The Story of the Bean Plant

Seven weeks ago, back in the heady early days of this thing we call virtual schooling, my son and I planted a bean to observe the plant lifecycle in action. Honestly, I didn’t even think the seed would sprout. The packet of green bean seeds had been sitting around in my basement for the last decade with my other gardening hopes and dreams, just waiting for something to happen.

The original assignment was to stick the seeds on a wet paper towel in a plastic baggie so the kid could watch the roots grow and the stem and then the leaves, if you were that lucky. I swear growing up, my seed was always the one that rotted and grew florescent mold instead of actually growing.

So when it fulfilled its seedy destiny and definitely grew, I was both surprised and thankful. I had no desire to explain that sometimes things die to my kiddo. It’s literally last thing on my list of things I don’t want to do during an already insanity causing year.

But, it couldn’t live in that sandwich baggie, it needed to be in dirt – as kiddo so helpfully told me. Every. single. day. Change means risk. Transferring a delicate baby plant that’s clinging for its life on a paper towel to a Solo cup of dirt could very well kill it, especially if I relied on the elephant-like grace of my 3rd grader. At the same time, it was his project. He had every right to do the transfer himself.

Long story short. Our combined efforts didn’t kill the thing. If anything, it might have encouraged it. I have a proud adult bean plant living in my office window that’s ACTUALLY GROWING BEANS.

The big decision now is whether we eat the three whole beans when they are ripe, or let them grow to maturity and repeat the cycle again with the seeds we collect?

The moral to this story is that you might be a bean seed. You might have been stuck in a position where you couldn’t really do anything for an excruciating amount of time until one day you finally got your chance. It might be a wet paper towel in a baggy kind of a chance, but it is better than sitting in an envelope with a bunch of other dry seeds.

You choose. Do you grow like a crazy 3rd grade science experiment? Or do you accidentally let the furry blue mold get you?

There might be risks and dangers. You might risk everything to move up to something bigger and better (with actual dirt!). There might be someone with the grace of a pachyderm there trying to help you, but might actually crush you.

Grow anyway.

And when your three green beans are long and fat, harvest and remember that you once were a little seed.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Taunting Karma

Remember how last week I was so wonderfully excited about the coming of fall and how I loved all of the cozy comforts of snuggling and cocoa? Yeah, I taunted karma, and she came after me with a stick.

I forgot it would be midterms for my kiddos this week.

With virtual school this is a whole new beast to figure out. Some teachers are doing great and it’s easy to figure out what their expectations are. For these classes, its easy to have confidence that we are doing what needs to be done to stay on target.

Then, there are a precious few teachers who are trying really hard to teach virtually, but haven’t mastered communicating, well, anything. My kids want to do a good job, and heaven knows I want them to do a good job. But for a few classes, we aren’t sure what that looks like.

That means that this week I get to spend lots of extra hours helping kids write essays, research topics, learn Spanish, take videos for virtual PE, and for my youngest, stay on his Zoom calls.

And karma wasn’t done at that.

Several important appointments also ended up being scheduled all this week. These are the kind of appointments that in a perfect world I’d schedule at least a week apart because they really stress me out. But at least they’re over now, right? It’s like ripping off a band-aid to do them all at once, right? Maybe. In this instance it feels like the stress is cumulative. Instead of suffering low grade stress for longer, I get to have massive stress spikes that feel like you need to scream but can’t because it would freak out your family, so you push it all way back down instead.

Because that’s super healthy.

Thanks Karma. I know I brought this on myself, but the irony of it all is amusing.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

The Power of Asking Questions

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

I’ve taught a class about how to overcome creative roadblocks several times over the last few months. It’s become more and more relevant as the stresses of COVID and the political atmosphere have made creativity harder to find. The largest part of the class is learning to ask yourself questions and then allowing yourself to answer them honestly.

Questions have a power all on their own. They demand answers. Good questions lead to a greater understanding. Vague questions lead to more confusion. If you can learn the skill of asking yourself the right questions, you can solve a whole host of problems.

The other night I woke up to a panic attack. When it was happening, all I knew is that my mind was spinning and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being overwhelmed. It felt as if I had too many things on my plate and there was no possible way to get them all done. What was worse, it also felt as if there were invisible things on my plate that I needed to figure out, but no clues as to what they might be.

The attacks don’t happen often, thankfully. This one was caused by being overtired. The night before I hadn’t slept well because we were camping and I was too hot. Piled on top of that was the coming of another Monday and still not feeling confident about how online schooling was working for my kiddos and if they had the support they needed from me. I know the teachers are doing the best they can and I’m grateful for them. All I need now is for them all to agree to use the cool virtual teaching tools in roughly the same way so I can easily find what the assignments are and make sure they get done.

In a funny way, being part of online school has taught me far more about my kids personalities than anything else.

When these panic attacks strike, it’s time to start asking questions. What are my biggest worries? What of these worries can I do anything about? What of these worries can I let go of? What plans do I need to make to address the things I can change? What needs to be added to my to do list so I can stop trying to hold it in my head? What needs to change in my schedule to accommodate these needs that hasn’t already been added?

As the questions keep flowing, the answers start coming. I write down everything with the intention that no one will see these words besides myself. This writing is a tool, not a product. Once all the questions have been asked and answered and my pages are full, I know what direction I need to go.

There are still stresses, and if I don’t take better care of myself, there’s a chance of another attack in the near future. But, I have a plan in place and the confidence in knowing that the plan works.

Here’s to conquering each and every one of life’s challenges, both big and small.


Meet the Strong Moms

For the past year and a half, I’ve been sharing my store of motherly wit and wisdom with a group of women who affectionately call themselves the Strong Moms. These posts go out once a week under the wide umbrella of “Strong Mom Tips” and are usually focused on good psychological advice ranging from productivity, to health, to anger management.

Recently the Strong Moms have started their own website, specifically made to contain all the awesomeness of the best of their posts, mine included. If you’re a mom who needs a lift and would like a friendly place to go for a virtual hug, the Strong Moms site has all the warmth and love of a chocolate chip cookie still gooey from the oven.

Head over here to check them out on Facebook.

Go here to explore the website.

The last few weeks I’ve sharing several different ideas that are important to me, especially as we enter school season once again. The first demonstrates the importance of stepping back and letting our kids learn to entertain themselves from a young age to help them learn self sufficiency and independence. Another post explores the psychology behind finishing the goals we start, even if it doesn’t turn out the way we expect.

A few of the other articles that have recently been posted on the blog include a beautiful piece one called “Becoming” which explores how we can shape our experience through the power of our thought patterns. Another discusses the very practical issue of when one should consider supplementing an infants feeding with formula.

With new articles being posted daily, there’s always something new. You’re sure to find a helpful article, and inspirational story, or a shared experience to make you laugh.


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 and get a signup bonus of one of my short stories for free.

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Adventure is out there!

As the summer rolls on, it’s becoming harder and harder to hide in my cute little office and work. There are exciting things to do, things to see, and I might be a teensy weensy bit stir crazy. When the crazies set in, it’s time for a change of scenery.

This weekend that drive to adventure took our family up Big Cottonwood Canyon to explore the Mill B area. What’s great about this spot is that the water from the river cools down the canyon floor making it a welcome break from the summer heat. There are stunning waterfalls, comfortable short hikes, and plenty of rocks for the kiddos to scramble around on.

On a recommendation from a family member, we found Hidden Falls which is marked only by a tiny sign. It’s not even a hike, but rather a climb up the side of a hidden stream that leads to a lovely isolated grotto. The kids had a great time climbing and traversing the stream on half submerged rocks like a real world “floor is lava” game, and I was thrilled to get them away from their screens for a while.

To finish up the afternoon, we hiked Mill B South which is also a short well-maintained and nearly flat trail that leads to a larger staircase waterfall at the end. It’s a perfect place to bring a picnic and get away from things.

A lot of this area is what I imagine the dramatic canyons and mountains in Stonebearer’s Betrayal to feel like. There are steep slopes and hidden gems just waiting to be found. Maybe if I go far enough, I’ll find an immense castle occupied by magical immortals.

Hey, a girl can dream.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?


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 and get a signup bonus of one of my short stories for free.

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Too Many Goals, a Cautionary Tale

As an ambitious person, I tend to go overboard when it comes to setting goals. A good goal should force you to stretch yourself to reach, but still be doable. They require real effort. This is a good thing. Reaching for a goal means that even when I don’t complete it in its entirety, I still work harder and get more done than if I hadn’t set the goal at all.

The problem I keep running into is setting too many goals at one time. When this happens, I spend each day scrambling to try to reach the most important ones and lamenting the ones I didn’t have time to work on. It’s a nasty cycle. Without fail, I’ll say stupid things to myself like “I can catch up on that tomorrow or over the weekend” fully knowing that the time fairy isn’t going to grant me more hours, even if I promise to slip her into one of my stories. Sometimes it’s not time that causes the problem, but energy. It doesn’t matter how much free time you have if you’re too tired to think or work.

I started July like I start every month, by looking over what I really wanted to make progress on and then setting goals that would help me do so. Turns out there were plenty of things I wanted to be more consistent doing that included house and yard work, personal health goals, and of course, authoring pursuits.

When I counted the things on my list today, I found sixteen different tasks that I needed to accomplish if I wanted to reach all those goals today. Some only take a few minutes, but most take anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours each. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math there. Even on a great day, there’s no way I’d have the time. Especially since I’ve also got the kiddos at home and need to give them attention as well, not to mention keep everyone fed.

Yep, just thinking about it is stressing me out a little.

Will I learn my lesson when I set goals for August? I surely hope so. The good thing is that every time I work through one of these challenges, I do learn a few things. This time I learned that tracking that many goals becomes stressful and tedious. It’s best to limit goals to the things that are truly important and then do the best you can with the rest.

My question to you is, are you a goal setter? If so, what does your goal setting practice look like?


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 and get a signup bonus of one of my short stories for free.

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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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Be The Least Interesting Person at the Table

The other day I stumbled on a phrase that caught in my brain and has refused to let go.

Be the least interesting person at the table

At first it sounds horrible. I mean, who wants to hang out with a boring person? But as I peeled back the different layers, a truth started to emerge that I found not only insightful, but downright liberating.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

That truth? You are not required to prove yourself to anyone

Think deeply for a moment. The people that are by far the most obnoxious at any gathering are the ones who are always proving how awesome they are. They talk about important or famous people they’ve met, the amazing projects they’re involved in, the classes they’ve taken, and the people they’ve bested in any way. Not only is it hard to listen to, it often kicks off a ‘proving’ match among those present as everyone tries to best each other.

There is an equally obnoxious counterpart to those trying to prove themselves as awesome, and that is the person trying to prove how hard their life is. Everything is a burden, no one has it worse than they do, they have a laundry list of complaints and issues that they are eager to share with any sucker willing to listen. Sometimes we call these people emotional vampires because they tend to suck people’s energy dry.

You don’t have to prove anything

Both the pity seeker and the one working to gain social awesomeness are either consciously or subconsciously trying to get something from the listener. But, the thing they’re trying to get isn’t concrete. There is no trophy, no gold star, and no crown that goes to whoever wins. Usually all they get is a sense that no one really understands them or was able to give their accomplishments or burdens the attention they deserved.

This is why the idea of being the least interested person in the room is so compelling to me. After being around several of both kinds of attention seekers it’s clear that working to convince people of being cool or a sad sack doesn’t result in literally anything except perhaps coming off as a needy or conceited person.

Wise words from Hamilton

So then, what’s the alternative?

Become the world’s best conversationalist. By shaking off the need to prove yourself, you open yourself to a wide range of opportunities to learn about everyone else. When given a chance, most people have things they’re dying to talk about but can never find an opening – possibly because a needy person is oversharing. They would love nothing better than someone to ask them an interesting question. If you ask the questions, you can steer the conversation toward topics that you find interesting as well. It’s a well known fact that the best relationships are built on what people have in common.

If you’ve never done it before, taking charge of a conversation can be a daunting task. This is where it might help to come prepared. Before the stress makes it hard to think, come up with a couple things that you want to find out. It can be as easy as, “Hey, you watch any of that Tiger King show yet?” or perhaps “What have you read lately that you thought was interesting?”

A cool thing happens when you lose the sense of needing

When the focus shifts from feeling needy to wanting to share and learn, the whole dynamic changes. A one sided monologue turns into a interesting discussion where everyone wants to share their experience or what they’ve learned. There is a special energy that you can’t find anywhere else when a good conversation is underway.

Be the questioner, be the listener, make magic happen

Not all groups will be able to make the sparkly energy flow, sometimes the people that are really good at having conversations like this need to be hunted down and brought into your circle. Or, perhaps they are already there, but need some gentle encouragement to open up. Regardless of how you find your next conversation, do your part by being the interested listener, the thoughtful questioner, and the least interesting person in the room.

When was the last time you had a terrific discussion? Please share!


Feeling locked up and need a short escape?

Grab my free alternate creation short story, “Breath” which asks, Is a life without love worth living?

Click here to download “Breath” to the eReader of your choice

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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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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Meditating when you’re cold

It’s a well known fact that modern life is stressful. I’ve harped on this a few time before – probably because I don’t like stress and I want to be proactive in reducing it in my life. I can’t always kill off one my characters when I’ve had a really bad day. For starters, it takes forever to fix that, especially if you need that character in the future, like at all. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve resurrected characters that accidentally got dead.

Finding inner peace is one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you try it. For me, I lean on a few methods that work for me, namely journaling and meditation. The benefits of both are measurable in my own life and I feel it when I’ve missed a few days. My meditation practice isn’t a terribly formal thing. I literally do it while waiting in my car for my kid to get out of school – using an app or YouTube when the network isn’t being fussy.

The car is fairly comfortable and I’m assured a few minutes of undisturbed peace. Even better, since I literally can’t do anything else, thoughts of housework don’t haunt me.

There is only one snag. The drive to the school isn’t long enough to let the car heat up and I refuse to idle the engine as I sit there parked. During the winter months it’s cold. Even in a jacket you can’t get away from it. And, because I’ve spent the last few hours madly typing away in my office, I’m already a little chilled to start with.

Let me tell you right now, trying to achieve a state of relaxed contentment is impossible when you’re shivering. There’s no relaxing when your shoulders are huddling around your ears for warmth.

Mr. Pug has the right idea. Snuggle in a blankie.

So why try? If it’s frustrating, then maybe trying to meditate in a car when it’s cold is a bad idea. Maybe I should find a happy alternative involving chocolate and reading a juicy novel. Maybe I’ll do that anyway … wait, sorry. Got distracted.

Hang on, hear me out. A meditation practice is meant to help people find their zen state, even when the conditions aren’t ideal. Someone who regularly spends time doing breathing exercises and finding their inner calm will be able to find that calm much easier when things are frantic.

Meditating when cold isn’t a complete waste of time. Instead, it demonstrates a challenging situation where it’s necessary to adapt. Getting mad at it won’t help, so you have to learn to roll with it. Or wear a warmer coat, and gloves, and a hat.

That said, I’m happy it’s warming up. I’d rather find my inner peace without a challenge. (thankyouverymuch).

How do you cope with stress? Does it include chocolate? Inquiring minds want to know.


Psst! If you’re the type that likes a good indulgence read, grab my free story today. Like the rest of my writing, it’s lovely, dark, and deep. You can also sign up for my mailing list while you’re at it (win!).

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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