FailBoatScrewing up in my department at work can earn you the title of “Captain of the Failboat.”  It’s not a proud name to wear.  Sure, it’s meant in fun, but it still stings, especially when the fail isn’t your fault.

I started my 2015 with promises and motivation.  Then life happened, overwhelming me and pushing my intentions down the drain.  My work computer crashed.  Query rejections sprinkled into my Inbox.  I turned to food for comfort.  There was little time to spend with family and friends.  I found myself going down with the ship.

While I stood alone in my pity party, I realized that it didn’t have to be my boat.  What changed my mind?  Two little words.  They came to me while I was standing in the slowest line at the grocery store, listening to a little girl detail her day to the obviously disinterested cashier.

“I was gonna make a picture.  But he colored on my paper.”  She pointed at the slightly smaller boy sitting in the bottom of the basket.  “And then, Mommy got me a new one.  That he didn’t color on and then I made a pretty picture of our house, and then Mommy put it on the fridge.”

She hadn’t given up just because of a set back.  Her little voice echoed in my mind.  She had simply started again.  It was the power of “and then…”

I don’t have to wait until next January to start a new diet just because I cheated a few times on this one.  And then, I can rewrite the notes and outlines that I lost at work.  And then, there is still time to set my goals down on paper.  And then, I can plan a Dream Board party for February, or even July if that’s what works.

There is comfort in the ability to start again.  It is not written in stone that failure has to be permanent.  I am not Captain of the Failboat.  I refuse to stay under the waves of despair and self-judgment.

What if we stopped beating ourselves up when we falter or even fail?  What if we just stopped, took a deep breath and said, “And then…”

This is our year!  We’ve picked our words and set our intentions.  Our To Do lists are checked off and we passed on the donuts some skinny guy brought into the office.  But it’s been less than a week.  What can we do to maintain our momentum?

1. Turn off the TV.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But we’re on a budget.  Television is our main source of entertainment.  Snuggling in the flickering blue light makes up the majority of our evenings.  We have several shows that we each watch and even more that we watch together.  After making a list of just the shows I love, I found at least an hour each day to spend on activities that will improve our lives.  I didn’t have to give up every show, just the ones that I wasn’t enjoying, and the ones that I slept through the ending on a regular basis.  I filled those time slots on my calendar with writing time, exercise time, and an earlier bedtime on Sunday nights.

My favorite quote

2. Read and reflect on a favorite quote or photo before you get started.

Personally, I love quotes.  Little bursts of someone’s wisdom posted on the bathroom mirror, scribbled inside a notebook cover, beautifully framed.  Quotes inspire and motivate.  I get most of my writing done in the early morning hours.  But before I open the computer, I sit down with my cup of coffee.  I empty my mind of the few thoughts that rattle around before the world awakens.  Then, I look at my favorite quote.  I read it.  I speak it out loud.  I breathe.  And off I go.

3. Use a timer.

Tim got me a beautiful hourglass for Christmas.  It takes 60 minutes for the sand to travel through the narrow passage.  It’s easy to get distracted when I work in the evenings, but as long as the sand is falling I keep working.

Mornings are a bit more difficult, because I have a day job.  Instead of a timer to keep me on task, I use an alarm to let me know when I need to wrap it up.  It’s no secret that I’d rather write and edit all day.  Someday I won’t need the alarm, because I used the timer earlier.

These three small things have made a difference in the quantity and the quality of my work.  Hugs and Happy Writing!

New Year’s Day.  Fresh starts, focused intentions, detailed plans.  New calendars, empty journals.  And almost everyone shares your positive attitude.  The air is thick with optimism.

Statistics say we won’t accomplish a fraction of what we set out to do this year.  But that doesn’t stop us from setting our goals and jumping head first into the New Year.  Numbers are not my thing.  I’m an English Major.  The statistics mean nothing to me.

As many of you know, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  Several years ago, a friend told me about her dream board.  She had learned about them from Christine Kane.  You can find her website here.  I made my own board and started reading Christine’s blog.  Instead of New Year Resolutions, Christine suggested picking a word to guide us through the year.

I think for days, trying different words on for size.  FOCUS, RITUAL.  As a writer, either of those would help me.  Finances on my mind, perhaps 2015’s word is ABUNDANCE.  But I never did get the house clean and organized; maybe I’ll recycle last year’s word, CLEAR.

I started a new job in 2014.  Gained weight.  Finished my memoir.  Got a home office.  Found help for Tim’s intractable hiccups.  Gave gifts, received more.  Finished the year with a CLEAR sense of what I do and don’t want.  Clear was the right word for last year.

For weeks, words have been rattling around in my head.  ACCEPTANCE.  I don’t need to be in control of everything; RELEASE.  Or PATIENCE.  DISCIPLINE.  That would be a good one.  SIMPLICITY.  ORDER.  Today’s the day.  I have to pick one.  My office is quite the mess right now.  But just to my left, on the bookshelf.  There it is.

ENOUGH.  I am enough.  I do enough.  We have enough.  ENOUGH.

EnoughEnough   [ih-nuhf]

1. adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire.
2. an adequate quantity or number; sufficiency.
3. in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire; sufficiently.
4. fully or quite.
5. (used to express impatience or exasperation): “Enough! I heard you the first time.”

ENOUGH doesn’t mean the bare minimum.  Even desires will be fulfilled by ENOUGH.  And it will allow me to define my limits.  Welcome, 2015.  My year of ENOUGH.

This New Year’s morning, I wish you enough.

Note: If you want a stone engraved with your word, I recommend Justin.  From several Word of the Year stones, to gifts for my writer friends, to the stone in the picture, he has always surpassed my expectations.  His attention to detail and artistic guidance brought my ideas to beautiful life.  (Click on his name to go to his site.)

Wait for it…

on November 19, 2014 in My memoir | No Comments »

Hello dear friends.  It’s been a long time since I wrote to you and I’d like to explain.

Life got in the way.  We’ve been busy battling (and not always winning) health issues.  I changed jobs and went from being a know-it-all to a student of everything.  It took me six months to learn to love my new position and I’m still in training!  New friends have stepped into the picture, joining the old friends that I will never let go of.  Kids have boomeranged home and out again.

Almost There

But the biggest reason for avoiding my blog is because I didn’t have any news to share with you.

Until now.

My memoir is finally finished.  And all it took was thousands of hours at the computer, countless revisions, dozens of critique group meetings, a handful of meltdowns, thirteen beta readers, two lengthy legal discussions, and gallons of blood, sweat, and tears.

Finished is such a strong word.  I’ll always find something I think can be improved upon.  But I’m working on the proposal I’m going to send to the agents that requested them (and for the agents that don’t know they want it yet).  My query letter just needs polishing.  I’m pitching to another agent on Friday.

More to come…

Proof copies of my memoir are being printed as we speak.  The publishing process is confusing at best, but I think I’ve got my ducks lined up and because I’ve chosen to self-publish there’s a strong possibility that The $35 Wife will be available before the end of the year!  I’m so excited.  And petrified.

Copyright, cover art contract and photo session, proofing, edits, and formatting; my head is spinning from the whirlwind of things to do IN ADDITION to taking care of a family and a home with a small zoo and working a full-time job that I’m still learning.

In The Wizard of Oz, the witch cackles while she rides her broomstick in the tornado. She’s not fighting the winds, she’s just enjoying the ride.  That’s how I’ve felt lately.

I’d like to think that I’ve only been busy these past few months, but I can’t remember a time when I could just drop everything and enjoy the company of friends and family.  I promised myself that I would take time for myself this year.  Life had other plans.  I’m not complaining, just vowing to do some things differently in the remaining months of 2014.

I’ll still be riding the tornado, because that’s just the weather of my life right now.  The rainbow is on the horizon and I’m headed in that direction!

Step over it

on August 17, 2014 in Musings | No Comments »

A while back, a new friend told me a story of disappointment.  That is her story and not mine to share.  But a bit of advice was given to her and she passed it on to me.  Those words changed my perspective on life.

“I hope you can step over it.”

I had a habit of piling all of my troubles into one mountain.  Sure, I could still climb that mountain and get over those things, but it was a steep climb.  Progress was slow and often painful.  New obstacles were more than stumbling blocks, and I found myself sliding backward toward the low points.  Restarting my upward journey was more difficult each time.

What would happen if I chose a different method of dealing with my troubles?  It certainly couldn’t be any less productive than my current path.

When the next obstacle came rolling my way, it was a big one.  A former co-worker was spreading rumors, telling people I had said horrible things about a former manager.  It hurt, not just because he was saying those things, but because a few people believed his lies.  Unwilling to work with him, I declined a fabulous opportunity to represent my company at community events while earning quite a bit of OverTime pay.

I wanted to deal with it later, set it aside for when the pain wasn’t so sharp.  But then I remembered those words.  And I didn’t add it to the mountain.  I stepped over it.  It took effort.  It was a big step to take.  But suddenly, it was behind me.

I stayed on my path.  I didn’t have to recover altitude lost by stumbling.

rocky path

Staying on my path, one step at a time.


As I stand and look up at the mountain I have built over the years, I no longer see a solid mass to be conquered.  I’ve pulled several stones from the pile and stepped over them as well.  The mountain is shrinking, falling apart.  Some steps are harder than others.  But as I tear out the smaller stones and step over them, the bigger boulders are losing their hold and rolling down, becoming smaller with each tumble.

It’s not about choosing my battles, nor is it accepting the problems as truth.  I’m just over them.  Moving on.  One step at a time.

There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature.  A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.  ~Harry Crews

I am not ashamed of any of the scars upon my body.  Each tells a story.  Some are ragged and attest to my resilience.  Others announce I am a mother.  Still others remind me that I once had no fears.  I wear my scars with pride and acceptance.

But under my skin, there are other marks.  Some are scars, hurts long healed.  But others are wounds kept open by often flung spiteful words.  Just when I think the scar has formed, the scab is ripped away with a new torrent of hate.  I truly don’t understand.

Can you imagine living in a world where someone could throw a knife at you if they simply wanted to?  They wouldn’t even need a reason.  Thankfully, we have laws to protect us from such violence.

But why don’t those laws protect us from the sharp words that are hurled toward our defenseless hearts?

A gun only holds so many bullets.  But a tongue never runs out of ammunition.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me.  I won’t fight back.  Neither will I stand and continue to absorb blades of hurtfulness.

To all the bullies, I feel sorry for you.  Hurting someone just so you feel better about yourself is only temporary relief.  Find a cause.  Give your time and energy to something worthwhile, instead of passing judgment upon those who never had a chance to tell their side of the story.

I wish you love and happiness.

Some people have asked me why it is taking me so long to write my memoir.  I don’t have just one answer.

  • Life gets in the way.
  • Writing is hard work.
  • Bringing up those memories is painful.
  • The legalities are confusing.
  • I’m scared.

I’m scared.  That’s the strongest reason.  I can’t just pick and choose who reads my story.  I’m writing it because reading about a strong woman helped me gain the strength to leave my first husband.  If reading my story gives just one woman the courage to leave an abusive relationship, it will be worth it.

But anyone will be able to read it.  Family, friends, enemies, strangers.  I will be judged.  That’s a tough decision to stand tall and walk into.

My first husband hit me.  He hit me before I married him.  He continued to hit me throughout our marriage.  He threatened to kill me if I ever left him.  So I stayed and he tried to kill me anyway.  But I survived.  I escaped.

I looked over my shoulder for years, expecting him to show up.  And he did.  He proudly showed me his new girlfriend.  He pointed out that she was prettier and skinnier than I was.  But he didn’t hurt me.  I didn’t give him the chance.  I just smiled to show him that I was better off without him. And I walked away, knowing that he was hurting her.

Like me, she stayed.  I’m sure he filled her head with the same lies he told me.  I do not know her story, but I know that she’s the strongest woman I have ever met.  Neither one of us knew that when we met all those years ago.

Why did I stay?  Why did she?  Why do millions of women (and men) stay and allow themselves to be abused?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I do know that it will never happen to me again.

I did not deserve to be hit, to be called names, to be controlled, to be locked up, to be laughed at, to be abused.  Once was more than enough.  I often wish that I had left after he hit me that first time.  I would not have the same story to tell, and I would not be the same woman I am today, but I would leave.  The first time.

If you live in fear, it’s time to move.  There are agencies out there to help you.  I had help.  I had to learn that it was okay to ask for help.   Once is more than enough.  I promise you, you are worth more than you know.

Other Plans

on June 8, 2014 in Musings | No Comments »

“Life is what happens when you make other plans.”  I don’t know who first came up with this gem, but it fits.  No matter how completely I map out my time or how specific my ToDo list is, something always seems to come up to burst my ambition and steal my time.  Sometimes it’s a tragedy, like losing my brother last month.  Other times it’s a homeowner woe, a leaking sink or a cracked window.  I wish it was more often a phone call from family or an impromptu lunch with a friend.

I figure I lose about 5 or 6 hours of productive time each week to these pop-up needs.  That may not seem like much when you know a week has 168 hours.  But when you break the week into tasks…

  • Sleeping (42 – 49 hours
  • Day job with travel (46 hours)
  • SuperMom time, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the animals, shopping, errands (25 hours)
  • Writing/editing, critique and writer’s group (30 hours)
  • Time spent with my wonderful husband and kids

…you get the idea.

Wouldn’t it be better to set aside an hour each day for Life.  If nothing pops up to fill that time, we could bank it for the ncxt day, and hopefully the next.  Then we’ll have it when we need it.

But instead, I’m not going to schedule my full 168 hours this week.  Sure, some things have to be scheduled, but I’m going to roll with the flow this week.  If Life is what happens when you make other plans, let’s see what happens when I don’t make plans.

Have a wonderful week, my friends.  I’m planning on it.


Fear & Changes

on April 20, 2014 in Musings | No Comments »
If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
If you never ask, the answer will always be ‘no.’
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never get it.

I tried, I asked, and I went after it.  ‘It’ is a better position at the company where I have worked for almost fifteen years.

The phone call came in the early afternoon.  And, of course, I had just taken a huge bite of chicken.  The caller id hinted at what was to come.  I chewed twice, swallowed, and prayed I wouldn’t choke.

“I’d like to offer you the position.”

I got it!

I’m really good at the job I currently have.  It’s not a thankless job, but most of what I do isn’t going to turn any heads.  I like that my co-workers come to me with questions and that my manager gives me special projects.  But I’ve reached the top of this ladder.  No more money, no where to advance to.  The final blow was having to train the girl who was hired to lead our group.  They paid me less money to answer her questions than they paid her to ask them.  Ouch.  But that’s office politics.

Why am I afraid to take this new position?  Is it just the new computer programs?  No.  I can learn them.  I already know a couple of the people I will be working with and for.  That’s not my fear either.

It’s an irrational fear, like my fear of zombies.  I truly have nothing to be afraid of.

I can do this!

I can do this!

Am I nervous?  Oh, yeah.  But that will keep me on my toes and make me work harder to impress my new boss.  Because she will be my new boss.