On Being Unavailable

TODAY’S BREW: As much as I can before the cream runs out

By Julie 

My last blog was about resolutions and crap, and this one is also like that but different.

The last blog proclaimed how my focus is all over the place at the beginning of the year. Possibilities everywhere, chasing down opportunities like the rabid dogs they are and wrestling them to the ground until you too are rabid and like an apocalypse zombie all you can think of is this thing you’ve forced yourself to do and now you’re in it so deep there’s no way out but there’s all this other stuff to do too and wait where did life go?

I’ve spent the last 18 days thinking a LOT about this approach I seem to take every year, and I realized it’s not an approach–it’s a FEAR.

Yup. Doing stuff out of fear.

Fear of being judged for not doing enough.

Fear of MISSING SOMETHING like a kid who won’t go to bed before midnight.

Fear of regrets.

That’s not an approach at all. That’s a defense mechanism. An approach is a plan. It’s a defining of priorities. And that means narrowing down all the things one does. That I do.

This is widely interpreted as “saying no.” I can’t be the only one who hears all the time that it’s okay to say no, to not do EVERYTHING. But it’s one of my core values, one of our very few house rules TO HELP PEOPLE THAT NEED HELP. I can help in a lot of ways. I can do a lot of good! I can make a big difference doing small things all day long! It’s easy to take helping too far, clearly. So I coined a new phrase, because saying NO has such a negative connotation in my head, and I’ve worked my tail off eliminating as much negativity in my life as possible. My new plan?

MAKE MYSELF UNAVAILABLE 

man with fireworks

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

YEAH!

I need, for my mental health and self care and for me to REALLY help when help is needed, to not make myself constantly available. By trying everything, doing as much as I can, working hard at working hard, I’ve not prioritized myself. How do I know this? Not just FEEL this, but KNOW it? Two things:

  1. “Self care” is NOT running from an overwhelming sense of purpose down the craft store aisles. Self care should not be running from anything. That’s the opposite of care, that is escaping. I don’t want to escape the things I commit to doing, whether that be a play date, writing a book, whatever it is that’s got me needing QUIET at the time that I find myself driving to Michael’s. (Where lo and behold I THEN find myself buying stuff that contributes to all the THINGS that I do.)
  2. I–me, who loves and does so many things, that has such INTEREST in the world–could not REALLY claim that I enjoyed a hobby.

That second one was where it hit me.

My definition of a hobby (n): guiltless enjoyment of thing for oneself only. an ongoing love one is invested in for themselves and themselves alone.

I love to read, naturally. Not a hobby. Essential to my life and to my profession.

I love going to Target. Not a hobby. A necessity for STUFF, but also a coping mechanism, i.e. an escape (see above about the craft store).

I love watching movies. Not a hobby. Rarely see one just because I want to see it regardless of whether or not anyone else does. Also necessary for my professional inspiration and one of my favorite family activities–movie night. Which I prepare for…for the family.

Here’s a kick in the pants: I love being with my family. Nine out of ten times, my choice is to hang with my husband and kids.

FAMILY IS NOT A HOBBY.

So in realizing all this stuff, the other day I didn’t fill my two hour window of no obligations with writing, cleaning, editing, doing all the things I can be doing. I bought a movie I’d wanted to see–mother! which turned out to be wildly in-depth and brain-stimulating. I watched it alone without fear of being interrupted and with no judgment. No obligation to do nothing during the duller parts either. When it was slow I researched reptile stuff. Now THAT’S a hobby! I told myself. I love love love reptiles, adore my pets, love making their lives better and keeping them happy. They aren’t necessary in my life, obviously, but I would be miserable without them. And they aren’t for anyone else but me. Researching stuff on them and not guilting myself about needing to do something else felt really good. Fulfilling. Not the same as falling into a Wiki hole. It was good for me.

I’d misunderstood leading a fulfilling and full life with making myself a priority. Or maybe I’ve reached a new phase of living. Because I coined another phrase that I’m especially psyched out of my mind about:

MENTAL HEALTH IS NO LONGER ABOUT STAYING ALIVE.

IT’S ABOUT BREATHING LIFE.

albert_einstein_quotes2

I think I’m in the phase of not just trying to keep myself stable and healthy but wanting to grow that health and enrich and indulge. Hell, try something new if I feel like it–hopefully I’ll feel alive enough to want to try new things, learn something new.

Now I talk a little about priorities.

I have this planner pad that has a section for “today’s priorities.” Now I take offense to it.

A priority isn’t something that changes by the day. It’s a constant value, something important all the time, that drives the To Do and the Why. Important stuff to do every day can change, that’s a thing that has to be altered all the time. But the priority, the driving force? No.

The other night my 11 year old had a three hour long panic attack. A real live panic attack. Everything else in the world stopped, and I spent yesterday contacting everyone in the mental health profession I could find to ensure I got him an appointment to see about medication. (Discussed in-depth with his therapist, of course.) All the other things that I HAD to do got put down without question. Because those other things might be important, but Bennett is the priority.

The priority gets top billing. The priority gets as much time as it requires. The priority is the driving force and sometimes it needs be in the passenger seat and let someone else drive.

Things to do are not as important as the priority. Nothing else matters without that priority.

It wasn’t just about changing a schedule, it was eliminating things that will prevent me from giving all the attention to his needs AND give me sufficient time and energy to take care of MYSELF from the agenda. Refusing an editing job takes a lot off my to-do list and gives me more time to allot to the priority. Why spend a lot of time on stuff if it detracts from the priority, the reason? The things I do have to be driven BY that thing. I write because of me, because of my family, because it being a hobby wasn’t enough. I spend all the time with Scholastic that I do because it contributes to my heart and mind and it puts me where the priorities are in a meaningful, outstanding way for them. Those are cohesive priorities–writing and my family and literacy.

The important stuff–editing in this case–is still important, but it’s not crucial right now.

Being unavailable to do things for a person because I want to rest up–not need to, but want to–so that I’m not drained and can take care of my family… helping is important, but it’s not the priority. It’s a value but it’s not the number one thing. Bennett is. If staying home for the four hours I’d spend helping out someone else will help me plan for and be on A game for Bennett in his time of need, recovering from and handling his anxiety flare-up, then it’s a four hour rest that was well worth it.

And at the end of the day, I might just have a little energy for myself.

You can’t take care of everyone. But you can take care of the ones that matter really well, with the ability to give extra for everyone else, by prioritizing. Being unavailable for EVERYTHING so you can do SOME THINGS really well and remind yourself what’s important. What’s MOST important.

I guess that’s what it means when they say you can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not taking care of yourself, right?

So now. Go take care of yourself. Keep one tab open at a time. Shut off your notifications when you’re driving and at bedtime. Those EMERGENCIES we all lay in wait for in the middle of the night or on the drive home are rare. Give yourself the peace of mind to be unavailable to come to everyone’s aid all the time. Be a priority and you’ll feel like one.

 

 

How To Summer by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: still hot coffee despite the heat that even my lizards hate.

By Julie 

The school year is overrrrrr! I do a lot with the school, so this is like quitting a part time job, not to mention that I’m probably over-involved to the point of smothering with my boys so that’s taxing. For me. AHAHAHAHAHA no seriously though.

But this year ended with Bennett getting a presidential award for his academic achievements in elementary school, one of only a handful of kids, and it’s a big deal. I’m sodden with happy mom tears. And Sammy got a Best Effort award at the last ceremony, his first award in two years, and that’s a huge deal too–because the amount of effort he puts in on a daily basis is staggering, and harder to see. I could go on all day about a child with mood disorders and OCD and their struggles, but that is not what I’m here for today.

What I’m here for today is to say SCHOOL IS OUT FOR THE SUMMER.

This for me means…

person holding clear glass ball with flame

…if you look closely enough you can see me screaming in the blaze deep in the little hamster ball.

Nooo, not just heat beyond my wildest imagination, but TIME.

Generally I’m so CAMP MOM-like that writing falls to the side. Coincidentally, during the school year when I’m very involved there, writing falls to the side. Because I am a mom first. A very dedicated mom. But this summer is different. Sam is 8–old enough and stable enough to leave with his 11 year old brother for an hour or two even. They occupy themselves a lot. They understand completely that I have something to do and SUPPORT me in that. They’re proud of my writing, of what I do. So it’s going to be a productive and yet also relaxed summer! ALL MY YEARS OF HARD WORK TO CREATE WORK/LIFE BALANCE MIGHT PAY OFF!

To be able to chill out with the kids after writing, to be able to write after a day out somewhere (we’re huge advocates of a day trip), to be able to say “grab something for a snack, you won’t die, and I’ll make dinner in a half hour” is incredibly freeing.

I most certainly pat myself on the back for these, and the extraordinary amount of other measures I’ve taken, to give my kids and myself some supported freedom.

I’ve also learned that the if only approach is complete bullshit. If only I had help for one more day a week, if only the kids could go outside on their own right now, if only I wasn’t the one in charge of all the household duties, etc… Tough, life doesn’t stop for that stuff, and life isn’t ideal all the time, but I LIKE IT. I’m happy as hell, to be honest. Wishing for more time, more help, more energy, it doesn’t work. Ironically, it saps time and energy until I can’t even ask for said help.

JUST DO IT AND DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES LATER.

It’s like the whole “ask forgiveness, not permission” thing. Except it’s for and from myself. And it’s also ass backwards. I can and will do all the stuff I have to do, I’ll put my head down and actually enjoy it despite its challenges, and I’m okay with not getting to write for a day because there was too much laundry, I wanted to hang out with the kids, I wanted to do something else, anything else!

Accepting all the circumstances of my life and living it is pretty nice.

Striving for better is great. Wishing for better sucks.

Enjoying what I have is awesome. Optimism rules. I’m lucky to be the person that’s always known this.

What I will work on though, is setting boundaries for myself–not goals exactly–boundaries. Saying no sometimes. No to writing, no to cooking (gladly), no to a day trip, no to saying I’m too tired and don’t feel like it. It’s a balance of knowing when I’m slacking and when I’m living and when I’m doing too much.

Will this go super smoothly? Probably not. Will I get a book out in July and another in September? This is the plan.

It is not a plan of WRITE 1000 WORDS A DAY OR SEVER A LIMB, it’s a plan where I take into account that I’m a PERSON, that I don’t fit into a rule-box, even if I’m the one making it, and a plan to put books out my way. They may not make me rich, but they’re exactly as I want them, though not always as fast as I want them. And I’ll do it while loving and living life, though I may not fit into the indie schedule and production life that would make me “successful.” Success is many-layered. I’m okay making the bulk of my income from editing rather than writing. It may not always be that way, but so far? It works. And they’re both part of my same dream WHERE I FALL INTO A BOOK AND IT EATS ME ALIVE.

So folks, give a little. Live a little. Shut up and work a little. Thank yourself sometimes, and kick yourself in the ass sometimes, but not too much of the latter. Be present. Stop. Say no. Do what you want. Be who you are.

And hide in the air conditioning and cry until the heat goes away.

Julie vs. Apartment and Sparking Creativity (and a ghost story)

TODAY’S BREW: smooth as silk Guatemalan good stuff. You can’t have mine but get your own. Ground Roots Coffee Roasting Co.

By Julie 

HI EVERYBODY. You’re like, who the hell is this person, she wrote a book a dozen years ago and now she thinks I have time for her. I’VE BEEN BUSY WITH SO MANY THINGS I COULD DIE, FOLKS. Renovated my kitchen by myself. I’m super goddamn proud of that. Did it from the moving of all the furniture, building the new stuff, retracking drawers, stripping and painting all the walls and cabinets (including having to climb a shelf, step INTO the freezer, and sit on top of the fridge to paint up there), re-hardwaring and hanging all the cabinets, re-doing the entire backsplash…. and I did it in a month. ME. I didn’t do the floor, that was some other guy. My before pics include such things as an actual wall-mounted cream colored Dixie cup holder, wood paneling, and the most unsanitary floor to ever grace an apartment.

This one has my Small Mexican Dog, Penny in it. She has since passed away. I am not ready to discuss.

The work in progress was a thing of nightmares. But my finishing up result was just what I like.

Now that it’s been lived in a while, it’s even better. lived in kitchen

I want to be home all the time.

Until I remember that I’m still working on the bathroom. I’ve provided short videos for your viewing pleasure.

Julie vs. Bathroom 1

Julie vs. Bathroom 2

It’s looking more lived in too! Maybe a little extra lived in today. This is real time, so no judgment. And when school gets out I’m installing a sink and a new floor by my onesies!

What this all tells me–and this isn’t even all the reno I’ve done–is that I needed a creative outlet besides writing. I needed more, and I let myself fall into it completely. It felt great to do this stuff, to pay attention to every little detail and put in stuff that I loved. All of it matters to me, from the spray bottles to the spraypainted insides of $1 store glass bottles. Our apartment is truly ours.

YOU DID THIS ALL IN A RENTAL, JULIE?

I did, and I don’t feel bad about it. This is my home. It’s okay! The joy of the sweating and building and trips to Lowe’s until I had an actual Lowe’s Guy of my own, the stripping of the old to make it mine, it felt so grass roots and really brought out all the resourcefulness I’ve got penned up. I may or may not have obsessed a little. I’ve now moved on to rooms that probably didn’t need reno.

The best part is now that I feel even more at home in my home, my writing bug is back, and so I wrote a weekender short story for you guys! A little ghost story that I thought you might like. You deserve it after being ignored for so long. Have fun, it should take you like, 5 minutes (click title): YOU DON’T GIVE ME FLOWERS

And remember to do something creative today. Make a thing. Do a thing.

 

The Lazy Lie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate something or other by New England Coffee

By Julie 

Truthfully I’ll be drinking as much coffee as humanly possible today without floating away, seeing as I jumped up from an unintended nap exclaiming, “The kids went to school but I didn’t! What did I do?!”

Aaaaand so begins my battle/race to wake up once a week or so, where I wonder all day did I drink enough water? did I drink not enough coffee? what have I eaten? is this hormones? until I eventually just go to bed and start over.

ANYYYYHOOO, what I’m writing this post about today is the joke, “hahahaha I was just being lazy.”

Fuck this joke.

This post means a lot to me because it’s a realization that I’ve never ever ever had before in any sense. I dive into everything with 110% of my being. I can’t do anything halfway and I never know when to quit. It’s not always an endearing feature. I will beat a dead horse until I am dead and horses all wish they were dead too. The entire equine community will fear my name. And I’ll cry in my grave for not having stripped and eaten the horse because it left some shred of opportunity that I didn’t take advantage of.

So when I dove into indie publishing, it was hard and fast. I tried to do everything right off the bat even when I didn’t entirely understand the market, didn’t understand what success would look like… There is SO MUCH involved, it’s wild. So many intricacies, so much knowledge that only experience can bring, organizing of typographer/cover artist/proofreader/formatter team, constant speed requirements that frankly, I couldn’t fulfill.

Even now, it pains me to say that I couldn’t do it.

Will I be able to do it? Sure. But I couldn’t then.

I was not capable of putting out 5 books last year like I planned, while writing short stories monthly to post on Instafreebie (LOVE Instafreebie), edit for clients, promote my books, search out venues to promote the books, blog, emails… Just learning how to physically do all that, building all that stuff is a challenge for me. I am not good at tech things. I may love robots, but I am not one. I can barely live without Cortana and I’m proud that I know what Cortana is. Then throw in all my life stuff.

Everyone has life stuff. I have more life stuff than anyone. THERE, I SAID IT. I WILL NOT DOWNPLAY HOW MUCH I DO. Here’s a brief, and I mean  basic list of stuff I’ve done in the past couple of months.

  • had a hysterectomy. recovered FAST.
  • ran a weekly writing workshop at the elementary school starting 4 days later.
  • launched THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS 2 weeks later
  • OWNED Halloween, complete with costume, trick or treating twice in one day, ending with a party. Two weeks after surgery.
  • edited 5 books for clients
  • OWNED Christmas like nobody ever has.
  • immediately planned the world’s largest birthday celebration for Bennett.
  • worked at the holiday shop at school
  • mommed a child with multiple disorders, who has excelled in school and grown exponentially in an emotional sense while struggling with BPD.
  • mommed a child who gets multiple awards at all times and had a piece in the Plymouth Center for the Arts show last month and is generally amazing.
  • attempted wifery. It is as much as an achievement as it is a crime the way I do it.
  • renovated my entire kitchen. MYSELF.
  • planned, staffed, worked 40+ hours of a week-long book fair that produced thousands for underprivileged kids. So, there’s that.
  • lost my 16yo puppy
  • continued to do all the shopping, quality time, cleaning, Ambassador of Fun in my House projects and outings, constant presence at school, reptile caring, family stuff, multiple therapy and doctor’s appointments for Sam and I, and then just basic life stuff.

This is the past few months.

Is it a big surprise that I didn’t have the passion to write? That even though I felt physically better than ever after my surgery that I just didn’t feel like writing? That it didn’t have the feeling of fulfillment it once did? And of course, the longer I went without doing it, the harder it became to do.

And you know, after surgery it felt AMAZING to physically be up to doing the things my brain and heart always used to be able to handle. And I enjoyed just being me without hurting and being tired. It’s wonderful to enjoy my life, my family, my home. And my kitchen, which I renovated in A MONTH, by myself (oh yeah, that gets its own post), is such a hub for the family now that I am enjoying just doing dishes, and sweeping, and doing kitchen stuff. Goddamn, it feels good to have a clean home, a thing that suffers when doing everything in the world also.

It feels good to just live life. Without expectations of ACHIEVING EVERYTHING.

So the other day, I started coming to terms with it. I’m not failing by not writing consistently right now. It occurred to me that burnout doesn’t just happen after a marathon of doing stuff then you need a day to recupe… That is called a DAY OFF. Not the same thing. Burnout can mean doing too much forever and then just stopping.

I stopped.

And I tried to force myself to write, and it burned me to have to try so hard. It gave me so many FEELINGS that I wasn’t ready to handle. I don’t know if I’ll ever handle the feelings well, but hey, that’s what makes a good writer. I learned that the world wouldn’t end if I took not just a day to never look at my planner, but if I took MONTHS and disappeared. The amount of work to build everything back up is pretty monumental, but hey. Any months-long vacation will produce that. Doesn’t make the vacation not worth it.

Now that I started to feel better, to feel ready, I’ve been saying, “Yeah, I’ve stopped being lazy.”

I HAVE NEVER BEEN LAZY. Taking a break for as long as I need is not laziness.

Also? And I hadn’t intended on exploring this here, but hey, that’s how a story goes, my entire EVERYTHING doesn’t work the way the rest of the world works. I have absolute panic over keeping a schedule. The idea of having to work at a certain time for a certain amount of time, of fitting into that slot literally gives me continual nightmares. My stomach is clenched right now thinking of that lack of flexibility. It terrifies me. Debilitatingly so. I regularly talk with my therapist about the absolute terror I feel at the prospect of ever working a job where I have to check in and be there when the rest of my life is happening around me. Christ, I’m choking up. THIS PART OF THE POST IS NOW OVER.

But laziness is not taking a break. Laziness is saying it’s easier not to. 

I looked at my planner going back a year, and I swear, it made me dizzy. That’s not living, that’s overcompensating for a fear of being lazy. I never want to not contribute, and the thought of sitting on my ass while my husband busts his kills me. But laziness is not the same as taking a break. Resting is not the same as screwing off. Enjoying life and not just being determined to live it are not the same things. Achievement and surviving are different.

And so, I dive back in. I do it without constant goals and without setting myself up to fail and without letting what everyone else thinks define my success. That new kitchen? Success. Writing books that make me dozens of dollars instead of thousands right away but that MATTER to people? Success. Being here for my family when they need it in every way, when need it? Success.

What I haven’t needed was writing books. Not right now.

That doesn’t make me not a writer.

And it sure as hell doesn’t make me lazy.

One thing that isn’t easier to not do, is live. Be spontaneous, stop and smell the roses, say no, say yes, do all the stuff that I like, that enriches me. Which is what writing once was for me, and will be again. Does that make me a hobbyist? Maybe. For now. But I don’t have to be only one thing. And I sure as hell don’t have to be everything at once.

 

 

Getting Scary with Love Notes

TODAY’S BREW: Target Brand Hazelnut For Fancee Folks

By Julie 

It’s been hard, but even though I’m busy busy busy, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid of writing this book, CRAWLING BACK, the last of the Shinigami vampire trilogy. So I’ve been putting it off. There’s no other excuse. I’ve been hiding from it.

The trouble with hiding from your own words is they’re in your head, and unless you have a lobotomy, the suckers gotta come out. Not to mention I get constant questions about where the hell this book is, and I owe my readers that. I owe it to myself. Time to face the reaper.

This book actually got an OUTLINE. Unprecedented. I never outline my books. I’ve tried, and then it just fizzles away, like so many coffee grounds down the sink. (Don’t tell my landlord.) But this series isn’t just close to my heart, it’s right in there, right in the veins, the first characters I ever really wrote, and they’re me in so many respects… Trying to tie up my own story in a sense is scary as a mutha. And like all hard things, sometimes you just sorta pretend they’ll happen all on their own and then you can take credit for them.

No, I’m finding out.

And now the words are flowing, I’m working through the scary parts inside where I’m supposed to, and I have clear direction so I cover all of the bits and pieces that want to flay me alive. It’s got me deep, this book. It reminds me of when I first began writing RUNNING HOME, when I was post-partum and exhausted and crazed and in love and overjoyed and terrified and feeling things I never knew I could. I was alone and never alone, those first 8 weeks after having my first baby, and raw in all the best ways. And Eliza and Nicholas and Roman and the rest of them came to life out of that surreal time, and they never went away. They didn’t go away after working all day, or when the baby and Tim went to sleep. I wrote in every spare second, all by hand, no end in sight, just getting it all out and reveling in it.

CRAWLING BACK is like that but more honed, scarier because I know what’s at stake, fighting to come out and stay inside all at once. I feel like the book is attached to me, a conjoined twin. I’m not sure which of us is the ugly one at this point.

I love this feeling. It’s morbid in every way, but I do, I love it. It’s a poetic state to be in, and along with that there FEELINGS and leftover words that don’t fit anywhere, but want to be heard. I can blog here, and it is intimate and friendly and safe…but that isn’t what I need. I can’t be safe with this story or the residue it leaves behind. Then I discovered Tiny Letters, and it felt perfect for those of you who like to be along for the ride with my craziness and want to get closer. For those of you who’ve lost yourselves in RUNNING HOME, and don’t quite want to get away from it. Tiny Letters is where I’ll be putting the more intimate thoughts and emotions that have no other place, and I really hope it feels like you’re right next to me writing this book, screaming and crying with me. It’s where I’ll be dropping the sunny bright Julie you see on Twitter or the funny Julie you get on Facebook, and the thoughtful Julie you get here. Tiny Letters will be the falling apart Julie, and the consumed Julie. Those letters will be the kind I wince before sending. The very first one I’ve composed scares me. It’s more stream of consciousness and vulnerable than anything I’ve put out publicly. It’s what I need to do.

Tiny Letters is where I see myself going for release.

If this doesn’t feel entirely self-absorbed and pretentious, which I assure you, it is, subscribe to it. I’ll make a fool of myself probably, and I want my die-hards there with me, to get this inside scoop. I want the ones who read these letters to be the people that hug me without a word when we meet.  So, before I delete this draft right here and delete Tiny Letters from my world before it ever begins, I’m pressing publish, and hoping this endears me to you more than deters you. But hell, I’ve never been for everyone.

Click here to subscribe to Scary Little Love Notes.

#PoemsForSickPeople

TODAY’S BREW: herbal tea. I’M SICK GODDAMMIT.

By Julie

I’ve been so goddamn sick this week, it’s annoyingly inspirational. Taking me out of the game enough that it slowed my readying of the next book to get out, slowed down my editing on the side, all unacceptable. But it is a great feeling to be so pissed about that, you know?

Instead I began a for-profit non-organization called #PoemsForSickPeople. All proceeds go to….me. But you can also just BUY MY BOOKS, THEY’RE GOOD, I SWEAR. Please, do be entertained by my illness.

Did all the laundry

Changed all the sheets

I can no longer breathe

I’m going to sleep

#PoemsForSickPeople

 

JUST WAIT, THEY DON’T GET BETTER.

I drank coffee

Today

I’m stronger than yesterday

*coughs into oblivion, watches more Lifetime movies*

#PoemsForSickPeople

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE….. I call this one “Must I Really? With the Clothes?”

Must I, really?

With the clothes?

While inside, nobody knows

Of the sweatpants worn for days

In my sickly, worn malaise.

Must I? Really? With the clothes?

#PoemsForSickPeople 

 

The cough.
It displeases
Far more than the sneezes

#PoemsForSickPeople

 

Less poetic is how I am finally old enough to take baths in Epsom salt for my aches and pains, and yet not wise enough to NOT throw instant oatmeal into the tub for my skin. Don’t get me wrong, my skin feels fantastic, but I brewed myself in a cup of oatmeal.

Anyhow, that’s the kind of stuff I do, and I thought that you would just LOVE to hear all about it from my nest of blankets and heating pads in the corner of the couch. Stay well, all! And if you want more of this kind of literary ingenuity, do please purchase my latest novel, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. Okay, love you guys, byyyyyyyye

CLICK HERE if you want to read about the 5 Poison Witches and their insane mothers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My October Fun Times List!

TODAY’S BREW: it should be pumpkin, but I’m going with the underrated cinnamon

By Julie

HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD, IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

*builds a cabinet of curiosities, drinks pumpkin beer out of a black cat’s severed head*

Like any creep of a writer, I goddamn adore October. Orange is my favorite color. Pumpkin is my favorite flavor. Sweatpant weather is my favorite weather. I could keep going, but you know the autumn drill.

READ MY NEW BOOK, THE AUTUMN DRILL. No, I joke.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this October, and you should too because I will bully you into it.

  • HALLOWEEN WARS on the Food Network. My youngest boy is obsessed with this show, and as a child with OCD, the first season he saw it, I had to record every one so he could watch them daily until the following October. But I like it too.
  • MY ACTUAL CABINET OF CURIOSITIES. Realized I basically live in a cabinet of curiosities because I love weird plants, creepy old books, a heap of old stuff, skeletons, scary animals, oddities of the medical variety, and other Gothic and emo stuff. I embrace it. So I really went all out and just made one. I’ll take pictures.
  • THE PUMPKIN SPOOKTACULAR AT ROGER WILLIAMS PARK ZOO WHICH IS NO LONGER CALLED THE PUMPKIN SPOOKTACULAR BUT THAT’S WHAT I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL IT. https://youtu.be/W2PYfNIeRuQ We go as a family every year, and it’s chilly and eerie and there’s pumpkin beer with cinnamon on top and hot chocolate and popcorn and it’s what Halloween was meant for.
  • THERE IS A NEW PUMPKIN SPOOKTACULAR THAT ISN’T ACTUALLY CALLED THAT WHICH I WILL GO TO because it’s at the Odd Pet Vet/New England Wildlife Center and I love it there, and they take care of animals that need it.. http://www.newildlife.org/2017/09/newc-night-of-a-thousand-faces-2017/
  • HEDGE ACADEMY. I started running a course for our elementary school that I call “Writing Outside the Box,” and it is just so inspiring to watch a group of young kids with crazy talent and drive write whatever they want, and be so eager to share it. It amazes me the amount of writing and illustrating talent comes from them, and I love having a part in it.
  • THE GIFTED. I love X-Men. I fell in love with the comics as a teenager and LOVE digging in to the mythos and storylines like falling down a rabbit hole. So to see this tv show after having loved Legion, and looking so forward to getting into The Inhumans, because Black Bolt and Medusa, I’m ready to geek out hard.
  • WHILE WE’RE ON IT, AMERICAN HORROR STORY FOREVER. FOREVERRRRRR. I’ve been obsessed since season 1. I know you guys are too. Tell me which season was your favorite, it was Coven, I know it was. Though I loved Asylum and Hotel.
  • GOTHAM. I so love this show. Penguin is my boo.
  • HALLOWEEN JUNK JOURNAL SUPPLIES. This will be a post or two all to itself. When I was writing THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, I stumbled upon this junk journaling thing with this incredible spellbook/scrapbook on Etsy. It was everything my book was, and it’s become an incredible inspiration to me in my writing since. To collect all the things that make me think of my book, jot down ideas, my favorite quotes, and make it into this sort of grimoire is uplifting.
  • OH YEAH, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. This was my first venture into YA, though I personally find RUNNING HOME to be waaaayyyyy less racy than this book. Want the blurb? I give you the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Celeste is the Witch of Stars and leader of her coven, the Five Poisons. But Celeste feels her greatest powers are in chewing anxiety pills and stress-eating. Uniting the vicious witches who share nothing but their unique forms of magic and a list of family dysfunctions is fruitless. The Poisons see only weakness in Celeste, for stifling her magic upon her mommy’s request. Using magic drains their mothers, the Elementals, but Celeste is the only one of the Poisons who doesn’t want her mother dead.

When a demon breaks through The Chains, the magical veil into the human world, Celeste tries proving herself to her coven by confronting him on her own. Through his eyes she discovers that the Elementals have been feeding the Poisons lies about demons, magic, their heritage, and the coven’s purpose. Worse yet, the abuse, manipulation and oppression Celeste’s coven has suffered at their mothers’ hands was more than tough love; it was to strengthen the girls’ powers for a Halloween harvest, to weave their souls into The Chains that they serve.

Celeste will do anything to save the Poisons, from traversing the wicked realm of The Gone, following the demon who’s shown her the truth, to waging war upon the Elementals. But to end the grisly cycle the Elementals have created means the Witch of Stars must either show her mother mercy and live in the false world she knows, or sacrifice herself in ways no magic can reverse.

Obviously, she gets released on Halloween, all fingers crossed. I’ll give you everything you need to know this month.

  • TRICK OR TREATING. We get a group upwards of ten kids sometimes to go trick or treating, and we generally end up at the PTA co-presidents’ house, which is the most Halloweeny of any house, complete with smoking cocktails and gourmet creepy treats and all our kids play in the pitch black backyard. I love our neighborhood so much.
  • MY HYSTERECTOMY. Didn’t see that coming, did you? After YEARS upon YEARS of being beaten by fibroid tumors the size of the super size oranges, I’ve had enough. Naturally, I schedule this surgery on Friday the 13th. Hashtag Halloween Hysterectomy.
  • OH, OF COURSE, HUNDREDS OF HORROR MOVIES. Looking forward to multiple viewings of The Ring, Thirteen Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill, Silent Hill, all the hills, Lost Boys, Nightmare on Elm Street, and any others I can jam in there.
  • HALLOWEEN COMIC FEST.  https://www.halloweencomicfest.com/ Any questions? (I do so look forward to all the David S. Pumpkins things.)

Okay, I’ll stop now, but I could keep going because I didn’t even venture into pumpkin picking, farm stands, and blood.

But this month I’m overjoyed to release THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, for you all to become familiar with the book that I’ve had in my dirty clutches for too long. The Poisons birthdays are all on Halloween, naturally, and Celeste, my Witch of Stars is in love with autumn just like I am. I may or may not have bought an army issue messenger bag with pumpkins handpainted on it because I knew she would have one. OH, if you want to explore the world a bit, the book and its sequel and prequel have about a hundred boards on my Pinterest. The Witch of Sweets, the Witch of Empty Things, The Demon Prince, they all get one. https://www.pinterest.com/hutchingsjulie/

Okay, okay, I have to stop now, but enjoy your October, everyone! And PLEASE. DO TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS WHAT YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT OCTOBER AND HALLOWEEN. I always need new suggestions!!!

 

 

 

 

The How and Why of Being Important

TODAY’S BREW: National Coffee Day doesn’t end for me.

By Julie 

I’m excited–unreasonably excited–about my next book release. I admit this. It’s coming on Halloween.

But people in Puerto Rico have no water. And Trump is inhuman, and people are suffering, people we can help, yet all he does is insult them and leave them to die.

My book isn’t important the way that is important. It’s important that I write, words create a better world, a more intelligent world, a more caring world, but right now? Getting glittery bookmarks isn’t important. Puerto Rico is important. Don’t get me wrong, what’s happening in all of our lives is important, and disaster elsewhere does not make our own issues disappear, but it’s a different kind of important. My stuff goes to the backburner in this political, this human condition. I think we all feel that way to a degree. WHY THE HELL ARE YOU BITCHING ABOUT WHAT KIND OF JUICE YOU WANT WHEN IN PUERTO RICO THEY HAVE NO FUCKING JUICE NOW DRINK THIS GODDAMN CAPRI SUN AND BE THANKFUL. Right? The natural feeling that our joys and our pains are important gets in a bar brawl with the knowledge of how horrible other people have it right now, at this very minute. Leaves us with a lack of focus, doesn’t it? This feeling that nothing matters sometimes, but then that everything matters because we can only control what we can control and this all ends. That thankfulness for what’s good in life has to drive us in times of crisis. And gratitude for the time and the privileges we have somehow helps those who are suffering so.

It is a lack of focus. It is. It’s a mess, a tornado of anger and guilt and gratitude that we all feel, that brings us all together. At least those of us with HUMAN HEARTS and normal hair.

I’m here to say that your stuff IS IMPORTANT. Yes, Puerto Rico is experiencing something that we are just fucking lucky to not know, and it’s happening every minute, real time, while we complain that we have to get up to do laundry or make an appointment. Your stuff is still important, too. Life as you know it is important. Your laundry, your appointments, your feelings, your exhaustion and your happiness and the things you look forward to.

I look forward to a lot this time of year. Halloween soothes me, all of the Halloween everything. The decorations, the music, the air, the colors, the apple picking, the pumpkins, the movies, Halloween Wars on the Food Network, the Spooktacular at the zoo we go to every year…. This is the stuff I live for. And to have a book coming out, one that is so close to my heart, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, makes it all even better. I can’t stop thinking about it, wanting to do more for it. That’s okay. I should be excited. I won’t feel guilty about telling my happy news in a timeline full of crippling news retweets and shares. I have to do what I can do in my world to make my world better.

I spent last week every day running my kids’ school’s Scholastic Book Fair. I do this a few times a year, and I throw myself into it like a lunatic. I do everything humanly possible to make sure every child gets the book they want, no matter what their financial situation is. There’s nothing more important than that to me, to give these kids OPPORTUNITY. To show them that reading what they like is important. To give them choices. And when they see my paperbacks in a stack next to me, they just light up, it’s amazing to watch. These kids have hopes and dreams and you know what? Me showing how important reading and writing is to these kids is what will make future generations more understanding than the Trumpies. This is how I can matter. So I run with it. I run a writing club/class for a month or so every year at the school, and I talk to any class that wants me about writing, and I help the kids who need it with putting their words to paper and feeling okay about it not being perfect, because words can change everything. Maybe not this second, but sometimes this second. I was able to give one little girl a pricey craft kit from the book fair, a crocheting thing or something, I don’t know, I just write books, but the next day I saw her 3 times walking around with the pillow she was making, carrying the book and the materials under her arm.

I gave her that kit, one she wouldn’t have had otherwise, and maybe it sparked something in her. Maybe this is something she’s passionate about. And I helped. It MATTERS.

So remember that the things you do make a difference. The smile you give at the grocery store, the way you brush off the anger when someone cuts you off, the kind word you give to someone who needs it, this stuff creates a world one piece at a time. Hopefully a world where people help each other without expecting anything back, and where everyone shares the same concerns.

I also want to say that taking care of you matters too. If you need help, ask for it. If you feel hopeless, reach out. Know that your happiness matters to someone, that your life matters to someone. People feel beaten these days. Be the person who lifts others up when they need it, tell them how crucial they are to you. And these same people will be there for you when you feel beaten. Because that emotional storm of anger, guilt, helplessness? It comes back again and again. The confusion and disbelief has us all on a roller coaster. But you are no less important among the debris this storm is slinging than anyone else. Your life matters, your life is important, and we are all important together. Be passionate about your life, and it will inspire others to be the same. Together we can change so much if we believe in ourselves and each other first, and show that we SEE each other.

I know this has gone ranty, but for me, it makes sense. Be good to each other under the foot of a dirtbag overlord that doesn’t know how to care about anyone. It is what we do in the small moments that will create a strong environment, a brighter future. Be important.