A to Z Challenge – I

2016-04-09 10.18.13 (1)


Iowa  – where I was this weekend for Romance Rendezvous.

Some of the most pleasant people I have ever met in my life were in Iowa!   Shared a bathroom with Mennonites, shared a different bathroom with Amish,  confused when drivers were courteous, and bewildered when everyone seems to obey the speed limit.

Just a note but we didn’t get a ticket for our St. Louis stop!





Because we spent way too much time on the highway! Just an observation but Iowa is flat. Where I live, you are lucky if you can get a piece of property  with less than a fifteen percent incline,  you are getting a deal! Unless it’s a landfill and that possibility of getting a piece of  land without hills makes it suspect.

Just an observation but Iowa is flat. Where I live, you are lucky if you can get a piece of property  with less than a fifteen percent incline,  you are getting a deal! Unless it’s a landfill and that possibility of getting a piece of  land without hills makes it suspect.



I – Iris


My all time favorite flower! I love  the variety of colors from purple to pink to nearly white but the ones that we have on the end of our house are yellow.

Do you have a favorite flower?

Write on my friends, write on!



January Challenges Begin -A to Z

One of my goals for 2016 is to blog more, specifally 100 posts in 2016.  In 2014,  I sort of fell off the face of the earth with personal issues.  Not that anyone noticed or that I shared much detail about it.  I am outgoing and gregarious, but also rather private.  Plus, it was depressing.  I would rather share upbeat, interesting, encouraging things  about life, about writing, about whatever is on my mind instead of tedious details about personal issues.

In 2015,  I had similar goals for blogging but was derailed for other reasons.  I had good intentions guys –  I really did.  Getting my first book  Red Wine & Roses published was one of the top highlights of the year!!  OK,  of my life!

3’s a charm though, and this year  is going to be

freaking awesome!

To start things off on the right foot as opposed to the left,  the first installment of The A to Z challenge.

A to Z Dream Vacations:          hawaii-beach-wallpaper

  • Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Freeport, Bahamas – (Been there but I want to go back!)
  • Grand Turk Island
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Invercargill, New Zealand
  • Jerusalem, Isreal
  • Kyoto, Japanvenice-italy
  • London, England
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Niagara Falls, New York
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Paris, France
  • Quebec, Canada
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Lucia
  • Trinidad
  • Ubon, Thailand  gty_niagara_falls_dm_130225_wmain
  • Venice, Italy
  • Wotje, Marshall Islands
  • Xiangfan, China
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Zurich, Switzerland

In between the writing and domestic goddess duty,  I dream of travel. Especially during the cold winter days,  I dream of those tropical locales. One day, I will have marked every one of those off my list. We all have our motivators, what are yours?

What places wold you like to visit? What travel destinations motivate you to save money to afford?

I’m not going to tag anyone for this challenge,  but if you are reading this and you are a blogger –  Take up the challenge.  It’s fun.

Write on my friends, write on!



Twain, The Muse, and Hannibal


It had been a difficult week, and lining up to be a difficult month.  I didn’t want it to continue to a year.  Rejection is part of a writer’s career, but six rejections in one day were too much.  The strain of rejection flowed into the strained relationship with my muse.  No matter how I begged and pleaded, she remained silently aloof, watching me flounder.

            After several days of writing and rewriting the same chapter to the same book I’d been working on for over a year, I reached an epiphany.  Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing thing after all and my delusions of grandeur were as much fantasy as those published writings I’d been reading.

            Mom was right after all.  I was just wasting time daydreaming and avoiding responsibility.  My muse must have had her ears attuned to the despair and negative vibes that surrounded me.  The fickle minx chose that as a cue for her departure.

            I knew the moment she had abandoned me, it was for someone whose talent was providing them with a generous income; an income that would keep the traitorous muse in chocolate, silk, and pearls.  I could see her in my mind’s eye lounging on a chase in a tropical location inspiring one of my favorite authors.  She stared back at me in a familiar smugness, lowered her sunglasses and smirked.  She lifted her glass of champagne to me as a sun-bronzed server named Javier brought her a sumptuous platter of crab legs and assorted tropical fruits.  I stared at the tuna salad sandwich on my plate and lost my appetite.

            Feeling like a miserable failure, I’d lost my appetite for just about everything in my life.  Not being prone to depression, my mental state obviously showed.  My husband decided we needed a change of scenery for the weekend.  Money is tight as always but sanity is worth the investment.

            We found ourselves in Hannibal, Missouri.  The term quaint was coined for this small town that is approximately one hundred miles north of St. Louis.  I wanted to be on a beach somewhere tropical–sticking my tongue out at Ms. Fickle Muse – not on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River.  I could hear her riotous laughter at my expense. Inwardly I pouted at the unfairness of the whole situation.

            Best known as the birth place of Mark Twain, this riverfront town has definitely retained the charm of history.  There is a nearly palpable sense of the slower, peaceful pace that is so foreign in our high tech instant world today.  A welcomed sense of lazy summer days offered retreat to the stressful state of mind I had been caught up in.

            A dinner cruise on the Mark Twain riverboat eased us into the relaxed atmosphere of Hannibal.  The soothing rumble of the engine as the boat chugged slowly over the water worked like a massage for our minds.  The spectacular sunset viewed from the top deck with a gentle breeze coming off the water offered the perfect sigh of relaxation to end the day.

Mark Twain riverboat            Back at our hotel, the hot tub offered further relaxation and real conversation, something we hadn’t actually engaged in for some time.  We discussed our job frustrations, family troubles, our growing teenagers, and our future.  It had been so long since we had considered, much less actually talk about our dreams for the future, it seemed strained at first.  It didn’t take long for us to look past the current circumstances to find hope again.

            As I reconnected with my soul-mate, it occurred to me that I hadn’t realized how disconnected we had become.  The busy state in which we lived, the stress we accepted as part of everyday life, and the pressure we were both feeling had been robbing us of enjoying life.  How did we get so caught up in the mess that we forgot to live?

            The next day we visited the Mark Twain museum, Samuel Clemens boyhood home, and Mark Twain Cave.  There was a walking tour of numerous Victorian homes which cost nothing, except a bucket of sweat from the sweltering July temperatures. Ironically the walking tour was far more satisfying than the other tours.

            Over cold drinks and hot pizza, we talked about Twain. I was reminded in the museum that Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book  I had read voluntarily.  I became fascinated by the adventure of the book.  A whole new world was opened to me through literature.  That book sparked a life long passion of reading, which led to a passion for writing.

            I contemplated this on a deep intimate level, suddenly aware that Ms. Fickle Muse was nowhere to be found when inspiration struck in my childhood.  Multiple notebooks filled with the tales of dragons, knights, monsters, and ordinary people that turned out to be heroes and heroines popped into my mind.  There was certainly not a lack of imagination on my part, so when did she (the muse) show up?

            We discussed the difficulties of Twain’s life.  The adversity that Mark Twain went through in his life could have easily been overwhelming to most people.  Yet, through all of it he managed a certain sagacious wit that is distinctly Twain.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

            The final day we visited a turn of the century manor called Rockcliffe Mansion. Although renovations were going on in parts of the manor, the tour was well worth it.  It was full of lavish furnishings that were original to the home.  There were crystal chandeliers in numerous rooms.  A very large stained glass window on the landing of the stairwell was designed by Tiffany.  The servants’ quarters were more spacious than the master bedroom of our modest home.  Rockcliffe is a 13,500 square foot American Castle built to showcase Mr. John J. Cruikshank’s wealth.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

            The millionaire lumber baron and his wife had four daughters that they raised in this mansion.  There were handles on the fireplace for the girls to hold while their corsets were being tightened by their attendants.  It was a lavish contrast to the austere home that Samuel Clemens lived in as a boy and not five miles separated the two homes.

            Twain came from very humble beginnings and a life of tragedy yet he became one of America’s most loved and recognized authors.  Very few people remember the millionaire lumber baron Cruikshank.

            I’ve heard it said that tough circumstances don’t last, but tough people do.  I’ve also heard the saying “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”  Winston Churchill stated “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”     These are statements made by men who have succeeded in their lives.  These were men who overcame adversity in their own life by applying diligence and following their moral convictions to achieve success.

            It struck me like a wrecking ball upside my head that success is achieved, achieved being an action word.  It seemed so simple, so obvious, that I began to laugh.  The tension began to uncoil as I laughed at my own foolish behavior, my own deceptions and frustrations.  It was at that moment my husband chose to return.  The timing was so imperfect, I laughed harder, realizing he must think I’m as crazy as a loon.

            Such is my life. A series of unfortunate and inconvenient incidences, the worst timing, and a knack for outbursts of laughter at the wrong moment that could either cause constant embarrassment or the source of great writing material.  Who needed a muse when I was comedy central-live, twenty four/ seven? What I needed was to slow down and relax.

            I had a goldmine inside me!  I already had the mining tools and the raw material.  I just needed to start the mining process.  Being abandoned by my muse turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.  When left to my own devices I was faced with the reality that finding out whether I am made of the right stuff is totally up to me and no one else.

            This modest weekend getaway wasn’t at a tropical resort, or even anywhere I would have chosen.  It was in fact exactly where I needed to be to get myself straightened out mentally and emotionally.  After reading about the adversities that Twain overcame in his own life, I felt embarrassed with myself for the pity party I had been indulging in.

            I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and quit, and I had yet to begin  singing.  The secret to Twain’s success was an old tried and true method.  He didn’t wait for a muse to inspire him. Twain worked many varied jobs.  He worked and he kept at it, never giving up.  He wrote at every opportunity provided and created a few for himself.  “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

            Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker, states that success is made of the following characteristics:  conviction, commitment, hard work, love for what you do, integrity, character, consistency, persistence, discipline, heredity, environment, humor, luck, faith, passion, and connections.

            Mark Twain had commitment; he kept at it when people told him he couldn’t or that he was a hack.  Yes, even Mark Twain had to deal with rejection.  Twain has been quoted as saying: “There are basically two types of people; people who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded.”

            As I went through the list checking all the facets that Mark Twain had, I realized that not one of them was having a muse.  Luck didn’t count in his life, unless you counted bad luck. Overcoming adversity provides confidence that the next adversity may be conquered as well.

            That fact had me wondering how my husband and I lined up against the list.  We had lengthy discussions.  We evaluated our strengths, our weaknesses, areas that we needed to improve, and realized there were things we had no control over.  We also realized that there were many more things we could do to achieve our own goals.

            “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” This quote by Mark Twain is one of my favorites.  It now held new meaning for me.

            Our circumstances do not define who we are.  What we do with those circumstances determines where we end up.  Armed with that bit of information, I made a new plan.  The drive home was enjoyable with real conversation, laughter, smiles (something neither of us had done in a while) and the sense that we were going to get through this mess that we called our lives.  We decided we need to laugh more often and seek the brighter side.  After all, sometimes it comes down to whether you laugh or cry and laughing is much more enjoyable.  The choice is ours.

            That is the whole key.  It is our choice how we handle adversity. Even though Mom always said I was a dreamer, she also took every opportunity to remind me I came from strong stock.  We are stronger than we think we are and able to do much more than we think we can.  It was time to revisit my dreams, and apply myself to achieving them.  Those dreams became a vision.  The vision became a plan to which I added the determination and perseverance.  I made up my mind to pursue those dreams, and not let anything stop me.

           I posted the words of Winston Churchill next to my desk: “Never, never, never give up.” 

            Less than a week later that fickle muse returned in her lazy manner.  She made a grand entrance.  The large brimmed white sun hat tossed on the sofa, she sank into the easy chair with a resolved sigh.  I ignored her.  She brushed an imaginary piece of fuzz from her gloriously tanned arm, then smoothed her designer dress over her flawless figure.  I continued to work.  There was a great deal of gesticulations and posturing before the slightest whisper of exhaled breath as she stated “Well, I’m here.  I guess we can get started now.”

            I mentally told her to go back to where she’d been.  I politely stated there were other writer’s who were waiting for her and she was wasting her time with me.  That mischievous smirk of hers appeared.  She was rather dense and didn’t catch on for a few minutes.  Never looking away from my screen as my fingers flew fast and furious trying to keep up with my brain, I reassured her she could go.

            Several minutes later she sidled up beside me to critique whatever tripe I had been working on while she’d been away.  That was when I had to be blunt.  “This just isn’t working out.  It’s me, not you. You’re fired.  You can let yourself out.”

            As I continued working on the scene that played out on the screen before me, a sense of achievement and a new-found freedom settled in.  Even if I fail, I’ll give it my best efforts.  It won’t be for lack of trying, or from fear of failure.  My conviction is that I will succeed; it’s only a matter of time.

            “History is” as Churchill stated, “written by the victors”.

Write on my friends – I know I will!

Liebster Blog Award!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Huge Thanks  to Allison Bruning for nominating me!  Also, I want to give a shout out to Linda Bowers Bolton, who also nominated me!  You ladies rock!

This is all about the fun so if you don’t like fun, well  . . .what are you doing on my blog anyway?  Hmmm??  Don’t you know I’m the Fun Princess??  Nothing serious here today, but you might just find out something you didn’t know.

My questions were:

1) What is the craziest thing you have ever blogged about?

As I tend to be rather random anyway, that’s a tough one.  I’ve blogged about skunks, but I think the most random one would be Stirring the Pot(ter). It starts as a rebuttal to responses made from a previous post where I admitted to not having never read Harry Potter, (GASP!) and missing the entire Phenomenon it has become.  It progresses into random references from various movies and books in a humorous venting.  Pure nonsense, that’s what it is!

2) How and why did you get into blogging?

I used to write an opinion column in the local paper, and I missed it when the paper went out of business.  A friend suggested that I start blogging.  I went for it and in one day just jumped in with both feet.   It’s a blast and if no one else ever read it, I’d still have a blast.  Having readers respond and leave comments has been encouraging,  exciting, and somewhat unexpected!
3) What is one thing most people don’t know about you and would find surprising to learn?

That I’m prematurely gray and if I don’t dye it, it’s nearly completely white!  My sisters objected when I let it go natural as everyone knows I’m the youngest which meant they were older than a grey hair sister.  EEK!  I’m not ready to be white-haired, so it’s the color of the month club for me! The current dye job is medium golden brown with purple highlights.  It’s also grown out past shoulder length again.  I refuse to act my age, why?  It’s boring!


4) Favorite genre and why? Romance!  Because I love the rollercoaster of emotions , the falling in love feelings by proxy, without having to experience the personal pain and heartache. Plus, they always have super hot guys in them.
5) Favorite type of candy? Why?

York peppermint patties!  Love mint and dark chocolate.  They are cool and refreshing.  Junior Mints are also acceptable. MIni Yorks and the newest bite sized york pieces – No, I can’t buy those I’d eat the whole bag.
6) What is one piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

Prepare blogs ahead of time, and manage your time!  If you read mine you can probably tell I write on the fly most of the time!  ROFL – funny, so funny!  No seriously my biggest problems are with time management, therefore it’s an important thing.

7) How long have you been blogging?

since January 17, 2012!  I was feling very sad that I don’t have more followers, but a couple people put it into perspective as it’s only been since the beginning of this year, so relax!  I”m having a blast with it, so what difference does it make right?

8) What is one thing on the internet you couldn’t live without and why?

Google – I’d be lost if I couldn’t google things.  Even with Google I get lost!
9) If you could go travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

You want the full list or the short version? Hmm, I think I better give you the short list as it would take hours to go over all the places I want to travel.

1. Scotland,  because it’s Scotland!  Have you seen pictures?  Talk about a beautiful rugged landscape! Plus men in kilts – swoon! Culloden, Loch Ness, Inverness, Glengarry, Isle of Skye Ben Nevis  . . . I want to see all of it!

2. UK – including Scotland  I want to spend an entire summer visiting different spots throughout the UK, touring every castle and ruin. Popping over to Ireland for a couple of weeks, then staying in London for a couple more.

3. Paris, France – It is the city of romance and I write romance.  What woman doesn’t want to go to Paris?

4. Cancun – because it’s ocean, tropical, sun and fun!

5. Punta Cana –  Tropical Caribbean waters, ocean, fun and sun!

6. St. Thomas, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, – Island paradise.  Caribbean waters, tropical – you get the idea.

7. Nova Scotia – I want to ride a tidal bore; go whale watching, and delve into the heritage centers there.

8. Hawaii – Try surfing, walk on black sand beaches; a helicopter tour of islands, and active volcanoes!  Plus the Arizona memorial.

9. Alaska – whale watching, the glaciers, one of the few cruises I would consider.

10. Israel – I want to tour the Holy Lands!

That’s the short list, for a full list get out an almanac and look at every country that has a) beautiful landscapes, b)beaches, or c) interesting landmarks.  If you’re paying attention that leaves out Antarctica; and the deserts.  I’ve seen sand; would rather it be on a beach.  Everywhere else is fair game!  OH except for Petra in Jordan, and the Pyramids at Giza . . . ok I”ll stop now.
10) Ever had that infamous blonde moment? If so what’s the dumbest thing you have ever done?

Ummm, no never!  I’m not blond.  I was for a couple of years but my dark roots showed too much.  NO, I swear I never have.  (Sneaks away quietly turning ten shades of red – like I could pick just one!)
11) What the best movie you ever saw and why?

OK, true dorkness showing here.  My all-time favorite movie is Excalibur.  The tale of King Arthur, Merlin and the legendary Excalibur.  Aside from Arthurian legend, the cinematography was awesome, it was fun and still remains my favorite movie!  I also like Fifth Element – quirky but fun.

Share 11 random facts about yourself:

  1. I’m the baby of the family, youngest of five.
  2. I like to go fishing but I don’t touch worms.  Yuck!  Minnows and crickets are ok – no worms.
  3. My perfume of choice is Vanilla Fields.
  4. I’ve saved two lives. Once as a lifeguard, and the second time a victim of an auto-pedestrian accident that I saw happen, ran to them and immediately applied pressure to wounds and gave CPR.
  5. My first car was a vette; a Chevette!  (Pond scum green, 4 cylinder econo-box that got great gas mileage up and down the highway, went through six starters and alternators; stick shift, no AC!)
  6. I can be very OCD about certain things like hand washing and teeth brushing.
  7. Octopus freak me out! Don’t even get me started on parasites – shiver!
  8. I took classes to be a forensic scientist for a while – until the third autopsy, then I decided I’d do better in a more social environment not a room of dead people.
  9. I’m taller than most of the women in my family.  Coming from a French heritage on my dad’s side, most are short French people.  Many of the women barely reach 5 ft.  At 5’5″, I’m nearly a giant. Well, until my daughters stand next to me.
  10. I was into bodybuilding in my twenties.  Never competed, but that was my goal for a while, until the 12 hour work shifts during desert storm ended my four hour sessions in the gym.
  11. I was a Miss Missouri contestant when I was 17. (Won Miss Congeniality but wasn’t even close to winning title!)

I hereby nominate the following eleven bloggers to receive the Liebster Award!

  1. Sian Young http://siansblogonwriting.blogspot.com/
  2. Anjie Harrte http://authoranjieharrte.blogspot.com/
  3. Penelope Price http://www..penelopeprice.net
  4. Cathy Brockman http://networkedblogs.com/zNjIM
  5. Linda Bowers Bolton http://www.lindabolton.blogspot.com/
  6. DeAnne Troup http://www.deannaspencer.com/
  7. Joe McCoubrey http://joemccoubrey1.com/
  8. Tasha Turner http://tasha-turner.com/blog/
  9. Toledo Boogz  http://airoftorris.wordpress.com/
  10. Dana Ellington Myles http://satinsheetdiva.com/
  11. Ed Griffin http://writerswritedaily.wordpress.com/

My questions forthese 11 people are:

  1. What genres do you read and write?  Why?
  2. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
  3. Is there a writer that inspires you, perhaps got you interested in writing in the first place?
  4. If you could talk to any three people dead or alive who would they be?
  5. Describe your work space.
  6. Who is your favorite author?
  7. If  your book were made into a movie, who would play your main character?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  10. What  foods coax your muse into productivity?
  11. Coffee or tea?  What’s your favorite, how do you like it, and in what quantity?

The rules are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award. Add the award logo to your blog.
2. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.
3. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then…
5. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

Virtual Blog Tour – Meet Kristina Jackson

Two Addictions Collide

I am not talking about narcotics or illegal substances here, although my husband thinks one of them should be ‘limited’. I am talking about knitting and writing. My two favourite addictions.

When I am not writing, I am knitting. When I am not working, or reading I am knitting. I cannot sit anywhere for any length of time without my needles in my hands. I have been known to knit whilst watching the kids Christmas plays. Do I care? Nope! There are a few situations where I won’t take my knitting; to a restaurant, pub or similar. Certainly anywhere that involves waiting it is there.

Therefore it only seemed logical I should write a story about knitting. By Hook or Needle was born. This is a collection of stories / chapters that tell tales based around a shop called ‘By Hook or Needle’ this book sees the set up of the shop and starts introducing some of the characters involved with it. I hope this will become part of a series of stories.

I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes knitting, who likes character driven stories. I would say this is quite probably as far into women’s fiction as you can get. Although men knit, I know a few who do, they are but a few. I am hoping this book will be out within 6 – 8 weeks.

A little about Kristina Jackson:

“One day you will write your own book, just let your heart guide you.”

Those were the immortalised words of my teacher in the 5th Year of Primary School; I was 8 at the time. I’d just had a short story published in the school magazine, and won a prize of a book for my privilege. I knew I had wanted to write since I could write sentences. 28 years later I am realising that dream.

I am Kristina Jackson. I am in my mid thirties, wife, mother of two, owner of one dog and slave to two cats. One of my cats, Bono, is my writing companion. He is often found sharing my lap with my laptop or partially draped over the keyboard if I am using the laptop on the desk.

I suffer from a condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) I have become disabled by it, but as physical doors have shut the mental ones opened. Now I have so many ideas, and the ideas are throwing out so many characters who are each threatening to run away with my remaining sanity.

It is anybody’s guess where this will now lead.

You can find Kristina at: wyndwitch

Kristina Jackson

twitter @wyndwitch

Do any of you knit?  Care to comment on Kristina’s post?  If you don’t knit, what other hobbies do you have? Share your addictions!

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!


Spring Is In The Air

Most people think spring has finally arrived when they can shed their coats,  and go bare-armed outdoors. The appearance of skin on other parts becomes  prevalent as well. Others think when the forsythia is yellow it is definitely  spring. I want to let you know of an absolutely definite way to determine that  yes, spring has arrived.

It’s not the jonquils, although they are up. It’s not the forsythia, although  they are beautiful. It’s not the “peepers” heavenly chirping after the long hard  winter. It’s not even the calendar date of the vernal equinox — the “official”  start of spring. My absolute fail-safe method involves the sense of smell. Spring has most definitely arrived. The anticipation is killing you so I’ll cut  to the chase.

The skunks are on the move. That’s right, it’s skunk mating season. I can’t  go a mile without running across the remains of some poor massacred skunk in  amorous pursuit of a female. The sad bit is he probably never got to finish the  job. While the grass is greening and the trees are budding, the skunks are  stinking up the place.

In the Disney classic, “Bambi”, Owl makes the observation of Flower the  skunk, Thumper and eventually Bambi, that they were “twitter-pated.” It had  nothing to do with Facebook or tweeting, it was a coined word for “love is in  the air.” In the case of Flower, Pepe le Pew, and all other skunks, love must  involve stink.

Pheromones are the chemicals responsible for the attraction of one to  another. My personal preferences run more along the lines of Irish Spring and  Aramis. Deer can scent a female for miles. Dogs instantly know when  there’s a female in heat within a five-mile radius. Our sense of smell isn’t  quite so refined. This is why we have drug sniffing dogs not humans. Although  some people try, but that’s a different thing entirely.

It’s true that you can often smell the B.O. of an individual three aisles  over in the grocery store, but I am repulsed not attracted to it. This leads us  to the next season, summer. Ever notice the volume of stink from sweaty people  increases exponentially?

But I digress from my point of the numerous skunks killed on our roadways.  Spring is a time for new adventure. Every day becomes potentially dangerous. A  simple drive in the fresh country air can become a lethal toxic assault on your  olfactory senses. These little guys have saved up all winter, and it’s some  potent stuff. It brings tears to my eyes; tears of pain that is.


Branson bound!

In the old days it would be wagons ho!  I’m very excited to be going to Branson.  Today’s blog will be brief, I’m on a time crunch here.

I made the decision to do this for myself.  That is a huge thing for me, being a mom I haven’t really done much for myself in ages.  It feels scary, and exciting all at the same time.  This is one of those “here be dragons” areas for me.

I’m tackling my Brave New World with a certain degree of apprehension.  This is such a strange feeling for me to step out in an area for myself.  I feel guilty for being selfish, and at same time thrilled like I’m being naughty.  Conflicted much?  Yeah, I am.

It’s usually the small things that make or break us.  The devil’s in the details.  A small step for many, but a huge step for me to do something for myself.  I’m not one that goes to get mani-pedis.  I get a haircut when I really have to have one, and have been known to let it go way too long before taking care of it.  Looks a little wild some times, and people often interpret it that I’m a wild-child.  Well, maybe I am in ways.  In this rediscovery of myself it feels like I’m being a little wild.  I know, going to Branson isn’t a wild thing, but this is a monumental step for me.  I’m not taking my kids or the husband , but rather going on my own.

I’m not a codependent, I’ve just sidelined myself for many years.  Getting back in the game is scary.  An unknown – the dragonlands.  So it’s not so much about Branson, but rather stepping out into new things.  I have friends and family that do this sort of thing all the time, I just haven’t .  Until now.

It’s easier to face a live audience for me than to do this.  Fear of public speaking is higher than the fear of death in over 50% of the population.  Oh well, I always knew I was a little odd.  I’ve never taken the well-traveled road.  No, it’s the scenic byways and the shortcut through the woods, the gravel roads and footpaths for me.  It’s always an adventure!

So this is not about travel but rather exploration.  Exploring my horizons, my boundaries, my self-imposed limitations.  I’m going boldly where I’ve not allowed myself to go before!

I’ll be sure to take pictures of Branson – post tornado.  Photography is NOT my forte, so I don’t know if I’ll have any worth sharing.  For great photography check out PHOTOBOTOS!  They rock!

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.howtofindajobwhentherearenojobs.com%2F&h=aAQETswPI  For anyone looking for a job or a different job check out my friend’s book.  It’s currently #4 on Amazon!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my transformations.

Freaky Friday

Not the movie,  It has been my day.  First thing this morning storms moving through the area.  Exciting thing driving through hail.  Storm chasers were staying at the hotel next to the gym, and two of the guys were talking about it what they suspected the storms were going to do.  Way to  set a tone of apprehension for the day guys – thanks for that!

Electricity was off when I returned home so no computer – nice.  Starting to panic about not having my seminar notes printed, and my power point is still incomplete.   My phone was nearly dead from listening to my music on the phone instead of mp3 player, and everything I thought I would do to take my mind off the panic rising within me required the use of electricity.

The storm passed, with another on its heels to arrive within a couple of hours.  Great!  I can get in a couple of hours work and wrap this up before it arrives.  Isn’t it funny how things never quite work how you plan?  Distractions just seem to jump out sometimes and even though they may be opportunities, I was on a tight schedule here.  Never the less, I succumbed to the distraction.

Did I mention before that I’m speaking on getting control over your emotions as part of my presentation?  Yeah, well I got excited about an opportunity to travel to France.  A beautiful Chateau, very reasonably priced, a paradise waiting for me.  I started calculating –  we could so do this!  What a wonderful vacation to give our girls before they head off to college.  Then I started adding the other travel expenses like airfare.  OUCH!  I had been at the pinnacle of the rollercoaster, you know that peak of the  climb where you seem to just hang in stillness for a few seconds?

Well, the plunging ride down that slope to the crash at the bottom knocked the breath out of me.  I hit rock bottom and I hit hard.  maybe it’s the intensity I’ve been working at this for the last few days, or even the months I’ve put into the planning but I crashed and burned.  My elation was replaced by a pit of despair as I ran the numbers in my head, and ran through the necessary expenses, and the practical things we should spend that kind of money on instead of being frivolous.  I heard my husband’s voice of reason and got angry with him because I knew what he would say and what his reaction would be.

MInd you, this was a one person rollercoaster ride.  It was a complete debate, argument, reasoning session within my own head.  Strange maybe but I’d be willing to bet that everyone has done this on more than one occasion.  HIs irrational imagined response made me furious, because I knew after so many years of marriage exactly what he would say.  How else do you make a good case to present such an opportunity in the first place?

Finally with a feeling of hopelessness, I gave up on the vacation idea and resumed working on my presentation.  I had to go over it just one more time to be prepared.  I had to laugh at my own reactions.  Here I was going to speak on managing your emotions and I was a perfect example of what NOT to do.  Oh brother!  I hung my head in my hands, wondering what on earth ever possessed me to think I could have something worthwhile to say to anyone. There was no getting out of this now – unless the tornado came through.

I became suddenly aware of the time that I had wasted and the fact that it was time to get the kids from school  My daughter has her permit, and I let her drive.  Trust me when I tell you that facing an audience feeling unprepared is nothing  compared to the terror of my daughter behind the wheel. IN a distance of 10 miles, we had 4 near misses.

She said “I like it better when Daddy rides with me, he doesn’t yell at me.”

Maybe not, but he’s not stressed about speaking at a seminar!  He’s also an easy-going kind of guy.  I wanted to kiss the ground when I got out of the car.

We unloaded body parts from the car and carried them into the house.  the mannequin was unassembled and I had to figure out how she went together and find some clothes for her.  Lusty wench only wore a banket around her when I retrieved her, not to mention where her detached hand was when I collected her parts.  At least Sir Rustalot was a gentleman and kept his armour on!

The storms are dissipating so there’s no help from that front – no pun intended.  Looks like I’m going to have to go through with this thing after all.  I decided I better print out my notes before I forget  aaaaannnnnnnddddd – we’re out of ink – lovely!

The rest of my evening will be running into town for an ink cartridge, returning home to load a knight and his, um I use the term lady loosely here, into the car, dig out the flame thrower, find those black cloths, and somewhere in there manage to prepare dinner for my family.  I’m sure I will be up late stressing over the printed notes searching for errors, and places where I can cut and add, continually editing.  Who knows what will actually come out tomorrow!

Someone said they may record the seminar.  I may have to get a copy just to find out what I said myself.  If nothing else maybe they’ll like my jokes.  If not, I’m wearing my New Balance shoes so I can run really fast!