13 May 2015

Walking in this world....

I finished working my way through The Artist's Way last week, and started Walking in This World immediately after. I don't know if it's recommended to do that or not, but I did. And I'm glad I did.

One of the things I liked about The Artist's Way is that it continually reminded me of why I am a writer, and why I pursued a creative life and career. And the more connected I felt with my writing through the encouragement and insight of the book, the more at peace I felt in my life.

So I decided to just keep going with Walking in This World.

The first chapter is about starting from where I am and doing whatever I can to be creative. It was what I needed for this week.

Many days I get bogged down in where I think I should be with my writing and life and everything else. But I'm so, so much further than I was ten, five, three, one year ago. I've written more words and made more professional connections and bulked up my portfolio and made lots of progress on the coffee house book.

It's okay that I haven't published a book (yet) and that I'm still working toward buying a house and a new car. It's okay that I probably won't retire early and have to work long hours for now to reach our family goals.

Because this is the path that I'm on. No one else. The only race I'm running is with myself, to be better than I was yesterday.

So every day, I choose to start from where I am and keep moving forward.

And that's how I'm going to win.

11 May 2015

I am an expert in....

Last Friday, the lovely Mom to the Screaming Masses posted about things she's an expert in, challenging her readers to identify their own lists.

I think looking at ourselves as experts in areas of strength, we can focus on what we do well and what we can be proud of instead of continually getting bogged down in struggles.

So challenge accepted, MTTSM.

I am an expert in....

  • coffee. I drink it a lot. Like...a lot a lot. And I was a barista at a small, independent coffee house when I was in college.
  • writing. I have a degree in English, and I write to pay the bills. I'd say that qualifies.
  • singing. I was always in choir through school, and I was in the choir at my church in central Illinois. Now my singing is typically limited to either the shower or the car, but I still love singing.
  • organizing. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I organize like crazy. I update my calendar, make lists, rearrange files, and make my work space nice and tidy.
  • listening. I'm an introvert, So quite often, when I'm talking to friends and family, what that really means is that they're talking and I'm listening. I've always been the listener in my group of friends, which is fine. You learn a lot more by listening than you do by talking, anyway.
  • my life. I know this seems kind of obvious, but sometimes people who love me and who have very good intentions think they know what's best for me better than I do. But only I know what's best for my life, and I'll continue to do what's best for me. But thanks for the advice, really.
What are you an expert in?

09 May 2015

32 things for 32 years

Sometime last fall, a mom blogger I read posted a birthday post like this. It was one item for every year of her life, and it was interesting. So I decided to steal her idea for myself. Enjoy!
  1. I've been working on this post since late last year.
  2. I'm getting married this year.
  3. I had planned to propose to Bo, but she beat me to it.
  4. When I turned thirty, I told people it was the second anniversary of my 29th birthday.
  5. I've since let go of that, and I embrace my 32ness.
  6. When I feel frazzled or overwhelmed, I have the tendency to organize (update my calendar, make task lists, etc.) to help calm myself.
  7. Once I have lists, I use them to keep me on task; I try to take just one item at a time until everything is done.
  8. I keep an editorial calendar to help me plan out my blogging about a month at a time.
  9. But I often switch posts around as blog-worthy things come up in my life, career, and reading.
  10. I have a big desk-size calendar I use only for deadlines, editorial calendar, and days off so I have a monthly overview of what I have to do without taking up too much room in my book.
  11. I often have a movie or television show on while I'm working during the day so it's not overwhelmingly quiet.
  12. I find myself far less interested in TV than I once was, and listening to music more.
  13. There are four tattoos I want/plan to get: a quote in Gallifreyan on my left forearm; a semi-colon on my right wrist; ART HARDER on the inside of my left bicep; and Take no heed of her.... She reads a lot of books. on the inside of my right bicep.
  14. I don't journal as often as I'd like, especially when work is busy.
  15. My daily wardrobe is highly influenced by my target market for work, which works because that's what I'm usually most comfortable in.
  16. However, I'm working toward a more polished base wardrobe in which everything is coordinated so I can pick anything out of my closet and have it work, especially for client meetings.
  17. I'm terrified of heights, but I like to fly. It's scary when I think about the fact that I'm flying and up so high, but once we're up in the air, I'm usually okay.
  18. One of the reasons I eat a plant-based diet is because my body doesn't like animal products and lets me know through its reaction.
  19. I want to become a certified Reiki practitioner.
  20. I'm moving my career from freelance work to an official business.
  21. I have tried (and failed) several times to give up soda. Still trying.
  22. It would be harder for me to give up coffee than soda.
  23. I like tea, but don't drink it nearly as often as coffee.
  24. I have always been more of a night owl, but am working very hard to switch to being an early morning person. I like the quietness of early mornings when you have the whole day ahead of you, full of possibility.
  25. I did a life audit toward the beginning of this year, and it has drastically changed my life and perspective (for the better).
  26. I always try to keep a notebook with me or nearby because I frequently feel the need to jot down some thoughts or ideas.
  27. At the beginning of this week I finished going through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It was my third attempt, and my first completion.
  28. I like meditative music, and I'm trying to move toward listening to that type of music while I work (instead of turning on the TV and listening to it).
  29. I also really like folksy/indie music, like Harpeth Rising.
  30. I listen to music on a first generation iPod Nano. It's green.
  31. Sometimes I still struggle with my demons from high school and college. But I have an amazing support system to help keep me headed in the right direction.
  32. I truly feel that I am living my happily ever after.

08 May 2015

Yesterday's meeting

Bo and I had an important meeting yesterday morning.

We went to the beach.

We were able to rearrange our work schedule a bit so we could spend a little time in the sun, wandering on the sand, listening to the water, reconnecting with nature.

It was exactly what I needed.

I've been spending a lot of time working lately. Earlier this week I had an 18-hour day due to deadlines. I needed to get away from the office for a while, so the time yesterday morning, even though it was brief, was perfect.

I can't wait until the next trip.

04 May 2015

And with that, work expands

I'm spending a little time training a new coworker today.

Bo left her previous job, and is now working with me as an administrative manager. In addition to handling a lot of the paperwork-y stuff, she's going to be doing a lot of wonderful things that will help things run more efficiently and help me get more work done faster (which means more time for trips to the beach with the munchkins!).

She's not really working with me yet. More of a helping-out-on-a-volunteer-basis sort of thing for now. But we anticipate her officially starting in June.

That being said, it's nice to have someone else to lean on for some of this stuff so I can work on other things. It makes me feel much, much more productive, and I have someone else who gets to see, first-hand, some of the chaos that comes with what I do every day.

Freelancing can be isolating, especially since my clients are all online. I spend my day on the computer emailing and researching and writing. Now that Bo is working with me, I have someone to connect with, get feedback from, and talk to.

I'm really happy about it.

I'm really happy about the direction my career is headed.

It's going to be a damn good year.

03 May 2015

Renew your spirit with a party in Pixie Hollow

We celebrated Tink's birthday on Saturday. She's four. She's ready for school now. Because she's a big girl with big girl dreams.

To celebrate her birthday we made a big tree in the corner of our living room with butcher paper and leaves of construction and poster paper. We hung paper fans as flowers. It was Pixie Hollow. Tink wore her costume wings.

We made peanut butter roll-ups for lunch (because that's how fairies eat their sandwiches) and cupcakes in flower-shaped cupcake papers (because fairies make their cupcakes in flowers).

We watched movies and played games and opened presents and Tink got all the lipstick (chapstick) from Dantyelle.

It was a great day.

Happy birthday, Tink.

01 May 2015

FSOG blogging series: an update

I'm...still reading the first book.

I'm taking substantially more notes than I anticipated I would, so it's taking a little longer to get through than I thought it would.

But I'm still reading and working through it.

I originally intended to write up the first review when I was about halfway through the book, but I think I'm going to do the whole book at once.

In the meantime, I'll...keep reading.

27 April 2015

How I'm using Facebook

Social media is like looking at the world
from the bottom of a well.
Some time ago I made the decision to step away from social media for a while (specifically, I use Facebook and Twitter). I've posted a few times on each since then, but have largely stayed off the sites.

Social media is like looking at the world from the bottom of a well.

You only get this narrow perspective of what people want you to see, but there's a lot more in the periphery that's contributing to the overall picture.

Sometimes people (at least people I know) do it because they want empathy for what they perceive to be their situations. Others want to share what's happening in their lives, but know they shouldn't (or can't) tell the whole story.

And then there are those who use Facebook or Twitter to create the persona of themselves that they want people to believe is the truth #nofilter. But often, what they post is a shade of who they really are. They want people to relate to them the way they relate to celebrities. So they put a rose-colored lens on their #nofilter pictures, make some vague comment about the utopia of their lives, #blessed.

I got tired of it.

So I've changed how I use Facebook.

I rarely post and I've pulled all my friends (except Bo and a few others) out of my news feed. Instead, my news feed is full of posts from pages I like or want to read from, like The New York Times, TED Talks, Humans of New York, and different news pages. Now I can get my headlines in one place, and they're much better indicators of what's going on in the world than the "trending" sidebar on Facebook.

I don't really miss Facebook. I haven't spent any time looking at my friends' pages. Bo still uses Facebook more regularly, and is kind enough to let me know when there's something I need to know.

I don't see myself going back to using Facebook the way I did before. I may go through phases during which I post a bit more frequently, but I'm happy setting it aside and spending that time on other things.

I much prefer hearing about my friends lives from them, as they are.

No filter.

26 April 2015

Renew your spirit: For Tink, on her fourth birthday

May 2012 (Tink's first birthday party)
Our sweet Tink is four years old today.

She's spending the day with Monty, so we'll be celebrating her birthday this coming Saturday instead. She doesn't know it yet, but we're doing a fairy-inspired party for her, complete with small-ish finger foods because that's what she would eat if she were a real fairy.

Whenever the munchkins hit a milestone, like a birthday or an important first, I can't help but think about how far we've come since they were born. How much they've grown and changed. How wonderful our life has been and is and will be. I think it's kind of standard practice for moms to do, isn't it? (Let's just say it is.)

March 2013
Tink has been my challenge child. My pregnancy was more difficult, the delivery was more difficult. She had to be on light therapy for a while after we brought her home. Then, she wasn't growing properly, so we had to adjust how we cared for her, including a year of physical and occupational therapy.

It was scary for a while. She had appointments with her pediatrician every week to check her weight, and was having blood drawn every two weeks or so to check various levels and run various tests. She went to several specialists, all of whom felt like something was off, but couldn't find anything wrong.

The best answer we got during that time was from the pediatric geneticist who thought she might have something, but was too young to reach the diagnostic criteria. His medical opinion was that she would either be fine, or she would continue to not be fine and be able to be diagnosed. Thanks, man. So helpful.

February 2014
Tink is doing better now. She's healthy and has grown quite a bit. She's still incredibly, ridiculously skinny, but is almost as tall as Puck. (Her size makes it hard to find clothes that fit her, so it's likely that she'll be wearing a lot of skirts and dresses. Not that she would complain.)

She has caught up to her physical developmental milestones, and is ahead in many of her social and cognitive milestones. She can write her letters (and her name), and is beginning to read. She's definitely ready for pre-K!

She gave us a bit of a scare early in her life, but she's growing into a sweet, happy little girl. She is compassionate, helpful, and definitely has the Acres* Irish attitude. But, as my grandmother would say, "We like our Acres girls spunky."

Tink is definitely spunky. That can be a challenge at times, but I'm so glad she's come into her own personality. She's brave and funny and knows exactly what she wants.

April 2015
I don't know what's coming in the next several years. But I know that school will be good for her. She'll be able to learn more even faster, which she'll enjoy. She'll get to meet new people and make new friends, which she'll love. And she'll continue to grow and change and make her mamas proud.

Whatever comes, I know she'll meet it with the perfect mix of compassion and stubbornness to make sure that she achieves her dreams, helps others, and isn't walked over by anyone.

She is already strong and determined and awesome. I know her strength will see her through whatever challenges meet her along her way. And I know her determination will keep her pushing past the challenges to move into better, happier times.

I am so, so proud of you, my sweet girl. Keep doing exactly what you're doing.

Happy Birthday, Tink. I love you.

*Acres is my grandmother's maiden name. Her father was born in Ireland.

23 April 2015

On being cured

Over the weekend, Bo and I went up to the panhandle where her parents live for an appointment.

Before I met Bo, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She underwent an aggressive chemotherapy treatment, and since going into remission about four years ago, has gotten the all clear on all of her PET scans.

That's good news in and of itself.

At the appointment with her oncologist last year, Dr. F said that because she was out of the danger zone, all her scans had gone well, and she's active about taking care of herself, he was comfortable with doing only one more scan and releasing her a year early (with the provision that she continue blood work for a while, just in case).

Shortly after that, we found out that Dr. F was leaving his office, and an interim oncologist was coming in. Just in time for what was planned to be Bo's last PET scan and results.

We were nervous about the last appointment because we didn't know if Dr. L would continue with Dr. F's plan to release Bo early, or if she would want to finish out the scans instead.

At the appointment, we got the all clear on the PET scan results. Another year of being cancer-free for Bo.

And Dr. L decided to go ahead and release Bo, under the provision that she have an appointment to check for damage caused by the chemotherapy and connect with a treatment center where we live just in case follow-up is needed.

That night, we went to dinner with Mimi and Papa G to celebrate because Bo has beat cancer.

She's cured.

Bo has told me that, for a long time, her life was on hold. She has said that, during her treatments, she lost that time. And through remission, there was always that fear that the next PET scan would be the one to raise a red flag and start everything all over again.

But now she's cured. She fought the good fight and won.

And now she can make that mental shift into the next phase of our lives in which she's healthy and with us, and cancer can be something that happened instead of something that is happening. She beat it.

Congratulations, Bo.

Fuck you, cancer.