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.

So there’s a project to finish

I mentioned yesterday that I wrote in three different stories during November. At one point I decided not to count the words for the first of the two romances, but as the deadline crept closer I realized I really, really needed those words so I tucked them back into my word count for the month.

Yes, I was a rebel. I think that will be a standard thing from here on out.

The science fiction piece I worked on I got about six thousand in before stopping and switching – again – back to romance.

It’s this last story that I want to finish up as quickly as possible and hopefully publish before the end of the year. When I write against a deadline, I don’t have time to waste thinking about what I wrote before and whether it’s good or bad. When I don’t worry about whether it’s “just write”, I get to the business of writing a story. My inner editor/critical voice shuts up, and I do the thing I love to do:

leave trails of creativity behind me as I fly forward in my stories

So I’ll be working on that for the next few days, and since I found a new tool on the NaNo website (goal trackers), I’ll use them along with my spreadsheet to track my words and see how quickly I can wrap things up. If I had to set a date I’d like to finish by, I’d say the 15th, with the 10th as a “dream date”. Ultimately if it’s done by the end of the year, I’ll be happy.

Wish me luck!

Photo by Will Oey on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month 2017 and forward

This past November, the one that just ended yesterday, I write 50,000 words of fiction. The challenge is to write one novel in November, but that wasn’t my choice this year.

I wrote the words in three different stories – two romance and one science fiction – and 48,266 those words I wrote in the last seven days.

It’s now a fact that if I pushed myself, I could potentially write four 50,000 word novels in November. I’m not planning that anytime soon, mind you, but my output indicates it’s a possibility.

I did not have a good month overall. There were Life issues, and episodes of depressed moods, and a lack of motivation until I realized that if I didn’t finish, it would be the first since the birth of my son that I would not complete (and “win”) the challenge. That was my tipping point, and I found the time to write 15,002 words on the final day, with several four-digit days before those.

Today, I woke up empowered. I was excited to get things done, to accomplish goals, to set new challenges for myself and achieve them.

December is more a month of transformation and change for me than January is, at least in recent years. I am going to clean my Life, my space, my body in the few weeks of this year that I have left. I am going to end this year at a high point and charge toward 2018 with purpose and energy.

I am going to accept myself the way I am, and with that acceptance, I hope to find peace. I am going to create a space around me that assists that purpose. I am going to treat myself well.

That’s just a bit of what I want. At this moment, it all feels possible and probable. It won’t always feel that way because that’s the way Life is, but I will endeavor to keep my needs front and center so that I am properly prepared to care for those I love.

And that’s what I have tonight. November was good, but it was better because it showed me what I’m capable of, and I plan to take advantage of that to turn 2018 into an amazing year.

Also, I turn 40 in a month and two days (the third day of the new year). I’m rather excited about that.

Sorry, that’s a lie. I’m extremely excited about that.

Photo by Will Oey on Unsplash

What to do when you’re not particularly good at what you love to do

To conclude, I have abso-fucking-lutely no idea. Hi! I’m Nicki, and I wanted to be a teacher, a psychiatrist, and an army nurse when I wanted to grow up. They all have something in common – there are dog tags involved.

Oh, wait. They all help people. The dog tag part was the only reason I ended up with army nurse. I wanted to get dog tags, but had to be in the military for that, knew I wouldn’t be up for fighting (before I realized they didn’t let girls do that), and doctor sounded too hard, so I “settled” on nurse. Honestly, I know now I wouldn’t be up for that, either. Nurses kick ass and deal with more shit than I ever could. Kudos to them – if you’re a nurse, I am grateful for your willingness to put up with my butt when I’m at my worst.

I believe I got off track. Teachers, psychiatrists (I changed it to “psychologist” when I realized that the latter didn’t require a medical degree – too hard, once again), and nurses. They help people learn. They help people deal with the shit going on in their lives that those people don’t feel equipped to handle on their own. They administer medicine, save lives, and pick you up off the floor when you pass out in the bathroom a few hours after childbirth when you were too stupid to ask for help and bled all over the floor on your way to the potty.

Now, I’m good at helping people. I’m a good listener, I’m intuitive, and I pick up pretty well on what people aren’t saying. I’m not good at it all the time, but with some training, I’d make a good therapist or psychologist or counselor.

But I love to write.

I worry I’m not very good at it.

That’s probably the sound of my insecurities raging their lovely heads (I have more than one). But they’re not completely out of order.

I have evidence I’m good at helping people. Life experience, et cetera.

I don’t have evidence that I’m very good at writing. I don’t have many sales. I don’t have many books up for sale, even. (Yes, one follows the other. I know that.) I’m not even very good at marketing, even though my day job includes that word in my title. (Honestly, it’s like throwing spaghetti at the floor. You know you’ve generally got the right idea, but it’s mostly just a guess.)

So what do you do when you’re not very good at what you love?

Work harder? I mean, writing more will bring in more trickling sales. One or two with every new release. I probably still know everyone who buys one. But maybe it won’t be that way forever? Who knows. It depends on how much I suck.

Give up?

Nah.

But I don’t know the answer, so if you came here hoping for one, you’re going to leave disappointed.

Sorry about that.

So here’s the deal

sleepy cat with glasses and a green box that says National Novel Writing Month and thbpt

I love National Novel Writing Month. I love the challenge. I love that I had always wanted to write a novel, and when I found this challenge, I did it.

Just like that. Like the challenge was made for me.

I discovered NaNoWriMo four years after its inception in 2003 when it was still new. I’ve participated and won every year since.

This year isn’t going so well. I stepped down as Municipal Liaison for our region which I had been doing since 2008 because I really needed a break, but it seems to have backfired on me.

I don’t feel rested, relaxed, and excited to join events as a participant instead of a leader. Now part of that is just Life, but the other part is my introversion flaring up. I fear the growing group of people. I’m not going to any events. I’m comparing my former leadership to the current one, which is a horrible idea because, well, duh.

I haven’t been writing. I stopped on day four at 1,752 words thinking I would restart the next day with a bit more prep, and that was it. I haven’t gotten back to it yet.

I haven’t even written here, which is an equal disappointment.

Of the 313 days of the year so far, I’ve written 277 of them. That means there’s a month plus six of days I haven’t written any fiction. I kind of wish I hadn’t calculated that out, to be honest.

Oh well!

There are 52 days left in the year. I’ve got 52 days to shape up.

Wish me luck!

Still here

Greetings and salutations! I took a little break to work on some business planning, and somehow National Novel Writing Month snuck up on me.

I’m not quite up to speed yet, but the fact that I’m excited to see where this story will take me I think is a really good sign.

Other things that are happening include doctor appointments flu shots, plumber visits, writing events, and teenage dramatics. Pretty normal and to be expected, to be honest.

That’s all I have for today. The past two days of writing were slow (as you can see in my pretty new header image), but I hope to pick it up, as I have a meet-cute to write and a couple characters to torture.

Plunge

This is a fabulous $6 tool. I recommend one for anyone with cats, long-haired girls, or people living in their house. Fill sink with water, cover those funny vents under the lip of the sink, and plunge your stoppage away.