Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lassoing Life

I think we can all agree that 2016 was an incredibly difficult year. Too many things happened locally, nationally, and internationally: beloved celebrities passed away, the Syrian civil war and terrorism took far too many lives, and the US presidential election strained relationships and us as a nation. On a personal level, I had my share of struggles: my husband ended up in the hospital for another staph infection (on the week we closed on our new house) and ended up in the ER later that year for a work-related accident; my father had a stroke and I flew to Denver to be with him; my stepson had overwhelming challenges that required our assistance; and my health took a nosedive.

Of course, no year is free from challenges. But some years are simply harder than others. Now that the year is nearly gone, I'm trying to regroup and find my way back to better health, better time-management skills, better coping mechanisms, and yes, better ways to find motivation to write. Thankfully, I've had some time to relax and regroup. I work at a university and every year we have a nice holiday break where everything is shut down from Christmas through New Year's. I love it (though I wonder if I'd like a bonus more!).

Yesterday, I accomplished quite a bit. I made a list of things I'd like to get done on our house in 2017, went through the huge stack of paperwork that had accumulated on my desk, paid bills, got in a work-out on my treadmill, and found recipes that fit my healthy eating plan. In other words, I felt like I'd lassoed the bull that has been running rampant in the corral, bashing into the fence and kicking up manure everywhere. Yes, that's how life has felt for the past year.

When you have a chronic illness, a set schedule is almost impossible. Waking up with a horrible rheumatoid arthritis flare means I miss work, miss my workout, usually make poor eating choices (though I'm hoping to change that), and miss writing. I end up in bed and take long naps, watch movies, surf the 'Net, and just try to ignore that I feel awful. My schedule ends up in shambles and every day I have to regroup. It becomes utterly exhausting physically and emotionally to go through this on a weekly basis (sometimes I'll make it two weeks without getting sick, but that's becoming rare).

And yes, this affects my writing life. It also feeds the horrible beast known as Resistance. It takes mental energy to write. After every flare, I'm drained and writing is the last thing I want to do. This saddens me considering writing is my fuel. But with Resistance tackling me at the one yard line every single time I try to work on the novel, I either 1) go down before hitting the goal line or 2) push through and make a touchdown (i.e. write all the words!). Unfortunately, #2 is becoming the exception rather than the norm.

How to change this? I'm trying to figure it out and come up with some strategies to help. But I've come to the conclusion that, as a person of faith, none of my solutions will work unless I put God first. Praying for guidance and strength is a must. Yet I constantly forget to do this. Whether it's the brain fog inherent to rheumatoid arthritis or my brain crowded with too many thoughts, I tend to misplace my best intentions.

We all try to make New Year's Resolutions, yet by March, most of them are gone by the wayside. I'd rather not do that. Instead, I'd like to create coping strategies I can use for the rest of my life. I'm tired of flailing in the ocean with my head barely above water and the current trying mightily to push me under. I can't do it anymore. I need to find a strong ledge so that the water can rush around me, but I can stand firm.

What does this ledge look like? I'm not sure. Bullet journals? Lists? Meditation? A reminder on my phone to stop and pray? A blocking device so I can't access social media after 5 p.m.? Maybe a combination of all?  All I know is that I can't keep walking down my current path. Something needs to change.

And isn't that the beauty of life? We can stop and say, "No more" no matter what day or month it is. We don't need to wait for New Year's to press the reset button.

For me, I'm looking forward to taking each day as it comes. As the song by Merle Haggard says,

"One day at a time sweet Jesus that's all I'm asking from you
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time."




Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Why I Write World War II Historical Fiction


I’m an emotional person. It doesn’t take much to make me cry. A poignant commercial about a father and a daughter on her wedding day? Tears. A movie scene where the hero confesses his love to his girl? Tears. My cat tenderly cradling the kitten while he licks its head? Tears. (Yeah, I’m hopeless).

What does all of this have to do with writing World War II fiction? A lot, actually.

I’ve tried to uncover why I love studying this time period and why I continue to gravitate toward it when other eras have tried to compete for my attention (in my previous teenage life, I was a devout historian of the American Civil War). It’s not the military aspect – the battle tactics and uniforms and planes, tanks, and guns. Though I love the music and the clothes of the era, that’s still not what holds my attention. Neither is it “good triumphing over evil,” though that's certainly part of it. And goodness knows I hold no excitement for learning about the massive casualties and horrific deaths of millions upon millions of people.

What keeps me interested, fascinated, and altogether obsessed with World War II is this: emotion.

There is an absolute plethora of human emotion contained within this global war. There’s fear and horror and joy and laughter; there’s sympathy and empathy, courage and cowardice. There’s anger and guilt; forgiveness and redemption. And exploring those emotions within my fictional world is not only challenging, it’s crucial to understanding the human side of World War II.

Here's an example. It’s easy to think of the boys who stormed the beaches at Normandy as just a group of nameless soldiers: but the fact is, each one was an individual with their own story. Each one. Can you imagine what was going through their minds as they rode in the Higgins boat and watched the French coastline grow closer?

I hope Mom got my last letter. I hope she knows I love her.

Just stay alive. Just duck and cover, but don’t run. Don’t be a coward. Don’t abandon your post. Do your duty.

She said it wasn’t my fault, that it was just “this stupid war.” Now I’ll never get a chance to make it right. I’m not going to see her again. I feel it in my gut. This is it. So long, pal.

When you think of all the human drama created by this war, there are millions of stories, and emotion is at the heart of them all. I cannot help but explore these numerous facets. I want to somehow understand, as best I can, what the war was like through their eyes. Whether it be a soldier, a German immigrant, a Jewish survivor, a Red Cross nurse, a mother waiting at home, a factory worker, a Resistance fighter, or just an average citizen trying to live life day to day, I want to experience it.

As a writer, that’s my job. I’ll never get it completely right because I wasn’t there. But it makes the war more real to me. It’s too easy to read facts in a book and skip over notable dates, battles, leaders, etc. Yet that is, in my view, dangerous. The men, women, and children of World War II were flesh and blood, and deserve more than to be remembered as just words and numbers.  They felt. They hoped. They dreamed. They loved, they lived, and many of them died. They were real in every sense of the word.

So that, in a relatively large nutshell, is why I study World War II history, and why I write World War II historical fiction. I have a desperate need to connect with the past and to feel the emotions of those that experienced it. Because, to paraphrase a famous quote, those who do not understand the people of the past are condemned to forget them.

I refuse to forget.

And I’ll gladly shed as many tears as it takes to remember them.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Just Eat the M&Ms

Ahh, life. How you vex me. One day I feel normal and have the motivation of Cookie Monster at the Keebler Elves' cookie factory, and the next, I stay in bed all day and watch old movies.

Yin and yang, I suppose, but it would be nice if if weren't so frequent. Give me a month of solid motivation, good health, and a vibrant outlook on life and imagine what I could accomplish! Instead, it's one day of feeling fantastic, the next not so much, and maybe the day after that is sort of blah, too.

But since it's almost Thanksgiving, I'm going to focus on the good things in life. And there are many! Christmas is coming and I've decided to forego my usual Christmas decorations (with their traditional. Victorian slant) and go all-out vintage: 40s, 50s, and 60s stuff. There's a Christmas Vintage Market in my city on Friday and I can't wait to see all those gorgeous treasures waiting for me to pluck them from obscurity and take them to my home.

What's that, you say? Vintage items in a house run by three cats and one very rambunctious dog? Have I forgotten the annual Christmas Tree War with General Slick?

Yes, you have a point. I may not have thought this through very well. But! Since Blitz, who has grown up very fast and has such a sweet mentality, loves to chase Slick, I am thinking I can train Blitz to guard my Christmas tree from Slick's attacks. *rubs hands together and laughs*

Yeah. We'll see how that goes. But I've got to try, right? I cannot fully secede my house to the animals, can I?

On Writing

Well. I will say it. This has been the hardest novel I've ever written. I don't know if it's because I've changed the plot approximately 4,923 times or if it's because I've had two years of unbelievable stress both with my health and with other family matters, or if I'm losing my ability to tell a story or what, but it's been excruciating.

I still keep charging ahead, though, as one must. Last night, I made a promise to myself to write, but I wanted to start a new book and get lost in a story first. So, I picked up Kate Furnivall's The Italian Wife (set in Italy in 1932) and after reading the first chapter, I was itching to work on my novel. Her novels are so beautifully written and so well plotted that it gave me the necessary oomph to get over that hill of Resistance and get to work. It. Was. Glorious.

On the Upcoming Four-Day Weekend

So. I'm stuck at work today and tomorrow. Most everyone has already gone home or has plans to leave tomorrow, and thus, work is pretty s-l-o-w. I needed an extra burst to get me through this morning, so I ate a bunch of M&Ms. This flies in the face of my resolve to cut more sugar out of my diet and lose this *&$# weight I've gained back after menopause and my stupid rheumatoid arthritis have had their say.

But I ate them, justifying it with the knowledge that I am getting my treadmill out of storage tonight, so I will just burn all those M&M calories.

Ha. Now I actually have to get on the treadmill tonight.

We're staying in town for the holiday and will be having a simple meal with my mother at her place. There's a football game to watch on Friday, the vintage sale to attend, and those important naps to fit in, after all. Though to be honest, I am missing my family gathering at home at my grandmother's. She is 91 and I miss her, but taking that long drive by myself is almost out of the question with my ridiculous health. Hopefully I can talk my hubby into going home for Christmas.

Also to squeeze in this weekend: decorating the house for Christmas and working on the novel.

Of course, all of this may go belly-up if my health decides to derail me again. Hoping and praying that does not happen.


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! May your day be plentiful with food, laughter, and blessings.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

When It's Worth It

My daughter is a huge fan of the Marvel superhero films. The Captain America series is her favorite, and the character she loves the most is Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier (Cap's best friend) who is played by Sebastian Stan. For the past two years, she's accumulated approximately 5 million photos of him on her Pinterest board, has photos of him printed out and hanging above her bed, has comic books and t-shirts and just about everything else she can find that is Winter Soldier/Sebastian Stan. She even wanted a birthday cake this year with him, and of course she got it!

Since Sebastian Stan goes to comic cons, I told her that if there was ever a comic con within driving distance of us, I would take her. Well, that opportunity came when we found out he would be Tulsa, Oklahoma, approximately a six and a half hour drive from us. That's about the same amount of time it takes us to go home to western Nebraska, so the drive didn't bother us.

After weeks of waiting, the time finally came last Friday. Because my health is crappy and travel only exacerbates it, my husband did the driving, and we ended up in Tulsa late Friday night. We were up early on Saturday and headed to downtown Tulsa for the event.

This was my first ever comic con, so I didn't know what to expect. But it was quite the adventure. Lots of people love to cosplay for these things and this one was no exception. I saw lots of Captain Americas and Harley Quinns and Jokers and Star Wars characters and on and on. My daughter and I didn't dress up (but we've decided that if we go again, I'm going as Agent Carter and she's going as the Winter Soldier), but that was ok - we had a blast anyway.

When my daughter was in line to meet Sebastian Stan and get his autograph, she nearly fainted, but we managed to get through it ok. Later, she was able to get a photo of the two of them together - and she still has a hard time believing she got a hug from her celebrity crush!

But after being at the event all day Saturday, waiting in line, not eating well, and being on my feet most of the time, I was in a lot of pain by the time we made it back to the hotel room. My knees ached, my body felt like it had been tackled by a football player, and I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep.

This is the crappy part of chronic illness. I've had to learn to prepare for the inevitable pain and discomfort that attending events or going places will bring. In fact, I took Monday off from work because I knew I'd need the day to recover. As it turns out, I needed more than one day - I'm still in a lot of pain today and have spent most of the day in bed.

Was it worth going through that pain to see my daughter's dream come true? You bet. I don't regret it for a second. To see her smile, to see her meet her favorite celebrity and actually get to hug him? Totally worth it!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tips for Pushing Through

I am one of those writers who struggles to get the first draft written. It's always been this way. There are days when the words flow and I write with a feeling of giddiness. Other times, it's a slog, like trying to get through a foot of oozing mud in the spring. Or like my joints are in the morning: stiff and painful. Actually, just writing this post feels like that!

But there are times when I must force myself to get the words down. I can fix them later. Thank God I can fix them later. For me, the editing process is where I enjoy writing the most. I get to play! I don't have to get it right the first time! It reminds me of this quote:




That being said, what are some ways to push through and write on those hard days?

A few tips:

1. Silence the Inner Editor
This is one of my major hang-ups. That little devil inside my head constantly tells me that the words I'm putting on the page are pure crap, and that I should just give up already. Putting a muzzle on my inner editor is the only way to get words on the page.

2. Accept that you're writing crap
During last night's writing session, I knew very well that I was writing crap. And you know what I did? I embraced the heck out of it. The result? I kept writing crap, but I was still writing.

3. Do a round of freewriting
As alluded to in my previous post, freewriting can be, well, freeing! Before you start working on your novel/article/short story, open a blank document on Word and just start writing. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation or even if your ideas make any sense. Just write. Put words on the page. Get the gunk out. And if you still sit down to your project and write crap? That's ok. Just see #2!

4. Take a walk. Listen to music. Draw a picture. Bake a cake! Color!
There have been times when getting out of the house and immersing myself in nature or putting on a good big band CD have lifted me out of my writing funk. Creativity begets creativity. I'm a big believer in the new coloring craze that has seized the world, especially when I don't care if I color outside the lines or if I make my grass blue instead of green. Go wild! Then go back to your work-in-progress and use that same mentality.

Remember Nora Robert's famous line: "I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank page."




Friday, September 30, 2016

Finding What Works

Shortly after my daughter was born (2000), I asked my husband for Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, and received it that Christmas. I eagerly plowed through it and began to follow her advice of doing morning pages. But, since I am not a morning person and usually don't roll out of bed and write first thing in the morning, I tweaked it so it would fit my life.

For a couple months, I used this technique to "get the gunk out" before writing sessions. In the same way that you stretch your muscles or do warm-ups in preparation to exercise, writing morning pages was a way to wake up my writing brain and get it ready to work.

And then life happened and I never got back around to doing morning pages again. A shame.

A week ago, I was lamenting this horrible block I get whenever I think of sitting down to write, well, anything. I freeze. Even to write a blog post was difficult. Why, I thought, am I having this problem? I'm sure resistance, which Steven Pressfield speaks about so well, was part of it. Fear, as well. Heck, it could be a bunch of things. But in the end, I had to do something about it. I had to figure out a way to bust through that resistance and just get on with the writing.

So, what did I do? I went back to a tried and true method: morning pages. And you know what? It worked.

I use morning pages as kind of a freewriting time. I put down whatever I want - stream of consciousness, thoughts about my day, ideas for my characters or plot, etc. It has a way of blowing the cobwebs out of my mind. Now, before I sit down to write, I always spend at least 5-10 minutes on writing my "morning pages" (though in truth, it's usually early or late night pages!). Since I've started doing this again, my writing has been much more productive and I've been able to keep the resistance at bay.

What about you? Any methods you use for overcoming the dread of sitting down to write?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hey! It's Autumn!

Normally, I would be shouting my joy to the rooftops that fall is finally here, but the weather here in Nebraska has stymied that for a few days. It's been in the 90s all week. Yes, the 90s. The humidity was so bad on Monday that I felt like I was stepping out into a swamp in Louisiana in the middle of July. (I went to Louisiana in March one year and the humidity was terrible, so I'm making the assumption that it's ten times worse in July!)

Anyway...

It's autumn! And that means golden-hued leaves and pumpkin bread (I've already made two batches!) and blankets and cool mornings and evenings and reading books and watching old classic movies and writing and  Halloween and Thanksgiving and...YAY AUTUMN!

I found this online; not sure who created it, but it's super awesome!


So! What's your favorite thing about autumn?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Coping

The last few days have been particularly hard for me. On Wednesday, I got hit with excruciating pain in my left shoulder blade area, rendering me incapacitated for two days. Who knows where it came from? I've had it before. I don't know if it's a flare of RA in my shoulder or what, but the pain brings me to my knees. As a result, I missed two days of work, and today, while the shoulder pain is vastly improved, the rest of my body feels like it's been hit with a truck. I also feel like I might be getting "normal people" sick, i.e. a cold.

Ah, the joys of living with chronic illness!

I've been wallowing in self pity for the past week. I watched a lot of t.v. (mostly Star Trek, the original series), slept a lot, and surfed the internet. My mind was nowhere close to being able to write. And that frustrated me to no end.

Today, though, I've had enough of the self pity. Time to pull myself out of that dark hole and get motivated again. I've got to get this novel done. There's only so much wallowing I can take before I get tired of it and myself for allowing it.

But that's the thing with chronic illness. There is a level of frustration that must be addressed. Simply being positive and sunny every single time I get taken out by a flare isn't realistic. I don't feel good. Period. And I have to acknowledge that. Ignoring it will only make it worse. But while I need to acknowledge it and allow myself to wallow for a bit, this, too, has a limit. I've seen too many people fall into the trap of living in a world of self-pity and "poor me." I don't want that to be me.

I'm constantly learning how to deal with my new normal and I don't know if I'll ever get it right. But darn it, I have to keep trying. That means not freaking out when I see how badly my house needs cleaned, or how I can't get any exercise in yet again, or I fall down repeatedly on my attempts to eat healthy.

The acceptance part, as I wrote about here, is the very hardest part of having chronic illness. We are conditioned to live in a culture that prides itself on exercising regularly and being fit, on participating in all sorts of activities every day, of working hard and going to your job no matter if you feel rotten, on not, on ferrying our kids to extracurricular activities several times a week. That's not my life and it hasn't been for some time, and in particular, the last year. I'm out of sync with most everyone around me. That's a challenge in itself.  

Why do I keep writing about life with chronic illness? Not for pity. But for understanding. For awareness. And as a way to cope. That's who I am, after all, a writer. And words are how I make sense of the world.



Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Our New Addition!

It's been close to seven years since we've owned a dog. Part of it is because of my immense grief over losing my beloved Charlie Brown and part of it is because we lived in a place that didn't allow dogs.

Now that we own our home and it has a fenced-in backyard, the thought of getting another dog crossed our minds. My daughter and my husband wanted to get a puppy. I, on the other hand, having dealt with, and house-trained, numerous puppies, wanted a rescue dog that was already housebroken.

So imagine my shock when I came home the other day and discovered that my husband and my daughter had planned to surprise me with a half-lab, half-border collie puppy. They were smart, though, because instead of just showing up with the dog, they actually told me about it first.

You could say I was not pleased.

With my health the way it is, another responsibility is something I can ill afford. But when I looked at the picture of the puppy, my heart melted. Still, I stayed firm in my insistence that this puppy not be my responsibility, but my husband's and my daughter's. They readily agreed.

So here he is:

His name is Blitz, short for Blitzkrieg. He is adorable. He is shy and timid and loves to be held and babied. And as promised, my husband and my daughter have taken the responsibility in caring for him. My daughter is finding out what a BIG responsibility a puppy is! I don't think she realized the magnitude of it, but now she most certainly does!

It's hard for me to relinquish control over the situation, but I'm doing pretty good with it. I don't take him outside for potty breaks, I don't feed him, and I don't give him water: those are all my daughter's responsibilities. She is learning to train him on the leash and get him to actually come back into the house as opposed to staying outside (he was born on a farm and has always been an outside dog). I supervise, of course, and I *did* give him a bath, but that's about the extent of it. And obviously, I cuddle and hug the little guy! How could I not?

This will be a great life lesson for my daughter and I know she will grow and mature a lot in the process. And this little fellow has already made her his surrogate mom. :)




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thoughts on a Late Summer Evening

The hint of autumn spices the air here in Nebraska. We had cool temperatures yesterday, and I threw my windows open, relishing the wonderful breeze on my skin. Soon, the leaves will start to turn, the sun won't shine nearly as bright and hot, and pumpkins and Indian corn will begin dotting doorsteps.

It's a taste of what's to come.

But until that moment, it is only a taste. The temperatures are supposed to climb into the high 80s tomorrow and while that may be a comfortable temperature for some, it is still far too hot for me. Give me temperatures in the 50s and 60s. That's where I am comfortable. That is where I can breathe and sigh in contentment, hopefully walking through crisp piles of leaves and drinking hot cocoa.

I hope that the cooler temperatures will also improve my health. Heat does quite a number on me. Of course, almost anything lately does a number on me. I find that I am not improving; I am getting worse. That's rather scary. I still have at least two months to wait to see if the new drug I'm on for my rheumatoid arthritis will work.

There are times when I wonder: would I feel better if I was not working full-time, if I did not have the stress of wondering how I will feel every morning when I wake up and whether I can go to work or not? I cannot see myself lazing about the house and doing nothing; no. But the harsh truth is this: working full-time at a job that requires  I be present for several activities is taking its toll. Good days are few and far between.

But if I didn't have to go to work - if I had time to rest, time to prepare good, healthy meals, time to take slow walks, time to write - instead of trying to cram everything in on top of working full time...would I improve? Would I find that my good days began to increase? Or would not having a place to be every day be far worse? Do I need that responsibility to get me out of bed in the morning?

These are the thoughts I've been having for several months now. Two years ago, I did not have these thoughts. Two years ago, I could go several weeks and even months without taking a sick day. Now I can't make it through one week without a sick day.

What does my ideal look like? This: to write full-time, to be committed to writing a novel a year. I believe that would give me the necessary motivation to get up in the morning and to properly structure my day so that I would be able to take care of my health and my family without worrying about the demands of a job.

There is sadness in thinking this way. Sadness because I enjoy my job and I enjoy what I do; it's a perfect fit for me. I love my co-workers and I love the environment I work in.

But there may come a point, and it may come far sooner than I think, where my health will simply now allow me to do it any longer. I am the type of person who takes pride in my work; I do not want to only partially do my job and let people down. I don't want to reach a point where I cannot be successful.

I never thought I would be dealing with a chronic illness at this stage in my life. I was a healthy kid and only dealt with headaches (from a volleyball injury) through college. My health battles began in 2000 - so it's been 16 years of going from one doctor to another, but with long periods of good health - even years long with a few interruptions here and there. Now, it's constant. Now, my daughter asks me every day, "How are you feeling?" Now, I wake up every morning and think, "What hurts today?"

There are times in life when we must go through the wilderness, when we must fight the brambles slashing our cheeks and the sharp rocks piercing our feet, where we must push through despite the blinding sand in our eyes, despite the thirst that can never be quenched. That is where I am. I am in the wilderness, trying to find my way, step by step, battling, praying, fighting.

God is my constant companion, though sometimes I forget He is there. I forget to pray, to cry out to him, to let Him embrace me when I simply can't go on. There are days He carries me, days He watches me take steps on my own, but is always there in case I fall.

I only know this: hope keeps me going. My family and my faith keep me going. The sweet sound of my daughter's laughter keeps me going. My husband's kiss on my forhead keeps me going. The books I read, the words I write, keep me going.

And one day, I shall emerge from this wilderness into the land of plenty, where at last I can see the path ahead, where I can accept and embrace what life has in store for me. I am not there yet; but I will be.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Missing Me

I have a confession.

I miss the old me. The old writing me, that is. (Well, I also miss the old size 7 me, but that ship has sailed long ago! Hahaha!)

This is for a few reasons.

One, I truly think I was much more into my writing and the writing life before the emergence of social media. Before Facebook and Twitter, I blogged a great deal, connected with other writers on a deeper level, read blog posts on the writing craft, read books on the writing craft, and spent more time immersed in the writing world.

But then I made the decision to join Facebook and then later, Twitter. And something changed.

I've written on here before about how social media is a double-edged sword. I love all the connections I've made on it - with writers and historians and readers and friends and family - but I've noticed that my ability to focus has dropped. Let's face it: It is easier to digest a soundbite of 140 characters than it is to read a long blog post. It's easier to respond in short statements than it is to write a very long response - even though long responses are much more conducive to good conversation and are more intellectually stimulating.  

And it's very easy to get sucked into a debate about politics or anything else, which can further deplete my already low energy resources.

What is most disturbing, though, is that I find it difficult to read a long article. I tend to skim through it instead of taking my time. It's hard for me to buckle down and really focus because my attention span has grown short. I keep thinking, Hurry and read this so you can hurry and go read that and then check this out and then go and check that out! It's bizarre and frightening and I don't like it one bit. 

And apparently I'm not alone in noticing this change. In fact, there is scientific proof to show that how we use the Internet is actually rewiring how our brain works. Some studies even show that too much screen time can damage our brains. That's a bit scary. Of course, limiting your time spent on the computer is one way to combt that. So for me, that's step one in regaining the "old me."

But the other reason I feel like I've "lost touch" with my writing has nothing to do with social media: it's called life.

When big upheavals come - and they usually come to all of us at one point or another - it changes us. This isn't necessarily bad, of course. For example, my latest upheaval was buying a house - and this was definitely a good change because we moved out of a rental house with mold problems and a landlady who simply didn't care. I'm much, much happier in my new home and am thrilled to have a  place that is mine. The downside, of course, was that it interrupted my normal schedule for a long time and I was unable to spend a lot of time focusing on my writing. But it was a temporary condition since I'm now settled and have all the boxes unpacked, the new curtains hung, and my furniture arranged exactly as I want it to be.

But the not-so-good upheaval that has impacted me the most is, of course my health. Having a chronic health condition changes your life in nearly every way possible. It's changed my work habits, my social habits, my eating habits, my sleeping habits. In short: it's changed everything. I never know how I'm going to feel from day to day, and that makes it very hard to plan things. For example, I had plans to write this weekend -but I woke up this morning feeling quite horrible. I was up for a few hours before I had to take a nap that was almost four hours long. I'm hoping that I will be able to get more writing done this evening and tomorrow.

I'm learning how to adapt to this new life as I've written here before, but it's a continuous learning process. I was feeling terrific last week and was able to take lots of walks and go shopping and work in my yard. I had energy! But then this week has been almost exactly the opposite. I've struggled to just make it work (and I didn't two days out of the four scheduled) and when I did go to work, I had zero energy when I got home.

Herein lies step two to rediscovering the "old me": learning new strategies to deal with the uncertainty of my health. Keeping to those strategies is the tough part. When I don't feel good, I tend to fall into bad habits - like eating too much chocolate and spending hours on social media. It becomes a vicious cycle. 

And the third reason I miss the old writing me? Well, the old writing me was completely connected to writing. I loved writing. I loved immersing myself in my characters and my stories. And I feel that has been missing lately. I attribute this to the first two reasons, yes. But on Friday, after having become heartsick with all of the awful news coming out of the US lately, I had to put my foot down. Enough is enough. I want that old me back. I want that old me who immersed herself so fully in the writing world that it wasn't a hardship to open the laptop and start working on the novel. Lately, I've been procrastinating with the best of them. I'm gripped with anxiety and struggling to find the thread of my story. It's not like this hasn't happened before, of course, but I've noticed that my resistance to working on the novel has become much, much stronger.


Life is about growth and change and adapting. But sometimes, we have to be really serious about making those changes and growing, or we can end up in a very bad place. I don't want to end up there. I want to rediscover the joy of writing again, not just fleeting glimpses of what it used to be. 

So I've resolved to do just that. It's going to take discipline and strength to keep from slipping back into old habits, and I'm sure I'll fall down a time or two, but the important thing is that I keep going and keep trying. 

So tell me. Have you noticed a change in your writing and in yourself since the advent of social media? If so, how have you tried to combat it?


Friday, June 24, 2016

Always Keep Fighting!

One of the more delightful aspects of rheumatoid arthritis (yes, I'm being sarcastic) is the very real issue of brain fog. What is brain fog? It's when you feel confused, forgetful, lack mental clarity, and in all seriousness, feel like you are in the early stages of dementia.

Unfortunately, many of those with chronic illness suffer from brain fog, and I'm no exception. I used to pride myself on my memory. I could have a list of things to do in my mind and never forget a single one. Words came to me easily. Focus wasn't hard. Conversations were easy since I hardly ever lost my train of thought. And now? I'll be writing and can't for the life of me think of a simple word I need to use. This happens in conversations, too. And many times, I'll be talking and struggle to find my words, which results in me feeling quite embarassed  since I flounder around like a beached whale. I am forgetful, make mistakes at work that I never did before, and can't find the focus I need unless I literally close my eyes and force myself to.

It's not fun. But it's something I have to deal with, and I'm learning to find ways to work around it. For example, I make lists. It's a must. And at work, I have to force myself to slow down and double check my work. Zipping around on social media, flitting from Twitter to FB to Pinterest doesn't help, so if I really want to focus, I need to have all those tabs closed. Finding my words is harder to fix, but slowing down when I talk to people or pausing to collect my thoughts is about the best I can do.

And writing? Oftentimes, I'll rely on my thesauraus to help me out - the word I want is often listed amongst the synonyms of a related word.

Brain fog isn't fun to deal with. It's frustrating and at times, scary. But having a plan of action to combat it is vital.

Lately, I've had to really force myself to look at my illness in a different light. Yes, I have a chronic illness. But it doesn't have me. I am more than my illness. It is not my identity. That's hard to remember when my joints are aching so bad that I'm in tears, or when I'm so exhausted all I can do is sleep. However, it's necessary for good mental health. I'm not going to lose who I am  - and I am many things: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a niece, a sister, a friend, a co-worker, a writer, a creative person, a historian, a fighter - to this disease. I am far, far more than my illness!

If you're suffering with a chronic illness or condition, please know that your illness does not define you. It is a part of you, yes, but you are made up of many, many parts!

I always like to turn to Jared Padalecki (of the TV show Supernatural) and his wise words of wisdom: Always keep fighting!



Monday, June 13, 2016

Random Thoughts Edition #2698

Ok. So I haven't really had over 2,000 "Random Thoughts" post. Instead, I just picked a random number out of a hat. Because that's what these random posts are all about!

Onward...

1) Rheumatoid arthritis? Inflammatory polyarthritis? Inflammatory polyarthropathy? Ah, the medical world. I've had two rheumatologists diagnose me with the last two, but they have not yet pulled the trigger on an official "rheumatoid arthritis" diagnosis even though these three things essentially mean the same thing. Oh, there are different types of inflammatory polyarthrisi/arthropathy, and RA is just one of them - but it is the one that my symptoms most closely match. Why won't they give me an official RA diagnosis? That is a darn good question. One is that my bloodwork doesn't show certain results associated with RA. Except...a large chunk of those with RA don't have those markers. The whole thing is driving me crazy. I'm going to my rheumy tomorrow (this is my second rheumy after I had to let the other one go because he was NOT helping me) to talk about all of this mumbo jumbo.

2) Depression. When you have a chronic illness (see above) and can go for a few weeks without having a good day, depression becomes a very real problem. Yesterday, I managed to do some housework and get groceries with my husband, but that was it. I ended up on the couch, watching episodes of Supernatural all afternoon (because Sam and Dean are so hot that it takes your mind off of almost, well, everything). I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to do anything else. It really stunk. I'm feeling better - emotionally - today, and as far as the chronic pain? All I can say is thank you, God, for meds that help make that pain manageable.

3) Oh summer, how you vex me. That's probably one reason I was depressed yesterday. It was 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday and that just made me mad. I cannot enjoy summer when the heat takes your breath away the moment you step outside! Again, I think an isolated place in England or Scotland would do just fine.

4) And speaking of isolated, a lone cottage in the middle of the Highlands would get me away from crazy people. This world is going bonkers. Okay, it's always been bonkers, but social media has highlighted the bonkerness (is that a word?) so much more.

5) My husband is awesome. Some men would have turned tail and ran the moment they found out their wife had a lifelong, debilitating chronic illness. Not mine. It's frustrating for him, yes, but he sticks by me. And he also makes sure I have plenty of chocolate.

6) The new novel is going splendidly - or it was until yesterday when the depression climbed into my head and refused to let me work on it. I mean, I didn't even want to be on the computer at all yesterday. That's pretty unusual for me. But I remain confident that this will be temporary and I'll get back to tormenting my characters. And believe me, these two are tormented.

7) I miss going to Curves. I miss feeling my body grow stronger and leaner. I haven't been physically able to go for several months now, and I actually dropped my membership since I wasn't using it. Maybe I'll get to go back someday...

8) Oooh! It's my birthday Wednesday! And my husband will be home and so will my daughter. We are going to have lunch together at a local Italian restaraunt resteraunt restaurant (I misspelled restaurant at my junior high spelling bee, and it was the word that got me kicked out of the finals! GAH!). Maybe we'll catch an afternoon matinee. Bottom line is: I WON'T BE AT WORK.

9) Through my cousin, I learned about a man from my hometown who served in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA) during World War II. He went on missions behind enemy lines. I found his OSS file in the National Archives and I'm ordering it pronto. I cannot wait to see what that file reveals. WW2 espionage and secret missions are my sweet spots when it comes to WW2 history. I love those kinds of stories! Research, here I come!

10) I want a cookie. Like right now. But I don't need a cookie. Lack of exercise due to chronic pain/illness + comfort food to get me through the pain + menopause = weight gain. I'm trying to adjust to this, but if I could lose some weight again, that would be fantastic. And eating cookies doesn't help with that (especially since I had some cookies last night). I need to get back to my "one dessert a week" rule. But chocolate doesn't count in that rule. Ha!

So. Those are my random thoughts for the day.

I'll leave you with this:

I have done this multiple times!

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Longest Day

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion. As a World War 2 historian, it's always a day of special significance for me. This invasion brought about the eventual liberation of Europe. But the cost was heavy, most notably on Omaha beach where the Americans suffered horrific casualties.

There have been many movies documenting this invasion. Saving Private Ryan is probably the most recent, as is the highly-acclaimed HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, though BoB shows the airborne invasion.

My go-to movie for D-Day, however, is 1962's The Longest Day. The all-star cast, directed by noted director Daryl F. Zanuck, includes actors from the UK, America, France, and Germany: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, a young Sean Connery (before he was Bond), Richard Burton, Eddy Albert, Peter Lawford, Robert Mitchum, Wolfgang Preiss, and others. Why do I turn to this movie in particular? Because it shows the invasion from every side: the French Resistance, the German Armed Forces, the US Armed Forces, the Free French, and the British Armed Forces. And it shows the perspectives of regular soldiers, generals, and civilians - actual men and women who were involved in the D-Day invasion.


If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so. It doesn't show the horrors of battle nearly as well as newer movies - i.e. you won't have to worry about seeing blood and guts. But that doesn't diminish it's power.

I can only imagine what it was like to be a part of this day. What a mammoth, incredible undertaking it was, an invasion that liberated the people of Europe enslaved to Hitler's fanaticism. Thank God they succeeded.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Getting There

For the past three months, I've felt like I've been climbing a mountain and instead of getting closer to the top, I've actually slid downhill. With buying a house, my health, my husband's stint in the hospital, my dad's stroke, moving, work, a history conference, and then the latest - jury duty! - I've been swamped. Life usually isn't this busy for me.

But things changed today. Jury duty is over (and that is a whole 'nother post for another time), school will be out soon for my daughter (which means I won't have to do the school drop off and pick up ever again since she will be driving next year!), and the busy season at work is winding down, as well. May is always a busy month no matter how you slice it and this one was no exception.

Yesterday, after an early morning meeting, I came home and took a nap, then took the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted. I read, I surfed the internet, I watched some movies with my family, took a walk, and I relaxed.

Today I took my mother out for lunch for Mother's Day, and when I got home, I was seized with a sort of motivation I haven't had in a long time. There were several projects around the house that had fallen by the wayside for too long, and I felt it was high time they were addressed. I vacuumed the stairs, cleaned the washer and dryer, did laundry, went through the stack of paperwork that had accumulated on my desk, finally found a place for those books that had been sitting on my floor for forever, and found a spot for some of those items floating from one place to the next because I couldn't decide where they needed to go.

Best of all? I finally unpacked the last box sitting in my room, clearing a large amount of space in my already snug bedroom. That simple act unleashed a flood of relief within me. Who knew unpacking a box could be so freeing?

When I finished all my tasks today, I sat on the couch and at last felt as though I'd reached the top of the mountain. My soul is settled and at peace with my home and my life. For the past few months, I felt like a boxer on the ropes, taking the punches life kept doling out and trying desperately not to go down for the count. Now, I'm on my feet, standing my ground with my fists up, ready and alert.

I'd say that's a pretty good place to be.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Finally

So after another week of battling health struggles and getting very frustrated at my inability to work on the novel, I finally am doing just that. It's been a pretty quiet Saturday (except we had to get groceries which I hate!) and for the past two hours, I've been on the couch, working on figuring out the suspense plot I'm incorporating into my novel. It's gray and rainy outside, yet the birds still continue to chirp. My cats are as lazy as I am, flopping themselves on the couch or the nearby chair, content to doze the day away.

These are the kind of days I adore.

A short and sweet post today, so I'll leave you with this:


Sunday, April 24, 2016

#ProudHistoryGeek

Over the weekend, I had the very good fortune to attend the Dakota History Conference at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.This year's theme was "World War II Comes to the Northern Plains."

Yep. Right up my alley!

Sioux Falls is about a three and a half hour drive from where I live, so I left Thursday night. And I took my time, even stopping to take pictures of gorgeous scenery and landmarks that I'd never seen before. When the conference started bright and early on Friday morning, I was ecstatic. To be around other people interested in World War II? What more could a WW2 historian want?

The presentations were wonderful. They ranged from academic scholars to independent historians to those who just wished to share their experiences growing up on the farm during the war. It was a wonderful mix.

I presented on the POW camps in Nebraska during World War II and I was very happy to have a big audience. I love sharing history with others.

And of course, I also met a lot of wonderful people. I sat next to a World War II veteran at yesterday's luncheon (he served in France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia), met a scholar whom I'd only connected with online, and connected with a delightful woman whose mother worked in Washington D.C. during the war (remember my article on Mary Lou?) and will be a wonderful resource for when I finally get back to that historical novel of mine set in D.C. during the war.

When I came home last night, exhausted (and let's face it, in pain due to my wonderful fibromyalgia and RA!), I was in a fantastic mood. I loved this conference. I loved being around historians. I love the atmosphere.

As I lay in bed recovering, I began to think about what I'd learned. And one of those things was this: history is all around us. Regional and local history is incredibly important, too, and we often forget about it. Even more, each one of us can be a historian! You don't need a degree to record history. In fact, I started tweeting my thoughts and it turned into a lot more than I thought! And here it is (please ignore the location; I really don't live in Austin, Texas!):



Now go forth and make history!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Settling In

I'm happy to say that we are slowly settling in to our new place. It hasn't been easy - for one, I have too much darn stuff, and a lot of that stuff is books! (Well, and my vast Snoopy collection). But I *think* we've found a spot for just about everything and now I'm to the part where I begin to hang things on the walls. I'll also need to pick out some curtains here in the coming weeks.

I've really missed my novel. I want to dive back into it and become immersed in its setting so fully that I am living and breathing my characters and their world. But that will come.

Once I get things settled here at home, I really want to get back into blogging. I never realized how searching for a new home to live in, packing, doing all the loan paperwork, inspections, and moving could so completely take over your life. I'm ready to get back to some sense of normalcy! I have lots of books I need to review for my WW2 review blog that I want to get to soon, and I also have other article ideas. 

For now, though, I have to adhere to my mantra: one day at a time. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Where To Start?

My world sort of imploded in the last two weeks.

Now keep in mind that for the last month and a half, I have been preparing to move. I've been sorting and tossing and stirring up dust motes that have left me sneezing and with runny eyes more than once. During that time, my house has been a disaster area with boxes upon boxes stacked up everywhere.

Two weeks ago (and two weeks before our closing date on the house), my father suffered a moderate stroke. I flew out to Denver to be with him for a few days last week. He's doing well and should make a complete recovery. I'm so, so glad I went, but the trip left me exhausted. Still, I figured I had a good week in which to get more packing done.

Then Monday hit. I felt like a tank had plowed me over, and I stayed home sick from work. That morning, my husband went to the dermatologist for a skin infection. They sent him straight to the ER and he was later admitted to the hospital for a staph infection. If you've followed my blog, you'll know that in 2007 he had a very long hospital stay with a particularly nasty staph infection.

I don't mind telling you my panic button flashed bright red.

Not only was the house not yet packed, but my husband, the man who had once been a professional mover in Germany and is one of the hardest working men I know, was out for the count. Worse, I was terrified we would end up on the same long journey as last time with days turning into weeks at the hospital. And I was terrified he would still be in the hospital today (Friday), the day that we closed on the house and started to move in.

Each day crawled by. I still felt horrible and spent much of the day in bed, texting my husband who was stuck in the hospital. Both of us were sick and we couldn't take care of each other. And we were making contingency plans for the move and for the closing. I called my realtor, asked what we could do in case my husband wasn't available to sign the documents. I brainstormed a list of people I could get to help us move.

But thankfully, the good Lord took care of us. My husband was dismissed from the hospital yesterday (albeit with two big containers of antibiotics for the staph infection) and feeling pretty darn great.

This morning, we closed on the house and as of this writing, my husband is packing up what he can in the moving truck. We have a whole posse of people coming to help us tomorrow.

I'm so excited to be in a house that doesn't have a leaky basement and older than dirt windows and a cracked front window! No more landlady showing up in our driveway, honking her horn, summoning us to her side to discuss something or other. We are the king and queen of our castle once again! :D

But in all of this, there is a longing tugging at me. My writing. I want to work on my novel so badly, but I have literally not had the time or the head space for it.

However, we won't have cable or internet at the new place until Tuesday, and I plan to take advantage of it.

I'm utterly exhausted, both emotionally and physically. My body is crying for a day of rest. But there's too much to do yet.

I will have to stick to my mantra to make it through: "One day at a time."

Monday, February 01, 2016

Snow Day?

We have a big snowstorm headed our way. Now usually these snowstorm predictions tend to be far grander than what actually happens - i.e. we usually end up getting a few inches as opposed to the foot they were predicting.

But this time, it looks like it might be different. And since I work at a university, if the administration decides to call a snow day tomorrow, I will get one, too!

I have visions of baking chocolate chip cookies, of hunkering down with a blanket and a good book, or maybe a few movies. Maybe a nap. Maybe some writing. Maybe all of the above!

What would your ultimate snow day look like?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Never Forget

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day 71 years ago, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz, one of the worst concentration camps.

Even though I studied and read quite a bit on the Holocaust during graduate school and in my own free time, it's still difficult for me to wrap my head around how such a cultured nation as Germany could allow it to happen. Historians are still trying to answer this question.

For today, though, I'd like to feature some artwork from survivors of the camps that shows how they felt after liberation. This online exhibit is at Yad Vashem's website. I encourage you to look at all of the art and read about the artists.

Here's one that particularly wrenches my heart:

Israel Alfred Glück (1921 – 2007)

Liberation, from the album My Holocaust
Drawn at Bergen-Belsen DP Camp, 1945
Charcoal on paper
Israel was first sent to Auschwitz in 1943, and ended up in Buchenwald in 1945 where he was liberated.

I urge you to take a moment today to remember the Holocaust. We must keep its memory alive.

Never Again.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pure Joy

Sometimes, the heavens align and that perfect idea for your novel hits you while you're doing the most mundane thing. In my case, it was brushing my teeth last night. I was mulling over my novel, searching for the solution to deepen the central conflict, when it hit me.

And oh, the idea was perfect. So very perfect.

In that moment, I experienced pure, unadulterated joy. I went to bed with a smile on my face, content and happy. Since the writing life is usually full of snarls and pitfalls, moments like these are to be treasured and celebrated.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

House Hunting Woes

They say what kills you doesn't make you stronger...but I'm beginning to question the validity of that statement!

We're planning to buy a house this year. This isn't only a want, but a need. We're currently renting right now and our landlady simply doesn't wish to invest any more than she needs to in this property. That means the windows are all original (1952!), the basement walls have huge cracks which have led to flooding, and there is mold in the walls.

So not only is this a need on a monetary standpoint (we're losing money on heating bills alone) but from a health standpoint. Mold is never a good thing to live with, and when you have an autoimmune disorder like I do (rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome), it can be downright dangerous.

But we, of course, are not the couple that can simply look at a nice, basic house with a two car garage and call it good. Oh no. That would be too easy! My husband is an auto body guy and is tinkering in the garage more often than he is in the house. So that means we need to find not only a nice house with updated electric, a solid foundation, new windows, etc., but we also need to find a place that has room enough for his projects.

I'd take a cute house like this!
And when you live on a budget, finding those things is downright difficult.

I've looked at houses that fit what I want, but don't fit what he wants. I've found houses that have a mechanic's dream garage, but the house is completely awful. I've found houses that would work, but don't have enough room to build a garage, or are too expensive to budget in the building of said garage. I've found places that would be perfect, but are far too out of our budget. And honestly, I do not want a big house. That's just more to clean! No McMansion for me, thank you very much.

It's enough to make me want to curl into a ball and weep in the corner.

We may end up building what we want - though that might turn into a nightmare in itself! Still, it would be better than our current situation.

If only I'd won that $1.4 billion jackpot, this wouldn't be an issue.... ha!

So if you have any pointers on house hunting, lemme know!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Writing Companions

I've written about my writing companions before, but it's a topic that can be revisited again and again. Why? Since writing is quite a solitary occupation, having a companion - i.e. a pet - to be there while you're tapping away is a definite bonus.

Here are my three writing companions:

This is Kathryn. She came to me from a local cat shelter, and when she first came home several years ago, she was skittish and frightened. It took some time, and lots of love, to bring her around to my side, but now she is one of the best pets I've ever had. She doesn't cause any trouble like my other one (I'll get to him in a moment), loves to be by my side, and is sweetness personified (well, except when the other two irritate her!).

 And now we come to Slick. Oh, Slick. He came to us as a rambunctious kitten, and he vexes me at every turn. He is also irresistably cute and has the fluffiest fur imaginable, leading to many belly rubs. I've had several problems with him tackling the Christmas tree every year. He also jumps on the kitchen counter an awful lot despite knowing better. And when he wants fed, he lets me know in no uncertain terms. This often means he jumps on my dresser, knocks things over, pulls at the curtains, jumps on my legs, and scratches at the dresser - all while I'm trying to sleep in the morning. Still, he has his moments where he is calm and snuggles close to my side. So I tend to forgive him. Wouldn't you? Look at this guy!

He's adorable, that's for sure. But more often than not, you'll find him being plain ornery.

Now normally, two cats would be the most we would want in our household. But a few years ago, my stepson's living situation become such that he couldn't have his kitty, so she came to stay with us. Her name is Lucy, but we call her LuLu. She is a gorgeous black cat with a patches of white on her chest and belly. She loves to play, and we've found toy mice in the strangest places.
She and Slick love each other, and I can often find them cuddling or giving each other a bath. LuLu isn't big on cuddling, though at night, she often curls up in the crook of my legs while I'm sleeping. This often results in some rather awkward sleeping position for me. Why I don't just move her, I don't know!

I think one of my favorite things to do is write with these three by my side. I certainly enjoy their various personalities!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

When Losing Sleep Is Worth It

In the past month, I've had an incredibly hard time with one scene of my novel. I'd tackled it from several different angles and nothing worked. It was a pivotal scene, and I couldn't delete it. I had to write it.

I figured with my 10 days off over the holidays, I'd have a chance to really work through the block and get back on track. But that didn't happen. I kept fighting it, like a fisherman battling the stubborn fish he's hooked.

All too soon, Sunday night came, and with it the end of my vacation. Monday loomed in front of me, and I was completely disgusted with my inability to crack that scene. In fact, the entire novel felt close to slipping from my grasp. Was my idea bad? Had I lost the threads of my story? Was I out of touch with my characters?

I pushed the dark thoughts aside and decided to watch the first episode of Season 6 of Downton Abbey, then go to bed. But as so often happens when I watch incredible period dramas (like Downton Abbey, Foyle's War, and Poldark), my creativity bursts open and suddenly, the difficult becomes possible.

It was around 10 p.m., my bedtime, and I was still on a high after watching Downton Abbey. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could make the scene work. So, I opened up the laptop and got to work. And this time...it clicked.

I happily wrote for the next hour and a half, and had a hard time sleeping because I was so giddy with relief.

This, of course, meant a very long day at work on Monday. I had the double whammy of going back to the day job after a long vacation plus not nearly enough hours of sleep. Combined, it almost took me out. But I persevered.

Was it worth it?

You bet it was.

Never give up.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy 2016!

I'm one of those people who thinks that you don't need a new year to make new changes. Each and every day offers you the opportunity to do that. Still, there's something about waving goodbye to an old year and welcoming a new one.

So, here's to a new year!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net