Articles

Hittin’ the Reset Button

It’s been awhile since I took a vacation from work – over a year, as a matter of fact. I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been a seriously crazy year both personally and professionally, and I’m taking the whole week off just to regroup and get my head back on straight. Or as straight as it ever is, anyway. Murphy’s Law being what it is, there are a zillion things I could allow myself to be dragged into and distracted by, but I’m holding firm, and declining any obligations or invitations other than what I truly *want* to do. Honestly, I may not leave the house Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday at all.

Wednesday afternoon I’m giving myself a Christmas gift – a new tattoo. It will be on my left forearm, which means my week is naturally sort of dividing itself into “things I want to do before my arm is swollen and sore” and “things I can do without using my left arm much”.

Needless to say, the first half of my week will include a bunch of crocheting I’d like to get done (and some movies, while I’m at it). The second half will include reading my way through my comic book backlog, finishing off a novel and starting another one. I have some writing and editing I’ll work on the first half of the week as well. Maybe even the second half, if the swelling isn’t too bad.

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a lot of different interests, many of which I really want to pursue “right this second”. I used to be able to get away with spreading myself pretty thin, but things change, “life” changes, and priorities have to change along with everything else. It’s just the way things go. I’ve been doing a *great* job of stressing myself out with all the things I want to do, vs. the things I need to do, vs. the things I feel like I need to do for health or other “noble-sounding” reasons.

The stressing out needs to stop, and the only real way to make that happen is to decide what’s most important to me, set the rest aside (even if it’s just for now), and make sure that what I keep doesn’t exceed the time and mental energy I have available. Easier said than done, in some cases, but I’ve already made some progress on that this weekend, so I’m optimistic.

I also need to get back to regular daily workouts. I’ve done well with keeping up the morning yoga, but my nightly workouts (and daily stair-climbs) have been completely tossed aside. And I wonder why the stress is getting to me…

Now, for my first stress-free, Monday vacation act, I shall sleep in (it’s around 1am as I type). And it will be glorious.

 

Silk & Snail Mucus

“Oh man,” I can hear you thinking as you read that title. “She’s really gone off the deep end now…”

And you would be right, but that’s not what we’re discussing today. Although I have to admit, I nearly didn’t use this title on this post, because as soon as I typed it, I thought, “That would actually make a great book title…” I still might use it, actually. The deep end, indeed. Join me?

ANYways…

I was recently reading Jezebel (yeah, I know – judge all you want), and one of the regular features is a beauty box run-down. You know, those monthly delivery boxes that are all the rage these days? I have been getting a tea box that has just now been discontinued (sad, but I was having trouble making it through that much tea in a month – I’m seriously backlogged and I drink a *lot* of tea), and I still get a monthly yarn box from my favorite eco-friendly online fiber shop, Darn Good Yarn. Their claim to fame is recycled silk yarn…the factory remnants from making silk saris in India, and they also sell said saris as well as oddball yarns made from things like banana fiber (which is seriously soft and silky, let me tell you).

I’ll be honest, the yarn isn’t the easiest to work with, but it’s funky and fun and I love it. And I love getting that monthly “surprise” of sensory deliciousness too. For a not-so-touchy-feely-person, I cannot resist the feel of silky or fuzzy fiber across my fingers. Mmm, mmm, good.

I used to have a couple of real silk shirts (short-sleeved button-downs). I loved, loved, *loved* the feel and drape of them. Sadly, I am really not good at caring for things that require hand-washing…

In any case, back to Jezebel and the Beauty Boxes (sounds like a somewhat risque band, eh?). In this particular round-up, one of the things our intrepid blog reporter was most excited about was…snail mucus.

Apparently, it’s a “thing” over in Korea to collect the slime trail from snails (the snails are supposedly not harmed), and use it to make concoctions that are supposed to heal small wounds and blemishes faster – like pimples. According to said reporter and several people in the comments, this actually works. Who knew?

What I want to know (really!) is…who was it who thought it would be a good idea to put snail slime on your skin? On purpose, I mean. Did someone study the chemical composition of snail slime and think, “hey, this would work great for getting rid of pimples!” Or was someone just laying out in the garden (do they have gardens you can lay in in Korea?) when a snail crawled across their face and instead of jumping up and flinging the snail off and getting all grossed out (you know, like a normal person probably would – ohm…), they just stayed still and let the slime sink in, and then later realized, “OMG! My skin looks great! It must have been that snail that crawled across my face! I should tell everyone!”

Or was it one of those bets in a bar one night – you know, one of those “hold my Redd’s and watch this” sort of things (do they have Redd’s Apple Ale in Korea? Or hard apple cider? Things that make you go hmm…)?

“Bet you wouldn’t let this snail crawl across your face!”
“You’re on – gimme that!”
“Hey, your skin looks great! We should market this! Think if we eat the snail, it’ll cure tomorrow’s hangover, too?”
“I don’t know…any French people here we could ask?”

I’m gonna get crap for that one, aren’t I? Yes, Americans eat escargot too, but the word itself is French, so…

Yes, I know. Google could probably hook me up with the right answer on how snail-slime-as-beauty-treatment was discovered in a matter of milliseconds, but sometimes it’s still fun to ponder and pretend that we don’t have all the knowledge we could possibly ever want (and plenty we really don’t) at our fingertips. Don’t you think?

No, I’m not planning on trying snail mucus for my complexion (or anything else) anytime soon. And I’m not having escargot for dinner either – I have a pork roast in the crockpot, thanks. But I may sign up for one of those beauty boxes. Ironically, the one that appealed most to me was one mentioned in the comments – Goodebox. Because…goodies. In a box. What could go wrong?

Aside from snail mucus, I mean…


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes

Of Grapevines, Sheets & Colored Pencils…

Two things tripped me up quite literally this past weekend – grapevines and sheets. I ended up on my butt both times, and I have scrapes, bruises and sore spots all over my poor, abused body. This is a side-effect of something called “ambition” mixed with “distraction”. And it’s funny how every time it happens, I’m reminded of  one of my art teachers in college, who used to insist that we practice “mindfulness” whenever we were creating art.

As mindful as I can be when I want to (I have great ability to focus), he never saw anything at all remarkable about any of the artwork I did in his class, and I was always so very confused as to what it was, exactly, that I didn’t have. I still am, for that matter. I have many talents, but creating art from pencils, pens or paint is apparently somewhat beyond me. It’s probably the same indescribable “thing” I keep looking for in my writing. As I’m far more motivated to keep writing than to explore most other forms of artwork, perhaps someday I’ll find it on a digital page somewhere…

It’s so easy to judge a piece of art, whether painted or drawn or written or constructed, and say whether you like it or not. Whether it speaks to you or not. Whether it has that subliminal quality that takes it from paint or ink or lead or yarn or marble or words to something on a slightly different level.

But it’s nearly impossible to actually describe what that “something” you’re looking for is, and because of that, it’s also impossible to know whether you’ve put it into your own work or not. To add more complexity, other people may or may not see something you cannot see for yourself, in work that you’ve created.

“Art” is a very odd & subjective thing. Mindfulness, not so much.

Enter the colored pencils.

I scoffed when I saw that the trendy new “thing” for adults is coloring. Crayons, pencils, markers, and adult-oriented (no, not *that* adult, though I think you can get those too) coloring books filled with intricate designs and patterns to be filled in however we see fit.

I scoffed, because I am not five, but my fingers and the less-logical part of my brain seemed to think it looked like a very relaxing activity to both focus on and be distracted by at the same time. Like solving a jigsaw puzzle, with less brain-work. The only decisions to make would be what color to use next, and where to put said color. That’s it. No following a complex written pattern, no active reasoning or logic needed, just a very simple task of applying color to already drawn shapes.

So I overrode the logical, adult part of my brain and ordered a couple of coloring books for my husband and I to share, along with a couple sets of colored pencils (in case we both wanted to use them at the same time). And last week, hubby and I started coloring (again).

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. It’s a fun, almost hypnotic craft project that does allow the mind to sort of just wander along as the pencils scratch over the paper. I like seeing the black and white patterns start to pop as the colors are laid down. There isn’t any right or wrong, and it’s a pleasant way to sort of just “reset” and relax for a bit. I like the smell of the pencils.

Still, I’m not sure whether it will be a long-term thing, or just a short-term trendy diversion. There are plenty of other relaxing things I want to do and get back to, now that day-to-day life is sort of stabilizing again. That is one thing about coloring though…the materials needed are very few, and the time commitment need only be whatever time you have. I can’t say that about most of my other hobbies.

I also can’t color while watching TV (not and actually get any coloring done). I can, however, knit and crochet, which I plan to get back to this week. Finally.


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes

Tuesday Musings: On Chaos, Project Distraction & Tea Pictures….

The Sweater Project - half done.

The Sweater Project – half done.

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. Monday was…well, chaos, from the time I got up (20 minutes late), to the time I remembered that I’d forgotten to fill the supplement boxes for hubby, Lucy-dog and I, moving forward to when I realized that writing a post, but not getting it scheduled the night before was a serious tactical error on my part due to extenuating circumstances, and on into a work project that suddenly had to be done *right that morning*, and then on to working on something ongoing that is…well, we’ll just call it challenging on a good day. And yesterday was not.

Here’s the thing about my whole stress-ridden Monday: sure, there were a few annoyances out of my control, but most of it could have been avoided had I just stayed organized *before* Monday hit. I could have scheduled my post the night before, like normal. I could have filled the supplement boxes Sunday night. I could have gotten to bed on time, so I didn’t sleep through that extra 20 minutes, and the work project that was all of a sudden due yesterday morning? I knew about it/had the information I needed and could have gotten it done a couple weeks ago so it was ready and waiting (which was the initial plan). I just let it get pushed aside for other things one too many times.

All too often, personal chaos is avoidable with a little forward thinking and discipline. And when I learn how to be consistent with that, I’ll write a book about it and make a million bucks. Until then, well, I’ll occasionally have majorly chaotic days. Though I did modify my schedule somewhat to account for a few of the things I missed last weekend, and this post will be neatly scheduled before I go to bed Monday night.

Part of the reason I was distracted this weekend was that last week, I broke down and splurged on some hand-dyed/handspun wool yarn from a friend in Wyoming. It came in the mail last Friday, and as soon as I saw/felt it, I knew I wanted to work with it right away – no stash time for this yarn. Long story short, I decided to make a sweater (my first – progress pictured above), and spent most of my weekend modifying a pattern to work with the amount of yarn I bought and then crocheting one entire side and part of the other (chunky yarn + a big hook = quick project). Sunday night, I was faced with a dilemma. I could finish the sweater and push back all the prep work for Monday, or set the sweater aside and get my less interesting household & book/blog tasks done.

I begrudgingly put the sweater aside, and decided to get to work. But I didn’t actually get anything done. I tried to start my blog post several times, but had no idea what to write. Tried to find a book sample to send to a narrator, couldn’t, gave up. Thought about starting some promo art or a cover for the draft I just finished, and just…didn’t.

I should have just finished the dang sweater. My mind is like that. When I know I’m close to finishing a project, I just want to focus on that and get it done, to the exclusion of all else. It’s like that with drafts, work projects, crochet projects, household projects…you name it, if I’m near the end, I want it done and over with, yesterday. And I can’t really focus on anything else until I get that particular project done. I know this…and yet, I still persist in working against my natural inclinations…and it never ends well.

Can I say definitively that if I’d finished the sweater, I might have been more focused in doing the other tasks afterward, for less chaos on Monday? No, I can’t…but I suspect that would have been the outcome. Someday maybe I’ll remember I wanted to test that theory and actually find out…

Now for something completely unrelated, but interesting nonetheless, in my opinion.

I’ve finally jumped into the Instagram web space (just JamieDeBree if you want to look me up there – because I’m original like that), now that I have a cell, and that makes taking/uploading photos incredibly easy. As a text-loving geek, I’m doing my level best to find my way in an increasingly image-ridden world, and as a tea-snob/lover, I’m also trying to work my way through a bunch of monthly subscription teas that have been piling up on my counter. So I started posting a tea break photo in the evenings when I make tea before I come back to my office to work.

Odd though it may be, the tea photos actually seem to be the most popular pictures I post. Isn’t that crazy, especially given the number of people who seem to truly hate food photos of any kind? Apparently, a lot of people like the looks of a good cuppa, and I can’t say I blame ’em. Still, kinda weird. But cool.

2014-09-08 22.49.58-1

And on that note, here’s to a far less chaotic Tuesday all around, eh?


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes