Kelly Flowers

writer


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40 Before 40 – The Mid-Age Bucket List

bucket listMany moons ago, I was a bright-eyed go-getter, bent on squeezing every drop from the gristly lime of life. I had a lot of things I wanted to do and I was in a big hurry to do them.giphy-3

And then life happened. Every now and then, it occurred to me that the ME I had designed in my twenties was a long gone blueprint, some imaginary being the lab had given up on.

My priorities were unwillingly rearranged with children and societal pressure to normalize and the constant need to pay for some life necessity or another. The nerve.

Then comes 40. I’m on the countdown and it’s time to regroup, assess, question whether all that party planning and crafting really counts as moving forward in life. (Existentially, it is also time to question whether moving forward is the real goal.)

Have I lived enough? I asked myself. Have I accomplished enough? Have I adventured enough? I’ve never even been to India! 

This anxiety sent me straight to list making, because making lists is every Type-A’s therapy. A well-written list can solve any problem.

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Now, while I’m still ruminating on the existential meaning of life, I’ve constructed a really scintillating list. 40 things I want to do before I turn 40. Because if there’s one other thing a type-a likes, it’s a deadline. 😉

So, if anyone is so inclined… jump on board and do a 50 before 50 or a 30 before 30 or a 47 before 47 (although it, admittedly, doesn’t have the same ring).

(Legal disclaimer: I got a version of this idea from Gretchen Rubin, who on her podcast appearance with none other than Tim Ferriss, talked about her 18 for 2018 resolution list.)

Here’s my 40 Before 40…

  1. Publish book – Come hell or high water
  2. Sing karaoke – IN PUBLIC
  3. See the Northern Lights – I was born in Alaska and don’t even remember ever seeing the aurora borealis. poo.
  4. Do the splits
  5. Take Scottish dancing class – Seems random but I am Scottish, did Scottish dancing as a teenager (see how cool I was?) and am thoroughly obsessed with all things Scottish.
  6. Do 10 pull-ups
  7. Take a painting class
  8. Take a hip-hop/dance class – Maybe improve my Elaine-from-Seinfield moves. Maybe not.

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    I had to.

  9. Go tent camping – Glamping doesn’t count, much to my city-boy husband’s chagrin.
  10. Take a pottery class
  11. Buy a Motorhome
  12. Motorhome across the country
  13. Go to a horse ranch
  14. Organize/print digital photos – Honestly, this may be the hardest thing on this list.
  15. Go whale watching
  16. Go to Iceland
  17. Try aerial yoga
  18. Try acro yoga
  19. Ride a skateboard – Friends are trying to talk me out of this due to potential physical injury to my middle-aged body.
  20. Learn to ski
  21. Meet Tim Ferriss – Tim, if you’re out there, I’m a total fangirl and will likely have nothing intelligent to say due to nervous paralyzation.
  22. Do a handstand
  23. Get back to my college fluency in Spanish
  24. Remodel our home office
  25. Go rock climbing – Indoor is ok. I’m not a snob or anything.
  26. Learn how to swim strokes – like real swimming, not bobbing and flapping
  27. Play the ukulele
  28. Go to a poetry reading
  29. Read the Harry Potter books – Because I have heard this should be on every bucket list and apparently I’ve been living in a barn having not read them.
  30. Organize travel memorabilia – Hmmm, what to do with train tickets from Belgium, coasters from Peru and sugar packets from Morocco…
  31. Burn music to hard drive – I literally do not have a CD player
  32. Teach my kids to play chess
  33. Teach my son to read
  34. Go to a trampoline gym – I’m thinking without my kids. Would that be weird?
  35. Be vegan for a week
  36. Make a good (thai) curry
  37. Make a scrapbook for my husband’s last birthday – I’m such a giver.
  38. Take self-defense class
  39. Get laser hair removal – because shaving sucks
  40. Ride a jet ski – I have never done this and stole it from my friend’s bucket list because I was like “Oh yeah, I HAVE always wanted to do that.”

So there. I’m about to get at it.

P.S. If any writers out there are feeling mid-life crisis-y like I was, be comforted by the statistic that 95% of great writers are over the hump of 40. Like fine wine, apparently literary success improves with age. One in the pro column for getting older.

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Forgot The Halloween Pic!

(*Side note – I spent more time than I’d like to admit fitting white craft foam to my body)

My two year old just kept saying, “I’m Yoda. I have a green face.” Funny, he is.


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Fresh Meat, New Novel. We Is Smitten.

I’ve been editing for so long, I forgot what it’s like to sink my teeth into fresh prose, to get that high from creating rather than rehashing and hacking. I am finally into a new book and my appetite has been whet.

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I was gun shy to start a new novel, not because it’s an agonizing, hair-pulling, time-consuming process, which it is. I dreaded it because I didn’t want to commit to a new set of characters for the next few years of my life. Honestly, I hadn’t met a bedfellow I thought I could handle the commitment with. We’re talking about fictional characters, people, but sometimes, you’re just SICK OF TALKING TO THEM.

I’m going to do everything different this time. First, I’m writing an outline (before I start describing settings and layering characters). I’ll make sure I have a working ending so that I can build it from the beginning rather than retrofitting it in later. (and then re-retrofitting it on the second draft) See? I can learn.

Tonight, one of my writer friends said that if she knew how hard writing actually was, she would have taken up painting. She’s on her 7th draft, which made me self-conscious about my own 3 paltry drafts.

But THIS is what it’s all about! It’s the rush of lifting my fingers from the keys after three hours and having to resurface enough to maintain a conversation. Sure, I then realize I’m running late and haven’t brushed my teeth but who cares?! It like a drug to me.

So if you can’t find me for the next year of my life, know I am holing myself up in a dark corner, face creepily lit by my laptop screen and a look of crazed joy on my haggard face. Writing like a ninja.

hiding with laptop

Ahhh, authoring.

 


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The Art Of Doing Less

You CAN’T do it all. Here’s why.

Post It Notes Notice Board Sticky Notes Note1. How much time do you really have?

I once did a pie chart of my day, down to how long it took to eat, groom, commute, etc. Beyond trying to creatively multi-task (one should not do squats while brushing ones teeth, FYI), I discovered that apparently, I have a finite amount of “free” time. You know this, yes. But when you do a pie chart, you really know it.

With that sadly small sliver on my pie chart of “free time”, I had to decide how it was spent. TV? Long hot bath? Workout? Read? Write? Troll Instagram? Work on backhand? Clear out overcrowded inbox? Read magazines? Take up wood carving?

2. What is worthy of that time?

Have I ever mentioned that I want to speak like four languages, play the violin, become a black belt and a ceramicist?

If you have seen Tangled, (Yes, the children’s movie. Don’t judge!) you have seen my life’s aspiration.

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So many skills, so few hours in the day. *sigh* How, with this finite amount of time, could I ever do all the things I want to do?

  • I could work on each project/hobby/goal for 5 minutes a day and likely never become proficient at any of them.
  • I could spin my wheels on day to day stuff and put the big goals onto a different, less visited list.
  • Or I could devote and invest time into a single life goal and see it to fruition. Singular purpose. Multi-tasking is a no go here.

3. Is being busy and productive the same as accomplishing?

Being busy feels like being productive, right?

But the little stuff is usually not connected to the big stuff. For example, having a detailed car, washed dog and organized garage has little to do with my life goals. And a lot of the time, we DO have to choose. (Yes, even acknowledging this, I choose wrong.)

It’s tempting for us Type A’s out there to just put it all on the to do list and start pounding the pavement. We can do it all. We MUST do it all. WE WILL DO IT ALL!

todo list

Beyond the usual advice about burn out, the fact is, with an uber long to do list, you’re less likely to accomplish the things that matter most. The goal becomes shortening “the list” as opposed to working long and hard on a single project (with the reward of a single notch on said list). Guilty. At the end of the day, it’s easy to see a lot of little things done and harder to see a little of a big thing done.

But it’s fake productivity! Big things often don’t look like accomplishments until they are. And true accomplishment is only the big things. In 5 years, no one will care how busy you were, how clean your dog, pristine your garage, or tidy your files. What will you show for all that busy-ness? (if you think this is an excuse to not clean the garage, you wouldn’t be wrong)

Busy

Choose your biggest priority, the one you will care about in 5 years, for instance. Then, use those little slivers of pie time for it. As much of those pockets of time as you can for AS LONG AS IT TAKES.

Yeah, sure it’s not terribly gratifying when someone asks how a project is going and the answer is “still working on it” again and again. But one day they’ll be like, “I don’t know how you did that.” But you will know. You will know.


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That Time Of Year… Costuming

(I once thought this was a blog about writing. Really, it’s a blog about the things that get in the way of writing, like procrastination and writers block and things I consider important because they require creativity but ultimately eat up what precious time I have to actually write. Really… it’s a blog about costuming.)
October… ahh. Fall. 🍁 You’re celebrating pumpkin spice lattes, leaves changing color and wearing scarves.
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Me? I’m celebrating Halloween. (Not for the spooky stuff cause I’m still legit afraid of the dark. 🙄) I love Halloween for what it really is, an excuse to make costumes!
I put as much emphasis on this as any other thing in my life, a result of my inability to prioritize. My evenings are suuuper productive with things like sewing and gluing and the like.
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For me, making a costume is like any big project that I must first break into many small projects.
So instead of my to do list saying…
-Make xxx costume
It says…
-Sew vest for xxx costume
-Find wig for xxx costume
-Pick shoes for xxx costume
-Build chest plate for xxx costume
As you may guess, I get to cross stuff off my list ALL. THE. TIME. That’s what I like to do, cross stuff off my list. I metaphorically body bump myself like… Yeah. 👊🏻 You get sh*t done! You’re so damn productive. I can’t even handle how productive you are right now.
Meanwhile, my large projects are collecting dust on said list, trickling down from day to the next. Submissions? That’ll be a November list item for sure. 
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In the meantime, blogging is taking precious time from googling how to sew boot covers. Such breed of domestic I have become.
No spoiler alerts! I know you can’t wait. MUAHAHA!
November 1st blog post forthcoming. 🙂


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…Excerpt From My Novel, Gone Dark

Pig 5

(* no wild pigs were injured in the writing of this book, albeit theoretically)

Moku heard the shot that killed the sow. He was almost relieved. The feral pua’a were overrunning the mountains and  pigs stunk up the place. They’d made mud holes in Moku’s lawn again.

He hadn’t thought about the boar piglets until he saw them foraging under the mango tree. He pulled out the traps Auntie had bought to catch the mongoose that was chewing into her packs of cuttlefish. Every time she set them, the cages turned up empty, the bait missing.

The piglets had already lost weight. One was limping. Moku was never much of a hunter and they were good as dead anyway so Moku baited the cages with rotten mangoes stewing in a puddle of Bud Light. 

By the next morning, two cages contained the thrashing bodies of small pua’a. Their snouts were bloodied from lunging at the cage walls. Their beady eyes panicked as they shook and squealed. It had been hard to see them as the true pestilence they were. The third cage was empty, both of pig and bait. The work of a mongoose.

Moku had laughed. Always the third little pig that gets away. He puffed up his chest and exhaled loudly and deliberately in the direction of the closest pig cage. When his lungs were empty, he laughed again, more loudly this time.

“Some big bad wolf, eh?” he’d said to the pigs.

Moku’s first impression of Carol was from her car. The three black boar had squealed in their kennel at the hairball hacking sound it made as it bounced down his dirt road.

Moku had been sitting on a plastic lawn chair on the porch, smoking and thinking about reseeding the St. Augustine grass where the pigs had torn it up. When Carol parked the green car, crooked and mostly in the road, it backfired and Moku had flinched. He had stared past her then, hoping she hadn’t seen. When she’d spotted him on the porch, she laughed nervously, shrugging and looking sheepishly from the car to Moku as though it was the first time the car had ever embarrassed her.

Up close, she was smaller than she had seemed from Pahoa’s house. Her cheeks were wizened from too much sun and sinewy blond hairs glittered against her tanned forearms. She walked like a mynah bird, strutting and stomping, a kind of falling forward like she was hopping from rock to rock. Before now, he hadn’t given her much thought. Auntie always had enough to say about her for the both of them. Carol probably didn’t know that Pahoa was such a gossip. He reported everything he saw or heard and he and Auntie speculated together.

Carol seemed younger that day, probably because she was so short. Her tank top had been tied into a knot at her middle where a thin strip of pale skin was visible when she raised her arms. It was white as coconut flesh. She had a quick smile, apologetic almost. He was the one who’d been sorry. She shouldn’t have come here.

“Hi, I’m Carol. Are you Manu?” The words were spoken clearly; the vowels clipped and with too much emphasis on the last syllable, just like a haole would say it.

“Moku,” he’d said. His high had been wearing off and it was making him raw, irritable but also open, like when a song touches you somewhere dark and fragile and you hear it for the first time.

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