12 February 2016

I've been a terrible blogger

I always have the best intentions for blogging. I make an editorial calendar with post ideas that I'm excited about. And then something happens and I get behind and don't post and my blog languishes a bit.

Until posts like this when I come back with renewed energy and the intention to keep posting about twice a week.

Things have been chaotic in my life lately. Tink's health is still an issue, as is mine. So spare time has been lacking and, right now, spare time is what I use for blogging. But it seems like things are settling a bit, so I'm going to once again return to blogging with renewed vigor and the intention to post twice a week.

I'm trying, y'all. But sometimes the non-digital world is what has to take priority over blogging. I'm working on creating a better balance. And having a few posts in the wings and scheduled so I can post more consistently.

I'm trying.

15 January 2016

I remember my childhood differently

Image source
Sometimes my mother will share a story about me as a child that I don't remember. Most recently, this has happened when my mom has been sharing childhood stories with Bo, telling her about who I was before Bo knew me.

But my mother remembers my childhood differently than I do.

Sometimes there are stories she tells about me that I remember happening to one of my siblings. I attribute this to age and working too much and taking care of four kids when she was younger. Just a mix-up.

But sometimes she remembers stories happening differently than I do. She'll tell me about something I did and the aftermath is nothing like the aftermath when I tell the story. Or she'll remember people being involved that, in my memory, were never there.

I have a bad memory. I readily admit that. But I don't think my memory is that bad. So I've begun thinking that my interpretations of what happened have shaded my memories, shaping my memories around my interpretation. After all, it seems that, more often than not, the memories that differ are those that I remember as bad memories but my mother doesn't. So maybe it's that my mind has changed these bad memories so that I don't remember my childhood as poorly as it was.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer. My mind has filled gaps and taken artistic liberties with my memories over the years. So now, when I hear someone else's version, it is not at all my own. Not bad or wrong memories. Just more...fictional.

I've given up trying to correct my mother. She's always sure that her version of the memory is correct, just as I am. And even if I have proof that she's the one who's mistaken, my mother thinks that couldn't possibly be right.

So I let it go.

And try to journal more often so I have a better record of my memories.

12 January 2016

Sometimes all I can concentrate on is pain....

Image source
For quite some time I've been experiencing chronic pain. It is daily, with varying degrees of pain day by day (and within one day). Some days it's manageable, and I'm able to do what I need to do easily. Other days, I can barely sit at my desk because I hurt so much.

Lately there have been more high pain days than not.

Last week was hard. The kids were home, so we had the school/kids' schedule in addition to my regular work schedule. Usually that means late nights and early mornings since I do most of my work after the kids go to bed. And since I pick Puck up from school, I have to accommodate the lost time each day. Sometimes that adds to the stress, which makes me hurt more.

One of the hard parts is that people can't see when I'm hurting, and it's typically stress or lack of sleep or something like that causing the increase in pain. When I'm in pain, outwardly, I look the same as when I'm not in pain. And I worry that if I try to tell people I'm in pain, it will happen so often that they'll think I'm just complaining or they won't take me seriously or something like that.

People who don't have chronic pain don't understand chronic pain.

And they don't understand how taxing it is. Quite some time ago, someone referred me to the Spoon Theory. The idea is that, at the start of each day, someone with a chronic condition has a certain number of spoons. Each task that they complete, from getting out of bed to eating to driving to work, costs them spoons. Some days, pain or illness makes them use more spoons for simple activities, and they may run out of spoons sooner. Or, worse, borrow against tomorrow's spoons to get through the day.

If you don't have a chronic illness, you have an endless supply of spoons. And it can be hard for people to understand that, on a bad day, I can choose either eating supper or taking a shower. I can't do both. I can either pick my son up from school or deal with this difficult client.

And when I'm out of spoons, I'm done for the day. That's just how it is.

I'm in the process of getting more answers and an effective treatment plan. In the meantime, I take over-the-counter medications, use Icy Hot (when I think it will work), meditate, and do whatever I can to be kind to myself.

And I always try to keep a spoon on reserve to read a story to the munchkins before bed.

08 January 2016

Backgrounding the funeral book

I'm in the rewriting phase of the coffee house book, which is awesome but also a little scary and very intimidating.

So while I'm working on the coffee house book, I'm also doing the background work for the next book in the collection, which I'm calling the funeral book. I have my list of characters and the skeleton outline of the chapters, and I'm working on the character biographies and detailed chapter/scene outlines.

I did this for the coffee house book, too. Because of the way the coffee house book is structured, it was necessary for me to have a lot of background work done before I started writing. Well, if I'm being honest, it kind of started as a sort of procrastination technique because I was nervous about the actual writing part. But now I don't know how I would've gotten the story down without it. The character biographies let me create the vital parts of the characters relevant to the story and reference them quickly. The outlines keep the story moving forward once I get into it. And since many characters are overlapping in the different stories in the collection, I've created a file for each character so their stories in different books remain true to the character.

Besides, the funeral book background gives me something to work on when I need a break from rewriting.

That being said, starting the background work for the funeral book is starting to push me into that story's world, which, as you can tell from the moniker for the book, is a little bleaker than the coffee house book. And, in that way, going back to the coffee house book is a much-needed break from teh funeral book background work.

It's going to be a hard book to write, I think.

05 January 2016

Starting the year the right way

Image from
tiramisustudio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I've made some goals for 2016. Some of them are smaller goals that will be easy to achieve, but others are bigger goals that will be more complex, and will establish a foundation for long-term goals.

But I'm trying to be smarter about my goals this year. I'm focusing on taking small steps a little at a time instead of big changes all at once.

I know that it'll be easier for me to be successful if I take it one step at a time, and experience has shown me that trying to do everything all at once is less than successful.

I'm optimistic about 2016. Bo and I have big, exciting short- and long-term plans, and we're finally making progress toward them. we've overcome some big challenges, and we have a plan to overcome some other challenges that have popped up lately.

2016 is going to be a good year.

It already is.

01 January 2016

This year's mantra is...

Two years ago, I decided to start focusing on one mantra to help me in times of anxiety. The mantra was chosen as a result of things I experienced the year before.

This year's mantra is

This is just a moment. Rise above it.

There were a lot of struggles in 2015, many of which built on one another, which was frustrating. Some of those struggles are over, some are still there, and some have gotten worse. So this year, in order to keep me from getting bogged down by anxiety and linking what is happening to what has happened, I've chosen this mantra as a reminder.

I have high hopes for 2016, based primarily on what I have planned, and what Bo and I have planned for our family. There are still great struggles to come, but when we overcome them, things will be very, very good.

Bring it on, 2016. I'm ready.

30 December 2015

In the aftermath of more diagnostic testing

Princesses get special treatment
for diagnostic testing.
Yesterday morning, Tink had an endoscopy as part of her ongoing diagnostic testing to deal with her frustratingly unknown health problems.

This was not my first experience taking Tink for diagnostic testing. We've done it a lot lately. And this was her second time going under sedation (she did better this time coming out of it).

I keep reminding myself that we're making progress. We've eliminated a lot of things, and we're honing in on what is causing all the trouble.

We hope.

There's still a long way to go. Because there's a lot involved in finding a name for something in someone so small. So we keep working toward answers and her health.

Yesterday, that meant an endoscopy. Thursday, we discuss the results with her doctor. And we'll take it one step at a time from there.

11 December 2015

Promoting self-care

Life has been busy lately, especially with work. Not only have my regular clients been sending lots of white papers my way, but I've been working on getting ready for the career shift taking place at the beginning of the year.

As a result, I've been sleeping less than I should, working more than I (probably) should, and running myself a bit ragged.

And neglecting self-care.

Unfortunately, I've been feeling the effects of the neglect, and have been having lots of high-pain days in the past few weeks. It's causing me to move slower, which in turn causes me to have to work harder to stay caught up with the workload. It's a vicious cycle.

It's going to stay like this through the end of the year, but I'll have some time off at Christmas and New Year's that I can use to slather myself with Icy Hot and hobble around with peppermint herbal tea until I feel better.

Hopefully, the upcoming time off will be what I need to recharge and provide some extra self-care, giving me the energy I need to jump into 2016 with a renewed energy and outlook.

04 December 2015

Olive Kitteridge: a reflection on perceptions

I finally finished Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge yesterday while I was waiting for Puck in the after-school car line.

It took me much longer to finish it than I expected, but was by no means due to the story. Our autumn has been chaotic, and I wasn't able to make time to read as I expected I would be able to.

But I kept reading when I could, and as we settled into a better routine after the wedding, I was able to find much more time. Like in the after-school car line.

I'm really glad I did, too.

As I started Olive Kitteridge, I didn't really know what to expect. It was recommended to me by a writer because of how I described the coffee house book; they thought it would be helpful in writing and revising my draft. (It has been.) But once I really got into it, I was much more pleasantly surprised than I thought I would be.

The biggest surprise to me was in the revelations about the titular character through each chapter. As I read, I thought I knew who Olive was, and then, later, in one chapter, everything I thought I knew about her shifted, and I saw her in a completely different way. That revelation impacted my reading of the rest of the book, and left me in a very different mood than I expected I would be in by the end.

Sorry for the vagueness of this reflection. I really don't want to give anything away because you should read the book yourself. Truly.

Since I finished Olive Kitteridge, it's been sitting on my heart. I'm torn between wanting to keep my experience of reading it just where it is because of the surprise, and wanting to reread it in a few months to see how my reading changes now that I know what I know about Olive.

I had a wonderful literature professor tell me that "literature rewards rereading." I believe wholeheartedly that Strout's novel falls into that category. I believe that if I read it again in a few months, it will be like an entirely different book. I'll see things I didn't see before, and Olive will, indeed, be a different person. Maybe I will be, too. And maybe that's the point.

01 December 2015

Making a shift, making a career

Some time ago, I started taking steps toward a shift in my career. While I was excited about the possibilities and knew it would be beneficial, I was not able to move forward with it at that time.

Fortunately, things have changed, and now I can!

Over the next month or two, I'll be working on getting back into doing marketing content writing again. While I'll still be doing a lot of white papers, one-sheets, and other marketing assets, I will be restructuring the work I do in order to include bigger diversity in content marketing as well as moving into a niche.

I'm not going to get into details quite yet, since there's still a lot to do in order to finalize the plan and launch the business. (Yes, it will be an actual factual business, y'all!) But as we get closer to the launch, I'll definitely be sharing it here, and might do a little (not much) plugging, especially at the beginning.

One of the reasons I'm making this change is because I've been thinking about the longevity of my career. I like what I do right now. The content I write is fun and interesting, and serves me well. But if I stick with what I currently have, I'll be stuck where I currently am. In order to continue advancing my career, I have to take this next (kind of scary) step.

So I'm giving myself a promotion.

Essentially, moving in this direction is a way of branching out, making my work more relevant to the industry, and ensuring that I can continue doing what I love.

I don't know how it's going to go, but it's happening either way. 2016 is going to be an adventurous year.