Friday, June 17, 2022

Reading, Writing and Retirement

     I’m pleased to announce that, after working as a certified medical assistant for 34 years, I am retired. Sort of. Because the clinic where I’ve worked for the last 22 years is so short-handed (thank you, covid-19), I agreed to fill in a few times a month. Right now that stands at four days in June, two in July, and three in August. We’ll see how that all goes and if I continue to offer my time.

This has been coming since November when I found out that the doctor I’d been working with was leaving his position for something new. I cut back to 24 hours a week the first of March, which was a nice transition.

I’ve got a long list of things to do with all this time on my hands. Everyone is like, “you’ll be so bored, you’ll run out of things to do”. Obviously, they’ve not seen my list.

The number one thing I’ve been wanting to do is to get back at writing.

In 2018, I had a dream (a real dream like you have when you’re sleeping, not when you’re someone like Martin Luther King, Jr.), which inspired me to start my next novel. I got up to chapter 13 when recent news events gave me an idea for another storyline.

I started writing that novel in August of 2020 and four months later came to a standstill. Covid was haunting us all and working in the medical field had become oppressive. I just wanted to spend all my free time reading or binge-watching whatever TV series my husband was into.

Then last November I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I spent six months thinking about opening that file on my laptop and tapping out a new adventure for my protagonists – Ellen, Emma, and Tara.

On June 9, I finally made my commitment – one hour of writing five days a week. I found that if I take my laptop out to our camping trailer, there are fewer distractions. Since starting that routine, I’ve written 3,221 words. Nothing record-breaking, but it’s a start.

If anyone is interested in reading the first twenty-two, unedited chapters, I’d be happy to email it to you. Just let me know.

In the meantime, it’s been two years since I released my last novel, “The Truth Beyond the River”. It’s still available on Amazon, as a paperback or e-book. If you’ve read it already and haven’t had a chance to write a review of it, it’s not too late for that either.

All of us struggling writers need whatever encouragement we can get to keep plucking away on the keyboard. 

Thanks for all of your support. Chris 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

June Check In

 When I started this blog, my goal was to post here twice a week. I kept that up for a few years, but then fell back to once a week. Slowly, that target plummeted to once a month. Then I quit altogether for a while. Recently, though, with retirement pending, I got fired back up to commit to this writing blog, but have still been stumbling around with it.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I must have written that twenty times here over the years. Oh, well. It’s all I can do.

Here are my goals and accomplishments for the month of May:

1. Write two chapters in “Rewrite the Now”. Nope, still haven’t touched it. 

2. Clean as many closets in the house as I can. A dumb and nonspecific goal. Umm, I maybe cleaned one.

3. Have a rummage sale. Yes, finally! Got rid of some stuff

4. Spring clean the camper and go camping one weekend! Yes. Thanks to the stupid snow we had all April, we didn’t bring the camper home until the first of May and went camping the very next weekend, but I got it cleaned and ready in time.

5. Clean up and organize the pictures on my computer. Shoot, I totally forgot about this.

6. Finish my sewing project. Yes, and I love how the little bags turned out which I made for my co-workers.

The June calendar, unfortunately, is just about full. I work (so much for retirement) four days this month, am going “cabining” with my sister for three days, attended a funeral yesterday, and hope to get together with a long-lost cousin the end of the month. I am starting to get settled into a schedule of sorts though, learning how to pace myself and making lists of things to do for each day.

My June goals:

1. Reread my work in progress, “Rewrite the Now”, again.

2. Write two chapters in “RTN”.

3. Clean the guest room closet and my linen closet. (Need to be specific.)  

4. Organize my pile of USB drives and start saving stuff on them. 

5. Clean up and organize the pictures on my computer, which is part of #4.

6. Start a new sewing project. (I have so many in my head!)

Well, that’s about it for now. We’ll see how it goes. Have a good month and God bless, Chris 

The mini bags I made out of my old scrub tops for my co-workers. 

Camping the first weekend in May!

The Rummage Sale 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

May 1 Check-In

 Once again, this past month went by way too fast. Except for every morning, when I’d look outside and see snow falling again, and I’d be like – ARGH! Is it ever going to be Spring?!

But here we are, the first of May. There is only one patch of snow left at the end of our driveway. And though it hasn’t snowed in several days, it has been raining. So much yard work to do! But at least the forecast for the next few weeks is more tolerable.

Here’s what I had hoped to do in April:

1.     Write four chapters in “Rewrite the Now”. Ok, I didn’t write that much, but at least I finished a chapter I had left hanging last time I worked on it two years ago.

2.     Read a spy novel. Done.

3.     Clean the closet in my office. Nope.

4.     Clean the spare room in the basement. Nope.

5.     Paint the ceiling and walls in the hallway. YES! YEAH!

6.     Bring the camper out of storage and spring-clean it. We brought the camper home this morning, but thanks to more rain this afternoon, I haven’t done much with it except bring the dishes and some of the bedding in the house to wash.

7.     Clean up and organize the pictures on my computer. I looked at them and moved a few at least.  

8.     Start and finish a sewing project. Yeah, I started one and got about halfway done this afternoon when my iron died on me. How does that happen? Argh.

May is looking pretty busy. I have no idea how I’m going to get much done, but at least I’m in a rhythm with my extra day off during the week and getting stuff done then. We’ll see.

1. Write two chapters in “RTN”. (I gotta start being realistic.)

2. Clean as many closets in the house as I can, in anticipation of:

3. Have a rummage sale. Still not sure we can pull that off, but we keep talking about it.  

4. Spring clean the camper and go camping one weekend! Cannot wait!

5. Clean up and organize the pictures on my computer.

6. Finish my sewing project.  

Not much writing on that list. May 26 is my last day of work, so hopefully after that I will get serious again. Oh, I was at a conference this weekend and was suddenly inspired to write a story. Pulled out a notebook and started writing. The speaker at that moment was an eye doctor, so I wrote a line about “hard to focus on the talk about cataracts.” Think any readers will pick up on that?

God bless, Chris 

Snowing in my backyard on April 15

And again on April 20

But finally able to bring home the camper on May 1!

Monday, April 4, 2022

April Check-In

 I have no idea where the last month went. Of course, looking out my window, it sure doesn’t look like April out there either. I think if we were enjoying Spring weather (instead of watching it snow again), it would help with my motivation.

I’m not going to repost my list of goals from March, as I wasn’t nearly as productive as I had hoped. Here are just the things that I did finish:

1.     Read through “Rewrite the Now”, my Work In Progress.

2.     Clean the guest linen closet.

3.     Paint the guest bathroom ceiling and walls.

4.     Go to Hubby’s brother’s for a visit.

That was out of eight goals I had, so I guess accomplishing half isn’t as bad as I thought.

Here’s what I need to get done in April:

1.     Write four chapters in “RTN”.

2.     Read a spy novel for fun as well as for research on “RTN”.

3.     Clean the closet in my office.

4.     Clean the spare room in the basement, which has become the “cat room”, so it has gotten rather icky.

5.     Paint the ceiling and walls in the hallway.

6.     Bring the camper out of storage and spring-clean it.

7.     Clean up and organize the pictures on my computer. Wow, I just checked, and there are over 200 of them hanging out in my “to do” file.

8.     Start and finish a sewing project. I hate being vague, but since I have three projects in mind, I’m not committing yet to which one.

I hope you are doing well and finding the proper mix of work, play, and relaxation. Goals are a great thing to have and to work towards, but chilling out is just as important.

God bless, Chris 

Bathroom wall before and after. It is almost the same color, just more toned down. 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

First Sunday in March Check-In

 I’m one week into working parttime at the clinic. Didn’t really feel much different, having one extra day off and still working thirty hours. I think I’ll be playing it by ear, working whichever three days a week they need me, not sure of my schedule until the Thursday before, but at least always working every Thursday through May.

But enough about the day job. I’ve come up with a list of things to accomplish each month through the end of summer. Hopefully by then, the pandemic will have waned enough that I can start planning trips further than within the four-state area I have contained myself the last two years. Also, I’ll know by then just what my budget will allow, as well as where the stupid war Russia is waging stands.  

Here’s what I want to finish by the end of March.

1.     Read through “Rewrite the Now”, my previous Work In Progress, which I started in August of 2020 and haven’t looked at in over a year.

2.     Write two chapters in “RTN”.

3.     Read a spy novel, for fun as well as for research on “RTN”.

4.     Clean the closet in my office.

5.     Clean the guest linen closet.

6.     Clean the spare room in the basement, which has become the “cat room”, so it has gotten a little icky.

7.     Paint the guest bathroom ceiling and walls. When we had the remodeling done in December, we knew we would need to paint and haven’t had the time until now.   

8.     Go to Hubby’s brother’s in Iowa for a visit.

9.     Go to these appointments:

a.      Eye doctor this coming Monday. I’ve been having headaches in my eyes and not sure if it’s from stress or my glasses, so I need to check that out. Just so it’s not a tumor.

b.     Getting our taxes done next Friday. Always scary as I can never tell if we will get a refund or have to pay.

That’s all I’ve written down to do so far. This shortened workweek on the day job will take some getting used to. I waste a lot of time surfing the internet and doing other lazy, useless things, but I tell myself that after 34 years, I deserve to chill out a bit.

To whoever is reading this, I hope you are doing well. I hope life in general is treating you well. I pray the war in Ukraine comes to a swift and amicable end, along with COVID19. I pray that you find peace and resolution to any personal struggles you are having.

God bless, Chris 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

February Update

 When I posted here the first Sunday in January, my goal was to at least write an update once a month. Yet, here I am – the first Sunday in February almost behind me, and I just remembered to get after it. 

A month ago, I didn’t come up with any short-term writing goals, or goals of any sort, really. Since I am still working full-time until March 4, I am not going to burden myself with anything more than I am already doing – working ten to eleven hour days four days a week, spending one day just recovering, one cleaning house, and the third day trying not to dread going back to work the next day. It has been a heinous couple of months. 

I hate to complain. So many working people have it worse than I do. I only work in a medical clinic. I cannot imagine those working in hospitals, pulling twelve-hour shifts with patients’ lives literally in their hands, all while donning and doffing their PPE. And we are all short-handed, which burdens me with guilt when I think about retiring. At times, my resolve still wavers, but I need to stick with my commitment. After thirty-four years, I need to call it quits. 

The good news is the current round of this pandemic might be starting to wane, while the bad news is that we are all anticipating another serge again in a few months. We'll see where I’m at by then. 

So here’s my work schedule for the next four months. I’ll be working my four tens a week until March 3. Then for April, May, and June, I’ll be working two tens and one four per week. That’s when I will start on some goals in earnest. For this month, I’ll try to get those goals down on paper and hopefully develop a productive schedule. 

And that’s it for now. Wishing you a great month. Pretend every day is Valentine’s Day, and if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. And if that doesn’t work, eat lots of chocolate! 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Welcome to 2022

 Oh, my, it has been a long time, hasn’t it? 

I think most people would agree that 2021 turned out to be even worse than 2020. Which means that in my little corner of the world, NOTHING good happened, at least not on my writing goals, or even on many of my personal goals.

We got a few big things done – finally remodeled our kitchen and bathroom and took a lot of weekend trips. Unfortunately, I also worked too many hours at the day job, had COVID, and watched too much TV. Not enough yet, because I still cannot carry on a conversation with someone about what they’ve been binge-watching. 

But back to my writing. I only submitted two pieces all year, and only one was accepted. As far as my novels, I haven’t worked on any of them since February! Yikes! 

It’s a new year, though, time to look forward and not back. 

The fantastic news is that I plan on retiring from the day job in June! I cannot wait! I am so burned out. Ask anyone who works in health care – we are all burned out. I feel guilty about quitting, turning my back on my co-workers and my patients, but I just can’t do it anymore. 

I’m hoping to cut back to two or three days a week the first of March and be done the first week of June. We’ll see. It’s not set in stone yet. And after I take the summer off, I’ll probably realize that we can’t afford it and will have to seek gainful employment somewhere. Hubby thinks I’ll get bored, but I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine that. 

In the meantime, I’m not sure that I’ll have the time to get back to writing much. But my initial goal is to at least post here once or twice a month with an update on what the next few months are going to bring. 

I hope you all had a reasonable 2021 – I don’t expect anyone to say it was a great year. But I am sending happy thoughts and high hopes that we all have a better 2022.  

Just one of many trips. Planning many more.