31 August 2014

Renew Your Spirit Sunday with Family

Puck and Tink fishing for "stick fish."
Bo, the munchkins, and I have had some wonderful family time this weekend. In fact, I didn't work at all yesterday and we visited some relatives for an all-day party/barbecue/excuse to eat junk food. It was wonderful. Then today, the munchkins went with Bo and me to drive around a couple of neighborhoods with Mimi and Papa G* in anticipation of the purchase of our "big house," which will be here before we know it.

This weekend, along with some things that have been happening in my personal life lately, have gotten me thinking a lot about the concept of family, particularly as it relates to my life and the munchkins' lives.

We're really lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives that we call family, most of whom are not related by blood. Bo's family has acquired us because of Bo, and they have all welcomed us (including the munchkins) as though we were born into the family. We are family, and that's the end of the conversation, as far as they're concerned.

This has been wonderful for me, especially since I'm so far away from my own (blood) relatives. I fel so much less alone than I ever have, and I know that I have a strong, loving support system nearby should I need them.

Not only do I love them and they love me (and the munchkins), but I'm told we fit together nicely. They're my tribe.

Everyone needs a tribe.

It makes me all the more eager for our Thanksgiving trip.

*Mimi and Papa G is what the munchkins call Bo's parents.

27 August 2014

Making a change

I've been working on the coffee house book lately, and I've felt myself struggling with the feeling that something wasn't right. Yesterday I figured out what it is.

The first-person point of view is wrong.

The coffee house book is complex, and yesterday I realized that I've been trying to do too much, and that's what has been holding me back as I've been writing. So now I have to essentially restart with my first draft and change every section to be third-person point of view. (The overall book is third-person omniscient, but each section is third-person limited based on the story being told in that section.*) This will give me a wider latitude in telling the characters' stories, and a single voice through the narrator that will help add cohesiveness to the individual sections. It will be much better, even if it means a lot of rewriting.

The good news is that I'm still early enough in the process that it shouldn't set me back too far. And in making this change, the rest of the writing process should go much more smoothly.


How's your writing going?

*Which makes more sense when you actually read the book.

26 August 2014

We've given in to the dark side....

Image source
After almost a year without a TV, I'm back to having a TV. And cable. Bo was offered a deal that couldn't be passed up, which offers channels she loves (History, Discovery, Nat Geo, among others). We're testing the service out for a couple of weeks, and if we like it,* we're going to keep it.

I'm looking forward to some aspects of having cable. Family movie nights will be easier, and I'll be able to watch some things that I've been missing (like Doctor Who). But despite going back to a traditional TV-in-the-living-room setup, the rules for TV-viewing for the munchkins are still in effect. During the school year, they only watch shows on days there is no school, and during extended breaks (winter break, spring break, summer), they can only watch shows on the weekends.

The munchkins don't seem to mind the rule. (Not that they have a choice in the matter....) They only occasionally ask to watch something, knowing that if they're allowed to watch a show, I'll offer. We also do "family movie night" on Fridays, so they get to watch quite a bit of TV on Friday nights. I think that satisfies them.

When they get older, we'll be able to relax the rule a bit, but I hope that, by then, they'll be much more interested in other things** and will have little interest in watching TV.

In the meantime, I'll be watching Unsolved Mysteries while I work this morning.

*We're going to like it. I have BBC America. Hello, Doctor!


21 August 2014

The No-Soda Challenge

Image source
Despite my efforts at living a healthier, cleaner lifestyle (which includes a plant-based diet and yoga*), I've continued to struggle with ditching soda. And I know I don't drink enough water on a daily basis.

So in yet another effort at getting tips to eliminate soda from my life,** I came across the No Soda Challenge on the Skinny Ms blog.

I've tried lots of different ways to quit soda, and none of them have worked. So I'm trying again with this challenge.

No soda for one month. Starting right now.

There is soda in the house, but Bo has been kind enough to offer to drink it for me so there's no temptation.

I am allowing myself caffeine during this month, which I think will help make the transition away from soda a little easier. At the end of the month, I'll work on scaling back my caffeine intake, as well.

I know it'll be hard, especially over the next few days, but it will be worth it at the end of the month. Wish me luck!

*Yoga has, sadly, not been much of a priority in the last few weeks with all the packing and moving, but I'm making a renewed effort beginning Monday morning.

**Eventually, I would like to also eliminate almost all caffeine from my life, as well, except for maybe a cup of coffee in the morning.

14 August 2014

On depression

[NOTE: This post may contain triggers for some people.]

There has been a lot of discussion about depression and mental illness on my Facebook feed and my blog-reading list lately, sparked as a result of the death of actor Robin Williams, who hung himself on Monday. I have heard a lot of talk about Mr. Williams, some of it expressing outrage at his decision to take his life, some of it wholly supportive. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, and been in a very bad place, I would like to share my thoughts. Take from them what you will.

Image source
I once described depression as being at the bottom of a well. When you look at your situation, all you can see is the stone and mud and water, and no way out. Even when you start to look up, all you see is how much further your current situation goes. And then, way up at the top, you can see the sunlight. But it's far away and small, and you don't have a way to get to it.

And that's all there is.

I know people who believe that suicide is a selfish option, and never an answer. As someone who had those thoughts (years ago), I can tell you that it doesn't feel selfish when you're in the midst of it. It really does feel like the best decision for your friends and family. Rational? No. But depression lies. And it can be incredibly easy to believe those lies.

When you're severely depressed and feel like there is nothing else except your depression, you convince yourself that you're a burden to your friends and family, and they really and truly would be better off without you. So it doesn't feel selfish. It feels like a mercy.

It takes a lot to pull yourself out of the well, and it usually can't be done alone. You need someone anchored to the ground (up above) to help you. Someone who can carry your weight when you have to get a better foothold or if you slip a little.

And the help is there. There are people who care about you and want you here. I'm one of them.

If you need help or someone to talk to or think you might need someone to talk to, please, please, please seek help. There are so many resources for people. All you have to do is reach out. I know it can be hard--I've been there--but there are people who want to help. You don't have to do it alone, ever. If you're not sure where to turn, email me.

Keep reading, keep learning

I have a subscription to The Writer. I'd had a subscription previously, and when I moved back to Florida, I got it again. I thought, if nothing else, it will keep me motivated to keep moving forward in my writing.

I value this subscription. Not only do I look forward to getting each issue, but I read them, and keep the back issues to refer to later. I have a whole stack of magazines on my (make-shift, temporary because we're in the process of moving) desk.

One of the things I like about The Writer is that it gives a wide variety of information. Even if the overall theme of the issue doesn't really apply to me, I can find something that helps my writing.

Besides the encouragement and inspiration that comes from the magazine, it makes good sense from a career standpoint to read The Writer and other writer-focused magazines. (Writer's Digest is another good one.) For writers, the magazines can be considered trade magazines. They give information about news and insight into the industry, helping writers become better writers and advancing careers.

No matter what industry you're in, it's important to keep learning and stay on top of advancements in your field. Even though the publishing industry has remained largely unchanged since its inception (though e-books and the rise of self-publishing is changing that in recent years), writers should keep learning and reading and growing to be better writers.

The Writer is one way I can do that. Reading fiction (and non-fiction) is another way. I love that I have to read to improve the work I do.

How do you keep up with publishing/writing news?

10 August 2014

Puck is five now.

Yesterday we celebrated Puck's birthday. He was with Monty for his actual factual birthday, so we had our party yesterday with Tink and Bo (and Clara because she can't be left out). It was quiet and fun, and an all-day affair, just as birthdays should be when you're young and it's exciting.

Puck got some fun toys, but his favorite by far is the remote control car Bo gave him. Once he opened it, he played with it the rest of the day. We even took him over to the tennis court nearby so he could run it in a wide, open space without any obstacles. Then, this morning when he got up, he immediately asked if he could play with it.

I think Bo picked a good gift for him.

Puck, August 2009
While we played all day, I tried not to think too much about the fact that my son is five, and will be starting kindergarten next week.

I know time goes by quickly when you have kids, especially once they start school. You get into a routine each week, and the days just go by.

That being said, I think part of the reason time has gone by so quickly for me is because of how much has changed in my life since 2009.

Five years ago, I was on a very different life path. I was married to Monty and thought we would be together for the rest of our lives. I thought I'd keep working from home and we'd have more kids and live happily ever after. I thought it was a good path, and the right one for me.

Since then, things have changed drastically (and for the better). We did have another child (the beautiful, precocious Tink), but I also came out, we divorced, and I moved back to Florida. My career has taken off, I met Bo, and I'm headed in a very different direction than I once was. A better direction. And things are still changing with the upcoming move.

I have wonderful memories over the past five years. (Yes, I divorced Monty, but we had good times, too.) That being said, I'm so excited to see what the next five years brings for Puck, and for our herd.*

Happy Happy to you, Puck. You're going to have a great year!

*Bo calls us her "herd." I like it. It's apt.

08 August 2014

Scribbling, scribbling, scribbling

Woman writing a letter by Gerard ter Borch
c. 1655
I've been working on the coffee house book for a long time. There was a time that I had to sort of set it aside for a little while to address some issues that came up in my life, but now that things are much more settled, I've been back to working on it quite a bit. I'm making good progress on the draft I'm working on, and things are coming together nicely.

I'm at that phase of writing in which I'm either working on the coffee house book or thinking about the coffee house book. Sure, I think about work when I'm working and am able to go about my daily life fairly normally, but when my mind is not specifically focused on something, it wanders back to the coffee house and the stories I'm writing about the people who wander in and out of it.

I like being in this mindset about writing. It keeps me moving forward on the book, and keeps me excited about it (and what comes next when it's finished). I know it may not last, and that the editing phase will be far less fun, but I'm holding onto the excitement for as long as I can to keep making progress. I'm optimistic that this is the momentum I need to push through to the end of this draft and next round of editing. So I just keep writing one page at a time, and drinking more and more coffee as I write because writing about coffee makes me want to drink it.

05 August 2014

Trying to take it one step at a time

This looks eerily similar to my calendar this month.
Things have been busy around here lately. While Puck and Tink were with Monty, I did quite a bit of extra work, and now that they're back this week, I'm balancing my time among munchkins and work and packing for our move this month. (It's going to be a bit of a process for the move so it's not such a shocking change for the munchkins.) The next few weeks are going to be equally as busy, but when September rolls around life will settle a bit into more of a routine.

Our September calendar is pretty empty right now, and I hope to keep it that way as much as possible. I'll need the time to sort of recover.

In the meantime, as August does its best to try and steamroll me, I'm taking everything one day at a time and keeping myself organized through it by writing everything down. I keep a notebook for work. Each day I write down what needs to be done that day and keep notes on that day's page when I have phone calls or meetings or whatever else. That notebook is going to be very full over the next few weeks, I think. But writing everything down will help me from being overwhelmed with everything that's coming. All I have to worry about is the next thing on my list.

It's going to be a whirlwind for the next few weeks, but it will definitely be worth it the first week of September when everything is much more settled in my life. Maybe things will be just boring enough to carry me to November when we have a trip planned to see Mimi and Papa G.

How is your August going so far?