Ink

My uncle introduced me to tattoos when I was a child simply by having them on his forearms. I believe he has one on each forearm and one on each bicep, but I only remember the tiger. It crawled toward his wrist, from what I recall, and he must have got it when he was young because it faded well with age.

I liked them. I didn’t know explicitly that I would get one until I was older but get one I did, shortly before my son was born. It’s on the top of my back and usually hidden by my clothes. People are surprised when they see it, and the first comment is usually along the lines of, “I didn’t know you had a tattoo,” followed up with, “Can I see it?” because it’s only peeking out the top of my shirt.

Recently I got another. This one will be much more visible as it’s positioned on the inside of my wrist, and I’m not in the habit of wearing long sleeves. It will be clear to many people why I got it when they see it, and I’m thrilled with what my artist whipped up from what I told her I wanted.

It itches right now, having entered the scabby/flaky stage. I’m thrilled for this, and the art is healing well. My first tattoo suffered from my not being able to see it, and not wanting to ask for help with its aftercare, but this one will not. This one, I’m pleased to say, I have not yet picked or fussed with except for adding perhaps a tad more ointment than I was instructed.

There’s another itch, though, too. Almost before the redness had faded and the swelling had gone down, I began to want another. The same arm, unfortunately, which will create a slightly unbalanced distribution of art, and almost certainly likely to create a need to add to the other arm, and then full sleeves before you know it. (I’m only joking about the timeline, so you know.)

And so that’s where I am. Itching, healing, admiring, and so happy with my new ink.

Love/Hate with Facebook

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to bring it up again because I’m angry.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I love the ability to write quick updates about what’s happening during my day and that I can keep up with friends in the same way by reading their updates.

I love keeping in touch with friends from school or areas I used to live in, getting to watch their families grow from afar.

I love that Facebook shows me what happened on this day in past years, bringing up lovely memories, and sometimes sad ones, to reflect on and find joy in.

I don’t like that Facebook won’t show me everything, even when I ask it to display my feed by the most recent posts made by friends.

I don’t like that I can’t reliably reach a Page audience who, presumably, want to see my content, without paying for the privilege.

I don’t like how some communities (that I find genuine value in 85% of the time) are run. I don’t like how I let those negative feelings impact me.

The impulsive part of me wants to delete my account there and never look back. I won’t do that, of course, but I really, really want to right now. Perhaps I need to add something to my #40while40 list, and take 40 days off of Facebook, or perhaps even all social media. I grew up without it, so I certainly could survive without it now. There are times when I need it at work, but not significantly, and not with the same irritations.

I really like that idea, the more I think about it. We’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’ve enjoyed my overnight oats with dried cranberries, and it’s time to go back to it. Have a lovely day, everyone!

Mememememememe…

Interesting how the word “meme” applies here, as “me, me!” I found this sucker on Facebook but decided to put it here instead. I also took some time this week to update my #40while40 and /now pages – not a ton, just a bit. The #40while40 will update all year as I think of my 40 things an get some of those things accomplished.

Actually, here’s a quick secret – I’m less than a week away from accomplishing one of the items. 🙂 And another – some of the “do X daily” items won’t be managed daily. The intent is to keep those things front of mind and do my best to incorporate them into my routine. If I manage that, I will succeed. 🙂

Anyway, on to the meme.

Four places I’ve lived

  1. An hour from Captain Kirk’s birthplace
  2. Close enough to see the St Louis Arch on my walk to school
  3. Less than 45 minutes from where the music died
  4. The Lehigh Valley

Four places I’ve worked

  1. Eden Seminary
  2. Pizza Hut
  3. Transport America
  4. RE/MAX

Four things I love to watch

  1. My cats play
  2. Minecraft Let’s Plays
  3. Andrew Lloyd Webber creations
  4. Rainbows

Four places I have been

  1. Mexico
  2. Alaska
  3. Germany
  4. Czech Republic

Four things I love to eat

  1. Pizza
  2. Salads
  3. Hummus
  4. Pizza (I couldn’t write pizza 4x, but I wanted to)

Four favorite drinks?

  1. Caffeine (various forms)
  2. Appletini
  3. Mtn Dew
  4. Orange Juice

Four favorite things to do?

  1. Watch visual media
  2. Write
  3. Read
  4. Playing Minecraft with my kids

I thought of one last thing that is completely unrelated to these short lists. I tried to post daily last year and update frequently on my writing. I fell out of the habit toward the end of the year.

It served me well more than once to report in on my word counts, but daily blogging quickly felt like a chore and not one I always enjoyed. So while I do want to have a way to report and be held accountable for my words written to whoever stops by to read, I don’t know what form that will take.

Words have been good the past couple of days, by the way. The first week of the year brought 4,997 words, a 972% increase from the last week of December. So far in January I have written 5,401 words, and my highest word count day so far held 2,892 words. So far, a decent start.

Third of 2018, January

It’s my birthday! I’m officially 40. I’m very happy to be 40, and I’ve had a lovely day so far.

I slept in until about 11 a.m., but that was after waking up at 6 a.m. and getting everyone off to school and work. So technically I took a four-hour nap an hour after waking up. That was lovely.

Then I did my morning routine things that I usually do when the kids are getting ready, and which I should be doing an hour before they need to even get up. But last night I went to a late movie and didn’t get to bed until nearly 2 a.m., so I forgave myself not waking at 5 a.m. today.

Then I watched some Black Mirror and replied to a lot of birthday wishes (thank you, everyone!) and by then it was already time for kids to get home from school, so I postponed my errands until that happened.

Then out into the cold! I’ve been needing air in my tires for a week (since it first got supercold), and so took care of that, got lunch from the gas station, forgot to get actual gas, and then went to a tattoo parlor to get an appointment. I was a bit nervous to go in, but overcame it, just like the haircut. It actually worked out much more perfectly than I could have imagined, and in 9 days I’ll be sporting some new ink. I’m quite excited about that.

And then back into the cold! Off to pick up my laptop which I left somewhere warm so I could see that movie last night without breaking the electronics (never leave your electronic toys in the cold or hot, folks!), visited with the custodians of my laptop, returned a package to its rightful owner, and went to get the gas I’d forgotten earlier.

Then dinner. I used to work at Pizza Hut and I still love their food. And bonus, a 50% off all online orders coupon got me my food for half price! Brought it home, ate, watched some YouTube (got sucked into YouTube, really – so easy, yet so treacherous), and now that everyone’s asleep, I’m writing.

Technically I’m blogging. But it’s still writing, and I still count blog words.

I’m 40! 😀

I had a great day. It wasn’t anything special except that I feel special, and grateful, and loved.  I am looking forward to this year – the ups and the inevitable downs – the hard work and the joy and all the good stuff.

And the books. There is an enormous pile of very good books to read.

And to write. 40 stories in my 40th year. Time to get cracking!

Self Portrait at 40

The first of 2018

Happy New Year!

I mentioned yesterday that I’m excited. I’m still excited. If I’m honest, I’m more excited about turning 40 in two days, and my New Year enthusiasm is really “I’m about to be 40!” enthusiasm.

As a result, I didn’t do resolutions this year. I started in November with a list of 40 things I wanted to do while I’m 40, and then couldn’t think of anything else, and then yesterday I picked it up again. I had thought it would be the kind of thing I’d leave in my Bullet Journal (which is also getting an upgrade this year) but then decided I really wanted it here.

The link is up in the header. Essentially, when the year is over, I hope to have 40 completed goals. And if I don’t complete them exactly as I’ve listed them, I hope to have aimed high enough that my failures will still feel good.

I didn’t list it as a goal because my writing goal is to publish 40 things, but I’d like to also write 1,000,000 words of fiction this year. That is achievable, but only if I work hard at staying on top of my daily writing habit.

Which would start today, now that I think about it. I generally took off December from writing, because of holidays and birthdays and all the things that I didn’t get done in November. Part of me feels compelled to go back to finish the stories I started in 2017 but didn’t bring to completion, but I’m going to ignore that voice (even though it’s breaking the rules) and forge ahead with something new. Maybe a short story to get the year off to a good start.

I think that may be it for now. I’m off to find a story and tell it, then package it up and put it up for sale. Happy New Year!

Featured Image Photo by Marc Sendra martorell on Unsplash

The last of 2017

Can I pinpoint why I am so grateful for 2017?

Probably. Let me try:

  • I ate a mostly plant-based diet for a month this summer and felt amazing doing it. (Then Life.)
  • I published three paperback books (two under a pen name), and several ebooks (all of those under pen names).
  • I made great strides in self-improvement, self-love, and self-confidence.
  • I cut off all my hair, going from shoulder length to a #1 buzz.
  • I wrote  200,366 words of fiction and logged  290,263 words total through fiction, this blog, and the short-lived Veg*ism, Nickified blog (see that aforementioned healthy eating month).
  • I wrote 48,266 words in seven days, my best writing week of all time.
  • So many generous people spent their time with me this year, giving money, time, friendship, and love.
  • We moved my grandmother halfway across the country to live two blocks away instead of 13 hours.
  • We visited our Iowa family and my childhood haunts and collected a photo of my children with all their cousins.

Among other things that don’t come to mine or that I didn’t take pictures of to remember.

I’ve been tracking my writing regularly for two years, but I do have some files from as far back as 2014. Last year, I took my Excel file and put it in Google Docs because I was tired of waiting for Excel to open. Halfway through the year, a friend asked to use it, and so for the past couple of days I’ve been working to make my tracking as generic as possible for anyone else who likes to keep track of this kind of thing.

Here you go!

I’m very, very excited for 2018. I may try to get back to daily blogging because I really enjoy it. I haven’t set resolutions this year, but I have intentions and goals, and I also have tucked away that when one has large goals, failure can still be rather amazing.

I’ll talk more about that tomorrow. For now:

I am so very grateful for your presence in my life in 2017. I am so very grateful for this year, and everything it has taught me. I look forward to 2018 with excitement and positive energy, a positive mindset, an attitude of gratitude, the knowledge that there is abundance all around me, and I look forward to having you enjoy it with me!
Happy New Year!

Getting ready for 2018

I have lived through two birthdays, two Christmas celebrations, and one anniversary. I now have a little bit of a break to get ready for 2018, and here’s what that looks like for me. (In no particular order.)

  • Preparing my 2018 #bujo (it’s new and hot pink and incredibly attractive), which involves drawing in calendars, bringing over a couple of pages of tracking things, and getting all the pages drawn out that start my months.
  • Prepping my 2018 word tracker (it’s just a spreadsheet), which involves setting up formulas to automatically total words, average weekly totals, rank weeks, and display my best month. It’s more than a bit involved, but terribly helpful once completed.
  • Cleaning out the last of the “must clean” areas (since there’s probably not enough time to do them all), and that is going to be much like it sounds, including a trip to more than one second-hand store to rehome things I no longer love.
  • Settling on my writing goals for next year, whether that means words or stories – I haven’t quite decided yet.

I’m sure there will be more tidying, maybe cleaning out a closet, making sure all my thank-you notes are written, stuff like that – trying to make sure there’s nothing urgent left undone this year.

I wrote over 200,000 words of fiction this year, by the way! I may take more time to really get to the details later this week or perhaps early next. It’s actually really kind of interesting.

Okay, I’m going to sign off for now. Have a lovely 2018 to you all if I don’t see you until then!

This is my holiday

I just wanted to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas Day and Monday. The lights, the snow, the opportunity to find ways to show my loved ones they’re loved, it all adds up to a rather lovely day.

Lots of times Christmas is a sad time for me, although not always for any particular reason. It can just get depressing sometimes. Some of my family and loved ones suffer in this season as well. I can do nothing but be there to listen and do the best I can to listen when they need me and reinforce how much I love them.

This Christmas season, this December, has been a positive one for me. I have been filled with gratitude and joy for all the good things and people in my life, and I am excited about my upcoming 40th birthday, to start a new decade with the right mindset and the right attitude.

I’ll still be writing. I’m taking a bit of a rest right now, and it’s just what I need. I will be back soon in full force, blogging and wording and doing Nicki things in a suitably Nickified manner.

For now…

Merry Christmas!

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The “woo-woo”

I am not a religious person, but I believe I could be defined as a spiritual one, in that I’m up for a bit of “woo-woo”  to advance my life and my self. I wasn’t like this until recently. I was simply Nicki, and Nicki was firmly in the “life sucks and then you die” camp.

My change started about five years ago with a box from Quarterly, which is a subscription service. I was part of the Tim Ferriss box, and I received The Five Minute Journal. It wanted me to, of all things, write down three things I was grateful for that day.

Ick.

If you’ve never practiced gratitude, that’s how it can be that first time. I mean, WTF was I grateful for? I was grateful I ate breakfast? That my cat didn’t scratch my face in the middle of the night? She didn’t even have her front claws. There was nothing to be grateful for.

My change continued with a course for work. I’ve spoken about it many times, so I won’t bore you about it again, but it was kind of life-changing (even though I wasn’t the target audience at all). Part of the daily exercise I engaged in for the next year was to write a money-based affirmation 25x a day and to note down three gratitudes daily.

Gratitudes get much less ick when you have a motivational speaker tell you for four days that you should do it, and then you watch everyone around you doing it, and then you have access to the entire seminar on audio to relisten to as many times as you wish for reinforcement. They’re addicting. And yeah, they can be simply, “I’m grateful I ate breakfast,” and “I’m grateful my cat didn’t scratch me last night.” But I digress.

Then a friend and coworker who also attended the class picked up a book (You are a Badass) and recommended it to me. I really liked it. And that book recommended a book (Ask and It Is Given) – and let me tell you, that book was the “woo-woo”-iest of them all). And I really liked it. And then I found someone on YouTube (Raw Alignment) who recommended another book (The Untethered Soul), and then I had to pick up another that was similar, and…

Hint: I liked them all.

Now, here I am. I’m reading another book (You are a Badass at Making Money), I’ve just sorted out that I have $175,000 in debt (house, car, student loans, and credit cards), and I am determined as fuck to get rid of it.

And I mean now.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Neck deep in “woo-woo” (which is rather fun), cleaning off shelves, cleaning up the food I put in my body (except for that Son of Baconator today…that was delicious, but not green enough), getting my head in the damn checkbook and admitting how large a hole I have, and learning to meditate. Or practicing meditation. Or sitting still and trying not to fall asleep. Maybe more of the last just now, but I’ll keep working on it.

Overflowing with Gratitude

I haven’t had a bottle of wine since last Christmas, I’d bet my glass on it. So my fingers are a bit liberated, to put it finely.

That should not negate what I have to say tonight.

Christmas does not feel like Christmas without a tree and without lights. I do not subscribe to the Christian portion of the holiday, but I do fervently enjoy the exchange of gifts on Christmas morning, being able to give my children things they wish for and trying to do the same for my husband.

Today I spent the day, as I often do, taking care of laundry. It’s an all-day task because we have the unique situation of not having laundry facilities in our home. We travel to my parent’s home, which allows us to see and stay in touch with them as well as benefit from their clothes washer and dryer.

While there, while taking care of getting a week’s worth of clothing clean, I was able to take care of financial responsibilities I have for my grandmother, to watch several episodes of The Crown, and to read some in my book, You are a Badass at Making Money. I was able to clearly label their fuse breaker, and to help with (but ultimately not solve) their smoke detector issue (it keeps beeping even though power was removed before replacing the battery).

When I got home, our Christmas tree, which we had avoided putting up last year because of the addition of four (!!!!) new kittens in our household, was up again. There are ornaments on the tree (mostly red) and lights (all white). It’s a fake tree, and there are fake needes all over the floor.

I am in love.

I am so grateful to my husband and my child for getting the tree up today. I opened up a gifted bottle of wine and the accompanying cookies and enjoyed them with more of The Crown, and am just soaking up the season. I’m am so happy and excited about the way today has gone.

Did I mention we got 4″ of snow today? The lovely card I got from a relative back home (Iowa)?

<3

I am so grateful that there are not words.