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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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?


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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