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:


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,


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!


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.)





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!



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.


Time Bandits


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

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

Ah speaking of – they came and stole a good portion of my time this week so my post was delayed. Demands of the paying gig always come first. I’m at that point of weighing whether the additional time required to do the job are worth the pay or if it’s time to look for a different job. It’s a fine line at the moment.

If you’ve missed the first two installments of my mini-series, you can find them here:

1. The Creative Mind

2. A Mentalist

Now that you are caught up, onto the topic at hand – time bandits. Being a creative does not give license to waste time but I know several creatives that have taken time-wasting to a near art form in and of itself. It seems a shame when you see a very talented person goofing off playing video games, but then again Pewdiepie makes a good living playing video games.

The following characteristics I’ve grouped into this category because they all involve time management or the lack of.
I’ve often been accused of living on a Bohemian time schedule. I often misjudge the amount of time it will take to do a task, and when you are waist deep in your inspired work it’s hard to just stop. Go find a stream and wade out to where you are waist deep. In order to get back to the bank of that stream, it takes a concerted effort. First of all, you want to make it worth your while of getting soaking wet and fighting the current and the c old water temperatures so you want to make the most of your time in that stream. After reaching a point where you are satisfied or your teeth are chattering and lips are blue, whichever comes first you make your way to the bank.

There isn’t a crane with a hoist that just lifts you from the center and plants your feet on the terra firma. You have to step carefully keeping your balance because the current of the flowing water could easily take you under if you aren’t paying attention. Inspiration is like that – and if you don’t pay attention to it, it will knock you over in the water and flow downstream to the next victim – I mean creative in its path.

NO, you don’t want inspiration to leave you and bless the next guy – we are a greedy bunch – we want it for ourselves so we wade out there – waist deep – letting it flow through us, letting it affect our bodies, our minds until nothing else matters but the rush of creation!

Then someone is yelling waving hands on the bank demanding you get out of the river because there are dangers or they want to leave or whatever their demands are. It’s almost a drugged state – a euphoric rush of creative juices that affects your entire being.
Slowly their words begin to register and we make our way to their dry location. ( NO pun intended – honestly!) After leaving the “ rush” of those waters – we are left cold, shivering, our fingers may even prune, but our minds are still on the thrill of that rushing water.

OK, so now that I went into that whole little diatribe trying to convey what it’s like and why time is irrelevant for a creative mind, let’s move onto the characteristics.

1.  Creatives work the hours that work for them. Frank Lloyd Wright rose at 4 am to work on his projects. It was when he felt the most creative. No matter when it is, individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds are in “the zone”, and structure their days accordingly.

This is an area that I have difficulty with because the logical minded persons in my household believe that everyone should function on the day shift schedule. My mind usually doesn’t even approach the zone till 7 pm. I always have my notebook handy, but it causes conflicts when I stay up till 2 am.

Having said that I will counter by adding – I can adapt. My marriage and family are worth more to me than getting my way about when I write. Besides, most of the world operates around day shift. I will adapt, overcome, and improvise!

2.  They lose track of time. See the allegory of the stream above. Yes, we lose track of time. There is a multiplicity of factors that contribute to this.
Creative types may find that when they’re writing, dancing, painting or expressing themselves in whatever way they choose, they get “in the zone,” or what’s known as a “flow state”, which can help them to create at their highest level. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought,  reaching a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. ( Try that Zen garden on for size!) When someone is in this state, they’re practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance.
When they are creating they get lost in time and space.  They can forget to eat, to drink and even to sleep. When words, colors or ideas start to flow out of their mind there’s nothing else that really matters to them.

You get into the flow state when you’re performing an activity you enjoy that you’re good at, but that also challenges you — as any good creative project does.

So here are some reasons why we lose track of time:

  • Inspiration hits when inspiration decides to hit
  • under- estimating how long things will take
  • hitting the flow state, or your groove, or the zone and you don’t want to stop
  • the persistent nagging that you can’t stop until you reach a point that only you know what it is
  • schedules are more like guidelines

3.  They get inspired at the least expected moment. Nobody can control when they are inspired. NOBODY! Here are just a few instances of inspiration:

  • on the same stretch of highway, I drive nearly daily as a coyote runs across the road in front of me
  • while my daughter is complaining because daddy didn’t see her point of view.
  • At the gym while pleading for the clock to tick faster
  • In a church service
  • at the movie theater between trailers
  • in the shower
  • on the toilet
  • laying on the floor curled into a ball shaking from dehydration and heat exhaustion
  • on the Dr’s table with my legs in stirrups – what? You don’t think I’m laying there anxious for the exam do you?

Just a few places. I’m sure as creatives, we all have interesting tales of an odd time that inspiration has struck.

4.  Often told to get a real job. I can’t tell you how much this one infuriates me. I have worked full-time in the private sector. I’ve worked full-time in government employ. I’ve worked full-time in numerous jobs. It’s not a lack of work ethic – I have a great work ethic. I quit working with the DOD to be a stay at home mom and raise my kids. I didn’t want them to be raised by daycare staff. I have issues – let’s leave it there.

My point is, I didn’t quit that very well paying job to live a life of leisure eating bonbons and getting mani-pedis. Raising children is hard work. It’s a 24/7 job! Talk about demanding? Stress on the job? This is the reason most men WANT to go to work to flee the screaming crying babies, the stinky diapers, the screaming toddlers, the preteen angst and the teenage drama.

Oh sure, they say they want to provide for their family but there is a part of them that is terrified of these small creatures that have invaded their homes and seem to siphon adult energy like a backwoods thief siphoning gas out of your car in the moonlight.

I have a job, and the paycheck to prove it. ( Granted it isn’t as much as I’d like for the time invested but that’s a different matter) Then you add in the parenting, the wife, the occasional teaching gig, the occasional public speaking gig, the – am I making my point yet?

WE are not slackers! I often think it’s not really that the people who tell us “get a real job” are thinking we don’t work – but that we haven’t given up on our childhood dreams and on some level we make them feel bad because they can’t muster their strength to chase their own. But maybe that’s just me.

5.  Creatives Procrastinate. I have indeed mastered the art of procrastination, yet I still can’t hold a candle to the king! Long may he reign and hopefully I will break these bad habits soon.I will start on that tomorrow.

Just a sample of potential procrastination techniques:

  • workspace rearrangement
  • pre-writing rituals (everything has to be in its proper place and collected within arms reach)
  • stationary choices ( what do you mean it’s all digital? What does that have to do with anything?)
  • waiting for inspiration ( ah! And here’s the rub of stopping the flow – we have to wait for it to return)
  • snacks and beverages ( coffee is mandatory, so is the sacrificial offering of chocolate to the great gods of writing that be)
  • selecting the perfect font – because Times new roman looks old and worn out.
  • Workspace re- rearrangement ( after a session involving the snacks and beverages it is necessary to tidy up and by that time there are at least 2 dozen stickies, and . . . )
  • utilizing social media ( Facebook black hole of death)
  • pauses, tea breaks, naps, interruptions, getting back in the zone after interruptions
  • advanced workspace rearrangement

You get the idea! This doesn’t even include YouTube, checking email, or bathroom breaks.

Give a creative a deadline and they will comply, but you can be absolutely certain they will do 90% of the work the night before that deadline.

6.  Do It all over again! No matter how far a creative has come with their last creation, if at a given point they don’t like it, they won’t think twice and will trash it just to start all over again. And again. And again.

Regardless of the amount of work, that has already gone into the scrapped project. There is never a “close enough”, it has to be dead on target or it gets scrapped. Hence, the amount of time many will spend on getting their projects, their babies to their point of satisfaction to present to the world, and thusly expect the world to appreciate their genius!  ( And this is the point when the ” flow” is leaving, the sense of satisfaction is  having those last-minute tingles throughout their bodies, soon to be left with an emptiness where we become super sensitive wanting praise, recognition, something – just throw us a bone at least!

Time is a limited commodity, but creatives tend not to be clock watchers. Night and day really mean little when they are in the zone. In fact, everything fades into the background when they are focused on their creation. Yes, we have a sort of godlike creationist neurosis thing going on, a chameleonic personality disorder that alternates between master wizard/ minor deity. We determine in our worlds, “Let there be light” and BAM there is light. Writing, painting, singing, sculpting – is the art of creation. And if it isn’t right, we tear it down and start over. We are the masters of our universe, the  puppet master of our characters. We hold life and death in the palm of our hands snuffing one while lifting up another. BWAHAHAHA!

Do any of these traits ring true with you? My personal examples may not click with you and that’s fine. What are your experiences? What’s the strangest time inspiration has struck you?

Write on my friends! Or paint, draw, dance, sing – however, you express that creative bent! Do it with passion!

Time Management Tips

I’ve admitted it before, and I’m revisiting it again!  I, Ellie Mack am an habitual time waster.  I was clean for about six weeks.  My last time-wasting spell was at 7 a.m. this morning.  It was only supposed to be for ten minutes while the computer came up and ran systems scan.  I thought I could handle it, just a couple of rounds of Bejeweled.  I could so beat my last high score!  *SIGH*

Two hours later, my work hadn’t even been started, nor had I written a word on my books or even this blog.  Apparently, I”m not the only one that suffers from time management problems.  Check out this article:  The Top 10 Time Wasters .  It’s epidemic!

Of the ten listed in this article, I would have to say the first one is my worst problem. Lack of planning, prioritising and focus.  I work from home in my day job, and of course for my writing as well.  It allows a latitude of freedom that is great, yet for the undisciplined (guilty here) it can be a mine field.

If I don’t make a plan, prioritize my list, and focus on what I”m doing I will get nothing accomplished.  Working in that frantic pace of “hurry up so I can mark at least one thing off my list before 6 p.m.” gets the adrenaline flowing, but it’s not a good way to work all the time.

My friend Cathy Brockman asked me to help her with time management, because I’m a list maker, and a prioritizing person, planning my projects.  Lean in real close here and I’ll tell you a secret. *Glances left and right, to see who’s listening*   The reason I do those things is because I SUCK at time management!

NO, seriously I do!  My undisciplined creative nature is like a child running wild in a candy store wanting more and more sugar to feed the monster!  Sometimes creative can be code for lazy, don’t wanna do it!

All you creatives   out there, I know the lies you tell yourselves. (Yes RCGale, I’m borrowing your term, ’cause it’s good!)  The justifications you make for hours on Facebook for “research” purposes or connecting , and building relations because I do it too.  Watching a ‘Game of Thrones’ Marathon isn’t research any more than 6 hours of Red Dwarf or Doctor Who.  It’s entertainment to sooth our creative side into thinking we need to think about that next scene or chapter.

Face it, we’re just being lazy and procrastinating!  Number 2 on the list by the way!  Not only could I teach y’all a thing or two about procrastination, I married the King of procrastination.  Even I get impatient with his procrastinating!

While masterfully avoiding responsibilities, and  procrastinating the work part of my work, there are these little surprises that I’ve learned to account for called interruptions.  (Right, number 3 on the list!)  Here’s the thing, when you waste your time through the first and second on the list and number 3 pops up, it’s easy to go into panic mode!  The built-in ease in the schedule has been consumed my reading every blog that every one of your friends post, playing Facebook games because you get points if you play every day, playing other games because you’re addicted to games, and using research time for entertaining yourself, an interruption can become a true crisis.

Jump to number 6, crisis management, and fire fighting.  Danger Will Rogers!  Panic mode because you’re having to spend your time putting out the unforeseen disaster:  power is out, unexpected visitors, family emergencies, and countless other crisis moments.  It’s one thing to have a “close to deadline” crunch time, it’s quite another to operate in panic mode.  It’s like trying to fix that leaky faucet and suddenly the faucet breaks spraying water everywhere at 75 lbs of pressure, flooding the bathroom, soaking through the floor and dripping through to the basement below, which happens to be right on top of the home theatre system, which shorts out all your electronics and starts an electrical fire.  Now you have to call the plumber and the firemen and the electrician!

Sound extreme?  It was!  King procrastinator was kicking himself for not addressing the small leak earlier when his electronics were lost!  A little planning and preventative maintenance can avoid true disasters.

Then of course you throw in the next one – lack of delegation. (We’re back up to number 4 keep up!)  I’m a writer, who am I going to delegate anything to, hmm?  Of course when I try to delegate household responsibility to the teens, it meets with complete resistance. ( I really think they should learn the Borg’s mantra “resistance is futile”. ) They will be assimilated into the collective hive of my order!

5 and 7 I think you can see the points in those for yourself.  Number 8: Not saying NO!  Yeah, um . . as much as I’d like to just skip this one it’s a big problem for me.  I’ve voiced my frustrations in the view others seem to have that all I do is sit at home and play games (Yes, I feel guilty when I do!) and eat bon-bons.  I’ve yet to have a bon-bon!  They think since I don’t go out of the house to a ‘real job’, then I am available to do their stuff!

Although I resent that attitude, it really comes down to me.  People will treat you like you allow them to treat you.  Also, if they can get you to do their stuff, their stuff gets finished and they feel good.  Meanwhile, you get further behind and frustrated because you haven’t completed your own stuff. They are delegating by getting you to do stuff for them, so you can either say NO or be caught in the loop of unfinished personal goals forever.

Practice with me now : NO!  Now didn’t that feel good? Practice it some more, maybe even in the mirror.  Before too long you’ll actually be able to say it to your spouse, the significant other, your children (it’s good for them to hear it sometimes) and eventually your BFF.

Number 9, we’ll address completely in future posts.  I happen to have a difference of opinion here.  A certain amount of “mess” is good.  A sterile environment is inhibiting, but there’s also a point where you can’t do your work without shuffling stacks of paper.  Really, look for further exposition on this in The Perfect Mess”, a future post.  (shaking head, shuffling papers off desk to get to screen.)

And finally number 10, Not taking enough time for yourself.  I have issues with this.  I have issues with my husbands view on this.  A trip to see his grandmother, taken with his mother, spending half our time in a nursing home is NOT a family vacation.  Time off from work spent doing household repairs because you’ve put them off until it’s a must do crisis is NOT a vacation.  Attending a seminar for 3 days,  staying in a hotel does NOT make a vacation.

Saving up all your vacation days to roll over the maximum amount in the event of layoff may provide a decent lump sum upon separation, but really is it worth the cost of strained relations within your family?  Count the cost always!

Spending every second inside the theme park until closing time when everyone is obviously tired, hot, and frustrated because they just want some down time, and a dip in the pool is NOT a vacation and borders on justification for torture.

A little time off once in a while, some down time is a needed rest.  God himself ordained one day of rest every seven days, who am I to argue with that?  Besides, time off becomes incentive to manage your time effectively the other six days.  It gives you a goal to work towards. I could get into the whole reward/punishment thing here, but I think you are intelligent enough to figure out your own personal balance.

What about you?  Do you struggle with time management?  Are you trying to fit ten days worth of work into six days, then beating yourself up because ‘the list’ is never completed?  Do you allow yourself downtime and vacations?  Are you able to form the word NO with your mouth?  Remember all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy!  Or a scary one.

I would recommend these articles as well. Time Management For Working Mothers,   Efficient Time Management,   and Take A Reality Check On Time.

Write on my friends, write on!