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53. When even cacti won’t grow

Photo by Chuttersnap; Quote by Thomas Edison

I kill cacti.

I love keeping an aloe vera plant around for burns, and I have one that sits next to my living room windows. It’s not the biggest thing, but at least it’s still growing.

It’s like my 5th one.

One time I bought a really nice succulent aloe vera home from the local plant place, and my husband again reminded me to water it. I set it outside for the day so I could clear off a place for it in the house. I remembered the plant after I had already called it a day, and decided to bring it in the next day.

Well, a cold snap came through, and that poor aloe vera pretty much liquefied and turned into mush.

I had killed it within 24 hours. My husband was so mad.

You don’t have to have the golden touch for everything—find out what works for you, what your strengths are, and build on those. You can’t be good at everything, and even if you are, there is someone who can do certain things better than you.

As for me, my husband helps me keep up with the watering of my current cacti. This current one will hopefully be with us a little longer.

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52. It’s the little things

Photo by Amy Chen; Quote by MGSpear

The happiest thing in the world is a dog’s tail.

It just wags back and forth erratically without a care in the world, even if it knocks stuff over.

While I am not a dog person (cats rule!), I am happy that my husband’s dogs are happy, and their tails wag a lot, even over the most mundane stuff.

“Oh wow! That small, teeny goldfish you threw my way really cheered me up! I am soooo happy that I got to snatch it out of the air and chow down on it, even though I have a full bowl of dog food that I haven’t finished.”

It’s the little things in life that slip by sometimes and go unnoticed. A small ray of sunshine in an otherwise stressful day.

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51. Ant infestation

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov; Quote by Bossbabe

The other day my husband and I took our farm truck into town to get some supplies, and as I open the passenger door to get in, I notice ants coming out of the vents.

“I am not riding in this car and have ants crawl all over me!”

My husband came over to my side and brushed all the ants out of the car. “See? Problem solved. We won’t be gone that long anyway.”

So we make our way to the different errand stops we need, and every time (every time!) we came back to the truck after leaving the store, there were ants continuing to come out of the vents and crawl around on the dashboard and the floorboards.

After the third stop my husband informed me that the truck had had an ant problem for a while because it had been sitting for so long undriven. He just didn’t tell me because he wanted to take the truck to put wood in the back bed.

Sometimes we face a challenge or obstacle, and we do not want to do it. It might be to work with a difficult person, finish a boring task, or ride around in an ant infested truck.

Usually though when you complete it, you’ve accomplished something and perhaps learned in the process, at least perhaps how to do it better or avoid that situation in the future.

As for me, I got a nice dinner out of riding around in that truck all day. But mark my words, I will never get in that truck again if it has ants.

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50. The things we do to keep going

Photo by Martin Reisch; Quote by MGSpear

My home study/office is littered with artwork all over the walls. I look up from my computer and get inspired by art, quotes, and posters. I let my mind wander a little looking at all the abstract, a brief respite from work.

Then it’s back to work.

In my classroom I don’t have a lot of personalized stuff, but what I do have are rituals. In the mornings, I gather my notes for the day, check my emails, and get ready for my incoming classes. At lunch I take a moment to check out for a few minutes, recover some of my energy, and plow through the rest of the day. After my day classes end, I enjoy a diet Dr. Pepper—my first for the day, and for some reason, tastes like chocolate. It instantly relaxes me.

Then, on some days, it’s off to teach some of my college classes for the evening.

Having these small mini breaks and rituals keep me going and help me to not wear down as much. A small recovery to gather my thoughts, get mentally ready for what’s coming, and then march forward.

What do you do to get you through the day? What are your rituals that keep you going?

Best ritual of the day for me: hitting my bed at night and catching some z’s.

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49. Keeping everything in line

Photo by Alice Achterhof; Quote by MGSpear

Staying on top of things is important, and it keeps you from feeling overwhelmed later on.

For example, this summer I hashed out my outline schedule for what the first few months of school would be. So when I went back, I knew what papers to pull, and what things to copy. That way, I am all ready for the first day.

At the beginning of each week, I take a sticky note (one of the best inventions ever!) and make a list of things that have to get accomplished that week. I then cross them off as they get completed, and I get a little rush of satisfaction (it really is the little things you have to appreciate).

When I don’t plan ahead, I feel rushed and overwhelmed, and more stressed than I normally am. Usually, I will also burn out quicker.

With any job, business, or task, it’s important to know what you are getting into. Some people can just wing it, but I prefer to have an outline and then wing what doesn’t work.

How do you handle everything you need to accomplish?

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48. Blueberry pie advice

Photo by Nicole Honeywill; Quote by MGSpear

Over the summer I picked enough blueberries from our bushes to make blueberry pie. My husband is a great cook, while I am excellent at using a microwave.

So my husband did all the mixing while I handed him everything and read off the recipe we were following.

“Okay, sugar is added. What’s next?” my husband asked.

“1/2 cup of salt,” I say.

He measures it out and holds it over the mixing bowl. And with the wisdom of cooking for over twenty years asks, “Are you sure? This looks like a lot of salt. Can you check it just to make sure?”

“Of course I am sure. I can read the directions.”

He shrugged. “Ooookay,” and pours it in, mixes everything together, puts it in the pie crust, finishes up, and sticks it in the oven.

About an hour and a half later we cut our first slices.

And it was awful. Sooo salty.

So salty, in fact, that not even adding tons of sugar onto the slices made it edible.

Have you ever read something wrong, or done the wrong thing, and didn’t get the outcome you wanted? We might be so sure of ourselves in the moment, but then what we expect to happen doesn’t happen.

Good, pertinent advice is like grains of gold. Listening to people with a different perspective on a situation that can be helpful to you should always be at least considered. That is why I have a more seasoned business partner than I: I might be better at some things, but when it comes to sales, he is king.

Don’t throw away someone’s advice just because you’re sure—you might not be seeing all the avenues you can pursue.

As for me, I am no longer allowed to read off the recipes, and instead stick handing him the ingredients. The second pie we made tasted awesome.

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47. Helping hand

Photo by Erik Jan Leusink; Quote found on Pinterest

I recently had a consultation with someone to help them with business cards. Okay, they were making cards to hand out as a wedding reminder, but they wanted it done using a business card. I helped them through the process, and by the end of the night the client got the result that they wanted.

It is an awesome feeling to help someone reach a goal. I chase that passion everywhere: when I teach, when meeting people, and especially in consultations and helping other entrepreneurs and small businesses grow. You just never know how far someone can get with the right instructions. Not to say I have all the answers—sometimes I make mistakes or wrong turns in my business—but I can pass on what I have learned so that others don’t fall into similar traps, or show approaches that are more efficient than what’s mainstream.  

What do you chase in your careers? What passions are driving your choices?

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46. Tea recipes

Photo by Mukul Wadhwa; Quote found on Pinterest

I kind of like the idea of getting more into digital products. I have my short stories, and some more products I am kicking around for Shop MGSpear, but I don’t really have anything digital for Teazzed—currently I just sell our awesome biodegradable Teazzed straw that quick brews tea in under 30 seconds.

What I am thinking about doing for Teazzed is make a tea recipe book. I mix and match my own teas all the time, and come up with custom combinations that taste awesome. Plus there are a lot of health benefits from drinking the different teas, and I could include a section on those health benefits as well.

And there are so many different things you can make with tea—currently I am toying around with one concept called “tea soda”—yeah you read that right. Carbonated tea.

I actually like strong sweet tea with no calories—I’ve got plenty of mixes for that. I drink like a camel and don’t want to worry about gaining weight from drinking calories.

So I am compiling all I have and making it into an ebook. Something to have all the information in one place, and be able to share it with you guys—because tea is awesome.

What do you think, dear readers? Would you be interested in something like that?

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45. Another project update

Photo by Ian Chen; Quote found on Pinterest

I keep putting off writing my update on my big project. Remember that post when I was frustrated and wanted my next experiment to work? Well, it didn’t. And the next one didn’t. And then the one after that failed too.

But you know what? Rather than get discouraged enough to quit, alternative ideas kept coming to me: what if I tweaked it this way? What if I did this differently? Or even a completely new approach would form in my thoughts. I have an experiment coming up that is a completely different take on an old concept.

I love that feeling—the feeling of hope in a new approach. The feeling that even though my experiment failed, it is not the end.

When I first started down the inventing trail, like all young inventors presumably, I took it really hard when my experiments failed. It felt like the end of the world. I cried a lot. Then after a few failures, my attitude shifted and I started to see each failure not as the end, but as information about how not to do it.

There are two main ways people take failure: it either makes a person feel so down that they decide to hang up the idea/project/relationship/etc., or they see it as a way to not do it and try a different strategy.

Is everything doable? No, but the doesn’t mean you can’t try. Who knows—you might find a solution everyone missed.

Have you tried a different approach to something lately?

Also, offering the short horror story Toilet Paper went over so overwhelmingly well that I’ve decided to keep it a free download for now. Feel free to enjoy anytime, and check out my other stories!

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44. This is Halloween

Photo by David Menidrey; Quote found on Pinterest

Halloween 😊.

A day where people dress up and eat candy and carve pumpkins and have a great time. Some people consider this day mostly to be propaganda to sell candy and Halloween decorations, but I it is so much more than that.

I tend to think of Halloween as a time people wear masks. Not just scary monster masks, but superficial masks that show they are having a great time. Everyone wears a mask some of the time at work, friends, even family, just to cover up things that are bothering them or stuff they don’t want to talk about (skeletons in the closet—Halloween pun intended.)

Halloween is a time that it is acceptable for everyone to wear a mask and act like a good sport. And everyone seems happy, putting on costumes, eating candy, going to a haunted house or spookified bar, just living up that time where there seem to be no problems.

You hear the stories of people getting into fights at Christmas, or disagreements at Thanksgiving, but Halloween—it is almost required that people put on the mask, physically and figuratively, and no one asks questions.

When I was going through rough patches over the years, I always looked forward to Halloween, not just because of all the spooky decorations (which are awesome!), but because I felt more comfortable around people knowing they were all obliged to put on masks too and we would all go out and have a great time. Everyone got to pretend to be someone/something else. So to me, Halloween is about enjoying people’s company and not getting into fights or arguments or even nitpicking. It is very relaxing.

That might seem silly to some people. Other people love Christmas more, or even think Halloween is just the propaganda holiday. To each their own.

But let me end with this: you can’t beat walking down rows of carved pumpkins lit up at night and seeing a pumpkin dragon:

Yet another sales blurb: Don’t forget that my sale on my chilling short story collection, Black Cat Scribbles Vol.1, ends tomorrow morning at 7am Central Time. It’s on sale right now for $9.99—get it while you can.

And as a special Halloween treat, Toilet Paper is now a free digital download. Check it out, and if you like what you read, purchase the collection while it is still on sale.

Whichever deal you go for, I hope you have a spooktacular Halloween!

May the creepy be with you.