New Year's night is a melancholy time. You're coming off the high of the holidays and trying to squeeze out those last few precious moments of escaping reality before returning to work. It's ironic - we bring in the new year with celebrations and resolutions to improve and make the coming year better, but we're forced to return to the same old routine on January 2 and face the challenges of bring in new resolve to the same old things, day after day.
Getting back into the routine will be hard tomorrow. There's no sleeping in tomorrow morning. No more slow starts to the day. No taking it slow through the morning and afternoon. No twinking lights on the porch and window to welcome me home from work. No cards in the mail with well wishes. No parties or celebrations on the calendar. All the presents have been given. The cards have been sent. The Christmas decorations are down and packed away and the house is cleaned. Celebrations have been had with family and friends. It's nothing but the alarm going off at six in the morning to launch me into another day; one that will look much like the days before the holidays were upon us. Supper to put on the table after work. Get on the treadmill. Play with the birds. Work on writing or keep house. Go to bed. Repeat the next day. Two day weekend reprieves after every five days of work to catch up on what didn't get done during the week. Nothing on the calendar but meetings and appointments to prepare for and the humdrum of the everyday again.
It can be depressing. And yet, maybe now. Maybe this dormant period, this period of dullness, is exactly what we need to start again. Perhaps what we need is not newness of our situation, but newness of how we approach the life we have, day in and day out. 99% of living is done in the mundane of the everyday. If we are to accomplish that resolve for change; if we are to improve; we must do it within the life we have. Change comes through dealing with the everyday in new and different ways. It comes from altering our perspective of that same old routine. It comes with determination to do it right, to do it better, to do it more effectively, than the way we did it before.
It's a challenge. I look ahead and see miles of the same old road I always walk, wondering how I can walk it better. That's the real purpose of resolutions, isn't it? To be better. To do better. To make small changes that lead to big, powerful results that light up that road with hope and a future.
So this new years night, I ponder how I'll make this walk a better one than it was in 2012. I look at what I have and study it to see how I can do things better through creating better balance. It's an ongoing challenge, but one I believe I'm up to.
Happy New Year, everybody. I hope your holiday season was merry and bright, and that you're starting out 2013 with good plans and hope for a bright future.
What is holiday detox, you ask? Well readers, it's that period immediately following Christmas when you're so tired and burned out that you can't motivate yourself to do anything. The house is a mess and you don't care. The "to do" list is growing, and you say to hell with it. You're worn out from celebrating with all the family, food, fun, presents, and to do of the holidays and you want to hibernate in bed for, oh, the rest of the winter to recover.
Be honest, who's there? Has anybody else had a wee bit of a problem motivating themselves to do things they don't want to do?
I know I am. I'm Christmased out. The holidays are nice, but it's time for them to move along out of here. I fully believe that the days between Christmas and New Year's Day are a time when the world needs to back off and let us be lazy, just for a little while. We need some time to ourselves before we get back to the grind. We need a break to rest and recuperate from the heavy activity of the holidays. We need to drop out for a while and tend to our own wants and needs. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, we probably need it more often than just post-holidays. We need to take time to ourselves regularly. If we work ourselves to death, we'll eventually break down and then we won't be good to anybody.
I think that's one good resolution to make for the new year - to take more time out for yourself. I know a lot of people would say that's selfish and rude, but I'd counter that those accusers aren't truly in touch with themselves and need to take this opportunity to get in balance themselves. (Or they're selfish jerks that think everybody in the world should be their handservant and their attitude needs correcting - but that's one for another entry.) If there's one truth I've seen this holiday season, it's that the world isn't going to give you a break. It will work you to death and wear you down to nothing. It's our responsibility to keep life in balance, and to work things out for the best. We have to be aware of what's going on and what we have, and to stay alert and in balance. To do that, it's necessary for us to say "no" to the demands of the world every now and then and tend to our personal needs. The best way to do that is to take regular time outs. And the world won't give them to us, so we have to take them. I say resolution #1 is to take what we need to be our best, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Block out time to yourself that's not open to anybody. Setting boundaries isn't wrong. In fact, it's the only way to achieve confidence and to have balance in your life.
So go ahead and take a break - God knows, you need it. And make that a habit in the future, while you're at it. ;)
That's all today. I hope you have a great week.
We hope this digital letter finds you safe, healthy, happy, and enjoying a wonderful holiday season. In the spirit of the annual holiday letter, I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights of the past year with you.
I know, this is a blog. You've been keeping up. But for the sake of those that don't like to log in twice a week for my ramblings, well, here's a summary:
Rick just wrapped up a 3 year term on church council at Mt. Tabor. He was heading up the IT committee and did a great job updating the website (which was his major project for his first year on council) and with keeping up staff technology needs. It did get to be a bit of a challenge this year, though. We lost both of our pastors this year - the head pastor left for a higher position with the Synod in March, and the associate pastor left to head up a congregation in Charleston, which is where he's from. It was tough losing them - and then major changes at Rick's job drastically altared his work situation, which has required more overtime work and made serving a bit more challenging. But he stuck in there and was determined to see his term through. We're very proud of him for hanging in there despite the challenges of the past few months, and for all he's done for the church. You can check out the church website that he designed at www.mttaborlutheran.org
Unfortunately, I had to quit both of my church committees. I had always planned to step down from the IT committee when Rick's term ended, but major changes in my own work situation and my writing picking up cut significantly into my spare time for volunteer activities. There are some things and events that I do hope to continue participating in, but right now being on a standing committee isn't something that's practical for me. It's a shame, too, because I enjoyed it and hated to give it up. Maybe in another season of life.
My work has picked up with additional duties. I'm now working with 4 licensure programs, and recent staff shortages have put more of a burden on remaining staff. I do finally have a window office, which is good (although I got the workload that came with it), and I'm also required to travel twice a year for the landscape architect program. Last year I attended the spring meeting in late February in Miami, and the national meeting in September in San Francisco. That trip to Miami was the first time I've ever flown! It's not bad, either. And while I'm not a big fan of travel, well, I'm hanging in there to see how it works out. The next meeting up is the regional meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona in March. We'll see. That's all I can say for now. Overall the job is good, although it has been very stressful lately. Our workload usually peaks in December (exam deadlines, plus people in a rush to get licensed to get projects in the new year), and being down a person has been hard. Hopefully, we'll fill that open position soon and things will level out. I'm off work until January 2, so hopefully some time with family, friends, and at home with Rick and the birds will do me some good.
My writing is also making progress. I published my second fiction novel, Anywhere But Here
, through Whiskey Creek Press in April. They offered me a contract for my third fiction novel, a sci-fi apocolyptic novel titled Splinter
, last summer. I'm already working on two writing projects now that I hope to wrap up in the spring. One is another mystery novel titled Move
. It's about a young woman that unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn (genie), but unfortunately his help is rather radical and leads to more problems than solutions. The other is a non-fiction book titled Feathered Frenzy
. It's basically a "quick reference guide" to give people tips on making their home and lifestyle bird-friendly. And believe it or not, I ALREADY have an idea for my next project. That one is still in a very early brainstorming stage. I'm not even considering working on that one more until I get my two current projects finished. I'm building an audience and working on many promotional things for my published novels. It's slow work, but worth it. I enjoy writing and I think going the "independent author" route was the right choice - especially with the traditional route going into decline as e-publishing picks up. I hope I hit the e-book wave at just the right time!
The birds are doing well. They'll be doing their own Christmas letter to you on their blog over at http://conurecorner.weebly.com
soon. Santa has big plans for them and I think we're going to have three very happy birdies in a couple of days!
Our families are doing well. Mom and Dad are staying busy, as usual. Mom had surgery for carpral tunnel last summer and I tell you, that's the fastest surgery recovery I've ever seen! She was back up and running in no time! Dad is still working. Retirement talk comes up from time to time, but no definite plans or timeline yet. I tell you, those design professionals - they love their work and don't like to retire! Stephen and Nicole are doing well too. Stephen's still keeping them straight as a department head at Public Safety, and Nicole is working at home in medical transcription. She graduated from a medical management program in the spring, but unfortunately she had to have surgery for diverticulitis shortly after graduation, so that was an unexpected hiccup in her life. But she's doing fine now and moving forward again.
Rick's parents are also doing ok. You know his father has dementia, so there are good days and bad days - that's just how it goes with that. They joined the Methodist church up the road last month. Our nieces and Rick's sister and brother-in-law are also doing well. We just got back from our Christmas visit with them in Greenville this morning. They stay busy with work, school, and activities - much like all of us.
And yes, in case any of you are wondering, I did complete my New Year's resolution of reading through The Bible again this year. I actually finished it in September!
Well, that's pretty much it. We are truly blessed and thank God every day for all that He has done for us and allowed us to do for others. We hope all of you are doing well and that life is being good to you. You know that everybody is welcome to visit this website and blog. I strive to update it at least twice a week. Some people have themes for their blogs and while the theme of this website is my writing, the blog isn't limited to that. In fact, I believe all of life inspires my writing, and this blog is open to anything and everything happening in life. Feel free to read, share, and pass it along to anybody interested, whether it's family, friends, readers, other writers, or anybody that's interested in how one writer's life inspires her tales!
Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and that your new year is filled with joy, peace and prosperity.
God bless and best wishes,
Rick and Sherri
What’s wrong with this picture? To you, probably nothing. To me, a lot. Now, finally, I’m going to tell you why I have a rather complex issue with red poinsettias. It’s a story that began on this very night 25 years ago.
My grandmother died on December 6, 1987. Big whoop, I hear you say, everybody loses grandparents. I mean, Rick’s grandmother died on December 21, 2000 and he has no issues of this type, so what’s the deal? I’ll tell you what the deal is. First of all, Nana’s death was the first major loss I suffered in my life. Other elderly relatives had passed away, of course – great aunts and great uncles, but at age 12 this was my first brush with death taking somebody close to me. And I was close to my maternal grandparents. It wasn’t the “see you a few times a year and at the holidays” grandparents. They lived next door to us. My brother and I had no babysitter because we stayed with them if we weren’t at a friend’s house. We were close to Nana and Granddaddy and this was the first time I experienced the
death of somebody that was a regular part of my life.
Those are things you deal with over time. Of course I still miss her (and Granddaddy, who died less than 2 years later), but by and large I have moved on from that. I realize the world has changed a lot and they’d be miserable in it now. I realize they’d want everybody to go on living, to be happy, and to have the best life we can until we meet again (but hopefully not too soon). I thought I had this covered and was good, until 5 years ago, when Rick and I moved in the home we built and he asked me to get some red poinsettias for the house. We finally have a nice house, he said, so let’s fix it up right. So off I went to dutifully get them and once I was at the store, I panicked. There they were, blood red and mocking me. I got a bit short winded. My heart raced. I couldn’t do it. I bought a white one instead. Rick looked at me funny.
“It’s pretty,” he said, “but I thought you liked red. Didn’t they have any?”
“Yes they did, but I didn’t want it.”
I found myself face to face with an issue I thought was deal with. See, when Nana died, people sent red poinsettias. Lots of red poinsettias. Our house was full of them. Granddaddy’s house was full of them. And frankly, for years I couldn’t recall much about her funeral until I saw that huge rack of red poinsettias in my face
and all of a sudden, it came back to me. Obviously, I had blocked a lot of the painful memories of that bad Christmas and it all came back to me – and continued to, every time I saw red poinsettias.
But wait, that’s not all …
For three years, I let it go. Time, I decided, would heal, and it was just one thing. But two years ago, I went through some major life transitions and decided that while I was doing some life and spiritual “housecleaning, then it was time for me to do something about this too. My life was being rewritten, and I determined that if
I was going to change my life, then I was going to do it right and make the best of all things, and this was definitely a chink in my armor that I allowed for far too long. It was silly, really. I grew up. I have a good life. But it seemed there was a 12 year old inside me that was still hurting, and that had to be dealt with. I refused to be held captive to my past. That’s just stupid. So I had a brilliant idea. I hadn’t been to the cemetery where my grandparents were buried since their funerals. I needed to go out there, I thought, and pay my final respects. It was time to face their loss as an adult. I was driving by while running some work related errands, so I decided I’d make a quick stop and get this done. So one cold day two years ago, I made my first stop to the church cemetery in a very, very long time. I found their burial plots, took a deep breath, and …
I had nothing. I mean, not one thing to say. I was looking around that cemetery and it hit me: These people are done with life and this world. They don’t belong here. Their labors are over and now they rest and are in glory. They don’t care. It’s not their problem and there’s no wisdom or help here (as it seems our church members
aren’t ones for epitaphs, and the ones they had weren’t *ahem* brilliant parting words). The world belongs to the living and it’s up to us to make things right and keep on going the best we can.
So I dealt with it the best I could, and left feeling much better. The problem is, there were some side effects. I was no longer plagued with grief and bad memories. They were soon replaced with something more … bizarre.
I left my grief at the cemetery, but the problem is that I picked up something that I didn’t realize followed me. Since that time, I’ve been plagued with recurring dreams of walking in a cemetery. I’m looking for my grandparent’s burial site, but I can’t find it because there aren’t any names on the tombstones. After wandering around for a while, I get pissed off, say “to hell with this, I’m leaving!” and wake up. It’s not often – maybe every few months, but it most recently happened night before last. I always wake up from that dream pissed off and frustrated. Seriously? Again? And after 2 years of searching for meaning, I finally decided its sole purpose is to mock me and make me mad. I mean, geeze. If paying my respects causes my mind to do wacky stuff like that, I might as well skip the trip to the cemetery, get a cheeseburger basket at the Fat Boys down the road, and do a drive-by wave at the graveyard! It’s easier, less trouble, and I get a good meal out of it, right?
Then I visualize myself driving by the cemetery with a French fry in my mouth waving and saying “hi guys, it’s all good!” as I zoom along Highway 1 with other people gawking at whatever-the-hell-I’m-doing and I laugh at my own insanity. So now, every time I see red poinsettias, I think of cheeseburgers, French fries and seeing how fast I can drive up Highway 1, and I shake my head at … myself.
Well, my own crazy ideas are better than sad memories and anxiety attacks, I suppose. At least my distaste for red poinsettias has settled into a more dissociated issue, but I still buy poinsettias in other colors. I have an awesome blue one in our entry way with silver bows and glitter and a white one for the office. And since Rick
and I did want a red Christmas plant for the house, I got an amaryllis. And when a red poinsettia did show up in my home, I put it on the front porch. I only have to look at it when I come home from work now. Maybe raccoons will take it. No luck there yet but hey, they may want to decorate for Christmas. Maybe? Probably not. Even the wildlife knows better than to touch that one with a 10 foot pole, it seems.
So yea, I’ve got issues but at least I’ve tried to deal with them – even if it led to more madness that I bargained for. Cheeseburgers and a drive by wave. Hrmph. That’s a heck of a way to solve a problem but if it works …
And by the way, the reason Rick doesn’t have an issue with poinsettias is because his grandmother that died at Christmas liked carnations, so the people that sent flowers sent carnations to her funeral (they also accepted donations to the church in lieu of flowers). No poinsettias there, even though her funeral was on December 23. Well played, I say.
That’s all today. I hope you’ve enjoyed my bizarre yet true tale of dealing with grief, myself, and the madness of life during the holiday season.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! When the people are stressing and everyone’s venting and fretting their fears!
I don’t mean to sound cynical. The truth is that I really do enjoy the holidays. The problem is that people tend to lose their patience a bit faster this time of year. Packed schedules, gift buying conundrums, shorter days and increased traffic generally lead to shorter fuses, frayed nerves, and a general increase in spontaneous
outbursts. Not only that, but people that suffer with anxiety and depression disorders typically have extra struggles this time of year, as we go into colder weather, shorter days, heightened stress, and being forced to deal with family and friend issues that we successfully dodge the other 11 months of the year.
Might as well throw it out there, eh? Well, I see no reason to around the issue. Look at the pink elephant in the room, everybody! Seriously, I know we love our families and friends, but we get frustrated with them too. And
if it isn’t your own then it’s in-laws, out-laws, nosy neighbors, toxic friends, annoying colleagues, drama queens, and those distant branches you’d really like to prune from the tree altogether but can’t because the Lord has put them in your life to rub off your raw edges and you can’t get away no matter how hard you’ve tried. And you probably have run from them screaming on countless occasions, just to have them come back for another round of fun and shenanagins.
I touched on this recently in a blog entry about feeling like peoples’ intake valve. A good look around showed me that I’m not alone. It’s getting to everybody. And geeze, Thanksgiving was early, so we have an extra week of it to enjoy this year.
Truth be told, it is a lot for even the most stable, well balanced individual to deal with. I know my life is busy enough on a normal basis, so adding Christmas shopping, parties, and increased get-togethers can stretch me a bit thin. I try to keep it in balance, but sometimes that turns in to a juggling act and for a klutz like me, that can be something.
It seems to me that life is a lot like a jack-in-the-box. You’ll be bopping along to your merry little tune, and suddenly somebody or something will get in your face. It scares the hell out of you. And those clowns seem to
jump at us more this time of year than any other.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 37 years roaming this earth, it’s that you have to learn to find and hold on to your own peace. If you’re doing your best, then there’s no point in stressing or worrying about things. In addition, you shouldn’t volunteer to take on other peoples’ problems either. People will try to push their problems on you, but you don’t have to accept it. You can support them. You can listen to them. If there’s anything you
can do to help, by all means do. But learn that you can’t move Heaven and earth, and if that’s what it takes to make the world happy, well, they’re SOL and that’s it. Be ok with imperfection. Learn to accept your best and make it clear that others in your life need to learn to accept it or find the door. And by all means, when those clowns pop in your face, don’t flinch.
That’s the real secret – it’s being grounded in right things and insisting on holding on to your peace and joy no matter what life throws at you. Whatever people say or do, whatever happens, whatever situations you face, believe that you have what you need to get through and that all things will work together for good. It takes
some work to do this, but inner peace is something that only you can find, and you must defend it from the attacks that will always come.
So this holiday season, claim your peace. Find your balance. Accept your best. And don’t flinch.
That’s all today. Next time, I’ll share my “poinsettia delimma” with you. And if you think the jack-in-the-box analogy was something, wait until you hear my “cheeseburger basket and a drive by wave” theory. For now, enjoy this video sure to put you in the holiday spirit - an oldie but a goodie.
As we head into the chaotic holiday season, I’d like to offer a few more tips on how to get great customer service.I’ve already offered some in an entry earlier this year, but now I’d like to expand to give you information that will help you get what you need faster and more efficiently:
1.Read and follow all of the instructions before you make a telephone call or send an email. I said this the last time I did customer service tips, but it’s a perpetual problem that so many people face. People tend to panic when they read something that alarms or confuses them and skim right to a telephone number to start dialing and firing off questions. Don’t do that. I can’t tell you how many times people said “oh yea, it says that right here.” Keep reading because businesses try to address their most commonly asked questions in instructions and the answer to your question may be in the next sentence (or paragraph). If you read everything and still have questions, then make the call.
2.Be mindful of deadlines and routinely busy times. There are two times when volume spikes: Right before a deadline and right around a holiday. Everybody rushes to get thing in, and that results in a slow down in productivity, especially if the staff has a heavy schedule or is short staffed due to people taking off for the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day are especially heavy times (frankly, New Year’s Resolutions nearly kill me just about every year). So don’t wait until the last minute, or set an arbitrary deadline for the next major holiday. can assure you that you’re likely to miss it because you aren’t the only one cleaning off your desk. Submitting about a week to ten days prior to a deadline or holiday can make a world of difference in response time.
3.Gather things together before you call. It makes it easier for the conversation to flow if you don’t have to say “wait a minute” while you dig through piles of paper, or break into a conversation with a question you just thought of. Sit down and plan your questions before hand – write them down if you need to, and gather any paperwork you need to reference during the call before you dial. If you have to leave a voicemail and wait for a callback, set it aside where you can get to it quickly.
4.Find a quiet place to make telephone calls before you dial. I know this can be tricky because you can have an hour of silence, and then the place lights up with noise the minute you pick up the phone.Machinery, pets, children, and other people tend to pipe up when you pick up a receiver. I face it myself with screaming parrots at home and co-workers in the cubical farm around me at work. Just do the best you can to limit that background noise and it will actually make things easier for you.
5.If you have a heavy accent, consider saying “no” to the telephone. If you must call, be sure to speak slowly and annunciate. I’m not trying to sound rude. It’s just a simple fact that accents don’t translate well over the telephone and the heaver it is, the harder it can be to understand. This applies to domestic and foreign accents, too. And this is inexcusable to plead ignorance on because people aren’t shy about the “you aren’t from around here, are you?” question. If you’ve ever been asked that, at any place, any time, or in any contect, then you have an accent. Consider emailing your question if possible. And yes, I know I’m guilty on this one. I have a southern accent and I’m frequently asked to repeat myself over the telephone – in fact, I try to avoid drive-in restaurant speakers for this very reason.
6.If you leave a telephone message, don’t spit out your telephone number in a fraction of a second. Sometimes people ramble on messages, then spit out the number quickly when they realize they’re about to “time out.” Give your name and telephone number first (speak slowly, and consider repeating your number), and then give a brief description (1-2 sentences) about why you’re calling. Try to keep your entire message under 30 seconds. In fact, it might be wise to consider what you will say in a voice mail message prior to calling so you'll be prepared.
7.When you visit a place of business, be sure to fully secure your vehicle. This isn't really a customer service tip - it's more of a CYA tip (if you know what I mean). Don’t leave anything out in plain sight. Businesses have things stolen too. In fact, we had a customer have their truck broken into one morning during a meeting – in broad daylight in a public parking lot! It happens. Put personal items in trunks, consoles, or glove compartments and be
sure to lock all doors and set car alarms (if you have one).
8.Be mindful of business hours. Don’t loiter in parking lots before opening or after closing and whatever you do, DO NOT grab random employees and ask questions. Employees can only address questions related to their area and sometimes aren’t allowed to personally interact with customers unless they are in the building or
at a business-related function. Loitering around a building and approaching employees in parking lots is a good way to get security – or worse yet, the police – called. If you arrive early, stay in your car and direct questions to
the front desk receptionist or the person you’re there to meet.
9.Set deadline dates in your cell phone with a reminder to go off about a week before the deadline date. I mentioned this too, but it bears repeating because people keep claiming that “I got busy and it snuck up on me.” This is inexcusable with everybody flashing smartphones all over the place. Even the most basic cell phone has a calendar function. Use it.
10.Give other employees a chance to help you. So often, people will get a name, and that’s the only person they want to talk to. Don’t make your life harder by being stubborn and clinging to a particular employee. They’ve all
been trained and have the same answers for you. And likewise, don’t think you can play this the other way by calling back several times to “shop” for the answer you want. The answer to your question will be the same whether you talk to your favorite person, or whether you’re “fishing” for an answer. So accept what you get and don’t be a bully.
That’s it – eight new tips for great customer service and a repeat on two that, well, seem to need repeating. Follow these tips, and I can guarantee that you’ll get faster and better service all around.
That’s all today.
Is change. Life is always in motion, and if there's one thing we can bet on, it's that nothing stays the same forever.
This is the season where this truth seems to really hit us. It's when the families are gathering around the table and the decorations come out of the attic. All those memory triggers of holidays past reminds us of how things aren't what they used to be - and makes us wonder how much longer they will stay as they are. Memories of times gone by can make this season happier by discovering the richness of what we've developed in life, or sad when we consider what's lost. A lot is a matter of perspective. We all face growth and loss. It can be a tough emotional rollar coaster to deal with the satisfaction of great accomplishments mixed with the grief of those not here to celebrate with you.
All of this makes the holidays a complex time. Some people are better with dealing with change than others. There are those that adapt, adjust, and roll along, just happy to be where they are. And there are others that have a very hard time dealing with change and fight tooth and nail to keep things the same, even though it's apparant that the "old ways" won't work anymore. Invariably, it seems those types will be mixed within the same friend and/or family group. Oh, the cell phone conversations I overhear this time of the year!
I did a blog series last year on surviving the holidays and I believe the one key thing I kept coming back to was that if you're doing your best, then be satisfied with it. Other people have two choices: Take it or leave it. People may gripe (naturally), but in the end they usually settle down and decide the holidays will be merrier if they choose the path of acceptance over the path of resistance. In most cases, anyway (that's not to say there aren't some that thrive on conflict, but that is an issue I addressed in my blog series earlier this year on villians - I believe it was around Easter).
I'll add one more lesson I've discovered of late. You can't let other people or situations bother you. They're going to do what they're going to do, and it's a waste of emotional energy to let it fly all over you and go into a tizzy over. Likewise with situations - there are so many things you can't control, and to worry about it is a merry-go-round of defeat. Deal with situations the best way you can and move on. I recently realized that I wasted a great deal of time and emotional energy complaining and fretting over what other people do, and it's a 100% waste. They're gonna do what they're gonna do, and they aren't changing for anybody. So deal with them and the situations that come up in life the best you can, and move on. Worry, fussing, and fretting get you nowhere - it's action that counts. So spend your time thinking, reflecting and acting on what is, plan wisely, and trust that things will work out, or that you will know how to deal if a wrench flies into your plans.
Sometimes making the best of the holidays requires changing the way we think about things, and that can be hard. In fact, I believe that changing the way you think is the hardest thing you can do.But it can be done. I can tell you that from experience. I can also tell you that while it's hard, it's well worth it. Changing your life starts with changing how you think, and this holiday season might be the perfect time to make an early resolution that you aren't going to be consumed with stress, anxiety, grief, anguish, or fear over making it the perfect holiday. In fact, let's make Change #1 right now: Don't try to make it perfect. We live in an imperfect world, and an expectation like that will fail. Make it the best you can and decide you'll be happy with it.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that those of you on the road home today have safe travels. Here's hoping you have a good week, and welcome to the 2012 Holiday Season!
Hi all, sorry to not update for a while. Life seems to naturally get much busier for me in the fall, and I've been trying to squeeze out one more draft of Move before the holidays. Thank God, I finally managed to finish draft #4 last night. I tell you, I struggled with this one. I found out that both of my publishers now require a minimum 60,000 word count for mystery novels now, and the last draft of Move came in at a little under 50,000 words. I had to add over 10,000 words. It resulted in six new chapters and adding a lot of detail. I beleive the changes are well worth it and make it a much better novel, but this wasn't easy. I have done three read throughs to make the additions and make sure that everything is "plugged in" and fits together correctly. I'm happy with this draft, though. The plot is much stronger now and I feel the story benefitted from the additions. I hope to have a final draft of this done and submitted to one of my publishers by May 2013.
Oh NaNo participants, this is what you have to look forward to. Yes, writing that rough draft is the hardest (and most time consuming) part, but the rewrites can be a pain too. But don't worry about that now. Just get that draft out there and you can worry about editing hell in 2013.
I also managed to squeeze in a revision of Feathered Frenzy this morning too. That's a very short work - I actually call it a guide because it's more the length of a novellette (at 15,500 words). I'm going to self publish that one, so it will get done when it gets done. Maybe I'll have it ready in late winter or early spring 2013.
But for now, my current writing projects are caught up and I'm putting them on hold for the holidays. Life is just too busy now. We're doing a major housecleaning to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that season is always a whirlwind of activity. There's just too much to do and trying to squeeze in time for ongoing writing projects with family activities, social activities, and work is more stress than it's worth. So I've decided to just do promotion for my published works and blogging for the remainder of 2012, and I'll pick up my ongoing writing projects again in 2013.
In other news, Rick's term on council is drawing to a close. He and the other three members had nominees put forth to replace them next year, and the congregation will vote on them December 2. Rick has one more thing to follow up with on his committee and he's helping with the congregational meetings for the elections, but it's winding down. Only one more meeting in December and he turns in his office key and goes back to being a regular member of the congregation. I say yay. He's done a lot the past 3 years. We all have (meaning the fellow council members and their spouses). I wish the nominees luck and blessing as they take over the reigns.
You know I left my committees? I'm helping Rick with his through the end of his term, but I had to come off the other committee. They're planning ongoing activities on weekdays and I just can't do that with my work schedule, so I had to quit. It's too bad because I did enjoy being more active in church, but my writing is building up and my workload is increasing since one of my colleagues resigned to go work for another section in the agency. The good news is that she has a window office and I'm moving in it when she moves out in a couple of weeks. So for the first time in my almost 15 years of working full time, I'll have a window office. The bad news is, I'm also getting her Board - so there are more meetings I have to put on and disciplinary actions to deal with until a replacement is hired. *Groan* And we all know that can be a slow process. But I'll survive. If the Lord brings you to it, He'll bring you through it. It just meant that I had to quit my church committees. Too bad really, but hopefully I'll be able to help out with activities here and there in the future. There are a couple of things I really enjoy helping with like greeting and our free thrift day, and I'd really like to continue helping with those things.
So that's where it's at for now. Things are coming along and I'm happy for that. Thankfully, I have today off for Veteran's Day, so hopefully I'll be able to get even more in order and on track. I've already made great progress today, but now I need to log off to deal with other matters, like holiday shopping and housecleaning.
Thanks to all the Veteran's that fought and gave their lives so we're free to live our crazy, hectic lives under the blessing of freedom. God bless all those who have served and continue to serve our country and to protect our freedom. We do appreciate you and pray for your safety and well being every day.
That's all today. Take care and have a great week.
Ok folks, the holidays are over and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks pulled off an outstanding win over Nebraska yesterday. Today was back to reality. Hmm. Can we skip the rest of winter now and go straight to spring?
Didn't think so. Crap.
This is when winter starts to hurt. The excitement of the holidays are over and it's time to get back in our routine that has us out at sunrise and coming back at sunset as we muddle through the cold days of winter. Everything seems bare, dead, and cold. Yes, it's depressing. The trees and decorations are down. No goodies lie around the office to munch on anymore. No more presents will be given or received. And there were no Christmas lights to welcome me home.
Truth is, though, it's not all dead - it's merely resting to put forth that burst of energy that brings vibrancy and life during the other three seasons of the year. The trees and grass are dormant, not dead. Just as I needed the past 11 days off work to keep from getting burned out, so too does nature need to rest in order to bring us life and bounty through the rest of the year.
Truth be told, the season isn't without merit. I usually do my most (and best) writing in the winter. In fact, I wrote the rough drafts of Blurry and Anywhere But Here in January and February, and did major work on Splinter during that same time frame last year. My productivity with my writing seems to be at it's highest during the winter. I guess that makes sense. If everything is dull routine, then that means fewer distractions to pull me away from my computer. A resting world gives my muse time and energy to come alive. And I hope that pattern resumes this winter - considering that I haven't written anything new since November and am itching to create more new work in the new year! (All of the work on my writing has been in the area of publicity and promotion - good, but I miss creating new work too!)
Winter is a good time to catch up on indoor activities that seem to move to the back burner during the busy summer and holiday seasons. It's a great time to read, for example, or take up an art or craft. I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and I used to stitch a good bit in the winter when I wasn't working on novels. Cold days are also good fo DVD marathons of your favorite movie series or TV shows or playing games. I noticed yesterday when I went out that most stores are having some of their best sales of the season, so there are deals to be had on winter clothes. Treadmills and gyms make it possible to exercise indoors to keep you active. And, of course, the Internet is an endless source of information and entertainment to keep you occupied, from joining online groups that focus on an interest or hobby, finding new recipes to try cooking this weekend, or looking up entertainment in books, music, etc from independent artists.
Hmm. Suddenly winter doesn't seem so glum. In fact, it sounds like I could find plenty to do that will make the next two months pass painlessly.
Here's hoping your new year is off to a great start. Take care and I'll see you next time.
Well, here we stand near the end of the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hakunnah are over, and New Year's Day is on the horizon. But before we tackle the issue of the all-important "resolutions," I feel there's one more issue we need to discuss: Holiday detox.
Now that the meals are eaten, the gifts are opened, and the family visits are done, there's the usual "letdown" to deal with. It's time to go home, time to pack up the decorations, time to get ready to get back in the swing of day to day life again. But right now, we have a few days to kick back, relax, and "detox" from the holiday festivities.
Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of the season. Yes, it's a letdown when the festivities end, and you take the decorations down. But there's something nice about having the rest of this week to wind down, rest from the activity, and take stock. It's good to slow the pace for no other reason than to catch your breath, take a much needed break, and enjoy life without the stress of a huge "to do" list hanging over your head.
So take the rest of this week for yourself. Spend time with your spouse/significant other. Enjoy those presents. Eat some candy before going on that New Year's diet and exercise program. Waste time online, or watching TV, or playing video games. Stay up too late and sleep even later. Go out for lunch on a weekday afternoon. Hit those post-holiday sales. Dress down on a weekday just because ou can. The festivities are over so now is the perfect time to drop out of the race of day to day life and just be for a few days. Real life will start again before you know it, so detox from the holidays and life itself now while you can!
Who says it's the post-holiday gloom? These can still be some of the best days of the year, if you use them wisely!