Sunday, December 22, 2019

Update before Christmas 2019

Christmas trees outside of the library.

We're now 3 days away from Christmas and I’ve been on maternity leave from the library since the 14th of December. I spent my last evening at a work Christmas party so I wasn’t as melancholy about being away from my regular people as much as I could have been. However, it was insanely weird to not be at the library on Monday and not be expected to be at work all last week. I got listless and bored quickly, but being as heavily pregnant as I am now (only 1 week and 3 days left until my due date) I am way too tired to even consider being on my feet in the office or the library anymore.

For example, today I took two naps and it’s not even 11:30PM.

But everything is fine with Baby Pick. He is estimated to be 9.9lbs according to our last scan/ultrasound, so once we speak to the doctor on Christmas Eve, we’ll have a plan as to what to do as far as delivery is concerned. I think they’re gunning for induction the week of New Year’s, which I’m not keen on, but we’ll see what they say.

While I’ve been home, I’ve gotten a lot of Christmas wrapping done in case I’m otherwise engaged at the hospital or something. We bought all of our groceries last Friday so the house is full of snacks and everything we need for a traditional Christmas dinner (turkey crown, turkey gravy, rolls, parsnips, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, pigs in blankets, stuffing balls, and brussel sprouts). I haven’t done anything really and I feel incredibly bad that Mister Pick has had to do all the things to get ready for Baby and the holidays. Fingers crossed I recover quickly after Baby arrives. I miss walking the dog in the mornings.

Now that I’m off work and have some waiting around time, I’ve picked up The Cheerleaders as my current Kindle read. I also want to get back to writing and I’m itching to start crafting a project. I have the idea that I’ll just write all the books and so many authors who are writing all genres of YA and MG just make me all the more motivated to get back to the task of creativity. It’s something I really do miss.

And it’s not like I don’t have tons of ideas and topics I’ve jotted down over the last year to keep me busy. The idea of flexing and toning those muscles of creativity really is true and when you get out of the groove of it because of life and whatnot, it’s even more daunting to get back to it.

With Baby on the way and New Year’s approaching, I’ve also been in the mindset of setting some goals for 2020. I admit that it’s all very traditional: be a good mom, be a good wife, get back to a healthy weight, run my 5K again, write all the books, and things like that.

So hopefully during my next post I can update everyone on how that’s going and maybe Baby Pick will have shown up in the world to give me a little more motivation and a little more understanding of what’s most important in the world. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

October prepping and returning from vacation


It's October! We're back from our holidays and went from 35C/95F temperatures to 8C/48F. It's appropriately autumnal in Newcastle with the fog and the rain, as is expected. While we were away it only rained maybe a couple of times and we spent two glorious weeks in Disney, Universal, and Cocoa Beach.

What I took home from the trip were a couple of bags of flavored coffee, some Christmas ornaments (because this year will be quite special), some baby onesies, and a cold. So going back to work this week with jet lag, a tiredness that comes from being six months pregnant, and a stuffy nose has not been that pleasant. However, after sleeping a lot this weekend, I think I'll be ready to take on the next 10 weeks of work before my maternity leave.

Ten. Weeks. That's all I have left. I think that freaks me out more than labor and delivery at this point, as well as being off of work for a whole year. I keep being assured that I won't care about the goings on at the library while I'm away, but I'm a control freak and have severe FOMO, so if Baby Pick supersedes all of that, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

What I noticed about holidaying in the Central Florida area is that Disney is just so much better than the other parks. I know I'm a Disney fan girl and all, but the amount of rude staff we came across during our one day at Volcano Bay water park and the severe lack of organization we encountered at Sea World just proves that Disney sets a higher bar for customer service.

For example: Preferred Parking at Sea World costs $35 and regular parking costs $25. Everyone was parking in the same rows in the same area so we wasted $10 on that. Plus, the queue to get in was miles long, including the self service kiosk, so it would have taken ages just to get into the park. I investigated buying the tickets online, but unlike Disney, it didn't tell you up front before you paid, what dates the tickets were valid for. It's not until you leave the tickets in your cart and you get an email later saying, "Don't you want these tickets that let you go into the park three days after purchase?" If I had bought them and tried to go into the park the next day, as we intended, I would have been even more disappointed because we tried to go over on our last weekend in Florida.

Mister Pick was bummed out about this because he wanted to see the new Sesame Street land, the Halloween events, and experience the beer festival, but I think that was the reason so many people were trying to get into the park at the same time. Other people in our parking row did the same thing we did, got to the gate then realized it wasn't worth it, and turned around and went home having wasted $25-$35 on parking. (We did sent an email to Sea World about this and we got a parking pass for next year.)

With Volcano Bay, Mister Pick went as far as to write an email of complaint about the rude staff. A lot of the time there was no please or thank you, there was no finesse or love for their job that you see at Disney. There was, "You need to move the line here!" or even having rafts for the rides thrown at customers. What irritated me the most was the couple of bits of wrong information we received. I specifically asked at one of the lunch cafeterias if the park unlimited drinks cups could be used at the adjacent hotel, Cabana Bay, where we were staying. We were told, "yes," only to find out that was just wrong. Also, when we left the park, there was a staff member blowing bubbles (because that makes it seem fun to be there!) and she didn't stop when I approached her, then gave me wrong directions to get back to the hotel.

It wasn't anything major, and we did enjoy our time there. I loved the wave pool and Mister Pick had a fine time on all of the slides, especially the lazy river, but it was just that little attention to detail when it comes to customer service. As someone who works in customer service day in and day out, I can tell you full well how high expectations result in higher quality treatment of customers.

Aside from that, everything was good. We did experience the drunken nightmare that is EPCOT Food and Wine Festival on a Saturday and I can safely say I will never do that again. People just loud, shouty, and making a point to draw attention to themselves. I even saw two women cursing each other out in a line for the ladies' toilets, children in tow, all because they were off their face at two o'clock in the afternoon. It was so busy and so hot and if you go there just to enjoy the park, a weekday is your best bet because, wow. Those Florida Passholders treat that like a bachelorette/bachelor party on a weekend. (Most importantly, not a time to bring children unless you want them to experience brawls and lack of security.)

Other than that, it was great. We saw a lot of my parents who are doing well (except my dad caught my cold, poor guy). We went to Galaxy’s Edge (!!!) and saw the new Toy Story Land. I didn't go overboard with the eating because I had my glucose test when I came back home (still waiting to hear results of that), but I enjoyed cake and (low carb) ice cream on my birthday. I wasn't in the mood for a lot of shopping either, but I managed to bring back the essential snacks, and souvenirs for my co-workers, as well as my own gifts mentioned above.

Oh, and I didn't spend too much at Michaels. I was very proud of myself, considering that I was in Happy Planner Heaven and would only have that chance once.

So now that I have all of the planners, including my Academic Passion Planner that's on the way, I'll be prepped for some time with Baby and being at home for, hopefully, some creative time. I'd love to do even 25k words for Nanowrimo this year, but the more I don't write, the more daunting it seems. I keep hearing about people on social media who are fast typers and they write a book in a month anyway. I used to do that but they weren't good and it was the editing that was more frustrating than anything. That means I'd like to have a more organized approach to what I'm going to work on and at least have some sort of plot structure in place before I try to work through the story.

But October is here! Soon it will be Halloween, with Thanksgiving around the corner. I don't look forward to the frost coming in because I'm terrified of slipping and falling as it is, let alone being ungraceful and pregnant, but I'll take precautions and take it easy.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is choosing their costumes, reading spooky books, stockpiling their candy and having a fab month so far.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Author podcasts and finding Baby's gender

Bee on flower Well, we're having a boy! I'm sure it will thrill our son that I've already shared our pictures on Facebook, so to spare him the further humiliation, I've not posted the prize-winning scan photo on my blog. It's not long now until we head to Florida for our holiday. I am so ready for this. I'm sure it's the pregnancy hormones, but I get so overwhelmed during the day with the running around, the people, and the being up for over 8 hours. So, I have four months left until Baby arrives. I sort of seems like plenty of time and it also sort of seems like it's coming up very shortly. In order to prepare for my upcoming maternity leave, I'm working on being prepared for getting a book done (at least one) while I'm spending most of the time at home, not sleeping. The ways that I've done this are taking notes on my phone, setting up BookFunnel, and listening to my author/writer/creative podcasts. Here's a list of what podcasts I've been listening to:
  • Create If Writing
  • Stop Writing Alone
  • Don't Keep Your Day Job
  • The Creative Penn
  • The Writer Files
  • Write Now
  • Write-Minded
  • Writing Excuses
  • Smart Podcast, Trashy Books
  • You're Welcome with Hilary Rushford
  • You're Booked
I commute a lot so having lots of options for motivation and inspiration is a big plus when the rest of the day is spent on the day job. What I find so helpful is that all of these podcasts have little gems of insight into how you want your author brand and writing to work. If one isn't fitting your mood or your needs for the day, you can always go to something else and come back to the episode later. I love music, but having a little bit of chatter in the background breaks the monotony. Plus, it keeps your brain interested in your creative endeavours even if you can't sit and work on your current project. We've also been in our house for over a year now. That flew by, but we're still in love with the place. Pick Manor is being slowly transformed into a place for a child to live. We have paint, we have nursery items, we have lampshades, and we have a new kitchen sideboard for bottles and baby feeding items. I still don't know how we'll be ready as I'm starting to feel like I'm training for a marathon. Steve has been working overtime and I'm exhausted all the time, so it limits our daily excursions. Still, the nice September air has crept in this morning, so I feel autumn is upon us. I hope everyone has a fantastic September. See you in October!  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

From the end spring new beginnings

Baby Pick is due 1st January 2020! ❤️

It is my pleasure to report that we’re expecting a Baby Pick on 1st January 2020! We’ve been wanting a baby for a while so the blessing of a child is all the more special for us.

Now, in preparation for the oncoming maternity leave I’m trying to decide at least how I’m going to use the time wisely in terms of writing. It’s been ages since I’ve outlined or attempted to work on scenes that I’ve already written and rewritten, but I’m really eager to get back into it.

And, yes, the time will be up at all hours, tending to a newborn and I’ll probably be too tired to even consider writing. But in case it’s not as awful as all that and I do have some time to be productive, I want to be ready. Of course I also want to get back to the gym and Weight Watchers and yeah, maybe I’m being way too ambitious on this one.

So my question is how? How do I get prepared for nine months to potentially a year of looking after baby and getting back into writing? So far, the only decent plan I have is, is to get an outline ready. Now, this is probably pretty standard for writing in any situation for most of you, but I am terrible at plots and outlines. I have good ideas for scenes, the beginning, and the end. What happens in the middle? What builds tension? How will the story be structured? Who knows?

I took it upon myself to order a Page One Writer’s Notebook to see if that helped with my characterization, plot, scenes, research, outline, etc. Of course there’s always Scrivener, but in the tradition of using my bullet journal (again), I thought something tactile would be a little refreshing.

I’ve heard on a couple of occasions that social media is our reason for being too impatient and too tired to read and write. I’ve struggled with this for ages now and I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. I haven’t read much in a long time but I never equated it to a patience issues, I just thought I was too tired from work. However, when I was commuting on the bus, I read a lot more, so putting the phone away for a while and focusing on a book is possible.

That means my next six months will be not only preparing for an infant, but also having a go-to plan so if I am able to steal some minutes in the day, I will have something to work from. Maybe I’ll even get into a routine of sorts? Is that too much to hope for?

First draft in 2020? Surely this is a possibility.

New Year, new member of the family, and a new outlook on life? Most definitely.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Picks in The Wirral, the beginning of summer, and blogging more often

Red Rocks
It's with a heavy heart that I write this post. We lost my mother-in-law, the head of the Pick family, this week.
We saw her over Easter and she wasn't well, then she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Luckily, we visited her one last time when she was feeling well; this was before Mister Pick went down on his own to see her a final time.
Obviously, I won't dwell on her illness or the details of the effect it's had on the family because, unfortunately, most people can imagine from first-hand knowledge, what a tragedy it all is.
But when we were down to The Wirral together the last time, we had a good visit, and Daisy was the star of the show, as always. She had her cousin dog, Tilly, to run about with, and then found some friends at Queen's Park. This was the first time we took her off the lead, and she didn't disappoint us. (That dog loved to play with other dogs and is crazy about getting attention from other doggy parents.)
This photo was taken at Red Rocks right after Daisy rolled around in the sand before heading back to the hotel. She got to sleep in the bed with us and made sure that everyone who came and went through the hallways all evening knew of her presence.
Unfortunately, when we go back for the service, Daisy will be staying the night somewhere as we have siblings to help out and a wake to cater for. The Pick Kids were told to "expect a big turn out," for their mother's wake because she was a well-liked woman in her town. I expect nothing less.
Other than that, our drive down was filled with rain, as it does in England (why is it all the time?!) but it's been glorious on the way back home. Here's hoping that we get to embrace the summer, finally, and can get outside again.
While all of this family business was unfolding, I was still at work, finishing up my first unit for the management apprenticeship I'm doing. It was confusing at first to get the grasp of what evidence I needed to produce in my folder because we only go to workshops once every couple of months. However, the tutor was really good and helped us out, but she's left the company so now we have a new tutor to meet with next month.
In the meantime, I'm working on an epub book for a story contest at the library. This is something I haven't looked into for ages because, let's be honest, I'm severely lacking in my self-publishing productivity anymore. So, it's good practice for me and gets me thinking about writing, editing, formatting, and publishing again.
Finally, I'm sure I've said this before, but I'm hoping to rekindle my blog posting updates more regularly, just to keep myself involved in something I enjoy doing. The 9-5ness and the school work sort of takes over most of my brain and I miss doing to me things that I enjoy. (And I'm so out of practice! Gah!)
And, unfortunately, I had to start my blog posts for the summer off on a sad note, but Mum Pick would want us to "get your head down and get on with it," as she'd say, so that's what we do.
Happy first week of summer to you all. I hope you take some time to enjoy it.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

An April visit to Fountains Abbey, Chirk Castle, and Lyme Park

Mr. Darcy was here! #pemberley #prideandprejudice

This is, hand's down, my favourite photograph. I took it last week at Lyme Park, AKA Pemberley. The pond should look familiar to any of you who have swooned when Mr. Darcy emerged from it in the BBC mini series version of Pride and Prejudice.

We spent the last couple of days travelling to The Wirral (or, Liverpool if it's easier although the Picks aren't from Liverpool, proper). On our way, we had to leave Daisy at the kennels, which I hated to do because she didn't know the place or the other dogs. However, it was a chance to have some together time that didn't include avoiding cafes, museums, or other such establishments because of a giant dog in tow.

On our way from Newcastle, we stopped in Ripon because A. I believe I live at Downtown Abbey and B. There was a cool place to visit through our National Trust membership.

Fountains Abbey was the biggest abbey we had seen that was still intact. As an American, I just cannot get over how old things are and are still sitting about for people to see, touch, experience, etc. There were Water Gardens on the property too, but we only had time for a walk, a quick look at the abbey, lunch, then back on the road. However, this just means that I plan on us going back sometime soon because there was plenty to see there, especially if you have a dog to walk.

We caught up with the Picks later that day, and spent our second day down there travelling to Wales -- a place I had never been and a place where Mister Pick went to school and worked for a collective of about 8 years. (Before I graced him with my presence, obviously.) Wales is beautiful and the only equivalent I can give it would be a kind of wandering Virginia countryside drive. It's very green, the air is fresh, and it was suitably rainy that day. We took our time exploring Chirk Castle which is really impressive. The place has a dungeon, so now I know what that feels like. (Hint: it's dark and they don't even have proper windows, so it's as dyer as you'd imagine.) The other parts of the castle were renovated into a proper estate house, so the rooms were lush and impressive -- some of the ceilings had Greek gods and goddesses depicted in the plasterwork. There were portraits of royals and noblemen and women. There was huge fireplaces, and even big, comfy couches that, looked modern in a 1940s, post-war way. I loved the gardens though because you could walk through there and not even realize there was a giant castle behind the trees. It was so relaxing and nice to wander around there, listening to the birds, and looking at all of the flowers and trees that were planted there.

I absolutely loved it.

After our visit with The Picks, we took a little detour to Lyme Park as posted above. Unfortunately, the house was closed the day that we got there and instead of going to the less cool tea rooms. (The brochure showed women in Austen-esque dresses with bonnets, sipping tea. Of course, if that wasn't an option, I wasn't as interested.) I did also look through the house's book sale books, and chose a 1933 edition of Dicken's Our Mutual Friend.

Upon our return, in order to avoid traffic, we took a long drive through the countryside, which Mister Pick did because I detest driving in unknown places that include roundabouts, mountains, empty fields, steep declines, and anything remotely tricky. However, it was worth it, because we rescued poor Daisy Doodle from her confinement before 6PM. The lad who worked at the kennels was very nice, but he said Daisy was timid with him because she didn't know any of the staff. Daisy is not timid, so I don't know if she'll settle in better on a longer stay. The place is highly recommended and people reuse them often, so it's not like it's a bad place to take her -- I just hated her being in a cage.

But everyone is back home now and although I worked yesterday, I'm still enjoying the last bits of my holiday today with Mister Pick, Daisy, and the cats who keep staring at me as I type this.

Also, it’s Sunday, which means I’m keeping off social media as best I can. Old habits die hard and I have to stop myself from just picking up my phone and checking Twitter throughout the day. It’s just one of the little things I’m making a habit of just to clear my head, give my eyes a rest, and focus a little more about being at home.

And with that said, I hope everyone has had a nice Easter and a great April, so let's get on to May 2019.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter bank holiday wind down and catch up

Good afternoon and Happy Easter Sunday!

It’s been a nice break from the daily grind these past few days and we’ve actually taken next week off as well to enjoy some traveling to go along with our rest and relaxation.

On Friday we were going to go to Sunderland Museum and Gardens (and library!) for the da Vinci drawings exhibit. However, once we got onto the highway, we realized that everyone and their mother was out cruising, so we headed to IKEA (why not) and bought patio furniture instead.

Sorted. ☀️ #ikea

Afterwards, we hung out on the back patio and enjoyed the warm weather. It was in the 70s this weekend, and was actually very warm for people like us who are used to wearing quilted coats and woolly hats every day.

On Saturday, we headed to our favorite place – Beamish (as seen in the main photo above). Now, I was all gung-ho about the fish and chips and the walking and the sunshine … until I got overheated and sick. Being overheated is just weird. You’re not physically too hot. I wasn’t sweating to death or feeling hot, I just realized how dizzy and nauseous as we trekked around, so I had to cut the exploration short. I mean, we enjoyed the time we spent out, but I was really happy to be back in the car with the air conditioning.

Today is Easter Sunday! We started off with pancakes and a cuppa at our new patio set. Daisy has a pool that she’s still not completely sure about, but it feels nice to paddle around in when you’re wanting to cool down. Right now, Mister Pick is working on mounting our old TV up in the bedroom (we’re still technically moving in). We have the windows open and the cats are hanging out upstairs in the windowsills. All and all, it’s a perfect day.

I’ve been making my list of goals because I’m still working on the question of what I want to do with myself and where I see myself in ten years. (Anyone else who has the Rachel Hollis Start Today Journal knows what I’m talking about.) So, I’m looking up authors I admire and writing down places I’d like to go and really trying to wind down and focus on how I want to propel myself forward into the rest of the year.

Tomorrow is still up in the air, but we’ll make the most of it. After that, it’ll be traveling time and we’ll head to see The Pick family down in The Wirral for a bit.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a fantastic Easter break!    

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bullet journals, Wallington, and not being discouraged


Well, this blog certainly isn't getting updated very often, even if I really want to post something, I never get around to it.

Since last time, I've started an apprenticeship for Team Leading and Management at work. That means I have a manager who mentors me and whom I shadow at one of the libraries along with my coursework that I need to do. I really like it so far and I'm happy that I decided to apply for it because I feel mentally challenged and satisfied doing this kind of work. Not that I'm not pleased at how much I help people with my regular IT teaching job in the libraries, I'm just happy that I have something else to add to my list of things I can do.

There were Team Leader jobs as secondments available this year but I do like where I am and I wanted to spend my extra energy in focusing on my apprenticeship. I’m sure the job would have helped me gather evidence for my course, but, again, I’d rather stay doing what I do because I think I help people.

Helping myself is another story. I’ve been trying to do the diet and exercise thing but, man, am I so tired these days. I was okay for a bit when I got my bicycle because I was ready for sun and summertime, but now I’m not doing as well as I hoped.

I’ve been writing a book, I guess, about how these things have caught up with me. I’ve never been so stinking frustrated with trying to write, blog, work, exercise, lose weight, spend time with Mister Pick, enjoy my time at home, and do things outside of the house so I don’t end up being a hermit. (Although, being a hermit isn’t looking so bad these days.) I listened to a podcast yesterday that said if we keep stepping over the crap that’s flung onto us, we’ll eventually get out of the pit. Good advice and I have to take that all to heart when I’m feeling like the me I’m trying to build just isn’t showing up.

I mean, surely everyone feels like there’s just too much we should be doing, don’t they? I had to make Sundays be my non-social media days because I was getting overwhelmed with the comparisons. I should be writing my book. I should be traveling. I should be making a business. I should be starting a podcast. I should be engaging on social media.

The funny thing is, once I stopped using social media as much, I realized how much I don’t need it. It’s a useful tool, don’t get me wrong, but because I’m kind of a special creature – American, in England, still don’t know what I’m doing, the usual stuff – I get really down when I see people appearing to know what they want and doing it.

But, alas, that’s still one to work on this year. 42 is definitely an interesting one, I tell you.

Also, I’m still watching videos about bullet journaling and although I have my Passion Planner (one for daily agendas and one more for academic tasks), I was curious about all the binder planners that people were posting on Instagram. I was going to get one online but I happened to see an A5 agenda binder at Wilko’s after work this week, so I’m going to print some free planner sheets to add to it. I even bought a small 6 ring hole punch to get working on these. I’m wanting habit trackers and while it takes all the artistic design out of making my own for my bullet journal, having ready-made pages may really help me in the long run.

The photo above was from our recent trip to Wallington. We’d been before, years ago, before we had Daisy, so we took her to explore the vast farmland. Of course the sheep weren’t interested in a giant barking goldendoodle but, hey, who can blame them?

I have another week of work before Easter and our break to Liverpool and Hoylake so I’ll be sure to update on that trip to see the Pick family. Until then, grab your eggs and your bunnies and enjoy the upcoming holiday.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Visiting a lighthouse, using planners, and staying motivated


Well, it's the middle of February so that means I'm still plugging away at my goal-oriented planning.

From the photo above you can see that I have been outside and getting fresh air. Last weekend Mister Pick and I took Daisy to Souter Lighthouse which was interesting even though Daisy acted up and tried to jump on every dog and human that came close to her. (Goldendoodles are insane, I tell you.)

I went in the lighthouse on my own while Steve took her for a walk and the gal at reception told me that it was 75 or so stairs and the last bit was very steep. Now, me being me, I heard that and thought immediately, "Well, I won't be climbing that then, will I?"

But I did.

It was freaky though because on the way back down you have to go backward like on a ladder and my life flashed before my eyes a bit because I could see myself falling straight back and them having to find Steve on the beach to tell him that his wife had broken both of her legs in a freak lighthouse incident.

But I didn't, and I was proud of myself.

I'm such a wuss, I swear.

Anyway, so I was pleased with myself after that and looked at the little lighthouse cottage before going outside and hanging out with Daisy while Steve took a look inside.

Having a National Trust membership is nice when the weather permits you to explore things nearby.

We also took a walk down the coast, hence where this photo was taken, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

I was off on Wednesday and that was the first time that Daisy went to doggy daycare when I was home so I felt like a free woman who didn't have to check on the baby every five minutes. I went to the dentist, the gym (hooray!), Weight Watchers (lost 3 pounds -- more hooray), and bought myself a bike because I want one. (I totally need a wicker basket for the front of it!)

Valentine's Day was good. We had M&S Dine in for Two (tradition) and I got my super cool Cath Kidston Bambi bag!

Today we took a walk along the river and I found lots of nice paths where I can ride my new bike, so I'm super excited. This bike is by no means the fancy cool Trek that I have left in Florida, but it's cute and comfortable from what I could tell from the showroom, so I'm ready to take up casual cycling again.

We also had a chance to look around our new neighborhood and was pleasantly surprised at all that was going on. We even had a couple of people stop to chat with us and we get the idea that we're notorious (in a good way) because the couple who owned our house before us were well-liked around here, and I'm sure they let everyone know that we'd be turning up with this mad dog.

Now, I've focused on my good things because all of this is part of my planning for achievement and working on spending family time as well as my fitness which really, really needs for me to keep myself accountable for each week.

Again, I'm really stoked about my Passion Planner, and my This is My Era planner. I still find it so easy to be lazy and procrastinate but this has helped me put things in perspective, even if it's small personal objectives. Not that health and creativity are small topics.

Like, one of my objectives is to amp up but it's going to be so much work and it's so much easier to just not start getting involved. However, I really want to have more book reviews and interact with more book bloggers so I'm going to have to just dig in and get that started.

I'm also listening to podcasts which I never did before but it seems to put me in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day, as opposed to music where my mind can wander.

The writing is okay too. I at least work on something most days, so that's a huge accomplishment considering how little writing I was doing for the last few years, honestly.

And with that said, here's hoping everyone had a fab Valentine's Day and enjoys the rest of their February!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dreams on your heart and plain old goals


Last post I touched on the idea of writing goals and keeping track of my book projects, word count, and so on.

I also mentioned that I’ve been listening and reading more about productivity and goals. One of the books I’m currently in the middle of is Eat that Frog which is about not procrastinating and getting the most difficult task of the day done and over with first. Makes sense. I’ve also jumped on the bandwagon and started reading and listening to Rachel Hollis. I have a Getting Stuff Done planner and a This Is My Era planner (which I still need to set up), as I wait for my Passion Planner that’s coming by next month (or so the tracking information tells me).

So if you know what tasks you need to do in daily life, you sort of do them in order. At least that’s how I do them. I get up, I feed the cats or take the dog out, I make coffee, I eat breakfast, and if I have to go to work, I get ready to do just that before leaving the house at whatever required time. Those are my priorities from 6AM-8:30AM at least.

The rest of the day is doing work-type library and IT requirements and each day is different and those, again, go in order of operations. If it’s Monday, I run and send out financial reports. If it’s Tuesday, I do my stock inventory. If it’s Wednesday I’m teaching a class in the morning. If it’s Thursday or Friday, I’m teaching all day. Each sessions has it’s own agenda depending on who attends, so those couple of hours may or may not entail something I have already planned out.

Now, I know those are the shallow, or the dry jobs that are required of me. The routine that I have delegates my tasks.

However, most of my podcasts, blogs, books, whatever talk about your goals. What is your big dream?

Easy: to write. Or, more specifically, to be an author. Name on scads of books that sits on virtual and tangible shelves that lots of people read and enjoy. That’s the dream.

But apparently that has to be more specific because I need steps to achieving that main, attainable in the future goal.

Most of us have been around the block enough time to know that our number one aim each day is being chained to our desk for an amount of time that allows us to produce content in literary form. That is self explanatory. We also know that once the writing is done and we’ve gone through National Writing Month or whatever and gotten your 50,0000 or more words down for a rough draft, we need to edit. Then we need critique partners, beta readers, proof-readers, and anyone else who can give us some nice, solid opinions before we edit again.

Then we can think about submitting to agents, or start working on self-publishing. We needs to market and promote. We need to sing our own praises the best we can.

And once we run that through for a good while, it’s time to start again. Heck, we’re all probably writing the next book, or books, already.

Eventually we’ll get to where we want to be. Sure, most of us want to be on the NY Times Best Sellers list, so we can just write that down on our dreams list. But what will get us to get to the dream – good old fashioned hard work. That’s going to be true for anything, so yeah, planning out each step of the way is great but what I have to remember, plan on, meditate on, and aim for is to write. every. single. day.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bullet journaling, planners, writing goals, and being a terrible artist

Keeper of the veg @gibsident

I think I've given up on my bullet journal.

Here me out; it’s really time consuming. I used to watch Noelle on Seventeen’s Bullet Journal channel to get ideas on how to set up my weekly and daily spreads. (Little Coffee Fox is good too.) That was fine because it wasn’t not creative, it was just very simple to follow and get basic ideas on options to get yourself going. However, the new host is artistically talented and most of her bullet journaling videos are about doodles and drawing – neither which is can do. While I really appreciate going outside of the box, bullet journaling just seems too much like a sketch book than a planner. If I had loads of time, I would get into it, and I have attempted a few doodles from “How to draw a …” tutorials on Youtube, but that just takes up time and I only have that every other weekend at most.

Also, bullet journals need a lot of equipment to go along with it – brush pens, highlighters, washi tape, etc. I can’t take that all with me when I’m traveling about at work. I can’t very well sit in the lunch room with all of my art supplies just to draw out a weekly spread. It not only looks strange to regular 9-5 people (remember, I work in the library so reading a book is about the only acceptable activity for lunchtime other than eating lunch), but it will get people asking what I’m doing.

And, yes, I know I could set up the spreads with pencil or even pen and do the designing later but again, time consuming.

So, as much as I like my bullet journal it’s ended up being something “fun” to play around with once in a while, but it doesn’t serve the initial purpose of my planning companion to take with me everywhere. I did buy a kid’s journal that has all the spreads set up, like the trackers and books to be read, so I could fill that in and serve the basic purpose of having the bullet journal in the first place.

I have a Happy Planner from the States that I like to fill in when I’m home, but, again, it’s way too heavy and inconvenient to have in a handbag when you’re going around from library to library every day.

What I’ve decided to do is to get a Passion Planner from the States (why are we only obsessed with planning back home?) that should be portable and functional. I also have just a plain notebook that I can jot down the ideas for my blog entries because that was something I wanted to keep track of. (Also, there’s an interesting post comparing the Passion Planner vs Bullet Journal.)

For writing, I honestly don’t know how to keep tabs of my word count and how to set goals for that. I have a handful of book projects I want to work on and I thought the bullet journal would work well in keeping myself on track with my word count, plots, scenes, etc. I think the notebook is just going to have to do the trick.

If I don’t have time to doodle in a bullet journal, I certainly won’t have any time to actually write.

And I will add that setting goals is a strange one. I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts on the subject and still reading Eat that Frog. (Who got the idea that library workers have time to read all day? Puh-lease!) How do people have clear ideas for what they want 10 years from now and how to get to that goal? My goal has always been to write and publish my books (self-published or otherwise). My steps to reaching that goal are the same as they are for everyone – write, edit, rewrite, read, share, edit, rewrite, and so forth. It’s the time that gets me and the time management that I need to keep myself on target as I’m sure it is for most people with a day time job and a ton of books they want to show the world.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

It’s New Year’s Eve - what am I going to do in 2019

Happy New Year! #nye

It’s that time again for making resolutions. I usually make the same tried and true ones - diet, exercise, write, blog, etc. This year, however, I’ve made plans for my resolutions. I’m going to organise my tasks and make small to large goals. The bullet journal will be the main helper on this. I’ve looked at various habit trackers so I have a good sense of how to set up a continuous personal check on my progress. 

Thank God for Orange is the New Black and it’s literary recommendations, otherwise, I wouldn’t have found Eat that Frog. I’m going through this book while planning out my resolutions in my bullet journal. (I took of photo of my bujo with my terrible frog doodle, but I think I’ll spare you all that today.)

According to ETF, you’re supposed to list 10 of your goals (in my case, resolutions) and then decide which one is the most important – which one will make you a better person, have the best impact on your life, etc. That one is usually the toughest and you need to get that one out of the way.

My ugliest frog to eat is my weight. I’ve been going to Weight Watchers since late last year, so I did lose some pounds (the ones I added on over Christmas, but never mind that). I’ve lost using WW before, so I know I can do it, and sometimes that’s just the trouble. You can put that off because eventually you’ll get it done.

Well, I know it’ll make me feel better to get stuck in and get back to my weight loss and exercise goal. While I don’t think I’ll aim for a 15k run or anything like that this year (I’m slow, y’all, and I need to be fit and healthy, not get a medal). So I’ll pack my lunch, plan my dinners, eat cereal in the morning, and get back on the treadmill. That’s the #1 thing I’m going to do in 2019.

The second thing will be to get back to focusing on my writing. Now, I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to go about keeping focus on that since working full time is always the issue with trying to focus on creativity, but I have my bullet journal to track my habits that will include writing in my blog (check mark!), my journal, and my book.

I want to make a series and while one that I have planned and plotted to the extent that I had time frames and family trees has gone past my realm of inspiration, I will have to think about how I want to structure my next series.

I read earlier this week that JK Rowling outlined her 7 books over 5 years. Sheesh. It worked though, didn’t it?

But I plan on doing it this year. So, without further adieu, let me get back to outlining, plotting, and researching. (Also, I have to read more, sheesh!) I’ll post again on how I organized that and maybe give an example of how I set up the bullet journal for my book progress.

Until then, Happy New Year, 2019! Let’s do this.