Quote of the Week

For many writers, myself included, we find, from time to time, that we may not be exactly where we hoped we’d be by a certain point in our lives. I made the discovery this morning that this winter it will be a particular number of years since I graduated from university. I had big dreams for my career as a writer, and yet here I am, all these years later, still working towards that goal.

I have family and friends who are supportive of this long held dream – I think a lot of it is surprise, at this point, that I’m still trying, so it’s no wonder that every now and again I think, “What the hell happened?”

I see these positivity messages that Vera Wang didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40, Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50, even Samuel L. Jackson was 43 when he landed his first major role in Jungle Fever as if all of this was meant to make me feel better that though I’m now closer to Julia’s age than Vera’s there’s still time.

And it’s hard not to compare to other’s who are finding success, especially when they’re younger, and yet, all of our journeys are different – their struggles, their life, their direction is not mine, not yours, and as long as our vision of the destination is clear, we’ll get there…in our own time.

So keeping hacking away at that goal, little by little, because any amount of progress is progress.

Happy Writing!

The Burden of Waste

The big thing I learned on this last move was how much waste is involved with just living, especially when you stay in one place for an extended period of time because regardless of your best intentions for living simply, you discover how much you can actually accumulate and what you truly need.

The Sis and I have been long time renters. It offers us the freedom to leave at will and explore new places. We have moved a lot in our 15 years together, and each time we’ve donated, sold, or (unfortunately) tossed quite a few things, and I always find myself surprised by how much remains…but this last move had me really looking at the whole situation differently, which is why I was compelled to write this post, to share the lesson we learned.

When the pandemic was in full swing and we were all locked down, people started to “spring clean” and empty out their closets. We had already done the same because a year ago last December we were considering our next move. This is when a lot of people realized they had a lot they didn’t quite need.

What I realized was I was just scratching the surface.

For the last couple of years I’ve limited Christmas and birthday shopping because “we don’t need all that frivolous stuff”, and with the ups and downs we’ve experienced with work and finances, I’m always a bit wary of spending too much money but it also, initially, boiled down to this – I know we’re going to move again, at some point because it’s what we do, and I don’t want to have more things to move.

But it boiled down even further as I continued to think on it – about what we leave behind – our footprint.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

We were initially looking at moving overseas, and the cost associated, so we had to consider either selling things, storing things, or moving them, and that changed our perspective on what we considered to be of value and how we spent our money in the future to accumulate more stuff.

Some of you may have seen that I started an Etsy shop to sell all the vintage collectibles we had either been gifted or inherited. We gave a few items to friends as gifts. We donated multiple boxes of books, movies, and music to the library. I sold some geeky items to a resale shop. I used an app to sell other random household items. A number of things still found themselves in the garbage. And our moving truck, which was advertised as one size but was truly another, left us with not enough room to take all of our belongings, and so a few things found themselves left on the curb.

As I considered all of this, I realized how much money and time was invested in obtaining those items and how much we were losing in the end, let alone the consequences of where some of those items would find themselves.

Even living in our last place for as long as we had, we didn’t bring in everything that was boxed in the garage, again, because we knew we’d be moving soon so why…and that made me reconsider what was truly of value to me as well. If something could spend upwards of 10 years in a box, why was I holding on to it? It served no purpose except to add to the burden of moving it.

This is how we approached everything in the end. For weeks we looked at the things in our house and not only asked if it “brought us joy” but also what purpose it served if we never saw it but continued to place some sentimental value on it. We got rid of a lot, some items better than others, and there is still more to go. We did move things we shouldn’t have – so. many. books. that I thought I needed – but it’s all a learning curve.

Then there’s the continued development of new technologies which is making so many things obsolete, like cds, dvds, and books. I won’t give up holding a book despite how many I’m trying to get rid of, but I am going to utilize the library a lot more, like I used to. My car still has a CD player, and I have movies that I can’t find on streaming services, but I’ll reconsider all those types of purchases moving forward.

Moving into a much smaller space has been eye opening as well, and that will help, I think, in determining further what is truly of use to us.

There are a number of resources to utilize if you’re looking to downsize – Facebook groups, community exchanges, and all the above mentioned in order to find your items in a new home versus a landfill. So that’s what I took away from our last relocation. And it was Earth Day ten days ago, and we all have to do our part. So if you have any resources or tips to share to help lessen this burden, please comment below. And good luck!

Quote Monday

This week’s Quote Monday is more an interesting tidbit that we, as writers, can all understand. I enjoy meeting other writers and being part of a community of interesting, creative, unique individuals who see the world differently. Only another writer can understand the struggle, the isolation, the never-ending pull to create, and the strange idea that our characters tell us what they want.

I recently shared with a writer’s group how two of my characters had a mind of their own and continued to put themselves into a situation I didn’t want them in, yet. Obviously, I have control over it all, and yet, it was something they clearly wanted to do. I love when characters take control, but only another writer truly understands what this means. So when I saw this quote from Mr. King, which sums it up perfectly, I thought I’d share.

Since the release of my pup health scare related stress, I got my flow back and have been consumed with all the stories that require my attention – a much better stress to have.

So here’s to a productive week! Happy Writing!

Pup Update: Sterile Panniculitis

It started with a puffy face around 2pm on a Wednesday. This was something we had encountered before, an allergic reaction of some sort, so we immediately gave him Benadryl. Some time passes and hives begin to appear along his back. A little more Benadryl.

This continues through the night, and concern keeps us awake until about 4am, when we can’t take it any more because the welts are huge, especially on his tiny body, and we find an emergency vet who will give him a steroid shot to speed up the healing process.

We are told that it could take up to 48hrs to see any result, and so we wait the allotted time, which runs us into the weekend when we can’t take him to another vet, and the hives continue. Five days of Benadryl and watching hives flare up and work their way through his body.

Then new things begin to form.

Thinking he may be fighting off an infection, (what we think is) a gland in his neck becomes swollen almost overnight to about the size and feel of a marble. More cause for concern, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

We finally get him into the vet and tests begin.

Things happen on a weekly basis, usually on the weekend when we can stress without resolution. Red bumps appear above his eye, on his chin, on the underside of his tail. His inner ears are inflamed. We find out later there are blood blisters and he gets a cone to hinder scratching. He develops a rash in the groin area that feels solid underneath. A spot on his nose develops and, in a terribly descriptive phrase, appears necrotic. Probably made worse because it’s accessible to licking.

And worst of all, as if that’s possible, a consistent breathing issue called a “reverse sneeze” started. It is something we’ve encountered in the past, it was rare, usually from overexcitement, and it is worrying the first few times you hear it, but this was different. It lasted longer, and looked like he was having difficulty breathing.

Immediately back to the vet. More tests. Medications that make him into a little zombie. He has no energy, no appetite, and just wants to be held or sleep. I did not care for that. He looks pathetic and it makes our hearts hurt.

The “C” word is tossed around and the thought makes me sick.

Finally…biopsies. More waiting and rushing test results because it’s been over three weeks and what is going on with him?! He’s given new antibiotics and he doesn’t have to take the zombie-inducing meds anymore, and when he comes home from undergoing surgery, he’s almost immediately back to normal.

He runs around a bit and has an appetite. It was like he had turned a corner.

Within a few days, our wonderful vet calls with resolution. The biopsy results narrow down that he has a rare inflammatory disease known as Sterile Panniculitis. It’s so rare that she’s only seen it once in seven years.

That’s our special boy for you.

He will have to undergo at least a couple more tests to determine the source, if there is one, because apparently this type of disease can just appear. Dachshunds are fairly susceptible to it, it’s hereditary, and although his sister looks more like a little sausage, clearly the Doxie is strong in him.

The Sis, now armed with a name, goes into research mode and into a long conversation with our vet. It comes down to an autoimmune issue. From this point forward, he will no longer be able to receive any vaccinations and can’t be exposed to any situations that might increase his potential for disease.

He’s basically a bubble boy.

His sister is fine, thankfully, and she will need to be kept fully vaccinated for not only her well being but his as well. Such a strange turn of events. I mean, The Sis and I already enjoy our solitude and were pretty socially distanced, even before the pandemic, but this gives us further cause. Oh, how we enjoy being loners.

There was a precursor that we should have paid more attention to but didn’t understand.

When we moved into our new apartment, there was the traditional “marking of their territory” but Loki continued well after. We couldn’t figure out what had happened to cause him to continue having accidents. Maybe he was annoyed that we had moved and his situation had changed. We thought he might be pouting. Because of their size, we’ve always left a pad accessible, and we were taking them outside often, and yet he would come inside and do his business.

This sort of act is actually a warning sign, and a way for them to communicate something is wrong. We learned this a little too late because had we known, maybe we could have had him looked at sooner, circumventing some of his discomfort and prolonging the treatment.

I thought this was an important detail to share. If your dog is doing something out of the ordinary, there may be an underlying reason.

So he’s been sick since we moved. Really reconsidering this whole thing now.

I wanted to share this story because if there’s more information available, maybe it will help other pet parents. As we learn more details, I’ll share an update because…

Quote of the Week

In my last post I mentioned a sick pup. Something in our move to Washington State triggered an illness in him that has taken us nearly four weeks to resolve, and we’ve been here six. We were truly reconsidering the move at one point. I’ll write a separate post about this experience as he was diagnosed with something rare and other pet parents should be informed.

During these stressful weeks, our focus was only on him. What could we do for him? How could we make him more comfortable? It was hard to concentrate on anything else.

I am thankful for the job opportunity I’ve been given, but as his medical bills continue to rise, I’m already considering a change to cover the expenses. I couldn’t write, couldn’t read, didn’t have the attention span to watch anything with any sort of vested interest. All we could do was hold him and comfort him and wait for the vet to share with us the results of all the tests.

It has been hard to be positive.

Since the move my stress level has increased…beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before – and maybe it has because, in part, yoga has been relegated to the back burner for a while now. What did I do before I discovered yoga?

Being positive is a choice, but when life gets messy, it’s harder sometimes to remain so. When I saw this quote, which I saved weeks ago, I thought, “I need to change my perspective, but I can’t until I know my furkid is okay.” It’s not that I wasn’t “positive”, I had to be in order to reassure myself and The Sis that he would recover, it’s just that it was harder to find other things to be thankful for.

Hence the quote.

Sometimes we just need to get through the day and finding a moment, a silver lining makes all the difference. Maybe it’s something as simple as “you have your health” because right now, that’s actually a pretty big something. Maybe it’s that you have a job because, again, right now, that’s also a big something. Maybe they’re more personal or related to your writing, like you worked out that plot hole or you finished writing that difficult chapter. You started yoga again and are feeling better. As you start to consider the different aspects of your life, you’ll probably find a number of things to be positive about and those add up.

The world is (still) a mess, and those outside influences can definitely affect our outlook, so finding a thread of positivity is a necessity to keeping our sanity. Journaling is a great way to keep track of these, and if you’ve been struggling, I highly recommend trying it. A number of journaling prompts offer this specific practice, “what are you thankful for today”, to maintain a positive attitude and it’s an easy reference tool for when you’re feeling low.

And as writers, we’re often in our own worlds, struggling differently, often quietly. Knowing there are others, like us, out there can help lessen the burden, so if you have any tips for maintaining your positivity, please share them below and let’s help one another!

Take care! xx, Rach

Thank You!

I hit a milestone this week.

For a writer who didn’t know what to expect when she decided to share her ramblings with the outside world, this was a wonderful surprise.

I’ve had a lot of gaps in my postings – consumed by work, a lack of inspiration (especially during Covid), various stresses, and most recently a sick pup – and so many of you have stuck with me through it all, so Thank You!

To my new followers, “Hi! Welcome!

One of my goals this year is to be better in this space, and having this many people to share it with is beyond encouraging, and I appreciate the support. Now that our furkid is on the mend, I can shift my focus, and I look forward to spending more time here with all of you.

Happy Friday and Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Hello from Washington!

It’s official. The Sis and I are now residents of the Evergreen State. For my own bad memory, I’ll post an overview of our journey to get here and that’s why this week’s quote struck me, in particular, as it’s about being brave.

I deeply struggled (for some time) with the decision to move. We weren’t happy in Las Vegas, the reason we had returned had run its course, but even thinking about taking the first step towards change left me with an anxiety I have not encountered before, and it made me wonder if growing older was making me more wary of taking risks.

Or was there something else?

I still haven’t discovered the truth of it but now we’re settled in our new place and I have to wonder what all the hoopla was about? Why was I afraid?

Our lives were put on hold for nearly a year, thanks, in part to Covid, but also because we kept delaying the move, thanks, in part to Covid. We couldn’t make a decision and by the end of the year I was so antsy I couldn’t take much more. I struggled to read, barely wrote a word, and just felt like I was in some sort of purgatory. Time is precious, something I’m definitely aware of, and yet I wasted and lost so much of it last year just waiting for change. A change I was fearful to make.

Huh?!

What I realized through all of this is I talk a big game. I talk about being brave and following your dreams, and while I did eventually make it happen, I let the fear consume and rule me for much longer than it ever should have. We get comfortable in what we know, regardless of its negative effects. Change is scary. It’s the unknown.

The possibility of new beginnings and new adventures should outweigh the reluctance at taking advantage of those opportunities. So take it from me, embrace the excitement that comes from change. Don’t dwell on the uncertainties because as they say, “the only constant is change” and the worry will wreak havoc with your mental and physical well-being.

If you’re wavering on the precipice of your own new endeavor and need a reassuring word, feel free to drop me a line.

xx, Rach

The 5 Things I Learned About Myself by Journaling (nearly) Everyday in Just a Month

JounalI joined the site Medium last year after coming across a number of articles linked to it.  It’s free to use if you only read about 3 articles a month.  I was finding so many that I had a back log of nearly 75 saved articles.  Knowing I would never have a chance to read them all at that rate, I joined.

Feeling at a crossroads with a big-number-impending-birthday (yes, it’s that time of year again), I was looking at articles related to self-help, following your passion, goal setting, keeping momentum and focus, etc. and I read a number of articles about journaling.  Growing up, I had friends who kept diaries.  I was not one of them.  It’s just never worked for me to remain consistent, but after seeing how people were discovering things about themselves through this process, I decided to give it a try.

A real try.

I started mid-December and wrote everyday, almost, for a month.  I decided not to review anything I had written during that time, to see what would repeat.  I wanted to learn if there were areas in my life that were seeking attention and needed it.  Then we took a mini break to California, so nothing happened for about a week.  When we returned home, I decided to look back on what I had written to look for patterns.  Here’s what I discovered about myself.

  1. My writing is important to me and I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.  When I quit my job at the end of November, a panic set in about our next steps.  Were we ready to move overseas?  How could we do it?  Where would we live?  What about our pups?  What about all our stuff?  I created an Etsy store after weeks of research and narrowed down our possible move, but all of it was so consuming I couldn’t write.  But being away from it for a couple of months gives me anxiety as well, so it was enlightening to learn how important it is to my life.
  2. This lead to a new idea.  I want to obtain my Master’s Degree.  In my research for the move, a student visa was one easy way in.  I started looking at schools with film and screenwriting programs, and I got excited at the prospect.  I wasn’t a great student the first time around but I enjoy learning new things now, so I’m interested in pursuing this further.
  3. But one thing that did keep coming up was my lack of focus or motivation.  I go on binges and then lose steam.  I know this has been an issue, but finding it written down, repeatedly, made it more relevant.  At this point in my life, I either need to do it or move on.  This half-assing nonsense must come to an end.
  4. I need therapy.  I had a turbulent childhood – an alcoholic abusive step-father, for one.  While on our mini break, we watched old home movies and I realized that my faulty memory is most likely due to self-preservation.  There are enormous chunks of my childhood and even teen years that are complete blanks.  Watching myself on the videos was like watching someone else.  There is nearly no connection to anything we watched.  That was a startling discovery.
  5. I want to buy a home.  The Sis and I have been renting for about 13 years now and I’m tired of it.  For a couple of years now, maybe it’s because I’m in my 40s, I’ve wanted to “settle down”.  I want to paint my walls and grow a garden.  I want to pull up the crappy carpet and put in a farmhouse sink.  I want to stop hoarding Amazon boxes like a doomsday-prepper and not feel like we’re always in limbo.  It’s hard to start things if you’re always thinking about the next move.  I haven’t bought things, like a dining room table because I don’t want to move it.  Kitchen appliances are on hold because I don’t want to move it.  A new dresser…because I don’t want to move it.  This has been our life for a long time and I’m over it.  Such a simple thing, and yet the tendrils associated with it are long reaching.

This is just in one month.

I’ve continued on in the same vein, I’m not reading what I’ve written this past month.  With my 45th birthday just having passed, I felt like these weighty issues were becoming amplified at my own displeasure for not making more out of my life at this point.  I was feeling a writer’s mid-life crisis looming, but because I’ve articulated so many things that have been bothering me through journaling, I have a better path laid out before me to make some changes.

A random discovery from such a simple act.  Thank you to all those writers who shared the positive impact journaling can have on your life!

Do you journal?  How has it helped you?

Welcome to 2020

20202Happy New Year, friends!

Can you believe it?  Not only has another year ended, but we’re now in a new decade.  I’m still of the mindset that the 90s were the last decade because to think otherwise is just ridiculous.  How could it be, now, 20+ years ago?!

I tend to bring in the new year doing the one thing I hope to be doing the rest of it, writing, but I’ll come clean, I haven’t been able to write since quitting my job.  I, instead chose to spend it with one of my favorite people, Jane Austen.  I completed my “One New Movie-a-Week” Challenge last week with Rise of the Skywalker, but I thought it might be a nice motivator to watch a movie, a world I want to be a part of, instead.  I had not seen the film Love and Friendship, based on the novella, Lady Susan, and while I’ll have more to say on it in my next post about my movie challenge, it got me thinking about my own writing.  So at least there’s that.

I nearly finished my Goodreads reading challenge of 12 books, a despicably low number, I know.  I kept seeing these posts that if you want to be a writer and don’t make the time to read you can’t really be a writer.  I was a much better reader a few years ago when my schedule permitted me to do things in a particular order.  Now, I’m trying to implement that old schedule into my new daily routine.  When I realized the end of the year was nigh and I wasn’t going to make my goal, I had to reevaluate a few things.

In that reevaluation was the thought that maybe I had set myself up for failure by expecting too much of myself throughout the year.  I already knew the job was not allowing me to accomplish much, so achieving some of those goals was always going to be difficult, if not impossible.  While I did complete a few of the tasks I had set out to do, like attending my first screenwriter’s conference, others, like the reading challenge, fell by the wayside.  How could I possibly expect so much when days, weeks, and even months passed without a glance towards my passions?

I have to look at this year’s goal setting a bit differently.  Remember, I don’t like resolutions, and I don’t think January 1st is a magic reset button, but it is an unavoidable marker for moving forward and starting anew.  The outside world has dates and seasons for meeting goals, and a new year puts much of that into perspective.  But there are things that I continue to carry over each year that I want to do that, while time consuming, are still worthy goals to pursue.  It’s just going to take some patience and clever maneuvering, and not be at the forefront while more pressing matters are attended to.

What do you want to accomplish this year?  How will you set out to ensure you reach that goal?

set and reach goal concept

Here’s one of my favorite goal setting images for inspiration.  Now let’s go crush 2020!