as 2017 winds down.

autumn in norway

It’s been AGES, right? I say this so much. Then I secretly vow to be better at blogging…and then I fall off again. To be fair, I’ve been fairly busy, and I have so much to tell you!

Since my last post, well, if you followed me on instagram or twitter, you know that I was abroad for most of September. I got to travel with Jennifer, who is one of my very best friends and also my soul sister, and it was amazing. It’s been a month since I’ve been back and I still can’t form words. Not only did I get to eat great food, see beautiful sights, and meet amazing people, but I got to spend a month with Jennifer! Having long distance best friends is hard, so we pretty much crammed all of our girl time into those three and a half weeks.

Here are a few photo collages from the trip:

💕💕💕💕🐝🌼👯
(I stole this one from Jennifer)

Oh #copenhagen #denmark, I love you so so so much ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Well hello there Denmark! I certainly did not expect to love you so much!! ❤️ #Denmark #copenhagen #europe #travel

A wonderful day in #norway ☀️😍

I got back to Chicago and was immediately thrust back into full-time and freelance work. I worked some when I was abroad, but it was different, working in a hotel room in Italy or Denmark rather than my apartment in Chicago. There, I’d open the window and listen to the languages and the different sounds and it was so awesome. Here, Fi is still making stinky messes every 40 minutes or so. I don’t have much room to spread out like I want. They’re tearing down a building across the street and for a week straight, my entire building would shake while they were doing their work. Charlotte has grown a lot, and she is a very naughty kitten! I’m covered in scratches and bites. She’s not the little rag doll she was the first day she came home. She’s feisty and vocal and strong-minded. I’ve had to start using the squirt bottle on her. I hate doing it, but she’ll just keep being naughty otherwise. Sometimes it’s exhausting. But then she tires out and collapses on me, and holds on to me so tight, and all my exasperation with her evaporates.

Also during October, Aidan went to homecoming (I KNOW), I got a massage, I got all my watches fixed, I cleaned out a lot of clothes and things to donate, and I cleaned out the bathroom and threw out four bags of old shampoo and body washes and things. I did a panel at Windy City RWA with my fellow ChiYA bloggers. I kept up (mostly) with my Personal Power University class (don’t ask me about the homework I still have to turn in!). And Aidan popped in for a long weekend. It was cool spending time with my awesome kid. Adam’s parents also popped in for a bit, and that was cool.

The Fam

I also spent weeks trying to catch up and I think I’m *finally* there. It felt like my To-Do lists were growing even though I was steadily doing things. I haven’t been back to yoga, or barre (haha in years for this one), I barely got any new writing done. I interviewed for a job but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. That was a weird position to be in. So much is going on all the time…and the Day Job is busy. So it does seem like the list of things to do is never ending. So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I came home after my massage Saturday and slept for hours and hours. Got up, maybe had a snack, and then slept all night.

But now, it’s two minutes to midnight at the time of this typing. That means November is not only looming, but it’s HERE, and it will definitely be here when this post goes live. Every weekend through the end of the year is booked except one and I just hope I can sleep in at least two of them. Soon there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas and expectations and family and oh God. I can’t even think about it now.

Instead, I’m going to bed. Till next time!

Just me

back to the grind.

After 90 days that included major surgery, recovery from that surgery, author visits, writing, lots of Netflix and DVD bingeing, travel, a writing workshop, visits to family, signing with an agent!!, losing my sweet Helena, and freelance work, tomorrow I head back to Humana. The DayJob™ is back.

I have mixed feelings! On the one hand, it’ll be nice to make money again, and after what happened the past couple of weeks in/on Amazon, Anderson’s Bookshop, Target, Whole Foods, Sephora, The Disney Store, Memebox, Planner Chick Designs—you get the idea—this is a good thing. I have a few credit cards to pay off, I want to start saving big time again, and also buy fun stuff.

I’ll once again have some structure to my day, which I’m both sad and happy about. It’s a good thing to have structure, right? But also, I’ll have structure, and accountability, and expectations, and sometimes that is scary. It shouldn’t be. I’ve been doing this a long time. I know I’m sad about losing the ability to keep my own hours. My body naturally wakes up between 1030am-12noon, and I tend to stay up until 3 or 4am. That’s just how I work best, and going to bed early tonight for a 745am alarm is going to feel weird. I have some melatonin to help with that!

I plan to continue working from home the majority of the time, which will help. Except my kitty cat has turned the living room into his giant litter box. We took him to the vet, and since he is so old, we opted not to do the biopsy. Instead, I’ve switched his food. I want to get him on all prescription food, but I need to get a MedCard since the vet is always out of the stuff. In the meantime, I have him on single ingredient food–the expensive stuff from Petsmart. Money is no object when it comes to my remaining kitties. I couldn’t stand a loss so soon after Helena. Maybe I’m overcompensating, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

My brain is all over the place, apparently. Sorry, but not really. I will have to spend mornings cleaning up after Fi before I can begin working. I have puppy pads everywhere to help with the clean up. He’s old—nearly 18—so I can’t be too mad at him.

I’m finishing up the revisions for my agent (!!! This is still very thrilling to me !!!). I have a write-in this weekend at Rena’s place (YAY I get to see Rena!), so I plan to really buckle down and knock it all out. I told my agent I’d have my revisions to her by 4/17. So I have time… but this weekend I’ll be in a place to really focus. I’m excited!

But for now, I’m going to spend my last night of “freedom” eating fish and chips, watching the OC on DVD, and reading. I’m going to take a long bath, do a face mask, and get everything laid out tonight so I won’t be a mess in the morning. I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday, which means I have a weekend to look forward to right away!

Wish me luck!!

edging back to normal.

Sunshine girl!! #selfie #nofilter #lilrongal Happy Friday! 😊☀️

Hello all!

Just felt like making an update because that’s what you do, right?

I’m heading to the tail end of my recovery from surgery. I can still remember those first few weeks, when sneezing and coughing was torture, when I had to be so careful getting out of bed and walking, and when I had to take my narcotics and ibuprofen every 6 hours to keep the pain at bay.

These days, my sleeping schedule is still a hot mess. I’m slipping back into freelance work, but maintaining boundaries when it comes to that. I still spend a lot of time watching Netflix and YouTube, but that’s OK for now. Right?

Some stuff’s happened since I last posted. My emotions have stabilized; I’m no longer on the brink of tears for whatever reason (likely hormones). I’m still having the hot flashes though. That’s interesting, let me tell you. As I said, I’ve started doing some freelance work again. I’ve started going out. Not often. I go to my therapy appointment every week, and sometimes I go to get food or something. I had my first trip to Target early this week and it was fun! I found an entire aisle of face masks and I was like 😍!

Adam got into a car accident. He wasn’t at fault, but the other driver was unlicensed, uninsured, and he ran. The blue Prius was totalled. So now we have an orange Prius named BB-8. It’s cute. While at the dealership, I sat in an Alfa Romeo. Beautiful machine, but super uncomfortable to get in and out of for a shorty like me. Now the Fiat convertible was NICE. Super impractical, but I loved it.

I didn’t get it.

Obviously.

I had a write in with some of my ChiYA friends, and then Rena and I spent the rest of the day hanging out. I’m afraid I kept her up way too late, but she said it was worth it. I also went to Stephanie Garber’s book signing event at Anderson’s Bookshop and got to have lunch with bookish people beforehand. It was a nice, writing and book filled weekend, and I even got some words down! 👍🏼

The week after, I attended a bookish people reception at Becky Anderson’s (of Anderson Bookshps) home. I love going to those things. I love chatting with authors and booksellers and publishing professionals. I learn so much, and I often get to see old friends as well.

We had some unseasonably warm days, but winter is back full force. I suspect we’ll see some blizzards in April or something like that to make up for high 60s and low 70s in February.

Netflixing all the time. I’ve restarted Dance Academy twice! Now I am skipping to my favorite episodes. I started playing LEGO Harry Potter again. I’ve fallen behind on my reading because I keep rereading Harry Potter books. When I’m feeling funny about my own writing but really want to read, I dive in JK Rowling’s world because I know I’ll never come close to that.

I tried a marble black cherry gelato at Frost Gelato and now I’m craving it all the time. Too bad it’s so far away from where I live! I guess I’ll just have it again when I’m in Naperville next. It’s SOOO good. The perfect amount of sweet and cool and a touch of savory. It’s delicious.

I had lunch with my Humana boss and she seems excited for me to come back in April. The food was great, too. Berlitz contacted me about some work coming in at the end of March and lasting through May. I can see the road ahead and it’s a busy one, but I’m trying to focus only on the present and my recovery.

Honestly, this recovery and down time was VERY much needed. I’m excited to get the all-clears from my doctor so I can start yoga again, and barre and/or dance down the road. I haven’t had a bath in ages and I miss sitting and relaxing in the warm water. A too long shower still makes me feel faint these days. I’m eager for a spa day with a massage and a facial. I’m excited to travel to the writing workshop next month and I want to be clear so I can sit in the hot tubs!

But I’m also enjoying all the resting and relaxing. I mean honestly, the best time to be down from major surgery is during winter, right? Because it’s not like I’m going to many places anyway. I hope I’ll be up to a Disney World trip later this year (and I KNOW I still owe you pictures from my 2016 trip!), but I’ve also been so many times, and I take longer trips now, so I know I can take it easy and not push myself like I’ve done in the past.

I have mixed feelings about returning to real life though. Because that means cleaning the apartment. And putting away my laundry from several weeks ago. And going out more and being responsible and adulting and I don’t want to think about that yet!!!

But it’s coming. So I must be ready.

So yay, a boring life update. I know you love those. I just wanted you all to know I’m doing OK. And better every day.

Now if only the cats would USE THE LITTER BOXES instead of pooping anywhere and everywhere….. 😩

Till next time!

2017: brave, bold, free

New year, new you!
New start!
New everything!

…wait what?

2017 is going to be a weird year for me. I already know this. And somehow I’m looking forward to it. Aidan heads back to Ohio on January 2, which always makes me sad. I enjoy having him here so much. He’s smart and funny and one of my favorite people in the world ever.

January 6 is my last day at Humana for 90 days. There are some rules with their contracts that means I need to take a 90 day break before I start my next contract with them, and frankly, I’m OK with it. As I said before, I’m burning out and I’m looking forward to the time off.

The most important thing, though, is that I’m having a major surgery on January 10 and will need the time for recovery. So really, the timing for the contract waiting period is perfect. I will get the surgery, use the time off to recover, and then enjoy a few extra weeks of downtime—hopefully deep into writing my next novel—before working 9–5 again. I’ve saved a lot of money, and one of my clients said they’d have work for me when I’m ready, so I’ll be OK.

Once I’m over that milestone and firmly on the road to recovery, I’m looking forward to the following in 2017:

Writing a new book. I’ve been brainstorming and making notes, and my character finally has a name I think… but I’m going to hold off until the story is ready to burst out of me and I’m in the position to really focus on it without dealing with too much pain and brain fog.

Writing more boldly and unapologetically. Taking risks. Trying new things. I really want to write beautiful books that hook readers and won’t let go of them, and I want to affect readers all over the world with my words. The only way to do that is to push through the fear, stop holding back, and write from my heart. It’s important.

Attending the Writing Cross-Culturally workshop, and learning more about the craft, spending time with my bestie Rena, and meeting and spending time with some of my most favorite authors ever. It’s going to be amazing and I’m so excited. (I will rest and recover and follow all directions so I can be up for the trip—it’s 7 weeks after my surgery.)

Traveling to visit friends. Jennifer has invited me to LA, and I have other friends out in LA who I want to visit and spend time with, so that is definitely on the docket for 2017. I’m still dreaming of visiting Ivy in Florida someday as well, and my friend S. Abdul has been trying to get me to MN for years now. Maybe 2017 will *finally* be the year it happens!

Working less, enjoying life more. I am forever grateful for all the work that comes to me. It’s given me the opportunity to do so many cool things and to be generous to those I love. I never want to lose that, and I definitely don’t want to repeat 2006–2007 financially. Ever. But I also know that I burned myself out, and I got frustrated and angry at all the working I did with barely taking time for me other than silly internet/iPhone games and Netflix. I need to figure out a better balance so I’m still doing well financially, but not out of my mind with exhaustion.

Reading more books! I have a huge stack in my TBR pile for while I am recovering and I’m so looking forward to getting my ‘read’ list back up there. I used to read more than 100 new books in a year, so this 26? I don’t like it one bit.

(Hopefully) visiting another country! The writing retreat this year is in Wales, so I might go there. Or I might go somewhere else. I do love the UK so much though, and there are friends at the retreat who I really want to see again. So we’ll see!

Getting back into shape. My doctor said that after my surgery, I will have a flat stomach. I hope she’s right! But at any rate, I really want to get back into my yoga practice, I miss barre a LOT (but the mere thought of barre makes me breathless right now), and I’d love to take a few dance classes. But I’ll start slow. I’m just ready to be back, you know?

More meaningful connection with those I love. I want to start sending handwritten letters again, sending surprise packages, and sending long emails to those very far away. Twitter is fun and all, but I want a more visceral connection. Which is tricky for this introvert who gets insecure all the time, but I need it. Maybe I’ll even *gulp* pick up the phone sometime. (But maybe just to text.)

More meaningful connection to me. This means less screen time and social media and more journaling, reflection, continuing therapy, working hard in my Self Love Workbook, and taking time to breathe and manifest good things in my life.

Working on my handwriting. I want pretty handwriting! Or at least funky, cute, and/or unique, but still legible. I know, such a weird thing to focus on but whatever. It’s fun. Also, I need to get used to writing longhand again. My wrists are so weak now and I need to fix it. Handwriting is visceral and helps me process things in a much different way than typing.

Being brave and bold with my writing, with my intentions, with my voice.

I have ~dreams~ for 2017 as well, but I’m not totally in control of those. All I can do is keep working hard and improving my craft and praying for the stars to align for me. So I will keep doing that.

Here’s to an amazing year!

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