Friday, February 22, 2013

To job or not to job?

When Veterans leave the military, some have jobs, some don't.  As a mom and a wife, do I need a job? 

I already have a full-time one raising our 12-year-old daughter, who I am ashamed to admit was practically ignored for the first 10 years of her life while both her parents were on active duty.  Since transitioning to the Reserve, I have had the most glorious affirmation of parenting.  She needs her parents and I need her.  Now I refuse to let anyone else raise her.  Not school teachers.  Not after-school care providers.  Not family.  

With that revelation, I also realize that there are lots of hours in the day when she doesn't need me.  For instance, I like watching her play sports but I don't necessarily need to be shouting encouragement over the coach during basketball practice.

So that again begs the question.  Do I need a job?  And the answer is a resounding yes.  What I have found is that no person can handle extremes for very long.  Extreme work will leave your family lonely.  Extreme parenting, and now they are smothered.

As a previous dual-income contributor, I also harbor guilt for not contributing to the income (although, during every freak-out moment I have about that, my husband assures me my contributions are just as valuable as his monetary ones).  But working provides additional purpose to my day and interaction that an extrovert such as myself craves like oxygen. 

So, I've decided that yes I need to work but I do not need the ten-hour-a-day with everything walking through the door labeled a crisis.  Public Relations is a blast and I love it.  It's what I know how to do and if I do say so, I do it pretty well.  

The key now is to do PR and be a mom without falling right back over that slippery cliff of extremes.   Decision made.  Now how to go about it?  

Well, that's for another day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Relationship with your Muse

Are you working on your relationship?  Because, as any counselor will tell you, they take work.  You may have met, experienced love at first sight, and thought it would be sandy beaches and softly lapping waves for the rest of eternity, but you’re in for a rude awakening.  Muse, she is one fickle significant other. 

That honeymoon period when you were bursting with creative energy and love for your story?  Yes, that will end.  If you want to reach the end of that story with minimal agony, you’re going to have to build a strong relationship with Muse.  In case you haven’t noticed, she can be quite the bitch.  But then, you don’t always remember to take out the trash or write “milk” on the list either, do you? 

Here are five tried and true relationship tips to take you and Muse from first base to happily ever after:

1. Commit to spending quality time together on a regular basis:  You have to set aside time for her.  She doesn’t want to share you with the household bills, kids, or report for work.  She is flexible, however.  And maybe a little kinky.  She is fine if your quality time together is in the shower.  Or right after you wake up in the morning. 

2. Be playful and surprise your partner:  Maybe Muse doesn’t want to hear you describe the setting for the tenth time.  Maybe she would get really excited if you would throw in something unexpected—and forget the flowers, chocolates, and sappy movies.  Instead, offer her a manticore, a long-lost twin, or even a corpse.  That ought to dilate her pupils.

3. Make it about more than winning:  If you want to make this work long-term, you have to look beyond the immediate finish line tape.  You want that manuscript done, but not at her expense.  Don’t approach the relationship with the attitude that you’re always right.  She has a voice, an important one, and you have to allow her to be heard if you want this partnership to last.

4. Don’t assume you know what your partner needs:  You may have been together a while now and gotten to know some of her quirks, but that doesn’t make you a mind reader.  After all, people change!  Let her tell you what she needs and I guarantee you’ll be surprised.  Your protagonist has a secret ability?  The villain is blind?  The whole story really took place in an alternate dimension?  You might think you know…but you don’t.  You have to ask.

5. Maintain outside interests and relationships:  Muse may be the One, but she’s not the only one.  Don’t allow your relationship to be all-consuming.  Muse can’t meet all your needs and she’s not the only one you can use to bounce ideas.  Family, friends, and fellow writers will offer you fresh perspective.  Pursuing other passions will prevent you from getting burnt out and help you return to Muse with a glint in your eye. 

Elizabeth Caraway writes the Motivated Mama blog ( and spends her time away from Muse running great distances, corralling munchkins, and kissing her hot, nerdy husband.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions: Yeah, right

This year I made New Year's Resolutions.  To eat right, exercise, learn to sew, play the piano and scrapbook, oh and read 104 books.
Yeah, right.

  • I've made the first two before.  Still weigh the same as I did two years ago and haven't run a lick in six months.  But with the hubs and I focusing on a plant-based diet, it might be easier to do this year.

  • I don't own a sewing machine or a piano so those goals look pretty slim.  And every time I think of scrapbooking, I buy a bunch of really cute paper, crazy cutters and stickers.  Plastic bins overflow in my office and stare accusingly.  Space in the closet for shoving those bins is a much more realistic resolution.

  • However, there is a bright shining star in this equation and it's full of fire.  I own a Kindle.  In fact, I own two.  I have a Goodreads account and a dozen paperbacks ready to start my 104-book reading goal.   My daughter has agreed to read with me and swears she can read her way to more books than me and certainly more than 104 books.   The gauntlet has been thrown and no former cheerleader from Tennessee can pass that up.  Besides if I win, I'm headed to Ireland.  

So, game on.  And good wishes to all you out there who also made resolutions.  May you have the wind in your sails and colors in your rainbows and a whole lot of wine if it doesn't work out.

Did you make a resolution?  What is your failsafe, fallback plan for survival?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Back to Duty

So I'm headed back on duty Saturday.  Haven't worn boots in nearly six months and had to find a seamstress who would hem pants and sew on new rank in less than 48 hours. 

But it's about time.  I generally get restless and ready for action at the five-month mark. 

Ten years of active duty and I never thought I would become a Reservist.  After becoming a Reservist, I never thought I'd enjoy all the time. 

The time off has given me so much more time for my family and other interests - like writing - and discovering what is truly important to me.  I love my career and I love my family.  There can be a balance and I'm determined to find it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Time Off

I'm taking some time off.  Since I'm finally off crutches and walking in a boot, I'm going to travel.   I'll be helping my brother move from Texas to South Carolina, which is awesome because I get to watch Alabama football with my sister and other extended family. 

Later in the month, I'm headed to Birmingham for my grandfather's surprise 80th birthday party.  We're gonna hold a quick promotion ceremony for me too.  So, that will be a good time.

Finally, for Thanksgiving, the hubs is frying up a turkey.  Our first meat meal since deciding to go plant-based back in April.  Can't wait for leftover, cold turkey sandwiches!

The Christmas season promises to be super busy as well, so I'm signing off until the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stand Down for Veteran Homeless

One in Four Homeless are Veterans.

National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. I'm a little over 11,000 words into the second novel of a romantic spy trilogy that deals with Veteran issues.  This particular one, Shelter, explores Veteran Homelessness.  

Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless veterans.  They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.  

Stand Downs provide services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment.  

In November, Chicago, San Antonio, Binghamton and Fort Worth are holding Stand Downs.  If you wish to be a part of a Stand Down, the contacts are below.  If you wish to contribute to the VFW, please use the donate link to the left.

Nov 9     Chicago                     POC:  Jeanne Douglas 708-383-3225
Nov 9     San Antonio              POC:  Jerry Rangel 210-616-9915
Nov 13   Binghamton, NY        POC:   Adam Ormsby 315-425-4428 
Nov 14,  Fort Worth                 POC:  Linda Saucedo 214-927-4501

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo & Veterans - Starts Today

National Novel Writing Month starts today -- one novel, 50000 words in 30 days.  And one of my buddies has already written 2500 words!  I've written 25.  Yep, that's it.  
At the last minute, I decided to write a different novel than the one I planned -- this one is the second of a trilogy and is a romantic thriller dealing with Veteran homelessness and unemployment.   But I'm determined.  Vague plotline is done.  Working on outline and will have first scene done before midnight.  Then maybe I can knock out the second right after midnight.  

Either way, I'll finish this one in 30 days.  So, happy writing and good luck to the 100K+ other writers out there trying to accomplish the same thing!

Oh, and for my novel this month I'm collecting donations for the VFW and a little elementary school in Tennessee.  If I don't finish the novel, I match the funds.  If I do, I'll end up matching anyway but the competition is motivating.  Those who donate win the chance at a NYTimes Bestseller or an Amazon Kindle so please play along.