Category Archives: Everyday Life

Ebb and Flow of Life

This week has been soul-sucking busy! Ideal storms collided between needing to update content for training I facilitate and responsibilities for developing and implementing a new process at work. The result? Zero writing time. I could lament, but this is the reality of being an adult with responsibilities. I can’t lie though… I did lament, especially when my late-night writing time was spent catching up on the day-job when all I wanted to do was write. The truth is, there are some weeks that life doesn’t lend itself to being a productive writer. Sometimes it’s the day job, sometimes it’s being a mom with active kids, sometimes it’s just that my hair and lash appointments ended up in the same week because I wasn’t thinking big picture when I found an open spot on my calendar a month ago. I won’t always be this busy, a fact I had to remind myself of in order to get through the week.

I wanted to pout and be mad when I couldn’t go to the park yesterday with Hubby and the kids because I was working. Instead, I poured an adult beverage in protest and kept working. My life feels crazier than normal, but I realized I’m doing a lot more that has to be crammed into the same available hours in a week. My fault alone that I can’t relax on the weekends like I used to, refueling and recovering before doing it all again the next week. I could give up my volunteer work with The United Authors Association, but I believe in their vision so deeply that I can’t bring myself to do it. I could quit my day job, but how would we pay the bills? I could stop writing, but how would I stay sane? I’m only happy when I have that creative outlet, and this whole new level of insanity is because I decided I wanted to write professionally instead of just a hobby.

My fitness tracker keeps telling me I haven’t met my sleep goal. As if I didn’t know! I haven’t sat on my couch in over a week and I’m grateful that I require my children to help with housework or it might never get done. But this is the life I’ve created and it makes me happy (when I’m not pouting). The human tendency might be to wallow in the fact that I couldn’t write this week, let another week slip past without it, and easily get out of the daily writing habit. Instead, I stole some editing time between classes when I was guest presenting at Big Sister’s school Friday. Because half an hour of writing this week was better than nothing. Life goes on, ebbing and flowing, regardless of how we react and deal with it. Here’s hoping next week is better!

What are you doing today to live the life you love?


Priorities – the evolution of time management

I realized that, as much as I am online lately, I have been strangely silent on social media the past few months. It wasn’t on purpose and I wondered how it had happened. When and where did my habits shift? I’m an analyst by nature, and by trade, so it made sense to do so. Self reflection and checking in on what I’m doing to make course corrections in my life path are pretty second-nature to me these days.

So what did I find?

I’m busier than ever before – as a mother and a wife, being a writer, at my corporate job, as a volunteer – and have had to further prioritize everything in my life. This is a trend that started years ago and continues to evolve.

The first thing to go was television. It grew from an “ah-ha!” moment when I heard another author answer a question about how he found time to write with a snarky comment about figuring out what was more important: writing or watching television. These days when people ask “did you see…” I always say no. Thanks to the wonders of Netflix and OnDemand programming, I do watch a little television; mostly the shows Hubby has vetted and deemed extraordinary, but it takes me a year to watch a couple of seasons. The time I got back from my life by giving up regular television viewing is staggering.

Last year I had to change my habits during football season. I’m a huge fan – NFL and college. I’m one of those women who is watching the game even if Hubby isn’t home. (Thank you, Dad, brothers and grandpa!) But gone are the fall Saturdays where I lounge on the couch snuggled with hubby watching our favorite college teams, and the Sundays of NFL games. Not to mention Monday Night Football. And yes, sadly, even Thursday Night Football. The games are still on and Hubby still interrupts with “you’ve gotta see this!” while he’s rewinding live television. But, now I’m usually multitasking in front of my word processor and look up only occasionally for a replay. It was my last hold-out of regular television viewing, and justified in my mind because it is a relatively short season each year. The time I got back from giving it up last year was the difference between having time to finish a novel or not. I’m currently revising that novel.

My social media habits have undergone similar evolution, also influenced by writing. First, I’ve had to change my criteria for engaging with ‘friends’ online. Now that I’m out there in the public eye, people I don’t know seek me out. I’ve had to throw out my cardinal rule: if I don’t know you well enough to say hello if we run into each other at the store, we aren’t close enough to be online friends. Knowing that casual acquaintances are seeing my updates unconsciously influences what I choose to share. Next, I’m heavily involved with professional organizations centered around writing and publishing. Using Facebook to interact with these groups has become my main use of the app. I’m online – a lot – but in secret groups where only those who also belong get to see what I’m up to. My brain didn’t translate that the type of activity I’m engaging in was different and failed to allocate an increase of resources to compensate. Frankly, I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. Well, and my corporate job started blocking Gmail and Facebook, eliminating my ability to multitask in small increments of two to three minutes over the course of the day.

Recently I read an article related to how much effort authors should invest in engaging with social media to sell their books. It was well written and had me thinking about all the effort anyone trying to sell a product gives to social media – and how much time it can suck from what is really important. What if we all just used these sites to connect with real people and create meaningful relationships? What if Twitter was really a feed about what’s going on with life and not a constant barrage of people trying to sell me something? It has become so much noise, no one listens anymore. What if all the time we spent online were better suited somewhere else doing things more essential to our happiness? I know I’ve been more productive since my habits have changed even subtly so I’m sticking with the trend.

I wonder what will be next in this incremental evolution in focusing my efforts toward productivity and efficiently in all the areas that I’ve deemed matter most in my life. Or have I reached my full capacity with all the things I’m doing now? Last weekend I was at a family gathering with my siblings and their families. During the reminiscent viewing of a movie we used to watch with our mom – over and over – I found myself reaching for my laptop to work on a certification test I have coming up. Is this just my nature now, to evaluate what the best use of my time is in every moment? Time will only tell. For now, my time management has evolved to a great place where I can commit to saying ‘yes’ to unsolicited invitations to submit stories to publishers. Life is good but only if you make it that way!

 


Back on the roller coaster – why my kidneys can kiss my a$$

It was December 2014 and I was looking forward to getting off all of my medications after a year of remission under my belt. I gleefully said goodbye to immuno-suppression drugs mid January and hoped never to look back. But the Universe is a nasty bitch and it appears I do not get my wish. Within two weeks my symptoms returned and I had to start back on maintenance drugs. Drugs which I have had to increase the dose of already hoping it works. Today my doctor laid the ground work for the potential of going back on immuno-suppression if the higher dose doesn’t keep things at bay.

I know it could be so much worse. I could be looking at chemotherapy (which she still has on the back burner just waiting for me, I fear!). I could be in renal failure looking for a transplant or facing dialysis. Instead, I’m taking a drug that has only one side effect of lowered blood pressure and won’t damage anything if I take it forever. But I’m back to living with the roller coaster of sodium restrictions, fluid restrictions (bye bye proper hydration, it felt amazing while it lasted!) and daily water weight insanity where I gain a pound a day of water until my clothes don’t fit and then take damaging diuretics for a couple of days and start the cycle all over again. I love roller coasters but this one I could do without, thanks.

People, do not take your kidneys for granted. While I’d like to tell mine to kiss my ass on a daily basis, I really would be happy if they just worked the right way every day. Can’t we all just get along inside this body of mine? It’s been two years since I’ve eaten meat (well, there was that one indulgence, but it was only a bite!), I’m a pseudo vegan who just eats cheese and butter occasionally, and I don’t eat eggs or shellfish except on extremely rare occasions. Why is that not enough? Because I’d probably have nothing to bitch about if everything worked fine, right? I can’t imagine the shape I’d be in if I wasn’t willing to go to such extremes to take care of my body the best way possible. And I can’t help but be envious of others in my gene pool who couldn’t care less about what they eat or drink and still have perfect numbers in their blood work. You know who you are. And yes, I secretly loathe you for your perfectly working kidneys that I’d give almost anything for.

If you need me, I’ll probably be asking a million questions at every meal that I don’t prepare myself to insure I’m meeting with all my dietary restrictions, or doing yoga so I don’t lose what’s left of my mind. Oh, and writing. I’ll still be writing!


Collision of Worlds

For years I’ve been a writer. A solitary writer alone in my house, celebrating NaNoWriMo wins with my family and handful of writing buddies. Last month, that all changed. Now I’m published, with everything surreal that comes with that: an author profile on Amazon, a Goodreads author page, books to sell on my website. Nothing prepared me for the strange meshing of my previously separate worlds that this has created.

A few weeks ago I attended a training class for my corporate job. First order of business was to introduce ourselves, share our role in the company and something interesting about ourselves. There’s nothing I think about more right now than having my first published work out so I didn’t think twice in saying “I’m a published author.” Comments ensued, even a question on what I write from the the instructor. Moments later we’d moved on to the next participant and whatever his interesting thing was. Two hours later during our first break, a stranger I’d never met made a literary reference to one of my micro-fiction stories. It caught me so off guard I almost didn’t get it. Almost. Since stories are tiny pieces of a writer’s soul, I picked up on the reference quickly. He had Google’d my name, found my website, and read my stuff. It was interesting enough he wanted to ask me about it. It still gives me a rush.

Just as surreal was signing my name to a hard copy of my first book; both the signing and the fact that folks wanted me to do it. I never imagined this feeling but here I am experiencing it. I got a limited number of copies from the first edition print run and I already sold all of them. Not just to my family, probably the most surprising fact of all.

I am a writer in all phases of my life now. Not just when I’m at home or away from my daytime job. What a world I’ve stumbled into where I get to discover all the things I didn’t know I didn’t know. I’m loving every minute of it!

 


The Third Birthday That Almost Wasn’t

I’ve gotten good at living in the moment and appreciating every day as if it might be my last, each milestone a cause for pause and celebration no matter how small. I turned another year older in January which marks the third birthday that almost wasn’t. What a year it’s been on so many fronts.

Being published brings a new level of insanity I had no idea awaited me. Promoting a book is more demanding work than creating the story in the first place. The editing process was a whirlwind and consumed most of the holidays. Now we are neck deep in blog tours and article writing and cross promoting and networking and planning the unofficial release party at LTUE next week. I did more writing in January than any January on record but the majority of production was NOT on my current novel. How to keep up with everything and still continue to produce the next book has become the latest thing I need to learn. Regardless, I wouldn’t trade the experience and the thrill for anything. I have an author page on Amazon. Seriously. Amazon. I still wake up sometimes and forget it is real. I’m published.

This year also brought me a new association of authors and thrust me into the non-profit world. It is an amazing group and my closest friends from my writing group are part of it. Bonus! The group happened to put together a lunch on my birthday. But, I have a demanding day job so I couldn’t make a Wednesday lunch work. I was sad, but that’s life and the day job pays for it so what can you do? Unexpectedly, my calendar opened up and I had the afternoon free so I took it off to celebrate my birthday. It was the perfect lunch full of tiaras, signing each others books, group photos, selfies and raucous conversation certain to make fellow diners uncomfortable. “How many does he have?” “Did she leave him?” “I had to kill her off last night.” I’m certain the fifteen of us all talking over one another was like a tornado in an otherwise subdued setting. We hadn’t all been together since before the holidays and it was a loud reunion. It was the perfect start to my birthday. I sat there in the midst of award winning authors, successful editors, non-profit founders, a lawyer and just plain powerful writers all brought together because of our love of writing. I marvel that they had become my people. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

I came home to my new business cards in the mail. I’m official! Everything is moving at the speed of light careening me deeper into this life of my dreams. It still feels surreal. If this birthday had been stolen from me back in 2011, none of this would have happened.

2015-01-21 15.55.40

For my birthday I got a sparkly “Birthday Girl” tiara from one of my friends. It started with a mention and snowballed into a new thing we do. Writing fueled by a tiara on your head. All the most bad-ass chick writers I know are doing it. Enough of us we’ve formed a collective. I may or may not have more than one. I’ll never tell! Maybe this is the key to figuring out how to promote and create at the same time. (How did I ever write in solitude before?)

The best and most freeing part of this birthday that almost never was is owning the new number proudly. I am forty-three. Something about being faced with the real possibility of never seeing the number get bigger than thirty-nine makes it much more of a celebration to see forty-three. It is liberating not giving a shit what the number is. So many people cringe at the thought of disclosing their true age. I say own it – the alternative to that number getting bigger as we get older is far, far worse. I know FORTY THREE never felt better. I’m loving every minute of this stolen year I am grateful to be celebrating. Here’s to many more to come!


Business versus Craft – the 2015 conundrum

There are only so many hours in every day, no matter how effective you are at using them wisely. I’m not sure whether it was a funk I was in over the holidays while I grieved celebrating without my mom, or a mild case of burnout. More than likely a tad bit of both. I spent the last week making a conscious effort to get myself refocused. For the first time, I wrote down writing goals for the year. Measurable ones with dates and everything. Which someone said makes them far more concrete. I’m not really a written goal kind of girl but yearly goals are part of my corporate job which shapes my efforts over the course of the year. It was not surprising to find myself in the same kind of mind-set thinking about my writing. I have taken my hobby to a professional level and it just flowed naturally to set yearly targets for productivity.

I have some lofty goals for 2015: two novels and several short stories by the end of the year.

The reality is, if I want to achieve these goals I am going to have to step things up even further this year. I’m going to have to start saying ‘No’ to things… I’ve been involved in creating a new non-profit organization the past few months and it took a lot of time. Time I could have been writing. (No surprise that I’m also on the pro tempore Board of same, right?) But it was because of my involvement with that group that my first story will be published so I have to believe it was worth it. I’ve been trying to juggle so many things that some of the balls I’ve got in the air are bound to fall on the ground, try as I might to catch them. Gone are the days where I could say yes to everything that I spontaneously thought sounded fun and then find a way to work out all the details. Now, it’s called prioritizing and I have to do it before the fact. Instead of lamenting, I’m thinking how great it is to have these business-related problems. It means I’m a professional which will help in getting to the next level. A level I can’t fathom at this point but which I welcome nonetheless.

I’m working on a new ITIL certification at my corporate job called Service Strategy (it’s an IT thing, it’s okay if you don’t know the reference, google will). One of the principles I thought fitting for my current situation is: ‘Strategy is deciding what not to do’. Basically putting what your business plans to do in perspective of what you have time, money and resources for, and what you don’t.  I never thought I’d be using my corporate job skills in my writing career but here I am, doing exactly that. Hours of time to allot for writing is the most precious of commodities right now for me. I can either use them for writing or networking or marketing or creating new and exciting ventures that benefit the community and advocate literacy. But I won’t have the time to devote to each of them that I want. Maybe I’ll win the lottery and I won’t need the corporate job anymore. I find myself day dreaming about how much I could get done at work if my only job was my writing. But I can’t dwell on things as unlikely as wining the lottery.

As a result of my introspection, you won’t see me at FanX, probably not at ComicCon either. Plus, I’m being selective on which writing conferences I attend this year. Because that gives me three more weekends to devote to marathon writing sessions where I practice the craft that helps me excel in my business. Truth is: without my craft, there is no business. If I’m not writing and producing products intended for consumers, all the rest of my networking and marketing efforts will be fruitless in the end.

Now, more than ever, if you need me I’ll be writing. I’ll sure miss watching football, since I’ve already given up the rest of television. Perhaps I should buy stock in a coffee supplier just for safe measure? I will certainly need my share of caffeine in the coming months while I watch 2015 unfold. Stick around, there’s always hindsight when we can’t have a crystal ball!


My Wife is a Writer

This is the week my little family typically heads to a beach somewhere to get away from the Utah cold and reconnect with each other; no school, no work, no dance and no pressures of everyday life to interfere. This year we booked a trip to a more expensive exotic location later in 2015 and instead are enjoying a week of staying home from the day jobs while the kids are out of school. Lots of heavenly reading, watching movies together and hanging out with family and friends – in sub-zero weather.

The other night, Hubby and I ditched the kids for a rare evening out alone at our favorite Tai place. There was a large group of women who were having some kind of a celebration. Nothing obnoxious, but the typical noise of many people talking over one another was unmistakable and added to the festive ambiance of folks out on their holiday errands. As we were leaving, we walked past their party, which was breaking up, and Hubby (who talks to everyone everywhere) asked several of the ladies if it was girls night out.

“No, just our book club” one of them said.

And with one sentence, my husband completely rocked my world…

“Really? My wife is a writer!”

It is rare for me to be speechless but, for a moment, I was. As if in slow motion, all eyes turned to me with that shine that all readers must have when they meet a Real. Life. Writer. I know that’s how I used to feel before I spent so much time with other authors that they have become commonplace. Several of them asked “what do you write?” and I recovered my wits quickly enough to answer “Science Fiction, mostly”. But their reactions were not what caught me so off guard.

I’ve been married for twenty years and my husband always introduces me as “my wife who works with computers” or “my wife in IT” or “my wife who drives a forklift” which was a funny inside joke when I worked in IT for a heavy equipment dealer. This was the first time he’d introduced me with five little words that knocked me sideways: My wife is a writer.

As we walked the rest of the way to the car, me grinning ear to ear and obsessing about what else I could have said like any neurotic writer would, I realized that more than what I do with my free time has changed this past year. My efforts to “someday” be a writer have brought me here, where my someday is now in the present. Who knows if I’ll ever write a novel that most people have heard of, or sell thousands of books. But it doesn’t matter. Because I’m living my dream of being a writer.


The evolution of November

December is here and with it came the end of this year’s NaNoWriMo. So many things have changed for me this year. The drastic shift started back in February when I decided to start actively pursuing this insanity called publication. So I shouldn’t be surprised that NaNoWriMo and the part it plays in my writing has also changed. This year I’m not working on a new story, I’m revising an old one so I can sell it soon. That’s the plan anyway. Even knowing that’s where I’m at, I still feel guilty that I didn’t “win” this year. That’s how much a part of me this silly thing I do every November has become.

What did I do in November INSTEAD of finishing NaNo? Lots of things…

I’m working with some amazing authors to create a non-profit organization for writers with a community and collaborative focus rather than book sales. A professional organization for writers like no one has ever created before that gives back to members at all levels as well as the public at large. It’s super fun but part of me wonders why I gravitate to being in charge of things rather than just being a participant. Not in my nature apparently. It doesn’t feel like work, but if you add up all the time I have put into it, I’ve done quite a lot the last month toward this collective vision that we hope will be amazing.

I submitted a short story to a very prestigious writing contest for as-yet unpublished authors. Wait, I know I’ve been hinting at publication news for a while now but I still don’t have a signed contract to purchase my story. It is slotted for a short-story collection due out next year but until the deal is done and signed I’m not talking about it as a past-tense reality. Doesn’t mean I’m not super excited about it, I just don’t want to jinx it. Yes, deep down I’m a neurotic writer. See? This contest comes with cash prizes for the winners and some pretty impressive writing credentials if I’m a finalist – including publication. But I won’t know until months from now. And we all know how impatient I am. Luckily I have things to take my mind off the waiting. This was one of my specific goals for this year so checking it off my list was a pretty significant milestone for me.

Because I do have a pending deal, I must have a “real” website with a URL that doesn’t include “blogspot” or any of the other free sites. In other words, I have to get legit. So in all my free time (ha!) I’m building a website to migrate my blog to. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to follow me when I go and, if everything works out the way I hope, all my past content will come with me. We’ll see when I get to that point. Building websites is not a job I want – full time or part time. It kind of sucks. I’m really good at what I know and having to start over with an associated learning curve is frustrating.

Because I have to get legit, I had to get professional head-shots taken so I can use them everywhere people expect. Prompted by a deadline for said pending publication deal, I had to get them done ASAP. Imagine my horror when I found out you can’t use your smartphone to take a selfie and use that. I was a photographer in a past life before I started writing and I’m better behind the camera than in front of it. However, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. It helps to have a long-standing relationship with a photographer you trust… Voila! Big hair to match my big personality.

Hubby said the other day, when I was apologizing for all the time I’ve spent away from normal family life lately, that it was to be expected since “writing isn’t a hobby anymore”. Imagine that. My hobby isn’t a hobby anymore, it’s a business that will someday pay off. I have no delusions of ever replacing the lucrative income from my corporate job but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

I let a beta reader take a gander at my story that’s getting ready for public appearance. She immediately started drilling me about the world I’d built and characters I’d created that had already become real to her. She needed answers and she needed them now. Guess I better get cracking on THAT novel soon, too.There are now more stories and novels in the pipeline than I ever thought possible.

When I look back at where NaNoWriMo has taken me, I’m okay with my Novembers evolving into something different. Maybe next year I’ll be in the first draft arena of another story so I can participate. If not, at least I’ll still be writing!


Life without judgement

It has been almost two years since my brush with death changed everything about how I live my life. The difference in myself was very stark this past weekend at the annual family reunion with my mom’s extended family. All the cousins who were my best friends growing up – and still are – plus their spouses and kids all gather at a resort with a water park and spend the weekend playing in the sun together. It is always a blast and I always have a fabulous time but usually it is accompanied with lots of internal stress and dialogue about having to be in a bathing suit around others who are more “-er” than me… younger, thinner, prettier. You get the picture.

This year was different. This year I never once looked in the mirror with a critical eye – or at all come to think about it. Nor did I constantly look for strategic ways of sitting so I looked better (as if that way even exists since your body is your body regardless of how you sit). I just had fun with my kids without a care in the world. No cover-up included!

We spent hours – literally – walking back up the hill and the stairs to the top of the water slides, all the adults taking turns sliding with all the different kids – my own, my nieces and nephews and my cousin’s kids whatever they would be called in the genealogical sense. Several times I thought with gratitude about how far I’d come in a year – from being physically incapable of it to rocking all the cardio without losing my breath in the process.

It made me think about all the people I’d ever compared myself to in the past to make myself feel better and wonder what things they could say they had overcome to just be where they were. Kind of humbling when you think about it…

A month ago I had my yoga world rocked to the very foundation. Weeks later, I’m still discovering things in my practice that are transforming and growing from that one ah-ha moment when I realized that I don’t use my entire foot for anything. It occurred to me this morning, while my 147 pound yoga instructor sat on my sacrum to illustrate how to stretch my straddle deeper, that if you’d told me three years ago that yoga could still be fresh and new every week that I wouldn’t have believed a word. And that the old Terra might have given up after that ah-ha moment because the inner voice would have convinced me that I was no good at yoga. Instead I’ve left all expectations of everything at the door and find joy in the newness of re-learning every pose differently. As I always say, yoga is a journey not a destination. I’m consciously having to take my own advice not to judge myself against anything – including myself from four weeks ago when I never used my heels. Now I know how people can practice yoga for a lifetime and I love how every trip to the mat brings new insights about myself – all because I leave the judgement out of it.

The biggest hope I have is that my girls will see me just as their mom and remember only how much fun they had doing things with me. I already know they don’t see me as I see myself. Once I called myself fat and my oldest looked at me funny and said “you’re not fat, Mom.” Which stopped me in my tracks. If you haven’t read this article about When Your Mother Says She’s Fat , or watched this ad about doing things “like a girl”, check them out. They both helped me see where I was my own worst enemy in putting myself down because I didn’t measure up in the areas society focuses on.

In the grand scheme of things it is more important to live every moment regardless of how we feel about ourselves – especially when faced with the reality that every day might be your last. If you wait to enjoy life until you’ve lost that last 20 pounds (or fill in the blank with your own demons) it might be too late to make the memories you are putting off. Your kids could be too old, you could be too old, or the opportunities could have passed you by. Make every moment of every day count, no matter what. And leave the judgement out of it!


The power of a deadline

I work well under pressure, always have. But I still prefer to steadily work backward from a set deadline – no matter what I’m working on. Big projects at work, short stories, group endeavors, and of course my novels. It is why the slow and steady approach to NaNoWriMo works so well for me and so easily translated to an all-year writing habit. The reality of my life is I’ve usually got about ten different irons in the fire. As long as I juggle all of them effectively I am able to do everything. Hence the overachiever aspect of my life. Focus too much on one thing and others start slipping, so to speak.

I’ve recently put a new iron in the fire with my writing group that requires a lot of coordinated effort from each of us. Something we’ve been cooking up for several years and finally have the resources and know-how to do really well. (Sorry, I can’t share details yet but when I can you know you’ll be the first to know – and it is so exciting!) In working on this project I observed that my way of handling a deadline is not the only effective way. Which got me thinking.

One of my partners called the other side of this coin hyper-focus. Which can be described from my observations as abandoning every other aspect of life to zero in on only the one project with the most pressing or imminent deadline, working tirelessly through to completion. I’ve been chipping away at my to-do list for the overall project for several months while it seemed no one else was worried about theirs. At all. Yet we managed to pull it all together with a big push the past couple of weeks which resulted in meeting our deadline. I’m in awe of those who can do this. Because I cannot. Interestingly, the majority of our group can and do work this way. Minority or not, I much prefer my slow and steady approach. What’s your preference?

Regardless of how you deal with a deadline, procrastination is never your friend. One sign for me that I might have too many irons I’m juggling is when things start slipping. I have a submission deadline next week – mid week. I realized on Monday our family reunion is this weekend, not next like I thought which still gave me plenty of time to prepare. So instead of hanging out at home for a marathon writing weekend to finish up my revisions, I’ll need to be in crisis mode next week to make it happen in time. *sigh* Bring on the coffee and the sleep deprivation! And perhaps I’ll pack that laptop for the weekend trip after all since a little multitasking never hurt anyone. No one will notice, right?


What have you done with your life?

Someone once asked me “what haven’t you done?” It was right after I mentioned one of the things I used to do but don’t anymore. It got me thinking about all the stuff I’ve done over the course of my life. Recently I read a very witty bio for a fellow author that listed a few very diverse things she’s done in her life that showed an impressive and broad spectrum of achievements. Which of course prompted me to write my own list so I could feel good about myself instead of feeling dull by comparison. It was such an interesting exercise that I figured why not share it? So here’s the list for your viewing pleasure. In chronological order of course, because my OCD demanded it. Those in italics indicate things I still do actively. Now you can really believe me when I say I’m an overachiever…

Daughter
Sister 
Friend
Student
Reader
Pianist
Dancer
Camper
Skier
Seamstress
Electronics geek (circuit boards and soldering)
VICA State Officer – High School
Writer
Debator / Orator
Fast food slave
VICA President – SLCC
Baker
Retail clerk
VICA State Officer – College
College student – Communications major
College student – Flight Technology major
Flight school coordinator
Pilot
Tennis player
Biker (of the motorcycle variety)
Guitarist – Dreem Raage (garage band)
Wife
Dirt biker 
Receptionist
Golfer
Accounts Receivable Clerk
Voice of an interactive phone system
Aloette Sales Rep
Janitor
Aunt
Customer Support Rep
Coffee drinker
Mainframe Operator
Smoker
System Administrator – Tandem/NonStop
Operations Manager
Trainer
Technical writer
General Ledger Accountant
Quilter
Mary Kay Independent Distributor
Photographer
Wedding planner / consultant
Reiki Practitioner Level 1
Mother
Home owner
Web developer
Office Manager 
Witch
Realtor
ATM Network System Manager
Non-Smoker
Dance Mom
Book club member
Blogger
Project Manager
Writing Group founder/member – Once Upon A Keyboard
Systems Analyst
Knitter
Runner
Novelist
Ragnarian
Yogini
doTerra Wellness Advocate
Survivor – Kidney disease and pulmonary embolism insanity
Website designer / collaborator
Yoga instructor

So, what have you done with your life? I hope your list is full of accomplishments and growth as you age like mine is. Lots of things I don’t do anymore helped point me to the things I do now that I love. And I don’t regret any of them – well, maybe I regret smoking a little bit since it was so hard to quit.

Bottom line, there’s no excuse. Ever. Tomorrow isn’t promised so don’t wait for that elusive ‘someday’ before you do what you’ve always wanted to do. Nothing is guaranteed beyond today so whatever you do make it count.


Someone please invent a machine to give me more time?

Ramping up the overachiever work-load. That’s how you could sum up my life last month. I tackled an extremely difficult certification class at work because why not, they would pay and it pads my resume quite nicely. As a result, many things didn’t happen the last couple of months because there simply wasn’t enough time. Unfortunately, one of those things was my writing because studying took up my writing time and there just isn’t any way to squeeze more hours out of the day.

Then I started looking around and seeing other things that I have unconsciously trimmed out of my life. My garden tops the list. Sure I planted a couple of rows of peas but I don’t even know if they produced anything. I had shallots and onions come back from last year but I never harvested any of them after the very first one I pulled out in early May. I bought seeds to grow corn and then never got around to planting them. I noticed this giant weed the other day and figured out it is the couple of carrots I failed to pull out last year because they were tiny and not worth the trouble. Now they’ve gone to seed and probably rotted under the dirt. Buying vegetables is much more effective for us since we don’t have the space to grow a big variety and we all get really bored with the same two or three things after the first month anyway. Or that’s what I’m telling myself so it’s okay I have no time to garden.

I’ve also watched very few movies and very little television the last few months. Not a lot of TV isn’t a new thing but Hubby and I watch tons of movies together – it’s been our thing since our first date. So it really sucks that I haven’t made time to watch many of them this summer. Then I realized that’s also because we are out riding our motorcycle together during some of the time that we would have been watching movies before and it doesn’t make me so sad. I’m still sharing an activity we both love with him so it’s okay.

Let’s not mention how sporadic my blogging has been lately… and how I thought I was still posting at least weekly. 

I’m morphing even more into a person I don’t recognize with the introduction of tennis lessons for Baby Sister that happen every morning – before work. Remember when I was so in shock that I was capable of doing yoga in the morning once a week? I not only did an hour of yoga this morning, I also did an hour of tennis lessons and a dentist appointment for a cleaning – all before 9:30am. Inconceivable! But it still happened.

I’ve got two major writing deadlines looming in the next couple of weeks. Not including the new commitment I made to my writing group last week to get one of my manuscripts ready so I can get it out on submission for publication by next May. An important step so they can keep me on the hook to do what I say I’ll do. Good thing I’m really fabulous at juggling life and have uber perfected the art of overachieving or I might be a little more stressed. Still, if someone could possibly come up with a way to squeeze more hours out of the days I would really appreciate it!


The Art of Reading Multiple Books

It’s no secret I love data. And I’m OCD. So I especially love data that I can track for historical trends. Which are just a couple of the reasons I love the site GoodReads. It lets me track what books I’ve read, what I thought about them, which ones I want to read, plus all that info about what my friends are reading, too. (If you are a reader and you aren’t a member, you should be…) This week I noticed something that seems insane even for me: my “currently reading” list contains FIVE – yes, five – books. And yes, I’m actively reading all of them. Which certainly begs the question: How do you read five books at the same time?

I’m a gadget geek so I have an iPad, an iPad mini (that I grudgingly share with the family), and an iPhone. Well, two of them actually since I also have one for work… but I digress. And I’ve got books on all of them. (Don’t judge, I know I’m addicted and that’s the first step. Or so I hear!) Here’s my secrets to reading multiple books at a time:

First, I’m always reading a book on my iPad via my Kindle app. I’ve got at least one of my iPads with me at all times and, if I’ve got a minute of downtime, I’m reading. Sitting in waiting rooms at doctors offices or my monthly lab visit, eating lunch at my desk, wherever I find myself sitting still for more than a minute, I’m reading. I also end my weeknights with a chapter (sometimes more) in bed right before I turn off the light to go to sleep. Plus my favorite; over morning coffee on the weekends.

Next, I’ve always got a book I’m listening to on the Audible app on my iPhone. At minimum I listen when I’m commuting to and from work or any time I’m alone in the car. If it is one I am super involved in, I’ve got my headphones on listening while I’m doing mindless things like vacuuming, dishes or laundry. Sometimes I love the current Audible book so much that I get caught up on all my laundry and find myself wishing I bought clothes that required ironing so I’d have something else mindless I could be doing. I also listen to my audio book whenever I’m walking/running unless I’m with a friend.

I’m usually working on the monthly book club selection in conjunction with my own leisure reading. Which means that the week or two before book club I’ve either got two audibles or two ebooks I’m splitting my time between. 

Lastly, I’ve usually got at least one book I’m reading in print, lying somewhere in the vicinity of my desk at home, that I’m not reading as quickly. Currently, that book is a grammar book. Yes, I’m a geek who reads books on grammar. But, I’m a writer so it’s okay. Don’t judge. This is usually a book that I’ve either picked up in print because that’s the most affordable way to acquire it or someone has lent it to me. Or, it’s the book we are reading in my book club at work. We read a chapter or two at a time and discuss weekly. Because of this slower pace of discussion, it can also be a slower-paced read which works out well.

Typically, these four situations are the norm. My ‘currently reading’ list always fluctuates between three and four books. Guaranteed. Right now, my life is beyond the normal level of hectic since I’m working on a new certification at work. This means I’m also trying to read a textbook cover to cover in a matter of weeks in preparation for testing. Five is not a normal load of reading but that’s how it is right now.

I look back a few years, when I was lamenting about how I could barely manage to read a book a month to keep up with my book club, and chuckle. In true overachiever fashion I figured out what ways I could multitask those things I have to do in life with the things that I want to do. Reading is essential to my happiness so I found the means. What things do you make time for regardless of how crazy your life gets?