Organize, ya’ll!

Organizing for the new year?

I know, it seems like it’s a cliche, doesn’t it?  All the stores use January to put organizing items on sale but pump the breaks a second.

Don’t buy immediately, sort and donate first.

Also cliché you say?  Well, I’m here to tell you that most Americans have TOO MUCH stuff. Whether its saving too many plastic grocery sacks, coat hangers, extra t-shirts, or nail polish, everyone has a collection of something that can be edited.  Can you give extra stuff to a friend?  How about donate to Goodwill?  Are there some things that should really be thrown away.

Do that now.

You will breathe easier and have more space.  You don’t need bins to store more stuff you won’t look at in another year.  In case you don’t understand what I mean, I would refer you to George Carlin’s riff on STUFF which is just genius and 100% relevant today.

If you need places to put your “stuff” consider recycling things you already have, like covering cardboard boxes in cool papers or fabrics like THIS.

This was life changing when I found out a better way to store my plastic grocery bags.  These are great for bathroom trash bags, poop scooping, packing lunches and when you have too many, most stores have recycle spots where you can turn them in.  THIS is what I do with them and store them in a coffee can!

One of the most liberating decisions I have made is deciding to work on a capsule wardrobe.  Right now I am in the sorting/donating/inventory phase.  You can find great printables and instructions on my Pinterest board HERE.  Also check out the app STYLEBOOK.  While I haven’t started loading in pictures, this is pretty amazing and will simplify my life in the long run.

Follow along with me as I work through Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  This gives great, manageable steps to get your shit together without feeling overwhelmed by it.

First task today:  MAH OFFICE

8a9059e7-1184-46ce-bfc2-99494cbc49ac

You can follow along with me on my Instagram page HERE to see my progress and solutions that cost little or no money.  It’s not about buying expensive solutions that just contain more stuff.  It’s about cleaning up what you have and appreciating the purpose of every single thing or getting rid of it.

It’s okay. You can let go of some things.  Let’s do this.

UPDATE:

Done with the office cabinet, now it’s on to my fancy (not really fancy) “library” this weekend.  Hopefully it goes as well!

office

 

Always a Little Wonky

This week’s got me like:

krabs meme

When I started trying to narrow down exactly what it was, my head kept correcting me.  I said “WOW, what a week!” and my head went “You mean, what a month, what a year, what a past few years.”

This is exactly why I have self-esteem issues. 

Let’s ignore for a bit that I talk to myself.  Everyone does that, right?  It’s just sometimes, well a lot of times, life in general is freaking overwhelming.  Between school, being a caregiver, being a mom, trying to be an independent person, doing what I have to and trying to find time for something fun, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

There’s not enough time in the day, y’all.

School is chugging along.  I am having to contend with trying to pass and instructors that will not allow even a comma out of place.  When I am say they won’t allow it, I am saying you fail if you have more than four errors.  BIG FAT F.  That stings, I don’t care how old you are.  I know that I don’t/can’t/won’t edit myself but this is a HUGE stumbling block to trying to get out of this Master’s program.  I have three more months.  Say a prayer to the old gods and the new for me…I just need to be done with some bit of dignity left.

I have been writing about Little Monkey a long time.  Every time I go backwards and look at pictures here, I am reduced to a puddle in the floor.  I have said before, the idea that she will be 16 this summer is mind-blowing.  We are making college dream sheets and planning visits and trying to work out the what/how/where.  It is daunting.  The first two were real clear about what they wanted to do and had real decisions made pretty quickly about where that would be but this one, man, this one wants the sun and the moon.

emma louI’m not kidding.

Little Monkey wants to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor, apply to NASA and become an astronaut.  I blame Interstellar for this.  She watches this movie all the damn time and can’t stop.  She has been obsessed with the stars for as long as I can remember and taking her to Huntsville last year did nothing to help quell that fire.  It’s my job to encourage her, right?  Despite it being a hard road, despite it being complicated, despite it being such a narrow field…I am the MOM, I HAVE to encourage.  She is pretty much a bad ass, so who am I to say that she can’t do something?  The world takes enough from you.  I am looking forward to her punching the world right in the face and saying NOT TODAY WORLD. (If someone can, it will be her.)

My long list of projects continues to grow.  We got all the carpet pulled up but now can’t decide between all hard wood or partial carpet.  It makes my head hurts.  My table is a little too wobbly for the amount that we use it so we are going to build this pedestal, twice, and remedy that.  That means I need new equipment from Kreg but I will figure that out eventually.  Then there is the painting.  The living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, outside stuff…

Did I mention I have a headache?

miss kiwiMy sweet old lady dog hasn’t been doing well.  I knew this would happen, it’s just never something you are prepared for, I don’t care how old you are.  In and out of the hospital for weeks, the ladies at Paws and Claws have been fantastic but I am afraid it’s the beginning of a long struggle.  Today she is happy and I am happy for that.

Summer is coming, that’s something to be happy about, right?

My packed calendar tells me I am wrong.  Truthfully, I am always a little wonky.  Being less busy or less worried about things might make it worse.

How do you keep from loosing your mind these days?  Maybe you can lead me by example. Lord knows, I need it!

 

 

 

Everybody Grieves Differently

This month has been weird. My favorite and last surviving grandparent passed away. What typically is a normal part of life felt much different this time to me.

 

I spent most of my time with my grandmother when I was young. Her house was more like my home no matter where I actually lived. Going back there to her funeral did not change that feeling. Even without her now, it was still home and still full of things that remind me of her. She was a teacher and I think I learned more about the world from her than anyone. I can remember writing her a poem when I was in the fourth grade, something goofy about the spring and trees. She loved it, made a huge deal about it and then told me something that utterly blew my mind.

 

“Always remember, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.”

 

In the fourth grade, that seemed like crazy talk. All the best things rhymed but what could happen if I didn’t have to go by the rules? I wrote and wrote and wrote. I still write now, for some 38 years since and it’s her fault really. There are things to be said and stories to be invented and characters to talk.

 

Thank you Grandma.

 

I have to go now but you are welcomed here any time you feel like being the inspiration. Now I have a murder to plot amongst spies…

Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Summer Movies 2014

I was just about to order tickets for Dracula Untold and thought about the movies that we saw this summer:

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.05.54 AM

I feel like I enjoyed this summer more than previous ones because the movies were highly entertaining.  Interestingly enough, a large majority of them were really trashed with reviewers.  That really never impacts how I feel about a movie unless I was already not planning to see it and that seals its fate.  Maybe that’s how everyone is?

How was your summer movie dance card?  Did you enjoy it?

 

 

What makes a book a classic?

Towards the end of every year I work on my list on intentions.  I do this no matter what and I work on those lists all year because, well, I just don’t want to be the kind of person with a larger list of regrets than accomplishments. classics

I know that over the next year, one of the things I was going to put on my list was “read all the classics.”  The more that I thought about that though, the more difficult it became to figure out WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?  What makes something a classic?  Is it the time that has passed in direct ratio to it being considered influential?  You can break it up into time periods: Pre-Civil War, Industrial Age, Antiquities, Vintage, Contemporary, Romantic, Greek, and on and on and on.  Is it if it became popular?  Or banned?  What about great YA or Sci-Fi?

See what I mean?  OVERWHELMING.

If you over think it, you can even be genre specific.  For example, a classic horror novel would be The Shining or Carrie, wouldn’t you agree?  Actually, you could do an entire list on Stephen King! the shining

What would be on your list of classic books?

There is a great Tumblr called Teaching Literacy and if you aren’t following it you should be.  They had great suggestions and a link to a starter list that you should check out.

King novels

 

But what if you are a book person?

My biggest issue is most of what people would recommend, I have already read.  I was lucky to have teachers for grandparents so a love of books was instilled early.  Growing up overseas, I got to visit so many inspirational places that many writers frequented all over Europe.  There is nothing like going to Stratford-Upon-Avon to study Shakespeare or reading The Prince before visiting Florence, Italy.

I am very, very lucky.

But I know there are things I have missed.  While I have only finished sections of it, one of my first to finish this month is The Art of War.  There are a number of political theory books I want to revisit and Shakespeare plays I want to go through. I am thinking of going back through Rice’s Lestat series and then move on to more traditional things I may have missed.  When you have read most Steinbeck by the age of 13, it’s hard to find things to put on the list.  No matter how hard I try, most of what has ever been on Oprah’s lists, I just don’t care for.  Same for the Nobel Prizes…just didn’t love The Goldfinch the way I hoped I would.

 

leather bound

So tell me, what is on your list?  What is a book you continue to recommend to people?  Has it changed, as you have gotten older?  My tastes have always been crazy eclectic.  If you like horror, I again and again recommend The Historian.  I devoured that book.

In case you are interested, here are a couple of lists I found.  Enjoy!

Cult Classics

25 American Classic Books to Read

100 novels everyone should read

30 Books you should read before you’re 30

23 Books You Didn’t Read in High School But Actually Should

The 30 Comic Books You Should Have Read

Work In Progress

I envy writers that stick to the same genre for their entire career.  I don’t know how they do it but it must get annoying after a while trying to only be that one thing.  I am not good at that. Some days I am a super nerd, others I am a political activist.  Once in a while my family really pisses me off or my kid makes me super proud.

If you follow me on Twitter, this is no surprise to you.

I get nasty messages and drop followers pretty regularly as a result.  I wish I had a way of imparting instantly on any one that comes across me on the web (or IRL for that matter) how cool I am but it’s just not possible.  Some days, depending on how I wake up, it makes me feel terrible.  Most days, I just don’t care.  I have had a crazy life and if there is one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t try to be everything to everyone.  There will always be someone who doesn’t like me.

Really, it’s their loss.

This week I started my next novel.  Although I have several things in the works, none of them are the same genre and this current project is a memoir.  ::collective gasp::  While it seems a little weird, it’s not really if you hang around me long enough.

It started with one NaNoWriMo.

My first NaNo I didn’t finish.  My second one I did and that is the one that really sent my mind into overdrive.  I have written since the fourth grade, poetry mostly, and often felt I could never tell a LONG story, much less write a novel.  I mean WHO DOES THAT?  But once I finished my first novel (it is chick lit) suddenly there where a million stories I wanted to tell swimming around in my head.

Next it was short erotic tales that found a publisher and a loyal fan base. I don’t even remember how they found me or I found them but one became seven or eight.   And I made MONEY!  Later came short stories for kids because I wanted to do something for my littlest monkey that I posted to Amazon. And I made MORE MONEY!  The next NaNo effort resulted in a Young Adult Sci-Fi book that I didn’t finish but still intend to get back to after a while.  After that, one of the characters from my erotica stories became another finished NaNo project because she just wouldn’t stop talking to me. Then this past year, my newest novel is a dramatic military-veteran-returns-for-one-last-mission ball of awesome. It is with my long time editor now and I already have a couple of competitions where it will be headed after that.

Now a memoir.  Is that weird?  Probably.

I am doing it not really because I am important to other people.  I mean, I KNOW I am important to some people but for the most part, I don’t seem special.  It’s mostly because I happen to be blessed with one of those really messed up lives.  I have never read a book that shows what my kind of messed up can be or how it can shape a person.  Sometimes there is a chapter or two that I can identify with but not a whole book that says, “all the bad things are bad but you can be better.”

That’s mostly what it’s about.  You can be better no matter what.

Everything I have written was the story that came to me at the time.  Its unconventional but 100% me.  (We covered that already, remember?)  I am totally okay with it too.

So tell me…

What about you?  Do you pursue multiple creative adventures or do you stay in one lane?

The Kevin Project

Many of you know that I married a disabled Vet, Kevin, and/or that my daughter, Emma, is trying to go through the steps to make the Junior Dream Team and later, the US Olympic Archery team.  This week, there have been a ton of discussions in our house after the tragic events in Texas and later in California…both committed by Veterans.  I felt like I should post something and decided it would be a movie I had to do for school.  I chose to do the short film about the relationship between Kevin and Emma.

I think that there is too much negativity in the media about Vets and not enough positive stories.  I know I can’t change that all by myself but I am setting the intention with the hopes that some people decide to follow my lead.  Too many Veterans and their families are suffering not knowing they can get help at the VA and how to get it.  Too many people are denying jobs to Veterans because they are afraid of the stereotype.  Too many caregivers are not getting the assistance they need mainly because there is not a great deal of publicity around programs that can help them right now.

This has to stop.

Its hard.  Each and every day along with taking care of myself, my kiddo and my animals, I have to now have the daily responsibility for a Veteran that would rather be able to do things for himself.  It’s frustrating for him and its frustrating for me.  But I remind him.  I remind him to get his hearing aids and to drink water.  I remind him he needs to shower before he puts his leg brace on.  I remind him of all the tasks he has while I am struggling to remember my own.  When he gets cranky because I have told him twice to do something, I endure.  If I don’t tell him, regardless of his reactions, he will suffer far worse than I.

In between, something amazing has happened.

Even when he has to take a pill to make the headaches subside just a little each morning, he still gets out of bed.  Even though his shoulders and elbows ache, he still packs up his bow in the car with Emma’s.  Even though he could sleep 20 hours a day, he endures so Emma can excel.

And boy, do we laugh!

I hope you watch this and it changes your impression of Veterans just a bit.  I hope it reminds you the next time you hear someone, read an article, watch a news report and you see an over generalized negative impression of Veterans, I hope it causes you to take action.

We need you.  

Great Comic Mashup

If you are ever here, you have probably seen my nerdy kitchen or know how much I love Halo (the artist, not the game).  When I saw this Kickstarter come across my dash, I immediately went into fan girl mode.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of those cartoons much like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers, that you were either really into or didn’t watch at all.  I admit, I am a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan.  I was pretty upset when I heard about the changes to the story line in the upcoming movie.  I will watch it because I want to see how they pull it together but in those changes, they completely removed the teenage and mutant part.  It will be whatever it is and we will love or hate it.

Let me just say, THIS I love:

Mike

The artist J.Q. Hammer came up with a FABULOUS idea of a conventional Western mash up with the TMNT that I can’t stop talking about.  Of course, my prints are going in my nerdy kitchen but you still have time to get your own!

Check it out:  TMNT Western Concept Redesign Project

Ring in the New Year

rings

For those of you that know me, I am not big on resolutions.  I just don’t believe they work.  What I do at the beginning of every year is set intentions.  These are things I intend to do in the year and more often than not, I get through the list quite nicely.  This year, my hubs and I both wanted to set the intention of honoring ourselves.  We are so busy and our schedule is VERY much dictated by a child that wants to be an Olympic athlete.  We never found the rings we really wanted when we got married but when we saw these, we knew those were the ones!  The bands are from monkeysalwayslook on Etsy.  The outside shows the longitude and latitude of where we got married.  On the inside we took pieces of a Viking quote for both.  The full quote says “Love conquers all, let us yield to love” so mine is inscribed Love Conquers All and his is Yield To Love.  They were just perfect for us.  My engagement ring is also from an Etsy vendor, silvercoinrings and is a Dime-On-Ring.  It is a dime melted onto a ring and stamped with initials.  We had K & M stamped in.  I would highly recommend both vendors as they were easy to work with and all about making sure everything was perfect!

So what intentions do you have for the year?  I STILL need to get busy on learning to sew!