Getting On The Bandwagon… again..

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970660_536943969702967_1571047460_nChange is difficult. Big changes are even harder especially when they are necessary. I have spent the better part of a year dealing with changes that were thrust upon me by circumstance. It has been a year of trying to get my life back together and find a sense of self again. I think that I’ve come a long way but, there is always further to go. This year I am focusing on getting myself back to a state of enjoying life instead of just existing. To that end, I have to get focused on my health and get back to a point where I can enjoy activities again. I want to explore all the things that I used to love. That means being able to comfortably get around and partake in social activities.

It is easy to fall into the trap of letting yourself go when you’re single. Instead of healthy choices, you find yourself making the cheap and convenient choice. I admit it. Last year I ate way too much fast food. My diet was dominated by burgers, fries, and not nearly enough vegetables. I consumed way too much soda, even too much regular soda. And these things have to change in order for me to get back in shape and feel better.

So how to make lasting changes? For me the key lies in seeing things progress. While this isn’t about weight loss, that will definitely be a side effect of the process. So, I set about organizing something to help me visualize and see what I’m doing. il_570xN.653837467_7qtrI found this Health and Fitness Planner over on Etsy. I printed out pages and I’ve put them in a binder. Tracking my food is part of it but the more important thing is the activity. Walks, workouts, even biking there are all sorts of things. This particular planner focused on the fitness aspect and that was really what I was looking for.  It is still available if you’re interested and is only $5.00 USD.

imagesI am also back on Sparkpeople.com and using the mobile app to track during the day. I’m likely going to join a community or two and start my own just because I think I will likely stick with it better if I’m in a more social situation. If you’d like to join me. I’m using the profile name SAMWRITES over there. I’m updating my page and hoping that I can meet more people who will help to keep me motivated and enjoying this process of change.

So what am I changing? Well it means not taking the easy way all the time. Choosing healthier food options by asking myself what is better for me physically. I doubt that there is going to be much change in the amount of eating out I do for now. That’s being realistic because I am on the go so much. But, I can choose a grilled chicken over a burger and maybe even a salad. I can start to cut out things like soda in favor of more water. I can pick up fruits and veggies instead of chips and candy for snacks. Those are all changes that I’m ready to make now. It feels good seeing them happening on paper and the online tools.

The trick to this, for me, is to keep the changes fun and feeling like I’m making a difference in my lifestyle. So rewarding myself with outings, a new stylish piece of clothing, or an accessory will help me to keep my focus. It will serve the purpose of proving to myself that I am changing the quality of my life with these small things without being so rigid. Things that are sustainable are happening in my life.

What sustainable changes are you making to better your life?

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Adventures In Online Dating…

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I spent the last year or so on my own trying to focus on myself and healing from the craziness that was my life when I was married for six years. It was a necessary part of the process for me. Amid the control and abuse, I’d lost a sense of identity. I started asking myself a lot of questions trying to sort through the garbage that had been put in my head. There was a ton of self-doubt. Doubt about my ability to love, my sexual identity, my spirituality, and my self-worth. I started to ask what I really wanted in life and who I was. The answers came slowly almost to the point of being excruciatingly slow. But, they did come.

10330293_685105858233041_4273614114790607498_nA few months ago I decided that maybe it was time to get back into the game. Starting to date again was a pretty scary prospect though. In the past ten years, I’ve become fairly introverted. I didn’t realize this until I started asking all those questions of myself. So the idea of meeting new people was a confounding one. You have to figure out where to meet people, how to sort through all of the information overload to find someone who fits your personality. Let’s face it, the world is filled with weird people.

I decided to try online dating. Why? Well, its simple really. I work weekends and evenings. Most of the options offline are on days and times when I work. So, I have to make plans in advance to attend things. And I can’t always guarantee the time off. I’d like to get to know someone before I go through the trouble of making all that effort to get together over coffee only to discover that we’re not even remotely suited to one another. Now, I’ve tried sites geared for BBWs but found that I wasn’t getting the attention that I wanted. A girl likes options after all. So I went to paid sites like eHarmony that promise to help you find someone compatible with you. That was a waste of time and money. Not only is the process long to sign up but the process to even get to talk to someone you’re matched with is ridiculously long as well. So, I started with the free sites. Shouldn’t meeting people be free?

I ended trying out Zoosk, and finally I’m on OkCupid. And on the OkCupid site, I’m getting messages from people. What I find the most disturbing though, is the absolutely absurd amount of people who are on these sites looking for a quick hookup and nothing else. It is like the whole of human interaction depends upon  the connection of genitals. Now, maybe the fact that I am not into casual sex makes me entirely out of touch with modern dating rituals. If that’s the case, I’m more likely to remain single.

Self-respectSince when did flirting become making blatant sexual advances? It seems that I get more messages just blatantly asking for a hookup or friends with benefits rather than engaging in any sort of meaningful conversation. Flirtation used to be an art form. It used to be a matter of appealing to someone’s mind as much as their sense of attraction. Now, it seems that flirtation is more about being crude.

Women want to feel desirable, I’m no different in that regard. But there is a difference between appealing to my sense of self-confidence and simply saying “Hey, I want to hook up.” I’m not the hook up type and if they even bothered to read my profile that would be obvious.

I’m still on the site but, I find myself disgusted by the apparent lack of quality individuals on there. I simply don’t go on as often as I did when I first signed up.

My goal in going on the sites was to meet people to socialize with and maybe from that meet someone that I connected with on a more intimate level. Truth is that I’m wondering if the effort is even worth it. And I’m trying to think about other ways to meet people locally. There aren’t many options outside of the bars and I’m just not a barfly. Finding other things is difficult in the area when most of the activities are in the evenings and on the weekends. For me this is more about widening a social circle. It isn’t about sex. And yet, I feel like an odd duck in the modern  age.

The 2015 Goal List

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This is a continuation on a theme. Documenting what you plan to do is an important part of making the intentions stick though. 2015 is a year to put into action all of those intentions and embrace who I am becoming. It is time to start living my life again. So, what does that mean? What do I want to accomplish in my year?

We all have things we want to do. I am no exception. I wrote a list that seemed a mile long. I know that I can’t do all of it in one year.  So here are my top 5 for 2015.

1. To Find a Better Job – Yes, I enjoy my job at the store but, I have to face facts. I’m a single girl. I want a place of my own again. I can’t sustain myself on a part time job. So, finding something with better pay and full time benefits is a priority for this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy what I do but that also leads me to the next goal.

chytenasheville2.  Going Back To School –  After much thought over the last couple years, I made the decision to go back to school. Yes, it could be tricky financially. But, I’ve already filed my preliminary financial aid applications and I’m working on getting the applications to my chosen school done. There are a few obstacles to overcome so this one can happen. I’m putting it down because it is an important one to me.

3. Participate In A 5K Race – I may only be able to walk it this year because of how out of shape I am but, I want to do this one. It is high time I find something active that I enjoy doing. There are two Color Up 5Ks happening locally. And there is always the option of participating in one in Shreveport or Dallas as well. I start training and keep it up this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to tick this one of in May.

picture-84. Take At Least Four Weekend Trips – I’ve always enjoyed traveling. Road trips are the spice of life and now that I have a decent car, it is time to start thinking seriously about exploring my surroundings more. There is so much in Texas that I haven’t seen. There are also things in Louisiana that I’ve not seen. There are museums, historical sites, and attractions to take in. Renaissance Festivals, Zoos, Aquariums, and I’ve never been to a casino. Margaritaville is calling my name. It is time to have some fun.

5. To Complete The Artist’s Way Complete Program –  I’ve already completed the first book several times over. Julia Cameron’s work is a real inspiration for anyone who is creative. While I was in Wisconsin, I purchased an all in one version of the program. I haven’t really committed to it. But, I am this year. I’ve already started working on it. And I’m sure that it is going to lead to some inspiration for posts here.

Those are my top five. There are many more on my big list. What goals are on your list for this year?

The Resolution List

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Welcome to 2015 everyone! I hope that the new year brings you every good thing that you want for yourself.

My year is starting out quietly with lots of writing time and taking some new years resolutions. It is raining and Pippin is whining to have me make it stop so that he and Odie can go outside. Sorry to disappoint him but, I can’t make that happen pooch. Now is a time to take the resolutions to heart and put them on paper so that I can be accountable the rest of the year. This year, I’m separating the idea of goals and resolutions. I think that they are different.

New-Year-Resolutions-1A goal is something that you define and achieve. There is an end result to it. While I have a few of those for myself, my point is to focus on the resolutions for this post. Resolutions being things that you plan to do, actions you want to take  to reach those goals. They are things you must continually work on throughout the year. I have a larger list but, I’m going to give you my top five.

1. Be more kind and gentle with myself.  – I am absolutely my own worst critic. This is a big realization in the past year. Beating myself up over past mistakes and failures has gotten me nowhere. I need to accept the lessons that they taught me and treat the new year like the clean slate that it is. I see daily affirmations happening for myself this year. I’ve never worked with them before but, I think it is time to start reminding myself that I am worthy of love, acceptance, companionship, and success.I am human, I fail and I break down sometimes but, I always get up and I keep trying.

2. To make healthier choices for myself. – I’ve done more of this in the last year. I need to be more consistent about it though. This means keeping doctor appointments and taking medication on a consistent basis. It means developing a better routine for myself. Getting enough rest but not too much. Making the healthier choices when I eat out instead of what’s fast. Exercising more. Training to get in that 5k this year that I put off.

XAssd5z3. Taking the time to feel like a woman – I have had a bad habit of putting my appearance on a back burner. I don’t always do my hair, put on makeup, or even dress up when I go out. Working in retail where we have a uniform there is really nothing at all feminine about it.  It is time to pay more attention to that. To buy myself clothes that I like to wear and develop a style for when I do go out.

4.To take time to do better self-care – Basic things that often get over-looked. Such as, taking a shower on my day off when I am just staying at home or getting out of my pajamas. Taking the time to put lotion on my skin, paint my nails, or even just pray and meditate; it all gets lost in the shuffle. These are all things that I want to work on doing with more diligence.

5. Getting out more often, meeting new friends, and being more social – I think all writers are a bit introverted. I never really thought that I would put myself in that category. That being said, many things changed over that seven year period when I was with my ex. I was isolated for the majority of that period of my life. So much so that it has become habit to sequester myself away. It is time for me to get out of my cave more often and into the world. I’ve come to realize the importance of friendships and social interaction. And while I am not sure what I’ll find to do around here, I know I need to find something. So, meeting new people is on my list. So are taking some road trips and actually exploring the area more.

Those are my resolutions for the year. Things to continually work on. Tomorrow I’ll cover the list of what to work toward. Have you made any new year’s resolutions of your own?

Thoughts on 2014

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Goodbye-2014-hello-2015With the year coming to a fast close, I am thinking about all the things that have happened and what’s changed me over the last 12 months. In many ways it has been a difficult year. The process of reclaiming your life after a major change is always full of hard moments. There were times when I felt liberated and times when I felt hindered. There were moments of perfect clarity and times that I was completely overwhelmed. For me, there were a lot of firsts.

It was like getting my first job all over again. The driving job was a good transition for me. Despite the crazy hours, lack of permanence, and instability of it all, it gave me some spending money and time to think. At the store it has been tough getting used to punching a time clock again. It has been good for me to be out among people again though. Just the social interaction I get at work has helped me to get out of my shell. It has given me motivation to keep working on building my life into something more than it has been up until now.

I took my first trip by plane. (Well, that I can recall. My mother tells me that I flew when I was a young girl.) It was a crazy three days of travel to get to Wisconsin that took me through Dallas, Atlanta, and Chicago. Flying standby is definitely a bit of an adventure in itself. I enjoyed my experience on the plane even if I didn’t enjoy much of my time in Wisconsin. Super cold temperatures, awkward bosses, and dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace for the first time ever.

2566aed1a5ec1d936925c51c2f552654I went on a date for the first time with a man who was a true gentleman. It was the first time I’ve been on a date that I didn’t feel pressured to put out. It’s made me rethink many things about relationships and given me the motivation to take time to figure myself out this past year and what I want in a relationship. It’s also given me the courage to get back out there and try to date again. Realizing that yes, there are decent men out there gave me some hope. Let’s see how long it takes online dating to squash that.

I was able to do some things that I wanted to do this year. That included taking an extended trip to see family in June. It was like a vacation. I attended a family reunion. Where my grandparents, mom, her brothers, and myself as a third generation sang together for the others. It was a family tradition that I was excited to be a part of. And I got to spend some precious time with my nieces and brother.

I published a new book and I spent a fair amount of time doing some marketing work on that. It’s still available on Amazon and my website if you’re interested in them. I also started work on two new projects. And that is keeping me busy.

I got my first new car. And that came with a lot of freedom this last month or so. Definitely that was one of my top three major accomplishments this year.

2014 has been a year of tying up loose ends so that I can transition. I suppose you could call this my “chrysalis” year. I definitely feel like I have transformed in many ways. I believe that 2015 will continue to see a better version of myself emerge.

inspiration-1I’ll be posting resolutions and goals separately over the next week but, I thought it was better to say goodbye to 2014 in its own post. That way I can leave all of the negative behind and look forward to what’s around the corner.

This is the last post of the year. So, I will see you all in 2015 with a bigger and better blog. The Fluff’s story is just getting started. I hope that you’ll join me on the journey. And I sincerely hope that you all have a safe an happy time celebrating tonight.

Merry Christmas To All

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You know, its been a bittersweet year for me. Christmas has been no different really. Don’t misinterpret that. I still have plenty of the holiday spirit and love for the season. I would, however, be lying if I told you that it hasn’t lost a bit of its magic for me this year. I am sure it will come back. I’m too big of a kid at heart to let it last. This year’s experience has really given me a new perspective on the holiday and how much we take for granted the small things that make it special.

10533122_982749215087130_3205962645192709325_nWe didn’t do much by way of decorating this year. I put up my small tree and that was about it. We usually pull out all the stops. We put up a big tree, a nativity scene is on our bar, my mom always puts out her gingerbread people decorations and snowmen. We even decorate big time outside with lights and candy canes and mom makes a beautiful wreath for the front door. This year that grapevine wreath is bare. The lights are all in storage.

10670045_826266814096131_8005157653988597718_nI got some decorations for Sparkle (my car). And I’ve enjoyed my little tree. Of course, here it is about 6:30 on Christmas Day and I just realized that I haven’t even turned the lights on in a week.

I guess it just seemed sort of pointless. There were no gifts under my tree this morning. No rush and bustle of laughing. No smell of the ham in the oven or mom’s pineapple casserole. Why? Yes, you can ask.

My parents went to Kentucky to spend Christmas with the rest of the family. My brother, my nieces, and my grandparents were all doing the traditional Christmas. In fact, I was the only one missing. They did call in the middle of the opening of the gifts. I was grateful to get to hear all the commotion and to know that the kids all enjoyed their gifts. Yes, I was able to send some up with the parents. Other than that, it has been like any other day off. And believe me I needed it after the chaos that was yesterday at work.

I can understand why the holiday loses its magic for so many. I had to work yesterday and it was an absolute nightmare. Retail at the holidays is enough to make anyone dislike Christmas. People fighting over gifts, turns in line, and the stores closing early. People forget about being kind to one another. They forget that the people working are trying to do their job with added pressure of extra people and traffic. Still many people expect for the stores to be open as though nothing were happening at all.

I tried to focus on the real meaning of the day. Focusing forward and trying to look ahead to a new year and new possibilities. For me it is about hope. The hope in a child’s eyes that Santa is coming. The hope of a wish coming true. There is the hope for a better year. And the hope that came with a tiny child that we could be saved from ourselves on the deepest and most profound levels.

It really is about the kids. I’ve long since outgrown the days when I dared hope for something specific under the tree. So many people make it about the gifts but, it isn’t. It is really about being with family and friends. I wasn’t sad that there weren’t any gifts under my little tree. I was sad that I didn’t get to see my nieces’ faces when Santa came. I wasn’t there for all the hugs and conversation.

I’ve done my best to treat today like any other day off. And I know that I will have a celebration once the parents return from their trip. Today, I spent in solitude other than the company of two little dogs who have been close and full of love all day. Tomorrow will be another bittersweet day as well. Yours truly turns 36. But, I’ll be busy with work and engrossed in reading and trying to figure out new years resolutions and goals while I help people at the day job. No festivities in store. Just another quiet day and night. And it is the start of a 6 day stretch at work. So, I’m glad I had a little time to rest.

I hope that everyone reading had an amazing Christmas. Whatever the season means to you, I hope that you were all surrounded by family, friends, and had presents under your trees. May the rest of the year be kind to you all and 2015 be filled with possibility

A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist

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New Car NovemberThe fact that I purchased a new car for myself to celebrate Christmas and my birthday was more practical than anything. It hasn’t been a bad gift for myself though. Lord knows, I have worked my butt off trying to get my life on a more normal and livable path. That new car has done wonders for me. The get up and go factor has been a nice addition. It is comfortable and I don’t have to worry about it breaking down if I decide to go somewhere. Yes, it is a big addition to my life. It was worth all the effort and I’m still excited. I could argue that I got my Christmas early. But, what else was on my wish list?

1.  A NEW LAPTOP  –  My exes were addicted to porn. Trying to be nice when their computers were on the fritz, I allowed them to use my computer to check email and so forth. That’s only part of what they did. Now the computer I work on is sluggish, and I cannot see m to clear all the clutter and malware off of it. For me, starting over with a clean slate would be ideal. It is something that will happen sooner or later. But, the new machine was on my wish list for Christmas.

2. A CAMERA & CAMCORDER –  I enjoy putting pictures with the blog. I’d love to be able to use my own photos more often but, I need a better camera. And I want to start something new in a Youtube channel. So I need a decent camera for that as well.

Clicking the image will take you to the site where you can get your own.

Clicking the image will take you to the site where you can get your own.

3. THE ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNER – 2015 is going to be a busy year for me. I have so many goals. I’ve learned to live with my personal planer. There is no reason this tool can’t be something stylish and fun though. I love the Erin Condren line because it is so practical and fashionable. I started to get it for myself back in July. But I was urged to wait so that people would have things to buy for my birthday and Christmas. We’ll see if I get it. If not, this will be a mid-year purchase for me.

4.  A FOUNTAIN PEN – Every writer works long hand at some point. If you ever do any serious writing you’ll know the frustration of using a bad ballpoint pen to work with. I’ve become fascinated with fountain pens. I got a taste of using one at the release of my book THE FALLEN. I would still be using it if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not able to find any refill cartridges for this particular brand. So, I would like to have a nice one with a good supply of ink and the ability to refill it often. I am doing more by hand with the job and it would be nice.

Smashbooks

5. A NEW SMASHBOOK –  This Smashbook phenomena is something that I love. It’s like a scrapbook and journal all in one but it isn’t as formal.  Now, I love to do this and it is a great way to document the year’s events. So, I’m excited to get a new one for 2015.

6. GIFTCARDS – I’m in need of new clothes and new reading material so gift cards to shops like Barnes & Noble, Avenue (my go-to clothing), Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, or even just the generic Visa ones or Walmart would be nice this year. I could get some things that I need and pick them out.  Besides, shopping is always fun.

My list isn’t that long. And there isn’t really anything on it that I can’t get myself over the course of the year. But it’s almost time to open presents. So we’ll see what I get from the list.

Coping & Looking Ahead

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The holiday season is in full swing and it has been bittersweet. There has been so much happening since Thanksgiving that I hardly know where to start. I likely won’t even recount all of the events but, it feels like forever since I have posted anything.

Hard things first. We found out that our baby girl Cinnamon had lymphoma. And then on December 9th, we finally had to put her down. It was the most humane thing that we could have done for her. It was hard to watch her suffer when she was fighting to stay with us. It was time to let her go. But, the house isn’t the same without her here. I miss her terribly. And the other dogs are still adjusting to her absence as well. So it is a somewhat somber Christmas season for us.

I keep trying to get into the Christmas spirit. Honestly, I love Christmas. This hasn’t diminished my love for the holiday. Nor has it taken away from what I feel is the true meaning of the season. But I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t a tough year. Frankly, I’m really looking forward more to getting on with the new year because I have so much hope for that. Maybe it is because I’m in the thick of the season and I’m well aware that all of my hopes for the holiday aren’t going to happen. (Some of them, yes. Not all though.) But, it isn’t practical to think that every year will be magical and happy-go-lucky. Everyone experiences a less-than-perfect holiday season. I won’t let it turn me into a grinch.

I put up my Christmas tree. Bought some gifts (meager as they may be this year). And I have immersed myself in work both at the day job and with the books. And I’m pretty sure that will get me through the whole season. I’m okay with that this year though. It got me through last year really.

I think it is different when you’re single. There’s not much to do besides watch everyone else with their families and  significant others. And for someone who wants kids and a family of their own it is a bit depressing. While you’re happy for everyone and you’re trying to really enjoy time with the loved ones you do have. There is still part of you wishing and wanting to be hearing laughter, see smiles, and making family traditions of your own. So, yes, it is bittersweet. But you muddle through and you keep praying that someday the magic will come back.

For me, I think that I need to start seriously thinking in terms of my own life and what I want it to be. Maybe it is time for me to make a tradition of my own to do each year until something in my status changes to really take part and enjoy the normal traditional things. This is a season for lovers and families. There has to be something for the singles out there. I need to find it and take part.

Hibernating and Snow in Texas in November

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Yes, I’ve been away. Engrossed in the writing frenzy that is called NanoWrimo. November is always a crazy month. Come to think of it, so is December. But, its been a somewhat productive hibernation. I am not entirely up to date on my word count goals but, progress is progress no matter how little it may seem. Besides that, my distractions from the writing process have been productive in other areas as well.

Big news? Yes, I do have big news. Well it is big for me. Something I have really needed for a while now. I did my Birthday and Christmas to myself early. I didn’t anticipate it but after going to vote on November 4th (yes, I did my civic duty proudly) I went to breakfast with my parents and ended up going car shopping. To my surprise, I walked out the proud owner of a new 2013 Chevrolet Spark.

New Car NovemberSo meet Sparkle! My new “partner in crime”. Yes, I love her. Awesome gas mileage allows me to go when I couldn’t have before. She is gonna do wonders for making it possible to be more social. Writer’s groups are back on the agenda for me. And doing a writer’s cafe day is on my list once a week. It is definitely a sense of freedom that I haven’t enjoyed in a long time. It isn’t such a huge ordeal if I want to get out and go somewhere for the sake of going.

Now if I can just get my Erin Condren Life Planner I think I’ll be all set for a new year of getting on with living my life.

Amazing thing happened this week. We actually had snow here in East Texas. It wasn’t much. Just a light coating on the porch. To have snow at this time of year is really unheard of. We usually don’t see snow, if we see it at all, until at least January or February. Last year we had a white Christmas and that was rare. So maybe we’ll have another this year. I will admit to really enjoying the cool weather though.

I’ve still got a ton on my plate to finish but, I will be back to regular posts soon. I just had to share something before November got away from me without a single post. Besides, it has been a good month.

Giveaway Winners

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Super excited to announce the winners of my giveaway.

From Facebook Ms. Beth Mehler won a copy of The Secret of the Storm. Her choice after enjoying The Fallen, which she’d purchased previously.

In Twitter @moral_st0p a.k.a Jeanette was the random winner of her choice. Though I haven’t heard back from her to see what she prefers so that I can mail it out. If you read the blog Jeanette, please check your messages and get back to me as soon as you can so that I can send your prize to you.

I’ll be doing another giveaway package in November to celebrate a Nanowrimo win. So, if you wanted to get a free copy of the book this time and didn’t, just stay tuned for the details.

And if you’re taking part in Nanowrimo this year add me as a writer buddy. My profile is here and I always welcome friends taking on the challenge. Writing is a lonely business in many ways. So sharing the experience is always a good idea. Having a giveaway to celebrate is something that just makes sense to me.