A couple of weeks ago, I had a scare…  (Thankfully it wasn’t the kind of scare I had in my younger days… you know, one that involved the calendar.)  This scare involved something like the blue screen of death. I was working at home and was in the middle of searching for a graphic for my job when I clicked on a site and my entire computer locked up and turned blue.  I was petrified that I’d suddenly gotten one of those viruses that force you to restart, and when you do, it eats your hard drive, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I do back up my computer regularly.  About three times a year, I burn the entire hard drive to roughly twenty DVDs.  And at least once a week, usually more often, I put only the latest versions of the important stuff (documents, recipes, and most importantly, my manuscripts!) to cloud storage.  But the thing that takes up so much space… the thing that’s too large to put on (free) cloud storage, is my massive collection of photos.

A few years ago, my son Jeremy asked how he could get access to “every photo that was ever taken of him.”  Challenge accepted!  He soon forgot all about his request, but I did not.  I made it my mission to scan in every photo every taken of him.  I started by making year folders for every year since I was pregnant with him…

Then within each year’s folder, I made a folder for each month…

But I didn’t limit my scans to only include photos, I also added school work, report cards, etc…

(By the way, I’m not insane with the desire to be über-organized… It took me nearly a year to complete Jeremy’s project!)  When I was done with Jeremy’s photos, I copied his folders to my daughter, Stefani’s file, and deleted any photos that she was not in, then I added her photos.  (Because I had a lot of hers scanned in where she was in the photo with her brother, hers only took me about five months.)  That seemed like the best way to organize my children’s memories, and even though some months have empty folders, it’s kind of neat how sometimes they get filled this many years later.  For example, my daughter’s former stepmom recently put an old picture of both my kids on her Facebook wall.  I’d never seen the photo before, and it was so cool to add that to my “collection.”  (Of course I copied it twice, once for each kid.)  And recently, I was at my birth mom’s house and we found an envelope of pictures my Grandma took of my kids when they were little that she’d never shown me.  It feels almost like finding buried treasure when this happens.

Of course, after I started my children’s projects, I wanted to scan in my grandparents’ photos.  However, unlike my kids, I had no desire to attempt to organize each of them by month and year…  (Grandma was never one to write dates on the back, so that would have been impossible.)

So for each of them, I made folders such as Grandma Alone, Grandma & Her Siblings, Grandma & Her Children, Grandma & Her Grandchildren, Grandma & Her Great-Grandchildren, Grandma & Friends/Other Family, Grandma & Granddaddy’s Wartime Correspondence (yes, I scanned in their letters to each other. Okay, actually, I photographed them on a black blanket because that was faster than scanning them.), and Grandma’s Cool Stuff…

“Cool Stuff” includes just about anything that isn’t a photo, and it’s also stuff that my birth mom, uncle, cousins, or my own children might want copies of.  For example, I photographed Granddaddy’s track letterman’s letters and his trophies and ribbons.  For Grandma, I added her high school diploma and a short story that I recently found which she apparently wrote shortly after she was married in the 1940s.  (How cool that she, too, fancied herself a writer… a well-kept secret that neither of her children or I ever knew!)

So these days, unless I get the rare treat of one of my kids allowing me to do a photo shoot of them, I mainly add to the “collection” when I find a new photo (generally a selfie they post on their Facebook, which, with me being a professional photographer, makes me cringe!)..  And that’s the main reason I panicked when I clicked on that bad website and thought I got a fatal hard drive virus.

Thankfully, after I rebooted, I ran a virus and malware scan, and haven’t had any problems since.

Time to talk:  Do you keep your photos well organized?  Do you scan your old photos that were not digital?  Do you regularly back up the photos on your phone and camera?  When was the last time you had a computer virus?

The Monthly Report

It’s hard to believe that yet another month has passed slipped away from me and I’ve barely scratched the surface of my 2015 Goals List!  The funny thing was when I made that list, I had no idea what the future was going to bring.

For example, I still have yet to even begin my running program because I’m STILL coughing so much that I’m constantly sore all over.  In fact, I’ve been coughing so frequently that I choke and barf at least once a day.  But the vomiting isn’t nearly as bad as the chronic cough.  However, I believe I’ve narrowed my problem down to being yet another food allergy, so this month I’ll be doing a modified fast for a period of time and then reintroducing whole foods in their purest form, one at a time, to locate the culprit(s).   (I would appreciate your prayers and good vibes on this one, friends.)  If all goes well, I’ll be hitting the pavement running before we know it.

As for my writing and editing goals, those have also tanked.  Actually, I’ve been slowly very slowly making my way through the editing process.  I sent a couple of manuscripts that were almost there to a couple of different friends (Thanks, Craig and Marissa!) and received some very helpful feedback which has also helped me in editing my other work.  I do feel confident that I’m moving forward, though at a much slower pace than I’d originally intended.  And I hope to soon finish my first draft of my current WIP.

For some exciting news, do you remember recently when I told you how the Grim Reaper singled me out when I was out with a film crew for a television commercial I was producing for an attorney friend?  Well, the Florida Bar approved that commercial, and it should be on the air soon.  I have thirteen more lined up to follow.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been working with said attorney in designing his new office’s logo, letterhead, business cards, website, billboards, etc., and I’ve actually started working in his office as a case manager, bookkeeper, and Director of Marketing.  I never thought I’d work in law again, but I have to say that even though it cuts into my personal and writing time (a LOT!), it’s rather enjoyable to be back in the saddle.

I can also say that this year, I learned a little more about forgiveness.  I got the call in early January that my birth mom only has a limited time left.  I hadn’t spoken to her in over a year prior to that because our relationship was toxic.  She’s never been one to make me feel good when I was around her, and I constantly had anxiety when I’d even see her number on my caller ID.  But when she called this time, I called her back.  I prayed about it and decided that I needed to give her another chance to make things right.  I’ve been helping her out with things she can’t do for herself and spending the most time I ever have in my life with her.  And I have to admit, she hasn’t been as domineering as she has in the past.  Of course, I did lay the groundwork by letting her know that I have no problem disengaging if it becomes necessary, and that I will not allow guilt to make me stay if she starts making me feel bad again.

So besides this stupid, chronic cough, you can see that there were other unexpected things that have crept up and kept me from my ultimate goals for the year.  That said, I refuse to be deterred.  Just because I haven’t gotten a good start on things yet does not mean I won’t get to them before the year’s over.  I’m hopefully optimistic that this elimination diet will identify the food culprit and that I’ll quickly feel much better.

Time to talk:  So far, has your year gone according to your plans?  Have you ever had anything unexpected keep you from your goals?  If so, how did you handle it?  Have you ever been in a toxic relationship?


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?