Stress Relief

I’m working my way through some tough depression, stress, and anxiety. Right now, I have a lot of triggers: my career choice (thanks to my father), some OCD-type things, and a number of PTSD-related issues.

Usually, I get so wound up after getting triggered that I can’t do anything. I sit staring at a wall, not doing a thing. And that’s all I’m capable of.

To try to get past that, I’m focusing small, working on one thing at a time. The first thing I’m trying is to work on my career issues. The root of the issue is huge, but can be summed up as: my father wanted me in a technical career, which is where I am. While I enjoy what I do now, I had always planned on being a writer (novelist, journalist, etc.) and an editor.

One thing I’ve realized recently is that I’ve spent too long listening to that voice of my father saying, “Writing isn’t good enough.” And waiting for someone else to come along and tell me that it is good enough. Others have told me that writing is good, that I’m a good writer, but none of it has made a difference.

So I need to change myself. I can’t rely on others to do it for me.

Today, I spent some time getting my computers situated. Rather than going with a “simple” set up of having everything on one computer, I’ve now separated things out: I have one computer that is dedicated to my WordPress development work, and another that is devoted to writing and editing. My personal computer doesn’t have any of the data or apps I’d need for work, so it eliminates the usual temptation I have when I sit down to write to, instead, do something for work.

Now I can truly take a computer, with the tools I need, and sit down to write. I’ve dropped my social networking profiles, which has saved me a lot of time already. With this additional change, I feel good. I feel like I’ll get more writing done.

Hell, I’ve already written an almost 400-word blog post, which I normally don’t do.

Managing the Things I Need To Do

I’ve always been bad at managing the things I need to do. I’m a procrastinator; always was in school and still am, to a lesser degree (getting married and having kids have made me grow out of it a little). One of the things I find, though, is that being depressed and going through counseling for all my childhood traumas is enhancing the procrastinator in me. I find it difficult to keep track of things; I have memory issues (sometimes severe ones) and I get blocked easily if I’m having a bad day.

This post isn’t to talk about all of that, though.

I’m trying a new technique.

I’ve tried all of the to-do apps on the market. They all have some great features, some bad. And that’s the issue that I have with them all: they are feature-rich. For me, I don’t need a feature-rich app. I just want something simple that I can write things down, sync it between my devices, and check things off as I get them done.

For me, I’m trying this: I’m using Apple’s Reminders app (it’s simple and it syncs) and a standard 8″ x 11″ yellow legal pad. The Reminders app contains the headlines of what I need to do. The yellow pad contains the broken down lists of each step that needs to be completed per headline.

The other things I’m trying is to pick three, and only three, things that I absolutely must accomplish for a day. On my legal pad, I write down today’s date (and tomorrow’s, and the next day’s, if I have enough stuff to plan those days), then I put down the three things that I want to get done. That doesn’t mean I can’t do other things; just that those three things are what I want to get done to call my day a success.

I’ll see how it goes. Definitely a low-tech, less-features way of doing it.

Taking the Bull by the Horns Might Get You Gored

But sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.

I’ve been on the fence about writing for awhile now. Lots of backstory (read: I have issues, some of the same as any writer (Dad says writing “isn’t a career” and was generally unsupportive), some that go a bit  deeper into the psyche).

In any case, I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection and work with a therapist over the last several years. Finally, I’m at a point where I can handle all the voices in my head well enough to tell them to take a hike.

I’m lining up some writing projects for myself:

  • A couple of articles for WordPress developers (likely applicable to generalists too). One on project management, one on an undecided topic.
  • A couple of book reviews (one on the first two books of Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series, another on an ARC of Jon Sprunk’s new book).
  • A short story that’s been burbling in my head off and on for four years. Writing and sending it as my application to Viable Paradise.
  • General writing goal of doing some writing every day.

My Only Resolution

The popular thing to do at this time of year is New Year’s Resolution lists. I’ve done them before and never really found them effective. However, 2014 is a little different for me.

Twenty years ago, I lost my mother to cancer. I was eleven years old.

I’ve always told myself that I don’t remember much about her. That I’d forgotten.

Well, that isn’t quite true. I blocked a lot of my childhood away for a lot of different reasons.

So, on to resolutions and my one and only this year:

I’m making a resolution to write more about my mom, here on my blog, and share the memories I have of her. My one and only goal is to help more memories surface in my brain and to create a record that my daughters may some day read.

New Site

I’m working on a new web site and had some inspiration last night (my insomnia kicked in, then my brain filled up the time generating ideas). I’ve got quite a bit done on it; it’s WordPress-based, several custom post types, still needs a few more extras and some theme work to finish.

I’m hoping to have something together by mid to late August.

I also got to thinking about starting a hosted WordPress network for writers. A lot of these things exist in other capacities, so I’m not sure how much interest there would be in it.

Maintaining an Active Blog

What’s the trick behind maintaining an active blog?

Writing.

I have a hard time with this for a number of reasons. Rather than going into that, here’s my plan for getting this blog off the ground and giving it fresh content daily.

  1. Book reviews – I’m volunteering with Strange Horizons as a web master and US contact manager. I get to see a number of the upcoming releases, and potentially read/review some of them. I also read a lot on my own (eight to ten books a month, usually). Rather than just reading and shelving the books, I’m going to start writing my thoughts of them down here to share.
  2. WordPress goodies – I’m a WordPress developer by trade and have a lot of nuggets packed away in my head. I’m an autodidact, so I have a lot to share with how I got from being a run-of-the-mill English major to a software developer at a leading start-up company, Automattic.
  3. Personal writing – I’m college-trained as a writer and editor, and have rarely used the skills, despite it being a large part of my self-identity. I’m going to start going through my writing archives, pulling and re-writing pieces, and posting them here. I’d also like to get involved more with editing, so if anyone reading this has opportunities (doesn’t have to be paid), please contact me via the Contact link.

Three steps. The last key ingredient for this to work is to write every day. No matter what it is or how long it is, I must publish something here every day.

Family, Cooking, a Chili Recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more is cooking at home. I used to use my pain disorder as an excuse to not cook, and since I’m the primary cook in the house, that would mean we would end up ordering or eating out often.

As you may imagine, this can be expensive, in both financial and health ways.

Over the last few months, we’ve been eating in, at home, and experimenting with different recipes to find a variety of things that we like. And, not only are we finding awesome, cheap things, that we like to eat, but we are all healthier. Both Caroline and I are losing weight and we get to spend more time as a family around the dinner table.

Long story short, I want to share one of our favorite recipes with you. This is my slow cooker chili recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups tomato juice
15 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
27 ounce can dark red kidney beans
26.5 ounce can black beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

Sauté onion and green pepper in skillet for 2 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and cook until browned.

Mix all ingredients in 4 or 6 quart crock pot.

Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it!

Karma

Do you believe in karma?

I do.

One year ago, I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. I did and while I was there, Caroline and the girls came down with severe cases of the stomach flu.

Caroline is right now in Hawaii, likely sleeping off the timezone changes. I had the pleasure of waking up to my eldest daughter having had a bad case of diarrhea in her sleep (mess doesn’t even begin to describe the result).

Fingers are crossed and I’m knocking on wood that this is as far as the karmic wheel turns for me. I GET IT!

Ugh…