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A Kick in the Head

Things that have happened since I last posted:

– I’ve established a daily writing habit before work (I know, I’m as surprised as anyone to be writing productively in the *morning*)
– I have a fairly extensive mask wardrobe
– Two new tote bags that are lighter than my leather bag was, and I think it’s affecting my shoulder/neck issues for the better
– I’ve actually finished a draft, and started a new one
– I’ve been reading before bed again – finished two books and am working on another

I’ve written a bunch of posts since the “Toast” one, and deemed all of them unfit for whatever reason. Mostly because I felt like posting about mundane stuff might appear tone deaf or inappropriate given the state of things and all the civil unrest. I’ve been “escaping” in Animal Crossing and walking the dogs in the evenings, and generally just staying in my own little work/life “bubble”. Think of that what you will. It’s how I’ve been dealing.

But it’s time to get moving again, and my “kick in the head” came from a rather unexpected invitation by our local bookstore to do a virtual author interview. I agreed, and in prepping for the experience, I realized something important about my writing and myself that made me want to get out of my fog and back into productivity in my writing life (work life has been incredibly productive all year, but also incredibly draining, which hasn’t helped the writing life thing).

The thing I needed most was confidence. I got that – just a little shot, and it’s enough, I think, to get me moving again.

My main focus this week is figuring out the time aspect. I need time to update covers, update social media pages, update blogs, and do various publishing & maintenance tasks. But more than anything, I need time to edit and revise. I have several drafts in the edit/revise phase, and they’re “stuck” there due to my lack of making time to work on them. I could release all of those drafts as finished manuscripts within the next six months if I could just set aside some time for “marking up” and time for “typing in”.

So, that’s my goal for the week. Find two 20-minute time slots that can be “set” for each weekday and dedicated for mark-ups and type-ins. It’s really not all that easy, because I need quiet and headspace for those time slots. But, I’m determined. There has to be a way.

If I can do that early enough in the week, then my secondary goal is to set aside one more time slot for writing blog posts. Will I be successful?

You’ll find out next week!


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2019 in Review

Ah, the end of another year. No, I’m not going to do an entire decade in review, because frankly, my personal timelines tend to get all tangled up in my head after a year or so, and something that happened 20 yrs ago feels like it happened last week, and another thing that happened a month or two ago feels like it’s been over for years. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to get 10 yrs worth of “life” straight in my head, much less on paper. Things happen. We learn stuff, do stuff, and hopefully keep moving forward.

I do know that I published my first book and established Brazen Snake Books in 2010. So that was pretty significant, I guess. Speaking of which, I really need to update that cover and blurb…

In any case, last year, I had three major resolutions to work on (and a lot of smaller goals). The big three were:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

Finances were very much at the forefront of my mind because I’d just done some major overspending, I was way behind on my “normal” bills, and I was very much aware that I really needed to get a handle on both my spending, and the lackadaisical way I’d been handling money.

I’m happy to say, I did get myself in gear, got tough with myself, did my weekly budgeting whether I wanted to or not, and completed those first two resolutions. It was frustrating and annoying a lot of the time, and as soon as I finished paying off those particular credit lines, I was hit with a whole host of dog-related medical bills I had to pay, and then dental work I had to have done, so that was even more frustrating/annoying (because I was on a roll, dang it, and wanted to keep paying stuff off!). But, even though I’m operating closer to my personal margins than I’d like, I’m in a much better financial place this year, with money set aside to be invested when I have the time and a tiny bit of savings (which I haven’t had in a long while), so…those were very worthwhile goals, and I’m still very much motivated to pay several more credit lines off this next year. Which should be interesting because we’re actually taking a vacation in the fall (like, a fly-out-of-state vacation), but we’ll figure it out.

The last goal was an ultimatum to myself to either “publish or perish”, so to speak. I really, really struggled with writing time for the first three quarters of the year. At the moment (and by “moment”, I mean “moment relative to the rest of my life”) my schedule…my life is just not really conducive to sitting down and composing/typing a bunch of words late at night (and there is no other time…oh man, did I try to find another time). I can’t think well enough early in the morning, and my brain was done being creative about three hours before when I sit down late at night after everyone else has gone to bed and the house is finally quiet enough that I can think.

I really thought I was going to have to consign this one to the “perish” bin, as in, don’t bother publishing anymore until after I retire. If I can’t get a first draft down, there’s nothing to edit, and ultimately, nothing to publish. It all starts with the draft.

Late this fall, I decided to try one more thing: dictation. I figured I’m awake and alert in my car, I’m alone, I can have it quiet, and I’m often thinking about story lines or things that would make a great story while I’m driving. I honestly didn’t think it was going to work, because while I talk to myself, I don’t generally “dictate” stories or tell them out loud, and it was exceedingly weird the first couple of times I tried it. But I reminded myself that no one else was listening (and who cares if the other drivers think I’m nuts), and that no one else ever needed to listen to the audio version – the whole point is to dictate and let the program transcribe the dictation, which I can then edit into something readable.

I can edit even when my brain is tired. Editing is much easier than drafting – it’s all critical voice, and that is what my brain is best at – being critical and fixing things. It can do that sort of thing in its sleep (and often does). So the more I dictated, the more comfortable I got with it, and I found that while I struggled hard to come up with even 250 new words late at night, I could dictate a thousand or more in the car just in 2-3 fifteen minute trips to work and back! And then when I uploaded the transcripts at night, I could sit down and edit, a task that wasn’t nearly as much of a struggle late at night after a full workday.

It’s a lot more work to write this way – because the transcription has to be edited into a “first draft”, and then a second round of actual editing to get it ready for copy-editing. But I can do it with the time and energy I have available, when I have them available, and it feels good to be making forward progress on stories again. I’ve written more in the last quarter of 2019 than I have in a long time, thanks to dictation.

So no, I didn’t publish any books this year, though I did write and edit a flash fiction story to send off with my Christmas cards. But I am going to keep writing and have a goal to publish some books next year, and maybe get this whole writing business back on track. I’m optimistic, to be sure.

As for my smaller goals, I got a few of them done, but I never put in place the infrastructure I needed to really be successful with them. I need to make calendar reminders and routines and in some cases, buy something small to make the goal easier. This year, I’m doing that.

More on that in tomorrow’s post on resolutions and goals for 2020.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

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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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2019 Goals Check-Up

As a reminder, these were my three goals elevated to “Resolution Status” this year:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

The first one is nearly done, and it would already be done if not for some unexpected expenses that came up this summer. I’ve paid off two minor credit lines, and the third will be done in October. I was actually really hoping to pay down more on several larger credit lines, but…well, we do what we can. As a side-goal to this, I’ve been paying very close attention to my finances and budgeting every single week. It’s been a little tough here and there, but overall, I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to pay down the outstanding debts faster, and start saving a decent chunk every month as well.

The second resolution has been more difficult, mostly just because several things came up that were time-sensitive right at the start of the year, and…well, I needed to act quickly, or forgo whatever it was. I opted to “do the things”, and they were fun, but they did cut into the budget and set me back, which was the whole reason for the “rule” in the first place (to avoid being set back). And then of course I had several un-budgeted but necessary things come up this summer, so…yeah. The finance thing isn’t going as well as I’d hoped, but it is still moving in the right direction. I am trying to stick to the resolution for the rest of the year, but we’ll see how well I do budgeting ahead of time for things like Christmas gifts. I should start thinking about that…well, yesterday. Hmm.

As for the third thing…so far, it’s a complete and total bust. I keep trying to reclaim my writing time, and life just…happens. I really have no guaranteed quiet time at home until after midnight, and then it’s almost too late (depending on whether I want time to read as well, which is important – you really do have to be a reader to write, and I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately). As far as working on edits and rewrites and all the various stuff that goes with actually publishing (formatting, cover art, etc)…wow. I’ve not been making the time I need to for that, and given the time it takes to publish one book (much less two), I’m not sure I’m going to make it. Which is, frankly, quite depressing.

I do have a plan for more writing, and that started today. I’ve got some new routines in place that should help, and some new “rules” for myself that will hopefully reset my priorities to “writing before fun” in my off-day-job hours. I don’t really know what to do about the publishing side of things yet, but…getting back to a very regular writing routine would help a great deal on the writing side.

I do have a couple of books that are published in ebook format, but not in print yet. I think I’ll work on getting the print copies of those done and out first, and then maybe that will be enough to establish routines for getting those types of tasks done. Both books are good Halloween/creepy type stories, so those would be good to have available by October. A tight time frame, but maybe that’s exactly what I need.

There are four months left in the year. *sigh* Writing and publishing are definitely going to be my top priorities for that time. Even if I don’t make the goal, I want to put as much effort into it as possible. So…onward.


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So It Begins Again: Resolutions 2019

Happy New Year! Or I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be, anyway.

Today, I’m doing a little knitting, a little library house-keeping (boxing comics and cataloging books) and maybe playing a little Pokemon here and there as well. I have some Christmas gifts to put away yet, and I’m making a pork roast for dinner. Should be a relatively quiet, relaxing day, which is my preference over spending the first day of the year with a bunch of family and chaos.

But before I get to any of that, or even sleep to start it all off, I finished my resolution and goal list. For the uninitiated, my resolutions are priority goals – the ones that get the most attention and focus during the year. The other goals are just that…things to work on when I get to them, or when they’re needed to make the resolutions happen.

Like last year, I decided to focus on three main resolutions this year, with a larger list of goals to work on when I have the time/inclination. And since my “money matters” got more than a little out of hand last year, I’m making them my top priorities in 2019. It’s important.

Here are the goals I upgraded to “resolution” status this year:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

The first one is pretty specific, and even more so in the extended goals list – right down to how much I need to budget/pay each month in order to achieve that goal and keep everything else paid up as well. It’s not going to be fun, and it’s going to require some serious willpower, but it’s necessary and important. If I keep that resolution, it’ll be a serious chunk of debt paid off by the end of the year.

The second one is obviously an attempt to rein in my impulse-spending. I get paid on the 7th and 22nd of each month, so waiting until the purchase is budgeted for in the next paycheck isn’t asking too much. Will I miss out on some sales? Maybe. Will I miss out on some things entirely? More than likely. Is that okay? Absolutely.

Nothing in this category will be something necessary – if I wear a hole in my shoes and need a new pair, fine. If I want a new pair of boots because they’re on sale and I’m bored with my old (perfectly serviceable) pair, that purchase needs to wait, even if I have to budget full-price for it at a later date. Need and want are too completely different things, and by the end of the year, I hope to have retrained the emotional part of my brain to respect the difference and act accordingly, rather than giving in to the impulse to order/buy it right that very minute. I used to be far more practical when it came to purchasing “things” and I need to get back to that mindset again. For my bank account’s sake, among other things.

As for the third…well, it’s time to fish or cut bait, so to speak. I gave myself a lot of leeway when our Lucy-dog was sick, and again when we had to put her down, and again when we adopted the Murph. I’ve gone far too long without releasing anything book-wise, and it’s because I lost my writing confidence somewhere in all that “leeway”. So my third resolution is really more of an ultimatum to myself. Either get something done enough and publish the damn thing, or consign the business side of writing to the trash bin and quit pretending you’re actually trying to make something of it.

I’m not cut out for full-time writing (not until I retire, anyways), and I know that. Mostly because I don’t care to live without a steady paycheck if at all possible. But writing isn’t just something I do, either. No matter how good or bad I am at it, I can’t really stop, because writing stories is very much a part of how I process the world. So the question isn’t whether I should stop writing or not, but whether I should stop bothering to publish what I write. And that is what will be answered at the end of this year, depending on how I do with my third resolution.

So…a pretty hefty “big three” this year, but I feel very strongly that all of these will make my life better in the long run, even if I have to take a hit (or several) in the short term.

Other things on my list include incredibly mundane tasks like brushing my teeth and emptying the basement garbages as well as somewhat more interesting projects like starting a genealogy database for our family histories and continuing to catalog my collections. No matter what I get done (or don’t get done), it should be an interesting year with at least some forward progress by the end.

Here’s to a good year with a lot of determination and willpower. And maybe a few fun surprises along they way, too.

2018 Year in Review

It’s that time again, to take stock in last year’s resolutions and goals, and figure out what worked, and what didn’t. As a reminder, I only set three hard and fast resolutions for 2018, and then had a longer (unpublished) goal list I wanted to work on.

Here are the three resolutions:

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

Of those three goals, the first is the only one I had real success with. I may not have managed exactly 6, but I’ve gotten a lot more than 4.5 (which is what I was getting before) a majority of nights last year. Getting to bed is still kind of a major hurdle for me, but I did pay very close attention to how many hours I was getting based on when I went to bed and set my alarm accordingly so that if I went to sleep 15 min. late, I got up 15 min. late.

Tuesdays are still an issue for me, as I have to get up an hour earlier for work, and I can’t go to bed an hour earlier just because my routines are so ingrained. But I have been getting 6 hours of sleep on Friday nights, and I’ve made a point to work things around so I can get 6 hours some Saturday night/Sunday mornings too.

All in all, that goal has been a success, and it won’t be difficult to keep going with that.

As for the second goal…well, I had to give that up a few months in because all the eggs were aggravating my gall bladder. Once I stopped eating eggs every day (I still eat them, just not more than a couple times a week), my gall bladder quieted down and all is still well so far. That was a fail, but only because my body made it so. Can’t help that, unfortunately.

The third goal was a partial fail. I tried, really I did, but my reminders kept not working (I’ve since gotten a better reminder system), and by the time I’d remember it was late and I was tired, and I rushed through and didn’t really give my goals list and progress analysis the attention it deserved.

I did go through the list occasionally, I tried to pick a new “top three” goal and never really settled on a good one, and I did modify the larger list a few times to give myself a better chance. One of the items on my list was to read a comic book every day (trying to catch up with a little over a years’ back-log). I achieved that goal with flying colors, and I’m caught up on a few different series, nearly caught up with my Harley Quinn’s, and still have quite the stack of Spidermans to get through.

I worked a lot on getting healthier this year, which sort of backfired in that my body threw a bit of a temper-tantrum, but the doctor I established as my first “primary care doc” told me not to worry about it, so I shan’t. I lost five pounds, a lot of that doing intermittent fasting. Even though that doesn’t seem like it will work for me long-term, it still had the great benefit of showing me just how few calories I actually need during a day. So I’m eating less, and have managed to keep the 5lbs off. Go me!

Most of the other goals on my longer list are household and financial goals, and I simply spaced most of the household/cleaning goals, and as for finances…well, yeah. No. Finances were more than just a fail – I wanted to pay down debt, and ended up with more than I had at the beginning of last year. It was a combination of not following through with my budgeting goals, lack of impulse control, and using the wrong budgeting system for my personality type.

Needless to say, finances are at the top of my priority list next year, and I’ll discuss that more tomorrow.

It was an odd year, and I’m kind of glad to just be leaving it all behind and moving forward. Writing was…not even close to what I wanted it to be, and left me wondering if I should even keep trying to write. I did finally start establishing some good writing habits over the past couple of months, and in just the past week, I’ve started blocking out more time for that as well (by shifting nightly routines up a bit). So, maybe next year will be better. I hope so. I need to either publish stuff, or close down the business side of things and just write for myself. By the end of next year, I should have a decision reached in regards to that.

Tomorrow, the new year begins, and a new resolution list commences. Stay tuned…

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

Resolution Six-Month Checkup

I had to break one of my resolutions for the year (the one easiest to keep at the top of my mind), so I figured this would be a good time for a six-month “checkup” of sorts to see how I’m doing. As a quick reminder, I did make a long list of goals for the year, but only three actual resolutions:

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

Needless to say, things aren’t going well. *sigh* Until a last week, I’d been fudging the 6 hours of sleep thing for a few weeks, pushing it later and definitely not getting to bed on time, which makes my mornings suck (not to put too fine a point on it). Granted, some nights this year I just haven’t slept well. That’s partially because we bought a new, much firmer mattress that my husband loves, but it’s taken me a good couple of months to adjust to, and partially because the weather was so weird for awhile, and finding the “sweet spot” for the A/C with all the humidity we’re really not used to was very much a trial and error thing. Another issue was gallbladder discomfort, which I’ll get to in a bit.

But part of it is that I’m just trying to do too much at night, and not getting it done frustrates me, so I stay up later to try to compensate, and then get up tired in the morning which means I’m even more tired/less productive the next night, and it’s a cycle that hurts me more than it helps. I just really need to scale back on the things I want to do and take care of myself by…getting to bed on time. I’ve done that very purposefully the last several nights, and woke up rested, before my alarm, and ready to start the day (except Sat night, but that doesn’t count).

So, I’m relaxing and reorganizing my late night schedule, admitting that I can’t actually do eveything I want to do, and getting to bed on time. Because it’s important.

The Sleep Resolution stands.

I mentioned gallbladder discomfort above…it’s been worse than normal this year, and I couldn’t figure out why after it’s been so calm for several years. I was almost resigned to finally going to the doctor, but still dragging my heels, so to speak.

I decided to try Chanca Piedra again (stonebreaker herb), which worked great last time I had issues. I was also reading up on intermittent fasting for health, and stumbled on a research study that found that eating more than three eggs a week was highly likely (ie, happened in 93% of the test group) to cause gallbladder discomfort.

I’ve been eating 10-13 eggs per week since January, faithfully, per my resolution. And my recent gallbladder issues have been going on pretty much exactly that long. *sigh*

I finished off the eggs I’d already hard-boiled for last week with the help of my husband (egg salad sandwiches are yummy), and cut myself back down to only having eggs occasionally. *One day* after I quit eating eggs daily, my gallbladder inflammation went down and the discomfort all but disappeared. It’s been five days now, and the discomfort is still there (because the eggs probably caused more gallstones to form over the months), but barely noticeable. I think a round of chanca piedra to break up the gallstones will probably get me back to where I need to be in regards to gallbladder health. If it doesn’t, I will go to the doctor, but I’ll definitely try this first, since it worked so well the first time.

So – The Egg Resolution is dead. Turns out the one resolution I was actually keeping was hurting instead of helping. Dang it.

As far as the third resolution goes…well, I think it’s probably obvious that I have *not* been checking in with my goals list once a week, and I’ll be totally honest and tell you that at least several of them have been either ignored or derailed by other things. Which isn’t good. But, I have six more months to work on that, so I’ve set an alarm for myself on Monday nights to do that weekly check-in, and a few other check-ins I need to be more diligent about as well (things like budgeting, meal planning, etc). Right at the first part of the week.

Way back in the “dark ages” before digital assistants were phones, the whole reason I started using one (palm pilot!) was to keep track of my schedule and remind myself to do things. I still do that, but not as much…and it’s a great tool to keep me moving in the right direction. I need to make better use of that particular feature again.

The Goals Check-Up Resolution stands.

I think I need to make one more resolution so I’ll still have three to work on (because every creative person knows that odd numbers are better than even). In that light, I’m adding another health-related resolution:

The Push-Up Resolution is a goal to do a minimum of 1 push-up per day/6 days per week for the rest of the year. Yes, it sounds insignificant, but much like the dead egg resolution, the purpose isn’t just to do one push-up, but rather to do one healthy, resistance training thing per day which most days will end up being 5 push-ups, or 1 push-up plus 10 bicep curls, or 20 push-ups, or 10 push-ups plus 10 squats…

You get the point. Taking the time to do 1 push-up per day will force me to think about working out, and if I have time to do one, I can probably do five or ten, or even twenty, or if I’m downstairs by my weight set I might decide to do a few other exercises just because I’m there. Or, I might be busy or sick or just not feelin’ it, and I’ll just do one push-up to satisfy the resolution and that will be that. It’s still something, and something that will affect positive change in the long run.

That gets us back to three resolutions for the rest of the year.

How are your own resolutions (if you make them) going? What about just basic goals? Have you done your own check-in lately?


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When I Grow up…

There’s a meme going around social media to the effect of, “When you grow up, no one asks what your favorite dinosaur is anymore.” Which is true, sadly, and an indication that adults have more weighty things to think about than extinct creatures, I guess. Still, I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and triceratops was always my favorite, for the record. Still is. I think they are the cutest, and I love their armor. That big shield is just an awesome sight to behold, even if only in museums now.

When I was a kid, we used to go to the drive-in theater occasionally too, which was always fun. At the one we used to go to, the screens would face each other, so us kids could lay in the back of our huge boat of a car and watch whatever was on the back screen while we were supposed to be sleeping, and the parents watched the front screen (with sound, of course). There were lots of rides to play on, and benches out in front of the cars where you could sit too, and with a speaker for each car window, you could easily hear the movie outside the car.

Movies had intermissions then, and singing hotdogs, and that’s when you’d get up, stretch your legs, get a treat and see who else had come out for the night. It was a great time, and a special night out.

So it’s fun to go out to our local drive-in now, as an adult, and see that though much has changed, so much hasn’t too. We went and saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this weekend, mixing dinosaurs, complex ethical dilemmas and the overall drive-in experience. A natural progression, it would seem.

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately too…the craft itself, specifically, and how I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 16 or so. When I was young, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up (another thing no one asks anymore), and for a long time, I would answer “an astronaut”, because I was obsessed with space, space travel, and convinced that there was a scientific way to make Mars inhabitable (Issac Asimov may have had a little to do with that belief).

When I got to high school and actually looked into what was required of astronauts, I was pretty disheartened to learn that fighter pilot experience was a big plus, and I would never qualify with my incredibly poor eyesight. Not for fighter pilot school, and not for an astronaut program. So I started thinking about what it was I really wanted to do with my life, and the only thing that ever truly appealed to me, an avid reader, was writing. Writing fiction, specifically.

My parents are inherently practical people, and upon hearing my new vocational goals, they both promptly asked, “so what are you going to do for money?” and when I frowned and said “I’m going to be a writer,” they both looked at each other, looked back at me, and said, “you need a backup plan, because you need to be able to take care of yourself in case you can’t get published.”

Back then, self-publishing wasn’t an option. Ebooks weren’t even around yet. And when I said I’d publish my books myself if no one would publish me, my parents reiterated how important it was to have a job that would pay the bills because writers are “creatives” and they’re always poor.

I never really wanted to be anything else, but when I went to college and took my first formal english classes, I failed to see how those would help be become a better fiction writer. I decided to get a history degree, because I enjoyed my history classes more than anything (other than philosophy classes, which I discovered later), and I figured I could teach (until I took a semester of student teaching), or I could go get a law degree (until I looked into exactly what it would take to go on to higher education).

Long story short, I have a history degree and an inherited proficiency in IT. The latter ended up being more useful in the long run as far as supporting myself goes. But of course I was so busy in college working to pay for it that I didn’t write – I thought about it all the time, but never had the time or energy. After college, I dabbled in writing, but by that time, I had bills and a house payment and writing is, unfortunately, not one of those things that I’m just inherently quick at picking up.

You would think I’d have given up on writing by now. I have a good job that I like, and I’m pretty decent at doing it, if I do say so myself. Writing is hard, it takes a lot of time that could be spent on other things, and my brain is naturally skewed more toward the technical/realistic worldview rather than a fictional/dramatic/”creative” one, so writing is always going to be a challenge, and I’m constantly trying to figure out what’s missing in my stories (which is extremely frustrating, though I do take a baby-step forward here and there). My life would be a lot simpler and less stressful if I just gave it up, honestly.

Thing is, I’ve tried. I’ve stopped writing for months and years on end, and I always come back to it. I can’t stay away – there’s something magnetic about it that I just can’t resist, even though it slaps me down and frustrates the heck out of me on an almost daily basis. Maybe that’s why – maybe it’s the challenging aspects of it that draw me in. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t help thinking I’ll be able to “crack the code” one of these days, and end up writing something people want to read (even if it’s just by accident).

In any case, watching the movie this weekend actually got me thinking about this, because I found myself enjoying the show thoroughly, but also kind of pulling apart the story structure (which is normally something I refrain from doing) in order to see what I could learn and use to apply in my own writing later on. And I had an epiphany about structure and depth in plotting that made me very happy – not that I’ll be able to apply it right away (because figuring out how to apply it is often more difficult for me than just recognizing it), but it made me feel like another piece of the writer’s puzzle finally fell into place in my brain. A piece I’d been ransacking the whole house looking for for ages, it seems like, and this weekend I finally found it in a dark corner underneath a heavy piece of furniture (or pile of dinosaur bones, as it were).

And I wonder, as I muddle through this whole “learning to write” process, slowly, if it would have been easier to stay focused and learn these lessons when I was young. To worry less about money and more about learning how to do what I really and truly wanted to do professionally, instead of being so very practical. My life would have taken a very different path, to be sure, and I’m not all totally convinced it would have been a better one, but would I have become a better writer at a younger age? Would I have been able to make a living from writing earlier, instead of waiting until retirement (which is when it looks like I’ll have the best chance at being good enough to make money)?

No way to know now, I suppose, and I’m not unhappy that my life has gone as it has so far. But it does make one wonder. Or it makes me wonder, anyways…

So…what’s your favorite dinosaur? And what do you want to be, now that you’re all grown up?


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Nailin’ It…Slowly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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