Book Signing for Love Has Its Ups and Downs

I will be signing copies of Love Has Its Ups and Downs at Quincy Books in the Quincy Mall on Saturday, March 14, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I’m really excited about this opportunity to meet the public, though I’m also very nervous about the whole thing.

I’m not an extrovert. I’m painfully shy. People intimidate me. There, I said it. I’m scared.

Of course there’s a good chance I won’t actually have to talk to anyone–but that’s considered a worst case scenario. Hopefully I’ll be forced to explain my work to dozens of interested people who will understand what it’s all about and rush to buy a copy to read and another to give a friend. Scary.

Will anyone show up? Will people walk by with their heads down trying to avoid eye contact? Will I actually sell any books? Will I sell enough books?  How many is that?

Or the more important questions: Will I actually meet anyone who needs my book and will it actually be useful for them? Can I save a marriage or a life?  Will I be able to talk without tripping over myself or crying or running away?

Okay, if you know me and you live somewhere near Quincy and don’t have anything too important to do on the 14th of March, please come to the mall and see how I’m doing. You don’t have to hang out, just stop and say hello.

Still on the Ride

Just when I think it’s time to start thinking about other things and get enmeshed in another project, I get the lovely news that in the middle of our granddaughter being born, my class reunion out of town, and worries about paying the bills until I can start back at substitute teaching–Troy announces that he’s been feeling pretty good and has decided he doesn’t need his medication any more. Is there a bridge I can jump off? Seriously?

There’s a reason a person with bipolar will suggest going off medication at what seems to be the worst possible time and it’s not to torture us. Sometimes it’s the hypomania that comes with that low level stress that makes it seem so real and so full of possibility. Sometimes it’s surviving stress without a major meltdown and being fooled into believing that it would have been just as easy without that box of pills. Sometimes it’s a fairly extended period of calm that makes you both think that there’s been a real change when in reality, it’s just a period of calm that has a beginning and an inevitable end.

He asked me the question, the “have you noticed anything different?” question that I can’t possibly answer properly because I have noticed some stuff and I was waiting to see if it would resolve by itself because I know that if I say anything too soon he’ll be offended and lie about missing his meds and…if I don’t tell him that I’ve noticed just a start of something that he’ll insist that he’s been off his meds for two weeks and really doesn’t need them and I know I can’t win this question. It’s not a real question. It’s a trick.

I’m horrified that someone like Robin Williams would take his own life and saddened that he won’t be around to make people laugh, but his passing may have had a part in making my husband think. He’s never actually wanted to kill himself, but he’s been tormented by suicidal ideas and knows more about that than he cares to and…We don’t want to go there ever again. So he decided that the drugs are staying. It’s not time.

Somehow even the worst events can turn around and save lives. I hope there are many more who will chose to stay on their medication if they need it, who will get help or talk to someone or just have second thoughts and not do it. I wish Robin Williams had been able to find another way out of his torment. But I know he did the best he could and that’s all we can ask of anyone. I hope there is another way–for my husband and all the others out there fighting depression or bipolar or whatever. There has to be a better way.


Where do I go from here?

I have a dozen great ideas spinning around in my head and while most of them are directly related to Love Has Its Ups and Downs, some are likely to be more commercially viable because they are more generally interesting than others. Since writing is how I tend to process information, I thought I’d share a bit of this thought process and maybe get some input by working it out on this blog. I have a “writing” blog where the topic might be more appropriate, but I want to get feedback from people who might read this blog instead of that one, so here it is:

Back in the 1990’s I had an online business around home organization for people who are not naturally organized (before I even knew that part of my own problem was that I was constantly adjusting my systems to suit a mentally unstable partner) and I published a newsletter, taught a class by email, and had an ebook (as a Word file) available for download from my website. (It looked like I was a lot more organized than I was.)

One thing I’d like to do eventually is to revisit the home organization topic with the new information on mental illness and coping with that worked in. This could be a totally general interest book while including things that could be incredibly helpful for spouses of people with mental illness as well as for people who might have bipolar, depression or ADD themselves. I have a lot of notes from the originals that I could use, but it’s nowhere near ready to publish or even to send to an editor.

Since we were living on a single unreliable income while our children were young, I also did some research and writing on frugal living (there are articles with my byline on DollarStretcher) and have a good start on a book about how to raise a happy family without a healthy income.

This could also be expanded to include information specific to living with the sporadic working and spending habits of a partner with bipolar, without losing the interest of healthy, but financially insecure people. Unless the economy makes a miraculous recovery, I could easily finish this while more than half of the U.S. would be interested in the material. Of course, writing for people living in poverty might not be the most lucrative option, but I’m not really expecting to get rich quick (or ever) anyway.

More recently I’ve started to realize that what I’ve written in Love Has Its Ups and Downs is as much about unconditional love and learning how to love freely and not co-dependently as it is about mental illness. I have a feeling that I could cover that topic in a more general marriage manual or a parenting book or even in some sort of devotional or Bible study.

I’ve tried to start such a book, but keep getting bogged down in the details, but I do have a few articles on different blogs (yes, I have about 6 blogs with slightly different topics) that might eventually go into the book. But we’re still talking about several different types of book and I’d have to write a lot more on any of the topics to even know if it were workable.

Without committing to buy or even read any of the books, is there anything there that sounds interesting or that you might be interested in reading? Would you be willing to volunteer to be a beta reader and look at a final draft of any of these books? I’m not looking for a commitment as much as a sign of possible interest, though I would be happy to send a free email copy of the book when it is finished if you speak up now.

Would you like to see a book on 1)home organization with complications 2)frugal living with complications 3)loving a difficult partner 4)loving your children to life 5)Loving with God’s unconditional love or something else?

Kitchen Remodel (part 2)

I’d like to say that the kitchen remodel is completed, but here in the real world, it’s all done but the paint and trim and a shelving unit. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I don’t want to have to do the work to get the rest of the house in order to have “people” over, maybe I just don’t want to be judged on my housekeeping skills (which are non-existent) or maybe I am feeling pretty powerless from the whole experience. The kitchen remodel is probably as done as it’s getting for a while.

I have to admit that it really is all done except the final details and finishing touches, but somehow that feels like a let-down. I wanted a “grand-opening” event and somehow with the manic beginning there’s always a depressingly slow wrap-up. So why am I surprised? Did I really think things had changed that much?

The bathroom never got the finishing touches–there are parts of the wall that never got painted and trim that never got replaced and we can’t even find the grout that matches what we started with to fill the spaces between the last section of floor tiles.

Yeah, I could do a lot of that stuff while I’m here alone, but it seems like it’s never quite “right” when I do it, so I don’t. Today I am going to do some painting because I can actually do that without triggering a terrible response.

Maybe if I do things slowly and carefully and don’t mention that they are done, just let him not notice until it doesn’t matter any more, I may be able to see what I consider a finished project. I hate the feeling of walking on eggshells, but that’s how this feels for me right now, like I can’t let him see what I’m doing lest he find fault.

One nice thing about posting to my blog is that I can make these decisions just public enough that I feel motivated to follow through, but not have someone checking up on me to make me feel like a failure if I don’t make the kind of progress I hope to make. (I do that pretty well myself.)

Are there projects that you feel stressed about? Things you started as a family, but that ended up being yours alone? A remodeling job? An organizing project? A garden or pet? How do you get motivated to do something you didn’t expect (wishful thinking?) to get stuck finishing alone?

Kitchen Remodel – part 1

January started with such promise and I was doing so well, but I took two weeks off to visit my grandson in California for his birthday and my webhosting expired and I had to wait until payday to get the site back and we started remodeling the kitchen (which is a huge project and bipolar only makes it loom larger) and this site got lost in the shuffle. I’m sorry.

Have you ever remodeled a room with a bipolar husband or wife? It’s quite the experience and even if you have the skills and experience to complete the project handily, it never seems to go as smoothly as you’d hope.

My husband would never admit it, but he loves to shop. All of his projects start with him shopping for materials–usually without me–and making grand and glorious plans. We measure and remeasure and he takes all the numbers to Lowes or Home Depot or where ever and starts ordering materials.

This remodel was triggered by some sagging floorboards near the wall in the kitchen. We determined that the best plan of attack would be to remove the old sub-floor and replace it and any damaged studs we might find. We also decided that adding insulation under the floor would be a good idea. All of the supplies for that were ordered and packed into a spare bedroom.

While we were at it, we might as well replace the microwave and install a built-in dishwasher. Oh, and to do that we’d need to replace a few cabinets. And an island in the middle of the kitchen was something he’d been wanting as long as I can remember, so we can move the sink from the wall to the island–how about a new sink? More new cabinets?

Everything was packed into that bedroom and I was told to start staining the unfinished cabinets to match the ones we already had. In a room where the dogs had their kennels and where it was nearly impossible to walk? Sure. Okay, maybe not. I started hauling the smaller cabinets and drawers into my home office to stain.

Before we could do anything else, we needed to remove everything from the kitchen–right down to the existing cabinets and appliances. The cabinets that were going away were emptied and the contents piled in a corner of the living room. Other cabinets were emptied to make it easier to move them and the contents were eventually piled on every flat surface in the house including a good share of the floor.

Having bought an appliance dolly for the purpose, you’d think moving the fridge wouldn’t be a huge problem–but it wouldn’t fit through the back door even with the door removed and the only other direction was already piled with cabinets and contents from cabinets and well, we’d have to find a way to work around it, leaving it in a corner of the kitchen and waiting until we had a part of the floor finished to remove the floor under it.

We started removing the old flooring and then the sub-floor. It was all beautiful tongue and groove hard wood, but because it had gotten wet in places, it had to come out. As we were removing it, we soon realized that the stud was not directly under the wall–which made me more than a bit nervous. What would happen when we removed the floor under the wall? My slightly manic husband wasn’t the only one suffering from racing thoughts and sleepless nights.

Thankfully he was able to get the new stud in before he had to leave for work on Sunday night. I’d been praying, but without that piece of wood, I’d have been seriously worried. We built a bridge over the spaces that were open after we laid out some of the 4′ X 8′ boards we would use as a sub-floor so the dogs could get through their doggy door and outside. It might be a while before it was all nailed down, but we could survive.

I’m sure every remodel involves things normal people (not general contractors) wouldn’t even think of, but when you live with someone who gets frustrated and does impulsive things, it’s always interesting. Our bathroom remodel is still not officially done–there are areas not painted and I can’t find matching grout to finish the floor and the trim boards have been broken and lost. Maybe the kitchen project will have a more solid finish. Not yet.

How do big projects usually turn out at your house? Do you have lots of starts and stops? Do you have lots of excitement that wanes as the project stretches on? How do you handle it if you aren’t happy with the way things are going?




Living in Time

January is slipping past and my plans for the new year are still on track. Some of them have changed a bit, but the goals are still in my sites. I have time.

There are some things that haven’t happened because of circumstances. I haven’t had money to buy groceries yet this month and that gets hard. Still, I’m winning. How are you doing?

I joined a group for blog writers that offers support for making regular blog posts without a lot of pressure to perform. I might have already skipped a week or two if I weren’t using a group for accountability. If you are struggling with something that you want to do every day or every week, find yourself a group or an accountability partner. Even if you are just giving yourself stars on a chart, it is better than just remembering it and doing it.

Another thing I just started doing is making a list of the things I accomplish each day. Now there will be days with lots of accomplishments and days with only one or two, but I need to remind myself that even if I’m not doing everything I think I should be doing, I am getting a few things accomplished every day and most major accomplishments are really just a string of minor accomplishments that are taken together. You climb a mountain one step at a time. You don’t write a book, you write a word, and another word, until the book appears.

I decided that it is better to have a lot of colorful signs and posters around my workspace that make me feel good and encourage me to keep going that to have it look professional and neat, especially since “neat” is not a real possibility for me. If it can’t be perfect, it can still be pretty. Do you keep items in your space that make you smile and that remind you of your goals and your dreams? Have you added anything new lately?

If your partner is in a holiday episode or a post holiday episode, maybe you are feeling like all the work and will power and goals in the world won’t accomplish a thing because you are up against too much. I’ll admit, we are often swimming upstream when we have a bipolar partner and the stress of knowing that everything could be destroyed in a heart beat makes it harder to put in that effort. It’s easy to give up when we’ve done everything right and it still manages to go wrong.

But slipping into your own depression doesn’t do any good and there is a lot that you can do even while you’re waiting for things to calm down. You don’t need to change the world to have a worthwhile life. You just need to do whatever it is that you were born to do. One step at a time.

I’ve been talking about my new book (probably won’t be released until fall or winter) about making a living without having to depend on a traditional job. In that book I will be talking about taking small steps and meeting goals that will eventually put you into a job or into some form of self-employment  that is designed around your interests and abilities.  These are ideas that work for people with disabilities as well as for partners who are stressed with trying to support them.

If you can stay on task to do things you want to do for yourself and your family, you can stay on task to do things for other people and receive money for your efforts. If you pick things that you enjoy doing, you can often accomplish more than another person with more time and fewer roadblocks but who doesn’t want to be at that particular job. It does make a difference.

So even if you can’t accomplish everything you want as quickly and efficiently as you’d like, by staying with it, by keeping track of what you can accomplish and by refusing to give up, you can accomplish things that most people would assume are impossible, especially in your situation. Don’t let the fact that it’s impossible prevent you from achieving your goals.






Earning a Life

My work-in-progress is about dealing with money, or the lack thereof, when symptoms of bipolar are making it impossible for you or your partner to work or when you’ve had a recent episode of manic spending. Since the book won’t be available until it’s been written, edited, formatted, and uploaded, I’m including sections as I write them in this blog.

If you’re considering getting a job or another job you have probably already been through the classified ads and checked out the resources at the unemployment office and local temp services. You’ve talked to everyone you know who might know anything. You have your resume sent to places you thought you’d never be caught dead and nothing’s happening. So what are your options?  You can’t just pull a job out of nowhere, can you?

Well, maybe you can. And it just might be the job you never even dared to hope for, the job of your dreams. What do you have to lose? In your wildest dreams, what would you be doing to make a living? Quick, don’t dismiss that thought. Write it down.

Someone wrote a song “if I could make a living out of loving you” and while it’s not exactly that simple, he is making a living out of writing songs about loving someone. That’s pretty close in my mind. So, what would you be doing? If there are several possibilities, write those down, too. Writing things down isn’t magic, but it does make things more solid in your thoughts and can actually free your mind to think other thoughts.

Let’s make those dreams into jobs without losing the basics of the dream. Maybe you’ll need to get some education or training, but there are grants and loans you can get for that. Maybe you’ll need to work your way up to the dream job, but if you haven’t been looking in that field, it might actually be a possibility. Maybe you can get a low level job in the same industry while you are in training.

Would you consider taking a job that pays a little less than what you need to pay the bills if it were leading to a job you really love? Could you do it if you had other ways of making a little money on the side? It’s amazing how much better you feel about going to work and how much more motivated you are to get by when you know that you are working toward a goal.

Someone in college for accounting shouldn’t be looking for jobs in retail—better to take a temporary job doing income taxes for individuals and small businesses, or doing some simple bookkeeping for a small business. That’s the type of job that will look good on a résumé and provide some actual experience.

Someone who wants to be a writer should be spending time writing, whether that means writing content for newspapers or magazines as an employee or freelancer, or keeping a blog, or publishing books.  If you can’t get a writing job, there are ways to earn money writing. (I’ll post more on freelance writing and book publishing soon.)

Maybe you can’t be a professional athlete, the competition is tight, but you can find interesting work that makes use of your talents, whether it’s coaching athletes or working as a fitness trainer or even working as a firefighter or wilderness rescue worker.

Maybe you just need to find a way to monetize what you want to do. You can make money from almost any hobby. Besides selling art, crafts or writing, you could be designing patterns for others and selling those to magazines or directly to hobbyists, leading group classes, or teaching individual clients the finer points of a hobby.  Check local community colleges, senior citizens centers, and other community groups if you want to teach a class, or plan the event on your own and advertise in the newspaper and on local sites online for participants. It may not be a full-time job or a lot of money, but if you add it to whatever else you are doing, it can help.

What do you think is the best option for you? I’d love to know what you are doing to make enough money to live. Are these ideas helpful or too obvious? Any questions or comments?

Living on Love

Living on Love is the working title of my current work-in-progress. It’s an old manuscript that I’d set aside when other projects were more urgent and when I had a built-in audience for them. Chapters from the book will appear on this site as I get them presentable.

Are you unemployed or underemployed? Whether it’s the economy or something more local or personal, struggling to support yourself and your family can be incredibly stressful. That stress can make everything worse and can paralyze you when you can least afford to be stuck. If you are struggling because of bipolar, it’s stress that could make things a lot worse.

The book I’m working on now, Living on Love describes the methods and ideas we used to stay afloat when normal, middle class jobs were not an option. You will learn some basic concepts and thought processes that can help you to find the perfect job (or the jobs that feed into the perfect job) and some tricks to keep a little money coming in until it happens. You will learn to think about “work” and money management in new ways that actually work for you.

I’m not going to tell you to take any job that comes along or to hold out for the perfect job, but I am going to tell you things you might do differently to get to that dream job or to earn enough to live without a regular job if that appeals to you.  You may just decide that a “job” isn’t really what you want at all.

There are alternative ways to make a living. Did you know that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a variety of paying projects going at the same time and that they don’t even have to look like work? I did freelance writing (for cash and free internet access) in the evenings while I was running a family day care center in my home during the day.

Did you know that you can apply to work as a substitute at local schools and be working almost full-time if you make yourself available? I just learned that our schools fill in paraprofessionals and office staff this way so you don’t even need a substitute teaching license, though it will limit the options if you don’t qualify. An advantage to this type of job is that you can easily schedule interviews for more desirable jobs or other opportunities and then just don’t accept an assignment instead of having to request time off or work around your assigned hours.

I won’t tell you how to get rich—I haven’t learned that myself—but I will show you some tricks to live as if you have more money than you do, by cutting the right corners and finding the best deals for things you spend your money on.

When you don’t have money, you spend most of the money left after bills to buy groceries. I’m including some ideas for using more basic foods as well as recipes for making your own convenience foods. Cooking “from scratch” is not harder or more time consuming than buying prepackaged foods. I’ll show you examples of foods that are just as easy to prepare and things that can be done in batches so as to save time next time.

I don’t know what you buy a lot of, but I can tell you a few things that I’ve found really good prices on and where you might find them. Like the fact that refrigerated shredded cheese has a fairly short shelf life, so grocery stores that carry a lot of shredded cheese have to put them on sale at very reasonable prices so they don’t pass their “buy by” date, but you can toss a batch them into the freezer when they are on sale (shake them up a bit so they don’t freeze into a block) and never pay full price again. Bonus: you always have pre-shredded cheese on hand to throw on top of a casserole, pizza, spaghetti. Just sprinkle it on frozen. The heat from the hot dish will usually melt it nicely or put it in the oven for a few minutes.

The dollar store has some really good orange cleaning spray (for just $1) that gets the grease out of my husband’s sweatshirt. He’s a truck driver and grease is an issue that even some of the most expensive products don’t solve. If you need something like that check the dollar store first. You may be surprised.

Please feel free to comment with any suggestions, questions or your own favorite tips. If I use your tip I’ll be happy to give you credit (please include the name you want me to use) and I’ll email you a link to get the eBook version of your choice FREE when it comes out. If you are uncomfortable posting an email address, just email it to me at


Preparing for a New Start

The new year is staring me in the face and I’ll admit that I need a fresh start about now. I’ve fallen off with my blog posts, made almost no progress with my books-in-progress and lost way too much time to Facebook this year. I’ve managed to blame some of it on my bipolar husband and his bipolar habits, but I have to admit that nothing he has said or done has really prevented my progress–it just put me in a mood to whine and complain and not get much done.

Actually, Troy (my bipolar husband) had all of his teeth pulled a couple weeks ago and started wearing dentures. He’s lost a lot of days of work and because of the holidays, he hasn’t had work to do when he started feeling better, so he’s been home and underfoot for almost a month, which puts me all off schedule. We’re also stressed because when he’s not working we don’t have an income, and we’re going to be paying a couple bills late because of it. We should be back on track in a week or two, but stress does not play well with bipolar, so it could take longer and…

Ever feel like you are using mental illness, your’s or your partner’s as an excuse?  I recognize that as a step in the direction of co-dependence and fight to keep myself out of that mindset, but it’s hard sometimes. It may seem like a wonderful excuse for being lazy, but having an excuse isn’t nearly as good as doing what needs doing and getting on with life. Right? If you’ve been at the pity-party with me, it’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back to living life, such as it is, whether it’s easy or not.

Do you set New Years Resolutions for yourself? While I like the idea of a clean slate and a chance to start over, I’ve learned that I’m really not good at just suddenly making a big change in my life and maintaining it. Maybe you are one of those people who makes a decision and just does it, but if you have trouble keeping your resolutions, it’s possible that you have the same problem I have. Instead of trying to make some sweeping lifestyle changes, let’s try, this year, to make some small changes that might make a difference over time.

These are the things I’m working on, feel free to post yours in the comments section–if you write it down it makes it real to you and if you post it where others can see, it can give you some additional support, so posting it somewhere has to improve your chances for something you’d consider success.

1) When I hear or see a positive affirmation or saying that appeals to me, I will take the time to copy it and post it either on the wall or online so that I’ll see it again and start to internalize it. I already have a couple homemade posters that I printed out and taped to the wall behind my computer.

2) When I grocery shop I will look for things that are healthy and that I enjoy instead of things that I think I should be eating. It doesn’t help to have lots of healthy food in the house if nobody is going to eat it because it takes too long to prepare or it’s not appealing. Fruit and nuts are appealing and easy. Things that require a recipe or reading the back of the box (when I can’t find my glasses) are not and if that’s all I have, I’ll probably eat junk food instead.

3) I’m going to go through The Artist’s Way starting on the first of the year and going through the whole 12 weeks. This is a program for creativity that should help me get going on this blog and other projects and help me stay motivated. I’m not promising that I’ll do every exercise, but I’ll read the book and do what applies to me.

4) I’m going to write something every day and write on this website at least once a week. If I don’t have anything else, I can always write about what’s going on in my own life and how we are doing. It’s still never boring.

5) I’m going to work on keeping the house as neat as possible so I can’t turn to cleaning when I don’t want to write. I have this terrible tendency to let things go when I get busy with writing and then when the going gets tough–usually when I’m starting something new or finishing something up–I decide that the kitchen is a disaster and escape into housework.

If you’re seeing a pattern here it’s because I really have only one New Years Resolution this year and that’s to get more writing accomplished this year than I did last year and maybe to not feel so stressed about it.

So what’s your plan for 2014?

Security is Overrated

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog and I can’t quite figure out why. It’s not as if I’ve run out of things to write about. It’s not that I don’t have time. It’s not even that I am particularly blocked as far as I can tell. So what’s the problem?

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and afraid to get caught up in anything lest I miss some early warning sign and the world comes crashing down around me. I can’t write because by the time I get to the end of this sentence, I might get a phone call and not listen well enough, not pay attention to his tone or his intensity. And even if there’s not a thing I could actually do, it will be all my fault when….

I have a friend who is no stranger to crises and she is struggling right now. Her husband doesn’t have bipolar, he has a degenerative brain disease with no hope for any sort of  recovery. He’s moved on and she’s going to college to rebuild her life. Like me, she has had struggles with poverty and with her children and you know how it is. Now she has learned that she isn’t getting the financial aid she needs to finish her senior year and she’s feeling helpless and hopeless and trying to find a loan she qualifies for…

We’ve all been there in some way or another. We’ve all gotten to the end of our rope and found no knot to hang onto. We’ve all been paralyzed with fear, waiting for the end and it didn’t come. Not the way we expected. Not the way we feared, though not the way we wanted, either.

Whether we have a problem staring us in the face or simply the fear that something terrible is going to happen, giving in to the fear isn’t going to fix it. We can step on up and fill out the loan forms or pick up the phone or write the article or send the letter or whatever it takes to move beyond the roadblock.

Today I’m posting to my blog. What are you doing today?