Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

22 Days Since my Last Confession


It’s been . . . wow has it really been that long? It’s been 22 days since my last post. Not good, not good at all.

I have no excuses. There were days when I planned on posting,  I even have half of a dozen posts in the archives because after writing them, they just didn’t feel quite right. Maybe a future day or maybe I’ll just delete them – who knows.

“Only the shadow knows.”

Stepping into the ‘Way-back’ machine for a moment, in my last post  on January 18th I shared this bit:  

I’ve been working on my current WIP, Roxy Sings the Blues. Revising, editing, rewriting, . . . and  I just wasn’t happy with it. It wasn’t flowing.  It wasn’t drawing me forward even and I am the author! I had to take a serious look at this and step back to evaluate what I had as opposed to where I wanted this to go.

I set it aside for a couple of days as I researched master plots. This was prompted when I was trying to convey my story idea to a wonderful lady who is kind of mentoring me in my writing. OK, I was a persistent nag until she took me under her wing. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I was working through her class, had fully developed character worksheets,  even made myself character cards to stick on my bulletin board. I spent 4 days working on shaping my plot into a reasonable timeline and developing the major nine points of my plot. I thought I had it all worked out.  It seemed logical. There were twists, turns,  lovable characters, one that you love to hate. . . I thought I was ready to go.

Of course when it was time to meet,  either my computer or hers was acting glitchy and we couldn’t connect for video chat. So we went to the phones.  I have to be honest, the fan-girling had to be tampered down under control before I could get any semblance of intelligible speech out of my mouth.

Alright, enough of the flashback. So what have I been doing with myself these past 22 days that I couldn’t be bothered to post on my blog?

I’m so glad you asked!

Yeah, that part above . . . in the midst of my sulk-fest, when  I got me out-of-the-way,  the ideas came like a grand finale of a fireworks display. One day to the sulk-fest, two days to get my ideas sorted into some semblance of intelligible speech/writing. ( My poor husband, Y’all should have pity on him. He’s the one that actually had to face the many phases of creativity.) A day and a half with two friends and eventually the hubby to take the pieces of the puzzle I had and make an entirely new picture. A half of a day lost to other things –  you know someone has to cook the meals. Two more days were given to brainstorming and ordering things.

Just a note here –  one of the things I like to do, and this may not work for everyone, is to write out my ideas on pieces of paper. Ideally, sticky notes would work for this but I was out of sticky notes.  OK fine – I wasn’t out of them I just couldn’t find any right then.  There are times when you need it NOW and you don’t have time to search the office, the desk, or the box of stuff you cleared off of the table.  Now the slips of paper are interchangeable on a large board  AKA my wall,  which I moved a few around to make more sense then numbered them from 1 to 25 and added a couple of transitions in between reaching my 30 points of light, er story.

Three days to let it sit while I worked on an editing job, hoping that things would mesh. Another day to go over and move a couple more things around slightly.  A couple of days for family/ married life – don’t judge!
Then the fun began. Six days of feeling like death warmed over until my daughter drove me to urgent care where they prescribed three medications for my illness.

Oh Joy! Fun fact –  the one medicine turned my pee bright neon orange. Let me tell you if that wasn’t a shocker!  That could really be used to freak someone out if played right, but sadly I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to exploit it.

OH, don’t even try to tell me you wouldn’t do it. Alas, I missed my window of opportunity.

So that leaves us two days where I had to redo some of the edit calls I made while feverish. I have my notes transferred to index cards in a neat little numbered stack that are right here beside my laptop. Now I can move from one card to the next, not wondering where do I go from here, not bored because I already know what’s coming,  but focused on that one card before I  go to the next.

This is the best method I have come up with for me. It doesn’t inhibit my creative flow or stifle the voice of the muse,  yet it reconciles my sense of order and OCD-ness.

Most of you know I’m not a neat freak, but I do like order.

So, February is shaping up to be a better month for me. I have a plan to move forward in my writing. I have 2 editing jobs on my desk and I am excited to get busy with these three projects. ( My writing plus the two jobs I have the privilege of editing.)

Glad that you’ve stuck with me so far,  things are going to get better.  I still haven’t  gotten my pizza fix, but maybe that’s for the best as I am serious about losing the weight I have gained. One bad thing about being a writer is the backside spread which has been complicated by the back injury.

Objects at rest tend to want to stay at rest and resist exercise. Regardless, I’ve laced up the New Balance and hit the track despite the cool weather. SIGH – ain’t nobody going to do it for me.

Nobody is going to write this book for me and nobody is going to whip this dough girl back into shape but me.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead. I hope you’ll join me in the upcoming weeks as I share tidbits of this new improved tale along with my usual sagacious wit.

You know you love me,  that’s why you keep coming back, right?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

 

 

Phase 1 – Master Plan


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

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

Welcome to Operation Rockstar.

2017 is going to be my banner year. How do I know that? Because I am going to make IT happen!

If you are anything like me, you’ve got your goals written down. Writing down your goals is an important step towards getting them accomplished. But, how do you move them from written down to actually accomplishing them? It starts with planning.  By making a plan, then working the plan, you can move items from your to-do list to checking them off and moving onto the next item. In order to do that, though, you need to take your goal, or goals and make a plan of action.

Let’s back up a bit for a moment and take a peek at the Master List. The Master List to make 2017 the year you become the rockstar!

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?
  2. Make your goals crystalline. For some, this means one goal. Just one. For me,  it means a few. You know, an overachiever and all. I’ve narrowed it down to just a few. A few years back, I had 50 goals. Yeah, who was I kidding?  I did manage to accomplish a few of those things but for the most part, they were on the wish list, not the master list. This is where you write them down. Post them on your fridge, on your bulletin board, wherever it is visible for you to be reminded often.
  3. Become a Rockstar! Become amazing. Become the best version of you that you can be. Become the you that you want to be. Become the you that you want to see in the mirror.  How?  Small steps. That is how we get from the not so hot mess to the total rockstar that everyone is going to take notice of. Look, I don’t expect to be on par with Gina Carrano, or Sophia Vergara. Those women are hot! Those women are amazing but I’m not them. I am ME. You are you. That sounds like a duh moment but if you think about it,  it’s a profound revelation. My job is to be the best ME I can be. Your job is to be the best YOU. Each of us is a one of a kind original masterpiece. Don’t be a copycat of someone else when the starring role of YOU needs to be filled! Take a few moments every day to contemplate your life,  what your hopes and dreams are, who are you?
  4. Get it done! Take your master list, and break each item down into bite size steps. For instance, a top priority goal for me is to lose 50 pounds. How am I going to get there? It seems like an insurmountable task when it has been such a  problem for me. How? I am going to take steps to do that. 1. I am going to follow a healthy, portion controlled, carb controlled diet plan. 2. I will increase my physical activity for improved cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. (Say that 3 times fast!) 3. I will use daily meditations, prayer, and motivational material to improve my mental state of being because the battle is in my mind. 4. I will break it down to smaller increments of ten pounds with nonfood rewards when I reach those smaller goals. 5. Work those steps until the goal is completed.
  5. Work the Plan! You have to stick to it.  It gets hard. It gets dull. It gets tedious, but don’t give up. This is where a vision board might help you. I am creating myself a vision board this weekend. A vision board can be a very personal thing. It is what motivates you. The point is to make your dreams visible in order to achieve those dreams and make them your reality.  If anyone is interested in me sharing the vision board, leave me a message and I will take a photo of it to share. I haven’t done one in a few years,  but it really did help when I did it. It also helps to have an accountability partner. Work with someone that will encourage you, that will celebrate your wins, give you the pep talk when you are in the pits,  scream at you like a drill sergeant when you’ve been a slacker,  someone who will call you on your bull! Just for the record, an accountability partner is not someone who is simply going to be your cheerleader.It’s the coach making you drop and give him twenty, the drill sergeant that sends you out for a five mile run to clear your head, it’s the personal trainer that pushes you to do more than you FEEL like doing because our feelings are liars. It’s the person that knows when you are honestly sick and should rest for two days, then gets you back on track for 363 days to achieve your goals.

There you have the master plan. 5 easy steps to make this year a great year!

New Year, New Plan


man-looking-up-at-stars-milky-way-and-galaxy

Just when you thought I had fallen off the face of the earth . . .

Between colds, flu, and a bout of food poisoning December took it’s toll on me. I”d like to say it was reflected on the scale,  but I can’t. That would have been a desirable side effect so we can’t have that, right? That’s how it seems at times.

I fully intend to get back on track with my blog, with writing, with my fitness goals . . . which brings us to that time  – the New Year – when I make my new list of goals.

Three things that you should know about me if you haven’t already gleaned this info:

1. I’m an overachiever. I know it and yet I find myself compelled to continue in my overachieving way. Doesn’t mean I always accomplish them, in fact, it’s often to the contrary.

2. If I don’t plan, I will drift aimlessly along never accomplishing anything, then beat myself up mentally over my lack of focus.

3. I’m seriously ADD and find it difficult to focus on much of anything for very long, hence why I change my themes regularly, digress in the middle of a five hundred word post, and am easily distracted by the next shiny.

So I have multiple categories,  varied topics, and the most consistent stream of conscious seems to be random madness. I didn’t do so well on this past year’s  goals. 2016 was not my best year in any stretch of the imagination. On to the new year, right? It isn’t going to do much good to keep pondering my failures. Learn from them and move on, which brings us to the present. A new shiny!

2017 Goals for Ellie:

  1. Publish 4 books. I’m not restricted by any small publishing house’s  whims or schedules. I have multiple files sitting in my folder with finished projects that are ready for an editor. Valkyrie’s Curse was finished  – so long ago I don’t even remember when. I went back over it in April of last year, making revisions and realized that I hadn’t really wrapped the story, which led to expanding it into a series. Revisions put it’s completion in July, and I was supposed to hand it off to Eclectic Bard at Penned Con before my contract ended.  I am really going to try to focus on one project at a time until completion so the order of release will be: 1)Roxy Sings the Blues, 2) Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening, 3) Eerie Isles Chronicles book 1, 4)The Piano.
  2. Blog 12 Times per Month. Goal 1 transitions into Goal 2 because after discussion with other authors, one of the  ‘hits’ of my categories was shared snippets of current writing. ( To include revisions as well.) I’m planning to be back on a regular blogging schedule and do NOT plan to be sick for five weeks straight ever again if I can help it.  But that’s just one topic, right? I mean there are so many other things –  bujo, food, fitness, current events,  and a myriad of things that may pop into my head from time to time. (Trust me, it’s better if you read them one at a time instead of the rapid-fire barrage that  exists inside my cranium.)
  3. Read 30 books. Down from my usual 50 but I still have to read. Consider it research and a job requirement.
  4. Lose 50 pounds. I hate where I am. I never wanted to be here, and yet here I am. This goal is the top priority and if I accomplish nothing else this year,  this one is a MUST. Fifty pounds doesn’t even get me to my goal weight,  but that’s  nearly a pound a week. If I lose more great, but I am currently not at any semblance of a healthy weight.
  5. Build my author’s website and integrate my blog there.
  6. Get our house ready to sell and move. This is a major undertaking as we’ve lived in the same house for 23 years and my husband is a packrat. I tend to procrastinate and avoid dealing with the stuff. We are surrounded by stuff and I can’t take it anymore. The austere living is becoming more and more appealing.
  7. Get my office set up. We’ve been over this so many times. Last time I shared pictures of the area that I worked my butt off ( unfortunately not literally) clearing out only to have that area filled with more stuff. It was disheartening. I haven’t made a lot of headway since then. It’s like getting your feet cut out from under you. Not just having the rug pulled,  but someone hacking your feet off and then having to continue. How can I make myself focus on a writing career as a business when I have to keep moving my laptop off of the table every single night? I need certain writing tools and stuff when I am writing. I need my reference materials, resources, notes, planner, and my to-do list. These end up stacked on the shelf that tops the short wall of our stairwell. For a visual, it’s a stack of clutter in the kitchen of an open floorplan home. This sets off my OCD-ness every day.

Seven goals for 2017. Streamlined tremendously from my 50 a couple of years ago. Should be simple enough to accomplish right? Simple but not easy.

It’s going to take a concerted effort in order to accomplish each one. It will require effort, a great deal of effort. I could use some encouraging along the way. I’ll make you a deal – I’ll cheer you on with your goals if you help me with mine. Deal? So what are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish in 2017?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

Red Wine Makeover!


Greta Garbo, and Monroe
Deitrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine

Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean
Picture of a beauty queen
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
Ginger Rodgers, dance on air

They had style, they had grace
Rita Hayworth gave good face
Lauren, Katherine, Lana too
Bette Davis, we love you

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

Vogue, vogue

Ah, those flashback moments. When I received my finished  cover last night,  I was singing this song to myself. Weird maybe, but there it is. Particularly this  section of Madonna’s song Vogue, They had style, they had grace . . . . ladies with an attitude.

Have you ever seen pictures of some of Hollywood’s darlings without their makeup? It gives hope for the rest of us! Seriously, some of the stars in the raw have you scratching your head and asking How?

There have been tons of makeover shows on TV. Biggest Loser’s most viewed episodes are makeover week when they transform the former fatties into Haute Couture Hotties.

My book, Red Wine & Roses was originally published from Eclectic Bard Books last year, September 19, 2015.

11924560_1472539119715060_6584436532208606751_n (3)While I loved the elegant and understated cover, readers found it confusing. Some thought that it was perhaps like a Steeple Hill Christian romance, like this reviewer:  red-wine-roses-1

on December 8, 2015
First things first, I am not a prude. With that out of the way, it would have been good knowing that this book included graphic sex. The story overall did not need such scenes, I felt they were added to embellish and titillate. The main story was good on its own, but the end felt rushed, as if the Author was limited to a certain amount of pages. Or, perhaps after running thru a 2 -3 hour movie, they rolled up the last three chapters after the final commercial break. This was most definitely not my cup of tea, but it could be yours. The characters are well defined and fleshed out with certain aspects of them coming to light only late in the game. It is also about a young woman looking for love. If you come into this book knowing there will be hot and heavy scenes, you may enjoy it more than I did. Well written and described.
I appreciate his honesty! I was surprised, to be honest that someone would read a contemporary romance and be surprised that there is sex. I thought I had tamed it down and that it wasn’t as graphic as I have been on Storytime.  Then there was the comment about it being rushed, . . .  which I think had more to do with my edits than anything else.  I tried years ago to write a Christian romance, and I couldn’t do it.  With the CBA restrictions on words that I couldn’t use I had to eliminate a character named Angel, along with cut out so much of my story because of the prohibited words, I threw my hands up in defeat and realized I can’t tell the story I want to tell within those restrictions. Life is gritty  and that’s when we learn and grow.
So, . . .my contract with Eclectic Bard Books ended November 18, 2016. This book is now retired.  I do have a few print copies left in stock.
However, I am rereleasing a 2nd edition, retaining full rights of my work (thank you for that Eclectic Bard Books). the word count went from 82K to 91K, so some of those rushed chapters are now  more fully fleshed out. Part of this was a matter of adding back in some cut sections and adding additional lines in others.
Today, I get to unveil the  revised version! Are you ready?
Thanks to my fabulous cover artist Gabrielle Pendergast atwww.coveryourdreams.net. 

Drumroll . . . . 

redwine-ebookTADA!!!

And, 15175619_10154822248251177_1133214610_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?  I absolutely love it!

I will share the release date just as soon as I have it, but until then . . . enjoy the eye candy!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and  happy by proxy Turkey day to all of my  no ‘Murican friends. Enjoy the  family, friends and celebrations. No Black Friday shopping for me, I’m not into that. Instead, that will be the day we transform our modest home into a Christmas time capsule akin to some of the old department store displays.

This is my favorite time of year! What better Christmas gift to myself than a makeover of my debut novel? OH I know, starting on revisions for my next one, Roxy Sings the Blues, which is planned for release in early 2017!

Now go eat some pie! Tell ’em Ellie said so!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Plans Change


I recently had someone point out to me that I really don’t do well with change.

HUH?

Are you kidding me? Every single day of our lives, we change, improvise, adapt, overcome, and make a new plan. Human nature likes routine. Human nature likes to  function on auto-pilot and reserve brain cells.

Improvixe, Adapt. Overcome.

Improvise, Adapt. Overcome.

Change happens. Hence, today’s post is changed from what I had planned. More about that later.

It seems a regular routine that I make plans and they are changed, they get changed, or I have to change them because I made an unrealistic plan.   Seriously,  I know it’s not feasible to unclutter my house in one week. The amount of STUFF contained by four people,  one of which is a serious packrat on the verge of hoarder, one that is completely disorganized and two that never put things back where they belong – yeah, I doubt I can get it one in a month! Maybe a room a week might be doable. That’s just one item on my list.

Here is a list of reasons why you have to  wad up your plans and  make new ones.

  1. Unrealistic goals.  You would think being over 30 that I would have learned a long time ago to make more reasonable goals. This is one reason I have to keep reminding myself to make SMART goals. I get excited with a plan and get overly ambitious. That’s when I set myself up for failure by saying things like – I am going to have our entire house clutter free by the end of September.  Guess what? September came and went and I barely made a dent in it.  Not that I was busy preparing for Penned Con or anything. I am learning however, to look at my planner first,  check to see what is already scheduled before I make plans. Yeah, it’s only taken me this many years to figure this out. *eye roll*  (Eyeroll inserted courtesy of Mandee Shanklin)
  2. Unexpected Surprises. Things come up. An unplanned trip to urgent care. A surprise visit from a stomach virus. Drop in guests that stay for hours and hours and possibly overnight. I’ve mentioned this before, but when you work from home, people assume that you don’t really do anything so you can go out to lunch at the drop of a hat,  you can have drop-in visitors that stay for hours, or you are free to go shopping with them all afternoon. While there are times that I may welcome the  occasional visitor,   most of the time it requires a great deal of self-discipline to manage my time.
  3. Giant wrenches! There are times when  a giant wrench is thrown into the gears and everything comes to a screeching halt. For example: allocating my time divided between writing, editing, and stocking the resale shop. I made a plan to  go to the shop on Tuesdays and Friday. On Wednesday I made tags and do inventory. On Monday I spent a couple of hours cleaning items and deciding what goes this week. However, when my daughter’s work schedule changes and she has to be at work at one in the afternoon that leaves me without a car to  take my items to the shop. We’ve been juggling three cars between four adults. I really don’t want to buy a fourth car. It’s time for our girls to work on buying their cars. But in the mean time, I am the one who ends up without wheels. Before you say just take public transportation, we don’t have any here.  I live in a rural area. The neighbor’s  horses aren’t up for rent either.
  4. Unforeseen Complications.  They pop up all the time.  This is why when you work for someone else and have to give an estimate for a deadline,  you factor 25% more time into your project projection because inevitably,  something will come up that delays your deadline.  It is more difficult to get step 4 accomplished than you originally planned for, so that means the extra time it took you to problem solve for that problem has pushed your completion date back by four days. This is also the reason why I have to make self-imposed deadlines. Without setting deadlines for myself,  I hit a snag and drift aimlessly for hours, days, sometimes it turns into weeks. Before you know it,  it’s been six months  that I’ve been stagnated.
  5. Too Many Irons in the Fire. This. Right here.  This one more than anything else is the root of my problem. I know some people who pride themselves on juggling multiples of multiples. I’m not a juggler.  I’m not a single-minded individual either. I’m  somewhere in between, closer to the single-minded end,  but erratic enough that I always, ALWAYS have too many things going on at any given time. The problem is,  nothing gets my undivided attention, therefore I don’t ever get that full sense of satisfaction from focused effort on one thing at  a time. I”m working on this. I’m better than I was,  but I still have a long way to go.

So, back to my original plan for today.  I did some really cool stuff at Penned Con that I am planning to share.  I was planning to start on Monday,  but I was exhausted. Sorry –  not going to make any excuses. I was wiped. The adrenalin rush subsided and I was drained.  So scratch Monday.

Yesterday I had a car, so I was in a mad scramble to get all of my errands completed. I got a couple of hours of writing time  in the morning, then it was off on a big circuit to the shops, grocery store, bank, post office, and I forgot to stop at the library.

This morning,  I get feedback from individuals that  I talked with at Penned and their first impressions of me were based on comments made by another individual. Wow! Thanks for that. It may seem like I don’t handle change well but in fact, I do.  I talk about it, talk about my frustration with it,  but I manage it. If I didn’t handle it I would need a prescription for Xanax or one of those other things daily. Of course, as it was also pointed out if I were to take the Xanax,  then I probably wouldn’t stress eat.

Xanax versus brownies . . .  I am fond of brownies. Not as fond of the chemicals in the drugs. I need all the brain cells I can muster.  I freely admit I am a long time self-medicator with food. Now put my  brownies back on the table and back away slowly and no one will get hurt.

Plans change. We adapt. We make new plans. Life throws us a curve ball,  we bunt. It throws a speedball, we hit a homer! Sometimes we strike out,  but sometimes it’s a grand slam.

What about you? Are you adapting? Are you still in the game or are you sitting on the bench wringing your hands?  I haven’t given up yet, you shouldn’t either. Take a deep breath and get back in the game!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Time to Destress


The  local school district started back on their school year  on Monday which also coincides with my daughter returning for her college semester. I thought this was a good time to implement changes in my own schedule.

I had every intention of making a post on Monday, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday . . .  you get the idea. Wow, cray cray comes out to play when you decide to make improvements. Has anyone ever experience this?  It’s like, as long as you exist in the current chaos karma doesn’t notice you.  Let me stop right there for a moment.

I know in the Christian community it is frowned upon to refer to karma however, for all intents, karma is a non-Christian way of explaining a very Christian phenomenon. The Bible clearly states that ‘whatsoever you sow, that also shall ye reap’. In other words – what goes around comes around. In still other words – karma is a bitch! Do good – get good. Do bad – get bad.  It’s a simple concept that is universal, not exclusive to the Christian community. So, if you are going to get all bent out of shape for using the term, I don’t know what to tell you.

Where were we? Oh yes – KARMA. The existing chaos. Making improvements . . .  well, trying to at least. As soon as you disrupt the status quo, it apparently wakes up Karma and her evil sister Fate, and they in turn wake up the third sister Destiny. In this particular instance, Destiny apparently said ‘Oh good for her. That will bring her closer to realizing her dreams’ and rolled over and went back to sleep. Karma was pissed about her reaction in addition to your changes and persuades Fate to her side by bribing her with caffeine.

Never the less,  I proceed with my  intended changes. These are changes to improve, to correct, to streamline and become more efficient with my time.  Once upon a time, I had a schedule that worked. I was doing great then something changed and I let my schedule lapse. I knew that the 15th of August was when my daughter returned to college. I knew that would be a good time  to put myself back on a schedule. Keep in mind,  I don’t do well with a rigid structured schedule.  It has to have some flexibility built in.  However, I don’t do well with open-ended freedom either. It’s all about balance.

I  was rather slack over the summer which resulted in  three weeks of a frantic scramble to make up for time that I had wasted. Since Monday, all hell has broken loose in our household. Some of you might think to throw up your hands in defeat and say why bother. Not me. Nope, this little grey duck thinks –  I must be on the right path if I am getting this much resistance. (life experience has proven this to be the case.)

Having said that, let’s do a quick review to catch up, then I’m going to share the coolness that I found online. Ready?  Buckle up, hands and feet inside the cart while it is in motion.

  • Monday – new schedule in place, honored my time breaks, was quite efficient and productive. Focused efforts on beta read for a fellow author and progress made on my super secret project. (Come on, aren’t you just a tiny bit curious?)
  • Tuesday – errands, driving,  resale business, – I fell behind and didn’t get everything accomplished which  dictates that my afternoon today is going to be completing the tasks left unfinished from Tuesday.
  • Wednesday –  finish the beta read, 3600 words towards next project, review of potential covers and logo, arrangements for Penned Con, then  the internet went kaput. sayonara! Wait – no!  NOOOOOOOO! I wasn’t done putting my information in. I didn’t . . . tech is scheduled to show up on Thursday.
  • Thursday – working offline, domestic goddess duties, resale  tasks to complete, wait on tech guy, still no internet. 5600 words towards next project  – I’m on a roll!
  • Friday –    yay! We have internet again! Make up for all the work lost earlier in the week, finish domestic duties, resale business prep for the weekend. (there is always more foot traffic on the weekend)

In all of that,  I have specific things but not a rigid schedule.  As the blog posts were not at the top of the list,  they fell off the bottom and were moved to the next day.  This is just one aspect of the bullet journal that is both frustrating and  helpful. There is no sense beating ourselves up over it, just move it to the next day and it becomes the top priority. I will be perfectly honest, if I didn’t have my bullet journal I would be lost and have given up ten times over.

So, I am going to share what I thought was a creative idea in my planner.  Bear in mind, I am not an artist.

20160815_135543 The only purpose of this page is for self-motivation, a sort of self-talk when I feel down and feel like I am a failure, which is often.  I’m thinking of adding a pop of color over the eyelashes like eye shadow, but I haven’t decided quite how to do that. Feel free to copy it make your own, make something similar, laugh at my artistic attempts, whatever ripples your nipple!

Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, slow down, and realize that there is more to life than (fill in the blank). It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace that we set for ourselves and feel as if we are failing at every turn. This is why I love my bullet journal, it helps me maintain some semblance of sanity.

NOW –  for the cool stuff I found online. How many of you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality profiles?

Go HERE to find out what yours is.

That’s not the cool part.  By understanding your personality, then you can understand why you do things a certain way and what works for you. My personality type is ENFP – a campaigner. Read the description, you’ll see that it fits. This is the cool part –  a friend shared a link with me about how the personality types reacts to stress. Mine was dead on!

What stresses out an ENFP:
– Environments where rules are rigidly enforced
– Focusing on repetitive, detailed tasks
– Having to focus too much on sensory details
– Having to focus too much on the past or present
– Not being able to use their intuition
– Constraints on brainstorming or envisioning
– A lack of outside stimulation
– Being micromanaged
– Having creativity stifled
– Having to complete projects before they’re ready
– Criticism
– Lack of appreciation
– Having their values violated
– Overextending themselves for others

ENFPs tend to overextend themselves, and procrastinate, which is often a source of stress as it complicates their lives. (It’s like they know me!)When they become stressed, their naturally charming natures become more irritable and over-sensitive. (I can neither confirm or deny that this is true.) When stressed, ENFPs feel alienated and engage in deceptions to obscure what is occurring within themselves. They will feel that they are losing control over their own independent identities and feel conflicted by intruding circumstances. During continued stress, they may fall into the grip of their inferior function, introverted sensing. When this happens, they become obsessive and depressed. They will become hyper-aware of minor bodily sensations or abnormalities and interpret them as a sign of a serious illness. They may have a hard time communicating clearly, and feel numb and frozen inside. Their thinking may become cloudy and convoluted. They will feel that there are no possibilities or ways out. (This is why I am obsessed with the self motivational talks which you read here.) They may feel overwhelmed, out of control, unable to sort out priorities, and thus become inflexible. Some become obsessive about record keeping, cleaning, or other household tasks. (I should be so lucky that I obsess over something useful like cleaning!)

How to help an ENFP with stress:
– Give them space and time alone to sort out their feelings.
– Remind them that they are able and competent.
– Give them permission to “escape”
– Don’t give them advice. It won’t help right now.
– Don’t ask for details.
– Don’t try to “fix” the problem.
– Meditation often helps ENFPs
– Listen to them.
– Encourage them to exercise
– Encourage them to get enough sleep
– Encourage them to get a massage
– Be warm and kind in the way you speak to them
– After they’ve calmed down a little, ask them if they want help evaluating the situation.

I agree with all of those things except the massage.  Many people are all about getting a massage, not me.  I don’t like uninvited touching.  It kind of freaks me out to have some stranger touching me. Yes, I know I have issues. My issues have issues. Those issues have grand baby issues. Let it go. I have.

If you want to find out what it says about you, and possible ways to de-stress yourself and maybe how you can avoid your big stressors, go to psychologyjunkie and see what it has to say about your own personality!

You gotta admit, this is kind of cool!

I hope next week is better and things begin to flow like a gentle stream. No Karma, I did NOT say like a stream overburdened with rains from a thousand storms that  threatens to destroy everything in its wake.

I hope your week goes well for you! Are you making changes for the better? Trying to be more efficient? Leave a comment and share the changes that you are making.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

What Went Wrong?


This is a recap post for the month of July. What Went Wrong? My goal for the year has been to blog at least 15 times per month. Ideally, it would be daily given the name, but  time has not allowed that. (Refer to my numerous posts on Time management, or rather my struggle with it.)

At the beginning of the month, I always assess the previous month to determine what went well, what went poorly, what fell through the cracks, and  examine the new irons in the fire. I know, I said there wouldn’t be any new irons in the fire. But they are so shiny and new and . . . . thus my perpetual battle.

I have to scratch my head about July. It seems that I got very little done during this month. In that vein, I began to investigate and evaluate. My planner is not only my to-do list,  it’s a record of what happened. what I spent my time on, and when I’m serious about my  diet, a record of my eating so that I can see where I went wrong. So I started there.

Four birthdays and our anniversary. One of those birthdays was my husbands – happy birthday honey! We went out for our anniversary, it was a nice dinner. Came home too stuffed to enjoy  the dessert that I made.

We attended four auctions  for our resale business. I’m anxious for the weather to bet a little cooler so that I can stand to work in the garage creating new and renewed  items.

I have been without a car from July 6th through August 1st. THAT was a challenge! I don’t live in an area that has public transportation so a car is basically my lifeline. I live 7 miles outside of town. Yes, I’d be a lot more fit If I walked to town, but  it would take up my entire day.

I completed the manual that I had been tasked to do. (I discussed this in the post I Did It!) I finished an editing job. I worked on my own writing for Camp Nano, and won! I started doing this Level 10 Life thing that I read about.  I really like the concept of this. Google Level 10 Life and  check out Boho Berry’s blog.

I have made goals for each category, some I’ve done well with while others, not so much. The basic idea of this is to get my life in order. For those of you who have it all together great. I don’t. I thought that this might be a way to make small incremental improvements in these life  categories.

On the positive, I’ve accomplished goals in these categories: career and business,  personal growth and development, family and friends.

On the negative: I’ve made little or no progress in my environment (home office is on hold), health and fitness, and finances.

So why does it seem that I didn’t accomplish anything?  Because two of my goals were not accomplished.  Two goals that need to be my top priority.  Does anyone else struggle with this? All other accomplishments  are disregarded when  the two you really wanted to  mark as complete remain on the to do list. Which lead to the next question, how do I escape this vicious cycle?

I want to do better in August. This is why I evaluate what worked and what didn’t.  We keep what works and discard the rest. I was behind on my planner, but this afternoon I will be marking my new goals page, tracking my level 10 Life, setting up my schedule for blog posts and  general daily entries.

This seems to be my saving grace amidst a sea of turmoil. That is the reason  I sing the praises of my bullet journal. I’ve kept a planner for years, but somewhere into the year I quit on it. My bullet journal has helped me quit quitting!

Speaking of that, it’s time for me to tackle one of the areas I’ve neglected, my domestic goddess duties.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Tacking


homeslide1Sailing is one of those activities that I dream of . Maybe it’s  being landlocked in the midwest, but I love the ocean and all things nautical. Except octopus. (Hence the decor ideas for my new office space – more about that later.)

In one of my speaking engagements,  I talked about goal-setting. I used nautical terms to get my point across along with images and youtube videos. Granted, most of the audience didn’t care about sailing and I knew that but by the time I had finished, a few simple terms stuck in their mind and several people sought me out at the end to share with me  that they appreciated it.

Tacking is one of those terms.  Tacking is the heading of a sailing vessel, when sailing close-hauled, with reference to the wind direction. . . one of the series of straight runs that make up the zigzag course of a ship proceeding to windward. . . to change the course of (a sailing vessel) to the opposite tack.  It is a zig-zag course as opposed to a straight line. It is the constant readjustment  of your vessel to reach your chosen destination.

tackThere are 2 ways to accomplish this, through several small zags or fewer larger zags with greater impact.

Small zags would be akin to my monthly adjustments when I evaluate where I am compared to where I want to be. Larger zags would be changing careers, taking a new job.

Life will carry you downstream if you let it. Stuff happens. Disappointments happen. If you let the current carry you along, you will end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Way back when I chose my first career as a cartographer, I had a fascination with maps, mapping, exploring, charting unexplored lands. Still have the fascination,  just not the job. By the way, for those who don’t know cartography is the study of maps, a cartographer is a map maker.  I made maps. I wished for the days of the large sailing vessels and to be an ancient mariner creating those magnificent maps that are adorned with sea monsters and forebodings such as “here there be dragons”. The career choice landed me a profitable career with our defense department with a tidy income and numerous perks. Until the point when I decided to pursue an alternate career choice that turned out to be the biggest blessing and the biggest source of stress. What are you going to do, right? I wouldn’t change it for the world, though.

If you don’t adjust your compass heading,  tack starboard or tack port, you’ll end up dashed on the rocks.

I find myself diametrically opposed however, to certain individuals who  believe –  make a plan and stick to the plan. Keep working on THAT plan.  But what do you do when that plan is snatched from your grasp? What do you do when the company that you have  worked for twenty years decides  they need a cutback? It’s nothing personal, they just need to cut their workforce by 15% and you happen to be on the list? How does that figure into THAT plan?

It doesn’t. That’s when life  has dealt you a bad hand and you can’t even bluff your way into a winning round.

So you adjust, overcome, improvise. Pull up your big girl pants, put on the  steel boned corset and chart a new course.  It’s far easier to make minor adjustments on a regular basis than end up in some strange land where you don’t speak the language and discover that you have lost your way.

Today is that day for me.  I evaluate where I am on my projects and determine my plan of action for the coming month. Last month I started on the massive project of  caring out an office area in our basement.  I shared pictures of the unfinished but mostly clean area. Another project moved into top priority and I lost some ground. The temptation to put stuff in an empty space is too great for some people to resist. I’m not going to name names as I am guilty myself. I don’t even have an office yet,  but I have shelves of my writing related stuff moved in. It would have been so much easier to  get flooring, walls, lighting, and all that painting business done first but it didn’t happen that way.  I needed it out of my kitchen and living room where it was in the way.

Anyway,  tacking to the starboard. The plan for June  on the office front is ramping up  this project and  focusing on existing writing projects. I’m not taking on any additional editing jobs until I get the ones I have completed. I hate falling behind and these will go back to the author  with no charge.  I’ve edited her entire series and I can see growth and improvement in her writing from the first one to this one. This is encouraging to me as a writer and as an editor because it means that my own writing can improve. It also means that it doesn’t have to be perfect to release my babies into the world.  It’s not like the old days when  the only means of publication were the big seven.  It provides a moment of opportunity to tack starboard or port in my writing as well and adjust my course to reach my destination.

Take a few moments today to check your headings. Where are you in comparison to where you want to be? What adjustments can you make in the coming month? year? What goals are you working towards? Do you need to set a new course entirely?

I plan to start  tomorrow on the right foot, the right headings, and make every day count.

Write on my friends, write on!

Til next time,

Ellie

 

Revision #32


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For as many years as I have been an adult, I’ve always  implemented a bit of advice my father shared with me during a fishing trip.

He had asked me what my plans were for a future career.  At that time, I was planning to pursue  becoming a psychiatrist. After he explained to me how many additional years of schooling that would require, I decided to change courses. I sometimes wish  I hadn’t but that is neither here nor there. The point is adjusting my course.

“There are several options that are available to you. College has a limit, however. Your scholarship will only cover four years, so make those four years count. Make certain that the path you choose is the one you want. You can always adjust your course but it’s more difficult. It’s always good to evaluate where you are as opposed to where you want to be. If you are on the wrong path, get back on the right one.  If the path you’re on meets with a dead-end, then  look around at  another route or change the destination.”

Those honest words spoken in advice when I was 17 or 18 have stuck with me. I assess where I am,  in comparison to where I want to be. Always adjusting  my course.

When one door closes another one opens. When one path is blocked you must choose or make an alternate route.

It’s one thing to set your heading in a direction, another to check to make sure your ship is running true. Mile markers along the way let you know you’re on the right path or  if you’ve gotten off track.

“Memphis? We should be seeing signs for Lexington not Memphis!”

Set your  course and  head to your horizon.  I’m having to adjust my sails into the wind.

 “The second star to the right, and straight on till morning” 

 – James M. Barrie

I hope you find your dreams, your Neverland where your inner child never ages. It’s where the fountain of youth really lies.  Our outward bodies  will waste away, but the internal spirit lives on, changed and transformed  by each life lesson, our hope renewed and invigorated.  Such a grand adventure in store for each of us!

Pursue your goals,  chase your dreams,  and never give up!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie