A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 years strong - and stronger

Today is Halloween, but this isn't going to be the typical trick or treat post.

No, I want to tell you about something that I'm proud of.

On this day, ten years ago, at 8:30 in the morning, I went to the Ada County Courthouse and was married to a man that most people thought I'd never make it five years with. We'd already been together for three years, with about 4 months off for a major break up during our engagement, but that didn't matter. Our marriage wasn't going to make it to five years. We'd be divorced after a year, maybe two.

Yeah, we proved those naysayers wrong.

We were almost divorced at nine years. Some of you may remember my posts from around this time last year bemoaning the fact that Himself was contemplating asking me for a divorce. I'm happy to say we got past that and are now a much stronger couple for it.

That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about today...getting stronger. I am a much stronger woman than I was ten years ago. My husband is a much stronger man than he was ten years ago. I don't mean physically. I mean emotionally. We've literally been through hell in the last three years. Last year was almost hell number 3 (let's not talk about hell numbers 1 & 2...those happened within the same year, within a few months of each other, and almost killed us). But each time something has happened that made us come out stronger together rather than break apart.

Part of it is our personalities. I'd rather die than get a divorce. I don't believe in divorce, though I know it happens and it could have just as easily happened to me. At this point in my life, I can say I won't be the one to initiate a divorce ever. In the future, who knows. I can only say how I feel now. He gets angry and last year he was very angry and very hurt (not necessarily because of me...family issues). I got the brunt of it last year because I was a convenient target and the real person he wanted to hurt was out of reach. He realized this and we worked past the broken trust issue with the divorce threat and moved on.

We're stronger for that too.

Every event in our ten years has given us some new personal strengths, as well as strengthening us as a couple. Everyone told us again as we faced down our first hell three years ago that we should divorce. That it was all my fault (his side of the family) that it happened, that he was worthless (my side of the family), and that we'd lose everything if we stayed together. We were going to lose everything anyway regardless if we stayed together or not. We chose to stay together so we didn't have to face it alone.

I love my husband. We have our spats. We get on each other's nerves. We sometimes hurt each other badly enough to make someone (me) cry. But we get past it, we get through it, and we move on a little stronger and a little better. That's one of the secrets to why our marriage has lasted so long...our ability to turn our weaknesses into our strengths and to help each other push past the bad and grow stronger.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

De-stressing, an admission, and another #ROW80 check in

Let's start with the first admission: I'm horrible at de-stressing. I can stress myself out with ease. But when it comes to unwinding from the stress, I find it difficult to achieve that calm state. I've had to learn fast over the last couple months because there has been literally NOTHING I could do about Met Life being arseholes and dragging their feet about my short term disability. (Yes, it finally came through. That was a huge relief to me too.)

Let's start with the definition of stress. Merriam-Webster online dictionary has an excellent and comprehensive definition of stress here. We're most interested in two of the aspects of this definition: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation and  a state resulting from a stress; especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium <job-related stress>. 

Stress can be a cause for a lot of short term problems. Tension headaches, back aches, neck aches, body aches in general. It can cause loss of appetite, sleep loss, tension between people. It can also lead to a depressed immune system because of the physical depredations on your body caused by the stress, which opens you up to every sickness out there.

Now, if you're like me, being sick stresses you out too because damn it, you don't have time to be sick. There are books to be written, chores to be done, people to be dealt with. Life has to go on and you don't have the time to deal with being sick on top of it. Yeah, that doesn't help you any either. It just makes the sickness linger longer, I've noticed.

De-stressing is a must in these kinds of situations. I'm not a person who de-stresses easily but I've found that these specific things work best for me. First, shut off all the damn electronics. Yes, even the cell phone. Yes, the laptop/computer/tablet. Everything. Turn out the light. Bury yourself under the covers. Take a nap if you feel like it. But if you don't, spend some time just curled up in the dark. If your mind has a tendency to wander to topics that stress you out in times like these, force your mind away from these thoughts. Make them go to something else. For me, I made it go to one of the books I'm writing. I worked my way through several scenes that way and it helped relax me.

Music. I know it's been said before to listen to music. But you have to pick the right music. Music that increases your heart rate is not going to help you de-stress. Pick music - or some kind of nature sound if that's what you prefer - that is going to lower your heart rate and soothe you. I recommend Ed Van Fleet's "Oceans". It combines the sound of the ocean with gentle music. It's very nice and soothing if you like that style of music. While you're listening to it, try not to think of anything. Just focus as hard as you can on the music. It's hard at first. Your brain wants to run through everything that's stressing you out. But don't let it. Focus solely on the music and let your body relax. It'll help.

Tea or hot chocolate. Try for non-caffeinated tea if you can find it. Caffeine does drive up heart rate, which can lead to a higher stress level. I know chocolate has caffeine in it. But the caffeine level isn't as high as it is in say green tea or black tea. Besides. chocolate triggers all those lovely endorphins in your head which lead you to happy places so hot chocolate is beneficial in that way too. Forego the coffee when you're stressed, or go for decaf which has less caffeine in it if you must have coffee. But try for something with as little caffeine as possible.

Finally, find something that makes you happy and do it. Writing can be stressful for us writers, so sometimes we have to put the pen/word processor away and move on to something else. I knit, so when I got really stressed out this past month I dug (and yes, I do mean dug...the stuff was buried in the bottom of my closet again) out my knitting and started knitting a scarf. I need a new scarf anyway and it gave me something to do that kept me busy but helped me relax. I watched movies. I read books. I knitted. I steered clear of being online or writing. And it helped. Sometimes unplugging is a good idea to help with your stress.

These are only the things that work for me. There are so many books, self-help gurus, podcasts, vlogs, blogs, etc. out there on how to do this that I'm sure you'll find a hundred different tips on this. These are just what have worked for me. Please find your own and use them to help you out of stressful situations. If you've got one you'd like to share, please do. I'm always looking for new ideas to try to help with de-stressing.

I'm feeling much better these days. My stress levels dropped significantly when I was able to pay my bills. But by de-stressing I was finally able to start to shake this nasty cold/allergy/thing that's been lingering for the past month and a half. I actually feel better today than I have in weeks and part of it is due to the fact that I'm no longer as stressed as I've been. It really does help. The main thing you need to keep in mind while de-stressing is it isn't going to work all the time. Sometimes you're just not going to be able to shut down the stress receptors. In that case, practice your de-stressing techniques to minimize the stress and try to get past it faster.

ROW 80 update is below. You don't have to read on if you're not interested in that.

A second admission, and this to the ROW 80 crowd...I've missed the last couple check ins. It's had to do with the stress levels in my life being so high I haven't wanted to be online much and I'm sorry. I'll be making the regular check ins from now on.

Writing - NaNo is fast approaching so I'm anxious to get started on that project. That's the novel I want to start that's the first in the series. I decided to start with it for NaNo as a kick in the pants to get it done. Jaelon's story is started but not finished. I've tweaked a few thins in Mkai's story again because I've altered a few details in the world building. Taereah's story got completely deleted because I realized in order to write her story I need to have the outline for CRACKED WORLD written out so I know where she comes in with that story so I can figure out what I want to write with her. I kind of need the same thing for Jaelon's story because both of them tie into CRACKED WORLD and the as of yet unnamed novel series I'm working on starting in November, so I need to have past and present details worked out before I can work on their stories.

Personal - I didn't follow through with vocational rehab. It just didn't feel right, and they told me the best they could do for me was find me a job that paid me $8-$9/hr. I need something $10+ just to survive these days so it wouldn't have worked out. I'm still forgetting my afternoon dose of pills so I've started setting an alarm in my phone. It'll be easier once I start back to work because I'll have an afternoon break and I'll be able to take the pills regularly on that break. I'm mostly just stretching every other day when it comes to exercising. It's not much but at least it's something. I haven't wanted to do much of anything lately because of how crappy I've felt but I've made myself go through the same stretching exercises they taught me in the hospital so I'm doing something.

Work - I've talked with my boss about a few new developments. The big one for me is they're changing our schedules which means I'm losing my shift differential (that's almost $100 per paycheck). There was a shift bid, which I would have missed if not for her, that was due on the 23rd. She emailed me the shift bid and I sent back my preferences. I'm not likely to get what I want since I'm low man on the totem pole because of my stats but we'll have to see. I'll know the first week of November, which is right after I go back, and we won't actually have to make the change to our new shifts until January. They're getting rid of most of the night shifts and putting us all on days. Blech. I like my night shift, thanks. Practicing my anti-panic attack exercises now so I've got them down for when I go back to work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

General life update & ROW 80 update

I bet y'all have missed me, haven't you? *grin*

Things are a little tight these days since I'm out of work on the leave of absence. But we're making things work. My dad loaned us some money that we'll be paying back as soon as we can, though it's going to be a while. But between that and the limited amount of funds I got for my short term disability, we're scraping by.

I've gotten my outline for NaNoWriMo finished. This is a new thing for me since I've always been a pantser. I've even categorically stated I'll never use outlines. Well, I'm eating my own words. I'm going to try my hand at writing with an outline this year. If it works, I might actually win this year. I'd like to break my losing streak from the last three years.

I've gotten most of the histories written. I'll revisit them all before November because some of the things that show up in the histories get touched on briefly in the novel I'm planning on working with for November. It's the first story in the series. I'm not sure how many books are going to be in the series, how many books I'm going to break the outline into, and all that good stuff...but I'm going to get it written.

I go back to work on November 1st, supposedly. Not sure yet if that's going to be the precise date or not but that's the general timeframe I've been given. I'm not looking forward to it but I'm making sure I don't overstress myself too much.

Now, for those of you who weren't aware, I'm participating in ROW 80 as a way to hold accountability for my goals. If you're curious, follow the #ROW80 hashtag on Twitter or follow the link that should be set up in my sidebar. I think I did it right.

So, quick update on the ROW 80 goal posts:

WRITING: I finished Jaelon's story. I still need to do some more work on Taereah's, but I've gotten it started.

JOB: I had to put a stop to my job hunting while out on a leave of absence. Funnily enough, my current employer sort of frowns on that while I'm out on their dime. *shrug* I'm still going to the voc rehab on the 15th and we'll see what they say.

PERSONAL: Exercise is going well. I'm at least stretching every other day, and I've been out on walks twice in the last week. Still good on the meds. No missed doses so far this week either. I'm meeting with my counselor on Friday. I did call today to find out about meeting with the doctor and about the FMLA paperwork that I need to get paid for being on my LOA. They're going to call me back with that info. I've spent time away from the computer, though I've used it for background noise. I'm reading Warrior by Marie Brennan. It's a book I picked up at Hastings used (along with its sequel) for $3/book when I got out of the hospital so I'm trying to read them. So far, so good.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm going to have to change one of my goals...weather is getting too cold for walks

This week has been an interesting one. I had to emergency babysit for a friend and ended up not taking an actual walk, though I did borrow her staircase (since I was alone there for 2 hours before the kids showed up) to do 20 minutes of stair stepping. My allergies decided to remind me it's fall so my head is stuffed and my eyes are bugging me. And my writing has taken some leaps and bounds. But all in all it hasn't been a bad week.

Just found a quote that made me think and I thought I'd share.
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." ~Stephen Hawking

On to the full update:

WRITING: This has been a very productive week for writing. I've finished Aran and Taereah's stories. I took a break from writing for a couple days because of the intense writing binge but I plan on starting Jaelon's story next week. I also have the outline for Raghnall's story (my NaNo novel AND the first book in my series) finished, which is new for me because traditionally I'm a pantser.

JOB: Haven't done much on the job front this week. I've got the appointment with voc rehab on the 15th and I'm holding off on searching for a job until I meet with my counselor there. I'm polishing my resume and making things shine for job hunting. I'm also going to talk to my regular counsel more this coming week on CBT plans to get me ready for going back to work in 3 weeks.

PERSONAL: I'm changing one of my personal goals. Instead of walking for 15 minutes it's going to be exercise for 15 minutes. It's getting too bloody cold for me to be walking, since the cold affects my hip very badly. So I'm going to do some kind of exercise every other day for 15 minutes. I've been able to keep up with this amended goal very well this week with stair climbing on Thursday and some stretches on Saturday. My eyes hurt really bad yesterday because of my allergies so I wasn't on the computer very much. I did get some reading done but again, with my eyes hurting, it was very hard. Mostly I spent yesterday dozing on and off until it was time for us to go over to a friend's house. They made us pizza and cupcakes to celebrate our 10th anniversary (it's on Halloween, but they wanted to feed us earlier in the month) and we played Munchkin. We came home, I couldn't manage the computer, so I went to bed really early last night after taking allergy meds. In regards to my regular meds, I'm spot on this past week. Not a single missed dose. My counselor was on vacation so I won't be seeing her until this upcoming Friday. From there, we'll see how that goes.

That's my exciting week in a nutshell. A lot of reading and writing, some exercise, and allergies. Hope this next week continues to go well for me and for everyone else doing ROW 80.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ROW 80 Check in post

This is my first check in post for this round of ROW 80. It's also my first check in post at all for ROW 80 since I'm coming to it late in the year and just giving it a try to see if I can do it or not.


I've had to tweak the story I finished last month a couple times as I update my world building but I'm already 1/4 of the way through Aran's story. I expect to have it finished in the next two weeks. I've also made plans to write the first of the novels in the series, well get it started at least, for NaNoWriMo in November. As such, I'm making little character notes as I go to make sure I've got my details in place.


I've got a phone interview today from 9:30-10:30a with Merry Maids for a customer service job. It's something different from Collections, which I have to get out of. I've put out a few more resumes over the last couple days. I'm still working on my CBT and practicing my coping techniques so when I do go back to work on November 1st I'll be able to handle it better for a little while, at least.


So far, so good on the meds. I haven't missed a dose yet. I don't have another appointment with my counselor until next week since she's on vacation this week but I am going to call to see if she did the work up so I can see the doctor for my meds since I need to tweak them a little I think. I went for a walk yesterday to start my walking every other day goal. I actually walked for 20 minutes since I took it easy and walked around our neighborhood. I've started reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes again. I figured I'd start with something I love to begin with, and then branch out into all of the new e-books I have on my Kindle. I also spent most of yesterday handwriting out notes and reading instead of being on the computer.

Characters on Couches

I sit nervously on the edge of the desk. The beings I've invited to this little escapade are not among my nicer characters. But I need them to talk to me so I can get them past some of the crap that's derailed the story. So I called them here so we could work things out so when I do get back to their story I can move it forward.

There's a knock on the door. Before I can utter the words "Come in!", the door is pushed open and they come in - Azarea, Mik, and Gabby. Thankfully they're all in human form. I don't feel liek dodging wings today and Azarea is a little intimidating in her natural form. Mik and Gabby are just fluffy and shed feathers like nobody's business.

"We're here. Can we get this over with?" Azarea asks.

"Please sit down." I gesture to the three leather chairs in front of my desk. I take out a digital recorder and turn it on. "Now, we'll get through this faster if you three cooperate. Let's start with an easy question. Azarea, why do you hate Mik?"

"I don't hate him," Azarea says, but she won't meet my eyes.

"Uh huh. Tell that to someone other than your author who's stalled out because you two can't seem to get along. I don't mind conflict, but I need to know what's causing it," I say.

"You shouldn't like like that, Red,"  Mik says with a smirk. "Please, I'd love to hear your problems with me, too."

"Don't call me Red," Azarea says, but her voice lacks conviction.

I frown. "Red" has been her nickname all through the story. "Well, if you won't answer my first question, can you tell me why you hate the nickname Red?" I ask.

"I'd rather not," Azarea says.

Now I'm frustrated. I slam my hands down on the desk. "Well then, tell me what you want me to do. Shall I scrap your story and condemn you all to an eternity in my 'not able to be finished because the characters didn't work together' file?"

"Please don't," Gabby says. She gives Mik a sidelong look. "Azarea hates her nickname becasue Mik gave it to her so she'd never forget."

"Forget what?" I ask.

"What she was, and what she could become again," Gabby says.

"And that is?" I ask.

"A monster," Mik says. "A murderous, violent monster. Something she has yet to get past."

"He'll never let me forget," Azarea says, bitterness dripping from every word. "Never. No matter how hard I try, how many lives I live where I do nothing wrong, he never lets me forget. If I mess up even once, no matter how slight, he drags me back to the House. In this life I got into MMA to take care of my violent streak in a more controlled environment. Mik threatened to put me back in the House if I competed. Gabby forced him to back off on that one."

"Now we're getting somewhere," I say. "Mik, why would it matter if she's participating in the MMA female division? It's a safe way for her to vent and in her human form she's not exactly invulnerable."

"It's what it signifies. It shows she's going back to her violent tendencies, something I can't allow," Mik said. "Gabby says it's good for her but I don't believe it."

"Well, I can definitely see why you don't like him," I say to Azarea.

Her eyes glow red. "You know what? I hate him," she hisses. "He and Gabby attached themselves to me three thousand years ago and I can't get rid of them. They aren't friends. They're jailers. Mik especially. I can't have a bad day without him threatening me with the House. And Gabby just sits back and lets him do all this shit. She rarely ever stands up for me."

"So Mik's a control freak with a god complex and Gabby's disassociated herself from the lot of you," I say. "That explains a lot, actually."

"A control freak with a god complex?" Mik demands, outraged. "Do you realize what she's done?"

"Hello. Author. I created her, Mik. Yes, I know what Azarea's done in the past. I also know her last two lives - this one and the one prior to it - you've tried to imprison her for things that were utterly ridiculous because she's made great strides in changing her personality to be able to thrive in this world," I say. "The problem is, I know your story too and you've gotten really insufferable lately. Why are you so hard on her?"

"I am sick and tired of cleaning up her shit," Mik snaps. "How many times have Gabby and I had to step in to stop her?"

"How many times has she managed to stop herself before she got too far into kill mode?" I counter. "You haven't had to step as often as you think, Mik. You're usually coming in just to punish her for her actions. She's a Skanti, Mik. It's not like she can help her nature. She's doing her best. You need to cut her some slack." I shrug. "Besides, if it's such a burden to you, drop her. Go find someone else to babysit."

"I can't," Mik says angrily. "What you don't seem to understand is I'm blood bound to that monster. Both Gabby and I are bound to Azarea for time and all eternity until we die. Since Azarea can only be killed in human form, and Gabby and I rarely ever show our faces, we will never be free of this burden."

"Ouch," I say. I sigh. "Well, now I know what's going on between the three of you. That actually helps me understand where you three are coming from. That solves all my issues with the story, for now. I'll work on solving your problems while I'm at it. Why don't you three get out of here? Oh, and Mik? No grounding her for being honest," I say. Mik and Gabby vanish. Azarea walks out the door, a totally broken look on her face.

I lean over and switch off the recorder.

Monday, October 1, 2012

ROW 80 Round 4 Goals

I know, it's not like I don't have a bunch of stuff already going on in my life right now (being on a LOA from work, health issues, financial issues, roommate issues...the list goes on and on) but I decided to give ROW 80 (#ROW80 on Twitter) a try. I thought, after reading up on what it was, that it looked like a great thing for me. I'm good about setting goals but not so great on following through with them so some accountability might help me out here.


1. Finish Aran's story.
2. Start/finish Jaelon's story.
3. Start/finish Taereah's side story.
(All three of the above are short story/novella "histories" for characters in my novels. I've already finished one last month.)
4. Start on one of the novels.
5. Get ready for NaNoWriMo in November, and reach the 50k goal for the first time in the last few years.


1. Get my mind prepared for going back to work Nov 1.
2. Go back to work.
3. Work on my CBT to keep myself sane and stable while I'm at work.
4. Apply for new jobs.
5. Get additional help job hunting from vocational rehab.


1. Stay on my meds.
2. Work with my counselor to treat my bipolar and my PTSD more effectively.
3. Walk at least 15 minutes every other day.
4. Read more.
5. Spend time away from the computer.