Resolved to The Year of the Squirrel


Artwork by Gary Medley (FIL)


It’s that time of year again where I think big thoughts, make new plans and the year ahead is filled with possibilities. I blame the eleven days of Christmas break for all that.  Being off work somehow makes me dream unrealistic dreams and think I can accomplish far more than is actually humanly possible.

I’ll realize that by January 4.

But until then, here’s my plan for 2017: The Year of the Squirrel.

More on that later.

Last year ended on a down note, with my mom passing away Nov. 10, and my book sales are all but nonexistent. Seriously, I’m making around $150 a month on seven books. It all seems like way too much work for very little reward. I made half the total income last year that I did the year before (which was the all-time high at a whopping $7K).

I’ve been trying to psych myself back up and get back into the groove. I ran some ads (spent $100) to try to respark interest and revenue, but all it really accomplished was brief stint at Amazon #1 FREE and then four new reviews. I even wrote a couple thousand words, but it’s just not happening. The motivation is gone.

I’m not saying I’m quitting writing completely. I am saying I’m going to let it slide and pick it up as I feel like it. I’m sure at least a dozen people in the world will be sad about that, but it is what it is. Ultimately, I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to make it happen. I’ve given it a good go. I’ve pushed hard for the past five and a half years but gained very little financial traction. I’ve proven I’m not a one-book-wonder and now…I’m moving on.

The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to do that. A clean break.

It’s harder than you’d think to wind down, however. Trust me. I’ve tried quitting before. Ideas don’t stop coming and characters don’t stop talking. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it won’t be closed again. I’m going to keep collecting those ideas and conversations and one day–in the future–I’ll give them the attention they deserve. I also have a few events to attend. Fun events like VisionCon in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest next October.

Until then, I’m going to participate in the Year of the Squirrel. No, the Year of the Squirrel is not one of the Chinese Zodiac signs (I checked). Nor is it an actual thing. It’s my thing. The Year of the Squirrel will be my chance to follow all the little interests and passions that speak to me this year along with the things I must/need to do. Believe me, there are plenty of need-to-do things. Cleaning out Mom’s house is one of the biggest ones right now.

The things I’m passionate about at the moment include: crocheting, FitBit walking, reading and watching the Gilmore Girls. I think that’s a pretty good start.

There is however, actually a Squirrel Appreciation Day if you’re so inclined to participate. For real, it’s Saturday, January 21 this year. Plan accordingly.

One big goal this year is to get back into shape. Last November, I was in a good place and ten pounds from my goal weight. Right now I’m two pounds above my highest weight ever. I have some work to do.

The biggest fun thing on the horizon for 2017 as far as personal entertainment that I’m looking forward to is the Supernatural Convention in Chicago in July. Bryon and Grace gave me that AMAZING gift for Christmas. I still can’t believe it! Front row, baby! And I get to ride the Amtrack there. Bryon and Grace are going to meet me there after the con is over, and then we’ll have a family vacation in the Windy City.

It’s going to be a looooong time until July.

The good news is I have plenty of time to catch up on my review of the eleven seasons of Supernatural before I go. I’ll have a Masters in Supernatural by that time.

As is my way, I’ve started my Year of the Squirrel List so I can store a few of theses nuggets away for later. It will definintely be a work in progress this year.

Year of the Squirrel List

  1. Crochet all the things
  2. Read all the books
  3. Walk 10k+ steps every day
  4. Finish all seasons of The Gilmore Girls (I’m on S3)
  5. Rewatch all 11 seasons of Supernatural
  6. Reacquaint myself with our garden, wait…which way is it?
  7. Read my magazines the day they arrive
  8. Reorganize my recipe boxes
  9. Clean out and reorganize the bath/medicine cabinets
  10. Donate more clothes out of my closet
  11. Empty Mom’s house of contents and sell them
  12. Read, file or delete all the SAVED articles on Facebook I’ve collected
  13. Surf way too much Pinerest
  14. Can and preserve the garden bounty
  15. Make good food
  16. Eat good food

That’s a good beginning, I think.

I’m sure there will be much more to add during the year because…SQUIRREL!

What does your 2017 look like from here? Do you make resolutions?





Focus Grasshopper

So here’s the problem on this unbelievably nice Sunday afternoon at the end of February, there are about 16 things I would like and need to do, but I can’t seem to focus on any of them. I have a rare three or four hour block of time free to use in these endeavors, yet I can’t seem to get my heart into any of them even though I want them all accomplished.

First off in an effort at full disclosure, Grace is at Nana’s this weekend and will be back in mere hours. Bryon and I slept in late, skipped church and went to Freda’s for breakfast. This killed half the day. I’m more than okay with that part but now I am plagued with “the weekend is nearly over, here are all the things I still want to do, but am not going to get done” blues.

If time is the enemy of ambition; focus is the enemy of success.

Before you suggest I Google ADD medications, I’m fairly confident that is not the problem. The problem is I am always looking and planning ahead to the next thing. Once I’m in the “get shit done” mode, more and more things appear that need to be added to that list.

For example, as I was walking to my writing cave upstairs to work at banging out this inspired post,  I realized the upstairs carpets really needed vacuuming.  Then as I walked by the bar, I noticed several things sitting on the cabinet that needed put away. The game table needed cleaned off. The couch blankets needed folded. I forgot to spot spray the soda stain in my writing cave where Grace dribbled pop. My desk is untidy. The upstairs windows really need cleaned. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Living in the moment is not something I am usually capable of achieving. You’ll get no Zen here. For that, check out Leo over at Zen Habits. What I am capable of, when the wheels finally start turning, is knocking out some epic tasks.

Here is the random list of wants and needs swimming around in the list in my head:

  1. Clean the rabbit cage
  2. Scoop the dog poop our of the yard. 
  3. Wash the clothes
  4. Fold the clothes
  5. Clean Grace’s room before she gets back home
  6. Work on my novel edits
  7. Work on writing all this week’s posts ahead of time and scheduling them
  8. Cruise the internet for blog post ideas
  9. Clean all of the floors
  10. Clean out the chicken house
  11. Do a yard sweep for bones, trash and various other dog flotsam and jetsam
  12. Sweep the chicken poop off the porch
  13. Clean all the misc. accumulated household stuff of the kitchen bar
  14. Catch up on reading my magazines
  15. Read something, period
  16. Catch up on Facebook

You can probably figure out which are the wants and which are the needs. Ironically, I notice many of them have a common theme of either cleaning or poop or the cleaning of poop. That’s a little disturbing.

Several more of them require alone time and quiet to accomplish. Those are the ones I am trying to focus on now before the Grace maelstrom arrives back home. After that, all bets are off.

We’ve tried to get Grace on chore schedule of her own in an effort to both instill a work ethic and knock a few things off that revolving list. We also bribe her with the promise of cold hard cash. Unfortunately, as I figured, that lasted about one week. The second week I hounded and nagged her until she finished one thing on the list (hanging up and putting away all of her clothes). Of course, she didn’t get paid that week. She didn’t care. She still has no feel for the value of work or a strong enough desire to work toward a long term goal to achieve it. And I don’t have the patience to enforce it.

Sure I know I should be trying harder to instill that but seriously, it’s just easier to do it myself than wait and struggle and cajole her. I’m pretty sure that’s a universal parenting dilemma. Right? Right?

So what have I accomplished in this first hour of free time? I have managed to complete one seventh of one task on my list and add six more to the list.

If I were getting paid for these chores or in this case, for just being me, this would be job security.

As it is, I’m continually plotting for a way to retire TODAY but at the same income level so I can work on my revolving to do list. Whoever came up with the five day work week and two days off plan was an idiot. Probably a business owner. When I’m Queen, it will be the other way around.

The saying goes, “Shit Happens”. Trust me, it doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.


January Update

Hello February, we are on to bigger and better things. Last month, I decided to concentrate on two things: walking and writing. I signed up for the JANO (write a novel of 50,000 words in a month) challenge and bought a pedometer to measure how many steps I took each day for a month.

It was a month of counting words and steps.

Here’s how it broke down:

I walked 109,442 steps which equals 44.9 miles in 21 days. (I didn’t get my pedometer until after the month had begun.) Twenty eight of those miles were intentional in the name of exercise. I know I can do better than that. I didn’t break the 10,000 steps (five mile) goal any day last month, so that’s my next milestone to achieve. I have a great gravel road nearby where I can walk exactly four miles up and down hills. It takes me a couple of hours so with the short daylight, it’s strictly a weekend event right now. I just have to make myself do it much more often.

I would have to walk our trail loop seven times to achieve that. I’m pretty sure I’d be dizzy by then.

As for the writing, well that was also close, but I didn’t quite meet my goal.

I knew I wouldn’t meet the 50,000 words towards a novel goal because I only need 18,000 or so to finish my novel. Mission accomplished on that front. My blog posts don’t actually count towards the official JANO count but they count toward the MEDLEY count so including this post, my total is 37,462 words. I am fairly certain that is the most I have ever written in a month. This post makes the 32 post in a row in my 365 day challenge. Also a record.

Are you going to get a lame post featuring a photo of my dog soon with only a caption? My Magic 8 Ball says “Outlook Good”. Remember that whole diamond and rock thing.

Still, overall it’s been a dang good month.

I am not going to pick two new goals for February. I like these two. I plan to just keep doing more of the same. Of course, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I think that isn’t necessarily true if you are just trying to do better. We’ll see.

Bring it February.