Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, hello!  Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving?  Where’d the time go?  Next thing you know, it’ll be Christmas, then a new year.  Time really needs to slow down.  Anyway, since my favorite holiday is just a day away, I thought I would take this opportunity to share five things I’m grateful for this year!

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1. Dad.  I know I don’t say it out loud to him, but I really am thankful to have someone like him in my life.  He has always shown me that just because life doesn’t go the way you expect doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable about it.  You don’t have to let toxic people bring you down.  Sometimes, you need to make changes if you want things to go a certain way.  It’s okay to be blah occasionally, but mostly you need to try to find the happy in things.  But most importantly, he taught me to look in the mirror and take responsibility for my actions, which I try to do.  He also gave me my twisted sense of humor and enables my darkness, so you can blame him for all of that (okay, sometimes I deny all responsibility and blame him, but that’s what dads are for).

2. The people who take the time to check up on me.  You know who you are.  I have been an increasingly crappy friend, especially lately.  I don’t text or message people as much as I should, if at all.  I know that and I’m struggling to break free from the contentedness I find in being a recluse.  But I really do appreciate the messages asking how I am and giving me updates on your lives.  I do stalk most of you on social media, though, which makes me the creepy crappy friend.

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Amateur mistake.  Lurk, don’t like.

3. Seeing my words in print and getting paid for them.  I was starting to think it wouldn’t happen, so I’m thankful to E.R. Bills and Hellbound Books for choosing me to be in their awesome collection alongside other talented Texas writers.  An occasional acceptance really does help to overcome the feels that a long list of rejections brings up.

4. Peppermint chocolates.  After waiting for all things pumpkin spice to start winding down for the year, I get the reward of all things peppermint for a month and a half!  Just had my first Ghirardelli peppermint bark square of the year.  It made me weirdly happy.  It always does.  Judge me all you want, but at least I have goodies to comfort me.

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I might have just gotten lost down the boozy peppermint coffee rabbit hole of Google for a minute there.

5. A dad who’s good with tools.  I didn’t intend to add him twice, but my armrest on my new wheelchair decided to come loose a little while ago and he got everything put securely back together.  If it breaks, he can usually fix it.  That’s something to always be grateful for!

What about you?  What are you thankful for this year?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

The Show That Prepared Me For Life

Hello, hello!  I’ve been binge watching Sailor Moon Crystal the past couple of days and it got me thinking about how I would cope with life today if I hadn’t watched the original Sailor Moon growing up.  It’s one of those shows that prepared me for everything going on in the world today.  We all have a show like that.  Whether it was Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus or X-Men or Batman or whatever you watched as a kid, we all have a show that has stuck with us and been a major influence on who we are today.  For me, that was Sailor Moon.  How could a magical girl anime prepare me for the turbulence of today, you ask?  Stick with me for a minute and I shall do my best to explain.

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One of my favorite pictures of all the Senshi.

Aside from a bunch of women kicking ass and taking names with the occasional backup from Tuxedo Kamen, this show was amazing for many other reasons.  Yeah, there was the obvious message that love and friendship can help you conquer any evil, including the evil that lurks within each of us (after all, if Small Lady can become Black Lady and Saturn can become Mistress 9, none of us can claim to be 100% good).  It reminds us that, ultimately, hatred and superiority complexes will fail.  It might take longer than we want, but as long as people don’t give up, good will eventually win.  We just have to believe in each other.

There are also more subtle messages that apply today more than ever.  There was the whole Uranus/Neptune relationship that the U.S. dub tried to pass off as them being cousins (everyone I knew saw through that charade and, honestly, the whole cousin storyline just made a beautiful relationship kind of creepy).  Not to mention Zoisite’s obsession with Kunzite in the original anime (again, no one I knew believed Zoisite was a woman in the dub).  Then came the Sailor Starlights arc where men transformed into women and back again (pretty sure they just cross-dressed in the manga, but I’m talking about the anime where they were biologically males until they transformed).  Early exposure to this kind of stuff wasn’t traumatizing.  If anything, it helped give me an open mind.

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The Starlights.  I wanted those boots, though.  That’s all I cared about as a kid.

The story arc that hit closest to home for me and, in all honesty, is probably the reason Sailor Moon stuck with me so much, was Sailor Saturn’s story.  She was a sickly kid and an outcast, but she had the power to destroy worlds.  It was the first time I remember seeing someone who had physical difficulties (granted, they were nothing like my own) who could be the hero (or the villain if she had chosen that path).  She proved that you didn’t have to be athletic or even normal to be powerful or even accepted by people.  For a kid like me, that was the best message I could have received.  If she could help destroy evil, I could put up with whatever life threw my way.

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The whole purple outfit didn’t hurt my love of Saturn either.

So yeah, Sailor Moon definitely helped shape who I was back then and who I am now.  It taught me about the power of women, the power of friendship, how to recognize evil, how to accept others for who they are, and how to accept myself.  What show helped turn you into who you are?

Accountability: Like Due Dates But Different

Howdy, howdy!  I was really having a hard time deciding what to write about when a friend sent me a text thanking me for being the voice in her head asking if she was at least thinking about writing.  It gave her the nudge she needed to stop at a place after work and take a little while to have a cup of tea and write some words.  She hadn’t written in a while, but she wanted to, so I told her I’d pester her every day or so until she started writing.  The second day of pestering and she’s already making time for it.  That’s what happens when you’re held accountable for things like this, you make time for them.

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I know, Cas.  I know.  I’ll go do that.

 I don’t know about you, but I always work better with deadlines in place.  At school, I could knock a ten page paper out in one night if I had to, as long as the research was done ahead of time.  Deadlines meant grades.  In the real world, missing deadlines affects the pay from the day job.  In other words, deadlines carry the threat of consequences.  But what’s going to happen if you don’t finish a novel?  Unless you have a contract with a due date, nothing will happen.  So, how do writers overcome this lack of a threat and finish things?  We hold each other accountable.

In the beginning, I didn’t really understand how holding each other accountable would work.  After all, if I don’t push myself to finish something, why would someone judging me for it be motivational?  Turns out that guilt is a powerful tool.  If I set reasonable goals with people and don’t reach them, I feel guilty.  I don’t care if the end of the world pops up, if people know I planned on doing things and failed, it sucks.  It also helps that I’m mildly competitive, so failure and losing are not an option.  I won’t be the only one to not meet my goals.

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Mixed signals achieved.

 According to people I’ve done this whole accountability thing with, it also works by legitimizing their craft, especially when they have jobs.  They have trouble taking time out of their schedules to write because they feel like it shouldn’t be a priority even when they secretly (or not so secretly) want it to be.  Having someone who will pester them and encourage them gives them an “excuse” to make time for writing.

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You can’t keep waiting when there’s no last minute.

 So, even when deadlines aren’t an option, we can still motivate each other by holding each other accountable.  We might not receive any real negative consequences if we don’t meet our goals, but we’ll have to live with the shame of disappointing our friends.  Who has time for that?

Do you have any friends who pester you about your creative outlet?  Does accountability work for you?  How?  If not, what do you do to stay productive and motivated?  Leave a comment here or on my social media pages to share your thoughts!

Until next week!

Writing Challenge Q&A: Blessings

Hello, hello once again!  Are you ready for another round of the Writing Challenge Q&A?  Today’s topic is courtesy of another fellow Stonecoaster, Derek Hoffman.  He’s had some blessings of his own recently what with the newest addition to his family and whatnot, so he chose number 12 (“write about 5 blessings in your life”) for me to discuss today.  I totally admit that this topic was way more difficult than it should’ve been, mostly because I’ve been overthinking it.  My original thoughts just seemed uninspired and simple and things that everyone would say.  Then, I realized that none of that matters.  They don’t have to be exciting or complex or unique as long as I’m being honest with myself and you all.  So, here’s a pretty standard list of my blessings, in no particular order.

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My graduating class/faculty from Stonecoast.

1.  If you’ve read my blog posts in the past, you knew Stonecoast (the program where I got my MFA) would be on the list.  It was the first place where I felt comfortable coming out of my shell.  I made some friends for life while I was there.  I miss it a lot, but I’m really happy that I got to experience that kind of community.  Plus, I got to visit the Harraseeket Inn for three winters because of it!  I definitely recommend going there if you get the chance.  Anyway, Stonecoast and the whole experience is something I will always hold dear.

2.  My parents.  It’s overdone, I know, but I have a pretty good reason to include them.  Mom took care of me for 25 years.  Things may not have been great (or even good) between us, but I really do appreciate that she took care of me.  She did everything because I couldn’t do it myself.  When she got sick and passed away, Dad took over.  And even though I probably don’t say it enough, I appreciate him as well.  Plus I get to eat his cooking.  That’s basically a blessing in itself.

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The Minion and I.  I’ve probably posted this before.

3.  Friends.  Yeah, I said it.  Without my friends (you know who you are), I wouldn’t be the delightfully creepy person I am today.  From the early Interwebz friends to the handful of local real life friends to the Stonecoasters, you guys rock.  That is all.

4.  The one really weird blessing that people probably won’t understand is the fact that I’m cripple.  Don’t get me wrong, it usually sucks, but I know myself and I have a pretty good idea of the type of person I would be if I were “normal.”  Let’s just say that I like the person I currently am a lot better.  After all, I’d probably be dead or in jail or at least be a cautionary tale if it weren’t for the crippleness, so yeah.  It’s as good as it is bad.

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I miss my Julia.

 

5.  Pets.  I know it’s hard when we lose them, but I wouldn’t give up knowing any of my animals.  They enrich our lives in so many ways.  They give us unconditional love even when we don’t necessarily deserve it.  Pets are wonderful.

Yeah, it’s not a very insightful list, but who cares?  It’s mine.  What are some of the blessings in your lives?

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part One)

Hi there!  So, it’s November!  That means we’re coming up on my favorite holiday (and no, I don’t mean Christmas).  Yup, it’s almost time for Thanksgiving!  Because of this, while everyone else is getting all excited about Santa and elves on shelves and all of that wonderful stuff, I have decided to dedicate my posts this month to what this part of the season is really about: giving thanks.  Each week, I will list five things I’m thankful for.  Feel free to join in!

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What am I thankful for?

1. Family, of course.  This includes Dads and Minions and the like.  I was raised in a way that let me realize early on that family isn’t about blood and biology, it’s about the people who love you for who you are regardless of what you can do for them.  They are the people who stick around (whether they live close by or just keep in touch) and let you know they think of you.  So, for my family who’s reading this, I appreciate everything you do.  I love you.  And that’s enough sap for a long, long time.  Never speak of this again.

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Dad!

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Minion!

2.Friends.  My creepy kindred spirits.  Whether we’ve known each other for 10+ years online or for less than a handful of years in real life or anything in between makes no difference to me.  You guys (and gals) are pure awesome covered in awesome sauce with a cherry on top.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled creepiness, please.

3. The Interwebz.  Aside from the fact that most of my friends live in there somewhere, it just makes life easier.  I don’t know how many stupid (or disturbing) questions I’ve found the answers to in order to make my stories more accurate.  The NSA might have me on a watchlist somewhere, but at least I know the correct procedure for performing an enucleation (and that’s not even close to the weirdest thing I’ve looked up).  Plus, I can stalk people.  Take that how you want.

4. Spiked coffee.  Whoever originally accidentally spilled booze in their coffee (or vice versa) and decided it was a good thing, you are wonderful!  And each person who has experimented with different combinations ever since is kind of great in their own right.  Then you have the genius who added whipped cream (you rock).  Don’t ask me why (because I really don’t know), but I love the stuff.  Disclaimer: I swear I’m not a lush.

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Yes, please!

5. The fact that I can block posts on Facebook from all of the people who started posting nothing but Christmas stuff at 12:01 AM on November 1st and they will never know.  Not that I would ever do that.  But, if you don’t hear from me until December… well, yeah.  Sorry, not sorry.

I think that’s enough for this week, don’t you?  I’ll be back next week with another five things I’m thankful for!  What are you thankful for this year?  Comment here or Facebook or Twitter or G+