Posted in life

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Too

Hello friends, I hope you’ve been well. I realize I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’m terribly sorry to have left you waiting. My usual quiet, and calm life has been anything but, as of late. I could say I’ve been “busy”, and move on, but I thought it would be better to have a little catch-up, instead.

Spring is a very full time of year for me, because that is when the greenhouse I work for opens up to the public. Most of the year we all work quietly behind the scenes, carefully planning and preparing flowers, and vegetable plants for the growing season. But all of that changes when opening day arrives, and my job shifts from planting, to working retail— an entirely different ballgame. Instead of plants flying from my hands, it’s now numbers, and totals, and answering all kinds of questions from customers. I’m really grateful for my job and I have been there for many years. My days are filled with very hard work, beautiful flowers and much sunshine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before our official opening day at the greenhouse, my sisters and I squeezed in a four day trip, for a very special, and highly anticipated event, which I’ll tell you about in another post. I don’t think I have to explain to you the stress level of travel planning and booking reservations and all that sort of stuff. It somehow has the ability to absorb all of your time, and drain you of all your mental capacity to think of anything else in the universe. Thankfully though, that is all behind me now, and I am getting settled back into daily living. It is the combination of work, and travel, and home responsibilities that has barely given me the time to brush my teeth at night before I literally fall into bed (let alone write a blog post). And for that, I apologize.

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing much reading either. Funnily though, a recent power outage prompted me to finally sit down and make some progress on my current read, The Summer We Forgot, by Caroline George. I’m really enjoying the story so far, and it kept me up till 1 a.m. last night because I just couldn’t put it down. I’m also in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I feel like everyone and their brother has read but me. (My own nephew even told me I had to read it!) It’s a super quirky and fun mystery, and I can’t wait to get back to it and find out how it ends.

Since we’re on the topic of good-reads, my birthday passed a few days ago, and I was thrilled to have received so many new books as gifts! I worked a double shift on my birthday, but I was still able to celebrate with my family at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, and open presents with so many BOOKS in them. Most of the books are cozy British mysteries, which I can never get enough of. And my sister got me a copy of Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa, a book I’ve heard a lot about, and has been on my TBR for a while. I’m looking forward to summer, when things quiet down a bit and I can finally get back into reading, and tackle my expanding TBR.

My writing has also been undergoing a major shift lately. I haven’t been able to write much at all for the past few weeks, but I’m using this time as a little pause, to reconsider some things. I’m working on a blog post to tell you more about it, but for now I’ll say that I’m in the process of beginning a new novel, which is exciting, and terrifying at the same time. I also wrote a short story last month, for a contest that I heard about last-minute. My story wasn’t chosen, but I still love what I wrote and if it wasn’t for the contest, it wouldn’t even exist. I had a lot of fun writing it, and that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Spring is in full swing, and I wish I could say that I’m enjoying it, but the allergies, and high-winds are sort of ruining that. Even so, it makes me happy to hear all of the birds singing so cheerfully, and watching the trees slowly wake from their long slumber. Overall, this month has taught me that life is wild. Sometimes it feels like I’m wading through a vat of peanut butter, not making any progress, and other times it feels like everything is happening all at once, and I’d give anything to slow it back down, and take things one at a time. But I suppose that’s the name of the game. Nothing ever happens exactly how we wish it would, and that’s how it’s meant to be. Taking the good with the bad, and appreciating every moment along the way.

What about you? How has your Spring been? Have you read any good books this season? Tell me all about, I’d love to chat with you.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life

Dreams and Disasters

It’s the beginning of a brand new year, the time when many of us are buzzing with new goals, resolutions and dreams for the future. That’s usually me as well, but for the first time in a long time, I don’t have any serious New Year’s resolutions.

branch4-motif - Smock.

In years past, I would glumly review the previous year, evaluate all the ways that I had failed at my goals and pledge to remedy them in the coming new year. For me, the new year always came with a feeling of dread, and fear of the unknown. I think I might have confused “end of the year” with “end of the world”. But the last couple of months of 2021 were such a whirlwind of events and emotions, that I wasn’t left with much of an opportunity to think so far ahead. Maybe that’s why this year, when the clock struck midnight, 2022, those old feelings weren’t there. It came as a bit of a shock to me when I actually felt calm. Perhaps it was due to the tumultuous couple of years we have all endured that lead me to a state of apathy, but I’d still like to give myself at least a little credit for this new outlook.

The other day, I was writing in my journal, and I wrote down these words, “It wasn’t what we planned, but it all worked out in the end, which is a recurring theme in my life.” I could list a hundred, maybe even a thousand times in my life, where I had envisioned something to go one way, when it ended up going in a complete different direction. Even though it wasn’t what I had planned, somehow, it still worked out. I usually try to view those moments with humor, and not take it to heart, but I was astounded when I realized how accurate that statement was–in all aspects of my life. So my resolution this year is not to plan so rigidly that my world may crumble if things don’t happen, just so. I could use the term, “go with the flow”, though that phrase is a little overused and doesn’t entirely convey what I mean. Another way to put it is, “trust the process”, which, for me, is trusting in the Lord.

You know the bible verse that says, “His ways are higher than our ways”? I’ve probably read it a dozen times, but I think it has finally struck a cord in me. I think it’s God’s way of letting us know that when something goes wrong, it’s still part of the “grand plan”, so to speak. It doesn’t mean that we should just give up on our plans, or our dreams. To me, it says that we don’t need to agonize so much over the future. It can be very intimidating to consider all the steps that will lead us from point A to point B, or ultimately Z. What I realized is that, right now, in this moment, even if my day goes awry I can still do small, even seemingly tedious things that can eventually lead to bigger things. My goal is to become a published author. Right now that prospect seems so very big, and scary. I don’t even have a polished manuscript yet that I can consider publishable, but I’m not going to fret over all of that. What I can do right now, and most importantly, is to simply–write. Sounds like a no-brainer, but contrary to popular belief, that’s a whole lot easier said than done.

In other words, I’m telling myself to take a metaphorical, deep breath. Relax. I can’t skip to the end. I have to follow the path that is laid out before me, and however that turns out in the end is anyone’s guess. But I have decided to walk that path calmly, with a joyful heart, and most importantly, trust the process. Life doesn’t happen in leaps and bounds, it happens one day at a time. The sun rises, and the sun sets, again and again. I think we should live as the sun does. Each day we are given a chance to simply try our best. And if we wake up on a cloudy day, that’s okay too. We can try again the next day, and the next, and the next, for as long as the world keeps turning.

Dove Flight by Phil Earnshaw on Dribbble

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

I’m Back! NaNoWriMo & Other Things Too

Hello friends, I have returned at last from my unintentional blogging-break during the month of November, and much of December. Things in my life got a little hectic over the past few weeks, and in November I was completely consumed by NaNoWriMo. I thought I’d be able to squeeze in a post before now, but as you’ve probably noticed, I couldn’t make that happen. Before I fill you in on all things NaNo, let’s have a little chat about the weather, shall we?

I was under the impression that we were going to have a very cold winter this year. Autumn was chilly, and so I thought that as November and December rolled around it would be frosty and cold. But so far we’ve been having very mild weather and the sky is blue nearly every day. This weather does have its benefits, but these endlessly blue skies in the middle of winter are making me wish for snow.
There, I said it. I’m actually longing for snow, though I say it with some apprehension, for if I wake up tomorrow with sub-zero temperatures, and a foot of snow, I’ll wish I had held my tongue.

If you’re wondering how my very first NaNoWriMo attempt went… I won! I reached my goal of 50,000 words with a day to spare. I kept my expectations low when I went into this challenge, but consistency was key for me. It was very difficult, and most days I really didn’t want to write at all, but I persisted. Honestly, my writing was very bare, and the draft feels more like an extremely long and detailed outline. But at the end of the day, it’s 50,000 more words than I had before, and now I have something tangible to work with, to reshape, to improve. Not to mention, I received a ton of experience points along the way. I’m not sure I want to attempt this every year, but I’m happy that I pulled it off at least once in my life.

Oh, and by the way, I wrote it all by hand! In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to try writing it completely by hand, and I did. I think that’s one of the main reasons I was able to complete this challenge. I didn’t have to face that cursor blinking back at me on a blank screen; there was no deleting, no editing and for the most part, I didn’t even worry how my words came out. I was forced to commit my story to the page, be it good or bad. It was a very valuable experience, and I’m so glad I chose to write this story by hand.

Thanksgiving came and went. It was a nice, quiet day, though very unlike the holidays I’m used to. Due to a number of reasons, my family wasn’t able to gather together like we normally do, but given the circumstances, I was still grateful for the day. I made eight pumpkin pies, and I watched my first Hallmark Christmas movie of the year. Despite what the naysayers may think, Christmas simply isn’t Christmas without watching a few cheesy, Christmas movies. Right?

In November, I wasn’t able to read much of anything, or do any of my normal activities, but I did manage to listen to a great audio book, Six Crimson Cranes, to be exact. (Thanks for the rec, Alicyn!) Now that NaNo is over, I’ve jumped back into reading with both feet and I’ve read two books so far this month, and hopefully I’ll get to a couple others as well. And I have a couple half-read books that I want to finish before the year ends, so I can start the new year with a clean slate.

Christmas is right around the corner, and I can hardly believe it. Christmas always sounds so far off, until you realize it’s just days away. Luckily, I did all my shopping early, so I don’t have to worry over shipping delays, or anything like that. So far, this Christmas season feels different, and strange. But I guess after a weird year, it’s to be expected, right? Though it has caused me to intentionally seek out those little moments, and little ways to celebrate. I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas music, or Christmas decorations, but when everything was feeling sad and dark, I found a little spark of Christmas spirit. I decided to be fully immersed in this season, even if it was simply a mindset. I worked on Christmas cards with joy when, in years past, I did it with drudgery. I strung lights on my house to add color, and brightness to these long winter nights. I did small things, but it was those little changes that had the biggest impact on me, and others, too.

The season isn’t over yet, and I’m hoping to cross a few more things off my list; like going downtown to see the big Christmas tree, and all the decorations. I’d like to see the Christmas light display at my local botanical garden. I want to watch more Christmas movies, drink hot cocoa, and eggnog and spend time with loved ones. I want to do the things you can’t do any other time of year, and I want to enjoy these last few weeks of 2021 with peace, and joy. Because if Christmas time offers you anything, it’s a chance to quiet your soul, and listen closely to the truth that is often just a whisper, in the midst of all the ruckus.  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Christmas Star Gif posted by Sarah Mercado

It’s been a while since we last spoke, what have you been up to? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Have you read any good books lately? What are you looking forward to this Christmas? Let me know, I’d love to chat with you down below!

Merry Christmas,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 8: A Writer Rambles

Greetings fellow humans, how goes things? How have your days been? Are you busy with work, school, or writing? Has the autumn chill crept in yet? Have you dug out your collection of fuzzy knits, or woven wools? We had our first freeze a couple weeks ago and it’s been a little colder than it usually is this time of year. But that means it’s the perfect sort of weather to get some use out of my extensive sweater collection, and that makes me happy. My days have been pretty well occupied by a number of things lately. I’m not working at the greenhouse through the winter, and my list of to-do’s is much shorter now that we’re nearing the colder months. That gives me a little more freedom so I decided that it’s the perfect time to enroll in an online class. I haven’t mentioned it here on my blog, but herbal medicine is something I have become very passionate about. I love the study of herbs, the amazing qualities they have, and the ways they can improve our health in gentle ways. This will be my second online herbal medicine class, and I’m feeling pumped to learn all the things.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m considering participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. A yearly challenge, where writer’s from all over the world take on the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. The goal is to reach 50,000 words, (roughly 1,600 words everyday), which is the technical length for a novel. Every year I watch the excitement and hype leading up to it, from afar. I’ve been much too intimidated and unprepared to even attempt such a feat. But this year, I am happy to say that I’m a lot more confident in my writerly abilities and I already have a decent outline worked out. I even went to a coffee shop, like all of the posh writers do, and hammered out some of the important details. I have no doubt that it will be a huge challenge, but it’s one I’m ready to accept. Oh, and I’m also planning on writing it all by hand.

Over the summer, I wrote a short story, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I wrote the first draft entirely by hand. (Prior to that, I wrote mainly on the computer.) I was amazed at how different the writing experience was. Writing by hand, seemed to lift the invisible pressure I had placed on myself, though one would think the opposite to be true. And writing by hand actually brought back a joy to my writing, that can be so easily lost. Needless to say, for this new project, I am prepared with a shiny new notebook for a shiny new story.

I’m still in the editing phase of my short story and am hoping to finish it very soon. Maybe I’ll even let somebody else read it. Truth be told, I’m one of those writers that hordes their writings and guards them with their life–not even letting a single sentence be read by prying eyes. I’m trying to break out of that habit, but it’s easier said than done. I’m also still working on the sci-fi novel I started last year. I’m actually really close to the climax, but progress is still slow-going. As with my previous novel, I again, hit a wall near the midpoint. It seems that that is the most difficult hurdle for me to get over with my stories, but if I can make it through that midpoint, I can make it through all the other parts too! At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m going to write my next novel by hand, and try not to follow any of the same patterns I usually fall into. I’ve accepted the fact that this story is just going to take a little longer than I had planned, but I have faith that I’ll get to the end in good time.

Besides all of that, I’ve been making the most of the fall season. Fall is really the shortest time of year and winter seems to swoop in all too soon. I love the cool air, and deep colors of fall, and it’s an almost mesmerizing effect. It’s always so sad when I have to see them go. This year, I started celebrating early, by doing a spooky photo-shoot in a corn field with my sister, visiting a haunted house with some friends, and I’ve had some form of pumpkin spice drink, nearly everyday. In short, I’ve been embracing the quiet calm of the season–the here and now, and trying hard not to think too much about what is ahead. So often I can get preoccupied with thoughts and worries and plans for the future, that I end up missing all of the special moments right in front of me.

So here’s to peace and goodness, right now. I hope you’re living wholehearted today, and worrying less about tomorrow. May we all have faith that tomorrow will take care of itself. I hope you have a blessed fall, my friends. Stay well.

via GIPHY | Nature stickers, Powerpoint background design, Backdrops  backgrounds

What’s your favorite part of autumn? And are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure, life

A Summer Sweet and Somber

The atmosphere feels different today, and I think I know what has caused it. Summer has reached it’s final chapter and I can already see the end. The air, the sky, the ground, they all feel different somehow. I don’t think I’ve ever loved summer as I do now, thinking instead I was a cold weather creature, more at home with thick sweaters and fuzzy socks, than flip-flops and shorts. But something in me has changed, and I’ve grown to appreciate summer much more now. Though it’s blisteringly hot most of the time, especially here in the desert southwest, I can’t deny the beauty of the summer season as it explodes with life. There is nothing quiet or still about these warm days. Whether it be squirrels causing a ruckus in the backyard, birds busily chirping, children laughing and playing in the evening, or the neighbor with the constant weed-whacker running in the background, the sounds of summer life are all around me. As we are nearing the end of this season, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the things that make this time feel bright, even on a dull day.

We can’t talk about summer without first considering the sun. For without it, there would be no such thing as summer. Without that particular tilt, during that particular time in orbit, we wouldn’t even have the chance to experience summer, be it good or bad. Without it, we wouldn’t even be alive today. And by the way, how does the earth know to tilt, and become warm? How does it know to change from summer to winter? There is something divine that occurs, which can’t be fathomed, no matter how many scientists or textbooks try to explain it. I find it no coincidence that the word sun, sounds an awful lot like the word son. If you think about it, the very earth is a representation of humans, and the Son of the Most High God. Without the Son, life could not exist. There would be only a great vast, nothingness. The giver of light, and life, are they both.

I’m not sure why, but summer gives me the sense that it has a tiredness about it. The days are longer than ever, and you might think that means more time than ever. But it’s the same twenty-four hour cycle, only rearranged a bit. Summer is so busy with work, and play, and there is never enough time fit it all. And hard work is only made harder by the heat, yet it must be done anyway. By the time the sun goes down, and coolness settles in, you’ll find that it’s gotten late, and the only thing you have time left for is sleep. So you drop heavily onto your mattress, brain and bones seeking a brief respite from the day’s antics only to be met with a familiar foe that plagued even the ancients. The foe I’m speaking of is, insomnia. I don’t know why it happens, but on my most tired of days, I feel like I’ve used up my energy and ability to even sleep. Shutting off the light, as I shut my eyes, sleep refuses to come. The hours of the night tick past, and morning arrives all too soon, or maybe not soon enough. I think during the summer people might become solar powered, because I don’t know where else I get all my energy, if not through photosynthesis– since much of the time it is surely not through sleep.

And yet another summer is passing without any special trip, or event to speak of. I’m not sure where this invisible pressure comes from for us to make it “big” during the summer. Personally I see nothing wrong with a slow summer. Even if you don’t go out on some big adventure, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the season in small ways. For instance, summer is not summer in my opinion, without at least one late-night trip for ice cream. And I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished that feat, a few times actually. And it would be a grave travesty of me, if I claim to have done nothing special this summer. It may not seem extraordinary or special to someone else, but to me, this summer has been of great interest. For one thing, I’ve taken up tennis. I’m no good at it, but who cares? I have no intention of competing in Wimbledon, so what’s the big deal if I miss the ball a few hundred times? I’ve also ridden a bike, on a ten mile excursion. I’ve waded in the the river, and watched the glittery ripples glide past. I’ve gone swimming, and experienced the horrors of public pools. I’ve had outdoor movie nights with my family and friends, and indoor movie nights at theaters. Summer has been fun, even without any big events to attend, or spectacular trips taken.

Of course the season hasn’t been without some rough times too– sad times, hard times, and times I don’t really want to think about. But I guess that’s the way of things, right? The simple, joyful moments might not even be recognized, if not for the challenging times we experience, to remind us. Optimism does not come naturally to me, so I guess that’s why I make an extra effort to remember and appreciate the happy times. I strive to see the good in everything, even if that sounds impossible at times. It doesn’t take much effort to see the bad, and the wrong with the way things are these days. So I think the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to find joy in spite of all the darkness around us. I look at it as a small form of rebellion in the face of that darkness that attempts to squeeze and crush us all. It reminds me of a certain bible verse, about heaping coals of fire onto the heads of those who seek to cause harm. Maybe we all aught to keep that in mind from now on.

Summer GIF Guide — New GIFs for 2021! | AWeber

So my friend, I hope your summer has been swell and I hope you’ve gotten lots of sunshine, and had an ice cream or two. I hope you’ve found joy, in the big things and the small ones too. And if there was anything special about your summer, please tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, WORDS

A Page From My Journal

Do you keep a journal? A super secret notebook for your eyes only? Or maybe a notebook where you collect stray thoughts and ideas before they escape into the ether? Journaling has always been a part of my life. Even when I was very young, writing daily was always encouraged by my mom, and through the years I’ve filled up dozens of notebooks. Sometimes I write about the adventures I’ve had, or milestones in my life, but most often I write about the ordinary, everyday things that can often slip by as seemingly unimportant. I don’t write in my journal as often anymore, but I still try to keep up with it even if it can sometimes feel like a chore. There is just something calming and therapeutic about writing like this, and when I’ve reached the the end of the page my hand may feel sore but I usually come away feeling calmer and more at ease.

Back when I was younger, there were some days when I just didn’t know what to write. I would stare at the blank page, too uninspired to think of anything to say. That was when my mom would bring out a certain list of journal prompts to get me writing. I recently rediscovered the list and I wanted to try it out again. It’s been years since I used this list, and it brought back so many fun memories from my childhood. The prompts are simple but they serve as a great conversation starter. Just a little nudge, or suggestion to get your brain into gear, and get the words flowing.

So what is on this list? Let’s take a look.

Outside my window…

I am thinking…

I am thankful for…

From the kitchen…

I am wearing…

I am reading…

I am hoping…

I am creating…

I am hearing…

Around the house…

One of my favorite things…

Plans for the weekend…

I think its a pretty good list and now I’ll share a “page” from my journal. I wrote it by hand, to make the experience feel more authentic, and then I typed it out here for you to read. It’s always fun to look back on old journal entries from a few weeks, months, or even years back. And sometime it’s even more fun to read from the pages of someone else’s journal. So let’s have a read, shall we?

* * * * *

Outside my window, the sky is a mix of strange phenomena, and odd weather patterns. It’s terribly hazy from a distant forest fire and a little cloudy from a rainstorm that must working its way here. I am thinking, of how incredible it is that the sky changes so quickly. In the space of an hour it could be completely transformed by an approaching storm or a cloud of dust and smoke, only to clear again shortly after to make way for a bright sunset. I’m always thankful for such sights.

From the kitchen, I’ve pilfered a bag of trailmix. The day is well on its course, but I’ve yet to have a proper meal. Eating what I can here and there when I get a chance is my motto, but we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the day unfolds. I am wearing, my summer uniform today, which as it happens, changes daily. Today that uniform is shorts, with a large T-shirt. Air flow is essential, so I tend to base my fashion sense on the suggestions of breath-ability, and aerodynamics.

These days I am reading, a great many books about a great many topics. One of them is about the search for a lost Welsh king, in the small town of Henrietta, Virginia. And yet another book spends much time explaining the harrowing, yet heroic partnership between vast forest systems and and friendly fungi. I am hoping, for an afternoon rainstorm, so that I can have an excuse to hunker away with one of my books. Because when it rains, it is absolutely imperative that you drop everything you are doing and pick up a book immediately. You don’t even have to read it, you can just hold onto it and gaze moodily out the window. Trust me on this.

I am creating, a whole host of things lately. You’ll see remnants of them everywhere in my room. An unfulfilled summer to-do list, a half completed crochet project sitting on my desk, half-written stories in notebooks, and computer files. I think it’s about time I stop creating, and start completing.

I am hearing, the ever present hum of the air conditioner that has become synonymous with these summer days. But underneath all of that, there is a lo-fi playlist adding a bit of aesthetic ambiance to this decidedly un-aesthetic environment. Around the house, there are ceiling fans, and swivel fans, and probably some other type of fans valiantly working together to rid the house of stuffy, heavy, swampy air. But despite their best attempts, it is a losing battle.

One of my favorite things, to do in the summer is sitting outside and watching the sky. Sometimes at night, I’ll climb up onto the roof and stargaze, or search for the milky way streaking across the sky. And if I have the opportunity, I’ll sit out under a shade tree and watch big, fluffy, cumulus clouds trudge across the horizon bringing with them a summer downpour or maybe even, some mighty thunder and lighting. The weekend, is always lurking around the corner, and I do not have any plans to fill it just yet. A funny thing happens though, when I try to make plans. For some reason, they usually do not come to pass, no matter hard I try. So I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to the weekend. Instead of me, making plans, I simply wait for plans to make me. So far this method is working out swimmingly.

But I guess that’s all I have to say today. Time is pressing, and other tasks are calling my name. It was nice chatting with you, and I thank you for your time. Hopefully we can do this again sometime. But until then, have a great summer. Ciao!

* * * * *

Moving Sunny Day Sticker By Christine Polz

If you want to play along and try out these prompts for yourself, go right ahead! You can pretend this is a tag and that I’ve tagged you! Or, just have fun with these prompts and play around on a piece of paper, or your own journal. If you do try this out please be sure to let me know! I’d love to read your responses. Thanks again for stopping by.

Yours truly,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

Turtle vs. Sloth – A Writing Update

Hello there, how are you? I hope your spring is getting along well. You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a bit. I’m still here, just fell behind on posting because I’ve been so busy with work and life, that everything else has gone out the window. I’m another year older, and maybe even a bit wiser. The years come and go, whether we want them to or not, and hopefully we continue to grow and blossom, just like the plants and gardens we tend. The weather here is warming up nicely, or so it seems, until winter swoops back in and reminds us that it’s not ready to move on just yet. Spring is strange like that though, almost like a battle of the seasons. Reminds me of myself too, hot and cold, summer and winter all at the same time. But before I blather on any longer about the weather, or my own existential crisis, let’s move on to the topic at hand– my writing progress.

I’m in the middle of two projects right now, and they are coming along nicely, for the most part. Sometimes I feel really motivated to write, and I make good progress, and other times I don’t feel up to writing anything for several days. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I have that nagging feeling that I should be. I’ve been working on my short story and it’s up to 4k words. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turning out, but progress has been slow, and I feel the need to give myself a little push. Be it my job monopolizing all my time and energy, or procrastination, or writer’s block, or all of the above, I’m not entirely sure, I just know that I can do more. I’ve been trying to remind myself of the words from the author in The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. After reading numerous essays, the point she’s driven home the most is–just write, and the words will come. I tell myself that often, but somehow I always have a very good excuse not to heed her advice.

As for my novel, don’t tell my characters, but I’ve been avoiding them. Due to many of the previous reasons I mentioned, but even more so because I’m getting very close to the midpoint. I can feel myself bucking under the weight of concerns that I’m not going to do it justice, or I won’t be able to pull it off. I know that’s a silly thing to worry about but I can’t quite shake it. I know that this novel is not going to be perfect, and that no novel ever is, but the pressure is starting to pinch a little. The good news is, I’m still very excited about the story. I love the characters, and the world, and I really want to explore it more deeply. The bad news is, it’s turning out to be quite hefty. I haven’t even reached the actual midpoint, and I’m already passed 50k words. If my math is correct, the final story should be in the range of 100k words. I’ll probably have to dig out my axe, and do some serious trimming in later edits. Or maybe a chainsaw would work better.

Me at work!

Beyond those two stories, I’m fairly bursting at the seems with excitement about my next projects. I have two in particular that I can’t wait to work on. I’m not sure when I can start seriously working on them, but I’m slowly gathering information and inspiration for later. One is a fantasy trilogy, and the other is a paranormal short story. Hopefully I can begin the short story sooner rather than later but only time will tell. Overall, I’m happy that I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration, but again, I’ve come to realize that I need to be a little more strict with myself. Or at least try to find a routine, and practice more self-discipline.

So that’s where I am lately in terms of writing. And if you’re wondering about my reading habits…let’s just say, they’re even worse. (I am blaming that all on bed-time procrastination.) Work has been busy and long, so I don’t have much time to read during the day and all I can manage is a page or two at night before my eyes drop shut. It took me about four whole days to get through one chapter. But progress is still progress, no matter how small, right? Isn’t there a saying about eating the elephant, one bite at a time? Some days, are tough but keeping a positive mindset and continuing to aim towards improvement, can help to see us through the rough patches.

Where are you, with your writing these days? Have you been accomplishing much, or maybe just taking things one day at a time? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life

A Week in the Life: Quiet Days & Gloomy Nights

Hello everyone, how are you? Welcome to another installment of A Week in My Life, where I bring you along to share a few days in my life. I wanted to break up my usual content, so I thought this would be fun. The last time I shared one of these posts was almost a year ago and I thought this would be a good time for another round. I’m continuing this series in a journal style format, so get comfy, and let’s get started.

Monday, March 22, 2021 8:23 P.M. MST

I woke up to a very gloomy world today. It was so dark this morning, that I almost didn’t wake up in time for work, (at the greenhouse). It turned out to be a very busy day, but it was a good kind of busy. We’re getting into full swing for bedding season, and so very many flowers, and vegetables are being readied for planting, (hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds).

Despite the busyness I got off a little early, which is always nice. I tried to get in some writing, but I was too tired to focus. So instead, I did some reading. The clouds finally cleared away by evening, and I headed outside to catch the sunset while I read. Dusk is one of my favorite times of the day, when everything is silhouetted against the pastel sky and a quietness settles in.

I’m hoping to get to bed a little earlier tonight, since I’m still getting used to this whole time-change business, but we’ll see if I can follow through with my plans. I’ll check in again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 10:07 P.M. MST

Well, I didn’t get to sleep as early as I had hoped, but I did wake up on time, so it all worked out in the end. And I guess I was feeling ambitious after work, because I decided to do some baking. I’ve probably spent half of my life watching cooking and baking videos on YouTube, so I thought I might as well try one of the recipes for myself. I made custard buns, something I’ve always wanted to try. They weren’t perfect, but I had fun making them, and I think they were pretty good for my first attempt.

After all the action in the kitchen, it looked like a tornado had swept through. Why does cooking have to be so messy? I pushed up my sleeves and dove head-first into “Mount Dirtydish“. When I finished, the place was sparkling, and for some reason I felt as if I had reached the summit of Everest. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

I’m going to start reading a new book tonight, after I finish writing here. I don’t think there’s any other feeling quite like reading the first sentences of a new story. A certain nervous excitement always sets in at the prospect of entering new worlds and new adventures. The book is called, The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Natsu Miyashita.

Anyhow, the night is not getting any younger, and neither am I, so I’d better get on going. Signing off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 7:56 P.M. MST

I’ve been fooled! I was silly enough to think that spring, meant warmer weather. Last weekend it was gloriously warm and sunny, but today I woke to gloom, wind, rain, and SNOW. It wasn’t a lot of snow, but enough to make things cold and soggy. (Although, nothing a cup of hot tea couldn’t fix.) Whenever it snows, the mountains in the distance become even more majestic than usual. Sometimes I pretend they’re the Misty Mountains, that the dwarves used to sing about in The Hobbit.

In the afternoon my brother and his family came over, and it was nice to spend some time with them, and get clobbered by my nephews for a couple of hours. But now that the evening is drawing to a close, I’m going to settle in and work on my short story. I’ve been writing late in the day, during that awkward space between dinner and bed-time. I’m still really enjoying this hand-drafting experiment and each time I get to sit down and write, I’m excited. But I guess I had better get busy before I run out of time. I’ve got my chamomile tea steeping, and it’s calling my name. So long for now.

Thursday, March 25, 2021 9:18 P.M. MST

Frost covered every surface this morning. It was so, so, cold out, but sometimes the cold feels nice. In the morning, when you’re still feeling stiff from sleep, the brisk air can send the blood rushing through your veins, assuring that you won’t be tired for long. Once in a while I can appreciate the frigid air, instead of loathing it all the time.

After work, I had to do a grocery run with my sister, then we went over to see my grandparents. We walked through their garden, and admired all the blossoms beginning to peek out–daffodils, quince, and apple, to name a few.

A heavy gloom settled in again this evening, so I huddled up at my desk with a cup of Lady Grey tea, while I worked on more inventory for my soon to open Etsy shop. It’s tedious work, but I’m taking my time to ensure that everything turns out nicely. It took me a bit longer than expected, and it’s starting to get late. I still have to wash up, and do some reading before I can head to bed. I’ve got to start my night routine early, or I’ll get to sleep way past midnight, and then I really won’t wake up on time for work.

I can hear police sirens in the distance, and my dog is howling something terrible. Whenever I hear ringing sirens, I feel like I live in a big city, just like you see in the movies. Anyway, it’s almost Friday, which means it’s almost Saturday, which MEANS I’ll get to stay up late, and then sleep in late. I already can’t wait.

Friday, March 26, 2021 9:47 P.M. MST

Friday, at long last. Okay, so this week wasn’t terrible, but I’m always happy when Friday rolls around. All week I anticipated staying up late this weekend, having snacks, and throwing a party. But by 7 P.M. I’d already switched into my PJ’s, and could have gone to sleep. But I knew I would regret it, if I didn’t at least have some instant ramen, and watch a little K-Drama. Because nothing goes together like ramen, and K-Drama’s. My sister and I are starting a new series, and I’m pretty excited.

In hindsight, I had a good week. I was able to squeeze in some writing, I accomplished a lot at work, and still had some time to rest and relax at home. There was nothing special about this week, but that’s not to say it wasn’t time well spent. Living life in a quiet way, is special to me. I find that simple, peaceful days are rare, and valuable, so I cherish them. Sometimes I wonder why people don’t embrace them more fully. Anyway, I hope your week went well, and that you found a few moments of stillness, and quiet.

What was your week like? Tell me all about it.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life

Bits & Bobs, Odds & Sods – A Life Update

Hello, friends! Looks like we’ve reached the month of February. I hope the winter has been kind to you so far, and that you’re settling into the new year nicely. The weather here is still very cold, but there is a distinct note of spring in the atmosphere. Birdsong fills the air and the sunshine just feels different, somehow. For today’s post, I thought I would change things up slightly and give a little life update of sorts. So if you’d like to find out what I’ve been up to, pour yourself a warm drink, and read on.

How’s Things?

January has come and gone, (one of the longest months of the year). After the busyness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the many, many, January birthdays, life has subtly begun to slow down and return to a normal pace. (Anyone appreciate your normal life much more than the hustle and bustle of the holidays?) Last month, I tried to take a step back, and use the time to re-evaluate a few things. I know that New Year’s Resolutions are a bit rubbish, (after all, we don’t need to wait for a new year to make new plans, or set new goals), but I can’t help making them anyway. So for me, I spent most of January trying to figure out what my focus should be this year. I didn’t come up with any real answers, only more questions, but I suppose that’s life.

Writing Life:

In terms of writing, January was great. For months I was stuck, and seemed to have hit a brick wall, and just couldn’t get passed it. I think it was partially due to the holidays, and all of the activities that come along with them, but also, I let myself slip into a slump without putting up much of a fight. Prior to that I was making great progress with my novel, writing daily, and then suddenly it all came to a screeching halt. I felt discouraged, uninspired, and overall blah, about writing. But a few weeks ago, I finally broke out of that mood. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but I’m glad something did, and I’ve since written about 10k words! (The most I’ve written in a very long time.) Granted, I’m a very slow writer, so hitting 10k is cause for celebration in my book, (no pun intended).

How’s the Weather?

I mentioned that I can feel spring approaching, and while I’m happy for warmer days, I can’t help but feel cheated. This winter has been incredibly dry and dull. Living in the desert, we don’t get much precipitation, (during the best of times), but we usually have at least a few snow storms during the season. This winter we’ve gotten next to nothing. A couple of weeks ago we got about an inch or two of snow, which isn’t much. And before that we had a freak snowstorm, in the middle of October, no less, and had around six inches of snow! It melted fairly quickly, and even now it feels like I imagined the whole thing. I guess the good thing about the dry weather, is that it offered plenty of good days to go for long walks. My sisters and I, (and my dog of course), have gone on many pleasant adventures out in the wilds of nature, a.k.a., along the river paths. We even had a strange paranormal experience in the woods, (that’s a story for another time).

What’s New?

Let me preface this next portion by saying that I’m not a very sporty person. I’ve never played organized sports, never learned to skateboard (like all my siblings have), I tried snowboarding (twice), and did not enjoy it. (In my defense though, I do in fact, know how to ride a bike.) When I was younger, I was more of tree climbing, mud pie making kind of kid. All that to say, I’ve turned over a new leaf. A couple of weeks ago, my sister convinced me that my true passion in life is roller skating, and that every other desire up till now has been but a childish fancy. Roller skating is what I was called to do. I heartily agreed, and visited a skate shop, and forked out $130 of my hard-earned, cold hard cash and bought some shiny new skates, and a set of knee pads. I’ve been practicing for about a week now, and I think I may be on to something, because for about 2.5 seconds, when my path is clear, and my wheels are gliding beautifully and straight, I feel like I’m flying! Until, of course, I attempt to turn or stop… then things can get ugly, real fast. Nonetheless, it’s been a fun challenge for me, and I’m excited to learn something new. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

What’s To Come?

This year I hope to focus more on my blog. I really enjoy writing, and connecting with folks over the blogosphere, so I want to spend more time here. It takes me a while to come up with posts, and work on them because, I’m a #slowwriter, but so far I’ve been able to commit to one post every other week. Maybe if I wrack up some newfound inspiration, I’ll post more often. But for now, you can expect to hear from me twice a month. I’ve also been working on a secret project… okay, it’s not so secret, but nothing is official yet. I’m hoping to open up an Etsy shop in the near future. I’ll share more details on that later, but for now, my blog friends get to hear about it first! I’m still working on the designs and what products I’ll be selling, so stay tuned for future updates.

In Conclusion:

I just wanted to check in, and have a little tête-à-tête about what’s been going on in my life. I realize I don’t share a whole lot of that type of stuff here, so maybe I’ll continue to check in like this from time to time. How have you been lately? Is the new year going well? Are you excited at the prospect of spring? Leave me a comment, and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure

A Year in Review: 2020

Well, friends, we made it to the end of 2020. I think we should all get an award. This has been a stormy year like no other and I think we’re all still reeling. The months swept by so fast, yet not quite fast enough. So much happened, for the better and of course for the worse. But I’m not going to talk about the bad things—especially, that-which-shall-not-be-named, because if 2020 taught me anything, it’s that there is a silver lining to everything. Even in something as mundane as the sun rising up over the mountains, that’s a powerful reminder that light still exists. Or when a bird sings from high atop the trees, that too, is a reminder that joy still exists. God’s wonderful creation still exists, and we can find solace in that. So join me, as I look back at some of the events of this year that still make me smile when I remember them.

The year started out feeling new, but not so different from any year before it. I made plans, hoped to travel, pledged to be more disciplined, etc., etc., the typical New Year’s resolutions. Many didn’t end up happening, but one of them actually did. Early in the year, during that brief window when things were still normal, I scored tickets for… (you guessed it–) a concert! It was a spur of the moment decision—which are the best kind of decisions, in my opinion. (I think my family is getting used to me springing these ideas on them.) The concert venue was several hours drive away, but it wasn’t too bad as we’d driven that way dozens of times before. So in February, my mom and sisters, (and me, of course), hopped in the car and sped off for another adventure. The trip was a short one, but we managed to pack in everything we wanted to do; mainly, shop at IKEA. (Does anyone else stay in there for hours and hours?) Oh, and did I mention we went to see Stray Kids, in concert? Another one of my favorite K-Pop groups.

Remember when crowds were a thing?

Just before we entered the venue, a disaster struck! I’d handed out everyone’s tickets in the car before we arrived, which was a big mistake on my part. The line to get into the building was HUGE, wrapping around an entire block. After standing in the never ending sea of people, my older sister realized she didn’t have her ticket. We panicked, and everyone left me alone and went back to the car to find it. They searched and searched and were really beginning to lose hope. Meanwhile, I remained in line all alone among thousands of strangers, wondering who would have to stay behind?
Finally, when all hope was nearly lost, at the last moment before entering the building, my sisters came running back…with the ticket! Thankfully, the crisis was averted, and we were able to enjoy a great show. The drive home turned out to be a treacherous journey, as a blizzard decided to sweep in. But we made it home safe and sound, and for that, we were were grateful.

I’m so happy I got to see them live! ❤
“Stray Kids everywhere, all around the world.”

Fast forward to late spring, when I finally finished my first novel! To be honest, I felt like that day would never come. (Since it took me over three years to complete.) I progressed like a turtle, but that’s okay because I did finish it after all. And not only did I finish writing it, but I actually allowed other people to read it—which was the most nerve-wracking part of it all. I’m usually one of those people who guard their writings like a fierce dragon with its horde of treasures. But I knew that I needed feedback, and I needed to get comfortable with other people reading my work. Thankfully, my family was very supportive about reading my work, and my sister was excited for the job of “editor”, and left me several notes throughout. I’m proud of the accomplishment, but I was more excited to be free of the story, and move on to new ones.

I said I was only going to talk about good things this year, but I have to mention one of the biggest disappointments for me, and many, many, other people—but even still, it wasn’t without a silver lining. Remember last year, I talked a bit about the struggle trying to get tickets for a BTS concert? Well, we planned to go again this year, but we weren’t going to be so naive during the ticketing period. If we were going to score tickets, we had to be aggressively, proactive this time. The tour was to take place in early summer, but in January we entered a drawing for a chance to be chosen for the pre-sale. We weren’t guaranteed a slot to participate, but we took our chances anyway. Unbelievably, the night before the sale, we found out we were chosen! Not taking anything for granted, we knew it was too early to celebrate, as we still had to get the actual tickets. The next day arrived, and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. After another harrowing hour-or-so battle against unseen, online foes, we secured the tickets, in our ideal section! We couldn’t believe our success!

We had big plans for this concert, and the trip we would take, but as you probably know, most concerts were cancelled this year. A sad ending to our hard fought victory, but as I said, there was still a silver lining. The Bangtan Boys came through, and held not only one, but three online concerts throughout the year. I had to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch them because of the time difference from South Korea, but every minute of sleeplessness was worth it. And even though nothing can mimic actual, in-person events, it still meant a lot to me, and countless others, that BTS held these concerts. And in a small way, we were still able to feel connected, even miles and miles apart.

3 a.m. concert time!

2020 was the year I planned to write my next big novel. I say big, because this story has been developing on the back burner for a very long time. And when I was able to set aside my previous project, I could finally run full force with my new story. I’m currently about 40k words into it, and this process feels so much different than my last, though not without it’s own struggles. In honor of this this new chapter, (no pun intended), I wanted to bring you along with me so I launched my first ever series here called, The Writing Diaries. I wanted to document all of the triumphs and tribulations I experience over the course of this new novel. Writing is a very long, and evolving process, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m trying to embrace the struggles, instead of fighting them.
You can check out part one here.

During the summer months, my family and I went on a couple of mini “road trips” in our home state. Since traveling far and wide is a bit out of the question, we stayed close to home and found new places to visit. We found two beautiful lakes, (reservoirs, technically), that I’d never even heard about before. (We also visited an “ice cave” in the middle of summer. Read about it here!) It was so nice to spend the day under the blue sky, and appreciate the calm stillness of the water. I was so happy to find such lovely places not so very far from home.

Of course, the year was also filled with all of the little mundane moments that we don’t pay much attention to, yet still make each day special. Take-out became the new dine-in, online shopping became a regular hobby for me, and my favorite evening activity was still watching K-Drama’s. (Some things will never change.) Despite the horrors and heartaches, the sun still shone, alarms still woke us up each morning—and life went on. Things are harder than they were, but that only makes them more valuable. The little everyday things we may have thought meaningless, are the very things still holding us together. That cup of coffee this morning that burnt your tongue, that late-night snack you regretted the next day, and those other small moments are reminders that we’re still okay. And we will continue to be “okay” even if things go south. Because there is one constant, that never left us this year, nor will it leave us in years to come. It’s something so simple, yet we tend forget it underneath the clamor of the world’s groaning. I heard someone talk about it in a video a few months back, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

My grace is sufficient for you.”

I’ve read those words before, but they have never quite hit home like they did, this year. No matter what the world throws at us, or takes away, the one thing that can’t be taken from us is the love, and sacrifice of Christ. And because of that, His grace is sufficient for me, (and you). For what else is there?

I hope that you were still able to find joy, and light this year. Thank you so much for reading this far, and sticking with me this year. Tell me, what are some of the bright, silver-lining, moments you’ve experienced this year? I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and before I forget—have a Merry Christmas!

God bless,

Lady S