Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, NaNoWriMo, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Pets, Writing

2020 Was Lame, but NOT the Worst Year

Welp, it’s time for the annual “Oh hey it’s January!” blog post, which makes up probably three quarters of this blog since I started it. πŸ™„

It’s been trendy since January 2nd of 2020 to bemoan what a horrible year it is / going to be / has been. In many ways, it has been a stinker of a year, full of all sorts of mayhem and dumbassery, perhaps more than most years. But . . . This year has actually yielded some major blessings that I would not have taken advantage of, grabbed onto, or even noticed for what they were if everything hadn’t been thrown completely off-kilter.

I do feel like I’ve gone through at least ten different personality changes over the course of the last ten months. It’s been a weird mental journey, and I’m still not exactly sure where it’s going to end [Narrator: “Little did she know, it would NEVER END.”], but where I am is certainly different than where I was earlier this year.

Like, seriously, I can’t really figure out where my brain was two posts ago. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable, but also too outspoken (even though I didn’t say anything). “Now” Me doesn’t really recognize “Turn Off Comments” Me. I do recognize that I went through some kind of state of wanting to talk into a vacuum or scream into a void — while never being able to materialize any words on what I was thinking, and also being afraid of releasing anything that did materialize into the ether where it could be . . . what, criticized? Noticed? Read? What the heck do I have a blog for, again?

(FOR THE RECORD, I kind of want to go back and shake that version of me and explain that it was stupid. But I wouldn’t have been able to see that back then, because I hadn’t yet made the transition into this mindset I’m in now. All versions of me are very good at making things awkward, but Fragile Me has gone through some toughening up since August. The moth has emerged from the cocoon. Well, mostly. Anyway, ignore that dumb post where I was out of my mind. Comments are staying on.)

This year has presented some great challenges; things I didn’t really want to have to deal with, but did because I had no choice. Some of them were choices I could have put off, but my life has improved since making the choice to not put them off. Some choices were scary as all hell . . . but I am so glad I made them that I can barely contain my gratitude for what I now consider were blessings that had to be revealed at the Right Time.

That was convoluted. Let me be more specific . . .

THE OBVIOUS:

  1. We’re saving money on gas and bridge tolls. This extra money allowed us to give more charitably, but also afford groceries for two adults being home all the time, when up until February it had been mostly me at home, and not always that often. It also helped us pay off debt accrued in October 2019, when we had a bunch of expenses and the fear that we wouldn’t have a paycheck if they messed up my husband’s orders again.
  2. We sold an old, less-functional car and bought a far more practical vehicle for our family. Yes, more debt, but absolutely worth it. And now we are in a financial place where we can afford it.
  3. KITTENS! (Duh πŸ˜†) The fact that we’re home far more often now makes it possible to care for pets, and they have done wonders for my mental health. Also challenged it, because one of them developed pneumonia a few weeks after we adopted them, and has only JUST been given a clean bill of health — and, once again, we were fortunate to be able to afford the vet bills. We couldn’t have last year.
  4. We took the time to have a large chunk of garage storage hauled away. It’s only a fraction of what we need to get rid of, but it was going to be very hard to do it all by ourselves (mostly baby and little-kid stuff, as well as old, sentimental junk that I couldn’t just take to the dump). Paying someone else to do something with it was absolutely worth every penny — and I’m going to do it again.
  5. We replaced our water heater. It has been ailing for at least two years, but we just didn’t have time (or money) to deal with it. It was stupidly expensive (financial challenge), but now I can take hot baths again, which is a decent replacement for not being able to go to the sauna at the YMCA (we canceled our membership — more money in our pocket, I suppose, even if it means we’re back on our own for exercise motivation). This also works wonders for my mental health, and sore muscles. I’m loving it! Glad we didn’t put it off further! (Side note: This house was built in at least 2009. When the water heater guys came to install the new one, they told us our old water heater had been built in 1992 (!!!). I was 31 when the house was built, and 14 when the water heater was built. It was probably what my husband called “new old stock”, but WOW. I feel much better knowing that both the water heater and expansion tank have been replaced sooner rather than later.)

THE NOT-AS-OBVIOUS:

  1. Because so many people were staying at home and cancelling their medical appointments (and, sadly, probably losing their medical insurance; or, less sadly, moving out of this crazy state), two slots opened up this Fall with the speech therapist I wanted at the clinic where the boys had occupational and physical therapy. It does mean I’m driving 40-something miles round-trip twice a week to take them to their appointments, but it also means they are actually improving with the help of the right therapy, and we have a great advocate for the boys’ medical issues, if we have to see other specialists (N just had an endoscopy done — upper GI — and bloodwork, and will have an allergy test done later this month, because we think he may be very allergic to nuts). I didn’t have that before, and was afraid to pursue testing for either of the boys, because doctors don’t exactly know what Pediatric Feeding Disorder is, much less how to treat it.
  2. I deleted my NaNoWriMo account in October, and will only be participating in the future on a personal level, with close friends. I wasn’t thrilled with the confusing updates to their website, which shaved off several years of my participation history, anyway — among other issues I was having. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t really need that community, because I’ve got one of my own. It was actually kind of a quick decision, once I decided to do it, and I haven’t been unhappy with my choice at all.
  3. While I’m still heavily involved with the local symphony association, I quit the chorale (choir 1) in early September. I already had too many Zoom meetings for the symphony, and the “rehearsals” I was attending for a community choral ensemble (choir 2, same director) were just about all the virtual “rehearsing” I could stomach for the week. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t helpful or edifying. I also didn’t want to subject myself to having to sit through the dominant conversations during the “social” time, which was not only not social, but a major waste of my own time, and also caused nothing but stress and frustration. I’ll go into that in a little bit.
  4. In mid-November, after 10 years of participation, I quit the ladies choral ensemble (choir 2). This is a big one — a major blessing in disguise that I would never have recognized for what it was without being forced to take a break. I’ll also go into that shortly.

A little inner voice I’m prone to ignore had been nagging me for some time for a break, or a rearranging of priorities. I really needed to stop being so busy with my activities and focus on the boys more. That seems obvious, but when things are moving at a constant pace, it’s hard to find the point where you can break away from them — especially if you’re committed, and it’s the thing you get to do away from home that is kind of adventurous and challenging, and even athletic.

I was extremely resentful of these lockdowns for putting the brakes on everything. I wanted a break, but I wanted to make the choice — I didn’t want to be forced into it. However, if I’d been honest with myself, I would have been able to recognize that nothing short of forcing me to take a break was going to make me take a break. I’m still resentful of the lockdowns, but no longer for that reason. πŸ™‚ I am still upset that, despite the extra time with my family, I can’t make my normal escapes, because everything is stupid right now. This is another reason I’m glad we replaced the water heater. Drinking tea or wine while soaking in a hot bath behind a closed door makes me far less hateful of everything if it’s too cold and dark outside to sit in my hammock in the sun.

ANYway . . . In the before-times, as much as I loved singing and being a part of a team and blending my voice with others and performing — and all the things that came along with being a part of two choirs with very different repertoire — I was beginning to chafe. I won’t go into much detail on exactly why, but suffice it to say that I was definitely needing a change. I would have disavowed this on the basis that I was just tired and had a bad attitude sometimes, and eventually I would get over myself and be a better team-player — but that wasn’t the true problem.

After the lockdowns, when I learned that the chorale would still be “rehearsing” over Zoom, I stressed a little before notifying my director that I would no longer be attending. I was 99% convinced she would understand, knowing that I had a lot on my plate with the changes the Symphony was trying to make to the subscription model in order to keep the doors open while live performing arts were essentially being crushed to dust (she was in the same meetings I was), and that I was still choosing to stay in her smaller ensemble, despite the challenge of “rehearsing” over Zoom. What I didn’t tell her was that I loathed the idea of being forced to socialize with those who would dominate all conversation (read: listen to people talk about politics while I’m attempting to maintain a neutral expression), and not ever be able to talk about what I wanted to talk about, because my beliefs are not exactly tolerated by the status quo. There were only a handful of people I socialized with at rehearsal, anyway, and none of them were outspoken in the virtual format, either. Not to mention, when I rehearse with a choir, I rehearse with a group. Rehearsing by myself over Zoom (because you can’t sing as a group over Zoom) is neither something I want nor something I need — and especially something I should not be forced to do. I have means of learning music that does not require trying to hear the accompanist through my computer speakers while singing by myself. It had been frustrating enough sitting in the rehearsal hall late on a Tuesday night (or several nights the week before a concert), twiddling my thumbs while the director spent 45 minutes helping the men learn their parts, when they really should have picked up that information in sectionals. I could not subject myself to that over Zoom.

As time marched on, however, it became very clear to me that I just could no longer participate in any virtual “rehearsal” — pretending that we were still a choir, being reminded every week how “dangerous” it is to do anything outside our own houses (I’m sorry if you also subscribe to that narrative — I will not be responding to or even approving comments telling me why I’m wrong), and trying to learn songs in the most tedious way possible. It was frustrating, soul-sucking, not at all self-improving or group-edifying. Not to mention, we were trying to break into the “virtual choir” video world, and, honestly, we were rushing it. Few of the members (in either choir, actually) are either capable of that kind of solo work, or even technologically equipped. On top of that, I resented being forced to languish through a “rehearsal” that wasn’t helping me learn anything just so I could participate in stressful, rushed video performances that just weren’t in our bailiwick. But it was being made mandatory that we attend all the virtual “rehearsals” in order to participate in the videos.

No. I had to draw the line. If I wanted to do solo work, I would do it independently. If I want to be in a choir, I want to rehearse as a choir. There are some members who do benefit from that kind of rehearsal, but I’m not one of them. Unfortunately, even after voicing these concerns — and not being the only one who held them — participation in “rehearsals” was still going to be mandatory, even if the director did back down from further video production goals.

Additionally, I was looking at a very stressful few months, outside of choir participation, and the thought of scrambling to get home after church in order to spend two hours in an activity I was growing to hate was NOT how I wanted to spend my Sundays. But it’s hard to say “this is demoralizing and I hate it” to a group you do love, and into whom you’ve poured a lot of time and effort over the course of a decade.

I had heart palpitations for days before and after. I almost went to the ER, because I was afraid the stress was doing damage, and I was going to have freed myself from it just to go die of apoplexy.

But then I didn’t die. And, to be 100% honest, I’m intensely grateful to have finally given up my choir commitments. I get my Sundays back! No more taking the boys to my parents and picking them up late on Tuesday nights while my husband is gone! No more driving back and forth in the dark and rain to spend maybe 30 minutes of 2 hours actually rehearsing! I can get sick during concert season and it won’t matter! No dragging my sick butt to rehearsals, either (not that that will happen anymore, I bet), to sit in the back and not miss any important notes, or dragging my poor kids to rehearsals when I can get babysitters (especially when we’re all sick)! No more busy summers full of rehearsals and concerts leading up to a weekend retreat that takes place less than a month before the next season begins, because we couldn’t do it early enough to get two months off! No more— Um, I need to stop, or I’m going to get into the more personal reasons for leaving, and those don’t need to be publicly aired. Not right now, anyway.

Will I miss it? Sure! But not as much as I’m going to enjoy not having to do all that AND homeschool my kids, pay closer attention to their therapy, teach a homeschool co-op class, get my house under control, take care of two cats, and be mom and dad while my husband travels. Since we have so much newfound time at home, I can build up my editing business if I want to, and even start writing again. I sculpt clay now, and I want to improve my sewing skills. I also want to host a podcast, do radio plays with the boys, and maybe create my own music recordings. It’s time for a change, and it appears this is the time the change will happen.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, though I know several who have (or several homeschool parents who choose a word for their homeschool year). I’m not that fancy. I usually go with the traditional half-assed resolutions that I give up on halfway through January. But, this year, a word got stuck in my brain, and it’s practically surrounded by flashing lights and filled with glitter, and pretty much impossible to ignore — so I guess I do have a word for the year: CREATE.

I can create new crafts, new words and stories, new ideas; I can create space in my house by decluttering; I can create ways of helping the boys learn, and make time for school, fun, and adventure; and I can create a better routine that will bring us closer to God and each other. No sweat, right? πŸ˜‰

Go count your blessings, and have a great 2021!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Life, Writing

The Things I Can Control

For those of my friends who follow me, forgive me for turning off the comments. I’ve been fighting myself about updating, and I think this might be a solution to my trepidation. I promise it’s nothing anyone has said or done, or those who I know who read this blog. It is nothing against you — it is my own scaredy-cat attitude right now. Let me ‘splain.

Despite gaining greater confidence in some areas of my life, my emotional fortitude online has been lacking. I rarely post on Facebook anymore, and while I feel slightly less encumbered posting on Twitter, I’m not as nervous about screaming into the void there. Blogging, though… I want to feel, for the moment, like I’m kind of talking into the mirror. I’ll have an audience I can see (sorta), but won’t be worrying about pleasing my readers for replies, or angsting over comments on potentially sensitive or controversial topics — at least until I can rebuild the comfort in saying what I want to say when I want to say it. Again — the only thing personal about this choice is that I’m completely skittish about online interaction right now, and fighting with my own self-doubt.

As much as I used to love the idea of being read publicly, and the honest repartee with friends or strangers over my bloggy blather, much has changed since I first started blogging. I have far greater emotional investment in the world now, and in life, probably because I have kids to raise and protect (and I’ve kind of grown out of much of my past idealistic naivete). But the very business of blogging has changed a ton, as well, and the stakes are much higher now — not to mention I just don’t have as much time (or mental capacity) to spend on it as I used to.

I started blogging in 2001, after I graduated college. I’d been married for almost a year, my husband finally had a steady job, we’d moved into a better place, had some screamin’ dial-up internet that I had access to all day — and, for the first time in ages, I had no pressing schedule to adhere to. I also didn’t have a job, let alone career ambition — and I wasn’t expected to. I just had an apartment, a cat, and a husband to take care of. That was my job. I was a fantastic homemaker back then. I had a youthful, child-free brain and loads of time during the day.

But I was also kinda bored. I’d just finished up seventeen years of constant schooling. My brain needed something to do while I transitioned out of academia. When a friend of my husband’s started up a blog server, I was all over that, sometimes posting several times a day. It was online storytelling, and it was fun and kept my mind occupied.

I’ve had about four or five different blogs since then, but I was a much more honest writer when I first started, because that was pretty much it for social media. Well, that and message boards. I spent a lot of time on those, too. I was much less self-aware, however, and certainly less humble… Or maybe just more comfortable expressing myself back then. I hold my cards much closer to my chest these days, am far more cynical and skeptical, and less trusting of the intarwebs at large. And so scattered. Mom-brain is for real. So is ADHD. “Focus” is hard-won most days…

Whatever it is that I’m fighting against now, I feel like I’m trying to force myself to swim again after a near-drowning experience. Not that posting online has been that dramatic, but the mental block is there. I’m dipping my toes back into the deep end and feeling trepidation.

Or maybe it’s more like swimming in a lake versus swimming in an indoor pool. I can see my feet in the pool; I’m safe in the pool. I know the strokes, I can stay afloat, and even when I flail with anxiety in the middle of it, I can still dog-paddle to the edge and get out until I catch my breath. I’m competent enough (and somewhat insulated). It helps cool me off, at the very least. That’s how I feel in short-form posting, in relatively anonymous social media sites like Twitter — it’s safe and who cares if I’m dog-paddling? I’m not competing in the Olympics, or anything.

But lakes full of darkness, fish, weeds, and jagged or biting things scare the crap out of me. I’m a fairly competent swimmer, but I just won’t go swimming in a lake, creek, river, etc. Ocean, maybe, but rarely more than waist-deep. I need to see my feet. I need to see and prepare for threats. Little, nonthreatening things look huge or can be blown out of proportion (in my mind or others’), and I can’t justify the risk — despite being a grownup who should be able to handle it. The truth is, I know many, many people who feel very strongly about some things I am opposed to or disagree with, and my emotional capability for online debate (which is truly a joke right now, anyway) is 100% nil, not to mention I don’t want to strain those relationships just because I think I might be right about something or want them to see it my way. I will post in my safe groups on Facebook and link to pictures from my Instagram, and that’s about it. (I actually had to make Instagram private recently, due to an onslaught of weird strangers and creepy private messages, and I wasn’t even posting very often there.)

I’m a chicken, I guess, and not a duck. πŸ˜† I’ll stick to my familiar roost on solid ground, thankyouverymuch.

(This analogy is breaking down, but maybe it makes sense? Do I care? Jury’s out.)

Suffice it to say I’m drowning in self-doubt, and I just need to pretend I’m in an empty room for awhile, until blogging feels comfortable again. I could give up blogging and journal privately, instead, but I do enjoy telling stories in a format where I can’t be interrupted. I do like to entertain, and maybe what I have to say could be interesting, eye-opening, relatable, or have some other effect on a reader. Aside from that, I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I’ve written for public consumption simply because I wanted to write it — not because of the response I want to receive.

And it’s not at all that I’ve been receiving uncomfortable attention, either, or had a bad comment experience — nothing like that. This is probably the hardest thing to explain, and I’m not even really sure I can. For a not-really-all-that-shy kind of person in real life (just introversion with Γ  la carte social anxiety), I’ve been afraid of opening up online, and even afraid of friendly commenting. Trust me, I recognize how silly that sounds. I wish I could understand the anxiety.

But I also feel like I’m losing my mind, not being able to express myself in a long-form medium like I used to — telling funny stories, venting, saying stupidly random things… I wonder if part of the reason I stopped was to protect the future of my children and husband. So much of my life revolves around these other people (and blogging is so widespread and far-reaching now), that telling personal stories, even funny ones, online can backfire in catastrophic ways, and I want to protect my family from that. But there’s also a lot of deep, personal stuff I’d like to work through, that others might be able to relate to (like dealing with ADHD and my kids’ eating disorders), that I want to make people aware of, but carry a great deal of emotional vulnerability.

Another reason I want to turn off comments while I figure out what to write about, or open up about things I might not have before, is that I completely want to eliminate the feeling of doing it for attention. The Like button is what it is here, so it stays — but my readers are, for the time being, completely off the hook for expressing sympathy, advice, or anything like that. Not that I would need that in the first place (unless asking for it specifically, like I’ve done a couple times), but for now it’s an ego-balancing thing that I need to do to mitigate the part of my brain that wants to please people or seek attention from others. Like I said: I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I wrote. I want to have some fun with it, too, but not worry about feeling silly or that I’m performing for likes. I’m doing it because I want to.

Anyway, it’s a small thing I can control right now, in a time when I feel quite a bit out of control. I am grateful for the patience and consideration of those who read this. I really would like to make this a more social thing in the future, but until then I’m happy talking to myself in an empty room. πŸ˜‰

Thank you! ❀

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Help Me Choose What to Write for NaNoWriMo!

I realized this will be my FIFTEENTH YEAR participating in National Novel Writing Month! Even if all I did was sign in and open a document during November, I counted it. I had two (2) babies in that fifteen years (one of which is going to be TWELVE (12) in February!!) and it’s hard to type one-handed. But I’ve managed to make it to 50K in 30 days at least three, maybe four times, which is pretty darn good for me.

Usually, however, I have some seed of an idea by the time October or November rolls around. This year I’ve been obsessing over a different story in October that I don’t want to work on for NaNoWriMo, but I do not have an idea for November! I’ve discovered that I have more fun writing cute little romance stories (instead of big epics or long, involved fiction) for NaNo, because the average pulp romance is just about 50,000 words(ish) long, and it’s not too hard to get from start to finish in thirty days.

But I can’t decide on an idea! So I’m going to ask the intarwebs to help me choose. Below is a list of “meet cutes” or pairing ideas that I’ve listed over the year, and you can either vote for your favorites in the comments, or give me some other new ideas. I have nothing to reward you with if I choose your idea, other than my gratitude and a promise to do my best to write that story in 30 days. Sorry. πŸ˜…

Here you go!

  • They see each other regularly at a gym or coffee shop, and start talking
  • They’re stuck at the top of the ferris wheel, one is panicking and the other is talking them down from the other car
  • Receptionist & Patient at a doctor’s office
  • Accompanist & Soloist
  • Concert Musician (or Candidate) and Stage Manager
  • Actor and Pit Musician
  • Sick Shopper and Helpful Clerk/Pharmacist
  • Librarian and Researcher
  • Flight Attendant and Nervous Flyer
  • Conference Attendees
  • Makeup Artist and TV Star/Host

Do you have favorites? Other ideas? Ideas for these ideas? Throw them in the comments! Throw out things I should include in the story! Name someone! I don’t care; it’s my 15th year and I want to win it. πŸ˜‰

Thanks in advance, everyone! If you are a NaNoWriMo participant this year, tell me about it! How many years have you done it? What’s your plan? What are you writing? I want to hear your strategies!

Thanks again!! 😁

P.S. If you’d like to hear some of my tips and tricks for participating in NaNoWriMo, check out my Rainy Day Writing Guild video, HERE!

Posted in Writing

Retreat!

I’ve had two retreats, two weekends in a row. The first one — last weekend — was a ladies’ retreat for church, and came after a couple of extremely busy weeks, so it was nice to spend some time away with people I loved, and take a little time to breathe and worship God. That one was at a house by the ocean.

This weekend was my favorite Christian writing retreat in the mountains, in the complete opposite direction from the other one. It was restful, cozy, worshipful, and productive. I wrote over 11,000 words of a story I might eventually publish, but for now am just enjoying the telling of. I love the characters, I love making them interact, and they are very useful for catharsis when I’m going through stressful life events β€” because I can make their lives far more stressful than mine, so that mine doesn’t look nearly as bad by comparison. πŸ˜†

I also wrote a little 200-word scene for a contest we had during the retreat. It was a “Worst of the Worst” contest, and the three categories to choose from were Worst Kiss, Worst Action Scene, and Worst Fantasy Monster. Only two of us entered (it’s not a big retreat, and not too structured so we can feel free to concentrate on writing or doing the things that free our minds to write better), so we both won prizes.

Here is my “Worst Action Scene”, for your reading pleasure. πŸ˜‰

Deep in a mud puddle, somewhere nearby, lives an amoeba. It is a lone amoeba, wandering to and fro, traveling great centimeters, on an adventure. Until suddenly it spies, tenths of millimeters away, another amoeba heading its wayβ€”moving at a high rate of speed. If they don’t change course now, in mere quarters of an hour they shall surely collide.

β€œBeware!” the first amoeba calls out to its speeding counterpart. β€œOr we shall surely crash!”

β€œI can’t stop!” the other amoeba replies. β€œYou will have to move first!”

The first amoeba is panicking now. Whole minutes have passed, and they have moved dangerously close. Half a millimeter separates them, and if amoebas could sweat, they would both have produced buckets.

Closer and closer they get, until they can see the whites of their nuclei. But, at the very last sixty seconds, they slide one hundredth of a micrometer to either side, floating past each other by a cilia’s breadth.

If amoebas had hearts, they might have stopped. If they weren’t already so, they would have wet themselves. It is such a close encounter, they will remember it for hoursβ€”or at least until the puddle dries up.

THE END

I’m going to go write more of my other story now. I could probably expound on my last two wonderful weekends, or the crazy things going on in life right now, but I don’t want to. My characters have more angst to work out.

‘Night!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, Organization, Writing

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES

The following is a draft from August 2015. I might not have posted it because it was the one I’d taken so long working on, that had reverted to an old version of the draft after I’d tried to post it. It’s complete, and has relevant information about my journey from then to now, so I think I’ll post it today. πŸ™‚

—————BEGIN POST FROM AUGUST 2015—————

I remember updating my blog every day. I would have to resist updating a few times of day, because I had nothing else to do. Those were the early days of marriage, after I’d graduated college, and could clean my apartment in an hour. (This year marks fifteen (15) years of marriage for me and my Sweetie. Where has the time gone??) But now? It will take days to do the amount of cleaning I need to do in this house, and my rugrats keep my mind running in circles all day, even if I don’t accomplish a darn thing.

But those aren’t the changes I’m referring to!

Since posting about adult ADD, I’ve sought professional help, and it’s been lovely! I haven’t received medication, because I wasn’t seeking anything more than cognitive (“talk”) therapy, and while I still struggle with anxiety and depression, I have a better roadmap for dealing with it. I have also managed to pinpoint the less-obvious triggers and make some rather monumental (a.k.a. “hard”) decisions regarding my life that have made a big difference in how I treat myself.

The first big, hard decision was owning up to the fact that I’m a lousy Mary Kay consultant, and, well, maybe I should admit that it’s not a career I should be pursuing. I already knew that, and wanted desperately to improve, but I was not making the improvements. It was driving me CRAZY that I could not even make myself do what I kept planning to do, or what it would take to make me successful at this career. How hard could it be? People from all walks of life could make it in Mary Kay (or direct sales in general).

But I am not a direct seller. Approaching strangers (or even friends) to sell them stuff is just not in my programming, and trying to program myself to be able to do that was blue-screening my motivation to do anything. It took years to come to this conclusion, because I believed that telling myself I was not meant to do direct sales was “stinking thinking”. You don’t tell yourself you’re not good at something! You tell yourself you’re excellent at it! And you will BECOME EXCELLENT.

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you right now that there are wonderful things I’ve learned from Mary Kay that I will always be thankful for, but IT IS OKAY to say that I AM NOT A DIRECT SELLER. Forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy in order to fit a niche you believe you should be in works only for certain personalities β€” but not for mine. Mary Kay is a wonderful company, with a great product. The troubles I had with my own business are completely separate from the business at large. I’ve just finally come to realize that direct selling is not something I enjoy or want to do with the rest of my life.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I could form sentences. The first time I “quit” Mary Kay was to become a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for anything nor did I have the support structure I have now. I used writing as an excuse, rather than a true chosen career path, because even then I didn’t believe that it was something I could realistically pursue in my life. It wasn’t a “real job”. No, I wanted my “real job” to be motherhood β€” so when my husband came home from Afghanistan and we started our family, that’s all I had in mind.

Of course, then I signed back up with Mary Kay, days before giving birth to our first child. Again, for some, this is fine. For me, it was a spontaneous choice perhaps fueled by hormones and the fact that my husband was not thrilled with his job. Don’t sign up for life choices when you’re eight months pregnant, ‘kay? Wait awhile to see what you’re up for. Ian was a difficult baby, and my life and demeanor was just not geared toward making money off strangers buying stuff from me, or for being organized in any way, shape, or form. Home businesses require organization, and that is another weak point with me.

I was loyal to my team and to my director, whom I love dearly. But I can count on one hand the number of skin care classes/parties I held in my entire two attempts (about nine or ten years, total) at being a consultant. I was not a productive member. I was spending more than I was making, and I was constantly guilting myself over my inability to just DO IT. Was I scared, or was I just lazy? Why did I constantly feel this insane mental block when it came to picking up the phone, or trying to work out the logistics of a single party a week? Why did I never say a word to people in the store, even when it was obvious they were looking for skin care or makeup, and I could totally help them? Was I just that unskilled? Did I just need to get over myself?

But, then, I feel such great satisfaction in being in my house, creating worlds and characters and fashioning stories out of thin air, participating in NaNoWriMo (and winning!), and telling everyone about THAT? When it comes to writing, I can’t shut up! When it comes to singing, and telling people about Symphony and Lyrica concerts, I can’t shut up!

What I finally figured out (but probably knew for a long time) was that, perhaps, I needed to honor the fact that I have an artistic personality that needs to pursue artistic goals β€” and I needed to leave the business to the business people.

I’ve purged much of my old Mary Kay stuff that’s been sitting around, staring at me and waiting for me to sell it/use it/give it away, and am building up my artistic self. I have a great writing group, which is more like a support group than just a group I write with. I actually believe, now, that I really can publish a book, or use my word skills to make money if I wanted to. I’m jumping with joy that I will be joining the Bremerton Symphony Chorale for the 2015/2016 season (at least), which I couldn’t do in the past because it rehearsed on MK meeting nights. I’m trying to put together my crafting nook, so I can spend more time knitting and sewing, things that bring me great joy and sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t want to “quit” Mary Kay, because I felt committed to my director and my sister consultants, and it felt like if I quit, I was “not being true to my potential” and just “being a quitter”. I was avoiding the things that brought me joy, even through hard work, for something I thought would eventually bring me joy through the hard work I would have to force myself to do for years. It did scratch an itch for teaching and leading β€” which I enjoy very much β€” but not as much as running workshops for my writing group.

So you see where I’m going with this. It was scary to admit this to my husband, who never thought direct selling was for me (but greatly supports my pursuit of a writing career), but whom I wanted to convince I could cut it, and even scarier to admit it to my director, to whom I was deeply loyal and did not want to disappoint. Once I finally did these things, though, and gave myself the permission to dress the way I wanted to, and wear little or no makeup out in public, and spend my time not focused on my family or house in creative pursuits, my outlook on life began to improve considerably! I’m happier, my husband is happier, and my friends, whom I just don’t call often on a normal basis, are happier that I’m not only calling them to hit them up for sales.

My house is still a mess and I have a LOT of work to do in various other areas of my life, but freeing up that anvil over my head has lightened the burden immensely. And now I’m making actual progress on my novel(s), with a mind to publish them, and I’m ridiculously happy with my decision to follow that path.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Vision and Glasses, Writing

Rumination

A lot has changed here at WordPress since I started blogging here. Even since my last post! And it’s high time I started using it again.

I used to blog all the time β€” nearly every day β€” but that was before kids, and kind of before blogs became a professional industry. After that, I was conflicted: Do I join the industry, and try to make a blog that had the potential to be monetized? Write high-quality posts about relevant topics, or try to make my boring life funny and interesting? (Truth be told, the latter was already my favorite reason for blogging, but suddenly there was the pressure to produce, and I had far less time β€” and brain power β€” to spend doing that.) Or do I continue to just write whatever I want, in any format I want, and not bother competing with the professionals?

Obviously, the latter choice is the better one, for someone busy and not planning to make money at the task, but . . . writing is one of my joys, perhaps even strengths, and professional blogging looked like fun! On the other hand, with little kids running about and all the distractions that life brings, a single, well-crafted blog post took me hours β€” hours I didn’t have time for. And being as disorganized as I am, I couldn’t prioritize blogging like I used to, and couldn’t focus on it once distracted from it. And then I couldn’t decide whether to draft the whole post in the web editor or in a word processor, because I once had lost hours of work after proofing in the web editor (the old one) and losing it to a site glitch. It was an enormous setback, especially after I’d sacrificed so much time I should have been spending with my family to try to write something that wasn’t going to have any purpose. I put aside blogging for awhile, because the tedium of going from word processor to web form was taking even more time. I’m a ridiculous, nearly-OCD perfectionist, and I wanted to make sure EVERYTHING MATCHED. The things must match, or they would haunt me.

I have issues. πŸ˜†

There are a lot of things I want to talk about, besides my stupid eyes (I really can’t believe I spent so much time posting about that; I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it now β€” though I did recently, FINALLY, get new glasses that work just right, but there’s more to say about it than just searching for glasses). My kids have eating disorders and we’ve finally gotten therapy for them; I’ve passed on to them Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which I’ve just learned is a thing, and explains SO MUCH that was not previously explainable, including visual weirdness; I’ve been learning more about ADHD, ADD, “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”, and executive function difficulties; depression and anxiety are very real, potent manipulators of my productivity (or lack thereof); military life, even as good as we have it, brings a measure of experience and “fun”; and I need more writing motivation. Among many other things.

There are more reasons for blogging than not blogging, and I need to work on getting over my issues so I can get back into it. That may still take some time, but maybe I’ll have something here for my imaginary friends sooner rather than later. πŸ™‚

Thanks for your patience with me!

Posted in Blogging, Identity, Writing

Rebranding Time?

I’ve neglected my blog forever. There are many reasons (the biggest one because I’m lazy), but one of them might be because I created it with a niche mindset. “Oh, I’m a mommy now, I should blog about my life with kids!”

Bleh. Other people have kids, too. I spend all day with the kids, and they probably spend all day with theirs. I need a blog more oriented toward life in general. Absurd life. Ridiculous life. Stupid things that run through my head that don’t make sense to anyone but myself. Stories. Jokes.

So, welcome to Coffee and Lollipops — a place where stuff doesn’t have to make sense to be funny. I can observe the ridiculous that tickles my funny bone and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with my kids.

Except that they both like lollipops. It’s the only solid food my three-year-old will eat.

Oh, there will be kid-related stuff here, too, because they ARE part of my life — and they are ridiculous on a grand scale — but this isn’t a “mommy blog”. It’s a ME blog.

I always have big dreams for blogs. We’ll see how I do with this one. πŸ˜‰

Posted in Blogging, Writing

“Liebster” Award! I Has One!

My dear, sweet friend and writing buddy, Joy, nominated me for a Liebster Award! Near as I can tell, it’s a sneaky way of collecting more readers and getting to know other bloggers (I’m not saying she’s sneaky, though — I’m quite honored, and it looks like fun!).

I don’t know that there IS an actual award (though I think there are buttons you can steal to add to your sidebar, or something). Being the curious person that I am, and an incurable Googler, I found someone who had already done the research. Here’s her post about it.

I’ve heard it described as a blog chain letter. It also resembles the MySpace quizzes I used to fill out by the dozen, especially when I was bored while my husband was deployed. I’m not judging, because I loved those quizzes. That is, until an ex-boyfriend became miffed over one of my answers and Huge Ugly Drama ensued (it had been bottled up for nine years, so it was probably time, anyway). And then I chose Facebook over MySpace and became too paranoid for quizzes. IRONY.

Where was I?

SQUIRREL!!1!
SQUIRREL!!1!

Oh, yeah: The challenge is fun, but the cake is a lie. πŸ˜‰

ANYHOO… The rules (the current ones, anyway; they’ve changed quite a bit over time) are thus:
1. Write 11 facts about you.
2. Answer the questions given to you by the one passing on the award.
3. Come up with 11 new questions that you will pass on to your nominees.
4. “Tag” 11 blogs that have under 200 followers (preferably ones you like and follow, yourself).
5. Leave a comment on your nominator/awarder’s nomination post so they can come see your answers!

I guess there can be an award amongst the pool of nominees if you read everyone’s answers and pick your favorite? That’s not specifically in the rules, but the rules have changed a lot over the years, so it probably doesn’t matter if you add your own flair!

BUT I DIGRESS! Whew! This is already long, and I haven’t even started yet… Story of my life, I guess.

FACTS ABOUT ME:

1. I’m longwinded to a fault, and love telling stories with dramatic, often humorous flair. It’s possible you noticed this if you read my blog posts. Or even the first part of this blog post. πŸ™‚

2. I’m only 35, but my hair is already going silver in the front. It’s my Rogue streak. Even though it was brought on by mere genetics, and not some crazy mutant power drain (unless you consider pregnancy and children to be that power drain), I think it’s cool, and it makes my husband — who has very few white hairs, himself, despite the Army — jealous, so I’m not likely to dye my hair to get rid of it.

3. I am the queen of the almost-but-not-quite run-on sentence, preferring a challenging, complex use of commas and other punctuation to pack as many ideas into several phrases as possible before the period shows up. #2 has a fine example of this. I also have a tendency to punctuate with emoticons. πŸ˜‰ (I DO know the proper use of a semicolon, though; I don’t only use them for winking.)

4. I like cheap wine. Not TOO cheap; I’m a connoisseur of the middle shelf, and rarely pay more than $10. I prefer reds, generally, and am going through a zinfandel phase right now. Cheap beer, on the other hand, is suspect. Often, if it’s not a microbrew, I’m not interested.

5. I’m an inveterate perfectionist. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the state of my cluttered house, but I struggle with the all-or-nothing philosophy of cleaning: If I can’t do it all, and do it right the first time, I’d rather not do it. I don’t recommend this philosophy.

6. Caffeine makes me anxious, but I am and addict. I make an 8-cup pot of 1/3 caff coffee in the mornings. I’d given up coffee for a long time due to stomach issues, but I have little boys who wake up earlier than my brain does, and coffee is more substantial than tea most of the time. If I have a good supply of milk, I’ll opt for Earl Grey or Lipton. Also, my husband’s coffee tastes better than anything. I don’t know why; it just does.

7. I have a rather irreverent sense of humor, and I love a good parody. Overall, I try to be positive (emphasis on “try”) for people who don’t find my version of funny quite as satisfying, but sometimes a well-placed, witty remark about reality feels more appropriate than a silver-lining hope statement. Sometimes, I’d rather laugh than float, know what I mean? πŸ™‚ That said, I don’t like making fun of people without a REALLY good reason. I even have trouble with trash-talk, until I’m comfortable with a person. Even then, I say “just kidding” reflexively, so they know I really am just kidding. I never know if someone’s going to take things personally.

8. Two of my favorite subjects for discussion are religion and politics (I’m non-denominational Christian and a conservative with libertarian leanings, respectively). I’ve taught myself to be diplomatic, though, so I still have friends. πŸ˜‰ I have to bite my tongue a lot to keep from being a little too #7 when I see something that really needs it, and ad hominem attacks are right out. Seriously, if you can’t argue without attacking the intelligence of the person you’re debating, you will never, ever win a discussion. A good, reasoned debate or deep discussion is like steak: Rare enough to be enjoyable but tough enough that it takes a little work to sink your teeth into. Ad hominem attacks are the nasty gristle that totally ruins the experience.

9. I’m a visual learner, for the most part. If I listen to something, I don’t have as good a chance at remembering if it’s not paired with a visual, I’m not taking notes, or I don’t have a really good analogy to visualize. I love analogies, as evidenced by the end of #8. πŸ™‚

10. Two things I’m good at: Writing and singing. But I’m not a song writer. Not yet, anyway.

11. I like posting to my blog, but it takes HOURS to write an installment. Often, by the time I’m done, I either have neglected kids (and husband), or the hours have become days, and the post is no longer relevant. That is why my posts are so few and far between. I have a LiveJournal from my pre-children days (started in 2004), which I used to update all the time. It’s a Twitter aggregator, now. πŸ™‚ (For further illustration, I started this post last week.)

QUESTIONS FROM MY NOMINATOR:

1. You’re stuck on a deserted island with a vacuum cleaner, a bowling trophy, and your jerk ex-boyfriend, what do you do? I’d build a raft — with or without his help — and tell him to go find someone to rescue me. He could take the bowling trophy to use as a signal if he runs across a ship. In the meantime, I would enjoy some peace and quiet, using parts of the vacuum to build things I’d need to survive on the island. Either way, we probably couldn’t get along in close proximity, so even if he didn’t want to take the raft (and I’m not gonna; I get seasick), he would have to live on the other side of the island and find a way to trade sincere apologies for vacuum parts.

2. If money were not an issue, what would your dream career be? Or would you even have one? Would you just lounge around in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day? While lounging in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day sounds SOOO fantastic (and definitely on the list of things I would do on a tropical vacation where money was not an issue), I would be a full-time, market-be-darned writer. I would take regular mini-vacations (by myself!) to write and get my head on straight, and then I’d come home and write in a real office. Or a recliner; since I’m dreaming, my house would be big enough for one. And I would have a professional organizer, decorator, and housekeeper. Maybe even a nanny. πŸ™‚

3. What is your biggest pet peeve? Inconsiderate people, especially drivers. I don’t mean accidentally inconsiderate, either, but people who spend their lives making other people angry, miserable, or uncomfortable, because they can’t be bothered to be polite, acknowledge the rules, or be selfless for a minute.

5. Who is/was the most influential person in your life? Probably my dad. If you’ve heard me tell a joke or make a pun, then laugh my butt off while my audience groans, you’ve just seen my dad’s sense of humor in action. I have his same way of speaking, same thirst for knowledge, same sense of humor, same favorite foods, and same ability to fry in the sunlight. I wish I could have inherited his work ethic and organizational skills, too, but I can’t have everything.

6. Who is your favorite horror writer? If you don’t like to read horror, who is your favorite author? And why? I don’t read much horror, but R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series has a special place in my heart. I devoured those books when I was a teenager! However, I’d have to say my favorite author is Lois McMaster Bujold. I love her turn of phrase and the characters she creates. She writes deep, emotional plots that have lots of room for humor and action. I want to be just like her when my writing grows up!

7. What kinds of things inspire you the most? Visual cues (abandoned or empty buildings, dark forests, people-watching); vivid, emotional dreams; old RPG characters who either got some time in a fun campaign, or not enough time to live up to the backstory I took hours creating; tragic “what if” scenarios I mull over to entertain myself on boring stretches of highway; and really great music that invokes my emotions or imagination.

8. What scent or taste reminds you of your childhood? Why? Ooh, this is a hard one. I think seasonal smells are the strongest: Cut grass and dust remind me of summer vacation, the sharp bite of a frosty morning reminds me of going back to school, roasting turkey and cinnamon-laced desserts remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there’s a certain smell of humidity and sun-warmed vegetation that reminds me of summer car trips to Louisiana and Florida with my family (as well as the smell of the cool of the early morning as we’re packing up for the next leg of the trip). Perfumes and colognes bring me back, as well. My dad wore a certain cologne on Sunday mornings that I could smell from my bedroom before I got up in the morning (waaaaayyy long time ago) and Mom always wore perfume. Windsong was my favorite. She still wears perfume, but not as much the ones that trigger childhood memories.

9. Determined Dexter the Diplodocus was walking home from work one day and he happened upon his arch-nemesis: the evil Doctor Mumbado. What does he do? He steps on him. What’s the use of being fifty tons if you can’t throw it around once in a while?

10. What is your favorite memory of your parents? My mom: When driving cross-country without my dad (he was either about to deploy on a submarine, deployed, or coming back in and would meet us at our destination), I got to ride shotgun and be Mom’s navigator. We’d play trivia games, especially “name the state capital”, and the Alphabet Game. In the hotel or at my grandparents’ house, we’d play cards. “Spite and Malice” was our favorite; I had at least a chance at beating her. I tried to teach her “Speed”, and she wiped the table with me every time — even the round where I was teaching her. My dad: Just about any time he was coming home from sea. Also, the day he shaved off his beard, which he’d had forever, and scared my little brother, who didn’t recognize him at first. That is hilarious, even now.

11. β€œExcuse me, madam. Do you have the time?” Always. I can’t go anywhere without my watch. Managing it is a completely different story.

12. What happened to number four? It’s looking for the cake.

Now I’m supposed to come up with 11 questions for the 11 people I tag. Um. I don’t have 11 people to tag. I have just one, and I don’t think he’s going to do the challenge, but I’ll tag him anyway. He’s my Sweetie, and he’s an 11. πŸ˜‰ I’ll try to make his questions fair, at least, so he doesn’t feel like I’m giving him the third degree, and I’ll make them generic enough that I could tag someone else with them later.

1. What is your favorite dessert?
2. Who is less of a pansy-whiner, young Anakin Skywalker (Ep II & III) or Luke Skywalker? Why?
3. What is your favorite holiday?
4. If you had your choice to live anywhere in the world, where would you, and why?
5. The last two jobs on earth are being an IRS agent and cleaning swimming pool filters. Remarkably, they pay the same. Which would you choose, and why?
6. “I think, therefore I _______.” (Fill in the blank)
7. Do you believe in supernatural phenomena?
8. If you had to be too hot or too cold, which would you prefer?
9. You’re stranded in a desert and find a genie in a lamp. He offers you one wish. What would you wish for?
10. What is your earliest memory?
11. “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

Until I find more to tag, I tag my Sweetie, Sigspace.