Category Archives: Stress Reduction

Rain in California = Indoor Projects

Textured wall sm

Post Writers Conference To-Do List, Homeowners To-Do List, Work To-Do List, and then there is the offspring Mom “can you” To-Do List.  I need to retire to get some work done!

My Homeowners To-Do List is the one that weighs on me the most.  It is in my face and doesn’t go away unless I’m sleeping.  It is still there in the morning when I wake up.  We purchased the home in 2008 and a series of events quickly overtook us.  My beloved was able to complete 25 of the 100 projects on our punch list.  He tackled the biggest and most expensive ones first before he was pulled away by 60 hour work weeks and his eventual death by job in 2013.  The official cause was pneumonia; only because Americans don’t have the term the Japanese use, Karoshi (death by job). He worked himself to death and I’m trying my best to find balance in my life and not follow his example.

I’m grateful for the 25 items he did get done and the 40 that I have completed in the last four years.  Projects including removing hazardous trees, painting, trim work and laying a 1,100 sq. ft. hardwood floor.  That leaves me 35 to tackle.  I am frustrated with my inability to get things done quickly. I would really like to take a shower in the master bathroom but that project does not rise to the top of the priority level.

With a heavy heart, I must add several projects to the list.  The last heavy rain shook me out of my denial and I must replace another window.  I have a heavy heart because I do not possess the ability to replace a window and will need to pay someone to do it. The leaking has been going on for so long behind the paint the sill is a void in the corner. When wiping up the water my finger went through the paint.  I have also decided to add a false wall to hide a butler’s pantry in the great room.  I can do the wall myself if my handyman places the floor plates for me.  I’ve decided this is the best way to stage everything for my kitchen replacement that way most of the mess will be hidden  The cabinets are either water damaged or were chewed on by the previous owner’s dogs.  I still have not replaced the ugly kitchen floor.  I really wanted to run the bamboo flooring into the kitchen but the grandchildren have made me rethink.  My 11 year old grandson has dropped a regular hammer and a small sledgehammer on the new hardwood in the den and left dents, major bummer.  I am having problems with him in understanding that grandpa’s tools are not his just because grandpa won’t be using them anymore.

This week, I need to finish several things so I can get outside when the rain stops!  The trim is now nailed up on the water damaged wall in the den after six trips to unhelpful big box hardware stores to find the right piece!  I’ve already painted the repaired area (photo shows texturing only).  So close, and then this item comes off the list!  I will also complete one more transition in the hallway floor and a second clear coat for the garage threshold. Three items this week, I think that will be enough.

When I’m not pretending to be Mrs. Winchester, I also have two literary deadlines before March 15 and an unlimited supply of overtime that I resist almost daily, almost.  The frustration level is very high this week and I have to constantly remind myself to trust God will bring me through it all.


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Filed under Grief, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Stress Reduction, Writing

Write On!

I made it through the difficult days, from my birthday until my wedding anniversary.  Days in which my beloved is missed dearly. Time to let the grief drift into the background and get back on track and in focus.

I seem to be doing better, at least if word count is an indicator.  October was a haze.  I can’t really say what I was busy with.  My calendar shows some activity but not the hectic pace I felt.  It must have been “the list” accomplishments.  The rest of the defunct patio covering was demolished, winter 2015 yard cleanup, shower caulking (for tile install), stucco repaired and finishing off a 4 month project to install 1,100 sq. ft. of bamboo flooring.  Rub knees, take a deep breath!

Last night, I had a few friends in and we laughed our socks off at Pitch Perfect 2!  Good friends, good food, roaring fire in the fireplace and something to laugh at.  I recommend it highly to improve your sleep patterns.

November is NO-vember.  No to any new projects, requests or pleading.  I have two birthday parties to host for grandchildren (14 and 9).  I am the Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo for the county I live in.  I will celebrate Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving visitors.  Last, but not least, is a commitment to myself to write 50,000 words in the month of December for the National Novel Writing Month.  National Novel Writing Month


2015 N of WD speaker Marissa Meyer

To keep up with the commitment, I must write 1,667 words per day.  I’m a little behind but I’ll catch up.  I missed a few consecutive days but am committing to write every day regardless of how many yeowls the cat makes and squawks the chickens produce.

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Filed under Grief, Stress Reduction, Writing

Wisdom & Grace – Obtaining and Giving Both

It is my habit to go to a triage on Sundays. I get together with a bunch of other humans who have failed at being perfect and give it another go at getting better, getting closer to the creator. Some people call it church, a term that many people assign a lot of negative stereotypes. I find that after I question critics about it, they usually have never read the Bible or they have been hurt by someone who wasn’t perfect–and went to church. The people I meet at church are pretty similar to the ones that I meet at my writer’s clubs, folks that are trying to get better. (Funny how the struggling writers don’t get called hypocrites. Hmmm. Getting off the soap box now…)

I was delighted to have wonderful speakers at two venues this Sunday. Award winning Katy Pye* opened our minds and exposed us to contest opportunities for writers and how they can lend authority to your writing. Her topics covered prioritization and a marketing plan as well as helpful tips and checklists. She was very open about the mistakes she made, she prefers to call them missed opportunities. Ms. Pye read a passage from her book “Elizabeth’s Landing”. The role of the grandfather drew me in right away. He could have been my mother. Elizabeth is a precocious teenager trying to find her way with mostly absent parents as she discovers some threatened sea turtles. I left the Redwood Writer’s Club meeting with an autographed copy of her book that I can’t wait to finish. Elizabeth’s Landing captured a 2013 1st Place in all Fiction for the Writer’s Digest Self Published e-Book Awards, the 2013 Silver Nautilus Book Award for YA Fiction and the Category Winner for 2014 Children’s/Juvenile Fiction from the Indie Book Awards.

Pastor Bill** (PB) spoke about Making Wise Choices and Living in Grace. If you listen to PB enough, one thing will become very clear. He will speak on your favorite sin and it will most likely feel like he has videotaping services on you. He doesn’t and we shine the lights on him on Sunday so he can’t see you squirm in the seats so stay with me here. PB talks about real things, not abstracts; things that we need to be at peace. It fits right into my concept of church as triage. I don’t really need to hear about something that is lofty and filled with so many churchy words that I can’t see how they work in my everyday life. PB started off with my favorite sin so he had my attention right away, I was careful not to fidget too much so people wouldn’t identify me with my favorite bad choice. He moved on to other topics like credit cards and gambling. Just a sentence or two but enough to let you know what God says about those “acceptable sins”. I am free to drink but not get drunk but if I drink in front of an alcoholic, that is a sin. It might cause them to sin. You are smart, you get the idea and can apply that to other things. I couldn’t help but look sideways at my good friend who has a big gambling problem. My friend was sitting stone still like a statue, looking straight ahead. Hmmm, I’ll have to remember that freezing is as bad as squirming too much. Heaven forbid that someone know I might need help! I’m not outing my friend and I know they won’t out me so the public humiliation will be limited to the times I put my foot into my mouth and try to function!

For now, I will be confessing my problem to my accountability partner, who I trust. I plan on investing some prayer time and good old effort and hard work in getting better at both writing and my “favorite” sin. Romans 6 deserves another read this week since I am far from being perfect. But, I sure like that grace method for flawed folks like me! Grace is getting what I don’t deserve and Mercy is not getting what I deserve. Wow, free gifts and free payments, thank you Jesus!

*Download sample chapters and read her blog at

**1108 Washington Street, Fairfield, CA or online at to download PB’s podcasts. PB’s lineup for August: 17th Loving Unconditionally, 24th Living in Personal Freedom, 31st Letting Others Be Themselves

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Filed under Inspiration, Stress Reduction, Writing

Let the Writing Begin!

Mark HopkinsI am still pushing through the extreme lack of energy after being ill. But, there is one event I would not want to miss. It’s time for the annual San Francisco Writer’s Conference, I understand there are only about 50 slots left.
This year NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names), Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey series), Rhys Bowen, (Molly Murphy Mysteries), Barry Eisler (Rain/Treven series), Chitra Divakaruni (Mistress of Spices) and Dan Millman (Peaceful Warrior) will be Featured Speakers. The director’s are all wonderful but Michael Larsen always has the most energy and punniest jokes.  In addition, over 100 other authors, agents, editors and publishers will be there. Many favorites will be back as well. The conference asks attendees to review the event and the contributors that earn great reviews are often asked back.

The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is a grand dame that sits on top of San Francisco’s Nob Hill. It was built on the site of the original Mark Hopkins mansion which survived the 1906 earthquake, but not the three day fire that ravaged the city afterwards. Lovers from around the world travel to the Top of the Mark lounge to view the city through its glass walls, my parents included!

I will be at the SFO Writer’s Conference as part of the volunteer staff. SFO is the city of my birth and a short drive in for me. I can’t decide if I want to check-in to the hotel or drive in each day. I’ve posted for either a roommate or a car pooler, we will see what happens.

This event always gets my writing flowing and energizes me. I’m especially excited this year because I have asked to staff Grant Faulkner‘s session. Grant is the executive director of the National Novel Writing Month and the founding editor of 100 Word Story. I attended the “Night of Writing Dangerously” this year at the beautiful Julia Morgan Ballroom. Can you say, “I NaNoWriMo?”

Check it out! This year the conference is bigger than ever.  Please check back for a post after the President’s Weekend event.


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Filed under SFWC, Stress Reduction, Travel, Writing

More Writing Prompts – Photos for Thoughts/Words

Outstanding photographer’s blog you might enjoy. Especially for those writing friends that don’t know what to write about. Try putting yourself in one of these great pictures and write about it. Simply beautiful!

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Filed under Photography, Stress Reduction, Travel, Writing


Musk Ox

I’m back from my vacation to Alaska!  Re-Entry has been an extreme problem.  I just can’t seem to catch my stride yet.  The packing and repacking to leave pretty much wrecked the house and the 3 cats (mine and a friends) were less than happy to be left behind.  It’s been a week and the “surprises” have been tapering off and the bad kitty behavior seems to be settling down now.  They get to sleep all day while I have to go back to work.  It takes me until 9:00 a.m. to get my eyes fully open.  I did manage to squeeze in about 1,500 words yesterday on my post apocalyptic story. 

The weather in Alaska was very similar to SFO Bay Area so we felt right at home.  We tromped all over Ketchikan, Skagway, Juno and Vancouver.  Back on board our cruise ship, it was great to just lay in a deck chair and stare out at the glaciers while sipping hot cocoa and eating ice cream!  I was very apprehensive about a Cruise Ship with all the bad press.  I have to say that being onboard the Diamond Princess was nothing but a great experience!

Internet connections were scarce or costly during the trip so I will write in a later post more about our trip to fill you in.  My traveling companion was Sarah Mocchini ( and she was so much fun!  Everywhere we had a port of call she dragged me to all the yarn and fabric shops.  Oh darn, had to buy some fabric to bring home!  I learned all about Qiviut (musk ox yarn) and actually got to touch some of the unspun fibers and fondle the finished yarn and products.  It is a hollow fiber without scales.  That means that it will not felt like wool and it is incredibly light and soft.  It is one of the rarest fibers in the world and is a homegrown Alaskan (and Greenland) commodity.  The musk ox does not like to be domesticated so they fence off a large area and pick the fibers up from bushes and herd them through a shoot to pull the fibers free as the oxen travel through.

The musk ox is called “oomingmak” by the Alaskan Natives which means “the bearded one”.  The musk ox is an ice age mammal that was once endangered and is now thriving in the semi-domesticated farms in Alaska and Greenland.  It is the softest fiber I have ever touched and its insulating capability far exceeds that of wool!

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Stress Reduction, Travel, Writing


 I’ve been meditating on the word hope lately.  There are so many people struggling with life out there finances, jobs, relationships, emotions and just fear in general.  So much fear… I have always had a deep and abiding faith Christ, even as a child.  I know that this faith is a gift from God now that I have lived life a bit and can see my sunset, hopefully from a distance.  I desperately miss my beloved but I have hope that I will see him again.  Some days the pain of separation is so great I truly do feel like I’m in the middle of a soul shattering earthquake.  More days than not my emotions are better and I can feel the hope.  I’ve had to wear big girl pants most days now and can’t afford to allow myself the luxury of too many pity parties or a slide into depression. 

My truck had a dead battery and I need to transport a new swarm capture.  (Moving bees in the passenger compartment is not recommended!)  The timing was not good; it never is, especially when dealing with wild animals and insects.  The pressure of a daily schedule, of the need to pick up my new capture, the help that wasn’t helpful and enough clutter from a busy life and schedule almost did me in.  I sent the “help” away and still wearing my big girl pants got the truck started, late, but start it did.

Today is a new day, I drove the truck, have nothing scheduled tonight and will pick up the bees after work!  I woke up this morning with a scripture reference running through my head.  I do not have tons of scripture memorized, I don’t beat people up with a Bible or any religious book so I was surprised that Galatians 3:9 would not go away.  I was clueless what it was so, I looked it up.  “So then those who are of faith are blessed.”

Hope, could that be the shield against today’s anxieties and depressions.  Faith, trusting that God is still in control as America (and myself) are not.  I am truly a blessed woman, counting my blessings and looking at the full glass (it is never really half full) overflowing, pressed down for full measure.  It’s spring and the promise of forgiveness and renewal can be seen everywhere.  Now that I have been relocated to an inside office and lost my big picture window to the world, I go outside every day, close my eyes and lift my face to the sun.  My doctor said it was good for me!  It is!  Be kind and gentle to yourself my blogging friends, you are the best friend you will ever have.  Where is your hope?  I challenge you to do some senseless kind thing for yourself and for one other person each day.  No matter how small or how great, to quote Nike, just do it.

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Filed under Bees, Grief, Stress Reduction, Uncategorized

Serenity Doesn’t Come Easy

I’m back from a favorite trip to Morro Bay.  It was wonderful to spend some time with my host just hanging out and talking.  Watched a few Sci Fi shows and a couple of chick flicks.  Did our nails like teenagers (did you know there are magnetic polishes now?!) and did hand work.  Really enjoyed the food and the long walks on the beach.  There are two things in nature that seem to really calm and center me, the ocean and a redwood forest.  I’ve always felt you can hear God breathe in a redwood forest.  I have so many happy memories of family time spent camping when my Dad was alive.  The teaching moments on a camping trip have served me a lifetime already.  He would pull the truck up to the campsite and everyone would pile out and go canvass the entire site looking for trash, broken glass and anything that might be non-native or hazardous.  Then we would create our home away from home.  After spending a week or two, even a few days, we would canvass the area again before we left it.  Dad always said to leave a place better than you found it.  If you borrowed something, you gave it back better than it was loaned to you.

I am continually introduced to individuals that are suffering from some form of severe anxiety.  Their lives are full of the stress of living a lifestyle while being unable to stretch their time and dollars from that lifestyle to their beliefs.  It cannot stretch that far without changes.

“We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles; we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves.”  Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)

My recommendation, less time at Starbucks and more time on the beach and in a redwood forest chatting with God.  Hey, it works for me! I’m already planning my next trip!

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Filed under Stress Reduction, Travel, Word Worthy Quotations