Quest for Happiness: Week Forty

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Look up some different strengthening stretches. Keep up routine.
    • Status: Success! I ran four times and walked once, so that was awesome. Also managed to find some different stretches I might start incorporating.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep it up.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish outline, figure out some details and read another section in Color Psychology.
    • Status: Success! I’m really excited about the progress being made and I think…I might it might be time to start writing again.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Color Psychology. Write chapter one.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series and write review.
    • Status: SUCCESS. I’ve been getting back into the reading groove, friends, and my my, what a freakin’ ending that was.
  • This Week’s Goal: Continue reading KotW. 

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Find a reason to smile every single day.
    • Status: Success. The smiles and laughter outweighed the tears last week, which, in my book, is always a win.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy the hell out of hanging out with friends this weekend. Plus, GEOSTORM.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal:  Post twice on each blog.
    • Status: Success!
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging routine.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Need to look into the bank account again, especially after a weekend of some really fun adventures that I certainly enjoyed, but wasn’t expecting to take out of my wallet.
    • Status: Success. Not doing as badly as I thought. But with the holidays coming up (not to mention a sleeve I wanted to get colored in), I really want to be on top of my money so I can actually get people awesome stuff for Christmas.
  • This Week’s Goal: Stay frugal.

A pretty solid week, friends. A pretty solid week. Time to continue the grind, keep being productive, continue being happy and continue finding ways to challenge myself and grow.

Cheers.

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The Musings Behind “The Start of the World”

I had a lot of fun writing the latest short story for the Muses, which you can read here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see what you thought about it. But not only that story, but also the stories from the rest of the Muses from this prompt, if you have the time and the inclination. We’d all really appreciate it.

I’m not sure if this is ironic, technically, but I fell into the same trap that I did with the previous prompt. As soon as I saw the prompt–the last entry in an explorer’s journal–I knew exactly what I was going to write about. I knew I wanted to do a sort of bookend effect with a previous story I’d written, for the prompt “you were born with the ability to feel what’s underneath the ground and for the first time, you say, “We should not dig here.”

That story might be my favorite out of the ones I’ve written since the Muses first began. The narrator has a lot of spunk and is a bit questionable in his character, which created a mix of responses from readers regarding their sympathy towards him. I loved the premise, too–not to mention that my Dad helped me come up with it, a collaboration that meant a lot. It was written like a journal entry, where my narrator described how he might have been the catalyst to triggering the beginning of the end of the world. So when I saw this month’s prompt, I knew it would be really fun to write the last journal entry from his story.

Yet, like I said, I fell into the same trap as the last prompt, where I immediately knew what I was going to write about and then ended up not writing the piece until a few days before it was due. It actually worked out, for the last prompt. I’m not so sure about this one. Don’t get me wrong–I still like the story I wrote. However, I was hoping to have more of the in-between fleshed out inside my head, so I could give this “last” entry more substance. You know, so the entry would be my narrator reminiscing about the adventures he’s had saving the world, dropping hints and making references to events that, theoretically, we as the readers would have already read, since it was all recorded in his journal. Yet, in reality, we haven’t, since we’ve only gotten the first and last page as two separate stories. I was hoping to create some suspense, making readers wonder how the same man that triggered the end of the world managed to save it.

But, because I waited so last minute, I didn’t have the time to flesh out the in-between events, so the last journal entry felt a little…flat, to me. I still had a good time writing it and trying to get back into that snarky voice with a narrator who is likable to some while disliked by many, but I definitely think I could have done better. Hopefully, for my next story, I’ll actually put in the time it deserves, instead of letting life get in the way. But until then, thanks, as always, for supporting both me and my fellow Muses as we continue to write, grow and learn.

Your support means everything.

Cheers.


Breakthrough or Bust

Whoa, friends.

I may be jumping ahead of myself, considering I’m still riding a holy-shit-I-think-I-figured-out-this-plot writer’s high after spending the past two hours outlining, but friends, I really do think I might have figured out the plot for my rewrite.

If you know me, I bet it’s come to no surprise that my standalone sci-fi tragedy has now expanded into a tragic trilogy, with the first two books completely mapped out–not half bad, considering what I had this morning, which was filled with holes, lacking in conflict and making me want to bang my head against the wall. Now, I have a steady base to go forward, a clear understanding of what’s happening, a closeness with my characters that makes me confident I can write them and make their motives clear, plus a revised plot that threads throughout the trilogy that makes my heart accelerate with giddy anticipation and excitement.

Sure, I still have no idea how to wrap up this trilogy, which might seem like a red flag to everyone, because yeah, usually the writer knows the end goal before she’s going to get there. And yep, I have no idea how this one is going to end. It’s set up so there is a lot of opportunity, but at the moment, I couldn’t tell you what will happen. Sure, there is still a lot that might change and maybe I’ll talk to my man about it and he’ll be like, “Babe, that’s actually worse than what you started with originally.” Or maybe I’ll write it and realize that it is complete shit and I’m in over my head and, even though it felt like a breakthrough, it actually was a bust.

But.

This afternoon, I pulled up my outline and then closed it half a dozen times, at a loss of where this story needed to go next or what I was meant to do with it. I went and did some other things, but I hated wasting so much time I had available to write and I wanted to figure this shit out. So I opened it again and kept trying. Half an hour went by without anything to show for it, but I kept going. I kept pushing, challenging myself and writing any idea that came to mind, erasing most of it by the end.

Until I had it.

It’s the closest feeling to an epiphany moment I can describe personally experiencing. One moment, I  was banging my head against the wall and the next, I had a plot twist that suddenly, helped everything else make sense. Reorder a few events in the first book and there the tension I was missing was; there, the opportunity to heighten it and make the first book feel like a real story, even if that cliffhanger ending might want to make readers, if I pull this off right, want to bang their own heads into a wall.

It may amount to nothing, but at the moment, hot damn, it’s a start. And a start is exactly what I’ll take, right now. Because I can run with this. I can create a story around this and, through a shit-ton of work, make this story work. 

So let’s get started, shall we?

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty Nine

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Workout 4x, log food and keep up new routine.
    • Status: Success! Thanks to a really rainy week, I ended up walking twice and running twice, but I was still getting active, which is the most important thing. Didn’t do the best, food wise, towards the end of the week, but excited to keep at it this week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Look up some different strengthening stretches. Keep up routine.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep up new schedule, keep fleshing out the outline and start reading one of the novels I checked out for research.
    • Status: Success! Really glad I’ve been able to keep up the writing routine in the evenings.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish outline, figure out some details and read another section in Color Psychology.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Read every night.
    • Status: Success! Still haven’t finished a book in ages, but I have been sneaking in some more writing time.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series and write review.

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Enjoy this beautiful fall weather.
    • Status: Yes? It rained most of the week, but that is fall for you, so…
  • This Week’s Goal: Find a reason to smile every single day.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep killing it on the blogs.
    • Status: Success! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Post twice on each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: See if I can put some money away in savings this week.
    • Status: Negative. 
  • This Week’s Goal: Need to look into the bank account again, especially after a weekend of some really fun adventures that I certainly enjoyed, but wasn’t expecting to take out of my wallet.

Now that the fall semester is completely underway, I think I’m finding getting my routine underway. Of course, every week presents its own challenges and hurdles, but I’m glad I’ve found a routine that, generally, works for me. The plan is to keep on expanding and evolving so I can keep up progress on these goals.

Cheers.


A Very Needed Reminder

Last week, I was on my period. Although it’s different for every woman, I’m the sort that definitely becomes overly emotional during that time. I like to believe that I usually do a good job keeping those emotions in check and under wraps during that time (though my Mom is always quick to tell me differently, saying she can always tell when I’m on my period or not), but this past week was a bit more of a struggle than usual.

Perhaps it was paired with the dreary weather (which I usually love). Perhaps it was tied with the fact that said weather made it difficult to work out and release those happy hormones I’ve become so addicted to. Perhaps it’s simply just that kind of week with no other reason attached. I can’t nail it down, but for most of the week, I’ve been in a bit of funk, emotionally; focusing on the few negative aspects of my life instead of focusing on the positives. The past two days, especially, my head space has been completely zoned in on the negative, focusing on things like some frustration at work, stress over money, worry over my complicated relationship status, fear of the future, fear regarding change, mixed emotions about figuring out who I want to be as a person (and how that person is shaped by others juxtaposed by how I shape myself), stress regarding missed runs, bad eating days or sleeping in too late, amongst plenty of other things.

I wanted to focus on something to help get my brain back into a positive head space, regardless of how my hormones are functioning and attempt to raise my mood so I don’t end the week still feeling a sense of…well, just, “Blah.” So I thought I’d make a list, a friendly reminder, of some of the good things that went on this week or are happening in the near future–not to brag or rub it in, but just to remind myself that despite the other things I’m dealing with, they are some good things to focus on and remember; things I can potentially distract myself with whenever those negative thoughts above try to take over.

  1.  Puppy videos posted on my Facebook timeline.
  2. That feeling I get when working on anything writing related–and actually sticking with my new writing schedule.
  3. A pair of arms wrapped around me, making me feel safe and cherished, before I fall asleep.
  4. A last-minute lunch date with mi padre.
  5. Plot twists in the book I’m reading.
  6. Getting precision kills in Destiny 2. 
  7. Looking at the calendar and seeing plans every Saturday for the next month (including a 5K Breast Cancer run, RenFest, a book fair, a Break Out Room and potentially some new ink).
  8. My birthday is in less than 30 days (eep!).
  9. The start of the holiday season is upon us.
  10. Trying out new recipes.
  11. The promise of making cookies over the weekend.
  12. Feeling like a stud wearing a pair of jeans.
  13. Staying in touch with far away friends via email.
  14. Crossing things off the To-Do List.
  15. Being heard in conversations.
  16. The promise of good things in the future (trying to combat the fear/focus of negative things awaiting in the future).
  17. Spending an afternoon looking up things to get everyone for Christmas.
  18. The smell of a forested-trail after a fresh rain.
  19. Seeing so much wildlife during a run.
  20. Surprise visits at work from my man.
  21. My sleeve (tattoo) finally healing and looking really good.
  22. Getting all the circles filled on my FitBit app.
  23. Awesome conversations with my students at work.

Reading through that list, my heart feels a lot lighter than it has the past couple of days. Doesn’t mean that those things I’m dealing with aren’t present in my life anymore; doesn’t mean there aren’t still some things to address or be aware of. But it’s nice to remind myself that there is always something good going on, even if your brain convinces you otherwise.

What about you? If you’re reading this post, I’d seriously LOVE to see your own list of good things that happened this week (or are about to happen or just generally make you happy) to appear down in the comments (or maybe in a post all your own). I want to hear all about it. Let’s kick off the weekend with a little positivity, eh?

Cheers.


My First Post, Revisited!

So, the lovely, talented and inspiring Jess from ellDimensional tagged me in a really cool blog hop that I hadn’t seen before, but I thought it was neat. Of course, it still took me ages to actually get this post written, but Jess, thanks for the tag. It was a really neat trip down memory lane.

The Rules for the #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop

  1. No cheating. You must highlight your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…the first post only.
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).
  3. Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine, but NO editing.)
  4. Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  5. Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  6. Notify your tags in the comment section of
  7. firstpost.jpgtheir blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  8. Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  9. Include “the rules” in your post.

So, curious to see what my first post ended up being? It was titled “Finding An Outlet” and it was published on July 4th in 2012. Yeah, you read that year right. 2012.

I’ll quote the post for you right here, but if you want to see it in the flesh, you can check it out here:

Hello to any and all readers!

I have decided to write a blog (kinda obvious, I know, but hang with me, if you will be so kind). I have always had this curiosity about blogs. I’ve always wondered how they functioned, their purposes, the reasoning behind why people wrote them, and why people read them. And I’ve always had random thoughts that I’ve had a canny desire to share, yet was always unsure exactly how to share them. Whether it is my opinion on a book I just survived, advice I pretend to think is helpful, reactions to the latest movie I’ve viewed or CD I’ve blared, or just a random thought I must get off my chest, I always have ink stained on my fingers, the words ever flowing. So, I thought, why not use blogs as an outlet for all of these scattered thoughts? Not only will I get to share ideas, thoughts and opinions, I will discover the world of blogging and how it works (and hopefully get some reactions and feedback as well)! It’s a win-win situation, I think. I hope you’ll stick around and see what ideas and words lurk in the caverns of my mind, from the depth of my heart. I’m definitely excited to see what slips through my fingers and onto the electronic page! I also hope something that I write on this blog will affect you in some way. Whether it raises questions, reactions, or inspires you, I just hope that what you read makes you think or makes you feel. I hope it allows you to either escape the hustle and bustle of the world or focus more intently on it, but on a different angle. No matter how you feel about whatever I write, however, I hope we both enjoy the journey. I know I plan to. 🙂

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” — Albus D

Cheers!

— Nicole

So, a couple of things immediately jump to mind here.

  • Look at that BREVITY.
    • Seriously. My posts now usually average around 1500 words in length. That post was barely over 300. Once upon a time, I did know how to write short things, contrary to everyone’s (me included) belief. I wonder what that feels like…
  • Hello, non-existent formatting.
    • I’m not a wizard when it comes to creating awesomely-formatted or really creative posts or anything of that nature, but when I was reading through that post, I could tick off on my fingers all the places where a new paragraph should have started, instead of simply posting one large chunk. Eh, you live and you learn.
    • Also, a little proofreading might not have hurt. I’m glad to see how I’ve improved as a writer, but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t wincing a little bit and mentally rephrasing every other sentence.
  • My purpose for this blog remains the same.
    • I’m glad that hasn’t changed, even as the blog as grown since I’ve dedicated more time to it and actually, you know, written posts. Though I write across a bunch of different topics, my main inspiration will always be the same: using this blog as an outlet for my thoughts and experiences, with the hope that others can connect and share theirs, too.
  • I can’t believe this blog has existed for five years.
    • It makes me feel both old and accomplished. It’s mindblowing to think that I’ve been writing on this blog for five years, even if I almost don’t count the first two considering how little I actually posted. But to think that I’ve still kept it up and running for that long, knowing how much of my life has been catalogued through puns, long posts and dragon pictures? It’s a really neat thing.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Jess! I’m really curious to see some first posts from these poor victims:

  1. Rebekkah
  2. Chuck Wendig (I know he’ll never do this tag, but I’m actually really intrigued what the inaugural post was on my favorite blog to follow)
  3. Melissa
  4. Jo
  5. Sonia

Thanks for sticking with me and this blog as it evolves and attempts to thrive. Hope everyone has a lovely day!

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty Eight

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Workout 4x, log food and try out new schedule/routine.
    • Status: Success! Even though I only worked out three times, I still kept up with the schedule that I adjusted to last week and it felt amazing. This week, trying to mp it up to four days doing the same thing.
  • This Week’s Goal: Workout 4x, log food and keep up new routine.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Try out new writing schedule, fix at least one plot hole, map out main character and research one thing.
    • Status: Success! Similar to working out, I didn’t exactly meet every goal that I wanted to, but I also sat my ass down in a chair and worked on trying to figure this story out, which I’m going to count. Plus, got some research done and am considering some different ideas of how exactly this story needs to be told, and that amount of outlining and brainstorming isn’t the easiest to track, success wise.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up new schedule, keep fleshing out the outline and start reading one of the novels I checked out for research.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Actually finish this dang book. 
    • Status: Negative. I really, really need to make reading important again.
  • This Week’s Goal: Read every night.

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Have fun at the Blues Game!
    • Status: The utmost success. Blues date night was the best win of the week, even if we ended up losing with 4.3 seconds left in the 3rd period.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy this beautiful fall weather.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging routine.
    • Status: Success! I’m really digging the consistency I’ve had posting on both blogs. Hoping to keep it up!
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep killing it on the blogs.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Pay rent.
    • Status: Success (though part of me wishes this was one goal I didn’t have to meet, because ouch, my poor bank account).
  • This Week’s Goal: See if I can put some money away in savings this week.

So, after the laziness I experienced last week, I sat down and wrote out a rough idea of my weekly schedule and then plotted in times to write and run: the two most important things to me. And it made a huge difference. I’m hoping I can keep up that schedule as it continues to get busier throughout the year, because it’s crazy how much my happiness is tied into how often I run and how often I write.

Cheers.