The here and now

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Life never turns out quite like we imagined, does it? I think it would be boring if it did!

I’m a real goal-oriented person. I’m never quite so happy as when I’m aiming at something higher. And when I’m aiming up, I think, “It will be so amazing when I get there! I’ll have really arrived. I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy it.”

But I don’t. I arrive, and then I look around myself and realize, “Huh. Nice view. Not exactly what I thought it would be, though… But you know what? Up there! That’s what I need!”

Sometimes I don’t quite hit the mark, and I’m left a few feet short, feeling frustrated. It wasn’t supposed to end up like that. They say if you aim for the moon, if you miss, at least you land among the stars. But there are millions of light years between stars, my friend! But what can you do? I pin my hopes and all my effort onto the next goal, because… that’s just me.

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While there are perks to being a hard working go-getter, I think there are also perks to being able to sit back and enjoy the here and now, whether it’s a few feet shy of those ambitious daydreams or not. Because at some point, I dreamed of this. Or something very close. I might not always hit the moon, but I’m sure as heck off the ground!

So don’t get me wrong, I’m totally going to keep aiming at the next goal. I mean, why not? It’s fun! It keeps things interesting. And frankly, it’s an integral part of my personality. But sometimes there’s a long work period until you achieve the next level you’re aiming at. Sometimes the moon is so close, yet so far… So I’m going to do my best to enjoy the here and now, too.

Because I do love my life! ❤ And view from here is gorgeous.

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I’m not as mean as I seem

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It’s hard to explain my job. People don’t know what to expect when you say that you’re a writer. When you tell people that you work from home, they assume that you have the best of both worlds, and that you have time for relaxing, for family, for favours… and you make an income! But that isn’t really true.

I might choose my workload, but that choice is based on how much money I need to make. I don’t get paid by the hour. I get paid when the book the is done. No one cares how many hours it took me to write it, edit it and polish it up. All they care is that I have it done by deadline. (And I always do. 😉 )

I don’t have a workplace to come home from. That means it’s hard to tell when I’m busy or free. I’m home. I’m around. For 90% of the population, that means you’re free. If someone works long hours and gets home late, people know to give you a bit of space with your family. “Wow. She must be exhausted. Let’s leave her alone.” But there are no such cues when you work from home. So I have to say it in so many words: “I’m sorry, but I’m really busy. REALLY busy. I’m not going to be available for a while. Maybe a few months.” And that sounds like a brush off–and I get it! I hear the way it sounds, too!

I’m really not as mean as I seem when I say that I’m busy. I’m just… busy. And probably a little overwhelmed, because when I get busy, my family starts getting more demanding of my time, too. And then I have to prioritize my family and my deadlines, and everything and everyone else falls behind them.

I’m not as mean as I seem when I say that I’m busy. I promise.

And for the record? I’m really busy right now.

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My body is betraying me

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I remember when I was twenty-five, when I could strain a muscle and be better two days later. I took that entirely for granted.

About three months ago (or more?), I strained my shoulder typing. I was typing at my new desk and didn’t have a back support yet, and I was reaching too far forward. These things happen. Now, I didn’t exactly stop typing and give it a rest, either. You know me–workaholic that I am–I kept typing. I mean, I have deadlines, and I can’t just decide to take a few days off. That’s not how deadlines are met!

And then there was the fact that my desk was just so pretty, and I didn’t want to ugly it up with the back support. And so I just plunged on, hoping my shoulder would get used to the new position and stop hurting. It did not.

It took about ten days of prescription strength muscle relaxants before the stabbing pain stopped, and then I had to do about four weeks of physiotherapy until my arm stopped aching.

How does that happen?? I feel like my body is betraying me! It should be able to survive a little more punishment than this.

Anyway, I finished my physiotherapy, my shoulder is back to normal, I have my ugly little back support thingy on my chair, and I’m back in good shape.

But still… Why couldn’t I keep my youthful ability to bounce back?

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Marrying your “best friend”

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve never understood the concept of marrying your best friend. It has always confused me to no end, even thought I know a lot of people describe their marriages that way.

“Today, I marry my best friend.”

This joke is always how I saw that:

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My problem has been that I’ve been defining “best friend” differently than everyone else.  I read an article recently that said that people who claim to be married to their best friend tend to be up to two times happier. So, of course, I had to read it!

According to this article, this is what people mean by marrying their best friend:

“A best friend has your back. A best friend supports your dreams. A best friend is someone you can call anytime, anywhere, without feeling like they’ll resent you for it. They’re the person you put as an emergency contact and the first person you think about when something wonderful happens at work. They know all your quirks (and love you anyway). They can challenge you in deep ways because they know the ins and outs of your psyche (and love you anyway). They’re the kind of person who’ll make soup and draw you a bath when you’re sick, even if they’re busy, because they genuinely want you to feel better.”

Now for me, a best friend is many of those things, but  not all of them. Call me cranky, but I have a few more boundaries with my buddies. I wouldn’t call them day or night. And they aren’t my emergency contact, either… that’s reserved for someone closer. They might bring me soup if I’m sick, but the bath? That’s a little personal. Add to that, a best friend is someone who I’m not sexually attracted to in any way. And for me, that’s a really important part of the definition. I can go days without physically seeing a best friend and be okay with that. I can see my best friend fall in love with someone other than me, and be excited for them.

Best friends get your humour, laugh at your jokes, hang out with you when you need a breather from your work, and share your view of the world. They might tell you a difficult truth, comfort you when your heart has been broken, and be your cheerleader when you don’t think you’ll succeed. Best friends are such a necessary part of life… because life is about more than one person. You need more than one person who would take a bullet for you. But I wouldn’t marry a “best friend.”

The man I did marry is my lover, my husband, the one I think about all day long, the one I trust to take care of me when I’m sick. He’s the only person in the world I’d have a joint bank account with, the one who gets my top priority. And I’m his. He’s the one I long for when we’re apart, whose arms calm me, who shares inside jokes with me and who I want to grow old with. He knows me better than anyone, and I know his quirks and inside tangles, too. He’s the one I flirt with, crawl into bed with, and share an intimate connection that I share with no one else on this planet. They say that physical attraction fades over time, but 13 years in, and we still have the spark. We have each other’s backs no matter what. He’s the one I can open up to, share my deepest insecurities with, and feel completely safe. He’s not my best friend or my buddy–he’s my everything.

But then, I’m sure that’s what other people mean, too, when they described the person they married. It’s just semantics. But be warned, whenever I hear about someone marrying their best friend, I’m thinking of Gary. Because a best friend is a wonderful part of life, but if you define a best friend like I do, don’t marry him! It can be so much better.

That next decade

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I remember being in my twenties and thinking about my thirties. Thirties were still young, and I saw this decade as being “awfully adult” and fraught with things like a mortgage and retirement savings. My twenties were spent graduating from university, getting married, moving across the country with my husband, having a baby…. lots of big beginnings. Your thirties are your years when you pull things together. I had my son at 29, so my thirties have been child-rearing, career-growing and getting comfortable in my own skin.

And now 40 is around the corner, so I’m thinking about that next decade.

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The thing is, I never really imagined being in my forties. That seemed “old” somehow, and now that I’m nearly there, I’m mildly offended with my younger self. Because I’m not old! And anyone older than 39 will roll their eyes, too. But in this decade of my forties, my son will graduate high school, start university… A childhood will end. That gives my heart a little squeeze.

They say in your forties, you stop caring what people think in a whole new way–it’s a wild freedom. I like the sound of that!

And then, the next next stop is 50. Ack!

Decades go so fast, don’t they? In my fifties I may become a grandmother. It’s entirely possible! In my fifties, my husband is planning to retire! How can so much change in the space of ten years when it flies by so quickly?

I always thought of “life is short” as a poetic sort of thought, but holy cow, people, life is literally short! I’m glad I don’t have regrets yet–stuff I didn’t do and wish I had.

I’m glad I wrote the book, then wrote another one, and another one. I’m glad I took the wild risk of marrying a guy I didn’t know half well enough. I’m glad we had a baby, even though we could barely afford him at the time. They say if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready. I think if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll find another decade has slipped by.

But I have to say, looking at the beginning of a brand new decade is exciting, too. Oh, the possibilities!

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Homemade Laundry Soap

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I’m asked on a regular basis about my homemade laundry soap–I swear by this stuff! I use it for all our laundry, and it’s just a nice easy way to save a bit of money in the grocery budget. The ingredients are all pretty easy to find, and once you stock up on your ingredients, you don’t have to worry about restocking for a quite a long time.

So I thought I’d show you how I make mine!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 bar of laundry soap (found in the laundry section of your grocery store)

1 large pot full of water

1/2 cup of Borax

1/2 cup of laundry soda

 

Instructions:

  1. Grate half a bar of laundry soap.

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2. Fill a large pot with water and add the grated soap to the water.

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Ta da!

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3. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat. You don’t need to boil this, just warm it up enough that grated soap melts into the water, then turn it off.

This is what it looks like when the soap is all melted.

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4. Add your Borax and Laundry Soda.

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Turn the heat off and stir! The concoction will thicken to gravy thickness immediately. Then let it cool, stirring every twenty minutes or so to begin with, then more often as it gets cooler.

You want to keep stirring so that it doesn’t turn into a solid lump. If you forget to stir it and it DOES end up in a solid lump, then you could always use an electric egg beater to mash it up again. So not the end of the world, but it’s easier if you stir often to keep the mixture fluid, even as it cools.

When it’s cool, and nicely stirred, this what it looks like!

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I then add it to a jug, add some water to it, and then use it as regular laundry soap. A friend of mine uses half a cup per load. I’m heavy handed, and use closer to a full cup, but that doesn’t matter. It’s so cheap to make!

So there you have it–homemade laundry soap! If you’re keen on trying it, let me know how you like it. I’m really happy with mine!

 

As real as I get

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This is probably the most real photo you’ll ever see of me. My hair is a mess, I’m wearing an apron that I tend to wear all day because it’s a socially acceptable body-sized bib, and I’m introducing the birds to each other.

You’ll notice that bigger bird, Pichu, is sitting on a towel. That’s because I still don’t trust him not to take a chunk out of my arm as he sorts through all the emotions of changing families. But he and Coco, the little yellow bird, were so intent on getting to know each other, that I thought I’d better make sure it was a supervised visit.

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There’s a mild mess in the background… which I hope you’ll forgive. But there you have it–this is Yours Truly in my natural habitat.

This is where the magic happens! 🙂

Coming in August!

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This August, I have a new book coming out–the last book in my Comfort Creek Lawmen series through Harlequin’s Love Inspired–and I think you’re going to love it!

I just got my cover art, and I’m allowed to share it with you all of you!

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What do you think? Falling leaves, a red-headed heroine, cute kid… I couldn’t be happier!

I’ll give you more info closer to the release, but for now, I’m just loving my cover. 🙂

Meet Pichu

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So remember in the new year, when one my craziest, wildest wishes for this year was to get a parrot?

Well, I’m a little shocked to be able to tell you that it happened!

On a sad note, our little blue budgie, Little Blue, passed away, and the Johns family was incredibly sad. We really loved her, and that left our little yellow budgie on her own. So on a lark, I googled “parrots” in my area, and what to do you know? There was a family looking to get rid of their Quaker parrot for an absolute steal.

His name is Pichu, and he’s got the whole family by the heartstrings, including Coco, the little yellow budgie. ❤

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Here he is eating a piece of broccoli.

He talks, too. When we introduced him to Coco, we said, “Hey, you guys should say hi!” and Pichu said, “Hello, hello, hello.” After one night under the same roof, Pichu has already started to say “Coco.” He’s absolutely adorable!

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So there you have it–my latest office mate. 🙂 The whole family is in love!

Don’t look at me!

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As I write this, I am editing the first draft of a manuscript. The idea for the book is great. The characters are wonderful. But the first draft is awful. I mean, it has good bones, but it really needs work.

For you readers out there, that might make you cringe. How can a terrible first draft turn into a book that you want to read? But believe me when I tell you, it DOES! You’ll never see this stage of things (thank God!), but when you do buy this book, it’ll be a thing of beauty and worthy of your hard earned money.

But you writers out there will understand!

ALL first drafts are terrible.

There’s no way around it. They feel like rainbows and sunbeams as you type them up, but when you sit down to look at them, you shield the screen from anyone trying to read over your shoulder.

They’re awful! And that’s the beautiful thing about them–every single last one of them is bad, and there’s a lot of relief in knowing that you’re supposed to be this bad the first time through.

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Knowing that my first draft will be awful lets me write. I don’t have to edit myself yet, or polish myself up. I just need to get that story down, see how it will work once it’s all in one piece. I’m a real plotter, but I’m still surprised by some of the layers that develop while I write, so I need to see the whole manuscript in all it’s awful glory before I can really, properly edit and turn it into something I’m willing to show my editor or agent.

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So as you write, don’t worry about whether or not you’d let this piece of writing see the light of day. You won’t! By the time anyone else reads it, it’ll be polished up and truly lovely. But right now?

Crap. Utterly awful. Own it!

It’s all part of the process. 🙂