Finish Your Manuscript in …

I know, two blog posts in one day … am I procrastinating or what? Anyway, I keep seeing all these posts for how to finish your manuscript in 3 easy steps or how to be excited to complete your NaNoWriMo project or 7 ways to get that novel published. Frankly, they’re kind of annoying.

So I have my own 3 easy steps to finish what you’re writing post.

  1. Sit butt in chair.
  2. Turn off wifi/internet
  3. Write the damn words

Seems pretty simple … so why don’t we just do that? Who knows or too many reasons to list. But at the end of the day, those three things will get it done every time.

New Tunes and New Headphones


For five years I spent my life in an architecture studio, creating buildings, structures, feats of engineering that were both fantastical and sometimes plausible, drawing in every form possibly, building models, presenting work, creating. Those days were intense and long and often sleepless. We called it “architorture” … loved and hated in equal measure.

It was a creative hothouse like I’ve never found since and, yet, longed for with every breath I take.

Music was integral to our creative endeavors. Everyone had headphones, everyone lived in their music bubbles for stretches of time to block out other distractions. And we all exchanged music from time to time too.

As a writer, music is different to my creative work now. Some days it’s hard to write words when I’m listening to words being sung. But I need that bubble to keep pushing on and moving forward ….

So, I’ve adapted. I binge listen to the same song over and over and over. It creates a mood, keeps me focused, blocks out distractions. This week has been “Riser” by Dierks Bentley. Other times it’s something from Pentatonix or a piece of classical guitar in equal measure with blues and jazz. And in the rare moments I’ll even pull out something harder.

This week I bought new headphones too. Although I want some wireless, noise blocking ones, I can’t afford them so I found a decent pair on sale. They are the old style that go over the ears instead of ear buds, which I hate. And best of all, they’re red … because me and red have a thing. Always have.

Why write about this now? Because … although I love spending time with my family and friends, after holidays like Thanksgiving and days filled with people and people and more people, I really have to fold up inside my shell and not talk to anyone, refocus. Music and headphones help me do that.

So, what kind of music do you play in your bubble? :)

The Phoenix and Thanksgiving

So I posted my regrets earlier this week with the tag that those who are the most thankful are often the ones with the deepest regrets. I truly believe that because those are the people, who like a Phoenix have risen from the ashes.

So here are the things I’m thankful for –

Being ignored, taunted, teased, bullied, left-out, beat-up, raped, and blown up  because the people who did those things taught me how to forgive and love anyway.

Being poor for most of married life because I learned that money isn’t everything … it isn’t even a drop in the bucket on the scale of things that matter in this world.

Chocolate … because who isn’t.

Scars because they’re like a picture album I carry with me of all the times I survived.

My grandmother who lost her husband in 1945 when she had four children under the age of 11, a 5th grade education, and no prospects for life but kept going anyway.

My other grandmother who weighed 2 lbs at birth, was the only child of 9 to complete high school and go to college, survived uterine cancer before the days of chemo, and lived to be 85.

Hard work because success is so much sweeter when we have to fight for it.

Friends that get me.

Finding a soul mate … and losing them … because now I know I have one out there.

Headphones so I don’t have to listen to everything.

Chocolate because really, it is that good.

Really fast cars that I can drive.

Having lived almost 50 years because now I know what’s left to come is gonna be okay no matter what.

Homeless people because they make me keep feeling even when I don’t want to.

Music because life just isn’t life without music.

My family whether blood related or acquired along the way … because nothing is more important in my life than those I love.

NaNoWriMo … will I fail yet again?

For the third year in a row I have attempted to win at this novel writing thing called NaNoWriMo where you write 50,000 words in one month. It’s kind of crazy, kind of fun, and mind-numbingly hard for me, it seems. Every year something new happens that prevents me from finishing what I’ve started.

It’s not that I can’t write an entire novel in a month. I’ve done it in less time actually, completing 62,000 in three weeks once.

But November just doesn’t seem to be my month.

The first year I was moving along really well until 2 1/2 weeks in when my computer crashed hard. It took over a week to get it back up and running but by then it was Thanksgiving and I didn’t have time to do anything more.

The second year 1 1/2 weeks in I came down with pneumonia. I don’t know if you’ve ever had pneumonia or not but it’s not a disease where you lay in bed and have time to write all day. I was coughing so hard I couldn’t even breathe, let alone think about how to put two words together in a coherent manner.

This year has been a combination of all the years past and then some. No pneumonia. This year I fell off the top of a stack of hay bales and injured my arm and shoulder … which was after my computer completely crashed and I spent three days recovering everything … which was after a very emotionally tumultuous October … which was after switching up what I was writing three days before it all started.

So here I am with six days to go and almost 20,000 words left to crank out and Thanksgiving is in two days and family will be in and we’ll be traveling and … and … and … and …

I guess this is where I just have to “write faster”. Encouragement welcome. :)


Let’s Talk About … ISIL – a conversation I never intended to have

I have an alpine goat that I milk everyday. She is the perfect milk goat. Having been raised as a bottle baby she assumes I am her people and therefore does pretty much whatever I want her to do, including standing on the milk stand without being harnessed in any way while I milk out an entire gallon. She’s fabulous.

So one day I went out to milk and I was in a hurry because I was leaving town for a long weekend. I had already packed and was dressed ready to go when I went out to milk. Not my standard milking attire but whatever works, right? I opened the pen and let out my goat, placed her food bucket where it normally goes, positioned everything I needed, petted her like normal, and she climbed up on the stand.

But she wouldn’t stand still and showed no interest in her food bucket full of grains and sunflower seeds. Instead she kept squeezing her body into a bunched up ball and turning her head to me, nuzzling my arm. I was puzzled. This wasn’t her normal behavior.

I did everything I’d ever read in a book about goats to get her to cooperate – made sure she knew where the food was, enticed her with a treat, made sure she didn’t need down to do her business, made sure the others goats weren’t distracting her, etc … but nothing worked. So, in a hurry, I was going to give up and forego the milk for the day. (it’s not the end of the world after all) I stood up and started moving things around and walked around the corner.

My goat followed and nudged my arm again.

I petted her, scrubbed her neck under her collar, rubbed between her horns but she still pushed on my arm and finally, she nibbled at my bracelet. This bracelet:                                                               12227635_10208006289704570_6571113600919781471_n

And suddenly I understood her hesitation at letting me milk. You see, I never wear jewelry out in the animal yard, especially not something like this. It’s colorful and bold and the chickens would peck me to death trying to figure out what it was or they would destroy it … so I never wear things like this outside.

My goat noticed it. Something so small and insignificant.

Once I put it in my pocket, she was fine with me milking her and stood still for the remainder of the time. But the incident stuck with me … how something so small and trivial played havoc on our routine.

As I read the following article in the wake or recent terrorist activities around the world, the incident came back to me in a way I hadn’t thought of it before.

The Mystery of ISIS by Anonymous

The article is interesting in that it gives a LOT of information but it doesn’t really say much or give us a resolution that we might expect from the title. We are left with ISIS as a mystery to behold … which doesn’t really help at all.

Truth is they aren’t really a mystery. What drives them to do what they do, what attracts people to join them, is simple to understand if you can understand the significance of how my goat responded to my bracelet.

No matter how intelligent, compassionate, caring, loving, or thoughtful a person is, humans are attracted to that which is different … and this group is definitely different in a vast number of ways.

I can already hear the arguments … oh no, I like things to be the same or I’m a traditionalist or I like routine … it doesn’t really matter. You can be like my uncle who was an engineer and wore the same shirt and pants everyday and ate the same things for breakfast every single day and had the same routine of life every single day and your brain will still seek out that which is different. That’s because that’s how our brains work.

As humans we acquire language skills by categorizing the world around us. We learn patterns and shapes and how to fit things together by giving everything a place, a name, and position in our lives. As infants these skills are innate to us. We don’t consciously think about them, we just do them. As children these skills are then expanded on in school as we learn mathematics and higher thinking concepts. As teens and adults we use them to organize social situations and people.

But at the base of it all is the fact that our inborn need to categorize the world makes us susceptible to seeking out things that are different in our attempt to organize the chaos. Our brains are hard-wired to make everything fit into place.

If you are human, you can’t help it.

So when something comes along that is different, we react to it. And how we react to it is based on what we’ve learned in life. For some people anything different is to be feared and avoided, for others studied and learned from, and for still others embraced and loved. What determines our reaction is the unique set of life experiences that we’ve each had. It’s very personal.

Articles like this one continue to pursue the same themes over and over and over that are popular in media and rhetoric throughout the world. Governments, religions, social structures, armies, education … big bold swipes of their pen, big bold ideas. Broad concepts about why hatred and racism and terrorist groups even exist.

And in doing so, they miss what is vital to understand about the situation.

Groups like ISIL don’t exist because of something a government did or didn’t do, because of some religious ideology, because of a lack of education … they exist because individual people made individual choices to associate with something different.

But, but, but … They’re evil and filled with hatred and prejudice and they kill people and terrorize people and … how could anyone ever want to be associated with THAT?

Well, here’s the thing … it’s easy to hate. We can let all our pent up emotions, jealousies, rage, anger, etc have free reign over our lives. No controlling anything. We just let go. No stress, no worries, no doubt, no angst ridden sleepless nights, no guilt, no apologies, no responsibility. That’s what hate does and is.

For someone whose life has been filled with stressful days, who’s tired of dealing with failed love, lost jobs, being outcast from social groups, left alone … giving up is a very real prospect, an inviting prospect even. All those big things that people pursue day in and day out, government, religion, social affiliations, end up being the very things that push other people away, that cast them into the very scenario that leads them to join a group like ISIS.

Our fight in this life isn’t against other governments or religions or social media or education … our fight in this life is personal.

It’s the little things that matter … like my bracelet.

Every act you commit, every word you say, every single thing you do toward another human being matters. Hate is a broad all-encompassing concept with very very intimate roots. We will never win the war against terrorism by pandering about governmental policies, world religions, or educational systems because those are not the root of the problem.

The problem is much more intimate and close to home than that.

Until we start treating everyone we meet and know with compassion, terrorism will live on in this world. And compassion is created and met one person at a time. No government can regulate it, no religion mandate it, no educational system teach it if individuals aren’t willing to give it.

Wear compassion like my bracelet. Make it be the thing that others notice is different about you. Make compassion the difference this world is seeking to find … and then hatred and terrorism won’t be.



In this month where everyone is posting eternally long lists of things they are thankful for, I have one of regrets. That may sound horrible. Thanksgiving is next week after all.

But my year has not gone according to plan in any way possible. It has taken every detour it could possibly take, every rabbit trail, every pot-hole infested back road of misery, and left me vulnerable, weak, hurting, and uncertain that the sun will even rise in the morning. (okay, maybe that last bit is an exaggeration … maybe)

So, instead of sitting around finding things to be thankful for in the midst of my misery, and pretending I am actually thankful and not miserable, I decided I would just be miserable. No one cares anyway. I have no one to be accountable to, no one cheering me on, no one supporting me. It’s just me …

Sure I have friends and they are great. Some of them are even good enough friends that they know my secrets and still talk to me. But thinking about that defeats my wallowing in misery and regret. I can’t go there right now.

The one friend that made me smile for a few months recently, that kept me on my toes, that made me a better person is no longer there. Right now, that’s a huge regret. I don’t know, maybe later it won’t be but I’m pretty sure it won’t change status soon. Certainly not in time for Thanksgiving (because then I’d really have something to be thankful for and we can’t have that …)

My other regrets in life right now are varied.

I regret not loving other people enough.

I regret not saying what I really believe.

I regret not sharing my passions with the world.

I regret not being brave enough.

I regret not needing other people to love me as much as I love them.

I regret not tearing down walls.

I regret not letting others see my tears.

I regret not being human enough.

I regret not having enough money to help everyone I see.

I regret not being able to feed the poor.

I regret not having the power to change the world.

I regret not speaking out loud enough … or long enough.

I regret not having the words to make peace a reality for everyone.

For all the misery in my life, all the trivialities of what I’ve been through and face day in and day out, the regrets that eat at my heart are overwhelming at the best of times. But that’s as it should be.

But why regrets in this month of thanks?

Because those who are the most thankful, are often the ones with the deepest regrets. I know I am …

Refugees and the Homeless

The solution is simple. Instead of everyone complaining about what the government is doing or not doing and making demands of people who’ve lost everything expecting them to conform to some abstract norm of civilization, here’s what we do:

Anyone who has a spare room, hold up your hand and take someone in.

I have a spare room, plenty of food, and my bills are paid every month. I have a bed to share and compassion to give. How about you?