Well, tomorrow, like it or not, a new year is upon us.  This is the day we make all those resolutions that we’ll try hard to keep for about a week before we settle back in to “comfortable.”  I think part of the reason New Year’s resolutions generally fail is because we make so many and we start them all at once, and in doing so, we send our body into shock!  Seriously.

I once read somewhere that the human body can focus on one change at a time well, and anything more than that disturbs something in our brain that causes us to go into “fight or flight syndrome” and makes the task impossible.  Also, I’ve read in several places that it takes twenty-one days to make or break a habit.  So when someone resolves to lose weight, eat more vegetables, exercise daily, stop smoking, stop drinking, go to bed earlier, cut down on television, wake up earlier, read a book every week, blog daily, eliminate their debt, volunteer each Saturday, and go to church every Sunday, and they start all of those on January first, they will likely be done by or before January seventh.

We spend at least the latter half of December mentally preparing for the huge changes we wish to implement on January first, and we get geared up to follow through with each and every one of them.  Then, when we fail at sticking to our resolutions, we feel like we’ve failed our bodies, our minds, and even at life!  We crash hard and may even become more engaged in the bad habits than before we resolved to give them up.

Experts recommend prioritizing your resolution list and tackling only one of those items each month.  That gives you twenty-one days to make or break the new habit, then an extra week to live with the new change in place before shocking your body or brain by adding another one.

However, what I have decided this year is that I want to do something entirely different.  Instead of setting myself up to fail at resolutions of how to entirely overhaul my body, my mind, my income, and my work day, I’m just going to be making small, short-term goals.  For example, I want to lose five pounds before the end of January.  That way, if I have a horrible day and don’t succeed at whatever diet, it won’t mean I am a failure.  It’ll still give me the entire rest of the month to work a wee bit harder and meet my goal.  Then on February first, I’ll set another goal for the next five pounds.

Instead of saying I want to write more in 2015, or I’ll write daily no matter what, I’m going to set a goal to write 45,000 words in January.  If I meet that goal, that would roughly average half the length that my books usually are, meaning I will have completed a 90,000 word manuscript every two months.  That’s less than 1,500 words a day if I write daily, which is less than one chapter.  If I can write more than that, I’ll feel way ahead of the game each month.  I don’t even know if it’s realistic to start working on a new first draft right away while simultaneously editing the old, or if I might prefer to edit the old works completely then start something new.

Instead of saying I want to participate in the Halloween half-marathon in October, I’m going to set my goal to participate in the Zombie Run 5K in October.  That means I only have to start at zero then add a third of a mile to my distance each month until then, and that will be my monthly goal.  If I add more, I’ll feel way ahead of the game, and maybe I just will get to run a half-marathon.

Other than those goals, I want to travel more and make more money.  But I feel that those will happen as they’re meant to, and I’m not going to set any particular goals for them.

So all in all, I want to write a lot, run a lot, get in better shape and be healthier, and work on getting my books published.  And now that I’ve shared this with you, whether you signed up for it or not, you’re all my accountability partners.  Hopefully I don’t embarrass myself by making this public proclamation and not following through.

Time to talk:  What are your goals or resolutions for 2015?  What was the biggest or most difficult resolution you ever made and stuck with?  Do you have any special plans to celebrate tonight?

2014 in review

Thank you, friends, for your kindness and support!  I wish you all a wonderful and blessed 2015! ❤ ~Rachel


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy Birthday, Two Monkees!

Happy Birthday, Davy Jones!

I have seen, photographed, and partied with three of the four members of The Monkees.  And of all of them, I spent the most time with Davy Jones.  He was born December 30, 1945 in Manchester, England.  Sadly, he passed away on February 29, 2012 in Stuart, Florida.

Besides being an accomplished actor and musician, Mr. Jones was an avid horse racer as well as an author.  In 1987, he wrote his biography, The Made a Monkee out of Me.  And in 2000, an update to his biography, Davy Jones: Daydream Believin’ was released.  (By the way, one of my sister’s photos is featured in the second book!)

When his second book was released, he did a small book signing tour.  My sister, my children, and I went to see him at a mall in Connecticut.  We got there early, and the guards kept telling everyone in line that they could take photos while Davy was signing their book, but that they had to keep the line moving and no one would be allowed to ask Mr. Jones to pose or stop to take photos with him.

So when Michelle, Stefani, Jeremy, and I got to the front of the line, Davy jumped out of his seat and ran to hug us!  He took my camera off my arm and thrust it at my daughter then said, “Rachel, Michelle, come get a photo with me.  We never get any photos together.”  He looked at Stefani and said, “You know how to work your mom’s camera, right?”

Meanwhile, a security guard came over and scowled at us.  “I told you there would be no photos with Mr. Jones!  I’m so sorry, Mr. Jones, I tried to tell them.  Girls, you need to get out of line!  Your turn is over!”

He took Michelle and me by the arms, then Davy bowed up his chest and said, “No, I told them to!  These are friends of mine.”  He turned back to Stefani and said, “Go ahead, Honey, take the photo.  Then I’ll get one with you and your brother.  Why don’t you have your mom bring you out to the house so you can ride my horses later.”

Michelle, Davy & Me

After we were done, my kids hugged him and said, “Thanks, Uncle Davy!”  And we all just smirked at the stupid guard who tried to eject us.

Stefani, Davy & Jeremy

Happy Birthday, Davy!  May you rest in peace!


Happy Birthday, Michael Nesmith!

Mike Nesmith is the Monkee that I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing in person.  He was born on December 30, 1942, in Houston, Texas. There is all kinds of interesting trivia about Mr. Nesmith’s life, such as how his mother invented Liquid Paper.  He created a television program called PopClips which was sold to TimeWarner and then developed into MTV.  He’s been involved in numerous musical collaborations, he’s written songs for several other artists, he’s produced films, and he developed one of the pioneer home video markets.

He’s also had some really weird stuff happen to him over the course of his life.  In 1967, after he had his tonsils removed, they were stolen by a nurse who was a fan!  And in the 1980s, a man who looked very much like him went to Australia and did several interviews posing as him!  The imposter’s scam was actually not discovered until much later, and he was sent to jail in 2009.

But besides being an accomplished businessman and a former Monkee, Mr. Nesmith is also an author.  He penned The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora in 1998.  And in 2009, he wrote The America Gene.  If you ever saw The Monkees’ movie Head, that had the same kind of “psychedelic” feel as his writing style.  As his Facebook friend, I can tell you that he often writes long, fictional, essay-style posts that are so captivating.  He definitely has a gift for writing.

Happy Birthday, Papa Nez!

Time to talk:  Did you ever watch The Monkees on TV?  Did you ever listen to their albums?  Did you ever see them in concert?  Which Monkee was your favorite?


They say, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but it also seems to slip right away from me when I’m busy with things I’d rather not be doing.  I can’t believe 2014 is almost over!  It feels like I blinked toward the beginning of February, and now, here we are at the end of December.  I’ve been feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t get as much done this year as I did in 2013.

Last year was much more productive for me.  In the summer of 2013, I started a running program.  I hadn’t run for years prior to that because my shin splints were so painful, and every form of relief I had tried for them failed miserably.  But in 2013, I found a new exercise for shin splints that literally cured them almost immediately.

By autumn 2013, I ran in a 5K — my first time running that far since I was in middle school!  I also lost 35 pounds during those few months.

Also in the summer of 2013, I dreamed my story, The Prison, and decided to pursue book writing.  I wrote the first draft of that as well as five other manuscripts before the end of the year.

Later in 2013, my neighborhood association was giving me problems regarding my photography studio being located in my home, and it looked as if I was going to have to move.  So I took a break from running and writing, and I packed to move.  The only problem was that I couldn’t find a suitable place to move.  So I repainted my house and decided to stay and just deal with the neighborhood association.  Then I had to unpack everything and settle back in.

In 2014, I started babysitting for a friend of mine, and that took up a lot of my time.  I also started working with an attorney friend on several projects, including editing and even writing portions of a book he is authoring.  Additionally, I’ve had a lot more photography jobs than I did the previous year, and those have taken my time as well.  (Apparently weddings were on the decline in 2013 due to the number 13 being unlucky.  Numerous wedding vendors complained about the decrease in sales until someone actually took a poll and discovered this was why.  I never realized that many people suffered from triskaidekaphobia.  Weird, huh?)  Plus blogging every weekday ended up taking more time than I ever thought it would, too, though now I would miss it if I didn’t do it.

Needless, to say, my writing and my running have taken a backseat this year to other projects.  I’m sad to say I haven’t run at all this year.  I only wrote one and three-fourths new manuscript first drafts.  That was really disappointing.

But I did learn a lot more about the current rules of writing, so when I worked on editing my previous manuscripts, I feel that they were polished quite a bit.  I also realized this year that I really missed not writing.  I feel that this just cements that book writing was a good fit for me, and I’m glad that I tried it when I did.  I sold some short stories this year which made me happy.  And I obviously wrote even more short stories than I sold.  Those were fun as well.

Additionally, I started my author blog here, my author Facebook page, and my author Twitter this year.  And in doing so, I “met” many of you who I look forward to interacting with regularly.

So I guess John Lennon was right when he said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  But next year, I hope to have a better handle on my time, and I definitely intend to make writing and running more of a priority.

Talk to me:  How did your 2014 compare to 2013 or other previous years?  Did you accomplish everything you hoped to this year?  Did your year fly by or drag on?

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I present to you a piece of art I made in kindergarten.  I have absolutely NO IDEA what those two tall, purple presents are on each side.  (Golf clubs, perhaps?)  Have a Merry Christmas, friends!

You want to talk?  Tell me, what are you doing today?  Are you with family or friends?  Is there anything special on the menu?

The Tables Have Turned

This (below) is my first Christmas.  Actually, it’s technically my second.  Because I was born three days before Christmas, my first Christmas was spent coming home from the hospital.  The hospital wrapped me in a giant red and white Christmas stocking that day.

Sadly, no one cared to take a photo of my homecoming or my stocking bunting.  I used to love to look at that stocking when I was a kid.  It was at the foot of Grandma’s bed in her cedar chest.  I always wished I could hang that by the chimney and that Santa would fill it with wonderful surprises.  And I was always disappointed when Grandma wouldn’t let me, and I had to hang a normal sized stocking instead.

Each year, I eagerly looked forward to sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what I wanted.  I vividly remember just how exciting it was when Grandma and I went to the department store and we saw the red and white arrows leading to Santa’s chair.  (I always thought it looked more like a throne.)

Back then, they didn’t offer photos with Santa, so this is the only picture I have with me and the big guy.  (Considering my Grandma’s mentality of “don’t waste the film,” I’m actually surprised I even have this one.  Isn’t it funny that after her raising me with that mindset, I grew up to be a professional photographer?)

Now that Grandma’s ninety-five years old and lives in a nursing home, she can’t take me to sit on Santa’s lap anymore.  And now, instead of me sitting on Santa’s lap, I take photos of other children with the big guy.  Only I don’t just sit the child on his lap.  I like to do artistic photos with Santa, including having him read a story to the children and have cookies and milk with them.

My son, when he’s available, is actually who plays Santa for my studio now.  And on Christmas Day, when my kids and I go visit Grandma at the nursing home, Jeremy (begrudgingly) dresses as Santa to see his great-grandma.  And I just smile because I went from getting eagerly excited to go visit Santa to being happy that I gave birth to him.  And instead of Grandma taking me to see the big guy, I now take the big guy to her.

The tables certainly have turned!

My daughter, Stefani, my son, Jeremy (as Santa), and my Grandma Toby.

Talk to me:  Did you used to look forward to sitting on Santa’s lap?  Would you have allowed your child to hang the giant stocking on the fireplace?  Would you have taken a photo of your new baby in the giant stocking?