STRESS. That's what I see people feeling this Christmas. Has it always been that way? Or am I just starting to see it now that I'm older? There's the stress of visiting family and trying to make them happy. And of course the stress of money and whether or not the people in your life will appreciate your gifts and whether you did enough for them. The crowds around the malls and restaurants add stress too. Cooking, cleaning, everything. But you didn't need me to tell you that. Chances are you are feeling it for yourself.
I just wanted to say, let it go. As best you can, just let it go. Christmas should be about love and just enjoying the time off from work and relaxing. It should be a celebration of the birth of Jesus and a time to remember that God loves us no matter what. When you get stressed out, just think about how lucky you are to have the really good things in your life. Think about all of the love around you and how thankful you are for that. No matter how bad things might seem right now, it definitely could be worse, so just concentrate on the good things and let go of the bad ones for now. There will be plenty of time to worry about that after the holidays are over.
And when someone gives you a gift this season, be it something you love or something you never would have asked for, smile and be thankful that they cared enough to think of you this Christmas. Do your best to smile and make other people around you feel good. To me, that is more important than any monetary gift you can give.
I am wishing for you all a very merry Christmas this year. Try to let the stress of it all and stop worrying about expectations and money and work... everytime you feel the stress, think of something wonderful in your life that you wouldn't trade for anything. Like your beautiful new baby who has his whole life ahead of him and can make it anything he wants. Or your upcoming marriage to a person you can't imagine living without. Or the family around you that loves you despite your mistakes. Those are the things that matter. Remember that.
I feel motivated to start writing my new novel today! I have been tossing around ideas for weeks now, not sure which one I really wanted to focus in on. Brainstorming and figuring out what to work on next is definitely fun and exciting because there are endless possibilities. However, at the same time, there is this fear of settling down with the wrong idea or passing over the perfect one without recognizing it for its potential. What I am starting to learn is that while there is no way to know which idea is the best, every idea has potential and promise. What's the worst that can happen? I could choose the worst idea and write a novel that never gets published. Okay. So what? The next idea and the next opportunity to write something new will be waiting for me on the other side.
So after going through a ton of new ideas, I finally decided on the one that feels good for right now, and I am going to go for it. I'll start writing it today, and whether it turns out to be my best novel, my true breakout novel or not, I know I'll learn valuable lessons about myself and my writing along the way.
I am also going to need to crank it up a notch when it comes to editing my NaNo WriMo novel, so I'll be setting page goals and working hard on that today as well. Hard to believe that Christmas is just a few days away! And just beyond that... a brand new year to look forward to.
If you've never had vertigo, believe me when I say that you are lucky. It's not painful or anything like that, but it's terribly disorienting and equally annoying. Just when I start to forget I even have it, I turn a corner or tilt my head and there it is again. It's a difficult sensation to describe. I feel dizzy and disoriented. There is a slight jolt that goes through my body and feels tingly all the way down to my toes. Sometimes, it makes me feel like I am on a rollercoaster that is upsetting my tummy with its sudden drops and loops.
Yesterday, I didn't get a chance to write a blog, because we went to the doctor in the morning, then finished our christmas shopping in the afternoon. The doctor gave me some Antivert, which I guess is basically a strong antihistamine. It makes me a little bit sleepy, but not so bad as benadryl, thank goodness. All I can say is that I hope this vertigo is over by tomorrow. So far, I feel better today, but there have already been little episodes that let me know it isn't over yet. I'm ready to get off this rollercoaster!
I feel dizzy. Disoriented. When I turn my head or look out of the corners of my eyes, I feel a sort of jolt and my body gets tingly. The room gets a bit spin-y. I was just at the doctor yesterday, but this had just started and I didn't mention it because I thought it would go away. No such luck. Talking to my mother, she thinks it's an inner ear infection, which she says will not go away on its own. So... another doctor's appointment? /sigh.
Can you believe Christmas is so close? Have you finished your gift buying? Sent all of your cards? I am not really very good at sending Christmas cards. I have the best of intentions, honestly, but I never really seem to get them in the mail. Oh well, email is easier, haha!
I thought I was mostly done with my shopping too, but then my Mom stole my idea for my brother's present and left me high and dry last night with a "hope you have some other ideas" email. Okay maybe that's not completely fair. I was going to get him the gift, but it was pretty expensive. She offered to buy it instead and I could buy an accessory for it. Then, last night she announced that there was a deal where she got the accessory free with purchase. Now, I have to figure out what in the world to get for him. We still have G's Dad to buy for, as well as his niece. I think that's the bulk of it though.
This year, for the first time in my adult life, I will actually be home for CHristmas. And by home, I don't mean my parents home. I mean my home. Well, we are going to G's Mom and Dad's houses at some point in the day and on Christmas eve, but that is only an hour drive away. It will be really nice to just spend some quality time with G instead of running around to various parties and people's houses (namely Aunt Barbara, who I have no desire to see for a very long time)... It is going to be really nice!
2009 is almost here, and I have such high hopes for my writing. My Christmas present to myself is going to be editing the novel I wrote for NaNo WriMo, and starting a new fun novel that I just thought of yesterday. It's going to be a great Christmas, I can just feel it.
Last night was the finale of Survivor Gabon, and I am sad that it is over. My sister and I share a love of Survivor and Amazing Race, so this year we decided to each pick a team/player at the very beginning of the competitions and place friendly $5/each bets on our winners. If neither of our picks won the million, the money rolls over to the next season, etc. Well, believe it or not, I actually picked the winning Amazing Race team, Nick and Starr, right from the outset before the show began. $10 in my pocket. I wasn't quite as lucky with Survivor, but I figure I did pretty well considering the odds.
My sister's pick was Crystal, the Olympic gold medalist in the 2004 400m relay. Crystal made the top 6, but was blindsided by her own alliance. My pick was Matty, the personal trainer with a heart of gold. He made it to the top 4, but went home after failing to make fire in a tie breaker challenge against Bob. What broke my heart is that he was one spot away from going to the final three, and when asked, the group almost unanimously agreed that if it had been Matty instead of Bob, they all would have voted for Matty to win the million dollars. A narrow miss. I wonder how it really must feel to be that close to one million dollars and still come up short.
Personally, I think out of the final three, Sugar deserved to win the most. It's strange that she did not receive a single vote. No one ever voted her out, and no one voted for her to win either. I thought she was great! The only time I got mad at her was when she forced a tie and Matty went home, but at least you know she was following her heart as best as she knew how. So, I didn't win the $10 for Survivor and that money rolls over. I'm just impressed I picked a winner in one game and a top 4 in the other. Not bad.
Yesterday I got digital copies of the pictures we took at JC Penney!! Since none of our parents read this blog, I feel that I am safe to brag about them here and post a few, haha! We are giving framed 5x7's of the one at the top to our parents for Christmas as part of their gifts, and I really hope they like it! I actually love that top picture. Out of all of them, it is by far my favorite. It is the type of picture that our grandchildren might look at some day and think of how young and happy we look together.
We got up early this morning because G has to take his final exam, and I am anxious to get back into bed for another hour (hehe), so I am just going to post a few of these and go back to dreamland until 8:30. Happy Friday all.
I have always thought that Jennifer Aniston was beautiful. I loved watching her on Friends because she just has that great style and great hair and she's really a good actress on top of it all. Well, I was looking at People this morning online, like I do just about every morning, and they have this picture of Jenifer up there from her upcoming cover of GQ magazine. Can you believe this woman is 39 years old?
In an era not that far off from now, people used to call any woman over the age of 25 an "old maid". Women over 30 just weren't considered marriageable at all. At 39 you were a spinster and had no hopes of ever attracting a man's attentions. Well, if those woman looked anything like Aniston at almost 40, they would have had no trouble finding a man! She looks better now than I ever have, even at 20.
I guess I should be totally jealous, but instead it makes me hopeful. Of course, I realize that she has money and personal trainers and all that, but by her age, maybe I'll have all that too :). The point is that no matter how old I feel like I'm getting, 31 is still pretty damn young in today's society. There is still plenty of time for me to look amazing and have a great career and do all those things I just haven't done yet.
All I can say is this... John Mayer is one lucky son of a bitch.
G and I went to the mall last night and had our portraits done at the JC Penney portrait studio. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it actually turned out to be kind of fun and relaxed for the most part. We had a fun photographer who shot lots of different poses, and we even got to see the pictures about ten minutes after she was done.
The main reason we went is so that we can have an "engagement" photo to frame for our parents for Christmas. The whole time I was just hoping, please let there be one really great picture. One of the first ones we got to see was perfect! Honestly, it's the very best picture I could have hoped for of the two of us. We both have sincere smiles and everything is just right. There were several other good pictures, but that first one was the very best. We ordered their "smiles by wire" which means that we'll get to view the pictures online. I'm hoping that email comes today so that I can get another really good look at the pictures. I know that we at least have one picture of the two of us together that we will cherish for a long time to come.
Okay, so if I thought vivid dreams could be a disrupting side effect, imagine what some people taking Ambien CR feel... I was watching TV yesterday while I was folding clothes and I saw this commercial for Ambien come on. It was your basic pharmaceutical commercial where some voice over is telling you about the amazing benefits of the drug while the background plays pictures showing how much happier your life will suddenly be if you take it. This particular drug is for people who have trouble sleeping or who wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.
Ambien CR supposedly helps you get to sleep and stay asleep for the full night. What alarmed me, though, was the diclaimer at the end. It said something along the lines of, "Driving while not yet sufficiently awake and getting in an accident, followed by amnesia of the event has been reported." WHAT THE HELL?? So you're telling me some people who have taken this drug have gotten up, gone out to their car, drove around half asleep, caused an accident, and then later had absolutely no recollection of doing so?? Can you imagine how terrifying it would be to go to sleep in your bed and then suddenly wake up on the side of the road in your pajamas with a policeman's lights going off behind you? And this is a legal drug that is being advertised as a wonderful way to get better sleep? Nice.
I guess what gets me is that they will legalize and actually even advertise drugs that have all of these terrible side effects, and yet pot is completely illegal. Go figure. Among the other terrible side effects reported with sleeping pills like lunesta and ambien? Sleepwalking, nocturnal binge eating (yes, people actually wake up with discarded candy wrappers and empty bags of potato chips in their beds), having sex with no recollection afterword, and having violent outbursts.
Yes, I know I have written about dreams several times before, but I just have to talk about it again. I feel like I have been a heavy dreamer for the past year or more. G and I were thinking that maybe we cause each other to dream sometimes... not sure if that is possible, but it does seem like we have vivid dreams on the same nights. Anyway, I am taking a new kind of medicine in my quest for the perfect anti-depressant. Pristiq. It is basically a newer and better version of something else that I can't remember the name of.
I started taking Pristiq about three weeks ago and one of the most common side effects is vivid dreams. Oh boy. I am definitely having some vivid dreams. Honestly, my nightly dreams are so vivid, I wake up in the morning still feeling them. One night, for example, I had a dream that I had a young baby. My friends asked me to go out for the day, and since I was staying with my parents, I guess I just assumed they would watch her for me. I went with my friends for the entire day (and I might have even spent the night with them somewhere), but when I came home and said hello to my mother, she asked me where the baby was. Freaking out, I asked her why she didn't know.. since she had been keeping her.
Turns out that I had forgotten to tell anyone I was leaving the baby there, so she had spend at least 24 hours alone in her crib with no food or changing or anything. When I went up to check on her, Ipicked her up and I swear to you I could literally feel this child in my arms. She had a terrible fever, burning hot. I could feel it on my arms and on my skin. She got so sick she never woke up again, and it was all my fault.
One night I also dreamed that G was upset with me and demanded the engagement ring back. He didn't want to be with me anymore, and although I can't remember all the details of the dream, I woke up still feeling upset about us breaking up. It stayed with me all day long.
There have been others too, but those two stick out in my head as the most vivid. Especially the baby. I'm not really complaining about it as a side-effect. I still seem to be sleeping okay in general. And who knows? Maybe my first best-selling novel will come from a dream...
Can you believe that the first week of December has already come and gone? Only twenty days left until Christmas! G and I have almost all of our holiday shopping done, but there are still a few major things we need to pick out. Of course, I need to decorate and we need to pick out a nice tree! Maybe we'll do that this weekend!
This Christmas will be a little bit different for me, because I am not going home to be with my family. In a way, it makes me sad to miss out on some of the traditions, but then again, what I get in return is going to make for a very unique and wonderful new kind of Christmas. I get to spend time alone with G.
Okay, so you might be thinking, "Don't you guys spend time alone together ALL the time?" Sure. But this time will be free of him having to go to work or class, and that makes all the difference. I can't wait to have him all to myself!! We will, of course, spend time with his parents and friends that are home, but we will also get some cherished time alone together, and I am definitely looking forward to it.
After Christmas, my parents are driving here and will finally get to meet his parents, which should be fun as well. Overall, I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. It might be a bit more quiet than normal, but it will be full of love, and that's what counts.
It's always this time of year when I start looking back over the past 11 or 12 months and thinking about what I should have done differently. I know there is no way to change the past (at least until someone discovers how to time travel) so what's the point of looking back? Well, for me, it's about reflecting on what has been holding me back and figuring out what I most wish I would have done so that I can avoid feeling the same way this time next year.
So you might wonder how that method has been working out for me. You want the truth? It's shit. For the past how many years, I have sat here thinking "I should have lost more weight" or "I should not have let myself sleep so much." And yet the following year, I always feel the same way. I got to thinking about it this week, and I decided that the flaw in my thinking is that I'm always concentrating on what I did wrong and how crappy I was all year. How can I possibly expect to come out of a complete self-confidence lashing and suddenly emerge a new improved person?
This year, I think I will try actually aknowledging that there are some things that I have accomplished over the year. I mean, I did lose almost 20 pounds at least. Okay, so maybe it took me a year and a half, but 20 pounds is still a good start and I didn't gain it back, which is key. I finally finished a book (two, really!) and have found a writing system and style that works for me. I even got my first rejection letter which signifies my first time allowing the process to go full circle. I got engaged this year to the most amazing man I have ever met, and no matter what else happened this year, that step towards a permanent commitment trumps all.
I went through laser hair removal and am more beautiful today than I was a year ago. I have been taking steps to get healthier, and even though my diet is not as healthy as it can be, it is certainly better and more in control than it was a year ago. Although the house is not entirely decorated and clean, I did a good job keeping the downstairs clean and I also painted and decorated and got rid of a bunch of junk that was cluttering up the house. Those are all steps in the right direction, and it feels good to finally allow myself to be happy about that and look forward to what I can accomplish next year. It certainly feels much better than yelling at myself on the inside about what I didn't do. It's also easier to feel confident that I can achieve my goals for next year when I look at all that I accomplished this past year. Now, let's just hope I can hold onto these warm fuzzies for a while instead of reverting to my old ways of self-bashing. As G says, life right now is supposed to be sunshine and puffy clouds. And, truthfully, it really is...
On our way back from Georgia after Thanksgiving, G and I talked about our wedding and we finally set a date! We have been engaged for almost six months now, and it has been wonderful to feel no pressure or tension about planning and getting everything ready. However, I wanted to make sure that we set a goal date so that I could push myself to lose the weight I want to lose and to make the extra money we will need to afford a truly amazing Caribbean Wedding-Honeymoon. After going through the calendar month by month, we finally settled on October 7, 2009!!
We have ten beautiful months to work hard to reach our goals before we get married. There aren't really that many goals, but the ones we do have a pretty big ones! First, I want to lose 35 pounds by then so that I can be the hottest bride on the beach :P. Second, we need to save up about $10,000 to pay for the vacation and airfare and shopping! Those are the two main goals I am looking to achieve before then. I know that we can do it, so it's exciting to really start working towards that so that we can have a wedding to remember, just the two of us in paradise.
So, I figured to help me with my weight loss goals, I should pick out a few dresses that I like and post them here so that I can look at them and think, "I am going to look great in that! Stop eating chocolate and pancakes!" Of course, I'll consult with G later about which dress he likes best since he's the only one who will really see me in it, but here at the top of this post are pictures of my top 5 chosen from halter top dresses on theknot.com. Any opinions on these so far? Feel free to share!
If you have a free moment, go to this great wedding site that has information on gowns, music, and all kinds of great wedding planning.
So I have this Aunt. She's the type of person who is highly respected in her community and who would bend over backwards to help everyone in need... as long as you aren't related to her. A lot of people see her in one way (she taught school for 20 something years and pretty much everyone around knows who she is), but I get to see her in a totally different way.
Trying not to bore you with crazy details, I'll just come out with it. She's a bitch. She has her select "favorites" in the family (mostly the boys), and then she has her punching bags. I didn't get too much of it as a young person, but I watched my sister get reemed with it. ("Why don't we just turn you over and use your head for a mop.") My Aunt has this way of saying things that makes your insides hurt and every little insecure molecule in your body to rise to the surface. Her tone is acid-laced. And pretty much no one ever says anything about it. Well, not to her face anyway.
I realized this Thanksgiving that I started worrying about what hurtful things this particular Aunt might say to me this year. I worried about my outfit and my makeup, trying to choose things that would not call attention. I worried about my writing career and how to spin it if she made a disparaging comment. I kept telling myself it would be a fun family day, but deep down, I was dreading what she might pull out of her hat to say to me. Once we got to her house, I didn't have to wait very long to find out.
I don't want to detail everything that happened that day, but I'll just say that there were only four times that I spoke to her or really even came near her all day... and all four times she had something ugly to say. And I wasn't the only one who was chosen for the tongue lashings and snide comments. There are others who dread being around her the same way I do.
So, for the first time in 30 years, I questioned why?? Why the hell do we allow this person who makes us all ill-at-ease and worried and insecure to be in charge of our holiday happiness? Why do we choose to gather at HER house? Being at her house is almost a double-edged sword because if you complain about her, you feel rude for not being grateful for the "hospitality". The truth is, I have always just felt that it was an obligation. Mom says we're going, therefor we go. My Aunt is family, therefor we all put up with her rudeness and inappropriate comments.
Well, I say bullshit. And I'm not doing it anymore. Where did this belief come from that if someone is "family" they can act however the hell they want and we have to love and be with them anyway? My Aunt will never change, and in fact, she'll just continue to get worse. Why? Because we allow her to treat us that way and then we still kiss her cheek and go on and on about what a lovely celebration it was and thank you for the food and a good time. We allow her to hold this control over us. Personally, I'm done. I say that if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, cut them out of your life as best you can without being totally mean about it. I don't care if they are family, flesh and blood. Of all people in your life, family should be the last people to treat you like that.
Life is simply too short to live in fear and worry for how someone will treat you when all you have to do is walk away.
The past week has been full of emotions. First of all, Thanksgiving was good and bad at the same time. I had a good time seeing my Mom, Dad, sister, brother and his wife. I also was very excited to see my Aunt K. However, actually going over to my other Aunt's house was pretty much a nightmare. I won't go into it, but let's just say I'll have some extra blog material tomorrow about it.
We ended up coming home early to tend to Cookie, G's dog that I have come to love as my own as well. She was not feeling well, so we rushed back to take care of her. I think she is slowly getting better, but it was really scary to see her in such a rough state so soon after we left for Georgia.
And as important as those two bits of new are... neither of those is what I was planning to write about today. Today I am writing about my career. In terms of writing, this weekend was both a win and a loss. I got my very first official rejection letter this weekend. Saturday actually. Just one month after I sent my story to Brava, I received a very nice and surprisingly personal rejection letter from the editor saying that although my writing is engaging, the premise is too similar to some of the books they are already publishing. In terms of rejections, it was one of the best you could hope for. Basically, the editor took the time to compliment me when she could have just sent a form rejection letter. Hopefully what that means is that she would be open to seeing other things from me in the future with a more fresh perspective or original premise. A rejection with hope for the future, perhaps.
The funny thing about getting turned down for publishing is that instead of making me feel totally down and crumpled, it actually made me feel inspired to write and work harder. It's like, now I know I can do it. I can complete the cycle of write, submit, hear back... then submit again if necessary, and so on. In fact, I submitted my story to the second publisher on my list right away. Hopefully I will hear something back before Christmas. We'll see.
So the rejection was my loss, in a way... but I also had a win! I finished my very first full-length novel! I came in at just over 50,000 words, and even though I know I sort of rushed the ending, I think I have a solid manuscript to work with when I start the editing process. I can't believe I actually wrote all of that in one short month!! I learned a lot through NaNo WriMo. I learned that I can push myself harder and get a lot more done in a short period of time than I ever thought possible. I also learned that I don't have to organize and plot out every tiny little detail before I start writing. I can trust the story itself and let the words flow. Then, I can take the basics of what I created and edit it until it's a great novel... hopefully!
So, two milestones were crossed this weekend. My first full novel is done in rough draft form, and my first rejection letter is sitting on my desk. Surely, the good news of my first published book isn't too far off.