Getting Better, New Format Coming

It felt like forever (being sick always does), but after 10 days, I’m feeling much better, and nearly back to normal.

In other news that has nothing to do with my health and well-being (I heard that sigh of relief out there), I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, its history, and the various formats I’ve explored. At its high point, I was posting daily instead of weekly, and each day I had a different topic of interest, from writing to tea to nail art to reading…and people typically read the day they were interested in, and skimmed or skipped the rest. Then I branched the largest main topics off onto their own blogs since people didn’t really seem interested in reading about a whole week’s worth of different topics, and I made this a writing blog. Which appeals to writers, but not readers so much.

Then I just reverted it back to its original format of being more of a personal blog, which was the original purpose of most blogs (Yes, I’m old enough that I was keeping a personal journal on my first web site before there were such things as “blogs”). And now my readership is extremely small and mostly silent especially when I forget to post a link on social media, because…well, because I don’t write it in a way that would appeal to the masses and I write long-form, which isn’t something that appeals to most of us online in this day and age (I’m just as guilty as anyone else here…I do read long-form blog posts occasionally, but I often stack them up until I have time to get back to them, which generally isn’t anywhere near when they were posted).

We have short attention spans for online content these days, and we like pictures and bullet points and short, punchy paragraphs. I’ve resisted this for a long time now, on principle, but I think maybe it’s time to embrace it. Do something new. Challenge myself. See if I can’t create content that will both live up to my blog name (The Variety Pages), and also share something of myself without boring people to tears with long essays of daily minutia.

In that vein, next week I’ll be using more of a news magazine format for the weekly posts. There will be bold headings! Pictures! Stuff about writing! Stuff about games! Stuff about dogs! Maybe even stuff about food or crafts! Probably not so many exclamation points!

No promises.

Also, posts will now be up on Mondays. And I will do my level best to post links all over social media for those of you who are blog-visiting-averse. Or, you can sign up for updates through email via the sidebar link, or this handy-dandy link right here in the post.

So there you have it. New plan, new post day. Good times.


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No Good Deed…

…goes unpunished. That’s how the saying goes, right? Apparently it applies to “deeds done for myself” too, given the events of last week.

I carried out my plan to shift my schedules and get 6 hours of sleep every night. I moved my bedtime up half an hour, and decided to get up half an hour later on Tuesdays, and half an hour earlier Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri, which means bedtime at midnight (sleep time – reading 20 min before), and up at 6am for six full hours of sleep every night.

Tuesday morning, I felt good after those six hours of sleep, and…the staff meeting was cancelled. It was still good I had the extra sleep though, because the workday was *brutal*. Six hours Tues/Weds night had me going through my routines like a pro, getting stuff accomplished that I’d been wanting to finish for weeks, and finding that balance I’d been so desperately looking for in the evenings between play and work. It was awesome. I was feeling really good about things.

And then Thursday night, I was hit with one of the most painful sore throats I’ve had in a very long time – like shards of glass every time I needed to swallow. It was so painful I couldn’t sleep Thursday night and finally got up around 3:30am to take some ibuprofen, leaving me with about 2.5 hours of sleep (and a gnarly sore throat) for Friday.

Needless to say, I was doing pretty well just making it through the day on Friday, couldn’t dictate anything at lunch due to my throat, and was too tired to even contemplate editing, much less staying up for “business hours” late Friday night. I did my budgeting, made some questionable purchases (but did talk myself out of the most expensive “want”, so there’s that), and went to bed (which was definitely the best decision just then).

My throat is healing, slower than I’d like, but it’s definitely getting better. More to the point, my schedule change was working really well until my throat gave out. And I’m writing this during one of my scheduled “work” times, after walking the dog and then putting my games down after “game curfew” at nine. Which is to say, the new schedule is still working so far, and I’m making better decisions, sticking to schedules, and not just being lazy and squandering my evening time on things that are fun, but ultimately don’t get me closer to my goal.

This is a good direction to be moving in. I like it.

I’ll like it even more once my throat is back to normal.


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Discipline, Habits and Sleep

I used to be in the habit of being disciplined, so to speak. I had my routines and followed them strictly, and got a lot done. Now it seems like I mostly just whine about how disciplined I used to be, while not actually taking the steps needed to…you know. Be disciplined again. Discipline is just prioritizing one thing over another throughout the day – it’s not rocket science.

So, no more whining about it. It’s time to just “do or do not” – but I’m determined to “do” this week. If I can be disciplined enough for long enough, then habits will form that don’t require as much discipline to maintain, and that is where I want to be.

Most of the habits I need to create are writing/publishing-related…but those have some dependencies on other habits like going to bed on time (willpower is often rest-dependent, I’ve found) and making sure the rest of my day stays on schedule so that my writing & editing times are “protected”. I can’t always do that (because, life), but I certainly can a majority of the time. It’s just little decisions here and there, like opening a game to play for “just a few minutes” at the wrong time, not having my laptop in the living room in the evening, or not starting my day with the right combination of things so that my head is in the right space for both work and taking advantage of commute times for dictation.

It’s really not nearly as difficult as I often make it. It’s more a matter of priorities and deciding what’s more important: a few minutes of escapism, or a few minutes of story. There’s time for both, of course, I just need to manage my time and routines more efficiently.

In light of that, I’ve made myself a new schedule, and set some boundaries, as well as some new goals and reminders. I feel good about this, mostly because I’ve set myself up to think about what I really want, both now and in the future. With my priorities straightened out, I think it will be easier to remember why I’m respecting those self-set boundaries, and why I’m reaching for those goals.

Interestingly enough, I think the majority of my success rests on the habit of going to bed on time. Getting enough sleep is vital to making good decisions and moving forward with my main priorities rather than just zoning out and telling myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll catch up later”. Being overly tired seems to be my kryptonite more than anything else, so that routine of going to bed on time and getting enough sleep is probably the most important one I need to establish.

Ironically, the reason I normally break it is because I get enough sleep, and then I feel good enough to press past the late-night fatigue to work longer the next day, and then I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m in that bad cycle of wanting/needing to catch up because I’m not working as fast or efficiently as I could be because I didn’t get enough sleep. It’s a ridiculous cycle to be caught in, all because I don’t respect the fact that my body needs 6 hours of sleep a night, even if I’m behind, or feel like I want to keep working to get ahead.

Of course the one day per week that throws me off the most is Tuesday, because I have to get up an hour earlier for work, which means I get less sleep than I need if I go to bed at my normal time, and I end up being overtired and making poor decisions. This is really the biggest issue I have for not getting enough rest, and I know what I need to do to “fix” it, I just…don’t want to. I need to go to bed earlier *every night* and get up earlier *every day*, so that my weekday sleep schedule is the same every day.

Of course that shifts my entire evening routine earlier, which makes it more difficult because I’m trying to get more done while the household is awake, rather than waiting until everyone is asleep to work. This hasn’t generally worked well for me in the past, but maybe it’s time to try again. Shifting everything up by half an hour in the evenings and getting up half an hour earlier Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri, and half an hour later on Tuesdays would give me the “regular” schedule I need…as long as I can shorten my Tues morning routine to fit.

Life would be so much easier on us night owls if there weren’t so many morning people running things.

In any case, that’s the plan for this week. Shift some things around, respect boundaries and sleep requirements, and hopefully get more done since I’ll theoretically be awake/alert enough to follow my own schedule.

I think it’s gonna be a good week. Or enlightening, at the very least.


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Thoughts from the Kitchen

I recently ordered a couple of aprons. Full-length ones, that cover from chest to mid-thigh. I’ve never been a huge fan of aprons, mostly because I’m not fond of skirts or a lot of fabric flowing around my legs. But so many of my t-shirts (even the black ones) are dotted with grease stains (and no, I haven’t washed a chapstick in quite awhile), I decided it was time to do something.

I need to find somewhere to hang them that they’ll be both easily accessible and very visible (pantry door? Hook on the very limited wall space somewhere?). And I need to make putting one on before cooking a part of my routine. Not that I really have a “routine” to cook, per se, except for on Sunday mornings when I divvy the vitamins for the week into pill boxes first. So, I can make putting an apron on the thing I do next right after that, and most importantly, right before I start cooking bacon. Which is probably the majority of my grease-stain problem.

In the evenings, it will just have to be a “thing” – as soon as I go to the kitchen to cook, I put on an apron. Maybe I’ll make myself a “nag” reminder. That might be easier than forgetting more often than not and never really building it into a bonefide habit.

In other kitchen news, our local Lucky’s grocery store closes this week, and I was bummed out at first, because there are several things I’ve gotten used to being able to get there (like organic worchestershire sauce, strange as that sounds – I actually just really like the taste better). When they announced they were closing (just a relatively short time after my favorite local “mainstream” store closed), I knew there were only two other stores in town that carried mostly natural, healthier-type foods. Both are on the smaller side, one being *much* smaller, and the other one sells only organic products, which excludes several local products. I decided on Natural Grocer’s, the “organics only” store, just because they’re a little bigger and though I’m not fond of the location, I definitely like the store itself better.

Interestingly,the change has been a good one, and I kind of wish I’d done it quite awhile ago. I can get all the items I used to get at Lucky’s there for less money, and I’ve discovered some other things that Lucky’s didn’t carry, but I’m happy to be able to find in healthier options than our local Albertsons has.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to a conversation I had with an acquaintance I ran into in Natural Grocer’s last weekend. She was picking out some non-dairy creamer because Lucky’s was the only store in town who had carried milk from our only local dairy (a town a few hours away), and she feels very strongly about buying local dairy. Natural Grocer’s won’t carry the local brand because it’s not organic. So she was passing up all the “grass-fed/free-range/humanely kept” organic milk simply because it wasn’t local. And it got me wondering how I felt about that myself.

I buy local meat all the time – and I know our beef is grass-fed & well cared for on my friend’s country property before it gets to us. Pork I’m not so sure about, and chicken is generally frozen from Costco in packs that we can’t eat fast enough or a rotisserie chicken from…well, Albertson’s I guess, since Lucky’s is gone and Natural Grocer’s doesn’t have them.

Milk, however, I’ve been buying from Albertson’s, because there are only two of us, so if it’s not ultra-pasturized, even a half-gallon of whole milk will go bad before we can drink it (or more often, eat it on cereal & cook with it). The organic brand that Lucky’s sold wasn’t ultra-pasturized, and honestly, it just didn’t taste all that great. Our local milk wasn’t ultra-pasturized either, and I wasn’t impressed with the taste of that either.

Natural Grocer’s does carry a line of organic milk that’s ultra-pasturized, so I picked up a half-gallon to try. We’ll see how it tastes, but if it’s good, I’ll probably switch to that even though it’s more expensive. Natural Grocer’s is actually cheaper all around, so I can afford the extra.

Naturally, that got me thinking back to meat again. We buy local, as I said earlier, but is that really the best criteria for meat that I’m not sure on the growing/raising conditions? I was looking at bacon in Natural Grocer’s and the labels were all similar. Free-range, grass-fed, humanely raised and “harvested”, uncured. The latter two made me pick up a pack just to try, expecting a rather bland or insanely salty pack of bacon. But it was actually delicious, and I think we’ll be adding it to our rotation at least once a month (possibly twice).

They have chicken thighs in packs of two, which in the long run, is probably better and less expensive than throwing out half a pack of frozen thighs from Costco. And again, raised, cared for and killed humanely. Honestly, I think that might be more important to me than how local the meat is, even though I’d be very happy if I could get local meat responsibly raised as well.

So, interesting thoughts from the kitchen this week. The one other thing I’m excited about is the red lentil pasta I found at NG. I love pasta. Pasta sticks to my fat cells like glue. I’m really hoping some of these alternative pastas that are more protein and far less carbs will be the happy medium to my love-hate relationship with flour-based pasta.

One can hope, right?


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Barriers, Sore Muscles, & Reflections at 45

This past weekend, the hubby and I installed a wire barrier in the Subaru between the back seat and the hatchback. Normally people do this to keep their dogs in the hatch, but my dogs ride in the backseat (I mean, that’s where the windows are, right?).

The thing is, just before Christmas, Athena-dog decided to eat a chocolate cookie while we were out grocery shopping. She climbed over the back seat and into the hatch to get to it while we were inside our last grocery store of the day.

Then the next week, I put most everything into a zip-top cooler, but left my bags from the bread store out (because it’s bread…not much of an enticing smell, or so you’d think). she ate an entire package of english muffins that day.

The week after that, I put everything into a sturdy zipper thermo-bag, and when I came out of the last store, I found a burly, tattooed guy in a big red truck towing a compressor sitting there in the parking lot, laughing at Athena as she ate her way through the top third of a beef liver container (it was half-frozen, thank goodness). He had a great time, she had a great time, and the dogs had slightly less liver in the batch of food I made that week.

So, we installed a barrier to keep the groceries safe from my little perpetually-hungry boxer. And it works great! The groceries are safe, Athena-dog only pouted a little bit, and I don’t have to worry about catching a dog before she can run as I open the hatch to put more groceries in. Win-win for me!

However. I am so, so very out of shape – something I didn’t realize until the day after kneeling/squatting in the back of the car for 30 minutes to install that wonderful piece of equipment. I tell you what – my butt, the backs of my thighs and my inner thighs were all in *so much pain*, they were just burning up. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, standing hurt…I haven’t been in that much pain in a long, long time. Even my back and knees got in on the “let’s remind Jamie she’s not getting any younger” bandwagon.

Ouch.

Yesterday was only slightly better. I did yoga, but it was the slowest I’ve ever done, and it hurt like hell stretching those poor, sore mustles out enough so I could make it back up the stairs. I tried not to sit for too long of time periods at work, but my inner thighs (abductors? Adductors? I can’t remember) are still painfully sore and hurt whenever I sit down or stand up. Or walk, to an extent.

My back, ankles and knees still aren’t happy either. Part of the back/shoulder/neck issues is all the crocheting I’ve been doing to get that shawl done…but I should be able to do that without hurting. And I would be, if I were staying in shape in the first place. *sigh*

I used to recover from such things far more quickly, but alas, I think I still have a day or two to go until I can comfortably sit down/stand up. It was a stark reminder of how out-of-shape I’ve allowed myself to get, and also how much longer it takes to recover now that I’m right at my mid-forties.

Yes, I turn 45 on Friday, and I know people in their 60’s who are in better shape than I am. So…I really need to do something about that, especially since we’re headed back to Universal Studios and Disney World in Orlando this coming fall. I see new, more intense workouts in my immediate future. You know. After it doesn’t hurt to move again.

I’ve been thinking a lot as I approach what is probably close to the midpoint of my life, about the life I’ve lived so far, and the choices I’ve made. I don’t regret anything, really – I’ve found regrets are pointless for the most part. I do wish I could believe in reincarnation or some such philosphy of infinite do-overs. Not because I think I *should* have done things differently, but I so wish life could be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels. I think it would be fun to be able to go through life, making the choices you make, and then at the end, be able to start over again from the beginning and make just a few different choices, to see what that life is like, and then do it over again to see what *that* reality is like…don’t you think that would be fascinating, especially if you could remember it all?

I like the life I’ve built, but I’m also constantly wondering “what if?”, and I think it would be fun to be able to explore all of those possibilities. Alas, it’s not to be, but perhaps that’s why I’m a writer, eh? To explore all sorts of different lives without getting into too much trouble, hurting too many people, or getting thrown into prison (*ahem*).

What’s one choice you made a long time ago that you’d like to know how it would have turned out if you’d chosen differently? Or do you already know how it would have turned out, and would just like to go back and…do that, for the experience? Inquiring minds…


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Goal Prep & A Digital Notebook

Making goals is fun. Reaching goals is fun. Doing the prep and subsequent work necessary to reach goals? Not so much fun. Which is why it’s a good idea to jump right in and create habits while the main goal is still exciting enough to be motivating.

No, I’m not going to bore you (or myself) with weekly reports, but since this is the first week and I’ve made some progress all around as well as some revelations, it seems noteworthy.

I have been reading more – not always at the times I want, but at least a little bit every day, which is good. It doesn’t matter right now how much or what, really, just that I’m carving out time for reading, and I am.

I also have three flash stories ready for editing. I wasn’t ready to jump back into my longer novels just yet last week, so I worked on a few more flash stories instead, and then dictated another yesterday (which will be part of my normal schedule – flash on Mondays).

Lastly, I held BSB “Office Hours” twice this weekend, instead of once. I made a list of things I felt like I needed to do in order to both keep track of important business items (like sales, expenses and assets), and also to move forward with some sales and update type things (like updating books/blurbs, taking care of social media presences, etc). To do all of that in one sitting is…a lot. Overwhelming, you might say (since on the one side, I have to do things I should have started 10 years ago, like…say…build/maintain an asset list). Especially this first week – I didn’t feel like I could even come close to getting it all done.

So I decided to break it up. Bookkeeping and accounting on Friday nights, and sales & maintenance on Sunday nights. That allowed me to…you know – go to bed when I was tired on Friday night (aka 2am Saturday morning), and not have to sleep in quite so late.

I think that should work, at least until I get some things I’ve been neglecting (expenses, asset list, etc) caught up, and the habits to maintain them are established and efficient. Last year, it took several months for me to get in the habit of doing the household budgeting efficiently – it took me a couple of hours per week until I settled into a more efficient workflow and got that cut down to less than an hour, even with paying bills as I go on paycheck weeks.

I’m pretty sure that once I get into a good workflow and get caught up with the BSB stuff I haven’t been maintaining, the time I need will go down, and I can think about consolidating what I need to do. It just takes time, as all new things do. Frustrating but normal.

My reMarkable

In other news, I also bought myself a new piece of equipment that I originally thought would be perfect for the last edits before a draft is ready for copy editing, and it will, but also so much more. It’s basically just a digital notebook – an e-ink screen you can write on and keep your notes organized in. It’s called a “reMarkable“, and it’s very simple, but oh so useful when you don’t want to haul around an inch of printed manuscript to edit (e-ink looks like paper, and the writing surface of this feels like paper too, so it’s a different experience than editing on a backlit screen).

I already have one of my longer novel drafts loaded up and in editing – I can mark it up just like I’d mark up a paper copy, only without having to flip or keep track of separate pages.

Just like a regular notebook, I can also write or draw or whatever in it, so I’ve also got places for blog ideas, notes on drafts and stories in progress, notes for work, business stuff I’m keeping track of…pretty much anything I’d reach for a pad of paper to note down instead of typing it into my laptop or cell. I can and do take small notes on my cell, but the reMarkable is bigger and better organized than the note functions on my cell. Options are good. This option is great, in my opinion.

It would be awesome if I could sell enough books this year to justify the cost. Or even in the next two years. We’ll see.

So, I’m off to a good start, methinks. I just need to figure out how to keep the momentum going long enough to get a few new habits in place. I have a good feeling about these goals, and the new workflow overall…

Are you working on new goals? How’s the momentum so far?


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Reflections & List Items

As I write this, I’m sitting on the couch with my tea and two sleeping dogs on a welcome day off from work. It’s Veteran’s Day here in the states, a day to honor those who have fought for our country in years past. There are a lot of political statements that could so easily be made at this point, however, I’ll do as I always do and leave those to others who mind less (and seem to have more energy for) the unwinnable arguments that such topics bring about online.

Needless to say, I am reflecting, as one is supposed to do on such days. About veterans, politics, and also the insanely long list of things I’d like to get done while I’m not at work today. It would be impossible to do them all, unfortunately, and the all-or-nothing thinking that tends to go hand in hand with having an impossible list keeps beckoning from the edges of my mind.

I can’t do it all, so no point in doing any of it. Might as well watch movies or play games all day.

Alas, I know that would leave me feeling far worse than completing at least a few things on the list, so here I am, taking advantage of the dogs’ normal morning naptime to write this blog and cross one thing off the list. Once they wake up, we’ll have to keep moving anyways. They’re not big fans of laying around all day if someone is here to keep them busy.

It’s bitterly cold out today, and snowy – the snow not necessarily odd for this time of year, but the near zero temps are definitely out of character. This past weekend we were almost at 60f, plunging into the single digits yesterday. Tomorrow we’re supposed to be up near 50f again. No fall, but definitely a weather roller-coaster this year.

I’m still struggling with my routines. I’ve been dictating fiction on my way to and from work, and man…that works really well for getting a rough first draft down. But the transcriptions need to be edited into a true draft, and that takes time at the computer, and I…well, I need more time, and also more discipline. I don’t like my laptop, which is part of that, but I’m also trying to do that editing late at night when I’m tired from the day and my willpower is weakest. I need to either figure out how to boost my brain one more time before that last editing push, or how to fit in some time earlier in the evening. Which is difficult, as the house is noisy before 11pm. There has to be a solution, even if it’s just changing the venue in which I’m editing or starting my late night routine earlier or…something. I just need to find it. At least if I’m ever going to publish another book.

I will figure it out, eventually.

Now, it’s time to schedule this post and move on to the next item on my list. Ever forward, right?


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Maintenance: Annoying but Necessary

For those who might be curious, yes, I got my bee tattoo last week. Two, actually, and I’m happy with how they turned out. The lines are sharp and clean, and I stepped out of both my comfort zone and the strict interpretation I was holding myself to on that particular arm, which actually gave me ideas and a plan for the rest of that sleeve. So, for all the worrying, it turned out very well.

The rest of the week sort of took a dive downward after that. I had to call my dentist because I had a second tooth in as many weeks break. So I have to postpone the crown prep I had scheduled for the other tooth, so I can get this one filled (and it probably needs a crown too). It’s one of two teeth that I should have crowned years ago, but it got lost in the shuffle of other root canals and crowns along the way while I was trying to get my teeth to a healthier place. Maintenance postponed = two broken teeth and crowns needed.

Then Halloween was cold and miserable for decorating, but we got it done and even had a good turnout of trick-or-treaters. Afterwards, the heel of my right foot started hurting like crazy. The reason? Dry feet. If I slack off on the foot maintenance (filing/soaking once a week, shea butter and socks for an hour before bed every night), the heel of my right foot gets so dry it develops deep, painful cracks in the bottom. I’ve totally been slacking off on both weekly and daily foot care. Maintenance ignored = painful walking for several days.

I was going through my earrings Friday night, swapping out my Halloween theme for something that would match (sort of) the piercing jewelry I’m stuck with for another 4 weeks or so, and one of the pair I wanted is ruined. I have a bad habit of swapping out jewelry and then instead of cleaning the pieces I just took out and putting them away right then, I leave them sitting on the counter to clean “later”. Or worse yet, I’ll put them in a small bowl of water to soak, and then not get back to them until they’ve soaked the finish right off. Needless to say, I had to toss that pair out, and use a pair that don’t match as well. Worse, I have a lot of earrings that I need to toss due to not taking proper care in cleaning and storing them. Maintenance ignored = money and jewelry I really liked both down the drain, so to speak.

This past weekend, the hubby and I finally tried to fix a clog in the plumbing. The bathroom sink on the main floor was draining slow for quite awhile, and then when I finally got it unclogged, the bathroom sink just below it in the basement started overflowing when we used the sink upstairs. We took both traps off the sinks to try to get a snake into the right drain, with zero luck. We did break the pipe for the upper sink in the process though. Finally called a plumber after failing and making the problem worse, and they came out yesterday to clear out the drain and replace some old metal piping (including the ones we broke). Maintenance ignored = a few hundred bucks in professional maintenance, a vacation day and way longer without a working bathroom sink than necessary.

Maintenance is expensive initially, mostly in terms of time and attention. I hate taking time out of everything else I want to do in order to just do basic maintenance on things or myself. But it really is more expensive not to do it in the long run, which is something I really need to remind myself of more often. Or at least every time I’m feeling too lazy to lotion my feet, clean my jewelry or run a bacterial enzyme cleaner down the drains.

What have you been too lazy too keep up with lately? And what’s it going to cost you in the long run? Inquiring minds…


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Resisting the Sparkly

*No audio today, because I pretty much rewrote the post from the transcript.*

Are you part crow, like me? Not the Native American kind – the “attracted to shiny objects”, avian kind. I love the shiny – shiny nail polish, shiny jewelry, shiny yarn…bring on the bling! Oddly enough, I’m not much for gemstones in jewelry, but I do love fun and funky patterns, colors and themes. And while I love most yarn, the stuff with those shiny little strands woven in for a subtle sparkly look just wants me to bring it home.

As you can imagine, I don’t actually open all the newsletters I get very often. That would be a serious fight with temptation far more often than I want to deal with it, so I normally just delete them unread, except for right after payday when I might have a few extra bucks to spend, or when I’ve actually budgeted for a sparkly expense and want to see if there’s a coupon in one that isn’t expired (that doesn’t happen often – don’t get me started on the “you just spent $50 with us, here’s a discount good for the next 12 hours because you couldn’t possibly have already ordered everything you need or spent all your money yet” codes – I want to kill someone when I get those).

But, companies tend to unsubscribe you if you don’t open their newsletters at least occasionally, so I’ve been trying to do a better job of at least opening them quickly and then deleting them (occasionally I do get a coupon code that’s good for more than a day or so!). Sometimes I have more willpower than others, and last week, while I was able to resist the sparkly yarn (barely), I didn’t have it in me to say “no” to the sparkly Halloween earrings on offer (and I did use the discount code in the email, thankyouverymuch). Three industrial bars and two rook bars later, I can’t bring myself to regret the decision, even though I probably shouldn’t have spent the money on them (and yes, it was far less money spent than if I’d bought the yarn).

This past weekend, I actually budgeted for sparklies – because Halloween is coming! I needed some other new earrings to go with my new bars for the holiday (I mean, if you’re gonna wear the bling, why not have it all themed?!), and we also needed some stuff for our “grim reapers on vacation” costumes this year. I don’t think long skeleton gloves/buffs really count as “sparkly”, but the Hawaiian style shirts I ordered are pretty darn bright…

I’ve been practically salivating over the new nail polish colors coming out…holos and glitters, especially. *sigh* Alas, I’ve been good about deleting all those emails and their damned quick-expiring discount codes, because…Halloween. And bills. Stupid bills.

It’s no wonder that the “special” pocket monsters in Pokemon are “shiny”, and the special event things in Wizards Unite are “brilliant”. I think we’re naturally drawn to things that sparkle and shine and bend the light a little differently. Otherwise precious metals and sparkly gemstones wouldn’t be so popular either. I wonder why that is? Why we’re seemingly “hard-coded” to be attracted to sparkly stuff? Something for more research, perhaps.

Are there people who can’t perceive “shiny” or “sparkly”? Anyone know?

What’s your favorite “shiny” thing?


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Audio Posts and Making Room to Edit

I’ve been thinking about making these blog posts available in audio format as well, since I’m recording them anyways. I’m dictating them basically so that I can transcribe them back. But as we were discussing earlier, some people prefer to listen rather than read. So I was curious if there’s any interest in me making these available as audio files as well.

I don’t have the time or the inclination to do any editing on the audio files (or making them “pretty”). So it’s just going to be raw audio with all my hemming and hawing and rambling and occasional double sentence structure. It’s not going to be like a professional podcast by any means, though I did download Audacity so I could cut out the long silent beginning to the recording. I typically start the app recording before I start driving, and then don’t start dictating until safely out of my parking space and on my way. Safety first!

But if there’s any interest, I’d be happy to post it, so you can listen to my ramblings rather than reading them if you prefer. I’ll post this file (see above – it’s an mp3, so should play on pretty much anything), and you can let me know if you listen to it. If you prefer to listen to the blog posts instead of reading them, please try to leave a comment somewhere – Facebook, Twitter, on my blog, whatever. Let me know if it’s something that you find useful, or if it’s just extraneous.

One more quick note – I’m speaking slowly due to wanting the transcription process to be as accurate as possible. So it’s much slower than I’d normally speak. You might want to speed it up a little for listening. 😉

In any case, last week, you may have read my ultra whiny blog post about my frustration with not being able to do as much as I would like to do. And that is a huge issue for me. But more so when I’m really tired. And last week, as I said, I had a couple of nights where I made bad choices. I got to bed late – really late. And I got very little sleep.

I’m not used to that anymore. I guess until I started getting 6 hours of sleep a night, I never realized just how how much my brain was not actually processing as well as it could have been on four and a half hours of sleep. It’s kind of one of those, “you don’t know what you’re missing until you get it” sort of things. In any case, being tired makes me whiny, frustrated and a lot more pessimistic about everything, really.

So I got some sleep.

And I checked out my schedule and did a lot of math. Well, I didn’t do the math – I used a calculator, because that is still one of the premier functions a computer can do, so I don’t have to. Anyways, I did some math – added up some word counts and some dictation counts. I looked at the time I have available, and I rescheduled a bunch of my routines. I made a scheduled plan for my dictation times, because they’re pretty set in stone, for the most part: going to work in the morning, going home from work at lunch, going back to work after lunch, and then going home at night after work.

So unless I have the day off work, I have four 10 to 15 minute segments where I can dictate something. That leaves my late night writing times free for editing or scheduling blog posts or doing social media stuff or formatting books or whatever.

I will need more time to edit, because I’m writing a lot more with dictation, but it requires more editing as well. I’ve been doing my budgeting on Friday nights, and I usually don’t get started until around midnight. It takes me a couple of hours, because I don’t just budget – I also pay bills and plan for the future by doing more math (because I love it. Not!).

But the thing about the budgeting is, I can do it amidst distraction. I have it set up now in a program, and I’ve got recurring payments scheduled and my bills all in there. It’s highly automated now, so I can do it with distractions – I don’t necessarily need that hyper-focus I needed in the beginning. So what I’m going to try is doing the budget earlier on Friday nights, after I walk the dogs. And if I can get that done before 10, 10:30-ish, then I will have that late night time on Fridays free. I’m going to schedule out three hours from 11 o’clock at night till two o’clock in the morning, just for editing fiction. I’ll go through the first edit of just cleaning up the transcript files and making them into a first draft, basically.

I guess you could argue that I could write during that time too, and not have to clean up so much. The thing is, it’s harder to be creative late at night when I’m already tired from the day. I’m tired, and my brain isn’t working as well as it should be at that point in time. So it would take me longer to write from scratch than to just clean up a wonky first draft. Also, I can’t type as fast as I can dictate. But I can edit pretty quickly if the words/ideas are already “on paper”.

I’m going to try that, and then my late night time will be for editing and scheduling blog posts, and working on formatting, cover and publishing minutiae. We’ll see how that works for a couple weeks.

It’s gonna take me probably two weeks to get into the new groove. But I’m excited that I have a plan. And if it doesn’t work, I have a couple other options that I think I can try that might be effective.

I think it’s gonna work out pretty well one way or the other.

Now if I can just figure out how to clean my dining room table off so that I can use it for something other than storage. But that will be my next project. I need to get this writing stuff figured out first.

Thanks for joining me, whether you’re reading or listening!


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