Writing Stuff

Catching Creative Ideas

Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty. – William Archer

I’ve read 99 of 100 books so far this year. I’m almost to my goal. And the more I read, the more I’m convinced my own story ideas suck rocks.

Because the last few books I have read have been spectacular when it comes to surprising the reader with a twisted premise.

I’m currently working on trying to come up with a story idea that will do the same thing. These are the types of stories I like to read and I want to write a story like this.

I like to pride myself on being able to write from any prompt, but I’d like to come up with my own idea and truly write something organic.

The only problem is, I SUCK at ideas.

So what do I do? I turn to trusty YouTube and search for “coming up with plot ideas.”

And I watched this video. Mr. Herzog offers some great insights on how to generate ideas:

1. conceiving
2. developing
3. conveying

I need to train myself to be more observant and ask more questions. What if needs to be my mantra.

I’m not giving up on this writing gig, but I do need to learn patience.

Which I’m pretty sure is a trait I was NOT born with.

Book Corner

Book Review: Losing Leah Holloway

Five years ago, Claire Fletcher escaped her abductor. But some scars never fade, and surviving was just the beginning…

When Claire sees a car full of children careen into a river, she rushes to the rescue. But the driver, a mother named Leah Holloway, prefers to drown. For Claire and her ex, Detective Connor Parks, it doesn’t add up. What would motivate a woman with a beautiful family and a successful career to resort to such unspeakable extremes? What Connor finds out confirms Claire’s suspicions of something dreadful behind Holloway’s picture-perfect facade: a link between the terrified mother and a serial strangler targeting Sacramento soccer moms.

As Claire and Connor are drawn back together, their investigation leads them to unearth everything Holloway was hiding. What they find could be the only way to stop a killer from striking again.

First of all, if you haven’t read Finding Claire Fletcher, I would highly recommend it. Though Losing Leah Holloway is not about Claire, she is a character in this story that gets pushed into the drama and to understand her character and her struggles, reading Finding Claire Fletcher will help you understand Claire better.

I gave this story four stars but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I just didn’t love it. And I think I didn’t love it because the “main” characters played more of a secondary role in the story, which makes no sense and on the surface sounds really weird, but in this story, it worked, I just wish the story centered more on the main characters and less on Claire.

Though Claire is an interesting character and the reader feels like she knows Claire through the previous book and she is central to the beginning of the story, (her and her sister witness the car driving off the bridge and Claire is the one who saves the children), she’s not really who the story is about. She is a character who keeps things moving – the glue that makes the story stick together.

This story is not about Claire specifically, it’s about the story that happens around Claire – on her peripheral, and it’s …… interesting.

Once again, the premise is different and disturbing. Though I ultimately predicted where the story was going I wasn’t quite sure how it would end. It was somehow satisfying for Claire to be the catalyst at the beginning of the story and then be the inhibitor at the end of the story as well. That approach felt well rounded and complete, somehow, even though the main story wasn’t really about her.

I know this sounds confusing, but Ms. Regan does a good job of making it work and I appreciated the creative approach to this story. It was almost as if Leah’s story was told through Claire.

And though interesting and entertaining, I still felt like it missed something. Though the author takes us back in time and you can see Leah’s rationale for doing what she did, I still felt like I didn’t really know her, D.J. or Rachel. I would have like to get inside their heads a bit more just to fully flesh out the story.

But I understand why Ms. Regan didn’t approach it this way because again, it was a story that happened TO Claire, it wasn’t Claire’s story.

At any rate, I really enjoyed the bread crumbs that Regan dropped into the story. Things are definitely not as they appear and Leah’s life is all about appearances. I find this concept fascinating because it makes me wonder what sort of lives people are TRULY living when they drop their facade.

We all have a public face, a public persona, but who are we, truly? I can tell you with 100% conviction my public face is NOT who I really am.

What goes on behind closed doors? What are people really thinking? How exhausting is it to maintain that facade? What is the thing that makes that carefully constructed castle finally crumble?

This is really what this story is about. Human endurance and reaching the breaking point. It’s a story about desperation and depression and the lengths people will go to mask those feelings and fake normal. It’s about finally opening the “forbidden” drawers in your psyche, pulling out the horrors folded within and allowing them out to air dry.

And if that doesn’t sound pretty, it’s because it’s not.

Getting into Shape

Re-Thinking My Fasting Journey

In case you were not aware, I watch a lot of YouTube videos.

The sort of videos I watch vary: from Drag Queens, Disney vlogs, family vlogs, reading/writing vlogs and anything else that captures my interest.

Like this video:

I’m not an athletic person. I don’t like to participate in sports, though I was a pretty good volleyball player in high school. I tried out for track one year but my heart started a weird flutter thing and it scared me enough to stop that nonsense.

I worked out two years straight in my early 40’s – I got up at 4:30 AM, went to the gym and worked out on the weights and treadmill; I was in the best shape of my life in that time period. But I burned out and have never gone back to the gym since.

I have spurts where I religiously use my treadmill at home, but those spurts only last a few months, again, I get burned out.

I think I’m ready to start one of those spurts again.

But walking … I’ve always enjoyed walking. It’s calming, takes very little effort from me and it leaves me free to focus on my thoughts, think through things, and just fade away from my every day life for a bit.

And I enjoy hiking. Kevin and I have gone to the Rockies a few times and really enjoyed the hiking trails. I would like to go back someday but I want to be in better shape so we can hike longer and more often.

So this video really caught my attention. It was interesting and inspiring and I really respect what these women endured – it’s not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, hungry and physically taxed.

But think of the experience! The feeling of isolation, peace and appreciation for God’s gift to man (the Earth, in case that was unclear).

I wonder, if my life had been a bit different, if I hadn’t met Kevin when I did, hadn’t gotten married, had kids, until later in life, if I would have had the courage to do something like this. I have nieces/nephews who are quite adventurous and have participated in hikes and backpacked across lands, stayed in hostels and just LIVED. And I admire their strength and courage to even try those types of things.

I would like to think I would have done the same thing when I was their age, but I don’t think I would have. I was (am) fiercely independent but I don’t think I had the courage to do something like this. Maybe with friends and only with friends who knew what they were doing. I was very nervous about the unknown back then. I remember being very nervous any time we left the city, like if we left the city, we were venturing into alien country and in that alien country there would be no food, water, Wal-Mart. *laugh* I used to get so wound up and uptight whenever we traveled and I know it wasn’t fun for Kevin to put up with my neuroses.

But quite honestly, since working in the medical field, I’ve lost that nervousness when it comes to people and dealing with the unknown. Because every every day is a new adventure and you never know what patients will throw at you on a given day, I’ve learned to roll with the punches and I’m much more relaxed about things. I know this because the last few trips we’ve made, and there have been hiccups, (translation: it didn’t go exactly as I wanted it to go), I’ve just shrugged and been like, “Okay. But did we die?”

I think this video has pushed me over the edge of my hesitation to get back into shape. I’ve gotten back to the point where I’m winded if I vacuum the house. Yikes. I’ve also been watching videos about intermittent fasting and this video also inspired me to try that again.

I did intermittent daily fasting for about six weeks and I felt great, though I had a lot of heartburn. I’m not sure why that occurred but it was so uncomfortable that I stopped.

But watching the video where the girl intermittently fasted every other day has intrigued me and I think I will try that. Honestly, fasting is not hard for me. I could care less about food as a whole and if it wasn’t for the heart burn, I would have continued the daily fasting routine. (In hindsight, I think my electrolytes were off. I will definitely be more mindful of that this go around).

I think I will try something different this go around. I’m going to try fasting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, (because those are the most realistic days for my schedule), and try and keep my calories between my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and my BMR (basal metabolic rate) number. After using this calculator, I figure I need to keep my calories on eating days around 1800 calories per day and if I am so ravenous on my fasting days, eat about 500 calories to take the edge off, at least in the beginning. It looks like I need to keep my calorie intake around 2100 calories per day once I start walking again, and 2400 calories when I fully get back into my walking routine.

But then again, after doing a bit of research about intermittent fasting, is counting calories really the best way to go?

So .. maybe counting calories isn’t the way to go. I tell you what, I’m going to start this process and just wing it because I have no idea at this point what will and won’t work for me. But I’m ready to try and figure it out.

Of course, this is the absolute worst time to start something like this, right before the holidays and all the holiday goodies, so I need to stay realistic and allow myself to cheat here and there because if I don’t, then I’ll obsess about it and be more likely to stop all together.

Now I need to download a calorie counter app – there are only a MILLION of them. I want something that all I have to do is plug in the food and it automatically calculates the number. I don’t want to think about it too much, I just want to know.

I also need to take pictures to document my progress and no, I won’t be posting them, don’t even think about it. *laughs*

I’m not fat, per se, but my BMI is considered obese. (Though to be perfectly fair, I feel like the BMI standards are a bit unrealistic nowadays but maybe that’s just me trying to justify my BMI).

I’m tired of feeling puffy. I’m tired of looking puffy in pictures. It’s time to take control of my body and I can certainly make better choices about what I put in my mouth. (*insert dirty joke here*)

I hope this post inspires you in some way. If you want to look and feel good, the only person who can make that happen is YOU.

Time to practice what I preach – starting next week – because let’s be real – Thursday is Thanksgiving!

Work Stuff

Communicating with Patients

Watch this video and then we’ll talk.

Guilty pleasure, I like Dr. Mike. I think he’s adorable, humble and truly wants to make a difference in the world. (Nice character idea for a story, actually).

I think I like him largely because I can understand a lot of what he’s saying when it comes to medicine. Not on a doctor level, of course, I’m not a doctor, but from a medical professional standpoint where I’m asked to interview and prime patients to be seen by the doctor.

A LARGE part of what I do is interpreting patient body language and picking up on what patients are NOT saying. For example: “Oh, I see you’re taking Eliquis, Ms. Smith. Do you have a heart issue? History of blood clots?”

(Eliquis is a blood thinner).

Or a patient will say in an off hand way, “I fell about two weeks ago and it’s been hurting ever since.”

“Oh? What caused the fall? Did you trip on something? Did your legs collapse beneath you?”

Which might indicate dizziness and weakness.

Or a patient will endlessly squirm in his/her seat or the patient is pale and sweating, (low blood sugar?), or their hands are shake uncontrollably (Parkinson’s?)

Or his/her blood pressure is super high or super low which could indicate various issues (which you tell your doctor about so he is aware that is a potential problem if we get to the surgery stage).

And you can nearly always tell the patients who are sugar coating their pain and symptoms because they either want drugs or they plan on filing for disability. Sorry folks, but it’s a real thing and happens daily.

“What is your pain rate today on a scale 1 to 10, 10 being the worse?”

“Oh a 10, for sure,” the patient will reply and yet they appear comfortable and his/her blood pressure is normal.

Your blood pressure don’t lie, ya’ll. If your pain is at a 10, then you’re being mauled by a bear and being torn limb from limb. A level 10 pain rate is you’ve been in a horrible accident and had your arm ripped off your body. THAT’S a 10 and if your pain was truly at a 10, I can promise you, your blood pressure would be higher than normal.

But I digress. (Also, be honest on the pain rate when your health care professional asks you, people. Telling your doctor you have a pain rate of 10 because you want to make sure your doctor knows you’re in pain does NOT impress anyone, believe me. In fact, it might actually have the opposite effect, now your doctor can’t trust you to be honest with him).

The point of this post is the importance of communicating effectively. Not just for me when I interview a patient or for a patient when he/she speaks to the doctor, but with people in general. We talk about this a lot at work and I firmly believe that to be successful at your job, in relationships or life in general, learning to communicate effectively is KEY.

I don’t feel like a lot of people know how to communicate. I’m not claiming to be an expert in this field but I did learn a lot from my communication classes in college about the importance of facial expressions, body language and how NOT to speak to someone and instantly put him/her on the defensive because when that happens? Communication ceases to exist. Then it just becomes damage control.

Side note: When Dr. Mike is telling his story and he’s offering possible treatment options and the patient just flat out says no to everything he says, that is incredibly frustrating to not just the doctor but his staff trying to help the patient. If you don’t try this stuff, how do you know it won’t work? Also, I think society, as a whole, expects a quick fix to every problem. We live in an instant gratification world now with online shopping, instant pictures, super-fast communication options, etc., that people tend to forget. Sometimes, there isn’t a quick fix, sometimes, to solve a problem, it means making lifestyle changes, like stop smoking, start moving more, make better food choices, and people don’t want to hear it. This is not a realistic expectation and yet, it’s more and more common to encounter patients who get upset because we’re not offering a magic potion or a pill that will solve their problem in an instant without asking them to make any changes in their lives or require any effort on their end.

This is a HUGE problem.

And the part where he talks about her unloading on him about her personal issues HAPPENS DAILY. I can assure you that when that happens, most healthcare professionals want nothing to do with it. If it doesn’t have anything to do with the physical ailment you’re there to address, your doctor doesn’t give a crap. It’s not that he’s not a caring person, but he’s there to do a job and that’s what he wants to do, to help you with your ailment. And, let’s not forget the roomful of other patients that are waiting on him to fix their ailments.  And though you want nothing more than to interrupt the patient and get him/her back on track, you can’t. One, it’s rude. Two, sometimes it’s helpful for the patient to purge those emotions leaving them free to focus on the physical ailment. Three, if you piss the patient off, then he/she is not thinking about the ailment anymore but focused on their FEELINGS in the moment.

It’s a fine line, and takes a lot of practice, to gently guide the conversation back to the ailment because let’s be honest, it’s not all about you. I have a doctor waiting on me to finish so he can go in and speak to the patient. And I have a waiting room full of patients fixated on the clock and OH MY GOSH, IT’S NOW FIVE MINUTES PAST MY APPOINTMENT TIME, WHAT’S THE HOLD UP?!

I have been known to look at people who bitch about the amount of time they’ve had to wait and say, “You know. You’re not getting your car washed. People are complicated and some take more time than others.”

In other words, don’t fuck with me. It’s called my “professionally firm voice.” Don’t make me use it.

And yet, those are THE VERY people who won’t shut up and talk about everything BUT the reason they’re there and taking time away from the other patients in the waiting room.

But back to effectively communicating …

  1. Rapport First – absolutely agree with this tactic. I make it a goal to speak to the patient as a person first. Ask them about their day. What are they going to do after their appointment. Make a self-depreciating joke and get them laughing. Something to help them relax a bit and feel human before we go poking at their sore spots. It doesn’t take long and it’s 30 seconds of time well spent.
  2. Epistemology – understand where the patient’s knowledge came from. Now, I’m not the doctor and a lot of medical stuff goes over my head, but when they say something about Googling their systems or they read something somewhere, I like to remind patients that though knowledge is good, you have to take what you read with a grain of salt. Reviews on Google are generally written by people who had unrealistic expectations to begin with and didn’t get their way or were pissed because they didn’t feel like the doctor cared enough about their ailment. And that may be true, but remember, there is always, ALWAYS, two sides to a story. It’s important to remind patients of that fact, at times.
  3. Don’t bully someone into a conversation he/she doesn’t want to have. This happens ALL THE TIME. I don’t know how this impacts the doctor and his conversations and maybe it doesn’t happen as often to the doctor because people know he’s the expert and they don’t want to piss him off so he doesn’t help them, but it happens to me and the nurse nearly every conversation we have. People in general, try to manipulate us in various ways to do what they want us to do. When I first started in healthcare, I used to cower and placate because I didn’t want to upset the patient and though I don’t go out of my way to upset patients now, I have learned how NOT to be bullied into something. I give patients controlled options. We can either do this or this, you choose. By approaching a problem this way, it gives the patient a bit of the control back. They may not like my options but if you want to move forward with my doctor and our clinic, these are your only options. I have no problem compromising with patients on something I have some control over, but ultimately, this is how it works. The process may be convoluted and frustrating, but it’s a process that works and that’s what we’re going to do. You are not the only patient we take care of and I wish more people would remember that. We’re in this together. I do not exist simply to take care of you and your problem.

There are times it’s better to shut up and listen, to offer sympathy, to offer options or to take charge of the situation. But the challenge is knowing when to apply these options because people are not cookie cutter cut outs. They are complicated and come from all walks of life and all sorts of experiences and often it’s prudent to stop and take your cues from the patients to effectively communicate with them.

I write all of this work-related stuff because I truly want people to understand where the medical profession is coming from when taking care of patients. I think too many people have too many preconceived notions about doctors and staff and it frustrates me to no end. WE are people too and we truly just want to do the best jobs we can do for both the patients and the doctors we represent.

Please remember that.

Book Corner

Book Review: Play Dirty

Love this cover, too.

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.

Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, they lived a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most — a child. It’s said that money can’t buy everything. But it can buy a disgraced football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects.

The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff’s destruction his life’s mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte’s ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption…and love.

Griff is now playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead.

Play Dirty is Sandra Brown’s wildest ride yet, with hairpin turns of plot all along the way. The clock is ticking down on a fallen football star, who lost everything because of the way he played the game. Now his future — his life — hinges on one last play.

Disclaimer: Sandra Brown is one of my all-time favorite authors. If I ever get off my lazy butt and actually write something, her style of writing appeals to me and I would want to emulate that to the best of my ability.

So I’m coming at this review a bit biased. But I will try my best to be objective and fair.

I haven’t read a Sandra Brown book in quite some time. Mainly because I’m on a Kindle Unlimited kick and I refuse to pay money for books when I have so many options at my fingertips for $10 bucks a month through Kindle Unlimited.

I was so surprised when I saw a Sandra Brown book pop up in Kindle Unlimited that I snatched it up.

The reviews on this story surprised me a bit, at least on GoodReads – it has 4.3 out of five on Amazon.

I usually go by the reviews on GoodReads as opposed to the reviews on Amazon as I have found my peeps on GoodReads seem to align with my personal tastes better.

But Play Dirty on GoodReads only has 3.92 stars out of five.

And I think I know why.

The premise of the story is unusual and ethically questionable. It’s disturbing but fascinating at the same time and that’s a large reason why I liked it; it was different and interesting. Most stories follow a certain format and I appreciated the fact that this story did not.

At first, I was a bit repulsed by the premise. A wealthy couple pay for a stud. Our star quarterback basically prostitutes himself out to get back on easy street and at first, you don’t like Griff but you can understand his desperation and reasons why he might decide to do this deed, though you may not like it very much.

And though the reasons why the wealthy couple go this route as opposed to other more conventional routes makes sense … in a bizarre, okay it’s your money and if you’re willing to do this way then go for it.

Still weird. But interesting enough to keep me reading.

What I thoroughly enjoyed from this story was the unpredictability. Nearly every scenario took me somewhere I wasn’t expecting. It’s like Ms. Brown got to a comfortable spot in her story, stopped and thought, “what new hell can I put these characters through?” And I LOVED it. I get so tired of reading stories that follow a formula. True, writers can vary how they get to the answer of the problem but ultimately, we all get there eventually.

And though this story ultimately reaches a satisfactory ending, it’s more of a REALISTIC ending.

I like unusual, real stories. Life is messy and weird and confusing at times and though the premise of this story is unusual and likely not probable, it’s possible. Which for me, is the only thing required. I can buy pretty much anything if leading up to the situation is possible.

Truth really IS stranger than fiction.

I liked how Griff wasn’t a wealthy, asshole alpha male. Wait, let me rephrase that, he was until he cheated and landed himself in jail. I love how Brown started the story AFTER all of that occurred though it would be interesting to read a story about Griff’s life BEFORE he went to jail, too.

Griff is majorly flawed. He allowed his greed and big ego to overshadow common sense and it landed him in big trouble. So when he was released from jail, he wasn’t broken but he was certainly different.

When you’re first introduced to Griff, he’s a douche. He cheated. He went to jail. He is looking for a fast buck to get his life back on track. Everyone hates him because of what he did. He’s pretty much at the bottom of the barrel and at first, your sympathies lie with Foster, a wheelchair-bound man just trying to achieve his greatest desire, to have a child. I didn’t really feel much for Laura at first. She’s just the vehicle stuck between the two men doing what she is being told. If anything, I felt impatient with her and couldn’t understand why she would go along with her husband’s unusual request.

But then, Brown starts to throw me bits and pieces of character backstory and motivations and suddenly my interest piques and my sympathies shift.

And instead of giving me these tidbits all at once, Brown does a great job of spoon feeding me more and more as the story progresses so that by the end, it’s not the same story you began with.

I LOVED that aspect of the story.

I also really love how Brown writes. She provides just enough detail to place you in the scene but leaves out enough for your imagination to kick in and fill in the blanks. Her dialogue was snappy and realistic and the story just kept moving forward. I didn’t really feel like there were any stagnant parts, every part had something interesting.

Though the parts where Griff and Laura meet for the first few times are incredibly awkward and cringe worthy, it was believable and horrifying at the same time. Brown placed those characters in an impossible situation and yet somehow, they made it work.

Whenever I stop to think about story ideas for my own writing, THIS is the sort of plot I’m looking for. I want to write something that makes my reader squirm, shift loyalties and be surprised. I want to write about messy lives and awkward situations and put my characters through hell. This story does all of that and Brown does an excellent job of balancing different genres,: mystery, thriller, romance, into one cohesive, entertaining read.

I’m inspired.

Can We Talk?

Would You Rather … Part Two

1. Would you rather have all traffic lights you approach be green or never have to stand in line again?

I think I would prefer all traffic lights be green. Then you could get where you’re going faster and have more time to do whatever you need to do at the place you were traveling to.

I actually don’t mind standing in line. At all, really. Unless I’m in a hurry, of course. But standing in line gives me a chance to stop, breathe and observe. And I love to observe people. I love to watch facial expressions, body language and how they interact with their surroundings. I like to eavesdrop on various conversations and try and guess people’s background stories. And I think waiting in line is a good way to practice patience, something that is virtually non-existent nowadays.

Also, side note: Why do people get so uncomfortable standing in lines, or being put in awkward positions? For example, whenever I come into work every day, I take the service elevator up to my floor, the 7th floor, and without fail, if I’m in the elevator with other people, they will pull out their phones and look busy. And I’ll be honest, I peek around to see what they’re doing and really, they’re not doing anything, just literally scrolling through apps that are not open or read old text messages. It amuses me and annoys me that people feel they HAVE to stare at their phones for various reasons. Though I DO NOT want to start a conversation with anyone, I’m perfectly fine to just stare at the elevator numbers, I do find it sad that people are SO determined to withdraw from society that they have been reduced to staring at a hand-held computer.

Also, side/side note: People that are walking into work, at 7:00 AM, with their phones plastered to their heads and having a conversation with someone. At 7:00 AM?! Who the hell are you talking to and why can’t you talk to them later? Say, after you get off work. Who wants to have a conversation at 7:00 in the morning? Really bizarre to me.

2. Would you rather spend the rest of your life with a sailboat as your home or an RV as your home?

Oh, super easy, RV all the way. I LOVE camping, well, GLAMPING, let’s be honest. I would totally love to live in an RV and travel, at my leisure, around the countryside and blog/vlog about our travels and just ENJOY God’s amazing Earth.

I get motion sickness pretty easily, hence the reason I have to drive everywhere because being a passenger in a car, even going across town, is enough to make me hurl chunks. So the thought of even BEING on a sailboat churns my stomach acid. (Though interestingly enough, I don’t really get seasick when we cruise. Probably because the ship is HUGE and has stabilizers to discourage rocking).

3. Would you rather give up all drinks except for water or give up eating anything that was cooked in an oven?

Again, easy. I would rather give up anything cooked in an oven. I drink coffee and water, period. I don’t drink soda and rarely juices. And I could totally live on cold cuts, cereal and oatmeal (hot water from the water cooler. HA! Loop hole).

4. Would you rather be able to see 10 minutes into your own future or 10 minutes into the future of anyone but yourself?

If the question had been phrased differently, my answer would be different. If the question was if you could see your future or someone other than yourself, I would have said other people. I don’t want to see when/how I die, or when someone I love dies. But seeing 10 minutes at at time? Hhmm…I think I would rather see my own future. Then I could tell if I’m making the right decisions in the moment – make better choices, I guess.

5. Would you rather have an easy job working for someone else or work for yourself but work incredibly hard?

Depends. If I work for myself, am I ultimately successful? Because if I would have to work incredibly hard only for it to go nowhere I don’t know if it would be worth it. But how could it NOT go anywhere because I’m pouring my whole self into it?

Not gonna lie, my first instinct is to take the easy way out. Not because I’m lazy, though I am sometimes, but because after I’ve gotten my work done, I can go home and not worry about stuff and  focus on things I really want to spend my time on.

But I also think taking the easy route would be so BORING after a while. It would definitely be more challenging to work for myself. BUT, I’ve tried that. When I was a stay-at-home mom and had the opportunity to work on websites and build my business, I didn’t.  I lacked self-motivation and drive to really make it take off.

So, the realistic answer for me is the easy job. I feel sort of embarrassed to admit that.

6. Would you rather be the first person to explore a planet or be the inventor of a drug that cures a deadly disease?

I have zero interest in being the sort of person who has to try something first. I’m the LAST person to update my phone, or buy some new fancy gadget. I would rather the bugs be worked out of it first before I spend my money on it. I have no problem with waiting. So being the first person to explore a planet doesn’t appeal to me at all.

But the opportunity to help cure people and change their lives for the better? I am 100% on board with that plan. I would want to remain anonymous, though, because I wouldn’t be doing it to become famous but because if that opportunity ever came up? It would be the right thing to do.

7. Would you rather go back to age 5 with everything you know now or know now everything your future self will learn?

Seriously. Who would want to go back to age five? Actually, I take that back. Think about that a moment. If you knew what you know now at a young age, think of the BETTER choices you would make and how different your life would be right this moment. I wonder if we learned wisdom at an early age how the whole WORLD would look now?

Better, or worse? (I sense a story in there somewhere).

8. Would you rather be able to control animals (but not humans) with your mind or control electronics with your mind?

Don’t we sort of control electronics with our minds, now? I mean, what do you think powers our fingers when we type? Or the mouse we use to navigate? I feel like we already control electronics with our minds.

And though I’m not an animal lover, I would pick this choice. Imagine your neighbors dog that WON’T STOP BARKING? I can see being able to control animals coming in handy at times. *ahem*

9. Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?

Hands down, unlimited international first-class tickets to everywhere.

I think if you never had to pay for food ever again would be a one-way meal ticket (see what I did there?) to becoming obese. No thanks.

10. Would you rather see what was behind every closed door or be able to guess the combination of every safe on the first try?

So, you guess the combination of every safe on your first try. Why? To become a thief? Why else would you want to open a safe? Hard pass.

But to see what is behind closed doors? To hear conversations and see how people REALLY are when others are not looking? Now that would be an invaluable asset, I would think. And I bet shocking, to be honest.

Abundant Life

Freewill Explained

This teaching touched my heart at Bible study yesterday. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand freewill and how important it is to our every day lives, not just our spiritual lives.

Freewill is REAL and it’s IMPORTANT. Don’t blame God for the things that go wrong in your life. Own your decisions, whether they are good or bad, and accept that when bad things happen, they don’t stem from a loving God, they come from a dark, evil place.

Despite what some Christian circles preach, free will does exist; God doesn’t control the clothes you wear, the food you eat, or the decisions you make, whether good or bad. He also doesn’t pick and choose who gets saved, who rebels, who accepts Jesus and who doesn’t. If He did, everyone would be saved—because, as Scripture tells us, God “wants everyone to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) But because He respects the freedom of man to choose, God doesn’t force salvation on anyone; this is a pretty good indication that God isn’t controlling our lives. We’re calling the shots ourselves.

God is definitely involved in people’s lives, but He isn’t dictating everything that people do. He watches us, and sometimes He intervenes—but He isn’t controlling every movement of our lives.

Work Stuff

Doctors are Human Cyborgs

This is a picture of my inner bad bitch self. Be scared, Dr. Bob.

Well goody, I’m being assigned to one of the biggest asshole doctors in our clinic next week.

Can’t wait.

Doctors are a different breed of person. I sometimes have to remind myself they are HUMAN. They have lives, they have feelings, they have bad days, they want to be included in things because it’s human instinct to BELONG to something.

But they are also highly intelligent and sometimes I feel like THEY have to remind themselves that they are human as well.

Translation; don’t be a dick to the very staff that are being paid to HELP you.

I work with neurosurgeons – brain surgeons, if that makes a bigger impact on you. I feel like brain surgeons are in the top of the doctor spectrum. They are elite, intelligent and literally save, and change, people’s lives.

They can also allow this elitism to go to their heads and they can be moody, volatile and temperamental. But they have enormous pressure put on them too. More pressure than most of us will feel in our entire lives, let alone DAILY. Cut them some slack.

If you see a doctor for whatever issue and you feel like that doctor isn’t really listening to you or acts impatient with you, try and have some patience because you have NO IDEA what sort of day he’s having. It’s very likely he just came from a room where he had to tell a patient they have an inoperable brain tumor and only have weeks to live.

(True story).

I’m not trying to excuse the doctor’s that are flat out rude or abrupt, just know that these doctors are HUMAN and you truly don’t know what it’s like to be in his shoes, what he sees or what sort of mental anguish he has to go through every day when dealing with difficult, and sad, cases.

BE PATIENT WITH YOUR DOCTOR. You just don’t know what kind of day he/she is having.

The key, at least, in my lowly medical assistant experience of working with brain surgeons for the past eight (EIGHT!?) years, is to take your cues from the doctor. Are they smiling? Kidding around? Seem to be in a good mood? Probably a good day to give them a hard time and remind them they are human – in a tasteful, professional way, of course.

Are they expressionless, staring at images intently, or highly focused/serious? Those are the days you stay professional and focused yourself. You don’t make eye contact. These are the times you put your head down and do the best job you can possibly do and work to make their day as painless and smooth as you possibly can.

I’m very, VERY, VERY lucky to consistently work with an even-tempered, pretty chill, kind and funny doctor.  Patient’s also love him. I pretty much adore him. He’s ‘da bomb.com. But let’s be real, he has his moments, he’s HUMAN after all and he’s certainly allowed to be grouchy from time-to-time. A bad day for brain surgeons are VERY BAD. When you have to declare someone brain dead and then tell the family … most of us can’t even IMAGINE the absolute hell that must be to experience.

(True story)

And remembering they have to do unthinkable things like that makes me WAY more patient with them when they are being dicks to us that day. It’s the nature of the “business.” You can’t take it personally. You just can’t.

However, there are those doctors, and thankfully, I haven’t experienced very many of them in my years working for this clinic, but there are a few doctors that are just ASSHOLES. Not to their patients, but with their staff. The doctors I’m talking about are the doctors that literally throw things when something doesn’t go their way. Or they cut a person to the very bone marrow with sharp criticism. Or they threaten to walk out of their clinic because their computer will not respond fast enough to their liking. Or they arrive two hours late to clinic, CONSISTENTLY. That’s when you start being proactive and schedule his first round of patients at the time he rolls in because when you have to hand out gas cards to patients because your doctor is two hours late to clinic, THAT’S A PROBLEM.

(True story).

The kind of doctor who discards nurses and medical assistants like bags of dog poop. The kind of doctor who now has such a hellish reputation (not just in the clinic but in the OR room as well)  that when an applicant finds out she’s interviewing to be his nurse, medical assistant, the applicant promptly says “no thanks” and walks out.

(True story).

Which brings us to now.

This doctor, let’s call him Dr. Bob, has scared nurses away, has thrown fits and demanded a member of his team be taken off his team and has literally walked away from a full clinic for technical issues.

Now granted, let’s be perfectly fair here, he has worked with some less than intelligent people. It could be that he has scared the common sense right out of these people, but for whatever reasons, they haven’t satisfied his level of competence, I suppose. Whatever the reason, he has gone through A LOT of people. His current nurse, who we all liked, including Dr. Bob, had to quit due to family issues. We are all VERY sorry to see her go, she was a good match. But life happens. There’s not much you can do about it. And his medical assistant has reached her limit, which honestly, I don’t blame her for not wanting to work with him anymore so now Dr. Bob doesn’t have a nurse, or a medical assistant.

Management is scrambling to try and fill those holes. I don’t envy them that job. But in the interim, he has to have someone run his clinic.

My doctor, who I adore and work very hard to take care of, is in clinic on Mondays and Wednesday, he does surgery the rest of the week. Dr. Bob’s clinic days are Mondays and Thursdays.

I can’t cover him on Mondays, I have my doctor to take care of, (THANK GOD), but that means I CAN cover him on Thursdays.

And management caught me, literally as I was walking out the door on Friday, to tell me I would be covering his Thursday clinic this next week.

And I’m foreseeing, because I’m a big picture sort of gal, that I will be his Thursday coverage for quite some time because it’s hard enough to get anyone to apply for a medical assistant job, let alone get hired.

*sigh* Awesome.

A few years ago, I would have been absolutely petrified about this turn of events. I have covered him a few times over the years, but honestly, I don’t really know him and though he probably recognizes my face, I bet he doesn’t know my name. That’s fine, whatever. I’m not being paid to be the man’s BFF, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to thinking about next week, pretty much non-stop this entire weekend.

And by thinking I mean, planning. Mentally giving myself a pep talk.

I’m not really nervous, per se, but I’m definitely not looking forward to it. I’ve been doing this job for a while now and I’m pretty confident in my abilities and honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass if he likes me or not, I just want to do the best job I can possibly do and move on.

I guess I’m just bummed that we have, once again, reached this impasse with Dr. Bob. Surely he sees the common denominator when it comes to his staff, he’s not stupid. I suppose he just doesn’t care.

One silver lining to this situation, his mid-level is a sweetheart. He can at least act as a buffer between me and Dr. Bob. I have no intentions of interacting with Dr. Bob, and I’m quite certain Dr. Bob will not interact with me, if he needs to tell me something, he’ll tell his nurse to tell me.

(True story).

But I’m perfectly fine with that. And when, (because it will happen), he throws a temper tantrum about something, I will simply wait for him to finish his temper tantrum and continue on my merry way.

DR. BOB WILL NOT DEFEAT ME.

I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

Book Corner

Book Review: What I’ve Done

Morgan Dane’s new client has blood on her hands—and no recollection of what happened—as the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling series continues.

Haley Powell wakes up covered in blood, with no memory of the night before. When she sees a man lying in the backyard, stabbed to death, she has only one terrified thought: What have I done?

Agreeing to take the case as a favor to her PI friend Lincoln Sharp, Morgan must scale a mountain of damning circumstantial and forensic evidence to prove her client innocent. Haley couldn’t appear more guilty: her bloodstained fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and she has no alibi. But Morgan can’t shake the feeling that this shocked young woman has been framed.

Someone out there is hell-bent on sabotaging her defense, targeting Morgan, her partner, and especially Haley. Someone who will stop at nothing—and whose next move will be deadly.

Definition of cozy mystery – “a sub-genre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Cozy mysteries do not employ any but the mildest profanity. The murders take place off stage, frequently involving relatively bloodless methods such as poisoning and falls from great heights. The wounds inflicted on the victim are never dwelt on and are seldom used as clues. Sexual activity, even between married characters, is only ever gently implied and never directly addressed, and the subject is frequently avoided altogether.”

That definition sums up the Morgan Dane mysteries. Clearly, I like the character enough to keep coming back, this is my fourth time and there is a fifth story that I will read at some point but it is simplistic and though not entirely predictable, the author does a good job leading us down the path to a very probable solution.

Morgan is a defense attorney and I like how her character is learning about investigating crimes the same time as her readers. I like how she’s a strong female and has a level head about her but is still a female and does have physical limitations. Hence the reason for her love interest, Lance.

I also really like that Morgan is a non-traditional female in that she has lost her husband and is raising three small girls, lives with her grandfather and employs a rather interesting nanny. Nothing about her “family” is traditional, though more and more common nowadays and yet it works for me.

Though I personally prefer my mysteries to be a bit more gritty and messy, it’s nice to read a cozy mystery from time-to-time if for no other reason than to cleanse my rather disturbing palate.

If you’re looking for an easy, entertaining read, I would recommend the Morgan Dane series.

Cruise 20

Sailing to Northern Europe

Kevin and I will have been married 30 years in May 2020. And since we love to take cruises every year, we’ve decided to do something really different this go around.

We’re going to Northern Europe.

The only cruise line, well, aside from Norwegian, which is too expensive, that sails to that area is MSC Cruises. We’ve never sailed on MSC before so this will be many firsts for us. We’re not going in May, but we’ll go later in 2020.

It took a lot of toggling windows back and forth between the MSC cruise website and American Airlines, but after running nearly every scenario we could think of, we opted to fly into Amsterdam and drive to Rotterdam, which is where the boat will sail from. It’s about a 50-minute drive and luckily, they drive on the right side. It’s a straight flight from Dallas to Amsterdam, granted, a nine-hour straight flight, but still, it’s better than the other options we tossed around. We’ll leave from Springfield, fly to Dallas and then to Amsterdam. We’ll get in to Amsterdam at about 9ish AM, rent a car and drive to Rotterdam. Turn the car in, stay the night in Rotterdam then sail out the next day.

We’ll sail to Hamburg Germany, have a sea day after that, then sail to Paris, London, Belgium then back to Rotterdam. We’ll then rent another car, drive back to Amsterdam, check into our hotel in Amsterdam and spend the rest of the day exploring Amsterdam. We’ll fly home the next day.

We had initially thought we would take a cruise to the Mediterranean and we will eventually do that, but Northern Europe caught our attention because Brandon recently flew to Belgium to meet some online friends, (I won’t even tell you how nervous I was for him to leave the country and meet virtual strangers. Though, he said he had been talking to them for nearly five years online, the most nerve wracking part of his trip was hoping that someone would pick him up from the airport and be a real, legit, normal person. I’m happy to report everything worked out great and he had a fantastic time).

We looked through Brandon’s pictures when he got back and it was GORGEOUS. The architecture, the history … just everything. And that is when we started looking at cruises to Northern Europe. We didn’t even know there WERE cruises to that region until Brandon’s trip.

I’m beyond excited though. I’ve always wanted to go to London/Paris and I can’t wait to explore. There are a TON of excursions to choose from and we’ll probably just stick to the excursions where we walk around the cities and learn about the history. We feel like that is the best way to see the sights.

We also booked a balcony room! Kevin surprised me by upgrading to a balcony room our last cruise and I’m afraid I’m spoiled now.

I can’t wait to take pictures!

We have a whole year to plan and narrow down details, but for now, it’s a done deal. We booked our cruise and reserved our flights.

Gah! I’m so excited!