m always struggling to find a topic to write about. Recently, I decided to follow Frances Mayes’ dictum – observe what’s going on in nature and write about that. By the way, I love that they were named small stones originally. Nowadays every month is named something else. This month is January Journal. Really how original is that?

Journaling. Journaling is a given in my life. I journal every day no matter what. Sometimes I’ll write in the morning, but most of the time I write right before I go to bed. That way I’ll know how the day went and I can report that. I also write about my mood, which is not very good most of the time, and the things I accomplished that day.

Blog Posts. I post every five to seven days or so. Even that is a hard assignment. I have trouble thinking of topics to write about – although I write pieces about my writing life more than anything else. I also host a lot of authors while they are on the WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tours. That helps vary the voice of the writers and the topics covered. I had a tour with WOW! When my books first came out, and I’m happy to be able to return the favor. I host a WOW! tour person at least once a month.

Reading. I’m always reading something. A paper copy of the LA Times while I eat breakfast, the news trends on my phone, starting as soon as I get to the gym. Then I transfer over to my New Yorker, which I read almost cover to cover while I’m on the elliptical. Today it was Dan Chiasson’s insightful article about Sylvia Plath – one of my all-time favorite poets – and a new batch of her letters that were recently found.

But all that reading doesn’t count in the Goodreads reading challenge I join every year. Last year I pledged to read twenty-five books and read twenty-seven. Right now I’m on my third book since January 1, The Women by T.C. Boyle. Besides being a brilliant writer, Boyle’s subject – the women in the life of Frank Lloyd Write – is so interesting it’s hard to put down. It’s supposed to be a novel, but it feels very real to me, probably because his descriptions and details are better than I’ve ever seen before

What Else? Besides the working out, writing, and reading,  I’m the person who goes and shoots the dinner; that is, goes shopping and plans the menus. Bob sometimes goes for stuff he likes – juices, yogurt, cheeses, wine, ice cream. I don’t ever want to make those choices for him. I also cook the dinner. But that’s not a worry. I like to cook, and he cleans up. But, we don’t eat until after eight – after the Rachel Maddow show and my obsessive need to watch Jeopardy and the second half of the Lawrence O’Donnell show. Then I’m off to bed by ten, giving me around six hours sleep until my alarm goes off the next morning.

One More Thing. I cannot leave out my work as a volunteer at our local political resistance groups South Bay Cares and the Generation Blue Political Fund where I am the board secretary. I joined South Bay Cares at its outset – within days after Donald Trump was elected. Our goal is to educate and register voters – Democratic voters, that is. The Gen Blue group – a 527 nonprofit raises money and gives it to mostly local candidates. We supported three candidates during the 2018 midterm election, and they all won.





  1. Madeline Sharples says

    I had to post this here.
    My friend, Mo – Wanda Maureen Miller – posted this comment on Facebook.

    “I am sooo disappointed in this blog by my so-called writer/friend, Madeline Tasky Sharples. I read it eagerly thinking she would whine and complain as I do and make me feel better about aging. But noooo, she was damn inspiring and uplifting. She must have been lying about her age to be that active physically and mentally. And she writes every day! I’m going to shoot my computer and hang myself like Epstein. The final straw is how well she writes–well organized (with informative subtitles) and smooth as snake shit.
    I have only one useful thing to say. We got our name “Femring” when we were trying to set a date for our second writing meeting. I looked in my calendar to see if I was busy on the day suggested and said, “I have to change my Femring that day.” Another bright, mature lady said, “Perfect! Let’s call ourselves ‘Femring.'” Note: Femring is a vaginal estrogen ring, not birth control. Without it I would be even dumber and bitchier than I am.”

    What do you think?

  2. Madeline, i think you must write your memoir. It sounds delightful. You already have lots of material on your blog, and you’re very creative. Your friend, Mo said you are inspiring and uplifting–a winning combo. My vote goes for WRITE the memoir.

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