Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Let Fear Fuel You or Let It Swing You By The Tail

Here’s a little Thursday Throwback for everyone on this journey called Life! It may be focused on my self-publishing journey, but it speaks to any path that is new and scares you.

Since this post, I have published two books. The second one came a little easier because I now know the process and have my editor and cover designer lined up. But that didn’t make it any less scary.

There is always the fear of putting ourselves out there in this great big world. Whether we are writers, artists, performers, or just following a new dream in our daily lives. I have felt the same fear along my path to certifications for work, and I am feeling it again as I pursue another one.

Fear is insidious. It will wrap itself around your head and heart and tell you that you can’t do something. It will make you question your abilities. It will tell you that you aren’t good enough so why try. Don’t give in!

Letting Fear Swing Us By The Tail

fear

Lately, I have been doing a lot of things that have scared me in the past. It isn’t that I have suddenly become brave. No, not by a long shot. I still get a little woozy in the stomach if I stop to think about it too much. I haven’t yet figured out if it is just butterflies or if it’s nausea…

I do think that it gets easier to be brave the more you do it. Practice makes perfect, after all. The more we try new things and put ourselves out into that great big world, the more we are willing to say, oh, what the hell! And throw caution to the wind the next time.

As most of you know, I have been on the self-publishing path for a while now. Recently, thanks to my friend, Bee, I am actually writing down the weekly, monthly, yearly goals and making myself accountable for this dream. I have a plan that is a work in progress. The more I research and learn about the various steps in this process, the more that plan is tweaked and the timeline is altered and the to-do list is added to, but I have made more progress in two weeks than it feels like I have made in the last two years.

And, yes, I have been nervous and scared of each new step.

There is a lot more to self-publishing than hitting a button. There is editing, formatting, cover design, interfacing with the various outlets you plan to sell in, marketing, tax issues to look into, copyright, buying ISBNs and bar codes, understanding public domain and fair use, deciding to form a business or not, and on and on. Each step takes a lot of researching and poking around the internet. It means telling people who I know about my dream of publishing And asking for their help. It means that I am reaching out to strangers and admitting, “Hey, I wrote a book,” and in some cases it means sharing the synopsis or sample chapters.

For a writer who has never shown her book to strangers, that is huge. And I have done all of that in the last few weeks and will continue to do it for as long as I want to publish.

I have learned that once you start down this path, you will never reach a point where you are not learning something new. Even published authors continue to hone their craft. Self-published authors continue to learn all about the business of getting the book to the public in an industry that is changing fast.

I know nothing about formatting… yet… After the month-long class I am taking in April at WANA, I hope to understand it a lot more. I know nothing about editing that I didn’t learn in high school and college. 🙂 After working with one of the freelance editors I have reached out to I hope to know a lot more. I have never designed a cover or worked with a graphic artist, but I am learning that, too.

Each new step seems huge and insurmountable, but I am meeting some wonderful strangers who are more than willing to help me in my journey. The trick is pushing that fear back far enough to allow myself to take the tiniest step. It is owning my ignorance in such matters and not freaking out too much at the sheer volume of things I have to learn and do before this can happen. It is allowing myself to appear vulnerable and asking for help.

Those steps may seem like no big deal to some people. There are folks out there that love the spotlight and seem to thrive on talking about their work in progress at every possible opportunity. But I think everyone has the fear of the unknown within them. It is how they respond to it that determines if that dream will see the light. It is whether they choose to do it anyway that matters. If we let fear of the unknown derail us from pursuing our dreams, we lose.

As YA author, Katherine Patterson wrote in Jacob Have I Loved, “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

I don’t know about you, but I think she nailed it. 🙂 Fear and uncertainty grab me on a daily basis on this journey, but I am going to do it anyway.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Embracing Imperfection, or the Mondayest Wednesday ever

I have been off from my day job for a week. As I write this, I am trying to talk myself off the ledge. As I sat here trying to embrace the last few hours of quiet peace that comes from getting away from the daily grind, my mind started to panic over how much work was waiting for me tomorrow.

As the only non-medical person in our group, I am tasked with every conceivable administrative duty, large and small. Scrubbing charts for billing, payroll, scheduling, contracting, working with recruiters – you name it and it lands on my desk. When I take time off, I work like a crazed woman beforehand to clean up everything I can beforehand. While I am gone, it silently builds up and when I return, I am usually slammed with a mountain of work, every task needing immediate attention.

I try to tell myself, hey, it took a week to pile up. You will not clear that pile of work in a day. But at the same time, I am my own harshest task master. And the beatings will continue until morale improves! I can usually find my desk under the pile by the end of the first day back. Sometimes it takes two days. But at what price?

I can only do that if I don’t get a million of the usual interruptions. Also coming in early, leaving late and working through lunch helps. There is often swearing.

The high expectations and perfection I expect from myself have a price. My warm fuzzy I’ve-been-off-for-a-week-while-the-rest-of-the-world-slaved-away feeling usually disappears by oh, 9am! I realize my problem stems from a need to always appear to have it all together where my day job is concerned. I hate feeling like I am missing something! And when the work is piled up after an absence, I just feel like I am chasing my tail!

Add to this, the other side projects and classes I mentioned last week, and my stress levels rise before I finish my morning coffee! (This despite the fact that my “vacation” was 7 days when I focused on my class work and didn’t actually allow myself the luxury of reading for fun or playing with my sewing machine!)

The funny thing is that it isn’t my bosses that make me feel this way. They are great and tell me to not worry about the backlog, just do what I can. It’s all me and the expectatoins I put in myself. (I can forgive anyone their faults, but myself!)

I will talk myself off the ledge as I have in years past. I will remind myself how much further along in my class I am. I will remind myself that I have already scheduled in time for myself to finish up that last textbook project one weekend in September without having it take away from my daily work or class time. I will remind myself that I am one person and can only do so much.

The most important thing to remember when we find ourselves completely freaked by the amount of work staring at us is that we are human and we must forgive ourselves for only having 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. We cannot be afraid to ask others to allot us the same understanding and to allow us to prioritize tasks. We will get to everything, but maybe not in the same timeframe that others want. We are allowed to breathe. And if we allow ourselves ten minutes to eat something yummy and healthy in the middle of it all, it will only improve our performance and our outlook.

It’s all good. (And a glass of chilled Riesling helps! At the end of the day, of course!) 😊

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Putting Busy in Its Place

Last week, I wrote again about grooving on the busy drug. The whole world seems to reward those of us who manage to always be on the go with a million balls in the air. I find myself, year after year, immersed in new projects so that my down time looks a lot like my time at the day job, only with different task masters.

Yes, sometimes, I am my own task master as no one forces me to sign up for new classes and new certifications. Let’s face it. I could be perfectly content to do what I do forty hours per week until I retire, but the voice in my head often urges me to learn new skills and tack a few more initials onto my name… just in case.

We live in a world with few guarantees. So often, people who have spent 30+ years in one position with one company find themselves trying  to reinvent themselves in the work force. There is a voice in my head that says hey, you never know. What feels certain and safe today may implode next week. Better to increase the job skills and network now. So while it is me that pulls the trigger and registers for new classes in the name of filling my continuing ed requirements, it isn’t necessarily me pushing myself.

Deep down, it is fear. What if? What if I find myself back in the job market in my 50s? What if the rug that I stand so securely on today gets ripped out from under me tomorrow, or next month, or next year?

Don’t  get me wrong. I am a perpetual student. I am a total geek when you get down to my core. I love learning and trying new things. I even love textbooks! The fatter the better! Every September I have the urge to register for classes. And not just fun classes like pottery and photography at the local community ed department at the college across town. No, I have a deep urge to register for algebra, chem and Spanish III!

This core geekiness has served me well. When I went for my coding certification after 20 years in the medical industry, I knew there would be the opportunity to take more classes. We are required to take a certain number of continuing education units each year. In the name of continuing ed, I have gone on to get my billing, practice management and instructor certifications. They have opened up new and interesting doors for me and I have been able to do some side projects as a substitute instructor, speaker and most recently textbook contributor.

And it continues. I am currently immersed in an auditing course which I find simultaneously interesting and terrifying when I stop to think of the 5 1/2 hour exam at the end of it! 😳

This class and exam, as well as the additional textbook projects have added to my busy and my stress levels this summer. I feel torn when I see my bookshelves filled with beautiful fat epic novels that will sweep me away for days on end. I feel deprived when I see my notebooks and rough drafts waiting for my attention. I come home from the day job exhausted so I focus all my spare time on the weekends to studying something that no one is forcing me to learn. And I see all my friends on social media having a great time in the final weeks of summer… Yet, I keep focusing on the prize at the end and the months of lounging on the couch with a good book or ten that I plan on treating myself to the moment it is over.

We are all facing our own busy.  The trick is to choose your busy wisely. Are you enjoying yourself? Are you going to benefit in the short term from this bout of busy? Is there an end in sight?

Busy can’t be a forever 24/7 thing or we will completely burn out. Balance your busy with quiet, and joy, and stretches of time with nothing on your plate. Wallow in the down time. Recharge.

Busy, in and of itself, is not something any of us should aspire to be. Busy takes away from the good stuff. ❤️

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Will I Ever Learn?

I have a hard time saying no. I admit it. I hate to think I am passing up a new challenge or a chance to learn. This seems to be a theme for me…

While I may not be learning to say no (too many things intrigue me!), I am learning to not answer the constant question “how are you?” with “oh, I am so busy!” Everyone is busy with their own stuff. No one wants to compare their busy with mine.

And I am learning in the middle of busy, to enjoy the new projects and the challenges.

Bitten By the Busy Bug

I have posted about being busy before. This is a spin-off of an older post when I was also busy with different projects.

I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a windstorm…

Busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs…

Busier than a mosquito in a nudist colony…

Busier than a cross-eyed air-traffic controller…

Busier than a one-toothed man in a corn-on-the-cob eating contest…

You get the picture.

busy3

I am once again starting a new certification class – this one to be a coding instructor! It is a shorter course than the others I have taken, but is proving to be a lot of information to take in. I had expected that, and planned on not having much of a social life for the duration. At the end of the course will be another exam – yikes! and a presentation to be graded on – double yikes!

I have also agreed to a fabulous offer to teach a workshop for continuing education credits in July and August. So I am brainstorming ideas and dreaming about PowerPoint presentations and public speaking. I am so excited to have this opportunity to dip my toe into the teaching/speaking arena but have to work on my fear of public speaking. 🙂

Add to this, my book promotion, which has kind of come to a grinding halt following the holidays and in light of these new tasks before me.

And, let’s not forget the next book… This is in the very very rough draft and needs a ton of tweaking and rewriting before I can even consider letting my husband read it! This too will be on a shelf for the next few months.

My posts here are always on my to-do list no matter how busy other areas of my life become. I have come to love my little corner of the blogosphere and enjoy reading so many other bloggers. I have also been mulling over another super secret blog-type project… I can only tell you that it won’t be available for public consumption until late March or April. Lots to do there!

 

It seems there is  a crazy part of me that wants to say, oh what the hell, what’s one more thing on the plate? I guess the saying is true – if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it! We are either that motivated or that crazy that we won’t say no! 🙂

busy

I have often said that busy is a drug – very addictive and hard to stop. It sounds so important to say, “Oh, I am just so busy!” It adds a feeling of importance to your project and your life that you may be lacking. Or, it gives you an excuse for not taking care of yourself and your life. It isn’t something I enjoy saying or feeling. It is something that we all bring upon ourselves and we are the only ones who can seek balance.

I do love my many projects. At the same time, I think it’s important for us to allow ourselves a little breathing room. When life gets busy, I find it is even more important to make sure to give myself down time. I need to read for fun. I need to relax with a glass of wine and goof off on Facebook and play a game on my iPad (even though I seem to get stuck on a level for months at a time and refuse to pay for more lives!). I need to veg on the couch with my husband and watch TV and I really need to make sure I get enough sleep.

Without the required downtime to recharge and do nothing, we have nothing to give to our projects. This is true for projects we are assigned as well as those of our own making. We have to forgive ourselves sometimes for only having 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. Those are the rules, and while we didn’t make them, we have to abide by them.

Seek balance. Put in a full day, take some time to rest, and go to sleep knowing that you did your best.

So maybe I am not “busy.” Maybe it is just that my life is full of things I enjoy. 🙂

busy2

%d bloggers like this: