Where did you go?

Where did my Muse go? The so-called creative angel that’s supposed to whisper inspiration in my ear so the words flow onto the page. Where is she? I haven’t felt her presence in a long time. Her voice was drifting in and out for a while. Then a writing friend died maybe a year ago. It’s like he took the words with him. Maybe he was one of my muses. If he was, he’s welcome to haunt me.

Some writers say they have to just sit down and do the thing. No matter what. I can’t force the words out like that. If they don’t come of their own accord I get frustrated. Then nothing on the page works. Once I reach that point I have to walk away and do something else for a bit.

But when the words do flow it’s like music. I usually write to music. Something to fit the mood of what I’m writing. I like to write with headphones on. Helps block out distractions. I have a lot of ideas for stories based on song lyrics. Lately, I’ve been thinking about writing song lyrics. They were my first venture into writing many moons ago.

At this point, I don’t care what I’m writing as long as something hits the page. I did write something recently for work, which we don’t have to do very often. Maybe once a year. I realised how much I had missed it. Felt good to have my hands on the keyboard again for something outside the norm.

Not all of my creative process has gone astray. I’m still crocheting quite a bit. My Pinterest boards are overflowing with ideas. Probably more than I can ever make. I usually have a project queued up while I’m working on one. Sometimes two. Writing crochet patterns can be very satisfying but it’s a different feeling from writing fiction.

I try not to make resolutions because nobody keeps those. I do like setting goals. So my goal is to write more posts here for the next couple months. Start with that. Try to rebuild my writing muscles. Hopefully I can draw my Muse back. And if Glenn wants to help me from the other side, I’ll be listening.

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New Year, New Goals

I’ve written about resolutions before. I don’t like calling them resolutions. Nobody keeps those. Few people are able to last far enough into a new year to say they kept those pesky New Year’s resolutions. We get all excited at the ball drop or drink too much and have high expectations for what we think we can accomplish. And then we go back to work.

Reality sets in. It’s cold, rainy or snowy, or you get sick right after the holidays. You have to deal with taking down all the decorations on top of it all. You may be worried about paying for Christmas if you maxed out your charge cards. Your stress is climbing if you keep thinking about it. Those resolutions are getting pushed further and further out of your mind.

Stop. Just stop stressing yourself over it. Resolutions are fine but not realistic. We should all have goals. And not just at the beginning of the year but throughout the year. Realistic goals that don’t cause our blood pressure to rise unless it’s with excitement. There are some ways to keep your goals attainable.

Make them something you can achieve so you don’t feel like you’re never going to get there. If buying a Bugatti is 3 years worth of your salary, doing it this year is probably not going to happen. Get real. But if you do need a new car, plan for something that you can afford and will be able to work into your budget this year. Then you can save for the Bugatti later.

More achievability: say you want to save money for a vacation. If this is something you usually struggle with then you need to take an honest look at where your money goes. Buying high priced coffee on the way to work every day? Take-out more days than you cook? More drinking nights out with the buddies than hanging out watching a game on the couch? There are always places you can find where you can cut back on spending. Take a close look at where you money goes. Write down everything you spend and do for a month then go back and look at it. You may be surprised at where the money is. Then you can decide what to start cutting out so you can start planning that sweet little beach trip.

Another trick to keeping goals is to have accountability. Have a partner. Someone who can help you stay on track. If you’re trying to lose weight, have someone to work out with. If you live with someone who can help you, plan meals together and shop together if you can. Cook together and when you sit down to eat, turn off the phones and the TV and talk to each other. A big part of accountability is keeping communication open. If you talk to people about what you’re doing and they talk to you, you’re a lot more likely to keep it up.

Also consider time frames. Is the goal something that needs to be done within a certain amount of time? Are you trying to lose 20 pounds before a reunion or a wedding or some other event? Are you trying to get the garage cleaned out before movers show up to take everything to a new house in a month? Even short term goals should still be planned. Use a calendar or planner and keep it where you can access it quickly and daily to track your progress. Make notes on where you are and what your next steps are. That leads me to my next point…

Write down your goals. Let me say it again. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS! Make a big board with pictures and encouragement. Put twinkle lights around it. Put it where you will see it Every Day! You need the reminders that you have something to work toward. Keep telling yourself that you want this, and that you can make it happen. Make small versions of your sign and put it in several locations: your car, the bathroom, on the fridge, at your desk at work. Put them anywhere you need the reminder of what you are working toward.

Goals are good. We all need them. Professionally, personally, spiritually. Whether it is to learn a new hobby, a skill, trying new recipes, to read more books, or to write more books. We should all have something we want to do. Being stagnant is for ponds. Be a flowing river, ever changing, ever growing.

Is it December Already?

November was National Novel Writing Month. I was helping my local writing group go crazy trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For each person. How crazy is that? Pretty normal for us writer types, actually. 

But that means today is December 1st. Time to deck the halls if you haven’t already begun to decorate for Yule or Christmas or whatever you call it. I like to call it Yule but I’m old school like that. You know, before Coke cornered the market with the jolly old dude in the red suit. But let’s not get off track waxing poetic about commercialism. 

The year is almost over. Are you ready for making resolutions to pretend to keep? Or do you prefer to call them goals? How do you plan on keeping them in the coming year? Now would be a good time to start thinking about what you would like to work on and how to implement those changes. Think of them as goals instead of resolutions. Goals are something you can work toward, with progress points along the way, giving yourself high fives and encouragement as you go.

Set a plan. Make it happen. You got this. 

Something New

So I’m trying something new. My doc put me on a diet. That dreaded four letter worddoodle everyone hates. The resolution nobody can keep. But here’s the thing: I’ve never actually gone on a diet with any intention of following it. They’ve either been too expensive, too far-fetched, too restrictive, too…something.

But this time everything the doc and I discussed leading up to that four letter word actually gave me some hope that making some “dietary changes” would have some positive effects. And once all my labs come back, I’ll probably have a new medication to go along with it. So I’m not going into this with as many reservations this time.

It has taken a long time to get to this point because previously the regular docs have all just told me to drink more water and exercise more and eat less. Well, that doesn’t work for me. No matter how much I exercise or how little  or what I eat, I stay overweight. I’m insulin resistant. I finally got a doc to refer me to a specialist who’s trying to find out why.

I’ve joked for a long time that my family tree has rotten roots. Sadly, this is no joke. Both parents were diabetics with heart disease and kidney disease. The odds are stacked against me. I already have high blood pressure. That, coupled with insulin resistance and an irregular menstrual cycle, means I most likely have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which I was diagnosed with in 2000 or 2001. But there are a few other conditions that can have the same symptoms which is what the specialist is testing for.

This mash-up of symptoms, especially the insulin resistance, causes weight gain and it is damn near impossible to take it off. That’s why the new doc has put me on the Keto diet. And I’m doing my research, looking at food lists and menus, printing out recipes, clearing out stuff from my fridge that I can’t have anymore. And I’m already getting into that mindset of “oh wait, I can’t eat that.” Like when we had Pumpkin Spice Everything Day at work and someone was passing out mini muffins. I didn’t think twice about passing on those. But I did get excited about finding a pumpkin fat bomb recipe in one of my Keto recipe books.

So I will give this diet a chance. And hopefully it will become a full-blown lifestyle change once the doc gets his labs back and decides what the next steps are. I’ve been a very round girl my whole life. It would be nice to be just a slightly curvy girl for the rest of it.

 

Rebounding from Fear

TAXES! CANCER! VOLDEMORT! 

There! I said all the scary words.

I realized today that once you put a name on something it can make it bigger, scarier, more recognizable. For a long time I just thought I was having back and hip pain. Now I know I have sciatica and scoliosis. Those are scary words that come with medicine and tests and shots. The words make them more real. Before it was just pain that I could try to ignore and work through and go about my business as best I could.

Now I know that I will have pain if I forget my medicine. I know I will have follow-up appointments to keep in the coming months. There will be other doctors to see.

The point is that we let things grow until they overtake us. But do they really need to? If we are getting on with our bad selves before we know the names, do we really need to stop living our lives once we know those names? I saw a new doctor today who said he was running tests for a lot of things including a brain tumor, of all things. Does he really think I have a brain tumor? No, but he needs to rule it out. Does it scare the hell out of me? Yes, but I’m not going to let it change how I’m living in the week or two while I wait on test results.

To paraphrase my favorite nerd, fear of the name only increases fear of the thing. Learn the names, yes. Do research so you know what it is, yes. But fear it, no. Stand strong in knowledge and get on with your bad self.

When is Enough

Was talking to a friend in the wee hours about financial stability. I have never felt like I have had it. I grew up with parents who did not know how to budget. Often grandparents would pay the power bill or buy groceries. It was common for the parents to argue over money.

I ended up marrying and later divorcing a man who also did not know how to budget. He could make money but he went through it like water. And with the examples I had I certainly didn’t know. It wasn’t until after the divorce and I was living on my aunt’s couch that I learned how to budget my money. And how to keep my bank account in the green. I didn’t have a lot of bills while I was with her but she taught me more in that time than I had learned in the 36 years prior.

Yet here I am. A decade later and I feel like I can barely support myself. I do not feel financially stable. I am way too close to 50 for this. I’ll be honest. It makes me nervous.

I’m not afraid of working. I put in my time every day. But it’s not enough to live on. And finding a job at my age is not easy. I have good benefits where I am so I’m not going to just leave without having something to go to either.

All that being said, I’m tired. Tired of worrying if I can afford housing. Tired of worrying about my car breaking down. Tired of wondering if my boyfriend and I will ever be able to move in together. Tired of wishing for more than a room at my friend’s house.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have to be Oprah level rich.

I just want enough that I don’t have to worry about having enough. Ever. Again.

Finding Veronica

I’m not sure why I came up with the name Veronica for my muse just now but we’ll roll with it. At least until she shows up and decides if she likes it.

Yep, she’s gone AWOL. I haven’t heard from her in a while. Well, I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. The ideas Veronica and I generate are not missing. It’s more like

women-arguing-2_orig

Veronica and I are not on speaking terms at the moment. I’m not sure which of us is to blame for that. Or if either of us is to blame for it. Blame is an ugly word. Let’s not us that.

Veronica and I are…socially incompatible at the moment.

…that sounds just as weird. *sigh*

This is November. It’s National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. I’m supposed to be letting the words fly from my fingertips and writing fifty thousand words or more in 30 days. This is my second blog. Do Facebook posts count? Granted, there was a death in the family last month but I have had no desire to write. Not like I used to. Historically you would find me with no less than two notepads of various sizes and half a dozen pens in multiple colors. People know me for this so well they often gift me with writing paraphernalia.

At the moment, I might have a pen or two in my purse. My phone has a notepad app on it but I’m not sure I have a piece of paper on me other than a tissue. How does this even happen? I have felt distanced from my writing for a while now. For a long time, the writing was an escape for me. I don’t have as many things I need to escape now. I’m not sure how to channel the same energy into the writing now that the emotional need is different. I’ve tried really hard not to let go of the writing. When I look back at some of the things I’ve done, I really like the work I’ve done and think it would be publishable if I keep at it. But then I don’t do anything with it. I don’t write anything else. Veronica does come knocking. I get more ideas and I do write them down so I don’t lose them. But they don’t grow into anything more. It saddens me to see notes scribbled in a notebook between shopping lists waiting for me to shape them into characters and plot.

Sometimes it feels like I don’t know how to get motivated. Which is absurd when you think about it. As many blogs as I’ve written about how to get your ass in gear over everything else, I should be able to figure this one out. Yet I here I sit with Veronica looking over my shoulder wondering why I’m not working on the idea she gave me. Hopefully she won’t get too mad at me.

November

Much has happened since I wrote you last. Most notably I lost a family member whom I loved dearly. I can not express how important it is to tell your people you love them.

It is equally important to take care of yourself. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Eat smart, drink plenty of water, get enough rest. And for the love of all that’s sacred in your universe, stop smoking.

The onset of my aunt’s health issues began a year and a half ago. In 18 months she was hospitalized at least 6 times where she was put on a ventilator. After 30 years of smoking her lungs and heart were so damaged they couldn’t recover. She had other health problems, too. But the smoking was the one thing she couldn’t get control of. It always controlled her.

Take control of your health. Do something good for yourself each day. Drink an extra glass of water. Stretch an extra 10 minutes. Skip the second helping. Get up and dance for 20 minutes. Take a walk with a friend. Meditate. Sing in the shower. Sing with your kids. Read a book. Paint a picture. Visit a museum or a park. Anything that engages mind, body and spirit. Just get moving!

Life is a beautiful thing. Make time to live it.

Pardon the Dust…

My apologies for taking so long to write a new blog. Life happens. But I’m here now. Last night I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It reminded me how much I miss the words, how much I enjoy the words for the sake of them. It’s not just for the escape from whatever situation I find myself in. I’ve always loved a good story, a peculiar turn of phrase, a unique voice. Whether it’s written, sung or on screen give me something new and different and odd. Make me laugh, cry, both, sometimes at the same time. The language is as important as what is being said. King just celebrated his 70th birthday. Many dismiss his writing. While I can’t read a lot of it because he scares me, he does remind me why I wanted to be a writer to begin with. There are so many possibilities, more than I could ever hope for in any mundane day job.

I’m listening to the new song by the Foo Fighters, The Sky is a Neighborhood. More possibilities. So many doors to open. It won’t be so long before I post again. Pinkie swear…

Denial

Lately I’ve been studying something new. Well, it’s not totally new. It’s a topic that I’ve flirted with for a long time but I’ve been…wary of. The few instances I’ve had close encounters with it have  been very personal and intense. Those reasons alone have made me block out much of my own talents in regards to this topic. And yes, I am intentionally being vague. It’s something many people view as a pseudoscience. They think it’s bullshit. But once you’ve actually had experiences with it you know that it really does exist.

I’ve had those experiences all of my life. I wasn’t allowed to talk about them as a child and learned to hide them, to not react when they would happen depending which relative I was around. You see, one side of my family believed in it and the other did not. But certain talents run in the family, an inherent skill for this particular topic makes us super sensitive to it. The problem I’ve run into now is that I’ve blocked those skills for so long that I’ve almost forgotten how to use them. Until I came across this class.

shapesI’ve felt for a long time like something was missing, like something just wasn’t quite right. My last couple of jobs haven’t felt like the right match even though I’ve been with them for quite some time. I feel like I’ve been searching for something, as if a part of me has been missing. I had no idea what. Late one night the pieces started to fall in place and the hints all lined up. I got the point. I followed the clues.

They led me to the classes I’ve been studying over the last couple of weeks. Self-paced online classes that I can devour because I’ve finally found what my soul was seeking. I have been very excited over these classes. I even started with the longer one because I knew the one I really wanted might still scare me a little, even though it teaches you how to not be afraid of it. Denying ourselves, denying who we truly are can make us sick. It’s unhealthy to force ourselves into situations that we don’t want to be in. That’s why we end up with stress, anxiety, high blood pressure.

Remember those toys with the different shapes that you have to match the right shape to the correct opening? Yeah…people work that way, too. You have to find the right place or your soul will not fit and you’ll be miserable. You really do have to make your own happiness.