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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful

I've never been one to spend a whole lot of time counting my blessings. It's so much simpler to complain about hardships than to stop and remember that there are good things happening in my life, too. Maybe it's because when you (when I) acknowledge all of those things that're good in my life, it becomes harder to see or complain about the bad or hard things.
But, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving (let's not talk about its origins, okay, that bums me out) because it gives me the perfect excuse to talk about those things I don't usually see, or believe, or acknowledge as blessings.

So this year, I'm thankful that...
My mom is cancer free: This has to be the thing I'm most thankful for this year. My mom was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma early this summer and, thank the Lord, they caught it early enough that it was small. She had surgery, had radiation, and is now cancer free! I love you, mom.

I've finally grown brave enough to seek therapy: After years of doubt and worry, I finally started getting therapy in May. It's helped me so much, I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner. My therapist is a wonderful lady, who I like, and who challenges me to see myself as I really am.

I'm married to the most amazing, inspiring, accepting man: I love you, Matt. Thank you for all you do for me and for us. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. You truly are my hero.

That amazing man got a great promotion this year:Yes! He was promoted to leadership at the company where he works. This is big, and it's meant he's busier, but he loves it so much it's hard not to be happy even when he's working long hours.

I got into a Ph.D Program this year: I was accepted into TWU's Ph.D program for Rhetoric. A great honor not everyone gets and I was hugely honored to be among those granted acceptance.

I was brave enough to know it was right for me to go back to school: This was a pretty big deal. I thought it was the right decision, but after they accepted me I realized I couldn't go. First, I don't have enough financial aid left to finish it. But really, the biggest reason was that I wasn't doing it for the right reasons. So, I made the difficult decision to sit it out. I'm so thankful that I did, and for the support of everyone around me.

I'm warm, safe, and comfortable when so many people in the world aren't: I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I'm in a good place with my marriage, I've graduated with my MA, my life is really good. I don't have a job outside the house, but otherwise, I'm in a good place.

I'm able to work full-time doing the thing I love most, writing: Hopefully, something will come of it. I've been working away over here, with several projects more than half done. Let's hope for a published book in 2015!

When I look at everything and I realize how lucky I am, it really hits me that all of the problems I have (none of which are coming to me right now, after all that thankfulness) are seriously first world problems. I'm healthy (even though I'm overweight), I have a strong marriage, my dogs are healthy and happy, I managed to make it to 36 without incident. I'm in a good place, I have much to be thankful for. I hope you do too.

So tomorrow for Thanksgiving, Matt and I are staying home and sharing the day together. My family is 1,500 miles away and Matt had to work a lot this week so we're not going to see his family or our friends in Waco. Instead, we'll have a nice meal at home together. But just because it's just us doesn't mean I don't go all out. I'm making a ham, green bean casserole, hash-brown casserole (per request), stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pie. We'll have a lot of left overs, as always, but that'll feed us for days afterward! Thankfully, I won't have to do much cooking this weekend.

Wherever you are, what ever you're doing this year, I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. Please take a moment to think of those less fortunate and to count your blessings, whatever they may be.  Happy Thanksgiving!

image via: Lil' Luna

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Busy November: NaNoWriMo, Warlords of Draenor, et al.

Well, hell. So, November has been our busiest of the year, I think. So much is going on, not the least of which is that Blizzard decided to crash NaNoWriMo with the release of the Warlords of Draenor expac. Why they had to do this, I have no idea. October 13th or December 13th and it would have been fine, but they picked November 13th! So, I'm now trying to figure out how I'm going to work and play Warlords, and be productive, and right now it's not looking pretty.

Will I keep doing it? Yup. I am finishing NaNoWriMo this year if it kills me--especially since I'm so happy with the project I'm working on right now. Since Warlords is so laggy right now, being productive may be just as easily said as done. I'm currently waiting for my server to come back up and have a 20 minute wait. There are 1,200 people ahead of me in the queue. It's easy to see how I could be using this time to do something productive.

Instead, I'm using it for blogging. Which is, if I'm being honest, procrastination. I enjoy it, but I could be writing. Could being the operative word, right there.

But NaNoWriMo and Warlords of Draenor aren't the only things going on this month. Matt broke his foot, so there were doctor appoints. There's therapy. Matt is going to a scotch tasting/class thing in Fort Worth tomorrow night and I'm going to tag along, maybe get some Christmas shopping in while he enjoys his scotch. Next week, we're going to Dallas House of Blues for a Suicide Girls burlesque show--I got Matt tickets as part of his birthday present last month. Thanksgiving is coming up.

On top of all of that, Matt has worked 18 or the last 19 days. Oh, and did I mention he's averaging 10 hours a day? Yeah, he's busy and thank God that he loves his job, because it would be a lot if he hated it. We're blessed in that, at least.

So, like everyone else, we're super busy right now. I'm still writing, I'm sitting at a little over 21,000 words toward my 50,000 word goal. That means, sadly, that I'm actually behind. I think, though, that I can catch up. I'm looking forward to finding out. For now, though, I'm going to go see where I am in the queue and try to get back onto Warlords. It's release day, so I'm thinking if they fixed some of the bugs I may just play today and get some writing done... erm, later. Yeah, later. ;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day... Please Vote!!

Today in midterm election day in the US. If you're registered (and I hope everyone over the age of 18 is registered) please exercise your constitutional right and vote. Even if you live somewhere that's been heavily redistricted, even if you feel like your vote doesn't really matter because you're the minority party in your state. Vote anyway.

Here in Texas we've recently become subject to some pretty ugly, discriminatory voter ID laws. It's a system I don't agree with, for many reasons, but mostly because it discourages and/or prevents minority voters from casting their ballots.

So please, if you're able and willing, go and cast your ballot if you can. Many people died, including many women not that long ago, so we could do just that. It only takes about 20 minutes (at least that's what it took here this morning). You do have a say in who controls your government, all you have to do is choose to exercise your right to do so.

This soapbox has been brought to you by the letters V, O, T, & E! ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Writing & NaNoWriMo

So, I haven't been talking much about it and there's not a word count meter anywhere--because, you know, self-sabotage--but I've been writing regularly for the first time in... well, probably ever. At least since I finished my masters thesis. I'm actually working, at least part time, writing. Which is a dream come true, really, but can also be pretty daunting and exhausting.

I mean, anyone who writes knows one of the first obstacle is always self-doubt, at least it is for me. I worry that my ideas suck, that my plots are transparent, my characters stiff or flat, my writing stilted. I'm my own worst critic. So, trying to do this with regularity is an exercise in getting out of my own way.

But you know what? I am doing it. I'm letting myself write. I'm managing to tell myself to shut the hell up when I have doubts and just write. And it feels so amazing.

It also feels very much like I'm being stung by 1000 bees in the place where my anxiety lives. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but that's the best I can do. Writing regularly is making me feel pretty anxious that, maybe, I'm doing something stupid and wasting time. That I should be working for someone else during those hours when I'm writing.

But, I'm not going to give in to that little voice trying to tell me I suck. I'm not going to let my anxiety consume me on this one thing. It can have everything else, this is mine.

So, since I have been writing regularly, I decided that this year I'm also going to do NaNoWriMo again. And, I'm going to win it. Which I say all the time, but this year stand a reasonable chance to succeed at because writing is starting to become a habit. It's starting to be what I do.

I started something new, as is the tradition for NaNoWriMo--and because what I've been working on feels a bit like bashing my head against a brick wall--and so far it's going well. Today is day three, I didn't work at all on day one, and I'm still at about 7,250 words. That's pretty damn good for three days work.

And best of all, I'm pretty proud of what I'm working on. Which, I'm not going to be able to tell you about. I told Matt (quite against my better judgment) and he launched into a very long explanation about how I could change this, change that, make this and that better. He almost derailed me with his "ideas." Some of which, I might take, others not so much.

Now, I just have to keep on keeping on. Keep on staying out of my way. But, I'm doing it so far. I'm working at a steady pace on a good project. I'm energized and feel like I'm finally in the right place at the right time. Thank the Lord for a supportive man who believes in me more than I believe in myself... even when he does try to derail me with his ideas.

I'm finally doing the one thing I've always wanted to do but didn't have the time, drive, or courage to keep up with. I'm writing!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Irrational & Improbable

I have always been a little bit prone to fits of... let's call it imagination. In addition to having the same dream since I was five years old (so, let's see, 31 years now), I tend to worry overmuch about things that're either completely irrational or which I cannot possibly begin to control. Rather than those things being small or tangential they tend to be pretty serious.

Sometime during my teen years, I began to worry over and fear axe murderers. More than that, I was completely consumed with a fascination about them, even though I could freely acknowledge that I was horribly afraid I'd be axe murdered--and, frankly, still am. Though it makes no sense, I'm captivated with stories about such people as Lizzie Borden or situations as the Villisca Axe Murderers. While most people are afraid to drown or be burned to death, my greatest fear about dying unnaturally revolves around being chopped up with a hatchet.

For a while, the fear was so extreme that I couldn't even watch movies where this sort of scenario plays out. Matt once tricked me into watching a cheesy Sylvester Stallone action flick, Cobra, about a cop surviving and tracking down an axe murdering cult. For days, I was plagued with dreams about being hacked up while I was still alive.

Even now, at night, when I'm laying in my bed alone listening to the house settle I worry about this completely improbable scenario. While I should be worrying about being robbed, raped, or shot to death, I'm worrying that someone with an axe might break in and chop me up. There's just something so visceral about the idea of being hacked at, over and over, with a sharp (or not so sharp) tool that makes my skin crawl. A scenario my somewhat vivid imagination plays through with or without my consent.

It's ridiculous, and fascinating, and my friends sometimes take the opportunity to poke fun at this particularly foolish quirk. Even Matt finds humor in it, though he understands how serious a problem this really is for me. Perhaps making light of it will make it better, but it doesn't seem to work. Not really. And the truth is that even I can find humor in the absurdity of the idea. That doesn't make it less a fear. Still, everyone agrees that the probability of me, or anyone else, being axe killed in the USA in the 21st century is slim.

So this morning, while browsing my Facebook feed, I was particularly horrified to learn that some nut job a man attacked several cops in Queens with a hatchet. Every single fear I have about being axe murdered came screaming back into my conscious mind. The attacked cops were both hurt, the one struck in the head still in critical condition, and the hatchet wielding attacker is dead. While this man could hardly be considered an axe murderer, the act of attacking someone with an axe is nonetheless too terrible.

It's always this way with my fears and anxieties. When I begin to believe these scenarios are improbable and, therefore, so too are others of my anxieties when something happens to prove my irrational fears rational. Every single time this happens all of my fears are renewed. Everything comes back and are not only renewed but fortified. I'm starting to understand, and perhaps accept, that these sorts of anxieties will always be a part of my life. They're not actually going anywhere, even as I try to master them.

At this point, I just hope self-fulfilling prophesy isn't a real thing--or at least doesn't act on these sorts of improbabilities. Otherwise, I'm in some pretty serious trouble.