Archive | Weekly Round-Up

Weekly(ish) Round-Up: Let’s Paint the House Edition

I am a planner. I see spreadsheets and calendars as my saving grace. Neat little bits of data into equally neat little IMG_20141104_093319spaces along with big blocks that mean I can Accomplish! Big! Projects! I love note cards, and my ability to write lots of ideas on pieces of card-stock that are the exact same size, and then organize those thoughts into some semblance of order.

Heaven on earth – that’s what planning is for me. (when I outlined the memoir last year)

In honesty, the way I learned to manage my ADHD as a teen (long before they diagnosed that stuff) was to create structure for myself.

It’s like having a fence for a dog or taking the dog to a nice dog park to play.

I AM that dog, and sometimes I run wild, and those systems and schedules serve as my fence to keep me safe from my own enthusiasm and keep me from running out in the street in front of cars.

So, back to those big blocks of time and planning.

When JB has a trip on the calendar and I’m not going to tag along, I make plans to Get Things Done! We’ve known about his trip this week since October, and in my planning, this was to be designated a full-on creation week. I’d asked a girlfriend if she could come for a visit so we could have a mini-writer-retreat, and even when she realized she couldn’t this week, I still planned to focus on writing, writing, and more writing.

Until, that is, this was the best week for the painter to work at our house.

The original desire for painting came because I wanted the laundry room done..then it morphed to all three TheHotMessEntrybathrooms, the stairwell, a wall in our bar area, and the downstairs bedroom (including closet). Before JB left, we readied things for the painter (read: everything that couldn’t be shoved into the middle of the bedroom downstairs got moved into my office).

I met the painter on Monday morning at 7:15 to swipe a credit card to pay for the paint and every other day this week he’s been here at 7 AM sharp, ready to dive into the taping and cutting in and rolling. And, like me, the Painter is a bit of an extrovert, and so sometimes, we swap stories.

But, man, he is all over the place. Not in a haphazard way, it’s all very methodical thanks to the use of 3 different paint colors (Compatible Cream Downstairs, Whole Wheat Upstairs, Closet and Trim in Navajo White) in a variety of finishes (eggshell, semi-gloss). And every time I have turned around, he’s there.

I can’t work in my office…I worked one day from the living room sofa…and now I am in JB’s office because it’s the least messy place to work.  This has wreaked havoc on my ability to focus and write coherent emails, let alone start any new writing projects, or write my “consumables”.

The Big Plan has been shot to hell.

And the thing is, as overwhelmed as I am feeling with my entire house in disarray (all three bathrooms being painted with semi-gloss, which needs a good 48 hours to “cure”), THIS is the life I’ve committed to.

Yes, it would be glorious to spend this week alone doing nothing but CREATING in the formal definition of creation.  But this is the perfect week for someone to be here before dawn and the perfect week for the house to be a hot mess of stuff in places it doesn’t belong. Because as much as it overwhelms me, I know a week of Nothing In It’s Place and Painting Supplies Everywhere would just STRESS JB out, and, in turn, stress me more trying to keep him from being stressed.

So, despite the fact that I’ve not written a solid word towards any new project this way, this week embodies my Word of 2016  – CREATE – at one of its most basic levels: creating a home that is an escape from the stresses of the outside world.

The ability to create a space that is nourishing, loving, and supportive allows me to take a big flying leap of faith into creating in different ways. The choice to be the one to manage our home is how I contribute to our relationship, and the payoffs of this contribution is that I have the freedom to work from home and manage my own schedule. The creation of my own calendar to my own needs is huge in my ability TO create.

So, this week of overwhelm and not sticking to the initial plan is good in the big picture way of life. Sometimes, we have to just BE overwhelmed. Sometimes we just have NOT be as productive as we desire.

What I’m Writing & How It’s Dovetailing with Work

The January issue of Become Besotted went out on time…and though I have yet to go beyond a short outline of an idea for a blog post for work this week, that will make it’s way into my schedule this afternoon once the painter leaves.  I also have a topic for the newsletter chosen and the recipe has already been written and plugged into Mailchimp.

I’m writing a ton of emails this week, too, inviting folks to contribute to the new Zine, Modern Creative Life.  Fortunately, we wrote up a template for invitations to work from last week, so that’s been easier than writing fresh.  I’m getting super excited about this project and hope my collaborators, Becca Rowan and Melissa Bartell are, too.

What I’m Reading

I have been writing a bit since I last updated things here (and if you’re curious, you can always look over at my readingthismorningearlyGoodreads to see what’s on my nightstand)

These books were chosen for book club:

  • Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen – this was choice for book club and I enjoyed it immensely and everyone else enjoyed it as well.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – this is the book for next month and I couldn’t help but obsessively turn the pages. I saw the movie back in the 90’s but hadn’t read the book. WOW does it ever seem still scary and still timeless.

I re-read a couple of books this month….

Fresh reads to cross the desk included

  • Cross Justice (Alex Cross #23) by James Patterson.  BEST Alex Cross Novel (My Goodreads Review)
  • All Dressed in White (Under Suspicion) by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
  • The Marsh Madness (A Book Collector Mystery #4) by Victoria Abbott. I enjoy this cozy series more and more with each book.
  • I also read an draft of Daryl Woods Gerber’s upcoming suspense novel “Girl on the Run”…I don’t know if she has a publication date for it yet, though.  It was wonderful.

I’m still struggling with finding a good morning Read… so far this year, it’s been these books:

Currently, I am reading

  • American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis. She had me with the first story “What I Do All Day”. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this book of quirky short stories.  I have two little chapters left and made myself stop reading this morning to savor the book a little longer.
  • The Guilty (Will Robie #4) by David Baldacci
  • Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert – the poet Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned in her book Big Magic…he’s my current morning read.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

iStock_000005988115MediumWhy do people feel the need to drive crazy?  I ran some errands early on Sunday morning (read, I went to breakfast and then Target) and here it is at 8:15 on a Sunday morning and people are speeding down the street, weaving in and out of traffic. What’s the purpose of that? Because, honestly, I ended up at the same red lights as these same drivers. And who needs to get somewhere so desperately on a Sunday morning that they have to drive “bat shit crazy”?

What I Am Obsessing Over

I love the new coffee cup I bought at Starbucks. It’s in the “traveler tumbler” genre for cups, but it’s ceramic. I don’t like the regular travel mugs, something about the metal and plastic I don’t enjoy drinking out of (and I dribble more easily). The coffee seems to stay hot longer and is just so pretty to look at.

I’m also obsessing over a story my cleaning lady told me on Tuesday…and it’s nothing I can write about here, but DEAR GOD, it’s the perfect little tidbit to weave into a piece of fiction.

Tell me, darling, how has your week been?

And on that note, I think it’s time to do a walk around with the painter…to find all the little nicks that still need to be touched up here.

 

MyWord2016DebraSmouse

Though this was intended as round-up post, it morphed into part of the ongoing personal series …why 2016 is the year of Create – what that means and how it will play out.

Weekly Round-Up: Four Weeks Later Edition

Wow. It’s hard to believe it’s been four weeks since I’ve written here. It’s proof that no matter what we may think, it’s 12_writingbyfireimpossible to do *everything*. A lot has transpired: prepping for the holidays, going to Chicago for Thanksgiving, and birthing The Book.

In the focus on the final editing and formatting of the book, I could barely pull myself away for any other tasks. It was stressful. I may have cried a little towards the end when I was feeling as if I would never be done. And the whole process was glorious.

We finally moved the giant TV out of my office and into our spare room which left me space for a 3rd bookshelf in my office. I still need to arrange my books and special objects…it’s on my list for this week.

It was a very social week for me…two parties, a lunch and a lecture at the library. More in one week than I typically do in a month.

We’ve also decked the halls. The baby Christmas tree is upstairs and the big Christmas tree is downstairs. We’ve hung stockings, brought out the Christmas dishes, and strung lights. I love having my morning coffee or evening wine by the fireplace and the tree.

What I’m Writing

Yes, The Book is done. Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Cultivating the Life of 12_bookishereYour Dreams is now available on Amazon.

I did the final formatting and editing in Word, but up until then, I was using a combination of Scrivener and The Hemingway App. Both were worth every penny.

Now that the book is out in the world, I am desiring a breather and thinking about What’s Next when it comes to my writing.

I will confess that I created the structure for the book I want to release in November 2016 this afternoon in Scrivener….even if I don’t start writing it for a few weeks.

What’s Happening with Work

I finally made the announcement to subscribers that I was shifting from a weekly newsletter to bi-weekly. I had planned to make the switch in January, but after some discussions with JB, Melissa and Becca, I decided to pull the trigger in December. This coming week is my first week of no newsletter to write and I’m feeling both anxious about not sending it and giddy at not needing to send it.

Though I haven’t announced it on my website, I’ve also made the decision to not accept new clients for the first quarter of 2016. I’ll continue to coach everyone in my current practice as well as offer one-off sessions for previous clients. I may even take referrals from former or current clients.  I did take the “Free Test Drive” graphic out of the sidebar and replaced it with my book.

What I’m Reading

During my absence here I read quite a bit and am on path to my goal of reading 140 books in 2016. Here’s a quick list…

I love “Cozy Mysteries” when I am tired or needing good mind candy. They have to be well-written with lovable 12_buythebookcharacters, and all of these fit that bill:

  • Writing All Wrongs (A Books by the Bay Mystery #7) by Ellery Adams
  • A Likely Story (Library Lover’s Mystery #6)by Jenn McKinlay (read an ARC)
  • Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay (Because of the Arc – began reading the entire series.
  • Due or Die (Library Lover’s Mystery #2) by Jenn McKinlay

I dove into some non-cozy books, too.

  • The Crossing (Harry Bosch #20)by Michael Connelly. I’ve been reading him now for four or five years and love his characters and twists.
  • Blue: a novel by Kayce Stevens Hughlett. My friend and one of my former clients. Her book came out in September and I had been waiting to read it til I had some quiet time.
  • Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen. Creator of Rizzoli & Isles. She was making an appearance at my local library to discuss this book and writing in general. I enjoyed it and will go back and read some of her other books I’ve missed.  And later this week, I’ll share my notes from her discussion.
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Hmmmm. I would love to tell you I loved this book, but it was only OK. I still think The Gifts of Imperfection is a far better book.

I re-read:

Life in General: an American woman reflects on midlife in the 21st century by Becca Rowan. I needed something gentle and loving for the drive to Chicago and to soothe my jangled nerves.

Currently, I am reading:

The Survivor (Mitch Rapp #14) by Kyle Mills  (continuing the series created by Vince Flynn).

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

Myself. I opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the release of the book on Thursday….and after one glass, put a fancy re-usable cork back in the bottle and stuck it in the fridge. I typically drink white wine, though will occasionally do red. But the occasion called for something special. It’s a pink bubbly from France that I took for Thanksgiving and served at my book club – always finishing the bottle pretty quickly.

Well, I opened the fridge late Friday night to find pink champagne (though not officially champagne) everywhere…. There was a glass and a half left in the bottle, but the pressure built up and BOOM. Though I cleaned it up, I am still finding sticky spots and sticky stuff in there.

12_cakeWhat’s Really Floating My Boat

Can one confess love for a vacuum cleaner? I am in love with my Shark Rotator Lift Away…with it’s ability to go under the bed and under chairs….and do a number on the hardwood floors.

Remember me telling you about the book Delicious! by Ruth Reichel? We read it in book club and one of the ladies made Billie’s Gingerbread Cake from the book for our holiday celebration. I couldn’t resist having another piece of it for breakfast with my coffee.

It’s been a long, wild, and wonderful lead into the Holidays. I’m grateful for JB being home after a week away for work and looking forward to a quiet week to catch my breath.

Weekly Roundup: Home Improvement Edition

I am once again late on writing this little missive. I know, I know, there are no real deadlines here, but without any sort of goal date or bulls-eye to aim my arrows, my quiver would grow dusty and my bow stiff from non-use. We are smack-dab in the middle of another period of time off for JB,  and for me that means less time with the words here in In Annapolis (Nov. 2013)my computer and more words with him.

I know that as he moves closer and closer to retirement, I need to find a different rhythm with that, but despite my deadlines, spending extra time with him is a gift right now….as if I am shoring up my reserves for the stretches of time alone in the coming months when he is traveling for work and I will not be tagging along.

If only he’d want to get up as early as I do 😉

In all honest, most of the week has been focused on Home Improvement. Several weeks back, we had the granite counters in the kitchen cleaned and resealed, but they were unable to do the bathrooms because the space between the faucets and the back-splash was too tiny to clean properly.

So, on Thursday, the plumber arrived to remove the faucets. That necessitated me removing everything out from under the bathroom sinks, and Dear Lord, we had so much…stuff. I discarded way too many half-empty shampoo bottles and found some expired first aid supplies. Everything else went into a giant plastic bin.

While I had the plumber here, he also replaced the kitchen faucet. The old one no longer pulled out to spray, a feature I use daily. That, of course, necessitated the removal of everything under the kitchen sink as well. Another bin was needed for the under-sink-supplies.

As I paid the plumber and we chatted about his return the following day to put the bathroom faucets back in place, we talked about the extreme need for a Water Softener. The calcium in the hard water around here mucks up anything water flows through. He gave me a quote and told me that if we decided to go ahead and buy the softener, he could install it when he replaced the faucets, saving us a “trip charge”.

But before we get to Friday, on Thursday, the Granite Dude arrived. He acid washed the bathroom counters, resealed them, and went back on his merry way. Fortunately, it was not too hot and not too cold and I opened the windows the let the fumes escape.

JB agreed it was time to get the Water Softener, so I sent a text to the plumber and he promised to bring it along Friday morning.

And Friday was dedicated to the Plumber. Replacing the bathroom faucets first…and while he was doing that, the lovely lady from Sophisticated Shades arrived.

We live in an “open concept” home with large windows and lots of natural light. There are no blinds or curtains in our great room and we do love the light and the clear view of the golf course. Over the long Labor Day holiday, though, JB mentioned how nice it would be to have some shades in there…not just to occasionally lower, but mainly for the style. We had a Roman Shade installed over the kitchen sink and it looks so elegant and pulls the space together in that finished way.

As she was leaving, the plumber was ready to set up the water softener. When I took him to the basement to show him where it needed to go, I cringed at the condition of the basement. We are not hoarders nor are we messy people, but goodness, where did all that stuff come from?

It was almost 2 PM by the time the plumber left and I was exhausted from all the company that wasn’t quite company.

On Saturday, we had Best Buy coupons that were due to expire, so we faced the crowds. We are no where near Christmas and the stores were packed with their “pre-holiday” sales. We spent the coupon on a new vacuum. We got a Shark, one that has an attachment for hardwood floors, and I’m pretty excited to try that out.

We ran into Macy’s, where we agreed upon a little table to go with The Chair and though JB said to just get it, I am going to wait until it goes on sale. Because I know Macy’s and I know that it will go on sale in the near future. Getting his agreement allows me to pop in and check the price and purchase it whenever.

We headed to lunch and by the time we got home, I was too tired to mess with the new vacuum…..

On Sunday, JB put the vacuum together as I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes.  Where, oh, where shall the new vacuum go? In the closet off the laundry room, of course. But that closet could use a little cleaning out, so while he continued to assemble, I began cleaning.

Seriously, where does all this stuff come from? We cleared a couple of shelves, dusted, shifted somethings to the garage.

The old vacuum, while not working well enough to take care of the upstairs carpets and rugs, is in nice enough shape to vacuum the small piece of carpeting in the storage are of the basement…which led us back to the basement, the Clutter Busting (Stock Photo via Corbis)horrified mess of luggage, boxes, and more.

You already see where this is going, don’t you?

We spent about three hours on Sunday cleaning out the basement. We decided that since we don’t plan to move, there’s no need to save the boxes for bigger appliances and electronics, unless they are still under warranty. Though, we did keep the box for one of the flat screen TV’s. JB sorted through all the cables and cords and such (we have lots of speaker wire and yards and yards of co-ax cable). I sorted through the magazines squirreled away for vision board workshops and reduced them by half.

We ended with a ton of cardboard to filter into our recycling pickups. Boxes of computer cables and keyboards to be shuttled off to Best Buy to be recycled. And, of course, stacks of things to be shuttled off to Goodwill. Though we don’t store clothes in the basement, there were bags of clothes set aside for Goodwill there, which we hauled upstairs and put into my car.

We labeled a lot of clear plastic bins and they look so neat and organized…holding extra sporting goods and HDMI cables and such.

After raking the leaves in the front yesterday (Monday),  John spent a bit more time in the basement tidying up. Consolidating items into the wire shelves, including moving the Christmas Decorations to shelves instead of piled in a corner. He also swept and such.

And there is still work to be done in the basement, all of it mine. I have several file boxes of papers that need to be sorted through and shelves of books to render decisions upon: do they stay or do they go? This is something only I can do, so I committed to having it complete before he returns from a business trip the week after Thanksgiving.

There are other home improvement projects discussed as we’ve been carting empty boxes to the garage and bags for Goodwill to my car. Like interior painting. New carpeting for the stairs. Going through the rest of the cabinets in the house to clean and clear and de-clutter. Potentially converting a portion of the basement into a finished workout room.

All things that can wait…at least until next week.

What I’m Writing (& How it Dovetails with Work)

I spent some solid time working on The Book. Though I am happy with where I’m going, I am frustrated with the slowness of my editing. As I mentioned in this week’s newsletter, I had figured it would be easy. That I would collect my favorite blog posts, lightly tidy up the text, and then send it along to Amazon to make into real books that can be held in my hands. But it hasn’t turned out to be that way.

Instead, I am combining old posts with newer ones and finding connections between posts that on the surface didn’t seem to be connected.

I believe this process is going to make a better end result, but it’s taking me “too long”.

JB asked if I needed to back off a bit, and stop putting so much pressure on myself. But I still want to hold this book in my hands before the holiday season. I want to give the book to friends and family. I want it to be an item to gift to others. I deeply long to hold it in my hands before Thanksgiving, maybe gift a copy to JB’s mother when we are in Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to all of this editing, I did write the introduction or preface for the book this week and am pleased with it. I sent it along to my friend Melissa, who has edited 80% of my blog posts before they appear on my work website and she said she loved it.

I wrote a fresh piece for the work blog:  You Don’t Have to Settle. It’s an idea I’ve had for a bit now and was happy to breathe life into it as we approach the Thanks season.

ClearingSoulClutter_AdI finally did the final edits on the Clearing Soul Clutter course and it’s available for purchase as a Workbook instead of an email course.

I also chose the art for the final free eBook for subscribers, my annual Let Me Help You Choose Your Word of The Year guide. Which may not sound like much, but it sets a theme for me and for subscribers. It’s always important to me to release into the world. The last two years, I sent the same general book…but I think I’m going to change it up this year. Not a lot, but a little.  And I think I want to lose the “Touchstone” concept and find something else. Similar yet different.

I am frustrated with myself on how little I’ve worked on the book this weekend. I got a solid round of editing in on Sunday morning, but the rest of the weekend has been a bust. It’s harder to edit when JB is home and he doesn’t return to work until Thursday…..

What I’m Reading

I have been so focused on writing and editing that my reading has consisted of Bon Appetit, Esquire and Southern Living this week….. Yes, I’ve read a chapter or two of a book here and there, but nothing substantial.

What We’re Eating

I roasted a turkey on Monday.  I didn’t want to pass on my opportunity to get a free, local, free range turkey from my beloved Dorothy Lane Market….and since we aren’t going to be home Thanksgiving…and JB is leaving the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a week long trip, this was the best time to roast it. (The coupon expires 11/30). I served it with gravy, wilted spinach, and baked sweet potatoes. Not a full Thanksgiving feast…and yes, I miss cornbread dressing. But not enough to make a big pan of dressing we might not eat.

I made some turkey stock out of the carcass before cleaning everything up last night.

Otherwise, it’s been the same meals have been appearing on our table: halibut or chicken with veggies for dinners. And lots of veggies with eggs on the weekends for brunch.

IMG_20141114_075438What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

Why is the media so quiet about events like this? Three shot in Jordan at a training facility (the exact training facility JB was teaching at last May). Where is the outraged media over this?

And speaking of outrage, seriously, what is up with these people and the “red cup” thing ? What a waste of energy, complaining over the design of a plain cup. I took a peek at some of my past photos of red cups (like the photo at the top of the page, which was in 2013) and didn’t see anything “Christian” on them. Since when does a plain red cup mean “non-Christian”?

And on that note, it’s time to sign off. We’ve broken down all the boxes for the recycling folks. JB is out raking leaves. And that means I have about a half our to go back into Scrivener and work on The Book.

Send wishes my way that I make some significant progress and have a solid almost-final draft by the end of this week.

Weekly Roundup: Fall Back Edition

I am so glad to settling into a full week at home. Either I am getting old or set in my ways when it comes travel these days because it seems harder to recover. Yet, I still love the adventure of it. It’s one of those oxymorons of living, I usinneworleansguess. Craziness.

Speaking of craziness. I just penned a short note to my letter writing friend about how I manage to fall back asleep when I wake at 2 or 3 in the morning WIDE awake. How, even if I don’t get a lot of solid sleep, I at least rest…but I forgot to share one small roadblock to it being successful: that’s if JB is also awake….and, more importantly, if he’s gotten out of bed and gone downstairs to the den.

Then, no matter how much I try to fall back asleep, without him there warming the other half of the bed, I just can’t. Instead, my fear of missing out kicks in. I throw on a nightgown and robe, slip into my slippers, and wander downstairs, where I ask if he’s ready for me to start the coffee.

This morning, it was 3 AM when he got up and by 4 AM I had joined him. Except, yes, wait for it…it was time to “fall back” which means it was really 2 AM that he got up and I was up at 3.

I cooked breakfast at 6:30: peppers, onions, tomatoes, ham, and spinach sauteed with eggs.

I have to laugh…and I can also tell you that I am really feeling it now that evening is drawing near….

What I’m Writing (& How it Dovetails with Work)

Writing felt hard this week, but I think it was still the vacation tiredness. Well, that, and I am still avoiding my office in lieu of the living room couch. But I pushed through and finally eeked out a blog post about Fear…and got the newsletter pulled together.

I wrote a blog post here on Tuesday morning, the one place I am giving myself permission to be very imperfect.

And I stepped way outside my comfort zone this week and applied to attend Dani Shapiro’s Sirenland Writer’s Workshop, which required a Statement of Purpose and an Application Piece. Prevously published work was allowed for the application piece, so I submitted a heavily modified version of A Leap of Faith for Love.

My main writing project for 2016 is going to be the memoir and, if chosen (and if I decide to fork over the $$), is what I want to some feedback on.  A Leap of Faith is in the vein  and tone of my vision for the memoir, which has been outlined for a year now (that’s the outline below).  And I did a naked modification of the piece, more raw and vulnerable than the version I shared in Summer Love Notes, when I was focusing on love and not the vulnerable spaces.

IMG_20141104_093319It’s more scary than I can express to put my work out there in such a manner.

When it comes to my coaching practice, it’s moving along at a “normal” pace. Sex Kitten is out in the world as is Clearing Brain Clutter. I need to finish the final edits of Clearing Soul Clutter as well as take the time to edit Clutter Busting and The Advent Series. OH! And in addition to blog posts and newsletters, I also need to release a new (free) ebook for Subscribers…to close out the year and prepare for 2016.

Yet, with all that on my mind, the main focus for next week is The Book. The Blog Book, Create a Life You Love. I want to have it *in hand* before Thanksgiving, which means I need to buckle down.

What I’m Reading

I am sitting here without a fiction book in progress at the moment which has me thinking, gee, I don’t have anything to read, yet I’ve read quite a bit in the last couple of weeks…

Before we left for vacation, I finished my book club book,  The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, and really enjoyed it. Book club was Tuesday and everyone loved it and it got us chatting about family secrets and undergarments after talking about Cora and her corset in the early days.  I also finished Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing by Nina Sankovitch, which has me thinking still about the letter writing process and what we are losing as a society with the shift away from paper to digital.

So, here is where I’m going to pull back the curtain on one of the issues rolling around in my head these days: keeping house. I can’t remember where I heard about Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson, but I was nodding my head as I read the first chapter about Mendelson’s “secret life”. She wrote about being part of a generation that was expected to work because being a housewife had no “value”…and that was my experience. Before I married, I had never cooked an entire meal, never washed a load of clothes, and never really learned to clean house beyond a little dusting or running a vacuum.  Though I’ve marked this book as “read”, I didn’t read every single line because she goes into such detail about every aspect of making a home. It’s a reference book, though, that I am needing for myself, so my search to purchase a good used copy is high on my list to find.

careerofevilMy vacation read was Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3)by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling).  I’ve enjoyed all of the Cormoran Strike books and Career of Evil did not disappoint. In fact, it was the best one yet. Yes, it’s very dark and twisted, but deliciously so. Then again, I have always been a fan of mystery and twisted stories that show the face of evil, yet, in the end, good triumphs.  It’s a real shame that Rowling unmasked and stripped of her anonymity because she obviously enjoyed the writing process as Galbraith..and wanted the books to be judged on their own and not compared to the Harry Potter books.

Speaking of twisted, the latest Patterson book, Murder House was also deliciously twisted. Like all Patterson’s novels, this was fast-paced. The heroine was realistically flawed (a cop with a drinking problem). It was “co-written” by David Ellis. After taking Patterson’s “Master Class” I know that means that Patterson wrote a detailed outline for each chapter, Ellis wrote from that outline to fill in all the dialog and details, and Patterson did a final edit. An efficient process which allows readers lots of Patterson books to choose from.

My new morning read (for now) is Rising Strong by Brené Brown. The coach in me feels obligated to read it, and I can only take a chapter or so at a time. It isn’t that it’s poorly written, it just makes me think about work and how to bring her research to doable tips for readers of my work blog. And since I am in the process of shifting my writing, that’s both good and bad.

I also have on my little reading table  The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. I haven’t dug into it much yet, but it may become an alternative morning read… or it may become the book I long to read at lunch and before bed. I don’t know yet…. .

What We’re Eating

I was looking forward to amazing meals in New Orleans….and honestly was disappointed. ‘Nuff said about that part of our trip…..

Today, I did some marathon cooking.  I spent an hour in the kitchen and…

  • I prepared beef stew for the crock pot. Beef, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, parsnips and corn.
  • halibut with veggies for lunch.We are on the edges of the Alaskan fishing season closing, so taking advantage of halibut as much as possible. I served it with a mix of peppers, onions, green beans, broccoli and spinach.
  • jumbo muffin sized quiches for weekday breakfasts, with breakfast sausage, peppers and spinach
  • jumbo muffin sized mini-meatloaf, made with a mix of ground chicken and beef and laced with grated zucchini and carrots as well as the usual meatloaf ingredients of onions, spices, and tomatoes. Instead of bread crumbs or crackers, I used oats.

The meatloaf and quiches will be tossed in the freezer…And the reason I did this marathon cooking was so that I can focus on WRITING and EDITING this week instead of getting distracted around making breakfast or lunches. Otherwise, I will distract myself with the NEED to find sustenance or head to the grocery store. It’s an easy way to procrastinate.

What I Am Obsessing Over

The letter writing is hitting all my buttons in a good way. I prefer paper over email and cannot imagine why we didn’t begin this sooner. I anxiously await each letter, savor it, savor it again, and then eagerly pen a response.

And on that note…the tiredness and the desire to move this evening forward are here. Make a little cornbread to accompany the beef stew and plan to be in bed by 9…

 

Weekly Round-Up: Imperfect Edition

A quick note: I began writing this on Sunday morning at my Mother-in-Law’s and before I knew it, it was time to shower and go – which means I didn’t get time to add photos. Instead of editing, re-writing, or deleting, I decided to let it publish as it is.

Because this blog, here, is my personal space to play with and I need to remind myself that it’s ok to be imperfect.

I couldn’t remember if it were Saturday or Sunday when I first woke. There are times, of course, that I don’t know the coffeeateileenshousedate, but not knowing the day makes me feel all itchy and uncomfortable.

We are in Chicago and I am out of my routine. The bed is different, not uncomfortable at all. Just different. As is the coffee and the coffee cups and a dozen other little things that provide a sense of connection to our life and, frankly, those little things are comforting.

So, despite the fact that I am the one that insisted to JB that we should come this weekend for his nephew’s birthday party, I am feeling a bit out of sorts.

I shake my head at myself and wonder when I became so inflexible? When did I become such a homebody? I used to travel heavily and for a period of time seemed to sleep better in hotels than I did in my own bed. After five years, his mom’s house is familiar and has always been welcoming, but this morning I am missing my chair in the bedroom , my blue coffee cup and our weekend mornings on the deck.

What I’m Writing (& How It Dovetails With Work)

When I think about it, I’m a little cranky today because I am stressing out about work. A four-day weekend (Columbus Day)  followed by another four-day weekend (this weekend) to be followed by our vacation to New Orleans (we leave on Thursday and return the following Monday) have my mind going in circles around What I Need To Do and worrying IF I can get it all DONE. And worrying about getting it all done distracts me from actually doing it.

I want to enjoy the long weekends and the vacation, but will my mind allow me to do that without worrying and feeling guilty?

After finalizing Sex Kitten last weekend, I moved back into writing consumable stuff for work mode. The blog post on overcoming past challenges and the newsletter were, again, all I wrote. Damn, damn, damn my mind chants.

So, what are we, my darling, to do about this mind chatter, the worry, the discomfort?  The cursing inner critic? Is it all my mind’s desire to keep me “safe” and stop me from working on editing my Book, which I am determined to finish before the holidays? Or is my mind bored with writing blog posts for work each week because it’s ready to move forward into other kinds of writing?

Our minds are tricky and creative when it comes to keeping us from doing things that are scary.

I, of course, want to stay consistent and do my writing for work. It’s an ethical contract with my newsletter subscribers. And frankly, with myself. So, I must again, this week, write a blog post, write the newsletter and I don’t wish to work on work while we’re on vacation, because that puts me out of my integrity to honor our time to relax on vacation…..

What I’m Reading

I am currently reading both The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, which is the October book club book as well as

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing by Nina Sankovitch, after Becca recommended it. I’m enjoying them both immensely.

I also read Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti with delightful illustrations by Marion Bolognese. I am so grateful that I read it in hard copy instead of digitally because the printed book was just beautiful.

What We’re Eating

Traveling and staying with family means not as much control over my diet as I like.

At home, we had our basics: eggs with veggies for breakfast and chicken for dinner. We had pizza and salad for dinner Friday, and pizza and appetizers (cheese and crackers and celery) for dinner Saturday. It’s hard to control what you eat at the homes of others when you are “family” and can root around in the fridge without feeling like you’re snooping, yet aren’t the one in on control of what’s going on the table for everyone to eat or even what might be in said fridge. I always go to the grocery store when we are there for a few days, in part to bring in a few things we love but also to make sure we don’t go through all the milk and juice (something JB wouldn’t think about because he rarely goes to the grocery store).

We had chili at the birthday party, and that was wonderful and felt more “me”.

I mentioned I had cut back on processed carbs and after 3 weeks (virtually) gluten free, eating a little bit of gluten upset my stomach a little and made my skin a little itchy.

One of the attractions to New Orleans is the food scene, and I don’t want to “diet” while we are there, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a bit more choosy. We do, though, have reservations each day for brunch and I cannot wait to explore the culture.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

I am still grateful for the letter writing project, though we hit our very first snag when a letter didn’t arrive in the typical ” two days” time. I am hoping that when we return and the mail hold is released, I’ll have mail.

On Saturday morning, I set out by myself to have coffee with a colleague that lives in the Chicago area. I am so very glad that I reached out to her because we had a great conversation and talked not just about coaching, but writing and how we want to manage our careers. I told her about my plans for the book as well as how I am managing all of the work: from getting all of my blog posts together to the compilation and editing process. How I want to write a few new pieces and some connecting pieces. And my desire to self-publish before the holidays. She does a lot of speaking engagements and not having a book means she has nothing to leave with folks if they connect with her, so she’s going to do the same.

To sit face to face with someone and share similar dreams and differing dreams goes a long, long way.

Here’s to imperfection and vacation. I may or may not write next week since we’ll be in New Orleans.

The Weekly Round-Up: Columbus Day Edition

It’s Columbus Day Weekend and my schedule is off kilter. JB has some vacation days that need to be used before the earlymorninglightend of the calendar year, so we picked individual days that would dovetail with holidays to extend our weekends together. So, he came home on Thursday evening and didn’t return back to work until Tuesday morning…an extended weekend mode of living has been in effect.  The calendar may say today is Tuesday,but it feels like a Monday…and I am 2 days late here…but hopefully not a dollar short. 😉

Mostly weekend mode for us includes no alarm clocks and spending most of the morning out on the deck. Despite my usual love of mornings, I haven’t gotten out of bed before 8:30 all week. My body is obviously craving more sleep, but when I have my first cup of coffee so late in the day, I look at the clock and kind of panic: where has my DAY gone???

Mornings are my productive hours, so I am feeling a combination of relaxed thanks to the extra sleep but stressed thanks to not “getting enough done” each day.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The treadmill of To Do Lists is that there will always be items on the list, so trying to get everything done isn’t a possibility now, is it?

This photo, by the way, was done in response to a prompt from Catherine Just to show “inside light” but I think it fits the theme of a long weekend in the early fall.

What I’m Writing (& How It Dovetails with Work)

Let’s begin with the fact that it was a Busy Coaching Week. I am so energized by my clients and in AWE of the way they are choosing to do their work and immerse themselves fully into their life and their art.

sexkitten_gumroad_onepaymentI finished the final edits on Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar on Saturday! I cannot tell you how good it feels to complete that project. After the final round of edits, I reduced the book down to 52 Lessons in 6 Modules and 356 pages. I could have shortened that a tad more if I had deleted the intro page for each lesson, but that made the text feel overcrowded. In addition to the Book, I created a companion Workbook so that folks could more easily print out the exercises and worksheet…it weighs in at 131 pages.

I also discovered – quite by accident – that my choice to use Gumroad means purchasers of Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar can send the document to their Kindle as a way to read it if they don’t want to read the eBook on their computer screen.

It was another week, though, of not much writing. Just eeking out the blog post about presence and happiness and finishing the newsletter is the best that I managed to do, despite the fact that my YourTango Editor sent me a study on clutter that ties right into my brand. I got the article about the study drafted, but it isn’t finished…so, of course, this is where that Inner Critic of mine pipes up and says – well, if you would have gotten up early this weekend instead of sleeping in with JB, you could have finished that article.

And in all honesty…maybe my inner critic is right. Then again, maybe that Inner Critic is wrong. Wrong because as much as I love words and crafting words, I’m was feeling overwhelmed with words with the looming deadline of completing the editing of Sex Kitten, which wound up just over 79,000 words.

Please know that I am not complaining, I am being nakedly honest about what the process of immersion in my own words does emotionally and physically.  I think we need to be honest about how the process of making our art does to us. Otherwise, we can be cruel  and critical masters to ourselves and demand unreasonable amounts of output.

Because, there are still meals to cook, laundry to be washed, and people to spend time with.

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-Magic5I believe that will continue to be my challenge during the next few months. This balance of being immersed in my words, not beating myself up for not getting enough done, and still living my life.  To continue to move towards that next deadline – the one for my Book.

What I’m Reading

I picked up Big Magic as my morning read. I had the book on my little table by the chair since it came out but had been letting it sit there after only reading the first couple of chapters. Until, that is, a girlfriend insisted that I needed it. NOW. And she was right. I did need it… I highlighted some of the text, of course, and will be referring back to some of it in the coming months.

I read The Luckiest Girl Alive. I kept reading it, wanting to like it more, hoping to “get” it. And even though I finished the book, I didn’t connect with any of the characters as they felt surreal and made me think if THIS is what the young 20’s are like, no wonder I don’t get them.

And then…because I was so tired of my own words…I did some re-reading and dove back into Catherine Coulter’s early romances about the Sherbrooke Family – and shamelessly read 5 of the first 6 books in the series. Sometimes, we just need mind candy with predictable little endings. I read these while JB played XBox or while sitting next to him while the Chicago Cubs played baseball.

What We’re Eating

Veggies. Eggs. Veggies. Eggs. Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. Are we sensing a theme here?

I typically cook a big brunch on the weekends…and so for four days we had Veggies and Eggs – red onions, multi-colored bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and spinach sauteed and then combined with eggs for a fritta like meal. Some days, I added a bit of ham or a sprinkle of cheese.  Served up with juice (orange for him, tomato for me) and Toast (for him).

Dinner has been predicable this week: Chicken with veggies, either tomatoes and spinach or just spinach.  Rice or Pasta (for JB – I’m still trying to minimize my intake of starchy carbs). Oh, and BEANS. Last night I made skillet BBQ Chicken and served it alongside some dark red kidney beans that had been sauteed with some onions and tomatoes.

I am desperate to spend more time in the kitchen, but I have to take the advice I give to clients: you cannot do EVERYTHING. You can’t create NEW RECIPES and EDIT A TON all on the same day or maybe even the same week. So, in crunch times, I go back to our tried and true meals. Fueling us with quality protein and great veggies….and reminding myself that just because I am laying off the starchy carbs doesn’t mean JB has to. It takes next to nothing to throw together some cornbread, rice or pasta for him.

And….I did amazing when it comes to managing my food. I didn’t stress eat a bag of chips or endless pieces of toast. And two weeks of reduction in those floury carbs is showing in my skin. I have this spot of eczema on my hand and I thought I’d experiment with eliminating gluten just to see if it helped…and it has. I don’t think I have a real gluten allergy, I think I had just so overwhelmed my body with gluten that it needed a bit of a break.

A grocery store run is on the top of the list of MUST do’s today. Because, we are out of eggs and veggies. And out of chicken.

What I Am Obsessing Over

Remember when I mentioned not loving “campers” at the coffee shop or bookstores? Well, last week I was struggling to finish my blog post. The internet can be such a delicious distraction and I tell myself that “I’m working” if I’m lunchandlearncafeposting on Twitter or Facebook….or diving into research for an article.

So, I went to the Bookstore in an attempt to be in a quiet space without internet. I decided to treat myself to a little lunch (and buying things there helps keep the Bookstore open). Lunch was delicious yet there were two other women working there…and BOTH OF THEM WERE ON THE PHONE.

One woman ended her call and  left, but the other woman talked on the phone the entire time (over 30 minutes) and, dear Lord, she was LOUD. Like no headset, speaking UP so the person could hear her loud. I had my lunch, did very little work and went back home.

And the thing is – I want to understand this new phenomenon of people working in public places. I know they say that all the great writers wrote in Paris cafes and were surrounded by their fellows. Now, they gather with their electronics and conduct business as if the public space were their private office.

((And call me Miss Manners, but often I see these folks bring in their breakfast or lunch and maybe buy a coffee, but not always.))

I want to know WHY they do this. Why they choose the places the choose. Why they stay there all day. WHY they don’t work at home or at their office.  I am not speaking of students who are studying and away from their dorm or roommates or the homeless in a big city seeking respite from the weather. I am talking about middle class folks, driving nice cars, wearing nice clothes and having a lot of expensive electronics in tow.

Becca Rowan wrote on Sunday about her desire to know about the routines of writers…and I am the same. So, I want to understand this new subculture of people working in public spaces.

When I mentioned this obsession of wanting to know why – to understand this – JB pointed out that I am THERE TOO. And I tried to explain to him that on occasion, I want a change of scenery or just need to be around people.  Or like when we were in Boston and I needed to get work done and the hotel internet was too slow.

But many of my observations have been when I pop into Starbucks to buy a pound of coffee and the same people are there that were there the week before and three weeks before. They are there at 7:30 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon. And when I worked from Barnes and Noble that time in Boston, the same people were there each day, in the same chairs, watching movies on their iPads or surfing on their laptops.

I am honestly considering doing some research – interviewing some of these folks, asking others to fill out a survey. I think there is *something* here in this. It’s like the little inspiration fairy visited me and told me to satisfy my curiosity and see what is shifting in the way we work.

I’m open to suggestions on where to go with this survey and the research…

The week ahead is a short one. We’re heading to Chicago on Friday to attend a family gathering and won’t return til Monday, so we have another 4 day weekend on the books.

Here’s to being productive til then.

The Weekly Round Up: Black Tie Edition

Late on Friday afternoon, I donned evening make-up:heavier than usual base, smoky eyes, heavy brows and even mascara, which I don’t tend to wear. I had been to the hair dresser earlier in the day to tame my curls. Then, it was october_dresseduppursetime to slip into clothes.

I say “slip”, like it was easy, but when’s the last time you “slipped” into a strapless bra? Being rather endowed, my strapless bra has an industrial level band with five hooks and it must be as tight as possible. Sometimes, help is involved in this step. Then, it was time for pantyhose – silky nude control-top pantyhose – which I know is old fashioned these days but one of the things this Southern Gal hasn’t shed yet. Then came…the dress. Floor length, cornflower blue chiffon. Help isn’t an option here, but a necessity. It’s impossible to zip on my own.

Ah….then for the final touches. High heeled patent leather pumps. Sparkly jewelry. Bold lips, thanks to treating myself to a new L’Absolu Rouge Définition lipstick from Lancome in Le Pourpre.

A break in primping to assist JB…who has been showering, shaving and dressing while I was…he’s in his tuxedo pants and shirt, cummerbund in place, and a holding a bow-tie in need of tying, which I do after watching a YouTube video a couple of times.

JB grabs his jacket. I grab my evening bag, which only has room for my phone and a lipstick, but nothing more. I toss an elegant black shawl across my bare shoulders. And we head out the door to attend the National Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.

We arrive at the museum at 5:30 and begin with wine and mingling. We shake hands with Gene Krantz, and inductee october_alldressedupand greet another man being honored that evening, Jim Lovell. We greet our table-mates and enjoy stories and conversation…and then, the ceremonies, where there are more stories, from family members and friends and the inductees, including an escape from the Nazi’s through the underground tunnels of Paris from General Robert Cardenes.

Then…home around midnight. Where I am too wired to sleep, so we have a glass of wine and share our impressions of the night.

What I’m Writing  (& How it Dovetails with Work)

I am deep within an editing phase, and frankly am still not writing. Well, of course, I am writing some, like a blog post and newsletter, but eeking out any other fresh words has been an ongoing challenge. I have the pressure of some deadlines and those deadlines are wrapped around editing.

My most urgent deadline is the Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar book and associated workbook. I am on the 3rd draft of this book and finally got all of my formatting issues worked out so that my Table of Contents appears the way I desire it to…. And to be frank, this project took the lion’s share of my attention last week.

I got a letter from my girlfriend yesterday and it has me thinking in different terms still about my soul-level need to put words to paper. In some ways, my need to successfully complete these projects within their timeline is hampering that next step for me.

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-MagicHow can I take that next step if I haven’t successfully closed the open projects?

What I’m Reading

I fell in love with The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. The story of family and coming home to ourselves.

I began reading Big Magic this past week, but put it down in pursuit of editing. I can read fluffy fiction when I am feeling all the pressure from my deadlines, but am feeling more challenged to read for inspiration or education.

What We’re Eating

I’m still in pursuit of more veggies, so they are making their way into eggs in the mornings and drinkable pureed soups at lunch. I shared a cauliflower soup recipe in the newsletter this week. I made the exact same soup with broccoli, too.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

The latest round of school shootings and lost soldiers is hurting my heart.

What I Am Obsessing Over

It’s BULB time. All those bulbs I ordered earlier this year need to be planted. It was a lot easier ordering a couple october_lovellandkrantzdozen of this variety, and a half dozen of that….but when it comes to planting them, all those dozens begin to add up. Especially when you realize that yep, each one of those bulbs needs it’s own little hole dug into the earth.  Earlier today, I planted 64 tulips in the front. Then, I ran out of energy.

I still have around three dozen tulips to plant in the back along with 2 1/2 dozen daffodils. And, I need to buy chicken wire, to hopefully guard all those bulbs from becoming lunches for the neighboring squirrels and chipmunks.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

It all comes down to story. The highlight of Friday night, of course, were all the stories from the individuals being honored, the folks around our table, and even the stories behind an airplane here or there. Stories are the juice of living…

I had such a delightful evening with JB. Dear, Lord, that man excites me.

And I know I mention it almost every week, but the letter writing experiment is still inspiring me. Forcing myself to not go for the instant gratification of a response…forcing myself to dig a little deeper, be more honest and more vulnerable is a daring and loving adventure.

What’s been the highlight of your week? What’s floating your boat? What are you reading?

The Weekly Round-Up: The Bookstore Edition

Last weekend, a new bookstore opened up near us…. The Booksellers at Austin Landing. I can’t express how excited I bookstorecafeam to be able to walk in and be surrounded by books, magazines, bookish gifts, and people who are dedicated to the reading experience.  Their cafe, Pages, serves pastries, coffee and tea, of course, but also makes sandwiches, salads and soups. And, as a morning person, I was beyond delighted that the store opens at 7 AM during the week.

I took all my letter writing gear with me Wednesday morning, lingered over a latte, and basked in the environment as I wrote.

Right now, they don’t have WiFi available, which I see as a blessing, because it also means they don’t have the “campers” yet like every other coffee spot and bookstore in the area.  Hooray! It was such a peaceful experience, unlike the last few times I’ve tried to duck into a coffee shop or bookstore to get a little bit of writing done.

I know that sounds judgmental, but my experience is that when people become daily campers at a coffee shop, they seem to lose any sense of polite behavior. They spread out all their stuff and stay for hours and hours. They watch their videos without headsets and talk to their fellow campers across the way. They talk on their phones – loudly. They smoke outside the entrance despite the “no smoking” signs.

But I digress.

Bookstores have always been a happy place for me. And a bookstore that is minutes away (and even a bike-able distance) feels like a gift.

What I’m Writing

It was frankly a week of indulging in all of my bad writing habits: no morning writing, avoiding my desk, and writing in the living room.  I know these are bad habits, yet because so much of my writing time has been devoted to the copy-paste-format-edit process of converting classes to book formats, my office has felt stifling.

I did write a fresh piece for the work blog describing my Annual Review Process.  And does THIS count as writing?

What’s Happening with Work

This entire week has been focused on getting those courses that used to be delivered via email into book format. sexkitten_101215While on the surface it sounds easy, it hasn’t been simple. A thirty-day course morphs into a 90 page book and the year-long course is upwards of 450 pages.

Thank God for good (and honest) friends. Editing, I think, is harder than creating sometimes.

I’ve got, what I believe, is the “final” version for 30 Days to Clarity: Clearing Brain Clutter now. I’m going to begin soft sales next month through Gumroad for the eBook version….and a push to have it available on Amazon as a printed book by Christmas.

30 Days to Clarity: Clearing Soul Clutter is about 80% completed as a compiled book. The email courses actually ran 31 days + a Post Class Reminder instead of 30 Days and I’m editing it to a pure 30 days with any bonus material in the front.

Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar is in it’s second draft as a book.  I’m did a major editing on the order of the lessons and all the worksheets that accompany each lesson… It still needs three new lessons written, a shift to take all the assignments from the end of the lesson to being segregated with the worksheets, and then a final “fine-tooth-comb” edit.  Oh, and another round of formatting to ensure the Table of Contents only contains titles. I’ll also be creating a Workbook to accompany the book, but that will be about and then the fine-tooth-comb edit.

What I’m Reading

I haven’t been reading much this week. I abandoned my morning read so that I could edit.

I finished reading the Death of Santini .  It was beautifully written in a painful sort of way if that makes sense? Exquisite pain? Thoroughly enjoyed our book club discussion about it.

This weekend I read Catherine Coulter’s The End Game. It’s written with her new writing partner  JT Ellison. Fast paced, totally enjoyable, still one of my favorite authors when it comes to romance and thrills and intrigue.

On tap for this coming week are Blue: a Novel by Kayce Stevens Hughlett and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What We’re Eating

In an attempt to up my protein and veggie intake and step away from the bread, I’m finding I’m eating lots of eggs breakfastscrambled together with veggies, drinking tomato or V8 juice, and wrapping lunch meat with lettuce leaves. Making a salad for lunch feels like too much work, so I made a small batch of Creamed Cauliflower Soup this week to have with my little lettuce wraps and that’s been pretty wonderful.

I’m finding I’m not missing the pasta or rices at dinner, though I am happily making a single batch to serve with JB’s portion of dinner. Again, salads are feeling like a lot of work to not make, but EAT. So I’ve been tossing veggies into the pan along with the chicken or sauteing spinach to go with fish.

Tonight, I’m making my first batch of chili of the season!

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

I attended a “Going Away” party for one of JB’s co-workers this Friday.  We’ve traveled together and he’s one of the guys that I’ve gotten a chance to know and just LIKE him. So I wanted an opportunity to say Goodbye before he left.

I am so grateful for the ability to travel with JB and meet his co-workers. I like to get a sense of the folks he spends so many hours with on a daily basis. I was grateful to meet folks I hadn’t met before and reacquaint myself with folks I’ve met but haven’t seen in ages.  To put faces with names.

What I didn’t like, though, was “THAT Group of Women”.  Not a single one of the ladies smiled at me nor spoke to me, even when I smiled and said hello. They looked me over head-to-toe, whispered with each other, and one poor gal about had whiplash from all her subversive glances as me. I could feel the waves of hostility and dislike.

What is it about some women that they have to be….judgmental, unfriendly, and hostile towards other women? Especially in this situation when I am a co-worker’s significant other…and am in no competition for good assignments or for the attention of any co-workers?

What the hell is that about? And who wants to put that kind of energy into the world??

What I Am Obsessing Over

Fall Television. I am so happy that there is new fall television to enjoy. The best tongue-in-cheek new show I’ve watched is Scream Queens on Fox and the best new Intrigue is NBC’s “Blindspot”.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

Writing letters is still a beautiful experience. I can’t wait to GET a letter and read it several times before I write writingincafeback…and the writing process is intimate and thoughtful. Like a conversation over drinks.

Book club was just delightful. Great discussion, delicious snacks, perfect fall evening (we sat outside on the patio) and so much laughter. A small group of us stayed until after 10:30.

The weather. After the goodbye party, we stopped for dinner on the way home and at al fresco at Brio. What a treat it is to sit outside and enjoy a nice meal. Good food, perfect company and great people watching.

And you know how I feel about JB, but it was nice to hear some of my thoughts reflected back to me by one of his coworkers. He told me how BRILLIANT JB is…and, I agree 😉

This week, I am determined to finish Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar, write some fresh content for my book, and get a solid beginning of a draft for the book.

We also have tickets to a fancy dinner Friday night, so I’m looking forward to getting all dressed up

What’s on tap for your week? What light can you shed on the “haters”? What IS up with some women? What are you eating?

Weekly Roundup: Kitchen Duty Edition

I fell back in love with my kitchen this week. In the last few months, it had become simply a place to Get Things tub_racksDone. To launch JB into the day with coffee and breakfast and lunch. To efficiently manage my morning coffee and some sort of sustenance for lunch (most days). To pull together an evening meal that was nutritious and easy.

There was no lingering, no leaning in and the passion for foods I had when I purchased them at the grocery store waned by the time they were ready to become meals. It’s an internal tragedy to love and care about food yet no longer feel connected to my space to create with it.

I signed up for The Kitchn’s “Cure” series and in the midst of week two when the task to Clean the Oven came up, my apathy for my kitchen lifted from my heart as I soaked away the baked on crud from the oven racks.

Cleaning. Clearing Clutter. Getting Things In Order. These save me time and time again.

What I’m Writing

I had a great writing day on Monday and turned out this week’s work blog “Want to Shift? Read Differently. Act. Do the Work.

The rest of the writing this week was painfully slow with zero progress on the book in the way of new words, but it’s been a great week of editing, all work related.

What’s Happening with Work

ClearingBrainClutter_AdI finally finished the first version of the book version of 30 Days to Clarity: Clearing Brain Clutter. It’s in the hands of the current class participants and I sent it off to one long-time client and friend to give me an opinion. I got started on the process of creating the 30 Days to Clarity: Clearing Soul Clutter into book format as well.

I completed the first draft of taking Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar into a book and am kind of freaked out that it’s over 400 pages long and I still need to add in worksheets for about 1/3 of the exercises. The course, in the new format, goes on sale October 12th.

What I’m Reading

There was one more Cozy Mystery on my Kindle that was demanding my attention and it didn’t disappoint:  Fudging the Books by Daryl Woods Gerber. It’s the next Cookbook Nook mystery and as a fan of food, humor, personable characters and books, it’s a great respite for my brain.

I zoomed through Lessons from Madame Chic between Friday and Saturday evenings. It has been recommended to me ages ago and I’d put it on hold at the library. The core of the book speaks to me: choose to live a quality, well-lived daily life. But too much Frenchy Love for me.

For my morning read, I am slowly diving into Handling the Truth: on the Writing of Memoir. It’s doing exactly what I demand of a good morning read for me: it’s causing me to pause over the language and it’s forcing me to think. It’s pushing my boundaries in a lot of good ways.

I’m almost finished with  The Death of Santini. Though the first few chapters were a bit too graphic in their description of childhood beatings and the psychotic break of Conroy’s sister, the underlying theme of the book is important to all of us humans – family, forgiveness and love. I have to admit the chapter on his sister, Carol Ann, was painful to read for a lot of reasons…but I’ve parented a combative child who held in her core the need to shake things up and prove she was right at the sacrifice of any peace in home and it’s exhausting.   Bookclub is on Tuesday, so I’ll be finishing it this tonight or tomorrow.

gsw-audio-coverI finally read / listened to Go Set a Watchman. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorite books and I wanted to read more from the brilliant Harper Lee. But all the controversy surrounding the publication of the book – did she agree to have it published or was she coerced? would it damage her legacy?  THEN the first reviews of people freaking out about Atticus being a Racist…frankly had me reluctant to pick it up, even though I had pre-ordered it months and months ago.

Though I had purchased the book, I put the recording of the book (done by Reese Witherspoon) on hold at the library and when it came my turn to have it, I couldn’t put it off any longer. So, I began listening as I ran errands – a snippet here, a snippet there.

One of the things I loved about Mockingbird carries through to Watchman: the language is beautifully, achingly, and brilliantly written. It’s Southern Literature. The core of the story is about the coming of age of a young woman who discovers her father isn’t perfect. As a child, she put him on a pedestal and as a young woman, she discovers her father is flawed. Many of his core characteristics are still there, but the fact that he sees the world differently than Jean Louise shatters her identity.

And the thing is…when we come of age, we must shatter that first identity, the one that mimics the belief of our parents. We must grow a conscious based on our own beliefs and experiences, not through emulating our parents or parroting their beliefs.

I do see where the book is flawed, like any book. I also looked at the book from the perspective of the writer when she was writing it. To expect the novel to be politically correct to 2015 is where I think too many folks got hung up on their view of the book.

It was written by a young, southern woman during the tumultuous civil rights era and she was trying to make sense of the world – her beliefs that all men are created equal and should be given the same opportunities as their fellow man no matter what their religious beliefs or skin color may be grew out of how she was raised and how she became her own Watchman to her morals instead of relying on her father to do so.

What We’re Eating

IMG_20150513_101914It’s been a fishy and veggie week here. Halibut and salmon as well as some Machong…all alongside the end of the summer veggies – corn, zucchini, tomatoes and such. Yesterday, I spend a solid hour in the kitchen cleaning and prepping salad greens and other veggies to prep for the week.

I also made a fresh batch of mayo this week.  It’s perfect as a base for sauces and dips and healthier than what I could buy at the store.

Veggie prep because, dear God, I do not eat enough veggies. I have them at dinner every night, but my lunches and breakfasts are barren in the veggie department.  When it comes to eating, my go-to-comfort food is a carb of some sort: crackers, toast, bread, sandwiches, chips or biscuits. All Hail the Perfect Buttermilk Biscuit. I don’t believe in demonizing any food group, but I think I need to give my body a break from all the heavy carbs to rest and reset a little.

So, I’m going to experiment with no grain related carbs for a couple of weeks and see if it helps me break my cravings. And, in all honesty, to see if cutting back on grains will help my dry skin as we edge into cooler months.

What I Am Obsessing Over

How the heck am I going to get all my courses to digital format and easily in the hands of people that want to buy them? Right now, all my courses are delivered manually and the free eBooks are delivered thanks to the magic of Mailchimp. However, I need to get out of the middle of these transactions, so that when someone clicks on PURCHASE, they get the item automatically.

I’m leaning towards Gumroad right now as the delivery vehicle for both Sex Kitten and all the 30 Days Courses, but my obsession is, of course, is it the right choice? One that is good for me and also good for clients.

But the learning curve is exhausting and I am obsessing over how to make it Work RIGHT.

What I’m Shaking My Head Over

I had registered for an in-person, six week fiction course that was to be held on Tuesday mornings. I rescheduled all my regular Tuesday Morning activities. As I’ve been telling a friend, I am longing to be with people doing their creative work. Not just virtually, but face to face. Then, late Monday night, I got an email cancelling the class due to not enough people signing up. There was a promise of rescheduling and a future discount,  but no news so far (and frankly, no refund yet).

I have to admit I am disappointed in not just the class being cancelled, but the lack of communication and customer service about it.  The teacher of the course is a multi-published, well respected local author that I know. I was looking forward to her professional view of the writing life….  But that her colleague managing the registrations has yet to respond to update me or refund the course fees has me shaking my head.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk about it, to be honest. I have a small collection of trusted editor friends and readers and opening myself up to strangers is super scary, but necessary for growth. That it didn’t happen made me frustrated and sad. Goodness that sounds dire and melodramatic 😉 .

What’s Really Floating My Boat

Is it crazy that despite a challenging week, my daily life is still floating my boat? Day in and day out, showing up and being present HERE in this experience is still what sets me on fire.

The letter writing is still fascinating me as well. I was so excited to get the next letter yesterday and can’t wait to sit and reply.

I have a busy week ahead: a doctor’s appointment in Cincinnati and several coaching calls this week as well as a Goodbye Party for one of JB’s co-workers on Friday. I also have one full, glorious day of no appointments which will be the designated Writing day.

Weekly Round-Up: Hints of Fall

On Saturday morning,  I reached for the sweatpants instead of my comfy knit shorts for my lounging wear. Though I’d prefer not to live in sweatpants, of course, it was just another sign that fall is indeed on the way. After spending septembersunsetmost of my years in Texas, where the seasons are either “brown” or “green”, I embrace everything fall offers here in the Midwest, especially the opportunity to spend all day on the deck and open the windows!

Somehow, we sleep better with fresh air flowing through the windows than we do with air conditioning or heat.

What I’m Writing

I’ve continued with my 750 Words practice and have discovered when I type in the stream-of-consciousness way, I can write those 750 words in about 12 minutes. Otherwise…goodness, it’s been another challenging week when it comes to words on paper. ‘Nuff Said 😉

What’s Happening with Work

A short work week for me, as JB was off on Monday and Tuesday. I coached on Wednesday and Thursday. Edited Are Your Desires Always Last On The List? which I had written two weeks ago and as most blog posts do when I let them sit for more than a day, it morphed a bit. The newsletter was completed on Friday early in the day and I called it a WEEK.

What I’m Reading

I finally finished An Altar in the World . It was a good choice for a spiritual morning read…but to be honest, I liked the first half of the book better than the last.  The beginning of the book was deeply spiritual and I was able to really connect, however, the end became a bit more preachy, which doesn’t work for me in the same way. I like uplifting, loving, and connecting when it comes to my spirituality and in many ways I was on the same page with Taylor, especially that the entire world around us is ripe for sacred connection. But show me and tell me stories….

I indulged in lots of cozy mysteries again this week. It wasn’t on my plan, yet when the library loads me up, who am I to say “NO”? 😉

I read the most recent Juliet Blackwell  Lily Ivory book, Spellcasting in Silk. Strong women, great cast of supporting characters, a lovable familiar and lots of info on Vintage Clothes.

I really love Ellery Adams newest series: “Book Retreat Mysteries” series. Book two, Murder in the Paperback Parlor was a delicious follow up to the first book. Likable and humorous cast of folks and a relatable heroine, Jane Steward. That the series is about all things books doesn’t hurt my enjoyment, either.

I began reading the Death of Santini  finally. It’s a little slow going as the violence sends me back to Cozy Reads. Book club is on the 22nd, so I need to get cracking this week!

I haven’t settled on my next morning read, and that has shifted my morning routines and not necessarily in a good septemberbananapancakesway. I need to address that this week.

What We’re Eating

It’s been a good food week overall.  JB asked me Saturday if I could please make pancakes, something I haven’t done in over a year, so I said YES and proceeded to make the most perfect weekend breakfast ever. I made banana pancakes with a rough take on a recipe from Clinton Street Bakery. I alter it, though, by replacing half the flour with a whole wheat pastry flour. I usually like to make it with buttermilk instead of regular milk, but I didn’t have any. So, it was a down and dirty and messy project that was well worth it.

Of course, I made too many, but did you know you can freeze pancakes? Yep, just wrap ’em in waxed paper and put in a freezer bag. Then, warm ’em up by placing them in the oven (or even the toaster if you haven’t put any fruit in them). I made banana pancakes, which will be amazing with peanut butter on those leftovers.

Breakfast today was scrambled eggs, toast, and sliced of beautiful Amish tomatoes.

septemberdinnerOtherwise, this was a heavy fish week when it comes to dinner. The Alaskan fishing season is drawing to a close which means no more wild fresh fish, so we are indulging. Salmon alongside little filled pastas, Salmon with blistered cherry tomatoes.

Saturday night’s dinner was a pure homage to the end of summer: wild halibut served with a 5 grain mix and all the summer veggies: two kinds of onions, bell peppers, an ear of corn, a yellow zucchini and a healthy handful of spinach.

I’m beginning to long for more complex meals. The process of chopping veggies is like active meditation for me and nothing beats the act of taking raw ingredients and creating something from them that nourishes us physically and spiritually.

In an email conversation with a dear friend this week about food, I realized that cooking was the first place I reclaimed my creativity after my divorce.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

I’m so grateful that I don’t have to deal with Office Drama and Office Politics. JB was only in the office for three days this week thanks to the holiday, but there was Drama every day. While I love hearing the stories because they make such great fodder for fictional tales, I hate that he has to witness unprofessional behaviors and adults acting like middle schoolers.

He’s like me in that he doesn’t like conflict, so I feel bad that he’s having to work in that environment. Occasionally gets dragged in for an “opinion” to the situation, and while I know he can provide wise counsel, no one wants to be a part of the drama….except those folks that love it, of course.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

I started lifting weights again this week.

I had forgotten how much I love approaching my body with focus and reverence as I lift. Back in another life, I got up at 4 AM so that I could be at the gym before work and worked with a really wonderful trainer. I just hadn’t found anyone here that I liked to work out with.  So, I dug into the Lift to Get Lean book by Holly Perkins and chose one of her plans (the Newbie Plan), which is to lift two days a week with a plan for 90 days.

Thanks to years of working with a really excellent trainer, I understand the basics of lifting which allowed me to choose some substitutes for exercises that required a gym.   I may not be a newbie when it comes to weight lifting, september_pancakemessbut it’s been many years since I have lifted regularly!

To keep me on track, I’ve scheduled my workout sessions in the calendar already. Yep, appointments just like a call with a client or any other important thing.

Of course, life in general is floating my boat. Yes, I am frustrated when it comes to my writing and feeling a tad stressed out about my 4th Quarter deadlines for work.

But life is so sweet.  Messy, yes, but life is supposed to be messy. (Like this glorious after-pancake view of the kitchen)

Each day, I get to wake up next to a man that I don’t just love, but like and respect. And I’ve never had this level of support in my life. Not as a child, not in my first marriage….

I love the little things about our life, like matching shirts and ties to his suits so he has an easier morning. I like sitting on the deck watching the golfers as they search for lost balls. I’m glad I don’t have to hustle to be loved or seek some imaginary success based on the terms of others.

This is it. and IT is perfect in all it’s imperfections.

Hope you have a great week.

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