The Canyon Between Two Mountains

Utah is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. From barren deserts to looming granite mountains that scratch the sky, from the majesty that is Arches National Park to the bizarre formations of Goblin valley. During the stay at home order, my family has been doing more exploring of the wild to stave off cabin fever.

Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash

The goal of many hikes in Utah is to reach a summit or stunning outlook. The hike itself is usually uphill and starts in one of the many valleys or canyon floors. From the canyon floor your view is limited to the walls of the canyon itself, which can be quite dramatic, but isn’t what you’re there for. You’re there for the view at the top of the hill.

These trails can range from sun baked expanses to tree choked narrow pathways. They can rise up and over huge distances or climb jagged rock. Often they snake back and forth up the side of a hill too steep to climb otherwise.

While on the trail, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the trail itself. This is especially true when the trail is less than lovely or too hot. Countless feet of the people who came before you keep the dirt beneath your feet bare. Sometimes the sun beats down on your back and your legs burn with the effort to keep stepping forward on an unending uphill climb. Sometimes there are people you are traveling with that aren’t thrilled to be there. 

But, when you get to the top it’s everything you wanted and more. Even more so, it’s better because you worked hard to get there. 

Dearest readers, this situation we’re in is very much like climbing a steep uphill trail. We are in a narrow canyon between two mountains and it’s hard to see where we are going and how long it will take to get there. We aren’t sure if the lookout will be worth it. The trail is difficult with plenty of switchbacks and rocks to stumble over.

Let me encourage you to find beauty in the trail itself. Since we don’t know how long we might be on this journey or how many miles we have to go, it’s a good time to find ways to find joy along the path.

And if you can, get out somewhere beautiful while you do it. Let this be a time of self discovery.

Photo by Jamie Hagan on Unsplash

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Introverts Guide to Being Stuck Home with all the Family

There’s been an unexpected complication to all this social distancing and working from home. Whereas last week I covered how all you extroverts might find ways to survive being away from groups of people, this week I realized us introverts might be struggling as well. Suddenly, that time we used to have to ourselves is gone. All the times where we used to be able to send kids off to go play or attend classes have vanished. For some of us, we are now homeschooling for the first time ever.

It’s a big change and I’m feeling it far more than I expected I would. I expect many of you are the same. As an introvert, I refuel in the somber silence of my home turf and my cozy spots. Most weeks, my system works wonderfully. There were times of the day where I knew the house would be empty and quiet and I used this time to find my center again – that, and actually get some work done.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my family at home. But with them here ALL THE TIME those chances to find a little peace and quiet have been ripped away. After five days of it, it’s the closest I’ve come to having a full on panic attack in years because I wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of my needs.

Because having the family at home is like a party that never ends. And you’re the hostess. And everyone is hungry.
Photo by Miguel Teirlinck on Unsplash

This is for all of you introverts out there who are struggling to find balance with all this change.

Mark your territory

Everyone needs a spot where they feel safe and able to relax, introverts especially so. Be intentional in choosing yours. It may be a chair, it might be your side of the bed, it might be a home office or a large beanbag. Remind yourself that it is your safe and quiet place where you can recharge, even if there are other people around. Keep a pair of headphones nearby and some great music ready for when you need to take a few moments and recenter. By being intentional with this space, you can train yourself to associate it with peace and a sense of well-being.

Redefine what your “you” time looks like

Change means compromise. The way you’ve always done something might not be possible with the whole family stuck in the house with you. If you’ve always taken a shower the second everyone leaves the house, you might find yourself frustrated because no one is going anywhere. You might need to wake a touch earlier to ensure a peaceful experience. If that’s not an option, search out ways to make those moments you used to enjoy in silence special. Light a candle. Indulge in special treat. Turn on your favorite songs.

Communicate clearly

There will be people in your life that just can’t understand why your “you” time is so important. If you find yourself getting anxious, tired, or upset more easily because you can’t find a good balance between being around people and being alone, you need to be able to share this with the people around you. If you don’t they might start assuming things that aren’t necessarily true. Start with the obvious. “I’m having a hard time always being around everyone this much.” Then, work towards asking for help getting what you need. “What would really help is having an hour to just read without interruptions.”

Stay in tune with your brain fairies

Things won’t be perfect. There will probably not be as much quiet alone time as you really need. This is where it’s critical to stay in tune with what your brain and body are telling you and coming up with methods that work for you to maintain your cool. If you are feeling anxious, practice a breathing exercise. If you need quiet, go take a walk. Having a plan will give you the tools you need when things start getting overwhelming.

Be gracious with yourself

Above all, this is most definitely not the time to beat yourself up about anything. Being frustrated and anxious because there is change is normal. Allow yourself to feel all of this while telling yourself that this is a normal response to what is happening. Let these cues help you make the right decision for what you need to do to take care of your needs. Pretending everything is fine when you are secretly falling apart, will only hurt you in the long run.

This looks really nice… Totally doing this somewhere once the weather cooperates.
Photo by Unsplash on Unsplash

You’ve got this

We’ve all dealt with big changes before and survived. We’ve gotten married, separated, started a new job, changed schools, and lost people dear to us. Sometimes adapting to a big change takes a while. Things might not be comfortable for a while and that’s okay. In the end, with patience and introspection we figured things out, just as we will figure things out in our current situation. The sooner you can accept this new normal and find ways to make things work for your unique needs, the faster you will start feeling more centered and at ease.


Check it out, free reads!

Robin Glassey, a friend and fellow author gave me this heads up about some free science fiction and fantasy ebooks that are available for a limited time.

Click here to see all the books offered

Click here to go straight to Robin’s freebie


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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Staying Away from People: An Introverts Guide for Extroverts

The world is gripped it in a pandemic fueled frenzy. If you’re experience is anything like mine, I’m sure you are all experiencing events being canceled, gatherings being rescheduled, and hand soap and toilet paper almost impossible to find in grocery stores.

It’s a bit scary, I’ll admit. The people I feel the worst for are all you extroverts out there. Being around other people is what gives you energy and fulfillment and your opportunities to do so have now been greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated.

Never fear. We introverts have been preparing for this moment for literally our entire lives.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

I have some pointers

Find things to do

Boredom is everyone’s enemy. Introverts tend to handle boredom a bit better because our favorite activities can easily be done at home. Should you be quarantined, this is a perfect time to finally tackle some of those projects you’ve been wanting to work on. Pull out a board game to play with the family, dust off that old gaming console, or pick up one of those books you always been meaning to read.

Take time to introspect

When was the last time you took a walk with nothing but the silence to keep you company? Being under quarantine doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself inside. Find somewhere beautiful and take a walk. Allow your mind to wander. If you get ideas or insights, jot them down so you don’t forget. If you tend to be a tactile person, you can do the same thing by a writing down your thoughts long hand and letting what ever your brain wants to tell you to flow out. You might find things that surprise you.

Celebrate what you have

It’s really easy to fixate on the things you want but don’t have. Why not use this time to cultivate a new respect and gratitude for the things you do have? An abundance of stress lowers the immune system’s ability to to fight off illness. However, gratitude and a positive outlook have been proven to reduce stress. Take a few minutes as often as you can to consider something you are grateful for.

Honor your body’s needs

It’s really easy to let a huge change in schedule throw everything off, especially if you are trying to work from home for the first time. Pay attention to what your body needs. Get enough sleep. Drink lots of water. Balance work and play. Don’t binge on junk food. Set clear boundaries between when you need to work verses when you get to relax.

When all else fails, there’s always social media and online games

If you end up in quarantine, what a good age to have it in. We have everything we need to stay in contact with loved ones. There’s Skype and Facetime, there’s the full pantheon of social media outlets, there are masses of online gaming communities. For every itch, there are lots of scratches if you are feeling lonely. Try something new.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Regardless of what happens

Please observe common sense cautions. No, really. Doing the easy things is often forgotten. Wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, and use common sense. We’ll get through this, I promise.


If you just happen to need something to read, you can totally download my free short story right now straight to the device of your choice. It’s so easy, just click this link.

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Finding answers in silence

We’re all busy

Who believes they have way too much to do and not enough time to do it? Raise your hands. Yep, even you all in the back of the room multitasking as we speak. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you ask anyone what they are doing, regardless of what they say, the gist is that they are busy. If they aren’t busy, then they are really busy, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who is truly experiencing that life-swallowing sensation of being extremely busy.

I get it. There’s a lot to do. Like A LOT. Some of it is necessary to survive, like earning a living enough to keep the heat on and food in the fridge. Some of it is important, like making sure clothes are clean and some of that food is actually good for you.

Then there’s the stuff that’s actually not important, but we’ve assigned importance to it. You know where I’m going with this. Things like compulsively checking social media and trying to get lots of likes on that cat picture you posted. You know the one.

Now this is the kind of silence I’d love. Anyone have a boat I could borrow? Or a lake? Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Taking a necessary break

For the last five weeks I’ve stepped way back on my social media posting because of one really terrific reason, my kiddos were home. Year-round school has a handful of benefits, most of which stem from reducing the number of kids in already overcrowded classrooms. Allowing mom to run her authoring business isn’t one of them. Something had to give.

In the past, I’d fight to keep the same posting schedule in addition to all the other authory things that needed to get done. It always resulted in frustration and anxiety. This time, I let it slide. While I enjoy interacting with strangers and the practice can be helpful to help people find my books, in terms of effective marketing and producing more books, it falls last on my priority list. When the kids are home they are my first priority. After that comes all the other stuff, like staying on top of deadlines and making progress on my new books entering the world this year.

The funny thing about social media is that it’s an all consuming affair. Trying to stay current with everything means you have to check it constantly. The urge to scroll for another few minutes, to post, to interact, to like, to be liked, and so on – can eat you alive. It even sneaks into bed with you as ideas for posts creep into your thoughts as you drift asleep. The energy and time this requires can’t be measured – except that you get less done during the day and can’t figure out why.

Be still and let deeper thoughts flow through you like a breeze, you might be surprised what you find. Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

Lessons from the silence

What did I learn? For starters, no one really missed me. My noise was just more noise in an already noisy place. My followings and numbers and all those statistics that geeky folks like me like to track didn’t change or plummet. The world didn’t end.

What did happen surprised me. In the quiet space left in the wake of stepping away from social media, I had the freedom to consider if all that posting was doing me any good in the long run. My normal posts had no goal other than interacting. It often felt like talking into a void and hoping to be heard. In my hurry to make noise, I missed a huge piece of the puzzle – creating a way to continue the conversation once I found someone who wanted to listen.

My goal is to find like-minded readers who love the same things I love and more importantly, keep them happy and supply them with more stories and books that they will enjoy. Now, my efforts are refocused to help those readers find me. What that means is that I will be sharing more of my shorter fiction to more people – including you, dear readers.

I will have to return to the noise of social media, it’s inevitable. But, now I feel like there is an end goal in sight and a plan in place. I’m no longer making noise, I’m seeking connections.

A whole post about Silence and not one mention of this guy? This must be remedied. By the way, does anyone know why are there tally marks on my arm?

What will you find in the silence?

Have you ever dared to step away and see what happens?


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Power Word: Fearless

We’ve reached the end of the power word series and I saved the best for last. Today’s word is FEARLESS.

While many choose to define fearless as ‘being without fear,’ I define it differently. Being fearless means to acknowledge your fears and then go out and do the thing that’s perhaps a little scary. For me, it’s anything that might result in confrontation. Public speaking is one of those things. It’s scary and this year I’ve done it far more than I’ve ever done it before.

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

I’m an introvert by nature. Most assume the outgoing, somewhat loud side of me they see in public means that I’m super extroverted – it’s not true. The extroverted persona I wear at conferences is me grabbing the idea of being fearless and doing what needs to be done to best represent myself as an author. At conferences that means being brave and talking to strangers and presenting ideas in classes and panels.

If you’d asked me about this years ago, the idea of attending conferences with the intent to meet as many amazing people as possible and making myself seen, would have reduced me to a pile of anxiety ridden mush. It’s taken time, experience, and lots of watching my wonderful fellow author friends show how they handle being at a conference table, or behave on a panel, or teach a class.

The key to being fearless is developing confidence. Confidence comes from deep within and must be grown over time. It’s a personal understanding that you are a person of worth and have lots to share with the world. It’s also understanding that everyone around you deserves to be treated like they are also an interesting person and letting them shine.

Be fearless my friends!

For the complete list of power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.


Check it out! I’m doing something super brave and attending FanX officially as an author for the very first time this September. If you’re headed to FanX, I’d love to see you! Search the FanX site for my profile (or just click here) to see the most up-to-date listing of the panels I will be sitting on. You can also find me hanging around the Printed Garden vendor table.


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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Power Word: Serenity

As we plunge into the full throes of Summer, this power word holds much more significance than during other parts of the year. Serenity doesn’t mean to be surrounded by peace and a zen-like atmosphere, although I would really like that right now. Serenity means to find that peace within regardless of what’s going on around you.

Which is why I’ve chosen it as the power word for July, when school is out.

Photo by Amanda Flavell on Unsplash

Like many people, I find great comfort in predictability. So much in life is unpredictable – the weather, the news, the rampant mouse issue in my backyard – that finding parts of my day that can stay the same, brings with it small amounts of peace. Having a schedule and routines take the guess work and stress out of the mundane things needing to be done.

Don’t get me wrong. I seek out joy in the unpredictable. I smile in the rain. I laugh at butterflies and bumblebees. These things are pleasantly unpredictable.

It’s the things I can’t predict, but must manage regardless, that cause amazing amounts of stress. While I hate to say it, that’s the definition of having multiple kids at home and trying to get work done. At any moment, a fight will break out, something will break, someone will need help, something will be lost, and I’m the one who has to fix it.

There’s a word for it – hypervigilance. It means even when you are relaxing or doing something you enjoy, you’ve got a huge part of your brain constantly monitoring for any unrest among the natives. And it’s exhausting.

Back to serenity. Deep breaths. I totally didn’t just have to leave in the middle of writing this post to deal with an argument about computer turns.

Having serenity as a power word means every time I see the word stuck to the bottom of my monitor, I take a few seconds to breathe and remind myself to find peace in the now. Every moment there isn’t a crises to be dealt with, is a mini zen moment. The more this practice is performed, the more the mind will auto regulate to seek out and acknowledge these moments of calm.

What helps you find your serenity?

Do you like routine or do you prefer to let your heart guide you?

Let’s discuss in the comments below!

If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.


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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Don’t forget! Stonebearer’s Betrayal is eligible to win a Dragon Award. The deadline for nominations is July 19th. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, head over to the nomination page, and vote for Stonebearer’s Betrayal in the Young Adult/Middle Grade Category. Anyone can do it!

Power Word: Strive

Everyone knows there are goals worth working for. These goals are as unique as the person who sets them. They are what you spend your free time on, what you think about when you are drifting off to sleep, and what excites you when you hit milestones.

Striving to achieve these goals isn’t only important to overall well-being, it also brings intense satisfaction.

For me, I have plenty of goals I’m working toward as well as other areas where I want to excel. The most obvious is with my writing career. I want to achieve success as an author. Other things are equally important to me as well. At home, I want to be an awesome mom, a decent chef, have a beautiful yard, and keep an organized home. In my personal life, I’d love to learn character sketching and graphic design and take up karate once more.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

It all has to start somewhere. For me, the word strive means to work with a goal in mind. It means spending time learning, practicing, and applying new skills. It means stepping closer toward mastery. It means sacrificing free time and sleep.

Many people have this belief that someday they’ll find the time to do the things they’ve always dreamed about. It could be after their kids have left for college, after they retire, after they get their next bonus, or after they pay off a debt.

What usually happens is that they keep putting off their dreams until they no longer have time or energy to be able to live them – and that’s tragic.

Some dreams require significant investment, like traveling abroad. Some require huge amounts of time, like writing a book. Some require additional schooling, like getting certified to be a life coach. Every single one starts with a baby step in the right direction.

While there are many things I would love to dive into right now, I know what my time limitations are. I also know the power of small consistent effort over time.

For now, I’m striving to be a successful author by spending time everyday writing, editing, and producing my next books. I spend time every week communicating with other authors and learning and growing. I make time to attend conferences. Every page finished, every new skill honed, every effort brings me that much closer to my goal.

What are you striving for?

What dreams are you willing to take the first step in accomplishing?

Let’s discuss it all in the comments below!


If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.

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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Power Word: Vitality

Recently I went on a Disneyland vacation with my family and let me tell you, the happiest place on Earth is not for the weak. As a writer and author I spend an unhealthy amount of time sitting at a desk. I do my best to incorporate physical activity into my day, but the fact stands, I’m not the svelte active woman I was ten years ago.

Walking around the massive acreage that is the Magic Kingdom takes stamina all by itself. Herding a group of highly distractable kids around the park, takes stamina, beignets, patience, and an ungodly amount of caffeine.

Which brings me to this month’s power word: Vitality.

Somewhere between Splash Mountain and the 28th request from a little person to ride something on the other side of the park RIGHT NOW, I realized just how tired I was. I used to be able to do theme parks with the best of them. Now, I totally get why my parents wanted to stop and sit down.

I define vitality as the overall feeling of health and well-being. It’s a mix of eating well and taking time to celebrate the potential of our bodies through motion. That motion is different for everyone. One person might crave that morning run, another might enjoy a walk around the block, another can find it while playing at a park with their kids.

Energy is a funny thing. The more you use, the stronger you become in time. Those who are regularly active, have more energy than those who aren’t.

For me, focusing on vitality means to find ways of incorporating more motion into my day. I’m spending time tending to my yard, choosing to walk rather than ride in a car when possible, and taking my kids to parks to play.

Vitality is also being more aware of the quality of the food I eat and how much. I have to cheat here and use a calorie counter, I find it’s the only way I can stay accountable.

Overall, I’m happy with my body and I want to use it every way I can. I’m a work in progress and want to continue to improve by being more intentional about my actions.

What are ways you increase your vitality?

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to the post, Power Words of 2019.

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Power Word: Create

When was the last time you visited a museum or attended a concert? Visited a historical site? Ate at a great restaurant? The draw of all these activities is rooted in our desire to experience that which stirs the senses, whether it be sight, taste, sound, smell, or touch. The people behind these experiences, the painters, musicians, architects, or chefs, all have one thing in common – they create.

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

The word ‘create’ is simple, yet powerful. Everything that surrounds us is a result of an act of creation. From the first moments we discover the use of our hands, we create. As children, we spent a great deal our energy creating crayon art, play dough sculptures, sand castles, digital worlds, Lego worlds, and endless stories.

As adults, we have less and less time to spend in carefree acts of creation. I find this sad, but I’m guilty of it as well. Ever since I shifted my writing from something I did as a hobby to a career, that element of carefree play has been lost. Each time I sit down to write or edit something, it’s to meet a deadline, a goal, or a career milestone.

That said, I still enjoy the act of creating new ideas and putting those ideas into a story. There is a rush of fulfillment and joy every time I get to hold a new book or anthology in my hands for the first time. Finishing a project that has taken weeks, or months, or even years is an emotional thing.

Happy mommy otter

Using ‘create’ as a power word means to remind myself how much I enjoy the process of writing. It’s a reminder to make progress on other creative projects, like the half-finished crochet Totoro that’s been stuffed in a box. It’s gentle encouragement to try something new.

Ultimately, the joy that comes from creating art; whether it be visual, edible, or word driven, can’t come from any other pursuit. It’s the ability to look at something with pride and say, “I made that.”

What are you going to create today?

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This post is part of the Power Words series.

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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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Power Word: Discover

Have you ever watched a toddler walk through a park? The first thing you’ll notice is they don’t walk. They stop every few steps to bend and look at something. Every moment is engaged in the adventure of discovery. Each rock, bug, and flower is a source of wonder and amazement.

“Look!” They call. “Look, look, look!” Their excitement is infectious.

As grown ups, as we are wandering the world on our own, how often do we truly look anymore? We’ve seen dandelions and ladybugs hundreds of times. What is left to see?

This is why I’ve chosen the word ‘discover’ as one of my power words this year.

Dewdrops on a ladybug

The word ‘discover’ is full of the excitement of curiosity and the possibility of seeing something new. Our world is filled with undiscovered and unappreciated wonders. Each flower holds its own unique beauty. Each sunrise is its own play of light and color. Sometimes we need to slow down and simply take the time to look.

For some, this act of slowing down and taking time to look is difficult but needed. We often get caught up in the business of getting things done. There are always lists of chores and errands that follow us wherever we go. Taking that extra second to allow our curiosity to take charge is time where we get to breathe and live in the moment.

For me, to discover means to allow myself to try new things. Sometimes it’s a book or movie I’ve been curious about but not something I’d normally chose. Sometimes its taking my kids to a new park we’ve found while driving somewhere else. Sometimes its experimenting with a new recipe in the kitchen. Each of these acts brings the potential of experiencing something new; a new idea, a new view, or a new taste. Each exposure to something new helps us redefine ourselves and what we enjoy.

This act of being very conscious about the act of discovery also means giving myself permission and time to follow random thoughts and bursts of creativity and see where they lead. The more I’ve allowed the act of discovery to guide my work, the more creative impulses come my way. This not only has influenced several of my writing projects, it’s created opportunities and opened doors.

It is my belief that we are all creatures of curiosity. By allowing ourselves time and permission to be childlike in our pursuit of discovery we can find a deeper appreciation for the world we live in, and in turn find happiness.

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