Recovering from Heartbreak-Driven Writer’s Block Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I set some intentions on how I planned to tackle my writer’s block. Honestly, I did less of the dark scenes than I thought I’d write. But the good news is that I did manage to write between that point and the insight I plan to share with you today.

Mostly, I wrote poetry and letters to my ex that I don’t intend to share. I’m waffling about whether or not I want to share the poems-I’ve always thought I’m really bad at poetry, and the point of writing them was to release my emotions, so I don’t know if they’d provide any value or not. Either way, I wrote most of these by hand during the week and a half that I was homeless following the breakup. At that time, I stayed with some friends and in a motel, so I need to find them first if I do end up sharing.

And the letters ranged in the emotional approach and covered so many things I wish I could say to my ex, but they hold more emotion than fact and way too much information for anyone to benefit from them.

What I intend to share today is something I wrote toward the end of my homeless point. My mind had been in a nearly constant survival state. I wasn’t eating well and on the days when I had an appetite, a text from my ex would make my appetite disappear again. For whatever reason, he was extremely hostile towards me when my situation was already difficult enough.

I was tired of crying and tired of hurting. But mostly, I felt fresh determination to take back an essential part of myself that I felt I had lost due to the breakup. Here were my thoughts.

 I have to admit that I spent quite a while (even before he actually said we were over) resisting even the idea of rereading anything that I’ve classified as a favorite. I’ve struggled recently to have anything to do with romance—songs, books, movies, etc., it doesn’t matter, all of them have been making me want to cry. I have been hating all of my own work, and I can read a romance book and recognize that I should enjoy it, as it hits everything I’d usually love, but I just can’t get into them.

My own failed relationship has really done a number on my ability to enjoy romance. Which makes it pretty interesting trying to write when all of my story ideas have a pretty strong romantic element involved. And so many of my romances are inspired by what I thought I had.

Fortunately, I’ve finally reached a turning point. I reached a point where I was fed up with moping and feeling sorry for myself. I’m sick of crying and feeling hopeless and worthless. Staying in such a low state has never been part of who I am. But the depth of the betrayal and confusion that came from the end of this relationship made me forget that.

I am and have always been a survivor. I suppose my relationship had to end to remind me of that fact, if nothing else. But I’m getting off topic.

I forced myself to return to one of my earliest book boyfriends—Mr. Darcy. I actually hadn’t read Pride and Prejudice since I started writing. It’s interesting after all of the writing courses I’ve taken to see exactly how many “rules” are being broken in Jane Austen’s writing style. But in my case, this was a really good thing.

The more distant omniciant perspective helped me relate to the familiar characters while maintaining enough distance to not be constantly comparing everything to my own situation.

I’m not quite recovered enough to feel like I can write the romantic scenes at this moment, but I’m only barely tearing up when a previously favorite love song—or just about any love song—comes on the radio. And I think I’m ready to start reading more romances again.

After all, who needs a real husband/boyfriend when you can have several fictional ones who never let you down in the end?

I refuse to let my personal story end on a tragic note. The fact that I thought I’d acheived my own happily ever after but was mistaken isn’t going to be the end for me. I deserve more than what I’ve been given and I’m letting myself be open for great things in my life.

Recovering from Heartbreak-Driven Writer’s Block Part 1

In January, I sent out my last consistent newsletter and I think that was also around the time that I was last active on this blog. In that newsletter, I revealed that I’d been struggling to hope and it had been making it difficult for me to write.

As I sit here editing this post to publish it, I’m in a much better place mentally than I was while writing it a couple weeks ago. This was mostly written as a way to help myself heal, and now, despite a large part of me wanting to delete this, I’m sharing it in the hope that it may help others who find themselves in a similar position.

Since I go into some details that may reflect unfairly on others, and there’s a slight possibility that some readers may know me and one or more of the people mentioned, I feel like it’s necessary to give this disclaimer. Everything here reflects my perspective and feelings and is in no way meant to turn mutual acquaintances against anyone.

I’m not sure that I’m really ready to open up and return to writing. I’m certainly not sure that I’m ready to share anything about what I’ve been going through.

But I believe I’ve let myself stay in this cycle for too long as it is. It’s frightening to open up and be vulnerable. Even more so when you feel as though your soul is crushed.

The events that have led me to this point have all happened in less than a year, I’m not sure my story would seem realistic to me if I were reading it in a book. And yet, I cannot deny where I am today.

My greatest recurring thought has been a strong desire to wake up and find that I’ve just been trapped in a nightmare. In all honesty, I’m not coping well right now. Writing this is one of my first steps in trying to cope better.

It’s time for me to stop focusing on things outside of my control and write the rest of my story. I’ve listened a lot to Beth Crowley’s I am not nothing lately. It doesn’t completely fit my situation, but there are several points that speak strongly to me at this point in my life. The biggest takeaway that I’m trying to internalize is that I have the power to “write myself a brand new story with a happy end.”

Another song I’ve been listening to a lot recently is I am already enough by Fearless Soul. Some days, it’s my lifeline because I’m not quite at a point where I fully believe the words, but the lyrics are exactly what I need to hear. Even though I’ve listened to it several times, I still can’t do so without crying.

I’m not yet at a point where I feel like I’m enough or that I am making much progress in changing my life story. This is simply one of the first stepping stones I’m laying to get there.

What’s happened to me?

Last June, we took in an old friend of my husband’s and I was happy to help, welcoming her with open arms. But she turned out to not be a very nice person. She had been verbally and emotionally abusing me since nearly the beginning. Once I realized this, I told my husband, but he didn’t believe me. From my point of view, he started treating her more like his wife. And the way he started treating me… made me feel like he was examining a nasty bug under a microscope.

Around the same time, there was a lot of drama where I found out that my mother wasn’t who I thought she was. She deeply betrayed me and my family and I still haven’t had the chance to fully process that specific trauma. My husband, who had always been supportive and caring before, left me to try to cope with it alone while he focused on his own interests and the other woman.

My husband recently told me he doesn’t want to be married anymore. That he’s been lying to himself about our relationship from the beginning–for 14 years. I thought he was the one for me. Everything from our origin story of him rescuing me when I was snowed in, to how wonderful and supportive he’s been up until this summer, was as close to perfect for me as I thought possible.

His feelings for me may have been fake, but everything I’ve felt has been real. Most days, I can barely paste on a smile for my kids or work and get through the day. Since he’s always been my biggest support as an author, I’ve struggled to feel like I’m worthy of writing in the first place. My confidence has been shaken and it’s been a challenge trying to reclaim it.

Before he said he wanted to end things, I had just barely gotten myself to a point where I felt I could write again, believe in myself enough to just write.

But knowing my romance has been one big lie has made it especially challenging, considering every story idea I’ve ever had centers around the themes of love leading to a happy ending. So much of my stories have pulled from the way he made me feel when I thought I was loved. I haven’t yet figured out how to reclaim that.

With as much pain as I’m in right now, I plan to ease myself back into things. I’m probably going to work on several projects all at once, only writing the darker parts of the story. Because if I try to write a happy ending in this moment, I don’t think I’ll be able to succeed.

Hopefully, it won’t take me too long to get through that phase and back to being able to imagine a happy ending. I’m currently broken-hearted, but right now , I’m committing to take that energy and channel it into making my stories better rather than just feeling sorry for myself.

But right now, I can’t even read romance. Every love song that comes on the radio makes me want to cry. Even stupid things that shouldn’t be a problem cause the pain to rush to the front of my mind. Like the other day, I ordered broccoli with cheese sauce and that was enough to make tears prickle my eyes because my husband is the one who introduced that particular combination to me.

Everything seems to remind me of him and the fact that such a huge chunk of my life has been nothing but a fantasy.

I’m not sure why this has happened. But I’m a survivor. I will not let this be more than a small twist in my story. Something that was necessary for my growth, even if I haven’t figured out the reason. I will believe in myself enough to keep me going. I don’t need anyone else to believe in me.

I know that I am a strong, caring, and compassionate person. I won’t let this experience break me. I may not have any romantic love anymore at this time in my life, but I don’t need it to function. I have other forms of love in my life from other family members and friends. I need to remember how to love myself. Just because one person doesn’t think I’m good enough, doesn’t make it true.

Breaking our family apart is his loss. I’ve put everything I am into being the best mom and wife I could be, so it’s not my fault if my efforts weren’t what he wanted from me, especially if he didn’t communicate any different. Now I’ll just need to be the best mom. I deserve to be happy and I will settle for nothing less.

I don’t know what I’m doing or where my life is going to lead from here on out. But I will remind myself as often as I need to until I make it my truth, that this pain is only opening me up for bigger and better possibilities. I’ve just been shoved out of the nest, so to speak, and I will fly before I hit the ground.

Part 2 can be found here.

My Latest Hobby

As I sit writing this, I am aching all over from last night’s training and not exactly looking forward to torturing myself again tonight. I just joined a Jujitsu class. So hobby may not be the right word for it. It’s fun, but one of my biggest reasons for joining is to help meet my weight loss goal.

My son started classes in the summer of 2019. When Covid hit, the school he was in did everything virtually and I was pretty much his practice dummy since I didn’t know anything about it. They had resumed classes back in Texas for a few months before we moved. But he had to be out of it until recently since the gyms here were still shut down, so he’s only been able to go back for the last few months.

Despite my body pains, I think it is a fun activity that I’m glad to share with my son. Hopefully it won’t take me too long to get used to it enough to not be so sore. And hopefully, I’ll not suck at it for too long either, LOL.

Homemade Yogurt

*Post contains affiliate links

One of the non-writing-related things I do regularly is make yogurt. I wasn’t 100% sold on homemade yogurt when I started a couple of years ago, but now, I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Although the overall time takes about a day, the hands-on time isn’t too bad. Back when I started, I bought a Bulgarian yogurt starter from Cultures for Health. There are other options and they have resources to help you choose, but the most important thing if you want to continue to make yogurt without spending a fortune is to make sure the culture you buy is an heirloom culture so you can continuously reculture it.

Their cultures come with directions, so I’ll only abbreviate them here. Since it’s important to keep unwanted microbes out, I wash my hands frequently during the process. I heat 2 quarts of milk to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. In between stirring. Then I let it cool to 110 degrees, stirring a bit more frequently. If I don’t stir often enough, a film develops over the top. This can be removed without hurting anything, but it’s annoying and it makes the cooling time take longer. Between heating and cooling, this usually takes roughly 1 hour, but it varies a bit.

After the milk has cooled, I pour it into my Instant Pot for culturing. An Instant Pot isn’t necessary, but I find it convenient. And technically, you can heat the milk in the Instant Pot too, but I prefer to use a separate pot instead. I don’t remember the exact range for the culture time, but I think it was 5-12 hours. I set my Instant Pot for 6 hours, using the glass lid and I can forget about it until the time is up.

Shorter culture times will result in a milder flavor and longer ones will give you a stronger flavor. With 2 picky kids, we’re better off with the mild flavor. After it’s finished culturing, I remove 5 tablespoons of the yogurt and store it in a small container for the next batch. If I remember correctly, the instructions said 2-3 tablespoons per quart.

At this point, the yogurt is finished unless you prefer a thicker yogurt like I do. I’ve always liked the greek style yogurt, so at this stage, I strain the yogurt in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It took me a while to figure out what I liked using for straining it and this process has worked best for me. I think the wire bowl is called a sieve, but I’m not certain. The top layer is industrial-sized coffee filters. I bought this over a year ago and I haven’t used even half of the package yet.

Straining leaves about 1 quart of a thick yogurt and 1 quart of whey.

The culture needs to be fed, making new yogurt, about weekly. But we usually run out before the week is up. If you are interested, but haven’t tried yet, I’d recommend you do so.

Personal update

You may have noticed that, despite my decision to become more active on the website, I had a lot of inactivity throughout most of February. I feel like anything I can say to you or myself is just an excuse, but then again, I’ve always been pretty self-critical.

In all honesty, my routine started falling apart around the time that Covid hit and it went completely downhill around the time of moving back to my hometown. I’ve been struggling to find the right way to implement a routine with my current circumstances.

Rationally, I know that my best writing time is soon after getting up in the morning, which working around other schedules means that this must be early morning. But despite the logic that this is the only time I can consistently fit any significant time blocks in, I struggle. Between not liking to get up early and the cold, I am not always productive during my ideal time.

Considering the circumstances, I’ve been trying to be more forgiving of myself and I’ve taken several self care days when I need to. But I know I need to get back into a routine one way or another since writing is part of what makes me feel like myself.

So, I’ve made a bit of an indulgent purchase with my tax return in the form of an iPad that should arrive in a couple weeks. I figure that with the tablet, I can still use Scrivener in the morning without being in my icebox of an office, which will take away half of my reasons for avoiding getting up early. The rest will have to happen on willpower. It will also make it easier to write when I’m away from home.

One other thing I’m trying to make sure I can write more is that I’m having a productivity competition with my 10-year-old. He’s my homeschooled child and he has also been struggling to do what needs to be done since Covid. So the plan is that we’ll hold each other accountable and whoever accomplishes more of their goals each month wins. Hopefully, this helps.

On another note, I’ve recently set up a page for the website that will display my current progress in each of my WIPs. I intend to be better about sticking with one at a time (at least for a given stage), but the last few months, I’ve certainly been bouncing around between multiple projects-more than I realized, now that I’ve finished this page. If you’re interested, you can find my progress here.

My Homemade Chapstick

*This post contains affiliate links.

I mentioned a while back that one of the things I do while not writing is make homemade stuff and that I recently made some chapstick. So this post is about that.

This is only the second time I’ve made this particular item. The first time, I used an eyedropper to fill the chapstick tubes and it took forever. This time, I bought myself a new tool to help that holds all of the tubes and I found the process to be much faster and easier.

The recipe is pretty simple, if you want to give it a try. It’s equal parts beeswax, cocoa or shea butter (I used cocoa), and coconut oil. Other than that, the only ingredient is essential oil of your choice. I prefer peppermint oil.

I wasn’t sure how much I would need and I was feeling too lazy to try to calculate it, so I just made a guess when I was working on this.

I used equal parts beeswax, coconut oil, cocoa butter (1.6 oz each), and I added 10 drops of peppermint oil. You can probably tell from the pictures that it only filled just shy of half of the tubes this time around. So next time I intend to double the recipe. I figure that the amount left on the top would be enough to fill the other half of a tube. The peppermint was a bit less than I’d like, so I’ll be trying it with 40 drops next time.

If you’re interested in trying it out, all you do is measure and melt. I prefer a double boiler because it makes it easier on me if I get distracted for a bit, but it’s not one hundred percent necessary. Once the oils are all melted, you add in the essential oil, then pour it into the tubes. The one I bought came with a scraper that helps push the excess in. It did start cooling on the plastic faster than I anticipated. The first time I made chapstick, it was summer, so cooling was fairly slow, but I was also trying to hold a conversation with my son at the time, so that probably had something to do with it too.

This is a picture of the filled tubes, minus the two my kids took immediately. One of them was only half filled. It only took me a few minutes, and my whole family will be set for a few months.

What do you think? Have you every tried anything like this?

If you want to try this out and need supplies, here are all the links to what I bought.

Tube holder

Chapstick Tubes

Cocoa butter


I don’t have a link for coconut oil since I bought this at the grocery store.

For the essential oil, I source mine from Eden’s Garden, but the only major thing here is to make sure you are getting pure essential oil and not a fragrance oil.

A sneak peek into my life

I wanted to try something different. I think that the main reason I’ve been largely inactive on my website is that I don’t always know what to say. Part of me shudders to even consider writing this, as I’m wondering if it’s TMI. Writing is a large part of my life, but sometimes other parts of life prevent me from making any significant progress in writing.

A lot of the other things that consume my time are pretty mundane and not worth sharing as anything more than a small mention (like chores, driving locally, and waiting). But some of my other activities might be of interest to more than just me. So, I’m considering adding in some updates on those things.

I’d like to say that I have a “typical” day, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Most days, I try to get writing in before everything else so that I definitely can write. But I’m not a morning person and early mornings are my only guaranteed time. By evening, I’m too tired to write coherently.

On Mondays through Thursdays, my daughter goes to public school. We are down to only a single vehicle in the house at the moment, so I end up dropping my husband and brother off most of these mornings and pick everyone up later. My son is homeschooled, but around half of his work can be done independently. I help him when he needs me and I work on everything else I can around this.

More time than I’d like goes to household chores, inventory, and grocery shopping. Another chunk of time goes to trying to keep up with email and my social media accounts, though I get behind on those more often than not. I also try to keep up with deals to share on book recommendations, mostly for my newsletter, but sometimes here and on social media.

I’m the main person who cooks in my household, so a lot of time is spent in the kitchen. I like to be health conscious, so despite sometimes feeling lazy and getting takeout or easy to make processed foods, I typically cook everything from scratch. Currently, I care for 2 cultures. One is a sourdough starter I use to make all my bread. And the other is a yogurt starter. Aside from food, I make soap, lotion bars, and chapstick for my household.

That makes up most of my non-writing related time. The rest falls into more of a self-care category, something I probably should spend more time with.

For self-care, I will spend time on one of my numerous hobbies. Though mostly, I read. Believe it or not, I will usually count my homemade projects as self-care because I find it fun and relaxing most of the time.

After school on weekdays, I pick up my daughter. Usually, I have to wait at least an hour before anyone else is off work. I try to plan dinner around when I’m expecting to pick up my husband and brother. Most of my time after school is out is spent between dinner, making sure the kids take care of their tasks, and cleaning up. After the the kids go to bed, I spend an hour or two either reading or watching a show with my husband before I turn in for the night.

Weekends are the least predictable. Fridays tend to be the hardest day for me to get anything done. With both kids home and nobody else here to typically help me, most of the time it seems like my whole day is consumed with putting out fires between the kids. Saturday and Sunday, I usually at least have my husband home. These days have the largest variance on what is happening that day. The weekend is the most likely time for us to do something fun as a family, though the options are currently very limited. We sometimes go to Phoenix or Flagstaff for shopping. Or sometimes we go to Winslow to visit family.

When we don’t have plans for the weekend, sometimes I can get more writing done than the rest of the week combined. But other times, my husband needs the time for his ventures, so I don’t really accomplish anything.

The other day, I made chapstick and I thought to take pictures, so my next non-book related post will be about that.

I hope this wasn’t more personal than you’d like, but I want to have more interaction with my readers, so I’m trying this out as a way to hopefully connect. I’d love to hear if you have anything to say about any of this. Is there anything specific I mentioned that you’d like to hear more about?