Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Goals and Dreams

For the past two years, I've used this planner which was a lot of fun but doesn't change from year to year. So I've decided to do the best part of it right here. Bonus points. It creates no paper waste.
2019 My Shining Year Life Goals WorkbookThe goal is to write down 100 goals for the year ahead. Some of them are realistic and will easily be crossed out. Some of them aren't realistic, but I believe words are powerful.
As a writer, words always seemed magical, but my brain is a large part logical and I think I always tried to talk myself out of this.
The first year I used this planner I wrote that I would like to buy a piece of investment property. I didn't really think we would. Or I thought we might, but it was going to take seriously increasing my income which mean someone would either have to pay me for my writing--FINALLY--or I needed a much better job. 
Neither of those things happened, but we received a small amount of money (larger than a couple of hundred but not a enough to even make a dent in my student loan). And my husband stumbled across a piece of rural land priced very low. 
This piece of land didn't work out and wasn't ideal. But it did make us realize that there had to be similar pieces of land. On Halloween day 2017, we signed the title for our (hopefully) first piece of investment property.
So, 2018 came around and I wrote taking my daughter to Disney as a goal. I didn't expect it to happen. I'm trying to Dave Ramsay my budget like hell right now, and have been for a while. But I thought why not? You never know. For basically the first time ever we got a nice tax refund and went to Disney World. It's my favorite family trip ever.
With that being said, some of these will easily be crossed off. Some of these won't and some will be gifts from God and the universe.

  1. Lose 25 lbs.
  2. Lose 50 lbs.
  3. Develop a healthy mindset
  4. Lose 75 lbs.
  5. Lose 100 lbs.
  6. Have no sagging skisI know dream big, right? 
  7. Learn yoga
  8. Find friends to dance with
  9. minimize sugar
  10. eliminate coke-cola
  11. wash my face 2x/day. Okay, so it's a little embarrassing to admit this on a blog, but my self care is like non-existent
  12. Take a word formatting class
  13. finish another book (can be novella)
  14. sell a book
  15. Make $500 writing
  16. Find a career I love that contributes to society
  17. Create a passive income stream
  18. pay off van
  19. pay off husband's truck
  20. Go back to Disney
  21. Go to Dublin
  22. Go to Edinburg
  23. Go to Cancun
  24. Go to London
  25. Go to Rome
  26. Go to Madrid
  27. See the Rockettes on New Year's Eve
  28. Volunteer at least once a month
  29. Find a local activist group
  30. Build my community
  31. organize the master bath
  32. organize my closet
  33. organize my bedroom
  34. organize office
  35. Organize kitchen
  36. organize elf's room
  37. organize garage
  38. Lose no loved ones--I realize I have no control over this, but words have power so...
  39. Go to Hawaii
  40. Read affirmations daily
  41. End 2019 with a thriving family
  42. Pay off student loans
  43. Pay off house
  44. Donate $1000
  45. take ballroom dance lessons
  46. take a trip just me and the ELF--good luck talking Emil into this one. LOL
  47. Take the Emils to AR
  48. Pay cash for a couch
  49. Pay off phone
  50. Top Secret
  51. Top Secret .2
  52.  Outline a self help book or workbook
  53. Write a financial planning book aimed at youngish women
  54. start an initiative to minimize traffic accidents in the US
  55. Give a TED talk
  56. Finish reading The Extreme Art of Self Care
  57. Read Get Rich Lucky Bitch
  58. Find another book by Denise Thomas
  59. Use eating zones
  60. Take a mindful eating course
  61. Get a door for the master bathroom
  62. Go to Australia
  63. Become a USAT bestseller
  64. Become a NYT bestseller
  65. Keep ELF in an IB school
  66. Read a parenting book on discipline
  67. spend more time with my Emils
  68. I honestly can't believe there are 31 things left to do in the world.
  69. Make $4000 w/ gigs this year
  70. Read Traffic
  71. Take an HTML class
  72. Sign up to sub 
  73. form a morning yoga/meditation habit
  74. take a technical writing class
  75. apply to stitch fix
  76. Check my blog analytics
  77. Check my blog settings
  78. read an add organization book
  79. investigate the benefits of creating an online guide
  80. Research inbox $$
  81. Research Swag bucks
  82. Create a dream board
  83. Quit venting!
  84. Use a moisturizer
  85. Give myself a bedtime
  86. Go to a belly dance class
  87. Remember to use the "suckies" list
  88. Have lunch with a friend I don't often see once a month.
  89. start a journaling project with the ELF
  90. Take an Irish dance class
  91. Let go of worry
  92. Finish craft a life you love
  93. Be content with what I have.
  94. Make a weekly goal list 
  95. Reward myself for accomplishing goals
  96. Get Kavitha, Katie, and Ruth together for a girl's night
  97. Send ELF to dance camp
  98. Send ELF to art camp
  99. Query or package "All I Want For Christmas"
  100. revise and query women's world shorts from 2017.

Wrecking the Roads

It was 1990 something. 90? 91? 92? I can't remember, so we'll call it 91 since it's in the middle.
One warm and sunny February day--dude, it's TX. What did you expect?--my life changed.
My mom came and picked me up from day care early. When the teacher called my name I jumped up excited. I hated day care. I loved my mom, and I rarely went home early.
But mom stood in the hallway crying. I don't mean just a few tears running down her face either, although even that would have been disturbing. Mom was standing in the hallway all out sobbing. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong. She kept saying she would tell me and Josh together.
But the day care center couldn't find my brother, so mom's crying and refusing to tell me what was wrong went on for a while. But probably not as long as it seemed in my head.
After the little kid class had been located, Josh popped up saw Mom crying and asked "What's wrong?"
She said she'd tell us later.
She put us in the car and drove to McDonald's. We had no clue what was going on but weren't turning down happy meals. She bought two extras.
And then she told us. Her 24 year old little brother was in ICU in a coma and would likely die. The Tracks van he drove had flipped a few times and he'd been found in the curb behind my house. My uncle was driving poor and old people to doctor's appointments when he died.
Saying my life changed this day might seem overdramatic. It was my uncle, not my dad. But I'm not wrong, although that story is a different post.
Because this post is to say 2 years later, a friend of my parent's died in a car wreck. The whole car load died.
And 5 or 6 years after that, two my cousins--both high school aged--died in an automobile accident that left the other driver paralyzed.
The years proceeded, and I watched friends lost parents and siblings in car wrecks.
Time went on.
2018 struck with a vengeance. My mom's SUV was T-boned. My grandmother and nephew were in the car with her. My grandma broke 5 ribs and fractured her back in two places. My 7 year old nephew came out of it with a broken arm and a broken hip. Mom didn't come out of it. At all.
I didn't get in a car for a week. I'd known too many people who had died in car wrecks.
Three days before Christmas another family member died in a car wreck.
"You're being ridiculous..."
"It just seems like it right now..."
"Jeni, you're overreacting..."
But I'm not wrong. More than 40,000 people died in car wrecks in 2017. Accidental injury--thanks largely to car wrecks--is back up to the 3rd cause of death in the US.
I want to do something to fix this. Change it. It's too late for my family. But it's not too late for someone else's.
So, I'm crowd sourcing ideas. What's the best way to prevent these tragedies? Lower speed limits? More stringent traffic laws? Demanding our municipalities enforce current laws? Where is the best place to focus time and resources to save lives? 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fiction in 2019

Dear Jeni,
You must bBe gentle with yourself.
I must Remember this is a work of art and love to feed your soul and make your mark.
This is not a job. Marketplace vitality doesn't matter.
No one else's opinion matters.

In 2019, I would like to finish The Capital Hill series and query Silver Lining.
And if you can't, there will be another year.
The ELF will still eat dance  thrive.
Your husband will still fight with you.
Your house will be clean some days and not as clean others.
You will survive, because you've survived so much more.
What matters is that you keep the joy. You don't stress out yourself or your family with a lack of success a perverted culture's definition of success.
All you need to be, all the ELF needs you to be, is happy.

Peace, hope, and love.
The Real ~J~

From Jen to Zen

Some of you know me as a quirky, compelling, and sometimes controversial fiction writer Beth Fred. Or you may know me as the over-stressed dance mom, Jeni, who barely makes it through the day.
If you know me from the writing world, you're probably wondering why you're reading this since I announced a year ago I wasn't writing any longer. I committed to a year, but no one really expected me to pick it up again, least of all me.
And yet here I am.
That commitment to a sabbatical turned out to be a safety boat that I couldn't have planned for but have to be thankful for. God and the universe cleared my plate for the chaos that would become my 2018. I'm not saying it's over yet, or that I feel better...
But I'm still standing.
I survived.
And now I'm back.
And the nature of this blog has changed. It started as a book blog in 2010. I reviewed 52 books, found a genre I loved, converted my book blog to a writer's blog, went back to a book blog, scored an agent, published a book with an imprint of the big red H, found myself back in the slush pile and started over. LOL.
If you've been with me since the good ole days, thank you. And you might find 2019 boring. My project for this year is self-improvement. I can't commit to writing fiction this year, because I'm still working on keeping my crap together, but journaling has always been how I survived a storm from a very young age. Online journals don't pollute the world by ending up in a landfill, and the occassional support is much appreciated.
I'm here to find peace this year.
Romance World becomes from Jen--the previously mentioned angsty, over-stressed dance mom--to zen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dear Mom #5


Since I didn't get out of bed a few days last week, my wellness coach wants me to journal ten minutes a day. I think she's hoping this will 1) inspire me to stay awake (it's not working I'm exhausted and my head is killing me.) and 2) make me quit eating non-stop. Yeah, so far that hasn't happened either.
Food is the only thing good in the world. What's her problem anyway?
We decided journaling would help me on Friday. This is Wednesday and it's the first time I'm doing it. #Whatever.
I wish I could talk to you about my real problems, but I can't. Because this is the internet and people would see it and that would only cause more problems.
I applied for a job planning birthday parties for foster kids. I'm going to get it, because it's perfect for me. It's 9:30-2:30 with two days of working from home. I will still drop ELF off at school everyday and pick her up on Mondays and Fridays. Tues-Thurs she will ride home with a friend. The friend's mom will transport both kids to her daughter's Tai-Kwan-Do class, and I will pick ELF up from Tai-Kwan-Do and take her to dance. *Shrugs* It works. I'm not paying for child care, she's never in day care, and both girls are excited about it.
I love planning parties and buying gifts, and this seems like a fun way to spend the day and be off after school is out. I need this right now.
I wish you were here and I could talk to you.
Everyone keeps telling me you're in a better place, but I'm not even sure I believe in heaven anymore. Or maybe I do, I still pray. Who knows?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Dear Mom # 4

Hi Mom,

It's been a long day. I blame you for at least part of this. Everyone is upset because you're not here, and grandma basically refused to leave her house today.
I slept half the day and ate the half the day.
I had a long talk with Step Psycho this morning. He's not that psycho. The moniker doesn't really fit anymore.
Turns out SG is just a trouble making internet troll and I think everyone is going to be okay. I think.
Step psycho feels it's time for him to move on. It's really soon, but he also doesn't really want to move on. He just doesn't want to be sad anymore.
But if we're being honest, that's why SG evoked such strong emotions from everyone. Half of us were ready to move on, and the other half were still waiting for you to come back. Stripper Girl was a clear indication that isn't happening.
I'm not ready to move on.
Every day this week has been hell in a way I didn't anticipate since I haven't gone home for Thanksgiving in so long.
But he's right.
I started looking for travel packages to Ireland. I'm taking your hair. I'm torn between burying it somewhere in Dublin and finding a drunk college boy at a bar to wear it, so you can have a guy young enough to be your son too. I'll figure it out, and Sheila may come. I'm not sure because my family will come and I know you and Sheila usually traveled alone. I kind of wish I could go alone with her, and maybe Tasha but I can't see Emil letting me leave the country without him.
When I started this letter, I expected to apologize for not coming home for Thanksgiving. I'm not sorry. My life is here, and so are my commitments. Coming for a weekend between Christmas and Thanksgiving was the best option.
I am sorry I didn't manage things and my own emotions well enough for the whole family to be together on those weekends though. And I'm sorry you're not here.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dear Mom #1

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry for anything I've ever said about you on this blog before today. Not because they weren't true. I don't lie. But because I didn't know how hard it was to be a parent when I started blogging. Because when I held the ELF, I didn't know it only gets harder. And mostly because I lashed out in anger. Some things I had a right to be mad about. Some things I probably didn't, but either way acting out of anger cost us ten years.
I was so happy when you came for ELF's dance recital. I had so much fun with you. I thought things were going to be better...
You were gone the next day.
People tell me things were better, because we had that time. But it feels worse.
I want to shake you for driving across four lanes of traffic instead of spending two minutes at a red light. I want t tell you it's ridiculous to go to Longview to go to a jewelry store and the Olive Garden when Garland is the same distance with like paved roads and less trees. But you've probably figured this out.
But you left us. You left us all. I probably deserve it, but Tracy? ELF thought you were Payton's mom until you died and she found out Payton actually has a mom.
I probably should have written you more when you were alive. LOL. But somehow you managed to bring out the annoyed, rebellious teenager in me well past the teen years.
This is probably the first of many letters, because writing is still the only thing that makes me feel better, and I think I buried my patience for fiction with you.

Hurt and angry,
PS--You've caused me to overuse words. #ThanksMom