Why Change Sucks

Change sucks. We all know it. It’s why there are entire books , seminars, and courses in change management.

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Humans are resistant to change, and there are reasons why. I won’t go into the historical reasons why, but here in the modern day, we like knowing what to do. We like being right. We like figuring things out once and them going smoothly.

We don’t look discord. We don’t like screwing up. We don’t like failure. All of those things are significantly easier to do when you’re making changes.

My family has been going through a lot of change lately.

  • My husband started a new job last December, and it wasn’t a choice. They were re-organizing, his position was eliminated, but he fortunately was able to find a similar position in a different part of the company. Still, it’s a lot of change.
    • New bosses who aren’t as good at communicating (I keep trying to tell him that’s the norm, but he’s still skeptical).
    • A different set of expectations.
    • A lot of other new people in his new group
    • A series of people out on FMLA have made the transition even harder. Hopefully, in the next few months, things will calm down and he can learn what his new job really is.

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  • My daughter started kindergarten. You’d think that would be no big deal, but I have found the difference between private daycare and public kindergarten striking. Communication is much different.
    • At daycare, I had a daily two minute informal conversation with the teachers and always knew what was going on.
    • Now, I’m not even allowed near the classroom for security issues. I get it, but it’s still hard.
    • Things like billing, which was previously direct-pulled from my bank account, isn’t possible in public schools. I have to remember to get cash for some things AND remember to go to their online portal for a slew of others. There are no low balance messages to let me know I need to replenish my daughter’s lunch money.

 

Yeah, we’re figuring it out, but it’s still a change. A big one.

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I’m also still dealing with some medical issues, and that’s never any fun.

Balancing all of this and writing has been hard. Very hard. But I refuse to give up this time. I have put off writing so many times in my life to focus on things like my career, grad school, and kids that I’m now mammogram age. I don’t have time to put it off any longer. So yeah, that’s a change, too.

Never-Give-Up

And I can tell you, during grad school, I read my fair share of change management books. I even dusted off a few lately, but they’re about as useful to me now as they were then.

 

Do you have any tips and pointers? Any way that you’ve successfully dealt with change? Or did you just soldier through it?

 

Running Out of Time

Are we really as time deficient as we think? We all seem to be constantly running out of time, or claiming we never have enough of it.

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Maybe both.

 

A quick Google search will reveal oodles of articles on time management and how to get more done in less time. (Hint: it involves turning off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

We all think that the modern world is super stressful and that we never have time for anything, but a look back through history tells us of twelve and fourteen hour work days. It tells us Saturday was long considered as much a work day as Monday. Only the Sabbath was taken off, and then it wasn’t a day of rest, but a day of prayer.

I know, sounds like some people’s jobs, especially with all of the connectivity, but it still doesn’t answer why are we feeling so particularly time-crunched now.

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I did some Google research, and I didn’t find a lot of articles out there. So I did a little introspection.

I can honestly say I didn’t feel the same level of stress and pressure before having children as I did after. They are a monumental task in our society, which many people from previous generations have told me was not always the case. I’m not entirely sure why the sudden pressure on parents to perfectly organize, arrange and educate their children, but I can tell you that it’s there.

The days of kids riding their bikes and hanging out have been replaced with soccer camps, computer programming classes, and “enrichment” activities.

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And it only gets worse.

I’ve also learned that commutation between parents and care-givers, whether kindergarten or formal pre-school, is difficult. This adds to confusion and makes everything take longer.

Yet, for me anyway, it’s more than this.

For me, the lack of time stems from me not being able to do all that I want to get done. Mainly, writing and the corresponding social media presence that entails. For a friend of mine, it means not getting to work on her jewelry making. For another, it means not getting to ride her horse.

This is why I feel time pressured. My choices for entertainment are greater than they’ve ever been, and most are instantly available, at the same time that so many other obligations have been added.

How many of us really want to chauffeur our kid to dance class and then watch a room of kindergartners try to master basic ballet steps before carting them home? I think we’d all rather be binge watching something on Netflix. Or reading. Or writing.

For me, the feeling of never having enough time started around the time I realized I had to be social to write books. I mostly love writing, but as you may have noticed, I’m a bit of an introvert. Okay, a lot of an introvert. Social media is hard for me. While writing felt like an unpaid part time job, the social media aspect made it feel like a full time job, on top of kids, a spouse, and a day job.

This is why I feel time crunched.

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About right.

What to do about it?

Well, the kids are non-negotiable. Most days. That means the day job to support them and everything that goes with them is non-negotiable.

Not entirely sure what to do about the writing. I should complete three first draft novels this year. Two are already done, and the third is halfway there. Not exactly the four most romance writers produce a year, so even with as much time as I’ve committed, I’m not quite at the romance author level. And, that doesn’t account for revisions. All of my work needs serious revision.

The logical answer would be to set aside writing, but I’m not willing to do that. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I clearly want to do this thing, and I’ve already put it off too many decades.

So, back to feeling like I never have enough time.

 

How about you? How do you balance family commitments with you professional life and hobbies? When was the last time you binge watched on Netflix? Any real life tips for making a serious hobby work with family and work?

Medical Issues Suck

Of course medical issues suck. When was the last time someone said, “Hey, I suddenly feel better than ever! I think I need to go to the doctor and fix that!”

No, medical issues tend to only go one way, and that’s to the bad. Look, I know we’re all getting older, and this is the way things tend to work. When you’re young and healthy, you have no clue how lucky you are because that’s all you’ve known.

Then you get a little older.

Okay, maybe a lot older.

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You reach the time in your life when not only are your friends getting sick with more than just a summer cold that a couple shots of vodka will fix. (Learned that in college. Who knew?)

It’s also the time when you start having to accept the mortality of your parents and grandparents (if you’re lucky enough to still have them).

A sinus infection sends your grandmother to the hospital because a simple course of antibiotics isn’t enough. Your parents, aunts, and uncles are still talking about the latest sports game, but now they’re suddenly also talking about cholesterol medicine, diet restrictions, and cancer scares.

Yeah, like I said, medical issues are never good.

But I will tell you this. When you do have a medical scare, it puts things into laser focus. What is important to you?

For me, I learned a few things.

  • My kids were the very first thing I thought about. I double checked life insurance policies to make sure they will be taken care of. I want to be there for them, to do mommy daughter things, have long talks, and watch them grow into amazing women. But if I can’t? I want to know they will not suffer financially. A lot of you are like, “Of course you thought about them first. They’re your kids!” But years ago, before we started a family, I’d never have guessed that. People change. I changed after having them, and it was more than mom jeans and baby weight.  (picture of girls hand in hand)
  • My second thought was my husband and how hard it would be for him to have the girls alone. I was trying to think of ways to make it easier on him and failing miserably.
  • Then I thought about my writing and how I’d race to get all that I’m working on finished and published. That this was something I wanted to do, really wanted to do.

 

You know what I didn’t think about at all? My day job.

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Maybe not that strange, but definitely worth considering. Makes me wonder if it’s not fulfilling enough, challenging enough that I’d miss it, or if being a corporate cog means you really do it just for the financial security.

The challenges haven’t changed my need for that day job to support my family, but it has made me take a hard look at career advancement. Is it really something I want? Is a promotion, that means more money but more hours, really better than what I have now? I don’t have answers yet, but the questions themselves are worth asking.

 

How about you? Ever have a medical issue that made you really take stock of where you are and what you’re doing? Did it help realign your priorities? Maybe it made you realize your priorities were fine all along?

All or Nothing

Why is there this perception in our culture that you must do something all the way, be completely immersed in it, and be the best, or it’s not worth doing at all? It’s everything or nothing.

I’ve seen this time and again on a variety of things. Why can’t walking for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, make everyone happy? This is what science says is great for our health. At least, so say the New England Journal of Medicine. They don’t mess around with faux science there. Why does our collective society look down on walking and instead believe we have to be doing hours of grueling cardio and intense weight lifting before we feel like we’re really excising?

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This does NOT count.

I don’t have an answer for this need for all or nothing, but I’ve seen the same thing in writing.

Stephen King, one of the preeminent writers of our time, wrote a book called On Writing. Yeah, I know, you’ve already heard about it. Maybe even read it. But in that book, he says he writes 2,000 words a day. And, I believe him.

I’ve only read a handful of his books. There’s a reason for that. I’m a coward.

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Please, no! I want to sleep again!

However, that seems to have translated into everyone out there who is writing thinking they need 2,000 words a day, too. I’ve heard it over and over again. Watched people tout this goal. Watched them try to live up to it.

Interesting, though, how few achieve it more than a few days a month. Even more interesting is how many of them stop writing altogether because they “failed” at being a writer. Not mocking them, as I’m not writing 2,000 words a day either. But then, I stopped holding myself to that criteria about 30 seconds after I finished reading Stephen King’s book.

See, he was making that word count as a full time writer. As one of the most prolific writers alive today. As a man at the top of his field.

Trying to hold myself up to that is like trying to hold a flashlight up to the sun. Yeah, I think my writing is pretty good, but there’s only one sun. I can still illuminate the darkness and make people happy without being the sun.

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I can dream.

Sort of like I can walk thirty minutes a day and still get the health benefits. No, I’m not going to look like a Hollywood celebrity doing it, but then even dedicating myself to exercise isn’t going to accomplish that.

I set my goal at 500 words a day. Yep, 500. It’s enough that words get on the page, but not so much that it’s daunting to even sit down at the computer. And here’s the thing. When I have a goal I’m pretty sure I can achieve, I’m much more likely to start it.  Sometimes, I sit down hoping to eke out 500 words, and I get a 1,000. Sometimes more. But what got my butt in the chair was the knowledge it was just 500.

 

How about you? Do you set smaller goals for yourself and then try to surpass them? Or are you more motivated by larger, grand goals that may be very challenging to reach?

The Matriarch – Part 2

Part 2 of my husband’s short story. You can catch up with Part 1 here.

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The Matriarch – Part 2

 THURSDAY MORNING

Behind her pursed lips, Ursula’s teeth clenched together as she turned the glass cylinder over in her hands.  The elongated grey, many-segmented worm-like creature that floated in the yellowish liquid was not something she recognized, but then she’d only been researching parasites since the unwelcome task of dredging them up from archival storage had fallen on her lap.

The parasite made her skin crawl.  It would be perfect for the special exhibit.  But the glass cylinder was unlabelled.  She’d have to do some digging to find out what it was a specimen of and then get some brain-bleach to make her nightmares go away.  Still, it was exactly the kind of repulsive-but-facinating thing that the Museum Director wanted for the exhibit.

She began shuffling through the faded, crumpled newspapers in the box the glass cylinder had been packed in.  Maybe the specimen label had come loose.

“Miss Thelstein?”  Ursula looked up from the box and cursed under her breath at the sound of the Director’s voice.  “Are you in here?”

“Over here,” she said.

“Right this way.” The Director’s only sounded like that when he was talking to someone important. Like a donor.

Ursula heard two sets of footsteps making their way down along the disorganized aisles of shelves, crates, boxes, and display cases that sat in the sub-basement archives.

As they came around the corner, Ursula nodded in greeting to the salt-and-pepper haired Director, and a russet-haired fellow with the ugliest pair of horn-rimmed glasses ever made and an expression that warned his sense of humor had been surgically removed.  Before she could say anything, the Director’s eyes lit up and a smile curved the left side of his mouth.

“Well, now,” he cooed.  “That’s certainly an interesting specimen!  Looks like something out of a horror movie.  Are there any more like that?”

Ursula blinked at the strange conversation.  “Not that I’ve found yet.  Besides this one, just some tapeworms and African earwigs.  Creepy, yes, but not enough to make a full special exhibit out of.”  Ursula figured besides the real specimens, he’d also want full-color displays illustrating their life-cycles and how they infected their host organisms.  That would go a long way towards making the exhibit complete.  But she didn’t make the suggestion for fear of being put in charge of it.

The stranger spoke.  It sounded to Ursula as though he was having difficulty unclenching his teeth.  “Where did you….find that?”

The Director beamed at him, then back at Ursula, then at the stranger again.  “I’m terribly sorry.  I haven’t made introductions.  “Miss Thelstein, this is….Doctor…Greg Allen.  He’s a…”  The Director hesitated.

“A Veterinary Parasitologist,” said Dr. Allen.  His tone suggested that the words left a nauseating taste in his mouth.

“Yes!” The Director seemed oddly delighted.  “And this is Miss Ursula Thelstein, one of the archivists from our research department and Ad Hoc Display Coordinator for the upcoming Special Exhibit!”

Ursula gave a pained-but-polite smile.  “Ad Hoc” was Latin for “this title comes with neither a promotion nor a raise.”

“And to what do I owe the pleasure of Dr. Allen’s visit?” she asked.

 

THURSDAY NIGHT, PREVIOUS

The boy’s shark-grin instantly turned to a frown.  “There are troublesome elements I need dealt with.”

Greg made a slight tilt of his head toward Baldy.  “Isn’t that what he’s for?”

The boy’s grin returned.  “There are times to use a wrecking ball and times to use a set of lockpicks.  I want them all rounded up before they realize we’re onto them.  That calls for quiet footsteps and quick hands.”

“Quiet footsteps and quick hands?”  Greg pursed his lips.  “It sounds like you want someone in better shape than me.  Some shadowy ninja-type guy.”  He managed to keep a straight face.

“I have plenty of those.” The boy flicked his wrist.

Greg pondered the timing of the limo’s arrival minutes after his tire blew out.  If he was ever able to return to his car, he was positive any trace of a sniper’s bullet would’ve already been long removed.

“Sounds like you’re all set.  Thanks for the lift, and you can drop me off right…”  Greg’s words cut off as a muscular hand suddenly squeezing his larynx.

“You,” scowled the granite-slab voice, “will show respect.”

 

THURSDAY MORNING

Dr. Allen pointed to the odd specimen-without-a-label that the Museum Director was so excited about.  “I’m here for that, actually.  Where did you get that?  Do you know what it is?”

Ursula shrugged.  “A few decades ago, the State University apparently donated a box from their Bio department to the museum.  Looks like it got shelved in the archives and forgotten about before anyone got around to cataloguing it.”

Ursula thought that odd.  She’d had heard that museums in London had an enormous backlog in their archives yet to catalogue and were still finding treasures from ancient Egypt that British archaeologists had brought home with them in the nineteenth century.  But that didn’t make sense here.  It wasn’t that big of a box, and it’s not like this museum had ever been overwhelmed by a sudden influx of inventory that it couldn’t be catalogued in less than a day.

Dr. Allen turned to the Director.  “Thank you.  I’ll take it from here.”

“Are you sure you don’t need my help?”  The Director’s eyes flicked from the specimen, to Dr. Allen, then to Ursula.

“No,” said Dr. Allen more curtly than Ursula expected.  “I’m sure you’re very busy.  I’ll help Miss…Thelstein?…with the…star…of the exhibit.”

Ursula was getting an odd feeling about all this.  All alone in the museum sub-basement with a stranger?

“Oh, I’m certainly not too busy.” The Director smiled.  “I think it would be best if I….”

The Director’s sentence was cut off as Dr. Allen swept behind him and gripped the base of the Director’s neck and struck him with the other hand in the kidneys.

Book Review: Her Viken Mates

Book: Her Viken Mates

Author: Grace Goodwin

Viken

This is not my normal reading fare, as you may have noticed from my other book reviews. I am not entirely sure why I picked it up.

Okay, that’s not true. I do know. It was curiosity, plain and simple. It appeared in my Amazon feed, and while I was intrigued, but didn’t buy it. The book then intruded on my consciousnesses during my drive home, and as I had some digital credit with Amazon, I decided to give in to temptation and see what it was all about.

 

Characters

These are flat, one dimensional characters. Expect no growth because you’re not going to get any.

 

Plot

There was one. Somewhere. But it’s even less important than most other romance novels I’ve read. The plot is as one dimensional as the characters, and I’m actually somewhat surprised how contrived it was. I was shocked how quickly characters believed a heroine from another planet who was there as an interstellar bride. There is no real reason for them to do that. Nor is there a reason that the villain would do what they did or give their hand away as they did. But, you know, plot wasn’t what this book was about.

 

Steamy Scenes

This is why you’re reading the book. The novel opens with steamy scenes, and the steamy bits probably take up at least 50% of the story, maybe more. It does include multiple lovers simultaneously, and I have never read anything like it, though I know this is not uncommon in romance. Just uncommon to me. As far as I can tell, the author handled it well.

 

Writing Style

While the writing was just okay, it was relatively free of grammatical and punctuation errors. It was also properly formatted to the Kindle. When she did a jump in PoV, which she did often, she used a new chapter and labeled the chapter with the person whose eyes you were now seeing through.

 

Themes

Despite the fact that this was really just an excuse for steamy scenes, there were some pretty interesting themes running through a book that was mostly steamy scenes. Issues of trust came up time and again, but more than just trust, it was also about consent. This played throughout the book. I was pleasantly surprised by this. There was never even a hint of rape culture in the book, and while rushed, it did let the heroine explore her sexuality without guilt. Rather, her mates encouraged her to explore it.

 

 

 

Taking Time to Unplug

It’s Sunday night, and the family is getting ready to go back to our work schedule. I’m trying to get dinner ready while sneaking in a few more words, and DH and DD1 are trying to enjoy a game together.

Enter DD2.

She is angry and upset, crying for no apparent reason. We’re all testy with her. She cries harder.

One of our cats has had made a mess, and DH is irritated as he gets the vacuum to clean it up. Terror sparks in DD2’s eyes as she sees the dreaded vacuum. I put my iPad away, gather her up, and carry her to our bedroom.

Her tears instantly dry up as we lay on the bed together and play silly games of counting her toes, getting tickled (we took turns tickling each other), and just laying together with her head on my shoulder.

Her laughter and giggles made my night.

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Or trying to understand and bond with a toddler?

Holding that in my heart, I cuddled with DD1 before work Monday morning. She is getting so big, but she still likes snuggles. For now. We talked a little, but she mostly just wanted to be held.

I’m starting to feel like the whole family is too busy, but not busy with the right things. Time goes by so fast now. I was looking at pictures of DD1 when she was just a few days old. Hard to believe that was almost six years ago. It seems like only last year we were bringing her home and learning what it was really like to have an infant in the house.

I need to slow down. Make connections. Build a relationship with my girls, and strengthen the one I have with DH.

Writing is a part of the equation. I really shouldn’t have been trying to sneak in words. But there’s more to it. I feel like my family has all become too reliant on technology for entertainment. We need to unplug.

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Not this bad. Yet.

Bored? We turn on Netflix or Amazon, and we don’t even have to sit through commercials. Open the iPad or Kindle. Pull out your phone. A lot of this isn’t deeply entertaining, but the companies know how to lure us how. How to grab our attention and keep it. How many times has boredom had me checking my phone for a quick fix rather than getting up and actually doing something meaningful?

I got so consumed with these distractions that I got annoyed with my beautiful and amazing toddler rather than giving her the love and attention she both wants and needs.

A part of me wants to give away all of the electronics, but that’s just not reasonable.

Still, I need to find a way to unplug and disconnect more, help my family unplug more, so that we can really connect. So that we spend more time counting toes and less time staring at screens. I just don’t know how.

 

How about you? Ever tried to unplug? What did you do? How did it work? Ever try to unplug your whole family? What did you do? How did it work?

Burnout According to Science

After feeling rather burned out and then not being able to get myself back on track, I started to wonder if there was any science behind the phenomena of burnout.

There is. Lots of it. Apparently, I’m not alone.

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According to Psychology Today   “The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”

While some of this doesn’t resonate, enough does.

The whole being in control thing is a big deal for us Type A personalities. And I have a lot of control at my day job. It may not be my life’s calling, but I’m good at it. Writing, on the other hand . . .

I have no control over it at all.

Despite the hours I’ve poured into both reading and writing, the classes I’ve taken, and the books I’ve read, I have no control.  I’ve been working on this for the majority of my life, yet I keep walking away from it.

Why?

Because no matter how much work I put into it, I have no control over the results. Self-publishing has changed some of this, but I still have no control over the success or failure of a book.

Then there’s the hard truth about branding and social media presence that goes along with being an author.

I was not on any social media until it was driven home to me that I had to be in order to be an author. I don’t like social media. I avoided it for years for a reason. So the whole line about responsibilities matching your true calling… Maybe I’m meant to be a writer, but I’m most assuredly not meant to be a social media personality.

If you poke around on Psychology today, you’ll come across this article that further explains that burnout is chronic stress that leads to:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

I can honestly say yes to all three of those.

The article also says when you are truly burned out, you can no longer function effectively on a personal or professional level.  So, at least I’m not totally burned out. I mean, I can still function at work at with my family.

Sure, I’m a bit more short-tempered lately, but I can function.

Right, guys? Right?!?

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And let me tell you how much BS there is with two small humans

The article does say burnout doesn’t happen all at once, that it creeps up on us though it does give us some some signs.

I went through the list and noted several below, but it’s hard to parse out what’s just a part of life and what isn’t.

Signs of Burnout

1.Chronic fatigue.  Okay, so what modern American doesn’t this apply to? Especially a working mom with a toddler?

2. Insomnia. Only if you count being woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night by a child suffering from night terrors. Otherwise, I am exhausted at the end of the day and within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, I am usually asleep

3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. I blame Twitter for this.

4. Physical symptoms. They include a list of things to look for, among them headaches, but it’s hard to know the difference between normal migraines and burnout induced ones.

5. Increased illness. Children are walking, talking Petri dishes. The moment I see the sign up at daycare that some new disease is sweeping through the center, I know it’s coming home with me.

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6. Loss of appetite. This is one thing I’d actually take. I’ve been on the other side of this lately with increased appetite.

7. Anxiety. I am a Type A personality. When am I not anxious or worried about something?

8. Depression. Nothing really to say here. While I don’t think I’m experiencing it, it’s too big of a deal to make a snarky observation.

9. Loss of enjoyment. Here we go. This is definitely something I am enduring. I just don’t like writing like I used to. Part of it is definitely feeling the need to do things I really don’t like. Like Facebook. That looms over me, steals writing time, and starts to flavor the entire writing experience.

10. Pessimism. Is there any artist that doesn’t feel this way, especially if they haven’t been “discovered” or published? Might even be worse once you are “discovered” as then I’d constantly worry if I was a fraud or not.

11. Isolation. Introvert here. I like people. Sometimes. In moderation.

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12. Detachment. Hmmm, I have been feeling more detached from my work. Caring less about the characters.

13. Increased irritability. Remember the two kids I love and would do almost anything for? They are very demanding, and I have been losing my temper more lately. Might be burnout or the result of living with a toddler and preschooler.

14. Lack of productivity and poor performance. My word count has definitely been suffering.

As I read through this list, it makes me think what I’m experiencing isn’t such a big deal. Clearly, I’m on the lighter side of burnout.

It’s still real for me, and it’s affecting me.

I need to do more thinking on this. Think more about what’s leading to burnout and what I can control.

Control. That, I believe, may be key.

 

How about you? Any of these describe you? Ever felt burned out before? What did you do to combat it?

Burned Out

I am burned out.

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I have been burning the candle at both ends, and as so many have said before, you can’t do that forever.

I’m a mom, corporate employee, spouse, writer, and person who exercises.

I just can’t be all of it the way I want all the time, and I’m paying the price.

 

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And here I gave up coffee…

I am no longer finding joy in writing.

I’m finding less happiness in blogging.

All of the branding and social media is exhausting. A more extroverted person might not find it so, but that’s not me. Few writers seem to be natural extroverts, though they do exist, and this whole use of personality to connect with readers is starting to seem spurious at best.

So, I unplugged. I took several days off of all social media, and no one missed me. Makes me think social media is a lot less social than its name implies.

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I haven’t exercised in over a week.

Rather than feeling tired and run down, I’m actually feeling better. Maybe the break was needed.

I haven’t written in 5 days. Not even over the weekend. It felt good.

No guilt at sneaking in a few words while the kids were playing or while I was doing housework. No race to the computer once the kids were in bed.

I don’t know what this means for me long term. Perhaps it’s the wake-up call I need to get my priorities straight and realize I can’t do everything I want and need to do.

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I’ve spent the last 2.5 years working on my writing. The last 1.5 years adding a blog and other social branding to the mix. I have yet to publish a book. I don’t even have an agent.

A growing part of me says to self-publish and be done. Put the work I’ve already done out there and walk away. But I can’t do that without feeling disingenuous.

If my self-published work fails, which it most likely will, I won’t know how it could have done if I pushed forward and kept up the branding. If I had a back list. Or if I’d tried, really tried, and succeeded in landing a publisher like Avon that know the Romance market.

I’ve walked away from writing before. Many times before. It demands so much, and there are so many other things in life that need me.

Demon
Is this the doubt-demon making an appearance? Again…

Perhaps I just need a break. A chance to catch my breath. To ignore my muse for a while so she’ll want to come back (she can be fickle like that).

Or maybe I need to take a long break and ease back. I already know I will never be a full time writer. We depend on my corporate America income.

 

Have you ever come to a point where you know something has to give? Where you’re feeling frazzled, burned out, and like you aren’t always present in the moment? What did you do about it? What choices did you make? How did you deal with it?

One Month

I’ve made it through one month of strength training.

Eleven sessions in four weeks. Not quite the three per week that is ideal, but not bad either. It’s a start to rebuilding the bone I lost when I had my little ones.

But now to stick with it.

See, I hate strength training. I don’t like the feel of heavy weights in my hands. I don’t enjoy the feel of a bar across my back or the burn in my legs as I squat. I just don’t.

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I hear “do something you love” all the time. I get that I’m much more likely to stick with an exercise I love.

Sadly, that’s not easy either. See,  I don’t love much exercise. Reading. Yup. Writing. Mostly. You’ll notice neither of those are exactly physical activities.

I loved tennis in my youth. There was something about chasing the little fuzzy ball that kept me entertained. I’d spend hours hitting the ball against a backboard to force my backhand to improve. I even found lighted courts so I could play at night.

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I learned to ignore the bats that came out to eat the bugs the lighted courts drew. I found ways to practice even in the winter. I loved the sport.

But, in my very early twenties, I learned I had a genetically bad back. The twisting motion from tennis was aggravating it, and I had to stop.

So I did.

Was years before I took up walking with my husband. We started small, but soon, we were traipsing around the neighborhood. Everyone knew us as “that couple we see walking”.

We’d literally walk for an hour or two every night after work. We’d talk about our day, hopes, wishes, dreams. Then, we started playing an RPG, and we started talking about characters.

That’s when the walks got really long.

We loved making characters. Seeing what they would do in different scenarios. It was a fabulously creative way to spend the evenings. We both dabbled with our writing, but neither of us had really taken it seriously at that point. After all, I was finishing graduate school while working full time, and after that, we were planning to start a family.

And start a family we did.

Complications in the pregnancy made us give up walking, but eventually, we had an amazing little one.

We just didn’t realize we’d never be able to have a grown-up conversation again. At least not while she was awake.

Once we were able to take walks again, talking about anything that did not directly involve her was impossible. She started talking at 11 months, and hasn’t stopped since.

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We bought and elliptical machine and treadmill and plopped them in front of a 60 inch TV. We thought we could watch a movie or catch up on a few shows while we worked out.

You already know how that went for us. DD1 was not tolerating being left upstairs while one of us went to the basement. Sure, we could’ve ignored her tears, but I get two hours with her a day. Less, if you include that part of that time I’m making dinner.

Gotta say, Sesame Street and My Little Ponies are NOT conducive to a strong workout. Even with an audio book playing, I still can’t concentrate on it with the sound and motion.

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For me, working out consistently for a month is an accomplishment. May not be for most other people. But I’m not them. I’m me. I have to compare me to me. And, I’m giving myself kudos for making it a month.

If I make it another month, I’m rewarding myself with a massage. I may not like exercise, but I can like the rewards that come with it.

 

How about you? Do you love exercise? Hate it? Find it boring? How do you motivate yourself to do it, especially if it’s not one of your favorite things? Any treats you give yourself, or maybe something else?