Posted in Adult Fiction, Book Reviews

The Exiles

By Christina Baker Kline
Historical Fiction – Adult Fiction

My Synopsis
This story follows the journey of three women in the 1840s who are exiled to Australia from three different places and for three very different reasons. Much of this is based on facts, and some characters are based on actual people. It shows the ugly truths and injustices that were a part of Australia’s early days but also the kindness and resilience required of those who were sent there and became a part of its early society.

Continue reading “The Exiles”
Posted in Living Life, Random Thoughts

to-do vs done

My recent return from vacation had me wondering why I ever go on away. I came back to tons of laundry, an avalanche of emails, work hours my now relaxed body was unprepared for, and dirty city air. Not to mention the stress of unnecessary drama I was able to put on hold while away. Worst of all, the dreaded “To-Do” list had morphed into a diabolical monster I could no longer slay.

I became overwhelmed with all the things I had to do. This caused me to get sick. I had nausea and a fever every night for a week. I’m the type of person who can’t seem to find a middle ground. Once things get out of order even a tiny bit, I let them slide into chaos. I either have a place for everything and everything in its place, or I’m shuffling through piles of clutter I can’t seem to tackle. So I used to have a process to help me deal with my task list.

I was once told to write out my to-do list and address one thing at a time. The idea was that I could cross out each item once completed, and that action would cause me great satisfaction. This satisfaction would inspire me to do more and stave off chaos. This worked for a while. The problem was that my to-do list was never empty. While crossing things out was satisfactory, adding on new items or items that repeat (laundry, dishes) became tedious and draining. Depressing.

The problem started to be that I couldn’t look at the list without prioritizing. My priorities were almost always housework and chores. It’s a mindset I can’t seem to ever shake. So even if I did accomplish things like a nice walk or a bit of writing, I felt guilty because I saw all the other items on the list. Eventually, the list was so daunting I couldn’t do anything. Doing nothing felt better than doing the “wrong” thing. However, then guilt and stress would sink in. That’s how my post-vacation week has been; nothing got accomplished.

By the end of the week, I had to admit that those moments of nausea and fever were nothing new. They weren’t just post-vacation problems. This has been going on for a long time. Worse still, they are often preceded by what I can only describe as anxiety attacks. And these horrible moments of stress and illness add to my exhaustion, making my to-do list even more impossible, so the vicious cycle turns.

No more to-do list for me. I have a new plan, and perhaps it will work, and perhaps it will not. The reality is that I don’t need a list to know what tasks need to get done. Emails ding non-stop, clean clothes get sparse, clutter levels rise, and cupboards go bare. I do not need a list.

So instead of a “to-do” list, I create a mental “done list” at the end of the day.

This list can be anything. Did I do anything other than sleep- great, it goes on the list. Got dressed? It’s on the list. Ate breakfast? It’s on the list. I can’t look at a to-do list and feel good about the few things I’ve done when there are still so many things on that list. My done list makes me feel better. I may need to clean and grocery shop but decide to do gardening and writing instead. I may have goals that get blindsided by a random task or a time-sensitive emergency. Instead of seeing these as excuses for my incomplete “to-do” list, they now go on my “done” list. I can go to bed at night satisfied that I accomplished something instead of thinking about the rest of the items on an impossible to-do list.

It may seem like I’ve set a very low bar for myself, but you know what? It’s better than doing nothing. It’s better than stress, anxiety, guilt, headaches, sickness, and worry. My least favorite thing to say is “I have to” or “I should have”.
It’s no longer about what I still need to do; it’s about what I’ve done. Very similar to thinking about all I am grateful for, all I have, rather than thinking about the things I lack or may wish I had.

It’s a mindset, and I hope it works. While I was drafting this blog, I stopped to feed the birds, and I stopped to take a phone call planning a get-together. Tonight when my mind tries to rattle off things from a “to-do” list, I’ll fight back with my “done” list, and these will most certainly be counted.

Posted in Book Nerd Stuff

Blind Date with a book.

If you’re a book lover, you know having a good book to read on vacation is super important. I had a beach vacation coming up and put several beach-themed books on hold at the local Library. As vacation approached, I misread the Library’s open hours and never had the opportunity to get my books.

I was so upset. Almost depressed. I had a beautiful vacation planned, plenty to do, people I love to spend time with, but no book planned. I had carefully selected the books I wanted to bring and put them on hold weeks ago. I was waiting for them all to be ready for pick up. I stopped by the day before I left only to find the Library was closed for Good Friday. The remorse I felt from this was genuine. Please tell me some of you have felt the same.

Continue reading “Blind Date with a book.”
Posted in On Writing

Where have you been?

I have enjoyed so many books, but some stick with me longer than others. And more often than not, it’s because of where they took me. Not just on good adventures to a fun place, not just the great people you miss when you close the book, but somewhere that returns to you long after you’ve finished reading. What stories have left you with false memories? Places that have been so well written, you almost feel them as your own memory? Not just what happened there but how they felt and how they smelled.

Continue reading “Where have you been?”
Posted in On Writing

Acceptance vs Expectance

Last month I wanted a change, so I chopped off my hair. I had hair down my entire back, and now it barely covers my ears. It’s certainly changed, but it’s not cute. In fact, it’s an absolutely terrible home haircut. I should be more upset. Or, ideally, I should love the “new me .” Instead I simply have something new to dislike when I look in the mirror.

Continue reading “Acceptance vs Expectance”