I’m Starting Over

2019 has existed. It was mean at times and it’s just been an interesting one, to say the least. I haven’t had a “bad” year in a while, so I guess I was due. However, with everything that happened, I’m trying to move on, get past it all, and try to have a sense of normality again. With that, I’m starting over.

“Starting Over”

No, this isn’t meant in a literal sense. I’m not scrapping the blog or anything like that. But I’m going to basically pretend that this year didn’t happen. I wasn’t consistent on the blog, I rarely read other blogs, I missed so many comments, and I just haven’t engaged like I normally do.

I keep trying to think of ways to “get back into the swing of things.” I keep looking back at past posts and the long gaps in between them wondering how to get back into my usual routine.

At this point, it makes me overwhelmed. I have too many other things on my mind. There are so many projects I’m working on, I want to work on, or I’m collaborating with others behind the scenes on secret projects. This isn’t to say I want to stop doing any of these things – I want to continue them all. But I think that’s part of my problem. I’m trying to do too many things at once.

Between all that and real-life happenings on this side of my computer, 2019 has been pretty bad.

Thinking Outside The Box

In other words, I need to stop looking at what I have done and start thinking about what I need to do in order to move forward. I look back at the past couple of years, blogging daily, writing, and everything else. In my mind, getting back to normal is doing that again. But I don’t think that’s what needs to be done. I think that’s what I’m used to so I’m trying to get back into those habits.

I’m starting to realize that I need to form new habits. I need to work in different ways. It’s time things changed and that I shake things up a bit.

I need to stop trying to get back to where I was when 2019 started. A lot of things have happened, a lot has changed. I’m sorry to not go into detail about what these things were, but it’s put some things into perspective for me and I’ve come to realize that the “normal” I’m trying to get back to is not my “normal” anymore.

So, What Am I Trying To Say?

Well. I have to admit, this was not my original intention for this post. But, as I type this out, I realize I made a decision deep down and my mind is now just catching up. I think it’s the right decision too because I think I’ve known this for a while but just didn’t want to admit. So, with that said…

This blog is on hiatus until January 2020.

Yes, I know in my October goals I mentioned that I’d be getting back into the swings of things. But, as I just said, I think the normal I’m trying to get back to isn’t my normal anymore.

I have plans and ideas for this blog going forward and I think I need time to sort them out so I can implement them and enjoy myself while doing so. I haven’t been able to yet because I’ve been so busy trying to come up with content so I can start posting daily again. But I don’t want to post for the sake of getting something up here.

Not for nothing, but I originally started this blog in 2012 to share my creative writing. I’ve barely written a thing all year long. It’s hard to talk about writing when you’re not actually writing anything.

What About The Rest Of 2019?

I’m not stopping everything. Short Story Sunday will still be posting every week for the remainder of 2019. I am stopping Time to Write though. I love the writing prompts and will continue them in 2020, but for now, I can’t be sure I’ll check them each week to add your stories. I apologize for this. I will add the stories from last week on this Friday, but there will be no prompt to follow.

For the rest of October, I don’t know how often I’ll post (if I post). I definitely want to keep in touch so maybe, in addition to Short Story Sunday, I’ll whip up a post once a week or once every other week. The same thing will go for December. Between 2020 prep for everything plus the holidays, I’ll try to keep in touch and post a handful of times, but I make no promises.

November, on the other hand, is NaNoWriMo. I’m still going to participate in the event and will post at least once a week about my progress.

2020 Will Be Great

I have a lot of great ideas for 2020. Features, post ideas, collabs, and more. I’m really looking forward to it and I think taking a couple of months off from the actual blog content will allow me to start fresh with a brand new year.

A lot of things, unfortunately, fell to the wayside in 2019. I’m going to take a look at each and every on and either bring it back, as usual, bring it back in a new way, or just do without it. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime… I hope 2019 was a lot kinder to you all. It was a good year – I don’t mean to sound pessimistic and say 2019 was absolutely horrible. But there were some questionable things that happened and it was just a weird year overall.

I appreciate you all being patient with me this year when I disappeared without a trace on a couple of different occasions. I’ll be back and ready to go in 2020, but I’ll keep in touch.

Talk to you soon!

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Musical Mondays: Try Everything By Shakira

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This is kind of an oldie at this point, but this is such a good song. (Zootopia is a great movie too!)

I fell in love with this song’s catchy beat, but you can’t beat the lyrics either. Zootopia had a great message about following your dream and never giving up and this song just puts that message into a catchy theme.

I used to listen to this song on a loop because it reminds me a lot of me. I often put too many things on my plate and I’m always wanting to try new things. I’m always wanting to create new things. I resonate with this song because I truly do try everything and with this whole writing and blogging thing? Well, I haven’t given up yet.

What did you think of the song? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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House-sitting For A Week [Life]

I tried something new last week. I pet- and house-sat for my neighbors, a family I usually babysit for. So, I lived alone for a week. It was interesting, to say the least.

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Initial Thoughts

I had a range of emotions when I found out I would have an entire house to myself. Kris is the one who house/pet-sits for a few different families while I babysit for a few different families. When this family I babysit for, who also happens to live on the other side of my block, reached out about house and pet-sitting, I instantly thought of Kris.

Of course, I wanted to give it a try. I love their dogs – a Beagle and St. Bernard – and I’ve never been alone having an entire house to myself before. Since that’s more “Kris’s thing” I asked her if she wanted me to tell them about you, but gave me the go-ahead since their technically my “clients” first. So, I said yes.

I was super excited.

Having an entire house to myself? Being almost 26 and still living with my parents (not that I’m complaining) and still sharing a bedroom can take a toll on some days. I want my own space, I want to try being an adult in more ways than just keeping parts of the house clean or paying my own bills. So, I was excited to have the whole house to myself for a week. The only downside was that it wasn’t actually my own space.

I brought plenty of things to work on with me but I didn’t have access to Photoshop since that’s on my desktop computer. So, what I could get done was limited. Also, I couldn’t work on my Camp NaNo stuff for two days because I left a few things at my own house. But hey, it’s just a week and I survived. I’m not complaining.

I was super nervous.

I don’t like the dark, I don’t like loud noises or creepy noises or things that go bump in the night. I’ve never had an entire house to myself overnight before. When my parents go away, my sister is there. When Kris is pet-sitting, my parents are there. I had done one overnight babysitting gig once. The two boys were old enough to stay home alone (I just went to their house from 9 pm to 6 am for a week) but since they were minors (the oldest was 17 at the time) and their parents were going through a divorce, their mother didn’t want their father driving by and seeing them home alone overnight. Hence, I stepped in. However, I technically wasn’t alone. And if God forbid, someone broke in, I knew the 17-year-old would most likely be more capable than me handling the situation.

(I mean… you probably don’t want your overnight babysitter to rely on the kids to take care of something like that, but hey, they’re bigger and stronger than me so it works.)

My point is, I didn’t have anyone to take care of that should such a problem arise. I had a teddy bear St. Bernard whole looks and acts like a gentleman and would not intimidate anyone and a one-year-old Beagle who is an affectionate doofus.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much last week.

It Was A Good Week

I can’t complain. It was still a fun experience and it was relaxing in some ways. I liked having space to myself. However, it wasn’t all mine and there were some things I needed to figure out but it was still great nonetheless. One thing I did learn about myself though was that I can be a pretty incompetent adult.

I had mac and cheese for dinner every night.

Guys, ovens are scary. I wanted to cook actual meals for myself, but they have an older oven. It clanks, it bangs, it makes poof sounds as though it’s about to burst into flames. I never want to be responsible for burning a house down, but when it’s not even your own home… yeah, no thank you.

Coffee makers are weird.

I had a Keurig at my house. I love being able to pop in a pod, push a button, and voila! I have coffee in five seconds. They don’t have a Keurig though. They have an old fashioned coffee pot. I’ve never used one of those before. Weird, right? As an avid coffee drinker, you’d think I would have used one in my lifetime. My friend has one but she always makes the coffee when I’m over.

I know how it works, but the whole measuring part? I don’t know… the coffee said one tablespoon for every six ounces of water. Well, the water is measured in cups – 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. And it’s not cup-cups, it’s coffee cups. But coffee cups come in 8-oz, 11-oz, or 16-oz, so… which is it? I just took a spoonful of coffee grounds (you know, 3-5 spoonfuls should be enough, right?) and added water up to six cups just to see how much it would make and see if I could figure out the measurements.

I never figured out the measurements. After being there for five days I accidentally made a 10-cup pot of coffee. I still don’t know how I did that. I didn’t go through a whole bag of coffee grounds though, so I couldn’t have wasted that much coffee… right?

Coffee makers are so satisfying.

I mean, my math skills aside, coffee makers are so aesthetic. I love the Keurig, but there was something so fabulous about actually making a cup of coffee. Push a button and take the mug and start sipping is great, but I love pouring the coffee from the pot to my mug. It smells good, it looks good, and the pouring sound is wonderful to listen to.

Maybe I’m just too in love with my coffee, but it was great and now I want a coffee maker.

Being home alone is quiet.

I work from home. I’m used to being home alone. However, both my dad and my sister come home for an hour for lunch at different times. So I don’t really have the house to myself for too long. Not to mention, I usually have the TV on or listen to music or talk to myself/Chip and Chase.

I didn’t talk to myself much at their house. Every time I did, Skippy (the Beagle) cocked his head to the side like I was crazy. Plus, I don’t know what it was, but even though I was alone, I felt like if I talked to myself, I was disturbing some sort of peace. Maybe it was because it’s a totally different environment from my own home? I’m not sure, but I didn’t talk to myself as much which made things quiet and a bit lonely.

So, that’s where the TV came in…

I watched a lot of movies.

I knew the only way to watch YouTube and Twitch (which is what I mostly watch – I don’t watch cable anymore) was to get it on my iPad. But, I enjoy having it on the TV because it’s louder and doesn’t make it seem like I’m so alone. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about the battery or carrying my iPad around everywhere.

There’s one DVD player in the house so I brought my Psych DVDs with me. Well, the DVD player didn’t work. As I said, I don’t watch cable anymore and there was nothing on that I care about.

I watched free movies On Demand the entire week. I watched a few of those movies multiple times throughout the week too. Of course, I like having it on as background noise so sometimes I paid attention to it and sometimes I didn’t. I watched some good movies I hadn’t seen in a while though – Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures, the Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire, Captain America, and more. New movies were added every day and, my last day there, all eight Harry Potter movies plus the first Fantastic Beasts movie was added. I mean, really, they had to add them when I had six hours left at their house? I could have been binging Harry Potter all week!

Overall, it was a good experience

I enjoyed having the house to myself and it was cool to live alone for a bit. It was quiet and got lonely at times, but the pups were good company and I enjoyed having my own space. I’m looking forward to doing it again soon.

Have you ever house-sat or lived alone? What do you do to pass the time? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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An Update On Life & My Mental Health

For someone who publishes a post daily, I practically missed the entire month of May. I haven’t even been reading and replying to the comments. I apologize for the silence and lack of content.

The truth is, this post has been coming for the past couple of weeks – I was just having trouble wording what I wanted to say.

A lot happened in the month of May. A lot that affected me in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I will not go into great detail though I will explain a bit so you guys can somewhat understand.

First – I’m okay. Things have been rough, but I’m doing okay. There’s just been so much going on that it’s taken a toll on my mental health and I need to re-evaluate some things in my life.

Second – There are stressors absolutely everywhere. Everything seemed to want to happen all at once. There’s been stuff going on with my friends that I’m trying to support them with but it’s been hard for reasons. My family has had some ups and downs with health issues and the like, but that’s just the circle of life, unfortunately. (And no, no one has passed away, thankfully, but it’s still been tough.) There are also basic stressors that come with the “adult” status and such.

Third – Social media. Social media can be your friend or foe and lately, it’s definitely been an enemy. Something happened about a month ago that affected me deeply. No, I do not know these people personally but I’ve looked up to them as a person and as a creator. Some of the work I do was inspired by them. It turns out they were not the person I thought they were and, after looking up to them for years – I even met this person in real life – it’s a hard pill to swallow.

And, if you know who/what I’m talking about, please do not mention any names or go into detail about it. I will delete any comments about it or turn off comments completely. I’m not writing this to open a can of worms.

It puts things into perspective though. This is something I always knew but it was proven on that day – I have no idea who any of you are. I have more friends through the Internet in various parts of the world than I do in real life, in my hometown. I enjoy these connections and I appreciate each and every one of you.

However, the hate and nasty comments that were spread throughout social media about this incident and the creator really bothered me. These were all people who enjoyed their work and in an instant immediately turned on them, judging and condemning them – a stranger, no less. It bothered me and it still bothers me. It made me wonder why I want my name on the Internet in the first place – what am I doing and why? Lord knows I would never do what they did, but people are mean. They’re harsh and quick to judge.

I’ve grown thick skin over the years and I’m lucky enough that, in the 13 years I’ve been sharing my writing and work online, I’ve never had someone say something mean or hateful to me. To be honest, I got a lot of that in real life at school so being online was my sanctuary. How reversed is that?

This also all happened a week after I released my debut book which, in turn, made me realize something else about myself, my work, and the Internet. This is something I won’t go into detail about, but it’s something I’m trying to figure out. The good news is, I can only go up from here.

Fourth – Speaking of work, that’s been another huge stressor. Mostly because of what I mentioned in the previous paragraph but there are other factors involved that I don’t want to go into detail with for reasons.

I did get a freelance writing job that’s been good. It’s less creative than I would like, but the people are nice, the pay has been the best since any freelance job I’ve ever had, I’ve been learning new things, and it’s been something different. It does take up quite a bit of my time though, which means other things (like my own creative writing) have taken to the back burner. So, I need to figure something out about that.

Fifth – Everything I mentioned above has taken a great toll on my mental health. Things I already knew about life on the Internet were proven. Not just about my third point in this post, but that also helped me realize something about myself and relationships on the Internet and, believe it or not, in real life.

I’ve been so busy helping and supporting others that I haven’t been focused on myself. Not my mental or physical well-being and not my work. My work – writing, blogging, and other things – have taken a back seat to support other authors, bloggers, etc. There have been quite a few people (not everyone – there are definitely some people in particular who have gone above and beyond for me and I hope you know who you are!) who have said they’d help me in return but it was just empty promises.

This could be for a number of reasons: maybe they haven’t checked their email in a few months, maybe they were just trying to be nice, maybe something came up in their life, or maybe they were just saying that in hopes I would help them out. The possibilities are endless and, right or wrong, it’s discouraging for me.

It hurts and makes me feel like I’ve been taken advantage of. Which, again, brings me back to my original point: you have no idea who you’re dealing with on the Internet. Obviously, no one is obligated to help or support me in any way if they don’t want to or if they don’t believe in my work or anything. But it’s still discouraging as much as I try not to feel that way – and I feel awful for feeling this way. If anything, this has been a lesson learned and a huge eye-opener.

With that said, I’m at the point where I dread waking up in the morning which isn’t something I’ve felt since high school and certainly something I never want to feel again. I do get out of bed though and I do get to work. Why? Because I know I need to and because I enjoy the work despite certain things. My anxiety has been all over the place and the idea of certain work, which I typically enjoy, has been stressing me out.

Sixth – This has, of course, affected my creativity as well. There are a lot of things I want to do. There are a lot of things I want to learn. I have ideas for this blog going forward – on and off the blog. The same goes for my other blog, Double Jump. My sister and I have a lot of new ideas in the works.

Obviously, my creativity isn’t going to do that well if my mental health is suffering. In fact, as soon as I skipped a few days of blogging and didn’t care, I knew something was wrong immediately. Normally that would bother me. I hate to miss a day but my mind has been trying to tell me something. I need to slow down and focus on myself.

Another way this has affected my creativity though is that I’m feeling more creative than ever. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with blogging or writing. I want to try something new. I want to have a hobby. I want to improve my photography and film editing. I want to learn how to crochet or make jewelry (that I don’t even wear, but whatever). There are a lot of DIY projects I’ve love to try. I just want to learn something new. But I want to do it for me.

This is a weird feeling for me because I’ve really only ever known writing or blogging as a creative outlet. But I need something that will relax me. Something that I’ll enjoy doing but that’s not also “work.” Even if I just set aside some time each day to color or something.

Overall – What does all this mean? Why am I writing an extremely long blog post about this? (Seriously, I didn’t think it’d be this long. Thanks for reading this far if you’re still with me.)

I’m here to say that I’m taking a step back from everything. I will still be here in some sense but not to the extent that I have been. I have a lot of thinking to do and a lot of re-evaluating to do of my life and online presence. This doesn’t mean I’m quitting or leaving though. I’m proud of all the things I’ve created, the milestones I’ve hit, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned, and the overall work I’ve done.

However, some hurt still lingers. Stress is strong. My mental health is taking the brunt of it all.

I don’t have the intention of giving anything up, but I need time to rebuild. I’m taking the month of June to come up with a new plan and figure things out. Things won’t be back to normal on this blog until July. Maybe sooner, but I’m going to take my time coming up with a new plan and catching up with things while taking appropriate breaks. I’m working on catching up with things on Double Jump and, at this time, I can’t do both blogs at once.

For this blog, my writing prompts and Short Story Sundays will still be published because those are already scheduled for the year. Book reviews are on hold as I haven’t read a single thing in about a month and just haven’t found the motivation for it. I’ll most likely post something here and there just to let you know I’m still here, but, as I said, I don’t expect the regular schedule to be back until July.

My social media presence will be limited until further notice. I am not going on hiatus with any of this because it’s the nature of my job. But I will be scheduling a day or two to check it each week and will not be on constantly. I need to shoo some negative vibes and take a breather from all that.

As for my writing, I need to come up with a plan for that as well. I will still be writing and editing. I will still be publishing books. It’s just going to be a bit more on the slower side for the moment.

With that said, I think this post has gone on long enough. I appreciate everyone’s patience with me and hope you understand my absence and the coming weeks as I try to figure things out and take care of myself.

I’ll talk to you all soon.

Coming Back With A Fresh Mind

Happy Monday, everyone! I feel like it’s been a little while since I’ve posted on here. I skipped two days last week, which is totally unlike me. I usually have my blog posts done in advance, but I got behind due to writing. I was also busy with my Dad’s birthday, Easter, and other things. I’ve been exhausted and blogging definitely got pushed to the back burner.

It’s weird because I haven’t missed a day of blogging in three years. Still, I’d rather post useful content than post just for the sake of posting. I’m coming back for a fresh mind now, so I thought I’d give a quick (which will most likely turn into a long) update.

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Writing

Sunday Morning: A Collection of 52 Flash Fiction

First things first, writing has been kind of crazy lately. I’ve been working on a lot of different projects and officially know what the self-publishing process is like. My debut book, Sunday Morning: A Collection of 52 Flash Fiction is now available on Amazon. It comes out tomorrow, April 23, but you can still pre-order it right now. I’m still working on a few things – such as getting the paperback set up as well as getting the book out there on other platforms. It’s a work in progress, a learning curve, but hey – it’s on Amazon. I did it. So, if you’ve enjoyed my Short Story Sunday feature on the blog, then please grab a copy of Sunday Morning.

Crossroads

I’ve been working on my next Wattpad novella – which has turned into a novel. Which will most likely have a sequel. It was not supposed to be this way. Still, I’m enjoying myself as I write it. I have a long road of editing ahead of me, but that’s okay. I’ve been keeping notes and ideas for when that time comes.

I’ve been using this story as my project for Camp NaNoWriMo and the 85K90 Writing Challenge. As I write this post, I’m sitting at 45,717 words for Camp NaNoWriMo. So, I only have 4,283 words left to right to reach 50K. I’m hoping to do that today once my blogging is done for the day.

I’ve also been using this story to catch up with the 85K90 Writing Challenge. I edited for a good chunk of the “writing” months so I’m using April’s “finish” month to reach the 85K word goal. Right now I have 77,033 words. I need another 7,967 words to complete the writing part of the challenge. If I reach 50K for Camp NaNo today, that’ll knock down 4-5,000 words and I should be able to finish the challenge tomorrow.

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’m getting closer to completing this one. I have a publication goal in mind for 2020, though that’s all I’m going to say for now. I’m still working on it, it’s still happening. It’ll be here soon, I promise.

I don’t have too much else to say about it. I’m in the final self-editing stages. Then it’s off to an editor, which I’m currently shopping around for.

Blogging

Posts

I need to sit down and look at my planner again and really get my posts in order again. I’ve gotten behind in getting them set up in advance. I have plenty of ideas but I haven’t sat down to work on posts in a while. This is definitely on my to-do list for the week.

Admin & Maintenance

I’ve been wanting to go through my old posts for a while now. I need to upgrade most of the pages on this site and there are some new things I want to do with the blog. I’ve had the business plan for WordPress for over a year now and I’m just rediscovering plugins. I didn’t realize the many different things I could do with my blog and also how fancy I could make it look.

I’ve had something in mind for a while and I found a way to do it through my blog without creating a brand new website. If I can, I’ll definitely work on that so I only have to maintain this blog and have everything in one place. It’ll make it easier for all of us.

There are also a lot of simple upgrades I want to do for the blog as well. Of course, this is something I’ll be working on throughout the summer (at least, my goal is to have this all done by September). I won’t sit down and do it all at once – no one wants the blog to change overnight. These changes will be slow and subtle. Well, some may not be as subtle.

Still, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve finally found a way to do all these things I’ve been wanting to do for a while! I feel like I’m creating a brand new blog and it’s a good feeling.

That’s It For Now

I was super busy and totally overwhelmed last week with the launch of Sunday Morning and everything else going on. When I tried to get any work done, nothing happened, but I did brainstorm. Now I’m back and feel ready to continue as well as implement my new ideas and plans.

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Library Grand Opening

This weekend was a special one. My local library is a historical landmark thus making it super old. The architecture, however, is beautiful. Still, it was lacking a whole lot – mostly keeping up with modern times. They finally were able to remodel and the library grand opening was on Saturday and I was proud to attend.

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What My Library Lacked

Most the libraries in surrounding towns have evolved with modern times. They have updated technology, study rooms, and the like. My library didn’t have that. We had two floors of books, the lower floor being the children’s room. It was a beautiful library and while there was an open space on the second floor with tables, chairs, and a handful of computers, that was about it. We had a beautiful field so, especially in the summertime, they were able to have fun events for kids.

My writing group meets there once a month but we were always in the employees’ break room. I don’t know about the rest of the members, but I always felt like we were taking over their space – especially when an employee has to come in to get their dinner. I felt like we were taking their break away since they really had no where else to go. My writing group had come together in January 2015. It’s been four years and now we’ll finally have a “home.”

Two Years In The Making

It took a long time and it was tough for the library to get approved for such renovations. A whole lot of money and two years later, the library was finally completed. They had their grand opening on Saturday where we were able to walk around, explore, and start taking out library books again.

The library is five minutes away from my house and Kris works right across the street from it. It’s been interesting to drive by it each day for the past two years and see the progress they made. They estimated it would be complete in March 2019 and I’m impressed that they stayed on schedule.

The Grand Opening

I have never been to any event where they had giant scissors to cut a large ribbon. No, that wasn’t the best part, but it was really cool. I witnessed history being made in my hometown and while I didn’t have a direct hand in any of it, I’m proud I was able to attend and join in on the celebration.

Kris and I arrived 15 minutes before the ceremony began. We waited outside in the cold weather – it was actually fairly warm with the sun but it was a super windy day. The high school marching band performed, an a cappella group sang our national anthem, a few people including the mayor made speeches, and then the host of my writing group, Morgan, read a poem he wrote about libraries. I couldn’t see anything and honestly, the host of my writing group was the loudest one so I heard him the best. (I barely heard the marching band, if you could believe that.) Then the ribbon was cut. I don’t even know who cut the ribbon because I’m short. I did see the scissors though – I didn’t know they made them that big!

Inside The Library

The speeches took about 30 minutes and then, because of the crowd, it took us another 10-15 minutes to make our way inside the library. We were standing outside for about an hour. My nose was so stuffed up.

When my sister and I finally made it inside, we veered off to the right because we saw Morgan standing off to the side. We said our hellos and then went off to explore the library. And holy crap, what a wonderful place it is.

We now have three floors. Kris and I started on the bottom since we were sort of swept away in the crowd. The bottom floor has a program room for… well, various programs. The children’s room is also down there. It’s much bigger than it was before. Aside from books there was a computer station as well as library card kiosk for kids to make their library cards. There was a separate room for story and craft time as well. The space is amazing.

Next, we went to the third floor, again following the crowd on the spiral stairs. Down a long hallway with some tables and chairs, there was an archive room off to the side. There are also three study rooms now, one is a little bigger than the other two. Hopefully my writing group has a home now!

Finally, Kris and I went back to the first floor. The new library is wall to wall glass windows. It looks really cool, but totally out of place with the old architecture. They preserved it since it’s historical. So, looking on the outside, it looks great but kind of weird. Going inside, however, I’m really impressed and pleased with the way they did it.

The first floor is a circle. When we came in through the front door, we went to the right where the new construction was. There are rows and rows of books plus a new room which we didn’t have before, a teen room. Guys, it has a Nintendo Switch. I’m happy with that. But anyway, as you keep walking around the circle (the middle of the circle, by the way, is part of the old architecture that’s blocked off but can still be admired by the glass walls) you’ll end up in the fiction area where they integrated the old building.

It’s hard for me to explain. I know I won’t do it justice, but one half of the first floor is the old building newly renovated on the inside and more polished, but still preserving what our library was before. The other half is the new building. It’s really cool how they integrated both to show that the library is one with the new and old all the while keeping the historical parts.

I’m Proud Of My Community

I don’t know many people who go to the library that much anymore. Myself, included. I’m often found at Barnes & Noble. One, because they have a cafe there and two, because I can be louder in there than the library.

I’ve always said I need to go to the library more often though. In fact, one of my goals for 2019 is to visit the library a couple times a month. Get some books or just be in the atmosphere of it. Granted, I’ll do that anyway because of my writing group, but I want to actually be apart of my library.

My original point, though was that I was shocked to see the crowd that came to the opening. I have a big city and it was great to see so many people come together for this moment. I saw so many people I know as well – a ton of people from my church were there, the kids I babysit were there, and I even saw a lot of kids who I don’t know but see coming out of the school when I pick up the kids I babysit. We ran into Kris’s best friend’s parents as well. We chit-chatted with a few people we don’t normally see often or talk to that much.

Overall, it was a great experience. It was certainly a memorable day for my city.

Do you visit your library often? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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My New Work From Home Schedule [Life]

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Working from home is no easy task. I’ve always been used to it though. When I got into college I always preferred taking online classes. There were many reasons for this, of course, but one reason was that I preferred to do everything at my own pace. I preferred to do the work on my own and tell myself what to do.

In some ways I miss being in college because I found great joy in looking up the homework for the entire semester, making a large to-do list, setting aside time each day for school specifically, and just getting it all done on my own terms. Half of the time I’d have my homework completed a couple weeks in advance.

People have always awed at me saying I had a lot of “discipline.” I can certainly agree with that, especially since I took a leap to quick my job and work from home.

There are ups and downs to working from home though. It’s harder to stay healthy and while you have more time to socialize with friends and family, it’s harder to get out there and meet new people. Not to mention the whole money-making thing.

But if there’s one thing that’s super hard about working from home, it’s balancing between work and real life.

My New Work from Home Schedule | Creative Writing | Blogging | Entrepreneur | Freelance | Business | RachelPoli.com

People find it hard to believe that I follow a “schedule” because I’m home. I’m my own boss so I can do my work whenever I want to, right?

No, that’s not the case. There’s a lot of things I have to do and I set deadlines for myself. I have to get X, Y, and Z done before I can get things A, B, and C done. This is easy for me to do when I’m home alone, no distractions other than the dog and cat, and I have my priorities straight.

Yet, I do get the occasional phone call from a friend or family member. Someone needs to be picked up from school or someone is having drama in their life and just needs to vent. Normally this isn’t a big deal. I’m here if anyone needs to me.

However, because I’m here, people tend to think I’m available 24/7. I don’t have a boss looming over my head making sure I get my work done. I can text while I get my blogging done. I can talk on the phone while I do the dishes. Even though I can multitask with these things, I don’t get my work done to the best of my ability. Sometimes I’ll stop, give the person my undivided attention, and then I blink and a few hours have gone by.

Before I know it, the morning is gone. I need to go babysit for a few hours. When I get home, it’s dinner and the rest of my family is home from work and it’s harder to get things done then. Doable, but harder.

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m finally saying to everyone, “Here are my work hours.”

I always thought working from home would be easy.

I had assumed my “work hours” were the same as everyone else’s. In the morning, they go off to work and I’m home to get my own stuff done. By the time the afternoon rolls around, I’ll go babysit and then come home and chill for the night. Except, the phrase “work from home” is used differently to others than what it means for me.

So, with a new year comes new responsibilities. I want to accomplish a lot in 2019 and I have a lot of big plans. This requires my undivided attention. I want to make a living doing what I love and this is what I need to do.

I posted new hours on my Contact Me page, which is a general guideline of hours I’m on the computer, checking my emails, and whatnot.

My weekly hours.

As of right now, I’m working Monday through Thursday from nine in the morning to six at night. I get up early, get my writing done, get my workout in, shower, and then begin work at nine. I’ll work either on more writing or blogging or some other projects. I stop for lunch around one in the afternoon and then I need to go babysit. So, it’s kind of like an extended break, but when I get home I’ll do some last minute things for about an hour or two and then be done for the night.

I decided to add hours for Sunday because, even though we have a lot of family events on Sundays, I collab with my sister a lot on things. Sundays are the main days we can work together. I have church in the morning and then, when I get home, I’ll be working on blogging and things I need to do for my church.

I chose to give myself Friday and Saturday off. I do sometimes work on these two days, but I want it known that I won’t be checking emails or anything like that. I’ve been pretty good about keeping Friday clear. I get some chores done around the house, read a book, play video games, and just chill generally.

I still technically work on Saturdays. Kris and I still go to Barnes & Noble to get some writing done or even brainstorm for our blogging. Sometimes we’ll come home and get some more work done together or we’ll chill for the afternoon or hang out with some friends.

I have to be honest, getting work done over the weekend is easier than during the week. You’d think that, since everyone else is at work, I’d be able to get my stuff done no problem. For some reason, that’s not the case.

How I get my work done during the week now.

The number one thing I’ve been doing during the mornings has been blocking time. I’ll work for about two hours or so and then take a quick break. I’ll check on the animals, make myself a snack, do the dishes or something.

This is also the only time I’ll check my phone. I still keep it on and next to me in case there’s a true emergency, but if I get a text or a phone call from certain people, I’ll make them wait.

My phone has been the biggest distraction lately because I am able to text while I’m working and because I’m home, people know they can call me all the time. I honestly have never gotten so many phone calls in the my life, it’s crazy.

I know work isn’t the number one most important thing. There are times where I’ll give in and answer a phone call from a friend or browse the Internet a bit. We all need little distractions from time to time. However, it’s been getting a bit out of hand with people telling me, “You’re home all day. Just get it done later.”

If I got things done later, then my book would never be published. My new projects for this blog would never get done.

So, we’ll see how this new schedule works out. I have designated working times now and have put myself in a distraction-free environment with my to do list prioritized. I think 2019 is going to be the best year yet… for my work, anyway.

Do you give yourself set hours to work on your writing? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Prioritizing & Organizing My Life

I have always been super organized. If anyone has anything positive to say about me, it’s that’s I’m organized. However, being organized doesn’t necessarily mean you prioritize what you need to work on. Or what you want to work on. Or what needs to be done first.

If anyone has anything else to say about me, it’ll probably be that I watch a lot of YouTube as well. I don’t find this to be a bad thing. In fact, I watched something the other day that I really took a liking to.

Prioritizing and Organizing My Life | Blogging | Creative Writing | Organizational Skills | Prioritizing | Balance | RachelPoli.com

My sister and I watch a lot of gaming channels and even run one ourselves. There’s someone we used to watch off and on named Satchell Drakes. He stopped posting content on his YouTube channel a while ago and has, since then, posted just here and there. He’s been active on his social media and with his group of gaming friends (more people we watch on YouTube), but he’s finally started posting on his own channel again.

He started a new series called Damn Good Habits. At the time of my writing this post, there are only two videos posted for this new series. He’s got such a smooth voice and he really conveys his message in such a way that gets people listening.

The first video was all about getting started with new ideas and getting into these good habits. The second video is what really caught my attention.

Satch talked about letting your brain dump information out allowing your mind to be clear. Write everything down so that you don’t forget your ideas. Then you can sort those ideas, label them, and decide what needs to get done first.

Technically, I already do all this.

I’m no stranger to the “to-do list.” However, when ever I scratch one item off the list, three more seem to appear.

My to do lists are also very organized. They’re sorted by categories, like Satch suggests. I do so much and have a lot of work that I need to sort everything out. I run two blogs, contribute to two other websites (three of these four websites being about video games, so yeah – I need to sort them out and remember which topic goes to which website). Then of course there’s real life stuff – birthdays, cleaning, the pets, and so much more.

However, while I can sort them all and give each a label, I’ve always had trouble with deadlines.

I used to never give myself deadlines and I would get the items done whenever they got done. But then I would sometimes get things done that didn’t need to get done right away. The things I needed to do by the following day were left until the last minute.

I’ve never viewed myself as a procrastinator, but I guess in a way I am.

I got everything done on my to do list and then some. But the things I needed to get done first were always done last and then I’d be scrambling. Why? Why do I do things this way?

It’s because I do whatever I’m in the mood for. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People always tell you to just get it done. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Well, I don’t want my ending result to see forced either. So, I look at my list and pick out what seems most appealing to me.

I also get overwhelmed by my list, if I’m going to be straightforward. I have so much do between work and real life that my to do list is a few pages long. This includes what I need to get done – it doesn’t include other things I want to get done or want to start. I have too many ideas and projects in my head that I want to start and finish. But once I start something, I don’t finish it… something else comes along and that seems more appealing.

That’s where the Damn Good Habits come in.

After I watched the second video of the series, Take A Brain Dump, something clicked in my head. Yes, I already do what Satch says to do. I’m organized, but I don’t prioritize.

This is where I’m lacking and this is why some of my work suffers. Go figure.

Satch suggests taking a notebook and using it as a “brain dump.” No matter where you are, what you’re doing, the time of day, whatever, stop and write down anything that comes to your mind. This can be a new project idea, an errand you have to run, anything.

I have a small notebook that I used to carry around with me so I grabbed that again and have been taking it with me where ever I go. I’ve been writing down things I need to do, new ideas, and any last minute thoughts for pretty much anything and everything.

Again, this is all something I usually do, but I tend to make it look neat and organized. This is messy and, I’ll admit, bothers me because it’s a mess. Yet, my mind feels so much better.

Prioritizing my work.

One thing I’ve learned about my brain dump notebook is that everything I’ve written down are things I already knew I needed to do. However, I didn’t write everything down on my to do list. Everything written in this notebook are things that are on my mind right now and that need to get done now. My brain already knew this but because I make super long lists and look at everything as a whole, I often confused myself.

I use Asana to keep track of my projects and work and real life happenings. After going through my brain dump notebook, I went through my entire Asana (which has 16 projects on there, by the way… that’s 16 different to do lists for 16 different categories!) and I broke up each list into sections. I gave every task an appropriate deadline.

I looked at anything that needed to get done before something else got done. For example, I can’t edit my next Patron story unless I have it written first. I prioritized what needs to get done and which projects should have more focus than the others.

I’ve been at this for a week and I already feel so much better.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if this is something I’ll stick with. But it’s been working great for me so far. It’s really helped me out and made me evaluate what I already do. It’s made me change the way I view my work. It’s made me keep up the same habits but slightly change them to be more efficient and better for my mind.

I hear it takes about two weeks to get into a habit. Hopefully this is a damn good habit I’ll stick with.

Are you organized? Do you prioritize your work or just take it day by day? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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25 Things To Do At 25 [Life]

I work a lot. Anyone who knows me knows this is true. When you’re an entrepreneur and trying to create your own business you need to work hard and work a lot. Though that doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks and check in with reality once in a while.

I turned 25 back in September and, a week before my birthday, I had decided to make a “bucket list” of sorts. This is a list of things I want to do while I’m 25. I made this list because I want to find a balance between work and life. I want to be 25 and go out and do things, hang out with people. You know, just stop and smell the coffee. But also, there’s a lot of things I want to do as well. Things I want to try, things I want to learn.

So, I made a list of 25 things to do at 25.

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Exercise & Eat Healthy

Oh, gosh. This is going to sound like a new year’s resolution, isn’t it? But it’s true – working from home means I’m on the computer a lot. I lose track of time to eat and when I do remember to eat, I eat goldfish.

I’ve been doing the exercise part for a while. I have a workout routine I do every weekday morning. When the weather gets warmer and nicer out, I’ll take walks around my neighborhood. I still need to work on the eating better part… but I’m getting there. Slowly.

Save Money

I do this anyway. I’ve always been pretty good at saving my money and tucking part of it away for a rainy day. There are certain things I want to save for as well as just have money set aside for anything in my savings. I’m not going to write the figures here, but I planned a certain amount to tuck away into my savings each week.

Go To At Least One Con or Convention

This can be gaming related or writing related, I don’t care. I went to EGLX for the first time last year and I’d love to either go to that again or try something else. It was a good experience and a lot of fun.

Begin “Something” for This Blog

I totally forgot this was on the list. I’ve mentioned how I’m working on something for this blog. It should be coming the beginning of March. I have a special announcement for it planned though so I don’t want to mention it right now.

Self-Publish A Book

On it.

Get Good With Photography & Photoshop

I’ve been wanting to improve my photography skills for a while. I just need to pick up my camera and spend some time with it. Lately I’ve been mostly taking pictures for the blog, but I need to learn how to actually use the camera and get more creative with it. Of course, then I want to get better at Photoshop so I can post better graphics here, create my own book covers, and just create things for fun.

Take Up a New Hobby

What am I supposed to do with this one? I don’t know, I guess I’ll find something.

Learn/Try Something New

Is this considered the same as the previous one? Maybe I should rewrite this list and make some of these points a little less vague… then again, I might be started a D&D group with some friends, so that could count, right?

Cook

I’ve always wanted to cook dinner once in a while. It’ll allow me to learn and it’ll give my mom a break… for the most part. I’ll probably be hounding her with questions so I don’t burn the house down. But still, I need to figure out a schedule where I can help my mom cook dinner once a week or something. I have so many recipes on my Pinterest that I need to try!

Go To At Least One Concert/Show

I saw Taylor Davis live a few years ago and went to Disney on Ice a couple years ago too. I’d love to go again or see someone else in concert. Lindsey Stirling is up on the list, but the past few times she’s gone on tour she hasn’t come to my area. So, we’ll see.

Attend A Walk For A Good Cause

This is something my church used to do fairly often and I miss it. Of course, I don’t have the crowd from my church anymore to go with, but I’m sure my sisters would love to go with me. I used to work in special education and I would love to attend something for Autism or Down Syndrome or the like.

Start Planning “This” For The Blog

Yeah, this is something else I mentioned but I don’t want to reveal yet. Mostly because I’m not sure if it’ll work, but a lot is involved with it. Notice I wrote “start planning” instead of actually opening it. Though my deadline is the end of 2019… hopefully.

Journal Once A Week

I started off strong with this one. I journaled the other day and before that, the last entry I made was the end of October. A lot happened in November and December so I should have been journaling, but oh well. Once a week would be nice, but if I check in at least once a month, I’ll count it.

Get Good With Film & Video Editing

This is similar to the photography and Photoshop. I want to make videos and improve my skills with Adobe Premiere. I’ve already gotten a head start on that as well because I’m making a “birthday video” for Kris.

Drive Around, Explore, & Discover New Places

I never go out and do anything. If I do, it’s to a friend’s house to watch TV and eat. I want to go out to a new place, take my camera, and enjoy the fresh air and discover new places around me. I don’t venture out much and get lost easily, but I want to take in the world around me for once.

Create A Budget

Okay, so I wrote “personal, RP blog, and DJ blog.” I technically already did this with the whole “save money” point. I should probably put something else here, but it’s staying as is for now.

Visit The Library

My local library has been in a temporary space for the past two years because the actual building is getting renovated and upgraded. The progress has looked great and the library is re-opening, I believe, in March. I’d love to be better at actually using my library card and going there frequently to check out a couple books. Or even just use the space to get some work done.

Play More Board Games & Puzzles

Kris and I have been doing this on Double Jump. We’ve started doing board game and card game reviews once a month. We’ve bought some new board games and looked at ones we haven’t played in a while. It’s been a nice change of pace from video games. We do need to do puzzles more – we have a stack of jigsaw puzzles in our closet that’s waiting to be done. Not to mention the Legos we have…

Be More Active In My Church

Why did I include this? I’ve been active in my church. I’m the director of the Sunday school program and have been running the email list, helping out with the Facebook page, and upgrading/updating the website. I can probably change this one and add something new as well. This is number 19 on the list though, so I might have been running out of ideas at this point.

Find More Time With Friends & Family

I definitely need to reach out to friends more and ask to hang out, even though I hate leaving the house. I also want to see my sister more and hang out with my parents more too. It’s tough to work this around everyone’s work schedules as well as sports games that my parents love, but I’d love to have a movie night or game night with them.

Learn Dungeons & Dragons

Alright, then… so I guess D&D doesn’t count as “learn something new” because I made it it’s own item on the list. But, like I said, I think I may be starting a D&D group with some friends either this month or next month.

Meet Someone New/Make A New Friend

I assume I meant a person in real life?

Start “This Other Thing” On The Blog

Wow, sorry for all the mysterious ones on this list… I probably should have looked it over again before deciding to write this post. But yeah, here’s new feature number three for the blog. This one will actually be on the blog though. The other two will go along with the blog but be on separate platforms… so there’s a hint for you all.

Create A Collage/Scrapbook or Mood/Vision Board

Am I really going to do this? I’ve always wanted to, but I feel like I’m going to forget about this one.

Try Six DIY Projects

Six?! What, do I think I’m made of time and money? How about three? Depending on the projects, I think that’s more doable.

Anyway…

I wrote this list at the end of August last year. It’s only been a couple of months and there are definitely some things on this list that I’ve started and been trying to do. Other things seem to be repetitive of some of the items on the list while others still seem kind of impracticable in a way. I might look over this list again and change some of the things.

Even though this is 25 things to do at 25, I might even give myself until 2019. Though, I hope I’ll get into the habit with some of these things and I carry it through the year and beyond.

Have you ever made a bucket list or something similar? Do you have any other ideas for me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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WIP Wednesday [December 2018]

WIP Wednesday: December 2018 | Work in Progress | Blogging | Creative Writing | Writer | RachelPoli.com

I mean… what is December, really? It’s filled with holiday shopping, wrapping presents, prepping for family, gathering with said family and friend, and stress. Lots and lots of stress.

So, what did I accomplish this month? What have I been working on? Nothing really writing related, that’s for sure.

I’ve tried and I’ve little bits here and there, but for the most part I’ve been dealing with real life things. Some good, some bad, unfortunately.

Most of my December work in progress has been prepping the blog for 2019 as well as coming up with a decent timeline and plan for my writing for 2019. Which, I’ll be writing a blog post about soon and also in January.

My thoughts are all over the place at the moment, if you couldn’t tell.

This week has been tough since this past weekend didn’t go as planned so now I feel like I’m rushing to get things done before Christmas. I have a lot of things to do this week that has nothing to do with Christmas so I feel like I’m scrambling. I’m usually in good shape at this time but I only just wrapped my gifts yesterday. Normally they would have been under the tree two weeks ago.

But what can you do?

It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. I see the tree in my living room, the lights outside everyone’s houses, the chill and snow is in the air, everyone is baking… but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the time to sit and enjoy it. I hope I’m able to finally take a breath this weekend and take in the festivities of Christmas and enjoy it all because we all know it’s going to be over in a blink of an eye.

So, yeah. That’s what’s happening on my end. Busy with lots of things but writing and sometimes blogging have had to take a backseat. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

What have you been working on this month? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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