Back on the Hamster Wheel

I fell off the writing wagon.  I know.  I KNOW.  It’s November, NaNoWriMo month.  I should be vomiting up words by now.  I should be wrist deep in carpel tunnel guards with matching novelty socks.

But I’m not.

And…I don’t even care that I’m NOT NaNoing.


I couldn’t do it this year.  No NaNoWriMo.  The hamster wheel called me back to my old habits.  Work! Work! Work!  No time for creativity.  No time to recharge.  No time to blog, or write, or paint, or take walks.  One excuse led to another, and another, and ANOTHER.  And here I am, feeling bad about stuff.  New habits are SO hard to establish!

Every year, around this time, I fall off of social media.  It’s not just WordPress.  FaceBook, emails…pretty much everything.  I check in for a couple of minutes every few days, and that’s about it.  No comments.  No new posts.

I don’t know why I drop off the planet as the temperatures drop. It always starts out well enough.  Halloween, my wedding anniversary, fall festivals…when you’re having fun, who has time for social media?  But then…things change.  As it gets colder out, my actions turn sad and hermit-like.  Before you know it, I’m binge-watching Netflix and scrambling to get holiday stuff done.

I knew I wouldn’t be NaNoing this year, so I signed up for Writing 101 and Blogging 201   again, hoping to keep active in the blogging community.  I’ve made some great friends on WordPress, friends that lift my spirits and encourage me.  Good medicine if I want to prevent a hermit migration.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been feeling motivated to write anything related to either class.

So here I am, feeling like a flannel covered blob.  I don’t want to write.  I don’t want to do any of the things that make me happy.  Everything seems like too much effort.  I’m on the hampster wheel.  Running, running, running.  Going nowhere in a hurry. It’s not good.  I know me.  I know how I get when I go too far down this particular road.  Look!  Over there.  I recognize that tree leaf.  You know, like that “new leaf” I’m supposed to be turning over.  LOL


It’s HARD to turn yourself around, even when you KNOW the path you’re on tends to be destructive.  I know I need to go outside more.  The fresh air helps.  But I look outside my window, and it’s raining again today.  It’s wet, and cold, and gloomy outside.  It’s the kind of day that makes you want to stay in your pajamas and hibernate.  It’s hard to get moving.  It’s hard to get started.  On anything.  And the less I do, the worse I feel because guilt sets in.  I think of all the things I should be doing.  The more guilt I feel, the less I want to do.  It’s a vicious circle of would’ve-should’ve-could’ve.

I Thought I’d Be A Grown Up By Now!

When I was a kid, I used to dream about what it would be like to be a grown up.  No rules.  No school.  Nobody telling you what to do all the time.  It was going to be totally AWESOME.  (Cue up Cindy Lauper music!)

Flash forward to my middle years…and yeah.  I think I must have been misinformed or something.  No Rules?  Pffftttttt!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ve got more rules than a yardstick…or is that rulers?  Or both.  Anyway, there are scads of rules!  Rules for driving, rules for work, rules set by the homeowner’s association…  I’m not saying I want to live in anarchy.  However, when I was kid, I couldn’t imagine there’d be soooo many extra rules shaping the way I live my life, or the way I keep my yard trimmed.  LOL

No school?  PLEASE!!!  You never stop learning.  I just took a class this past week on “How to Study.”  Of course I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, otherwise there’d be no point of sitting through a 90-minute lecture for 10-minutes worth of useful information.  I dragged my kiddo along for this one.  Misery.  Company.  Mockery.  At least we had a family bonding moment.

No one telling you what to do?  I wish this were true!  I wish I had more control over my life.  I wish I still didn’t feel like I’m at the mercy of other people, their opinions, their judgment.  As you get older, you learn to adjust to the harness and like a good little mule, you learn to pull your own weight.  But the illusion of being fully in charge of your own destiny is just that, an ILLUSION.  When my kiddo needs something important, his needs come before my wants or desires.  That’s parenting.  When my boss has a project for me, it’s my job to see it through, regardless of my own desires.  That’s what you do when you want a paycheck.  You earn the pretty-pretty money, pay your bills, be a good citizen of the planet. Blah, blah blah…

I’m not saying my life hasn’t had its fair share of AWESOMENESS.  I just imagined it differently.  I figured there’d FINALLY be a point in my life where I felt like a grown-up.  I thought there’d be a milestone moment.  I thought I’d be able to say, “Ah ha!  Now, I get it.  This is what it’s like to be a grown up.”  Instead, I get to watch my body slowly age with time.  I can see the signs of aging, especially around my eyes.  My belly’s a little softer.  My style of clothing has changed to reflect my changing body.  Less trendy clothing.  More timeless pieces in my wardrobe.  And while I feel FAR more comfortable with my body than I did when I was younger, I’m STILL waiting to feel like a grown up.

I look like a grown up on the outside.  Why don’t I feel like one on the inside?  I didn’t think I’d still be struggling with the questions: Who am I?  And… What do I want to be when I grow up?  I would have thought I’d have these questions solved by my middle years!

It’s kind of funny in a way.  The joke is on me!  The reality is, I will probably never be able to fully answer either of these answers.  The journey is what’s important.  Living life.  Making conscious choices.  But in most ways, if I’m truly living my life, I’ll always be a child, a student.  There’s so much more to learn!

Recently, I’ve found myself trying on the role of mentor.  I suppose this is a natural progression when you’ve reached the middle years of your life.  My own mentors were in their late thirties/early forties or older I was in my twenties.  It’s not a conscious choice, at least it hasn’t been for me.  But when you work with people half your age, advice happens!  (Solicited or not.)  When you’ve lived more life, and made more mistakes, hopefully, you learn a couple of things along the way.  But then…I find myself wanting to LEARN even more, because who am I to give advice to anyone?  What do I know?  There are days when I feel more parts ignorance than smart.  And then…I feel even LESS like a grown up than ever!  It’s like I’m wearing “Mommy’s dress and heels,” playing make believe, pretending to be a grown-up, and often failing miserably.  *sigh*

Perhaps more tuneage would help?  (Cue Cindy Lauper music.)  LOL

Coffee Klatsch, Updates, and Muskrat Love at Yonder Hoffman Haus

I saw a muskrat while I was out and about yesterday.  An actual muskrat.  ADORABLE!!!  I had my camera ready, taking pics of the river that runs through my neighborhood when I saw him.  Unfortunately, he dove into the river and under the water faster than I could work my camera.

Here's the area where I saw my animal friend. This muskrat was about the size of a small cat. Brown fur like beaver, but a long, skinny tail.

Here’s the area where I saw my animal friend. The muskrat was about the size of a small cat. They look a lot like an otter, with brown fur like a beaver, and a long, skinny tail.      *I love the reflection of the clouds in the water in this pic.  It like something from another world.

I’m happy to report that my cold is nearly gone. The rest of the family is also feeling MUCH better.  Yonder Hoffman Haus no longer sounds like the TB Ward in an old Hollywood film. (Cue melodramatic violin music.)  Thank goodness we don’t get sick very often or I’d have to start buying stock in Vernors ̶ the ginger ale pop/soda with magical healing properties.

For those of you who aren’t from Michigan, we drink Vernors when we’re sick.  It’s one of those weird/traditional/regional things, passed along by our weird/traditional/regional grandparents.  You can drink tea and eat soup when you’re sick, but it’s a given that you must drink Vernors.  (And when you’re feeling healthy again, Vernors tastes AMAZING with a scope of vanilla ice cream.)  If you’re NOT from Michigan, you can buy Vernors online, but HOLY MARKUP!!  I paid a dollar for a two-liter at the grocery store.  It was on sale. Online, you could pay up to six dollars for a two-liter, plus shipping.  YIKES!

New to me, refurbished laptop seems to be working out.  She had a hiccup or two on her maiden voyage, but hubby reformated something or other and now she’s behaving herself. USB ports are tired, so that’s a little frustrating.  I know MS Vista is somewhat different from XP, but it should be faster at loading up pictures from my SD card for viewing than my old computer.  I don’t store pics on my laptop, so the problem is either in the ports or in the Vista program itself.  Yes, I’m still technologically backwards when it comes to my laptops, but you should see my cell phone!  It’s practically an antique.

The new laptop doesn’t have a Word program on it yet, so I’ve had to do all my Writing 101 assignments online.  I’ve got mixed feeling on this, but I’m rolling with it.  My writing laptop has my Word program, but I don’t allow it to play on the Internet.  My new laptop is for surfing the web, but I can’t write with it offline.  Two laptops for two different functions are all fine and well until your interests dovetail…like when I want to write out a new WordPress post.

Despite all the computer nonsense, I managed to complete all five of my assignments this week for Writing 101: Poetry, through WordPress’s Blogging U.  I’ve had little to no experience with poetry.  My preconceived notions tell me that poetry is dry, stuffy, and serious.  This is not true of course, but that’s the story I’ve told myself so I could avoid learning about poetry.  Isn’t that what we do?  We tell ourselves stories so we can be right! I’m not a poet, so why bother learning?  Meanwhile, I wrote as much poetry in this single week as I probably have in my entire life.  So how do I know what I want or what I’m capable of with so little experience under my belt?

This year has been about crawling out of my comfort zone, trying new things, figuring out exactly WHO Juli Hoffman is when she’s not being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, etc.  And guess what?  I discovered I LIKE writing poetry.  It’s fun!  It’s like finger painting with words.  It’s squishy, messy, better throw plastic on the floor because this is going to drip all over and make a stain kind of writing!  If I took the class seriously, I might not feel this way.  If I’d tried writing poetry when I was younger, my perspective would be different.  If I took poetry seriously at all, I KNOW I wouldn’t feel so irreverent.  I’d want to write about flowers or angsty feelings:

“Blah, blah, blah…my roses bloom in the moonlit glow of your love.”

*GAG*  I think I need more Vernors!  LOL

I’m not a hearts and flowers writer.  When it comes time to write out my feelings, humor and sarcasm are my trusty sword and shield.  As long as I keep my defenses up, I feel as though I can’t get hurt as easily.

I think that’s another reason why I’ve avoided poetry.  How terrifying it must be to throw your emotional baggage out into the world, with NO protection?  Your words dirtied and battered, or worse still, ignored by a fickle audience. I’d rather play with my words, make mash potato mountains out of my sentences.  “You don’t like my prose?  Food fight!” THWAK!!!  Writing 101 has taught me there are MANY different types of poetry, that poetry can be playful.  It doesn’t have to be serious.  It doesn’t have to be angsty.  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  It doesn’t have to be meaningful to be enjoyable.

The Most Super-Duper, Exhaustive, Comprehensive, and Current Listing of Free and Paid Book Advertising Websites and Ideas

Juli Hoffman:

Normally, I’m not a “Reblogger,” but this is THE MOST comprehensive list I’ve ever seen for book promotion. Ana Spoke has REALLY outdone herself. And her book, “The Shizzle, Inc.” is HILARIOUS.

Originally posted on

Hi, everyone,

As mentioned in the previous post, I have found the hard way that advertising books on social media is not a very good or even a decent marketing strategy, if it is, in fact, your one and only strategy. As an update, I have to let you know that it does work, though – I have ignored Twitter for a few days last week in the wake of this realisation, and my book sales dropped from an average of 11 per week to 3. Not a huge difference in numbers, but let’s express it in percentage points…OH MY GOD, I’VE LOST 75% OF SALES! Sorry for yelling, but you get my point, right? Keep working at social media, but do consider doing what the pros have always done – broadcast to unsuspecting masses.

I hope I can help by sharing this list of book marketing sites and ideas…

View original 3,070 more words