I Don’t Know What to Do Next

Hey you guys! I’ve missed you. Please, please send me news of your adventures. My own to-do list is so huge, I don’t know what to do next. I do know that this September-y time of the year always has me fired up with a keen mind for work and the promise of exciting new possibilities.

Over here, things have been a complete whirlwind. We had such a busy summer, hosting lovely friends and family, our home was like a bed and breakfast which was a wonderful way to warm the place. But now, oh now I’m so glad the children are back to school. Not because I can’t handle having them at home one more second, honestly with the pool this year they were absolute angels. No, I’m just so damned glad to get into a routine. Some kind of useful, effective work routine.

And there is so much work to do that I am dizzy. Mamma S finally found a local job. She’s delighted to have a ten minute commute instead of the 2.5 hour (EACH WAY!) mess she had grown used to. We’re all so lucky to see more of her, and this means all of us grown ups have more time and energy for ALL THE STUFF. What is the stuff? Where do I start?

I’m thrilled to be very close to publishing my first book, “Keeping It Up: A Guy’s Guide to Great Relationship Sex”. I’ve found a wonderful team of designers to work with, I’ve finished my final re-writes thanks to my glorious team of handsome beta readers, and I cannot wait to get this book out there. My goal is to have it hit the press well in advance of the holiday shopping madness.

I’m growing my little business experiment as a professional beta reader. It’s proven to be a very enriching and educational way to earn some extra money. What’s a beta reader? It’s not an editor, but someone who reads a piece (manuscript, short story, screenplay) with the eyes of an avid reader. I give feedback on character, plot, continuity, plausibility – all the things that make a book stand out as a good read. I’m finding I’ve got a real knack for putting a fine point on what is working and what isn’t, and exercising my critical muscles has been very beneficial for my own writing. I’m running that side project over at Your Beta Reader. Please check it out and share it where you think it can help.

I finished the first draft of my novel! If you know me, you’ll know this is HUGE. I was so, so intimidated by the idea of writing fiction, I could barely get started. Some creative writing classes via Quick Brown Fox helped me ignite the fire, and sheer determination helped me stick to it. Frankly, I mostly have Nekky to thank. He was a fantastic audience for each finished chapter, and his enthusiasm for the story spurred me on. Just as your enthusiasm inspires me to post here. What can I say? I love an audience. Now, the draft is ‘steeping’ while I take a breather. It’s killing me not to get back into it, but everything I’ve read suggests that taking a break is really wise. I have lots to keep busy with, but it’s hard not to bust out those color-coordinated post it notes.

At the advice of several trusted Internet resources, I need to develop my brand. Part of the problem I’m faced with is not really understanding what I’m selling. Ultimately, I want to make a living writing and selling my books, but I think there may be more here – a bigger picture that I just can’t see. I’m not convinced I’m ‘life coach’ material, or that I have a unique product I can sell, but who knows? I’m trying to stay open, and receptive, and I’m reading lots and lots of inspiring stuff. At the very least, I’ll be able to make this blog prettier by the end of it all. Sigh…

As if this weren’t enough, in the interest in investing in ‘me first’, I’m also taking on some work for our family business. Something new for me that I feel challenged by. I’m hoping it will provide some additional income to finance all of my ‘passion projects.’ Self-publishing, and more importantly, marketing said self-published materials, is going to require some resources I just don’t have.

Per my last point, I’m exploring Patreon at the advice of a trusted artist friend. This is a platform where people can sponsor their favorite content creators and help them fund their projects.  I’m trying really hard to ignore the voice in my head who keeps yelling “who do you think you are?” and just focus on building a great profile for my body of work. I am an artist. I am an artist. My work is important and must be seen by the world. Again, sigh…

Now it’s your turn! Send me news! How are you getting back into the groove? Are your creative fires blazing? What are your own passion projects?

When Your To-Do List Is Doing You In

I am an unfocused mess. Riding out this cold hasn’t been too bad, thankfully, and I’m grateful to the legions of you who sent me awesome immune boosting advice. Today’s problem lies with work. I feel dwarfed by the size of my to-do list. It’s towering over me and every time I try to take a stab at it, I fall down one rabbit hole or the other and I feel like my brain is all over the place. How do I make the most of my limited time and work effectively and efficiently?

Comment away below and send your own tips and suggestions. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to slow it down while I make a list of the usual tactics that work to help me tackle my to-do list.

1. Make Lists – There’s something kind of magical about prying my fingers off the keyboard and kickin’ it old school with a pen and a notebook to make lists. These lists can range in topic – everything from things that are worrying me to items that I need to round out my wardrobe. Right now, my focus is on making money, so it would make sense to create a list of any money-making opportunities I can identify, ranking them in order of the most immediate possibilities.

2. Make More Lists – Once I’ve done some analog list making, I take it over to technology and create project-based to-do lists to get me closer to the goals I’ve set up in exercise number one. Right now we’re experimenting with Asana, which I’m not yet familiar with. Better add that to my to-do list.

3. Lay Off the Sugar – I can’t focus if I’ve been eating poorly. I feel like my eyes are rolling around in my head like Cookie Monster. It’s total scatterbrained mayhem. Today a box of Timbits made an appearance, and now it’s game over. Maybe I need to work it out on the treadmill downstairs and try to salvage what’s left of these working hours.

4. Make a Got-Done List – Do you ever feel like the day has completely run away with you and you’ve accomplished nothing at all? Chances are, you’ve done a lot more than you realize. End your work day with fifteen minutes to spare and make a list of all the things you actually got done today. Don’t rely on an app or software that just strikes these items off and sends them to oblivion, you need an actual mental picture of what you were able to accomplish. If the app you’re using doesn’t do that, just scrawl this out on a piece of paper.

5. Track Your Time – I have no less than three work projects on the go every time I sit down at my desk. I like working this way, but it can be hard to stay on top of things without a little discipline. Last month, I was in the habit of tracking exactly how much time I devoted to each project using Toggl. The simple discipline of having to switch the timer on and off helped to keep my focus on the task at hand. It was also very useful to see which projects were taking up most of my time. Still don’t believe that this tool is awesome? Check out this review from The Freelance Effect.

6. Change Your Environment – Sometimes it’s utterly hopeless to try to accomplish anything in a quiet room. The silence feels oppressive, and I get bored of staring at the wall in front of me. These are the moments where I move to the local cafe or library for bit more stimulation, and suddenly everything switches gears and I feel way more productive. If you can change your work space, try this whenever you feel stuck. If you can’t physically leave, try popping in a pair of ear buds and listening to music. You can even find playlists on places like Songza that have the added background sound effects of a cafe.

7. Get Physical – Get up, take a walk, have a run, do some stretching. Sometimes getting the blood flowing will recharge you just enough to tackle your mountain of tasks with renewed vigor. As the weather gets warmer, get outside for some fresh air. Take at least 15 minutes to get your body moving any way you can.

8. Hydrate – How often do you forget to drink water? I’m so guilty of this one. Even as I type this, I’m so parched I can feel my lips cracking. My brain is probably refusing to focus on work because it can feel my body slowly dying of thirst. Do as I’m about to do. Stand up, have a stretch, and get a big ass glass of life-sustaining awesomeness.

Phew. I already feel like I have a better sense of direction! Hopefully this little list has helped you get focused too. Don’t be shy about leaving your own best practices in the comments section below, we can always use some new tricks and tools.

Mommy’s To-Do List – Week of August 12th


Photo by Josh Hind

Weekend Highlights

On Friday night, we drove nearly two and a half hours in rush hour traffic to take the kids and their 11-year-old English cousin to the Legoland Discovery Centre. In my opinion, it was a total waste of money and a ridiculous distance travelled to share the hand germs of hundreds of hyper munchkins, but the kids seemed to have fun, so I suppose that’s all that matters. We tried to have dinner with extended family at a restaurant in the mall, but construction traffic and awkward timing made it more of a staggered, drop-in affair featuring a tired and incredibly loud Noodle and we didn’t end up getting home until well past midnight, which is never great when you’ve got kids. They were troopers though, to their great credit.

This set the tone for a very lazy Saturday that included a drive to the walk-in clinic for poor Hannu who has strep throat. Thank you public pool and swimming lessons with other kids. By Wednesday we should know whether any of the rest of us will get it. She’s recovering well, so fingers are crossed that the whole family doesn’t get sick, especially the poor baby. Mama S and Daddy had a date night to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary. Date night in St. Catharine’s is very different than date night in Toronto it seems. I think they had fun though. I got an early bed time, and woke up feeling a bit more human.

On Sunday Daddy took me to Toronto for a meeting while Mama S minded the girls and Noodle. We had dinner at Taste of the Danforth, which is an outdoor food festival held by the city’s Greek district. I’ve lived in the city for about fifteen years, and it’s the first time I’d ever been. It was fun, despite the crowds, and everything we sampled was delicious. The meeting went late into the evening, and with the long ride home this made for another late night, and a late start this morning. I’m feeling grumpy, negative and sensitive. Is it PMS, or sleep-deprivation, or strep throat onset or all of the above?

VIP Tasks this Week


I rallied Mama S and Daddy on Saturday to help me clear out more of the things that don’t belong in the classroom. This week I’d like to take down the remaining art, the curtains, and move the last few things out of there that don’t belong. Next step is priming and painting. The room is currently a deep burgundy. I’ll post before pictures.

Homeschool Prep

How did we arrive at mid August?? I need to cram now to make sure I’m ready to start homeschooling in early September. I’m taking at least one day out at Mom’s this week. Perhaps I’ll take two, just to be extra effective. I’m looking at the calendar and starting to worry a bit.

My Body

I’m not happy with myself. Since we’ve moved, I’ve been very bad at my daily exercise practice, it is basically non-existent. In Toronto I was walking for upwards of two hours every day with the baby and now I’m doing nothing. Our hiking only happened once, and I feel tired, lazy and ungainly. Looking at photos of myself is depressing me. Kicking gluten hasn’t cut it, I need to take action. I’m starting the Four Hour Body again today and I will post about that process. I hate feeling negative about my self, but I’m in a cloud that just won’t lift and I know some physical attention will improve things greatly.

Personal Goals

I’m in a funk. We all go there, don’t we? I’m feeling negative about writing, negative about my body image, sad, tired. I can feel that it’s cyclical, so that gives me hope that these yucky feelings will lift soon, but I know a good dose of gratitude will also help, so I’m going to work on shifting my mind to more positive things, and meditate on all of the things I’m thankful for.

Things to Look Forward To

Daddy has been very brave and has taken me out to drive several times now. I love it, but it’s still really kind of nerve-wracking. I have to get more comfortable when there’s lots of traffic, and I really need to improve my lane changes. I need LOTS of practice, so I really hope we can get some time in this week.

Summer Reading Club!
I finally have my act together and can start the summer reading club I wanted to create for the girls. I found these adorable printables from Pinterest and I think it will really motivate them to enjoy some more of their rather extensive library. I also think it will be great reading-out-loud practice for Ayla who is coming along so well with her reading.

On Saturday it will be four years since my partners and I decided to try to re-invent the relationship wheel. I’m hoping we can have an evening without the kidlets to go out and celebrate how far we’ve come in our relationship. They are my best friends and they make every day better because I get to share each one with them.

There’s my week for you. What does yours look like?

Mommy’s To-Do List – Week of July 29th


Weekend Highlights

On Friday night the grown ups went to catch my theatre company Les Coquettes at the first show of the Toronto Burlesque Festival. My troupe closed the show with a powerhouse number by the ladies, featuring a very pregnant babe who blew everyone’s minds by climbing up and doing a stunning silks routine. Yeah, I know, my girlfriends ROCK. We got to grab a bite after with almost everyone, and I may have had just a teensy bit too much to drink. It was delightful. Please pardon the grainy iPhone photos, we snapped them on the down low.


Saturday we returned to the city for a birthday party for the girls. Ayla is seriously missing her Toronto friends, and she was off the charts excited to be there. This gave us an opportunity to pick up a massive stack of mail from the old house, and visit with my auntie.

On Sunday Uncle Kyle came over and helped the grown-ups build our play structure. I was out of commission with a horribly stiff neck, but I was able to help prep lunch, which Khadija Mum made for my mom and brother. It was delicious and the weather was perfect yesterday. I had one of those days where I couldn’t believe I was in my own beautiful back yard.


VIP Tasks This Week

Swimming Lessons

All three of the monkeys are in swim lessons this week. I think I’ll have to rise early and get Noah fed and off for a nap before we head out, otherwise his nap falls right during class time. BAD IDEA. The girls are excited for any reason to be in the water. What’s with kids and pools?

Clear More Clutter

We need to bulldoze the garage and clear up some more space at home to get ready for the weekend barbeque and the arrival next week of our beloved English auntie and cousin. Besides, it’s almost been a month since we moved. I think it’s time to finally be settled.

What I didn’t get to last week:


I need to hit the Ministry of Transportation office and write my exam. I can’t enjoy any of my in-car lessons until I have my learner’s permit, and after subjecting myself to a classroom filled with sixteen-year-olds I need to reap the benefits of my ordeal!

Personal Goals

I’ve been kind of lazy about keeping my room tidy, and I’d like to get back on track with this, especially because we have guests this weekend. In fact, I think I need to get back on track with all manner of housekeeping. Being out of the house all week has really thrown me off.

My personal reading time hasn’t really happened. At all. I’m going to try harder to carve out some more time for this.

Things to Look Forward To

Pool Time!
I love being in the water with the baby, and I’m so glad to be able to do this every day this week. We have such a lovely local pool and community centre, it’s so nice to take advantage of.

The Library!
I had a small revelation last week. I love fashion magazines, but after looking at them once, they are usually in the recycling pile. What a waste! My solution – the library! I can get the current issue of most magazines, and return it for someone else to enjoy when I’m finished. I’m going to grab a stack one of these days while we’re at the pool, because the library is in the same building.

Birthday Fun Continues!
We couldn’t find a well-rated Mexican place that was within striking distance, but Uncle Kyle tipped us off about a place in the middle of nowhere (Winona) for my birthday feast, and it’s been causing a big stir. It’s called the Memphis Fire Barbeque Company and it was seriously, seriously delicious. I feel like it’s my duty now to take any visitors to this place.

Speaking of which, on Sunday the Toronto crew arrives for a birthday camp out on our property. I’m really looking forward to hosting most of my peeps, and their little ones.

Mommy’s To-Do List – Week of July 22nd


Weekend Highlights

After surviving a night of crazy thunderstorms and tornado warnings, we piled the children into the van and made the trek to Barrie for a reunion hosted by Mama S’ clan in honour of my sister-in-love’s upcoming 30th birthday. The weather was spectacular – sunny, but so much cooler than it has been, which was perfect for the kids to play outside. It was so nice seeing all of the cousins together. It made me wistful for my own cousins, who I grew up so close to. Watching the little band of monkeys romp around was easily my weekend highlight. They were all so sweet and careful with the babies. I als had a beautiful moment of quiet with Noah asleep on my hip in his sling while we lounged by the pond and the waterfall that Poppa and Nana so painstakingly built. We slept in luxury in their motor home that sleeps eight! Now I have a family RV trip fantasy that I am determined to fulfill before October.

VIP Tasks This Week

Idle Little Devils

I’m away every morning from nine until three at a course. I need to leave Hannah and Ayla with some activities so they don’t get bored, because when kids get bored it’s scary. When really smart kids get bored it’s really scary!

Create a Menu

I’m hosting some friends for an early August barbeque and camp out to celebrate my birthday, which is on Wednesday. This week I’ll work with Daddy on creating the low-carb, gluten-free menu. The party is called ‘Pitch A Tent, It’s My Birthday’. Tee Hee.


I need to hit the Ministry of Transportation office and write my exam so I can get my G1 learner’s permit. Can you believe I’m almost thirty-something years old and I don’t have a driver’s license yet? Moving to the middle of nowhere has been incredible incentive.


This has never been a VIP task in my life, but I’m making it one now. I’ve always envied those women who can justify taking the time and money to indulge in regular pedicures, and so now I will just be one. My course is across from the big shopping mall in town, so there is bound to be somewhere I can pop into after class one day.

What I didn’t get to last week:


Personal Goals

I really want to be bright and alert each day in class so I can make the most of my time there. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in a classroom and I feel a little nervous!

I also want to reserve some energy to spend with the girls and Noah each day after class. I know they’ll feel me being out of the house, and I think I’m really going to miss them too.


Things to Look Forward To

Learning to Drive!

True we’ll probably only cover the basic rules and such in class, but I’m one step closer to getting the driver’s license I’ve been promising myself for ages. I’m so glad that I’m not learning to drive in the big city.

Exploring the Mall!

I’m going to request a later pick up on one of the days I’m at Driver’s Ed. I’d like to have a look around the big local mall. Even though I hate the mall, it’s nice to know what’s available should I ever require some very extensive retail therapy. Also, everyone loves air conditioning, right?

Taking a Break!

I love my kids, and I love my partners, but I’m REALLY looking forward to getting out of the house for a whole week, even if that means I’ll be in a semi-boring classroom setting. I think it will be a nice way to shift focus so I can miss everyone a little. That absence cliché is a good one.

Happy Birthday!

It’s my birthday on Wednesday, and I want to spend the whole day spoiling myself and feeling oh-so-grateful for all of the blessings in my life. I wonder if St. Catharine’s has a kick ass Mexican place for dinner that night? Ahem.