Life

May Day, May Day, We Need A New Goal!

You know how Facebook has the “On This Day” feature? (I guess it’s a feature, but sometimes I don’t WANT to look back!)

Today is May 1st and Facebook was kind enough to remind me a year ago today Bill and I bought our first home.

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I know it looks small, but it is actually really big and I still love it!

So then Facebook reminded me about two years ago. Two years ago I graduated with my Certificate in Professional Writing:

Look how little Talia was!! She was only a few months old and just a little “nugget!”

So fast forward to today….

I feel compelled. Compelled to accomplish something. The funny part? I didn’t really think about May 1st as being the day we bought our home, and I completely had forgotten the date of graduation. Why is it funny? Because I set today as a launch date for a new project!

Several years ago I was the Editor-In-Chief of My Petz Magazine, Charlotte, NC edition.

I also was the head writer, editor, and sold advertising……it was super grass roots!

The magazine was successful, until payday came. My pay was based on the ads I sold, nothing else (so my “friend” and I could get the magazine off the ground).

Payday came and payday went. There was a lot of avoidance from the publisher…and then the email came.

I wasn’t getting paid.

All the money (allegedly) went to publishing the magazine and everyone was getting paid except me. This means the graphic designer was paid, the printer was paid, but I wasn’t paid.

I was beyond upset. I was counting on the money to …you know…pay bills.

Thankfully I had a second job.

The publisher of the magazine decided to fold everything (including the original publication in Atlanta, GA) and be done with the whole thing.

So here I am in the Midwest. I have tons of other experience in other areas of publication, I have just never owned my OWN magazine.

St. Louis (the biggest city near me) has no pet publication…

I decided to go for it and launch a magazine. I started setting everything up with the “launch day” set for today as far as social media.

It wasn’t until I logged into my FB account, I saw today is generally a day of accomplishment.

Now none of this takes away from all the other things I’ve accomplished. It just feels good to be moving forward when so many things have been rough! I need to have a plan…even if it changes along the way.

I know I need to write, and I need to be able to work from home as much as possible for my husband and my kids. I can’t tell you how many appointments we have every week for Bill alone. He sometimes can go to three different VA/Vet Centers in two days…it’s insane!

Pets have always been something I am passionate about, along with writing. There’s an opening in the market for a great, quality magazine in the area not too far from me, so I’m going to go for it and see what I can do!

 

Life

When the Game Plan Changes….

Yesterday started out challenging……

I have been “working from home” for two days so my husband can take care of all his appointments and such with the VA. (Also, shout out to the VA for continually canceling his appointments when he gets there….jerks!)

Here are some hard facts about working from home:

  • Kids don’t understand the concept and think it’s time to play with you and distract you,
  • Your husband thinks it means you’re available to help clean the house, watch kids, and take care of everything while he does other “projects,”
  • Nothing gets done,
  • You rather be at the office!
  • You feel like the following:

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I then had another bomb dropped on me. I thought I would be partnering with another yoga studio in the area…and now she’s not so sure. (I will say she has A LOT going on, so I actually understand).

I’m crushed. We had plans to teach and to launch a wellness magazine in the area.

So as I sit with screaming kids all around me, I feel lost.

I thought I was finally going to be able to teach yoga full time and spend more time with my kids and husband.

It was even harder to get work done knowing this. I felt like I needed a new plan.

When the morning was over, we found ourselves racing to couples therapy (and of course we were late). As you may have read last week, we are about over this shenanigan. Seriously, we are better when we are NOT in therapy. I don’t have such an urge to kill him all the time (not literally….) When we walk out of therapy, we are fighting and angry…but we press on.

Everyone agreed the relationship between us would be better if I worked from home all the time. Crazy, right? Considering how insane my house is during the day. The flip side is leaving each day to go to work when your husband has combat-related PTSD/TBI can make leaving the house for extended periods of time an absolute nightmare…

So I’m setting new goals.

It’s no secret writing is what makes me happy. It’s what I want to do for a career and it’s what I would do even if I didn’t have to work…along with teaching yoga. Teaching yoga makes me so happy and helps my own mental status (I have Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety), so I won’t ever give up teaching.

I’m determined to find my own way as a writer and instructor so I can work from home. As chaotic as working from home can be, it will make for better relationships at home and with my husband.

Have you ever worked from home? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

 

Military Spouse Life

God Broke My Oven

Yes, you read that right. I feel like my busted oven is God giving me direction. Sound crazy? Well, I get that a lot!

I have always been super active. Even as a child, my parents were called in by my kindergarten teacher so they could ask my parents what to do with me. I wasn’t a bad kid…I just never sat still…for a second. I naturally brought this over to adulthood. I now work full time in hockey (NAHL), I run my yoga studio, I blog, I’m working on my third novel, I have two children/6 dogs/3 cats, and a husband….. I also have a million ideas for other projects. If I had all the time in the world, I would have my own vegan skin care line, and a hockey clothing company supporting youth hockey. I wish there were about 10 more hours in the day.

So I started to pray.

I know I’m a shitty Christian…I’m the first to admit it.

I prayed anyway.

I wanted to know what my purpose was in life. My pastor talks all the time about purpose….so what is mine?

I needed clear direction. I’m 36 years old and I feel like I’m just walking in circles here. These circles are full of half completed projects which are getting me nowhere.

So I continued to pray and try and weed out the things I was not meant to do.

I stopped some of the smaller projects because I just felt they weren’t “it” for me.

Then I decided I should work on my freelance writing and building up my clients, while making room to write novels on the side. I started pitching new clients, but everyone who was interested had a “limited” budget or no budget at all. I could feel this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

Then I debated. Maybe I wanted to go back to baking full time. Maybe I should re-open my bakery. My mom and I had some killer ideas for Biscotti and selling them across the country. I knew where I could use a commercial oven….I thought I should make a go of it.

Then God killed my oven.

I had an order for a cake, and thank goodness it was for a friend….because my oven died half way through the baking process, leaving me a giant sheet cake pan, half-baked.

It was gross. I mean, how do you clean that???

Because I already filed our taxes, I knew we were getting a return. We figured we would use it to buy a new oven.

Then our taxes get held up for 45 days with no explanation from the IRS.

I’m aggravated, but I get the message. It’s not baking.

Then last night I get the whole message.

I was teaching my regular yoga class and just enjoying it. I hate being away from my family at night, but I have cut back to one hour, two nights a week. I contemplate how I can just get everything worked out to teach more. I also want to really get some more education on my chosen area of yoga, which is mental health.

My husband has combat related PTSD and I have Major Depressive Disorder, so naturally, yoga for mental health just clicked with me.

I really started making plans (while on the mat) to keep moving that education forward. I had been granted a scholarship for Warriors at Ease. I can do the class in a self-paced manner, but I need to put the other projects aside and step it up.

Then I started to think about the struggles my husband and I have in our personal/family life, especially with his PTSD…..I was waiting for him to get home last night and while talking to him on the phone, I opened up Facebook (I told you I couldn’t sit still). An advertisement popped up for a teacher training to work with Veterans in St. Louis, MO. It’s only about 90 minutes from me AND it’s over my birthday weekend. How perfect for us to spend the weekend as a family in St. Louis? (Here’s to hoping the Blues are home that weekend for pre-season!)

It seemed too perfect…and it seems maybe between the oven breaking, the desire to only write novels and closed freelancing doors, this was the answer.

I suppose it’s too soon to say, though I also found another online free training for businesses who work with veterans just on accident last night.

I ran all of this by my mom who also believes all these things are happening because I am faithfully asking for God’s help (but remember I already know I’m a shitty Christian) so sometimes it seems like he should not have the time or desire to answer me….but I guess I can start on this path and find out!

Writing & Publishing

Can I Get a Do-Over?

Did you set some New Year resolutions this year? I did. One of them was to blog more. Yeah….at least once a week. Don’t look back now, but that has NOT happened!

Why?

Things like The Case of the Missing Eggs, and The Butterscotch Pudding Incident have kept me away.

Allow me to explain.

Our oldest child (Talia) just turned three. She LOVES eggs. She thinks helping mom bake is about the coolest thing ever (poor kid). I noticed one day, there seemed to be some eggs missing from the tray. I didn’t think too much about it, since hubby often makes the kids breakfast to include eggs.

A few days later, I pull the laundry out of the dryer, only to see egg shells trapped in the lint trap…but no eggs. I asked Bill about it, and he just shrugged it off.

I moved on.Eggs Image

Three days later, I notice the dogs and toddler got into one of the cabinets in the kitchen. The pudding was missing, and a light brown dusting ran from the kitchen to Talia’s room. Sure enough, I checked her room and Peppa Pig, the bright pink comforter, and cream colored carpet were covered in several packages of pudding mix.

So now I have to strip the bed, clean up all the packaging, and wash the comforter without making pudding in our new washing machine.

I was about to hand over my mom card and toss the whole thing outside, when upon picking up the comforter, our rolls about four half cooked eggs. They weren’t raw, but they sure as heck weren’t hard boiled.

My mind immediately went to the eggs shells from the dryer, and then I pieced it all together.

My aspiring pastry chef daughter must have taken the eggs to play with, left them in the dirty laundry pile, and Bill didn’t see them when he loaded the washer. They then went with the bedding into the dryer, where they were slightly cooked, and peeled of their shells, which ended up in the lint trap.

Now I have a comforter covered in pudding mix, half cooked eggs on the floor, a toddler laughing, and three of the six dogs trying to get at the eggs and pudding mix.

Bill is, of course, MIA when this goes down, so I have to battle the kids, dogs, and mess on my own. I call my mom, who is laughing too hard to help. I hand the phone to Talia so my mom can at least long-distance-babysit for a minute.

I can’t toss the comforter outside, because the other dogs are out there. I can’t toss it in the wash, because both the washer and dryer are loaded.

In the end, I finally let all the dogs in, threw the comforter out the door, and organized the chaos just in time for Bill to get home and the laundry done.

So what is the point?

Well, no one is getting butterscotch pudding EVER again, but these are the reasons I have been so bad about blogging.

My lack of writing in general has been nagging at me lately, so I packed up all the extra things in my life which don’t make me happy. I cut back on the number of hours I teach yoga, I cleaned up my office, and I packed up the millions of little projects around the house.

I feel better.

So now, my new focus is on writing. I still have to work my 9-5 job for now (but seriously, I work in hockey, so it’s about the best 9-5 job you could ask for), but I’m moving toward being able to write full time.

Will you tag along on the journey? What if I promise to write to you, dear reader, more often?

Let’s try!

Life

11 Things I Learned in the South

I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….

  1. Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
  2. Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
  3. Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
  4. They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
  5. They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
  6. College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
  7. Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
  8. Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
  9. No One is Ever in a Hurry.  Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
  10. Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.

    This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.

  11. BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”

So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.

Military Spouse Life

Moving On Up…To Illinois

It’s really happening. We started packing recently and while it seems like I’ve spent enough time to pack an entire house on just packing one room, it’s ALL books and I’m not done with that one room!

This said, I hesitated several times when I was packing books on or by some of my favorite authors to be included in the book I am working on, Literary Crazy. If I find an agent to work with and can move forward on writing the rest of the book, I’ll need those materials. Knowing I have several other projects I can be working on, not to mention school, a newborn, a toddler, and the zoo of animals I live with, I packed all the books.

THEN BOOM!

Twitter hosted a pitching party where you use certain hashtags used by agents to find potential authors to work with. I found out about it last minute and sent my tweet anyway. Two tweets later, I had four interested agents!!!!!!!

I was beyond excited by which agents had requested more material, but now I must sit and wait. When I told Bill, he said I had better dig the books I packed back out because we rented a trailer to take the packed stuff back to Illinois over Thanksgiving! Now I’m not a superstitious person (well except for hockey…..and I’m pretty sure the Cubbies won the World Series because of my rituals…..in fact, I should call Theo Epstein and see where my ring is!) but I’m afraid to dig out the books/materials because if I do, the agents might not get back to me with good news. I know, I know……you’re rolling your eyes, I’m sure.

Instead of working on unpacking and repacking the mass amount of books to find what I need, I’m just working on other projects needing my attention. This consists mostly of article writing and trying to catch sleep when the kids let me!

I’m sure I will wait until the last minute (when Bill is loading the trailer to go to Illinois) to decide to pull out the books….which will be how the fight starts (just kidding).

Meanwhile, if you don’t hear from me, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! As I mentioned, we are headed to Illinois so little man can meet the family and we can start house hunting! Sadly, I don’t  care much about the house we buy, as long as it has a room for my writing and a space for my soap making. I’ll leave you with some pictures of what I’ve been working on in that department!