Outta Here!

It's finally here! I'm going on vacation with some of my girlfriends, hanging out, writing, plotting, and relaxing in the hot tub.  :)  Unfortunately I have to leave the fam behind, and I'll feel incredibly guilty about that while I'm gone. Okay, maybe not "incredibly" guilty. But all my talk about "rest" has to lead somewhere, right? Other good news! Fabu editor has chosen and approved a title for my August 2013 Desire: HIS BY DESIGN! I love it and can't wait to see the cover. I should be ready for line edits any day now.  So its good news day! Share yours with us!

Adventures in Scouting

This year, my son decided to join Cub Scouts instead of sports. As my husband works long hours, I approached this new development with trepidation. My sister and I went through Girl Scouts with my mom as our troop leader. An all female environment. knots Cub Scouts wasn’t exclusively male when we walked into our first meeting, but women were outnumbered about 10 to 1. Working and volunteering in solely female environments has been my lifetime experience, so I viewed all that testosterone with quite a few nerves. But my Little Man wanted to do this, so I sucked it up and viewed it as an adventure. Boy, did I learn a lot. :) --A chance to study males interacting with other males, from youth to adults, was eye-opening…and a little disturbing. Did you know that men can be even bigger gossips than women? At least, here in the south they are. Overhearing these conversations is both surprising and amusing – I’ve learned the full dish on so-and-so’s ex-wife, parents-in-law, and mutual friends. pinewood-derby --They really do care more about sports than I can fathom, and can talk about it for longer than I care to listen. But I guess I’m the same about writing (which I think is way more important), so I shouldn’t judge. Except when they talk over the den leader in their eagerness to argue stats. You’re adults for goodness sake! Be quiet. --Putting on those uniforms can give both boys and men a whole new demeanor. They stand a little straighter, hold their heads higher, and get a whole aura of importance. I’m glad my son can experience that pride at his age. I think it helps boys grow into men who understand what they are capable of, what they can aspire to. --These men tend to view this strange woman who spends the meetings writing in a notebook (when they don’t need me for something) as an alien to be avoided. That probably isn’t helped by the fact that they all know each other, and I know none of them except 1. --We all know what a planner I am, and the lack of forethought put into the activities just about kills me. I get no notice of upcoming activities, no information about district events or camps, and it took over a month to get emails from anyone. If I was in charge… But I’m not gonna be! I downsized, remember? Not happening. So I suck it up and try not to complain…okay, maybe every once in a while. Yep, its been an adventure. I’ve learned a lot more about boys and men and how they behave in groups. Hopefully, it will make my heroes that much more interesting, and help me as a mother to learn my about son.

Celebrate 2013!

Anybody else charging ahead at full steam into the New Year?  :)  The holidays are behind us, decorations are boxed up, new toys are in play, and its past time to embrace 2013 with its 365 days of possibilities. Glass of Wine My new year got started with an old lesson. You see, right before Christmas, I caught a flu virus that had me off work for 3 days and in bed for 5. Then my car was stolen, and we had to make replacement arrangements (which included an unexpected family visit), and then I topped off New Years with a secondary bacterial infection in my throat. All this with a proposal still due and family activities cropping up left and right. So my first lesson of the year 2013 was: It's okay to rest. I talked about this late last year, but I'm obviously a slow learner. This knowledge hit me hard. I was battling illness and a boatload of stress, and still felt obligated to press on as if everything was normal. Needless to say, that got old quick. I realized it wasn't the end of the world if I had to bow out of something. People usually understand. After a full day and work and still being sick, I just couldn't push myself to attend my husband's family's Christmas Eve party -- one of my favorite parts of our Christmas celebrations. I stayed home and dozed on the couch, so I had more energy for our Christmas day plans. Then my daughter got to play my part in the adult dirty Santa game -- something she'd been trying to sneak into for several years. I definitely learned my creative brain does not function well while sick! I spent several nights simply staring at my computer screen, unable to get any words. Still, I persisted. In this case, all I did was increase my frustration and uncertainty about my story. If I'd waited until my brain came back online (know that feeling?), I would have progressed faster without all that angst (great for stories, not so great for creating). So I cut myself some mental slack. This is one of the hardest things for me to do! Even when my body won't go anymore, my brain is still in "you should be..." mode. I'm practicing my new comeback: Yes, but it will still be there when I get to it. :) Works most... okay, some... of the time. But practice will hopefully make perfect. So today I'm celebrating once again being healthy and life settling into some sort of normalcy. I'm celebrating rest and relaxation. This will be a GOOD year! What are you celebrating at the start of this new year? Dani

Cutting Back, Paring Down

There are some days when just looking at my To Do list can give me a panic attack. The list grows and grows, no matter now much I mark off of it. Until sometimes I can feel like I'm drowning in stuff that needs to be done. Admitting that honestly showed me that there are many reasons as parents, spouses, writers, employees, etc, that we might feel the need to cut back on our responsibilities and commitments. For myself, I had to cut back when I had new babies, when I took on a job outside the home, and now that my oldest child has extra curricular activities that require being driven. But most recently I upped my day job to full-time and my downtime to non-existent because I've taken on too many commitments and find myself completely overwhelmed. I bet no one does that but me, huh? 1. Evaluate priorities. I have this unbearable urge to throw up my hands and chuck it all -- but it doesn't stick with me for long. I'm too much of a planner (nice word for obsessive) for that. Way before any cutting or confirmation happens, take a step back and a good look at your goals and direction. For me, this means taking care of my family financially and emotionally. Then furthering my writing craft and publishing career, and preserving the joy of my creativity. Taking care of myself physically and emotionally, so I can do everything else on this list. Did I mention I need to breathe sometimes? Finally, taking care of my extended family and very close friends in a way that protects those relationships and allows me to show these people my love for them. 2. Line up commitments. Then I put my compulsive list-making to good use! I make a long, long list of everything I've got going on (and it seems to grow every day -- how does THAT happen?). I like paper, some of my friends use computer programs. For those of you who aren't list-obsessive like me, maybe a mental checklist would work? Then compare those things to the priorities list. And yes, I'll admit to trying to spread my list-making disease.  :) 3. The Dreaded Cut This is the part I hate. Some things are so easy to give up, and others I really struggle with, but I always seem to feel better once the decision is made. As I mentioned earlier, between the job, writing, and growing children, I've had to make more and more cuts. I no longer have much time during the week to see friends, but I try to make time once a month to do that on a weekend. I try to do as many of my daughter's band activities as possible, but told her not to plan on going to any out of town competitions because of time/money. I’ve given up all of my local writing chapter volunteer duties and only volunteer for 1 event per year for each of the kids. I make it count – often heading up a function – but that’s the only thing I do. But its not just about cutting, its about deciding what is important enough to keep. Is there a particular project that means a great deal to you? And by that, I mean almost as important as your family. Will this volunteer opportunity serve you or your career in some way? Why do you want to put it on the keep list? Do you have a full understanding of everything that it will entail? 4. Evaluate any new opportunities that come along Yeah, I can Epic Fail at this one really easy, so I have to be really careful and uber aware. Recently I had chance to work on a large organization committee. I'd just offloaded all of my local chapter responsibilities, and wasn't sure about adding anything back on. But after evaluating the Pros and Cons, the benefits outweighed the amount of time it would require of me -- so I took it. The point here is that I thought about it first. I didn't jump first and regret later. Do you ever go back and reevaluate the chaos that is your life? How do you decide what to keep and when something's gotta go?