Elevators & Returns

This past weekend I watched five movies (it sounds far more impressive than it actually was). Saturday night we watched Gnome Alone, which was hilarious and a nice break from the serious stuff we’ve been watching/playing. Then later when I was doing my nails (around 2am or so), I watched The Holiday Calendar on Netflix, which was cute (and predictable, but holiday romance movies all are). Then Sunday while I was setting up the tree and decorating the front window, I watched three “love-in-an-elevator” themed movies. The first two weren’t too bad, the third should never have been made. And they all three made me wonder a couple of things:

– Did Aerosmith get royalties for the whole elevator meet-cute idea?
– Who hangs mistletoe in an elevator? Because I’ve never seen that in my entire life…but then again, I tend to use the stairs when I can.

Regardless, I have to say, if I were single, I might ride the elevator more during the holiday season. Just to see if there was mistletoe in there. And Jason Momoa. As you do.

I think I mentioned going on a virtual shopping spree last week. Well, the thing about “sprees” is, they’re unfocused, and shopping like that tends to lead to a lot of returns (I don’t do it often). I now have three packages that need to go to a post office just as soon as I can remember to pick up some packing tape to affix the return labels with, and one more package on the way that I’m certain I’ll have to exchange two items from (because in my Black Friday shopping haste, I ordered the wrong size…and realized it too late to get the orders changed). Dang it. I hate returning stuff, so this is a good reminder to shop more carefully next time.

One good thing from my “spree” – I found a pair of ankle boots that I absolutely adore. And they’re in European sizing, which means one size fits *both* of my feet! That’s exciting, because they’re expensive, and I couldn’t afford to buy two pair just to fit both feet like I often have to do. I’m going to budget for several more pair over the course of the next several months. This particular brand (L’Artiste) has a bunch of fun and funky styles and colors. They’re fun, and maybe if I have several I won’t feel compelled to keep wearing them with holes in the sole like my last pair (I discovered the holes when I tossed them after the new ones got here).

So what did we learn last week?

– Gnomes are always cute, and sometimes heroic
– Beware of mistletoe in elevators, unless you’re single and looking for mistletoe pretty much anywhere
– I should always buy UK shoe sizes
– Shop with purpose, rather than blindly
– That craving for butter cookies isn’t just going to go away. Just buy the tin, already. Do it! (I haven’t yet, but payday’s Friday.)

T-minus three and a half days until my December Week of Debauchery (or “vacation”, whatever) begins…

Mental Loops & Twisted Feet

For those of you dying of curiosity, yes, my new skivvies and bras came in, and the old got thrown out, and life is much better/less painful now. And I have a line item in my budget for such things, so I can…well, not get in the same situation again. Or that’s the idea, anyways.

Bonus the menfolk might be appreciate: when you shop for bras online for a time and then open up your Facebook page, your ads are all women modeling bras. You’re welcome.

The jewelry armoire/vanity combo that I really wanted got me stuck in a mental loop. I thought it was the stuff inside the dresser that was the sticking point (and I’m glad I dealt with that), but the thing I just couldn’t let go of was that piece of furniture, and how nice/organized it would be to have. And since it’s out of my budget for the foreseeable future, it caused a loop of sorts in my head where I couldn’t really do much of anything but try to figure out how to obtain that particular piece, or how to circumvent needing one. I get like that sometimes, and it sucks. I can’t really focus on anything until I solve, to my brain’s satisfaction, the lack of whatever it is I’m obsessing over.

Bug, not feature.

So, I spent a lot of brain power on the problem, trying to decide how to solve it without paying $400 for a piece of furniture I really don’t *need*. Finally I dug an old bookshelf out of a closet, took the cardboard drawers out of my little cardboard dresser and put them in the bottom two shelves of the bookcase (for socks), found a lined basket and put that in the top shelf of the bookcase (for skivvies – keeping them in the bathroom messed with my morning routine too much), and basically turned that bookcase into a nicer looking dresser. I want to eventually get all matching lined baskets for the “drawers”, but I like it, and I think it’s a definite improvement on the cardboard dresser that was there.

Then I went through and cleaned out both my big jewelry armoire and a smaller jewelry box, and reorganized my entire jewelry collection so I’d have easier access to the pieces I want to wear more often in the armoire, and the pieces I just keep for sentimental value or occasional wear are stored in the smaller box. I got rid of a lot of stuff I’ll never wear and didn’t want to keep, so that was good too.

After that, my mind finally broke free of that “gotta have it” loop, thank goodness. Zero money spent (though I will eventually buy baskets), several problems solved. Whew!

At some point that same weekend, I stepped on one of the dog bones in the living room in such a way that I twisted my foot, ankle and knee. I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time, but the next day, the top of my foot in the center and the sides of my ankle hurt like crazy. The day after that, my knee hurt too. For almost an entire week I walked around on a sore foot and ankle, until finally I decided I’d better treat it gently for a few days to let it heal. So, I limped a bit when people weren’t looking, keep pressure off it as much as possible, and now it’s down to a manageable level of soreness (still healing). Just a bad twist? Hairline fracture? Hard to say, and I have no intention of getting it checked out as long as it keeps healing.

However, having to baby that foot and then getting sore arms and a stiff back simply by hauling a turkey around on Thanksgiving Day (seriously!) has forced me to acknowledge three things.

1. I’m not young anymore, and it takes longer to heal/recover than it used to.
2. I really, really need to get back to daily yoga and alternate-day weight training, because my body is just as happy to sit and atrophy if I let it. Which is painful in the short term, and really bad news in the long-term.
3. I really should pick up dog bones on a daily basis.

My workouts have fallen off since Halloween, when we were working out pretty well just getting everything put out and then hauling it all back to the basement. But then everything was just piled into the workout room, and due to a couple busy weekends since, I haven’t gotten it all put away again just yet. I don’t even have room to do yoga in there at the moment, and I haven’t been moving fast enough in the mornings to get my yoga time in anyways (I just need 10 minutes, but I’ve been staying up too late, which makes me move slower in the mornings…bad cycle).

But, due to the rearranging in the bedroom (see above mental loop situation), I have room to do yoga there. I tried it out Sunday and Monday nights, and I tell you what – three rounds of sun salutations, and my back was feeling *much* better. And since I’m more awake and organized at night, I’m going to make a point of doing yoga right when I go into the bedroom to change into sweats at night – usually after I walk the dogs. That should get my body back into a more pain-free state.

This weekend I’ll get all that Halloween stuff put back into the storage room, and vacuum the workout room so I can lift two to three times per week, starting next week.

And as of this week, I’m adding “pick up dog bones” to my early morning routine. It will take two minutes, and potentially save me a lot of pain, so…worth spending time I don’t really have on, methinks.

Of course as soon as I got out of the mental loop above, I got stuck in another one, and have since spent more money than I should have on bras and boots. My wardrobe is driving me nuts again all of a sudden, and I need to get that under control before it costs me any more money.

Just before Christmas is an excellent time to clean out the closets and visit thrift stores, right?

Stupid loops…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Yeah…no. I mean, close, but I’m missing the mark way too often. And that screws up my mornings, so, gotta get it under control.
Goals check-up: Well, I suppose the whole working out thing and sleep thing tie into this year’s goals, but no formal check-in. It’ll definitely happen before the end of the year, though!

Writer’s Notes – none this week.

Untwisting the Knickers

A popular euphemism, yes…but I have actually been thinking about underwear lately. Specifically, the fact that what I have is wearing out, or doesn’t fit right, or both, and that my storage “solution” at the moment currently…ah, isn’t. I’m not fond of shopping for clothing, and that includes underwear, so I do it as little as possible. But, the time has come…

It is kind of symbolic, in that I’m finally starting to get several pieces of my life organized that had sort of fallen by the wayside during the “brain fog/midlife crisis” years when my proverbial knickers were pretty twisted, so to speak. Seriously. If I’d known then what I know now about minerals and magnesium… *sigh* But, live, learn, and clean out your underwear drawers, apparently.

In any case, men, you can read along or sit this one out, as you wish. I know plenty of guys who could not care less what their underwear drawers look like, but just as many who I suspect would tell me (if I asked them) that they keep their skivvy drawers far more organized than I ever will. Actually, those same men probably keep their whole houses cleaner than I do…but whatever.

In any case, after dealing with ill-fitting bras (and the resulting discomfort every single day) for far too long, I finally forced myself to go looking online for information on how to figure out what exactly my problem was, and how to buy a better bra to fix it. After several videos and articles explaining how to properly choose a bra (yes, I’ve read them before, but obviously did not do it “right” last time…also, bodies change over time, and…gravity, damn it), I think I figured out how to choose a better-fitting bra for my body, and ordered a couple to try. They should be here sometime this week. If they fit better and are comfortable, I’m going to order a few more. I’ve been living with just two (boring, nude) bras that “work okay” for years, and since I refuse to spend a million bucks on one bra (seriously – I do *not* get why the supposedly high-end ones are so frickin’ expensive. It’s not like they’re whalebone corsets, right?!), I’m thinking I should own more than two so I can rotate them and not wear them out as quickly. Like shoes (which I should also buy more of and rotate, but whatever).

While I was doing that, I decided, heck, I should just order some new skivvies too. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the majority of mine are coming apart in some way, or they don’t fit right. Before I purged my sock & underwear drawers yesterday, I had enough skivvies for one week and one day (like I said, I hate to shop). After “the purge” I have enough to get me one day past when the “grab bag” of 20 pair I ordered from Amazon is scheduled to get here, and then three more pair are headed for the garbage.

Of course after I found that “grab bag” for a good price (with good reviews, mostly), I saw an ad on Facebook (because when you spend an evening shopping for bras/underwear online, the FB algorithms figure you need more help) for Knotty Knickers, which, between the name and a pole-dancing unicorn made me snicker. So I clicked the link, and by golly, it’s a subscription service for undies – a Canadian business. You can seriously get almost anything in a subscription service these days.

In any case, they looked like fun (I mean, they have seasonal skivvies!), so I signed up for a bi-monthly subscription. Because…why not?

Anyways, now I have all these knickers coming, and I decided it was time to clean out and maybe even organize my sock/underwear dresser (which is a small cardboard dresser covered with contact paper by the vanity table in my bedroom). There’s no way all those underwear were going to fit with all my socks in that little dresser, so I decided to go completely off the reservation and store my skivvies in a drawer in the bathroom, so they’re right there after I get out of the shower. Genius, right?

Yeah, well. The bathroom vanity drawers were…um…basically glorified junk drawers, so I spent all afternoon yesterday cleaning them out (and decided to use a smaller one instead of a bigger one). Two large garbage bags later, I had more storage than I need, and no time to make the drawer dividers I want for the “drawers drawer”. But, I’ll figure that out later.

Then I purged my socks (because hey, I was on a roll, right?), and still ended up using all four drawers in that little dresser. One for fuzzy socks, one for thin/fun socks, one for lightweight work socks, and one for heavyweight/wool work socks. And then I was sad because I couldn’t figure out how to wear more lightweight crew socks with fun patterns on them, because there’s a subscription service or three for those too, and i want more fun socks (mine are all mostly boring black/gray), but have no idea what kind of shoes I’d wear them with for work, especially in the winter when I wear the wool socks because…brr! *sigh*

You want to know what actually started all this? Someone was selling a vanity table on our local rummage sale that had a set of drawers attached to the left side – smaller drawers on top for jewelry, and slightly larger drawers on the bottom that would work for “unmentionables”. I didn’t get the vanity, but it got me thinking about how my own vanity, jewelry and skivvies were organized, and…well, here we are.

Perhaps one day I’ll pony up the big bucks for a new vanity table like that…or just another large jewelry/lingerie armoire (I have a med. sized one, but it’s full). But for now, I’ll have new undies, and more organized drawers. Which is good enough, I suppose.

When was the last time you “untwisted” your knickers, literally or proverbially speaking?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Most nights last week, actually. Though I didn’t sleep well, but that was a temporary thing.
Goals check-up: Nope. Forgot all about it, because I moved to a new calendaring system and need to set up the reminder. Will do that this week.

Writer’s Notes

Go Vote, and Writing Related Decisions & Distractions

It’s Election Day! I’m off work, because federal election days are “holidays” around here (every two years), but I voted absentee several weeks ago. Hopefully if you haven’t voted yet, you’ll get it done today. Even if you think your voice is too small to count, do it anyways. It counts more than you know.

Whether to vote and how to vote are just two decisions you’ll make (or have made) in any given day. I was thinking about that the other day, and remembering something I read once (I’ve long since forgotten where) about how the decisions we have to make every single day are some of the biggest thieves of time in our lives.

This is particularly poignant for me at the moment because I’ve been trying (and failing miserably until very recently) to find a set time every weekday that I can use for writing. Not just any time either, but a chunk of time that I can actually “protect” as bonefide writing time without allowing anyone else to derail or interrupt me. Time that I can count on as not being beholden to any other person, pet or priority. It’s a difficult ask, because my days are very full and because I have other priorities for myself that tend to take up the spare time in my evenings. Things like working out to keep my body healthy longer, and sleeping a full six hours in an effort to keep my brain healthy longer. If I’d give up either of those things, it would be easy enough to grab more writing time, but I think they’re important enough to my long-term health that they need to take priority.

Most of my other time belongs to work, my dogs or my husband. That’s just…how things are, and how they need to be.

Back to decisions. When I was trying to find any little snippets of time in my day that I could co-opt back for writing, I found a lot of fragments, but they were scattered throughout my day/night, and none of them long enough to actually do anything with. So then I went looking for anything in my day that might yield some “flexible” minutes that I could capture, collect at the beginning or end of the day, and then use those for writing.

I realized that a lot of the places I “lose” the most time in my day are indeed the times I spend making decisions. What to wear to work, what to make for lunch, what to make for dinner, what project to work on next, what hobby to work on in the evening, what draft to work on that day, what workout to do after I walk the dogs, whether to have Murphy walk with Mica and I or take him for a ride and just walk Mica by himself, whether to watch a TV show or movie on Netflix or Amazon, and which one (you’ve all been there on that last one, right?).

There are so many times in a day where I’m spending 5, 10, 15 minutes making a decision that, if it were already made, I could get that task done and move on more quickly, and in some cases, plan ahead so that doing the actual task takes less time as well.

The only problem with being that organized is that most people recommend planning a week or month ahead on those types of decisions. When I’ve tried that in the past, it never lasts longer than a couple weeks (if that – a week is pushing it) before I go off the “plan” and do something different because I just didn’t like the decision I made three days ago for that particular meal, outfit or project. I think that’s fairly common, really – while some people can make and execute a monthly meal plan or whatever, I think it’s more likely that people will create that monthly plan and then start deviating from it after a couple of weeks just because that’s how life tends to work overall.

So, last week, I decided to try just making a daily plan. I figured that if I made a plan every night right before bed that only covered the very next day, that maybe I could make decisions that would be “close enough” for me to just stick to, even if they didn’t feel perfect at the time, and that would save me enough decision-making time during the day to gain some extra time every night just before I did my next plan to write.

Needless to say, Mon – Weds were total failures, because…Halloween. But Wednesday night before I went to bed, I made a plan for Thursday. It included my wardrobe, meals, and the projects I wanted to work on – including which draft I wanted to write in that night, and how many words. Thursday I followed the plan and was pleasantly surprised that by 11pm, I actually could sit down in the office and just write for 45 whole minutes. Friday, I had slightly less time, but still, plenty of time to reach my word count for the day.

I think the key to this for me is that I can’t try to think or plan any farther ahead than one day. Because that’s when it gets too big, and my mind doesn’t focus on the present, it focuses on the future. So the present gets “short-changed”. When I’m constantly looking with an eye to the future, my head isn’t in whatever I’m doing at present, so that particular task takes longer, too.

So, last Thursday and Friday, I did this. I made a plan for just one day ahead, and then stuck to the decisions I’d made the night before, no matter what. and I had time to write, but more importantly, I had head space to write. When doing creative things, you need to have a relatively uncluttered mind that isn’t constantly worried about what else it should be doing, which is another big problem for me. But by making all those decisions early, I freed up my mind, and I found sitting down to write much, much easier.

None of this will work for me on the weekends just because weekends have to be flexible by design. But I made sure to create my daily schedule for Monday on Sunday night, and wouldn’t you know it…Monday went well, I found one small “bonus” writing time chunk early, which helped me reach my word count, and still got everything else I needed to do, done.

I did one other thing last weekend to help myself out, and that was to take my old Samsung NC10 netbook that came standard with Windows XP (long since dead), and reformatted it to a Linux machine. I hooked it up to our wireless, but I didn’t put a copy of my password manager on it, and I have zero access to email or social media on that little computer. The only site bookmarked is Novelize, which is the program I’m currently using for writing. It does have Libre office on it, in case I need an offline word processor, but that’s about it.

The keyboard on that is tiny, but still better than my laptop keyboard, and not quite as good as the keyboard on my Alphasmart Neo. The Neo is a great little word processor and the keyboard is awesome, but the screen in mine seems to be going out, and it has trouble keeping up with my typing speed.

I rarely write for longer than an hour at a time before taking a break (often 30 – 45 min.), so the tiny keyboard won’t be a problem. That netbook is now my dedicated writing computer – I do nothing else on it, and last night, it worked great to ensure I had no distractions while writing, it’s not the speediest little machine, but it keeps up with my typing speed better than the Neo, and I can work directly in my writing program, which saves me download time each night. The screen is big enough for writing, but that’s about it (it’s a 10 or 11 in, I think…tiny).

As you might have guessed, distractions are my other major issue. If I sit down at my normal laptop to write, I’ll be getting notifications from email and Facebook, or checking “just one thing”, or I’ll remember a bill I should pay “super-quick” or something I need to order just then, or I’ll check my sales stats for “motivation” (that never works, incidentally)…

Yeah. While I like to think I have good willpower, I really don’t when faced with all that other “stuff” I could/should be doing. So having a dedicated writing machine of some sort makes perfect sense. And I can’t really afford the technological “upgrade” to the Neo that is the Astrohaus Freewrite just yet, so an old repurposed netbook will work just fine, at least for now.

So, I think after months of floundering around trying to figure out how to work myself back into a regular writing routine, I’ve finally got something workable. This does, of course, mean less time on social media (less distractions!), and I still need to work out time for the publishing aspects on the weekends, but publishing time doesn’t matter if there’s nothing to publish. The writing has to come first.

I tend to downplay the role that writing has in my life, and I need to stop doing that. It’s not just “a hobby”, even though I’d like it to be, it’s more something I need to do, whether I’m good or not, whether I sell books or not, it’s just something I need, like exercise and sleep. I’m sure that sounds hokey to some, but I need to care less about what others think, and more about what I need. And make sure I get to do what I need to do to be happy.

Do you know what makes you happy? Are you allowing yourself to pursue that, and finding ways, however small, to feed that part of your soul? If not, why not?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Doing better, recently. Forcing myself to make it a priority.
Goals check-up: Yep – moved a few things around, and switched up my priorities a bit.

Writer’s Notes

Play With Me

Are you a “gamer”? By that, I mean someone who plays games in their spare time – video, tabletop, cards, mobile – whatever strikes your fancy.

Games have always been sort of a gentle “hum” in my life, though I didn’t realize it until I started writing this post. There were the occasional arcade games while I was growing up (Frogger was my personal favorite, with PacMan a close second), and some simple computer games (Space Invaders on a 5 1/4 inch floppy for the Osborne “portable” computer, anyone?), but other than that, I pretty much stayed away from anything that seemed like a potential time-sink (we never had a game console – they were too expensive). I played the first Civilization iteration on my dad’s PC for nearly an entire weekend one time in high school or college (long ago enough now that I forget which), and promptly decided I didn’t need to be one of those people who lost entire weekends to unproductive things such as that, even though we had a copy of the very early Sims game for PC on hand and I really was interested in trying it out.

When I started my Facebook account, I played FarmTown a lot, and a few other Facebook based games. They were fun for zoning out in the evenings, but eventually I got bored with them and my husband has now taken over my FarmTown acreage.

Gaming ebbs and flows with me, and after a good several months (maybe even a year) off from most games, I just spent the majority of this past weekend playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on my cell. I have a bit of an addiction-prone personality when it comes to such things, obviously. I thought maybe I’d outgrown that little issue, but apparently not. The hubby and I also spent 2.5 hours playing Uncharted this weekend as well (the first one – Drake’s Fortune). Though one might argue that’s no more a waste of time than staring passively at the TV for the same amount of time (which is what we would have done instead). At least we were actively solving puzzles and shooting our way out of ridiculously annoying gunfights, which requires quite a bit more mental and physical participation.

As an adult, I know my own mental flow better now, and I know the “play every free moment” addiction for Animal Crossing will level off fairly quickly into a far less “needy” routine of checking in a couple times a day (not much choice with work hours off-limits anyways). Uncharted requires a fair amount of mental energy and it’s honestly somewhat physically draining for me as well, so I’m usually needing a break at the 1 – 1.5 hour mark. And I don’t feel the need to play that every day either – one, maybe two sessions a week, and I’m good. It’s fun, it’s stimulating, but it’s not something I feel like I can’t let go of.

Which is good, because the whole reason we got this hand-me-down PlayStation 3 (and a stack of games as well) from my brother-in-law is because I was interested in playing the new Spider-Man game on the PS4, but I didn’t want to spend any money on a console or game unless I knew we might actually use it. Now I know we will, and eventually we’ll shell out the big bucks, but for now, we have that stack of games to get through and I’m in no hurry to drop that kind of cash just yet. Game consoles are spendy! Maybe we’ll see if someone wants to get us one for Christmas…

I downloaded Pokemon: Go a few weeks ago, and I play occasionally because one of my co-workers plays and needed a friend for something or other, but that one isn’t as much of a draw for me because it requires…well…”go-ing”. When I’m out and about, I generally don’t want to be paying attention to my cell (it’s generally in my bag or back pocket, and I don’t generally use it as a phone). So I have to make a special effort to get it out, and then I feel vulnerable and self-conscious standing out there on the sidewalk, swiping to catch pokemon or hit up pokestops for materials, etc.

It’s a battery hog too, and before I started playing, I could go all day on a single charge for my cell with no problem. Now, I need at least one top-off. *sigh* And I may need more than my 4g per month of data, if I do keep playing (before that was *more* than enough).

As for other games, I used to play Smurfs Village all the time until notifications stopped working on my phone. Apparently it’s a known issue, but they haven’t figured out how to fix it yet, and without notifications, there’s no point in planting crops (seriously – I’m not going to put the brainpower into remembering when virtual crops need to be harvested…it’s just a game). So that’s on hold. And a puzzle game I really like is Gardenscapes, but I hit a level I couldn’t get past several months ago, and I’m still stuck there. One of these days I’ll go back to it and see if I can figure that level out. Once the Animal Crossing “newness” has worn off a bit.

I was thinking about all of this the other day while reading an article about a game company I’m thinking about buying stock in and how much money they make with just four of their games and the burgeoning field of “esports”. We (humans, collectively speaking) spend a *lot* of time and money on games and game-related hardware every year. It’s kind of crazy. And naturally, it made me wonder…

Why?

Why do I (or why does anyone) feel drawn to playing games? What is it that they give me? Is it the dopamine hit every time I meet a goal or reach a new level (probably)? The stimulation of making me think? The ability to “zone out” of my own life for awhile and run a campsite where the predominant inhabitants are animals, or create an entire society of little blue gnome-like creatures?

I don’t have the answers to those questions yet, but much like my comic-book reading adventure (which turned into another hobby of sorts that I still enjoy today), this recent spate of gaming is actually research for a book (contemporary romance) I want to write sometime next year. By the time I’m ready to write, I should know why *I* enjoy playing, and what I get out of it, and maybe some insights into why others do too. I find immersion is often the most fun way to learn about…well, anything.

Except murder. And death.

So…anyone else a gamer? What’s your favorite game/game type? Do you know why you play, and/or what you get out of games? Inquiring, writerly minds want to know…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Backsliding horribly. *sigh*
Goals check-up: Well, no.

Writer’s Notes

Fall, Activities & Writerly Angst

Don’t you just love fall? It’s been colder than normal here, but the leaves are all kinds of gorgeous, and the crisp air on the more normal temp days is invigorating and inspiring. I must not be the only one thinking that way, as it seems that far more of the neighbors have put up Halloween and fall decor already. I put some up myself this past weekend, though there’s a lot more to do later.

Last weekend was busy, what with the concert Friday night (which was incredible), and ghost stories and drinks at the Moss Mansion Saturday night (which was fun…it’s their first year, so kinda bumpy, but I bet next year everything will be squared away). It was a nice way to kick off the Halloween season, and also a good refresher on the mansion and it’s layout. One of the books I’m working on now features a mansion that is laid out very similarly to the Moss, and I may contact them and see if they’ll give me a tour of their offices on the third floor, which were the maid’s quarters. Just so I can have the general layout in my head for reference while I’m creating/describing my Mardeaux Mansion.

Nothing special going on next weekend, but it’s time to put up the Halloween fence in the front yard and plan the layout for our yard haunt. So, decorating, mostly. The library book sale is next weekend, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go or not. Mostly because I just did my budgeting for this paycheck, and due to some unexpected auto repairs (and being more responsible with on-time payments…*ahem*), the coffers are pretty well empty (or spoken for, I guess…same diff, really). Dammit. *sigh*

I’ve been floundering with writing time and head space – trying to find both at the same time is often rather difficult these days. It’s frustrating, because I know that if you want to do something, you figure out how to do it, and I’m not doing that. I’m letting life intrude, letting writing be pushed aside. Letting my own lack of discipline and boundaries dictate how much I get done.

And of course there’s the business side of things…all the things that need to be done outside of writing the initial draft. Editing, formatting, cover art…that all takes time too – time I need to block out to actually focus on just those things, rather than procrastinating and getting distracted doing other things online. Distraction is a big issue for me. It never used to be, but it’s gotten worse over the years. I think perhaps because when I had that big mid-life crisis/crisis of faith and self-doubt blow-out, I let all my habits and discipline go, and still haven’t gotten them back.

It’s incredibly hard to re-establish habits after letting them go. Especially when other things have already expanded to fill the voids they left.

I find myself constantly thinking that when I retire, I’ll have time. I’ll make writing my full-time job. That’s when I’ll be able to start making progress, and be a “professional writer”. But that’s still over 20 years away, and it’s not feasible to even think about waiting that long. I can’t “not write”. It doesn’t matter whether I’m good, bad or mediocre at the task, I need to write. I’ve needed to write since I was 16 yrs old. I don’t know why, and I can’t say what drives me, just that I’m driven to do this, to tell stories, even if they sit unread and dusty on the shelf. My mind has this need to create that will not turn off, and while I wish I were a prodigy of some sort who could write one bestseller after another and make enough money to allow me to do this full time, I know I’m not, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be good enough to make that sort of money.

But I still need to do it. It’s just…who I am, for better or worse.

I have a new plan – the latest of many in an attempt to give myself the time and space to write. I’ll give it a week or two, and if that doesn’t work, develop another new plan, and another, and another, and someday, I’ll stumble over the plan that works, if only for a little while. And that will have to be good enough.

Such is life, eh? One “new” plan after another.

Speaking of which, I actually did check in with my goals list this week (and changed days/times for that, so I have no excuse for not doing that now). See below for the “report”.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Definitely doing better with this – I think I only missed two nights last week.
Goals check-up: I didn’t need a better alarm – turns out, I needed a better schedule. I switched things around so that Monday evenings I do goal and budget check-ins instead of hobby stuff, and I think that’s gonna work much better. The hobbies just shifted down a night, so no harm done.
One push-up per day: I’ve replaced this with a set of things designed to help me meet my overall weight/health management goals, and I’m doing well with those so far. I deliberately stalled the weight loss while getting my hormones back on track, and now that they seem to be, I’ll try to gradually start working my weight down again.

No writer’s notes this week

A Concert, Spirits, and Recovery Efforts

A day late and a dollar (or several) short this week…that’s me. Just keepin’ on, and only slightly bummed out that today (as I write this) is only Tuesday instead of Friday. But Friday will be here soon enough.

This week, Friday will be an exceptional day, because the hubby and I decided to take it off work. We’re going to a Shinedown/Godsmack concert Friday night, and thought it would be nice to just sort of kick back, sleep in and spend some time with the dogs before we go out. That, and we might drop the car off to finally have a headlight changed. It’s only been out for…well, all summer, pretty much (it stays light a long time up here in the summer).

Saturday night, we’re headed downtown to the Moss Mansion for a new event that I think will be fun – Montana Spirits at the Moss. From what I’ve read, there are stations throughout the mansion that we’ll be guided to, each of which will feature samples of locally (statewide, I think) made libations and a ghost story about that area of the state. I have no idea how many stations there are or how long it will last, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Monday is a federal holiday, so I have that day off too (hooray!). And Saturday our local “Friends of the Library” club is having their bi-annual book sale. I may wander down to that for a bit and see if I can find any new treasures for the library if I can drum up the energy after the concert. We’re getting paid early on Friday – if I’m really and truly motivated, maybe I’ll even get down there early enough for the farmer’s market. Probably not, but we’ll see.

As far as the “eating more often” thing goes, I’ve been doing well. Haven’t gained any weight back, but I am still dealing with hot flashes and other side effects. I did a bunch of research the other day, and I think my main problem is that fat cells store estrogen, and I’ve been burning fat cells like crazy lately. That’s probably what destabilized my hormones (takes very little). So whether I do fasting or “constant feeding”, that’s still going to be an issue, because the more fat cells I burn, the less hormones (estrogen is just one) are hanging out in my body. Which may be a good thing in the long run, but it’s pretty sucky right now, and it will continue to be unless I figure out how to mitigate it.

I’ve been taking a half-dose of my vitamins for months because they throw my hormones the other way, so the first thing I did was start taking a whole dose. Voila, definite improvement in symptoms, especially night sweats (haven’t had a problem with those all week). I already take extra magnesium, but I’ve never been able to take vitamin D, due to it’s estrogen-like effects on my body. I think this weekend I’ll try it again, and see what happens. That may be all I need to re-balance (for now, at least). If that doesn’t work, there are several herbs I’ll try, the first of which is dong quai.

And for all of you screaming out there that I should just go to the doctor…well, since I’m now over my insurance deductible thanks to that wasp/ER visit this summer, I’ve decided to suck it up and do just that. I’ve picked out two doctors who are accepting new patients, and I plan to have an appointment with one of them for late October before this week is up. We have to get our blood drawn at work in a couple of weeks (required by HR for our free insurance), so I’ll have bloodwork done and can take the results with me to the appointment.

Not looking forward to that, but I’m old enough now that establishing a relationship with a regular doctor would be a good thing. *sigh*

Now, to sleep. I only got 3 hours last night, which is never a good thing. A full six tonight will feel absolutely fabulous.

Here’s to health, and all the hoops we domesticated humans go through in the mere pursuit of it. And the concerts and events that make it all worth while…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Slightly better yet, except for the 3 hours last night.
Goals check-up: Um, no. I need a better alarm…

No writer’s notes this week

Fasting No More

I mentioned back in July that the hubby and I had started Intermittent Fasting (IF)…basically, eating within an 8 hour window every weekday (no food outside of that), and then eating “normally” on the weekends. We’ve been doing that for just about two and a half months now, and I’ve had great weight loss results, losing 7lbs (which is more than I’ve been able to take off steadily in over 10 years).

Problem is, my body is not happy. It’s convinced that I’m starving to death (uh…no), and has decided to shut off all non-essential functions, which is problematic, to say the very least. At first it was just sleep interruptions – I started having a hard time staying asleep at night. Then came the hot flashes, which I attributed to blood sugar swings (hubby gets a mild version too). I figured those would normalize eventually, but they only got worse over the weeks.

My hormones were destabilizing, and among other things no one wants to hear about, I started noticing more hair falling out in the shower than normal, and acne that I haven’t had to deal with much since I was in college started flaring up again.

Throughout all of this, my head felt pretty good, aside from a few headaches here and there. My mind was clear, my focus was good…no issues there. But my body kept throwing me more and more signals that it was in crisis mode, and finally this weekend after doing some more research and reading a bunch of anecdotal stories similar to mine (that’s all there is, unfortunately – there haven’t really been many/any human studies on IF, only studies with mice that are somewhat scary if they translate to human physiology, which they at least partially appear to do given the anecdotal evidence), I decided that regardless of the progress I was making with weight, I have to stop and hope that I haven’t permanently damaged anything internal.

Hormones and the organs that regulate them are a persnickety bunch – extraordinarily sensitive to change, and even moreso for women than men. Apparently men don’t tend to have as many problems simply due to how their bodies work (though they can still have issues, obviously).

In any case, my body says I need to eat regularly in order for it to not freak the heck out, so, fasting is out, aside from the occasional blood test or cold-induced broth-fast.

Now I’m left trying to figure out how to reallocate the reduced calories I was eating while fasting over a longer period of time, so that I can keep the calorie deficit up but give my body the steady energy it needs at the same time. I want to keep losing, and I definitely don’t want to gain that 7lbs back, so just adding another meal won’t work – more calories will just equal weight gain again. My body and I disagree on what the metabolic “set-point” should be, and while I can’t win an argument with my hormones, I do think I should be able to manipulate/sweet-talk them into going along with my chosen set-point (about 20lbs less than what it is now).

So I’m working on spreading less calories out over a 24hr span instead of trying to condense them into 8hrs (so my body knows it has a stable supply of energy throughout the day). Breakfast wasn’t too bad – I just moved my dish of prunes from lunch to morning, and added some drinkable yogurt and my vitamins. Lunch depends on what we’re having, but I just need to be cognizant of carb intake and keeping my servings small. I cut my afternoon snack in half (peanuts), and the other half of those calories will move to my after-workout or late-night snack (depending on the day).

Dinner will be my hardest meal, simply because I love food, and I have a hard time keeping my portions small. But, I’m going to do it. Keep the protein and fiber portions high, and cut the carb portion in half. If we’re having a pasta dish, I’ll have half of what my eyes think I need. I can add extra veggies if I think I need to, but I shouldn’t, because I’ll be eating again in just a couple hours anyways.

Weekends, all bets are off. Because who wants to think about what/when you’re eating on the weekend?

My workouts will stay the same – yoga four mornings a week, an extra stair climb at least once a day at work, and then weight/resistance training three nights a week after I walk the dogs (that doesn’t really count much for exercise anymore – neither of the dogs can handle long walks at this advanced point in their lives, sadly). I may try to add some cardio in, but I’m not sure where.

In any case, I’m bummed that the fasting isn’t working out for me, but I’m hoping that the panic/starvation signals subside quickly, and that I can keep the downward weight spiral going. We shall see, I guess.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Still a little dicey some nights, on account of the hot flashes (dammit). But overall, improving.
Goals check-up: No check-in *again* because I forgot until this very moment, and I need to get to sleep. Must set my reminder alarm for a day ahead of time. Or maybe Sunday…

Writer’s notes for this week

Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week

Patches, Pins, Weddings & Work Clothes

Did you have a denim jacket customized with pins or patches or paint (or all of the above) when you were a teen? I did. I still do, actually. And I’m about to make another one, though this time it’ll be a black bomber jacket I’m embellishing.

Hubby wants to dress up as The Joker for the local art museum’s Halloween masquerade this year, so naturally I’m going as my favorite super-villainess, Harley Quinn. I was excited about the idea, but not about the whole suicide squad look (can you say “overdone”?), so I decided since it’s a masquerade party and a dressy one at that, I’d do a “she tried but didn’t quite make it” look that sort of bridges the traditional Harley and the newer-style Harley. Needless to say, there’s a ruffled skirt and combat boots involved, as well as a red sequin t-shirt and the aforementioned black bomber jacket.

It’s really just a great excuse to customize a light jacket for myself. I need a sort of “in between” jacket for spring/fall, and a light bomber will be perfect. But why stop there when I can put Harley, Joker and Poison Ivy patches and pins on it here and there to spruce it up a bit?

Now you might be thinking, “aren’t you a little old for that kind of thing?” And you would be…well, wrong. Because no one should ever be too old to celebrate things they love. And a fun Harley Quinn jacket is no different than a 40-something person wearing a sports-themed jacket of some sort. Actually, I’d argue the Harley will be far more fun than my Broncos or Boise State sweatshirts, and I like both of those (even though I don’t watch football anymore).

Why did I stop wearing my denim decorated jacket? Mostly because the fabric paint dinosaurs on the back weren’t/aren’t really “me” anymore (well, and I went through a “have to be a grown-up” phase that I think we all at least try to outgrow as we get older, because it’s boring). But I still love that jacket, and enjoy looking at all the buttons I collected back then. It was fun, and all of my friends thought it was pretty cool too.

So I spent a fair amount of time shopping for the Harley stuff this past weekend, and late Sunday night, the hubby and I remembered that we have to go to a wedding this coming weekend. A quick glance through my closet tells me I really don’t own anything “wedding-worthy” anymore (I have work, casual, and costume clothing). So it may just be colored jeans, a nice shirt and a professional jacket. Boring, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Or rather, that’s the appropriate thing. *sigh*

Speaking of boring, I’ve been wearing a lot of cardigans to work lately (keeps me warm, keeps the tattoos more or less covered when I want them to be), and I’m sick of them. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to break out the actual jackets with my jeans. Try something different. Look a little nicer, in a casual sort of way.

Heck, maybe I’ll even start wearing a necklace and/or dangly earrings here and there. Maybe it’s time to get a little crazy.

Or just…you know. Less boring.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed on time, but due to some vitamin changes, haven’t been sleeping well.
Hopefully everything will be balanced out again soon so I can sleep.
Goals check-up: No check-in (because I totally forgot), but I’ve been budgeting and overspending and acknowledging so I can re-budget, so semi-progress, anyways.

Writer’s notes for this week