Friday, January 13, 2017

What I've Gained (And Lost) As A Writer

 
    For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to write. Most of what I published in the early days was poetry, but those poems didn't put food on the table. I had to set aside my writing aspirations and focus on making money instead. I've worked all sorts of odd jobs----telephone operator, dental assistant, house cleaner, baker, and a sales rep for Avon. Each job helped feed my family, but none of them fed my soul.

     In 2011, I started blogging part time as a hobby. It was cathartic to write about menopause and middle age angst, and after a few short months, I was hooked. The blog led to a book, which then led to additional writing opportunities with online sites. When people ask me what I do now for a living, it feels good to tell them I'm a writer. I never felt comfortable saying this before until I was able to supplement our family income by getting paid to do something I love.

     As with any career, writing has its ups and downs. In most cases, it's a slow start in the beginning (unless you're one of those rare entities who becomes a rockstar author overnight with your first book) before the publication acceptances roll in. A writer has to have the patience of Job in order to survive in the world of publishing.

     I've noticed many changes in my life since the day I wrote my very first blog post. Although there have been plenty of bumps along the way in my career, the gains far outweigh the losses:

INCOME:  When I worked a regular job, I had regular income that I could count on for my monthly expenses. My income from writing is sporadic at best----it's feast or famine. Some months the book royalties and article sales keep me afloat comfortably, while there are other times when I'm not sure I can afford the "good" dog food brand. Those are the beans and rice days, but I still prefer this lifestyle over scrubbing someone else's toilet. It's a wonder I don't have PTSD after working in some of the houses I cleaned.

SLEEP:  Like many writers, I have unusual sleeping hours. Insomnia perches on the side of my bed like a restless magpie chattering away ideas from my muse. These words become a fever in my head that I cannot ignore until the last sentence has been saved on my laptop. The end result is that I'm often tired and look disheveled, but naps are totally acceptable for writers. And lack of sleep also justifies the amount of money I spend on coffee.

EATING HABITS:  I loved cooking for my family when they were all here at the same time. Homemade stews and roasts; fresh vegetables, hearty casseroles and creamy pastas. We ate well. But the kids grew older, moved out, and our schedules changed. Writing takes priority now over the hours I once spent in the kitchen. The microwave has become my best friend, along with Chinese delivery. The good news is that I'm still getting my daily allotment of vegetables from pizza toppings, plus staying healthy one Gummy Bear Vitamin at a time.

JOB ENVIRONMENT: Writing is often a lonely career. It's just me and the blank computer screen.  I love being my own boss, but at times I miss the camaraderie of coworkers. Instead, I have a son who pokes his head into my office every fifteen minutes to remind me that there is nothing to eat in the refrigerator, and a husband who asks fifty questions when I hand him the electric bill.
Luckily, I've met dozens of writers online in various social media groups and have formed my own special tribe of friends. In many ways, we're like a close nit group of coworkers in side by side cubicles. We share the same boss----our muse----and have each other's back when writer's block rears its ugly head, threatening our job security. We also share virtual cups of coffee while we bitch about our kids and the amount of calories there are in a single glass of wine.

WEIGHT:  Sitting at my computer for 12 hours a day has taken a toll on my body. My butt has become the shape of the chair that I sit on, and my stomach is doing double duty as a kangaroo pouch. It's also a crumb catcher when I eat at my desk. I need one of those treadmills that holds a laptop so that I can run and work at the same time. Dangle a piece of bacon on a hook in front of me and I'll run even faster. I may never be thin again, but at least I'll be able to outrun most of the joggers in my neighborhood, especially if the scent of bacon is in the air.

TIME MANAGEMENT: I've become very selfish with my time since I started writing. In the past, whenever one of my kids needed assistance with homework or a ride to their after school activities, I dropped whatever I was doing to help them. Now that they're older, I'm able to step back and let them handle things on their own. If I'm in the middle of a writing project and someone asks me for a favor, I tell them they'll have to take a number and wait. I hate being interrupted when I'm trying to write, and am known to turn off my phone so that I can detach from the real world in order to concentrate on the new one I'm creating with words. Sometimes though, my need for "me-time" isn't just for writing. I'm a sucker for social media and am easily hypnotized by the siren song of Facebook. But hey, I can always tell people I'm studying behavioral psychology for an upcoming article, and social media is rife with unusual behavior. I can pretty much use my writing career as an excuse to get out of doing anything. "You're having a birthday party for your Shih Tzu on Saturday? I'm so sorry, but I have a writing deadline to meet this weekend."

 CONFIDENCE: This has always been tricky for me, and was pretty much nonexistent before I became a writer. Years ago, I won several awards for my high sales volume with Avon, but honestly, it wasn't that much of a challenge to sell miracle creams and lipsticks. Women are always hungry for any product that will make them look younger and feel sexy. Writing is the hardest profession I've ever attempted, because I'm at the mercy of my muse, and my success is based on my readership. There are plenty of days when I don't feel like writing, but I push myself to do it. If I don't write, I feel hollow inside. My career is an emotional yo-yo---the days I'm able to sell my work to topnotch literary sites, I'm ready to bust out a bottle of champagne. But with success there are also failures, and I take every one of my rejections to heart. During those times, I want to hide in a blanket fort and eat an undisclosed amount of Hershey's Kisses to soothe my bruised ego.

     For the most part, the highs of my writing career outweigh the lows, and I'm happier than I've ever been before. Seeing an article that I've written go viral means far more to me than a first place trophy for sales in cosmetics. After all, face creams make us look great on the surface, but a good book touches us deep down in our souls.

     Choosing a career as a professional writer has been worth every penny.....kangaroo pouch and all.





Friday, January 6, 2017

How To Age (Somewhat) Gracefully In The New Year

     Every New Year's Day, we make resolutions to eat healthier, get fit, find a new job, appreciate life more, and focus on changing our priorities. But within 24 hours, most of these resolutions have already been broken after the first slice of apple pie.

     A new year is also a reminder that time is fleeting, and many mid-lifers begin searching for alternative strategies to slow down the aging process and reclaim their lost youth. Here's a few ideas to help you look your best in 2017:



COMBAT WRINKLES: People who want instant results are the first in line for Botox injections. This is fine if you want lips that look like you've been sucking on a tailpipe or if you prefer your duck face smile to be permanent. Skip the botulinum toxins and get yourself a good face cream with plenty of SPF. No more tanning by the pool, unless you want to be mistaken for a large prune.

LOSE WEIGHT: Cut out burgers, pizza and Chinese takeout from your diet. In other words, cut out  everything you love and eat only the things you hate. This way, you'll eat less. Boiled zucchini, anyone?

NO MORE ALCOHOL:  You should cut out all alcoholic beverages if possible. Uh-huh. This is usually the first resolutions that's broken. Research shows that Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants, so drink a pomegranate martini and you'll be just fine.

EXERCISE MORE: The definition of exercise changes when you get older. In your 30's, you can easily run a 10K with your friends. But by the time you reach 60, exercise consists of walking outside to retrieve the newspaper (as long as the paper is near the front door). If you want to bump up your cardio, lug the trashcan from the end of your driveway to the side of your house. You'll burn even more calories if you move all your neighbor's trash cans, too.

GOOD GROOMING HABITS: Keep the Sherwood Forest in your nose neatly trimmed. If necessary, grab a hedge trimmer to get the excess foliage out of your nostrils. Nip those chin hairs and skin tags too, while you're at it. Also, toe nails become more brittle as you age, and are harder to cut. If they're super thick, you might need a chainsaw to trim those suckers.

IMPROVED SEX LIFE: If you want to feel 30 again, have sex three times a week with the help of Premarin or Viagra. Consider spicing things up in the bedroom with role playing and costumes. But no Disney or Star Wars characters, please. No one wants to make love to Yoda or Olaf.

DYE YOUR HAIR: Some people look like beautiful, silver foxes when they gray. But if you're anything like me, the grays are a wiry salt & pepper mix that belong on the head of a wort-nosed witch. No thanks. I've discovered that a blend of blonde and neon purple make me look like a kid who belongs in an emo band. It tricks me into thinking I'm seventeen again.

DELETE NEGATIVITY: It's time to disconnect from anyone who lies to you, judges you, gossips behind your back or does not appreciate you for who you are. These people drain the joy out of your  battery life until you're depleted. Jump start the battery by dumping the people who make you feel like shit and find new friends who appreciate your individuality. Surround yourself with positive people and your world will be a happier place full of butterflies, daisies, and chocolate cupcakes (okay, I made that part up).

THINK YOUNG:  "Age is just a number." yeah, it's a BIG number, but it's still just a number and you shouldn't let it define who you are. You want to stay up late and party with the younger crowd? It's okay to nap a few hours before you head out the door (ain't no shame in the nap game). Try seeing the world with fresh eyes instead of with your magnifying glasses. Remember who you were in the 1970's when Led Zeppelin topped the music charts and channel your inner teenage soul.

     Make 2017 your best year yet. Pack away that Yoda costume, grab a pomegranate martini and toast to the new, younger you. Cheers!




Friday, December 23, 2016

Fly On The Wall During The Holiday Season


     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, eight bloggers are opening the doors to their homes to give you a glimpse of their private lives if you care to eavesdrop on some pretty crazy stuff. If nothing else, it will make you realize that you are not the ONLY one living in a looney bin. Every family has their share of the crazies, and mine is no different.

If you were a fly on the wall in my home this past week, you would have heard me cursing up a storm, because planet Mercury decided to mess with me once again. I've written about "Mercury Retrograde" before, and I swear, it's a real thing. Sure, there are plenty of nonbelievers out there, but let me tell you a little story of woe about my week from technology/electronic hell. In the course of six days, my computer crashed, the jets on my new hot tub stopped working, two of my indoor ceiling fans broke, three of my brand new outdoor holiday lawn decorations fritzed out, and then my car died. To add insult to injury, my once sturdy towel rack fell off the wall while I was showering and the plug to my favorite hair straightener snapped off in the electric outlet 30 minutes before I had to get ready to go to a party. Somebody hold me, please----I'm ready to murder Mercury.

 
   Despite the streak of electronic bad luck I've had lately, there has been a frenzy of holiday activities going on around the Doyle house these past few weeks. The whole crew was here to celebrate a wonderful Thanksgiving, and as usual, while we were gathered around the dinner table, the conversation turned to food....as it always does.....

"You're not a Doyle male unless your overeat on Thanksgiving and throw up afterwards."

"Why are you breathing so heavy?"
"I'm practicing Lamaze for when I give birth to my holiday food baby. "

"The hot dogs have gone rogue. They abandoned their packaging and fell down into a bin at the bottom of the fridge."
"Yeah, I know about that bin---our refrigerator is an official wiener collector. "

"Has anyone ever told you that you look like a T-Rex when you get up in the middle of the night to pee?"
"I can't help it----my belly is too full so I have to keep my arms up, which makes them too short to reach the toilet paper roll."

"Why are you standing so long in front of an open refrigerator?"
"I'm looking for the answers to life....or maybe just a piece of pumpkin pie."


     I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season (without Mercury's interference) and I wish y'all a Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!


Be sure to click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www. bakinginatornado.com/
Menopausal Mother                    http://www.menopausalmom.com/     
Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade. blogspot.com/                        
Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone. blogspot.com                         
Never Ever Give Up Hope             http://batteredhope.blogspot. com                         
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/                      
Southern Belle Charm                   http://www.southernbellecharm. com
A Little Piece of Peace                   http://little-piece-of-peace. blogspot.com  



Friday, December 9, 2016

20 Curious Questions With 20 Quirky Answers

 
     There's this silly questionnaire circulating around Facebook that caught my eye recently. The original copy has 30 questions, but since I have the attention span of a gnat, I shortened it to 20. I mean seriously, how much do you really want to know about me?  I'm about as interesting as a two-day seminar on kitty litter manufacturing. But if you're a bit curious about my life and my opinions on things as earth shattering as my favorite ice cream flavor, then this post is for you.

1. Are you named after someone? I wish I could tell you that I'm named after someone famous, like Marcia Brady. But no, just my mother's best friend who was also named Marcia. Thank God Mom wasn't close to someone named Ethel.

2. When is the last time you cried?  When I peeled pearl onions for Thanksgiving dinner. By the time I was on my third bag, I noticed the directions on the back of the package said to boil the onions for three minutes and then the skins would fall right off. That's when I really cried. 

3. What is your favorite lunch meat? Liverwurst, even though I hate liver. Don't ask me to explain this phenomenon to you. 
 
4. Do you have kids? Four that I know of. But there might be some seedpods floating around that I'm not aware of.  


5. Do you use sarcasm? Only when I talk to people, because my dog doesn't listen to me. 


6. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes, in a jar in Missouri. They just celebrated their 50th birthday. 


7. Would you bungee jump? Only from my bed to the floor.

 
8. What is your favorite kind of cereal? Lucky Charms. Actually, I don't really like the cereal---just the marshmallow leprechaun charms inside the box. Which explains why my family refers to me as the Stealth Marshmallow Thief.


9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Ties? What ties? I live I'm Florida. We only wear flip flops here.


10. Do you think you're strong? I don't know----I haven't tried to pick up a Volkswagen lately. 


11. What is your favorite ice cream?  I can only pick one flavor?


12. What is the first thing you notice about people? Their teeth. If they're nasty,  I have to wonder what other parts of their body they're not keeping clean. 


13. What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?  Skin tags and a jelly belly. Ain't midlife grand?


14. What color pants are you wearing now? I'm not sure. The pair I'm wearing was once a solid color, but now it's covered in food stains and dog hair. So......camouflage.....I'm wearing camouflage.


15. What was the last thing you ate? I don't remember.... <BURP>. Oh yeah, it was pizza!


16. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Is there a color for pinot grigio?


17. Favorite smell? The lumber at Lowe's......the smell of construction (but NOT the construction workers). 


18. Hair color? 
Blonde-fuchsia-purple. I'm just like Eric Carle's Mixed-Up Chameleon. 

19. Favorite food to eat? Anything Mexican.....because I love to say, "Chimichanga."


20. Favorite movie? Titanic. What's not to love about a sinking ship, star-crossed lovers and a shortage of lifeboats?





     Now that you know all of these idiotic facts about me, how 'bout if you take a turn? I challenge my fellow bloggers to write a post with the answers to all of these questions. Game on!


Friday, December 2, 2016

Writer Series: Wonderful Winter Guest Post by Anne Bardsley

    I have the lovely and talented Anne Bardsley, author of How I Earned My Wrinkles, guesting on my site again today with a story that many of us females can relate to when it comes to our attempts at looking sexy. Most women I know covet good looking shoes, and probably own at least fifty pairs. When I was younger, I had no problem sporting some flashy stilettos when I hit the night clubs. But nowadays, I'm much happier in a pair of fuzzy slippers. Sadly, my floppy-eared bunny slippers are not acceptable at my favorite dining spots, so I have to strap on a pair of heels and wobble my way into the restaurant. Anne, however, braved it one night in a sexy pair of VERY high heeled shoes. God bless the woman---she has more courage (and stamina) than I do! I hope you enjoy her story, and please welcome her to Meno Mama's site today with lots of comment love!


                         My Blue Suede Heels


     My husband is a connoisseur of women’s feet. He notices women’s shoes. We live in Florida where flip flops are considered formal wear. There is a never ending supply of amusement for him here. He likes high sexy heels on women (obviously). We’ll be at a restaurant and he’ll say, “Anne, check out her heels. You should get a pair of them.” I am five foot seven and I wear a size ten shoe. Sexy heels make me feel like Goliatha and Scott is David. I tower over my husband. He doesn’t care. He’s looking at my feet!

     Since we’re empty nesters, I decided I should spice things up a bit. I went shopping for sexy, six- inch heels. When I tried them on, I had to lean on the saleswoman to stand. I couldn’t walk without assistance. It’s a strange angle when you’re six inches higher from the rear. My head stuck out at a strange angle. I looked like an angry, wild bird on a hunt. I felt like my outstretched head was leading my body and it wasn’t good. I was following myself! I bought the beautiful blue suede, six inch, heels anyway and proudly left the store feeling like a big sex kitten…with very pointy feet.



     My husband wasn’t home yet so I prepared for his arrival. I put on a short skirt and sat in the chair with a drink at my side. I bounced my legs to show off my sexy heels. They looked so amazing. When he walked in the door he nearly fainted. “Surprise!” I yelled, laughing. I modeled the shoes from my chair, bouncing my legs.

     “Let’s see you walk,” he suggested, as he smiled at me. I think he licked his lips too.
     
     This was not a good idea. I was dreading the walk part. I sipped my drink and rose out of the chair at that strange angle. I leaned my head into my walk and looked like a mad ostrich on a hunt. I took three steps, swishing my hips as I pranced down my imaginary runway. Then I lost control. I couldn’t stop myself. I ended up in the kitchen braced by the counter. I literally ran through the living room like a runaway train, trying to stay upright.

     “Where’d you go?” he yelled. “Come back so I can see you better.” I did my ostrich prance back towards the living room. I was six foot one in these heels and I was rolling. This was not a sexy dance, believe me. He finally got up and walked in front of me. I put my hands on his shoulders and he led me to the chair.

     “Well let’s see them sitting down again,” he said. “You’ll have to practice walking in them.”
“I think these will be my sitting heels. I’ll get seated and you just serve me drinks.” This seemed like the best possible idea to prevent injuries.

     “This is just not sexy,” I moaned. ‘Maybe I’m more the orthopedic shoe type.” I was sad, very sad. My playful sex kitten has turned into an old, ragged Tabby.

     “Oh stop!” He interrupted my pity party.


     “Let’s go dancing!” he shrieked. Before I know it were in the car. Next we were on the dance floor. We were in each other’s arms like young lovers. No one knew he was actually keeping me vertical. One loose step and I’d be off doing my ostrich dance and take out the entire band. Just the thought of it made me hold Scott tighter. We looked like honeymooners. A few older couples smiled at us. The top of his head came just below my chin. I kissed the top of his head tenderly. It was so romantic! Maybe my blue suede heels did have a place in my future after all.

     “We could get you a helmet and knee pads to practice walking,” he whispered as we swayed to a slow dance. Or we can always use Pop’s walker and I can watch you walk from behind.” I stopped kissing his head at that moment and tried to bite him.

     The vision of me wearing a hockey helmet, knee pads and a pushing walker in sexy, blue heels just deflated my playful plans. Fortunately, the walker had no slip tips to keep me upright. The most exciting news was it had place to hold my drink. After a few gulps of wine, I felt like a purring vixen again.


*** You can find Anne at her BLOG,  TWITTER and her AMAZON PAGE.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Fly On The Wall In Pictures

     Welcome to another addition of Fly On The Wall group postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today eight brave bloggers are inviting you into their homes for a glimpse at what goes on behind closed doors (are you sure you wanna know??).

     They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So rather than tell you what was said and done around the Doyle abode this past month, I'm sharing some incriminating photos instead.....





THE ELUSIVE CANDY CORN VAMPIRE



WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE RUM IS ALL GONE??



WHO ARE THESE STRANGE WOMEN AND HOW DID I GET HERE?



I'M A BLUE FROSTING-TONGUED MONSTER! RAWR!!



THESE TWO FEMALES ARE ANNOYING THE HELL OUT OF ME



YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PUGS....



YEAH, WE BE HAWT IN THESE HATS



WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD?!?



IS IT THANKSGIVING YET?



NUTHIN' BETTER THAN FAMILY LOVE



Click on these links for a peek into some of the homes of the other bloggers participating in today's Fly On The Wall group posting:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www. bakinginatornado.com/
Menopausal Mother                    http://www.menopausalmom.com/     
Go Mama O                                 http://www.gomamao.com                                                 
Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade. blogspot.com/                        
Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone. blogspot.com                         
Never Ever Give Up Hope             http://batteredhope.blogspot. com                         
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/                      
Southern Belle Charm                   http://www. southernbellecharm.com 

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Voices Of Insomnia

     I love sleep, but it does not love me. I either sleep like the dead or I'm wide awake all night. There is no in-between for me. The nights I sleep deep, a tornado could lift my house from its foundation and drop it into a cornfield in Kansas and I STILL wouldn't wake up. For this reason, naps also make me nervous. I never know if I'll fall asleep for twenty minutes, two hours, or two years. Naps are risky at best, and my poor husband has no idea who he will be dealing with when he interrupts my sleep----the Kraken or a disoriented Rip Van Winkle.

     The nights insomnia shares the mattress with me are the worst. I don't count sheep to fall asleep. I count calories. And sadly, that's enough to keep me awake all night. My mind flips through a gazillion thoughts in record time, like cards being shuffled during a poker match. I can't shut my thoughts off, much less dim the commanding voice of insomnia that nags my subconscious.

     On a typical sleepless night, these are some of the strange thoughts that keep me tossing and turning while the bedside clock ticks away the minutes:



That recipe for chicken chow mein turned out really good tonight. I'm craving it again. Right now. I wonder how it will taste cold, straight out of the fridge....

So, if I add Hub's paycheck to the balance in the checkbook, then subtract what I owe on the mortgage this month, plus figure in the $200 I owe for the water bill and another $300 for the electric, that means......beans and rice. I eat bean and rice every day for a month.

My underwear is too tight. I need new underwear. This pair has holes. Geez, what if I got in an accident today and the EMTs saw them?

It's hot in here. The sheets are sticking to me. The thermostat must be set on a temperature compatible to Mercury.

How do penguins mate?

Wait----what are those suspicious noises coming from the garbage cans outside? Possum? Raccoon? Hungry neighbor?

Let's sing a song: "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down...." Karen Carpenter.....what year was that?

Did I turn off the oven?

Is that a lump under my armpit? It IS a lump. What if I have cancer? Aunt Sally had it, and look what happened to her! I have all the symptoms---I'm constantly tired and achy, and my weight has been fluctuating....OH MY GOD I'M GONNA DIE. Wait.....no....it's not a lump. It's a mosquito bite.

Why didn't the dog poop tonight? Maybe someone gave her too much cheese. I like cheese. I really like cheese on chicken parmesan. Maybe I can order some for lunch tomorrow. Maybe I can order some now.

Don't leave a leg sticking outside of the covers.....something or someone might grab it. Ghosts. Creepy clowns. Deranged serial killers. I need to stop watching American Horror Story.

Is that the toilet water running again? I need to get a plumber out here. Life would be so much easier if someone invented disposable, biodegradable toilet plungers.

Hubs needs to mow the grass tomorrow. I'll wake him and tell him. It's 2:00 a.m. but he won't mind.

If I could redesign this house, I would add an extra sink in the master bathroom, knock out the wall that divides the kitchen from the living room, add another bathroom to the east side of the house, because we can never have too many bathrooms.....wait, do I need to pee? Welcome to "Bladder Roulette." Spin the wheel and it lands on..... "You gotta pee. RIGHT NOW!"..... dammit.

Was my closet door cracked open all this time?

Let's sing again: "Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon..."

Stop. Practice fake sleep. Close your eyes, breathe deep. Relax. Just go to sleep....hey, what was that kid's name in Mrs. Johnson's third grade class who puked whole blueberries by the classroom door?

I wonder who the first person was to eat an artichoke?

I need to find out what that weird sound was coming from my car today. What if it was my transmission? What if it blows up tomorrow while I'm driving down the highway? I'd better wear new underwear just in case the EMTs show up.


   
     Hopefully tonight will be better. I really need to get more sleep. I'll get the toilet fixed and make sure the thermostat is set low enough for icicles to form on the ceiling. And it wouldn't hurt to order a plate of chicken parmesan for dinner while I'm at it.....



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