Another Month, Another Deadline

I know I’m wasn’t alone in my sadness when it was time to flip the calendar from July to August. After all, August is the official last month of summer. And, particularly, in the Midwest, where I live, it means that hot days, the kind where I can where shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops are short-lived. As a writer with, yet another self-imposed deadline to finish developmental edits for a novel I’m writing, flipping the calendar was beyond sad, closer to depressing. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I started working on these edits a year ago when I left my job of 23 years. For the first time in my adult life, I was off for the summer. Suddenly having that much free time while adjusting to this major life change, it goes without saying that I wasn’t in the headspace to give my writing the necessary attention. So when the following July came, a complete year since I left the job and I still hadn’t finished the edits, I declared, “Enough is enough! Time to stop playing with this novel!” Then, I declared I would finish this work by July 31st!

I set out with this goal WITHOUT a strategy for how I would make this happen. I didn’t sit down and look at my schedule to determine what days and hours I would have time to write. For instance, there was a Friday that I was not scheduled to work, and would have written on that day, but I had to drive my son up to Michigan State University for a week he was spending there. And then, that following Friday, when I was off of work, I had to pick him up. It’s only an hour drive from our house, but dealing with kids and colleges is unpredictable. It can be a lot, physically and mentally.

My first MSU alum with my future 2nd MSU alum

Then, the last three days of the month, I travelled to New York to help my friend celebrate her 40th birthday.

Arriving in New York after 7 hr delay in airport. We still managed to smile!

Furthermore, I didn’t even look through the manuscript to determine how many chapters were left to edit, how many I would need to work through per writing session to finish by the deadline. I didn’t think about doing that until the middle of the month. That was also right about the time when I made a major change to the protagonist, which then, sent me back to beginning of the novel to infuse those changes into the story. I knew then that my deadline was out the window, but it was doomed from the start without proper planning.

I don’t like to say this about myself, but the proof is in the pudding. I have never done well with self-accountability. Not with diets, exercise schedules, or writing. I’m too quick to give myself passes when something gets hard. I rationalize the hell of stuff.

“Life is too short to not indulge these bagels and donuts that management was so kind to bring into work,” I’ve been known to say when I’m supposed to avoiding carbs.

“Is this flabby stomach really preventing you from living a fulfilling life?” I have asked myself when I was on day 4 of a 30 day ab challenge.

“You’re not a full-time writer. You can’t expect yourself to write like you are. Your daughter needs to talk to you. You’re a new grandmother. You’re nurturing a new relationship.” I comfort myself when I find myself breaking a scheduled writing session when any of the important people in my life call. I feel such guilt when I put them on DND (do not disturb).

Sometimes I curse the day I decided to write a book. Even more so the day when I declared I actually wanted success as an author–the kind of success in which I could actually make money and support myself. Even knowing that it’s only a small percentage of writers who are privileged to live that life, I’m not ready to give up on the dream of me being one of them. In the meantime, I will continue to do better. Create some accountability partners, no matter how terrifying that is to me.

Now back to these edits…

Class of 2021

I can’t remember exactly how I felt when I registered for my Oral History course in August 2021. I knew it was my last class of the program but the feeling of graduation or completion didn’t hit me until I received the email to participate in commencement. It was then that excitement revved up within me like Indy 500 race car driver approaching the finish line.

And then this…

Walking across the stage, earning a second masters degree. This time from Wayne State University in Information Science.

I’m glad my BIG day came at the close of 2021 because next year, 2022, is all about my high school senior!

You know teen boys are hard to photograph with a smile 😂 but he’s happy for his mom

Journaling Rocks!

My poodi (grandbaby) is sound asleep. I should be too, after the day of running behind her, cleaning up behind her, AND baking a decorating, not one, but two cakes!

I was exhausted after the full day and shoujd have been sleep with the baby. However, when you’ve been thinking about the memoir you’re writing all day in the back of your head, you use the quiet time to write. Or research, in my case.

I’m reading through the journal I began the very night that I lost my husband. I remember having the weirdest dream in those early months following his death and I’m sure I wrote it down. As I’m looking for that entry, and reading over my thoughts and experiences during that time, I can’t help but be grateful for the journey God has me on. The entry that I just read which prompted me to make write this post was a passage about my expectation of the good things to come my way following this devastating time in my life. I PROMISE you, I wrote on 2/23/2018 that I was expecting a new job, new confidence, new boldness, new success in my near future. And here I am as of October 29, 2021, about to start a new job, in my new career as a librarian at Royal Oak Public Library. I officially started on 10/4/21. I have some training on 11/3/21. Tears literally filled my eyes writing this, just recognizing how good God is! If you don’t know, NOW you know! #GodisFaithful #’HeWillNeverleavenorforsakeyou #KeeptheFaith

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

I Quit My Job of 23 Years—The Vlog

So I haven’t posted since the brief series about leaving my job of 23 years to pursue a new beginning. That’s not because I haven’t had anything to blog about. I decided to do something a little different, more real time, to chronicle this journey—Vlog. I like this raw, authentic process of recording this journey. Check it out. Subscribe if you like it or not. Lol.

Journey to My Adventure: The Benefit debacle

Tuesday, July 5, 2021

On the way to sleep I was thinking about the week ahead. My official last week at the job. OMG! The anxiety is real.

Like, off the payroll effective 7/9.

Like, no more insurance ( I do have the option to extend it for 6 mos).

Like, no more discounts for my AT&T services (cell bill, security system, TV, internet)

Like, no more going to work and sitting there doing virtually nothing for a pretty good paycheck.

Hmmm…Why did I do this again?” I find myself asking.

Oh yeah…because I’m sick of the ish! And have been for about five years.

Truthfully, the insurance thing is kind of getting to me. One of the friend’s at work who I shared the news with about my decision to leave advised me to get all of my medical, vision, and dental appointments in by last day of payroll. Sounds like good advice, right?

But not really. It’s not likely to be able to secure appointments for two people–me and my son–in a matter of two weeks!

I tried, though. I managed to get an appointment with my primary care doctor and I used my eyeglass frame prescriptions from November 2020 to get a sunglasses frame. I called our dentist to try to schedule cleanings, left a message, and they haven’t called back. Unfortunately, but maybe not, my son cracked his tooth over the weekend and now he has to have oral surgery to get the tooth extracted. Luckily, they were able to schedule that before my last day of payroll, though a large portion of the cost is not covered by insurance.

Nevertheless, my son still needs physical and Lord knows what else could come up. Although I have to pay out of pocket, without the luxury of regular paychecks coming in, I’m glad that AT&T has an option for me to extend my coverage for six months. I’d rather have insurance than face astronomical medical bills if anything should come up for me or my son before I secure another position with benefits.

This makes me very appreciative of Obama Care. It’s good to know that if the self-employment or PT work become my way of life that I can still have insurance.

Journey to my next adventure: What This is Not

The decision to leave my job of 23 years did not come without serious thought and consideration. I did not look at my bank account one day and say to myself, “Girl, you good. You don’t need this bi-weekly paycheck you’re getting from this company.”

Read More...

Journey to my new adventure–Who to Tell first

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

By default, my daughter was the first to know what I was doing. Now, she may not have believed that I actually going to go though with it because she knows how big of a decision leaving my job is, especially not having one to go directly to. After all, I have always preached to her and, now my 17 year old son, that you don’t leave a job without another one waiting. Well, I’ll explain, it’s a little different when you’re 45 and you’ve spent the last 23 years in a place for the sake of providing stability for your family and now you’re ready to live more for yourself. And, the decision was not made with the expectation for someone else to take care of me.

Anyway, I knew the word would get out at work after I turned my paperwork in to my manager. But I wanted to ensure that my actual friends at work heard the news from me before they heard it from the grapevine. Rather than communicating with them individually, I decided to send a group text. They all responded with congratulations. All of them know of my literary efforts and probably think that I’m leaving to pursue my literary dreams.

Sharing the news with my family wasn’t going to be as easy as a group text. My core family–mom, sister, brother, and son–would definitely receive the news differently than my friends. Though they know I wouldn’t make the decision lightly, they’ll still wonder why in the world I’m leaving my “good” job. Either that, or they’ll think I’m sitting on a pile of money that I haven’t told them about! LOL

I had planned to tell them on the 4th of July when they were over celebrating on my new deck. But when the day got going, my focus was grilling and accommodating everyone’s needs. It was a few more people there than usual so I got lost in the chaos of all of it all. So, family group text it is! (With the exception my mom–she doesn’t like important news via text.)

When you have news to share with family or friends, how have you shared it? Let me know in the comments.

Wellness Wednesday—

I was trying to craft some words for this post to go along with this picture, but I concluded that the words say it all.

I have three of these notes taped around my cubicle at work. Whichever direction I look in, these words are in my line of vision. They remind me to use my down time, specifically at work, wisely. Instead of chatting it up with coworkers or watching a series on Netflix when work is low, I should be preparing what I’m going to write in the evening on my manuscript or planning my social media marketing plan to promote my blog and my books, working on my online graduate course, reading a book, or updating my resume.

If you’re laid off due to CVOID-19, or at home with nothing to do because everything is closed, I encourage you to take heed to this words.

When you see these words, what comes to mind that should you be doing with your time? Tell me in the comments below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

It is Finished…Summer Class, that is #lifeafter

Thursday, August 1, 2019 marked the culmination of my first year as a graduate student of the Masters of Library Science program at Wayne State University!  Only a special kind of person–or maybe a glutton for punishment–undertakes a graduate program while displaced from their permanent residence due to a house fire, adjusting to life after the passing of their spouse, taking responsibility over a rental home that deceased husband managed, and a host of other things that you’ve probably already read about on my blog. But, I did it! And quite successfully, too, I might add. 4.0 GPA first semester, 3.5 the second, and a 3.0 this current semester.

Although I did well, I put myself through a lot stress at a time in my life when I should have been relaxing as much as possible. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something, I advised myself.

Now, I don’t regret, at all, the decision to begin this program. I’d been contemplating it for a few years before finally applying. However, it might have been a good idea to start with one class instead of two. It took those first two semesters of talking myself out of quitting a time or two before I came to my senses and only registered for one class this last semester.

Forty-three year old LaCharmine cannot do graduate school the way twenty-five year LaCharmine did it.

Prior to the end of this semester, I told myself it was time for a break.

“Not even one class, LaCharmine,” I said to myself sternly. (I need that kind of talking to sometimes).

I need my evenings and weekends as free as they can be (given my church & sorority commitments).

I need time for writing.

I need time for reading.

I need time for getting my house how I want it.

I need time for dating. (Yes, I said it. Dating!!!)

Hmm…will I listen to myself and take a break from school? How will my first date go after 10 years out of the game? Will I accomplish the goal of completing novel #3 by end of 2019? Follow my blog for more #lifeafter posts.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

selfie

 

 

Wellness Wednesday—Little Victories Count or Do They

Meal planning or prepping is all the rave these days. My daughter became a champ during her last year in college. Now she’s home helping me out. This past week she prepped two meals per day for the five day work week and we did our own breakfast meals. I bagged up 5 one serving of grits and scrambled one egg for my breakfast and a 4oz bags of mixed fruit. If you ask me I did great for someone who’s never tried to follow a meal prep plan. I only veered away from my meal twice–for pizza and salad at our family grief support meeting and Friday night dinner with friends. Considering those two events were planned, that’s actually not too bad. However, the graham crackers I ate 3 or 4 days of the week after 5 p.m. (okay, 8 p.m.) and the one piece of birthday cake offered to me at work for a coworkers birthday definitely were bad.

At least according to my daughter and her trainer.

Mr. J.C. Jones, the trainer, says no eating any processed foods, no salt, no dairy, no artificial sweeteners, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

First of all, I get it. Sure, processed foods are terrible for us BUT they’re pretty darn convenient. Isn’t it much easier to throw some pre-cut French fries from a bag in the oven after work as opposed to coming home, peeling the potatoes, and then cutting them up, and then cooking them??? Of course, it is!

Second, if a person has developed all of these bad eating habits over 20+ years, I think it’s a disservice for someone to expect that person to make drastic changes overnight. So the fact that that particular week, I didn’t stop at any fast food restaurants–not even for coffee– I consider that a success. Even with eating the crackers–I could have eaten crackers every single day but I only slipped up 3 times. And that was partially because I didn’t have enough meals (or healthy snacks) prepped for the week. Shoot! I was hungry!

 

Now because my daughter stuck to her meal prep 100% and I did more like 85%, she lost more weight than I did. But I was still proud of myself. You see, as I stated above, this was not her first ride on the meal prep/planning rodeo show. She’s had time to practice doing this. And like I have to always remind her, “You didn’t start out a pro with this stuff.”

It takes time to get things right. Until I get it “right”, which for me is disciplined eating and consistent exercise, I’m going to congratulate myself on the small victories and encourage myself to keep going when I mess up. My girl Josie of YumYucky.com is more my speed. Check out this video.

What’s your method for changing certain habits? Do you celebrate the little victories or beat yourself up when you experience a hiccup? Share in the comments below.