Issues of Life


The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. It’s times like this that I question Cassidy’s sanity. I mean, who would choose this?

We had such a good day on Saturday, I suppose it was inevitable that the wheels should fall off on Sunday.  While tackling one project, I was being pulled by someone else’s project, continually asked questions until I reached a point where I had to stop what I was working on.

First off, this project was one that I had procrastinated on to the point that I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I needed to get it done. So I was already aggravated.

The project that my husband was asking questions about, was valid for him to ask me questions as it was pertaining to our finances. Then everything degenerated down from there. *hangs head*

How many of us know, I mean really know that you can’t compartment your life like a waffle into little squares? If you can manage that then message me  and share how you do it.

In my world, things are all interconnected like a woven cloth. The white strand touches twenty others. Or you can look at it like the plate of spaghetti. Well, I got my spaghetti all over his waffles.

If we are being  honest,  it’s more like spaghetti. How we view our finances are affected by a) our upbringing, b) past problems c) expectations d) fears e)our relationship with the financial partner. All of those factors come into play at some point and are often expressed through what we communicate.

I’m not going to  tell you all about our finances,  that’s not what this is about. We have some differences between us about them that we will work out. My problem is the underlying problems that come out in  moments like this.

I have been so guilty of this in the past,  that I am acutely aware  of carefully choosing my words and not blasting my first thoughts without a filter. The filter needs to be applied to similar problems in the past, past words that were spoken, past situations that you’ve been through,   past fights over the subject. . . it all plays a part to the emotions that come up with the current topic.

In a microsecond, our brain goes to our retrieval file and pulls up the entire folder on how we feel about finance anything. Last time we got into a fight – shields up. We’ve been married for a few years,  there has been more than one fight over finances. In most marriages, there is one that spends and one that saves. I’m the spender and I know you aren’t surprised.

My issue with this whole thing is not the finances.  It’s not about how much I spent because I know that I spent too much. It’s  the comments that cut me to the core that are outside of the topic that are affecting the statements made.

The current plan isn’t working, so I need to rethink, reevaluate, and make a new plan. How ironic that  I got a notification this morning that  two readers liked my post, Unceasing. Wow, thank you for that reminder. I needed to hear that.  I needed to be reminded that it’s not the negative words of someone else. It’s not getting validation from anyone else. The reason I write, and that I will NOT stop pursuing my dream even if it is at a snail’s pace, is because it is part of who I am.

I had some amazing  friends encourage me in this  matter, some were kind loving words, others were  straight and to the point, and yet others were tactlessly pointed out,  but valid all the same.

On one hand, it is devastating to hear that  a loved one doesn’t believe in your vision.  That’s ok. It’s not his vision after all but mine.  It’s not his place to validate me or give me approval. I need to do this for myself. On the other hand, it’s good to know where they stand so that I can adjust my course, my expectations accordingly.

Giving up on my dream isn’t going to make him think any differently but it will certainly make me think differently.  It would be quitting on myself and I can’t do that.

I’m not angry anymore. I’m not hurt either. I know that I am taking the road less traveled.  This is my path and it needs to coincide with our path as much as his career path does also. Neither of us is wrong, just different.

Sometimes we embrace the differences, other times we accept them.

Soon I will have important news to share and to think, I almost  quit just before the finish line – tsk tsk.

It’s all good! Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

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Communication


In order to have a successful partnership, communication is essential. This applies to personal relationships as well as professional.  After 30 years of marriage, you’d think that  a husband and wife could communicate well. Wrong! Isn’t it ironic that the communication we once had  seems to have filtered down to a few grunts, assumptions, and preconceived notions?

We aren’t the same people we were 30 years ago. A lot has happened in that time. Births, deaths, conflicts, romance, celebrations, and life.  Everyday life can wear you down until you have little energy remaining for the people that are most important to you. How did that happen?

Very simply, you lose sight of the bigger picture when you are in the trenches. Head down, dealing with the current situation, one after another, time after time, and life continues to go on until you finally look up and don’t recognize your surroundings. Don’t panic,  adjust your internal GPS and  your course accordingly.

It is the same with business relationships.  Communication is essential. There are a few basic rules that you need to understand to interpolate the  communication.

  1. What is the business relationship? Boss/employee; business partners; coworkers; manager/employee;  contractor/subcontractor.
  2. Which role are you in the relationship? 
  3. Do you  communicate accordingly with  the other person/people involved? 

You are responsible for your words and actions, not the other person.  You are responsible however, for your responses and reactions to the other person.

 

By now you are scratching your head wondering what it is that set me off this time because if this isn’t your first rodeo on my blog,  you know that something lit the fire burning inside my gut. Crude I know,  but I’m feeling rather gutted at the moment.

Well, you’re right. I’m having trouble coming to terms with a couple individuals with whom I have relationships.

The marriage is an ongoing daily thing and thanks to  a third party counselor, we’re doing better. But this really isn’t about  that.

It has everything to do with Business dealings.  One of which is with the spouse.  I view this as a partnership, each responsible for different parts of  our business.

I am the creative force behind  our business. He is the analytical one that keeps me tethered and  aware of our meager budget.  We are working together  in this area but it’s still not running as smoothly as we’d like.

I am marketing and public relations while he handles research and development.

I am the planner. He is the analyst that provides charts and graphs for feasibility.

I provide general labor while  he provides all things computer related and  physical labor for larger things.

All of these roles are necessary, and for the most part are divided fairly equally. If you keep in mind that he gets all of the heavy lifting. Hmm, well maybe I should balance that a little by providing treats at the next board meeting.

This is a fairly new venture, so it’s understandable that we need to work out the kinks.

 

There is a second relationship that  really has me on edge. This relationship is trying my last nerve.

How do you relate to someone who doesn’t have the same view of roles within the relationship? How do you communicate with someone who  acts like they are a dictator  and repeatedly  refuses to listen to anyone else’s input?

Communication is a two-way street, or at least it is supposed to be.

I’m having a real issue with this arrangement because my ideas and their ideas are not meshing.

  1. This is not a dictator/subject relationship.  This is not a manager/employee relationship. This is supposed to be a  mutual contracted agreement.
  2. Do NOT talk down to me in a condescending tone as if I am a moron. I am not. Do NOT talk to me like I am some clueless idiot  that is your subordinate. Just because this particular job does not require certain technical skills does not mean that  it is not possessed.
  3. Do NOT lecture me on  not fulfilling my parts of the job when  the parts that you are NOT stating are not defined. If additional tasks are needed they need to be spelled out and defined, otherwise I will proceed according to what I know and what was designated in the arrangement.
  4. Bossing people around does not make you in charge. Bossing people around that are supposed to be team members just makes you a Bitch. And not in a good way either.
  5. Do not belittle your fellow team members. You don’t have to go to happy hour with them to do your job.

How many can relate? I’ve been the employee many times when the supervisor or manager treated others poorly. I’ve also had supervisors that I greatly respected. You know the biggest difference? They treated others as valuable individuals validating their efforts.

The above situation  has me at my wit’s end. But it also pushes me to strive harder in our own business.

Nobody likes to be talked down to,  or treated like they don’t matter, or made to feel belittled. NOBODY!

While I continue to work out my struggles in this, I can’t help but wonder . . .  someone who treats others like this has to feel horrible inside.  I try to live my life by that age old rule –  treat others as you would like to be treated.  There is no crime against being nice. However, some seem to view it as a weakness.

It’s not a weakness at all.  It requires great strength and integrity to face a person like this without engaging in the same poison that they are spewing. Karma, the law of reciprocity,  or whatever you decide to call it is  a bigger Bitch than  you can dish out so be careful what you’re dishing.

 Remember the Four Agreements: 

  1. Be impeccable with your words. Speak with integrity.
  2. Don’t take anything personal. Nothing others do is because of you.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Ask the questions, communicate, avoid misunderstandings.
  4. Always do your best. Always – even if you don’t like the “Boss” or coworker.  Do. Your. Best. Because at the end of the day, you have to live with your conscious.

 

 

The Countdown Has Begun


Have you ever had those days (weeks) when life is a whirlwind that leaves you dizzy and unable to recall exactly what you’ve done?

Last week I shared what I’ve been up to. Aside from admitting my lack of cake decorating skills for the Han Solo cake,  it was all about the office space.

I have a confession to make. Well, two actually.

  1. Next time we are having ‘stormtroopers in a snow storm cake ‘ aka chocolate cake with white frosting.  It tasted good but black frosting  stains teeth and everything else.
  2. I have to shift my efforts for the office space to clearing my stuff out of my daughter’s room.

 

The ZenDen  is still  going to happen,  unfortunately  though I have hit a snag.  A snag in the form of a time crunch. My plan was to get everything completed downstairs and then move stuff. After several days of clearing, moving, bagging, tossing, head shaking, fighting off the overwhelmed panic, my back  said that  it had enough. I’ve scheduled a visit to the chiropractor out of my normal sequence,  but it isn’t for another few days.

So, . . . we move our daughter back Thursday night. This Thursday night. Like . . . 2 days from now. The ZenDen still looks like this:

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Wait,  I did move a couple of those boxes out of the area. The one in the foreground,  the ones on the little rocking chair, and  the box in the wire frame cart. Also,

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all of those books have been moved, as well as the stuff on top of the shelf.

That’s the point when my back said, Whoa Nelly! This was about the same time that the hubs and I had a discussion about the area.   You see, I get these ideas, I get excited, and I’ m off and running. I worked up my color scheme,  decided on the flooring that I wanted,  had my little floor plan designed. It was all good!

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It doesn’t show up well on this photo, but the main color  is this Bermuda Bay  (It says Big Surf on the photo, but I found the exact color I want and it’s called Bermuda Bay – a different brand) on the left. The sand color on the bottom will be the wall where the  map of the Caribbean is currently. The navy blue and red in the sails will be accent colors as will the black and of course, sail white.   He looked at me with  an expression that said,  Have you lost your mind?  

Look, I know  not everyone will get my color scheme. I know not everyone would choose this.  It’s my space – my office/craft room/private retreat. I selected my flooring choice, a plank vinyl that will go down right over the concrete floor. It looks like gray weathered wood, kind of a cross between the weathered pier and driftwood. I thought it was perfect.

My husband? Not so much.

Then there were the light fixtures. I found one that was perfect. It looked like something that would be on the Nautilus. Then I looked at the price.  Ummmmm, no.  I will need 4 lights after evaluating the area. I thought we could do two but I think 4 would be better.

Then we had a disagreement about  the dimensions of the space I was carving out.  He had  in mind something along a 5′ x 5′ space.  I don’t think so. I was livid.

After several minutes of discussing function and space issues, he  realized that I was including my craft stuff which is currently located on the other end of the basement.  We came to some semblance of an agreement. My dimensions are more along the lines of 14′ x 8′.  By then I was  tired and we needed to address our daughter’s room.

Most of my notebooks, pens, files, and all office related items were in her room on the writing desk that I was planning to use. My  belongings are now in a box . . . in the basement . . .   along with the rest of the  stuff down there. This evening  vacuuming, stripping the bed, and cleaning out the closet are the  items on my checklist.

I need to take some more items to our resale booth, but  getting her room in a welcoming state has to come first. If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read –

Once we get this addressed, my attention will return to my office. Then I can begin organizing and clearing out the years of accumulated stuff. I have to admit, at this point minimalism looks pretty appealing.

Sometimes it takes a spark of inspiration to ignite the fires. We’ve been stagnated, overwhelmed with the years of accumulated stuff.  His Grandmother passed away, we got stuff. His uncle passed away, we got more stuff. His great-aunt passed away, we got even more stuff. My father and mother passed away and we got still more stuff. I have to admit, I’ve been stagnated with this inundation of stuff. As if it wasn’t enough to have to deal with our own stuff, we have stuff given to us to add to the mountain of stuff.

Yes, we really do suffer from stuffitis. It can be paralyzing. It is also stifling. There is a psychology to clutter, and it’s not pretty.

If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read – Space Revisions and Personal Space,  about creating my own zen den, my home office/craft studio/retreat/paradise.

 

 

 

 

By the way, the kitty litter thing is working. The musty smell has diminished in the basement. We’ve also increased the intervals at which the dehumidifier runs. The decor theme and reveal will be postponed, sorry.

My oldest daughter announced to the world that she is not planning to return to college after her junior year by posting a picture of her first tattoo, a compass to signify the new direction of her life. I have misgivings about this new direction. But, she’s 21 and has to make her own decisions. (This is the one that is moving back home.)

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These were her words: “As a symbol of my changing courses in life, I got my first tattoo today. It’s a compass that will be a constant reminder of where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Even if I’m not sure where that may be.”

I still have a ton of work to do before we  make the drive to  get her on Thursday. 2 days. 47.23 hours from now.  25 of those hours are already scheduled. I suppose if I forfeit sleep I could get it all done. If I did, then I would  be in a foul mood akin to a badger. Bear would be too kind.  It is what it is.

On the bright side, I have  8 topics on which I can blog about – all briefly mentioned in this post. Those should serve for inspirational fodder for a while. You know,  just in case my well runs dry sometime in the year 2024.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Space Revisions


Happy Star Was Day! May the 4th be with you!  We are celebrating with a Carbonite Han Solo cake. Well, I envisioned it looking like on Pinterest, but . . . not even close. Chocolate cake, ganache between the layers, white buttercream frosting tinted grey, black details. Umm, the general shape is right. Maybe I should have just bought that Darth Vader cake pan. Never the less, we are eating it.

Continuing on yesterday’s post-Personal Space, I’m sharing about creating my own zen den, my home office/craft studio/retreat/paradise.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on  a room design, don’t you think?

NOPE! I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I can get lost for hours on HGTV. I love to watch the shows where they redefine their space, carve out a more functional usage, and  make it scream my personal space. I guess you can say this has been a long time in coming, fueled by my obsession with the Property Brothers, Chip and Joanna Gaines, and my Pinterest boards for home designs and DIY crafts. That combined with the need for my own space.

Like most of our friends, we live on a limited budget. In order to have funds to do home projects, sacrifices have to be made in other areas. The food budget has been tightened. I make a weekly menu with nutritious meals, plan my shopping accordingly, and don’t buy junk food. We average $125 a week for a family of four adults. (My kids are no longer kids,  but adults –  eek!)  The weekly amount of 25 to 30 dollars saved has added up over months, so now we can buy supplies to renovate. We are not going to take on debt in order to do this,  so we use the limited funds that we have.

Where do we begin?

With a plan of course.

20160502_090310It’s crude, I’m not an architect. It’s a place to start.  A brief key: outside walls marked with bolder grey. Rectangles in outer line –  basement windows. Yellow highlighter – light fixtures; x-ed out is existing that will be changed. Areas marked with hashed lines are storage – either closets or shelves. Currently, the bolded grey lines are the only existing walls.  The exterior concrete walls, the office space that my husband enclosed when he was finishing his degree, and  the wall against the stairwell.  I went through five plans before arriving at this one.

We start with a general open concrete space, filled with 20 years of accumulated  stuff, poorly or not at all organised.  The washer and dryer will stay where they are,  the water heater will need to be moved and secured to an exterior wall because of potential earthquakes, where currently it sits a foot from the furnace/central air unit. The four dark dots down the center are support posts, which are immovable.  They are bigger around than a standard 2 x 4 wall, so  they will be incorporated into  a wider space  the width of a bookshelf, or storage shelves.

As you may notice, I don’t have measurements. We’ll address those as we get there. You know, when we can actually start  improving the area.

On the exterior of the  existing office is our current pantry area, aside from the shelves against the wall, it’s disorganised.

His office is going to become our private den area. We have a lovely leather love seat, antique table, and bookshelf (of course) for this area.   Our adult oasis.

Eventually, we’ll get the rest of the area claimed,  but for now, it’s a 3 step process:

  1. My office
  2. The private den
  3. functional and tidy laundry area

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This is the current state of my office space.  I’ve moved  the equivalent of a truckload of  fabric, craft stuff, seasonal clothes, and various things that will probably end up at Goodwill.  The file cabinet is full and the bookshelf needs to be emptied. The cabinet area below the books is also filled with books.

The shelf above the freezer will be emptied and moved, and the freezer will be moved to the pantry area. The storage behind the stairs will remain as it is for now. OK, maybe I’ll replace the  animal print with something to match my envisioned decor theme.

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The remaining items that need to be moved – more tubs of seasonal and kids clothing; craft stuff, a child’s rocker, the grow light – once upon a time we had plant starts for our garden. I’m considering keeping it and adding some greenery to the area, but still undecided.  I’ll take down my map,  but I think I’m still going to use them. I have maps of Hawaii, Bahamas, Caribbean,  Puerto Rico, Isreal, and Europe. OH, and I have a framed old world map with the  sea monsters and Greek gods on it! I am considering aging the other maps,  tearing  and burning the edges, then having them framed. I also have a topographic map of the ocean floor, I just need to find it in all this junk. My degree is in cartography, and yes I like old maps, new maps, astrolabes, and compasses.

The single light fixture will be replaced with two. I know on my little sketch that I have four (indicated with yellow highlighter) but I think 2 in this area will be sufficient. Funny story –  while looking online for light fixtures, the first one that I came with looked like light fixtures that might have been inside the Titanic so I’m like oh yes , these! Until I saw the price. $159. a piece. I wouldn’t get very far into this if I selected those.  Maybe down the road, but not now. Instead, I found some for $19.99 a piece so even if we go with four, it’s affordable.

Outlets and light switches will need to be added to the walls. The back section of the office will be shelves for storage, and a table for crafting/sewing/sorting.

I’m pretty stoked about this project and have been working every day on clearing out the area. I have come across a couple of problems. First one,  which resulted in the five revisions of floor plans was that  in order to put a bathroom in the basement, we’d have to cut through the floor and add a clean out. We decided that was a bigger and more costly problem than we wanted to address.  Scratch the  original plan with the bar, kitchenette, and spa/resort deluxe bathroom.

Second issue –  the musty basement smell.  I have checked every area that I possibly can. There is no visible evidence of leaking. We have a dehumidifier, but there is a noticeable musty smell. There is a floor drain next to the furnace, which I sprayed a bleach solution on then scrubbed. Other than that, I see no mold anywhere either. Never the less, the smell. . . .so I researched online how to remove the smell. Aside from spraying any known leaks with a bleach solution,  there were two other suggestions. Place open containers of regular charcoal around the space. The second one was to place shallow bowls of cat litter around the area.

I’m doing both today. I’ll let you know if it works. Hopefully,  it will help. I’m thinking that some fans for circulation might help, as well as green plants. While  hubby plays handyman with the electrical and drywall, I am plotting my paint and decor scheme.

I get easily overwhelmed with the amount of work. It has taken me a full week of moving stuff to get it to this point, and there is more to do before we can do any real construction.  I have spent probably an equal amount of time moving stuff as I have standing and staring at the monumental task before me.

I need a sense of order, an organised and dedicated space of my own.

Stay tuned  as we continue to carve out personal space. I’ll share some in progress as well as the big reveal when it’s all finished!

Coming soon –  home decor theme/decor reveal! 

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Personal Space


First, let me say I appreciate all of my readers and followers. You have no idea how thrilling it is when a reader hits like on a post, especially one that I felt was good. Or the elation when I get a new follower, not to diminish all of my followers.  Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder why anyone would bother to read what I write or why  you would choose to follow me. Then after a while, I shrug my shoulders and decide not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I greatly appreciate that you would  use your time to read my words.

Why do bloggers blog?  For me, it’s because I have something to say. Something that I feel needs to be shared. Some do it to make money. I need to figure out how to do that – how to make money while doing something I love. You may see advertising on my blog –  I don’t know.  If so, I don’t make a dime on that.  I suppose it’s just part of the deal for having a free blog. I personally think WordPress is amazing,  so if they decide to  rent space on my free space I can’t very well argue with them.  If I don’t like it,  then I’ll go buy my domain name.  I have to make a profitable income before justifying that.

Why does a reader choose to follow a particular blog? Because somewhere in the rants and raves, the reader connects with what the blogger says.

I occasionally scroll through  new blogs, different blogs, something new and fresh.  I can relate to a few food blogs because you know, food.  I might find a particular article on a sports blog interesting but I’m not going to follow a sports blog. I read a lot of writing-related blogs  for new ideas, motivation, and to help me improve my craft.

My blog is a place for self-expression and creativity. The fact that it has attracted readers is at times dumbfounding to me, at times  ridiculously motivating, and at other times the only thing that keeps me moving forward and not sit in a corner and cry.

I’m not big on airing my daily struggles. Yes, I have them and have on occasion mentioned them, but my view is that these struggles do not define me. Our struggles are real, they shape us, mold us, strengthen us to become who we are,  sometimes better, sometimes worse. Succeeding despite obstacles  gets me motivated.

A particular blog that I follow is my niece, mostly sharing her vlogs about her gastric bypass surgery. I’m so proud of her, she’s been amazing and has reached a great amount of success. I’m not interested in listening to the other weight loss surgery patients sharing their testimonies.  I’m sure that they would have some interesting things to say,  but I don’t want to spend my time doing that.  This one is my niece – I’m sure you can see my interest.

So, in evaluating my blog  –  what have I done that is successful? what have I done that failed? what could I do better?  what posts do my readers like the most? –  it’s up to me to decide what to post and what not to post.  Occasionally I rant. Hopefully, it’s not more frequent than I think it is.  Occasionally it’s random bits of fun because we all need a bit of silliness, a smile, and a dose of happy. Most of the time it’s something writing related.

I spent part of last month reviewing past posts to see what was most liked,  which ones were fails, and where should I go from here.  The photography A to Z challenge was fun!  I hope that my readers enjoyed it. There are a couple of benefits to photography:

  1. I decide what to take pictures of, for instance,if I want a certain image for a post, I can do it/stage it myself.
  2. I don’t have to worry about copyright infringement or someone suing me over an image that I shared  and didn’t profit from.
  3. Something that I find interesting to photograph may prompt an entire story or flash piece.
  4. Knowing that I am not a photographer I can have fun and don’t take myself too seriously.

The photography challenge  gave me the chance to review things and assess what next. Part of me wishes there was a canned monthly blog challenge somewhere that I could just  go to and  read the assignment and say – Oh, today we are posting about topic A, tomorrow, topic B, and so on. That wouldn’t be  very original though, would it? If that were the case, then you could go to any blog and get the exact same thing with slight variations.

It’s kind of like Pinterest. You can look up any topic, scroll through various ideas until you find one you like. For instance – home office/designs and styles. My daughter is coming home from school next week for the summer and possibly longer. (With only one year left to obtain her masters, I think it’s a really bad decision. She’s 21 –  time she experiences the repercussions of her decisions.) I have to move my desk from the shared space in her room since she will be here full-time now. (See what I did there? Nice segue way, eh?)

Where? Where am I to go with my stuff?  I haven’t had a real office area. I set up the desk in her room and to be honest  the desktop became an instant catch-all for my stacks of books, research information, notebooks. . . yes, it’s a mess.  I  reverted back to setting up my laptop on the kitchen table. Which means that I have to clear up my stuff every single day and move it off of the table for meals.

This is disruptive to creative flow.

A brief period of pondering led me to the conclusion that I have nowhere to go with my stuff.  The hubs wants it off of the table, the daughter wants it out of her room, and I want my own space!

 SOLUTION: make my own space.

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How do you carve out your own space? By tapping into an underused resource – our basement. Up to now,  our basement has been a collect all repository for stuff. All sorts of stuff.

We have a small home. Our kitchen does not have a pantry. It has  traditional kitchen cabinets. We made an area in our basement that is a walk in pantry. Unfortunately,  the pantry contains mostly nonfood items at this time. The laundry area is determined by where the water connection is. But the rest of the basement is unfinished and untapped.  I’ve been furiously cleaning the mess down there. I’m embarrassed to admit the accumulation of  stuff.

  1. I have a yarn problem.  I have filled 1.5 large plastic storage tubs with yarn.
  2. I have a fabric problem. I have  filled 2.5 large tubs with fabric. Oh, and my sewing machine is broke.
  3. Books – oh dear lord, the number of books. I can’t blame this one on the hubs, he only has one shelf of books. I need at least 3 more bookshelves to house my books. More like 4 or 5. SIGH –  maybe I can part with a few of them. OK, ten. I can let go of ten.  Instead of a wall, maybe I can get him to build me a wall of built-in bookshelves.  NO –  I can let go of ten. Maybe I can start with one.  But which one do I sacrifice?

Anyway, I’ve been working and the time is quickly slipping away before my daughter returns home. I know this is a little different  than what I usually share, but . . . this is my blog. There are other aspects to life besides dealing with what the next part of the story is  or how to manage time.

Having your own space is a necessary thing. Part of my clutter problem is that I don’t have a place for my stuff.

Isn’t it ironic,  that  this very obvious  condition becomes apparent to me as I start to put myself first? Or at least occasionally?  I cherish the personal space of my blog.  I plan to make my personal office space my retreat, my  fortress of solitude, my getaway, my zen garden.

NO, I’m not putting sand on the floor. That’s just silly. I’ll share tomorrow about the cat litter on the floor, though.

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How do you define your space? Do you have a place that you call your own?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Procrastination Station


How many of you are procrastinators?

 Oh, come on don’t be shy. 

I admit,  procrastination is my arch nemesis.  Has anyone ever  visited Wait But Why blog?  Tim Urban  states it succinctly. He is quite brilliant but difficult to  follow at times.  I imagine that many of you probably think the same about me when I change directions without signaling.

There are a couple of truths that hit home with me.

  1. The 11th hour push. The deadline is 6 weeks away – I have time.  The deadline is 4 weeks away – I have time.  The deadline is 2 weeks away –  I should get on that, . . . right after  the YouTube  video, then the next one, and the next one . . .ooh, shiny!  The deadline  is  HOLY CRAP IT’S 2 DAYS FROM NOW – Work like a madwoman, writing 65000 words in 48 hours skipping meals and sleep, contemplating depends as a means of cutting down on interruptions. I’m just joking.  About the depends anyway.
  2. Procrastinators are ingenious at inventing ways in which to procrastinate. Like, making a blog post about being a procrastinator instead of writing that next chapter in my current WIP, or doing that online class that I must have to renew my  MLO license but instead going down the rabbit hole of Pinterest.  Here’s a short list of  procrastination vices: YouTube, Google, Sudoku, blogging, bujo (ironically both a tool for procrastinating and keeping me on task to avoid procrastinating), Facebook, crafting, binge watching TV series, shopping, planning – just about anything from writing an outline to planning the menu, to planning projects.*
  3. Whatever the THING that is most important, now becomes the least fun. Think about it, it’s true. a) I am an author. Top priority should be writing my books, yet when I sit down to write my mind races with the NEXT book idea. It’s not a matter of writer’s block for me,  it’s a matter of focus on the project at hand. b) I made the commitment  to rent space at our antique mall to sell some of the many  things we own and sell some of my handcrafted items.  Making the stuff is far more fun than tagging, logging and tracking the stuff. c) Much needed housework is not fun and becomes  an easy to put off task resulting in clutter until the point that I can’t stand it and it’s all out war. these are just a few examples.
  4. Being an authorpreneure  leaves an open-ended schedule.  I need deadlines. (Refer back to item 1) I try to set my own deadlines, really I do. But it just isn’t the same. My deadlines are more like guidelines, like the Pirate’s Code – more of a guideline. OOH, maybe we could watch that this afternoon since it’s rainy and . . . NO, I must have stuff ready  for the booth by Friday! See?  I have a deadline.  This isn’t a self-imposed deadline, which is a guideline. This is a hard date deadline set by someone else, in a business that I have paid  hard-earned money to. 
  5.  I had a Fifth point, really I did.  Otherwise known as the squirrel, the rabbit, the shiny. Distractions are a procrastinators kryptonite.

So what do you get when you combine a Creative, a writer, an idea person, and procrastination?

ME, you get me.  You get a creative person that struggles with time management needing a firm deadline in order to stay on task.

The good news is that procrastination can be  overcome. YAY!  IT’s not easy, but it is possible.  Breaking the procrastination cycle  takes hard work and constant vigilance.  I haven’t achieved that yet, just so you know.

  • I mentioned the planning projects as means of procrastinating. This is where the bujo is a double-edged sword. I will elaborate more in a post about  my bujo, but briefly : I am in a group on Facebook for bullet journaling. In this group, many of the people share pictures of their gorgeous planners. I look at my planner which is mostly writing and I get journal envy. I have to remind myself that it’s a tool, not a plaything.  Many of the women in this group (there may be men that this applies to, but I have only seen women.) spend hours decorating their bullet journals, working on their  writing, tracking everything  you can imagine. I found myself trying to decorate my bullet journal to make it prettier, and falling behind on my to-do lists. So the very thing that I began using for  the purpose of keeping me on task became a distraction to accomplishing those items on my to-do list.  It only took me about a week to realize what I was doing and get back on track.

Procrastination enables us to waste valuable time on things that don’t move us towards our goals, but instead keeps us in a waiting station on the ride to nowhere.

Make a choice today to move towards your goals!

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

A to Z Challenge -Y


 

Y -yellow

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

 

 

 

I know I used them before but they are yellow so I’m using them again. They are just so vibrant and sun-shiny!!!

 

 

 

 

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Just look at these beauties!  I have a couple of people asking me for bulbs once the flowers fade.

Until then, I am enjoying the show!

 

 

 

Yellow Road Lines Dividing The Center Of An Old Road

Yellow lines on the road. A sight that I see on most of these winding country back roads.

Y- Yarn.

20151215_07463120160210_074557Yarn – and look, one of them is even yellow! The three skeins in

<—this photo are for a Frank Lloyd Wright architect scarf for an auction event. —> This is what I do with leftover yarn, make cup cozies! Well, that and some other things. I’ve been cleaning  my basement, *shudders* and discovered that I am on the verge of being a hoarder with yarn. I’ve found 7 skeins of yarn that I forgot I had, 12 partial skeins leftover from other projects, and numerous scraps of partial skeins.  I didn’t count them, but  they filled a kitchen trash bag 3/4 full. Holy cow I’ve got a lot of yarn! Cup cozies for everyone!

I told you all before, I suffer from stuffitis! Apparently bordering on hoarding of yarn and craft stuff.  I could open a craft boutique in my basement if it was in order!  Is there such a thing as a  yarn addict support group? Because I may have a problem here. Maybe.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

 

 

Marketing the Love Child


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For a writer, every project is a Love Child.  The first-born holds a place of honor and prestige. The union of  the creative talent that drives the writer to  put pen to paper or virtual ink to virtual screen combines with the hard work and diligence of  writing produces  this love child.  For some, the heavens part and the angel choir sings  it praises. For others it’s a more subtle victory but a victory never the less.

Much like the natural birth of a child, the initial adrenaline rush wears off.  Somewhere around the third sleepless night the parent is wondering “What have I gotten myself into?” There is no turning back from this point.  You’ve entered the parent zone.  For an author, once the initial adrenaline high wears off  – somewhere after a week or so  after the book is released the nurturing of that baby hits us with a similar realization. You’ve entered the author zone.  Inside the author zone, we have to decide whether we are content to have  our baby released out into the world and exist, or do we  let everyone know of their existence? Do we send out ” birth” announcements?  Do we invite people to the “christening”  (aka launch)?

The release date is akin to the  birth of our natural children. From there, we look for milestones. The first smile – the first sale.  The first tooth – the first review.

I’ve hit a few of those milestones with Red Wine & Roses. Released on September 19th, 2015 I had 3 preorders and one individual received her print copy before I got my print copies for the Kentuckiana event. Go figure! AND . . . I got 2 reviews so far – WOOHOO!  Not bad, both have rated it as 4 out of 5 stars.

All writers secretly or not so secretly wish that their baby will be the next success like J.K. Rowling’s or Stephen King’s. How do we get there?  How do we get our baby in front of people who will read  our Love Child?

Social  Networking – Facebook isn’t just for sharing your selfies! Social Media is part of the author’s  Platform, a means to get your baby out into the hands of  readers that don’t realize they want to read your book yet. We’ve all seen the eager author that floods our wall with BUY MY BOOK.  WE ignore those, don’t we?  However,  if you offer teasers, draw interest, bring up interesting  points about  your book and give them a link of where they can find it, people are more likely to give it a  squiz.

Personal Networking – Share your accomplishments with your circle! Your friends know more friends, and their friends know more friends and so on and so on. Network at bookstore events, trade shows, conferences, writing groups,author events, and anywhere you connect with people personally.

Website and blogging – Have all your information in one centrally located easy to find spot. My website isn’t  done yet, but I very much enjoy blogging.  Most of the time I use my blog to voice my opinion, my thoughts, my struggles – yeah I guess you could say it’s a very egotistical venture. I often have a lot to say,  with strong opinions about most  things. Used correctly, a blog or website  can connect you with potential readers and eventually –  fans.  I feel privileged to  have a couple avid fans.  Can’t express my Love for them enough!

These are just  a few means of marketing your love child. I have to be honest,  pursuing the creative bent within me to write my stories, I didn’t realize that I was training to become a PIMP for my LOVE CHILD!

What  grabs your attention  in  a book that you will purchase?  Is it cover art?  Is it the blurb on the back?  Is it how it was marketed? Share your thoughts with us – please!

Write on my friends, write on!

~Ellie

 

My Secret Garden


I have  been given the opportunity to take part in

The Creative Promoter’s 2nd Blog Carnival.

YAY!

Thank you Lisa Anne Wooley and Fred Charles!

 The theme: Places where we find creativity.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image.  All rights reserved to the artist.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image. All rights reserved to the artist.

Creativity  is something that comes from within.  The art of creating something, whether a craft project,  a painting, woodworking,  writing, music – they are all expressions of inner creativity.  When I first read the theme for this project,  I read it as inspiration, or the places that inspire creativity.

There is something magical that happens when  the spark ignites a Creative’s passions.  I can find  no pattern,  no specific  commonality to what  will  ignite that spark.  It has varied from sitting on my sofa flipping through a  home improvement magazine, to walking behind a push mower, to  planting seedlings in my garden.  I’ve been inspired while riding in the passenger’s seat of a car and even while I was driving alone with the radio blaring.

Turbulent skies

Turbulent skies

While some people say that the beach inspires them,  I feel that a beach setting in a tropical paradise does more to bring peace, calm and  relaxation  to my normal stressed state of existence. Some are inspired by mountains but while I admire the beauty and majesty of them,  I don’t feel particularly inspired in a creative way.

The settings that  inspire my creative nature are varied,  but if there is a commonality to them  it would be  something out of the ordinary. Here are just a few:

  • An old abandoned house that has fallen in disrepair that at one time must have been a statement of status.  (Inspired Arturo’s Treasure; mystery intrigue tale of pirates, buried treasure, betrayal, and  romance that spans generations. [Watch for it in 2016])
  • An eerie boggy creek bend that  has recently flooded and is alive with insect noises that  gives an audible  hum in the air. (Inspired Blight Creek;  a zombie tale of a different nature. [Watch for it in 2016])
  • The dressing room of a bridal shop where my daughter tried on Prom dresses. (Inspired Death by Design; Haute Couture styles to die for! [Watch for it in 2017])
Abandoned  estate home in St. Louis.

Abandoned estate home in St. Louis.

I think more than any setting or place that inspires my imagination is the magical game of ‘What if’?  While sitting in a restaurant that my husband and I frequented in our dating years we observed a young man get on his knees and propose.  It was a heartwarming sentimental moment that  brought a tear to my eye.

It sparked conversation between my husband and myself of our beginnings, and as I mulled that over and over in my mind  it sparked What if? in the scene we had witnessed.  What if the couple were perfect for one another,  but his ex decides she  isn’t through?  What if there is a tragic accident?   What if she goes to jail?  (Red Wine & Roses scheduled for release in 2015!) (Oral Dilemma, scheduled for fall of 2015)

I know people who play the ‘what if’ game in their own lives,  constantly worrying about things that will never happen.  Worry is such a useless time waster. The majority of the times those things we worry about never happen.  But in the fiction world, anything and everything can happen.  We can throw our characters into  the fire,  into the next fire,  into the impending disaster,  into and out of relationships, give them an incurable disease,  poison them,  shoot them, and basically wreak havoc in their  fictional lives to play out the scenarios that would send  ordinary folks to the nut house.

It sounds disturbing when you  summarize it concisely like that,  but it’s  the game  many writer’s play  to create some of the best fiction out there.

Once the ideas begin to form, I create a file for them in my ideal garden.  I have a cheap spiral  journal  that I picked up on clearance that I jot down ideas.  In this journal are some sketches of  characters,  sketches of objects from a story idea, and notes about a particular story or character.  Some are all on one page,  some are spread over several pages.  If there is any one  place for my collective creativity, it would probably be this journal. I also have files on my computer and  external hard drive  with  the information once I piece a few things together.

Last summer my daughter was helping me clean  in the basement.  She picked up this journal and tossed it into the trash bin.  I about came unglued. I yelled, screamed, ranted, scooped up my precious journal and ran upstairs to hide it away for safe keeping.  When I was alone with it later,  I opened it, reliving each moment of excitement when I  initially had these inspirations and  gained a new refreshed zeal for a few ideas that had  sat unattended for a while.

Don’t judge me!

It’s funny, my secret garden journal sat in that stack for  a couple of months forgotten while life decided  there were other things to demand my attention.  My rediscovery of this treasured object that looks like a dime store  worthless  notebook reignited my passion like it was  rocket fuel.  Just like in a natural garden,  you leave the seeds covered with dirt for a time, hidden away they begin to germinate. So in a sense another place that I was inspired was a musty cobwebbed basement. Weird, I know.

As I poured over  each and every page, I saw that I had  more  than I thought I did when it was set aside. I saw connections that  I didn’t see before.  Like a Vining plant climbing a trellis, my notes had a thin thread of  the overall theme woven through them.  My true creative nature  flows when I have the pen in hand.  This is the incubator,  the hatching process.  Taking  raw materials – the  boggy creek,  the snooty sales clerk, the young couple – and  formulating my ‘what ifs’ into  a tale of mystery, romance or whatever.

The physical act of writing, pounding out the story on the keyboard  varies between two  stages.  Stage 1 is the driven compulsion to get the story out of my head, where the characters are playing out the scenes faster than I can type.  This is when I am in the flowstate,   when I am immersed in my fictional world. It’s a magical place, a mystical place that  real life demands summons me from too frequently.

Stage 2 sadly is where I have spent most of my writing time.  This is  the disjointed, interrupted, distracted part.  It’s difficult to get back into the flow state of writing when you’ve been distracted from your plan for  the umpteenth time.

Sadly, this is the state where I have to function  more effectively than I have because I don’t just have  ten hours in a day of uninterrupted time to  get things down  onto virtual paper, as is the case with most of the authors I know.  We have lives, families, obligations,  and jobs that demand our time.

Whatever inspires or sparks your creativity, make it a priority in your life.  Pursuit your dreams with passion, in whatever manner you find that works for you.

There is no one place or location that inspires me  to be creative.  Ideas come to me in some of the strangest places. My secret  garden, or inner sanctum’s outer expression would be my  journal.  I’d like to say that it was a nice leather-bound  journal resembling something of an ancient handwritten book,  or as fancy as the Book of Kells,  but alas it’s not.  It’s a meagher little dime store notebook but it works for me.

My Precious - the secret garden journal

My Precious – the secret garden journal

What inspires you?  What sparks your creativity?  Is there a special place that ignites your creative juices?

We are all different, inspired by different things, have different ideas  on how to execute that creativity. I for one am glad for the differences.  It would be pretty boring if we were all of the same hivemind.

Write on my friends, write on!

 Go to CARNIVAL, Lisa’s blog to find the links to other bloggers posts in this  series!

 

 

 

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!


Winner-2014-Twitter-Profile

 

I did it!  50,000 words in 30 days of literary abandon.  It’s rough,  its raw, it’s unpolished but I did it!

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Here’s a mock-up of the cover.  It was for my motivation only. I know I am not a cover artist.

The synopsis: 

Scott’s summer job excavating ancient ruins turns out to be more than he bargained for. The opportunity to spend it with the girl of his dreams quickly turns into a nightmare.With a maniacal killer on the lose, the world in the balance and the clock ticking down to world destruction can he save Helena and stop Ragnarök?

Brief Excerpt:

(Keep in mind this a first draft. )

Down the hill from the camp towards the water’s edge, a man in a black coat, black sock cap and thin leather gloves spread the herbal concoction in a ring around the altar stone as he voiced the Incantation. It was only the beginning step to his plan. As he walked, he repeated the incantation a second time. He’d arrived barely with enough time to get things into place. Glancing over at the girl who would be his sacrifice, he felt anger at her for delaying him. If it wasn’t for the ritual requiring her to be conscious to give consent, he would have kept her sedated. The tone of his chants changed with his rising ire on the third repetition.

He heard the music begin at the camp up the hill. He lifted his eyes skyward and said a thank you to Tyr. This provided an excellent cover if the girl made much noise. He closed the circle with the herbal mix. He took the gold ring, the bronze cuff, and the silver clasp to the altar stone. He set them in the middle of the stone, filed the center with the ash bark, dried heather, and small bits of mica. Striking the ceremonial dagger against the stone key causing a spark. Once the heather ignited, he tossed on the lavender. A thick white smoke poured off then a sudden flash of brilliant light before the fire burned out. He set the items at the top of the stone and stepped out of the ring to get the girl.

He spoke the next line of the ancient spell that allowed him back inside the sacred circle with the girl.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Erik nearly carried Helena the last few feet to her tent. She seemed drugged. He had not observed her taking anything that would cause such a reaction. Inside her tent door, her head lolled forward as she went completely limp. Just like in the car, she was simply out.

He carried her the last few feet and lifted her, settling her onto the cot. He threw her blanket over her and went for help. Inside the mess tent where everyone celebrated, he sought out the medic, Jim Draves.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The girl squirmed in his arms, glancing up at him. “Are we going to your yacht now? You said you’d take me sailing on your yacht.”

“In a few minutes doll. Be patient.” He patted her arm as he moved her to the stone. “Sit here for me. We are going to play a little game.”

“Ooh fun. I like games.” She grinned seductively up at him.

He took her hands in his, wrapping the string tightly around her wrist.

“Ooh daddy. I didn’t know you were kinky. Tie me up and spank your dirty girl.”

He smirked. It was a good thing that this first sacrifice didn’t have to be a virgin. “Yes my dear girl. Daddy is going to get downright kinky with you. PUnish you for your wickedness.”

She giggled and held her hands out towards him. “Wouldn’t we be more comfortable on your yacht though?”

He secured the knot. Then stepped away from her, bending to the dufflebag which held his items. “My darling girl. This part has nothing to do with comfort. Now be a good girl for daddy and lay back on the stone.”

“OK” She batted her eyes and gave him a seductive smile.

“LIft your head sweetheart.” She complied as he slipped a silk handkerchief around her head covering her eyes.

“What if I get scared daddy?”

“Not to worry sweets. I’ve got that covered as well.” He glanced down over her body, her hard nipples pressed against the thin cotton Oxford that she wore. He reached into the bag for the other silk handkerchief and put it over her mouth, in a tight gag.

“Mmm mmmm ggg ammm” She tried to voice her protest. He could see her heartbeat had increased by the pulse at her neck.

“Excellent. You’re doing very good sweetheart.” He bent and retrieved the silver dagger, slipping the black cloth back into the bag. “Do you trust daddy?”

She nodded even as she turned her head back and forth trying to scoot the handkerchief down from her eyes.

He tore open her shirt, buttons flying and cloth ripping. With a flick of the knife he had cut through the fabric of her bra. She gasped.

He began reciting the last line of the incantation as he began carving the runes across her chest, pressing his forearm down over her shoulders to hold her still. Her muffled screams drowned out by the pulsating music above them. At the last word, and speaking the name – Tyr, he plunged the dagger into her heart. Slowly the blood began to pool from her flesh. He swiped his fingers through it and wrote the remaining runes. He positioned the bowl to catch the blood in.

By the time he finished writing the last rune on her body,her heart quit beating.

I’ll bet it’s not what you expected from a romance writer is it?  I’m thinking that this will be  more in the thriller genre.  After I  get done with revisions and edits,  I’ll get a couple of beta readers to give their opinions on it as well.

For my friend’s that said I couldn’t do dark – be afraid, be very afraid.

I must go celebrate now that  I have achieved a goal that honestly I felt was out of my reach.  Dragon Naturally Speaking  was an absolute lifesaver!  OK,  it doesn’t get all the words right,  but it’s learning.

Write on my friends, write on!