Conflicted Much?

Let’s see . . . where was I? The past few weeks have  had me in a whirl. Life is like that at times,  but then at others, it slows down for a moment or two.

I went back through my planner for the previous month and this month evaluating where I am in my goals. I discovered back in April that I wasn’t doing so well on my yearly goals as I would like to  but,  my daily goals were getting marked off the list.

I have a long way to go before I can boast about my pages, they are for my use not for the beautification of the internet. I am pleased though that I  have made a modicum of success in productivity. I know that I have too many irons in the fire.  I think it goes with my personality.  But the secondary part of me protests at every opportunity.

The  hard driving task master Type A over-achiever barely allows enough time after completion of one task before pushing me to the next while the Party Princess  gets excited about an achievement!  Do you realize what an achievement means?

It’s an opportunity for celebration   .   .   .

“YAY! Party! Party! Party!  I can make a cake. We’ll fire up the grill,  barbecue, and have some people over. Corn on the cob, potato salad, chips, margaritas, mac & cheese . . .  or maybe watermelon!” *Party Princess is lost in thought deciding what to do for decorations, appropriate celebratory foods, games, activities, who to invite*  

“Stop! We don’t have time to arrange a party. We need to move onto the next task at hand.” Taskmaster states firmly before purchases occur.

*Party Princess pouts while giving death glare*

“Well, maybe a small celebration. Just the family.” Taskmaster back pedals to avoid a halt in production and appease the Party Princess as she recalls the last halt lasted several days.

“No party? No decorations?” Party Princess’ jaw clenches tighter.

You can decorate a cake.  Keep it simple. We need to move on to the next project or rather get back to the office downstairs.”

Princess sighs.  “I don’t want to work on the office. You pushed all of my ideas aside to focus on cleaning out the daughter’s room and said I can’t paint.”

“Yet.  I said yet.  We still need to get the wiring done, the  light fixtures installed before the drywall can go up.  Then you can tape, spackle and after that, paint.”  Taskmaster enunciates the words in irritation as she glances  over the  long list of things yet to be accomplished.

Princess  opens her Kindle and begins playing Aquarium game. “NO. I don’t feel like working. NO party. NO work.”

Task master’s head sags in defeat. 

(This is the part where the task master debates the consequences of giving in to the inner child and allowing a bit of celebration. Without the party, the princess will pout, mope and not cooperate with anything productive.  The balance of  time lost in production opposed to time lost due to pouting and the latest shiny make the decision an analytical decision while the Princess solely operates in the emotional realm.  If not resolved, it quickly can cause  the chakras [I know I may not be using that right, but I hope you understand what I mean] to be out of alignment and chaos will ensue. This is a delicate situation.

For those who are new here, I am not truly bipolar or split personality. I am not making light of those things either. Within everyone’s personality are dualities and traces of sometimes a third minor aspect to make you who you uniquely are. My personality goes back and forth between these two.

This was  an easy way to share why I don’t  get more done. Not making excuses because sometimes the Taskmaster wins, sometimes the party Princess wins and sometimes on rare occasions when the moon is waning, the  stars are in alignment, and the jet stream is flowing in a general west to east direction without a major trough, they work together happily.

The rational parts of my brain are screaming to  the task master that if she allows celebrations for the small steps,  the general morale of Party Princess will  be at a higher level thus, production rates will increase.  Party Princess is a fast worker when motivated.  Hence the importance of deadlines!

Meanwhile, while I am  working on a truce between the two I am going over my planner. Some adjustments need to be made for the coming month.  This month has looked like one of my old planners with appointments, meetings, daily tasks and not much else.

The inner child must not feel oppressed while the adulting task master must feel like something is getting accomplished. Take some time to celebrate your small victories because life is a journey.

One step after another, along the path that leads to your destiny. Enjoy everyday life along the way to  get to where you want to be and don’t wait until you’ve arrived because tomorrow is not  a guarantee.

Write on my freinds, write on!



Secret Doors

This post was one of the first that I shared on Quotidiandose.  It is difficult for anyone to bare their soul and expose their weak spots. I’ve been involved in teaching a course dealing with emotional healing and recovery from abuse for the past ten years. It is still difficult.  I can, however, get through sharing my story without inconsolable sobs.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I hold my head a little higher than I did a few years ago, carry myself with more confidence that I did a few months ago, and I look for the bright side of life on purpose.  Each of us has a touch of destiny in our lives, it’s up to us to find it. It takes work.

All rights reserved to original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.

All rights reserved to the original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.


Those parts of us that we hide away from everyone else, whether it’s for acceptance or for some other reason, they still remain.   Some have skeletons inside and others have treasures that were never opened.

Abuse in my childhood put skeletons behind one door.  I was ashamed, scared, and scarred.  I didn’t want everyone else to know my personal hell.  Their view of me would be colored with the stains of my shame.  I wanted desperately to fit in and be accepted.  In more recent years I faced those skeletons and kicked them out.  I’ve spoken publicly about it.  The scars, the shame, and how it colored other areas of my life.  I’ve shared my heart, the hurt, and the pain, and some people look at you like you’re damaged goods.  Others, most often the ones who have experienced the pain themselves listen and hear.  It has been cathartic for me and those I’ve shared with.  I’ve been an open book, shared things that kept me bound in shame, in anger, and rebellion for years.

A certain woman who experienced the same things as I did to a greater degree came up to me after a public speaking session and poured her heart out.  We cried together, comforting each other.  There is healing in revealing, and those skeletons don’t keep me bound in chains any longer.  I didn’t have the perfect suburban upbringing as my peers, I experienced dysfunction.

For years, I allowed it to color who I was and how I saw myself.  It has shaped me — both good and bad — to who I am today.  I am thankful for the opportunities to help others break out of their prisons.

I still have secret doors, though.  Secrets that were stuffed inside, hidden in a shoebox under the bed.  Secrets that were shelved and now covered with cobwebs.  Recently, I dared to open one of my secret doors.  I found hidden treasures and shed some tears at my forgotten dreams.  I’m coming to terms with myself, the parts I locked away and hid from the world.

Unrealized potential and unrealized dreams.

It’s amazing what a couple rays of sunlight can reveal in a previously dark and dreary cobweb-filled scary room.  Tattered mementos that were long forgotten, happy moments that I rarely allowed myself.

I gave up on myself for many years.  I went through the motions: giving to others, fulfilling my roles, but experiencing no personal joys.  It just wasn’t worth the pain of failure.

What failure?

Failing myself.  An ever-present sense of unworthiness that clouded every aspect of life.

I made decisions based on what other people wanted and expected of me.  I’ve taken responsibilities and commitments that are acceptable in the eyes of my family and friends.  I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I have reached the point where I am no longer satisfied with status quo.

I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and nonconformist, but most people would be surprised to realize just how much I have conceded and conformed.  I know precisely  and how much it has been killing me inside.  I haven’t been true to myself, nor pursued my own dreams.

I took those items out of that room and threw away the key.  I’m examining each one and evaluating whether they are valid or just childhood fancies.  I’m never going to take a wooden raft on the Mississippi River like Tom Sawyer.  I have a healthy respect for the Old Muddy and have no desire to do that anymore, plus I have a few more operative brain cells than I did at 11.  It was a nice visit to a childhood fancy.  Other things, I’ve decided I’m going to tackle.

Just as in spring cleaning there are three boxes: keep, file, and throw away. the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was the first book I read voluntarily, one that sparked a lifetime love of reading.  The folded and yellowed piece of paper with a raft, colored in a childish manner will go into a scrapbook – a fond memory.  There are other things that were just silly and are no longer relevant.  I looked them over but decided to discard.

The ones to file, now that’s what prompted this post. They go along with my SMART goals.  Things I still feel are viable worthwhile goals and are worth attaining.  There’s going to be work but anything worth having is worth working for.  Ironically I found a shell of who I thought I’d be and it doesn’t even resemble the me I am today.  There are some aspects of the me today that are better, but the longing in my heart for those other dreams, well  it’s time for a change.

My personal pursuit for life, liberty and happiness were derailed.  After all, doesn’t the Constitution guarantee us these inalienable rights? It’s not the government’s fault that I’ve failed myself – epically.  That responsibility lies solely on my shoulders.  It’s back on track and I’ve got turbo fuel in the hold and the engine is revved up and ready.  I don’t think many of my friends or family will necessarily approve.  I’ve lived for their approval long enough.  I want my own approval because if you can’t have an inner peace with yourself, what does it really matter?

Some of my secret doors have been locked so long, I think I’ve lost the keys.  Maybe I’ll find them in this new chapter.  If nothing else, it will be an exciting adventure and, at least, I will know that I tried.  I don’t want the regrets of omission to cloud my consciousness.

It’s time for revision.  I’m about to rock the boat, hope you have a life jacket!

Write on my friends, write on!

Setting Parameters



Most everyone else I know has already tackled this topic for their New Year’s Resolution.  I was  down with the flu and still not quite over it so I’m just now getting things started.

Last year I posted my goals, and asked for accountability partners.  That got many responses from friends on Facebook,  private messaging, and  numerous phone calls.

‘It’s too ambitious.’

‘You’ll wear yourself out.’

‘It’s not challenging enough.’

All feedback is appreciated even though I disagree.  I’ve done this thing called life  enough to know what works and doesn’t work for me.  If I don’t have a goal, I will wander aimlessly accomplishing nothing.  I know many of my friend’s  relate to my as a free spirit,  but this free spirit needs a finish line,  something to keep my eye on the goal to not let life distractions keep me spinning aimlessly off in one direction or another.

Why am I sharing them with everyone else then?

Simple! By posting them here,  I am writing them down, making them plain for all to see so that I have  accountability and a feeling of  commitment. They become more tangible when they are written down.

In review of last year’s  goals, being brutally honest, my progress or lack of on Ellie’s big goals for 2014: 

  1.  Home/environment:   Remove 5 items from house every week whether through throw away, give away, or sell.  If I am to count clothing donated to Goodwill along with  other household items then I exceeded this!  Between myself and two daughters we donated enough clothing to outfit a village!  WIN!
  2. Home/environment: Get my desk set up and have a stable work area that is my dedicated  space. Well,  I had plans.  Had paint picked out for the office, made some progress towards but by the end of the year my ” desk” is still part of my kitchen table.  Different plan but this year I WILL have  my desk!
  3. Home/environment:  Have kitchen and living room flooring replaced in 2014. What was I thinking?  Between medical expenses and college expenses there wasn’t much left over. 
  4. Relationship:  Spend 50 minutes per week  doing something for  the  man of my affections. Didn’t do this every week,  but after March – yeah pretty much.  Mostly a WIN!
  5. Relationship:  Have 25 dates – no kids, no double dates, or group  parties that count as dates but real life  mono y mono date. More like 15 – but hey it’s moving in the right direction, right?  I’ll count that as a win considering the year before was 2 dates – my birthday and our anniversary. 
  6. Health/fitness: Lose 50 pounds  by December 31, 2014. FAIL. Umm,  I kind of went backwards on this, gaining weight back that I worked so hard to shed. Looks like I need a do-over on this one! 
  7. Health/fitness: Eat 5 fruits and vegetables daily, or at least  5 days a week. Mostly a win!  
  8. Health/fitness:  I will consume at least 50 ounces of water every day.  I know I should do more like 100 ounces but let’s start with 50. FAIL.  Seriously,  I may have gotten like 24 ounces of water on a daily basis. Now if I could count coffee consumption . . .  you see why I have this on my list???
  9. Growth/Learning:  I will learn 5 new skills this year. I learned: 1. how to imbed a video on my blog not just the link! 2.  you can open a link in an incognito window – who knew?? 3. how to put sharks in Facebook’s comments ( real valuable skill I know But I’m counting it never the less!) 4. I learned 3 new features on Scrivener that makes writing even easier 5. I  trained my dragon naturally software to recognize my voice! ( It still has a few issues, but for the most part works like a dream!) 6.  learned how to make flourless cake! (This may or may not have contributed to some of the weight gain) 7. I learned a few things about myself through counseling, and the skills to break those wrong thinking attitudes  Overall I call this a definite WIN!
  10. Growth/Learning:  I will read 50 books this year. I only managed 28 books this year. Haven’t had as much free time to read as I used to. 
  11. Career: Attend 5 professional seminars, workshops, &/or  courses.  3 for the mlo job, 3 for personal development, and 3 for writing  – WIN!
  12. Career:  Finish and publish 3 books this year.  Well that didn’t happen.  I submitted 5 different books to various publishers.  I wrote a short story specifically for a submission call, and received rejection letters. One publisher was kind enough to give some pointers  for rewriting at least.
  13. Career:  365 Book.  Write 500 words every day for 365 days. I think I got to day 45 on this one. 
  14. Money/ Finances:  Get all medical bills from 2013 paid off! Did that!  All medical bills for 2013 and 2014 are paid in full! WIN!
  15. Money/Finances:  Invest 500 dollars this year from wages. Yeah, this one went the way of the flooring up there. NOT a WIN!
  16. Social/relationships: Go out with my friends 25 times in the year.  I knew this one was ambitious when I wrote it. It was more like 10 times but I am still going to count it as a win because I consciously thought to connect to my friends! 
  17. Social/relationships:  Host 5 theme parties over the year. End of School Year Party, Fourth of July BBQ and fireworks, Back to school/end of summer/we need an excuse to act crazy party!, Blogging Goals Reached party!,  oh and birthdays – do birthdays count????  Win!
  18. Community:  Knit/crochet 50 scarves to donate to the homeless shelter. Didn’t manage 50. It’s so hard to be motivated to knit or crochet with yarn when it’s hot outside.  I managed to make 34 scarves that were graciously accepted and appreciated!  WIN! (34 are better than 0 right?)  
  19. Community:  Do 50 kind deeds for  someone – anyone, over the course of the year. I never really thought of myself as a do-gooder, but dang I passed 50 somewhere back in March then lost count. Stuff happens, you run into people, what can I say?  Win!
  20. Fun:  Make a list of 50 things that make me happy and refer to it often when I get down.  Somehow this one completely escaped my attention. 
  21. Fun:  Try 50 new recipes this year. I’m not going to list them all here.  Some were in fact recipes for dishes that I already made,  just a different recipe.  For instance I used a different recipe for making turkey enchiladas, and the family overwhelmingly decided that my original was better.  I cook the meals here basically every day – so trying a new recipe every week is a simple thing for me. 
  22. Fun: Spend 5 nights in  5 new cities. We went to St. James for an overnight. Visited a few other cities, or towns  but as to spending an overnight – no. NOT a WIN! 
  23. Spirituality:  Spend 50 hours over the year  improving my spiritual well-being though healing, counseling, prayer, and meditation.  Including counseling – it’s more like 100 hours at least. Not exactly what I had in mind, but improved so – WIN! 
  24. Spirituality:  Spend 50 minutes of ME time each week. Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Maybe 6 weeks out of the year I did this. 
  25. Spirituality:  Start a gratitude journal – one good thing for each day. Did this!  There are days that it was difficult,  days that it was easy but I stuck with it. WIN!

15 out of 25 – that’s 60%. Well, it’s better than 50% or 0%!

Goal setting is a good thing even if you don’t achieve all of your goals.  Goal setting gives me something to aim for, a direction to follow.  It sets the parameters of which road I need to be on for my life journey. Specific goals  sets parameters as to what direction and which lane I should be in on life’s highway or if I should be on the country back roads enjoying the scenic route.

I like to be working towards something, setting milestone markers along the way.   Where is your path taking you?  Do you like living the grand adventure?  Or do you like to discover the adventure while following the map?

What are your goals for this year? Next week, I’ll share the goals for this year. Now that I’m back in the land of the living and not stuck in the flu-ish state of nonexistence.

Write on my friends and set those goals.


Work In Progress


Hey guys, remember back in January when I posted my goals for the year?  Remember how I said I needed  my friends to help keep me accountable? Well, there’s a little problem with that.  Unless I go check back over the list I don’t have in my frontal lobe my  goals.  I sort of kind of have  made progress on them.

A few of my friends were quick to point out that I was sounding OCD and over planning my life.  Hey, chill out and relax.  Take life one day at a time.  Take what comes your way and just live.  Ummm,  I am 50 and I did that in my younger years and haven’t accomplished what i think I should accomplish hence the goals.  Then there were the ones that said my goals were too lofty. Shoot for the stars and if I clear the trees it’s still a win, ok?

So here it is June, and I need to do an evaluation of my progress.

  1.  Home/environment:   Remove 5 items from house every week whether through throw away, give away, or sell. (Have I mentioned the hubs is a pack-rat?  And that I  accumulate stacks of paper and wont part with any books?) Umm, yeah.  I started on this and I have 3 bags of stuff to take to Goodwill and I am working on  gathering more stuff for a garage sale then Goodwill. . . as far as what has actually left the house?  Not much sadly. 
  2. Home/environment: Get my desk set up and have a stable work area that is my dedicated  space. HA!  Well this hasn’t happened yet. But I do have six more months to make it happen I suppose. 
  3. Home/environment:  Have kitchen and living room flooring replaced in 2014. Hasn’t happened yet, not looking like it will unless I get a different job that pays double what I make now or  college expenses suddenly decrease by 30%
  4. Relationship:  Spend 50 minutes per week  doing something for  the  man of my affections. Between January and March I  have to admit I did not do this at all.  I was determined to not have affection for said man.  Since then we both have made concerted efforts towards improving our relationship. 
  5. Relationship:  Have 25 dates – no kids, no double dates, or group  parties that count as dates but real life  mono y mono date. 1.Going to dinner after  a speaking engagement – sort of counts, sort of doesn’t given the conversation. 2. Went out for ice cream and talked – yes we actually talked. Between mouthfuls of ice cream but there were words. 3. Hours of walking through the antique mall with  much laughter.  We saw a camel saddle for sale.  How many people have need for a camel saddle? 4. We went to an auction – got rained out but there was much conversation  on the car ride. 
  6. Health/fitness: Lose 50 pounds  by December 31, 2014. Lost some, gained some.  It’s a wild roller coaster ride as I am an emotional eater.  Current verdict – I’m down 14 pounds form the beginning of the year.  Yeah, better get moving more on this one. 
  7. Health/fitness: Eat 5 fruits and vegetables daily, or at least  5 days a week.  I am proud to say that I have averaged 4.3 days a week since the beginning of the year.  It’s not 5 yet   unless you count potatoes.  I’m not counting potatoes but they are a vegetable- technically. Over the past 6 weeks we have averaged 5.
  8. Health/fitness:  I will consume at least 50 ounces of water every day.  I know I should do more like 100 ounces but let’s start with 50.  Yeah, I need to work on this.  Why didn’t I set this as 50 ounces of coffee? 
  9. Growth/Learning:  I will learn 5 new skills this year.
  10. Growth/Learning:  I will read 50 books this year. Sadly I am way behind on this one.  I’ve read a few really good ones,  like  Aedyn Byrnes book Through the Oracle’s Mist.  I’ve not read nearly as many books this year as I normally do. 
  11. Career: Attend 5 professional seminars, workshops, &/or  courses. 3 down 2 to go.  The one I spoke at counts, right? RIGHT? 
  12. Career:  Finish and publish 3 books this year. Not yet, still working on it.
  13. Career:  365 Book.  Write 500 words every day for 365 days. I’ve averaged 500 words for 5 days a week. Sadly they aren’t all on one project. I need to work on that. 
  14. Money/ Finances:  Get all medical bills from 2013 paid off! DONE!
  15. Money/Finances:  Invest 500 dollars this year from wages. Hasn’t happened yet. 
  16. Social/relationships: Go out with my friends 25 times in the year. Hasn’t happened. 
  17. Social/relationships:  Host 5 theme parties over the year.  Man, I am way behind the curve on parties!!  I gotta get moving on this one! 
  18. Community:  Knit/crochet 50 scarves to donate to the homeless shelter.  Got 10 made, 3 in partial completion.  It’s hard to crochet when it’s hot outside. This is a sit and watch tv sort of activity and I haven’t really watched a lot of tv. 
  19. Community:  Do 50 kind deeds for  someone – anyone, over the course of the year.  I started writing down the things I knew of that  I would consider kind deeds – then I  didn’t write them down for a while so my records indicate that I am on 22. 
  20. Fun:  Make a list of 50 things that make me happy and refer to it often when I get down.  Made my list, lost my list.  Made a new list, lost my list. 
  21. Fun:  Try 25 new recipes this year.  So far I’ve tried 11 new recipes. 
  22. Fun: Spend 5 nights in  5 new cities.  HAHAHA! – What was I thinking?  I have spent 0 nights  in other cities. 
  23. Spirituality:  Spend 50 hours over the year  improving my spiritual well-being though healing, counseling, prayer, and meditation.  Hours spent so far probably closer to 9 hours.  yeah, I should get on that.
  24. Spirituality:  Spend 50 minutes of ME time each week.   I think I must have been on hallucinogenics or something when I set these goals.  Did I mention that I am a mom?  That I work part time?  That I am a writer?  50 minutes doesn’t sound like much per week but honestly – I would be lucky if it were 15 per week. 
  25. Spirituality:  Start a gratitude journal – one good thing for each day. I had a great start on this one.  I have  things written down daily through February 5th.  * hangs head in shame* 

Well at least I am honest, ok?  I could have just lied to y’all and say I was doing wonderful only my conscience wouldn’t allow me to. I’d end up telling you that I lied, and how sorry I was. It’s much better this way. You may know that I am an overachiever and scatterbrained but you’ll also know I’m honest.  Honestly trying to do better but often revert to those habits that have  gained me nothing thus far.  It’s good to see our short comings and know where we need to go from here.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my  humility. Or was that humiliation?  Yeah, a little of both I think.

OK, well regrouping for a better half of the year.

Write on my friends, and stick to your plans.


Ellie’s 2014 Goals


It’s here, a day late but it’s here.   I’ve been working on my goals list for a few days now. I’ll admit my plan was to cheat, take an older list and use that as my base.  Well, that  didn’t work as the old lists are gone along with my other files that were sabotaged back in February.

What I’ve done in the past is one goal for every year that I am alive.   As I turn 50 today – that is a  big number.  I decided to change the plan. My goals, my  life, my prerogative!  First of all I don’t feel 50, I feel more like say 35.  So I can knock a few  items off the list. Secondly,  35 seems an ambiguous number when dealing with the big FIVE -O, so I decided to do halfsies. 25 – 25  goals for 2014!  * Insert the Counts laughter here*

In the past I divided  my goals up into 10 life categories:

  • Home / Physical environment
  • Relationship
  • Health / Fitness
  • Growth / Learning
  • Career
  • Money / Finance
  • Social relationships
  • Community
  • Fun
  • Spirituality

It’s getting to a more manageable size now,  only needing to plug-in my goals into the categories.   So, as part of my sharing them here, I expect my faithful followers to hold my feet to the fire on these  and keep me accountable.

Here we go, Ellie’s big goals for 2014:  *drum roll*

  1.  Home/environment:   Remove 5 items from house every week whether through throw away, give away, or sell. (Have I mentioned the hubs is a pack-rat?  And that I  accumulate stacks of paper and wont part with any books?)
  2. Home/environment: Get my desk set up and have a stable work area that is my dedicated  space.
  3. Home/environment:  Have kitchen and living room flooring replaced in 2014.
  4. Relationship:  Spend 50 minutes per week  doing something for  the  man of my affections.
  5. Relationship:  Have 25 dates – no kids, no double dates, or group  parties that count as dates but real life  mono y mono date.
  6. Health/fitness: Lose 50 pounds  by December 31, 2014.
  7. Health/fitness: Eat 5 fruits and vegetables daily, or at least  5 days a week.
  8. Health/fitness:  I will consume at least 50 ounces of water every day.  I know I should do more like 100 ounces but let’s start with 50.
  9. Growth/Learning:  I will learn 5 new skills this year.
  10. Growth/Learning:  I will read 50 books this year.
  11. Career: Attend 5 professional seminars, workshops, &/or  courses.
  12. Career:  Finish and publish 3 books this year.
  13. Career:  365 Book.  Write 500 words every day for 365 days.
  14. Money/ Finances:  Get all medical bills from 2013 paid off!
  15. Money/Finances:  Invest 500 dollars this year from wages.
  16. Social/relationships: Go out with my friends 25 times in the year.
  17. Social/relationships:  Host 5 theme parties over the year.
  18. Community:  Knit/crochet 50 scarves to donate to the homeless shelter.
  19. Community:  Do 50 kind deeds for  someone – anyone, over the course of the year.
  20. Fun:  Make a list of 50 things that make me happy and refer to it often when I get down.
  21. Fun:  Try 50 new recipes this year.
  22. Fun: Spend 5 nights in  5 new cities.
  23. Spirituality:  Spend 50 hours over the year  improving my spiritual well-being though healing, counseling, prayer, and meditation.
  24. Spirituality:  Spend 50 minutes of ME time each week.
  25. Spirituality:  Start a gratitude journal – one good thing for each day.

There you have it folks – none of them are beyond my reach.  Some will definitely take some work but all are doable.   Incremental steps throughout gradually and by the end of the year the goals will be achieved if not surpassed.

All are tangible SMART goals.  How about you, what are your goals for the year?

Write on my friends and set those goals.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

smart goals

Winding down the end of the year is always a busy time.  Winding down is actually a misnomer, as I’m usually gearing up for my plans for the new year.  Evaluating what went right, what went wrong,  what goals I’ve met or exceeded and what goals I’ve completely failed at usually are forefront on my mind as I set my plans for the new year.

How do you gauge yourself?  Do you spend time evaluating how you did in meeting goals you’ve set for yourself? If you’ve failed every goal then you either didn’t apply yourself or you set ridiculous unattainable goals.  On the flip side of that, If you’ve met every goal that you’ve set for yourself you’ve set your sights too low.

I’ve missed some of my goals.  I break down into ten areas the goals I set for myself.

  1. Career Development – This includes any webinars, seminars, training and such that I will need for my career.  Getting relicensed each year goes under this category.
  2. Financial – What % I plan to save, invest, or spend.  For instance a medical procedure that our insurance deems elective is having a large mole removed from above my eyebrow.  As an elective, this simple procedure is going to run me $3000. out-of-pocket.  There are other things that have taken priority over this. I know women that have gotten boob jobs for less than that!  At this point all financial decisions are weighed against my daughter’s upcoming college years.
  3. Education – Any class I decide to take or that may benefit me for personal gain, not covered by job requirements will go here.
  4. Family – Establishing time to spend with my family, planned outings, vacations, or simply a game night.  Last year I had set the goal of 24 dates with the hubs.  There are 52 weeks in a year, you’d think that we could have managed 26 dates but no.  Missed that one by a mile.
  5. Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?  this past year I decided to rekindle my interest in drawing, and managed about five sketches.  Granted, four of them were illustrations for my own purposes for my books, but it helped me to gain a visual as well as getting back in the swing of sketching.
  6. Attitude – Our mindset is the biggest aid or enemy.  I find that in some categories I am my own worst enemy, in some I’m a slave driving task master, and in others I’m a great cheerleader for myself.  Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Is any part of your mindset holding you back? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  7. Physical –  This is where my weight loss goals go, as well as my fitness goals.  I had planned to lose 50 pounds this past year, but I only managed 26.  However slow progress it may be it is still progress, right?  It’s more about overall health than weight loss for me.  In the coming year I have set specific SMART goals for myself in this area.  This is one of the areas I have struggled with.  Newton’s 3rd law of motion definitely applies to me here, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  It is with great effort that I drag myself to the gym. I’m not happy with where I am, but I’m not accepting it and saying oh well.  I’m doing something to change it even if it is slow progress.
  8. Pleasure – We are creatures of comfort.  We will seek pleasure out in whatever form is easily obtainable.  By planning in fun time, I insure that I will be productive during the work part.  I am allocating myself a certain amount of time per month for playing games, the new Tombraider will be out this year and I still haven’t beat Underworld.  Then again, I thin I’ve maybe spent a total of six hours gaming in the past year.  Trust me, I do better with some down time.  Work hard, play harder!
  9. Public Service – This is where I allocate the volunteer work, charitable donations, and any other contribution in whatever form.  Whether it’s purchasing and delivering bottled water for tornado victims  or working as an usher during a church service; serving others helps me to keep my head, and realize that I indeed have much to be thankful for.
  10. Personal Goals – This is where I put those things that don’t tidily apply to other areas.  For instance, reading goals.  Last year I set myself a goal to read 26 books. One book for each letter of the alphabet.  Either the title or the author had to begin with the letter.  I’ve read 38 books this year, and none for letters Q or X.  Darn, missed that one.  I set myself reading goals every year.

What about you?  Do you set goals for yourself?  Try to set your bar just a little harder so that you have to push yourself.  We are capable of more than we realize.  This is the whole reason why a personal trainer can get you to do more than you can yourself, because they push you.  They encourage you.  They see the long-term effect where as we get hung up on the momentary discomfort.  Hey those first few weeks in the gym were killers!

Spend some time brainstorming what you want to accomplish this next year, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. You may also want to consider just a single goal in each category if it seems overwhelming.  For me,  I like having a long checklist of things I have achieved, so I make several goals.  For each year I make the number of goals equal to the number of years of my age. You may want to consider trimming yours down so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Here’s the thing, if we don’t set ourselves goals we achieve nothing.  We just go with the flow, day-to-day and end the year the same as we did last year, or the year before, or the year before that.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  I don’t like to fail.  I’ve found that if I don’t set myself goals to achieve, I drift aimlessly and achieve nothing.  I’m of the belief that we get one shot.  This is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the main event.  I want to be the best me I can be while I’m here and contribute to the world around me in a positive way.

What about you?  Got plans?  Got an areas that you’re not satisfied with?  If you’re content, could you give your time or energy to less fortunate people?  There’s always something more that we can do, but it’s a personal plan for each and every one of us.

Write on my friends, write on.

What’s In An Edit?

I’ve spent a lot of time editing for friends.  I’ve edited for Storytime Trysts, for friends in the writing community, and for my high school teens.  I am not a professional editor, I am a writer.  My edits tend to be grammar calls, punctuation, sentence structure, and calls on the occasional sentence that just doesn’t make sense.  Once in a while there is a place where I will say ‘ Expand on this!  Or possibly ‘omit this!

Rarely do I make broad sweeping statements Like “What in the world are you thinking?”  I rarely question the author’s motives of why.  My editing is more ‘how’ they do it.  In my online writing groups there has been discussions about this.  It’s hard to get honest feedback from friends because, well your friends want to encourage you and tend to say flowery compliments.  there are times when my ego really needs the boost!  I can always count on a couple of readers to give me glowing comments unless I truly blow it.

My writer friends tend to give me the same type of editing as I give; the semantics, the grammar calls, and the occasional comments like: love this line, explain this better, expand here; where are the sensory details?, and this doesn’t make sense.

I have agreed to read things from people when they ask me to  in order to give them feedback.  WARNING:  if you do this you better ask some questions up front.  Writers are insecure creatures sometimes looking for validation.  giving an edit where a simple ” it shows potential” is wanted.  I gave an edit to a friend in a critique group thinking that she truly wanted a critique.  what she was wanting is a pat on the back, good job, there’s potential in your writing.  My grammar calls were devastating to her fragile ego, she quit coming to our meetings and I felt like a heel.  I ran into her in Wal-Mart, as she tried to shy away from her I took the chance to talk with her and explained.  She is now in full swing in the critique group, more confident than ever.  It wasn’t the right group for me so I’ve moved on.

Seeking validation is something I’ve done, and often got criticism in its place.  Ironically it wasn’t until I decided that I didn’t need anyone elses approval to pursue my dreams that I started getting validation.

I have readers that read my writing and can’t wait for the next installment. Love my readers!  I have writers that read for me with an eye for editing.  I greatly appreciated the tough calls.  I want to improve my writing , make it the best I can so that when  my book is on the shelf no one will feel like it’s a waste of money.

Knowing the questions up front helps me determine how seriously of an edit I am giving.  Is this just a light once over with a general feel?  Then I can give a friendly sandwich critique. compliment/editing calls/ compliment.  If it is a more serious, I really need some feedback sort of thing then I can make a Dagwood sandwich: compliment/edit call, edit call/compliment/ tough calls/ edit calls/ compliment.

This is part of the writing community, working together , getting feedback, giving a helping hand.  We’re all in this together even if at times we view each other as the competition.  At the root of it is the kindred spirit bond that unites us on one front.

I have hosted my friend Ben on here before in  An English Gentleman.  He’s been writing on Storytime for a few months now.  You can check out his blog here, A Road Less Traveled.

Write on my friends, write on!


Who are you impacting?  Whose life are you affecting?

Most of us wouldn’t be where we are today if not for mentors that speak into our lives, that believed in us;  those individuals that give us the courage to pursue our dreams.  Of a thousand voices telling you why not, the mentor is whispering quietly in your ear that you can do it. It only takes one.  A single voice crying out in the wilderness makes a lasting impression. Someone that believes in you is worth their weight in gold.

I had a mentor for my writing;  Louise Marley.  She has authored 12 books, the latest releasing today: The Glass Butterfly.  Louise Marley is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. Her fiction often features strong female characters, and explores themes of hope, humanity, and faith in the distant future.

Louise is a class act. This wonderful lady tactfully took me to task to improve my writing.  I still have much to learn!  She drilled the show don’t tell part into my head, beware of my dreaded sentence fragments, and encouraged me in a manner that no one else ever had.

A final gift from my mother was enrollment into a correspondence class.  Despite the critical voice she always gave me, at some element she must have had some faith in my abilities or she would have never parted  with the cash it took to sign up for the course.  My parents were practical first and foremost.

Louise pointed out the good, the bad, and the ugly of my writing.  One lesson was a total fail, yet she managed to convey it in a manner that was soothing.  “Let’s try something else, shall we?”  She expressed that she saw potential within me.  that meant the world to me, and I pushed for my best in return. I’ve kept all my papers with her editing comments because I valued her opinion.  As I approach the threshold for my own publication I know I wouldn’t have made the progress without my mentor.

I am reminded of Susan Boyle.  Her rise to success was a hope and inspiration to many.  I particularly associated with her age, and the ‘shock face’ of Simon as well as the entire audience.  Sometimes, the reality of what lies hidden beneath the surface is far more than anyone could have imagined, but she knew.  She knew in her heart and believed in her own abilities. Sometimes, all we need is a chance.

What’s your dream?

So now it’s my turn.  The current catch phrase is ” pay it forward”. What difference am I going to make in someone elses life?  What do I have to offer anyone else? What about you?  Ar you making a difference in someone’s life in a positive way?

Here’s three ways you can impact someone:

  1. Believe in their potential.  Don’t be afraid to encourage them.  Let them know when you see potential. You may be the one voice in the wilderness.
  2. Spend time with them. Time is one of our most priceless commodities.  We make an impression and an impact on people that we spend time with.  “He who spends the most time wins!” Jeanne Mayo
  3. We make an impact on people we care about. Larry Burkett stated “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  This is a true statement.  I’ve worked with people counseling, both emotionally and financially and they really don’t give a rip what degree you hold, what background you have until you’ve expressed caring concern.  For those that I care deeply about I would give everything I had to help them.

Our children are examples of our mentorship, the family unit is the first group support.  Beyond that each of us have a circle of influence.  My goal is to have a positive influence, a lasting legacy that I helped someone.

Give first and it’s given back to you.  Just like a zucchini seed; it always comes back bigger, better, and more bountiful.

Write on my friends write on!


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!


Selfish Summer

FAIL!  I was close, so very close.

Kids are home for the summer and I have not completed my self-imposed deadline.  Granted, this isn’t as bad as meeting my editor’s deadline or anything like that.  It just makes things more difficult.

Ever run a race? Or a marathon?  There are times when everything clicks and you run the best race you’ve ever ran in your life.  Then the next meet, something’s just off.  You give it your best, but you weren’t in the zone.  Sometimes, it’s just someone elses day to come in first place.

I am a little disappointed, but with other things that are going on right now, I’m not stressing over it.  PLEASE, someone remind me of this next time I turn into a complete spazz over minute details that really don’t matter.  Seriously, I mean it. Remind me of this.

Here’s the thing – you’ve got to set goals.  If you don’t know where the finish line is, how do you know when you’ve finished your race? You never grow if you don’t stretch yourself and try new things. LIfe in the box never changes.  I need change.

I failed in this deadline, but I haven’t given up and I’m not all that upset about it.  I’ve got some pretty cool things lined up for the summer.  I’ve got authors that I’m interviewing, going to guest post on other blogs, do a virtual blog tour, posting my story Love Notes on Storytime Trysts weekly, and a few other things as well.  I just finished an interview for a magazine – I’ll fill you in on that later. It’s going to be an amazing summer, an exhausting one maybe, but exciting.  On the fitness goals, our summer training camp begins on Monday.  I’ve got the girls onboard to improve their fitness as well as adapt healthy lifestyle changes.

Shooting for the stars and clearing the trees is still good. In a black and white world it’s a fail, but in a vivid Technicolor world it’s a win.  I’ve learned, I’ve accomplished work – productive work, and managed to clear out most of the distractions.  I pushed myself a little harder which tells me I’m capable of more.

I didn’t succumb to analysis paralysis, which has been a problem in the past.  I’ve stressed over it, pondered it, stepped back and looked at it ten different ways, but never actually tackled it.  Whatever the “it” may have been.  I tackled it full on this time!

thomas Edison stated that he didn’t fail 1999 times before discovering the lightbulb.  He figured out 1999 ways that it didn’t work. It’s all a matter of perspective. Mine has improved over the past few years.  Once I woke up, realizing that I’d given up on myself and my dreams I’ve determined to give it all I’ve got.  That doesn’t always translate to 100% effort in every minute.  In a matter of perceived exertion, you have to take into consideration many aspects.  In perceived exertion with all other factors of drag, resistance, momentum and whatever other factor you want to throw into the quantum equation, my perceived exertion was pegged at about 95%.  Hey what can I say?  Life happens and we have to deal with it.

I”m not going to break down because I failed at my goal.  It’s just training for my next race.  The only race I’m in is the one with myself, and I have to run the best race I can.  It’s only a true fail if I quit and walk away, and that’s not about to happen.  I hope that someone who reads this gets what I’m saying and looks at their own perspective.  I’m notoriously hard on myself, and I’m learning to cut myself a little slack and maybe accept a bit of praise now and then.  It’s much better than the negativity and condemnation I grew up with.

Yoda had great words of wisdom: “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

I did.  I gave it a good effort, and I’m happy with myself for that.

Dan Miller said this in a pod cast and it really hits home with me:

“If you do what everyone else expects, you’ll never be more than normal, mediocre and broke.”  

I’ve expressed many times how fed up I am with mediocrity.

Three months, nearly 90 days of summer, enough time to make a significant change.  What will you do with it?  Is there some area that you can challenge yourself in?  NaNoWriMo is having another even in June, you may want to check that out.  Is there a writing contest you can enter?  A query you can send?  A personal goal that you have for yourself in health, fitness, or wellness?  A new job you want to apply for? Are you brave enough to share publicly a goal you’ve set for yourself?

Why not do something for yourself this summer?  I’m calling it my Selfish Summer even though I’m inflicting it upon my kids.  Really they don’t have a choice, I’m drafting them. They’ll thank me for it later, maybe.

As Scarlett O’Hara once said “After all tomorrow is another day.”  I shall add “to write” to my version without the hoop skirt or tears.

Write on my friends, write on!