Your Inspiration for the Day

Your dreams are not someone else's to manage. Quote by Rachel Hollis from Girl, Wash Your Face.

NaNo ’18: New Projects, Old Projects, and This Crazy Thing Called Life

I have been MIA lately and I am not ashamed.

Between work and the projects I have going on and having a toddler, husband, and household to run blogging is pretty low on the totem pole of importance.

What I have been doing, however, is working on the second draft of my Camp NaNo ’18 project, Changeling. That is an experience. I have been carving out an hour or so every few days to work on it.

After my first read through of the first draft I made notes and the second draft is implementation of those notes. This is essentially just me deleting large chunks of the first draft and writing entirely new scenes to make things connect and make a little more sense than it did before. Besides some glaring plot holes in draft #1, I am also changing place names (turning real place names into fantasy names to give myself more creative license in future drafts), and fixing obvious grammatical errors.

So that has been an experience. I am not done with the edits and I am already marking places where I need to return in the 3rd draft and do some major revisions.

Overall, progressing though slowly.

I am hoping to finish the edits before November 1st so I can begin a new project with slightly less guilt.

Foxface: A Novel. Justice is for the rich, for everyone else there is revenge. Author name: PhantasyCreator90. NaNo 2018.
NaNo signature banner featuring NaNo ’18 project.

As always, the new project is shiny and I am itching to move on. But I think Changeling is worth suffering over so I am committed to the revisions.

The shiny new project is a little different of a vibe from Changeling. For one, the shiny new project is steampunk so right away the time and setting will be vastly different. Tech will play a big role in it which is a challenge.

I also think the characters I am writing are vastly different and it will be interesting to get inside this new creation’s head and soul and see what I can find there. Foxface has suffered much more than Viviane and Rose (Changeling‘s main characters) and she has a score to settle. From my preliminary visits with her, she doesn’t seem content to let anything go.

Foxface, like Changeling, requires a lot of research into the historically relevant aspects of the story. Its heavily inspired by the politics of the Scandinavian region during the 1800’s-1900’s and the oppression of the Samí people in Norway. But its steampunk so its alt-history and I can take a few freedoms with some of the details.

I obviously like challenging myself with these history inspired stories. I think the context of certain events in human history just adds such an interesting significance to fiction. I like grounding my dreams in reality, I guess. Not even sure that means anything.

Anyway, that is the short of my creative projects. I have been sneaking in some reading time where I can. I think since my last review (Girl, Wash Your Face) I have finished seven more books:

  1. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  2. Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems by Steven James-5 Stars
  3. Mama Gone Geek: Calling On My Inner Science Nerd to Help Navigate the Ups and Downs of Parenthood by Lynn Brunelle-3 Stars
  4. Arabella of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby Series) by David D. Levine-3 Stars
  5. An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  6. 1984 by George Orwell-5 Stars
  7. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows Series) by Leigh Bardugo-5 Stars

I should have been writing reviews for these books but honestly my mental health has not lent itself to a desire to do that. Taking anti-depressants regularly keeps me sane but it puts a noticeable damper on my ability to write, or write something I feel comfortable sharing.

But I am currently reading three books and I am hoping I will be able to write some meaningful reviews for those. Check my Goodreads if you’re interested in what I’m currently read.

Enough of that, back to work!

Working Mom: What I Learned About Self-Care From A Year of Solo-Parenting A Newborn While Working Full-Time

I was 38 weeks pregnant when I was called in to interview for my dream job. Well, dream job in my career field, at least. I had applied on a whim and at the urging of a relative of my husband’s who called my attention to the job posting. I never thought as a new graduate with less than a year’s work experience I would get the position.
Even though I had an interview, I didn’t think I would get it. But then I had a second interview, with a side of more doubts. Everyone was amiable and professional, even when confronted unexpectedly with my enormous belly poorly hidden under a suit jacket that would not button.
Then I got a letter offering me the job, my first salaried position WITH benefits! At 41 weeks pregnant with my first child, faced with the impending 9-month deployment of my husband overseas the next month. I accepted, of course.
I was working at a public library part-time, just shy of full-time. The workload was smaller, I had been a library assistant/page. I mainly worked circulation and assisted the children’s librarian with programming. But I had few responsibilities where I had to make substantial decisions. That changed drastically when I accepted my new job as a Reference Librarian and Information Literacy Instructor. My new position required commitment beyond your typical 9-5. As part of my job, I had to engage with the community and contribute to my institution beyond the doors of the library. This means my job would follow me home from time to time.
At home, I (eventually…finally!) had a newborn. And a newborn who developed colic around 6 weeks old, just in time to send Daddy off to the Middle East. I began solo parenting the same time I started my new job.
I’m not going to lie.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Parenting still is. Being a mom is incredibly rewarding but utterly exhausting, even with my husband home again to share the responsibility.
But going to work 5 days a week, then coming home to a colicky baby who needed to be breastfed once every hour, then also trying to find time to eat, clean, and sleep presented me with an extreme challenge.
How could I find a way to balance all these things?
How could I be happy when I was overworked, overwrought, and over it?
For a long time during my husband’s deployment, I could not find any kind of balance. I felt rushed, stressed, scared, and alone.
I want to pause here to applaud single parents. Bless you. I have so much RESPECT for you.
All day, every day, 24 hours, 7 days a week, I was wound up. I would go from breastfeeding to making my meals to breastfeeding to changing a diaper to comforting a screaming baby to breastfeeding to changing a diaper to cleaning to working to pumping to working from home to breastfeeding to changing a diaper to grocery shopping, etc. There was no minute in a day for me, for self-care, for my mental health.
I suffer from post-partum depression. Lucky for me, my OB anticipated this as she was aware of my husband’s upcoming departure. I was prescribed Zoloft which I am still taking and probably will need for the rest of my life. But even with the medication and medical support the depression would creep in and pull me under. I had to find some time for myself in the midst of this challenging period of my life.
Keeping a calendar was a life saver. Whether that is your phone, a planner, a desk calendar, keep track of your schedule. Besides your child(ren)’s regular check-ups, keep track of your own appointments, and make sure you carve time into that schedule for some time for yourself.
Hire a babysitter (and try to shake that guilt for spending time away from your kids when you aren’t at work), see a movie, get a haircut, a manicure, or visit a friend. You gave birth, that is not a life-sentence for isolation or imprisonment.
Children are meant to enrich your life not limit it. We make that decision ourselves.
Bullet journaling may help you to keep track of not only your schedule but your self-care. There are tons of fantastic templates out there for bullet journaling things like keeping track of the books you read, the movies you see, personal goals you want to set for yourself like starting a side business, pursuing a hobby, etc. I tried bullet journaling myself for a few months, and it was definitely a fun way of keeping track of everything.
Another way of alleviating the pressure of parenting and balancing your other obligations is to trust other people. My mom is my full-time babysitter, she watches my daughter every day I am at work which is incredibly reassuring. I know my mom, I trust my mom. I don’t have to worry that she is not going to care for my baby the exact same way I would because I learned how to be a mom from her. And she did a damn excellent job as a single working mother herself.
But what about when I needed a babysitter outside of my workday? It seemed excessive to ask my mom when she already watched my child 40 hours a week, and she works nights and weekends besides. (Seriously, my mama is a superhero.)
I had to learn to let other people help me. This included my husband’s family, his sister, and mother who are fantastic people and raised beautiful babies themselves. I had to trust the people who had genuine intentions of helping me out and caring for my daughter as profoundly as I do.
I never considered myself controlling until I became a mother. And I don’t necessarily think that having a controlling impulse as a parent is a bad thing. But there have to be limits to that, for your own sake. Allowing my sister-in-law to take my daughter to a picnic, giving myself a couple of hours of “me” time was just one example of how I needed to unclench and let people help me.
Besides allowing others to babysit your child, you have to be able to accept that you cannot do everything, and then, you cannot do everything well. I hate feeling weak. I hate when I fail at something. I am a perfectionist (see the controlling impulse above). There are going to be days when there are dirty dishes left in the sink, and when you don’t finish that report at work, and when you know your baby needs a bath but you skip it anyway, and when you know you need a bath but you skip it anyway.
It is okay to fall short of your own expectations.
Mama, you are doing your best.
Part of the process of parenting is just persevering through the difficult times. But don’t forget to appreciate those times for the joy and beauty they bring to your life as well. I went on auto-pilot a lot during this period and as a result there are some points I just can’t remember. Take time to pause, study your child’s face, and embrace the chaos for the blessing it is.
I think the most profound lesson from this past year of my life is seeing how much I could endure. I learned I could be independent, I learned I could be strong, emotionally and physically. I learned there is value in me apart from my role as a wife and a mother.
I had never known those things about myself before.
Somewhere in my head cold ramblings I hope you find some comfort, advice, and community. Remember, to fill the cups of others you must first fill your own.

I Bought It In A Drugstore: Beauty Product Review

Living in a rural town, easy access to high-end makeup is just not a thing. The nearest Sephora is over 100 miles away. Online shopping has saved my life more than once when I have run out of Kat Von D’s Tattoo Foundation (in 45, if interested) which is my all-time favorite foundation.
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But what about when I need something immediately because I ran out and didn’t plan ahead? What if, as a working mama, or let’s face it, a mama period, we just don’t have time to go to a beauty store where the prices necessitate making an informed purchase? What if you just want a product you can practice with or want to try a product you have never used before?
For me, all of the above applies. I have never used highlighter though. I have a contour kit, but really that is the most complex I get with my makeup. I have seen highlighter all over Instagram lately though, and the shimmery glow has me hooked. At the same time, I don’t know when I will be able to get to a beauty supply store, and I have never used it so don’t know how to use it or what colors flatter me. So I thought I would pick up a palette from my local drugstore. I browsed the various sections for colors that I’d like and finally settled on this palette from Revlon called Galaxy Dream, a holographic highlighting palette numbered 003 if that means anything to anyone.

These colors make me think of a futuristic, sci-fi fantasy, perfect for my nerdy soul. (Hubby dropped it in the checkout aisle, so the powder got a little loosened before opening…men.)

Tried to demo on the arm like others on Instagram but phone camera is meh.

I applied my makeup regularly and saved highlighter for the last step which is what I think you are supposed to do. I obviously didn’t look up any tutorials before applying.
Face without highlighter.
Face without highlighter.

I applied the bottom right color to the top of my cheekbone. I then applied the top left shade slightly above that and below my brow bones. I did not use all the colors on the first application.
I really like the subtle sheen of the palette, and the colors are neutral enough for a makeup newbie like me to not feel overdone or flamboyant when out in public. The powder felt smooth to the touch and glided on. I also appreciated the mirror built into the palette since my daughter recently shattered my makeup mirror. It is large for a hand mirror and square.
Face with highlighter.
Face with highlighter.

Overall I am pleased with the purchase and will probably use it nearly every day. It doesn’t feel heavy and the colors are light and the shimmer is just flashy enough to give me a nice soft glow.

Forgive Me, I'm a Military Wife

Some days I will be a bear to bear.
 
I cannot promise to be on time
Every day of the week or any day of the week
Because I am a military wife.
 
I cannot promise to look put together
Every day of the week or any day of the week
Because I am a military wife.
 
I cannot promise to participate in every work event
Every day of the week or any day of the week
Because I am a military wife.
 
I will not promise to be a model wife, mother, or employee
Because I am a military wife
Because every morning I struggle to get out of bed
And face a world where I have to stand on my own
As a mother, as a husbandless wife, as a working woman just trying to get by
Where there are nights I do not eat dinner
Trying to rock my daughter to sleep
And I stay up after long hours of swaying and singing and shushing
Back bent, hair frizzed, clothing stained, weeping
Head throbbing through the night as she eats an hour at a time three times through the night
And I find spaces of sleep between her needs
Between times of insomniac manic worrying if my husband will come home:
 
Is he safe? Is he safe? Is he safe?
 
Heart racing, anxiety attacks building, body missing the security of my other half.
 
Because I am a military wife
And I too make a sacrifice.