On Being Quiet

I’ve been so very quiet lately. No blog posts. Barely any social media. You might almost think that I swore off the internet (I didn’t).

So what’s up?

A little alien took up residence in my belly. Aka, I’m pregnant.

It happened some time in November, and at first, my silence was the whole twelve week clause. You know, that whole don’t tell anyone that you’re expecting before the twelve week mark in case something goes wrong.

I couldn’t figure out how to engage in the internet conversation without blurting out, I’M HAVING A BABY.

Obviously, I wouldn’t have done well as a Sydney Bristow super spy.

So, I shut up. I told my family and close friends, and I stayed the hell away from the internet microphone.

Then we passed the twelve week mark. My nausea started to ease up. I was less of a zombie. I stopped calling my baby a parasite and starting affectionately referring to him as my Peanut. (It’s a him, by the way.)

But, I stayed quiet.

Being pregnant…becoming a mama…it’s such a huge part of my life. Yet, I get hives thinking about posting my thoughts about it.

Why?

Well, the internet has a lot of a mama-bashing. Frankly, I don’t even want to get mixed up in that. I have mad respect for the mamas (and papas!) out there who are sharing a peek into their world of parenting. I can’t get enough of bloggers like And Kathleen and her recent posts about being a new parent.

I just recognize that I’m not one of those people. I don’t want to enter a conversation where I know that my opinions and choices are likely to have haters. Because oh my goodness, have you seen the internet lately when it comes to the topic of parenting? There are SO MANY haters.

It may seem like a cowardly move, but it’s self protection. I don’t have a thick skin, and I don’t really care to try and grow one by getting blistered on internet for my choices as a parent and developing calluses.

Besides avoiding the whole parenting technique conversation, I also value my Peanut’s privacy.

The internet became a thing while I was alive. I had the unique opportunity to dip my toes into the water with AOL instant messenger and one computer with internet access that used the landline for dial up (read: I couldn’t spend all day on it). I went to middle school before internet bullying was even a term, and I started college when Facebook was still only for students.

I grew into this world of widespread, 24/7 connectivity. I was able to learn the pitfalls on a still relatively small scale.

Peanut isn’t going to have the same luxury.

So, I value the little bits of privacy that I can offer him. I’m not planning on posting a bunch of pictures for public consumption, and I won’t be using this blog to tell stories about the funny things he says at the dinner table.

I want to give him the power to decide what he wants to share about himself and his life, and that decision is more than a few years away from now.

So, I’ve been quiet.

I’ve been trying to sort out what I do want to write about if I take one of the biggest pieces of my life out of the idea pot.

I promise I won’t be quiet forever. I have so many ideas still jumping around in there bumping into one another. This blog, my presence on the internet, is anything but over.

Quiet is not a permanent state. Just a temporary frame of mind.

A Beautiful Life

I just got lost in Pinterest last night. It happens fairly often. I’m an extremely visual person, so the site makes my brain practically explode in glitter and rainbows.

But, it goes deeper than a visual level. I look at my boards – at what I pin – and I see this beautiful life that I dream of. Of outfits that make me smile (and the banishment of ever walking into my closet and thinking “ugh, I have nothing to in here that looks like how I want to feel right now”). Pictures of a family where I’ve captured their happiness in spectacular light. Ohmygosh, and the house. That ridiculous dream house where every single thing has an aesthetically pleasing home (instead of being shoved in a corner underneath the bathroom sink).

For a long time, I’ve thought of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard of what I want to have, and last night, a slow awareness finally clicked into place. I realized that it’s so much more about the life I want to have.

I know, that probably sounds crazy. They sound like the same thing.

But, they are most definitely not.

Yes, I want to have a perfectly crafted wardrobe, family photo album, and house filled with DIYs that actually turned out the way you wanted them to. That’s surface level though.

What I really want is to feel the way those photos make me feel and live a life that matches the way I imagine those scenes taking place in real time.

I want to go for a walk underneath leaves that are every imaginable shade of yellow, orange, and red. I want to stop and pause to stare in wonder and to breath that beautiful season in.


 
I want to twist in silence into a glorious yoga pose and to feel whole. Without a to do list running through my head or the worry of if my abs are the proper amount of sore so that I feel like this work out was worthwhile.


 
I want to walk into my closet and put on an outfit that makes me feel radiant. An outfit that makes me smile all day because I feel how I look on the outside matches how I feel on the inside.


 
I want to cook a meal that I take time and effort to prepare, and I want to sit down to eat that beautifully, carefully prepared meal slowly and intentionally. Without rushing through to whatever comes next on the agenda.


 
I want to decorate a home that melds simplicity, beauty, and plain old comfy. Where we only keep what we need. Wouldn’t that be exquisite? To have all the things that you really need – the things that bring you beauty or function – and giving up that physical and mental space that the other things swallow up?


 
I want to grow old with The Mister and show up every day of every year deliberately appreciating the life that we are crafting together. And dancing for absolutely no reason along the way.


 
I want to take those words of wisdom to heart and to feel like I am an active participant in my life every single day. Like I am making a difference in my own world and the world of others.


 

I want that feeling of sepia tones. Which is kind of hard to put your finger on, but I think is some blend of wonder, nostalgia, and stillness. I mean, some feeling draws us into photos like this.


 
I want to feel like that.

I think it’s pretty incredible that by visually capturing the way I want to feel in my life that Pinterest has created a visual look book of how I want to lead my life. It’s a reminder to slow down and savor life. To keep getting rid of the things in my life that don’t add value (they’re just things after all). To appreciate my family with hugs, kisses, and plenty of quality time. And to show up with joy and a moment of a pause to appreciate the life I am living. At this very moment.

On Life: Nov 8th 2013 Edition

I’m searching for…the perfect leggings and long, comfy sweater. AKA the work from home uniform.

I’m obsessed with…my new iMac named Tony Stark. He’s flashy, brilliant, and a work of technological genius. I’m in computer love. It was a birthday gift from The Mister to replace my dying laptop named Xavier. Yes, I am totally aware that I am a superhero loving nerd.

Welcome home, Tony Stark.

Welcome home, Tony Stark.

 

I’m grateful for…word sprints. I’d never used them to write before, but they are magical. Oddly enough, there’s a difference between the output from writing for twenty minutes and setting a timer to write for twenty minutes. I am a newly converted word sprints believer.

I’m readingReconstructing Amelia for my neighborhood book club. Aww, my neighborhood has a book club. Yeah, that whole Seattle Freeze thing…it doesn’t exist in North Carolina.

I’m excited for…The Mister to come home tonight. He’s been on location for his first week at his new job. It’s the first week we’ve spent apart since this past Spring, and it only confirmed how much I am totally not at all sick of him yet.

I’m listening toSummertime Sadness Remix [Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais] on repeat. When I wrote out the plot for the book I’m writing during NaNoWriMo, I set each scene to music. I listen to it when I need to get lost in the surroundings of what I’m writing. This particular song is related to the climax of the plot, and I keep listening to it and getting goosebumps.

I’m going to…see Thor 2 this weekend. See note above about being a superhero loving nerd.

I’m dreaming of…a snowy December. I LOVE that North Carolina is sunny and warm this time of year, but I can’t help but secretly wish for snow to go with my twinkly lights, Christmas playlist, and hot cocoa.

I’m hoping for…this book I’m writing to not be a complete piece of crap. Sometimes when I finish my daily word count, I worry that my characters are totally unlikeable and that my writing is utterly lame. Sometimes though, I finish a section of dialogue or dive a little deeper into what drives my characters and I see a gemstone tucked in there. Crossing my fingers that it’s more rubies and emeralds than worthless dirt.

I recently bookmarkedthis vacation rental near Boone, NC. Um, yes please.

My favorite pin this week wasthis extraordinarily beautiful quote:

Soul Mates

I don’t know how you are so familiar to me—or why it feels less like I am getting to know you and more as though I am remembering who you are. How every smile, every whisper brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I have known you before, I have loved you before—in another time, a different place, some other existence.

I’m admiring…the kids on MasterChef Junior. It amazes me how inventive and fearless they are with only a handful of years of experience. It makes me want to go grab ridiculous things I’ve never thought to cook with at the grocery store…and to encourage my someday children to cook. Umm, teaching children how to be amazing cooks, best idea ever?

I can’t go without…mornings spent at my window seat journaling. I had gotten into a nasty habit of drinking my morning coffee in front of the computer. I would get sucked into the internet and not surface for hours. Journaling wakes my mind up just as gently, and I end up getting more done afterwards.

I want to learn…more about my DNA. I sent in my sample to 23andMe over a week ago, and I’m excited to learn more about my health and ancestry. Yay for affordable science!

I love…Jennifer Lawrence’s new haircut. Okay, I have a mad girl crush on her anyway. Girl is hilarious and wicked talented.

A Year Later – My One Year Blogiversary

Yesterday was my one year blog-iversary. I realized it was coming up, but my initial reaction…well, it was anything but celebratory.

It went something like, “Who cares that I’ve been living in this corner of the internet for a year. I mean, I didn’t even post regularly that whole time. Geez, I was completely silent for three months this summer.

I can stare at a pile of what I didn’t do all day. I didn’t finish my first NaNoWriMo attempt (there will be attempt number two starting this Friday). I didn’t finish the book after NaNoWriMo was over (shelved for an indefinite amount of time). Hell, I didn’t even get to my character outlines like I planned to today.

I expect so damn much of myself that I look past the attempt and straight on to the failure.

Which is pretty lame if you ask the rational side of my brain.

This has been a big year. Okay. Ginormous might be a better description. I may have failed to cross off a few things on my to do list along the way, but those are the tiny little pixels of my life.

The big picture is that I am MORE myself today than I was one year ago.

Last year, I was an eerily hollow version of myself. I had lost my excitement and enthusiasm – which is just as much my signature as anything I sign to a piece of paper.

And then on October 29th, I started to write.

It. Felt. Like. Pure. Joy.

Something that I had enjoyed doing from time to time turned into a lifeline.

I put down that depressing life vision of being a project manager forever and ever. (Thank goodness.) And I picked up the crazy idea that I could build my life around being a novelist.

Piece by piece, breath by breath, I turned that into reality.

It’s pretty amazing that a year later, I’m doing something that makes me love waking up for Monday mornings. But, the best part is the person who is waking up for those Monday mornings.

Because, let me tell you, she’s the bomb dot com.

So, thank you for reading (and from time to time saying “hey, I liked your blog post”). It may not have seemed like a very big deal to you, but every interaction gave me a little more courage to pursue this crazy dream.

And that’s definitely something to celebrate.

It’s Not Just Telepretending Anymore

I’m not new to the work from home party. I’ve had a job where working from home was frowned upon. I’ve had a job where 90% of my time was working from home. I’ve also had a job where there was nearly always at least one person from the team working from home that day.

But this? Working from home as a novelist? Yeah, it’s a entirely new data point in my set of experiences.

I don’t have a manager who cares about my progress. I don’t have to be available on chat for colleagues. I don’t even have a detailed job description. Or a regular paycheck.

Okay, or a paycheck at all.

This level of autonomy is completely foreign to me. So, I’m really glad that I have years of practice to use as my phone a friend lifeline.

PJs are not your friend.
Everyone and their dog lists off working in their PJs as one of the perks of a work from home lifestyle. I’ll admit, it sounds pretty awesome to walk your two second commute in your comfy flannels.

Enjoy it for a week, and then knock this habit to the curb.

Wake up, and change OUT of your pajamas. Unless you sleep nude. In that case, cover that naked butt of yours. Your desk chair will thank you.

The simple act of putting on different clothes – habitually – sets the standard for your brain to click into work mode. It’ll be easier to start your day if your brain isn’t still hanging out back in bed.

And hey, no one said your different clothes couldn’t be of the lounge wear variety.

Find your reset button.
Some days, you barely blink, and it’s already noon. Don’t ask me how it happens. It’s one of those weird time warp voodoo situations.

Productivity is a fickle friend. When you’re jamming, it’s all rainbows and butterflies in friendship land. But when you really need him to help you out, it’s hard to even locate the jerk.

You can sit at your computer and bang your head against the desk all you want, but this rarely gets his attention. Make it a top priority to figure out what will get him to show up.

My personal productivity reset button is sitting upstairs on my window seat and journaling. Once I’ve hit my stride in writing about something completely non-work-related, I switch notebooks and work on brainstorming about what I do need to work on. A blog post, a character sketch, a chapter intro. Once, I’ve found my groove, then I head back down to my desk to find Productivity chillin’ out like he never even left.

Maybe your reset is taking a walk outside, pacing the room while talking out loud, picking up a sketch pad, or doing a headstand.

Don’t go all super saver on your work station.
Trust me, I am all for coupons, sales, and seeking out the lowest price. When it comes to perfecting your desk setup, this is not the time to save a pretty penny.

Find a chair you REALLY can sit in for eight hours a day. If you have a laptop, think about getting a computer screen, a separate keyboard, and an actual mouse. This is not the time to imitate Quasimodo. Get knowledgable about ergonomics, and be willing to spend the money to level up your set up. (Pro tip, if you’re short, there are these magical things called foot stands. Look up and thank me later.)

Make it beautiful…except for where you glue your butt down.
When your work area is visually appealing, you’re more likely to sit down at your desk instead of getting sidetracked by the dirty dishes in the sink. (Yes, doing the dishes really is that much more attractive of a chore when you work from home.)

The one very large exception that I have to the make it beautiful rule, is when it comes to your chair.

I have yet to find a truly attractive chair that supports my back and is the perfect height for keeping that 90 degree angle in my arms when I’m typing. (Ergonomics, my friends, it’s hella useful stuff.)

I have an ugly mesh chair that fits me perfectly, and that trumps beauty any day.

Work hours are not a thing of the past.
It seems that shortening the commute across town down to just across the house has an inverse effect on work hours. Instead of working from 9am to 6pm, all of sudden, you’re up at 8am and still working at 11pm. Granted, you probably still only accomplished four hours of actual work during that whole time.

It is good for your sanity (and your personal life), to establish work hours early on. Find an eight hour period that you will work Monday through Friday, and stick to it.

For the workaholics out there, there is ALWAYS more work to do. Figure out what are the most important tasks, and do those in your eight hour work day.

For those of you with off-hours strokes of brilliance, maybe your eight hour period is scheduled for the wrong block of time. Maybe you need a four hour block in the morning, a break in the afternoon, and a four hour block at night.

Find your inner Jillian Michaels.
It’s nice and all to get to set your own agenda, but you need to back up that agenda with some force. The personal trainer kind of force. Find that inner voice and use it to demand one more line of code, one more sentence, one more email response. And then turn that one more into eight “one more’s”.

In order to succeed, you have to conjure up the fiercest coach hologram that will force you to power through until you really can’t lift one more mental rep.

And then say goodbye to her at the end of the day.
Once you’re done with your eight hour work day, your coach often turns into their evil twin self and starts to hound you for all that you didn’t accomplish that day.

Send them packing as soon as work day comes to a close. You did your best, and hey, sometimes your best is just showing up.

Push yourself to accomplish what you can during the day, and then be kind to yourself with however much that turns out to be.

Make goals. And then cut them down to three.
Another way to keep that evil twin at bay is by keeping your goals realistic. No, not Doogie Howser realistic. Real person realistic.

There is some agreed upon logic out there that – at best – we can expect to accomplish a grand total of three goals a day. I know, it sounds absurd at first. But, just try it.

Make that long list of goals, and then pick out your top three. Mine today are to publish a blog post, to bake for our weekend trip with friends, and to run errands.

I can pat myself on the back for accomplishing those instead of berating myself over not getting more done.

Don’t rely on your morning brain. This one’s for all of my not-morning-people friends out there.
Sit down at the end of your work day, and write out your schedule and goals for the next day. Are you going to get up and go for a walk to get your brain going? Make that decision before morning-brain, and you’re way more likely to get it done.

Think about what you want to accomplish first thing. Hell, are you going to make a smoothie for breakfast? Figure that out too. The less time you have to struggle in the morning just trying to figure out what you’re going to do (and how you’re going to fuel those brilliant ideas of yours), the more time you can spend struggling to actual do it.

This is not the time for a jaunt to Target.
I know it’s tempting to do all of your errands during the middle of the day. I know, the lower quantities of crazies with carts (and ohmygoodness, parking lot car maniacs) is so incredibly awesome.

The trouble with this is that scheduling errands in the middle of your day breaks your focus, and it makes it hard to get back to work when you’re back at your desk.

Breaks can be good for you, but it’s like food, not all varieties are created equal.You’re best of with the kinds that fuel the thought process, not ones that start an entirely new thought process that has nothing to do with your work.

For example, going to Target and trying to remember what the one thing was that you needed to get but you forgot to put on your list…Yeah, that’s definitely an entirely new thought process. Taking a long walk and thinking about that problem you got stuck trying to solve…that’s a great break from sitting at your desk.

I know that I’m still going to take advantage of middle of the day Target shopping, but I’m going to schedule it in with the other necessary errands I need to run that week and limit those all to one afternoon.

 

Those are my top hits so far. What about you? What keeps you going or trips you up when you’re working from home?