Articles By Jamie DeBree

Digging Out

That seemed like an appropriate post title today, given that not only are we at the part of my mid-life crisis story where I start digging my way out of it, but we’re also still digging out of who-knows-how-many feet of snow this week, because…apparently this is what our “banana belt” of the state has become with climate change, etc. I’m not sure where we’re going to put much more snow. There’s just no room! It’s gonna be a huge mess when this all decides to melt…

In any case, last week, I left off with a decision not to apply for a very lucrative job, and to make another tattoo appointment. Understand that while I was making these decisions, I was still questioning everything, and trying to keep my head and such where it belonged – which is in the life I’d made for myself, rather than in a fantasy world made of different decisions. I kept flipping back and forth, almost mourning the road not taken, as odd as that sounds. And wanting desperately to know what it would be like, even though my head kept telling me that even though it would have been very different, I’d still probably be in the same mental space at that time, just looking the other way.

Tattoo artist’s rendering of my business logo for Brazen Snake Books on the outside of my right ankle/calf.

That’s the thing about us humans. We always tend to get to a point (or points) where we want what we don’t or can’t have (or chose not to have earlier). And it doesn’t seem to matter what we choose in the moment…somehow, we’ll always hit a point of wondering “what if” later down the road. Just knowing that is at least some comfort, I’ve found. Sort of.

When I turned forty (in the middle of all this, and before the whole job decision thing), I finally decided to go get a tattoo I’d been wanting for years. I got it in a somewhat inconspicuous place on my lower ankle, easily hidden for work. But that wasn’t where I’d really wanted to put it. I was still in conservative “don’t make anyone else uncomfortable” mode, so I went against my own desires. Getting the tattoo was a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t enough. And after I decided not to apply for the higher level job, I decided it was time to take some sort of a big step for myself. Something that would make me feel bold and more in control of my own decisions. Something that would force me to acknowledge my own needs and desires more publicly, because it would be on display nearly all the time. Something that would make it harder for me to repress who I am, and thus hopefully embolden me to embrace that publicly, as well as privately.

My bold, beautiful rattlesnake, inner left forearm.

So, eleven months after getting my publishing business logo tattooed on my ankle and six months after deciding to stay with my current job, I had my tattoo artist design a rattlesnake tattoo with bitterroot flowers (Montana’s state flower) for the inside of my left forearm. The snake’s tongue flicks out right down onto my wrist, so it’s impossible to completely hide without both long sleeves and gloves. It’s beautiful, and bold, and there to remind me to be bold, and to listen to my instincts instead of just listening to my head all the time. And also to remind me not to deny who I really am, even if who I am/what I like makes other people uncomfortable because it’s outside the norm.

It took awhile to get used to wearing this tattoo. It’s not inconspicuous, and it did indeed force me to allow people to see a sliver of the “real me” and to be okay with their judgement on that, no matter what it was. But it also helped me to embrace “being me” in public, and it made me feel bold and empowered.

An interesting side effect is that by growing in that way, I started dealing with those other feelings I’d been struggling with. I started realizing that I didn’t have to actually get rid of them, or overcome them, or change them. That they were part of who I am, and that as long as I didn’t act on them, it was okay to acknowledge and even entertain them without guilt (or as much guilt, anyways). Just being able to do that, to examine them without so much guilt and dismay attached to them allowed me to finally start really thinking about what they meant, and why they had become such a big deal in the last few years.

It also allowed me to start writing about them. Not directly (except to my best friend), but in fiction, where I could sort of look at them from all sides, from a removed perspective that would allow me better personal perspective. I do some of my best thinking while writing fiction, and throughout this whole mid-life crisis period, writing had been nearly impossible. Finally writing again and starting to deal with my feelings on paper was a relief. Those stories aren’t finished yet and won’t be for awhile, but I consider them therapy, and still work on them a little here and there, as I’m able.

It’s kind of amazing how relatively small decisions can be so influential in all areas of our lives, isn’t it? But while I was finally writing again, I still had a ways to go before I’d feel content and “at peace” with my life again (mostly). Which is where we’ll hopefully end up…next week.

On With the Crisis…Off With Her Head!

Tuesdays really seem to work better for this weekly post than Mondays for me (oddly enough), so…weekly posts will now always be on Tuesdays. Until they’re not. Because…life.

Also, if you missed last week’s post, this one may not make much sense. We’re talking about mid-life crises this month. You can catch up with this post, and then come back. Or just jump in and read on, you adventurous soul, you…

Now, where did we leave off last week? Oh right. Existential questions like whether I’m beige or not, whether I married the right guy or not, and whether or not I was living the life I was meant to live, or if I’d picked the “wrong things” altogether, and completely missed my “calling” in life, dooming me to be miserable for the rest of it if I don’t drop everything, do a 180-degree turn and start all over again.

I know, I know. Dramatic, much? But that’s how it feels to go through this sort of thing – or that’s how it felt for me. I suddenly understood why people just up and walk away from everything they have, even if it’s good, to start over and build a new life from the ground up. I understood why people buy sports cars, and maybe go clubbing, flirting with not-their-spouses and generally behaving like teenagers in adult bodies.

Luckily for me, I generally tend to err on the conservative/responsible side of things (always have, even when I was a teen), so while I did have some major mental gymnastics going on, I managed to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Not that I didn’t entertain leaving my life behind and starting over, mind you. I don’t like admitting that, because I love my husband and we have a good life together, and I’d never leave my dogs no matter what.

There was an inciting incident, of course…I can pinpoint the exact second it started. I’m not going to share that, because…well, while it seems like I share all my innermost thoughts here, there are still certain things I keep close to the vest. Let’s just say that this incident led to a lot of…feeling like I’d made a wrong decision somewhere, and that I might be missing out. And if I did that with one thing, how many other things would that decision have affected?

Needless to say, I spent years (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I do mean years) trying to deal with these feelings of wanting things I didn’t have, but not wanting to give up what I did have to get them, and going back and forth, back and forth trying to figure out how I could literally “have it all” without losing anything I already had.

Newsflash, ladies: If you haven’t yet figured out that our moms were wrong, this is when it happens. We actually *can’t* have it all – not without hurting people we love. We have to make a choice. Often it’s the same choice or set of choices we had years ago, but this is when we revisit those choices and decide whether to start over or not. It’s crazy-making, and I tell you what – I had lots of mental temper-tantrums (and some verbal too, when I was by myself, or ranting via email to my bestest buddy). It was horrible. Like a big, ugly, take-the-whole-chalkboard math problem that was completely unsolvable, but I stil had to try.

And I had to try to act and interact with other people as normally as possible while the mid-life crisis was doing it’s best to ruin my life. Which isn’t easy, especially when you have to focus on interacting “normally” to begin with.

In the middle of all of this, when I already felt like I was losing my mind, my boss announced he was retiring. Quite a few people thought I should apply for the job, and I thought about it for months, going over the pros and cons, and running it through the same mid-life metrics that had been running through my head for at least a couple years by then. Is that who I wanted to be? Is that what I wanted to do with my life? Would I be giving up other opportunities if I did that? Would I be closing doors I didn’t want to close if I applied? Or if I didn’t apply?

Had I not already been questioning practically everything about my life by that time, it might have been easier. But I had been, and it wasn’t, and I agonized over the decision until finally I decided that no, I didn’t want to do that kind of work, or be that kind of person, or close the kind of doors that might have closed (I know that last part doesn’t really make sense out of context – but it does if you’re in my head, so just go with it). I disappointed nearly everyone close to me, but it was the first decision I was really and truly happy with in a long time.

It was also the first time in a long time that I felt like I was in control of my life. I’d made the decision solely with my own interests in mind – no one elses, and that felt really good. It had been a long time since I made a major life decision without first weighing the potential ramifications it would have on other people (and usually deciding in favor of whatever would make other’s lives easier).

That decision started a chain of new decisions that helped me start crawling out of crisis-mode, even though that would take another year, year and a half. Fairly soon after that, I made an appointment for another tattoo.

Which is the part of the story I’ll tell next week…

The Making of a Mid-Life Crisis

I was thinking about things this past weekend while changing out my earrings for February and regretting the Coke I’d downed earlier with a huge bowl of nachos (no regrets on the nachos, thankyouverymuch). I used to abuse my body with alarming regularity before I got smart and realized exactly what was causing my skin problems (mostly corn syrup), and while my body was young enough to weather the abuse then, it’s older now, and less tolerant of poor choices.

But changing my earrings out – seven of them – for the season reminded me of the first time I had multiple piercings in my ears, between when I turned eighteen and could sign for such things myself, and my mid-twenties when I cut my hair off and decided the original seven piercings didn’t go with the new “do”, and looked too “out there” for the professional look I thought I needed back then. Or did need, rather. I was “homogenizing” myself, blending in with the workforce and trying not to draw attention to how I looked, so people would hopefully focus on what I said and did. I was young, and looked younger, and I was learning a lot and trying to prove myself in my job.

Yes, plenty of people choose to do that with visible tattoos, piercings, funky clothing and hair, etc. And more power to them, I say. But I don’t regret adopting a more conservative look and demeanor for myself during those years. It made things a lot easier on me, I think. With every small change I made, I noticed measurable differences in how people treated me. Wearing my hair up more often, then cutting it off. Dressing more professionally/less casual and wearing makeup resulted in a very noticable difference in how people responded to me when I was talking or trying to explain something. Those things made it easier for me to sort of “grow into” my job with less barriers due to my physical appearance – mostly with people outside my own department.

Adopting a fairly professional demeanor at work was a way of protecting myself too. My very first job as a teenager and on through college went about as you’d expect, with a lot of personal sharing among staff, and also a lot of backstabbing and personal vendettas that left a rather sour taste in my mouth. I was so tired of it all and hurt that people who had acted friendly toward me actually didn’t like me much at all that I was determined not to ever let something like that happen again. So I put up a wall – separation of work and personal life, and for the most part, I did that by adopting a professional demeanor that did its job well. Maybe a little too well, I’m realizing now. But at the time, it’s what I needed.

I’ve mentioned before (I think) that I stopped getting tattoos because my husband doesn’t particularly care for them. I was taught that wives are to be subservient to their husbands, and even though my own personality and feelings are somewhat different than that (*ahem*), it’s hard to leave all that ingrained teaching behind. I felt like subjugating my own wants and needs for those of my husband was just what a good wife does. Turns out, it’s a great way to lose yourself and become resentful of the limitations that you’ve placed on yourself (my husband never once even hinted that I should stop getting tattoos – it was all me).

What does all this have to do with a mid-life crisis? Basically, I spent years “toning myself down”, blending in, acting “normal”, and keeping a safe, professional distance from people. I kept my appearance neutral, my tone moderated (for the most part), and focused on doing whatever I could to…not be “liked”, really, but to be an “acceptable” person for people to be around. I kept the most real parts of myself to myself, hidden under layers of virtual “beige”, assuming that’s what I needed to do in order to be tolerated and get things done. And for awhile, I think it was (the real “me” is not always the easiest to be around – I am rather…quirky, to put it nicely).

The thing is, you can only do that for so long. Eventually it starts to wear on you, and you start thinking about how you used to be. And you question if that old “you” was the real you, or if the beige “you” is the real one, or if you’re not either of those things, but something else entirely. Did I make the right decisions? Did I marry the right person? Did I do the right thing staying in the job I have, or should I have looked for something better? What if I’d chosen a completely different life – would I be happier? Or would it be worse? Maybe the same, in a different way?

I was between thirty-five and forty when these questions and other unsettling thoughts started plaguing me. I thought I was too young for a mid-life crisis, until one day during the tail end of it, I came across a couple of articles that said women often experience one right in that general age-range. And the key thing for a lot of us is…we’re trying to figure out where we lost that piece of ourselves that’s missing. Often, the search for that starts back in the high school/college years.

This is long, and there’s quite a bit more to the story. So if you’re interested, stop by next week for another slice.

Moving Right Along…

Last week was kind of like a bad thriller – mostly unbelievable with a few redeeming scenes here and there. Even this past Sunday pretty much sucked when I discovered a pinhole leak in a hose under the kitchen sink (all I wanted was a garbage bag, dang it!), and then couldn’t get the connector off so I could replace it. It’s currently covered in electrical tape, which is covered with a layer of duct tape to keep it from leaking this week, since we won’t have time to get back to it until next Saturday. Fingers crossed that will all hold for the next 6 days.

So, now you know why this post is late. That whole little discovery, from finding water, to figuring out what was leaking, to a trip to the hardware store (the dogs enjoyed that, at least), to spending an hour or so trying to disconnect things without breaking them took way, way too long. And of course I was tired, due to being up way too late again Sat. night because of the stupid gel polish that, once applied, refuses to let go of my nails.

Apparently some of us just have that problem, and the only way to deal with it is to either not use gel polish, or to get a good electronic file, file the color off (which does work – yay!), and backfill the base coat before polishing again (instead of removing the base, so you don’t damage your natural nails). I learned that by surfing several out-of-the-way nail tech sites and youtube videos while waiting for my regular polish to dry after pitting my own gel polish base coat with my very old e-file to remove last week’s manicure.

A new electronic file, and better technique thanks to youtube videos, and that should solve my gel polish problem. As soon as the mess I made of my nails grows out and I can try again, anyways.

There were a few good things that came out of last week though. My alter-ego’s draft is all finished and ready for formatting, and the cover art is done for the ebook. It feels good to be on the verge of publishing something again. Good, bad, or ugly, the writing cycle doesn’t really feel complete until you put it out there to sink or swim, as it will.

I also caught up on a writing motivation lecture series I bought awhile back and never finished, and came up with a new plan for nightly scheduling to hopefully get more done as far as studying writing craft and keeping up with publishing business goes.

Provided this week is more…cooperative than last, I should be able to get a fair amount of writing done, at least one newsletter out, and some editing done on another draft that’s nearly ready to release. Here’s hoping.

And with any luck, back to nightly workouts as well. I didn’t get a single one in last week, which sucks. I really do need that to keep the stress levels and weight down.

So. New week, new motivation, same ol’ optimism that things won’t be *too* bad. Forward, ho!

Progress, Set-Backs, & Movies

Vacation is over, and it’s back to the office today. Last week was phenomenal as far as vacations go. I relaxed, but I also got a lot of stuff done (that in and of itself was relaxing to me – because it was all stuff I wanted to work on). I wrote nearly every day (only missed one), I got a draft edited up and ready to send to the formatters, I picked out some potential cover art images for that story, and printed out another story for a last read-through/edit before getting that ready to publish.

I also started the clean-up/restoration project for my antique sewing machine, which is still in progress, but it’s been a fun learning experience. I’m working on polishing the metal at the moment, which is proving more difficult than I thought it would be. One-hundred plus years of grime and etching aren’t all that easy to get off, and I started thinking I needed to make everything shine again before I put it back together, and then realized that really…I don’t. The marred spots and matte chrome are part of this machine’s particular story, and while the rust really did have to be removed to save the metal, the rest of it really is just fine like it is. It’s an antique. It shouldn’t look new. It should look well used and loved, and mine definitely does. I’ll replace the belt (already have a replacement ready to go on) and needle, but otherwise, everything else will be original, stained and faded though it might be.

I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t get it all put back together this past weekend, but I still don’t have a new needle, thread, or any fabric at all, so it’s not like I could use it anyways. Next weekend, I’m going shopping. And I’ll put everything back together and finally get to try it out.

I still didn’t get six hours of sleep this past Saturday night – gel polish is no joke to remove! Unfortunately, the steamer appliance I bought really isn’t working well at all for this, and I don’t know if it’s the polish I’m using, or the steamer or what, but I think soaking the polish off in a more traditional manor might solve my problem. I’ll try again next weekend.

The UV-cured gel polish itself is awesome, and it’s so great to be able to just pick up and go straight to bed after the last cure time with completely dry nails. I hope I can find a way to make the polish removal quicker though, or it’s kind of pointless for getting to bed earlier.

While the nail polish steamer hasn’t worked all that well for me, I got another steamer that is just *excellent*. I found one of those tiny little egg cooker/steamers on sale on Amazon the other week, and it is just the handiest little kitchen appliance ever! Poke a hole in the eggs, put them on the tray, add water measured by the included cup, put the lid on and press the button. I’ve made soft and hard boiled eggs so far, and both are incredibly easy. No pan to clean up, no paying attention to when the water starts boiling and setting a timer, no real clean-up necessary. It’s wonderful, and I love it. It took very little effort to get ten hard-boiled eggs all cooked, peeled and ready for breakfasts this week.

The hubby took me to dinner and a movie for my birthday – we went to see the new Jumangi, and I tell you what…it was *hilarious*! It looks kind of cheesy from the trailers, but we laughed all the way through. So funny. Well worth the watch, IMO.

Then yesterday I got sucked into watching Sunset Boulevard on PBS, and it was mesmerizing on several levels. If you haven’t seen it and you get a chance to, it will especially appeal to us writerly and creative types. Worth the time, even though it did put me behind on housework for the rest of the day.

I had a great vacation, and I feel rested and ready to get back into the normal workday routine. There are a few things I need to work on, time-wise, but I think I can do better going forward. It was a good, much-needed break.

Oh…and if you ever consider reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Doomed…well…it’s weird. Interesting in an odd way and amusing, but weird. Just sayin’.

Vacation! Older! Motivated (sort of)! Tattoo!

For the one or two of you wondering, no, I did not get 6 hours of sleep this past Saturday night. Or most nights last week, actually. It was just one of those weeks where not much went right, the world was chaos, and I just kind of hung on and made it through. Some weeks are like that. No avoiding it, unfortunately.

I made a mistake with the nail gel polish application last week, and that’s why Saturday night I was up way later than I should have been trying to get that polish back *off* my nails. Learning curve, nightmare, chaos, yadda yadda yadda. Lesson(s) learned and noted, next week should go much faster. Hopefully.

As you might have noticed when you tried to go to the bank or mail something, today is a federal holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day). Which is why I’m hanging with the dogs and having lunch with my parents/grandma instead of toiling away at the office. Because I have extra vacation hours to use or lose this year, and because Wednesday is my birthday (always take my birthday off), I went ahead and just took the whole rest of the week off too. Which fits in nicely with one of my non-resolution goals this year, which is to get my butt in gear and publish some more books.

I have at least two drafts that just need some editing, formatting and cover art before they’re ready to go up for sale. They’ve been in that state for a long time now, and I just haven’t had the…well, chutzpah, I guess, to get them out there. Issues with confidence, directional issues, mid-life-crisis sort of issues…it’s been a crazy few years. But it’s time to get back in the game. I’m writing regularly again (thank God), and it’s far past time to start putting stuff out there too.

So this week is all about editing. I have a 500 new-word minimum to meet every day, but after that, it’s all about getting those two drafts cleaned up and in publishable shape. I’ve set release dates for both of them, mostly just to give myself a deadline (I work best on deadline and I haven’t been setting many of those for myself lately), and meeting those release dates means absolutely finishing the edits on the first draft this week, and the second has to be finished by mid-February (but the sooner the better). I’m going to spend a fair amount of time (several hours) on each of them in the afternoons this week, and see how much I can get done.

I’d also really like to get that antique sewing machine I bought last fall up and running. I have a new belt for it, a bottle of oil, and some new bobbins…and I can’t remember if I bought a new needle for it or not yet. It needs to be cleaned and oiled, and then the new belt put on, and that should be enough to get it running. I want to make Murphy-dog some new leggings, which will be a super-easy first project for someone who hasn’t sewn in ages (just tubes with casings on each end for elastic). I don’t have any fabric or thread at the moment (details, details), but payday is next Monday, so once the machine works, I’ll head out to the craft store.

The sewing machine will be a “break project” – I can’t sit on my butt all day, every day (well, I could, but it would hurt and not be all that healthy). If I work on it for an hour or so a day, I should have it in good shape by Saturday, I’d think. The scrubbing decades worth of grime off will probably take the longest amount of time.

Wednesday afternoon, I’m treating myself to a new “Smurfy” tattoo on my left ankle. I doubt he’ll have time to do the whole thing (it will wrap around), but I have an appointment at 1pm to get it started.

It was three years ago on the 16th that I started getting tattooed again, after a very long haitus. Allowing myself to indulge in something I enjoy despite the negative opinions of others is kind of like the middle-aged guy who buys a sports car in/after a mid-life crisis. It’s helped me to feel more like “me” again, instead of someone I made myself appear to be for the comfort of everyone else. There are consequences, of course (there always are, for being openly yourself), but I’m more equipped to handle them now than I ever was as a younger person…probably much like that guy takes better care of the sports car as an adult than he would have as a teen. Being married to someone who supports that need in spite of personal objections is a rare and amazing thing, indeed.

So, writing, editing, sewing maching restoration, birthday, tattoo. It’s gonna be a good week, methinks. I hope yours goes well too!

Nailin’ It…Slowly.

So far, its been pretty easy to eat an egg once per day (see this year’s resolution post if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Getting six continuous hours of sleep a night? Not so easy. Especially on Saturday nights, which is when you’d think it would be the easiest, since I can generally sleep in on Sundays. Alas, no matter how late I can sleep, I still have to be up by 7:30am or so to feed the dogs, so my 6 hours has to happen before then (anything that happens after is just a bonus, and one I often take advantage of).

This is because Saturday nights are “nail nights”, or more properly, manicure nights. So I wait until the dogs and husband are settled for the night around 11:30pm-12am, and then I get out my nail “stuff”, pull up whatever show(s) I’m currently watching, and start the process of removing my old nail polish, filing, shaping, buffing, and re-polishing. I also soak my feet and do a simple pedicure at the same time…re-polishing my toenails every 4-5 weeks or so. I generally get done around 3:30-4am, but then I have to wait for the new polish to dry before I can go to bed, which is another hour or so. Even then, I often end up with sheet prints in my polish or scrunched up tips just because the polish wasn’t *truly* dry.

In any case, I decided to try a new method of doing my nails this week, to see if I could speed up the process a bit, and even with a somewhat steep learning curve, I shaved an hour off my normal time. I still need practice, but considering I spent an hour or more just reading instructions, watching videos and being extra-careful, I think I can cut at least another hour, hour and a half off next time. And there are other things I can do to speed things up, like setting up my “space” and picking out colors, etc…earlier in the day, so it doesn’t take that extra half hour in the evening before I can even start.

Could I just skip all this and go to the salon for a couple of hours? Sure. But I really don’t like having someone else do my nails. I did once, because I got a gift certificate for a manicure, and I didn’t like anything about the way she filed, shaped or polished my nails. I didn’t like the touch from a stranger on my hands. And doing that every two weeks holds no appeal to me whatsoever, much less every week.

More importantly though, nail night is “me time”. Not “me and a stranger’s time” or even “me and a friendly acquaintence’s time”, but time for me to be alone, recharging my introverted little batteries, watching shows my husband has no interest in, and just generally enjoying having a few hours to myself. I still fully intend to take 3 hours every Saturday night to relax, do my nails and watch my shows. I’m just cutting that time down from 5 hours to take better care of my brain (such as it is) by sleeping more.

I think by mid-February, I should have it all down to a science of sorts, and I’ll be in bed by 1:30am on Sunday mornings. I dare say that will make Sundays more productive as well. Which would be really nice. We’ll see.

Now, back to the grind. But only for a week – I’ve got next week off work, and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest. Five more days…

Resolutions 2018: What Kind of Person Do I Want to Be?

This year, it’s not about what I do, but who I am. Am I the kind of person who puts things off and lets them go just because the time isn’t optimal, or due to rigid social/societal structures? Or am I the kind of person who treats life and time as fluid and finds creative solutions in order to meet her goals and stay mentally balanced and healthy? I’m sure you can guess which kind of person I’d rather be…but I’ve been slipping on that a bit lately. Or a lot. I’ve let a lot of good habits go by the wayside just because I can’t do them on the schedule I want to or because I’m tired and not making good use of my alone-time to recharge, and I’ve let some stumbling blocks in my daily life completely derail me from things I really want to do.

I’m a creative thinker. The things that have been derailing me just…shouldn’t, because I’m perfectly capable of figuring out different ways of getting things done. I’m also perfectly capable of finding a compromise point when necessary, and that’s where the flexibility comes in. Often to get things done or change a schedule, the only person I need to compromise with is myself and my own rigid thoughts and routines.

When it comes to resolutions, I’m changing my thought patterns a little this year. I normally have a fairly long list, with several resolutions and then a detailed plan for how I’ll accomplish each one. A “resolution” for me is just a very strong goal…something that I really want to focus on and work at making happen. The thing is, I don’t remember those long lists, so I end up only accomplishing one or two things instead of a good chunk of the list. And I’m not good at remembering to check the lists every so often and remind myself what I’m supposed to be doing, which is something I need to work on.

So, this year I’m doing something different. I still have my longer list with the detailed plans, and I’m going to put monthly reminders on my calendar to look back, take stock and see what kind of progress I can make on that list. That’s the yearly “Goal List”, and those items are important, but they take a back seat to the “Resolutions List”.

The Resolution list is the highest priority, has three items on it, and only a few ideas on how I could possibly implement these “major goals”, rather than a detailed plan that may or may not work. This is to leave my mind room to work on creative solutions so I can find the one that will work best with what I’m trying to do through trial and error, rather than locking myself into something that may prove untenable in the long run.

The resolutions are deceptively simple, but will require a ripple of changes to multiple routines, schedules and mindsets to meet them on a regular, daily basis. They’re seemingly small things that will have profound impacts on my life…hopefully for the better.

So, my resolutions for this year are:

– Get at least 6 continuous hours of sleep 6 nights per week
– Eat at least one egg per day, 6 days per week
– Read through my goals list once per week, and note any progress or lack thereof. Adjust as necessary.

And that’s it. Those are my three hard and fast priorities for the year – the things I want to do no matter what else happens. Why these three in particular?

Sleep is something I hate wasting time on, but it’s incredibly important for a lot of things, not the least of which is overall long-term brain health. I read a study last fall (and mentioned it here, so apologies for the repeat) on how if you get less than 6 continuous hours of sleep per night, your brain can’t properly perform basic “cleaning functions” it needs to keep the pathways clear of amyloid deposits (among other things). These deposits have been linked to causing dementia and Alzheimer, and the more often you go without that minimum amount of sleep, the more your brain actually loses the ability to perform those important “scrubbing” tasks no matter how much sleep you get.

So why make it a resolution? Because for me, sleeping for 6 continuous hours means completely redoing both my night and morning routines, and becoming more efficient at what I need to get done before and after work just so I can have 6 hours free to do…brain maintenance. This resolution affects a very large swath of my life, and while I’ve been working on it for a couple of months now, I tend to “fudge” the schedule here and there, and I’m still working to find a good way to handle my manicure nights on Saturdays (when I’m often up until 4-5am doing my nails).

Focusing on getting 6 hours of sleep will force me to adjust and change (improve?) a plethora of other things in my life, which makes it a good resolution, methinks.

As for the eggs – I’m working on getting healthier (a constant thing). Losing weight, getting strong, eating healthy. Lots of recent studies have de-villified the egg as a cholesterol issue, and they contain a lot of really great vitamins and minerals that support healthy thyroid and metabolic function. Plus, good protein! And very versatile/easy to incorporate into daily meals.

Focusing on eating one specific food every day will force me to think about my meals in advance, and also keep me in the mindset of eating foods that support my overall goals of getting healthier and getting back to a healthier weight.

Lastly, the checking in on my major goal list once a week will help keep those fresh in my mind, and give me a weekly opportunity to think about what I could do to make progress on them, or go over what isn’t working and adjust the goal accordingly. This also will require that I adjust my weekend routines to make time for this weekly check-in. I’ll probably need an hour, at least.

So, that’s the resolution list and plan for this year. I’ve already started moving things around in my routines to get to bed on time, and planning out how to fit a daily egg into my diet (this week, cupcake-sized egg muffins for breakfast…made this morning and cooling for the freezer). Just need to figure out when I’ll do my first goals check-in next weekend, and I’ll be off to a good start.

Here’s to a year of focus, flexibility and forward progress!

2017 in Review

Well now. That was kind of a bumpy year, wasn’t it? Mercifully, it seems like it flew right by, but man. I had such high hopes and…well…I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I’d hoped to.

I basically have three sections to my resolutions every year: Personal, Writing/Publishing, and Work. Out of all the items I had for those three sections, I accomplished exactly 1 item on each list. Like many others, I got caught up in watching politics, work was busy, writing was…moving forward, but it took most of the year to find a daily (nightly) “flow” again, and I ended up not publishing anything and slightly behind on my bookkeeping, though not as bad as in years past.

The three things I “accomplished” were really only partial accomplishments, but it’s something. In my personal resolutions list, one goal was to give myself a pedicure every week along with my manicure. This goal stems from the fact that my toenails grow insanely fast, and the bottom of my right foot is crazy dry, cracked, peeling, etc (so not nice). And I’m really not good at foot-care, which doesn’t help.

I don’t do a full pedicure every week because it takes forever, but I do soak, file and moisturize my feet every Saturday night now, which means I notice when the nails are too long and cut them before they can start causing problems. I’ve also started moisturizing them more often on other days, which means that while my right foot is still pretty messed up, it’s far better than it was. At least when I don’t pull strips out of the callus like I did last week (ouch).

The point being, I am taking better care of my feet, and the fact that this “better care” hasn’t solved the problem completely has led me to look at other potential issues, which will play into next year’s resolutions. Healing from the inside out, so to speak. But I’m also taking better care of myself in other ways, and much of that has stemmed from just focusing on better foot care.

As far as writing/publishing go, the one thing I actually sort-of accomplished was setting aside time for business-work: bookkeeping, promotion, site updates, etc. I haven’t been good about keeping up all year, but I did a heck of a lot better than in years past, and that will make doing my taxes next year less of a chore. I still need to work on refining this over the next year…a lot of things have changed with my schedule and what I want to accomplish in that area, so it’s a work in progress. But I feel like I did pretty well, considering the business work is my least-favorite part of writing/publishing.

I don’t post about work goals online, for obvious reasons, but I did accomplish one of two goals for last year, and I feel pretty good about that.

The other thing I did wasn’t even a goal, but it was the simplest and also hardest thing to accomplish, and it took me all year. I finally got back into the daily writing habit, and have been writing just about every weekday for the last several weeks. It took me *so long* to find habits and routines that would support that after losing the habit a couple years ago. But I’m back on track now, and it feels really good. Mentally stabilizing as well.

So, definite progress forward this year, and I’m actually quite looking forward to 2018. It’s gonna be a good year, methinks.

Monday, I’ll post my resolutions for the new year, and my plans for making them happen. Now it’s time to take down Christmas, restore my house to its normal state, and shovel about a ton of snow…

Vacation Report, Entertainment & Free Books

Back to “normal” life today, after a nice week of alternate reality. I didn’t completely stick to the schedule I’d hoped to, but considering I had a couple of wrenches thrown in the works, as it were, I think I did pretty well. No writing toward the end of the week, but I got a fair amount done the first couple of days. Had a nice visit with my grandma (and a nice drive out and back), finished a crochet project for a friend and started a gift project (it’s half-done), and fixed our leaking bathtub faucet. I visited the tattoo shop and made an appointment for my birthday next month, and I attended my husband’s annual work holiday get-together.

I should have gotten a few more Christmasy things done, like…say…cards. But, it’s all good. I’ll mail a few out this week and maybe do better next year. I can’t believe Christmas is one week away! How the heck did that happen?

The rest of this week is going to be busy catching up at work, and busy frantically finishing last-minute gifts and shopping (I get paid Friday, so…yeah). So I guess calling it “normal” is kind of an overstatement. But I’m looking forward to the whole Christmas family thing being over (because…way too social for my tastes, thanks), and I always look forward to a new year beginning.

So really, two more weeks before things really get back to normal, I guess. Hopefully they go by fast.

I watched a lot of cheesy Christmas romance movies last week, and while it really is all the same basic plot, it’s nuts how acting and writing can make all the difference in the world. I’ve seen *so very many* really bad movies lately where either the acting or scripting or both were just completely horrible…and only a couple that I really enjoyed. I have to say, I’m really impressed with the quality of Netflix’s original movies this year. Amazon’s…not so much. And God save me from yet another Ion (new broadcast TV channel to us) romantic tragedy. Wow.

We did go see Justice League (hubby’s work Christmas thing), which was better than I thought it would be. I like Christopher Nolan films though. I also like Jason Momoa and Henry Cavill without shirts. So there’s that. I still don’t like Ben Affleck as Batman, because…seriously? No. Just no. He doesn’t do the suit justice, so to speak. Can we have Christian Bale back, please?

We’ve also been watching Godless on Netflix, which is really quite good (intense), and have not had time to watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 yet. Dang it.

And we did not get to go watch a late night showing of Die Hard at the Art House Cinema downtown this weekend, which I really wanted to do. *sigh* Next year, hopefully.

If you’re looking for a little reading respite for your holiday interlude, three of my holiday-themed short stories are free for the next couple of weeks over on the BSB site. One romance, one horror, and one erotica, so you can either download whichever alter-ego you’re most interested in, or the whole collection if you’re feeling a bit adventurous. Good for those short “disappearances” that are necessary to survive family functions.

No post next week, for obvious reasons, but resolutions posts will go up on Friday the 29th and Monday the 1st. I hope you’ll join me!

Happy Holidays!