Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How A Single Mom Creates Christmas Magic On A Limited Budget

When people find out I have six kids they ask me two questions: Do you know what causes that? And how do you afford Christmas?

The answers are: yes I do, and by planning ahead and creative thinking.

It turns out my own post was a good reminder for myself this year. I spent the last couple nights wrapping presents, and getting kind of down that there wasn't more under the tree for each kid. But, each kid is getting the one thing they really, really wanted. So, that counts as a success!

You can read the rest of my creative Christmas planning post on Parent.Co



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Five-Year Writing Plan


December 7 Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?


A five-year plan. Well I don't have a concrete long term plan. Except to keep writing of course.

I have made the commitment to begin book two and would like to have it published no later than the beginning of 2018. I was originally thinking next summer but I'm not sure I can get a quality product out in that time.

Of course I would like to continue earning money for my writing. I am happy that my writing brings in a monthly income, but there's always a desire to increase the amount. 

I suppose in five years I would like to be where I've always wanted to be -- a full time writer earning enough money to not have to work a "real job". 

My two favorite times in the past year were on the surface not very good times; Last summer when I was laid off from my full time job and without another full time job for four months. And then these past couple months when I was home with a broken foot on workers comp. Both of those times off of work saw big bursts of writing and creativity. Just not enough financial reward to permanently stay home and write. But I loved the freedom of spending my days writing, reading and creating. 

I know I've said it before, but when I write (and when I am teaching yoga) I feel like I am living my dharma. 

So, OK, an actual plan:
  • Continue to write
  • Commit to writing more regularly
  • Continually remind myself that I must allow writing to be a priority in my life
  • Be more intentional in seeking out paid writing opportunities
  • Create a timeline, and follow the timeline, to publish book two
  • Be more intentional in finding promotion opportunities for book one
  • Stop the negative self talk of "I'm not a real writer if I also have to work a day job"





This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Yoga Helped Me Remodel My Daughter’s Bedroom

I recently renovated my teenage daughter’s bedroom; new flooring, painted walls, and d├ęcor. Let me reiterate this is the bedroom of my daughter, who is a teenager, and dislikes everything I like.

Let’s just say there was potential for stress in this scenario.

Add a bit of teen drama to my general lack of flooring know-how and subsequent lack of confidence, and we were faced with real potential for a meltdown here.

My daughter would most likely have a meltdown as well.

I am happy to report that after four days, three trips to the home improvement store, and no more than a mini meltdown (or two), the room is complete. And we both love it. While taking pictures of the new room, I realized that I have yoga to thank for keeping me sane in these situations.

How does yoga help remodel a bedroom?

Please read the rest of my story on using yoga to redecorate my daughters bedroom on Parent.Co



Monday, November 28, 2016

Preparing For Winter On A Budget

I love my house. I stress about paying the mortgage, but I am eternally grateful that despite how horrible my divorce was, my ex-husband agreed the kids needed to stay in their home.

But, my house needs a lot of work. I regularly toy with the idea of selling it and moving out of Tennessee. But I know I won't get full asking price because of the repairs and upgrades it needs.

One of the biggest problems is the old, horrible windows and lack of insulation. In the winter my house is COLD. You can put your hands a good foot away from the windows and door and feel the air coming in.

In the past I have used weather stripping in differing thickness and materials. Last year I used that
plastic stuff that you stick onto the windows with a hair dryer. Both helped, but neither was a solution.

This year after much googling I found a weird but extremely cost effective way to insulate the windows.

Bubble wrap.

Yes, the kind of bubble wrap that you use to pack when you move.

I don't know why, but everything I read said it needs to be the large-size bubbles bubble wrap.


It's a really easy process:


  • Measure the window
  • Cut the bubble wrap to fit
  • Spray the window with plain water
  • Spray the bubble side of the bubble wrap
  • Stick the bubble wrap to the window
For some reason, just simple water is all it takes to attach the bubble wrap. 

I am testing the bubble wrap method on my bedroom windows first since they are the worst in the house. This morning there was just one little corner of bubble wrap that was coming off the window, but I just resprayed it with water and it went right back up.

We had a really bad storm today, lots of rain and 50mph winds. And I'm happy to report....

It is working!

I couldn't feel any wind coming in through the window.

This weekend I'll do the other windows in the back of the house. And if it works well enough I'll put the bubble wrap up in the front windows too. Even though it might look a little odd. 

It's not very pretty, but who cares as long as it works. And I have thick curtains that are supposed to keep out the heat / cold and when those are closed you don't see the bubble wrap anyway.


 


Monday, November 21, 2016

I Can't Save The World. But I Might Have Saved My Dead Mom Last Night

I was really depressed last night. Like on the verge of tears depressed.

Being out of work because of this broken foot has left me with far too much time on my hands to sit on social media and read all the negativity in the world right now.

Last night I was following the live stream footage of North Dakota law enforcement using water cannons on the unarmed water protectors of Standing Rock. It was below freezing and these peaceful activists protesting the Dakota Access pipeline were getting doused with water and tear gas.

As I was watching the live feed, one of my yoga friends was en route to Standing Rock to support the water protectors in any way she could. She wasn't sure what she could do to help, but she knew she had to do something.

Add to that the shit show of an election we just had, the vitriol being thrown around by both sides of politics, the uncertainty of the next four years, the news that four different police officers in four different cities had been shot in just one day and it all began to overwhelm me. There is so much darkness in the world right now and I feel helpless.

I finally realized I just needed to put my phone down and take a break from it all. There was nothing I could do at that moment.

Except say a prayer and a quiet meditation.

I felt a little better after my meditation and thought maybe I could rest now.

As I finally lay down in bed, with the news of the day turned off, the cat who had been napping suddenly got up and started sneaking up onto a bug she saw on the wall.

Oh yeah, just what I need right now. A spider. Probably a deadly one.

But, no. It was a ladybug. It was 37 degrees outside and there was a ladybug in my room.

My sister always says it's our mom visiting her when she sees a ladybug.

Oh no! The cat was going to eat my mom!

I got a tissue and ever so gently nudged my mom/ladybug onto the tissue. But what should I do with her/it? I can't put her/it outside she will freeze to death. I can't leave her here the cat will eat her.

So I took my mom/the ladybug into the bathroom and gently lay her down on my counter for the night. I even told her "stay in here away from the cat."

Then I returned to my room and told the cat "don't eat mom."

Seriously, I think this is the point I lost a bit more of my sanity.



If you don't know about the Dakota Access Pipeline and why it is being protested, The Guardian, an independent and reliable news source, has this easy-to-read post on what is happening and why. It's important to note that the original pipeline would have run through Bismarck, North Dakota. It was moved south of Bismarck to "protect wells that serve the municipal water supply". In other words, it is an environmental hazard and the citizens of Bismarck successfully fought against it. So the Army Corps of Engineers moved it to federally protected tribal lands.

If you are also following the activities at Standing Rock, here are the important phone numbers you can call and voice your opinion:

North Dakota Governor 701-328-2200

Amnesty International 212-807-8400 (ask them to send representatives to Standing Rock to assess and report on the treatment of the water protectors by our government)

White House Public Comment Line  202-456-1111




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pretty Awesome Gamers

One of my friends is one of those super cool moms that makes Cosplay costumes for her kids and travels with her kids to different gaming and Comic Cons.

This weekend though, she took her super cool status to the next level by getting involved with a charity called Pretty Awesome Gamers.

From their website:

“We create super heroes! We are a Non Profit organization that awards terminally and chronically ill children full expense paid trips to ComicCons and Gaming Conventions. We supply them costumes to turn them into any character they want to be. Artists create special tailored art for the kids. And the parents get a free quality family time with their kids.”

You can read more about her experience volunteering at Cosplay conventions over on her blog Rayn Of Chaos. 

Thankfully my children have always been healthy, and I've never been a gamer myself. But two of my boys are very into gaming and have asked repeatedly about going to a Comic Con.  I think we will be finding a way to get involved with Pretty Awesome Gamers ourselves. 



Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank You Madame Secretary

As protests happen around the country tonight, some with small pockets of violence erupting, I instead sat in my local Starbucks, ear buds in, and participated on a call with Hillary Rodham Clinton thanking me and her many supporters.

She spoke with dignity and class.

In her words:

It's been a rough few days. Take some time for yourself now. Walk your dogs. Breathe.
I hope when you are ready you will regroup and continue the cause. Because the causes that brought you all together are just as important now as ever.


She reminded us that we are on our way to winning the popular vote, and that "speaks volumes".

But still, it's been an unsettling few days for me. I live in an area where I am the democratic minority. I have very few local friends to talk to about the election.

My Facebook feed is filled with gloating, examples of hate crimes across the country and all kinds of divisive behavior. I've tried to take a social media break from a lot of it.

I know these next few months, and the next four years, are uncertain. I take solace in knowing that I voted my conscience. And I now have a new and better understanding of the need to be an informed voter and to vote in not just the big election, but in the midterm elections as well.

I think this experience has awakened a desire in me to become more politically active in the future.



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Only Prayer We Need Today

I'm still home with this broken foot. Which gives me way too much free time to watch election coverage news today.

Earlier this week I helped out in a call bank for the election. It's not much. But every little bit of effort counts. Or so I told myself.

As I was doing my regular morning meditation / gentle off-the-foot yoga practice today I felt I needed to meditate on the Buddhas Lovingkindness Meditation. As I recited it, I realized this is what the country needs to be meditating on today.

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be free
May I live with ease

A Lovingkindness Meditation, also called Metta meditation, is simply a practice of directing well wishes toward other people.

Doesn't that sound like a nice break from the nasty political talk these past few months? And a far better use of our time than fighting amongst our neighbors?

To practice Lovingkindness Meditation, find a comfortable seated position. Don't worry about looking like those pictures of people meditating on mountain tops. You can keep your eyes open and recite this to yourself anywhere. 

Intention is what counts. 

First, repeat the blessing three times for yourself to yourself. See yourself as healthy and well.

Then, repeat the blessing three times for someone who has helped you or brought joy to your life. 

Third, repeat the blessing three times for someone you know that is struggling or in need of healing. See that person as healthy and well.  

Finally, repeat the blessing three times visualizing your community, your country and your world. 

As I repeated the blessing the final time, I saw all the people standing in line waiting to vote. Here in my area people are standing outside in the rain waiting to cast their vote. I didn't say the blessing to encourage them to vote my way or even visualize them voting in a specific way. I just said the blessing to surround everyone today in a sense of peace and wellness. 

Again, it's a small effort. But every little bit of effort counts. 




Monday, November 7, 2016

I turned my Frustration into Action this Election year & You can Still do the Same

To see what began my short career as a political operative, please read the post on Elephant Journal.



At my assigned time I logged in to my previously set up online account. My first call was Susan, a 39-year-old woman in Iowa.

But the call went straight to voice mail.

As did the next 12 calls I made.

Maybe I’m not meant to be a political operative.

But then, call number 14 was to Ophelia, a 72-year-old woman in Virginia. Dear sweet Ophelia. Not only did she answer the phone, but also she was excited to tell me she was supporting Hillary Clinton.

In fact, she told me not only was she voting for Clinton, she was driving all her lady friends to the polls so they could vote for the first woman president too!

Of the more than 100 calls I made, only one caller was rude. No problem, I simply followed the script and politely thanked her for her time and ended the call.

I also spoke with:

• Diane: a 47-year-old woman who wasn’t sure where her polling place was. I was able to give her the exact address of her assigned polling area

• Rachelle: 27 years old who didn’t know the polls opened as early as 6am. She has plans to go cast her vote before her shift at works starts

• Eileen: 34 years old, who although I interrupted her dinner, thanked me for working for the cause and dedicating my time to making calls

To see how my time in politics ended,  please read the post over on Elephant Journal.


Friday, November 4, 2016

How To Do Yoga With A Broken Foot

Once you have a regular yoga practice, you won't want anything to get in the way and stop you from the yoga. But, life happens.

I've managed to yoga through all kinds of illnesses and injuries. Usually it's just a matter of slowing down, modifying and letting go of unrealistic expectations.

And, that includes yoga with a broken foot.

It's been 9 long weeks and I am still in this boot cast. I'm allowed to take it off to sleep and shower. About a month ago I thought I was OK enough to take it off and do some gentle yoga during a workshop I was attending.

It didn't go well at first.  To summarize, this is what happens when you stand on your mat in Tadasana and try to balance evenly on both feet:

Oh, sweet baby Jesus, mother **%*, damn that hurts! And all I did was try to spread my toes.

It doesn't sound very yoga-like does it? So you sit back down on your yoga mat to figure something else out.

These past few weeks my yoga practice has been much heavier on meditation rather than asana. And I've really enjoyed it. I'm usually in too much of a rush to meditate (hence the reason I really need more meditation in my life), but this broken foot has slowed me down and forced me onto my meditation cushion.

I have really, really enjoyed it. Sometimes I listen to a guided meditation. Often I practice some Kundalini breathing and mantras. 

As for the asana practice,  is all seated or lying down now. 
  • Janu Sirsasana - Head to Knee Forward bend to stretch the hamstrings and SI Joint relief
  • Baddha Konasana - Bound angle pose to open the hips
  • Ananda Balasana - Happy Baby and other supine hip openers
  • Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana - Cat/ Cow for flexion and extension of the spine
  • Sucirandhrasana - Thread the Needle to relieve neck and shoulder stress
  • Balasana - Child's pose
  • Matsyasana - Modified fish pose to open the chest

At first even child's pose was out of the question. The fracture and soft tissue damage is primarily around the second and third metatarsals, so resting back with the tops of my feet down hurt too much. When I was at the yoga workshop I grabbed a yoga block and placed that under the top of my ankle to prop up the broken foot. It was enough support that it didn't cause any pain.

But having just one foot up on a block was throwing my hips out of balance. Well more out of balance than they already were from walking in this damn boot cast for nine weeks!

At home I prop both feet up on my bolster when I'm in child's pose. I can stay here to stretch out my back or flow some modified kneeling vinyasa.

This is the closest picture I could find to
propping the tops of your feet to support
a foot injury.
Hopefully soon I will be out of the cast and back into my normal hurried routine. But, as with most negative things  in life, this broken foot has been a good lesson for me. It has reminded me to slow down and listen to what my body is telling me it needs.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Kindle Version Has Arrived

Woo Hoo!

The Kindle version of Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom is finally here!


If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can read the book for FREE!

(Kindle Unlimited pays authors for the number of pages read in a Kindle Unlimited book. So please, actually read the book - or at least flip the pages -  if you download it for free!)

If you are one of the many readers I am forever grateful to who bought the paperback version, you can download the Kindle version for only $1.99. Why would you want the Kindle version if you already have the paperback version you ask? Well, because the Kindle version is new and improved! A few corrections and updated info have been added.

I don't know if all the fabulous reviews so many of you have posted on the paperback edition will transfer to the Kindle edition as well. But, as always, I am so appreciative of everyone who takes the time to review the book on both Amazon and GoodReads.com .

It's been a year since Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom was released. Having it out on Kindle now is just as exciting!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Favorite Aspect Of Being A Writer

October 5 IWSG Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

My favorite aspect of being a writer... is feeling like a writer.

There are two times in my life where I really feel comfortable in my own skin. Two times that I feel like I'm fulfilling my dharma: teaching yoga and writing.

Most of my writing is done propped up on my bed late at night after work, after chores are done and after kids are in bed. I feel like a want-to-be writer then. Because, you know, "real" writers have cute little writing cottages on the beach where they can take breaks and walk the sand to find their latest best selling idea. And they don't have to work real jobs to pay the bills because their mail box is full of royalty checks.

These past few years I've been fortunate to travel to the West Coast a few times. They were much-needed mini vacations to reconnect with old friends, practice yoga in chic little studios and of course, to write.

Sitting in a Starbucks in Seattle - feel like a writer.
Walking the rocky Northwest beaches thinking of ideas - feel like a writer
Sitting in an airport with my laptop open - feel like a writer
Jotting down notes while waiting to meet my friend for the afternoon - feel like a writer

It's not just when I'm away that I feel like a writer. Right now I'm sitting in my local Starbucks waiting on my girls to be finished dance class. I've gotten into a good habit these past couple months of day job, home to kids, drop girls at dance, go to Starbucks and write, pick up girls and continue with mom chores for the evening.

I like my cherished moments here. In fact I try and pick the far back corner booth so I can hide in case people I know stop in. I don't want forced socialization to hinder my writing!

I suppose the theme here is my favorite aspect of being a writer... is sitting down and actually writing.




This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them.

Friday, October 28, 2016

This Broken Foot Is Stressing Me Out

I got some news today on my broken foot that - potentially - could be problematic.

It's been nine looonngg weeks and the foot still isn't quite healing properly. I've been out of work totally these past few weeks to better stay off it and rest it. And I have followed these directions far better than I have followed doctors orders in the past.

But, there is still something wrong. The doctor threw around words like "permanent", "nerve damage" and "surgery".

I kind of spaced out after hearing the words permanent and surgery so I'm not real sure what else was said.

On the way home I began to freak out about:

 1- Money.
I am very grateful for worker's comp insurance but let's be real, when I do get the workers comp pay (whenever that ends up being) it won't be the same amount of my regular paycheck. And finances were beyond tight even when I was working all the time. So, this is an issue.

2 - The possibility that this could be a life-long thing.
I am too young to be dealing with permanent injuries. I don't want to have to say I can't hike, participate in 5K's, or just run around with my kids because of an old injury. I don't want to be debilitated yet. Well, ever. But not now!

I've written before about my health and fitness goal in life is to be the best 90-year-old I can be. I try to live my life with the idea of will what I'm doing today get me where I want to be tomorrow? I used to say I wanted to be in good enough shape to be a Grizzly Granny, moving and grooving along with those dancers, but the fact is I'm not a great dancer now, let alone in twenty or thirty years.

To make it worse, I hadn't been totally been staying on top of my "best 90-year-old I can be" lifestyle choices this past year. Soda and junk food have crept their way into my life, combined with way less yoga and walking than I'm used to.

Now I feel like I'm injured and not starting to heal from a  place of optimal health. I know I'm not starting this in good fighting shape.

But, it is what it is I suppose.

I've spent my time off getting quite a bit of writing done, a lot of reading and I've been doing a meditative heavy yoga practice rather than flowing vinyasas.  Except for the broken foot, it's actually been kind of nice.

But, if this goes on much longer, it will definitely stop being kind of nice.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Happening. I'm Getting Older. And I'm Eating More Donuts.

Do you ever have those moments where you just think, "Wow, how did my life end up here?"

I've had many of those moments these past few years. But last night's moment was a bit different.

Picture it: 11:30pm in the not nicest part of downtown Memphis. A slight drizzle. A bit of a chill. Dressed up more than I've been dressed up in a long time. With my best gal pal on our first girls night out in well over a year.

We had been to the Orpheum Theater to see Jersey Boys. We loved the show but when it was over we weren't quite ready to go home. To our right, just one short block away, was the entrance to Beale
Street.

We looked to our right. We looked at each other and silently shared the collective memories we have of too many, too-late nights dancing, drinking, and ... other stuff on Beale Street.

Nah.

We both decided we just didn't feel like Beale Street was our thing anymore.

But we weren't ready to go home.

And I'm not even sure how it came up. But somehow I mentioned I had never had a Krispy Kreme donut. My BFF was shocked. She felt like she had let me down in never taking me to the Krispy Kreme experience. After all, I take her to Broadway shows, the least she could do is reciprocate the excitement.

She pulled up her Krispy Kreme app and off we went in search of the HOT NOW sign.

And that's how we ended up in a not very nice part of town at 11:30pm eating ourselves into a sugar coma.

And that's when I realized a night on Beale Street no longer seemed like fun to me.

And, that means, I'm getting older.

And, you know what? I am OK with that.



Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Two Has Officially Begun

UPDATE: The Kindle version is complete and it looks GOOD! And, even better, there are good people in the world who stick to their word and help deliver a professional product. 

Before you read this post: I am only talking about the Kindle conversion of my book Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom. The paperback version is good and I'd be ever so grateful to anyone who bought it :) 

So tonight I reached my frustration limit.

I'm beyond annoyed and frustrated at some issues converting my book into Kindle format. I'm beyond annoyed and frustrated with some of the professional people I entrusted to help me.

I'm feeling like the little guy who is getting screwed over by the bigger guys.

But, because this is how my crazy mind works, I feel guilty for thinking that. What if they aren't screwing me over and I'm just being unreasonable? What if this is just the way people do business and I'm not equipped to play this way? What if I'm the one in the wrong? I'm embarrassed to have a Kindle book out there with my name on it that is sloppy, why aren't they? (Side note: I explained the whole situation to a fellow group of writers and every one of them agreed with me. But still, maybe...)

And I really hate thinking those things because I genuinely have enjoyed working with these other professionals. They have opened doors for me and guided me. But something over the summer changed and I feel like all I am anymore to them is an annoying little gnat.

And then one of the kids pissed me off and my paycheck was low because I'm still off work for my damn broken foot and ... well it was just turning out to be a really crappy evening.

So, out of anger and frustration, I began book two.

Weird right? The things that motivate us.

My motivation was "Well fine! If my book, that I worked so hard for, won't ever be the professional looking, well laid out Kindle version it is supposed to be, that I was promised it would be, I guess I have no choice but to live with that. BUT... I am not quite as naive to the way the book business works anymore. I know more. I'm more confident in my abilities. So... I will just start book two and make sure it turns out the way I want it to myself! So there!"

See, I am a little crazy.

But whatever. It's what finally got me to sit down and begin to map out book two.

I'm not announcing anything else yet other than I have officially begun book two. Because, if this process goes anything like it did last time, it'll be another year before I even talk about how much if any progress has been made. And if the book is finished, I'll probably then be scrambling asking people to help me because maybe I really can't or shouldn't do this all on my own.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Maturing In My Yoga Practice

This past weekend I attended a two-day yoga teacher training. It's the first one I've been to in over a year.

Yoga teacher trainings are tiring, long, brain intensive and absolutely delightful. It's one of the very rare times I feel like I truly belong.

Yoga teacher trainings always give me a good reminder of my dharma.

This year though, I attended training with a big clunky boot cast on my foot. Six weeks ago I fractured my foot, sprained my ankle and did some damage to the ligaments in the ankle. Yeah me! I've got a couple more weeks to go in the boot and then physical therapy.

When it was time for the yoga practice part of the day, everyone looked at me and my boot.

Oh, no worries, I'm taking this thing off and doing some yoga!

As a yoga teacher, I'm always telling my students to ground evenly through their feet. Spread the toes. Root down in order to lift up.

Oh, sweet baby Jesus, mother **%*, damn that hurts! And all I did was try to spread my toes.

Now, in years past, I would have been totally willing to amputate the foot myself and keep going. In times past, there was no way I would even consider not keeping up with the class or not finding the full expression of the poses.

But, this time, I accepted down dog was out of the question. I was fine with modifying the poses and in a couple cases, even doing a completely different pose that was accessible to me while the class did something else.

I think I'm actually, finally, maturing in my yoga practice.

After ten years, 500 hours of Yoga Alliance recognized teacher trainings, I can't even count how many hours of teaching, my own hit or miss yoga practice, I do believe I am now practicing yoga.

Yoga as it is meant to be practiced.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Time Has Come

I think it's time for a name change on this blog.

I am very attached to the name Diapers, Detentions And Downdogs. That has been my life for 20 years now!

Last year when my book was published, I had experts in publishing and marketing tell me I needed to better brand myself. I needed a dedicated website and not just my blogspot blog. I refused to give up blogspot. I mean I flat out said no it will not happen. This blog helped save me and helped me restart my life.

So, we compromised and developed jenniferwilliamsfields.com.

They said I need to pin down who I am, what is my specialty, what makes me unique?

Umm......

Really it was their way of saying the Diapers, Detentions and Downdogs name just wasn't professional. It was too broad and too vague.

Again I refused. I LOVE that name! It is never leaving. I even wrote about my attachment to the name in a post last summer:

Originally the blog was titled YogaLifeWay because, at the time, I was building an independent yoga business and that was the name I was using. The business was successful, but due to life's circumstances, it never really had a chance to take off.

And I'm OK with that. Life changes and we have to change with it.

I've always loved the Diapers, Detentions and Downdogs description and I want to keep that. That is my life. I no longer have diapers to change (hallelujah!), but as long as the independent, sometimes obstinate Fields kids are in school I'm sure I'll still have detentions to deal with. And I'll never get rid of downdogs.

I considered revising to:

A Yogi's Journey Through Diapers, Detentions, Death, Divorce & Downdogs

But that's a bit too much.

So I'm keeping the Diapers, Detentions and Downdogs part. But below I've added:

A Yogi's Journey To Create A Life She Loves

Because, really, that's what it's all about. 

But now here I am again. I think this time I'm ready to get rid of Diapers, Detentions & Downdogs. Maybe it really doesn't express who I currently am as well as it should.

I was reading through a list of other blogs tonight and I realized I was only clicking on the blogs whose blog name drew me in. Would Diapers, Detentions and Downdogs really draw anyone in? Especially if I'm not writing about diaper type stuff anymore?

So... it is time.

The blog shall now henceforth and always be titled:

Downdogs and Deadlines

Let's be real, my yoga and my writing are never going anywhere. I can't not practice yoga and I can't not write just like I can't not breathe. They are who I am.

Of course, the web address will stay the same: jenniferwilliamsfields.blogspot.com

I think, I hope, Downdogs and Deadlines gives a more accurate picture of who I am. 

I'm still keeping the A Yogi's Journey To Create A Life She Loves part under the title. Whether it's yoga, writing, or dealing the my kids detentions, I'm always moving forward to create a life I love.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

When Do You Know Your Story Is Ready

October 5 IWSG Question: When do you know your story is ready?


You just do.

I say that like it's so easy.

But when I was writing my first book (get ready for a shameless plug here) Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom , I thought the book was finished more than once. Actually probably a few times.

Finish #1: I had completed the first draft. Years of thinking about writing and 9 months of writing had finally brought me to the point I WROTE A BOOK! Life is good. I have accomplished something.

Just a couple weeks later I got the unexpected news I was getting divorced. And it was not the nice amicable kind of divorce. I was so devastated I thought my life was over and my book was crap so I literally picked up the manuscript and threw it in the trash. Dumb, I know.

About a year later I was flying home to help my dad and I found the manuscript on my hard drive. I realized my life was not over - it just needed a rewrite!

Finish #2: The rewrite is complete! My book is complete! My life isn't over! And I sent draft number 2 off to the editor. She loved it. Life is good.

And... then I had a crisis with one of my children. Book? What book? My life was consumed with doctors, hospitals, therapists, blame and tears.

This lasted probably another 6 months.

Then, and I swear this is true, I awoke from sleeping in the middle of the night and wrote the ending to my book.

Just like that. It was finished.

And, this time, I knew it was ready.

It sure would have been nice not to have to go through those years of trauma and drama, but I can honestly say it made my book better because it made it real. Everything I wrote in that book I lived and learned. That book was truly my blood, sweat, tears, heart and soul.

I'm now in the process of contemplating book 2. It's in my head, I'm just having some trouble getting it on paper.

Hopefully it won't take so many years and so much heartache this time around.


This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them. 


Monday, October 3, 2016

6 Teen-Approved Podcasts For Family Listening

Earlier this summer me and three of the kids embarked on an 11-hour car drive to Iowa.

Iowa - the land of corn and cows. Well, corn, cows and dance competitions

Kid 4 had left a couple days ahead of myself and Kids 5 & 6 so our ride up there wasn't quite as snug as the ride home. But we were only about 3 hours into the drive when already the bickering and "I'm bored" mantras started.

In order to drown out the whining, I turned on one of the podcasts I have on my phone that I listen to either in the gym or out walking the neighborhood.

What happened next was pure magic.

They got quiet and listened. And asked for another episode. And another.

Podcasts were so successful I made sure to download some new ones before our return drive home.

You can read more about our family's favorite podcasts on my new Parent.co post here.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pushing Yourself Through Fear To Self Confidence

Last month one of my closest friends came back into town to celebrate her birthday. She chose a small group of us to celebrate with and she did all the party planning. It was perfect!

Until I heard what was planned.

We were all going to a local zip lining obstacle course.

Yeah! Kind of.

I'm not necessarily afraid of heights. I just have enough sense not to climb 40 feet up supported only by a couple ropes and shoulder harness. And, remember, all obstacles are also 40 feet up in the air.

After the initial fear though I really enjoyed it. There were a couple obstacles where I had legitimate fear and had to talk myself through it.  But I would definitely go back again and I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I was done.

While I was up climbing through the trees, it occurred to me this is why recovery programs have a physical challenge aspect to them. To build self confidence.

Duh.

I've written before about Kid 1's struggles with addiction. I've paid for more than one rehab for him. Each time he would tell me about repelling down a high tower or kayaking in the ocean. Although I tried to be supportive, my inner dialogue was always "yeah that's nice. I'm working my ass off to pay for you and you're having fun on vacation."

It built up resentment for sure.

It took being 40 feet up in the air myself, not trusting my support ropes, not believing in myself, and not thinking I was strong enough to do this that I finally realized the kid wasn't on vacation. He was leaning to trust himself and his support system.

Tonight Kid 3 called from Army Boot Camp to tell me he passed his physical fitness tests and he only has one week more to go. This week coming up is what used to be called hell week. Basically it's a week in the woods, little to no sleep, repelling down buildings and all sorts of other physical challenges.

I told him you can do this!

Yes, you'll be tired. Yes you'll be scared. But trust your training and trust in yourself.

Kid 1 had to learn it. And I had to learn it.

It's scary. But a lesson worth learning.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Never Stop Advocating For Your Kids

As parents, we are constantly balancing when to step in and help our kids and when to let them figure it out for themselves.

When parenting young adults, that balance becomes a little trickier.

When parenting young adults with a history of mental health and substance abuse issues, that balance is like walking a tightrope twenty stories high and constantly pushing the other person off yet at the same time pulling them back on.

I realized today that no matter how old your child is, he is still your child and you never stop advocating for them.

For two weeks now, all through pre-op procedures and appointments with specialists, Kid 1 has been open about his medical issues. All the trained medical professionals assured us it wouldn't be an issue in today's surgery.

At 5am this morning as he met one OR nurse after another, he told them what prescriptions he regularly takes. They all said it's not an issue.

Literally minutes away from being wheeled away into the OR, I said to the anesthesiologist, "you do know he takes a monthly dose of ..."

The anesthesiologist closed my sons chart and told everyone to immediately stop.

As it turns out, there was a contraindication with my sons medication, and one that very easily could have been harmful in surgery.

I am eternally grateful to Sean ( I'm pretty sure that was his name) for listening to us today. For having the knowledge to know when medications are an issue and for forcing a small delay into surgery today so they could come up with a medically safer plan.

I'm not a very churchy person, but I believe God put Sean in that operating room today for my son.

I also know that although I was unsure about speaking up for fear of my young adult child thinking I was taking control or not trusting him to take care of himself, I did the right thing in butting in to the doctors conversation.

Today's surgery may have been routine to them, but not to me or my child.

And no matter how old they get, or how old I get, I'll never stop advocating for my kids.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekend Interrupted

My plans for this weekend:

Regular weekend chores,

Begin the final look through of my book before it is published to Kindle.

Write at least one blog post.

Finish parenting article and submit.

Begin writing next yoga article assignment.


What really happened this weekend: 

Regular weekend chores.

I got caught up in these online training videos I'm required to do for my job before next weekend's practical training. I knew there were at-home assignments required before next weekend, but I had no idea they would take this long. I've been working on them for hours now and I still have more to do!

Yes, I'm grateful I have a job. Yes I want to keep my job.

But I'm really resentful it is taking up my only two days off!

And even more resentful that I accomplished nothing on my writing list.

Since these videos all have quizzes and final exams attached to them, I pretty much have to give them my mostly undivided attention. So, back to the videos I go now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Finding The Time To Write vs. Making The Time To Write

IWSG Question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

We all know the answer I'm supposed to give here. How do you find time to write? You make the time to write.

Blah blah blah

But the real answer is, often times I don't find/make the time. Many times there legitimately isn't time. And sometimes, well, I'm just too lazy.

That's why a couple hours hiding in the corner of Starbucks typing away is such a joy. Or why I do most of my writing after 10pm when the kids are pretty much settled for the night.  With the new school year starting we also have a new dance schedule for kids 4 and 6. I had to rearrange my work schedule a little bit to be able to get them to dance 4 nights per week on time. The plus side to that is I have built two nights into that schedule where I hope to drop them at dance, and then head off to my favorite corner booth and spend the time writing until I have to pick them up again.

That's the plan. How well that plan works out remains to be seen.

Between working, being a single mom and all the other day-to-day drudgery, finding the time to write is a challenge. Making the time to write is a choice.

A choice I really wish I wasn't so often too wore out to make. 




This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Just Want To Be Left Alone

I realized today, when I'm sick or injured I revert to a wounded animal. I just want to be left alone. 

It's OK to approach me slowly, leave food, and then back away slowly.

But please don't sit next to me and tell me every minute detail of your day. ( And jabber on and on and on.)

Please don't wake me up to ask me how I'm feeling or if I'm in pain. ( The answer will always be I feel like crap and yes I'm in pain.)

Please don't tell me I shouldn't drive myself with a boot cast on my foot. (How else am I going to get anyone where they need to be?)

I know I sound pretty grumpy and ungrateful for my kids who really are just trying to be sure I'm OK.

But, I just want to be left alone!





Monday, August 22, 2016

Me, My Son And A Pop Song

Sometimes, often in unexpected moments, music stops you in your tracks and makes you pay attention to life.

Driving home from the doctor this afternoon, Kid 1 was dozing in the passenger seat. He's been pretty sick lately so he and I haven't had much interaction.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing since most of our conversations lately center around me telling him to just grow up and be responsible and him telling me he's an adult now and I need to treat him like one. It's a pretty common issue between mothers and their young adult sons I suppose. But he and I have a history of struggle that makes it a little more frustrating. We aren't currently doing a lot of fighting. Just quite a bit of bickering.

Anyway, today we had just left the doctor where we found out he thankfully didn't have to have surgery. I thought he was asleep when he suddenly popped up and said "oh you need to listen to this song. It makes me think of us."

Ugh, OK. I figure it will be something about two people who don't see eye to eye.

Instead, he played me this:

"House Of Gold"

She asked me, "Son, when I grow old,
Will you buy me a house of gold?
And when your father turns to stone,
Will you take care of me?"

She asked me, "Son, when I grow old,
Will you buy me a house of gold?
And when your father turns to stone,
Will you take care of me?"

I will make you queen of everything you see,
I'll put you on the map,
I'll cure you of disease.

Let's say we up and left this town,
And turned our future upside down.
We'll make pretend that you and me,
Lived ever after happily.

She asked me, "Son, when I grow old,
Will you buy me a house of gold?
And when your father turns to stone,
Will you take care of me?"

I will make you queen of everything you see,
I'll put you on the map,
I'll cure you of disease.

Ohhhh...
And since we know that dreams are dead,
And life turns plans up on their head,
I will plan to be a bum,
So I just might become someone.

She asked me, "Son, when I grow old,
Will you buy me a house of gold?
And when your father turns to stone,
Will you take care of me?"

I will make you queen of everything you see,
I'll put you on the map,
I'll cure you of disease.

As I listened to the words I realized I also needed to be listening between the lines. I've often joked that out of six kids one of them better take care of me when I'm older.  And here he is playing me a song about wanting to take care of me so I live happily ever after. A song about knowing times are tough now. But that knowing they will get easier one day.

And this line:

And since we know that dreams are dead,
And life turns plans up on their head,
I will plan to be a bum,
So I just might become someone.

Kid 1 has been working hard lately to be someone. He's not moving forward as fast as he'd hoped, but he's not going backwards anymore either. 

For the first time in a very long time, he's looking to the future.

And the future looks bright.

At first when I pulled up the video for this song I thought it was just weird. But when I read a bit deeper, I found this:

Both of the members absolutely love their moms- they talk about this all the time and the song is about that.  The upper halves of their bodies were around the house, in the windows, playing to the woman inside, presumably a mother.  Their hearts were closer to her.  However, their legs were going around, pursuing a music career, or a bigger life outside of the mother.  They’re half and half, caught between their mothers and their booming success.  It’s an insanely intelligent parallel that I applaud the boys for drawing and making so cleverly articulated.

Now I love the song even more. My Kid 1 / young adult son, who has struggled to become a young adult, is on the verge of leaving me and finding his own way in the world. Of course it's part of our bickering. I want him to go. But I know he's not quite ready.

He wants to go. But he knows he's not quite ready.

He's torn. I'm torn.

But between us there is enough love that I will always be there for him. And he is gaining the maturity to realize he someday wants to take care of me, the way I have always taken care of him.

Funny how a simple pop song can sum up your life. And put an end to some of the bickering.



Friday, August 19, 2016

Intelligent Dogs And Their Tendency For Self Destruction

I was working with a new personal training client today and instead of push up and lunges, we were working on body awareness and spinal alignment. Finally, I got to work in more of a yoga therapy aspect!

I haven't done any yoga therapy type work in way too long and I forgot how excited I get when I'm helping someone doing something like open up their thoracic spine. Most of my clients don't know and don't care where there thoracic region is! And that's perfectly fine. But when you see a client in chronic pain and after just a few simple moves and some deep breathing they are feeling better than they have in a long time, it's so gratifying that it helps me remember why I even got into this line of work in the first place.

So while I'm excitedly working with said client today, we are also of course chatting about work, life, careers, etc. At one point she turned to me and said, "You're an intelligent dog aren't you."

Umm, OK. I guess I'm an intelligent dog.

I'm not sure how calling me a dog, even an intelligent dog, is a compliment, but you're paying me for this session so I'll listen.

Client: And you know what happens to intelligent dogs right?

Me: Ummmm

Client: They get bored and shred their environment. If you leave an intelligent dog home alone it will shred the living room. If you leave an intelligent dog alone in the car it will get bored and shred the car.

At this point I got a very unintelligent look on my face, jaw hanging open, as I completely understood what she is saying.

Of course I'm bored and frustrated in certain areas right now. I'm working below my capacity. And of course I'm starting to take it out on those around me. I'm shredding my environment out of boredom/ frustration/lack of activity.

This makes perfect sense.

Looking back I can see where I shredded my environment in the past in both my career and my life. I've written many times how I tend to self destruct either by lack of action or by lashing out in inappropriate actions.

I've been acting like an intelligent dog.

I'm still soaking in being told I was an intelligent dog today, and all that implies, that I'm not even really sure what to do with that knowledge yet.




Tuesday, August 9, 2016

National Book Lovers Day

It's National Book Lovers Day!

Shout out to all of us who truly love books! And the rest of you, well I can't even begin to understand someone who tells me they don't love books.

I am the geeky girl who thinks a wild night out is a couple hours alone in a book store. I love the touch of books. I love to crack open a book and smell the new pages. And the sound the book makes as you open the spine for the first time. Pure bliss.

I've been in love with books longer than any man, any food or anything else in my life.

So when I wrote my own book it was very important to me that it be an actual book. Not just a Kindle version. Not that there is anything wrong with that, in fact a Kindle version should be coming out soon of Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom, but I wanted actual physical copies of my book to be available.

I wanted to see a copy of my book on my bookshelf. I wanted to see a copy of my book sitting on the shelf in a bookstore.

Yes I love my children and they are my greatest joy (obligatory mom comment), but honestly, I felt such joy and pride last year looking at my book in the bookstore. A couple months later I went back to the bookstore to check on my book and ... it was gone!

I was crushed. Devastated. It wasn't on the shelf anymore.

But then it took one of my children (who really do bring me joy and pride as well), to point out that if the book wasn't there that means someone bought it!

Yes! My book was sitting on someone else's bookshelf!

I do most of my writing propped up on my bed. To my left is a three level high bookshelf. It has mostly yoga books and training manuals on it. Straight in front of me is one very long bookshelf that has a blend of fiction and nonfiction books. And to my right, on my nightstand, is the book I am currently reading (Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton), the book I just finished (From Darkness To Light by Lindsey Lewis) and two other books in line to begin reading.

In recent years I've drifted away from books and more to my Kindle. I love the ease of being able to download any book I want directly on to the Kindle in just seconds. But, it's just not the same as books.

Earlier this summer our "kid computer" died for good and since I don't allow the kids to use my laptop, Kid 5 asked to borrow my iPad. Well he borrowed it three months ago and I still don't have it back.

But thats OK, because I've returned to my love of physical books.

In fact, I think I'll be planning a trip to the bookstore sometime very soon.

Yep, that's me pointing to my book. That just happened to be 
right next to Rachel Brathen's new book! (She's like a yoga goddess 
for those who don't know.) And my book is right next to hers!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My Writer's Life: A Series of Stops and Starts

IWSG Question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

We would have to go way, way back to find my very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer. My bio says I've been "writing since I first picked up a crayon" and that is so  true.

I wrote for school newspapers in middle and high school.

My first paid writing was after my college internship at a small local community newspaper in Florida.  From there I wrote for magazines.

From there I got married, had babies, got depressed and stopped writing.

Fast forward a few years and I began this blog here.

I was very fortunate this blog caught the eye of the editor of an online publication and from there, as they say, it's history.

Except add in a few more stops and starts along the way.

My writing is good. But my ability to self sabotage is even better!

My writing career hasn't been linear. There have been times I've paid my bills with writing. Other times I've paid my bills with an assortment of other jobs and didn't write at all. I continually strive for the balance between working to survive and writing to succeed.

My life, like my writing, is a work in progress.



This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

From Darkness To Light - Book Review

"I do what any thirty-year-old woman would do when told she is a guru. 
I start to cry."
From Darkness To Light
by Lindsey Lewis



From Darkness To Light, a new memoir/spiritual guide/inspirational book by Lindsey Lewis, could have been just another story of a yoga girl and her cliche journey to self discovery.

But, instead, it's lines like "I do what any thirty-year-old woman would do when told she is a guru. I start to cry," that set this book apart.

Lewis once led a life many of us only dream of: a professional writing job at a popular magazine, invitations to gallery openings and fancy new restaurants. But beneath the glamour,  Lewis knew she wanted more.

And she was willing to give everything she had up to find what that more was.

Of course she had to deal with anxiety and panic attacks, bad relationships and self doubt along the way. But on her path she also found teachers when she needed them and opportunities when she was ready for them.

Oh, and her yoga mat always near by.

From Darkness To Light is well written in a way that provides both hope and inspiration. Lewis's story is a great reminder to us all that when we get out of our own way and get quiet, we can find our own answers.






Friday, July 29, 2016

Just A Magical Memorable Thursday Night

You are a Great mom and I think u became a better mom when u became mom And dad !

I've decided that compliment means more to me than any other I've received lately.

Tonight was just a Thursday night. Like most other Thursday nights we've had the past couple years.

But then, something changed.

It started with Kid 5 asking to pick up his friend and go PokemonGo hunting. I, as usual, groaned and told him how tired I was. But then Kid 4, and this is the really weird part, said "oh come on, I'll drive and we'll just go out for a bit."

(Note: Kid 4 has her permit and looks for any excuse to drive. But to help her younger brother hunt Pokemon? No, never.)

While Kid 5 and his friend ran through the park hunting Pokemon, Kid 4 and I sat by the car and listened to 80's and 90's music: Black Eyed Peas, Backstreet Boys, old Gwen Stefani hits. We sat by the car and sang loud. We laughed louder. We even busted out a few dance moves.

Three fun-filled hours later I got this comment on one of my Facebook posts from the evening:

You are a Great mom and I think u became a better mom when u became mom And dad !

Wow. I had to think about that for a minute. And, I think she's right.

I think I did become a bit of a better mom when I took on the role of mom and dad.

After the dust settled from the divorce, and the kids accepted the new reality that they had a father who no longer wanted to be a part of their life, the burden of being mom and dad fell to me.

But with the burden came freedom as well. 

So much of the pressure was off. I was no longer afraid to upset my ex-husband or to make him mad. I no longer was constantly on guard for his next outburst or had to be hyper vigilant to make sure he didn't act out towards the kids.

Both me and the kids were free to finally be ourselves. We now had the freedom to laugh without the fear of angering him. 

At one point tonight, Kid 4 asked if I realized it was already 11:30. 

"Oh, shoot no I didn't. Hey have you heard of MC Hammer," I asked as I started singing along to Can't Touch This. 

We never would have felt comfortable enough to be hanging out in a local park at 11:30pm singing and catching Pokemon. We would have been too afraid of what we would come home to.

But now, yes I am mom and dad, and sometimes, often times, that is a heavy load to carry.

But there are also times, maybe I need to let there be more of these times, that it's a great blessing to be the parent who gets to enjoy my kids as well. 




Saturday, July 23, 2016

In Defense of Pokemon Go

No, I don't play Pokemon Go. But I'm really enjoying the game.

Yes, I can tell you where all the local PokeStops are and I can kind of explain what a squirtle is. I also am proud to report that Kid 5 "controls the gym" at Orgill Park.

If none of that sounds familiar to you, then I'm guessing you don't have children or haven't turned on the news these past few weeks.

Pokemon Go is all the rage with the kids these days. And by kids I'm including more than a few adults I know who are also playing the game.

I had a few errands to run this evening, and as has become the norm, those errands took about 20 minutes longer than they should have because I spent extra time driving around so Kid 5 can get to some extra PokeStops. As he was getting back in to my car  another car pulled in behind us with three young 20-something guys. They asked Kid 5 if he just took the gym.

"Yes!", he said. "Are you going to take it back now?"

These young guys told him no, they were going to let him keep the gym because they don't steal from kids.

Kid 5's smile was so big at that moment it made me smile too. And I was so impressed with the other guys that they let a younger kid "control a Pokemon gym" for just a little longer.

Yes, there is competition in Pokemon Go to level up, but there also seems to be a camaraderie among players. I've heard them tell each other where to go to find a rare Pokemon and share tips on the best PokeStops.

But the news doesn't show that stuff. More likely you've seen reports of kids walking into the street and getting hit by cars because they were too busy looking at their phones in search of Pokemon.  Or a few instances where players were robbed while playing Pokemon Go. There's even a video going around that shows a police car being sideswiped by another car. When the driver gets out to survey the damage, his first words to the cops are "that's what I get for playing this dumb ass game."

Sure, all those examples are bad. But kids have been running into the street chasing balls forever. Bad people are going to prey on the innocent no matter what. And distracted drivers are a menace whether it's Pokemon Go, texting or just simply not paying attention.

But, this game has done some really great things too.

Today I saw two different news stories about Pokemon Go. Children's hospitals across the nation are using the game to help children have a somewhat normal social life while confined to the hospital. And a nursing home is helping their elderly residents learn the game as a means of encouraging them to get up and walk around for exercise.

In my own home, I've experienced these near miracles:

  • Kid 1 brought his new girlfriend home to meet Kid 5 and they all went together to hunt Pokemon
  • Kid 3, who leaves for bootcamp in just a few days, has been spending extra time with Kid 5 willingly helping him find new Pokemon
  • Kid 3 has been letting Kid 6 use his phone to play Pokemon Go
  • This has all happened with NO FIGHTING amongst the siblings (the biggest miracle of all)
Even my normal errand running on the weekends has taken on a new meaning. I actually enjoy the extra time spent in the car listening to Kid 5 talk Pokemon. Just those few extra minutes and my willingness to take an alternate route home are all it takes for us to spend some time together and make him happy.

Kid 5 is too often the child who I am afraid is being left out. He's also the one that has had the hardest adjustment these past few years. 

So if a simple little game and a few extra minutes is all it takes for some happy, peaceful family time, then yes, I'm a fan of Pokemon Go.






Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hello? Is Anybody Still Reading? Am I Still Writing?

It's been just over a year since my first book was published. At first everything was so exciting!

Books were selling better than I had ever hoped for, I was being interviewed on television and having professional head shots made by a professional photographer ( no more selfies, this was the big time baby!)

Then, as was to be expected, the hype died down a bit. About once a month I was asked to do an interview or podcast. My monthly sales were erratic. Some months I'd sell a shockingly high number of books, other months I'd squeak by with one or two sales.

Now, to be sure I'm not being all negative, I have surpassed every sales goal I set for myself. I have reached audiences I never expected and had my essays published in big-time places like YAHOO! and Dr. Oz.

And, again to spotlight the positive, the money earned from book sales this past year is paying for a mini vacation for me and the kids this week. That's a very good positive!

It's been a good writing year!

But... it's been a slow past few months.

It started with taking on a temporary yet crappy overnight job which left me exhausted and in a perpetual bad mood. Finally I was offered more hours at my day job that I love and even though I gave up the crappy night job, my writing didn't pick up as much as I'd hoped.

A few interview possibilities I had hoped for fell through and a few pitches to other outlets were rejected.

So, basically, crickets.

I know this is normal. It is normal, right?

And I know the solution is to sit my butt down and get back to writing regularly. That is the solution, right?

And... I just looked and it's been a month since my last post.

OK, I need to shoo these crickets away and get busy again!




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Procrastination As A Writing Method

Early March 2016: I have the honor of being asked to contribute to another author's book. This author is also host of a popular radio show, so it's kind of a big deal.  She asks me to write anywhere from 2,000 - 6,000 words and gives me the general idea of her theme. The deadline is only two weeks away but I tell her I will do my best.

I don't come anywhere near to trying my best.

Late March 2016: I completely miss the deadline. I have some guilt about this but use the excuse I wasn't completely clear on what specifically she wanted me to write.

Mid April 2016: The author, who again has a much bigger audience than I do so it really would benefit me to have my writing linked to hers, gets in touch with me again to say she got her editors to extend the deadline for me. She really wants my work included. The new deadline is May 26.

I promise her I will get it done.

And I do nothing.

I jot down some notes.

I decide 2,000 - 6,000 words is too vague, too much, too general.

May 8, 2016: My Mother's Day present to myself is to sneak off to Starbucks for the afternoon with nothing but my laptop, a book and my new Starbucks gift card.
My muse finally joins me and I write and write and write! This feels great! I'm not a bad writer! I can do this!

May 13 - 22, 2016: I travel to Chicago for Kid 2's boot camp graduation, return home for Kid 3's high school graduation, host a graduation party, attend Kid 4 and 6's dance recital. Writing deadline looms over me, but I am legitimately busy.

Monday May 23, 2016: I'll finish writing it tomorrow.

Tuesday May 24, 2016: I explain to the kids I need writing time and will be closing my bedroom door to get some work done. For the next few hours I: scan Facebook, watch Grey's Anatomy on Netflix, scroll through pictures on my phone, check emails, scan Facebook again, check my bank balance. Finally sit down and write about 11pm. I complete the piece but decide to wait until morning for one last review before submitting it.

Wednesday May 25, 2016: Awaken 30 minutes earlier than I normally do to read what I wrote the night before, decide I am pleased with it, spell check it, and send it off.

With a full 24 hours before the deadline!

The procrastination method worked again!

But, why oh why can't I be one of those serious writers who has a daily quiet writing time, a dedicated writing office and never, ever stresses over a deadline?