A Different Kind of Tired

I know you’ve felt it, heck, you might be feeling it right now. There are different flavors of being tired. The one most associated with the word tired is that fatigue that results from lack of sleep or doing too much. If your stress levels have been like mine, you probably have had bouts of insomnia to accompany the whirlwind that is adapting to everyday life, which in turn makes the vicious cycle of being tired that much worse.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Then, there is the tired that actually means overwhelmed. This is when there are too many items on the to do list, too many thoughts in your head, and too many responsibilities that you feel you can’t possibly meet. Often it’s not that there are actually too many things to do, it’s that trying to wrap your head around doing all of them is downright scary.

It gets even worse when any of those items are frightening by themselves. Lately, some of the simplest things have become scary. Before COVID, I never liked grocery shopping and treated it more like the Grand Prix; prepare ahead, plan my route, get in, get fueled up, pay, get out. The faster the better.

Going to the grocery store now has an extra layer of scary. Nothing like the chance of catching a horrible case of death to spice things up, right? There are all sorts of new rules that people should be following, but everyone you see are doing their own interpretation. Psst … the masks go over the nose, people.

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

This entire week as been filled with the dreadful anxiety that comes with being overwhelmed. This time it’s not the perpetual hedonistic treadmill that is policing my darling kiddos through the rigors of online school, we got that all figured out. It’s not even the ever growing pile of dishes that seem to spontaneously reproduce in the sink and then vomit out all over the kitchen. They’re annoying, but they don’t make my blood pressure go up.

Nope, the biggest source of my overwhelm tiredness hamster wheel is reaching the ‘you better get it done stage’ of releasing book two of the Stonebearer Saga. I’ve made so many promises to get it out earlier this year and I’ve broken everyone. After having to adjust my timeline so many times already, actually committing to something makes me break out in a cold sweat. The goal was to have it out in March. Yeah, that March – you know, the one when the world closed it’s doors and the economy started to slip down the drain.

If I commit to a release date again, I have to complete it. But this time, I’m armed with a manuscript that’s about five hours away from being called completely done. Which leads me to make the following announcement.

Drum roll please …

Stonebearer’s Apprentice will be released June 12 come hell or high water.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

For early bird access to the cover reveal and preorders, come join my Fantasy Reader Community. My readers get everything from free ebooks from authors around the world, sneak peeks inside my writing world, random advice about life, and the occasional opportunity to help me shape the concepts I use in future stories.

This announcement also means that YES, I am looking for reviewers and friends on social media to help me spread the word. If you are interested, let me know and I’d love to work something out!

Squee! So exciting!


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My New Favorite Thing: Calm Stories

There’s something inherently soothing about listening to a story. It brings back memories of comfortable evenings curled up on a couch and having someone read to me, or listening to tales spun around a campfire under the glittering stars.

Lately, I’ve been indulging in audiobooks as an escape from the mundane. It makes doing housework and yardwork an excuse to get away from the well worn sights and complaints of being stuck at home. With a story in my ears, I can let my mind wander to a new place and step into someone else’s shoes for a while. Sometimes these places are fantastical and dangerous, sometimes they are familiar. It’s a nice change while it lasts.

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

A week ago I spotted a new trend in storytelling and I kind of love it. It might be my new favorite idea ever. Just the thought of it makes me smile. Celebrities are reading bedtime stories to anyone who wants to hear them on the Calm app. Imagine that soothing comfort of being curled into a blanket and listening to a story, but this time it’s spoken in the warm tones of a character’s voice you love.

The celebrity that caught my attention was Jerome Flynn of Game of Thrones fame. He was the morally grey sell-sword who enters service as a bodyguard to Tyrion, one of the princes of King’s Landing. He’s got a deep calm voice with an ever so appealing soft Scottish accent. I wouldn’t mind drifting off to sleep listening to him tell a story one bit.

Meet Bronn, played by Jerome Flynn, one of my favorite roguish characters.

The Calm app is something I’ve used for meditation off and on. There is a little bit of everything in there so everyone can find something that works for them. I usually use the guided meditation with music portion of the app but am seriously considering listening to the bedtime stories next time I fight a bout of insomnia.

While there are plenty of different people reading bedtime stories, here are the ones that caught my attention –

  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Jerome Flynn
  • Lucy Liu
  • LeVar Burton
  • Bob Ross
  • Stephen Fry

If this sounds soothing to you, go check it out.

https://app.www.calm.com/sleep

Note, I’m not being sponsored or compensated in anyway for my review or post, I just really like this idea. Now to find some cozy headphones to wear in bed.

Oh wait, here’s some. Yep. I know what’s going on my wish list next.

Who would love to hear read you a bedtime story? Let me know in the comments!


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The Irresistible Pull of Laughter

The other day hubby was browsing Reddit and suddenly he started laughing. It was one of those infectious belly laughs that instantly grabs the attention of anyone nearby and makes them smile. I’m convinced that nothing pulls on the curiosity harder than figuring out what has made someone else truly laugh.

Sure enough, as soon as hubby laughed I stopped what I was doing to see what it was and my youngest son (who was supposed to be finishing his dinner) did also.

If you’ve ever been out in public, obviously not recently, and caught someone truly laughing in joy or amusement over something, I bet you smiled too.

Let’s share some smiles today!

Here are a few things that made me smile recently, feel free to share them with friends!

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t e c h n i q u e s

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The Soundtrack of your Life

Music is a powerful thing. It excites, calms, energizes, and acts as a fortune teller?

Recently, my inner soundtrack has been trying to tell me things. Not creepy, emotional vampire earworm kind of things, but more like a secret codes to my inner psyche. On days I’m feeling confident and optimistic I might get Katy Perry’s “Roar” or Colbie Callat’s “Try.”

On days where things aren’t going so, hot I might get P!nk’s “True Love” where it talks about how much she wants to throttle her significant other.

Occasionally I’ll get a touch of classical. Does it mean I’m feeling refined? Absolutely not.
Photo by Stefany Andrade on Unsplash

So, there are these parties I don’t want to be at

These last two months have ushered me through a whole lot of experiences that I wouldn’t personally choose. Nothing bad, but not my thing. I’m not super social by nature, as navigating the whole social thing tends to be exhausting. This is the text book definition of being an introvert, by the way. We don’t mind being in public or with people, but we find it tiring and need time to rest and recover before doing it again.

This was the song that played endlessly in my head for six weeks:

I’m at a party I don’t wanna be at
And I don’t ever wear a suit and tie
Wonderin’ if I could sneak out the back
Nobody’s even lookin’ me in my eyes
Then you take my hand
Finish my drink, say, “Shall we dance?” Hell, yeah
You know I love you, did I ever tell you?
You make it better like that

Don’t think I fit in at this party
Everyone’s got so much to say, yeah
I always feel like I’m nobody, mm
Who wants to fit in anyway?

“I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber

The first time I stopped to think about why this song might be stuck in my head I didn’t get past the first phrase. “I’m at a party I don’t want to be at.” Most of these social events were formal parties, with dresses and shirt and tie. Unlike any other party, layered on top of being required to socialize with people you don’t really know yet, there’s that added awkwardness of wearing clothes that aren’t terribly comfortable, heels, and makeup. Ick.

So yeah. It was a party I didn’t want to be at.

Chic, lovely, and really not my thing.
Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

But, there’s hope!

But then I read down further into the song and saw that there’s this cute moment where the person who doesn’t want to be at the party finally hooks up with their girlfriend and they dance and have a good time.

My dearest hubby makes these events worth going to. Even when he’s super busy with whatever responsibility he’s been shackled with, he makes a point to be sure I’m having a good time. [Thank you sweetie, you’re the best.]

The other song I’ve had stuck in my head is “Sweet, but Psycho.” Fellow authors will understand. Sometimes the stuff that goes through our heads for a story are a little out there.

What was the last song you had stuck in your head? What do you think it says about you?


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The 100 decisions we make everyday

Hello busy, busy people. I’m glad you made the decision to come hang out with me on my blog today! I’d like to present you with a hypothetical situation. Let’s pretend that you only have 100 decisions you can make everyday. Once you reach 100, you are unable to accomplish do anything else without it being tiring.

You might think that sounds pretty easy. There’s no way you make that many decisions in a day. But, the truth might surprise you. Here are ten decisions that might come up before you even eat breakfast.

  • Should I sleep in?
  • What clothes should I wear?
  • Which shoes should I wear?
  • Do my pajamas need to go in the wash?
  • What do I want to watch/listen to as I get ready?
  • Is today a flossing sort of day?
  • Do I need to make the bed?
  • Is today the day the bathroom needs cleaning?
  • Should I start a load of laundry?
  • Should I check my email?

Anyone feeling a little frantic just reading that list? That, dearest reader, is what we call decision fatigue.

Just looking at this gives me a bit of anxiety.
Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

My personal journey with decision fatigue

For me, decision fatigue strikes fast and furious and I can clearly feel when I’ve hit the wall and don’t want to have to think any more. Going to a store or to an event is exhausting because there are so many decisions to be considered. Everything from what to wear, to what to talk about with the people I’m with, to what to buy, to what to order, to where to sit, to which class to attend, all stacks up into a huge decision overload.

And just like a pegged out computer, I start processing slower, start lagging and glitching, start making mistakes, and every so often hit the blue screen of death. At this point I either have to call it quits, or hit the reset button and restart.

Having kids hasn’t helped. Take the normal number of decisions you believe to be healthy. If 100 borders on overload, then I’d say around 80 is a safe number. That breaks down to around five decisions per waking hour. Multiply that hourly rate for each kid plus one and you get the decision rate per hour when you’re taking care of kids. For me that number is four (three kids plus me) so when the kids are home from school, I burn through 20 decisions an hour.

Yeah. If I look a little frazzled at the end of the day, that’s why.

No mom, my office doesn’t look like this. Yet.
Photo by Brandon Lopez on Unsplash

Creative decisions don’t carry the same weight

Now, if you are a creative person, there is a whole different batch of decisions that have to be made. For me, I have to decide what my characters are doing, how they are doing it, how they feel about it, where they are, what that looks like, and if there is any external influences, like weather to consider.

Luckily, not all decisions carry the same weight. I enjoy creative decision making so I can run through hundreds of these micro decisions and not feel the strain for hours. But, eventually those story decisions start taking their toll and I hit the wall. Working past that point usually results in bad decision making and it’s best to call it for the day.

Strategies for reducing decision fatigue

Never fear! There is hope out there. There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. This will free up space for all those creative decisions that you want to be making on whatever project you are working on.

Steve Jobs is famous for always wearing the same outfit. He never has to stop and think what he wants to wear and that frees up head space for the things he wants to think about. There are hundreds of professionals who do the same thing, for the same reason.

Some people eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday. Some create routines around the mundane stuff in their life so they can put it on auto pilot and not have to think about it. Some people buy the same brands for everything they use on a daily basis. Once you realize how much energy you spend on things that don’t really matter, you might want to consider automating the boring stuff in your life as well.

For me, I tend to wear the same thing when I don’t have anywhere to go. It’s usually a t-shirt and leggings. I do like choosing my t-shirts because it brings me joy. I have the same breakfast and same general morning routine. When I’m in the zone, I can whip through my to do list fairly quickly and leave time for all the things I want to do.

What do you do to reduce decision fatigue in your life? Let’s talk about it!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Life is too Short for White Socks

Most days I work from home which means no one outside of my family sees me. My dress code is understandably casual and tends to be a comfortable legging paired with a cute or snarky t-shirt. From a distance, it would be hard to distinguish me from a high school student. Mom, you tried, you really did. If it makes you feel better, I do wear tinted lip balm and mascara in public. When I remember…

If I had my way, I’d never wear socks at all. I’m one of those barefoot mamas and rarely wear shoes inside the home. But, in the winter the floors get cold, and because I spent lots of hours sitting in a basement, my feet get cold too. I’ll usually pull on a pair before descending into my basement writing cave.

The other day, I grabbed a pair without thinking about it. Later in the day I looked down and realized the socks I’d chosen were a pair of plain white ones that had gone grey on the bottoms from use and lost most of their elastic. Ew. I didn’t even know I had a pair of white ones. Seeing these sad worn grey socks made me a little sad too. Fun socks are such a little thing, but they bring a spark of joy.

I recently acquired a pair with happy foxes running around on them. Do they make me happy? Yes, yes they do.

So if you spot me in the wild, check out my socks. And, next time you buy new socks, be sure to find some that make you smile.

Because…

Life is too short for white socks.

Tell me about your favorite pair of socks!


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Time Management for People with Better Things to Do

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Time. It’s one of those fluid things everything thinks they can control. Funny thing is, no matter what you do, it keeps sliding by. This morning, I’ve had to sneak down to my evil lair two different times to finish different tasks due today. Normally, my Friday mornings tend to be chaotic as I work to get kiddos out the door on a different schedule. Getting any writing work done is usually not on the table until well after 9:30.

Today ended up being different. I know I’m going to be super busy the rest of the day and therefore needed to get my two small deadlines finished and scheduled before heading out on errands. Yay?

Should I have done those two deadlines yesterday when things weren’t as chaotic and not wait until the last minute? Yeah… but I didn’t. If this whole authoring business was easy or predictable, everyone would do it. Now if the voice of reason would please shush? Thank you.

Instead of enjoying my bonus sleeping time that I normally sneak in on Friday, I got my whiny behind up and marched it down to my office to finish task #1 – a scheduled post on the Strong Moms Facebook group. Every Friday I leave a mom friendly tip helping and encouraging women to go reach their goals and life a fulfilling life. It doesn’t take long, but it does take time.

After my first two headed out to school and my oldest was well on his way to being ready, I ran down stairs again to write this lovely post for my regularly scheduled Friday blog. Yeah, not sure if this one is paying off, but it’s something that’s important to me. Not every post can be wonderful or insightful – but every once in a while, I surprise myself.

My other big writing goal for the day is to knock out more words on my NaNoWriMo project and continue pushing forward on that goal. I’d like to do 2000 so I can stay ahead, just in case there are days later in the month, like Thanksgiving, where it will be that much harder to sneak away and write. Knowing my schedule, I’ll be happy with 500, as long as something gets on the page.

The bottom line is, everyone has different time constraints and scheduling needs. If you’ve got a goal and keep putting it off because you can’t find the time, I urge you to reconsider what that actually means. There are weird pockets of time sitting around waiting for you to grab them. Some of them might be funny looking, some might be inconvenient, but they are there.

Now, go do the thing – and then tell me all about it!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Everyone Needs a Hero

Maybe it’s true. Maybe we don’t know what we have until we’ve lost it. But, maybe it’s also true that we don’t know what we’re missing until we find it.

A.A. Milne

Photo by Dan Bøțan on Unsplash

It’s a moment that isn’t soon forgotten. You are watching a show or a movie and suddenly you come face to face with – yourself.

Let me back up. I’ve loved movies, books, fantasy worlds, and escapes from reality since day one. These stolen golden moments when I could pretend I was someone else, put myself into a different pair of shoes, and experience a different perspective, painted my childhood.

The heroes in these stories were all wonderful – and they were all something I could never be. They were tall, I was short. They had lustrous dark hair, I had frizzy red hair. They were well liked, I … wasn’t. They tended to be boys, I’m most certainly not. They had sharp cheekbones and clear skin, I’ve got more freckles than some people have hair.

Finding a female role model in a great story is hard. Women are rarely the main character. When they do appear they often are reduced to furniture for the main character to use, think about, and rescue. When a strong female character does enter a story, she is almost always dark haired, long-limbed, with clear skin. Anything different is a notable exception, not the norm.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

The most recent Wonder Woman captures the hearts of mothers and daughters around the world because she is strong and good and real. But she matches the formula: she’s dark haired, with long legs, and clear skin.

I loved Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange because she breaks the rules of what a strong female character should look like.

Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange was completely amazing.

A few weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I finally had my moment where I too felt represented in fiction.

At the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the masked Enfys Nest does her big reveal. Throughout the movie we’ve been led to believe she is a man. She wears a large disguise and hides her voice. She is tactical, ruthless, efficient, and has made things hard for our hero – so we aren’t sure if we should like her.

The daunting and powerful Enfys Nest, played by Erin Kellyman

When the mask falls to the ground we see this stunning powerful woman with a mass of red curly hair and freckles.

And, ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh, I finally get it. I had never encountered a powerful redhead in film until now. This is what representation means and why diversity is so important. Until recently entire populations of people have been excluded from being cast in powerful roles. This has got to change.

Until this moment I didn’t know what I was missing, because I had no idea there would ever be someone like me portrayed in film. Because of this moment, I intend to strive for greater diversity in future projects.

Everyone deserves a hero they can see themselves in.

Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-CoverIt’s the end of October. For many writers it’s the time to sharpen our brains and finish up prep for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve done the challenge for several years in different ways ranging from full manuscripts and partial manuscripts, down to editing and revision goals. While I’d love to be in a good place to dig into the third and final book of my Stonebearer series this year, I only barely finished the very rough draft of the completed second novel last week.

My real reason for not doing NaNoWriMo this year is simple – experience. I know my working habits and how much I can do before developing a serious case of writer burnout. It’s taken a few decades to learn I’m a hugely competitive person with myself. If I set a goal I kill myself to go get it.

For my first NaNoWriMo in 2010, I crossed the finish line an exhausted wreck. At that point in my life I had one fewer child and more free time and energy than I have now.  Immediately after finishing, I continued to blog and did an editing pass of my first manuscript that I had finished a few weeks before NaNoWriMo started. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.

I learned I am not invincible when baby #3 came around in the Fall of 2011. All my time disappeared and with it, most of my energy. I stopped writing for over a year. When NaNoWriMo rolled around I watched wistfully as other writer friends whipped themselves into an excited frenzy to work on a new project. I would still set a goal, goals are good, usually to finish the revisions on my first book baby and for years not much happened.

It wasn’t until 2015 when I felt ready to attempt writing the sequel. I had both older kids in elementary school and the youngest in preschool. It was literally the first year since 2010 where I had a handful of hours free during the week.

It wasn’t enough time. I stressed myself out. Four free hours a week isn’t enough to do NaNoWriMo. My writing crept into family time and evenings and occupied every moment it could like an overfed goldfish in a bowl. But, apparently I’m very competitive. I had to finish the 50,000 words. And I did. And then I shelved the uncompleted project for nearly a year.

This year, I’m okay with working at my current pace. I have projects underway that I like and am moving at a pace that I can keep up with while maintaining a good work/life balance. If by next year I haven’t started the third book of the trilogy, which I doubt, then perhaps I’ll make it my 2018 project.

And that’s totally okay.

***

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to talk about it in the comments!

Reprioritizing

happiness free quotes

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about what I need to do to move forward with several of the projects that I’ve been wanting to complete. I’ve loved blogging for these past few years and I will still be coming in from time to time with announcements, book reviews, and featured books and artists.

Life is full, busy, and wonderful and I need to be spending my time doing what’s going to make the biggest impact.

See ya around!