Thursday, November 15, 2018

This & That 11/15

:: My NaNoWriMo progress is ... slow. In 14 days, I've written 21,128 words. Then again, it's inaccurate to insinuate that I've written for 14 days. I haven't. I've taken at least three days off. So, I haven't done too bad if you look at it that way. However, I am definitely behind schedule if I want to make it to 50K by November 30. And I do. I mean, I won't beat myself up if I don't get there, but I definitely want to get there. I'm just struggling with my first ever crime/suspense novel. But challenge is good, right? (Here are my stats as of last night.)

:: It is officially Cranberry Ginger Ale season and I'm so happy. I know it's not the best thing for me, but I'm going to enjoy it for the next few months.

:: One of my very first blog friends, Jenn, has launched a line of workout shirts, gym matte. I'm so excited for her, and I'll definitely be making a purchase in the near future. I have my eye on the one pictured below.

:: I'm also excited for my brother-in-law, Isaac (he's the one on the right in the photo below), who will be among the dancers performing Monday night as part of Theatre of Dreams. It's a holiday-themed light show provided by Saks Fifth Avenue and Broadway Cares. If you can't be in NYC (like me), the show will be streamed live on at 6 p.m. CST. Click here to read more about it. 

What's going on with you this week?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The art of saying "no"

"No" is a hard word for me. I'm just not good at using it.

Part of it is the fear of missing out.

I spent the early years of my professional career struggling to make friends.  I worked long hours and then spent non-work time alone. I would chat with people on the Internet (thank God I had them), read, write, and watch lots of TV. But I didn't have a lot of social interaction. Now that I'm in a good place socially, I have a hard time turning down invitations for fear of missing something or even not being invited again if I say "no" one time.

Part of it is the fear of letting someone down.

I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me. I want to make them feel happy, loved, and appreciated. I want to be available to them when they need me. Sometimes this comes at my expense. I give up "me" time to help or be with someone else. And I need "me" time to maintain healthy emotions. Finding a balance is tough.

 Part of it is feeling like I owe something to others.

When I have a legitimate excuse for declining something, it's hard enough. But when I don't have a legitimate excuse -- other than being tired or needing downtime -- it's nearly impossible. I have this need to justify saying "no" to others. It's silly, I know. But that's just how I feel.

I know I need to let go of these fears and feelings so I can begin to put myself first. With two jobs and a husband, I need to also make sure I'm finding time for me. That begins with saying "no" to things.

Does anyone else have this issue?
How do you learn to say "no"?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books: October 2018

Life According to Steph

In October, I had to say farewell to a faithful friend of more than a decade. My kindle. It's a second generation and apparently it decided to just give up on life a few weeks ago. So so sad. RIP Kindle.

Even with that sad time, I did manage to finish some books last month.

I cannot get enough of this series (True North), which follows individuals in the very northeast. It started with a family and has branched out into neighbors and friends. I love the characters and it's nice to revisit those from earlier in the series to see how their lives have progressed. This is the fifth book and features Alec (a bad boy bartender) and May (the younger sister of Alec's rival). They are a strange match at first, but as the story unfolds, the reader sees just how good they can be for each other.

I love reading books set in my home state. Especially when they fit into genres that already capture my interest. This suspense/mystery features Arden, who has returned to her family home in Keokuk, Iowa, for the first time in several years. The place holds some sad memories for her -- notably, the disappearance of her twin sisters -- but she feels drawn to it nonetheless. While she's there, she begins to uncover family secrets that help her learn the truth about what happened to the toddlers. The book moved a bit slow at first, but once it got going, it was a really captivating and easy read.

Writer Anthony Peardew spends years of his life collecting lost objects, hoping one day these items will be returned to their rightful owner. When Anthony dies, he leaves his collection of lost objects to his caretaker, Laura. She must fulfill Anthony’s mission and try to reunite the lost objects with their rightful owners. I was intrigued by the story, wanting to know more about why Anthony would collect lost things and how he hoped to return them. The stories behind each of the objects are what kept this book going for me. I read it fairly quickly.

National Novel Writing Month is underway, so my reading time has taken a bit of a hit. I'm trying to stay strong though. I'm hoping I can finish at least three books this month.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Currently: November 2018

Watching "The Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge" on Food Network. I love Thanksgiving foods (I'll be doing a power ranking in one of my upcoming Friday Fiver posts), and Giada is a good host for the show.

Listening to "The Way I Am" by Charlie Puth. I'm obsessed with this song. And kicking myself for not seeing him when he did a free show in my city a few years ago. (P.S. Does he look a little bit like Harry Connick Jr. in the photo below or is it just me?)

Reading Spin by Catherine McKenzie. It's about a woman who ruins her shot at her dream job by showing up for the interview drunk and then has a chance to redeem herself by going into rehab for a story. It's a light read, which is a nice break from the heaviness of the world and other things going on.

Excited about this weekend's plans -- Sean's birthday, a happy hour, double date with friends, seeing family, and a Tony Lucca concert. So much fun!

Thankful for my friend, Jill, who gifted me her old Kindle (which she hasn't used in years) after mine died. I haven't had time to activate it or link it to my Amazon account, but that'll happen soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

First check-in for the #Last90Days Challenge

We're just past the first 30 days in the #Last90Days Challenge, which was inspired by Rachel Hollis. I committed to this challenge in my Oct. 2 post.

Let's check out how I'm doing on each of my five goals.

ONE  ::  Publish at least four blog posts per week.
Week one: Nailed it.
Week two: Check.
Week three: Got it.
Week four: Woot!

TWO  ::  Work out five days each week -- and make at least two of those double-workout days.
Week one: Yep.
Week two: Due to a massive tension headache, I only worked out four days and only one double day.
Week three: I nailed it.
Week four: I only worked out four days and had one double day.

THREE  ::  Schedule eight hours of writing per week.
Week one: I did. It felt so good to get back into it.
Week two: I barely got to eight hours. And I hit some writer's block. Eek!
Week three: I only squeezed in five writing hours.
Week four: Nailed it. The 5.5-hour Write All Night event on Friday definitely helped.

FOUR  ::  Copy recipes onto cards for our collection.
I have not even touched this yet. #facepalm

FIVE  ::  Read 14 books.
I've read four! I think that's a pretty good start.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Music Monday: Tony Lucca - "Everything's Changing"

I am so excited to see one of my favorites next weekend -- Tony Lucca!

It's been a while since he released some new tunes, but it sounds like he's about to do just that. Here's a video for his latest.

My favorite lyrics:
Them hypothetical conversations you've been havin' in your head again 
Always making a case for something you ain't gotta prove 
Sure, you're not quite as strong as you feel you probably oughta be by now 
Only means you got that much less to lose 

Ahhhh. I can't wait to hear this live.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Friday Fiver: Funko Pop figures

I love Funko Pop figurines. Whenever I see a display of them in a store, I have to go over and inspect the figures to see if there are any I want to add to my collection.

Here are the ones I currently own:
Beca (from "Pitch Perfect")
Baby Groot
Hermione Granger
Ron Weasley
Calico Cat (no name, but maybe I should give her one)
Jovie (from "Elf")

It's kind of a weird ensemble, but I love them all.

Here are five more I'm considering adding to my roster:

Max Scherzer
He doesn't pitch for my team and he's never pitched for my team, but I am drawn to him anyway. Yes, his Funko has a blue eye and a brown eye. Just like him.

Squints and Wendy Peffercorn
"The Sandlot," while not perfect, is one of my favorite childhood movies. Someday, maybe when I'm more comfortable with my body, I would love to go as this unlikely couple for Halloween.

Lydia Deetz
I've previously professed my love for the movie, "Beetlejuice." Lydia's character is so great -- she doesn't care what anyone (especially her parents) think about her interests, which include the afterlife.

New York's hottest club says "yes yes yes yes yes." Do I really need to explain why I want him?

I feel like Groot might be missing his favorite Trash Panda.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

This & That 11/1

:: I'm not good at Halloween costumes. I'm just not very creative. A few weeks ago, I asked for advice on some getup for my brewery shift. But then I procrastinated and was broke. So I just ended up being a black cat.

:: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts today. Yesterday, I finally figured out what I'm writing this month. I'm pretty excited to get started. 

:: I'm newly hooked on HQ Trivia. I've helped Sean a few times but finally signed up for my own account. I'm not good at trivia stuff, but I do enjoy it.

:: My hair has not seen a stylist since before my wedding. This week, I decided I had to change that. She didn't take off too much length (only an inch or so), but she added some layers, which makes it a lot lighter, and I think it frames my face better. I'm very happy with it. Change was long overdue.
:: Speaking of overdue changes, I have some others coming, but I'm not quite ready to spill it all just yet. Soon, I promise. For now, this motivational quote is my mantra.

Hope you're having a great week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

An update on Cleo

Back in May, I mentioned that Cleo (my 16-year-old calico) gave us quite a health scare. While I was getting ready to leave for my bachelorette party, she began acting strange. She was walking funny and as she tried to itch her ear, her whole body just seemed to freeze. It almost looked like a seizure. It was terrifying, and Sean and I rushed her to the vet. A few hours later, we found out her kidneys were not functioning well.

I have no idea how she sleeps like this. It makes my neck hurt.

Since then, we've been doing subcutaneous fluid injections daily (or nearly daily -- sometimes we miss a day). They seem to be helping her. In her check-ups since then, her levels have kind of evened out. She's using the litter box normally and eating and drinking just fine. She still throws up a few times a week, which I'll bring up to her vet when she goes back in a few weeks.

It's not fun, but we both know the fluids make her feel better (at least I'm hoping she's figured that out.)

 People keep asking me how long I will continue with the fluids for her. My answer? As long as I need to.

Her treatment is not cheap -- $80/month -- and I have her and her fur-sister on special food that costs about $54 every six weeks. However, I won't let expense be the reason I stop her treatment. When I adopted her nearly 16 years ago, I committed to giving her the best life I could. I think I've done an OK job at that -- definitely not perfect, but she's had a good life. I will continue with her treatments as long as her vet tells me she still has a good quality of life.

My girl loves laying in the sun.

I'll never be ready to say goodbye to my little feline friend, but I vow to continue doing what I can for her as long as it's still helping her.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Music Monday: Daphne Willis - "Hustle"

Most of the music I listen to on a regular basis is for the lyrics, melody, or message. Except when I'm working out or running. That's when I want something more upbeat and motivational. The latest from Daphne Willis has become a favorite on my workout playlist.

Favorite lyric:
Bringin' that fire, takin' it higher 
No limit no, watch me go, watch me go

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Fiver: Worst people to sit next to at an event

The know-it-all.
This person knows a lot about the team, show, or band. And they want to make sure you know how much they know.

The phone addict.
Dude, you're at a show or game. And you probably paid to be here. Maybe pay attention.

The drunk.
I went to a movie once where the guy next to me did five tequila shots within the first hour. He was obnoxious and out of control.

The sing-a-long.
Look, I have a hard time not bursting into my favorite tunes when I see "RENT," but ... I paid to see and hear the actors. I'm not saying I don't mouth the words and maybe sing softly to myself, but I'm not trying to compete with the cast.

The requestor.
Unless the musician asks for requests, it's best to assume they don't want them. Most artists I know spend a decent amount of time on the setlist and choose songs for a specific reason. Enjoy the songs they selected for you and shut up.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

This & That 10/25

:: My facebook feed seems to be filled with nothing but voting encouragement, new babies, and people who are losing their pets. Seriously. It's a rollercoaster of emotions.
(I actually don't mind reading about any of those things, but I thought this meme was adorable.)

:: The other night, my bestie and I had a movie night and watched, "Little Monsters." I think I'm officially old as I asked several times how the movie could be considered appropriate for children. There was swearing and a monster commented "nice ass" to a child. Um, what? I also felt bad for the parents who had to clean up the messes caused by the monsters.

:: I went for a run on Tuesday and was so happy with the pace. Especially since I wasn't feeling 100 percent.

:: I keep falling victim to facebook ads for books. I need to work on reading more from my kindle instead of continuing to add titles.

:: I have done a piss poor job of practicing self-care lately. I eat OK and I work out, but beyond that, I struggle. I rarely ask for help. I talk down to myself. I pretend I'm OK when I'm not. I need to start making some changes.

What's on your mind this week?

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