June 2nd-8th: Week in Review

I had big plans for this week: finish the rest of my business set up to-do list, renew my gym membership, record some videos for Minute Marketing, wash my car…

And then I got sick and then none of that gone done.

Le Sigh.

This week I’m very grateful for Trello and my systems I have in place to keep myself on track…I definitely didn’t have any extra brain power to waste on figuring out what I should be doing.

Saturday was Day One of the horse show with Pia. Man was it hot. And man, did I work hard before I even rode. I got there around ten and somehow barely sat down all day. Both of my ride times were after 5pm which I was not stoked about.

I got some pictures of those cows though, in between the many circuits I made between the barn and the show ring. Some of them at least were longhorns, though I’m not sure what that big one was. A few of the cows were pretty friendly and came up to the fence. Pretty much all of our horses got over the cow anxiety by show’s end except for Pia.

But Pia wasn’t really herself this show. We think she may have gone into heat. She’s still growing up (though almost done) and we haven’t been together that long. It wasn’t a problem last spring, but things can change.

We ended up scoring decent in our two classes on Saturday though she didn’t feel her best. Not sick or sore, just…different.

I went to Starbucks on the way home as I was certain I needed some caffeine so I could drive an hour without falling asleep. I planned to get my standard soy chai latte, but I saw they had these new iced tea drinks. I asked the cashier about caffeine content and then stared at the board forever, debating whether I should go with my old standby or try something new. Being that it was after 7pm, the cashier helpfully told me that the passion tea one had no caffeine.

Lol. No ma’am, I am here for that caffeine!

I ended up getting the Strawberry Green Tea which was…not good. Too fake strawberry tasting. I was instantly sad I didn’t get the chai.

I was so tired when I woke up on Sunday, I fully convinced myself it was Monday. And not just in that way where you’re only confused for thirty seconds what day it is. No, I believed this for a good five minutes until I went out to the kitchen and saw the cooler I’d left by the fridge to remind myself that I needed to take stuff from the fridge back to the show.

Despite the couple cups of tea I had before I left the house, I was still the kind of tired where your eyes don’t work properly. So I swung by Starbucks and got that Soy Chai I missed out on the night before. Heaven.

On Saturday, I spent the drive up catching up with my friend K in England. That time change is brutal and with me being so busy, it’s been hard to make time for any of my friends. It was great to catch up and the time went by super quickly.

On Sunday, I listened to my podcasts. I was going to talk about my favorites on this week’s Week in Review blog, but I’ll save that for next week.

Sunday wasn’t quite so crazy busy. I was supposed to ride after 5pm again, but I was able to find an opening and move up my ride by several hours. For those of you don’t understand horse shows or just don’t know Dressage, because every test is pre-written in an official book at the start of the year, each test is also tagged with the approximate time it will take to complete. That means the show organizers can plan out the day down to the minute because they know how long it will take to do each test based on how many pairs there are and who entered what. This is very useful for spectators!

I braided Pia and Escobar both days at the show. There’s a picture below of Pia with her mane braided. I learned how to do this a long time ago and now I have a useful skill that’s actually increasingly rare. Most people don’t sew their braids in anymore. Everyone uses rubber bands with mixed results. But there ain’t no braid like a yarn braid – those puppies are stable.

Sewing in braids is exactly what it sounds like only instead of thread, I use yarn. You sew the little braids back onto themselves and the horses usually wear a stretchy hood at night to cover their braids. If I have time, I like to redo the braids each day. If the horse is good, it usually only takes me about thirty minutes and then the horse isn’t trying to scratch their braids out all day.

Pia had a fantastic warm-up, but things kind of fell apart when we went in the ring. The first half of the test was okay, but the second half was all bad. Like, really bad. Luckily, because I thought I was going to have a better ride, I paid the videographer to tape me. So that means I have video footage of what exactly went wrong in the second half of that test AND I have a video I can share with the vet and farrier (horseshoer) as we make some changes.

Escobar was a STAR though. I am so proud of that little man. He looked pleased as punch to be trotting and cantering around doing a couple easy tests. He was not spooky at all (yes, really!) and was about the most uncomplicated horse we took to the show.

I was so tired when I got home on Sunday, again. Everything hurt and I felt like I’d been walking through the desert for days. I did hardly any work throughout the weekend because I didn’t have the energy for it. I looked at Trello on Sunday and decided that, though I would probably regret it in the morning, bed was calling my name.

Well, Monday I woke up and figured out why I was so freakin’ tired all weekend…I had a sore throat.

I’m grateful to now be self-employed. While I didn’t get to take the day off, at least I didn’t have to put on makeup or talk to anyone. I didn’t even leave the house. I worked all day as I had planned though things felt twice as overwhelming because I also didn’t feel good.

Monday night I had writer’s group again and I had some chapters in the hopper. My writer’s group has now officially read several chapters beyond where anyone else has gotten in Shadow of the Magician and all hope is not lost so there’s that.

I think it’s invaluable to be part of a writer’s group. I felt like I improved so much from being in the last group. I really missed having that community and feedback so I was happy when I got an invite to join a new one. Joining a group is very scary and nerve-wracking, but if you can get past all that, it’s really a wonderful experience. I have a great group, I’m super grateful for all of them and their feedback.

Tuesday morning I felt better and went to a meeting in Pacific Beach in the morning. I had an appointment in the late afternoon in UTC so I didn’t feel like driving home after. I dropped off my ballot (yay, civic responsibilities!) at the library in PB. I’ve never been to that side of PB, weirdly. It’s actually really nice. I might go visit that library again though I guess it’s closed for repairs currently.

Instead of going home, I went to the UTC mall to get lunch at Tender Greens. I was happy to discover that they DO have wifi…the internet lied to me. I spent a couple hours working there after lunch before heading to my appointment. There were a surprising number of people at the mall on a Tuesday. It took me awhile to find parking which was irritating because that was the original problem with the UTC mall before they remodeled it and built an extensive parking garage. But, that’ll probably get better when they start charging people to park there.

It is annoying that they’re doing that because it penalizes people who stay for a long time to shop or who go to dinner and a movie. But on the other hand, people do leave their cars there and catch the bus to UCSD. When the trolley line is completed, I’m sure the problem will be even worse if they don’t do something about it now. However, I feel like there has to be a better way to control it than what they’ve chosen to do.

Tuesday night I felt much worse so that was a bummer.

Also on Tuesday we got ants in the house again. I really hate ants. Like, really, really hate them. I also hate that they tend to show up when I feel stressed or just generally don’t have the energy to deal with them. Ugh. It’s like they freakin’ know.

Wednesday I skipped my lesson and rescheduled pretty much everything I had on the calendar for the day. I worked all day, but actually stopped around 7pm. I spent some time in my garage office sorting and organizing. It was mostly papers that needed to be looked through and discarded. I’m now about 95% finished with organizing that space, hallelujah!

On Thursday, I felt a bit better, but I started coughing. Felt like I coughed all day. Did some work and took Elliot for a walk in the afternoon. I ran into an older lady a few streets over who randomly decided to mention to me that the spiders were killing her roses. That stopped me in my tracks and I asked her more about that. My succulents have been struggling outside. I figure they need to be repotted into new soil, but my gut was there was something more wrong that that. I looked it up later and it turns out spider mites (not spiders) can infest your plants and kill them. So now I have to figure out if that’s the problem with my plants.

It finally felt like summer this week, which means my house has been getting pretty warm in the afternoons. In all the years I’ve lived in Mira Mesa, I’ve never set foot in the public library. I know, crazy talk for someone who loves books. But I have trouble reading books on a schedule so I do prefer to buy books or borrow them from other people so I don’t feel confined to a deadline. Anyway. Went to the library and renewed my library card on Thursday. I also brought my computer. Not having air conditioning at home will be a problem this summer so I’m working out alternate solutions. The library seems fine. It smells funny, but it’s cool in there and they have little private work stations with outlets. Some of them even have windows. The windows look out to the parking lot, but hey, at least there is sunlight. Don’t love the chairs though. They have these hard wooden things with no arms. I’m going to check out some of the other branches, too. This one is convenient because it’s only about two miles from our house. But I can tell this library is a little long in the tooth so one of the newer ones might have a better set-up for me. Anyone in San Diego have a favorite branch library?

I spent a couple hours working at the library before they closed. Internet speed is okay, it’s about the same as we have at our house. But we’re getting new internet on Tuesday that is literally about twenty times faster that what we have right now. Woohoo!

Thursday night I had a call with my friend A. We haven’t talked on the phone in a long time so it was nice to catch up.

Friday I had grand plans of going to the barn, but I woke up and felt terrible. So no riding again. Working was so hard. I was foggy, unfocused, making mistakes, and because I wasn’t feeling well, feeling anxious about the business and the future again. It’s amazing how when we have bad days or when we struggle, we regress significantly and the old demons come back to haunt us.

I told myself since I couldn’t take the day off, I had to at least get everything done that absolutely had to be done that day and then I could stop. I ended up finishing around four pm though I nursed a video that needed to be uploaded through the evening. It takes forever to upload videos with our current internet situation. I really, really hope upgrading our service will improve things dramatically.

Friday night, the boyfriend came home a bit earlier and went to Target. We have been planning a whole house deep cleaning and had earmarked Friday as the night we were going to clean the kitchen. I have been wanting to do this cleaning for months and months so I didn’t really want to cancel our plans, plus I was feeling better again. During one of my unfocused periods earlier in the day, I went down a rabbit hole of reading articles about the best ways to thoroughly clean a kitchen so we went to get some new products at Target.

We did tackle the kitchen! We did almost everything on the list I’d written out that I wanted to do. It took the two of us several hours to do it all. Sadly, only the stove and windows really look different, but I guess we have the satisfaction now of knowing we put significant time into the cleaning.

As we were cleaning the kitchen, I was struck by the dates on some things I was throwing out. I was throwing out spices from 2014 and 2015 and random food items from 2016. When I organized papers in my office earlier in the week, I found a lot of papers from 2014 and 2015 that weren’t really filed or organized properly.

2013 up until now feels like one big blur. After we moved out to Mira Mesa, I don’t have a lot of markers to differentiate one year from another. Same job, same boyfriend, same house, same stage in life. Going through this purging and looking at the dates on things makes me think the blurring of years isn’t just a memory failure. It’s seeped over into the rest of my life. I clean, but somehow I guess I haven’t done a major purge since maybe early in 2016.

I do know that I was writing a lot more seriously in 2016 and 2017. And also working on my blog. But I guess I was going through the motions of life in other ways.

One thing I’ve been enjoying about the entrepreneur journey is that I feel a lot more present in my life. I’m a lot more in tune with my body and I can actually hear my gut speaking to me. It’s not that I’m not busy because I am, but I guess I just don’t have pressure in the same way. I feel anxious more than I’d like to and worry about the future, but the work itself is not overwhelming and is very doable.

What I’m Reading:

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris (been reading this off and on since January)

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Give and Take by Adam Grant

What I’m Listening To:

What I’m Watching:

Nothing this week.

What I’m Loving:

That it’s been sunny almost every day this week!

May 26th-June 1st: Week in Review

Wow this week was busy! Luckily, I’ve found something that, if not totally keeping me sane, makes me feel like I have a better handle on life that I (probably) actually do.

I read The Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents awhile ago, but never committed to actually trying out the Miracle Morning. However, after hearing Hal Elrod speak a few times on podcasts and stumbling across article after article where successful people talk about their morning routines…I decided I needed a better morning routine than getting up and trying to leave the house on time without forgetting anything.

I’ve now been doing my own version of the Miracle Morning for a little over two weeks (I skipped one day, more on that below) and surprisingly, this is very doable. Much more doable than I thought it would be.

So I call myself a morning person. But really that just means I prefer being awake in the morning over being awake at night. Not that I’m any good at getting up in the mornings. I once told the boyfriend I considered myself a morning person and he laughed and said I was a slug in the morning.

He totally meant it with love. And he’s definitely not wrong.

Getting up usually involves at least a couple cycles of snoozing the alarm until I absolutely have to get up. I do usually leave the house by 7am, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a struggle to get there.

So when I decided I probably needed to get up at 5:30 or 5 to do this Miracle Morning business and have time for some writing and exercise, I was very skeptical. Very skeptical.

But. It’s working. I get up at 5:30 without too much fuss and I go do the thing. I’ve only missed one day out of seventeen.

I’m so proud of myself. Even if 5am still feels like an unattainable unicorn.

The Miracle Morning is based on the acronym of SAVERS:

S= Silence

A= Affirmations

V= Visualization

E= Exercise

R= Reading

S= Scribing

You’re supposed to start this whole thing with meditation or prayer or just being quiet. I don’t actually do this because I think I’ll just fall back asleep. So what I do instead is “meditate” on the affirmations I’ve printed out for myself. I read these once through, slowly and silently, and then read them again out loud.

I didn’t really know what to do for the Affirmations sections, but I found Hal’s personal affirmations sheet here and just modified it to be for me. I figured this is good enough to get me started.

After that, you’re supposed to do some visualization of achieving your goals. But my goals are so large right now, I don’t really know what the steps are to get there. And again, I think this will put me to sleep so I don’t do this part yet either.

Then, it’s time for exercise. I actually go and exercise for a longer time after I’m done with the Miracle Morning (or I’m supposed to) so I just do some stretches and try and move all the parts of my body around for five to ten minutes.

Once that’s done, it’s time for my favorite part – reading! Yay! It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this is probably what actually gets me up in the morning. I read a non-fiction book for about 10-15 minutes about business, personal development, marketing, etc. So far I read Building a Story Brand and now I’m reading Give and Take.

Finally, I take a few minutes to write down what I’m grateful for, at least one thing I think I’m doing well, and at least one thing I think I need to work on.

Altogether, the Miracle Morning takes me about 30 minutes to complete. I don’t have any immediate afterwards effects from doing the ritual, but it is significant that when I wake up in the morning and remember what I’m waking up to go do, going back to bed isn’t winning anymore. I also think I am a little calmer, less anxious, and happier throughout the day. Not every day, But I did notice the day I didn’t do the Miracle Morning, I was not particularly calm or happy and I was definitely more anxious. So, I am seeing some small effects from my morning ritual as a whole and I also don’t hate it so that’s reason enough to keep going.

My goals are to write for a little while after completing the Miracle Morning and then go to the barn or the gym after that. This is a work in progress, I’m definitely not there yet, but I would say I’m still in recovery from the really hard months of my life and so trying to be gentle with myself.

With that, let’s dive into the week!

Saturday, I woke up late after LED on Friday night. This was the day I skipped the Miracle Morning and I regretted it. I had a very meh day and was not stoked on life.

I did go to the tack store however which is always fun. Horseback riding may be a super expensive hobby, but it really makes you see that it is possible to mass-produce quality items. Most brands are built to last and many things can be repaired to extend their life still further. Just as an example, I’ve had my riding boots for about eight years and parts of Escobar’s main bridle are over fifteen years old.

I buy new things for riding rarely so it’s a treat to go and pick something out. The liner of my show helmet was literally disintegrating and my breeches have been ripped for months – definitely time to replace those two things. I LOVE that Mary’s has a points program now – I already had a $30 credit available when I went in on Saturday!

Then I worked until it was time to go to night two of LED. We ended up staying out really late on night two because I kept liking each DJ progressively more than the one before and I also wasn’t falling asleep like I was the night before.

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Sunday, I woke up last as well, but did not skip doing the Miracle Morning and so had a better work day overall. We got late lunch/early dinner with our neighbors at Siam Nara and then we went to Baskin-Robbins afterwards. I’m a little obsessed with BR…I love living in Mira Mesa because there is a one nearby. We didn’t have any close by in Colorado so I still think of it as an extra special treat even though I’ve been in Mira Mesa now for about four years.

Monday, I didn’t go to the barn because the horses and humans took the day off. Well, the day off of riding…this human was working again. But I actually finished my to-do list for once (shocker!) and I watched a little Netflix with the boyfriend. We watched the pilot of Everything Sucks! which I enjoyed, but then the boyfriend wanted to watch an episode of Black Mirror. I’ve never seen that show before, but had been wanting to start it. He’s been watching it without me, but it was nice that I could just drop into a random episode since they aren’t linked by an overarching storyline.

I also wrote for a bit in the morning which was A++++.

Tuesday I went to the barn in the morning and rode Pia who was again like, I had three days off, why are you here? But she was good. Her personality is quite different than Escobar’s. When you get on to ride, she usually likes to go to work and get things done. She does not really like being ridden around for fun. She wants to do her job, get a treat, and go back to bed. She likes to please, but she also has her own opinions and doesn’t bend over backwards for you every single ride. Escobar, in contrast, is such a people-pleaser that I’ve witnessed him hiding lameness or injuries from me before.

After the barn, I went home and did some work before I had to make some client calls. I also got my ride times for the show this weekend which I’m not super stoked on. I ride really late and it’s supposed to be super hot in Temecula. Oh well. It is what it is.

Wednesday, I did some research for my book instead of writing, which I do need to do and something is better than nothing. Then I went to the barn again and rode. This was my last ride at home, the next time I ride Pia it will be on Friday at the show grounds. Afterwards, I went by my old office for a little bit and then home to work before I got dinner at Woku Ramen with my friend, L. The food was good and it was nice talking to someone who understands a bit what I’ve been going through with the business so far. I tried to do a little more work when I came home, but ended up falling asleep in the chair again. This is another reason I need a new chair…the chair should not make it possible for me to sleep in it. Going back to look at more chairs next week. If I can’t find a tall enough chair that I can use with the kitchen table, I’ll probably have to put the table in the garage and put my desk in the kitchen….not stoked on that, but I have to make sure I’m not hurting my shoulder and some days it does bother me.

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Thursday I had to go take my car to get serviced and get an oil change. I was trying to put this off until after the horse show, but I got an alert that my car needed an oil change. Since I will be driving to Temecula and back three times this weekend, I figured I needed to go get that done rather than risk having car problems. Adulting, amirite?

I went to the chiropractor again for my pre-horse show tune-up. I ride so much better after I go visit Dr. Brady so I always try to go the day before I head to the horse show. Then I went home to work and then I had a few calls in the afternoon. Finally I went to the bank for the third time in as many weeks. Can we talk about annoying the bank is? I’ve invested two and a half hours into setting up a separate checking account and credit card. The first visit was probably my fault because I forgot to bring my business license and wanted to use a DBA, but the two visits after that did not need to take as long as they did. Ugh. Talk about archaic systems. Almost done though, finally. Just need to wait a few days for my DBA to be approved.

On Thursday I also had a blog interview with Angela Nunez published on Equine Journal. If you missed it, you can check out that post here.

Friday, I got up and squeezed in a little writing time after doing the Miracle Morning. I stopped by the barn to get all my stuff ready for the trailer and then went to a meeting with one of my clients and their team. It was also national doughnut day and I stopped at this little doughnut shop around the corner from their office. I really wanted to go to V.G.’s, but no time. Then I drove up to Temecula for the warm-up day of the horse show.

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This was the first day it’s felt like summer in awhile…which meant it was hot in Temecula. And we were doing all the set-up work which meant a lot of sweating in the heat. Pia was pretty good considering it’s a new place she’s never been and she wanted to look at absolutely everything. And this facility has longhorn steer which was a trip. I’ll try to get a picture of them tomorrow – Pia wanted nothing to do with them!

We brought Escobar to the show, too. He’s being shown by one of the ladies who leases him and he had a super warm-up day! I’m looking forward to watching him tomorrow and competing with Pia who will hopefully be a bit more focused!

What I’m Reading:

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Give and Take by Adam Grant

What I’m Listening To:

This:

What I’m Watching:

Links to the Netflix pages of the two shows I watched are above.

What I’m Loving:

That this week just honestly felt so much more doable than last week. And also that Ham has started perching on top of my chair while I work.

May 19th-25th: Week in Review

This week was…interesting.

It really is a big deal to dramatically change your life. I don’t think I can overstate that.

Up until now, I was really sailing through the process. Sure, it’s been hard because I’ve had to work so hard and I’m (still) exhausted. But I wasn’t overly scared about the prospect of being on my own and supporting myself. I was projecting a lot of confidence into this and successfully believing in it….fake it ’til you make it.

Until this week when it hit me like a ton of bricks that this is real, I’m not on vacation, and oh s*** how did we get here?!

I’m fine. Everything is fine. I mean that sincerely. It was a rough couple days, but I think I made it through.

Someone asked me last week about how I stay productive. I was totally planning to talk about that this week because I had a good story, but I’ll save it. Because it really is hard to be productive when you’re not mentally in a good space. So I would say that’s criteria #1. I do have a blog up this week on Minute Marketing about productivity and how I use Trello to keep myself organized. You can also take a look at a sample board I made that shows how I use it for my business.

So let’s dive into the week!

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Saturday was the second day of the FBA Live event with Rick Mulready and it was somehow even better than the first day! The special guest was Pat Flynn who talked about email marketing. Overall, FBA Live was a fantastic event and I learned so much, yet got confirmation that though I’m now a tiny fish in a huge pond, this fish has got some skills. So that was a nice win to start out the new business with!

I also made some great contacts at FBA Live and it was nice to talk with others on the entrepreneurship journey. I know other people within my circle of friends that have their own businesses, but I don’t know many who are working in the digital marketing space so I really valued getting to connect with other people who do what I do.

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So Saturday, I was on cloud nine.

Sunday, I woke up and everything was bad. It was still gloomy outside (I see you May Gray) and I was gloomy inside. I worked this whole day because I took basically two days off from my business to go learn at the conference. I took Elliot for a walk because I hoped it might make me feel better. It didn’t really. I vacuumed because a dirty house makes me anxious and I was hoping that the house needing to be cleaned was what was weighing on me.

We got a new vacuum recently, a Miele, which was a splurge, but damn there is nothing like clean floors. This is the first time I really cleaned with the Miele and overall, I’m happy with it. The vacuum bags are small so the next time I clean the floors I’m going to dry mop (microfiber mop head) to get up the fur and dust so I don’t fill the vacuum bag with clouds of fluff. I felt a little bit better after I was done cleaning, but not great.

The boyfriend was gone the whole day because he actually picked up a second job to help me. If you know him in real life, go tell him he’s awesome! While I am beyond grateful that he did that for me, this was a day where I wished he hadn’t done that so he would have been home with me. I ended up turning on some podcasts for company and I felt a bit better when I played this episode of The Sunny Show with Sunny Lenarduzzi and Jill Stanton.

Monday, I went to the barn and rode Pia who was having a serious case of the Mondays herself. My horses usually get worked five days a week and then they have the weekends off. Pia I ride three days and then my trainer rides her for two. The last week though Pia actually got Friday through Sunday off so she was not here for it on Monday. She was a good girl though eventually, but it took a bit to get her head in the game.

For those that don’t know, Escobar is my older horse. I’ve actually had him since I was in middle school…fifteen years together in July! Escobar will be nineteen this fall. I currently have two half leases for him which I’m so grateful for because he is not an easy horse so I am happy to have found two other ladies that really jive with him. I haven’t ridden Escobar in a little bit because of that situation, but it is income coming in so I am definitely really grateful for that right now.

Then I went to the dermatologist to get some stitches out from a skin biopsy I had. It was benign so yay for that! And I opted to just biopsy and not remove the mole because the biopsy procedure is less painful to me so the last two weeks with the stitches were a breeze. If you live in San Diego and need a really thorough, careful dermatologist, Dr. Cohen with UCSD Dermatology is awesome. I do internally roll my eyes when I have to get yet another thing removed, but I’m pretty confident that no suspicious moles will be left unexamined on his watch. Of course, I could do without the circular pink scars (the boyfriend and I “affectionately” call them the pepperonis) that have multiplied on my body over the years, but let’s be real, my life is much more important than those scars. My brain is my most valued physical asset and it needs a healthy body to house it. I wrote a post a few years back about wearing your sunblock which you can read here. If you’re still not doing this and are playing Russian Roulette with UV rays, you really need to stop.

Finally, I got home and did some work until it was time for writer’s group in the evening. I actually put a few chapters of my own book in this week. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but the working title of the book is Shadow of the Magician. That’s been the title for so long, honestly since its inception in 2012, if I do sell this book and have to change the title, it will probably break my heart to do it. Anyway. Pages! It’s always nervous to put yourself out there for critique, even if you know and trust the people who are helping you. Being that I was still pretty emotionally fragile, I was afraid that the comments might further crush what little confidence was still hanging in there. But it was good, I got some great feedback and it made me excited about my book. I think it is really coming together nicely.

Tuesday morning I actually got up early to do both the Miracle Morning and work on my book for a bit. I’ve consistently been doing the Miracle Morning since last Monday, which has been a big surprise to me that I’ve been able to stick with it. This post is getting long so I’ll talk about what goes into my morning routine next week, but after I finished with the Miracle Morning, I did some edits of Shadow of the Magician. I also discovered an amazing historical resource, a total nerdgasm. I was looking for the actual location of the post office in Colorado Springs in 1899 and I discovered a city directory dating from 1903 that not only listed out all the businesses and their locations, it also has a “phone book” if you will, of the names of people living there. And I’m sure there are more great treasures packed into its 400 pages. I just skimmed it to find my answer and then quickly flipped through the pages to see what else was in the book. Fun fact: I’ve actually been to the restaurant that stands on the location of that old post office! For you Superstars friends, the 1903 post office is where Spring Orleans is now.

I spent the rest of Tuesday working and trying to pump myself up because I was still just riding the struggle bus of self-doubt. I took a break at lunch time and went to a meeting. We met at The Kebob Shop in Mira Mesa, which I still had never been to despite how long I’ve lived in Mira Mesa. It was delicious!

Wednesday I went back to the barn to ride Ms. Pia who was fabulous. Which is great because we’re going to a horse show next weekend in Temecula. I then went by my old office for a little and then back home to work after my afternoon meeting cancelled. This was the first day I actually started to feel better and in control again. In the evening, I met my friend L at the UTC Mall. We wanted to do celebratory dinner and drinks at Raised By Wolves. Turns out they only do drinks haha. The space is really, really cool though. Total speakeasy vibes. To get inside, you sit on these two chairs in front of a fireplace and the platform actually revolves to bring you inside the bar area. We had a great time and then we went to get food at Shake Shack.

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Thursday I worked for most of the day and went to a few meetings in the afternoon. I bribed my neighbor to assemble the new bookshelf I bought to corral the clutter in my garage office and he got that all assembled for me.

Friday I went to the barn and rode Pia again who was ah-mazing! I hope she’s not peaking this week and will continue to be this awesome through the show. At any rate, today I was feeling really excited about our future together. Pia is seven now and is still considered to be a young horse, though she’s definitely matured quite a bit since last year. However, some days we have some major “teenager” moments and it’s easy to get discouraged. I live for these moments when it’s like, yes, we can absolutely do this. And my ride with Pia is kind of reflecting how I’m feeling right now. Despite how I felt just days ago, I do feel like I can do this! It’s hard and I don’t know if I’m making the best decisions, but I also have to be okay with not knowing all the answers or knowing if things will turn out. My motto has long been, que será, será. That translates to whatever will be, will be. I’ve always liked this quote because it reminds me that as long as I’m doing my best, I can’t worry about the future. What will happen, will happen.

After working, I met one of my clients in the afternoon before coming back home and working on my office. I got about 60% done as you can see below. Still have a lot to do, but getting there. The photos make it look like more of a dungeon than it is…it’s actually pretty cozy and I can focus really well when I’m in there.

Friday night, I went to night one of LED Memorial Day with my boyfriend and our friend which was super cool! We’re going back for night two.

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What I’m Reading:

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller (done and review coming soon)

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood (I’m really enjoying it)

Give and Take by Adam Grant

What I’m Listening To:

I didn’t listen to much music this week, but I listened to a ton of podcast episodes. It’s comforting to hear the voices of other people while I’m working. I listened to several episodes of Pat Flynn’s podcast, Smart Passive Income, and I also listened to a few episodes from Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast.

What I’m Watching:

I didn’t watch this, I listened, but this was a good episode of #AskGaryVee.

What I’m Loving:

My barn mornings. I feel like I’ve connected more with my babies because I don’t have to rush off and I think my energy is just much more available.

Changes Coming to Isle of Books

I started Isle of Books back in December of 2011. I needed a hobby after a break-up and people were always asking me for book reviews so it seemed a natural fit to start a blog of book reviews. I found myself recommending the same books over and over without being really certain if those were the best books I could be recommending or the right ones for that person. Asking someone to recommend you a book on the spot is a lot like (I imagine) asking an octagenarian to name their favorite memory. That question is too big to properly answer without ample time for reflection.

I wanted Isle of Books to be a place where people could come and look for a book to read for an upcoming vacation or during a lengthy recovery from illness or surgery. I intended just to review my absolute favorite books and series. Which worked fine during college when I had so much more time to read and write about books I’d read in the past. But after I graduated and found a big-girl job, I started reading a lot less. And my posts became less and less frequent.

In order to serve my community on Isle of Books, I started reviewing every book I read, not just my favorites. Over time, I added some additional blogs to satisfy the need I felt to create more and more content. Sections like Featured Poems, Writing Project Wednesday, Reading Spaces, conference/author talk reviews, writing advice, and other miscellaneous topics. It was a lot of work, but it worked well for me a time. I thought I was building my platform and cultivating a tribe for the far-off future when I was an author with a book to sell of my own.

Recently, I attend the Superstars Writing Conference in Colorado Springs. Author Jonathan Maberry was one of the speakers. During one of the Q&A sessions, someone asked him about having a blog of book reviews. Of course, my ears perked up. I had a book of book reviews. Wasn’t that good for promoting for my brand as an author and writer? I was engaging with people and goshdarnit I had a platform!

In short, no.

It’s not my job to review books. I don’t get paid for it. I do it as a hobby. And making a hobby of criticizing others writers isn’t nice and isn’t very tribe-like. Those of you who know me in real life know I’m a nice person (or at least I think I am!) so it hurt my heart when someone brought it to my attention that what I was doing was not nice at all.

Now, this isn’t the end of Isle of Books so please don’t hear it that way! This moment just marks a shift, a pivot to nobler pursuits. There will still be book reviews! But I’m going back to my roots and only reviewing books I absolutely love. Those books I would enthusiastically champion to those who had ears to hear. If books were free, everyone would be getting it as a Christmas present. Those types of books. And there will still be Featured Poems and Reading Spaces and Writing Project Wednesdays (when I feel like writing them) and reviews of conferences and author talks and news about my publications. I hope more of my own fiction will find its way here. I also hope to do some author/literary people interviews if I can find anyone who’s willing. And in the near future (maybe this year!) I will have logged 1,000 books read on Goodreads. I’ve already planned a celebratory post that will include my personal list of the best books I read out of that 1,000 – you know you want to stick around for that! And I hope there will be more personal posts, too. In recent years I’ve been letting more of my life and personality creep into this blog and I want to do more of that. Despite being a blogger for over six years, I never talked all that much about myself.

I don’t regret the years I spent writing book reviews. I received opportunities I never would have had without it. I connected with so many readers near and far. I became a better reader because I knew I would be writing a review later. And I hope I became a better writer, at least in the non-fiction space, from all the practice. To date, there have been 730 posts on Isle of Books!

Soon, you won’t find all 730 posts on this site anymore. I’m working on going through and unpublishing any post I feel doesn’t fit my new standards for Isle of Books. You may find references to books on my social media that now have dead links. If you’re a new reader who never saw the original post, you’re free to think what you want about why that post is no longer up. But I think we’re all allowed to grow as human beings and backtrack on our earlier decisions. And I hope you’ll understand that having to manually go through 730 posts to unpublish the ones I don’t want up anymore is enough of a time investment. If you’re an author of one of those books that no longer has a published review, you can rest easy knowing the words are now locked away in my archives and will not see the light of day again.

If you’re only here for the book reviews and want to now take your eyeballs elsewhere, I appreciate you visiting my corner of the internet and hope you enjoyed your stay. To all the readers of Isle of Books, whether you’re brand-new or have been with me since the beginning, thank you. Thank you for the time you’ve been spent reading my words and considering my ideas and laughing (hopefully) at my lame jokes. Thank you for being here and letting me pursue this hobby for the past six years.

But if you’ve actually read to the end of this post, I hope you’ll stick around with me a little bit longer. I’m excited for the future and hope you’ll be along for the ride!

-Shannon

 

9 Books on My 2017 Holiday Wishlist

For those of you who don’t know, my birthday falls less than month after Christmas, on January 17th. Every year I make a combo Christmas/Birthday list in case anyone wants to get me anything. If you actually asked me what I wanted, I would probably stare at you like a deer in the headlights. It’s the same sort of syndrome that motivated me to start this blog. People would ask me to recommend books and I could never remember what I’d read and I kept recommending the same 2-3 books, while never feeling very confident that I actually liked them.

Anyway.

I thought it might be fun to put up the short list of books that made it to my 2017-2018 Christmas/Birthday List. Some of these are just books I’m dying to read and some of these are either the conclusion to series I’m reading or helping me move along to the conclusion!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood

In this final volume of the internationally celebrated MaddAddam trilogy, the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of the population. Toby is part of a small band of survivors, along with the Children of Crake: the gentle, bioengineered quasi-human species who will inherit this new earth.

As Toby explains their origins to the curious Crakers, her tales cohere into a luminous oral history that sets down humanity’s past—and points toward its future. Blending action, humor, romance, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her epic work of speculative fiction.

Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

Under Wildwood is the second book in the New York Times bestselling adventure series the Wildwood Chronicles from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Ever since Prue McKeel returned home from the Impassable Wilderness after rescuing her brother from the malevolent Dowager Governess, life has been pretty dull. School holds no interest for her, and her new science teacher keeps getting on her case about her dismal test scores and daydreaming in class. Her mind is constantly returning to the verdant groves and sky-tall trees of Wildwood, where her friend Curtis still remains as a bandit-in-training.

But all is not well in that world. Dark assassins with mysterious motives conspire to settle the scores of an unknown client. A titan of industry employs inmates from his orphanage to work his machine shop, all the while obsessing over the exploitation of the Impassable Wilderness. And, in what will be their greatest challenge yet, Prue and Curtis are thrown together again to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country. But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood.

The White Mirror by Elsa Hart

In The White Mirror, the follow-up to Elsa Hart’s critically acclaimed debut, Jade Dragon Mountain, Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a valley hidden between mountain passes. On the icy planks of a wooden bridge, a monk sits in contemplation. Closer inspection reveals that the monk is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. His robes are rent, revealing a strange symbol painted on his chest.

When the rain turns to snow, the caravan is forced to seek hospitality from the local lord while they wait for the storm to pass. The dead monk, Li Du soon learns, was a reclusive painter. According to the family, his bizarre suicide is not surprising, given his obsession with the demon world. But Li Du is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why did the caravan leader detour to this particular valley? Why does the lord’s heir sleep in the barn like a servant? And who is the mysterious woman traveling through the mountain wilds?

Trapped in the snow, surrounded by secrets and an unexplained grief that haunts the manor, Li Du cannot distract himself from memories he’s tried to leave behind. As he discovers irrefutable evidence of the painter’s murder and pieces together the dark circumstances of his death, Li Du must face the reason he will not go home and, ultimately, the reason why he must.

Prodigy by Marie Lu

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Rory Deveaux has changed in ways she never could have imagined since moving to London and beginning a new life at boarding school. As if her newfound ability to see ghosts hadn’t complicated her life enough, Rory’s recent brush with the Jack the Ripper copycat has left her with an even more unusual and intense power. Now, a new string of inexplicable deaths is threatening London, and Rory has evidence that they are no coincidence. Something sinister is going on, and it is up to her to convince the city’s secret ghost-policing squad to listen before it’s too late.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

 

What books are you hoping Santa leaves under the tree for you? Leave me a comment below!

Writing Review: September 2017

I think I’m going to post more check-ins of how my writing is going, maybe quarterly to start since I’m a little scared that if I commit to monthly I won’t have much to report. In between working on whatever book project I have going and writing for Isle of Books, I also usually have a couple publications a month on other sites. My freelance articles often seem like feast or famine…either I’m doing just a couple or I’m doing so many I’m genuinely concerned I won’t make my deadlines.

Personal life wise, I’ve had a really busy fall and I don’t expect it to let up until Halloween…meaning that progress on my book has been glacially slow. So slow that I’m a little embarrassed to admit how little I got done during the month of September. Things were going better earlier in the summer until my confidence got a little rattled and the recovery from that has been slow going. Not having time to write consistently isn’t helping much in that department.

On a more positive note, I did get quite a few other things published! Looking at this list makes me feel a little less terrible about how my book progress is going…

I also attended a one day writing conference in May and applied for a scholarship for another writing conference happening at the end of January/beginning of February…fingers crossed that I get it!

 

 

For Equine Journal:

How To Create The Most Innovative Equine Products: An Interview with Amy Hassinger

 

For 2kGrey and Intrepid International:

How to Be Mindful at the Barn

How to Be Mindful in the Saddle

 

For Minute Marketing:

14 Powerful Ways to Uncover Your Realtor Edge

What’s Your Story? 3 Books That Will Help You Find Your Brand’s Heartbeat

Social Media News: August 2017 Edition

Why You Should Be Future-Proofing Your Business

TRX Scores Big With Video on Facebook

Anthropologie Sells the Free-Spirited Lifestyle on Instagram

How Kayla Itsines Built Her Fitness Empire on Instagram

Adobe Hits it Out of the Park With Great Product Marketing on Facebook

 

For Coastal Premier Properties:

Cafe of the Moment: The King’s Craft Coffee Co

Restaurant of the Moment: Underbelly

Restaurant of the Moment: Coop’s BBQ

Restaurant of the Moment: Oink and Moo

Restaurant of the Moment: Grater Grilled Cheese

 

And I was quoted in this article: How to Make Money and Stay Motivated With a Side Hustle

New Article Published: How to Be Mindful at the Barn and Around Your Horse

I wanted to share that I recently had a new article published on 2kGrey‘s blog, Intrepid International. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been riding horses for over fifteen years, I compete in local shows in San Diego, and I have two horses of my own. My journey with horses has been so wonderful. I’ve learned so much from every horse I’ve been fortunate to ride, but most importantly I think I’ve learned how to be a better human from my interactions with horses. This article talks a little bit about what I’ve learned over the years and I think you’ll find it interesting even if you’re not a horse person because I think we could all stand to be a little more mindful and present in our every day lives.

Check out my article here.

If you liked this article, I would appreciate it if you would share it with your friends and especially the horse people in your life!