Monthly Archives: December 2012

Understanding when you can’t meet all your goals

Where did the time go? We are just days away from 2013 and not everything on my goal list was accomplished in 2012. This year brought many changes to my life that I didn’t anticipate when I celebrated the start of 2012.

My daughter has been having health issues and we moved to Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, life really got in the way this year and I’m OK to say that I didn’t accomplish everything that I wanted to.

2012 is ending with some positive changes and reason to hope that 2013 will be my year. I finally can say that our new home in Saudi Arabia feels like home. We’ve made some changes to really make it our own and our big shipment is in transit. Soon everything we shipped when we left the States will be here and then this will really be a home.

The move was hard, especially on our furry babies but everyone is now settled and we have a routine. I’m thankful for those who’ve we met that make our lives a little easier here and allow me more time to work. We have a fantastic nanny who is not a sitter but an excellent tutor for Baby Markey. I’m also happy to say we found someone to clean our house and tend to our yard who is not afraid of Oscar, our large dog.

Other than still playing catch up on all the writing time I lost, my routine includes Baby Markey’s music lesson, Latin Dance class and several play groups. There is no shortage of activities for children. We have also made wonderful friends, which is the first step to making a place your home.

Feeling settled, I have great hope and expectations for 2013. I WILL finish editing my next non-fiction dog book early this year and I’ll continue to make strides on my fiction work. I’m actually scheduled to finish my second fiction novel in January. Writing is a true journey and with each new project I grow and I’m reminded that I’ll never know it all. No one does. I’m a perpetual student of the craft and take pride in what each new day brings me professionally and personally as I grow as a writer.

I’m also hoping to pick up some new classes this year and get back into teaching my popular Writing Moms and new Time Management course. I’m fortunate to be continuing my freelance contracts and thankful for the Worldwide Web that makes everything I do possible.

I’m a firm believer in stopping and reflecting on each year. I’m going to take a few days off leading up to the first to review what I’ve accomplished and draft plans to reach my new goals moving forward in 2013.

2012 has taught me to be flexible and understanding. Life happens. You may not make an International move this year but I’m sure something will get in the way at some point of your plans. I’ve learned to be understanding. For a while I was hard on myself and mad that I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be with my career this year. However, I made those goals before I knew what 2012 had in store for me. I’ve had to understand that I couldn’t accomplish everything. It’s OK to extend deadlines when you have justifiable reasons.

I’m my worst critic and the toughest boss I’ve ever had. It’s important to take a step back when you need it or the work you produce won’t be the work that will make you proud.

2012 was a year of struggles and major growth personally. 2013 will be the year for the professional me.

As we prepare to celebrate 2012’s end, are you where you wanted to be? What are your plans for 2013?

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Christmas in the Middle East

We may not have the convenience of Holiday specials at the mall or the benefit of seeing the spirit of the season in every decorated building we enter but Christmas is alive in Saudi Arabia.

I do feel at times that retail markets pull at every parent’s heart strings in making them feel that they need to buy yet another toy for their child. Here in the Middle East, our television networks don’t have such commercials. I did feel the retail spirit of shopping through emails and ads for online shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I did most of my online shopping those days.

Living in the Middle East makes me appreciate the little things. This holiday season is more about family and giving and I feel that more here than I did in the States where often we get so caught up in receiving. It’s true Christians are greatly outnumbered here. We live in an Islamic nation and I respect that. However, I’ve enjoyed seeing our community come together as Christmas approaches. We did have a “Holiday Event” where kids made themed crafts and got to meet with a seasonal visitor in a red coat. We’re also planning a cookie drive where many families are making cookies and passing them out to workers around our compound. We’ve bought and sent a present to a little girl at a local orphanage.

The truth is that you don’t have to be Christian or even surrounded by Christians to share and pass along the holiday spirit. I mean, who doesn’t want a cookie!

We did find a tree and it’s decorated and surrounded by presents. My husband is taking vacation on Christmas Day and we look forward to celebrating our first Christmas here.

Have a wonderful Holiday season wherever you live and if you’re reading this, then I guess the world still goes on after the 21st.

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The writing elf

If only writers had their own version of the Elf on the Shelf. For those who aren’t familiar with the Elf on the Shelf, it is an elf sent from the North Pole to watch over the kids during the holiday season. Each night the elf flies back to the North Pole to report on the child’s daily behavior and then returns to the home, hiding in a different place everyday.

Our Elf on the Shelf’s name is Ba and our daughter is quick to look at him whenever she misbehaves. As a writer, no one watches me to make sure I write. Some days the distractions are great and temptation wins. However difficult it is working at home the rewards are great and such rewards are my “elf.”

I keep writing by setting goals and giving myself rewards. It’s little things like promising myself a new book to read or extra TV time that keeps me chugging along. What is your “elf?” What do you do to reward yourself and beat temptation?

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A stuffed animal crisis

So apparently butterflies are scary. Just kidding but what I’m now referring to as the “butterfly crisis” has taught us to miss the ease of shopping at physical stores even though the holiday crowds can get tiresome.

Some things we’ve had to adjust to now that we live in Saudi Arabia is that there are some items that we cannot buy here. If you are a mommy, then you’ll feel my pain with this next statement. You cannot buy Fischer Price and quality stuffed animals are hard to come by. Yes, and of course Baby Markey LOVES anything Little People, which is by Fischer Price. And she loves Build-A-Bear. We do have relatively easy access to Build-A-Bear but of course she wants an exclusive stuffed butterfly from their workshop.

So there are some things that we do ship in. Last week we got an email that the stuffed butterfly in transit was taken into custody by customs in Kuwait. Apparently the toy had to travel through that country to get to us. It’s now been held by customs for over two weeks! Of course it wasn’t until this happened that I realized that bad people sometimes send certain items via stuffed toys.

Needless to say toy shopping for our daughter has become interesting as I track orders from Fischer Price and the stuffed butterfly in custody. Living overseas is a great way to get you to plan ahead when shopping and be thankful for what you can find here. Honestly, most everything we need is here. The malls are no different than where I shopped in Houston, TX. I do miss the Christmas sales but not the insane crowds lining up outside Toys R Us (and we do have one here.)

Many of you have questioned the shopping over here so I wanted to write about it to tell people I’m not haggling merchants on prices in a stereotypical Middle Eastern market. We do have that here (so I’ve been told) but I’ve yet to visit the area. Oh and fellow moms, be careful when shipping menacing stuffed animals. You never know when an x-ray machine won’t be enough and your child’s toy will be taken into custody. I just have visions of the butterfly sitting in a dark room with one spotlight being interrogated. Haha! Hopefully Baby Markey’s toy will make it here but until then I assure you she has many stuffed animals to keep her company.

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The magic of Christmas

Being a mom to a toddler, I really understand the magic of Christmas. I’ve always loved it but the anticipation of seeing my daughter’s face Christmas morning is the only thought I need to ensure a plastered smile on my face.

Christmas is magic and being the one to create such magic for a child is the best feeling and probably one of my favorite parts of being a mom. It’s easy to use your creativity outside of writing this time of year. From purchasing presents, wrapping, writing on the card or tag, and putting thought into the arrangement of Santa presents. You don’t have to look far to find opportunities that beg for creative flare.

What do you get creative with during the holidays? Share below in a comment.

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The art of the tag

At Christmas time you can always tell that I’m a writer. The presents under the tree may not be as beautifully wrapped as my crafty mother’s presents but those present tags are amazing.

The holiday season is more about giving than receiving so I take great pride out of selecting personable gifts for everyone in my family. My tags aren’t just the generic to:____ from:_____, I love to put thought into them. Last year we got our daughter the Little People Zoo Talkers Zoo (a great gift for anyone shopping for toddlers) and the tag read, “To our little wild one!” This year she’s getting a doll for one of her presents so the tag reads, “You will always be my baby doll.”

I may not be crafty or into making those amazing scrapbooks like some but my tags are awesome and I save them each year. Put your writing to use this holiday season and create fun tags to go along with the perfect gifts that you’ve bought for the ones you love.

Do you get creative with present tags? Share some of you best tag work in a comment below.

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The artist’s Christmas shopping ways

As an artist, my creativity doesn’t just stay on the pages I write. I find that I’m creative in almost all aspects of my life and this includes Christmas shopping. This year I started shopping months out since most of our shopping is done online. Even though most presents to family and friends are not personally gift wrapped by me I still find ways to add that personable touch by being creative in what I chose.

I like to take great thought in what I buy. Every present needs to be perfect for its recipient and show them that I care. When it comes to my daughter each present represents an area of development. She is getting presents that promote role-playing, creativity, physical activities, etc.

And nothing is better than finding that perfect present for someone. I also love doing family presents. People are so quick to get lost in a new game or book so I love putting thought into gifts that will bring families together. Every year my family gets a family gift. This year I bought our family a Civil War collectable wall décor map for our new house and a golf toss game for our backyard.

Whatever you chose to buy for Christmas gifts remember you are an artist. Put your creative ways to the good use of giving this holiday season! How are you creative in what you buy?

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