A new year approaches: 2020, the year of the double crit, and it’s time to set some goals and make some plans. 🙂
My primary, short-term goals are more of a “to-do” list than actual goals. I have things piled up from this year that will need to be taken care of before I can take on new things. Here’s my list of “things that are left over from 2019 that I have to finish before the end of February 2020“:
-Write, edit, polish, submit short story to the anthology I’ve joined
-Complete the two Kingdom scrolls I’ve been assigned to do (SCA project)
-Finish my Valkyrie hood so I can fight in it at Estrella (SCA project)
-Full construction and embroidery on a commissioned Viking hood, hopefully before Estrella (SCA project)
-Full construction and embroidery on a Hedeby bag for my husband (SCA project)
-Embroidery commission for some friends (SCA project)
^^ These are things that have to be done. I have set a firm deadline for them, so I’ve gotta follow through.
Then there are some less-deadliney things. These are more the goals/plans that I’m making for the upcoming year:
-FINISH FIRST DRAFT ON BOOK 3
-Book 2 revisions/marketing/promotion (after back from beta readers–this will have a deadline because, well, publishing lol)
-Two current novellas-in-progress
-Potentially three more novellas (a trilogy)
-Teach more SCA arts classes
-Learn more SCA/medieval arts
-Get back into rapier fighting (now that I’ve lost enough weight that I feel comfortable fighting again–when I’m off restrictions, that is)
-Recertification for work
-Take better care of my mental health (and start asserting myself in those times where I normally back down and give in)
-Read more books
-Continue to build my social media presence as an author and build my brand
-Do more SCA (and mundane) sewing/embroidery/arts for myself and my husband
-Continue with my keto diet and weight loss, adding exercise as tolerated (once I’m off restrictions from my podiatrist)
-Work more with my co-author on our horror novel to get the first draft of that finished and in the editing process
This is by no means a comprehensive list, because, frankly, I haven’t thought about it that much yet. I’ve got so many things in the first list to get finished that I haven’t activated my “2020 vision.” Lol
But wait! 2020 isn’t just the start of a new year–it’s the start of a new decade. So, then, I’ve got 10 years’ worth of goals to devise. Let’s see what I can come up with here:
-Complete the 5-book ABNORMAL series and start on the ABNORMAL LINEAGE spin-off series
-Continue to take advantage of writing opportunities to participate in box sets/anthologies and grow as an author
-Expand body of written works to include more genres/standalones/etc
-Find an effective way to save money for attending conventions/book signings as an author–and then attend more signings and conventions 😉
-Strive to achieve Laurelhood before 2030 (which is, oddly enough, both within my ability to achieve and totally beyond my control haha)
-Work on overcoming (or at least adapting to) my social anxiety to where I can function better at social events, like conventions or SCA events
-Continue building an author network
-Learn more about generating graphics for book covers, book marketing, and other things
-Maintain the weight I’ve lost, get to a healthy weight, and try to find an exercise plan that works for my lifestyle
-Learn how to pattern more complex clothing (Viking I can do, but that’s too easy–I want to learn the concepts behind patterning that get me from measurements to finished garment without necessarily needing a manufactured pattern)
-Accept my grey hairs wholeheartedly
-Find a better balance between work/home/SCA/writing that encompasses all the things I need to do as well as all the things I want to do as well as omitting the things I don’t want to do lol
-Take more vacations
-Make my health a higher priority, in as much as it comes to calling out when I’m sick and not trying to “soldier on,” taking time off when it’s physically or mentally needed, and recognizing when I’m taking on too many projects for my mind and body to handle
It’s a tall order, but these are my goals for the next two months, the next year, and the next ten years. Note that I’m calling them “goals” instead of “resolutions.” I make the distinction because I’m not “resolving” to change things, but rather setting what I hope are realistic goals that will improve my writing career, further my SCA learning/experience, and keep me mentally sound through it all.
2020 is just another year, but at the same time it’s not. As long as I make an effort to do the things I want to do in the coming year/decade, 2020 is whatever I make of it. 🙂
In an unfortunate turn of events, my original blog post about Carrie Fisher’s death three years ago never migrated to this site when I bought this domain.
(You can read my original short tribute here. It’s a search link, but it’s there.)
Today, I saw her last performance as Leia Organa. I cried. Not loud, ugly crying, but I cried. Several times. I mean, I don’t cry at movies generally, but when I saw the name “General Leia Organa” on the screen, I teared up. Hell, when I saw the Star Wars scroll come on the screen, I teared up. I teared up when I thought of young Carrie. When I thought of flipping-people-off Carrie. When I saw Rey training with Leia. And the end–oh, my GODS, I cried. I left the theater sniffling.
The movie was amazing. Better than the eighth, possibly my new favorite of the Skywalker saga. But this post isn’t about the movie.
This post is about Carrie. About the impact her life–and death–had on me.
Since my original post is hidden on the interwebs, I’m going to write a new one. I get to do that, because this is my blog after all.
I never met Carrie. Never talked with her in any capacity, not even online. I have no connection to her in any way… Except for the bipolar disorder. That’s a thing we shared, and it’s a thing she was vocal about.
I want to be like that. I want to become a person who others see and say, “Hey, that chick is pretty cool. Oh hey, she has bipolar disorder. That’s cool.” I want people to see it as a part of me, but not all of me. I don’t want to hide it, and I want to be a part of making a world where no one has to hide it.
I’m not a huge celebrity like Carrie was. Is. She’s still with us in spirit, looking down on us all and giving us a big smile and bigger middle finger.
But she wasn’t always a big celebrity. She started out small, too, so there’s hope. Hope for everyone who wants to make it big, and hope for everyone who wants to make a difference. Maybe some day, someone who has read my writing, who hasn’t ever met me, will see a report about my death, and they’ll be sad. Maybe they’ll write their own blog post about the influence I had.
Not any time soon, mind you; I got shit to do. I’ve gotta write more books. Gotta spread the word about the things that affect me and many more like me. Gotta get out there, get known, and get busy. But maybe some day, when I become one with the Force, some stranger, some fan out there, will be affected. And maybe they’ll continue where I left off.
I’ve never shied away from talking about bipolar disorder and how it affects me, but now I’m going to make more of an effort to be vocal about it. I mean, I’m not going to get preachy or anything, but I’m going to be more … me.
Carrie Fisher wasn’t a friend of mine. She wasn’t anyone I’ve ever known. But she was a presence. She made an impact.
Ah, mental health days. They come and they go, and sometimes they hit like a freight train to the gut.
Yesterday evening I had one of those moments. I was riding high on a mania brought on by exciting new writing projects and opportunities, including two contracts signed in one day, and then the realization hit me:
I still have to go to my fucking day job.
Yeah, I’m growing and progressing as an author. I’m getting there, slowly. But I’m nowhere in the zip code of “writing for a living.” Nope. Not even on the same continent. Not gonna happen soon, unless something big happens first.
I’ve been at my day job for almost nine years, but it’s stressful and stagnating. I don’t have really much opportunity for growth and change, and sometimes I don’t even have the opportunity to get the training I need to do some of the positions I have there.
Some of you are probably saying, “Well, get another job.” Sure. In a small town. Where jobs are scarce to begin with. Oh, and I can’t afford to take a pay cut, so if whoever is hiring could just pay me what I’m making currently–which is so not minimum wage–that’d be great.
I find myself trying to think of what skills I may have to market, if I decide to look for a new job. I am semi-bilingual, but only in regards to medical Spanish, really, and mostly in regards to the eyes. Conversational Spanish is hard for me to remember, because it’s been so long since high school/early college. I suck at verb tenses. I am organized, a little OCD even, and I am one of those rare nerds who enjoys filling out paperwork. But what could I do with that? I honestly don’t know.
I need a change. Something to be different. This knowledge that I have to go in there five days a week and do the same shit every time is killing me. I’ve been in this routine for the better part of nine years. Sure, it changes on occasion, but not much and not often. It’s a grind, that’s for sure.
I think that’s what caused the depressive episode to slam into me last night. My time, at least 40-ish hours of it a week, is not my own. I can’t make decisions for my time, because I need this job. I need to keep plugging away, keep grinding at it. I can’t stop.
Resentment at my lack of choice is eating me up as well. I hate that I’m stuck, hate that I can’t escape. I know, I know, looking at it as a kind of prison isn’t helping matters.
One of my friends is trying to encourage me to at least give it a try to find another job, but I’m hesitant. Hell, I’m scared. What if I find something and it’s even worse? What if I can’t find anything that pays what I need to make? What if I find something great and lose it somehow (closures, firings, etc)? What if, what if, what if….
Maybe I’ll start with baby steps. Update my resume. At least browse job sites and want ads. Work my way up to actually applying.
I know the statistics in my area aren’t good. I don’t have any government experience, and that’s about the only type of availability in my “price range” that there is around here, without any experience, that is…
Another goal hit in my keto life journey! I’m proud to say that I’m under 250 lbs now, which is something I feared I’d never reach again.
I’m far from “done” with the keto lifestyle. On the contrary, I feel so good about the weight that I’ve already lost that I’m planning on continuing indefinitely–not only for fear of backsliding, but also because I actually don’t mind the low-carb life. Can’t eat any of the snacks in the break room? Okay. I’ll bring my own snacks. Not much on the menu at a fast food joint or restaurant? Fine. I’ll pick what I can eat and just not eat the carb-y stuff.
For the official count, here’s my weight loss numbers for the last 30 days, 60 days, and overall since I started:
I’ve been doing a keto diet for about 2 1/2 months now. Almost 40 lbs in 2 1/2 months! I’m so happy.
I’ll plateau eventually. Probably a few times. But for now, I’m enjoying the steady decline in weight. My clothes fit better–sometimes too big now–and I feel better overall.
Speaking of feeling better, today I see my podiatrist to see if my foot has finally healed enough to get this stupid boot off. It’s been 8 weeks today, and I’m 1000% done with the boot. It’s heavy, it’s awkward, it makes my gait weird, and my other foot is getting painful from my favoring the foot with the boot. All that, plus I can’t drive. I miss running errands on lunch or being able to take myself to work. It’s the little things in life, man.
I haven’t had the boot off for much of anything besides showering and changing clothes. Because I wake up earlier than my husband and the boot has a ton of Velcro on it, I just sleep with it on to keep from waking him every time I get up in the night. Since this is a re-break of a bone that tends to re-break once initially broken, I’m trying to be a good patient and stick to my restrictions.
If all looks good on the x-ray this afternoon, I might be able to ditch the boot and just “take it easy” for however long the doctor determines I need to do so. I have a sinking feeling that he’s going to tell me “no sword fighting,” which will be a disappointment for sure. I’m eager to get back to rapier practice and relearn all that I’ve forgotten and recondition myself to holding the sword for long periods of time and sparring with friends, but all that might have to wait if the doctor says it might jeopardize my foot.
I really don’t want another 8 weeks of boot life.
Maybe later today I’ll call and schedule the DEXA scan I was supposed to get months ago. Hard to figure out a time to do it when I can’t drive myself to it! This needing a ride everywhere stinks.
Other news in the health front: I accidentally skipped a month of my biologic injection, but I got it yesterday so that’s on board. Hopefully my doc isn’t too mad at my slipup when I see her in a couple of weeks. (And hopefully I can drive myself to that appointment.) I was out of my Adderall for a couple of weeks while the pharmacy had issues with their shipments, but I’m happy to say that I have that again as well. My mental health is, well…
…Yeah. That. I hate my job. It’s getting to me. I mean, it’s the same thing day in, day out, five days a week. Sure, there’s the occasional half day or holiday, but lately I’m getting called in to either switch which half I’m working or to work the whole day on the half days (usually at the last possible minute), and the doctor has a couple days a month off, which makes the work load on his off days easier because there aren’t any patients, but yeah…that’s not enough. I don’t know what else I would do, though.
I’ve worked in healthcare for the better part of 19 years (9 years in a hospital setting, and close to 9 years where I’m at, with a brief period of joblessness and retail when I moved to Arizona), so I’m not quite sure what other marketable skills I might have. I mean, I’m quasi-bilingual, so there’s that, and here in AZ speaking Spanish is always a bonus, but my Spanish is limited. My grammar is terrible, and as far as conversational Spanish goes I can muddle through most of it, but I know sometimes I’m using the wrong word or wrong verb form. Medical Spanish? I’m almost completely fluent there. I can snag a chief complaint or medical history no problem. But if I want to do something different, something non-medical, I don’t know if my Spanish is up to par for other professions.
I have a degree that’s non-medical–a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice Administration–but that’s 13 years old now, and I have done absolutely nothing with it since I graduated. Well, I got it framed and hung it up. That’s about it.
A friend of mine has been encouraging me to look at the possibility of working on post as a contractor or some other type of government position, but I’m leery of that. When I first found out I was moving here, I spent months ahead of time applying at various positions on a government website, and I never heard back from any of them. I even revamped my resume based on some redacted resumes my dad showed me from hires he’d done as a DOD employee. So I had my Resume Wizard one from Word that failed, and my Based on a Successfully Hired Government Employee resume that also failed. I just don’t know if I can handle the stress of trying to find a job while maintaining my stressful job.
If I was better at marketing–if my book was selling enough to be profitable–I’d hold a sliver of hope that I could make money doing that. It’s not, though, and I’m not, so that’s out. No, writing is a second profession for me, not my primary source of income, and I doubt it ever will be. I can dream, but…yeah.
I’ve gotta get moving on that marketing stuff, speaking of which. I’m part of a group of authors who are making a run on the USA Today Bestseller’s list with a box set of stories, and my newest WIP is geared towards that. I’ve got a lot of work to do with that, though, because I need to get followers and do some heavy marketing as well. Can’t get to the bestseller list without working for it.
It seems like a lot: the boot, the existential employment crisis, the writing, the marketing…Can I do it all?
I don’t know, but I know one thing: Something’s gotta give. I don’t know how soon, but it’s gotta happen. Whether it’s freedom from the boot and freedom to do my normal activities, or a new job, or a surge in sales, something has to happen to change things. And I know, I have to change to make some of these things happen. I just have to be brave enough to try.
Slowly but surely (well, maybe not so slowly lol) I’m doing it…I’m losing the weight that so terrified me earlier this year and sent me into a deep depression. From 287.4 lbs and edging ever closer to 300+, I have lost 35.6 lbs in just shy of two months. All I’ve done, aside from being stuck in a fracture boot for my foot, is switch diets from the high-carb, high-junk stuff I was eating to a keto diet.
I can put on socks without getting out of breath. I fit into all of my clothes, plus some old ones I had given up on (and once again my chain shirt). I have more energy. I feel better. And I don’t have that fear of dying from obesity-related causes.
I’m far from my goal still, and I know that it’s not over. I can’t just stop eating a keto diet now that I’ve started. Every single person I’ve talked to who has done keto or who has known someone on keto tells me that the instant they went off of it they started gaining again. So this is a lifetime thing. It’s a lifestyle thing. I have changed how I eat, and I need to maintain that diet indefinitely.
Am I okay with that? Absolutely. If giving up sugar and snacks is all I have to “pay” as the “cost” of losing this weight, then so be it. I’ll pay that cost 1,000 times over if it means not feeling like I’m on the verge of death every day.
This was one of those “scared straight” things. I terrified myself with the thought that I might be ineligible for important surgery or at risk for co-morbid diseases and health problems if I didn’t lose the weight. I was desperate. And my healthcare providers? Not much help in the advice department.
My primary care doc pretty much told me that I was screwed because of all the meds I’m on for the bipolar and the rheumatoid arthritis. He said I’d have to cut down to less than 1200 calories a day because I’m a woman. Does keto do that? Not necessarily–but it’s effective regardless.
Now, this doesn’t mean I think keto is the be-all and end-all of the dietary world. It works for some, but not for all, just like any diet. No single thing works for everyone. Human beings aren’t built that way. But for me, keto seems to be the thing that works. I’ll tell people how easy it is for me, but I’m not going to force anyone to go on the same diet I am.
I probably won’t be back to 150 lbs or less, like I was off and on in my twenties. But I’ll be in a better place than where I was, which is important. Better for my health, better for my mental health, and better for my self-esteem.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to the grocery store to pick up some foods that I can eat now. It was an–illuminating experience. Okay, frustrating is more the word for it. You see, I’d made a list of the basic foods that I’m allowed to eat now, and I was prepared to just get those basic foods. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to try to find keto versions of foods like tortillas and pastas and pasta sauces, and I hadn’t really looked into that. My bad, I know, but I was just planning on ripping off the band-aid and cutting out the carb-y stuff right off. I had my final week of carb-laden eating. I had my last hurrah, my time to think about what I have been eating and what I will be eating and how that affects my future. I just didn’t think about veggie pasta and whether or not it might be keto-friendly.
Today and tomorrow some cookbooks we ordered will arrive, and we’ll have actual recipes and stuff to work with. Right now? Yeah, I’m kind of winging it. I took a bunch of lists of keto-friendly foods and wrote down the ones I’d eat, then we bought some things off that list to get me through until Friday when we can do some serious grocery shopping with the recipes to go from.
It’s odd, but that last week of eating like I normally do (and logging everything I ate/drank) really gave me perspective. Those carb-laden foods I so loved are always high caloric and not as filling as one might think. I was still hungry, still unsatisfied even with no restrictions during that week. And seeing the quantities of food and calories I’d been consuming really made me feel bad. Like, I didn’t realize how bad I was eating until then. I knew I wasn’t eating the greatest of foods, but I didn’t comprehend how self-damaging my previous diet was.
I haven’t made my lunch yet, but I went ahead and logged it in the Carb Manager app that I downloaded at my keto coach’s advice. The app gives me 25g of net carbs per day to eat–after lunch, I’ll have 5g carbs left. (My coach said to cut down to 20g carbs, but I haven’t figured out all the settings on the app yet to change it.) But logging helps. I can see okay, one full bell pepper in my salad is too much, so I’ll have to cut half of one instead. Maybe a quarter pepper. I can put in X number of black olives before it starts adding to my carb count for the day, and the two cups of spinach it defaulted to should be enough to fill me up. A small amount of cheese for added fat and flavor and I’ll be okay.
I can do this. I can lose this weight. I can cut off Death at the pass and say no, not today, man. I’ve got things to do. I have two book series to write yet, and embroidery commissions, and a Laurelhood to strive for, and rapier practice to get back to (once I’m at a weight where I feel comfortable with it again). I’ve got things to do. I can’t let myself croak because I didn’t want to change.
Grocery shopping will still be frustrating for a while until we get a better gist of what-all we’re looking for. I’ll be hungry at times and not have anything other than a handful of nuts or a small piece of cheese or something to snack on. But I’ll be okay. I’ll get through it.
It’s Marketing Time again in my publisher’s writing group, so I spent this morning tweaking and posting some graphics on various social media sites to try to generate sales/interest for Abnormal. I need to screenshot my current insights, I suppose, to have a comparison to make.
Marketing has been by far the biggest challenge to my writing career. I just don’t understand it. Some posts I make have a huge impact with a lot of interactions, and some (that I personally think are more interesting or entertaining) get zip. It’s just something I can’t wrap my head around.
It scares me a bit. I mean, I’m the one most responsible for getting my book out there and seen/read by more people. So why can’t I seem to get the hang of it?
Who knows. I tried contacting bookstores in the state–almost no response. I tried contacting libraries–zip. I tried several blogs/podcasts/book review sites–crickets. I just don’t know what I’m doing/not doing that’s so wrong.
In person I can sell the book just fine. I can talk it up and get people interested and even get them to buy it. Granted, it’s mostly friends/family/coworkers that are buying when I do this, but I have managed to convince several strangers to give it a shot, too. So it’s not that I’m not capable of selling my book. I just can’t seem to translate the in-person pitch to a post or tweet. Which is weird, given that I have severe social anxiety and tend to stammer when I get nervous–which is just about any time someone asks me about my book. You’d think that I’d do better from behind a phone or computer screen.
So I posted a few graphics today, and I’ll keep an eye on the analytics/insights to see what-all worked and what didn’t. Here are the things I posted today, minus any hashtags and the like:
Apparently there’s a way to put up a story on Instagram and allow comments, but I couldn’t figure it out. Oh, well. They’re out on the Web now, so time and analytics will tell if these graphics help me out or not.
I’m trying. I really am. I just get so overwhelmed with all there is to do to market a book. It’s not just throwing it out into the ether and waiting for the income. It doesn’t work that way. But hopefully, with the help of my publisher, I’ll get some traction.
Well, the local Arts and Sciences competition is over, and I didn’t win anything. I’m not overly surprised, but it’s still a little disappointing.
It’s not so much the fact that I didn’t win anything. Sometimes you don’t win, and that’s okay. What bothers me more is how unprepared I was for some of the questions I got from my judges. They asked about specifics about the history of the type of art I chose to enter, if there were any extant examples I knew of, and a little more stuff that, honestly, I couldn’t answer. It got me thinking…
…I know I’m not going to become a Laurel overnight. It usually takes years and years and years of hard work, research, and determination. Decades, sometimes. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the possibility of being the 50-something vigilant who has to be helped to kneel before the Crown because of her arthritis. That’s fine.
What bugs me, though, is the research part. I can do research. I know how. But what I never learned is how to retain it. I had people rattling off grave site names and examples of digs where certain things could have been found and dates and time periods and…I can’t get that stuff to stick. In school, I would retain facts long enough to pass the test and then they’d flutter away on the breeze the second the test was over. My brain doesn’t hold on to stuff the way it does for most others I see who are heavily active in the SCA. I can remember that the serial killer Albert Fish liked to shove rose stems, thorns and all, in his urethra, but I can’t remember what time period my favorite style of Norse art is from. I could read it a thousand times, but it won’t stick. Why? Who knows. All I know is that this little idiosyncracy might have a negative impact on my potential future as a Laurel.
You see, Laurels are supposed to not only be experts in doing the art and/or science they’re known for, they’re supposed to be experts in the history of the art and/or science as well. How can I become that level of expert if my brain won’t hold on to the data?
I worry. I hesitate. And I wonder if it’s imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head or if this is a serious concern. Am I just doubting for no reason, or should I reconsider my path? I mean, maybe I’m not meant to be knowledgeable about the pretty things I make. Maybe I’m just meant to make them and that’s it.
Or maybe I’m just tired. It’s been a long day, so long that I’ve had entirely too much time to think. That’s always a dangerous thing for me.
Last weekend’s Arts and Sciences competition in a neighboring Barony went well, and tomorrow is the A&S competition for my own Barony. I have mixed feelings about it.
Last year was a disaster. A fiasco. A veritable shit show. I entered two pieces and was supposed to be judged by three people for each piece. This did not happen, largely because not enough judges were acquired for the event. For one item they press-ganged a judge at the last minute, because I complained to our Seneschal about the lack of judging (and because one of the judges who was supposed to judge it, who specifically told me she would be back to judge it, wandered off to judge something else and never came back). It was a miserable day spent at a table waiting to discuss my pieces with the judges, and I was so upset at having a terrible experience with A&S competition–my first experience entering in A&S–that I got stupid drunk that night and ended up vomiting Cheetos all over the side of the car and my Italian Renaissance dress. (Many, many thanks to my wonderful husband who cleaned all that mess up while I took a cold shower to sober up a bit.) I even sent a politely-worded but still quite blunt email to our Baron and Baroness about how awful the whole experience was, and how as a novice entering for the first time I hoped this experience wouldn’t sour me to A&S as a whole.
I had a much better time of it at the neighboring Barony’s A&S the following weekend (last year the events were on back to back weekends as well, but in reverse order compared to this year). Enough that I was willing to consider entering in an A&S again, but not so much that I was willing to enter into the Kingdom-level competition. No way.
This year? This year I’m entering just one piece for the local A&S, but I’m confident enough to try to enter it in Kingdom later in the year–possibly even multiple entries, depending on how quickly I can make it through my current backlog of projects.
I’m still apprehensive about tomorrow though. I mean, I know different people are running the competition, and knowing who’s running it makes me feel a tad bit more at ease about my likelihood of being judged appropriately, but last year’s competition still has left a vile taste in my mouth. (And no, it’s not the memories of the regurgitated Cheetos.)
I need to get cracking on the paper for it tonight or tomorrow morning (in true AJ style, I’ll be cramming at the last minute lol I hate writing papers), though I think this year they’re not being sticklers for full documentation. I think they’re taking a page from our neighboring Barony and letting entrants that aren’t going for Champion do minimal documentation. If that’s the case, I should be good to go for the most part, just some minor tweaks.
Here’s hoping I don’t get gypped again this year. I don’t think I will, but that doubt still lingers….