Such a Year is 2016

I’ve been in a reflective mood these past few weeks. This year has been something else and I’ve still been trying to wrap my mind around it. So, in the spirit of introspection, I’ve been trying to figure where I’ve been and where I want to go.

introspection

From a career, or day job, perspective, I worked a major project for most of the last year that went live early this year. The project was very successful and it established me as an expert in my area which, as my father rightly put it, is a double-edged sword. There are days I can hardly do my job for people wanting to tap into my expertise. Not to mention there have been headcount changes and increased responsibilities. I am finally reaching a place where I can feel like I am no longer excessively behind, but it has been stressful. My eagerness to head into work every day has dimmed to an extent.

Also new this year, all of the kids are officially in school as of this August. Which is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It means a different chapter in our lives, but it also means there is more maturity in all the children to an extent. This is my one year where everyone is in the same school before Kidlet One heads to junior high next year. But Kindergarten is a busy time so it requires more time commitment. So this often keeps me on my toes.

At some point, I can only guess it was the stress and exhaustion, I inexplicably gained 20 pounds and experienced fatigue so deep I could barely function.My creative well dried up and the thought of writing anything was just overwhelming. I was in a cesspool of unhappiness.

After a few months, I decided I could no longer live like that. I spent some time outside, taking advantage of our unseasonably warm weather. I started on the ketogenic diet, and after a few starts and stops, I can successfully say I am now losing weight and have loads more energy to get through the day.

And while my creative well is not quite flowing anew, it does contain a few droplets. I figured rambling along on some blog posts with regularity might be just what the inner creative ordered. I have a few things to go about over the next few weeks, and my goal is to get back to writing fiction again with some consistency.

Look for more in the coming days and I am excited to be back!

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My Kids Look Like Bums and I Don’t Care

Today I had one of those epic brain moments where my brain thought the start time of my eldest Girl Scout meeting was an hour earlier than reality.

So we ended up in the little town where her meetings are held ahead of schedule. When we got to the library and the librarian was just arriving to open the place up, I realized what I’d done. 

Rather than drive back home, we ran up to the little local gas station and got some treats. Then, not wanting to miss out on some gorgeous weather, we stopped by the local park. 

The entire time, the two youngest are in some of their least fitting pajamas because they had chosen to have Pajama Day, which we do quite frequently. 

Sitting in the packed park, I initially felt like I should somehow be embarrassed about their attire. Then I realized that I don’t particularly care. It’s their day off to have a good time and their clothes have very little impact in that. 

If we had planned to go somewhere, we would have dressed a little better, but improvised play is some of the most fun, and I don’t want them to miss that for the sake of appearances. Life is much too short. 

As We Head Into Fall

As We Head Into Fall

My, what a busy year this has been. Big changes at work, plenty of activities, and not enough time for housework, of course. We’ve stayed hopping most of the summer and I’m finally looking for some of the downtime that tends to come in fall/early winter. There are so many home projects that did not get lifted off the ground because we stayed so busy.

The work project consumed some crucial parts of my summer. I worked a lot. Our little garden plot was neglected because we just couldn’t devote time to it. Ditto to all the landscaping plans I had for the summer. There were only a handful of home improvements we managed to accomplish, but I did manage to make several decisions on paint colors and such, which means once we get back into the remodeling groove, we can easily make some forward progress. But it will probably be next spring/early summer before we can get going on that stuff again as the work project doesn’t wrap up until mid-spring. In fact the holidays look to be crazy-making with the level of activity.

In the meantime, I’ve not been writing much. I think the stress and crazy hours of work have kept my creative mind locked in a dark desperate hole for its own safety. When I sit in front of a story that I love and adore, or even just want to have fun with. my mind becomes blissfully blank. There are ideas floating.out there in the ether. I can feel them. I just can’t seem to get to them. I think stress seems to be a very effective lock to my creativity.

So, my next project is trying to figure out a way to tap that locked up creativity. I am thinking of tackling NaNo this year but I need an idea and none have come to me. So I’ll just have to puzzle it out. What fun things have you been working on?

When Life Hands You Lemons

Sometimes life sucks. And some things that you might have thought sucked doesn’t really in the end. And sometimes those lemons you were handed are just the extra flavor your dinner needs. There has been so much going on around here, that I’ve felt like I’m sitting tightrope strung between something awesome and the downfall of everything. Part of it I know is the situation at work. I’m trapped in this awkward place where I’ve been seriously stressed out, but I think the ending is going to be a good thing.

However, it does have effects on my body. I’ve had a flare of hip pain that I’ve not had for some time. My sacroiliac joints are defective, as I like to affectionately call it, and once they start hurting, it doesn’t easily turn off because it’s an autoimmune, inflammatory type of thing and once it starts, I just have to wait it out. Severe stress seems to be a trigger, so it wasn’t really a shocker that I had an episode. But it puts me down for the count when it happens and I am mostly useless. My productivity goes down the tubes. But after a week and a half, I seem to be recovering so long as I don’t over do it.

But we have made some progress on some home improvements. My husband is probably the true lead here. I just provide some direction. We went ahead and painted part of the pantry because I wanted to pull everything out anyway. It looks a lot better. Next we will make a few updates to the boy’s room. After that, I suspect we will tackle the master bath and the kitchen. The husband has also been working outside on making things better, which leads into the next area so well.

Spring has sprung and we are all outside more. In fact, I type this from a chair in the front yard. In addition to fixing up what needs to be repaired, my husband has been cleaning up brush and making a spot for a small garden. I think this year will have lettuces, a few cucumbers, a few tomatoes, and some green beans. The kids are excited to be helping and can’t wait to grow some food. I have a feeling my greatest task will be weeding as I’m not the best gardener.

The Future Garden

One of the biggest pluses for this week is the fact that my doctor gave me test results and while it’s not great that my vitamin D level is low, it’s great that I can take the supplement for just a couple of days and feel a huge difference almost immediately. So I feel a lot better in just a couple of days. I’m working on some things with an allergist, but I’m afraid one of the medicines he is giving me is causing headaches and a sore throat. I think a few more days to pinpoint it and I can let him know to see what he advises me to do.

On the reading and writing front, I’ve been reading a few books, most recently finishing Sarah J. Maas’ Heir of Fire. It was really good. I haven’t worked on anything of my own, but I am hoping to remedy that. I need to find the rest of my energy and willpower to get some things done, with writing being a main one. I miss sharing words with my characters.

So there have been ups and downs, but overall I feel optimistic as spring rolls in. Can’t wait to get some things checked off my list!

Change of Seasons

2012-08-16 18.04.49Well, things have been exciting and I’m trying to get a good grasp of it all. A year ago we moved into our new house. In the time since, I’ve been figuring out what I actually want to do with the house. At this point, I have ideas for a few of the rooms and can begin to make some updates. It only took the whole year to figure how I wanted things to be functionally.

We bought a small tractor for the yard to help with some of the repairs out there. It has a loader, a box blade, and a mowing deck. I’m pretty excited that this has made the process of getting the garden area cleaned up much easier. I might be able to grow a few vegetables this year and that’s exciting.

But first we have to shake off the last vestiges of winter. Tonight the temperature will get down to singles digits and we’ll have highs in the  mid-forties and up this weekend and into next week. I’m hoping it signals that spring is almost here. For a multitude of reasons, the most important being that the children need to go outside and play to burn off some energy.

I think for the first part of the year, I am going to focus on taking care of the house. I’ve neglected things lately and that needs to change, so I’m putting some of my other things on the back burner. In addition to the attention my home needs, I’m joining a major project team at work, so I will be devoting a lot of time and energy to it.

There are lots of things going on as the change of seasons makes its appearance. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. What sort of changes are you expecting?

These Days

Things have been really busy around these parts the last few months. I’m still trying to get a grip on things and smooth out life a little. I’ve found it a little annoying lately that something always has to go wrong on the weekends.
This last weekend, for example, I wanted to get a lot of cleaning done because we are having the birthday party for the youngest next weekend. My back has decided that now is an awesome time to hurt. Lots. So it limits what I can accomplish at a time.
I’m also trying to get so many things done that I can’t figure out where to start and what to tackle first. The biggest thing there is to just pick something and go after it. So, I am thinking that I might test a few freezer cooking recipes to see if we like them before I make several of them to feed us. Soccer season is fast approaching. I definitely report back what we’ve tried and how it works for us.
What’s going on with you?

Overwhelmed

That pretty much sums up how I’m feeling these days. There are so many things I need to do that I feel conflicted. There’s unpacking, regular housework, eat better, exercise more, write for the blog, work on the novel, spend time with the kids, spend time with the husband. There’s just more to do than there is me or hours in the day. I’m trying to figure out how to balance it all. And get ahead or at least break even.
Late last year, I was part of the launch team for Crystal Paine’s Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. I have a hard copy of it sitting in the kitchen next to the cookbooks. Perhaps it’s time to dust it off and work through it again. My biggest thing is the exhaustion and lack of energy when I get home from work. I manage to cook dinner and feed everyone, but then I just want to be done. I want to rest and unwind for a little bit. Let my brain relax. Ideas flow better. Most often, something with the kids keeps me from getting a good night’s sleep, and I know that will end one day, but I still have manage today.
I know I would be less exhausted if I exercised more, and I know that I would be happier if I spent more time on creative endeavors, but I have to figure out how to prioritize so I can “have it all”. Not to mention that I need to work on this house so we can live happily. So where do I start? How to I decide which is the highest priority? How long do I sacrifice myself for the good of the rest of the family?
From past experience, I know that I am terrible at keeping schedules. Something always comes up with the kids that blows my plans out of the water. Then I completely fail to return to the schedule. Maybe a need a gentle shove or nudge from someone, I don’t know. I just know that it hasn’t worked well for me in the past.
So I am left feeling like I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I didn’t work full time, but I am the breadwinner, so we need my income. Especially since we will have to start paying for daycare in August.
What do you do to balance all of your life obligations? How do you beat the stress and fatigue of daily life?