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Of Couches & Habits & Things That Are Old

A week ago last Saturday, I ordered a new couch (sofa, whatever). I like couches. Recliners never seem to fit me well, and I like being able to have my dogs laying with me when they want to. A good couch and ottoman are my “necessities” for comfort in the living room.

When we got married and moved into this house nearly 13 yrs ago, we bought a couch and loveseat, but we each had a bunch of other furniture to “merge” as well. So the couch got put downstairs in the “TV/Workout room” (where it still resides) the loveseat was mine, and we had a couple of extra chairs in the living room. The one chair that survived all those years is my reclining armchair, which my parents bought for me when I first moved out of their house. I love it, and now it’s my “reading chair” in the office.

The thing about a loveseat is, there’s really only room for me and one dog. Or one dog stretched out. It was never really an issue before, because I had dogs that never really wanted to be on the couch at the same time, or were only up there together when I wasn’t so they could look out the window. Now I have two dogs who would both be happy cuddling with me on the couch in the evenings…and who get jealous of each other if one is up and the other is not.

So, I decided a sectional would both solve that problem and make the room look a little more “put together” than the mis-matched pieces we’ve had for all these years. Hubby still has his recliner, of course (needs a new one, actually…soon), and we got an old worn out couch free from one of the neighbors last month just to make sure having a sectional wouldn’t make the room look weird/too small. When the new sectional couch comes in, both my old loveseat and that old couch will head to the dump. It’s pretty exciting, really, considering how long we tend to keep furniture. I can’t wait until it gets here…later this week, perhaps?

In other news, breaking my scrolling habit has been…difficult. I need to refine the times I’m allowed to to scroll, because the times I set just really aren’t working for actual interaction, and part of the goal is to be productive while I’m online – not just on Facebook, but on Instagram and Twitter too. I need to set aside time when I can scroll *and participate*, not just scroll. The scrolling is the time-wasting part. So that will be this week’s goal – to find the best time to do that.

As for the “Things That Are Old” part of the title, well, it’s my husband’s birthday today, and he’s 11 yrs older than I am, which makes him “Old(TM)”. LOL And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind him occasionally throughout the day/year. Because that’s what good wives do. Or what this one does, anyways.

I love older men – I always have, and this one especially (of course). Happy 53rd to the most important man in my life. Like a puerh tea-cake, you’re aging to perfection!

Convenience vs. Privacy: Smart Speakers?

Amazon Prime Day was this past week (like the “Black Friday” of summer), and apparently their Echo smart home devices were the best sellers. Other companies took advantage of the day as well, and sold similar products (most notably the Google Home) at a discount too. So now we have a crazy number of households with these smart devices in them, all hooked up either to Amazon or Google’s databases, recording pretty much everything said and responding when the AI algorithms tell it to.

Now, I’ve never actually wanted to talk to my computer, Star Trek-style. I’d rather say hello to my dogs when I walk in the house and flip a light switch than actually tell the lights to come on. I’d be okay using an app with buttons to tap to turn the lights on, or schedules to input, but I don’t want to do any of that verbally – I want it all text-based. I am often “verbally challenged” – what I want to say doesn’t come out correctly. So I’m not keen on verbal commands.

*Quick note: as I’m writing this, Evernote keeps blip-ing and telling me it can’t save. This only adds to my conspiracy theorist paranoia…

ANYways. I don’t particularly want all of my appliances connected to one app or main control “unit”. It’s the same reason I still have a landline phone – and not a digital “landline” that travels via digital internet cables and is bundled up with your cable & internet, but a “real” analog landline – the kind that will still work even if all the power is out, internet is out and cell towers are down or whatever.

I don’t ever want a single point of failure for all of my stuff. Nor do I want a single point where someone could hack into my personal “mainframe” and gain control of my door locks, my thermostat, my lights, and my oven/washer/dryer/whatever.

Don’t get me wrong – I love gadgets and convenience as much as anyone else, and the very thought of controlling the whole house via one app is appealing on many lazy levels, I just can’t actually make myself “go there”, because I’m all too aware of how easily it could all turn upside down and work against me in a very short amount of time.

It also makes me uneasy to think that there’s something in my house always listening for verbal cues. Some would argue that my cell is always listening and my laptop probably could too (I should check if it has a built in microphone…probably does!), but I’m fairly certain the cell companies aren’t organized enough with their data to actually make anything of what it hears (I mostly know this because I’ve seen the kind of reports they run…they’re…antiquated, at best). Amazon and Google though? Conspiracy theory hat on again – they are ready, willing and excited to mine everything anyone says in a room with one of their connected smart-devices for every little bit of usable information they can get from it. Much like the whole smart TV fiasco…except those companies were listening without permission.

Amazon and Google have your explicit permission…probably laid out in those “Terms of Service” documents that no one ever reads.

I talk to myself when I’m home alone. I talk to my dogs. When my husband is there, I talk to him, sometimes saying things I wouldn’t say to anyone else. We have private conversations, like most couples probably do. I have private conversations with myself. And the last thing I want is for these discussions to be logged and tagged and cross-referenced and stored in some big data repository where it can potentially be used against me – either by the original collectors, or the hackers who steal it (eventually).

And no, reassurances from the company that they don’t, won’t, would never, ever do that are meaningless, because…well, once the data is out there, it’s out there, and you just never know what the government or other entities might do years after these particular people are long gone.

Understand, I’d still like my washer/dryer to text or message me when they’re done. And I’d like to be able to control the thermostat through an app. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind controlling some of the lights via an app, as long as some are left “dumb”.

I just…have very strong security and privacy concerns with this whole “connect all the things!” movement. And I’m kind of surprised that more people don’t, to be honest. But maybe I am just being all paranoid about nothing. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Do you have an Echo or Home device? Are you working on connecting all your “things” to one master controller? Is the convenience overcoming any skepticism you might have, or are you just not worried about what might happen?

Inquiring minds…

This & That

I’m running late again (imagine that, right?), so just bullet-points for now. I’ll pick one of these for a deeper discussion/exploration next week. Or later this week, maybe. I do have Wednesday off work…

– Took my Note tablet apart last week, pulled the battery, and it’s running fine now (check last week’s blog for that saga).
– My new tea kettle works great (whew!)
– Went for two bike rides this weekend, a short one around the (very hilly) neighborhood Saturday, and then 6.7 miles (round trip) on Sunday to visit my parents. Good exercise, that, and pretty darn fun, too.
– Posted what I think is a pretty interesting discussion topic and writing prompts on the BSB blog today.
– Scheduled excerpts to post on my alter-ego sites this week, and I’ve discovered a couple of stories that need minimal editing/work to be ready for publishing from those two. Stay tuned…
– Next tattoo appointment is this Wednesday at 1pm. I’ll be getting poison bottles put on my inner arm, which is probably going to hurt a lot but it’s gonna look really cool. Pictures soon! I took Weds morning off work too…because I can.
– Graduation party Saturday for a friend’s kid who’s graduating Sunday. And of course, next Monday is a holiday. Yay!

That’s what’s goin’ on! Mostly.

High-Low Tech

So…busy weekends lately, which is why posting is kind of hit and miss at the moment. The nicer weather has our schedules all wonky, and I’m also trying to find a good routine for my business hours late Friday night, which means the BSB blog post sometimes isn’t getting done until Sunday night, which leaves me no time to get a post done for this site. All of which to say…posts may be spotty until I can get my summer routine a little more stable. It’s not you, it’s me (but that seems rather obvious…).

It’s not like you’re waiting anxiously on my every post, right? 😉

In any case, I’m in kind of a weird spot right now where I want to use the latest and greatest in tech, but am also really seeing the value in slowing down and maybe using lower-tech options for certain things, or mixing the two for the “highest low-tech” option available. Reading that back, I realize it sounds convoluted, and it is, but such is life in my brain. Or part of it. I mean, I keep a lot of stuff to myself. Because if you think I’m weird now…well. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as the saying goes.

Ahem. Back on topic, my first high-low tech conundrum this spring came when I started using my 3-year old Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet to write poetry last month. One of the best things about the Galaxy Note line is, obviously, Samsung Notes, wherein you can write on the screen with a stylus (high tech!), and use a device just like a notebook. I have been enamored with this feature ever since it came out, and I absolutely love the fact that I can erase my digital handwriting, which means my “pages” are less messy/more legible (I have horrible handwriting).

This is kind of a “best of both worlds” thing for me, because handwriting (low-tech) forces me to slow down and pay more attention to what I’m writing, so I think I do better work that way. Computers haven’t quite figured out how to *read* my handwriting yet (not holding out much hope for that one), which means I have to type everything I write on the screen by hand back into my writing program (currently Shaxpir). And that forces me to do an editing/revision pass, as I’m always finding ways to improve whatever I’ve hand-written as I type it back in.

So, I’m kind of loving this new-to-me writing “process”, and my tablet decides it needs to update to the Kit-Kat version of Android (it came with Jelly Bean). What harm can an update do, right? As it turns out, updating to Kit-Kat on these tablets makes them think they’re overheating even when they aren’t, and the only solution (from internet-land) seems to be to pull the battery and reset the bios.

Fun times.

I am a software girl, not a hardware girl. I don’t like messing with hardware one little bit – I just want it to work. But at some point in time this week, I’m going to have to get all my notes off of that tablet, pry the back off, take the battery out, and hope it resets like it’s supposed to. *sigh* Was going to do that this past weekend, but just didn’t get time.

Until then, I’ll use the notes function on my Galaxy Note 5 (cell) for my high-low tech solution, since the only other real options are to use paper/pen, or type directly into the laptop – neither of which seem to work as well for me.

I know. Special snowflake, and all that. Writers do tend to be a bit neurotic about…all sorts of stuff.

Another, slightly more fun example of high-low tech is the new bicycles my husband and I bought this past weekend. One of the simplest low-tech methods of transportation ever invented, but these new bikes have some pretty amazing technology now in braking and gear-switching. I find it somewhat ironic that so much technological invention has been put into these things, and yet somehow, they decided bikes don’t need kickstands anymore. What the heck is *that* all about? Does no one want to just park their bike in the driveway for a few minutes anymore? Weird.

I should probably mention that it’s been nearly 30 years since I’ve been on a bicycle…or it had been until last Saturday when I test-rode the one I bought (thank goodness you never forget!). That’s probably long enough to give up the grudge I developed when I fell off my 10 speed and shattered my right hand/wrist when I was 15, right? In any case, riding a bike is fun, it’s good exercise, and it’s something my husband and I can do together. I have friends who like to bike (okay, one, but still), and my mom would be happy to have company on her occasional excursions as well. I might even be able to sneak off on my own here and there. I used to love using a good long bike ride to clear my head.

So, investment in both my health and social life. Not a bad use for my annual longevity check, eh?

And finally – a high-tech solution for a low-tech problem failed me this week, and I had to remedy that ASAP, which is the other reason this blog post is a day late. If you know me at all, you know I’m a heavy tea-drinker. And to make tea, you need warm to hot water, depending on what you’re brewing. And if you want hot water fast, you don’t make it over a fire or on the stove, you plug in a handy dandy electric kettle.

Last week, my electric kettle started sounding more like R2D2 than a kettle, and while I gave it a good scrubbing this weekend to get all the hard mineral deposits out, it’s still not acting right. I haven’t used a thermometer yet, but I suspect it’s not heating up to temp anymore, judging by the taste of my tea.

*big sigh*

So, instead of getting this post done late Sunday night, I was reading the reviews for a ton of different electric kettles as potential replacements. I mean, I could just get another Cuisinart – this one’s done well for quite a few years, but there are so many fun options (even though I will never be able to quite justify the $250 Breville automatic tea kettle, dammit)…

In any case, I decided on a KitchenAid kettle with 6 temp settings and a very cool-looking steeper basket around 1am, and that was largely because I really, really had to sleep so I could work Monday (today).

And now it’s nearly midnight *again* (how did that happen so quickly?!), and I need sleep *again*. Seriously. Needing sleep is so inconvenient…

Challenges & Choices

I wasn’t actually sure I was going to survive last week. Everything that could go wrong pretty much did, and not just one or two days, but every day. On top of that, doing the poem-a-day workshop took up a lot of time I didn’t have, which means I didn’t get to bed on time any night last week (including this weekend). That means I didn’t get any reading time, or enough rest. Which put me behind today (Sunday, as I write this), because I slept late, and just a little bit ago I finally sat down to look at last year’s bookkeeping for the publishing business to see where I left off.

As far as I can tell, I started updating my financial program last year, decided I didn’t have enough time or energy or whatever, gave up, and just added up my sales reports for the total income & used my bank statements to calculate my expenditures. Which is absolutely fine/accurate for taxes, but now I’m two years and 2.5 months behind on bookkeeping for the business, and because I didn’t look at this earlier, I’m going to have to do the same thing this year. Which is way more work than actually clicking the button in the finance program to generate a sales/loss report for the year to plug into my tax program.

It’s also a lot more work than just keeping my finance books up to date once a month. Seriously.

Yet another thing in my life that I really need to just get control of and keep control of. It’s not hard, it’s not mysterious, it’s not something I need to “learn” how to do…I just need to do it. Because it will make my life exponentially easier, at least once a year.

I have no idea why I have such a mental block about taking care of finances, but there’s got to be a way to get past it and be more responsible in that area.

In other news, the poetry challenge has been both negative and positive. As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t have time to do that, and I still don’t, and my sleep and reading/relaxing schedule was completely shot (not to mention any knitting/crochet time i the evenings). I really need to figure out some other way to keep up this week, because I can’t do a whole month like this…I’ll go insane.

On the other hand, I’ve discovered that poetry is a great warm-up for writing prose, and I’m actually enjoying writing poems far more than I thought I would. It has also increased my prose output just due to having that extra deadline hanging over my head, and I’m finally getting back to a reasonable per-night word count again. I think after the month is over, I’ll keep writing poetry…though at a much more moderate pace (say, one poem a week or so).

I’ve also discovered that I really like writing by hand on my cell and/or tablet. I have Samsung Note devices (cell & tablet) with the SNote program, which makes it easy, and I’ve found that handwriting first drafts and notes, and then typing the manuscript back in is a great editing tool.

Another boon is that it’s making me think more about word choice and sound in my prose, which is exactly what I was hoping it would do. So definitely worth it, if I can just regain some balance this week. Thankfully taxes aren’t due until the 18th this year, which gives me next Saturday to actually fill out the forms (yay TurboTax!), but I’ll have to calculate my profit/loss numbers working in the evenings this week. My eyes are already squinting at the thought of all that extra screen time.

This week is going to be all about collecting/calculating the business info I need for taxes, and also figuring out how to fit my poem-a-day in with my regular writing and still get to bed on time so I can read and recharge the brain before sleep (and getting enough sleep).

Next week, after my taxes are done and filed, it will be time to figure out how I’m going to get the bookkeeping all caught up, and keep it up to date from now on. *sigh*

And someday, maybe I’ll be rich enough to pay someone to do my accounting for me, right? (Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath either.)

Post-Concert Late Night Musings

This will be quickish, because as the title says, it’s a late, post-concert (Adelita’s Way) Sunday night (nearly 1am), and this is the last thing I’m doing while drinking a cup of tea before bed.

It’s been a kind of chaotic/abnormal weekend, and I’m going to pay for it first thing tomorrow when I have to drag a laundry basket up from the basement so my husband has socks to wear to work. I still have another load of laundry in the washer that I’ll transfer to the dryer after work tomorrow night, and I need to take the garbage out too. The consequences of not getting household chores done over the weekend. *sigh*

I spent a good chunk of Saturday writing for the weekly BSB prompt story, and my little fairy tale turned out very well, methinks. Naturally, there are other things I should have been doing with that time (like the load of laundry I’ll have to dry tomorrow night), but it was fun to just sit and write most of the day.

Sunday I was just lazy…so I have no excuse. And we went to the concert tonight, which was okay, but the sound really wasn’t good. They really need to turn the volume down in smaller venues like the one we were at – it was so loud you can hear everything…including the feedback and monitor buzzing and all that, and it’s just a total assault on the ears so you can’t actually hear anything in the chaos. I’m glad we didn’t pay much for those tickets.

We did find a spot in the back to sit down briefly, and while people watching, I made a few observations:

  •  I still don’t have any clue why people want sparkly things on their butts. Nor do I think that would be comfortable to sit on.
  • Louis Vuitton looks awkward at a rock concert.
  • Youngsters don’t seem to care how the music sounds, as long as they can drink and dance
  • I’m not 20 anymore, and neither is my husband. We did okay, but between my still-kinked neck (pinched nerve) and his gout flare-up, we were quite the pair.

Now, it’s time to get some sleep…largely due to that last observation. You know. Adults, work, etc. Mundane, but pays the bills so I can do fun things like buy my first archery bow on Tuesday.

I hope your weekend was far more exciting (and less painful) than mine!

Mental Flotsam

Lots of things going on in my head lately – I’m still dealing with the mental “fallout” of that whole midlife crisis thing I’ve recently
crawled out of. I’m still not ready to do a full-blown blog on that, but I will say that it’s been a real roller coaster, and as enlightening and…liberating, I guess, as it’s been, I hope I don’t have to go through another one anytime soon. I go through self-assessment periods every decade or so, where I’m just not happy with…”whatever” in my life and need to make some adjustments, but this…this was different. This was more of a total re-examination of all the major life decisions I’ve ever made (and some of the minor ones too), which causes some major cognitive dissonance that has to be worked through before one can move forward. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and now that I’m on the tail-end looking back, I can totally see how some people end up hitting the “reset” button completely during this time in life (which a rather large percentage of us go through whether we want to or not). Weird, wild, and wacky stuff.

In any case, there are other things on my mind these days too, including:

  • Archery – I *loved* my first time on the range last week, and will have to post more about it later. Suffice it to say, I liked it well enough that I’m going back to the shooting range this week, and hopefully once a week after that as well. I’m planning on buying a bow kit and arrows, and taking a few lessons. It’s been awhile since I’ve been that drawn to something out of the house!
  • Love Triangles – I was surfing TV channels Sunday night, and got sucked into an episode of “Victoria” on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Ended up watching two episodes, and the relationships therein really got me to thinking about love triangles in fiction and real life, and how there always is one, whether we’re aware or not. It’s fascinating and uncomfortable, and I’d like to explore that phenomenon more.
  • My neck – which is kinked up again. Stupid thing. Or stupid drivers who rear-ended me twice in as many years. I never had problems with my neck before those…
  • BSB Advertising/marketing, and how effective it is/isn’t. Also, getting the documents together for that to do my taxes. Ugh.
  • The ring in my rook piercing, which I want changed out for a bar that will be so much less of a pain to deal with, because it won’t stick out at all like the ring does.
  • The drones in Warhawk, the James Rollins book I’m reading. Yikes!
  • New crochet/knitting patterns I want to try out, now that I’ve finished the dog sweater I was working on.

Never a dull moment, eh?

What’s on your mind lately? Care to share?

Back with a New Groove

I have to say…last week was one of the best “staycations” I’ve ever had. I didn’t over-schedule myself, but I structured my days and the week as a whole, got a lot done, never felt any real “pressure” as far as time/deadlines go, and at the end I was relaxed and had a new, much better perspective on life in general.

I did a lot of thinking, planning and preparations for working on and sticking to my resolutions for the year. I did some cleaning that I never have time to do all at once on the weekends, which feels good because now I have a good chance at being able to maintain those areas of the house in less time. Without that extra prep time, it would have taken me quite a bit longer on the weekends for awhile just to catch up to a place where I could maintain, so I’m really glad I could get that done.

I also finished a project that’s been on my dining room table since October – a miniature haunted dollhouse that comes in 5 mailings with each mailing having not only pieces to the dollhouse, but also more clues to the mystery. That was a wonderful way to spend my birthday, even though I did give myself a serious kink in the neck working on it all day (still not healed, but worth the discomfort). It’s still on the table in need of finish work and a permanent home, but I have that all worked out too, I just need to take a Saturday afternoon and get it done.

I had several really good writing sessions, after the dogs had been walked (thank goodness for warmer weather!) and the house was completely still. By that time, I’d been away from work long enough that my head was clear and creative again, underscoring just how much of a drain my job is on my mental energy. It’s a good job, don’t get me wrong, and I love doing it, but it does seriously limit my creativity. I started thinking about some ways I could deal with that and make sure that I have time to rest mentally between the time I get off work, and the time I need to write. I have some things to try this week, so we’ll see how that goes.

Motivation has been an issue for me lately too, with the writing, I mean. So when several good book sales payments hit my account, I splurged and bought access to a “Motivation” lecture by Dean Wesley Smith. I’d watched the first video on YouTube (it’s free there), and decided that whenever I had a hard time sitting down and writing last week, I’d watch one of the videos in that lecture series to hopefully “motivate me”.

The first time I decided to watch, I got as far as video number three, and had an epiphany that forced me to stop right there and re-evaluate my writing time. For the curious, you can read about how I did that on my writing blog later this week. Suffice it to say, it involves some important realizations on my part, and some serious routine/chore shuffling. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the videos.

The BSB site rebuild is pretty well finished, the two February releases formatted and nearly ready to go, and a new blog posting schedule started over there on Mondays. My Friday night “office hours” are still going swimmingly. Hooray for that!

In other news, yes, I will finally be posting to the dog blog again next week. It’s the pictures that get me. That blog kind of needs them, and it’s extra time/effort to get pics, and then edit/upload them along with the post. But I think I’ve finally got that sorted out. Hopefully.

I’m kind of mystified at the fact that since January 1, a bunch of people have “liked” the Nail Art Tuesday Facebook page. Where did they all come from? Did they not notice that before last week, I hadn’t posted there for a couple of years? Is there a serious nail art trend happening right now that I’m just not aware of?

Regardless, it made me consider whether it might be worth posting to my Nail Art blog again. Not full “this is what I did and how I did it” tutorials like I used to do, but quick, weekly pics of my manicures wouldn’t kill me. Nor would bi-weekly pics of my pedicures, and occasional photos of my other body mods. Of course that would require changing the name of the blog to Nail & Body Art Tuesdays, I suppose. Doesn’t really have the same “ring” does it? But I have been getting more interested in expanding my jewelry collection since getting those new piercings last month, and there are two more piercings I’d like to get next weekend, if possible, which will give me even more jewelry options. It would be fun to have a spot to share those with people interested in that sort of thing…

I haven’t decided one way or another on that yet. No hurry, really. This week’s manicure went a little sideways anyways, so nothing postworthy just yet. People are still “liking” my Tea on Tap page too, but I don’t drink enough of a variety anymore to bring that back, and while I would love to do some gong-fu brewing, I’d have to really schedule that into a weekend slot, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Bummer, but until I retire, I have limited hours to work with. Such is life.

I tell you what…I already have so much to do in my retirement years that I’d probably better plan on not dying until I hit at least 100. It’s gonna take me that long to get through my “to do” list! 🙂

So…great vacation, new perspective, and I’m ready to get back into the normal swing of things.

And away we go…

Goals Report & Vacation Days

The frustrating thing about goals is not being able to just jump in and get the changes done all at once.

That being said, I’ve taken some pretty big strides in working towards my resolutions in the past couple of weeks, and considering pretty much everything takes more time to organize the first time than it does to keep up, I think I’m doing pretty well.

Of course I’m behind on my normal stuff (*ahemthisblogandthedogblog*), but once I get the initial set-up done and the new routines in place, everything should go a lot more smoothly. I’m pretty confident in saying it will, actually. I’ve thought it through and broken it down so that I know exactly what steps I need to take for success, so the only thing standing in my way would be…me. As usual.

Sometimes this overclocked brain does come in handy. When it’s not driving me nuts, anyways.

In any case, I went nuclear on the Brazen Snake Books site a couple of weeks ago, and I just finished rebuilding all the book pages and getting the newsletter sign-up back online. With any luck, there will be a new blog post up over there later today as well, and I need to make some new graphics next for marketing. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming, and I’m organizing a couple of book launches for authors working with BSB as well, so there’s a lot to be done. But I’m happy to report that my Friday late-night office hours are really paying off, and I think it will be completely sustainable for the long run, which is a relief. There’s a lot of business-y stuff I’m behind on, so it will take awhile to catch up, but those dedicated hours every week are going to be a godsend. And they save me some free time on the weekends too, so I don’t have to stress over what BSB stuff I should be doing when I *need* to clean the house and have some down time. The BSB site will be easy enough to maintain after all this clean-up/reorganization, as long as I keep up with it. Which I’ll be able to with the Friday night scheduled hours. I wish I’d thought of that years ago.

As far as my other goals go, I plugged several new tasks into my weekend routines, and it’s going well. My feet have been pedicured twice now (and are in much, much better shape already), my makeup brushes are clean and soft for the first time in…well, longer than I care to admit, the inch-thick layer of makeup/dust has been removed from my makeup vanity, my kitchen sink is clean on one side, and my tea center is cleaner/more organized as well (and getting better maintenance). I’ve also started doing push-ups, sit-ups and squats just after my nightly cleaning time and before I sit down to write. This is a twofer, really, because I’m building muscle mass, and also waking my brain up just a bit, which makes it easier to write that late at night. Major win there!

I’m taking this week off from work – today is a federal holiday anyways, and tomorrow is my birthday (which I always take off, because why not?). And since I’ve already discovered that unstructured staycations do not work well for me, I’m planning my days out to get the rest of my “prep work” done for my resolutions so I can just move forward with the new routines from then on out. I’m also planning some extra writing sessions to jump-start the drafts I have in progress and get back into the daily writing “zone”. It’s gonna be a good week, and so far, it’s off to a great, relaxing start.

And yes, I have some hobby-stuff I plan to work on this week as well. Like finally finishing the Haunted Dollhouse miniature mystery I started before Christmas and never quite got back to. That will be my main project on Tuesday, and I can’t wait! Then there’s my TBR comic book pile, and the US Postal Service has a new cataloging app for stamps that I intend to download and start putting my US stamp inventory into. About time they came out with an app for that!

I got some new Smurfs for my birthday, so I need to do some organizing in the blue realm as well to find spots for them. We’ll see if I get to that or not.

I’m planning writing sessions in the afternoons as well as my normal late-night sessions in hopes of making great strides on my current fiction draft, which is pretty exciting too, and should also help me get that daily writing habit well established again.

So, lots to do, but all stuff I *want* to do, and rarely have time for. Onward!

New Year, New Resolutions

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a year, 1) hey thanks! and 2) you know I’m a pretty devout New Years resolutionist. I like goals and plans and being at least somewhat organized mentally as well as physically. Last week I went over last year’s resolution list and how I did with that, so this week, I’m sharing this year’s list, and a brief-ish breakdown of how I’ll go about making them happen.

I made 8 resolutions this year – 3 personal, 3 writing, and 2 work-related (which will not be listed here for what should be fairly obvious reasons). It was actually kind of hard writing these out this year, because I had trouble narrowing them down (I only allow myself 3 per category, max). It was also quite difficult making sure that none of them could reasonably be hijacked by outside forces (because if they can, then they don’t qualify as a resolution – only things I have complete control over qualify).

But, I managed, and while I may have cheated a bit and included more than one item in a couple of my goals, I think everything is very achievable and will add significant value to my life for the long run.

So then – jumping right in, here are the new goals:

Personal
– Finance: Pay off at least two major credit lines and get one month ahead on all utility/household bills.
– Physical Health: Add strength training to my weekday routines and a pedicure to my weekly routine.
– Household: Add weekly cleaning routines for kitchen, bathroom, jewelry and makeup table

Writing/Publishing
– Write three novels/novellas and three short stories.
– Use Friday late nights for “business hours” every week
– Get newsletters (quarterly, min.) going again.

As you can see, finance is one of the biggies for this year. I make decent money, but I’ve gotten pretty lax on managing it, and that is…well, not good. It’s time to get serious about paying off debt, not letting the utility bills pile up just because I don’t remember to pay them, and getting some savings built up. It’s going to require some serious buckling down, planning/budgeting, and self-control, but I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. And need to. So that’s highest priority for the year.

As for physical health, I really need to add some muscle mass to my frame. I do yoga most weekday mornings and when the weather cooperates, I walk the dogs every night. I also climb the stairs at work. But I’ve been neglecting the strength training side of things, and I need to work that back in for both a metabolism ramp-up and just because it’s healthier for both my immune system and my bone mass to keep my muscles strong.

My feet are kind of the bane of my existence The nails are hard to care for, both feet are callused and have dry patches, but my right foot is drier than the Sahara, and really needs some serious help. I don’t have a clue why it’s just my right foot and not my left, but bodies are weird. I’ve been avoiding pedicures because I do my nails late Sat. nights, and honestly, my feet get cold! I’m going to solve that by crocheting myself some open-toed socks. Then I can put thick salve on my feet, put on my socks to “marinate”, and take care of my stupid toenails. I really need to be putting Wool Wax on my heels every day, but once a week will be a start, at least.

On the household goals, I suck at cleaning. I mean, I *can* do it, but there are so many more exciting/interesting things to do on the weekends! Thing is, the cleanliness of the kitchen, bathroom, and my jewelry and makeup can directly affect our health. So I really should set some of my weekly cleaning time aside for those. It’s not even that it will take that much time – cleaning goes pretty quickly once you just start. Alas, I’m lazy. But I need to be a little less lazy this year.

Part of why I’m lazy with the housework is the thought that I should be working on my writing/publishing business. Things like blogs and web site updates, bookkeeping…all the boring things that come with running a micro-business. And I really do need to spend more time on that, but it’s difficult to find time when I need to be able to focus and not be interrupted for awhile. I tried doing morning sessions on the weekends, but I really do suck at mornings, and rarely got anything accomplished because I was just trying to keep my eyes open and wake up my brain. It didn’t last long, and that’s what happens when you fight your natural biorhythms.

So this year, I’ve set aside Friday late nights (time I’d normally be writing) for BSB business tasks. I started last week (why wait?!), and it went much better than any early morning session ever did. I think that because I’m already naturally awake at night, this will be something I can sustain over a long period of time. Since I don’t need to be up for anything Saturday mornings, if I get caught up in something I can stay up until it’s finished if need be. That’s the kind of freedom I need to get everything organized and moving forward again.

Taking writing time for that isn’t optimal, but there are only so many hours in the day, and not taking care of BSB business is stressful and also ruins my motivation for other things. So it needs to be done, and it’s a good time investment once a week, methinks. It will make it easier to do housework without guilt, and even though it’s less writing time, I think I’ll get more writing done.

My other two goals are pretty self-explanatory. I added up how many words I could potentially write in a week at my normal speed (around 800 words an hour), and it looks like I could comfortably write a book and a short story every four months. Which equals three novels/novellas and three short stories. That’s so much more than last year I’m giddy just thinking about it!

And newsletters, of course, are just smart for keeping in touch with readers. I’ve let mine go for way too long now, and it’s time to get them going again. Just quarterly…I think that’s often enough to stay in touch, and not so often as to be annoying. I hope.

There are a lot more things I want to do this year, both personally & writing-wise, but these are the ones that made The List. I’m hoping these won’t be too terribly difficult to implement fairly quickly, but no way to tell without just jumping in.

So…here’s to the new year, and new goals, and keeping things moving in a forwardly direction. I have a good feeling about 2017, and I’m gonna take advantage of that for as long as possible! Or at least long enough to set up some good new routines.

Are you a resolutionist? Care to share your number one goal for the year? Inquiring minds, and all that… 😉