Top Ten Tips for a Happy 2021

With the uptick in COVID-19 cases in our province and the heightened alert of everyone regarding isolations, I think it necessary to concentrate on what we can control. We can control our behaviours, ie, wear a mask and wash our hands. We can also control how we react to situations, ie, restraining the urge to gossip about how cases evolved or how someone was irresponsible with lax protocols. We can also choose to remain positive and upbeat, and maybe spread a smile instead of a virus.

In the spirit of maintaining sanity and spreading joy not disease, I’ve concocted a Top 10 list to lighten your spirit. Or make you drink. Either way, it is a real mood enhancer. Enjoy!

 Now go wash your hands!

Top 10 Tips for a Happy 2021

10.  Last year is so last year – Resist the urge to look into the rear-view mirror with horror-stricken eyes on a year that dragged its ass into your world and ate your last donut. Instead, look ahead to all the possibilities that are laying at your feet. “What, a new brand of wine? How nice!” See?  POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.

9. You don’t have to visit family, unless you want to – “Uh, I can’t come over, Aunt Martha.  COVID, remember?” Sometimes, it’s better to stay away from family. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that. Maybe Aunt Martha was nasty to you one too many times, so visiting her can be off the table with no guilt. A GIFT FROM THE UNIVERSE.

8. Outside doesn’t have to be scary- Even in the grips of winter, the outdoors can trigger all kinds of good feelings. Go for a walk in the woods, (not in the creepy woods, but in the nice bright ones with sunshine) snowshoeing (Hubby bought us both a pair to try. Should be interesting) or take the doggo out for a trot. The fresh air will do wonders for your body and your mood. You won’t act like such a twatsicle when someone asks you a simple question, if you’ve just spent half an hour laughing at your neighbour for falling on her ass in the snow. See? I’m helpful.

7.  You can choose to tell, ‘Dry January and February and every other month’ to Fuck-off – It seems to be all the rage, now. People are posting about not drinking for the next few months because everyone consumed copious quantities of alcohol during the initial COVID lockdown and thereafter, BECAUSE IT WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP LIVING.  STOP THE MADNESS. We are still in a pandemic and while I applaud the do-gooders who are keeping themselves ‘dry’ for a cause or just for themselves, I am choosing to drink my face off. I’ll be posting my weekly posts about how much wine I consumed on the weekend. I’m helping to keep the liquor stores stocked and the wine prices lowered while the rest of you ‘dryers’ are abstaining now, so when you do return to drinking, there’s not a shortage. Can you imagine if everyone stopped drinking? The liquor stores would stop ordering supplies, because of lack of sales. People will be laid off. The public would resort to standing outside the liquor stores wondering where all the wine went and why the shelves remain empty. They’ll be brandishing cocktail forks and little paper umbrellas protesting the government and their lack of response to a dire situation…I JUST SAVED ALL OF THAT FROM HAPPENING BECAUSE I KEPT DRINKING. YOU. ARE. WELCOME.

6.  Try something new – It can be a new hobby, a new tv show, a new movie, a new hairstyle, a new spouse…I kid. I kid.  A little bit of change can make a big difference, so embrace the time to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Paint, draw, write, dance; something that’s different and maybe challenges you. I’m going to try drunk snowshoeing. See? Add alcohol and ANYTHING can be fun. See #5.

5. Redecorate – I’m talking rooms in a house, here. I redecorated the front room of our house and although it was a lot of work, it’s one of my favourite places to hang out, now. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Hubby has decided to take it one step further by redoing all the floors in all 3 bedrooms on the second floor. With hardwood. Meaning he is responsible for tearing up the carpet, because he wanted to even though SOMEBODY told him not to.  Yay. So, he’ll be tearing up carpet and I’ll be drinking because nothing says, ‘support for Hubby in his new endeavour’ like a wife standing by with a full glass of wine repeatedly reminding him, “I told you not to do that by yourself.”  So much fun!

4. Rest – Sometimes, just taking a day to sit and watch the snow fall or watch a mindless tv program can ease your brain and give yourself a much-needed break. No need to work endlessly or try to keep yourself too busy. There’s such a thing as burning out and you do not need to be everything to everyone all the time. Take it easy. *sip, sip*

3.  Get some exercise – I’m not talking about a marathon or the World Body Building Championship, just move a bit. Go for a walk, take in a yoga class or something to get your heart rate up. You will be surprised how much better your feel afterwards…and, you will have burned enough energy to have that glass of wine. Or five. It’s all about balance, people.

2. Clean up – It’s a large task and one that I abhor. It’s time-consuming and tedious, however, decluttering has advantages beyond a tidy house. The process of purging gives you a sense of purpose. You have a task that keeps you focused on the activity of improving your space. AND, what you decide to toss may still be appropriate for donation. Check with your local Salvation Army or Diabetes Association for their guidelines during COVID. You could be making a big difference in someone else’s life, not just your own.

1. Choose to be happy – I read this somewhere and there’s elegance in its simplicity. You can choose to be happy instead of lamenting the situation you find yourself in. You can choose to smile instead of frowning your way through the day. You can choose to lift someone up with a positive word or a kind gesture instead of begrudging her. It’s simple. And it doesn’t cost anything. A win-win all around.

Those are the tips to keep your spirits up and your mood in-check. When in doubt, there’s wine.

Always.

Stay safe and stay healthy,

KJ xo

Stumbling Onwards

I often feel like I’m flailing hopelessly in anything I set out to do. I’m not alone in that feeling.

I’ve resolved to keep my head down and concentrate on the project ahead of me, instead of focusing what I’ve done. Putting out more work and aiming for something better than the last, helps me to continue moving forward. The compliments and the accolades are nice and it’s good to garner feedback, but in the end, it’s only the work that’s important. It’s what lines your shelves or fills your inbox. It’s a confusing and often challenging process. I’d like to think there are other people who feel the same, and we have mutual struggles. Everyone is kind of wandering around trying to do the best they can with what they have and work hard. We are all trudging uphill and holding on to the belief the hill will eventually even out and we can just stop and rest for a bit; have a gander at the view and take a deep breath. I do a lot of research, read as many how-to’s as possible, but it’s tedious. It’s not always useful nor the best plan for me. I often end up doing my own thing and hoping it works out. Best put, I fly by the seat of my pants and I hope I don’t crash and burn.

In the meantime, if you feel like you’re the only one struggling up that hill, you are not alone. I’m right there with ‘ya. I’m the one with my head down and my sturdy shoes strapped on tight so I don’t trip over a pebble and roll back down. Also, I bring wine. Lots of wine…

Stay safe,

KJ xo

Handling Rejection

There are many writers who decide to publish their work independently for various reasons. Many are frustrated with the extended time it takes to propose traditional publishers. By the time the manuscript hits their desks, they read, and ask for more chapters only to reject it in the end, a good six months has passed. At least. In that same six months, an independent author could have the book edited, a professional cover completed, and hit the internet for sales. Many opt for the latter just for time constraints. I enjoy the process of self-publishing. I like creating my own covers. I had help on my latest, Kevin, and it was a joy to involve other talented individuals who understand your vision and want to help you realize it. I enjoy searching for the right images, I enjoy formatting and learning about fonts and which paper is best for the look I want inside the book, as well as out. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it’s frustrating and if you don’t want the hassle of doing any of that work yourself, then hiring a professional to do it for you is a great option. If traditional publishing is more your thing, being prepared for the many letters and emails you will receive is a must. Rejection is as much a part of that process as querying potential houses.

The rejection letters I have accumulated over the years have all taught me a thing or two. The form letters were not constructive, however, I have a few who took the time to give me pointers on what a traditional house would be looking for. Keep to their specific genre, edit carefully, take your time with the characters, etc. Initially, the letters stung. I took them to heart. I gave it a bit of time and after looking at them again, with more of an open mind and less swearing, they were actually useful. When I approached writing my first novel, I sat down and went through a more methodical plotting strategy. I went online and searched how other writers plot their stories. I watched videos, I bought novel-writing books and I researched how to edit. I downloaded editing software, I purchased a copyediting book, I wrote and re-wrote. I continue to research other ways on how to approach a novel. I structure things differently. I seek advice from other writers. I do all of this now, and never would have thought of doing any of it had I not been rejected. I value the opinions and I learn more everyday. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon and I learn something new with each book.

I’m preparing to write my third novel, the sequel to False Hope. I’m taking my time with it. I have storyboards in place and I will continue to read and write and work. The rejection letters are sitting beside my desk prepared to be read again. They’re not pleasant, but they remind me of how far I’ve come and how far I can go. Rejection is a natural part of any business, not just writing and accepting it as a tool for learning instead of a personal attack is far more beneficial. Take a look at those letters. Read them for what they are intended; as a guide and a tool, not as a means of sending you away. Good luck.

KJ xo

Is Validation Overrated?

We look for validation from others in order to feel accomplished, but do we really need it? Our own satisfaction from doing good work should be enough to propel us on to the next project, but we often look to others for their thoughts, input, feedback and yes, validation. Their nod that our work is sufficient or competent, often means more to us than our belief in our work. It should be the other way around. Our confidence should trump others’ opinions, but we are slaves to peer pressure and popular opinion. Collective agreement. I have to take a step back and be grateful for the ability to write stories I want to tell and have people enjoy them. That basic appreciation for why I write keeps me going. Look for your own purpose and appreciate the hard work you’ve been putting in to creating the best representation of you, out there.

Take care,

KJ xo

Writing

Too many times we imagine barriers that prevent us from following our passion. We erroneously think we need permission from others to follow our path when all we really need is to give ourselves permission to be who we need to be. I became a writer because I write. I became an author because I wrote books and self-published them. I decided to write them the way I wanted. I decided to publish them instead of waiting for anyone to tell me I was good enough to publish. If it fails, it’s on me. But if it succeeds…also, me.

Have a great week and believe in yourself enough to follow your passion. Whatever that may be…

KJ xo