It’s Release Day for DARK AWAKENING!

At long last…

To say I’m excited is an understatement. The e-book is available from AmazonBarnes and Noble, Kobo,  and Apple Books. It’s on sale for release week, so if super-sexy, super-powered, and super-twisty urban fantasy is up your alley, grab it! And I’d love to hear what you think of it, here or anywhere, but especially in a review on a retail site. 😀

Bounce, boounce, booounce. BOOOINGGGGGG! I’m off to work. Have a SUPER day, folks!

Is Your Heart on the Back Burner?

No, I’m not talking about grieving or counseling. What is blowing my mind this morning is how easy it is for me to put my writing, which is really freaking important to me and the project of my heart, on the back burner.

I got home from Cincinnati on Tuesday, spent Wednesday picking up the threads of family and financial life, went back to work on Thursday…and BOOM. I worked overtime every day and completely (well, almost) lost of all the creative inspiration that welled up during my two-week “break.”

The books I want to write really aren’t going to write themselves.

A Monday suggestion for anyone out there who puts something they love last on their to-do list: Do it first. Do it now. Don’t do it as a reward for getting all the have-tos done. Do it because it gives the mundane stuff more meaning. You WILL get all of your have-tos done…because you HAVE TO. But you won’t get your want-tos done unless you prioritize them.

Do you put your passion project last on your list? Why?

And if you don’t, do you have any suggestions for how those of us who do can stop? Me, I’m going to go back to writing FIRST thing in the morning. I’M DOING IT.

What’s your goal for this fine Monday?

How Do You Unpack a Life?

Where do you start? That’s what I asked my new counselor. I mean, I probably would have benefited from counseling decades ago, but the thought of explaining ALL THE THINGS to someone is flat-out exhausting.

But I went. I sat on the couch. I started talking. I tried to explain what brought me there and what I wanted to get out of it. The next day, I felt more steady, as if beginning the process gave me some power back, which makes sense, I guess. I’m working on my struggles not denying, enduring, pickling, carb-loading, or sleeping on them.

And then my Dad passed away on Tuesday. If you’ve read my books, my characters’ daddy issues run rampant through them. Or sometimes the mommy issues because you gotta mix it up a little! My relationship with my father is probably the most complicated one in my life. I’ve been wondering for months, because his death was not sudden, how you go on when the person who created you, physically, mentally, and emotionally, doesn’t exist anymore. He got a surprising amount of discussion in my first counseling session, or not so surprising, really.

There’s a lot to unpack.

Currently, I’m with my mother and sister, doing the things you do when this sort of thing happens. There are a lot of things! And a lot of talking. Lots of casseroles, wine, and pie. Lots of pictures. Lots of leftovers. Lots of tears. Lots of laughs. We are doing a very difficult thing, but we are doing it together. The Fabulous Baker Girls, as my friend Jessica Topper dubbed us, are heartbroken. End of story.

But love goes on.

Depressed and Anxious, but Killing It!

Hi guys, I can’t believe I haven’t posted since June, but I kind of can because I’ve been slowly losing my shit over a period of months. Maybe a year. Maybe more because it takes me a long time to admit I can’t do something. To admit I need help. To rest in my mess because I am performing my job with tears rolling down my face, and even *I* can’t pretend that is normal!

It’s not necessary to feel the way I’m feeling even with good reasons. I have good reasons. My father is dying, my job is uber-stressful, it’s time to find a college for my oldest, I’m not writing, the cat keeps peeing in the house…the list goes on. And on.

And yet – I’m performing at a high level. My to-do lists are epic, and I am crossing off stuff that’s been on them for months! I assume it’s because I feel overwhelmed, and that’s a good way to assert some power in my life?

This is not a cry for help, my people. I know how to get help. In fact, all the while I’ve been sinking I KNEW I could get 6 FREE counseling sessions through the EAP program at work, and I called yesterday. You’d think that making that call would have been the hardest thing to do.

Nope.

Getting my ass to the gym for the first step aerobics class I’ve taken in 20 years was the hardest thing I did yesterday. So hard. Even though my primary told me last year that doing cardio would help with my fatigue. Even though my chiro poked me in my butt cheeks and told me I was losing muscle mass. Even though my creatinine levels came back low, which can be another indicator of losing muscle mass. Putting down my book and getting off my bed and really and truly taking a “step” toward rebuilding my physical health was more difficult than taking a step toward rebuilding my mental health.

Go figure.

Anyway! A huge fist bump to all of you out there taking care of your heads, hearts, and bodies. It isn’t easy to take care of your family AND your SELF. At least, it isn’t easy for me. I’m hoping the counselor has some insight into how I can sustain a healthier, happier me. I’ll let you know! Meanwhile, I’m going to attempt to focus on the positive while I mend. Hence the image of the homegrown tomatoes sitting on my counter. HAPPINESS! Any tips for sustaining joy, my people? What’s keeping you sane and chipper these days? 🙂

Is work/life balance actually a thing?

I read something that scared me last week. I was sitting at my daughter’s softball game, which I rarely do, because I’m usually working, too tired from working, or working on a writing project. Plus, her dad is amazing sports dad, dinner dad, driving dad, every good dad thing, soooo I’m off the hook if I want to be. But I was at this game because I was lonely and feeling isolated and her amazing dad insisted that I join them.

And I sneaked a peek at my e-mail and found a Brené Brown blog celebrating her 23rd year of recovery, and that is where I saw the scary thing: “Over the past two decades, food and work have emerged as my real drugs of choice.” OMG, people. ME TOO.

In my twenty-five years in bakeries, I’ve probably only gotten out of work on time a handful of times. I work holidays. I arrive at family functions with a bag of clothes, so that I can change out of my work uniform. I have caused countless small arguments by being late. Or not showing up at all.

I work about an hour overtime every shift, at the expense of my body, my family, and my creative life.

And the food thing? I’m a sugar addict. I don’t have a weight problem. My blood sugar is fine. My cholesterol is fine. All my numbers are fine. Just got them checked yesterday. But I eat cake when my mood dips. I eat cookies when I start to get frustrated, which is every day at about 3:30 pm when I have to reprioritize my bakery list (and my co-workers lists) because there’s no way we are going to get everything done. (Mind you, the list is always impossible, and yet, every day, I think I can do it. Every day, I stay late trying to do it all. Every day, I feel like I’ve failed. Every day, I know that is ridiculous…and yet…I keep doing it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?)

At every opportunity, I counsel my colleagues, from my years of experience, that they need to maintain work/life balance NOW, while they are young. They need to leave on time because it’s impossible to do everything, and we might value our jobs GREATLY, but it’s a grocery store, and tomorrow is another day. Our bodies/families/lives are more important than cake, cookies, pies, and tarts. And then I kind of maybe sometimes stay late finishing their lists.

So.

Work and food are my drugs of choice, and I am well aware of the ravages they make in my life. I’m exhausted by a double shot of too much work and too much sugar. And the worst part? It’s alllll me. I have a colleague who suffers from a similar problem. She thinks leaving bakery is the solution. I disagree. I tell her that her problems will take a new shape in a new job, that she will be bored with less chaos, that *I* will help her manage her work/life balance, which means I send her home on time and stay late, because I am a work addict, too.

I have the day off today, and my to-do list spans TWO DAYS in my planner. I LOVE my projects. I DO. But every so often, because I seem to learn the same lessons in this life over and over, I need to remember that I am my project, too.

And, yes, I said basically the same thing in my last blog on May 13th. LOL. Same lessons. Over and over. 🙂

Happy Belated…

Happy belated what? Passover? Easter? Mother’s Day? YES. All those. My bakery life is measured in holidays. Not too much to be done for Passover except tell my bosses that the only people buying challah that week will be Christians and try to get out of work on time for our Seder dinner. Easter is huge but has now paled next to the ass kicking that was Mother’s Day. I worked 72 hours in six days. UGH. We were 100 hours underscheduled and management and full-timers (5 of us) pretty much made up those hours by ourselves.

I told my kids the only thing I wanted for Mother’s Day was for them to come to work and give me a group hug, which they did. It was lovely to be surrounded by my people! I sent MY mom a card and a present, and I texted with her a few times during the chaos.

Something has to change in my work life because I don’t have time for anything in my real life. But the thing that has to change is ME. Setting boundaries, leaving when some of the work isn’t done. The work is never done in a bakery. I may have reached my breaking point. However, one of the reasons I had to work so much was because my team leader was on her honeymoon. I tell myself it will be different next holiday, when she’s here. But it won’t. Because I’ve told myself it will be different when X happens so many times. Then Y happens, and it’s always the same. Or worse. One of my full-timers is leaving the bakery, and who knows who (or when) we will get someone to replace her…and here comes graduation weekend…

Yep, it’s gotta be me, which is what my husband has been telling me for at least a year. That and that no one will die if they can’t have cake, which is nearly impossible for me to believe. However, I’m super motivated, and maybe, just maybe, THIS TIME I will do it.

 

Love Is In The Air!

In celebration of SPRING (It’s coming! I saw a blooming daffodil!) Entangled Publishing is offering TWELVE books for .99 each, including INTO THE FIRE. There are some great titles on the list! Grab them on the cheap until FRIDAY. And tell all your friends, because love is in the air, and you love them and want them to be happy reading delightful books!

If you need me, I’ll be in the bakery. Just about the time this sale ends, I’ll be getting hit by the freight train that is Easter in #bakerylife. I’ll be eating, sleeping, and dreaming carrot cake and bunny shaped cut-out cookies. In fact, it’s supposed to be my day off today, but I somehow scheduled myself off on a major order-writing day before a holiday. Denial? MAYBE! But at least I get to see these cute little guys when I get there! Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all those who celebrate! Happy Love Is In The Air .99 Romantic Adventures to ALL!

XOXO,

Amanda

Are you getting enough done?

I never feel like I’m getting enough done. And I am hauling butt ALL damn day. (Except when I’m reading, which is frequently, but even then I read like it’s a competitive sport.) Rationally, I know I’m getting a lot done in a day, but emotionally, I feel like I’m getting nowhere because the book I’m currently writing only gets 20-40 minutes of attention a day, and I work full-time in a bakery. The work in a bakery is literally NEVER done. Like, ever. So what can a self-critical, driven, goal-oriented, energy and time-challenged person do to feel like s/he/they are getting somewhere?

PowerSheets®. Anybody out there use them? Two years ago, Katee Robert, an author I’ve followed for years, posted pictures of her Powersheets® planning on Instagram so many times, I got over my “I hate planners” attitude and checked it out. Then I bought a Powersheets® Planner and tried it for a year. Important: it’s not a daily planner. It’s a GOAL planner. And there are MANY pages of “who are you (and how and why) and what do you want (REALLY want) before you map out some goals. But then the magic begins. (Also important: the one I bought, the dated one, is sold out for the year. But you can still get the undated one. The 2020 launch happens in October, I think. I’ll let you know.)

I’m REALLY not good at dedicated, daily, progress-bar, checklist planning. There were more blank pages on that planner than filled pages in 2018. But I love the ideas behind Lara Casey’s goal-planning system. “Progress not Perfection.” “The best things in life are cultivated little by little.” And her most inspiring, “You know those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” So I bought another one this year. And this year’s goals are pretty much the same, or at least, they fall into the same categories: write words, exercise, call my mother. Daily. This year’s bigger picture goals are: create a budget, write the book, college hunt, bar mitzvah plan, become a better bakery coordinator, book marketer, self-carer…all the things. Which basically fall into two-and-a-half categories: Nurture my family (short-term and long-term) and nurture myself. Oh! And nurture my friends.

On paper, I didn’t get very far in 2018, but OH, I did. I discovered what I’m afraid of, the obstacle I put between me and my goals, but that’s another post. I’m not feeling that deep today. 😀

Anyway, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to fit myself and my crazy life into a neat system. And every time I’ve either failed or felt like I failed. But the message of this system is entirely positive, and discovering my goals, big and small, and continuing to work toward them ON PAPER makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere, or at least, like I know where I want to go.

I’m not getting it all done. Actually, as I go along the Powersheets® path, I’m discovering Lara Casey is right about something else. “You can’t do it all and do it well, so cultivate what matters.” I’ve given myself permission to let some things slide because other things are worth concentrated focus. I can’t do it all and keep my shit together. I learn this over and over as I try to do too many things in a day.

Like so many things in my life…it’s a practice. Today, I wrote words, did yoga, and called my mom. Tomorrow I will do a different version of the same. YAY! Progress. Little by little. Focus. Intention. It’s enough. (Today I also did the thing I’ve been avoiding all month. I called the financial planner! I got her machine, but IT COUNTS.)

XOXO Amanda

P.S. Getting “enough” done in our “never enough” world isn’t going to happen, by the way. You ARE enough. Really.

My Weird Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a lovely gift from my husband, who had already left for work. I gave the kids their Valentines and some super-cute cookies decorated by one of my co-workers. (Thanks, Kimmie!) Then I went to work, where these things happened at hyper-speed because we’d sold all of the ones we’d prepped earlier in the week.

When we finally called a halt to production, I still had to write a schedule, rearrange the freezer (because of a call-in) and write an order. I got home around 8 pm, and let me tell you, it didn’t feel like Thursday. It felt like Saturday and Sunday rolled into a big taco of tired! My husband and I had a drink at the kitchen table, after which I declared I needed him to brush my teeth for me and put my pajamas on me, but we settled on just the pajamas. Because that’s love.

I’m hoping with the Super Bowl over and Valentine’s Day done, it will be quiet for a few weeks. Maybe until Easter?

Meanwhile, happy day after Valentine’s Day! I hope yours was sweet, is sweet, and continues to be…SWEET! XOXO

 

 

Drinking and Thinking in Miami…

98FAC436-4EC9-44D7-A2CE-49E99230FEFEIf you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this picture of me drinking mimosas in the clouds. Eating cheesecake while watching a movie AND reading a book. I didn’t post about the three tequila and OJs on the way back from Miami that led to me scarfing an airport cheeseburger that RUINED me the next day, but that happened, too. My first (and probably only because I used a non-transferable free flight voucher) flying first class experience was everything I hoped it would be. Flawless, boozy, and well-fed.

IMG_4620My high school BFF and I live on opposite coasts. Every few years we pick a city, meet there, and catch up. Miami wasn’t so much about Miami as it was breathing the same air and having relaxed, low-stakes conversations with someone who knows the family that made ME and the family *I* made. We’ve been there with each other through teenage drama, college drama, marital drama, baby drama, MORE teenage drama, and parent…well, drama seems disrespectful, but those of you with aging parents will know what I mean.

Sure, we enjoyed the beach, the Cuban food, the art-deco. We walked through beautiful neighborhood in search of Books and Books, an indie bookstore that did NOT have a romance section. I asked. Romance was mixed in with other titles. I didn’t get tooooo snarky about it, but I was disappointed. However, they did have The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, which I recommended, and my friend bought. I got Crazy, Rich Asians, recommended by my friend. Then we had lunch at the attached cafe, which was lovely.

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A South Beach Cuban sandwich!

Walking back to the hotel, we navigated to Whole Foods and stocked up for a post happy hour hotel picnic. (Yes, I do know how lucky I am to have a friend who knows me so well, she told me I wasn’t allowed to go to happy hour until I did my physical therapy exercises.)

Basically, we shuttled from the beach, to our gorgeous corner king hotel room with a wraparound balcony and a shower ROOM, to the hotel pool, to the hotel bar, to bed. I’m on east coat time, so I got up in the morning to write and watch the sunrise. She’s on west coast time, so she stayed up after I conked out and had her own quiet time. IMG_4548The closest we got to partying in South Beach was walking Ocean Avenue at night and soaking in the vibe, and that was close enough for me. There was much cocktailing, but my friend is a better drinker than I am. She put us on a schedule. For once, I listened.

My friend brings a new perspective to my life. So does getting AWAY from my usual routine. I came home with great book recommendations, a money management app recommendation, and a sense that we were both on the right paths, for the most part. Always room for growing.

I’d been looking forward to that trip for SO LONG. And now it’s over, and it’s time to do Thanksgiving and Christmas in the bakery. I could be depressed that I don’t have a soul-filling trip in my immediate future, but while I was filling the well in my soul, I realized something simple:

Fill your well before it’s empty. Fill it often. Keep it full.

Fill it with a nap. (Oh my gosh, a NAP.) A new book. A trip to the library. Nurturing a friend. Staying in touch. Stopping work before you HAVE to because you fall over.

The well is yours. The soul is yours. What do you need to feel cosseted? I challenge you to think of  something luxurious that your don’t *think* you have time to do. (Because time is harder to come by than money in these months. We spend the money on credit. There is no credit card for time. OMG, can you imagine what would happen if there were?!)

What small soul-filling thing would you do for yourself if you had time, but won’t because you can’t justify the luxury of time spent on yourself in your busy, crazy life? Tell me in the comments. Let’s share well-filling ideas!

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I’ll go first: I filled my well this week in a thirty-minute gap between dropping off one kid and picking up another with a great library book and an excellent tequila cocktail. (It was called Pear Pressure. Are you feeling it? What are you going to do about it?!)