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  1. SkyGirl

    Illumination: The Protector Rises

    Budgeting takes practice, and you have the added difficulty of your income varying from month to month, which is really hard to budget for. We'll keep practicing and figure it out!! Wow, that's so exciting, Willes!! It's going to be awesome to get back that income that's tied up in interest, and I hope it's a huge relief for you guys. Hopefully you can buy yourself some cool toys soon.
  2. SkyGirl

    Illumination: The Protector Rises

    Yes, I feel the same way with both money and food - if I'm too restrictive, eventually I'll snap and go overboard on something just to get some release. Some spots that still need work in my budget are a) the relationship between saving and spending, b) better discipline in sticking to my food budgets (although this month I lumped cosmetics and food all in one category and that didn't work well because I ran out of food money due to needing makeup), and c) allotting spending money. I'm using the modified Dave Ramsey software that Tank recommended and that does work pretty well for me. I just need to stick with it. Maybe the envelopes are a good idea - using cards does make it much easier to do the "oh well, it's only a little bit over" thing.
  3. SkyGirl

    Jedi's Quest For The Tower

    Eeeee that sounds amazing!!!!! I am so ridiculously happy for you!!! The 30th is coming up before you know it and you'll need that time to pack!!
  4. SkyGirl

    Illumination: The Protector Rises

    It's so frustrating these days, I want to write about Sky, but my brain is just like "ehh" when I finally sit down to write. I think I need to step away from Sky for a while and try writing other things and characters, and see if she comes back later. In her defense, I haven't written consistently about a character for this many consecutive years since high school, so it's pretty impressive I've kept her narrative going this long at all; but at the same time, I've essentially become Sky, in many ways, so it isn't like I can just ... become another character. Not exactly sure what we're going to do but I'll let you know what she thinks. Today is a gray, dim, quiet day, and I woke up earlier, realized it was too late to get to church on time, and went back to sleep - until after 1PM. So I'm kind of just starting my day, my head hurts and I have some shark pain, but I'm trying to put off taking medicine, so I'm just ... standing in the kitchen drinking coffee. I did start a load of laundry. Lily asked the other day if I minded if her husband came to live with us for a few weeks. I was in the middle of a meeting, so I texted back and said "no problem" without really thinking about it; but shortly afterward I realized I actually do kind of mind, and I'm not really looking forward to his arrival this evening. I have had men stay in my house for a night or two with their girlfriends, but living with a strange man, even a married one, is ... not really my preferred arrangement. They were very reasonable about it and said that if their offer on a house isn't accepted quickly, they'll cap their stay at two weeks, and they'll contribute more for rent and supplies and such. So I know it will be okay. I've met him before and he seems nice. Next time, however, I'm going to think a little longer before just saying "yes" right away. For example, my neighbor also texted this morning and asked if I could watch her cats tomorrow; and I did not say yes right away. She usually stows them in the bathroom when I watch them, but if we have three adults at home for the federal holiday and I'm in shark week, that's not going to work. And those cats make a mess and I don't want them in my bedroom. So even though I think she'll probably get mad at me if I say no, I'm going to say no. This afternoon, once I tame this headache, I'm going to clean the bathroom, help Lily set up the other air mattress, possibly brown some ground beef in hopes of making something yummy (though the only recipes I know with ground beef are spaghetti and tacos), and hopefully do Adriene's new yoga video, made just for me: I also need to do some budget work. Last week was ... rough. I started the week excited because I had stuck to my budget, I knew how much was in my account, and for the first time in a while, I wasn't worried about running out of money before payday. But in my relief, I got lax, didn't record a few things, and went to buy a $1.50 tea on Thursday and ... got denied. Turns out a check had processed later than I expected, and it had been for slightly more than I had in my account, so in addition to having that taken out, I also got slapped with a $35 overdraft fee. Embarrassing as well as expensive. I get so tired of living in scarcity mode all the time - it's often a self-imposed mindset, like I did have money to buy food at the Renaissance Fair yesterday and could have bought some jewelry if I'd wanted to, but I have this constant nagging voice going "you can't afford that, you can't afford that, you can't afford that". And that's so tiring. I keep trying to downsize my expectations ("it's okay, these clothes still have lots of wear in them"; "it's okay, I'll make some tea when I get home"; "it's okay, I'll watch the movie when it comes out on Netflix"), but it's exhausting to constantly tell myself "no". Everyone says consistent budgeting is the key to freedom from that, so I'm going to keep trying. Time to go hunt up a yummy recipe to make my house smell fall-ish and good.
  5. SkyGirl

    Illumination: The Protector Rises

    So I didn't think to mention this until just this second when I saw this GIF, but the reason I dubbed the Guy ... the Guy, is because he looks EXACTLY like Guy Smiley from "Sesame Street": Like ... except for the Muppet being yellow, that's literally the Guy. ANYWAY HELLO THERE The reason I have been absent for a few days is actually because things are going really well, not vice versa! I went to an astonishingly brilliant concert last night that was probably the best or second-best one I've ever attended, and got to meet the band afterward and share how much their music meant to me, and get a hug, and it was overall a magnificent experience. Today I finished the story that has been giving me ulcers, and just have to make a few tweaks before that's out the door; we had a diversity session at work that was really good and vulnerable and interesting; and tonight I cooked dinner for the first time all week, which was most satisfying. The radio ran a program about "Sesame Street's" 50th anniversary and all the wonderful things that Sesame Workshop has done for families, and that was a wonderful (if highly emotional) thing to enjoy while I ate. Exercise has happened off and on, and has been mostly walking. The girl I carpool with said today that the trail around the lake is not 1 mile long, like I thought, but 2 miles, according to her pedometer; and if she's right, that makes me very happy. Last night's concert involved a lot of jumping, clapping, dancing and yelling, so that was my exercise for yesterday; and today I was exhausted and decided to cook at a leisurely pace rather than try to squeeze in a walk. I wore heels while carrying a heavy backpack twice this week, and my knees and feet are very sore. Tonight is more crochet, and probably wrapping up "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," even though this season is so bizarre it's almost not fun anymore, in my opinion. I finished "Father Brown," to my great sadness. After finishing "Agents," my sister recommended I check out "Jonathan Norrell," which I know some of you enjoyed (was that you, @Miaulin?), so I might do that. I need to buy copies of all the Hunger Games movies, too - those are such good movies to watch when the weather finally turns crisp. Time to crochet!!
  6. Welcome and great goals!! We're rooting for you!
  7. SkyGirl

    Salinger's twenty fifth challenge!

    I hope you're feeling a little better by now (I think it's almost morning where you are??), and I hope you can find some ways to take care of yourself despite the busyness. I have been sick for many of the most important events in my life and I have so much empathy for you. I don't know if it will help you, but for me, I always remind myself I only have to get through the next thing, and then I can rest. If I have a few things in a row, I work toward the next break, and keep reassuring myself that the rest is coming. One of the most useful pieces of advice I ever read was actually kind of a joke, but it works well for me: Talk to yourself like you're a sick, tired child. "I know, honey, I know you feel awful, and I'm so sorry. If you can hang in there for just 2 more hours, then we can go home and you can get some tea and sleep, okay? Just a little while longer. I'm so proud of you." I know it's ridiculous, and your mileage may vary, but it works for me.
  8. SkyGirl

    Jedi's Quest For The Tower

    Grr, I keep coming back hoping things are turning to the better - I'm sorry the rough days keep coming. Calorie-wise you're doing awesome, and drinking more water is always a great idea. I'm proud of you!!
  9. SkyGirl

    Illumination: The Protector Rises

    LIGHTBEARER: THE PROTECTOR RISES Chapter 3: Illumination I quickly shouldered my bag and hurried down the stairs to the first floor of the Lightbearers' meetinghouse, dodging against the wall, ducking between other worshipers and trying to dance through the throng as quickly as I could without tripping and falling. All the children in my class had been safely returned to their parents, and now I had to catch Brother Stephen before he went home. After waiting impatiently for more than a minute behind two large women who were chatting comfortably in the doorway to the sanctuary, I finally squeezed behind one of them and popped out into the main meeting hall, where Brother Stephen was sitting easily on the edge of a table, his large hands folded and small eyes shining kindly at the crippled woman leaning on her cane and eagerly telling him about her week. I didn't want to interrupt him, but I shifted back and forth between my feet, waiting impatiently. It was important that I talk to him. He spotted me as the woman began to wrap up her story, and gave me a quick nod. Once she was ready to leave, he came over to me and extended one of his huge, rough hands. "Sky. Good to see you," he said seriously. "I heard you helped teach our young ones this morning. Excellent work." "I enjoy it, sir," I said honestly. "But that wasn't what I wanted to talk to you about today. I need to know how you train with your Sword." Brother Stephen's bushy eyebrows shot up. "My Sword?" Just as my powers of healing and language were contained in my Silver Bow, so Brother Stephen's skill in sharing the King's truth and love were contained in his sword - a massive, gleaming broadsword with a thickly jewel-encrusted handle and a blade that was both sharp and crushingly heavy. His powerful shoulders and arms made lifting it look easy, but it was a heavy thing to carry and required all of his considerable strength. Stephen lowered himself back to the table and folded his hands again. "Why don't you tell me more about this request." I slowly drew in my breath and pondered how to begin. Stephen valued measured, thoughtful words, and I needed a moment to explain that I could feel a change coming in the seasons - not just the whisper of the north at the edge of the wind, but the seasons of my own life, too. Aubron was moving higher in the Movement's ranks, and in a few short weeks would no longer be my mentor. Nor would I have a new mentor to replace him - even when a new leader took over my team, they would not guide me in the same way he did. I was about to become a full-fledged member of the Movement, and no longer a trainee. The letters from Guy were coming less frequently now, but the time we spent together had resurrected questions and feelings I usually tried to avoid. There was no way to know whether my future had him in it or not - he knew he was welcome in my village and that any letter he sent would be eagerly read and promptly responded to. But the questions ran deeper than whether he wanted to be in my life or not. Did I want to marry and have a family? When one of the old women had asked me that question, I didn't know how to respond. Being the Silver Archer, working for the Movement, serving with the other Lightbearers - these things took all my time and they were vitally important to me. Could there be room for a family of my own somewhere in that picture? Was that something I should pursue, simply be open to, or continue to stuff in the back of my mind and pretend would never happen? And there were questions in the spaces where Guy's letters didn't come - dark questions that left marks deep down where only a few could see them. If he decided not to be in my life, was it because there was something wrong with me? This most vulnerable place, the part of me that wanted to be loved and cherished - this was the place where all the Dark Elf's shadows lived; and admitting those desires existed also meant facing the fears they brought with them. When Guy didn't write, the vision of the man turning away in disgust surfaced again in my mind, with all the freezing, gnawing feelings of broken self-disgust and aloneness that left me grasping and clawing for mercy. There were parts of the Dark Elf I had successfully assimilated - fears that no longer controlled me, voices I was learning to hear with love instead of scorn. But those four primal fears he had shown me the first time we joined our powers - I still didn't know what to do with those. And while they really had little to do with Guy, his silences forced those fears out of the shadows and into my conscious mind. I needed to know how to confront them and either heal them, or defeat them. I could no longer live with them having such power over me. After a long moment, I looked back up at Stephen's grave, bearded face and said simply, "I need to be ready." He cocked his head slightly. "Ready for what?" I shook my head and shrugged. "Ready. For anything. I don't know what's coming but I know there are things I'm not prepared for. When I see a need, I want to be ready to meet it. When I see an opportunity, I want to be ready to take it. When I hear a call, I want to be ready to say 'Send me.' I need to be strong and prepared for whatever I am asked to do." Now his face lost its grave look and he leaned forward, interested. "I see." "I know you're a Swordbearer and I'm an Archer, but I want to know how you train - how long, how many times a day, what tools and methods you use. I want to know how you apply the King's healing truth to your life. I want to know Him better and be stronger in His service." Stephen rested his elbows on his knees. "Tell you what. Tomorrow morning, I will write down a list of the different tools I train with and how I use them. Some may work for you, others won't. But I'll give you what I have." He peered at me from under his eyebrows, and while his face did not change its guarded expression, I had a feeling his bright eyes saw more than I wanted them to. "The rest, Sky, is up to you."