System Restored!

After 3 months with a soft social media detox, a computer in for technical repairs, and chemotherapy, it’s time to get back to the regularly scheduled program and reflect on what I did with all that free time… and does social media really warrant the amount of time we spend on it?

At the beginning of March, my computer screen suddenly went dark. I could turn the system on, but was only met with a blank display. Immediately I thought of how much it would cost for repairs, of the potential expensive replacement. Then I agonised over the loss of my files. I back up at the end of every week and the fault happened at lunch time on Friday – so a week’s worth of writing on my WIP (just over 3 chapters) was hanging in limbo. Would I get to recover my work or not? Then there’s the months’ worth of blog posts I’d worked ahead, sitting on a hard drive I can’t get access to.

I elected to take a social media break while my computer was in the shop rather than scramble and create new content immediately. It seemed like a lot of stress to put on me for no reason. And buggar trying to rewrite those chapters to my WIP from memory. The first week was strange. After being used to a tight schedule for so long, I found myself constantly sitting in my study in a Pavlovian response, ready to write, blog, scroll the socials… to an empty desk. Instead of trying to fill this time with more work, I decided to catch up on all those relaxation activities I’d been saving for a rainy day. My chemotherapy is coming to an end and the sessions a little more intense with stronger dosages, so indulgence in reading and catching up on television shows were top priority. Plus, in hindsight, a lot of the writing I was doing towards the end was word salad or stopped mid thought… the chemo brain was hitting hard and from my perspective, I didn’t notice the lapses until now. Admittedly I felt very lazy and unproductive. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a holiday, that I’m taking time to rest and recover, and get over the guilt of not having daily accomplishments.

The social media thing, I did not miss that so much. It’s lovely to keep in contact with family and friends, but did not realise how much time and head space that takes up. On my hiatus, I didn’t have to dress up and look nice every day, I could veg on the couch in trackies, without a care in the world. Maybe if I wasn’t sick and exhausted from my treatment I’d have a different attitude and miss the social interaction; but frankly, I loved the time alone where I didn’t have to put on a smile. Or comfort people because they felt uncomfortable because of what I was going through. I could be sullen and cranky all by myself, cry and get doggy cuddles; it might sound morbid, but it was heaven to revel in that emotion for a while. Purge it from my system.

I watched many (many) seasons of shows that I’d been meaning to get to, read four trilogies that have been tormenting me from the TBR shelf for years, played some video games, and slept. A lot. It kind of feels like a cheat, because now I’m well over three months in front for my book reviews… so despite doing little, I accomplished something.

I usually limit my social media to an hour, or hour and a half a day in the mornings with breakfast. And I think that is not going to change, I don’t need to be wasting any more of my day than that. But I do think I want to limit my time spent on blogging a little more – as much as I love it time spent relaxing instead of scheduling every minute of my day has left me feeling calmer and more refreshed. I have a bad habit of always trying to do too much, and taking time to just be feels important. That doesn’t mean I need to slow down with the blogging, just make sure the time I spend there count.

So I guess I’m back. The hard part of my health is behind me (fingers crossed) and even though I am still having technical difficulties, there are work arounds to keep my productivity up. But the social media break actually helped remind me of what is the correct balance – and let me reclaim time back to spend on more important things.

Have you ever done a social media break? Did it give you anything in return, like perspective, recharge the batteries, or did you miss it too much and swear never to do it again?

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hitting your stride… starting small and building up your reading and writing habits.

A February 2021 wrap up

I have to admit, I’m making a concerted effort to get my TBR down so far this year. I managed 6 novels this month, taking my total TBR down to 407.

I’m also getting back into the swing of writing regularly again, though most of my writing this month has been in edits and re-writes on my current WIP. I’m giving myself a few months to polish off this draft and am really excited with the forward momentum despite losing work time for chemotherapy and recovery. I’m planning on spending the first half of 2021 drafting and the second half polishing manuscripts ready for submission. With 3 drafts completed, I need to get them to a point I’m satisfied with, and start querying. I can’t keep putting it off or toying with the manuscripts. Otherwise I’ll never get past where I am.

So, I’m past the halfway mark on my queer contemporary novel, which makes me feel like doing a happy dance.

Having this enforced break from my regular pace of writing and work, and now trying to break back into productivity, it’s like I’m starting over from scratch. I’ve mentioned it many times before that you need to create a writing habit. It gears your mind and circadian rhythms into a rewarding routine. So for my first month back into writing, my word count was down (and the fact I did a lot or re-reading and editing to get back into the tone and setting of the novel after time away) in comparison to what I would usually turn out. But I feel a great sense of joy to be back at the keyboard and working towards my goals.

I’m a huge lover of checklists, graphs for productivity, and making spreadsheets where I can colour in squars with each achievement… a visual reminder of progress in very motivating for me and keeps reminding me of what I have achieved and not to be so hard on myself.

What do you do to track your progress?

What helps motivate you in organising your writing?

Besides all that I’ve just been concentrating on getting through my treatment and fighting my way back to health! Combining a bit of physical therapy with my treatment has helped no end. It’s keeping up my physical fitness as well as stacking the cards in my favour for a quick bounce back after all this chemo is over. (It is beginning to look like mid-year until I’m finished with treatment. UGH!) You have good and bad days, but I’m seeing slow progress which gives me a warm fuzzy inside.

I have to wrestle with my pooch for the couch on a daily basis, he seems to think it’s his spot for naps – he still does not understand that it’s for ME to take naps on. My furbabies bring me joy each day, and don’t seem to mind that I don’t have the stamina to play with them too much or take them for long walks. My little fluffy cheer squad!

Not the best quality of picture (because I used my phone and not my regular DSLR camera – and it was a few days before they got groomed, so my boys are looking a bit scruffy. But still cute as all getout!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Starting 2021 with some productivity and positivity

A January Wrap up and a look at how well I #BeatTheBacklist in 2020.

January has been a small reprieve for me – I got a break in chemotherapy over the holidays and let myself remove all the stress of trying to achieve anything and just enjoyed my time with family while my spirits were up.

With spending much of the time tired and ill on and off, a lot of resting is needed, which means: reading time! So I managed to complete 10 books for this first month. It makes me feel like I’m starting to hit my stride again. I was gifted a tonne of books as belated Christmas presents so my TBR has grown rather than reduced from 413 to 440. Many of the new books added to the pile were to finish off started series, and a number of new releases I’ve been pining over during the book buying ban of 2020. Technically I have not bought any books for over a year now (which I am proud of) and am hoping to continue the trend this year.

Casting an eye over last year and my attempts to #BeatTheBacklist I read 45 novels that I’ve owned for years (and published prior to 2017) that I needed to catch up on. With an addition of completing 12 series. Out of my reading year, there was only 23 recently published titles. It wasn’t my best reading year, but it was the most productive in clearing my shelves of older (and forgotten) books, and for completing abandoned series. I’m really attempting to up the ante this year.

I’m already lining up to complete 14 series that were already underway this year, but will be adding in all the new (gifted) titles into my reading rotation. The night stand is already overflowing with books to complete in the next coming months, and have a stack on the dresser waiting for attention before the middle of the year. It’s the most organised my reading has ever been. I’m a mood reader, so assigning books has never fared well.

On the writing front, well, feeling like I’m tired, dizzy and nauseous most of the time – when I have moments of energy, I’d rather spend them up and about playing with the dogs or hanging out with family, so it’s been relegated to the background for January. Though with school returning and holidays now over, I’m looking to get some words down in February.

Because I’m still an immune-compromised risk, social outings have been a big no-no, even though we don’t have any pandemic restrictions where I live at the moment. Plus needing to eat a low-microbal diet means no restaurants, coffee and cake, or fast food.  I really miss going to the shopping centre for a look-see and stopping for a gossip at a coffee shop or having sushi for lunch. I just have to hang on for 4 more months and I can start stepping out into the sunshine again. In the meantime I get plenty of puppy cuddles!

So with the month ahead roughly planned, and some excitement for the projects I want to tackle… and being over the half-way point for my schedule of chemotherapy I feel like I’m running a race with the finish line in sight and am looking forward to the party at the end.

Are you doing any reading challenges this year? Does anyone have ridiculously large TBR piles like mine? What is the one thing you are looking forward to most in 2021?

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrapping up 2020…. And good riddance!

Looking back through the year that was, a lot has happened, but a lot did not… It’s kind of a 2020 thing. All my friends are saying the same. My yearly goals have mostly been thrown out the window because of Covid-19 and a cancer diagnosis (again, sigh) but let’s get this wrap up done and put a positive spin on things.

Book worm:

My last catch up was in October leaving my TBR at 423, I didn’t post a November wrap-up because I’d not long started chemotherapy and was focusing on my health and wellbeing, so any work and reading goals felt superfluous. (Plus I was tired and in pain all the time and it was difficult to concentrate.) Though I did read 2 books in November, and completed 8 novels in December, taking the TBR down to 413. I’m still on my buying ban until I get below 400.

I set my reading goal to 52 books for the year, but was really hoping to reach 104… I kept it light with all the financial stresses, health issues, etc… but managed to complete 68 book for the calendar year which I’m happy about.

Thinking back over the year though, I would have to highlight my top five reads:

This Mortal Coil (trilogy) the first two novels were outstanding, it’s action packed and choc full of STEM themes of what the future could look like under heavy influence of genetic manipulation and body modification.

Highway Bodies is a zombie apocalypse with diversity. Highly entertaining and so proud of a fellow Aussie author.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a comedic historical fiction that had me laughing up a storm, really looking forward to completing the series.

I’ll Give You the Sun was a surprise hit out of the park. Bring your tissues for this roller coaster ride.

Reckoning a non-fiction title by Australian darling Magda Szubanski was beautiful melancholic writing that captured a lot of my youth and challenges what it means to not only be an Aussie, but a human being.

Scribe and scribble:

I only managed a paltry 1500 words for the year. With distractions, having to work long hours, being the only one to stay employed through the Covid-19 lockdown for six months, then having to manage doctors’ appointments and chemotherapy, not only did I have little time to write, but my mind simply wasn’t in the right headspace to get creative. It was a depressing year, but I am thankful the worst is behind me.

Levelling Up:

I still haven’t completed my marketing course, it had to put on the back burner in favour of other priorities. But I am still keen to complete it in 2021 and am eyeing off a few other short courses. I love to learn!

Social Butterfly:

My biggest goal for 2020 was to be more social, get out and about more… and well, it goes without saying that it didn’t happen. Lockdown and being immune-compromised has meant I’ve become a bigger homebody than ever. Oh the irony! On the upside, I’ve caught a lot of good television. Australian series ‘Glitch’ has been a big favourite, tv series ‘Insatiable’ had me in belly laughs, ‘Dickinson’ staring Hailey Stansfield was strangely hypnotic, I re-watched the ‘Teen Wolf’ series and making a start on re-watching ‘Supernatural’ now that it is ending; props to ‘Love, Victor’ and ‘Never Have I Ever.’ Fell in love with ‘Little Mix : The Search,’ squee’d over ‘Julie and the Phantoms,’ and like everyone else got a big sci-fi hit with ‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘Star Trek Discovery’ and ‘The Expanse.’

Some movies that brought me joy include: ‘The Invisible Man,’ ‘Underwater,’ ‘Like a Boss,’ ‘We Summon the Darkness,’ ‘My Spy,’ ‘Enola Holmes,’ ‘Love and Monsters,’ ‘Happiest Season,’ ‘Uncle Frank,’ ‘Freaky,’ ‘Godmothered,’ ‘Superintelligence,’ and ‘Monsters of Man.’

Work that body:

I was working out before the Covid-19 shutdown, and was making progress, though it wasn’t until 6 months later that the gym re-opened and I only got in a month before getting diagnosed with cancer and not being able to return. Though as a part of my treatment and recovery I am doing stretches, getting adrenal massages, and anything else the doctors have recommended to increase my chances for a quick recovery. I have lost some weight, my hair has been falling out, I feel a lot of aches and pains and lose my breath easily; but with a prognosis of 100% recovery I know it is all temporary and am looking forward to normalising my health in the new year. Some scary emergency hospital stays knocked my confidence a bit, but the idea of simply being able to take my dogs for a walk around the park keeps me motivated – I mean those soulful eyes would heal anyone!

As much as 2020 has been a dumpster fire, it’s forced me to focus on what is important and plan out my 2021 – it’s going to be a cracker of a year, because I don’t think I could do worse that 2020 anyway. The only way is up!!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

C-word… and the month that was October

A short monthly wrap-up with a message of positivity.

I was all fired up at the beginning of October, I have been fighting with fatigue and general ickiness and was determined to shake it off and get down to business. Then the dreaded C-word happened. Not Covid-19, but cancer. I have fallen out of remission again and started chemo. I have been struggling on whether to announce it or not. Saying something makes me feel like a failure of some kind. Which is ridiculous. My prognosis is very good and we’re hoping to finish treatment and get clear test results by Christmas. That’s my personal goal too. So my productivity for October has been wobbly. Getting through this mental hurdle, while not as difficult as my last two times, still threw me off-kilter. Now it’s just managing feeling like crap most of the time, trying to maintain concentration to get my days’ work done. I’m not announcing my diagnosis for sympathy or well wishes; just a statement to explain a lull in my activities… and probably from now until the new year. Though this blog has become a point of contention for me -> if I can keep it going as usual, then I’m not letting the c-word completely rule my life.

The funny thing is, the Covid-19 restrictions actually help me – it’s how I have to behave now I’m immunocompromised anyway.

This month I only managed 3 novels (all with cool toned covers, hey I created a theme unintentionally) – I find I get tired, or my concentration wanes quickly at the moment. Which means I’ve only whittled the TBR shelf down to 450. Better than nothing I suppose. So too has my writing suffered. I have managed a couple of chapters, but that’s it. Now I’ve adjusted my work ethic and adapted my routine to chemo and treatment I might be able to get more written in November. I really wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo, but I feel it’s unrealistic in my current condition.

I’ve taken everything off my roster. I don’t need stress or negativity around me at the moment. Just focusing on little wins that bring me joy. Watching tv shows and movies that make me laugh, music that makes me want to dance. And lots of puppy cuddles!! Focusing on the positive: I’m actually going to lose that weight I’ve been struggling with. No more trying to come up with meals – it’s all pre-packaged and balanced for my convenience. I get to spend more time snuggling on the bed with my dogs… and read! If I’m not sleeping.

Most of us are having a crappy 2020, but what are some of the positives that this year has brought you? I’d love to hear some positivity that others have found amongst all this chaos.

Is anyone taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know what you’re working on in the comments…

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

CHEMO

I’m so cold

Now I’m burning up

My head won’t stop pounding

I’m going to be sick

I’m gonna hurl

I’m about to vomit

If that nurse sticks me with another needle I’ll punch her in the face

I’m sick of feeling like a pincushion

My skin feels like bugs are crawling all over me

Go away

Please sit here, but don’t talk to me

Hold my hand

Puke rising

Why does that nurse have to wake me up, I’d just gotten to sleep

My pudding tastes like pennies

All my food tastes like pennies

Where did these bruises come from?

Technicolour yawn in the toilet bowl

Hot, cold

I love my nurse she makes me feel better, even when I’m mean to her

Don’t stick me with that needle!

Ulcers in my mouth

My poop burns

Why do I spend so much time in the bathroom?

My brain doesn’t work all the…. Who are you?

What was I saying?

I love flowers

The smell is too strong, it’s making me sick

My skin feels like its crawling with spiders

If I remain perfectly still my head doesn’t hurt so much and I don’t feel dizzy

I don’t want to cry anymore

I no longer reply to “how are you feeling…” it’s obvious how I’m feeling

Some of my friends are scared to come and see me

Why are you acting so weird?

I was reading this book and-

I think I’ve ripped a layer of my oesophagus off from throwing up so much

Is that MY hair?!

I don’t want to look in the mirror anymore

Can we please ignore the fact I have cancer and just have a normal day?

I’m sick of watching television

It’s funny how everyone speaks in hushed tones like they might break you if they spoke normally

Will I ever stop throwing up?

Of course I’m grumpy, my body is betraying me

My gums are bleeding again

My bones ache

This is one hell of a hangover

Wow I’ve lost so much weight

Just get through the next ten seconds

Ten seconds more

I’m scared

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Bonfire’ by Krysten Ritter

Small town secrets scare you silly.

Bonfire Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Mystery, Thriller

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

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I was really interested to see Krysten Ritter’s foray into writing. I have been a fan of her acting work and wanted to see how her talents translated to the written word. She excelled. Ritter’s writing style has the perfect way of world building and describing the scene in a few sentences before delving into the story.

I had a distinct case of writers envy with Ritter’s turn of phrase, it was almost melodic. She manages to intertwine the type of symbolism we usually get in contemporaries or Stephen King novels into the narration. The only thing stopping me from awarding this the perfect score was that the pacing was a little slow – but it usually is in this genre. Taking the time to set the scene, throw in some red herrings… it takes, well, time. For me, I wanted some more interesting or dramatic scenes in the way our protagonist Abby uncovers clues. It was still very gripping and realistic, but I love the melodrama and the gasps – always crave more from this type of novel.

I will say that I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen – I’m usually pretty good at predicting a novel, but ‘Bonfire’ had me completely stumped. Krysten Ritter literally baited me along the entire story and I loved it. She really knows how to craft a story. Just when you think the plot is about one thing, you discover it is about a totally different thing.

Bonfire Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Abby as a protagonist is relatable, but a little difficult to love. Just about every character in this novel is flawed (including the protagonist) sometimes unapologetically, some out for redemption, some lost years ago and just treading water. Thus, it made for a compelling read, the characters are well developed, motivated and engaging. And while I was invested in Abby and her plight, I wanted a more innocent, relatable character to carry the story. But that’s my personal preference, and in all honesty, a character like that would have stolen some of the grittiness that seems from the tone of the novel and the town of Barrens in which ‘Bonfire’ is set.

And I’m a huge fan of characters returning to their childhood towns after getting out, revisiting old haunts and memories, so ‘Bonfire’ was right up my alley.

Some of the reveals I found shocking, and there are some trigger warning for this novel around date rape and paedophilia. There is also underage drinking and drug use. Additionally, I had a cringe away from the page from a certain moment in the climax worthy of a horror novel – so you have been warned.

I thought I would have a stronger emotional reaction to the events in ‘Bonfire.’ While Ritter writes great characters and can plot a marvellous storyline, I didn’t get that emotional attachment I needed to draw out the feels from some of the more dramatic plot points.

Still, an incredible strong debut I am proud to add to my library. I recommend you go grab a copy.

Overall feeling: What. Just. Happened?

Bonfire Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Bonfire Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Bonkers – My Life in Laughs’ by Jennifer Saunders

A woman who is a quiet pioneer, and simply loves to laugh and see the best in any situation…

Bonkers Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Non Fiction, Autobiography

No. of pages: 320

From Goodreads:

‘As the steady march of time takes its toll on my memory and the vultures circle, I thought I should have a stab at recollecting how it all happened. . .’

Jennifer Saunders’ brilliant comic creations have brought joy to millions for three decades. From Comic Strip to Comic Relief, from Bolly-swilling Edina in Absolutely Fabulous to Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia, her characters are household names.

But it’s Jennifer herself who has a place in all our hearts. This is her funny, touching and disarmingly honest memoir, filled with stories of friends, laughter and occasional heartache – but never misery.

From her childhood on RAF bases, where her father was a pilot, to her life-changing encounter with a young Dawn French, on to success and family, the book charts her extraordinary story, including the slip ups and battles along the way.

Prepare to chuckle, cry, and whoop with delight.

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It’s very amusing, a light tone oozing through the narrative. Life is always painted in positivity and promise. It was very, dare I say, English.

The best parts, I found, had to deal with the behind the scenes stuff about becoming a comedian, getting the gigs, and inventing new material for her career. Anecdotes with Dawn French, Ruby Wax, Joanna Lumley and Goldie Hawn are brilliant, and are like your sitting there having a natter over a glass of champagne. Jennifer Saunders work ethic, being an artist at heart, is blunt and honest and has cemented Sandwich as a girl after my own heart. Endearing.

Dealing with elements of communication from the past – before technology butted in and removed much of the need for the written word are instilled with Jennifer’s particular brand of silliness. It reminds me of the notes I used to pass between my girlfriends in high school classes.

BQ Bonkers by Casey Carlisle

The narrative tends to wander a bit. Following Saunders train of thought before being dragged back to finish the story in earnest. Sometimes it was with a delicious side story, sometimes with some backstory, and sometimes with something nonsensical, mildly interesting, bordering on dull.

For the most part I found ‘Bonkers – My Life in Laughs‘ entertaining and educational. But in some parts, and more frequently towards the end, a little waffly.

I especially loved the chapters over Jennifer dealing with cancer. How she got through it, what happened, and how it affected her life a short time after. It was personal for me. I could relate to so much of it having experienced my own journey. It is also a tale to promote for all women to get regular mammograms. Many stories I’ve read about cancer suffrage deal with being sick and feeling shite. But Saunders kept her positive outlook powering right on through. As I did. My strongest memory is still pissing myself laughing at episodes of ‘Glee‘ on my laptop in attempts to keep up the positive energy and distract from what I was told of an unavoidable 6 month expiration date.

Overall feeling: Positively funny

 Bonkers Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Bonkers Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Building my own library

Dream vs reality in creating that perfect space to read and show off your book collection.

Building my Library Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

For those who didn’t know, I’ve had a couple of brushes with death. Cancer nearly claimed my life twice, and I had a long and painful battle to get a life back. But there is more fight in this old girl yet *I jump side to side like a boxer pumping my fists.* That has taught me to dream big and make sure my experience on this planet is a happy and fun one. So I keep a bucket list, try to tick off big goals and little ones as often as I can… One of the more personal, but materialistic items has been around my reading and writing life. Who doesn’t like a nerd-mecca in their own house!

Building my Library Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI’ve had a fantasy of my own library, whiling away hours sequestered in a cozy reading nook. Collecting pictures of my dream library and window boxes for winter reading. Even couches lit by gorgeous floor lamps, decorated with fur throws and cable knit cushions… It’s all in the ether of my brain, percolating until I get to build my new home. Yet those plans are still a pipe dream at the moment. But getting the blueprints down is step one. C’mon Lotto – I need a big win!!

In the meantime, I’ve settled for reconditioning some antique bookshelves. I found them online for sale by a neighbour’s Estate sale. The aim is to strip them back, fix the cracks and some of the joinery, and then give many coats of white paint and wooden curlicue applications to accentuate the French Provincial feel I want in my work room. It’s where I write, read, and come up with all my ideas. Time to get crafty, pull out the electric sander and dance to girl power music in the garage.

There’s an old chaise lounge I’ll endeavour to get recovered in a romantic regency brocade, either in sliver and pale blue tones, or go bold with red and gold. The space is about half-way there. The wall and ceiling painting has been completed, new white office furniture and floor rugs for ambience. Then it’s about all those other small touches to bring out personality and style. Something about a chaise lounge says ‘I’m classy and important,’ besides the fact that is looks like a normal lounge where one side has melted in the sun.

Building my Library Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI steer towards more of a white, open plan workspace. I find too much colour or clutter makes me feel claustrophobic in the creative process – especially if I’m frustrated with a writing challenge. Plus that decorating pallet helps to highlight the books lining the shelves. It’s not the grand style library I’ve dreamed about, but it’s inexpensive and looks bright and stylish. Something about being in that room is inspiring in itself. I’m most likely at least half a year away from finishing as the restoration work is intricate work, and the massive bookshelves are tremendously heavy and I only have friends over on weekends to help me move the shelving. The furniture reupholstery is going to cost a bit too; so I have to save.

But is should be a marvellous Christmas present to myself if I can get it all done by the end of this year. I could get it finished much sooner if I dropped everything and worked hard, but I’m trying to focus on writing this year, and completing projects. I started way too many last year and feel like I’m not making much progress because I stretched myself too thin. But I’ll share some pictures of my workspace when it’s all completed.

In the meantime, I have various study nooks to work in. One overlooking the coast from the window at the front of the house; one in a sunroom under a canopy of trees overlooking a natural spring where there is always plenty of colourful rainforest birds and purple waterlilies; or in my big white office with heaps of desktop space to spread out on. Or, if I’m feeling adventurous, there’s some great restaurants close by to spend an extended lunch in luxury (and they’re not as loud as café’s); and if the weather is right, me and the dog can sit on the beach. So many great places to cop a squat and read or write. I’d love to spend a day in the underwater aquarium, but the cover charge is hefty and there’s not much space to lounge without interruption – and I get the feeling the staff there would ask me to move on ☹  Though I’ve been thinking that a fish tank would be a fantastic addition to the study… if I don’t spend hours staring at it hypnotised.

What make your ideal study spot or reading nook (apart from bed)?

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Down a dark path…

Dwelling briefly on the bad things that happen to us in life, can also bring out the good.

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I like to think I look at the brighter side of life. Stay positive and always aim for happiness and positivity. Though, you can’t have the light without the dark, and, as an exercise I wanted to explore some of the things that have greatly impacted on my life that I wish I could change – but that said, those difficult times have shaped me into a stronger person and taught me valuable lessons…

down-a-dark-path-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle – I want those ten years back I spent in hospital beds, visiting clinics and specialists for treatment and becoming a human pincushion. There is a chunk of growing up I missed. Things that you only get to experience when you’re young. I hear stories from my friends and wish I’d had similar experiences to go wild or be silly. I have always had to remain focused, never knowing how much time I have left. Some reckless abandon and teen milestones would have been nice.

down-a-dark-path-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle – Losing my mother destroyed any sense of family and security I had. It left me alone in this world and hammered home the fact that we are all alone, many people we call friends are untrustworthy and are out for what they can get. People I counted as friends turned and started grabbing for money and possessions. I stopped seeing the best in others for a while.  Losing my cherished pooches devastated me in an unexpected way. That loss of unconditional love fills your life with joy and happiness, and when it is gone you feel lost and empty. I know death is an inevitable part of life – we all have to deal. But I’d love to skip the pain and emptiness part. It’s debilitating and hangs around for years. After finally getting cancer into remission, I only had a short space of time before facing the Grim Reaper. It’s just another thing that has made me appreciate the present and live in the moment. Making life happy, going for your dreams and sharing the love has never been more important to me.

down-a-dark-path-pic-04-by-casey-carlisle – why is so much of our lives and happiness dependent on how much money we have? People steal it, owe it, try and trick you to get it. One of the most troubling times in my life and relationships has been over money. I wish it never existed sometimes. I worry about it less now, but there were times when I was seriously concerned about losing my home, having the electricity shut off and wondering when I could afford to buy food next. If anything it taught me to save, budget, live within my means and never be too prideful to ask for help.

down-a-dark-path-pic-05-by-casey-carlisle – how people treat and judge each other. I had my fair share of bullying growing up. And then rejection. From my family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what. It left me thinking everyone is insincere and vindictive. I never let anyone know my true self. There is always a big chunk of me that I hide. But nothing is more empowering than living out loud. At times, it’s hard to ignore the negativity and scowls around you, but the more you stop thinking about other people’s opinions and focus on your happiness, the more fulfilling your life will be.

down-a-dark-path-pic-06-by-casey-carlisle – At least a couple of times a week I get a flash in my head about something I’ve done, or said, that I wish I could change or erase. Why can’t I just accept that it is in the past and move on? Many of these events are small and trivial and don’t affect anyone. Some are over what impressions I felt I made on other people… and others have me wondering if I hurt someone else with words or actions… It makes me wonder if I’m wired differently, or I have a mental illness at times. I guess it’s a sign of compassion and caring for others, so I just have to accept I’m one of these people who wants to share the joy. It keeps me accountable for what I do, keeps my morals and standards high. Though is gives me worry at times, it keeps me aware of those around me that I love and appreciate.

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So, while all of the good times in my life far outweigh the bad, and some of these events, though difficult and life changing and haven’t come without a cost, I don’t think I would change them because I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But the whole ‘what if’ question leaves me imagining how life would have turned out if I’d managed to avoid these difficulties… hmm might be an idea for another novel 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.