Tuesday, September 18, 2018

If you give advice, you better be able to take it

God has an amazing sense of humor.

How do I know this? Well, I'm created in His image and I have an amazing sense of humor. (Okay, a goofy one at best). But you can't look around at all He has made and not see humor in the every day.

Today, as I was sitting in the doctor's office lobby waiting to be called for an appointment The Man Beast made for me, I had to chuckle at the irony.

Sunday, I was waxing poetic about how important it was to rest and take time for yourself and here I was, stuck in a doctor's office instead of in the classroom where I belong.

And why was I at the doctor's office you might ask? Even if you didn't ask, I'm going to tell you anyway (I'm in a bit of a salty mood today - can you tell?)

I was in the doctor's office because I. Don't. Take. Care. Of. Myself.

Oh, how ironic that sentence is!

To exactly explain why I was at the doctor's office on a Tuesday morning, I perhaps have to go back a  month.

We were at an away high school football game. It was the first half-time show Baby Girl would be performing in as a member of color guard and The Man Beast and I were very excited to watch her perform.

Right after the show, The Man Beast couldn't take the hard stadium seats any longer and had to go rest in the van. This was fine. I saved a seat for Baby Girl as she grabbed her dinner and sat by me and hungrily wolfed down her meal while we watched the third quarter of the game.

She had to go back to join her pack, so I sat watching the game, hunched over, because my back hurt, too.

All of the sudden, I had a huge sharp pain in my gut that wouldn't quit! I tried to sit up straight and it still hurt. I tried to stand and I couldn't stand up all the way! I decided to make my way to the van with TMB and had one heck of a time walking around the stadium to where our van was parked.

(TMB had pulled the van to the back so he could pick up BG at the high school band trailer.)

Y'all, I was in so much pain, I was hunched over in tears. We got home (2 hour drive) and as soon as I got into the house, I put on my PJ's and crawled into bed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch, wiped out.

Fast forward to this past weekend and while I didn't travel out of town, I experienced the same pain. I spent the weekend in pain but suffered. After all, if it went away the first time, it would go away again, right?


I was in so much pain last night that I logged in to request a sub. I was working from home this morning before the doctor's office visit and it was then that I found the humor in my situation.

No, not that I was in pain (that kind of pain is no laughing matter!) But just the fact that I was taking a day off work to go a doctor that I probably should have seen a month ago. Me being me, I didn't. While I did initiate the visit by requesting a sub, it wasn't until TMB physically made my appointment that I went. Last time I needed to go to the doctor and wouldn't go, I had shingles. And yes, TMB made that appointment as well.

Are you seeing a trend? (Hint: If it weren't for The Man Beast, I probably wouldn't take care of myself.

And ya know what? I gotta change that. My advice yesterday was sound. It was good. And if was good yesterday and good for you, it's good for me, too.

So today, I said, "Yes!" to myself. After I came home from my doctor's appointment, I contemplated going into work. However, the sub was already there and my sick day was already used up, so I decided to work from home on paperwork. Yes, technically, I wasn't staying home and resting, but I was staying on my couch where I was comfortable. And I did have to go in this afternoon for a meeting, but I chose to leave (with permission) and not stay for a back to school night for parents.

And because I said, "Yes":  I was able to take my medicine so that it could begin healing me. I was able to spend time with The Man Beast for awhile. And bonus! I got to visit with my wonderful mother-in-law (yes, really!)

As I wind down this blog post, it is nearing 9 o'clock. I will publish this and share it and then I will shut down the laptop. I will go and wash my face (a step I often forget - or choose not to do), crawl into bed and read before turning out the light and falling asleep before 10 o'clock.

Tonight, I will say, "Yes" to myself so that I can set myself up for a better tomorrow.

Until next time,
 photo TSOP Signature.png

Monday, September 17, 2018

What are Mondays to you?

I frequent Facebook (a lot more than I should) and I'm often entertained by the fodder I find. (I totally just Googled "fodder" because I wanted to make sure I was using the word correctly). Don't get me wrong...there is tons of great material on Facebook: good news, pictures, proposals, new babies, recipes, praises, and yes - even prayer requests.

But you have to admit: Facebook can be a huge timesuck and very little value comes from it. This subject is a different post entirely, so I'll stick with the subject at hand: Mondays.

What is a better depiction for Mondays for you:

Sunday night, you are guaranteed to see more images like the first graphic. When Sunday starts feeling like Monday. Monday Eve. In short, miserable.

But on occasion, I will see graphics like the second one. I like seeing those.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like Mondays (and I don't love them, either). Mondays for me mean getting up early after sleeping in late(er) on the weekends. It means dressing in work clothes instead of lounging in PJs on a Sunday. It means facing any number of challenges that I have no way to prepare.


I like the idea of turning Monday on its ear and thinking about it in a different way. Monday is a chance at a new week. Many diets start on Monday. Many do-overs start on Monday, too. It's a chance to tackle that next project or set some new goals. And how many paper planner people (say that three times super fast!) love when the first day of the month begins on a Monday?

Mondays have their merit. Perhaps Monday gets a super bad rap? Friday is definitely the favorite child of the week. Monday is "meh".

I challenge you - I'm challenging me - to think about Mondays differently from now on. Think of one thing positive about Monday. Hey, to get you started - how many more Mondays until Christmas Eve? Or Fall Break?

Hey...I'm all about starting with the little things.

Until next time,
 photo TSOP Signature.png

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Day of Rest

Once again, it's been a good, long while since I've posted. I'm going to say I'm going to try to get better, but as the wise Yoda says: "Do or do not. There is no try." So, I guess if the Great Master Jedi is to be believed, I'll just do it; or I won't. Let's hope for the former, shall we?

School has been in session for 6 weeks (7 for teachers). The start of this year has been...interesting. I had hoped that in Year 6, things would get to be routine and things would just naturally "flow". What I've discovered, however, is that in education - nothing is routine and nothing has a natural flow to it (unless you count the unexpected as the natural - perhaps this is only true for special education educators?)

Baby Girl (I really must think of a different moniker for her since she turned 17 last month) has begun her senior year of school and has already experienced many, many firsts (and lasts). After two years of prodding, she has tried out for and made the cut for auxiliaries. She is in color guard and really enjoys it. Parents and other supporters have yet to see the full show, but it promises to be quite spectacular.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on my personal Facebook page that Baby Girl's boyfriend asked her to the Homecoming Dance! She accepted, so we're gearing up for that big day (this Saturday!) She and I went out last weekend, looking for a dress. In less than four hours and just three stores, we found it. Furthermore, it was on sale, I had a mystery coupon for 50% off and I had a $10 rewards. When we left the store, we paid a grand total of $8.08 for a $90 dress!

After we left the department store, we headed over to the shoe store and got some red suede heels for $15. I can't show pictures yet because The Boyfriend hasn't seen her dressed up yet. It's got to be a surprise to get the full impact.

I was gone to a conference up in Decatur all this week. I was able to connect with a lot of fellow Georgia educators and I learned a lot. Unfortunately, Hurricane Florence cut our trip short since so many participants were flying in from out of state. Luckily, Florence made a last minute turn and my area of Georgia wasn't impacted. Unfortunately, areas of North Carolina were heavily impacted with flooding and even a few casualties.

Sundays are usually lazy days for me. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday were lazy days for me. But I'm not going to apologize for resting.

I posted this in response to the above graphic I posted on my personal Facebook page:
Speaking to my educator colleagues, especially: we are very much Type A perfectionists. We love our kids and want to do what is best for them. Maybe as women, we are all like this - nurterers to a fault. Or perhaps we feell less than worthy so we have something to prove? But the oxygen mask theory is correct: you have to put your own on before you help others (kids, students, husband's, coworkers, friends...)
Why is this such a hard concept for us to not only believe but adopt?

Luke: I don't believe it.
Yoda: This is why you fail.
(Don't ask me why I'm on such a Star Wars geek kick! It fits my message, alright?!?!😆)

Do men have this issue? My husband, who happens to be a perfectionist, doesn't seem to have this problem. He rests when he needs to rest. My animals don't have a problem. If they are tired, they sleep. Of course, I'm not comparing us (or my husband) to animals, but nature in general. All of God's creation rests when they need to rest. They listen to their bodies and they just do it. (Uh oh, Nike reference...)

My SIL, who has gone through several surgeries and rapid weight loss posted pictures on Facebook today about her scars and loose skin. All of her friends were naturally supportive of her body and all commended her on how far she'd come. (And the fact that she was alive when she shouldn't even be here is a big deal!) But I had to chime in. I don't always chime in on her posts, but I read them. This issue was deep in my heart this morning - partly because I posted the above graphic and partly because I just got finished reviewing a pre-ordered copy of a book by CA Maljavac.

Celebrating who we are. Celebrating how far we've come. Resting when we need to rest. These are all ideas that have been on my mind and I shared them with my SIL. I told her that her scars weren't as bad as she thought they were and they shared a story of what she'd gone through and how far she'd come. They were to be celebrated. Her body as a whole should be celebrated. I told her that I was speaking to myself as much as I was speaking to her.

And now I'm speaking to you. Please take this Sunday to reflect and rest. Reflect on where you are and how far you've come. I don't know what you've been through but I know you've been through something. Everybody goes through something and it's that something that makes us stronger. Recognize that. If you're a Christ follower and you're reading this, God has brought you through it. Whether you're a Christ follower, a Christ shadow-er or you don't know Christ at all, He is always with you. Always. Have you ever wondered how in the world you survived (emotionally or physically) some of the stuff you've been through? It's Him.

Yes, I totally use current pop culture to get my point across - don't you?

Rest. Were you in the path of the storm? If you were and you have flooding, I pray that you're able to get semblance back to your "normal" soon. I pray no one was hurt and whatever was lost can be rebuilt.

If you weren't in the path of the storm, rest today. Who knows what the week will bring. And for any of my educator friends or moms or women out there (and maybe a few men): if you're tired, please take time for yourself. Even if you aren't tired, rest anyway. Rejuvenate.  I don't know a lot but I know that no one is going to look after you and tell you to rest. No human form. Oh, wait. I just did.

What I mean is that no one is following you around to give you advice. "You look tired. You should rest." "Did you sleep well last night?" "Make sure you get to bed on time tonight so you can get enough sleep for tomorrow." "You're a little snappy at [fill in the blank]. Maybe you should [fill in the blank]."

No one is going to do that for you. So you need to do that for you. Your body will thank you. And the world will not cease spinning if you take some time for yourself. In fact, I can almost guarantee if you make self-care a practice, you will find yourself being better. A better educator. A better mom. A better woman. A better wife. A better friend. A better human.

Rest does a body good. So go do it!
 photo TSOP Signature.png

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcome Back or Welcome *To* This Side of Perfect

Whew! It has been a *long* time since I've pecked out a few words on the old blog. In fact, it's been a whole year (plus a few days).

I want to welcome those newcomers who have begun to follow me on Instagram. For those small readers who have been waiting to hear from me, welcome back!

Where have I been? Sadly, right here. Paralyzed by fear. Fear of what, you ask? Fear of you.

Yes, you. Why should I fear you? Well, the short answer is, I shouldn't. But the longer answer is I've been inside my head for quite some time and you've been there with me.

What if you don't like what I have to say?
What if you don't like me?
What if you think my ideas are stupid?
What if you don't agree with me?

After taking a long hiatus from the blog and delving into a Bible study (several, actually) that have caused me to pause and really think about the questions above, I've come to the following conclusions:

You probably won't like everything I have to say. I'm recommitting my purpose for this blog. If you look toward the top, you will see the following:
Several (several!) years ago, this verse came to my heart when I began thinking about writing a blog. (Back then, my blog went through several names: Woman Within. Horizontal Yo-Yo.) My mission for the blog never changed: I wanted to showcase Christ's strength through my weakness. This is where I came up with the name This Side of Perfect.

I recognize that we will never be perfect this side of heaven. But the good news is we don't have to be!

I once read a review about my blog from a reader who questioned the validity of my mission. Briefly paraphrased she said: why would I want to be reminded of my weakness? Why would I want to celebrate weakness?

Valid points. Why would you want to be reminded?

My blog is geared toward women who (I'm assuming) are trying to keep one million and one plates spinning and failing miserably. (Or maybe she's rocking it - but she's failing in other areas.)

The truth is, as women we can do it all; we just can't do it all at once. No matter what we're doing at any given point, we are not doing it in another. If we're giving it our all at work, we might not be giving it our all to our families. If we're giving it our all to our families, chances are good, we're not giving 110% at work. And at the very least, we aren't taking care of us; refilling our spiritual buckets.

Which leads me to my next point...

There's a good chance, you might not like me. Oh, I don't mean personally. But you might not like what I stand for. That previous section might have ruffled your feathers or bruised your toes a bit.

But that's okay. If I say something that offends you, I'm giving you something to think about. To analyze. And maybe you'll come to realize that what I say has a bit of truth to it.

Of course, if you decide to completely discount what I write, that's okay, too. Because I might not be writing this for you right now.

I might be writing this for you. Or you. Or you. Yes, you. I see you over there.

For the longest time, I was the woman trying to spin all the plates. Only I wasn't succeeding. I was failing miserably. And what's more, I felt bad that I was failing. And that feeling bad was making me feel less than.

Less than a woman. Less than a mom. Less than a friend. Less than a Child of God.

If this is you, I want to encourage you. You are doing awesome! I can almost guarantee that you are your worst critic. Your people - your circle - think you're pretty amazing.

So, at the end of the day after I've spent some time with The Father, I've come to realize that this isn't about me. It's about Him. And I hope that through my words, He speaks to those of you who need to hear His voice.

And for everybody else, I hope I can encourage you that you aren't alone in your struggles. You are amazing. There is only one you - celebrate that! No one can do what you do in the relationships you have. Nurture those. Give them your 110%.

Until next time,
 photo TSOP Signature.png

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Countdown to my 41st Birthday

My birthday is in 10 days. There, I said it.

Birthdays are a big deal to me. They always have been. In my classroom, we celebrate everybody's birthday. The Man Beast started a tradition four years ago when I started my teaching gig. On each student's birthday (and lately, each adult's birthday), he makes homemade cupcakes to celebrate each birthday girl/boy's Big Day. During the years when I have a large caseload and multiple birthdays in a month, I choose one Friday out of that birthday month to celebrate.

This might sound a little ambitious to other teachers, but in my classroom, we celebrate life. In my classroom, I TELL my students I love them on a daily basis and mean it because there is no guarantee they will come back to me the next day. This is a heartache I choose not to dwell on for long. So, instead - we celebrate!

I will celebrate birthdays as long as I'm able. And in 10 days, I'd like you to join me in celebrating mine.

I have friends and family from all over the world (literally!). I enjoy reaching out to them through Facebook and Instagram. I enjoy seeing pictures posted and stories shared. I enjoy celebrating through technology. I would like to encourage you to celebrate with me.

Our local humane society is currently raising money in order to renovate their shelter. The Okefenokee Humane Society helps, on average, 2,000 animals a year. They boast (and rightly so!) that they are a no-kill shelter. This means that they do not euthanize animals to make room in their shelter. They do not euthanize healthy animals. In short, they do everything in their power to give animals a second chance at life to a Forever Home.

This shelter holds a special place in my heart. Seven years ago, we adopted a shelter kitty after my daughter's cat died in our pool. Last summer, our family fostered a mama cat and her EIGHT kittens. I'm not sorry to say that we are, indeed, foster fails as we kept Rachel and one of her sons, Tobi Wan Kenobi (Toby, Toby-Toby, Tobias for short). With five animals in the house, we're unable to foster this summer. I will miss it. Fostering isn't for everyone, but it despite the hard work, it is definitely rewarding.


So, how do I want you to celebrate? I want you to donate to Okefenokee Humane Society's Restoration Project in my honor. How do I want you to donate? Right here. (If you're local, feel free to donate in person). I want to take this challenge to the next step. (Women-of-a-certain-age get this luxury.) I challenge you to donate $41 if you can. Think about it: if just 10 friends/family donated, the shelter would have an additional $410. That's a lot of paint! If 20 friends/family donated (or got THEIR friends/family to donate) we could raise $820 for the shelter. (250 people would get them to their goal. That might be stretching it. But hey! This is the interwebs...stranger things have happened.)

I encourage you to take this viral. (Let's spread some decency for a change!) Animal welfare is something everyone can get behind regardless of which isle you sit, who you worship, or (!!) how old you are.

Thank you for considering this worthy project. Happy birthday to me!

Until next time,
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Friday, December 30, 2016

{Planners for the Rest of Us} 2016 Uncalendar End-of-Year-Review

It has been just about a year since I started using the Uncalendar my mother gifted me last year. I received another one this year (this time, from The Man Beast). I thought it would be an excellent time to update readers on my usage of the Uncalendar this past year - what worked and what didn't.

If you have fifteen minutes to spare, feel free to click on the link below in order to see the video version of this post.

The Uncalendar Lifestyles Pro is a three-ring binder undated planner that comes in red, blue, or black. I received the full-size version, but the company also provides a half-size version of both the Pro and the regular Lifestyles version. The Uncalendar website has pictures of their products as well as upclose screen shots of the pages. The company also provides a skills center meant to help Uncalendar users get the most out of their planner.

After watching just a handful of Uncalendar videos (seriously, there aren't a whole lot available - at least when you compare to other planners on the market), I learned that one user placed Post It Pockets in the front of her binder. I, too, placed two envelopes in the front of my binder - one which I used for different colored pens and the other I used for Post It flags and tabs.

Around July, I moved the guts of my Uncalendar into my own binder. It was a binder I had bought from Staples several years ago and at 1 1/2 - 2 inches deep, it seemed to be bigger and have more room in it than the Uncalendar binder. The plastic envelopes did not make it into my new binder because the whole thing seemed too cumbersome.

However, I did get this nifty Post It Note station from Dave and Busters. I thought it would be a great addition to my binder. Unfortunately, the post its and flags started crinkling and falling off. To be fair, I don't know if it was the product or it's the fact that this particular set up won't work in a binder. I have seen similar  Post It Notes systems at various stores around my community. If, after trying the coil Uncalendar system this year and deciding on going back to the 3-ring binder system, I will definitely be trying this out again.

The first part of the Uncalendar houses the weekly view. I chose to label the three sections "work", "home" and "me". I explained this in my other post and video. It made sense for me to divide my day like this because I woke up - I went to work. I came home and dealt with home stuff. And then I had my stuff - exercise, Bible studies, reading, writing, etc. that I tackled at the end of the day. While I was last on the page, I do not feel that my needs came last, by any means.

I used a color-coding system in my Uncalendar. At the beginning, it was consistent, but toward the middle of the year, it fizzled out to a very basic color-coding system. Work has always been blue. I've off-set any special education events in red. It's a system that I adopted my first year teaching, it made sense to me, so it's stuck. This was before I even began using the Uncalendar. At the beginning, each family member had their own color - The Man Beast had orange, Baby Girl had green, The Man Child had a variation of blue and I had purple. This system didn't stick much at all. First, the colors didn't make sense. They weren't favorite colors (except for Baby Girl's), so there was no emotional attachment to the colors. I know it sounds weird, but it's how my mind works. Everything has to have significance. If it doesn't, then I want nothing to do it with. (That's an epiphany I just had while writing this out! Amazing how writing frees the mind).

Moving on...
Because my system was new, I developed a key for it. I also used the chart to track habits - at least in the beginning. It, too, fizzled out mid-way through the year.
A key for my weird system
 After seeing a fellow Uncalendar user use the big space on the bottom of this page to track her food on a Post It Note notepad, I adopted the system, too. Unfortunately, what I found was it was just as easy, if not easier to track food directly into my phone. I'm unsure of what I will use this area for this upcoming year.

During the summer months, my Uncalendar hardly got used. I didn't have any work related tasks to track. I didn't set any personal goals for myself in the summer, so there was nothing for me to track for me. Even my home appointments didn't get tracked in the Uncalendar. I found it easier to sync Google Calendar with everyone in the family.  This year, I think I will track habits for me personally in my Uncalendar. This way, it will be used during the summer. Of course, I plan on laying eyes on my Uncalendar much more frequently this year than I did last, too.

Over all, however, most of my summer weeks were kept blank. I believe this is why the people at Uncalendar suggest only filling out your planner for a few weeks at a time. I started doing that at the beginning but what I found was, it was just another item on my to-do list. So, around July (it must have been a magic month) I filled in the rest of my Uncalendar. I will say this: filling it out on a weekly basis did force me to interact with it more than when I filled it out for the whole year. Still, I just do not see myself going back to the weekly system. However, my main goal for the upcoming year is to really utilize the Uncalendar and touch it and interact with it several times a day verses once a day or (wore) once a week!

This area is for monthly planning. I didn't touch it. I don't even know what to do with it. I'm going to try to delve deeper into all things Uncalendar and really try to utilize this for a goal. I think the reason why I never used it is because I never had any real goals. I wasn't a goal setter last year. I was all talk - and even after awhile that fizzled out. I welcome any suggestions on how you use the area. Please comment, below!
Left side goal page

Right side goal page - top

Right side goal page - bottom
The monthly view layout was consistently used throughout the year. I guess I'm just a Big Picture kind of girl who has no interest in breaking the picture down into manageable goals. (Ironic considering I'm a SPED teacher whose whole world revolves around year-long IEP goals that are broken down into bite-sized pieces). I kept the color-coding - the basic color coding - throughout the year in the month view - blue was work and red was SPED (Hey! I rhyme!) All the other color-coding went by the way side.
Monthly view
Do you see that area on the far left, highlighted in red? This is where I put my weekly to-dos on the monthly calendar. For example, when my son graduated high school this past May, I needed to be sure to get out invitations and announcements and consider sleeping arrangements at the house. I placed these things on my "big calendar". They did not, however, consistently make it to my weekly to do lists.

To make the monthly calendar section easier to use, I used these tabs. They come in four colros: red, blue, green and yellow. I divided my months according to "seasons" (read: as the colors made sense to me). Blue were the cooler months, yellow were the spring months, green were the summer months, and red were the back to school/fall months. I stuck the tabs in the Uncalendar and they never once came loose the whole year (and remember, while the majority of my Uncalendar went untouched, the monthly view got *a lot* of use.) I will transfer these tabs over to my new Uncalendar. If they end up not sticking, I will be buying more. The system really worked for me.

On the very back page of the monthly view is a next-year-at-a-glance page. As a teacher, this page was invaluable to me! Since I began my Uncalendar in January (the middle of the school year), I have future dates that do not fit in my current Uncalendar. January through May/June dates are listed on this page in my Uncalendar and now that I have my new one, I'll transfer these dates over. And, in August, when I get dates for next January through May/June, I will place those dates on this page in my *new* Uncalendar. My only regret is that half of this page ends up going unused. I hardly ever get dates further than a year ahead. I suppose I could use this area for more goal setting in the new year? I will have to give more thought to this. I used color coding in this area too - but very basic. Again, blue for work, red for SPED, etc.
Upcoming year-at-a-glance

I think my biggest issue with my Uncalendar use this past year was just not using it as much as I should/could have. The phone book feature in the back went completely untouched because - you guessed it - all my contacts were in my phone. This was one reason why I opted for the coil-bound Uncalendar this year. It's more streamlined and it doesn't have a lot of features that the Pro does, but it still has the writing space I crave (but apparently don't use) that the half sized version does not.
Waste of paper for me
My over all opinion about the Uncalendar after one year of "use": I really like it. I will continue to use it this year, too. (Be sure to be on the lookout for a video and blog post outlining my plans for the upcoming year in more detail).

Pros: Blank - start whenever you'd like; spacious - a lot of room to write; durable pages - aside from a few coffee stains, my pages look just as good as the unboxing last December; affordable - with several versions, you can find a planner to fit any budget.

Cons: Blank - a lot of space means there is a lot of opportunity to be overwhelmed; Bare Bones - it's not very pretty as planners go BUT you can always decorate it to your liking; Color Scheme - a lot of people are put off by the red, blue, green and yellow color scheme. I contacted the company and they said that a grey scale was in the works for 2017, so that's promising.  I'll be sure to keep you updated if I hear anything.

Until next time, photo TSOP Signature.png

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Making it official: NaNoWriMo Participant Announcement {NaNoWriMo 2016}

I am making it official and just three short days from the official kick off of National Novel Writing Month (henceforth lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo): I am participating this year!

For anyone not familiar with the project, NaNoWriMo is an opportunity for anyone crazy enough to attempt the goal of writing 50,000 words in a 30 day period, which roughly translates to 1,667 words per day. Sound easy enough, right? I suppose it is. Except that the month of November is one of the craziest and busiest months of the year, professionally AND personally.
But participate, I will.

If you're brave, watch my official video announcement.

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This year will bring forth a number of challenges. Most of the participants write fiction or sci-fi. I will write fiction, based on life because this is what I have. I'm using this past year's heartaches to create a story. I think it's going to be a very loose sequel to Uncharted Dreams, my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel. (It's unpublished, please do not look for it. You won't find it. And if you DO find it, please tell me immediately.)

Aside from the emotional aspect of writing this year, I've also got the general busyness of life. This will be my first year participating as a lead teacher. It will be a challenge, but I want to get back to writing. As I mention in the above video, I'm giving myself permission to completely suck at writing next month. I'm putting away my inner editor and just writing. I don't have delusions of grandeur. I know that this piece will not get published. Not right now. Maybe not ever. But I'm giving myself permission to write it.

There are three ways that people approach writing 50,000 words during the month of November.

1. Planner - These people completely plan out their novel weeks (maybe months) in advanced and use pages of outlines write their novels.  Many authors have up to 60 pages of outlines detailing each and every event in their novels and write from that.

2. Panters - These people sit down at their computers and begin typing. I wrote my 2007 novel like this. It worked. As I was nearing 50,000 words, however, I felt like my novel needed to be finished, so I rushed the ending. I don't like the ending at all and I feel like my story could be and should be "fleshed out" more to include a stronger story with a stronger plot and stronger characters. Also, as I was writing it, I felt that it would be part of a series, following the main characters through many of their adventures through life as young adults.

3. Planters - These people are a mix of Planners and Pantsers - hence the name. They flesh out a basic understanding of their story, but let their characters determine the story. Pistol Packin' Annie wants to travel to the big city? Okay, let's do that.

I will be plantsing my novel this year. I have a basic idea of characters and plot, but really want to see where I "go" with it. I used a new strategy this year that was completely foreign to me in years past: deep character development. Not only have I fleshed out how my characters look, but I have their bad habits, overall mood and mannerisms as well as internal and external conflicts. This was a fun exercise to complete because it forced me to think about my characters. As such, I feel they are already stronger than my characters in my first NaNoWriMo novel. So, I see myself already improving in my craft.

But I'm not there yet and I'm totally okay with that. As I explain in my video, I want to use this year's NaNoWriMo to jump start my writing habit. The more I write, the better I will get. It's science.

So, there you have it. My official announcement. I'm looking forward to writing every day. I look forward to creating a new (healthy!) habit. I do not look forward to traveling back home and figuring out how to get my daily word counts in. This should make for good blog reading or video viewing...

Until next time,