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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Stuff, Basketballs & Book-Moving Report

Last week was kind of crazy, and this past weekend even moreso. My tattoo touch-up on Thursday initiated a thrift store stop that I normally wouldn’t have made and a dog-walk at a non-normal time, both of which ended up with odd outcomes. Funny how small decisions can make such a big impact, isn’t it?

At the thrift shop, I bought some clothes to rough-up for the skeleton bride in our 13th Anniversary Halloween display (which is why I stopped in, so mission accomplished). I also bought a few pieces of clothing for myself, and then looked around the shop as one does. One thing I saw was an older sewing machine – like, much older. I was curious at the time, but I don’t sew, and couldn’t really get to the cabinet for a good view, and figured I didn’t have room for something like that anyway. So I left.

Later that afternoon, I took the dogs for an early walk (since I was home early), and we walked by a couple sitting out on the curb enjoying the fall day. They had a leather basketball with them (one belonging to one of their kids, playing nearby), and Murphy decided to start playing with it. I warned them that he’d ruin it, but they kept rolling it back to him, because they found his antics most entertaining. They couldn’t believe it when he punctured the outside leather and was able to pick it up and carry it…

We chatted for a bit, and since the ball was all slobbery by that time, they told me he should just take it home. I really didn’t have a good way to carry it, but Murphy would not leave it at that point, so I tucked it under my recently tattooed arm, and prayed we didn’t run into any loose dogs on the way back, since I couldn’t easily control both leashes with one hand (we didn’t, thank goodness).

So, Murphy got himself a basketball simply by amusing a couple while we were out walking. Silly dog.

That night, I thought about that sewing machine I’d seen earlier. I have sort of a “thing” with manual machinery…I am fascinated by it. I love that it requires no electricity to work, and that ultimately, one can figure out how it works and repair it to keep running indefinitely given enough time. Understand, I love electricity and how much it enriches our lives, but there’s just something about a hand/foot driven machine that is incredibly cool and inspiring to me.

In any case, while searching images for a machine like the one I’d seen in the thrift shop, I fell down the internet rabbit hole of vintage sewing machines – treadle machines, to be specific. And while I couldn’t remember the one I’d seen having a hand wheel of any sort, I became completely entranced with the history of sewing machines and treadle machine restoration and use. I read and watched videos and learned everything I could in a small amount of time about them.

I mentioned to my husband the next night that I’d become fascinated with them, and not half an hour later, he showed me an ad on Craigslist for an old treadle sewing machine that someone locally was selling. Taking that as implied approval of the purchase, I emailed the lady to see if it was still available, and then proceeded to look up that particular sewing machine and read everything I could find about it, including a scan of the original instruction manual.

This is probably as good a place as any to mention that while he was looking through the antiques section on Craigslist, he also found and pointed out to me an old LC typewriter that was available for sale. I love antique typewriters, and emailed that guy to see if it was available too.

After that, my husband quit telling me about cool stuff on Craigslist. 🙂

In any case, long story shorter, that treadle sewing machine (a “Free No 5” model) is now in my living room waiting to be restored with some sewing machine oil and elbow grease, and yes, it does work. The typewriter is also in my living room (the counterpart to my old portable Royal typewriter) where I can stare lovingly at it every day (it works too, but the spacebar is cracked/needs replacing, and it could use a new ribbon).

Then there are new bookshelves, too. Saturday morning, I started cleaning off the bookshelves in my office and piled all the books in stacks on my living room floor. All except my antique/vintage books, which went on the dining room table, and my stamp collection, which got piled in my writing chair.

Sunday I took the bookcases out of the office and put them in the driveway, and hubby installed the new bookcases he built in the office. They are big and bold and amazing…I love them so much. They still need trim, which will happen next weekend, and also drawers for the bottom cabinets, which will happen as he has time. But I put most of the books back Sunday night, and just need to move the antiques/vintage volumes back sometime this week. No, I didn’t inventory anything. No time! Will that project ever get done? Maybe, maybe not. Not in the near future, for sure.

So…crazy busy four days or so, but filled with so much groovy-ness that I don’t even mind being way behind on pretty much everything. I’ll catch up next weekend. And then start on the Halloween decorations…

Holidays, Book Inventory, Sleep, & Tattoos

Today is a federal holiday, which means I am not at work. Call it Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day as you like (or Thanksgiving in Canada – Happy Turkey Day, Canadian peeps!) – I’m happy enough to stay home either way.

I have some editing I want to get done…on paper, no less. So that will take up part of the day. I need to catch up on the food prep I didn’t get done this past weekend too. Breakfast burrioes, yogurt & dog treats all need to be made.

I also want to start inventorying the books in my office bookcases. I have three tall bookshelves at the moment, but my husband is building me a really nice wall unit that will have four bookcases on top of four sets of drawers below, and in the middle (two on each side) a charging station/small desk area where the new printer and all chargable devices will sit to juice up.

I’d like to put all of the books into an inventory program I bought for that specific purpose, and moving them to new shelves seems like a good time to reorganize and clean out the copies I don’t want any longer. It’ll take me longer than a day, so might as well get started while I have a little extra time. I need to clean off all the little knick-knacks that accumulate in front of the books too (just me? Really?), and find another place for my porcelain doll collection (currently on top of the old bookshelves). Some of that is on the agenda for today as well. I can’t sit all day, but I can’t be in constant motion, either, so having different tasks will satisfy that need for variety.

On sleeping: as it turns out, getting more sleep does leave me clearer-headed. Unfortunately, it does not make me want to move any faster late at night when I should be extricating myself from the couch/cuddling dogs to get the kitchen cleaned up and get to my office to write.

But, new habits and routines take time, so this week, I’ll just plug along trying to stick to the same routine. Hopefully it’ll click eventually if I just keep going. I did okay getting to sleep on time for the first few days, but by the end of the week, I was reading later and sleeping later and not hitting my targets, or feeling rested. It’s been hard to stay asleep too – I’ve been waking up earlier (at my “old normal” time), and then going back to sleep. Though this morning I woke up closer to the “new normal” time, so…progress?

At least I’m getting more sleep than I was, so hopefully it’ll turn into more deep sleep one of these days.

I did get some new words in on my novel drafts last week, and bought a new printer so I can edit on paper. This week’s writing update is over on the writing blog, if you’re interested in more details on that.

And I stopped at the tattoo shop this past Saturday to show my artist how the smoke-filler in my sleeve turned out, and he wants to add some more (I was hoping he would). So I have an appointment for Thursday at 1pm. Can’t wait to see how it looks after this next session! I think the extra filler will really make it look more “complete”.

After that heals, I’ll get a video/pictures of the whole thing. And then we can discuss the different pieces/parts, and how they ended up plotting the backstory of the novel I’ll be working on starting next month, for those who might be interested.

Now it’s time to make another cup of tea, throw open the blinds, wave my husband off to work and get going on the first editing session for today…

Sometimes All You Need…

…is a little “flip”!

Bonus points if you know the movie I’m referencing with the title & first sentence (whether I’m quoting exactly or not is up in the air, but if you know it, you’ll know it).
As you can see, I finished my writing office rearrangement last Tuesday, as per the plan. I can’t even tell you how much just having a clean, well-organized office has helped with the writing. Moving the table to the back wall insulated me from latent noise and activity in the living room, which made a big difference in focus, and just having a much cleaner, larger “open space” on the floor has made the whole room feel much bigger/less closed-in. The armchair is a very welcome addition, and I even used it a couple times last week for both reading and journalling. I think this is going to work very well for a long time. And the hubby is going to build bigger, nicer bookshelves for the “book wall” as well, so that will be much more organized in the near future too.

I also changed my morning routine last week, as I said I was going to. I got up early, played a few simple games to get my brain moving, had my matcha, did my workout, and then two mornings out of three, I had a full half-hour to write before I needed to jump in the shower and get ready for work. And I was awake enough to make productive use of the time too. I’m really going to try to keep that going this week. It was so nice being caught up by the end of last week, instead of behind!

One of the other two notable things that happened this week were that I got another piece of my right arm tattooed, which means I only have one more session, and this arm will be done. It looks great, and as with all the other tattoos on this arm, the new piece has inspired another part of the story I’m just itching to start writing. Soon, my pretties. Soon!

And the last thing is, I got my hands on a public beta of an android app for the first writing software application I ever used, and still compare every other piece of writing software to: yWriter. This allows me to use yWriter on my PC at home, and access (or even edit, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of that on my cell) all my notes and drafts on my cell when I’m not at home. It’s a game-changer for me, and I’m going to switch back to this software for all my writing. I may be posting more about that on my writing blog one of these days.

So, really great week last week. Here’s hoping I can keep the new schedule going this week…

Visiting the Past, Sunscreen & Written Lists

Our local Renaissance Festival was this past Saturday, so my husband and I headed out to ZooMontana to partake in the festivities. It’s always fun to watch everyone wandering around in period dress, take in a jousting match, watch the sideshows and do a little shopping at the vendor booths. I’m not one who would really want to live in that time period – I’m quite happy with indoor plumbing and near-daily showers, thanks – but I love the celebration and romanticism that comes with a ren faire. And one of these days I’m going to splurge for something chain maille…

Anticipating this event, I actually bought sunscreen for the first time in years. Last year I burned, and this year I have nice tattoos that I wanted to protect. So I spent far too much time researching natural sunscreens and ended up with naturally bug repellent sunscreen on my legs, and a natural odorless sunscreen on my arms. I put makeup on, since my powder makeup is a physical sunblock like zinc oxide, and off we went.

When we got home, I had a nice, deep tan on my exposed skin…except for the back of my neck. Which was bright, deep red.

Oops.

We had some shopping to do, so I took the opportunity to get myself a big hat with a brim wide enough to shade both the back of my neck and my nose the next time I find myself at an outdoor summer event (so…next Saturday morning). I’ll also be able to use it for yard work, so a good investment. Kind of a fun look too, if I do say so myself.

Yes, one would think I could just remember to put sunscreen on the back of my neck, but I never have, not once. And I always end up burning it. But I also always wear hats on the weekend (because I’m far too lazy to do hair/makeup), so this is just a matter of remembering to grab the right hat. Challenge accepted!

In other news, I’ve been making use of the Action Memos feature on my cell, and handwriting things like my daily to-do lists, writing schedule, and whatever else I need to keep track of. I still use digital calendars for repeating reminders and appointments, but there really is something about writing things out by hand that makes such a difference, mentally speaking. It’s weird, but for me, it’s working.

Which makes me want one of these “reMarkable” devices even more…but they’re on pre-order only right now, and not due to start shipping until next fall. I got burned for…a larger sum than I want to admit to last summer on a crowd-funding thing, so I’m really not keen on pre-ordering anything at the moment until I know someone else has already gotten one (or more, preferably). Naturally the price will go up once they start shipping, and I probably won’t be able to afford one then, so we’ll have to just wait and see.

Still, I think it’s very cool technology this company is developing, and a great way to combine the best of analog and digital especially when it comes to going paperless both at home and at the office.

And about the time I get one, someone will hit us with an EMP and we’ll all have to go back to paper anyways, right?

Viva la Renaissance! 😉

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.

Just a Few Things…

…because I’m dead tired, it’s later than I’d like it to be on Sunday night/early Mon. morning, and I have to be up and getting ready for work in 5 hours.

  • National Poetry Month is over – yay! I love poetry, really, but man, that whole poem-a-day thing was much harder than expected. A good exercise, but not one I’ll care to repeat anytime soon.
  • Amazon sent me an email advertising their new Prime “Sweets” program. Apparently you can order a button to put in your house, and whenever you press it, Amazon will send you a box of goodies. Um…does Pavlov’s estate know about this? And why do I suddenly want cheese?
  • I got a new tattoo last Wednesday – continuing on my Victorian/steampunk/dark story arm. I should post pics here, and will eventually, but for now, visit my Instagram or Twitter pages to see, or friend me on Facebook. It’s another skull cameo, in a top hat this time, and my artist added a monocle which I think just really completes the whole tattoo. It’s awesome. I love it. Next up – poison bottles.
  • This coming Saturday is Free Comic Book Day – yay! Hit up your local comic shop and/or bookstore to get a nice stack of free comic books. My local comic shop is The Splash Page, and I’ll definitely be stopping in sometime Saturday morning.

That’s it for now – gotta get some sleep so I can function on this predicted-to-be-rainy Monday.

A Really Good Day & Retirement Goals

I had some vacation time to either use or lose by the end of the month, so last Friday I played hooky from work. It was a fun and productive day, and I found myself wishing I could have more days like that, which is pretty odd for me with vacation days (I often end up wasting them).

I went to the archery range first, and…well, I didn’t do so well with the targets *and* ended up making my shoulder sore, which means my form was way, way off. I’m blaming it on the fact that it was morning, and I don’t generally do much of anything well in the mornings (aside from sleeping, anyway). It was still a lot of fun though, and nice not to have to worry too much about what time it was. In fact, I didn’t put my watch on once last Friday.

After that, I hit the tattoo shop (Ghosts of Grace Tattoo Collective), and while my tattoo artist wasn’t in yet, the new piercer was. I ordered some expensive but really high quality titanium bars for my industrial piercing (which will take four weeks to get in, so I’m glad I got them ordered now), which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile (I have rather small ears, so the shorter bars I need are hard to find online or off). Once those come in, Nicole can custom color them for me, which will be great fun, and I can get some matching sets of bars/hoops/curved bars for my various gauged piercings.

While I waited for Andrew to get in, I ran over to the grocery store to buy some frozen cut green beans for the dogs (I use them as treats, and we were out). It amused me to just buy the one bag of frozen veggies with cash. Apparently people don’t do that often, because the cashier looked at me a little strange. She could have asked, and I would have solved the mystery for her, but she didn’t, so she’ll just have to wonder…

Then back to the tattoo shop (we’re talking maybe three blocks away here, so not a long trip) to chat with Andrew and schedule my next session for late April. A reward for getting my taxes done (not that we ever get any money back to spend – we break even most years). He seemed excited to continue working up on my sort of Victorian skull cameo/lace arm, and I’m really excited to see what he comes up with for the upper half. It’s odd to think that in a few months, I’ll have a full tattoo sleeve (two to three more sessions). It’s an odd thing, to look at a blank piece of skin and know that soon, it will bear a piece of permanent artwork and will never be truly “bare” again. I absolutely want it, but it’s still sort of an odd thing to really wrap your brain around.

After that, I headed home, had lunch with my husband and walked the dogs. And then while the dogs napped, I sat down with my laptop in our nice quiet house (construction down the street notwithstanding), and worked on a short story until it was time to feed the dogs and make dinner. I really enjoyed writing that story. I was in the zone, and it was flowing, and while it needs some clean-up work, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. You can read the draft version (under  one of my pseudonyms) on the BSB blog, if you’d like.

It was a really good day.

This is something like what I imagine retirement to be like. Wake up slow, maybe run some errands (or work on some household stuff), have lunch, get out and walk the dogs, and then sit and write for a few hours before dinner. Glorious!

When I was in high school, I always wanted to be in college, and I took a lot of time for granted. When I got to college, I just wanted to get out because I was working three, sometimes four jobs to pay my way through and taking several classes every semester. I barely slept, ate on the run, and could not *wait* to have a normal, 9-5 job where I could just go home in the evenings and crash.

Now I have my 9-6 job, I have my evenings for dinner, hobbies, working out and even a little writing, but I’m greedy. I want more time to be “mine” again. And that won’t happen until I’ve paid my dues and finally reach the golden age of retirement.

It’s good to have long-term goals, don’t you think?

Until then, I’ll try to have as many of these “really good days” as possible. I mean, I like my job, don’t get me wrong. But finally being able to set my own schedule is my “Eleanor” (or unicorn, if you prefer).

Hand in hand with that, I need to remember that while having a stockpile of vacation days is good, it’s kind of like collecting nice dishes and then only using them on special occasions. If you have something, you may as well use and enjoy it, rather than waiting for some special event or date.

More random vacation days, perhaps?

That Could Cause Cancer, You Know…

…and water is wet, and the sky is blue.

But we’ll get to my rant on supposedly well-intentioned cancer warnings in a minute. First, a bit of blog news:

If you were/are a fan of my blog serials, I have good news! I’m around 6 chapters into my next romantic suspense novel, and I’ve decided to serialize it again. One chapter every Friday, right here on the blog. Keeps me motivated and accountable, even if I know there are only two people reading. And since I rarely look at my stats (too lazy), I can pretend there are at least two people reading, which keeps me writing. Ignorance/fantasy is bliss, you know.

So, if you’re interested, stop back on Friday for Chapter 1 of…hmm. That’s a pickle. I should probably pick an actual title for this book, eh? I’ve been calling it Rattlesnake Falls Book 1, because the series will be Rattlesnake Falls, and this is the first one (I know, so logical). But I haven’t come up with an actual title for it yet. I’ll think on it, and hopefully have one by Friday.

I currently have subscription options for either “all posts” or “non-fiction only”. I’ll have a “fiction only” option as well by Friday, so those who prefer to get each chapter (but not these rambly weekly posts) via email can do so.


Alrighty then. Admin business done, now back to the rant o’ the week:

As I understand it, cancer isn’t really a disease so much as a cell mutation, and the things that turn it on/off are varied and individual to specific people depending on their own genetics and lifestyle. Cells mutate, and those mutated cells spread through the body and left unchecked, it will eventually kill us. Odds are incredibly good that a high percentage of us will eventually be killed by cell mutations (cancer) at some point (hopefully very late in life when our bodies are worn out, but that’s if we’re lucky).

Why am I thinking about this, you ask? Because I was challenged about my tattoos twice last week, and one of the arguments used was “tattoos can cause cancer, you know – and especially lymph node cancer”. The reason that last part was tacked on, obviously, is because Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma runs in my family, and it was an attempt at emotional manipulation. Scare tactics. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it, nor do I respond to such things all that well.

There are a *lot* of things out there that can cause (trigger, really) cancers. And we have a lot of warnings all over the place alerting us to that danger. The main cancer that runs in my family is genetic, and has a tendency to hit the same oldest (or only) child of the family in the same place on the body (lymph nodes at the side of the neck) at the same time in life (one week before a 50th birthday). It’s been very predictable for at least three generations on my dad’s side, and I’ve lived a great deal of my life knowing that one week before my 50th birthday, a lump will probably appear on the side of my neck, and it will be my turn to get radiated/chemo-ed/poisoned/whatever-the-current-treatment-happens-to-be in order to keep my body from killing me in the process of turning into a giant mass of monster-cells.

We humans are nothing if not hopeful, though, and to that end, I’ve done and continue to do a lot of things in order to reduce the risk of my genetic switch from “flipping”, or at least to prolong the process. With the occasional lapse, I workout fairly regularly and do my best to keep my weight under control (all previous generations where the cancer triggered, the “victims” were quite overweight). I eat as healthy as I can stand to, which is pretty healthy and includes a high-fiber, low carb diet, I stay away from most extra sugars, all artificial sweeteners, and I try to keep my indulgences to a minimum. I drink the equivalent of six cups of tea per day, no sugar added, and I do my best to get a proper amount of water for good hydration.

I read labels religiously, do my best to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in skin care, makeup, soaps/cleaners, household cleaning products, and personal care items. I use herbal-only hair dyes, and my nail polish is all “big-three-free” (which means it has less toxic chemicals, but it’s still not perfect). I don’t use plastic water bottles or storage containers if I can help it – everything is metal, glass or ceramic. I stay away from commercial drugs as much as possible, and use herbal/holistic remedies whenever I can.

You’d think I’d be confident in my ability to prolong or circumvent my family’s genetic curse, but honestly? I have no idea whether or not any of it will even help. And there’s a very good possibility that nothing I can do will stop that genetic mutation from triggering in my body in exactly the same way, at exactly the same time as my dad, and his mom, and her dad before that. Even if I can prolong it, there’s no guarantee that it won’t trigger differently, maybe at some other time, in some other place. That’s the thing about cancer. If the genetics are there, there’s no guarantee that anything we do differently will ever be able to stop it from actually manifesting.

I have tattoos. One of the few things I indulge in knowing full well that it isn’t the healthiest thing for my body, and that some of the pigment particles *will* settle in my lymph nodes. And I fully plan on getting more tattoos. Because I love them, and because no one can guarantee me that any of the things I do to keep my cells in line is actually going to work against my base genetics. I could live as pristine a life as possible, and still end up with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma one week before my 50th birthday. Or, the curse could mutate differently in me, and manifest as some different sort of cancer at some different time of my life too. Earlier, later…impossible to say. The potential is there, dormant (hopefully) for now. The possibility that something will eventually trigger it is high. If not my tattoos, it will be something else.

At some point, you have to just stop worrying so much, live your life, and deal with things as they come.

Well, you don’t have to, I guess, but it’s sure a lot more fun/less stressful than constantly worrying about every single thing that could go wrong and trying to control things that really are pretty much out of your control.

I’m keeping the tattoos and nail polish, thanks. My two main unhealthy vices, and the nail polish has been one since I was a young kid, way before they thought about things like avoiding toxic chemicals (nail polish is derived from automobile paint, you know, and then there’s polish remover, of course…), so I’ve certainly absorbed my fair share of those along with all the tattoo pigments.

Yes, I know tattoos could/may trigger cancer, thanks. I’ll take my chances.

Holiday Tidings & Looking Back

Everyone have a merry/happy holiday this weekend (even if just celebrating “the weekend”)? If you’re reading this, you probably survived, at the very least, so congratulations to all of us on that!

As usual, I’m glad Christmas is over, and today I will be taking down our tree, putting ornaments away, and returning our house to it’s normal state. Maybe even cleaner, though that might have to wait until next weekend. I’m all about leaving the past in the past, and moving forward to whatever possibilities lie ahead, and that includes leaving Christmas in 2016, and having a nice calm, clean(ish) environment to bring in 2017.

It’s not Feng Shui, by any means, but it works for me.

I’ve been thinking about the past year (as I generally do this month), and while much of it can be summed up simply as “good riddance”, it was definitely a year of personal growth as well.

Last year, I distilled my resolutions into sections for Personal, Work, and Writing, and just three goals each. The goals I made public (ie, not work) are:

Personal
– Read *every day*, even if just for 10-15 minutes.
– Treat hobbies with the respect they deserve.
– Engage in more analog, tactile activities

Writing
– Write three novels in 2016
– Write eight short stories: two per quarter for each pen name (just writing under two this year)
– Focus on just two drafts at any one time (one novel, one short)

I wasn’t perfect on any of these (naturally), but I did pretty well with the personal goals. I don’t perceive my hobbies as “second jobs” any longer, I’ve done a lot more analog/tactical things on the weekends, and some months have been better than others, but I do normally get some reading in at the end of each day. So I think we can call the personal goals a success.

The writing goals are a whole ‘nuther story. Pretty much all of those were a complete failure, and that’s because I was off in a totally wrong direction which pretty much killed any motivation I had to write. It sucked, put bluntly. I’m finally writing again, but only after getting to the point where I could drop the “wrong direction”, do a 180 degree about-face, and start over with writing things I actually *want* to write. It was a rough year in writing, but again, a learning experience. At least I’m writing again now, and that’s all that matters.

On my work goals, I managed to complete one (big) goal, I did well with another until half-way through the year, and the other one is still a work in progress. So…we’ll just call those a “draw”. Which isn’t bad, considering all the upheaval/change that went on in my workplace this past year.

So I got a win, a lose, and a draw for the year. Realistically speaking, I think that’s pretty good.

As far as personal growth goes…the whole writing debacle was a big learning experience. It’s difficult to distill it down into words (ironically enough), but I learned a lot about who I am, what I want to do with my writing, and what I don’t want to do, and I had to come at that from a creative/artistic headspace rather than a logical one (which is my default). Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but it does feel like a much different mindset to me.

Of course that means that the logical, business side of my writing suffered a bit, but I’ve had to admit that I just don’t have the time/energy to keep both the writing and the business moving forward by myself at this point in my life (when I retire from the day job, it will be a different story). So I hired some help, and I’ve learned to let go of control on a lot of things I would have taken care of myself before. That’s alleviated a lot of stress for me (granted, there’s stress involved in having someone else help out too, but not as much). I plan to continue doing that next year, and focus on the writing, rather than the business side of things.

One other major area of personal growth for me is in body modification (tattoos and piercings). I suppressed my desire for more tattoos and piercings (more than the well-hidden tattoos and piercings removed for professional perception) for many years for several reasons, and this year, I finally decided to stop “normalizing” myself and start indulging in the mods that make me happy and express outwardly who I am inside. I’ll do a longer post on this eventually, but it was a pretty major turning point for me – something I started a couple years ago, and finally had the “guts” to go all in with this year. Not everyone in my life is all that excited about it, but it makes me happy, and more importantly, it’s me being true to who I am and what I like no matter what others think. The whole world gives lip service to that from the time we’re young. It’s taken me awhile to work up the courage and confidence to actually start living it.

I had some major personal growth periods at work too – mainly in deciding and solidifying what direction I want my career to take, and what kind of work I do and don’t want to do. It was kind of a rough growth point because once again, I did the complete opposite of what nearly everyone close to me (and some not close) thought I should do, and it’s always hard to feel like you’re letting people down or turning down good opportunities. But hindsight/perspective is always clearer, and several months later, I’m 100 percent certain that I made the right decision, hard as it was at the time. I like my current job, I like what I do, and I like where I’m at in my career and the direction I’m going.

So…a very stressful, growth-filled year. I’m hoping that 2017 will be a little easier/less stressful all around – I could certainly use a little break, methinks.

Next week, I’ll share my goals/resolutions for the new year. I do love a nice, fresh starting point, and January 1 is a very convenient and “logical” one. 😉