Spilled Milk

I’m sure from the title that this sounds like it’s going to be about that old saying, “No use crying over spilled milk.” I want to clear up now that the saying was not the impetus of the post. It may factor into a small portion of the post, but it’s not the main message or rumination I want to share. The impetus of the post was literally the title: spilled milk.

Story time.

At work the other day, I discovered a gallon of milk dripping from a bag onto the end of a checklane in an ever-widening puddle. Running the floor at the time, I flagged down our cleaner and asked him to clean up the mess. With a characteristic grumble, he went off to get his cleaning supplies and did so. A few hours later, I was cleaning up damaged items we’d slowly been compiling on the end of the same checklane. I picked up a few of the bags (we put damaged items in plastic bags and tie them up in between finding them and processing them out) and found milk under them. At first I was confused. I’d seen the cleaner wiping up the puddle earlier. Why was there still milk there? Then I realized he’d cleaned up the spill but left the damaged gallon in its bag on the end of the lane, instead of taking it back to where it needed to be processed out and disposed of. I shook my head, cleaned up the mess, and sent the milk to where it needed to go, before it could make a third puddle.

I was thinking about the milk incident a bit later and decided that it could be an analogy for how a lot of life’s problems are handled. Like the cleaner in this particular case, we clean up the mess, but we don’t take care of the underlying cause, and it ends up making more messes later. Instead, we should seek to address the underlying cause of the problem and prevent things from getting worse or recurring. If we don’t, maybe the mess will be gone for a while, but a new mess will come from the same source soon. The cycle will continue until the underlying cause is neutralized.

I know I struggle with this, both in life and in writing. It’s easier to just stick a bandaid on the problem and hope it goes away. Bandaids don’t work for everything. Sometimes, doing a surface fix and leaving things to resolve themselves actually ends up causing a lot more trouble in the long run.

Take my writing, for example. The first WIP I ever seriously started has some major character issues. I struggle with character personality and differentiation, and this work in particularly has issues along that line. Instead of fixing them, I’ve added more action and excitement and a handful of plot twists to try to “fix” the story. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end up fixed. In fact, it just ended up convoluted and crazy, but with boring characters that don’t reach out and grab the reader like they need to. Now, I’ve got 110k of this story that I have to go back and basically rewrite to finally fix the problem. I have to rebuild my characters, which will affect how they react and make decisions and therefore change some of the plot, which means some worldbuilding elements have to be changed, which will then impact future plot points, and so on. It’s a huge, tangled mess. If I’d fixed the character issues before, instead of continuing to add plot twists and action sequences and things to fix just the immediate “mess,” I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed trying to replan and rewrite just about the whole thing now.

I guess I’ve cleaned up a lot of spilled milk, over the years working on this WIP. Now I’m finally taking care of the busted container it’s leaking from. Or trying to, at least.

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A “Brief” Update

Goodness, the last few weeks have been crazy and full of big changes. In the manner of a “brief” life update, here are a few of the biggest ones:

  • Career – I have transitioned from three part-time jobs to one full-time job. The first week of full-time scheduling is half over already! I loved the job before it became full-time, and that hasn’t changed yet! If anything, I think I love the job even more. My coworkers are fantastic, my superiors are supportive and understanding, and I love what I do! Having decent benefits soon is also a plus. (Phew! Insurance is important.) I’m ecstatic about the whole thing!
  • Family – Earlier this month, my youngest sister moved off to college. (I mentioned that in a previous post.) All the siblings and her boyfriend helped drive two vehicles there, move her in, and set things up for her, then she stayed and the rest of us drove one vehicle back. It was an exhausting weekend, and yes, I definitely cried. Several times. At the same time, however, I’m so excited for her to have her own college experiences, instead of just hearing about ours. Another sister just bought her first home, which is pretty exciting! She’s the first of us to do so, which makes it even more of a big deal. Growing up can be tough, and there are some negatives to it, but there are some decided perks, too!
  • Independence – If you follow my (unfortunately rare) posts closely, you may have noticed that I struggle with depending on others. I am fiercely independent, and moving back in with my parents to get back on my feet after some intense life-curveballs was not an easy thing for me to do. I lost much of the independence I had in doing so, and it brought me pretty low for a while. I love my parents, and I don’t mind so much now, but I still want to get back to a more independent (but still stable) place. I’m taking steps in that direction, especially now that I have a full-time job. In that vein, a friend and I applied for an apartment early this week. We haven’t heard back yet, but I’m optimistic about it. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll keep looking!
  • Fun – After about two months of weekly games, I finished out another year of summer league playing Ultimate, and now fall league has started. I’ve also got some short trips and events with friends and family coming up, as well as my first 10k! (I should probably start training for that…) Now that things have settled down a bit, I’ve got more time to be active and/or relax doing things I enjoy! Now to work on adding reading to the list…

I think those are the big things! Sadly, there hasn’t been much in the way of creativity, lately. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve really written anything substantial, and I haven’t drawn anything since June (I think). However, I have been thinking about my WIPs. I’ve got some changes and additions planned for several of them, and I’m excited to start, though a bit overwhelmed, too! (More on that later, I think.) I’m also hoping to get back on track with blogging. It may be time to get back into goal-setting/-posting, to keep things going!

That’s all I’ve got, for the moment. Thanks for reading my mini update!

Mystery Blogger Award

So a few months ago (oops), the wonderful Nicole nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. I saw the nomination but have been pretty quiet on the blogging front for a few months, due to an extremely busy schedule. (More about that in a future post – or maybe several. If I have time. :P) Now that I’ve got a bit of time to dedicate specifically to blogging, I’d like to join in with my response to her nomination! (Sorry for the delay, Nicole! I didn’t forget!)

The Mystery Blogger Award… (as Posted by Nicole):

  • is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get.
  • is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.
  • was created by Okoto Enigma.

mystery

Guidelines:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

Three Things About Me:

  1. I have absolutely no fear of telling exactly people what I think… But I’m also polite to a fault and often decide not to for that reason.
  2. I am much more of a dog person than a cat person, but cats don’t seem to know this.
  3. I am awful at finishing first drafts. I currently have four, none of which are finished. I do too much editing as I go and can’t shelve new writing ideas or they’ll bug me until I unshelve them. It’s a problem.

Questions from Nicole:

  1. Favorite dragon of all time? I accept GIFs as an answer. Oh, good, I have a perfect GIF for that one… Are you surprised? I should think not. 😉
  2. What is your best advice concerning finding balance in life? I’m pretty awful at finding balance, personally. My sisters and college friends would laugh so hard if you asked them how I do it. (Because I pretty much don’t.) I think my best advice is to make sure you establish your priorities. If you’ve thought through what is most important to you (and you revisit the list regularly and adjust as needed), then you’re more likely to maintain those focuses (foci? words are hard), even if it’s not consciously.
  3. Most underrated color and why? Oh, definitely grey. (Yes, I prefer to spell it with an ‘e,’ despite being American.) I don’t know many (if any) who choose grey as their favorite, but as a writer, I love using grey. The color has so many hues and values. There’s a ton of potential for conveying emotion and character and scene. Plus, if you get the right shade, it can match just about anything. 😉
  4. What’s the question you’ve always wished you were asked on one of these things? And what’s the answer? Oh, dear. Um… How about, “What’s the meaning of life?” The answer is, clearly, 42.
  5. How do you create happiness for yourself? How would you encourage others to do so? This is also something I’m not so good at, though I’m generally in a pretty decent mood, if stressed. I think I do this best by taking the time to notice the small things. The flowers in the parking lot landscaping as I hurry into work. The nearly-full moon on the drive home late at night. The way the cat-that-is-ours-but-not-quite-ours meets me at the door in the mornings and sits watching while I leave, then greets me when I come home. How excited a friend or coworker gets when say hello or I ask about their day. A song that captures my mood just perfectly. Writing a (rare) great line. Finding the perfect word. I get ridiculously excited over that kind of small-stuff-that-really-isn’t-so-small-after-all. Celebrating those little things keeps my hectic, no-rest-for-the-weary life from being too overwhelming or making me depressed, despite the near-constant stress.
  6. Bonus: Cute puppy picture just for kicks? How about a Percy pic or two? Sorry if they’re repeats from other platforms!

Nominees (or More Accurately, Lack Thereof):

As little as I have been able to blog or catch up on reading blogs the last few months (er, maybe more like six) and as many of my go-to nominees have apparently already done this (after a quick glance at their blogs to check), I’ll again refrain from nominating. I promise I’ll really try to work on my blog(ger) network when things finally slow down again in another month! If you haven’t been nominated and want to respond to mine, you’re more than welcome to do so! I’ll even come read your posts, if you let me know you have! 🙂

Questions for Nominees:

  1. (This is my “weird” one, though I suppose it’s more random than weird.) Do you consider yourself to be short, tall, or somewhere in between?
  2. Read any good books lately? Which ones? If you haven’t, what’s keeping you from reading?
  3. What little things have you stopped to notice, lately? (Did you take pictures??)
  4. If you could choose one song as a soundtrack for either your current work in progress (if you write) or for your life, what would it be?
  5. What’s your favorite social media platform? Why?

Best Post Link:

I’m not sure how best to choose my “best post,” so I’ve chosen one I personally particularly like. You can find it here.

Thanks for reading!

“I Needed This.”

Way back in February, my only older cousin made his way back to our little hometown for the first time since summer of 2015 and probably only the second time in more than five years. He lives way out in the Southwest, now, and getting time off to come back home to the upper Midwest is rare, considering its such a long drive and having a vehicle to travel around our area to see friends and family is preferred. We’ve always been pretty close, especially with his parents being my godparents and me spending at least a week a summer with them so many times as a kid, so we made as much use of the time as we could, between my heavy work schedule and his visits with other relatives. (Visiting his grandparents was his primary goal for the trip, and of course other cousins and aunts and uncles got time, too!)

As adults, now, our time together definitely didn’t look like it used to, but being older (and presumably a bit wiser) made it all the more precious, even if it was different. One of the things my cousin said several times was, “I needed this. I really needed this.” Getting back to his roots and reconnecting with family was important to him, and it really refreshed him. I loved seeing that. It was edifying for me to spend time with him, too. He’s always taken on the role of an older brother for me. I missed that.

Being me, I just about cried when I drove away after we said goodbye. I wanted that brief moment to last. Selfish of me, right? Cell phones are a blessing in these situations, but they can’t replace seeing someone in person. Visits are rare. Distance sucks. Life is busy. Still, that little visit was one of the best things that’s happened in the whole past year. I needed it, too.

As usual, I wasn’t sure where I was going with this post, but I guess I’d like to drive home the point again that family is precious, and time together is to be cherished. As my youngest sister’s departure for college next month (8 hours’ drive from home!) rapidly approaches, I’m hit once again with the realization of how big the world is and how physically far away the people closest to me can get. I so want her to see the world and discover herself, and I know she’ll love the experiences she’ll have in college. I’m also feeling selfish, wanting her to stay “little” (though she’s been taller than me for years), wanting her to stay close. I won’t be able to physically be there if she needs me, and as a stereotypically-protective oldest sibling that’s terrifying, too. I can’t imagine how my mom feels. I just hope that, like my cousin, my sister knows she can always come back to her roots, no matter where she goes in college and after. I’m sure I don’t have to tell her, but I still probably will. (I’ll also probably cry doing it. Typical me.)

Maybe someday she’ll be the one saying, “I needed this.”

Weekly Goals – Week 13

After a bit of a hiatus (a month, oops), I’m back! I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling and had some new obligations added to my list, so I did an experiment. I worked on my goals more casually and without actually posting for the sake of testing out that possibility for future, busier times. Other than the blogging part, it’s worked pretty well! More on that in a later post, I think.

Health and Wellness:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Be able to run a 5k by April 8th (5k date!): success! – Due to a lack of proper weather during available times in my busy schedule for training (and due to an abysmal ability to get up early in the mornings, to be honest), I didn’t train hardly at all for the April 8th 5k. I did run it and nearly PR’d, with a time of 33:38. (My best is pretty darn close to that, if not slightly more. I’m bad at keeping track, especially with some not being timed…) I also walked what I estimate to be a little less than a tenth of a mile, in small bits. Still, I consider that a success!
    • Be able to run a 10k (by September)
    • Develop a regular gym habit, projected to reach 3x/week (over the year)
    • Improve quality of diet (over the year)
  • Past goals:
    • Continue 2 servings daily fruits and vegetables
    • Continue to drink a whole 32 oz bottle of water in the course of the workday each day – I’ve slowly fizzled out on this one…
    • Run a mile once – success, for that week
    • At least 30 minutes of cardio four times – near success – three times, for that week
  • This week’s goals:
    • Run two miles once – I still have that 10k in September to work up to! As the weather gets better and the days get longer, I’ll hopefully be able to train more seriously for it than I did for the 5k. And hey, if I can run almost a whole 5k without training, I can run two miles this week!
    • 30 minutes of cardio three times
    • Get back to drinking a whole 32 oz of water before 5pm every day
    • Purchase gym membership

Reading:

  • Long-term goal:
    • Read 20 books (over the year) – tally so far: 6!
  • Past goal:
    • Finish Well of Ascension – incomplete. Goodness, I can’t seem to get the book picked back up! It’s not because it’s not engaging… In fact, quite the opposite! I think I’m scared to finish it and be any closer to finishing what’s published of the series… Silly of me. On the plus side, I’ve finished three others, among them The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett! I’ve started The Desert Spear and had plans to finish it last week. I have not. Probably the same problem…
  • This week’s goal:
    • Finish either The Desert Spear or Well of Ascension. If possible, both would be great.

Creating:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Finish (re)writing/revising/editing MS Numero Uno (over the year)
    • Fill in holes in MS Numero Dos (over the year)
    • Write first draft of MS Numero Tres (over the year)
    • Develop regular blogging habits, projected to reach 3x/week (over the year)
  • Past goals:
    • Catch up and keep up with March’s AuthorConfession, Faetastic, and MythMadnessWIP – incomplete. I was ultimately behind enough that I gave up!
    • Outline two chapters of MS Numero Tres – complete, for that week. I actually stopped outlining and started writing very shortly thereafter… I have almost 20k, now. Woah.
    • Write one blog post here – incomplete! I haven’t been blogging, just reading others’ posts. That’s something I can do much easier from my phone on the go than I can drafting my own posts.
    • Write and post Mistborn review – incomplete! Since I haven’t really been drafting or posting blog posts, I still haven’t gotten around to finishing.
  • This week’s goals:
    • Catch up and keep up with April’s AuthorConfession and WIPjoy – I’m only a few days behind! *scurries off to catch up before work*
    • Fill in one hole in MS Numero Dos
    • Draw one character from MS Numero Tres
    • Write two blog posts here
    • Write and post Mistborn review – reattempt!

Miscellaneous:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Develop better time management skills (no set deadline)
    • Create a budget and build savings back up/pay off as much student loan debt as possible (over the year)
    • Take at least one trip to a new place more than an hour away, other than the usual whole-family vacation (within the year)
    • Rework wardrobe to better fit current needs and stage of life
  • Past goals:
    • Repeat setting aside specific homework and writing time – complete!
    • Go through clothes and decide what to donate or throw away – partial!
  • This week’s goals:
    • Repeat setting aside specific homework and writing time, and add specific scheduled time for summer work PD/prep. (Eek!)
    • Go through clothes and decide what to donate or throw away – finish!
    • Spend Friday packing up majority of apartment kitchen in preparation for end-of-month moving out.

While this seems like a lot, it’s actually pretty manageable, if I play my cards right and stay on top of my work! Time to jump back into the swing of things!

Weekly Goals – Week 9

Week 8 was hit or miss, it looks like. I’ve made some progress in some areas!

Health and Wellness:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Be able to run a 5k without walking breaks (by April 8th – 5k date!)
    • Be able to run a 10k without walking breaks (by September)
    • Develop a regular gym habit, projected to reach 3x/week (over the year)
    • Improve quality of diet (over the year)
  • Last week’s goals:
    • Continue 2 servings daily fruits and vegetables
    • Continue to drink a whole 32 oz bottle of water in the course of the workday each day
    • Run a mile twice – partly successful. I ran once!
  • This week’s goals:
    • Run a mile once (no walking breaks)
    • At least 30 minutes of cardio four times – It’s getting to crunch time on that 5k and the weather is really not cooperating on the running thing, so I’ll come at endurance from a slightly different direction. We’ve got some exercise equipment at home. That’ll work, for now, and it’ll be easier to fit in because daylight won’t play a role in scheduling!

Reading:

  • Long-term goal:
    • Read 20 books (over the year) – tally so far: 3!
  • Last week’s goal:
    • Read 1-3 chapters of Well of Ascension each evening – partial. More than the one day last week! And I read 206 pages of another book, too, mostly because I bought it and then had to wait for my sister to finish her shopping, at which point I was already pretty invested in the story… I’ve read probably 120 or so of those pages since bringing the book home.
  • This week’s goal:
    • Finish Well of Ascension – maybe without the limits, I’ll be more likely to blaze through it and finish! The other book will probably be done this evening… I’ll add it to the tally next week.

Creating:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Finish (re)writing/revising/editing MS Numero Uno (over the year)
    • Fill in holes in MS Numero Dos (over the year)
    • Write first draft of MS Numero Tres (over the year)
    • Develop regular blogging habits, projected to reach 3x/week (over the year)
  • Last week’s goals:
    • Catch up and keep up with March’s AuthorConfession, Faetastic, and MythMadnessWIP – incomplete. I keep forgetting!
    • Fill one plot hole in MS Numero Uno – complete!
    • Write one blog post here – complete!
    • Write and post Mistborn review – incomplete! (Gosh darnit!) I have it started, just haven’t had the book handy to finish it.
  • This week’s goals:
    • Catch up and keep up with March’s AuthorConfession, Faetastic, and MythMadnessWIP
    • Outline two chapters of MS Numero Tres
    • Write one blog post here
    • Write and post Mistborn review – reattempt!

Miscellaneous:

  • Long-term goals:
    • Develop better time management skills (no set deadline)
    • Create a budget and build savings back up/pay off as much student loan debt as possible (over the year)
    • Take at least one trip to a new place more than an hour away, other than the usual whole-family vacation (within the year)
    • Rework wardrobe to better fit current needs and stage of life
  • Last week’s goals:
    • Repeat setting aside specific homework and writing time – complete!
    • Balance checkbook – partially complete. (I did complete my taxes, though, so that should count for something!)
  • This week’s goals:
    • Repeat setting aside specific homework and writing time
    • Go through clothes and decide what to donate or throw away.

This week, I’ll really need to stay on top of coursework, due to an upcoming family trip. If I can work ahead, or at least do the readings for next week and then the following week’s also a week ahead, I’ll be in pretty good shape! With the goals I have here and my recently modified work schedule, that should be manageable.

Blogger Recognition Award

Several weeks ago (oops), I was nominated by the amazing and inspirational Nicole for a blogger recognition award. This one is a bit different from some blogger awards such as the Liebster Award that ask nominees to talk about themselves. Here are the rules, as posted by Nicole:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Nicole’s is here.)
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other victims bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

Origins

Honestly, this was the second WordPress blog and third overall blog that I attempted to start. The impetus of this one in particular was a January 2014 medical mission trip to Nicaragua, and my post dates tell me I started the blog itself in February of that year. (You can read stories from and information about the mission trip in my earliest posts, starting with this one.) The blog began as a way for me to record and share the stories and lessons of that trip, as well as my thoughts on them. This was to extend to other things I encountered in daily life, as well, though I didn’t get into a regular posting habit until recently (well… sort of regular). I still do post some everyday reflection posts, though the blog has evolved quite a bit in the years since it began. (And in the extremely sporadic posting over those years.) I decided to dive back into blogging more seriously late last year, and here we are!

Advice

In terms of blogging advice, I’m definitely not an expert by any means, not even close. However, I have learned some things from other bloggers and from my own experiences with the blogs I’ve attempted. I’ll share some of that, but take it with a grain of salt, new bloggers! Now that the disclaimer’s out of the way…

One piece of advice I have is to start out with an idea of what you want your blog to be about and how often you’d like to post. Are you looking to post daily, twice a week, monthly, six times a month, only when you travel? What topics will you talk about? Travel, books you’ve read, mechanics, photos you’ve taken, historical topics you’re interested in, personal experiences, writing? Who are you blogging for? Family and friends, people with similar hobbies, those looking for tips on your topic, yourself? Deciding and outlining those things for yourself can really help give you a strong foundation as you build your blog into what you want it to be.

My second piece of advice is to stay flexible. Having a concept for your blog is important and helpful, but being too rigid can do more harm than good. Don’t limit yourself by closing off the possibility of change and growth in your blogging. Change and growth is often good! Consistency is important, but sometimes a new schedule, a small concept revision, or even a major revamping or new direction can really benefit your blogging.

Nominees

As I’ve only recently gotten back into the blogging thing (and gotten into a fairly regular habit of it for the first time), I don’t have a very big community built up, whether followers or people I follow. As such, here are a few fairly recently-followed bloggers whose perspectives and advice on blogging I’d like to see!

These folks have some interesting blogs. I look forward to reading more of their posts, and I hope you’ll check out their work, too! Thanks for reading!