Hello, Real World!

Blog Post Image - Hello Real World

So I had all these great ideas for my first blog post of 2018 and this great book I wanted to share for my first First Line Friday post of 2018, but then I started writing in my current novel in progress, and plotting, and editing, and researching, and then writing some more, and … next thing I new the entire first week of 2018 had disappeared and I hadn’t posted a single thing online.

One of the problems with being a writer is getting so wrapped up in my fictional world and my characters’ struggles that I forget about other things. Like First Line Friday posts, Facebook status updates, and interacting on Twitter. Woops. My bad.

Don’t worry, though. In between my crazy writing frenzies, I did manage to record my next Mama’s Storytime video book review. So look for that to go live Monday morning! Yay!

Also, now that I have remembered the real world, I will be sure to get my FLF post up on time this week – barring any more unscheduled trips to the emergency room (Everyone’s okay. Don’t ask.) So things should start getting back to normal around here. Sorry about going MIA on you. I hope you have all had a fantastic start to the new year. I know I’m super excited with the progress I’ve already made on my current work in progress and can’t wait to see what blessings God has in store this year.

I’m always talking about me. I’d love to hear about you! Tell me about your new year. What have you been up to this past week? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Have you kept them or did they already bite the dust? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways I Handle Burnout

Burnout Blog Title Image

Burnout . . .

According to Google, burnout is

  1. the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.
  2. physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

For me, that looks like exhaustion, impatience, productive procrastination, and – when it gets really bad – my impression of an ostrich. (Yes, I know the head in the sand thing is a myth, but the analogy still works.)

waiting for problems to go away

Burnout has been triggered by different things throughout my life, but the common factor is always that somehow I have wound up with more on my to-do list than I believe is possible to accomplish in the amount of time I have to accomplish it, combined with a sense of one or more factors relating to that list being out of control – and this has continued for an extended period of time.

For example, in addition to being a mother and author, I am also a homeschool teacher. I can spend weeks planning my children’s education and hours teaching them, but at some point it is up to them to actually do the work. Like all children, there are phases in their life when they “just don’t want to” and nothing I say or do will make them budge. You know that saying:  “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”? I am intimately acquainted with the full meaning of that idea.

Human to Knowledge

Now, if their “just don’t want to” phase happens to occur at the same time I am trying to meet an ambitious number of writing related goals, have an unusually high frequency of medical appointments scheduled (for me or my kids), I am not getting enough sleep for one reason or another, and I am in the process of planning another child’s birthday celebration … well, this can sometimes lead me to burnout.

I have learned to recognize the signs of my impending burnout, but I am still working on nipping it in the bud. Some of the things I have tried which worked are:

1. Start saying, “No.”  I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to say, “No” to awesome opportunities or friends who need help. I want to do it all and I want to be there for all the people I care about. The trouble is, if I try to do it all, something always suffers – everything is done poorly or a few things are done well while something else gets forgotten or simply doesn’t get accomplished on time. Trying to do it all never works out well. If I try to be there for everyone all the time, it leaves me nothing left to give to those most important to me:  my family. As much as I fight it, my time and energy are not infinite. Learning to say no is a constant life struggle.

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2. Reprioritize my to-do list.  When I feel myself spiraling toward burnout I am normally moving at the speed of light, running from one task to the next, going to bed late, getting up early, and trying to solve every problem at the same time. So I try to take a step back and reevaluate where I’m putting my energy. Are the things I am trying to accomplish really that important or urgent? The best questions I have found to help me with deciding how to reorganize or even trim my to-do list are:  What will happen if this doesn’t get done? Can someone else do this?

3. Try to delegate. This is a tough one. Most of the items on my list are things only I can do or things only I can do well. That last part is where I usually fight with myself to let go. I grew up with a grandmother who asked me to handpick pieces of lint from the carpet and from whose bathroom floor I would have happily eaten from dinner. Perfectionism runs in my family. Letting someone else do something, *knowing* they can’t do it as well as I can (and that’s not ego, that’s just fact with certain tasks), but that they can accomplish the task “well enough”, is tough. Very tough. However, I have learned that the consequences of full-blown burnout are far greater than a mediocre job.

Sorry I'm late I had to stare at the ceiling and question all my life choices.

 

4. Take a break. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how important the to-do list tasks are. I need to step back, set my list down, and take a break. I need to switch gears and get my mind off the things that are bothering me. Since taking a week-long vacation from life isn’t typically practical, this is when I will go see a movie, or read a book just for fun (not to review), or even spend two hours listening to a friend’s problems. Nothing gets your mind off your own trouble like listening to someone else’s trouble – especially if they’re in a tougher spot than you are. And there is always someone in a tougher spot than you are.

I need a time out Image

5. Rejuvenate. I find a way to re-energize myself. This always involves worship and Bible study. Nothing puts things into perspective faster and calms my worries more thoroughly than reminding myself of Who is truly in control. When I find myself entering burnout, I almost always have let my Bible study slip. After all, there is no deadline by which I have to “finish studying the Bible.” No one ever “finishes” studying the Bible. And then there is the lie that “no one else is affected if I don’t read the Bible today.” It’s easy to see that if I don’t take my daughter to her medical appointment that she will suffer. It is more difficult to see that she will also suffer if I let my relationship with my Lord fall to the bottom of my to-do list. Yet it remains true that everything in my life suffers when I don’t prioritize spending time with God.

In addition to Bible study and worship, I will do what I can to catch up on sleep, spend some time alone with my thoughts, and find a creative outlet that is just for fun. I love being an author, but taking it seriously means it sometimes feels no different than any other job – there are days I can’t wait to start working and days I’d rather do anything but. So I make a point to find alternate ways to express my creativity without the pressure of public scrutiny or deadlines. These things re-energize me and fill that emotional cup so that I have something to give.

These are the 5 major things which I have found to help me avoid and recover from burnout.

What about you? What situations lead you to experience burnout? Have you found ways to get yourself out of it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

First Line Friday – 11.02.17

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

This week I am sharing the first line from a book by an author I haven’t yet read, but am excited to try. It’s The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter, and apparently it has even been made into a Hallmark Channel movie.

The Convenient Groom

Here’s the first line:

The red light on Kate Lawrence’s cell phone blinked a staccato warning.

Here’s the description:

She wrote the book–literally–on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love’s about?

Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding–and on the eve of her big book launch–celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place.

Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.

Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate’s desperate enough to agree–although she’s sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. But can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?

Could it be that “Dr. Kate” doesn’t know the first thing about love?

An inspiring tale of enduring love set in romantic Nantucket.

Each Romance For Good™ novel offers a story of hope and love that positively portrays the eternal impact of relationships.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

First Line Friday – 10.26.17

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

This week I am sharing the first line from a book by one of my favorite authors, Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer.

Full Steam Ahead cover image

Here’s the first line:

Galveston, Texas
April 1851

Nicole Renard gripped her mother’s letter in her gloved hand as the carriage rattled down Bath Street, away from the docks.

Here’s the description:

 

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston and finds her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, he’s only ever focused on what she’s not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to secure a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But when her father’s rivals come after the dagger, she’s forced to change her destination.

Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed since the fatal boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana that nearly took his life. He will do anything to stop such disasters. Even hire a female secretary. Sure he can ignore the distraction of her pretty face, he’s not sure how to proceed when drawn to her clever mind.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grows between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to an unsuitable candidate? And worse, when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, she will have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

First Line Friday – 10.13.17

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

This week I am sharing the first line from the book I am currently reading, Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham.

Just the Way You Are cover image

Here’s the first line:

One step into the massive glass-walled waiting area was all it took.

Here’s the description:

Single mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance housed within a centuries-old mystery, but when she travels to England to unearth the secret, an actor with a sordid past offers her heart a very different type of discovery.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, he’s managed to avoid romantic entanglements since a tragedy upended his career and life, that is until American Eisley Barrett comes along. Her authenticity and kindness upend his bitter assumptions and send his heart into unscripted territory.

When his past threatens to ruin a second chance at love, can some Appalachian matchmaking and letters from the grave salvage their unexpected romance?

Humor, love, mystery, cute kids, crazy families, and culture clashes make this Britallachian Romance a unique and delightful romantic comedy sprinkled with adventure.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

First Line Friday – 10.6.17

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

This week I am sharing the first line from Written in the Dust by Christina Coryell.

Written in the Dust

Here’s the first line:

It had been way too long since she’d cut anyone.

This is book two in Coryell’s Backroads series which just released this week! I can’t tell you how excited I am to read it since the last book left me eager for more.  Here’s the description:

There are two basic types of people you’ll come across in small towns. Planters have the land in their blood and want to stay forever. Dreamers long for the day they will finally escape. Holly Christian? Definitely a planter. She’s never considered leaving for greener pastures, but it’ll be a whole lot easier to move forward when people finally stop telling her that will never happen. Thank goodness she has an ally in Hunter Pearce. He has no desire to leave now that he has what he’s always wanted. Well…almost. The words he can’t take back are still clinging closer than a humid summer afternoon.

Then there’s Gatlin Moore, who leans more in the dreamer direction. He used to imagine a future away from his hometown, but circumstances changed his plans long ago. Now he can’t stop thinking about bringing some of his dreams back to life, namely the ones that involve Brooke Langdon. Breaking up in their small town was hard, but getting back together might prove impossible. She may not be around long, unless she rediscovers what she used to love about the place. Putting her future in order by piecing together the past could mend her heart…or break it for keeps.

Welcome to Hope Canyon. This is our backroads story.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

First Line Friday – 9.29.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from The Vegas Proposal by Julie Jarnagin.

The Vegas Proposal

Here’s the first line:

A high-pitched shriek echoed down the hall of the wedding chapel.

I admit, the cover and the title are what drew me in to giving this new-to-me author a try. I was looking for something fun and light and this seemed to fit the bill. While it was an entertaining and different sort of book from what I typically read, I have mixed feelings about how it dealt with the issue of divorce. Outside of that, I found the story to be sweet and enjoyable.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes