Filed under: Life
Monday, July 25th, 2016 • No Comments on Hey there! Wanna see my bookshelves?
Has it been three months since we sold our house and bought a new house? I guess it has. Sometimes it seems much longer, given how long we were getting ready to sell/buy; other times it seems like we blinked and–poof!– here we are. Mid-July, sweltering summer heat and the living is about as easy as it can be when you’re settling into a new house with two kids.
Seriously, it’s been a whirlwind. Despite the dread I had over the logistics of moving, everything went just about as smoothly as it possibly could. We sold our house in a heartbeat, which I wasn’t prepared for even though everyone said it would happen, and everything with the new house went super fast and seamless. It was just a matter of finding the house.
Oh, what a house! Even after six weeks, Jay and I still say it at least a few times every day– Oh, what a house! I love this house so much. It isn’t perfect, no house is, but it’s so incredible. With the boys (and Jay) out of school, it feels a bit like a vacation home with the lake view, wildlife, neighborhood pool and just beautiful, beautiful scenery. It’s perfect for us in so many ways. And getting more perfect every day as we do things to make it our own.
It’s funny how we said it was the perfect house, bought it and have proceeded to do so much to change it. Ha. But it needed a fenced yard for kids and dog, and it is in desperate need of paint because neither of the previous owners bothered to paint most of the rooms! So we have painters in for the next couple of weeks, painting the bedrooms and bathrooms and the tall, tall cathedral walls. I love those walls and the airiness of the entire living room space, but I would not want to be climbing a ladder to paint it. I’m grateful for the pros.
And then there are the bookcases. My whole life, I have always wanted built in bookcases. Pretty bookcases. I’ve had shelves and small bookcases and ones that we moved around, but I’ve never had bookcases designed to my specifications. Until now. Before we even closed on the house, I got an estimate from a local woodworking company to built the bookcases I wanted. And soon after we moved in, they began working. We’ve only had them for about 3 weeks now, but it seems like they were always there. They’re perfect. Behold!
Doesn’t that wall of bookcases look like it belongs there? We went over a month without a couch. But I’m loving how the room is coming together. Paint and art next!
Why yes, that is a sliding library ladder. Isn’t it gorgeous? It was also a freaking expensive part of the project, but I think the look is worth it! The designer included grommets in each of the bookcase sections with access to the outlets inside the cabinets so that we could put lighting on the shelves. I found these cute little silver touch lamps and they look like they were made for the space.
The reading nook upstairs in the loft area. The bookcases and window seat make the space useful, plus there’s a ton of storage for board games and crafts! We opted for drawers in the window seat bench rather than lids so we wouldn’t have to move any cushions or pillows to get to anything. Like downstairs, there are also grommets in the bookcases for access to the outlets inside the cabinets. The painters painted it the same lovely blue as the accent wall opposite it. Now I just need a cushion for the window seat, a bunch of comfy pillows and some art!
I’m in love with these bookcases. Except for one thing. They barely contain my book collection. Sigh. The cabinets underneath the main bookcase was supposed to be for DVDs and CDs and instead it is packed– packed!– with more books. I guess I’ll just need to find a place for more bookcases, hmm?
And so the new house experience goes… with me geeking out over bookcases and finally having a couch that will hold all four of us and making the place our own. I have big plans for other rooms, too, but we’ll get there. I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to rush and get everything done at once– we have time!– but I’m also anxious to be finished. We’ve already had friends visit (and spend the night) and I just want it all done and pretty! In time, in time.
So, besides the house selling, house buying and house decorating, I’ve been entertaining two kids on summer break, writing for my regular gigs Mom.me and BookBub and trying to get some new stuff out in the world, and just enjoying the summer. I hope you are too!
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 • No Comments on Fierce and Fearless in 2016
Here I go, into 2016 and adventures unknown. What I know is both kids will be in school at least 3 days a week until June 1, Jay will continue teaching middle school at least through June when he completes the requirements for his license and I will keep doing what I do best– write. What I don’t know is where I’ll be living after the school year comes to a close, as we will likely move before the new school year starts in the fall. I keep saying “likely” though I know it’s a near certainty, barring any unforeseen circumstances (which is nothing to scoff at, as I had several unforeseen circumstances in 2015). And so, with a move in mind, and changes I can only imagine, here are my goals for 2016:
Do my best to stay alive. This is last year’s “Drink more water” resolution, now with a lot more awareness of my own mortality and how quickly things can go from, “I don’t feel well” to “I think I have the flu” to “We weren’t sure you were going to make it.” So, with that in mind– and with the full knowledge that some health issues can’t be prevented, only managed– I will be aware of my health in 2016 and not take chances.
Find our last house. After almost 16 years in our current house, we’re ready to move on. But it’s hard, finding the right place to live (we’ve already changed our minds a couple of times) and the right home. I’ve said that I want our next house to be our last house– I want this yet-to-be-revealed house to be the home my children grow up in, the house we retire in, the place our kids return to for holidays and vacations after they’ve gone off to build their own lives. I want my dream house and I know no such thing exists, but I want to come as close to possible and begin our new life in our new home.
Make a few friends. I have friends of all backgrounds all over the world, but it’s hard to maintain in-person friendships when my job is fairly solitary and I spend most of my non-writing time with kids. With a new house comes new friends and I hope to find a few new friends who get me. Birds of a feather, as it were. Writers, creative types, dreamers who are still grounded in the real world, people with optimistic spirits and kind hearts. All the better if they love books and movies.
Write more, aim bigger. The bulk of my writing this year has been nonfiction– something I didn’t think I could write, much less sustain all year. I love it, but I miss fiction. And so, in 2016, I want to write as much NF as I did this year while also getting back to fiction writing. As far as aiming bigger– I want to pitch and submit to those dream publications, editors and publishers that are on my list and shoot for bigger projects across the board. Who knows, maybe 2016 will also be the year I finally self-publish something, which scares the crap out of me, but it’s good to be scared because it means I’m challenging myself.
Take care of myself and what I love. This goes back to #1, but it also ties into all the things that are important to me. My husband, my children. My true friends. My writing. My home. My pets. My causes. My heart. I need to take care of them all and not give my time and energy to anything (or anyone) that steals my joy, undermines my goals or hurts my heart (or the heart of those I love).
I’m going into 2016 fiercely and fearless– motivated, strong, loved, changed. It’s going to be a beautiful year. I’m ready.
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 • No Comments on 2015 Resolutions: What I Did (and Didn’t)
Before I can move forward, I need to take one last look back. 2015 was unexpected in many ways, but I went into it with enthusiasm and a long list of goals. What did I accomplish? Where did I fail?
The bracelet Jay got me for Christmas 2014. It proved to be a good mantra for 2015: “She believed she could, so she did.”
Goals for 2015:
1. Drink more water. I probably drink twice as much water in an average day than I did a year ago, which is good and something I plan to continue. Ironically, I spent nearly a week in the hospital early in the year and one of my numerous issues that required post-hospital follow up for several months was my kidney function– my kidneys had shut down and were slow in coming back to normal. Nothing to reinforce a “drink more water” resolution than kidney failure. Drink more water– check!
2. Read more books. I didn’t read nearly as many books as I planned, but I did read about a dozen fat novels, a half dozen anthologies and shorter books and several books for review. I also read probably twice as many essays and articles in 2015 as research for my own budding non-fiction writing. I’ll call this one a win. Read more– check!
3. Ditch social media. Nope. Not even close. But… I did confine most of my social media to down time (while putting the kids to bed, while waiting in lines, while cooking) and I have to say, Facebook was invaluable to my career this year. I found markets for my writing, I made some friends, I met some editors, I expanded my writing repertoire all through those posts, groups and friend requests. Yes, I still goof off too much on social media, but I think I balanced the goofing with working quite nicely. Ditch social media– nope, but that’s OK!
4. Entertain more. I mentioned in my resolutions that I was inspired last fall by the article Friday Night Meatballs by Sarah Grey to consider hosting a weekly dinner party. It didn’t happen, though we probably had friends over as much as we did any year pre-kids (which is to say, more than we have in the past 6 years). A possible goal for 2016 is to try the weekly dinner party thing again at some point, especially as we’re likely going to move and making new friends will be a top goal. Entertain more– half check!
5. Write stuff I care about. Did it. Still doing it. Will continue doing it. Check, check, check!
6. Ask for help. This is one I’m always going to be working on. I did it, to some extent, but–oh man!– it’s hard. Ask for help– half check!
7. Adopt (or foster) a shelter dog. As we decided earlier this year that we want to move, it seemed best to wait until we’re settled before we bring another dog into the house. But we did entertain the thought for a couple of weeks last month, as a friend was in need for a new home for her dog. Unfortunately, while we were willing to give it a go, our dog wasn’t so keen on this new dog in her house and their relationship seemed a little too confrontational for comfort. And so, the visiting dog went home and we’ve returned to our plan to try to find a good match for Clementine (and the family) once we are settled in our new home. Adopt a dog– nope, but I tried!
8. Slow down, breathe, focus on the moment. Again, that near death experience in the spring kind of hammered this one home. I can say I succeeded at this, though of course I could still use some work. But overall, I feel like I was very present and in the moment for almost all of 2015– and that is a huge accomplishment for someone who is always planning the future. Focus on the moment– check!
9. Spend more time outside. Hmm. I think I succeeded at this one. Clementine and I continued our nightly walks except for the weeks I was sick, we went on family trips to Disney World, Charleston (twice) and Hot Springs, VA, all where we spent quite a bit of time outside. I didn’t do any gardening, but I enjoyed backyard time through the spring and summer. Maybe it wasn’t a planned and organized kind of thing (mostly because I totally forgot it was on my list), but I think I did okay. Outside time– check!
10. Connect with others. Professionally, a huge success. Personally, I was a hermit for much of the year and preferred to be home with my family rather than out with friends (not a bad thing at all, but I need more social interaction!). Something to work on in 2016. Connect with others– half check!
11. Say “yes” to the things that I really care about, that speak to my heart and my intellect, that enrich my life. Oh man, yes, I did this. Again, nothing like being gravely ill to put things in perspective. I said “yes” to things that are important to me and said “no” to (most) things that felt like a time suck. I still have some work to do on not feeling like I have to take care of other people (other than the ones I really supposed to take care of) or write for every deadline that crosses my path, but I feel like 2015 really belonged to me. And that’s a good feeling. Saying “yes” to the right things– check!
2 failures, but each turned out to be a good thing in it’s own way
And now, onward to 2016… Happy New Year!