Preparing for a Move

I’m going to be moving to a new apartment in the very near future. I’m not sure at this point where. We found out at the beginning of June that our rent would increase, so decided to try to find another place. We hadn’t found one, but when we spoke to our landlord about staying here, they told us they’d already found another tenant. So we have no choice but to leave here… and no decision yet on a place to move into.

But I’m trusting that will work out for the best. Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for the move. We had been accumulating boxes, which I’m now filling with books, papers, knickknacks, and so on. I’ve cleaned out my closet and bureau, donated a LOT of clothes I wasn’t wearing or wore only rarely, and sold some clothes as well. I’ve been cleaning out other closets and cupboards, too, and finding things I forgot existed. Which means we probably don’t need them.

When I was married to my kids’ dad, we moved a lot. Seventeen times in fourteen years. My current husband and I have been in our current place for five and a half years. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult. I’m kind of sad about having to leave, because even though I like variety and change, having a steady home would have been nice. But maybe the next one will last longer. Meanwhile, I’m looking at this as an adventure.

When the actual move happens, I probably won’t be online as much for a few days, but I’ll be checking in. As long as the move doesn’t coincide with the release of Dolphins in the Mud on August 8, it’s all good.

Choose Who’s In Your Life

Most of us have family members or friends. Sometimes close, sometimes not so much.

The hard part is when someone who’s been close to us suddenly isn’t. Either they’ve backed off or we have, or maybe they’ve done something we just can’t accept. Maybe it’s an issue of physical distance, maybe one of emotional. Maybe we feel worse when we’re with them than when we aren’t.

When we let someone into our lives to that extent, and especially if they’re a family member, cutting them out can be difficult. It might even seem impossible. But if you feel negative when you’re around them, or if they’ve changed the way they act toward you to something hurtful, sometimes you have to make that choice.

We all have the right to decide who’s in our lives. Even being related doesn’t guarantee someone a place. People might say “I can’t stop talking to them, they’re my parent” or something along those lines, but that’s still a choice.

Choose yourself first. Be the most important person in your life, and surround yourself with people who make you happy, or at least comfortable. You deserve it.

Going to Be Away…

I’m going to be away for a week, which means there won’t be a post next Monday.

I’m not sure about this going away thing. I’m going to a retreat, which I went to last year as well. Last year, it was difficult. I only knew three or four people there, and two of those were people I didn’t know well. I met people there, of course, and I’ve kept in touch with a few of them who will be there again this year. So it won’t be as difficult from that perspective.

But just like the convention I went to in January, at this retreat, there are going to be a lot of people. At times, things are going to be very crowded and loud. I don’t do well with crowded and loud. It’s also at a summer camp that has no internet or cell phone access, so I won’t be able to distract myself with my usual things. (Which is kind of the point of having the retreat there, since it’s a thing you aren’t really supposed to be distracted from.)

A lot of things will be outside, and I’m not always comfortable being outside, either.

I have to be very mindful during this retreat of my health, both physical (because there’ll be a lot of walking) and mental. Fortunately, I’m going with a close friend who’s aware of this and will be keeping an eye on me, but it’s my responsibility to manage my health and make sure I’m taking care of myself. Which I can do, I just have to remember that pushing myself is okay, but shoving myself…not so much.

Writer’s Block

Sometimes I just plain can’t think of anything to write. It doesn’t matter whether I’m working on a novel, or a nonfiction article, or a blog post; I just can’t think of anything.

This is one of those times. I was planning to do a blog post about writing. But I did one that’s at least sort of about writing last week, and now I’ve temporarily gotten stuck for ideas.

It happens. Occasionally, my mind just goes blank. I doubt I’m the only one. Most of the people I know sometimes have trouble thinking of ideas, whether it’s for writing or something to do on a Saturday afternoon or whatever.

Most of the other authors I know go through time periods when the idea well runs dry, and they don’t have anything to write. There’s a lot of advice about what to do at those times to get the writing flowing again, but sometimes it’s okay to just say “I’m not going to write anything today.” Or this week, or even this month.

So I’m not going to write a blog post about writing this week. Instead, I’m writing one about not being able to think of one to write about writing. And sometimes, it’s okay to do that.

Agree to Disagree

On social media, people post a lot of different things. Sometimes things we agree with; sometimes things we don’t.

When it’s a site like Facebook, where in theory we’re “friends” with the people whose posts we see, reading something we strongly disagree with can lead to the desire to correct their misperception. After all, they’re our friend, right? We want them to know right from wrong.

But to them, maybe what they’ve posted isn’t wrong. We don’t all agree on everything. If everybody thought the same way, the world would be a rather boring place.

It’s unlikely that you’re going to change someone’s mind by telling them they’re wrong. Unless it’s something factual, and you have the information to prove they’re incorrect, you’re dealing with a difference in opinions and beliefs. Those are neither right nor wrong in a general sense, only right or wrong for each individual. Telling a friend their opinion or belief system is wrong is more likely to change their mind about being friends with you than about the topic.

If it’s a case where there’s a huge discrepancy between your opinion and theirs, it might be a sign that the friendship really isn’t viable. Back in 2015, when the US legalized same-sex marriage, I posted things on Facebook cheering for the change in law. A friend of mine private messaged me to berate me for posting pro-LGBT+ things on my own Facebook wall, and made it clear that they strongly disapproved of any such thing and would “have a problem” with me if I shared anything like that with them in the future. I ended what was, at the time, a 29-year friendship because I refuse to have intolerance and hatred in my life, particularly in a venue where my offspring might see it.

But if it’s a milder thing, is it worth risking the friendship just to try to convince them you’re right? Of course it’s okay to express your opinion even if it disagrees with theirs, but unless you feel so strongly about the issue that you’d rather lose the friend than the argument, it might be best to agree to disagree.

Forward Into 2017

2017 is underway. From what I’ve been seeing on social media, a lot of us are hoping it will be better than 2016.

I have a few things I’m looking forward to in 2017. My older offspring and I have started a YouTube channel on which we talk about mental health, healing, body positivity, and other associated topics, as well as occasionally books and that sort of thing. As well as being part of the Jo Ramsey social media, it’s also tied to my business, River Flow Healing.

On February 7, my next book from Harmony Ink Press releases, and it’s one I’m very excited about. Midnight Chat is based on a song I wrote over a year and a half ago, and recorded with someone who is no longer part of my life. The song was briefly released as a single, and I’ll be re-releasing it (hopefully) to coincide with the book, as well as creating a book trailer using the song.

Just before the end of 2016, Harmony Ink accepted another novel from me! Dolphins in the Mud was originally published in 2012, and rights reverted to me a few years later. It will be out around the end of this summer.

I’ll also be writing more things, working on my business, reading a lot… and who knows what else? Part of the fun of a new year is finding out what it has in store!

2016 in Brief Review

2016 has come to an end, so it’s time for a look back.

There isn’t really a lot to look back at. It was a rough year for a lot of people, including me. But I did have some good things happen.

Ball Caps and Khakis, the final book of the Deep Secrets and Hope series, was released in February.

Where No One Knows was re-released in June. That month also marked my younger offspring’s high school graduation.

In September, both of my offspring moved out, the younger one to college and the older one to start a life on their own.

I wrote a book over the summer, and rewrote it over the past several weeks.

I made new friends. I lost a few friends. I attended Rites of Spring, an annual Pagan festival in western Massachusetts. I learned a lot of things, and forgot a lot more; I have a brain like a steel sieve.

2016 was a stressful year for me in many ways, but in other ways it was a year of accomplishments and celebrations. And now I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store.

Holiday Stories

When I was in, I think, eighth grade, we were assigned to write a Christmas story for English class. I don’t think my teacher completely expected what I ended up with: a 20-page typed story about a department store Santa who’d seen much better days and a little boy with no family.

I wish I still had that story. It was actually really good considering I was only 13. I think I might poke around in some boxes and see if maybe it is still here somewhere.

I was really happy about that story. So happy I made up my mind I was going to write a Christmas story every year. I figured it wouldn’t be hard, and I would write lots more great stories.

That didn’t happen. The following year, I had to write a story for little kids, which I did. I don’t even remember what it was about; it was another school assignment. After that, it just didn’t occur to me to write Christmas stories anymore.

I’ve written a few Christmas stories as an adult, though I don’t think any of them really struck me as much as that one when I was 13. Two of the stories, though, are on my Free Reads page. One, “Superaser Saves Christmas,” was written last year because I wanted to add a Christmas story to the Free Reads page. The other is the re-release of a slightly revised version of my story “Accepting Me.”

Both of those are free PDF downloads, along with several other non-holiday-related short stories, so I hope you’ll go check them out.

Holiday Self-Care

The holidays are a stressful time for a lot of people. Sometimes, it’s just stressful going into a crowded store to find just the right gift. Other times, holidays bring back unpleasant or even traumatic memories of holidays past, and it’s more than someone can cope with.

Some of us feel like, in preparation for the holidays, we have to do it all. Shop. Cook. Bake. Send out cards and presents. Talk to people we haven’t seen or heard from since last year.

Light of Christmas in one shop

But none of those things is as important as taking care of yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your shopping list, choose only a few things at a time that you’re going to buy, and only think about those things when you’re at the store. Or don’t even go to the store; shop online. You might find unique gifts that way that you wouldn’t find in a store. If you can, ask someone else to do some of the shopping for you.

If you have too many people to contact and visit, take time to think about who you’d most like to talk to or see. You might worry that if you skip Aunt Sally’s Christmas Eve songfest to visit your high school friend who just moved back to the area, Aunt Sally will be hurt and angry. And she might be. But would she be less hurt if you showed up and were bored or antsy because you’d rather be with your friend? Base your decisions on what *you* want and what you feel is right for you, rather than one what others might think.

Most importantly, if the holidays are a traumatic time for you, please reach out for help. Whether to a professional or a friend you can trust to talk to. Otherwise the stress and memories might build into more than you can handle.

In our society, we’re often taught that the holidays are the time when we do everything everyone else wants us to do, and we have to do it better than they would. But that isn’t the case. Sometimes, stepping back and just relaxing and attending to our own wants and needs is not only okay, it’s vital.

Invisible Illness

I know a number of people who suffer from what are sometimes called “invisible illnesses.” I’m one of those people.

I have fibromyalgia. It’s a chronic pain condition, and when it’s at its worst I describe it as “being wrapped in a blanket of pain.” On those 1-10 pain scales hospitals use, my baseline is other people’s 2. There is never a time some part of my body doesn’t hurt.

In addition to the pain, fibro gives me “brain fog.” Sometimes I can’t remember things, even, at times, how to do something I do on a regular basis. Which is pretty dang scary, let me tell you. And it and the migraines I also experience affect my balance and depth perception to the point that sometimes I can’t make it down a flight of stairs without help. (Going upstairs is easier; going downstairs, I might miss the step. And I can’t even attempt down escalators, because between the movement and the wonky depth perception, I can’t guess where to put my feet.)

I’m not saying any of this to get pity or sympathy. I’m saying it because I look like a perfectly healthy human being. On my low-pain days, I can move around and walk easily, other than those pesky stairs. The only time anyone other than my loved ones notice that I’m in pain is if I’m at the higher end of the scale—except if I’m at a 7 or higher, I usually don’t leave the house.

I have a handicapped parking tag for my car, one of the type you hang from the rearview mirror. I also have a cane, which I try really hard not to use, but sometimes I haven’t much choice. If it’s a reasonable day, I park in a regular parking space and go without the cane, but if I’m in pain or my balance is off, I use my tag and take a handicapped spot. And I get out with my cane…but sometimes I still get glared at, because I don’t look like I need the spot or the cane.

The point I’m trying to make is, don’t assume someone’s healthy just by how they look. Mental illnesses don’t show on the surface. Neither do physical conditions like fibromyalgia, migraines, immune deficiencies, and a number of other things. Instead of assuming someone’s lying or faking it because they don’t look like your definition of sick, assume they’re being honest. Remember that you can’t tell what’s going on in someone else’s mind or body.

It’s a cliché, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Please.