Coffee Talk: Disappointment, Made Better by Sunshine

Remember those exciting decisions we made a few weeks back that I was looking forward to revealing this week?

Welp, things didn’t go as planned. But when do they ever, really?

Our first decision was to get some chickens. More specifically, we decided to put in an order for 15 buff orpington chicks (14 laying hens and one rooster), which were to arrive this week.  We placed the order and then went out and got everything we needed to raise them, and were all set to receive them this week. Instead, we received a notice that the USPS extended last week’s weather-induced embargo on live animal shipping to the end of this week, in order to let them catch up on undelivered mail.

So now we won’t be getting our chicks until April. Which means no eggs until next fall at the earliest. Le sigh.

On the plus side, this gives us more time to figure out our chicken coop/tractor design and what we’re going to do about predators, and also now we won’t have to house juvenile chickens inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

So that’s one disappointment. And that decision had led to our second decision, which was to be our solution to the predator problem: getting a livestock guardian dog. You guys, we had decided to get a puppy. Specifically, we were all set to get an Anatolian shepherd puppy.

But for a variety of reasons, that also ended up falling through. There were just too many obstacles that kept cropping up that ultimately convinced us that it’s not the right time yet, and also that perhaps that’s not the right breed. And while I can see now that it’s for the best that things didn’t work out, I was pretty torn up about it when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen.

Not that we won’t be getting another dog, or perhaps even a puppy, at some point. We’re keeping an eye on the local shelters for something suitable, and we haven’t completely ruled out an Anatolian when another one becomes available. But it won’t be that sweet girl that we had our eye on and were all ready to bring home, and I’m sad about that.

Also, today marks three months since Pete’s passing, so there are mixed emotions. We still miss the heck out of him and, truth be told, we aren’t quite ready to move on to a new pup just yet. We’re trusting in God’s timing and praying that he’ll lead us to the right dog at the right time. He’s got an excellent track record of bringing us excellent dogs at just the right time, so we just need to be patient and trust that he’ll do it again.

Besides, Boudicca is enjoying the heck out of being an only furbaby for the time being. She’s getting spoiled rotten.

So it’s been a week full of disappointment, but there’s been cause for rejoicing, too. The weather thawed out, the last two days have been spring-like and full of sunshine, we got our well fixed and our water restored yesterday, and today I took my first shower in *mumblety* days.

In lieu of all the animal wrangling we thought we’d be doing this week, we’ve been cleaning and organizing, and I’ve been busy marketing myself and reaching out to potential clients. I’m still waiting for my newest client to start sending me work, and in the mean time I’ve been posting articles from my old freelance writing Substack to my Medium account. I finally signed up to the Medium Partner’s Program, which means my stories earn a little bit of money when paying members read them, so if you’ve got a paid Medium membership, spending some time reading my recent articles is an easy way you could help us out while we wait for new work to start coming in.

So is buying my books, if any of them look good to you. Most of them are also available on Overdrive through your local library (did you know indie authors get paid when you check out their books through the library? The more you know…).

Of course, we’re both also always grateful to be supported through prayer.

Maybe it’s just the weather turning that’s making me optimistic, but I have a feeling things are going to get back on track and start going our way again soon. I hope. At any rate, barring any other unforeseen catastrophes, I can look forward to getting fluffy baby chickens for my birthday, and there still may be a puppy in our near future. And we need to get busy starting seeds and getting our garden beds ready for spring planting. And I’ve still got a novel to finish. So it’s not like there’s not plenty to keep us busy while we wait for things to work out.

How are you faring in the aftermath of Winterpocalypse ’21? Are you recovering, or are you still dealing with yuck? And how can I pray for you?

Coffee Talk: So Winter. Much Brrr.

When I sat down last Sunday with my bullet journal to plan my week, I knew I was going to be dealing with a high degree of unpredictability. Instead of listing out my usual weekly to do list, I instead listed out a few goals that I hoped I’d be able to get around to, along with an overriding goal: “Be Flexible!”

That willingness to be flexible and hold my goals loosely turned out to be a real asset in a week full of misadventures that included (thankfully brief) power outages, learning to use our kerosene heater (which didn’t come with a manual), exploding Pyrex, 2 AM hikes through the snow in sub-zero temperatures, getting lunged at by our new neighbor’s cranky, arthritic old pit bull, not a lot of sleep, and becoming reliant on baby wipes and dry shampoo. But despite all of that, we were a lot better off this week than a lot of people, so I have no complaints.

By the way, I’m praying for you, Texas. ♥

I did manage to get around to a few of my goals this week, including pitching another potential client, updating my pet blog, posting some articles to my Medium account, and applying to write for a publication there. As for the pet blog, I wrote a detailed content marketing and SEO guide for pet businesses, but the advice applies to any type of business (and to writing for the internet in general), so if that’s something you might be able to use, be sure to check it out.

As for making progress on the novel, that didn’t happen this week. A general rule for me and the way I’m wired is that novel writing just doesn’t happen when I’m in survival mode, and this week was primarily about surviving with all of our digits and our sanity intact. There were some touch-and-go times when losing said sanity was a greater danger than frostbite, but we managed to keep it along with all our fingers and toes.

As I write this, it’s a balmy 30 degrees outside, and melting snow is dripping from the roof. We’re in for one more night of single-digit temps, and then it’s supposed to start thawing out tomorrow. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ll just say I’m so, so very glad to live where this sort of cold is an anomaly (and Lord willing it will stay that way) and, when it does happen, it’s usually short-lived. Somebody remind me that I said this when it’s 100 degrees in July and I’m tempted to complain about the southern humidity.

Next week is bound to be another week requiring a high degree of flexibility, for reasons pertaining to one of those decisions I mentioned last week (if not to both of them). Probably not a lot of writing will get done, but I’ll give it a valiant effort. Hopefully, though, you can look forward to a big reveal by this time next week.

How are you coping with this week (or was it business as usual where you live)?

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Coffee Talk: Novel Progress, Job Hunt Progress, and Secrets Brewin’ Around the Homestead

Since these updates are coming more randomly now, let’s try a new title.

Wow, you guys, last week was kind of a crazy one, and this week also got off to an unexpected start.  I can’t tell y’all too much about it — or rather, I don’t want to just yet — but I can say that decisions were made regarding the ol’ homestead that left us neck-deep in research and that are going to make our lives here at the Bauhaushold a little topsey turvey for a while. What those decisions were, I’m going to leave for a surprise. Suffice to say, we’ve got a lot to do in the coming weeks to get ready.

really wish I could tell you where we went and what we did yesterday, but that would spoil the best surprise. I’ll be sure to “circle back” to it when the time is right. I can tell you that it involved getting to know some more good people from our area and spending more than an hour outdoors in the freezing drizzle with an insufficient number of layers, and that when we got back I was slightly damp, covered in hair, and I couldn’t feel my feet. But I was also very excited about the future.

We had planned to get busy this week with some of our preparations, but full-on winter weather kicked in here and it looks like it’s going to be hanging around a while. So I’m trying to take advantage of being stuck indoors to make some progress on the writing and freelance job hunting front. As far as the latter goes, I’ve got some great news! I’ve been invited to join the content team for Care Credit, so they should start sending work my way soon.

So with one new steady corporate client secured, the goals I’m focusing on now are to find one or two more clients of that caliber, and to break into writing for trade magazines. To that end, one thing I actually managed to get done last week was set up this landing page for my services.

As far as the novel goes, I’m making progress in small bites, committed to working on it at least twenty minutes a day. I know that sounds short, but I can usually do a couple of pages in that length of time. In those short but consistent bursts of time, I finished the epilogue and then went back and finished the big scene I’d left off on. Now I’ve just got several short, action-packed scenes leading up to the final confrontation.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I realized a few things. One is that I’m not wired to be a fast and prolific novelist, and I’m okay with that. Also, that I enjoy novel writing so much more when I’m not putting pressure on it to become my primary career. I labored for years thinking that was The Dream, and being constantly frustrated and disappointed at that not working out.

But these days, my dreams are looking a lot more like making a living doing tangible things that involve working with my hands in the real world, far from a keyboard, and I’m growing more and more at ease with the idea of my novel writing being a side gig, something I do mostly for fun and relaxation with the added benefit of bringing in a little extra income each month.

And the third thing I realized is that I’m happiest when my life is full and I have a variety of things to do. I think by now, as I edge ever closer to the end of my fourth decade, I know myself well enough to know that even if I was making a full-time living from my novels, I still wouldn’t want to do that all day and I would still need some variety in my life. There are a number of labels for this — scanner personality, multi-passionate, renaissance soul, ADD — and I’m learning to embrace it. An that’s sure making my life a lot more enjoyable than fighting it.

See also: learning to let go, go with the flow, be flexible, and trust in God’s timing, doing what I can each day and trusting Him for the rest.

Anyway, I can’t wait to reveal the things we’re getting ready for. One of them will be here in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, but we’re going to have to wait more than a month for the second thing, and that’s going to be the hardest secret to keep. So stay tuned (but feel free to guess what they might be). In the meantime, I’ll continue to get writing things done in between all the preparations.

Friday Update

Friday Update: Homestead Chores, Catnip and Freelance Writing Goals

Welp, this was not a good week for the novel. Today was a warmish and pretty day, so I scrapped all my writing plans for today and we went outside and “did the things” around the homestead. Said things included some minor repairs around the property, and gathering materials for what will eventually be our garden beds.

It also included discovering catnip! I’ve long suspected that the weed growing underneath our pole barn might be just that, based on the way our tabby, Boudicca, goes nuts every time I walk through it and track some in on my shoes, but I kept forgetting to check and make sure. Today I remembered, and sure enough, it’s catnip.

I picked a bunch to dry and, after rinsing it, gave her a tiny nibble — and created a monster. I had to hide the rest of it to keep it away from her until she calmed down. But I’ve been meaning to get some decent quality catnip to put inside the kick pillow I made for her a while back, so once this stuff dries out that’s where it’s headed, and she’ll be happy again.

I also discovered that I’m out of shape. I haven’t been walking since winter started, and I’m going to have to make myself get out there and start doing that again, as the weather permits. I know it’s so much better for my mood and my health once I get over the hurdle of going out in the cold.

As far as the work search goes, this week was mostly about laying ground work and coming up with a solid plan. I updated my long-neglected portfolios and reworked my bio to take the emphasis off of pet writing. I did send out a letter of introduction and a query letter, both of which I’m still waiting to hear back on, and I wrote and submitted an article on spec, which was promptly rejected, with helpful feedback. I appreciate both the feedback and the promptness, and now that article will find a home on Medium, if I don’t decide to shop it around a bit more first.

As far as the game plan, I will bore you with the details, because it’s my blog and I can, but you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.

I’ve set four goals to focus on: one, to find two or three more steady corporate/big brand clients; two, to broaden out my niches to include business-to-business writing, as well as content writing in the areas of personal finance, health and nutrition for humans, and writing and freelancing; three, to pursue ghostwriting, something I’ve kicked around in the past but have never gone after full bore; and four, to expand my pet writing niche to pet trade magazines.

My first goal is primary, and if I can manage to replace my previous corporate clients, then I can pretty much stop there, because that will supply all the work I need, although this time around I’ll also keep pitching and writing in other niches to keep some diversity in my portfolio and bring in extra income.

At any rate, until I get some steady work coming in, my plan is to spend an afternoon each day of the week on a single goal– corporate on Monday, pitching in other niches on Tuesday, networking in ghostwriting circles on Wednesday, and researching and pitching trade mags on Thursday. And then setting Fridays aside for novel writing and book marketing.

So that’s the plan, and it’s helping everything to feel more manageable. That doesn’t cover everything, though. I still need to create some business writing samples, update my LinkedIn profile, and I’m debating on whether to just do a landing page on this site for my freelance work or set up a separate website. I was planning to do the former, but now I’m leaning toward the latter. I’ll take the weekend to think about it and let you know what I decide.

None of last weekend’s plans panned out — instead of watching our movie, husband and I ended up just talking while he made enchiladas, about which I have zero complaints, on either count. So maybe we’ll pick back up with the Ring Council tomorrow. All I know for sure is that I need a break from being on this laptop.

I hope you and yours have an excellent weekend!

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

An Off-Schedule Wednesday Check-In: New Friends, Not Enough Sleep, and Getting Things Done

Hoo boy, this week has not been the week in which I get organized and start managing my time better, let me tell you.

The week started on a high note by making new friends! You have no idea how exciting this is for us — these are the first friends we’ve made since moving to Arkansas two years ago. We met them on a “blind friend date” at a diner on Monday morning, and our breakfast meetup turned into an all day conversation. Thankfully, they knew the owners so we didn’t get kicked out and the wait staff didn’t give us too much stink eye.

So that was cool, and now we actually know some people here, which is awesome, but by the time we got home late in the afternoon, Monday was pretty much shot.

And then for some reason, I woke up at four AM the next morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I used to be able to function okay on six hours of sleep, but those days are far behind me. Fueled by coffee and good intentions, I managed to update my freelance portfolios and send out some letters of introduction, but that’s about it.

Today was going to be the day that I really kicked some butt in the productivity department. But alas, my brain has been scattered all day, and focus has been an elusive friend. It hasn’t been a total waste — I didn’t exactly kick any butt, but I managed to kick the day in the shins by tracking down some old press releases I wrote years ago that can go in my business-to-business portfolio, along with some personal finance articles, PLUS I submitted a pitch to a homesteading publication, so we shall see if that leads anywhere.

I also did a lot of market research. And now I’m at that point where my head feels full in the same way that my stomach feels full when I overeat. I’m not sure whether that’s an ADD thing or an overstimulated HSP thing, but it’s not a great feeling either way. So now I’m dumping all of this here in the hopes that getting it out will relieve some of the pressure in my head. And it seems to be working! Thank goodness — it’s not like I can unbutton my head pants or anything.

This week’s got two days left. I’m hoping to send out some more pitches tomorrow, as well as sit down and come up with a plan to get organized. And I’m really hoping to set aside a chunk of time on Friday to work on the novel. I will most likely see you back here then.

How’s your week going?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
Friday Update

Friday Update: Surviving Inauguration Day, Looking for Work, and Novel Progress, Such as it Is

Happy Friday, gang!

Regardless of your feelings about the new administration, can we all just breathe a big sigh of relief now that we’re on the other side of the inauguration and all of the media hysterics about violent protests turned out to be a big nothing burger? To say nothing of all of the Q-conspiracists’ talk about 4D chess and insurrection acts and EMP/cyber attacks and last minute military coups.

While I’d be lying if I said I’m optimistic about things, or that the unity they keep claiming they want is actually possible at this point, I do feel like a load’s been taken off now that we’ve had a peaceful transition.

On a related note, on Wednesday I posted an article about narcissistic projection that nobody seems to have read. Maybe because I gave it a bad title. At any rate, I’m mentioning it again because I think this is important information. So as long as you’re here, take a few minutes to give it a read.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done this week, mostly because I’ve been prioritizing prayer above everything else this week, and also we had a lot to get done around the house. I did finally take a few minutes this morning to add a few hundred words to the epilogue I started on Monday. Or rather, that I ended on Monday. Today I went back and wrote the beginning of it.

I haven’t been very organized with my time lately (if by “lately” you mean since this whole pandemic started ten months ago) and that really needs to change. This may be the last week I can realistically keep up with my daily blog challenge (I didn’t blog here yesterday, but I sent out a newsletter, and that counts). Last night, I learned that my only remaining steady writing client is going to be drastically reducing their assignment volume, so I’m going to have to start hustling to round up some new clients, and that’s going to keep me busy. Marketing and looking for new work is even more of a full-time job than having work. The silver lining in all of this is that it’s the kick in the pants I needed to finally break into business-to-business writing, which pays a lot better than the business-to-consumer content I’ve been writing these past seven or eight years. Say a prayer for me and wish me luck.

But with all that in mind, if I only have time for a little bit of writing on the side each day and it’s a choice between the blog or the novel, I’m going to prioritize the novel. I’m still going to aim for at least two or three updates here a week, though, so it’s not like I’m going away, just scaling back a bit.

So that’s been my week, in a nutshell. My weekend plans include avoiding the news and watching another hour or two of Fellowship (it’s the extended edition, in case you haven’t guessed–last time we left off right as the members of the Fellowship arrived for Elrond’s council meeting) and brushing up on my article pitching knowledge. Oh, and maybe also taking down the Christmas decorations. I was determined to leave it up all winter as a symbol of defiant hope, but we need to clear some space and so we need to pack it all up and put it in storage to make some room for a couple of projects.

It’s going to be sad to take it down, though, not the least of which is because Pete was still with us when we put it all up. Putting it all away is going to make his passing seem all the more final. I really miss my dog, y’all. It’ll be two whole months on Sunday and we’re both still struggling to adjust to his absence.

I hope everyone reading this has a blessed and restful weekend. ♥

Projection 101

Something that those with what are known in the psychology world as cluster B personality disorders, particularly Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is the designation for psychopaths and sociopaths, have in common with people of a particular political persuasion is a tendency towards projection.

What is projection? I’ve touched briefly on it here before, describing it as when someone accuses someone else of what they themselves are guilty of in order to deflect blame and attention away from themselves and onto their opposition.

But it goes beyond that. People of the above mindset are wired in such a way that they are pathologically incapable of even beginning to fathom that other people are different — with different morals, different values, different moral limits, different patterns of thought — than themselves, and so they feel perfectly justified in projecting their own guilt onto others. After all, what they’re accusing you of is exactly what they would do in your situation, and so you must secretly be guilty, too. They’re just exposing what in their minds is true.

This is destructive enough on an individual level when applied to interpersonal relationships. But when a large group of people who think this way get together, combine their resources, and attain power over those who don’t think this way, things get really dangerous. Then you begin to see entire groups of people maligned for evils they would never even think of committing — and not only maligned, but punished for them.

One fortunate thing for us normals is that people with this mindset can’t help but expose themselves and their true nature by the things they accuse others of doing or  being. They tell us exactly what they would do if they were in their opponents’ position, incapable of comprehending that most of those they’re lumping together simply want to live their lives in peace, get along with others, and be free to provide for themselves and their families as they see fit. Violent people see violence all around them and expect violence from others. Disloyal people see disloyalty all around them and expect disloyalty from others. Insert your sociopathic quality here and repeat, ad nauseum.

Conversely, kind and considerate people tend to see kindness and consideration and to expect it from others, and are shocked when they’re met with unkindness and lack of consideration, and with false accusations and unjust maligning of character. It shakes us off our foundation and leaves us floundering as we try to make sense of what just happened — which is why it’s such an effective tactic that the narcopath returns to again and again. See also: gaslighting

Maya Angelou famously said, when people tell you who they are, listen to them. It’s time to listen and pay attention.

It would not be the worst idea in the world, if you have time, to educate yourself about narcissists and psychopaths and the way these people think, as well as the tactics they use to manipulate, control, and get their way. On YouTube, Richard Grannon, Dr. Ramani, and the Surviving Narcissism channel are all good places to start.

***

We’re living in perilous times, friends. I wish I had some encouragement. But one of the best things we can do, besides pray, is arm ourselves with discernment skills and learn to exercise prudence.

Yesterday, during Bible study, this thought occurred to me — that God is going to allow things to get really bad before they get better, because these latter generations, who have lived our lives in relative ease and comfort, need to be exposed first-hand to true evil and see for ourselves what it’s capable of and what happens when sin and lawlessness are allowed to go unchecked. This life is our inoculation against evil, so that we will be immune to it in the afterlife. And we’re all about to get a big dose.

But the righteous will be saved by faith. Habbakuk first said it, and Paul repeated it multiple times. What makes us righteous? Not our works or our morals or our human virtue. Nothing inherent in us. Only faith in Jesus Christ, who covers us with his righteousness.

The Lord knows them that are his, and he is in the boat with us, our rock and our refuge, our shelter in times of trouble. He will see us through the storm.

Breaking it Off With the Big G

My de-googlification project is commencing apace. As promised, today’s post will include some resources to help you de-googlify your own life.

But first, this is where I’m at: I already stopped using Chrome a long time ago because it’s such a resource hog and they did away with some of my favorite features. Since then I’ve been using Firefox, and it’s been fine, but last week the Mozilla CEO made some disturbing comments that are completely NOT fine, so now I’m trying out alternatives to Firefox. So far I’m liking Brave and Midori, but I haven’t settled on one yet.

Getting off of Gmail is the biggie. I decided to switch to Protonmail instead, and grabbing an account their was the easy part. I’ve updated the e-mail links and contact form on this site and set an auto-responder in my Gmail to automatically let people who e-mail know that they need to update their contact info. By the by, if you have and use my jmbauhaus email address, just change the gmail part to protonmail and you’ll be good to go. Also, jean@jeanmariebauhaus.com still works just fine. Eventually I’ll also move my Jeanie Nicholson and Broke Author accounts to P’mail, but they don’t get much traffic, so that’s not a priority.

This also means I’ve got to go through all of my accounts and update my logins. Since I also haven’t been using password best practices all these years, it’s also an opportunity to change everything out to stronger, unique passwords. I had to get a good password manager to keep them all straight — I don’t want to store passwords in my browser any longer, as I had been doing.

This part is going to take a good, long while. It’s helping to prioritize. I started with accounts I log into regularly, along with accounts that have been breached. One thing I like about Firefox is that it has a service that monitors your logins and lets you know if they’re connected to a website that’s been hacked, but you can also find out by entering your login email at haveibeenpwnd.com. I’m also deleting accounts with services I no longer use, and reducing my digital footprint.

Changing my login methods on accounts that login with Google or Facebook is also going to be a high priority.

Sorting through all the newsletters and subscription emails I get at Gmail, unsubbing from the ones I no longer want and updating my email with the ones I want to keep, is also going to take a while.

Anyway, if you want to go down this road, start here: Alternatives to Google Products for 2021

That article does what it says on the tin, recommending more private and secure alternatives to every Google product out there. The rest of the website also has great advice on other privacy concerns and tools, such as VPN and password management recommendations, etc.

I’ve used Google Docs for years, mainly because I can copy and paste from that to my freelance writing agency’s content management platform without a lot of extra code getting added in like it does if I past it from Word or Open Office. But with my next batch of writing assignments I’m going to give Zoho Writer a try instead. It looks pretty comparable. Zoho also has a cloud storage alternative to Google Drive that looks promising.

I probably won’t be quitting YouTube any time soon, because there are too many good content creators who haven’t yet switched to other platforms. But I disabled the app on my phone and am just watching it in my web browser. Between that and my Android phone, I won’t be able to break up with Google completely. But I can at least support their competition and stop giving them so much information about me.

Oh, and speaking of Android, this is helpful if you have one:

I hope this is helpful if you’re wanting to reduce your dependence on big tech. It’s almost impossible to avoid them completely without quitting the internet altogether — a solution that gets more attractive with each passing day — but at least it’s something.

Monday Check-In: Novel Progress & Cutting Big Tech Cords

Hello, friends, and welcome to a new week!

All the chipperness indicated in that exclamation point is an indication that I finally wrote on the novel today, which usually has the effect of making me feel like I kicked some A. I skipped ahead and wrote the ending, so now I’ve got a clear destination in mind. I also revised the rest of the outline to take a less meandering route to get there. Progress!

I’d meant to write a more substantial post for this here blog today, but I’m finally motivated enough to start the process of de-googlifying my life and cleaning up my online footprint as much as possible, along with tightening up security, and hoo boy, is this ever going to be an intricate, drawn-out process. It’s really disturbing when you realize just how deeply these big tech ecosystems are entrenched in your life, especially when you’ve been using them for over a decade. I have a feeling this is going to take weeks. Small steps. It will be worth it to know I’m no longer ho’ing myself and my data out to them.

So apart from my novel, that’s my big project for this week, along with continuing the website renovation. I’ll try to share some resources here later this week if you would like to join me in this journey. If so, drop an affirmative in the comments!

Later, gators!