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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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!

Ramping Up Writing

As I said in my last post about all of our changes, I’ve been working to stretch myself when it comes to writing this year. The SSSFFSS was a big deal for me. I’ve never been one to really share my work and then I opened the door by writing something to specifically give to someone else.

It was writing from a prompt, which I have found to really enjoy writing from. A little idea sparks a big idea and so on. However, this prompt was wide open, which made me nervous at first. Especially since I had to try to be humorous. But, after my initial freak out, I got that little spark and a story was born. The giftee gave good feedback and the world Abigail Quinn lives in was born.

Since then, I’ve started another story featuring Abby Quinn. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, but this world and this character is pretty fun, so I am enjoying it. It’s relatively lighthearted, and I intend it to be mostly funny. Perhaps it will go deeper. I’m only at the beginning, so I’m trying not to think too far ahead. I find I write better that way.

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, and as is typical for every NaNo I’ve ever touched, I failed miserably after real life stomped all over my plans. We had every member of the house come down with a stomach bug one weekend and another, I had a hip flare and that left me unable to function. Luckily, my husband stepped up and was teh awesomez.

Now, I’m trying to figure out the way to get more writing time in schedule. Things have been a little hectic lately and competing priorities make things hard. Once I get a little farther into this story, I look forward to working on it more.

What have you been working on lately and what struggles have you faced?

Change is Good, Bad, and Ugly (But Mostly Good!)

2014 has been crazy so far in ways both good and bad. We moved to a new place on December 28 and rang in the new year trying to get things set up to be functional enough to survive. The move was great for us though. We now have more room and a few acres, complete with a big front yard and a small bit of woods in the back. We also have an abundance of doors and a certain youngest child who likes to escape whenever he deems the weather nice enough to ride scooters on the back patio.
New Year’s Day was a sad in that my husband’s stepfather lost his battle with cancer. And after a few weeks, another relative of his was in a serious car accident. If the other driver hadn’t been paying attention, he likely would have died.
Now we are settling into a new routine. Kidlet 1 loves to ride the bus, so thanks to a flexible work schedule, I was able to shift things around so she can ride in the mornings. I think her sister looks forward to riding with her when she starts Kindergarten next year.

Then the news came that we are losing my mother as childcare at the end of this summer. I understand the reasons, but it doesn’t make the finding of a new care provider and the associated costs easier. I do look forward to my mother being able to the “grandparent things” which means it might be possible for my kidlets to stay the night on occasion, which would let the hubs and I have some time together. So it’s not the most awesome thing, but it’s not the most terrible.

I challenged myself to do the 2013-2014 Sekrit Solstice SFF Story Swap, affectionately dubbed the SSSFFSS, over at Absolute Write. I was given a prompt to write a story of indeterminate length. Then polish and give to a fellow writer. I’ve not done something like that, and I’ve not shared anything really before, so it was a new and boundary-pushing experience for me. I enjoyed it, and my giftee seemed to enjoy the story, so I was pleased with the overall experience. I’m challenging myself to write more this year, and I’ve opened up a whole new world with my short that makes me look forward to writing.

I’m trying something new where I dedicate a section to each post of something interesting in the writing arena, especially writer folks with an upcoming book or intriguing blog post. So, look no further, writer shout outs are below.

Several of my online writerly buddies have upcoming works:

Anna Zabo has new book coming out in August. Takeover looks mighty intriguing and the cover is gorgeous. You might remember I featured Anna and hosted a book giveaway when Close Quarter came out.

Tiffany Allee just had a book come out. Don’t Blackmail the Vampire is a delicious tale you can really sink your teeth into. (Don’t mind me, I’m just a dork.)

One of my favorite author teams has a THE mega book in the series coming out later this year. Ilona Andrews has the next Kate Daniels book coming out in July. Magic Breaks is the pivotal book in the series. Can’t wait! There is also a new series coming out in October, the first book titled Burn for Me. Also, the lovely duo has picked back up with the second book in their free serial, Sweep in Peace.

What new things do you have going on?

Falling Through Fall

This fall has been a crazy time for us. I was all set to write during NaNoWriMo, with vacation days scheduled and everything. Then we decided we were going to put in an offer for my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house. This is actually where he lived when we met back in high school.

So I decided to forgo NaNo in lieu of preparing to buy this house. We send documents in, waited, scrambled to send more documents and held our breath. This past week, the appraisal report was released and we learned that in order to have our loan approved some things needed to be done to the residence, namely the roof being replaced.

We also learned that the husband’s aunt and uncle did not want to replace the roof, so we were faced with a decision to make. Did we still want the house bad enough to make a new roof happen or were we going to give up on the house?

We’ve discussed our options the last few days and have come to the conclusion that we do want the house still and are currently researching and getting estimates so we can get the roof repaired.

So I am not in such a hurry to pack now, and I’m taken on something else to do that I’m going to talk about soon, which I really hope has an impact on what I’m doing every day. Things have been  stressful for me in general lately and I’m hoping to break the cycle.

Life in the Fast Lane

Time flies when you are busy with all kinds of crap! It’s hard to believe that it is summer already and we’re in the middle of the sixth month of the year.

There have been all sorts of things going on around here, from successes to more illness. I am hoping the warm weather and the sunshine put an end to all this nasty germs.

The oldest finished her year of first grade by winning all the awards except attendance. She won the President’s Physical Fitness award, made High Honor Roll for the entire school year, made her Marathon Reader goal, and made her AR reading goals for the entire year. I am so proud of her hard work for all her accomplishments for this year!

Middle child finished her second year of preschool. She goes back for one more year before she begins kindergarten. I sometimes worry that another year of preschool and then kindergarten will bore her to pieces because she is so smart already, but I fear her social skills need the extra time to develop before she enters elementary school. I can only hope I am making the right decision for her. One of my favorite school tales is the time I was almost sent to the principal’s office during first grade because I was so bored I was smearing Elmer’s on my hands and picking it off once it dried. I don’t want my children to suffer that same boredom.

The youngest child begins his first year of preschool in the fall. I am thinking he’ll really enjoy it. He hated having to leave every time his sister was dropped off all last year.

I’ve been battle sinus infections some more. One of those triggered a nice case of iritis. But after spending ALL THE DOLLARS taking everyone to the doctor for tonsillitis and strep, I self-treated with the medication I already had.

However, I got to meet up with my rheumatologist to go over my x-rays. It turns out there is abnormal inflammation on the iliac side of both my sacroiliac joints. So he recommended I get an MRI to determine if the cause was degenerative or inflammatory and if it was inflammatory, he thought I would need to start on a biologic. MRI results came back, but I have not met with the doctor to discuss in person. Best I can tell from my e-chart is that there is some inflammation, but it is not acute. He recommended a different drug than the biologic at this time.

But then I think I’m going to have to see an ENT about my near-constant sinus pain.

Recommendation:  Don’t let issues fester!

I think I am going to attempt Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I am getting a handle on new job and there are far less restrictions on time off than my previous full-time job. I need to get my writing back on track. This is one thing I really want for myself.

The other things I am going to focus on including developing a daily exercising routine and actually doing it, and doing more fun things with the kids. Both are in progress. I think we will like the results.

What fun things do you have planned for the summer?