Five Things I Learned From August

1. Earthquakes are terrifying, even if they do no damage.
2. Hurricane plans titled ‘MOMMY SAVE ME!’ are alarmingly effective.
3. Saying things like ‘I finally have everything under control!’ means the universe will give you earthquakes and hurricanes.
4. Good habits are distressing easy to break.
5. Life is an endless blank slate, if you look at it right.


I am a good worrier, heck I’m even a professional level worrier at times. What I have never worried about was an earthquake. In Virginia. While I’m at work in a multi-story building.

I’m sad to admit it didn’t even occur to me that it was an earthquake until a coworker mentioned it. My brain had supplied the helpful options: someone dropped something heavy, the elevator fell, someone hit the building, someone set us up the bomb. (More or less in that order)

In the end, it was thirty seconds of terror, followed by forty-five minutes of no cell phone service, and then tromping back up the stairs for the rest of a now surreal workday.

Which led to a surreal evening and a surreal morning and…

When the completely unexpected happens, it has a ripple effect on the rest of your life. By the time the hurricane hit four days later, it had filtered down to mentality ‘survival first, everything else is optional.’

Grownup-ness Achieved!

While I did work myself into a bit more of a panic than was needed, I also managed to prep the house, pack all of the important things into the car, and relocate three dogs, a cat, and my sanity three hours away to a safer location (aka Mom’s House).

If you had asked me prior to the hurricane if I could have done this all by myself—I probably would have said no. One of the dogs had just had surgery, the car was much too small for all of us, and the house was nowhere near organized enough to find everything I needed, much less in roughly 24 hours.

But I did it.

And even if the house ended up undamaged, making the trip less imperative that it had been, I have a working plan for next time. Which may be next weekend (but I’m pretending Katia doesn’t exist, lalala).

30 Seconds From Disaster

Going into August, I was ready for anything. I’d just won Camp NaNoWriMo, I was tackling a larger project at work, and the house was reaching levels of organization not seen in years– I was on a roll!

And then everything went to heck in a handbasket.

In retrospect, it was an exciting month that we all survived without too much damage. At the time it was a scary rollercoaster of ‘what else can go wrong?!?’ Yet another lesson in a long line of lessons centering around the fact that my life will very very rarely go as planned.

Which is why I’m looking at 2012 with a wary eye and a boatload of Plan B’s.

And people wonder why I laugh when they ask me where I see myself in five years… most of the time I’m not sure what life is going to dish out in six months, let alone half a decade.

Two Steps Back

I had some good habits going in July that fell completely off the radar in August. They were little things, like small cleaning chores and treadmill walking, but they were comforting little things. I could see the visual impact of these habits and it always gave me a nice feeling whenever I realized that I had done them without consciously deciding to.

And now they’re gone.

Well, okay, not gone, just not habits anymore. I don’t know if they will be easier to pick up the second time around, but I had sort of hoped they’d have more staying power. August was a tad bit crazier than it had any right to be, but you’d think habits would be more, well, habitual– even in the face of stress.

So September will be more about finding my routine again, rather than picking up new habits. It’s a step backwards in my yearly goal of continual improvement, I just hope that it won’t be a big one.

Reset Buttons

I have a bad habit of waiting to start new projects until a certain threshold. Beginning things on the first day of a month, or the start of a season, or even just the first day of the week somehow seems more appropriate than just digging in wherever I am.

Which is silly, since there are very few projects that actually hinge on these demarcations (taxes do, but little else).

I need to break out of this habit of waiting until just the right moment to start things. All of the goals I have for improving my life are gradual goals. It won’t hurt anything if I start nibbling away at them early, even if that means I’m doing things ‘out of order.’

Every moment of every day is a chance to hit the reset button on a habit or goal. I can never change the past, but the future is an indefinitely clean slate—and I need to stop pretending it isn’t’!

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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