The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 005 Out Now!

Does Music Inspire Your Writing? | Episode 005 | The Merry Writer Podcast | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Episode 005: Does music inspire your writing?

This week, Ari and I discussed the joys (and distractions) of music while writing and how it can be inspiring to our current WIPs. Be sure to join the discussion in the comments below.

You can find the podcast on all your favorite sites listed below. Be sure to give the podcast a follow and subscribe where ever you enjoy tuning in best. If you listen on YouTube, please like the video, subscribe and hit the bell to get notified for when we upload the next episode. We have new episodes every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2 pm BST).

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Thanks for listening!

The Merry Writer Podcast | The Merry Writer | Podcast | Writing Podcast | Podcasts for Writers | RachelPoli.com

Does music inspire your writing? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Four

We’re in the final stretch! April was a fast month.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Four | Creative Writing | Writing | Cozy Mystery | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

I say this about every time I rewrite George Florence and the Perfect Alibi, but I have to say it again – this draft is coming out so much better than previous drafts!

While I’ve gotten into writing slumps, I’ve never lost passion for this novel. I’ve had novel ideas and have been excited about them before. I write them, edit them once or twice, and forget about them. Sometimes, I don’t even get to the editing stage or don’t even complete the first draft.

George Florence is different though. He came to be in January 2011 (if I remember correctly), so it’s been nine years. I’ve written and rewritten countless drafts and, as I said, even though I get into writing slumps here and there, I’ve never lost my passion for this novel, for this series. I love these characters and I can’t wait to publish them someday. (Someday, hopefully, soon.)

With that said, I think I’ve made more progress in this draft than I ever have before. I won’t go into too many details (it’s confusing and… well, spoilers) but my characters did me a favor.

I know, usually, they run amok and argue with me every step of the way. This time was different though.

A lot of ideas I had for this book (for the series as a whole) have continued to exist in this draft but they make a lot more sense. The major plot point, however, hasn’t changed. Yet, I always had a hard time connecting the dots.

Well, guess what? This past week, I wrote a chapter. My characters had a heart-to-heart (totally unexpected, I was just trying to get some words down) and – lo and behold – their heart-to-heart lead to a major breakthrough in the case. That breakthrough was the one piece I needed to complete the puzzle of this mystery.

They did it and it actually makes sense.

Needless to say, the novel is going pretty smoothly. I reached 50,000 words on the novel on April 23rd, so I reached my goal for NaNoWriMo. I’m still writing 2,000 words a day, but I did skip one day. I’m still taking that as a win.

Daily Word Count

Day 21: 2,200
Day 22: 2,820
Day 23: 2,058
Day 24: 2,036
Day 25: 0
Day 26: 2,232
Day 27: 2,231

I’ll reach 60,000 words today. Let’s see how far I can go with this draft before the month ends. I hope this month has been a productive writing month for you as well.

Are you participating in Camp? If so or if not, what are you currently working on and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

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Daily Self-Care Ideas [Mental Health Monday]

Everyone needs a break. We all need downtime. This isn’t just on the weekends, either. This is something we should be doing every day, even if it’s only one thing for an hour or so.

Mental Health Monday: Daily Self Care Ideas | Self-Care | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Call a friend

I have to admit, I’m not the most social person there is. I’ve been more social in the past year or so than I’ve ever been, ironically enough. This is a good thing, of course, but there are times when we don’t want to socialize. We love our friends and family but we’d rather stay home in our pajamas, shutting out the rest of the world. This is okay too, once in a while.

However, something to do on a daily basis is to call a friend or family member, even if the conversation is only ten minutes. Check-in with them, let them check in with you. Let them know you’re thinking about them and you miss them.

Do not text them, either. Call them on the phone or FaceTime them. I personally hate talking on the phone, but you’ll feel better after hearing their voice or seeing their face.

Read a book

As a book reviewer, I’m always needing to read books. I’m always getting review requests from authors. I enjoy this and I love reading, so there’s no complaining about it over here.

However, sometimes you need to sit down and read a book you want to read. Don’t read something because you’re aiming to write a review on it for the blog. Don’t do it because an author is waiting for you to get through it. Read something that’s been on your TBR list for a while.

Of course, I try to review every book I read whether an author inquired about it or not, but when you’re reading something you picked up for yourself, try not to think about it. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Make a list

I don’t know about you, but I love making lists. It helps me feel organized and that calms me down. I make a list for everything – I have daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, and monthly to-do lists. I create a list of tasks for my jobs, a list of events I need to remember for the month and so on.

What I don’t make lists of often enough are positive ones. This is especially good to do when you’re having a rough day. Sit down and make a list of things you’re happy about. List the things you’re grateful for. List the things you love. List positive traits about yourself. List goals or make a bucket list.

Journal

This is a great place to store those positive affirmation lists you create. On the other hand, a journal is a great way to keep track of your good days as well as the bad ones.

Write down something that upset you and turn your thinking around to put a positive spin on it or things you can do to let it go.

Write down something good that happened to you to preserve the memory. Allow it to be something positive for you to look back on when you’re having a rough day.

Listen to music

Sometimes we just need to sit down and listen to some music. I personally love classical and instrumental songs. Those can be, for the most part, calming in themselves. However, if you prefer something more upbeat and hardcore, that’s fine too.

Take the time to put on some headphones, lay down, and listen to a couple of your favorite songs. This will allow you some alone time, decompress from the day, and meditate for a bit.

Color

I don’t know what it is about coloring, but it is so relaxing. Take a coloring book and work on a page or two. Alternatively, you can break out all the arts and crafts supplies you have and create something from scratch.

Whether you do it alone or you have a friend beside you, it’s a lot of fun, relaxing, and carries your worries away.

Take a bath

Throw in a bath bomb or bubble bath, light a candle, and soak in some warm water. Put on some light music or read a book, but soaking in a warm tub is one of the more glorious things ever. At least, in my opinion, it is.

I’ll admit, I don’t take baths in the summer (because who wants to sit in a cold tub regardless of the temperature outside)? Still, it’s a great thing to do when you have the winter blues or you just need some time alone.

Alternatively, you can sit in the shower for a long period of time as well. But the hot water will run out and that’s a sad thing, indeed.

Take a walk

If it’s a nice day outside, you might as well go for a walk and soak up some sunshine. A little exercise does everyone good. The vitamin D will help as well. You’ll feel better after getting up and moving for a bit.

On the flip side if the weather is lousy or it’s too cold, get up a move a bit in your house. You don’t need to have an in-home gym or exercise equipment. Just do some stretches or yoga. Not only does it keep your body in shape but it also takes your mind off some things.

Watch a movie

Put a movie you haven’t seen in a while. Watch one of your favorites. Watch something that makes you laugh. Or, put on something that will make you cry (sometimes you just get in that mood to have a good cry).

For me? I normally put on the Harry Potter movies. I always cry in movies six, seven, and eight. I laugh during every single one. It’s great storytelling with wonderful characters and actors. Plus, it’s just something familiar and makes me feel at home and at peace, despite them preparing for war.

Unplug

This is the most important one. Turn off your phone. Don’t watch the news. Stop checking your email. Don’t refresh any of your social media accounts. If you need to talk to someone, don’t text – call. If you’re going to read a book, pick up a paperback or hardcover. Give your eyes a break from the screen. If you’re home with family, get out a deck of cards or play a board game.

The possibilities of not having a screen in front of you are endless. Your brain and eyes will thank you for it later.

Take care of yourselves.

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Short Story Sunday 301: Possible

Short Story Sunday: Possible | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | Writing Community | RachelPoli.com

“You know what they say,” Amelia said. “Friends make the best business partners.”

Grayson furrowed his brows, tilting his head to the side. He pursed his lips together shaking his head. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how the saying goes at all.”

Amelia shrugged and turned her attention back to the notes in her binder.

“In fact, I think it’s the opposite.” Grayson pointed his index finger in the air. “The saying goes you should never do business with your friends. I think it ruins the friendship or something like that.”

Amelia cast her friend a side glance briefly looking away from her writing. She continued to move her pen across the paper and didn’t bother to say a word. She thought it was a great idea and was so excited to tell her best friend about it. She didn’t quite understand why he wasn’t as excited about it as she was.

Amelia and Grayson grew up next door to each other. He had moved to the neighborhood when he was six and she was five. They played together once in a while when one of the neighbors had a block party or there was a pool party. One harsh winter, the neighborhood had a blackout for an entire day and Grayson’s parents invited the whole neighborhood over for a bonfire. They grew pretty close with one another and, like their families, they had been there for one another through thick and thin.

She would even start a business with him if he had wanted to. Though it didn’t seem as though he’d go for the idea even if she had asked him about it first.

“Did you hear me?” he asked.

Amelia looked up from her binder. “Yes, I heard you.”

“And?”

“And what else is there to say?”

Grayson folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the side of Amelia’s desk. He towered over her especially when she was sitting. She didn’t have a large bedroom either so Grayson often looked like a giant when he came through the door.

“What makes you think you and Gemma can run a business together?” Grayson asked.

“Gemma and I are pretty close.” Amelia put her pen down and turned around in her chair to look up at the tall man before her. “We both have a love for crafting. We each bring different talents to the table and together we can create awesome things.”

“Okay, I agree with that,” Grayson replied.

“See?” Amelia smiled.

“But that didn’t answer my question. I know what you guys can do and what you can do together, but what does crafting have to do with the business side of things?”

Amelia sighed. “Why are you against us starting a business together?”

“I’m not against it,” Grayson said, standing tall again and holding his hands up in surrender. “You know I support you in all you do, even if I think it’s a dumb idea. I’m here with a broom and dustpan to help pick up the pieces if you fall apart.”

Amelia didn’t want to laugh at the last comment, but she had to chuckle. There were so many times Grayson tried to tell her otherwise with something and she’d do anyway and it would backfire. She was beginning to wonder why Grayson still talked to her at all. She had made quite a few stupid mistakes growing up.

“I’m only concerned because neither you nor Gemma know anything about running a business,” Grayson explained.

Amelia shrugged. “We can learn. There are loads of information on the Internet.”

“Neither of you majored in business in college. You went for education.”

“So, we’ll take a couple of classes.”

“What’s your backup plan if this business doesn’t work out for you guys?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Grayson snorted. “Okay, fine. Let me ask you this one. What’s the number one complaint you always have about Gemma?”

Amelia opened her mouth and quickly shut it. She wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted her to say.

Gemma and Amelia had been best friends since middle school. They knew each other inside and out. Gemma had a few problems growing up. She didn’t have the best home situation and she was often a flaky mess. She especially had a tough time in high school. She’d often skip class or wouldn’t do her homework. She just didn’t care. It always bothered Amelia because she knew Gemma had so much potential but she would never apply herself. The two worked on group projects together and often times Amelia would do the whole thing because something would come up with Gemma. Something would happen with her parents or she’d forget to do her part of the project. It got to the point Amelia would do the whole thing and if Gemma remembered her part, great. If not, they were covered.

Amelia worried for Gemma though because she didn’t complete college. She didn’t get the grades because she missed so many classes most of the time. When Gemma approached Amelia about starting a side business with their crafting projects, Amelia was all over the idea. She loved the fact that Gemma wanted to do something with her skills and talents.

Grayson waved a hand in front of Amelia, snapping her out of her thoughts. He smirked. “You’re thinking about a lot of things you’ve complained about her, aren’t you?”

“No,” Amelia scoffed.

“You always told me Gemma is unreliable. What makes you think the two of you can run a business together?” Grayson continued on even though Amelia thought her tone of voice and eye rolls were making it clear she didn’t want to talk about this anymore.

She stood from her desk, closing her binder, and sat down on her bed. She looked the other way pouting like a child. “You’re right, I do always say Gemma is unreliable. But this was her idea and I’m happy she wants to do something with her life. She’s great at creating things with her hands.” Amelia smiled thinking back at some of the things Gemma had made for her. “My hat, scarf, gloves, and two blankets on my bed were created by her. She made me scrapbooks, picture frames, jewelry… she’s really great at various kinds of art.”

“I don’t doubt her ability,” Grayson said, sitting beside Amelia on the bed. “I’ve seen her work and I think it’s all fabulous. I only wonder how long it will take her to get bored with this business.”

Amelia pressed her lips together biting back a reply. When Grayson put it like that…

“I know you’ll do the research and learn how to run a business. Maybe Gemma will as well, but only in the beginning. Soon enough, you’ll be the one running the whole show. Soon enough after that, Gemma might not even complete her work. You won’t be able to count on her for a lot of things, I think.” Grayson continued with a hand on Amelia’s shoulder.

It was something he always did when he tried to have a serious conversation with her. It was also something, Amelia noticed recently, he did whenever he was right. It didn’t matter if Amelia listened to him or not. If Grayson had a conversation with her where he put a soothing hand on her shoulder, it always turned out later on that he had been right the whole time.

Amelia turned her neck to face him. She frowned. “I know what you mean and I hear you. But I have to at least try this with Gemma. She’s flaky, yeah. She’s unreliable as you said.”

“As you said,” Grayson corrected.

Amelia nodded. “I still can’t help but wonder if this will be a big break for her. She’s tried and quit so many things and every time she wants to do something new, I always encourage her because I think that’s what she needs. Maybe if more people encouraged her and believed in her, she might stick with something for longer than a few months.”

Grayson remained silent, which shocked Amelia. He always had to put in his two cents and for him to actually nod along and hear what she had to say about Gemma was great for Amelia.

“Gemma enjoys crafting. She’s always happy when she knitting a piece of closing or stringing some beads together into a bracelet. This is the first time she’s thought of doing something more with her crafting. Everything else has been school related or something she didn’t care about. She really cares about her art though. So maybe, just maybe, this will be Gemma’s big break.” Amelia finished. She looked Grayson in the eye and smiled. “I want to be there for you like you’re always there for me even when I make stupid mistakes.”

“Like right now.” Grayson chuckled.

Amelia laughed as well. “You don’t know that.”

Grayson shook his head. He let go of Amelia’s shoulder and laid back on her bed. “You’re right, I don’t know that. I don’t know Gemma as well as you do. I only hear stories about her from you most of the time. However, I still think you’re not making the right choice. I understand you want to be there for you, but you need to think of yourself as well.”

Amelia nodded. She too laid back on the bed lying beside her friend. “I get that. Part of me is excited to learn something new. I went to college and got a degree in education and I hate my job. I liked the idea of teaching, but now that I’m actually doing it… it’s not great. Starting a business will allow me to try something new. I’ll learn things out of my comfort zone. Maybe if this doesn’t work out with Gemma I’ll still continue to be a business woman and start something else. This could be a stepping stone for me.”

Grayson raised his hand and tucked it under his head. “Okay, I can go along with that logic.”

“We’re still young, Gray,” Amelia said. “We’re meant to explore our options before we become full-fledged adults.”

“We’re in our mid-twenties. We are adults.”

“I said full-fledged adults,” Amelia repeated. “Everyone knows in this day and age you’re not a true adult until your forty.”

Grayson laughed. “Somehow I don’t think it works that way.”

Amelia laughed along with her friend. “You tend to say that phrase to me a lot.”

Grayson sat up in bed and looked down at her. “Okay, I give you permission to start this business with Gemma.”

“Gee, thanks.”

He wagged a finger at her with a smirk. “Don’t give an attitude. But also don’t say I didn’t warn you. I honestly don’t think this will work out. I’m here to support you and I’ll even be your first customer as long as Gemma doesn’t use ugly colors to create whatever her first product will be.”

Amelia sat up and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I appreciate you, Gray. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“Can I get that in writing? Because I see you going into business with Gemma and not me, your best friend.” Grayson leaned back, putting a hand over his heart as though he were offended.

Amelia narrowed her eyes while chuckling. “I thought you weren’t supposed to go into business with your best friends? It’ll ruin the friendship and I certainly do not want to ruin this one.”

Grayson’s mouth gaped open into a wide smile. “Oh, so you do listen to me! Also, you just admitted that you don’t care about ruining your friendship with Gemma.”

Amelia became serious as she defended herself. “That is not what I meant.”

“It’s what you said.”

“No,” Amelia shook her head, “I’m not worried about ruining my friendship with Gemma because the business will work out.”

Grayson sighed. “You’re very optimistic.”

Amelia grinned. “You never know what will happen unless you try. Anything is possible.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in a comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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Time To Write: First

Last week, our writing prompt was a set the scene prompt. Check out some of the writers who participated:

Here’s this week’s prompt:

Time To Write: First | Writing Prompt | Creative Writing Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Community | RachelPoli.com

Write a creative piece such as a short story, flash fiction, poem, or something else based on the prompt, “First.”

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below by 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, April 29th and I’ll share it next week. Also, please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt! Thanks.

Happy writing! I look forward to reading your work. Please feel free to share this post.

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The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 004 Out Now!

What is your typical writing routine? | The Merry Writer Podcast | Episode 004 | Creative Writing | The Merry Writer | Podcast | RachelPoli.com

Episode 004: What is your typical writing routine?

This week, Ari and I discussed what our typical writing routines are like. Be sure to join the discussion in the comments below.

You can find the podcast on all your favorite sites listed below. Be sure to give the podcast a follow and subscribe where ever you enjoy tuning in best. If you listen on YouTube, please like the video, subscribe and hit the bell to get notified for when we upload the next episode. We have new episodes every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2 pm BST).

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Thanks for listening!

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What’s your typical writing routine? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Three

We’re already nearing the end of this Camp NaNoWriMo session and the month, believe it or not.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Three | Creative Writing | Writing | Mystery | Cozy Mystery | RachelPoli.com

This was another good week for writing. In some ways, I don’t know where this manuscript is going. At the same time, George Florence and the Perfect Alibi is the best it’s ever been.

I’ve noticed a lot of differences between this draft and previous ones, that I decided to talk about in a separate blog post in the future. For now, here’s my word count for the week.

Daily word count

Day 14: 2,018
Day 15: 2,163
Day 16: 2,042
Day 17: 2,069
Day 18: 2,027
Day 19: 2,028
Day 20: 2,514

Are you participating in Camp? If so or if not, what are you currently working on and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

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What Is Dysthymia? [Mental Health Monday]

In January 2010, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Ten years later, in January 2020, another diagnosis was added to my list: Dysthymia.

Mental Health Monday: What is Dysthymia? | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | Depression | Dysthymia | Self-Care | RachelPoli.com

When I left my doctor’s appointment last January, I checked my updated chart and noticed a new diagnosis. My appointment was a routine check-up but I also wanted to touch upon my mental health.

Since being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2010, I never understood it. I didn’t take the time to learn about it, to learn about myself. I thought a diagnosis meant something was wrong with me. There’s no “cure” for such a thing, but I wondered how I could “fix” myself. It was until 2018 or so that I started to dive into researching this mental illness. I started to understand the way I think and why I think that way. I read stories from other people with similar problems and it was nice to see I’m not the only person who would react in such a way during a certain situation.

2019 was rough

This is no secret. I probably complained about 2019 as a whole, countless times – to friends and family, on the internet in live streams, social media or blog posts, and more. It was a weird year where a lot of things happened and my mental health wasn’t great on top of it. What bothered me the most was that I didn’t know what was causing my dip in mental health.

Was it because of all the hardships that 2019 brought with it? Was it my anxiety finding a new way to present itself? I wasn’t sure, but I was sad. All the time.

I still worked (for the most part – some things fell to the wayside, like this blog), I still went out with friends and family. Deep down, I was sad and moody though. Some days there was a reason for feeling like this and other times, there wasn’t. On most days it didn’t matter how I felt, I was tired. I was beyond drained all the time.

Anxiety does this to you but I had never felt like this before. I wasn’t sure if it was my anxiety getting worse for some reason so I tried all I could to keep it at bay, dong things I learned from my therapy sessions years ago. I wondered if I needed to go back on medication for my anxiety. I toyed with the idea of going back to therapy. I hoped I could figure it out on my own though.

In the end, I waited for my physical to arrive and I would get my doctor’s opinion.

From April 2019 to January 2020

The end of April was when it started. Each day, I kept thinking it would get better. A lot of real-life things were happening and I figured I was stressed out and my anxiety was having a field day because of it. Some days were better than others, of course. On those better days, I thought I was good and there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but it never lasted too long.

My grandmother was in and out of the hospital from November 2018 to February 2019. My sister had a baby in March 2019, which was great. Then my grandfather was in and out of the hospital from April 2019 all the way until December 2019. As you can tell, 2019 was filled with a lot of hospital visits, a place that already gives me anxiety regardless. So, as you can probably tell, this is why I thought I felt sad and stressed all the time. Things were weird.

I want to take a quick minute to apologize to 2019

I’m going to interrupt myself for a second.

2019 sucked, but I have to admit that I’m grateful now for all those things happening when they did. My grandparents are both home and well (as well as they can be, at least).

I can’t imagine my grandparents and my sister having a baby in 2020 in the middle of the Coronavirus. 2019 took one for the team, I have to say. If my grandparents didn’t have their problems in 2019, they would have had them in 2020.

Due to the virus, I wouldn’t have been able to visit them. My grandfather’s immune system is shot and my grandmother’s fragile. Both of them probably would have caught the virus and not been here with us today.

So, despite my complaining and nasty words to 2019, I’m changing my perspective and apologizing for being rude to 2019. It was rough, but my family got through it, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that it happened then and not now.

I’m lucky enough to save my thoughts and prayers for all those who are being truly effected by the virus right now.

I suspected I had depression

Anyway, I knew anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand. I wondered if I was depressed (it was a question when I was diagnosed with anxiety ten years ago) but some part of me didn’t think that was the case. 2019 had a lot going on. (There’s more to it than what just happened with my family, but I’m not going into the other details.)

When I talked to my doctor, he mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder – which is something else I’ve noticed about myself. I tend to get down more so in the winter months than any other time. However, since this was going on for nearly a year and it started in spring, he was hesitant about it.

Dysthymia was the conclusion

We had a good discussion and, honestly, I’ve felt better since talking to him. I still have my days, of course, but the sadness wasn’t as prominent once I officially was diagnosed.

Of course, I looked at my chart and noticed “Dysthymia” was listed. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it – my doctor never mentioned it. I Googled it when I got home and, according to Google, Dysthymia is “persistent mild depression.”

So, there we have it. After ten years, ironically to the month, I have a type of depression. After ten years, my suspicions about myself were right.

I knew there were different types of anxiety but when I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I hadn’t heard that specific type before. Dysthymia is the same way. I know there are different types of depression but dysthymia is not something I’ve ever heard of.

What a decade

While so many people were looking back at their decades from 2009 through 2019, during the month of January 2020, I looked back at my mental health from the last decade. I feel like I was just beginning to make strides and truly understand generalized anxiety disorder and myself. Now I feel like I’m going back to the drawing board.

This isn’t a bad thing – it’s who I am, it’s the cards I was dealt. I’m older and have a clearer head on my shoulders now at the age of 26 rather than when I was 16. I won’t shove my diagnosis aside and try to be “better.” I won’t wait eight or nine years to learn more about my mental illness and myself. Yet, while I feel a little better having an official diagnosis, I feel sort of bad at the same time. I thought I was doing great and, while I suspected this for a while, it seemed to have come out of nowhere.

But I’m okay and I’ll figure it out.

Mental Health Monday

This is another reason why I decided to turn Mental Health Monday into a weekly feature instead of monthly. I want to learn more about my mental illnesses. I want to learn more about myself.

I know I’m not the only person dealing with mental illness. I know I’m not the only person who’s trying to figure things out. I know I’m not the only person who is confused by their diagnosis. I know I’m not the only person who hates their mental illness one day and then is at peace with it and accepts it the next day.

I know I’m not the only person who sometimes feels I’m the only one in the entire world with generalized anxiety disorder and dysthymia.

Let’s learn about it together.

Let’s cope together.

Let’s talk about it.

Take care of yourself.

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Short Story Sunday 300: Restaurant

Short Story Sunday: Restaurant | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | Writing Community | RachelPoli.com

When Olivia put on her apron for the evening, she didn’t expect the kind of customers she was to have. The night was going to be a long one and if the universe had given her a head’s up about it, Olivia would have called in sick to work. Her father owned the restaurant, so calling out would have proved difficult but she’d think of something.

Table 1

Olivia walked out of the kitchen, pad, and pen in hand, a perky grin on her face. She walked over to the table closest to the kitchen and stood before a man and woman.

“Good evening,” she greeted. “I’m Olivia and I’ll be your server for tonight’s dinner. What can I get you?”

“A new place setting, please.” The man packed up his fork, spoon, knife, and napkin and shoved it toward Olivia, who nearly it dropped it all as she tried to take it while still holding her pad and pen.

“Oh, um, is there something the matter?” Olivia stammered. She dropped her pad and pen in her apron pocket and tried to inspect the utensils without the man noticing.

“They were spotty. Bring me a new one and then we’ll give you our order.”

Olivia suppressed a sigh. She headed back to the kitchen, dumped the utensils in the sink with an eye-roll to the dish washer (he chuckled, knowing exactly what Olivia’s face meant), and grabbed another set. She took a peek, making sure they weren’t spotty, and headed back into onto the floor.

“Here you are, sir. I believe these are clean. I’m sorry about earlier,” Olivia said still smiling.

“Fine,” he said grumpily. “I’ll take the steak, medium-rare, and a soda.”

Olivia nodded writing his order. “What would you like as a side? Fries, baked potato…?”

“Just steak. If I wanted a side, I would have said so.” He glared at her.

Olivia cracked another smile, though she wanted to punch him in the gut. “Right, sure.” She turned her attention to the woman, who Olivia assumed to be this monster’s wife. “And for you?”

“I’ll take a garden salad and ice water, please.”

“Sure, thank you.” Olivia abruptly turned and headed to the kitchen.

She tossed her order in the pile with the others and made her way back out to the floor with the water and soda. She placed them on their table without a word and walking away. Normally she would have killed him with kindness, but she couldn’t bear to look him in his face.

Table 2

“Hi,” Olivia said with a grin. She was now about five tables away from the grumpy man. This table had four teenage girls, all with their faces in their phones. “My name is Olivia and I’ll be serving you tonight. Can I start you guys off with something drink?”

Silence. Neither girl looked up for their phone. Olivia opened her mouth to say something when one of the girls laughed. Olivia instinctively smiled again, though it quickly turned into a frown when she realized the young lady wasn’t acknowledging their waitress at all. Instead, the teenager shoved her phone in friend’s face sitting across from her.

“He’s such an idiot!” she squealed.

Olivia cleared her throat loudly. Two of the four girls turned her way. Olivia smiled again (this was going to be a night where her face would hurt from all the fake smiling). “My name is Olivia and I’m your server for tonight. Can I start you off with a drink?”

The girls froze staring at one another as though Olivia spoke another language.

“I think we need a minute,” one girl said. The four of them, in unison, put down their phones and picked up their menus.

Olivia sighed. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Table 3

Two tables down from the teenagers were two men, both dressed in suits and ties. Olivia introduced herself and one of the men, without even looking at her, ordered an appetizer for the two of them, and promptly waved her away with a flick of his wrist. They got back into their conversation about money for Olivia even had a chance to write down the appetizer they wanted.

Olivia made her way back to the kitchen. She put in the appetizer and checked on her first table’s order. When she found out it would take a few more minutes, she figured she’d go ask the teenagers again.

As she made her way to their table, she passed the married couple. The man snapped his fingers to get her attention. Olivia took a deep breath before turning around to face him. It was too often customers snapped their fingers at her and it was her biggest pet peeve working at this job.

“Did you need something, sir?” she asked.

“Where’s our food?”

“It’s almost ready.”

The man turned to his wife and began to complain about the slow service. Not wanting to hear it, Olivia promptly walked away and headed back to the teenagers.

It was a long hour for Olivia. The husband and wife weren’t the most pleasant of people, though Olivia couldn’t complain too much about the wife. She barely spoke. The teenagers were too wrapped up in whatever drama was unfolding through their text messages or social media to realize they were in a public place and the same went for the two businessmen. They must have been in the middle of some sort of meeting with one another because whenever Olivia walked toward their table, she was shooed away.

Olivia sat in the corner of the kitchen. It was the least quiet place in the whole restaurant but she needed to get away from the customers. Some nights at the restaurant were pretty good. She’d have fun customers and her co-workers would be in good moods. Tonight, however, her co-workers were stressed out since they were so busy and the customers were at their worst. It was as though no one knew how to behave in public.

She heard a bell and one of the chefs call out an order for one of her tables. She sighed, forcing herself to stand and make her way back out onto the floor.

Table 2

“My food is too cold, can you take it back?”

Table 1

“I asked for medium-rare, what is this?!”

Table 3

“We’re not ready to order just yet. We’ll be here a while.”

“I’ll take a refill on my drink though.”

Table 1

“How long does it take to cook a steak?”

Table 2

“What’s your wi-fi password?”

Table 1

Olivia was relieved to see the husband and wife had left. She picked up the receipt of the check. They had paid with a credit card and when she looked at the tip spot, the husband wrote $0.00. Olivia sighed. There was no cash left on the table either.

After clearing the table, she stood by the hostess, drawing in deep breaths. Isla, the hostess, gave her a sympathetic smile.

“I think it’s been this kind of night for everyone.”

“Is there a full moon tonight?” Olivia asked.

“There has to be.” Isla shrugged. “To make matters worse, our tables are completely full so I had to put someone in Marco’s area.”

Olivia remained silent. She knew what that meant.

Isla smiled sheepishly. “Since one of your tables already left, do you mind…?”

Olivia stood straight and let out another breath. She smiled and pointed to her mouth. “Does this look real?”

Isla chuckled. “Not in the slightest.”

“Perfect,” Olivia replied through gritted teeth.

Still smiling, she headed toward her new table. She passed the two businessmen, who looked as though they were arguing over the bill. She also passed the four teenage girls, who were obnoxiously laughing over something on their phone. They had already eaten and Olivia had cleared their plates, but they wouldn’t leave.

Table 4

Olivia made it to her new table and tried to sound as energetic as she could. “Hello, my name is Olivia and I’ll be serving you tonight. Can I start you off with something to drink?”

An elderly woman looked up at Olivia and grinned. “Yes, please. I’ll just have water.”

“Coming up,” Olivia replied. She turned away and let out a sigh of relief. Just one order, which meant maybe the woman wouldn’t stay too long.

Table 3

“We’re not paying for this. We had two appetizers and a couple of drinks. This bill is outrageous,” One of the men said.

Olivia raised an eyebrow. “You each had six alcoholic drinks. Plus the two appetizers. The total reflects that.”

“Listen, we’re starting up a business and this is not how you conduct business.” The other man chimed in.

Olivia furrowed her brows. How was she supposed to respond to that? That had nothing to do with the fact their ordered expensive drinks. If they don’t know how to handle their money, maybe they shouldn’t be in business.

“I want the manager! You clearly don’t know what you’re doing and you’ll be getting no tip from us.”

Olivia rolled her eyes as she turned away to call the manager on duty. She wasn’t expecting a large tip from them anyway.

Table 2

Olivia stared at the four dollars on the table that was left as a tip. She was glad she didn’t need to see the girls leaving, but was that really all they had? They were loud and obnoxious the whole time, ordered a lot of food, and only left her four dollars? Olivia pocketed the money and began to clear more of the table. She didn’t care anymore.

Table 4

Olivia was pleased to see her three tables empty, quiet, and clean. Most of the customers had left by this time and there weren’t too many other people around. Olivia was so tired and she couldn’t wait to get out of her uniform and into bed after a long, hot shower. She needed the elderly woman to finish her meal first.

Isla nodded her head to the table motioning for Olivia to give the woman subtle hints to get out. Olivia nodded and headed to the table, though she didn’t mind the old woman. She was at least quiet and polite.

“How’s your meal, ma’am?” Olivia asked upon standing by the table.

“It’s wonderful, thank you.” She replied. “All of you work so very hard.”

Olivia’s mouth gaped open. “Oh, uh, thank you.”

“I used to come here often with my husband. We stopped when he got sick.”

Olivia grew hot. Oh, no. Not one of these stories. Please, her day had already been long enough.

The woman frowned. “His funeral was this morning. It’s been weird not having him around. I thought it would be special to come here tonight for him.”

Olivia smiled. This time it was genuine. “That’s very kind of you. I’m sorry to hear about your loss.”

The woman waved her hand. “He was old. I’m not too far behind, I don’t think. I don’t think I’ll last long without him, anyway. I think I’ve only survived so far because someone needed to plan his funeral.” She laughed.

Olivia too chuckled. She picked up the empty dishes. “I’ll be right back with your check.”

She dumped the dirty dishes in the sink and made her way to a cash register. She stared at the bill, which was only around twenty dollars. Olivia pulled the money out of her pocket, including the four dollars that was her only tip for her whole shift, and paid the bill. It wasn’t much, but Olivia realized even though she had a rough night, there were still people out there who had it worse than she did.

When she made it back to the woman’s table, Olivia told her she was all set. When the woman argued that she hadn’t paid, Olivia assured her it was all taken care of.

“I’m sorry again for your loss and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening,” Olivia said. She walked away allowing the woman to gather her bearings and leave the restaurant.

At the end of the night, a busboy approached Olivia as she was leaving.

“You forgot your tip!” he called.

“What?” Olivia closed her car door before getting in and turned to Niko.

“I cleaned the table where the old woman sat.” He began to explain. “I thought you forgot to put her bill in. I wasn’t going to say anything because I knew you had a rough night. But then I saw it had already been paid. So I assume this is your tip. I mean, it was left under a napkin that said thank you.”

Niko took Olivia’s hand and put a crinkled bill in it. He grinned. “People suck, but not all of them, I guess.”

Before Olivia could say anything else, he headed to his own car. She opened her palm and gasped at seeing a fifty dollar bill. She could have cried, she was so excited. She put it in her pocket and made eye contact with Niko, who gave her a wave. She nodded, grinning, and it wasn’t a fake smile this time.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in a comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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Time To Write: Set The Scene 17

Here’s this week’s prompt:

Time To Write: Set the Scene | Creative Writing Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Writing Community | RachelPoli.com

Write a creative piece such as a short story, flash fiction, poem, or something else. Set your story in a forest.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below by 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, April 22nd and I’ll share it next week. Also, please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt! Thanks.

Happy writing! I look forward to reading your work. Please feel free to share this post.

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