Monthly Archives: December 2015

Running Down a Dream

I am an accidental drug addict. I was prescribed a drug (and for purposes of vagueness, I’m not going to tell you what it is) the end of June to help arrest the daily panic attacks and heart palpitations.

Speaking of – the first time you have a full-blown panic attack, you are pretty sure you’re having a heart attack and are going to be one of those people who drops dead before age 40 due to cardiac arrest. Also times 3-5. By the tenth time, you know what it is and can work on breathing and meditating through it. If I ever do have a heart attack, I’ll probably just try to meditate through it and die. AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY I’M ANXIOUS! What if this time it’s real????

ANYWAY – DRUGS. I went on a drug so I could function as a normal human being and it worked. I’ve had only a handful of panic attacks since then and most of them were in September, i.e. the month the shrink decreased my dose without warning me what might happen. (Sorry people in September!)

My fatigue has been ridiculous lately, yet I’ve been sleeping more than ever. I’ve also been on the drug, which is in a class of drugs considered relatively addictive, for almost 6 months. I decided – and got new shrink to agree – that I could stop taking them.

The first week, when I decreased my dosage by 25%, had some pretty bad days. Anxiety, panic, paranoia, mood swings, temperature swings, depression, etc. But the fatigue seems a bit better. I decrease another increment starting tonight, and was warned that nights 2 and 3 after decreasing might be a little…insomniacish.

My personal medical professional (doesn’t everyone have one?) recommended combatting the depression with exhaustion. As I’m currently trying to not be fatigued, that seemed a bit counter-intuitive, but she’s the medical expert and I just work in a hospital where knowledge does not flow into my brain via osmosis or my strong psychic powers.

I’m hoping that exhaustion will help combat the depression and the fatigue. I also read today – and I didn’t do extensive research, so who knows if it’s true – that this class of drug can interrupt REM sleep, which is one of the reasons that those of us who are taking this drug can sleep a lot but still experience fatigue. It would also explain why I almost never dream anymore. I’ve got three more weeks of weaning off the drug – and hopefully the withdrawal symptoms will end shortly after that.

In the meantime, in the spirit of making it through a drug withdrawal and getting a head start on my 2016 goals, today, I went for a run.

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It was a bit chilly. And muddy. But four miles to end the year is pretty damn good.

This Time, It’s All About Me

It’s that time of year again. Many of us reflect on the year that is nearly past and start looking forward to the next year.

It’s a time of endings and new beginnings. I try not to do resolutions because I think they’ve developed a negative connotation over the years as being doomed to fail.

Instead I set goals. Sounds so much fancier and more doable. I know it’s a bit early to officially talk about what I want out of 2016, but you know what? I don’t care.

Because 2016 is the year of the Amy.

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I’ve spent a lot of time in the past years not making me a priority and that has got to stop. To be the best me, which in turn makes me the best mom I can be and the best partner I can be, I need to take care of me.

That means that my needs don’t get put at the bottom of the list. Compromising is good, but not when it leads to loss of sense of self.

There are four big things that I am planning to be the best me possible. These, above all other things, are what I am prioritizing this year. I believe that by making these four things a priority, I’ll have more time and energy for all the people in my life that need my time and energy.

  1. More sleep – I need to manage my cortisol levels better without drugs (who wants to talk about drug detoxing? Anyone? Because let me tell you, the controlled withdrawal from one of my ‘keep Amy sane’ drugs made me scratch my 2016 goal to become a drug addict). Stress management is better for overall health and sleep is a key ingredient for that. So I need to get back in the habit of early to bed.
  2. More writing – I have a book to finish up, and I’d like to finish it by my birthday (2/24 in case you’re taking notes). I have more books to edit. I have an edited book to send out to a couple beta readers. I need to make a concerted effort to get it published. I’d also like to do some smaller pieces and blog more. I love sitting at the keyboard and doing what I love should also help with that pesky stress.
  3. More movement – this was a pretty crap year of exercise for me. I started off strong, then got pneumonia, then got burned out. So no real big race goals this year. Just make time to move consistently every week. Trail running, bicycling, swimming, yoga. I like those things. I can do those things. I need to make the time to do those things on the regular. The architect can totally handle mornings without my presence a couple times a week. Bonus: exercise is a great way to increase stress management! (It’s almost like there’s a theme!)
  4. More job satisfaction – I think this would go the furthest towards managing the stress levels. I am not sure exactly how to get there, but by the end of 2016 I want to look around and say absolutely that I do not dread going to work (and maybe, if I get really crazy, that I actually enjoy what I’m doing). For some reason this one is the scariest.
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Being fabulous

Bonus goals

  1. More water

  1. More gin

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  1. More love

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  1. More laughter

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  1. More time outdoors with the Bean

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  1. More unicorns

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  1. More letting shit go

eALcMo1448997816

  1. More reading

to read pile

  1. More cheese

  1. More beer and cribbage nights

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There might be difficult paths on the road to putting my own oxygen mask on first, but when else do I start prioritizing myself? I don’t want to look back in twenty years and realize that nothing’s changed. It’s the last full calendar year in my 30s. When better, really?

This is what awesome looks like.

This is what awesome looks like.

Turning 40…

Which, if we’re lucky, all of us accomplish.

So, I’m turning 40. Not this week or anything. Not even next year. I’m turning forty in one year, two months, and one day.

I want 2016 to be a kind of 39-themed year.

To that end, I am planning on reading 39 books. (I mean, I’ll probably go ahead and read another 125-150 books, because that’s how I roll…my life is pretty exciting.)

But 39 books that are more than just one-clicks when I have insomnia. Thirty-nine books that are the books you most treasure. Thirty-nine books I’ve not read before.

My “read” list is here, and yes, it’s long. But tell me – what am I missing? You can comment here or on my facebook page. (If you’ve a new release coming out in 2016 that should absolutely be on my list of 39, let me know. I’m looking at you, Hunter!)  In a couple weeks, I’ll share the books I’m planning on reading (and subsequently reviewing) with you and we can argue the merits of the list.

The Best Books of 2015 – You Know, if You’re Me

I generally hand out five star ratings very sparingly, so when I went to pull the five-star books of 2015 up, I was shocked at how much I’d enjoyed reading this year.

(BTW – I decided to change the date read on all the re-reads that I’d logged, so I’m way over my 150 book goal for the year; I didn’t even log all my rereads. I am a reading machine! Someone should hire me to do that for them.)

I’m not doing full (or even partial) reviews. Click the book covers for a synopsis of the books if you want. Or even if you don’t want. Do it. Buy them all.

This year’s five-star books, in no particular order:

  1. furiously happy

You’d never think a book with a taxidermied raccoon on the cover would be so brilliant, but Jenny Lawson not only gets what it’s like to live with mental illness (because she lives with at-times-crippling mental illness) but she describes it in a way that is poignant, funny, and makes you realize you’re not alone.

 

2.  my beloved world

Sonia Sotomayor is a fascinating person and her memoir was equally fascinating. If you’re interested in learning what it takes to go from the Puerto Rican ‘hood in New York to the highest judicial bench in the country, this might be the book for you. She is honest about how many things had to fall in place for her to get to where she was and doesn’t shy away from the things she did poorly.

 

3. magic shifts

I have been reading this series forever and kinda have a crush on Kate. And on Curran. This was the eighth installment of the series and it took a different path than the previous ones had, but with stellar results. Everything I learn about Kate and how she rolls with the punches (sometimes literally) make me love her (and the husband/wife author team) more. (You may want to read my review of this, linked above, for a fabulous cocktail recipe.)

 

4. truth or beard

The fact that I’m reading Penny Reid at all is 100% Cat’s fault. I did not EVER read contemporary romance, and she kept going on about the Knitting in the City series, so to shut her up satisfy my own curiosity, I picked up the first in that series. OMG. If you at all like romance and you haven’t read the Knitting in the City Series, do it. This book is a spin off of one of those, but you wouldn’t need the background to make this still so much fun.

 

5.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00068]

My love for Elizabeth Hunter is well known. In fact, due to how freaking prolific she is, you may see her again on the list.

This book was well written, hit a few of my favorite characters, and showed that there are strong women in the fantasy world. Elizabeth is a master world-builder which is why everything she’s written is just so amazing, no matter the subject matter.

 

6 & 7. marking time

Marking Time, and the sequel Tempting Fate both got five star ratings from me. (There’s a third published already and a fourth coming out soon. I’m not double checking that fact, so I hope it’s true.) These are more YA, but the world building (I’m a sucker for good world building) was magnificent. A young woman is forced to moved to England from California when her mother disappears and then learns that she is part of a group of supernatural people, and her talent is moving through time. It’s well written, suspenseful, and sweet.

8. still alice

No lie: Totally ugly cried while reading this one. Also, I started doing brain checks on myself. Dementia is an ugly thing but to know you’re slowly slipping into it at the height of your career…that’s terrifying.

9.

You may or may not remember my review of this book. I basically proved that except for the fame and the part where she’s touched Nathan Fillion and I sadly have not, Felicia Day and I are the same person. Also, when I tweeted that book review, Ms. Day actually favorited my tweet. FOR REAL. I am so famous you guys.

 

10. This is the third in a series and I’m very much looking forward to the fourth’s release (March!). Another fantasy series with excellent world building. Anne Bishop is an excellent model for what world building should look like – more than just taking downtown Peoria and dropping in some monsters. It also has an element that isn’t typical of your urban fantasy – the blood prophets. Those who can tell the future by the deliberate (or not) letting of blood. So fascinating.

11.

Speaking of world building – holy crap you guys. Grace Draven is the queen of world building. This book, in addition to being magnificently constructed, is beautifully written. Ms. Draven can do things with the English language that I can only dream of. (Ech. Preposition!) This is the first in a series. The second is coming out in about a month, and I seriously cannot wait. EEE!

12.

I told you Elizabeth’d be back. This is a different series with a completely different set of protagonists. It was the third (and final-ish, at least for the main characters) in the series and I loved each of them. The Irin Chronicles were my introduction to Elizabeth Hunter (again, due to my PSM, who is an excellent influence on me in all matters).  This is more than love story and more than a battle between the forces of good (more or less) and evil (for the most part) – it’s friendship and compromise and having to think through how pure your motivations are and whether your ideals are so ideal. Of course, since it is Elizabeth Hunter (and because I gave it five stars), you know the world is well built and the words well crafted.

13.

This was another book club offering that made me ugly cry. I won’t tell you why (SPOILERS!) but I sent a sternly worded text to Cat when I got to the ugly cry part. It’s a lovely fiction piece that will make you laugh (a bit) and cry (already covered that). It was thoroughly enjoyable.

14.

I have loved Margaret Atwood since I first read “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I’ve read almost everything she’s written and when I came across this one I hadn’t read, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I realized it was a book about writing. One of my favorite all time books is Stephen King’s “On Writing,” and I was hoping for the same level of wonderfulness from this one. Although it won’t replace King’s book in my heart, it was brilliant and quotable, and I immediately went out and bought it in hardcover because I was ready to really commit to Ms. Atwood at that point. If you enjoy books on writing and have already King’s book, pick this one up.

 

15.

We’ll end with the best book of the year. Madeleine Motherfucking Albright. This was seriously the best Memoir – not just of the year – but that I’ve ever read. It was fascinating – both the political stuff (who doesn’t love the political stuff?) but the personal stuff. She didn’t spend too much time on the growing up bits, but she was still a woman who married right out of college and had kids and still managed to get her PhD and then, as a divorced woman, become Secretary of State. The years she was involved with the Clinton presidency – first at the UN and then as Secretary of State – were some crazy ass years and she handled it all with humor, diplomacy, and a bit of sass.

 

 

Honorable Mentions to two books I’m reading right now that are really, really good and will probably make it into the five star ratings in 2015:

 

 

So now – tell me what to read next? My TBR pile is getting dangerously low. On Goodreads, I only have 318 in the to-read pile!

What was your favorite can’t miss book of the year?

Three Things Thursday

  1. SLEEP: Holy hells, interwebz, I am tired. It’s been a busy couple of months, but I shouldn’t be this tired. I’m still getting decent sleep most nights and since November ended, I haven’t even been getting up at five to write. (Which is a problem.) I don’t know if the stress of all the travel + the writing schedule I put myself on in November + the work-related stress (including my certification exam I took on 11/11 which still no results!) has finally worn me down, but I am tired. It’s hard to stay awake until 11 most nights and I’m sleeping through my 4:55 alarm and my (now needed) 6:30 am BACK-UP alarm.

    It could also be that the number one side effect of one of my drugs is fatigue/sleepiness (and another side effect is dizziness/lack of coordination, which might explain why my legs are so bruised and I keep having dizzy spells).

    coffee and unicorns

    Maybe this is the cure…

  2. WRITING: I actually did get some words down yesterday, which was nice. Not a ton – only about 1,000 or so, but it reminded me how much I’m enjoying this story. There are some skipped scenes in the book because they require some major research which I did not want to do in the November rush to 50,000 words, so I think it’s time to pick up my stack of books and get back into the research. It’s pretty much the best part of the job.
    Required Reading

    Required Reading

     

  3. MOVING: After my swim on Tuesday I was feeling exceptionally motivated to do something yesterday. Not something crazy, like going for a run, but maybe some yoga. I love me some Hatha yoga and for the love of Freya, couldn’t find a single studio in my neighborhood (even when I broadened that significantly) that offered a Hatha class during the day. It was all Bikram and Power Vinyasa, two things that I don’t particularly enjoy. I could’ve You Tubed it, of course, but that would’ve been too much work. WAAAY more than driving somewhere any paying for a class. So instead I did not exercise – didn’t even go for a walk. I need to do better today.

    unicorn yoga