Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog AwardMy author friend Jane Isaac nominated me for a Lovely Blog Award earlier this week. Since I need a writing exercise that keeps my keyboard fingers limber, I figure seven facts you (may or may not) know about me should constitute a simple challenge in my brain-dead state. (The rules indicate listing 7 facts and then tagging some fellow bloggers to ask them to do the same, so watch for the baton passing at the end.)

  1. I was born at the Ohio State University hospital, making me a Buckeye… but in name only, since we moved away before I was one year old.
  2. I first learned German when I was learning to speak–after we moved from Columbus to Kiel. I had this idea as a young girl, then, that I could speak German–which made for a rude awakening when we moved to Berlin when I was in 4th grade, and I was placed in a remedial German class.
  3. I made up for having forgotten so much by moving up to an intermediate German class halfway through 4th grade.
  4. I was in the double mother-tongue track by the time I was in 7th grade, meaning half my classes were taught in German–including French.
  5. I’m still fluent in French and German. And I have some rudimentary Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish skills.
  6. Because of my language abilities and international background I never expected to marry an American.
  7. Hubs (who was born and raised in the American heartland) and I celebrated our 17th anniversary Monday with a silly faces contest he documented in a series of selfies and made into a sweet (or goofy, depending on your point of view) movie.

Now for the taggees (if you’ll forgive the coinage): Rebecca Clare Smith (as if she hadn’t already answered enough questions), AK Anderson (because I may have wimped out on the Quest, but think her thoughts are worth soliciting), and Dionne Lister (since I haven’t asked her enough intrusive questions this week).

Brain Mush

"It's always much easier to be Grateful when things are going smashingly well, than when they are testing your sanity."I’m beginning to wonder exactly when the pile-on of obligations will subside… Somehow I had imagined I’d have all this extra time left over now that I’ve completed my MBA. Instead, I feel like I’m in a dead sprint that has no end.

We’re just about to start work on a new account this week at the office, and I’ve spent the majority of my weekend filling out The Form From Hell That Shall Not Be Named. And the work we’re doing is something the vendors warned the customer couldn’t be begun without a 90-day lead time… but somehow we’re going to pull this off by the end of February. I’m actually confident we can deliver… but it’s likely to mean logging some extra hours, too.

On the other hand, we also just had an anomalous weather weekend, in which we enjoyed temperatures in the 60s this afternoon, and rewarded the troika (of two girleez and a boyka!) with an almost-3-mile walk. Hubs got to wear shorts. It was a nice reward/trade-off from earlier in the week when we were shivering in the teens. And no doubt contributed to my stuffy head sneeziness. We walked on 5 of 7 days for 8.5+ total miles last week, and we’re finally starting to see a more consistent pay-off with the littlest puppy giving signals to do her business OUTSIDE.

The brain mush, though… And that form… The upside of that combination is that it’s given me an excuse to touch base with old friends, and learn about exciting new options coming soon to Booktastik (because Dionne always merits a shout-out!). Hubs has also been prodding the mush, sending first a link to a Native American code of ethics, and then 25 lessons from Buddha. That first post had an entry about “everyone makes mistakes, and all mistakes can be forgiven” that got me where I live. I’m still pondering how the reality of forgiveness plays out in day-to-day living, though… and realize I’m talking in abstractions for most readers, but wonder if anyone has had a personal experience with forgiving “the unforgivable” and re-making a relationship with a family member…? Particularly if trust is broken and unlikely to be regained…? How does one go about living this reality? Especially when there are so many competing priorities?

So this week I have more questions than answers. And I’m still pondering plot feedback that may have saved me from predictability but still begs the question of how to proceed. Or even when I’ll find time again to sit at the keyboard to pound out fiction words. I am, after all, still at the same word count where I was two weeks ago. On the other hand, I did get to read a few books this week. So maybe I just need to go with having some brain decompression time in the other direction, and try again next week.

Either way, I encourage you to see what the other ROW80ers are managing this week, and I’ll be back next week with whatever interim answers I might find.

Loving Animals

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." -Anatole FranceThe problem with seeing tragedy down the road is that you must nonetheless experience the full fruition of that pain. Mom lost her 7-year-old girl just three weeks after she’d been the picture of health to the extent that she’d taken her to be bred. We were expecting puppies, not death. And yet, Lara passed yesterday afternoon while we were rushing her to the emergency vet. I watched her go through the same phases of shedding her physical form as I had Kyra this past September. The labored breathing, the twitching, the gawping for air. It’s just as hard when it’s an animal you’ve helped care for as when it’s one of your own. Anatole France’s quote is appropriate both for the joys loving furbabies brings, as well as for the unparalleled pain, as they steal softly from our lives even as we grasp at the final straws of hope that they might recover to enjoy a few more magical moments with us.

I’m as emotionally and physically exhausted as I’ve ever been. We’re just at the point at work when we’re gearing up for a new contract to begin, so there will be no time for time off for the next few months.

Being the awesome friend she is, that meant today Gayla texted about starting to plan this year’s writers’ vacation. She has an epic idea that involves a cabin in the wilderness, and offers a glimpse of some serious fun and relaxation if I can just make it until then. (Of course, we’re both urban fantasy authors, so while it’s possible we will discuss Kitty’s House of Horrors, I will cross my fingers that plot line doesn’t play out for us… BWAHAHAHAHAHA). I suppose that glimmer is what will have to keep me putting one foot in front of another for a while.

On that note, we managed to walk every day but Thursday, sometimes multiple times in the day, and racked up 11 miles. We’re mostly fitting these jaunts in 15-25-minute segments since Kou is still only 4 months old–and it’s been cold and icy enough here that taking a fall on slick sidewalks is a good possibility if we don’t stick to well-trodden paths. I didn’t write at all this week–aside from some interesting assignments at work.

I was notified that my qualifications were reviewed and found appropriate, so it’s time to start studying systematically for the PMP exam. I cracked the books a few times, but would be hard-pressed to go beyond the superficialities of the five process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing) versus the ten project knowledge areas (integration management, scope management, time management, cost management, quality management, communications management, risk management, procurement management, and stakeholder management). We’ll see where the intersection of exhaustion recovery and brain power intersects, but at this point I somehow doubt I’ll make my self-imposed March deadline to pass the certification.

We’re finally organized enough that I posted some things on eBay, too, which also takes time and attention… If anyone wants to help put me out of that misery, go ahead and make a buy-it-now offer so I can take this task off my plate…

:D

Otherwise, I’m crossing my fingers for a somewhat quiet week as hubs and I come up on our 17th wedding anniversary. Maybe we’ll get back to that stay-at-home date night idea. Or I’ll take a day off before work gets really crazy. I’m definitely thinking a break would be a good thing at this point. In the meantime, check out how the other ROW80ers are doing, and I’ll be back next week to report on my mental and emotional health. :P

Yearning for Simplicity

Life was simpler when we did things "Just Because".I’m sick of emergencies and bad news. This week we learned a cousin has stage 4, inoperable, metastasized cancer, and one of mom’s dogs had to be hospitalized with extremely enlarged lymph nodes that were resulting in explosions from both ends–initially also diagnosed as cancer. So there have been more, long family phone conversations, and even less time for writing. Not to sound too self-centered amidst the tragedy… but, honestly, a weekly emergency/big-deal-event of one dire kind or another for the past four months will wear a gal out. And make the latest seem comparably less important since a body only has the capacity to respond with urgency to only so many “sky is falling” messages.

I may have reached that calloused/jaded space where I’m going to start telling people to get in line, because I need me/quiet time.

Yes. I’m a horrible person. Or an introvert. And once again have the sore, scratchy throat and green snot that tell me I’m getting sick. Again. Probably from lack of down time.

:(

It’s a vicious cycle. I’m considering contributing to the iTest Indiegogo funding round to get access to a neat tech tool to keep track of these personal health challenges. Or jump in mud puddles “just because” it’s fun to splash. (Thanks, Zen to Zany, for the smile!)

On the other hand we walked every day last week, for a total of more than 8 miles (including some inadvertent splashing that meant doggie clean-ups were necessary…). I submitted my qualifications for the PMP certification as that necessary first step. Even if we haven’t gotten a chance to watch a movie or a show, with all the necessary discussions about family disasters, I do feel like I’ve at least gotten quality time with hubs. And while I didn’t get 5 days of writing, or make the days’ goals when I did, I still added 1,184 words to Red Slaves 3. And discovered my mentor has personal recollections of North and South Korea that are pertinent to my fiction, so gleaned some of those details from him. (And added The Aquariums of Pyongyang to my TBR book case…)

So I’ll celebrate baby steps, take a deep breath, and hope for better this week. Hubs gave me hope for the new year starting with the Chinese New Year (Feb. 19) that the energetics will shift to something more closely aligned with my needs (home is, indeed, where the heart is!). He’s also so attuned to me, that he forwarded me a reminder of things to do for me to … de-whelm myself (if you’ll forgive a coinage). Even if you find “empath” or “sensitive person” too woo-woo as a description of the people for whom these practices are a good idea, I submit anyone benefits from the grounding recommended. And for introverts, “me time” is critical, regardless. So my biggest gratitude of the day is for hubs and my furbabies, and the fact that they help me connect to the most important parts of my life.

So I’ll once again urge you to check in with the other writers of the ROW80 crew to see how they’re doing on their goals… and return next week, I hope, with less to be overwhelmed by.

Constant Change

"The only thing that is constant is change." -HeraclitusI’ve always loved this quote from Heraclitus for its clever play on words to expose a profound truth. And it seems this week has been a reminder of the need to retain the bigger picture while understanding that sometimes, there’s just no way around the adjustments life is forcing you to make. It’s just slightly more challenging as an INFJ, because “HAZ GOALZ!”.

Basically, we were back to errand-running and social and family obligations that meant I didn’t get to write as much as I’d planned. The family news oddities also kept on coming, making life in Wisconsin seem even more like one tragedy after another. Somehow, even the weather conspired to keep us mostly house-bound–which meant a lot of muddy pawprint clean-up, too. So I’ve re-edited Red Slaves 3 and added another 651 words. We took a handful of walks, but didn’t meet that goal, either.

On the other hand, I got both a stay-at-home date night, and some reading time. We’re all caught up with Agent Carter, and I have to say… it’s gripping in some unexpected ways. Carrie Vaughn had blogged about the preview of this almost a year ago exactly, which I had mostly forgotten in the meantime, but I feel like this TV mini-series does an amazing job of highlighting the tension between being good at and qualified for a job, and being relegated to second fiddle just because of one’s demographic status. The British snarkisms are on par with Doctor Who, and the characterizations these actors are achieving are nuanced and engaging. Even the blockheads’.

;)

This all has me thinking in other ways about feminism and the things the movement achieved since the 40s, which also inform my own work. Pile on with the article earlier this week about the study of what kinds of questions lead to deeper intimacy between two strangers that enhances the likelihood they’ll fall in love, and I have some interesting thoughts brewing on my protagonist. In fact, I just uncovered a plot twist earlier today, which appears to be helping me move through the midpoint of my story.

I don’t know whether next week will be a whole lot better, despite the bonus of having tomorrow off for a Federal holiday, but I should at least have my PMP application submitted for review. Work is gearing up for a busy few months, so I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have the mental energy to pick up the pace on my writing to keep up with my goals despite having been derailed this week. I also have review fodder for further down the road on the blog, to meet that goal.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check on the other ROW80ers and offer them kudos or support as needed. I’ll be back again next week with another update.

Working Hard

"Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion."When I set my goals last week, I worried whether I’d manage the 500-word bar but didn’t think I’d have a problem with the walking or the at-home date night. It’s interesting to see that even with the major headache of nightly course work and weekly papers off my plate, life still has a way of adjusting the goals and priority we set for ourselves. In my case, I’m now at 26,431 words on Fire to Dragon, so managed all but 70 of the words in my goal.

The weather, on the other hand, offered us snow and ice and Wisconsin-like temperatures, so while we still walked the dogs, we were lucky if it was a mile each day. With the prediction for freezing rain tonight, that’s likely to persist a few more days, because it really is surprising the number of people who don’t shovel in Virginia… making for a scary number of icy sidewalk hazards for those of us trying to stay fit.

The other big miss was the other one I’d thought easy: A stay-at-home date night. When I get home at 7, and it’s dinner time, then writing time, that doesn’t leave much time for cuddling in front of a show or movie. On the other hand, we did celebrate my brother’s birthday at an entertaining Teppanyaki restaurant, so left our furbabies at home alone for the longest stretch yet. Apparently two hours apart means KouKi is shrieking and frantic by the time she sees us again–though she didn’t destroy her crate or anything in it, so maybe, eventually, she’ll be as chill as Santino was about the experience. I hope so, because Natasha was at the other end of the house to stay away from the racket, and I hate to see a puppy that upset.

Of course, it couldn’t have helped that we discovered Friday that she had a major infestation of roundworms. Those parasites could explain the issues we’ve had with diarrhea from her, though it seems, too, we caught it early enough that her growth and general vitality has not been significantly impacted. She’s already at 22.5 pounds and still playing daily. Regardless, I had the gut-churning “joy” of receiving a text from hubs with pictorial evidence that the medication was working. All I will say, for those of you with visual memories of Star Wars, episode 6 (version 1!), is … Sarlacc pit. </gag> We’ll find out whether she needs another round of treatment next week, and are planning on getting the other two tested as well, since, as the vet said, this is an environmental hazard here.

Odd that in almost two decades of dog ownership, though, this is the first we’ve run across the issue, given the wide geographic range we’ve lived in. It looks like I will finally be investing in Panacur, which my mom (a Berner breeder) swears by.

The most interesting part of my week was the persistent sense that I was missing deadlines. Almost like the schoolwork was a phantom limb, teasing me with remembered stress. So when I saw the quote above drift past on my Facebook feed, I had to consider the difference between stress and passion. I’m feeling significantly less stressed in some ways, but have started setting up deadlines for my writing that will add to my stress, given the amount of work I anticipate investing in that process. In fact, I discovered a critique group accepting new members this week and submitted an application. Another writer friend had posted an article debunking the 10,000 hours to mastery myth, prodding me further down the road of looking for someone(s) to poke holes in my story telling. Which, ironically, will make the hard writing work more stressful, but I hope ultimately leads to an affirmation of my passion.

We’ll see. As it is, writing book three of a series has enough challenges that this story feels more of a slog to tell. I really hope that makes for effortless reading on the other end. Once again, time will tell. But I’m starting to operate as if March will be my release month, since I feel hopeful that the pace I’ve set is both realistic and achievable.

I didn’t even try to deal with our remaining boxes, or to establish a study schedule for the PMP, but at least I seem to finally be past the cold/flu that has been so draining for the past month and a half. It seems someone’s Internet-posted remedy of honey water has turned the tide for both of us. So we’ll see whether I have more energy this week to be able to shoe-horn in more progress. Otherwise, check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing, and I’ll be back next week to let you know if I’m any closer to achieving my goals.

House Blend: Introvert

"Anti-social behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists." -Nikola TeslaThis week I realized I’ve been fighting a heavier or lighter version of this &*%^$! cold/flu bug for the past five weeks. I’ve had enough of it. I’ve been dosing myself with every appropriate kind of Chinese herb and nutraceutical in our home pharmacy, as well as asked hubs for acupuncture (and gotten a treatment!), done the salt bath thing, etc., etc. I may have even finally turned the corner, considering I’m not coughing every five minutes nor honking into a tissue while I’m writing, and while the headache lingers, the furbabies let us sleep ourselves out today, and the past week has felt almost like a staycation for its very light work schedule and my ability to do the necessary without going in to the office.

All of which brought forcefully to mind Kait’s closing blog post for the previous round of ROW80. I’m starting to think my house blend is something related to my own introversion: The absolute need for a lack of social commitments so I can enjoy quiet time. As Kait noted, there’s nothing like being sick for enforcing boundaries and ensuring we take care of ourselves. It may also be related to Tesla’s quote at the beginning of this post (which is the closer tie to how that house blend plays out in my writing): We need that kind of distance to be able to ask intelligent questions of ourselves and connect with those inner directives that frequently go against the grain of what the larger society would have us do. I’ve been almost totally anti-social this week, and tonight was able to add 500 words to Red Slaves book 3 for the first time in months.

We’re still not fully moved into our house; the other side of our family is facing a new health crisis necessitating future changes; and I still have to work out a schedule to study for the PMP exam I plan on taking in a few months. But without time with just my immediate family, and including time to do the kind of binge-watching we’ve done the past few nights on Sherlock (which, OMG, FANGIRL!!!), I don’t have enough separation from the crowd to manage my need to be creative.

Which brings me back to that house blend theory again: My stories all seem to have that intellectually curious character who can come up with all the right questions, but has a hard time accepting whatever form of magic is providing the correct answers to them. I would say my personal catchphrase could be “I believe,” but I also like to think my mind is still open to those questions my characters drive me to ask. I suppose that means my stories will generally have an air of mystery about them not unlike what my new favorite TV show has–even if I’m not into writing police procedurals or detective stories.

So. It now being January 5th and the official beginning of the new round of ROW80, here are my goals:

  1. Study for and pass the PMP exam;
  2. Write 500 fiction words per day 5 days a week;
  3. Walk at least 2 miles per day;
  4. Carve out at least one stay-at-home date night with hubs per week;
  5. Post 3 more book reviews; and
  6. Finish sorting and settling all our stuff to be fully moved into our house.

I think that’s enough to be getting on with, and may be overly ambitious… but am not sure that will even get me to the end of the novel I’m working on, and it certainly won’t let me finish the other stories I have percolating. At a certain point, I still need to follow my own project management advice and recognize that there are only a very few hours available in every day, and we do ourselves no favors when we don’t schedule some slack to account for the necessity of that internal down-time also hinted at in Tesla’s quote. I’m sure it’s why I’ve struggled to get rid of this illness, too, and resolve to be healthier this year by acting on my known need for quietude. We’ll see how well I do at enforcing boundaries.

Feel free to check out the other ROW80 participants’ goals, and I promise I’ll be back next week to report on my own progress.

Holidaze

The best vacation from stress is a mind filled with happy thoughts. -Zen to ZanyAnd thus, the holiday season is half over. I’ve loved having a string of days at home, though, as usual, I overestimated how much I might actually successfully accomplish. None of the rooms I thought might be sorted are; neither did I do more at my computer than diddle around on social media sites.

On the other hand, yesterday I finally (almost two years after our Aquafarm arrived as a reward for having supported Back To The Roots’ Kickstarter campaign!) set up our tank. Unfortunately, my first experience with a new fish did not end well. While Bettas are supposed to be the easiest fish for rank newbies to handle, my first died within 6 hours of being installed in the new tank. This meant my morning was then occupied with researching all the ways the fish can die. I suspect the whole “does fine at room temperature” instruction was the root cause, so when I returned to the pet store today, it was to buy additional water conditioners as well as a tank heater to make sure hypothermia did not set in once again. Felix the 2nd appears to be thriving as I write tonight, so I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t have to handle another death in the family very soon.

Also, we’ve managed multiple walks per day for the entire week. Our newest schedule seems to be to get up around 8 to potty the youngest canines, bring them in for breakfast, and then take all three for a little more than a mile walk. When the weather’s nice, in the afternoon, we take another one ranging between 1.7-2.8 miles. We cap the day with a final, half-mile walk.

I don’t think I’ve been in as good shape (despite the lingering lung issues from the cold/flu of a week ago) in decades.

And we seem to have finally hit the age with KouKi that she’s letting us get more decent stretches of sleep–or we’ve walked her enough that she’s as worn out as we are.

:D

To sum, then… This round I did check off a few things: Finished my MBA! Posted three (of the four of my goal) book reviews. Got the exercise thing sorted. However, I did not finish Jasper’s Story, though I did start reviewing my work on Red Slaves book 3. I don’t think my brain has actually been awake enough to be creative in the past month, but as the youngest of our pack matures, this too shall change, so maybe next round I’ll finally get back to some decent word counts.

I will be looking forward to it, though I can see my social calendar here will remain busier than anywhere we’ve previously lived. I’m not terribly happy about that given how precious time has become, even though I enjoy spending time with family and extended family–and today I got to help with the holiday baking with my nieces, as well as enjoy the Packers clinching their division for the fourth year running. It will be an ongoing challenge for me, but hearkens back to the Zen to Zany quote that kicked off this post: Happy thoughts really are the best cure for stress. Sharing unstructured time with hubs; watching Felix cavort through the water, or the furbabies chase each other through the house; or relaxing with good stories… definitely happy-making experiences. I feel¬† those cramped neurons unfurling in my brain.

While the next round technically kicks off January 5th, I’ll be spending the week considering what my goals should be to report for my next check-in, as I balance family and work needs with my own creative drive. Meantime, consider visiting the other ROW80 writers to see how they’ve met their goals.

Book Review: Fluency

FluencyThis was the second of my binge reads last weekend, and actually deeply impressed me for the strong female voice of the protagonist. I had picked it up over the summer while it was on sale, thinking I might have time to treat myself to a break with a book by a Twitter buddy (@Jenthulhu, you should follow her, too, since she shares very kewl science news & geek links on a regular basis)… but… it sat in my TBR pile for longer than expected. It didn’t let me go once I started reading, though.

Given my own love of languages, the protagonist’s vocation made her immediately appealing to me on the one hand, while her self-control allowed her the appropriate distance to maintain productive professional relationships with her colleagues:

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, you know,” he said, with a sly smile. She resisted smiling back.

“What?”

“You’re supposed to be the damsel in distress. We’re supposed to save you.”

She snorted and pulled her hand away. “Times have changed.”

“But what does that make us? Two dudes in distress? Pathetic.”

“Two colleagues in distress. Gender doesn’t matter,” she replied and let a hint of a sad smile cross her face.

Even more welcome was the fact that this was a mature woman who was learning and growing through her experiences. (I may be slightly burned out on the YA/NA craze these days, since it seems my Harry Potter fandom has put me in the marketing cross-hairs for a whole lot of juvenile characters…) Wells finally shares some of the reason for Jane’s self-contained distance late in the story in a way that will allow her to springboard to even greater growth in future installments, too, so it was a welcome development to find a character who didn’t bore me with her own inner stagnation.

I was sucked into the adventure of exploring a derelict spaceship and learning about alien races both from the human and alien perspective. The horror of discovering additional, unexpected hazards to space travel, and the Easter Egg bonus of a Smoking Man reference did a lot to cement my geek-heart happiness with the story. In fact, it felt like there were several homages to various scifi classics woven throughout, so I smiled at regular intervals not only from the banter among the characters but also at an author having fun with tropes.

Wells even managed to wedge in some lessons on women’s experience trying to pursue professions in science that helped underline the character’s tenacity while shining a light on the continued disparities between the sexes’ ability to advance credible careers.

My one nitpick was that the ending was a rather obvious cliffhanger, asking the reader to hold on for the ride (very much in the style of Contact, “wanna go for a ride, little girl?”), but having to wait for book 2’s release. While the arc and adventure were complete for this segment of the saga, I’m seeing more series authors closing with a brand new opening, rather than a sense of quiet satisfaction that allows the reader to savor the world without that gnawing sense of missing all the MOAR that is over the horizon. It’s becoming a larger frustration each time I encounter the issue, and detracts, in this case, from a competent debut.

Regardless, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the Miles Vorkosigan stories, the X-Files, or even the Katarr stories (to plug my own publisher’s multi-author series). I am looking forward to the adventures foreshadowed for book 2 (Remanence), and am anticipating (along with what appears to be a robust fan base) its release sometime in the near future.

Checking In and Checking Out

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." -William JamesI thought I would check in last week. Had all kinds of plans about hitting the ground running once I’d turned in my final assignment. But it turns out travel is no less stressful than it’s ever been; getting to finished on that final assignment was every bit as stressful as you would have expected; and trying to see All The Family (and some friends) over the course of four days… Well. You get the picture. I ended up with a nasty flu I tried to ignore for a couple days–and you know how well that works out.

At least I was feeling well enough that I could start working on some of the book review posts I had promised for this round by the end of the week.

And today… I actually started a re-read of what I’d written so far on book three of Red Slaves. It wasn’t too bad. I may get myself into enough of the swing of things to start churning out fiction again by the end of the year.

:)

This, after I had one of those conversations with family who’d noticed… I’ve lost weight this year that I didn’t need to lose. The exact words: “You look drawn.” Nice way of saying all that stress… Yes, it does take a visible toll. Even if I was choosing my thoughts with care through most of the things we’ve had to deal with. Even though I’d known there would be a crazy amount of pressure with all the changes we signed up for.

I don’t see we had many options, but I also see a few extra white hairs I didn’t have last year.

So I’m grateful the year is winding down with a little leeway for some rest. Even though the puppies are conspiring to mostly only let us sleep for no more than 3-4 hours at a shot, we discovered that we can drop them off after their breakfast so they all spend the day at playtime… and we get some uninterrupted rest. God Bless Affectionate Pet! The end-of-year slowdown and actual days off should give me the mental space that lets me face the new year with new energy. On that note, some dear friends have created a beautiful new song for the season that should get us all focused on how our thoughts contribute to the greater Light in the world around us.

I hope you join me in finding gratitude for the little things that move you forward–and in visiting my ROW80 cohorts who are also dealing with the stresses of the season. While I will continue my weekly check-ins, I’m planning on being mostly checked out from responsibilities and stressors for the next two weeks.

:)

I wish the same for everyone else who is feeling like the past year has added too many challenges to the balance due side of the ledger.