I woke up this morning and thought, “Something good happens today, what is it?” It took me a minute and then I remembered — it’s Friday! Apple Music updates my New Music playlist on Friday. New New Music, yay!

Also Happy Valentine’s Day, but that just means I might bake the gluten-free chocolate cookies that have been sitting in my freezer ever since Publix had a Buy One, Get One sale.

Back to Apple Music: I switched my phone service to Verizon back in November and Apple Music was included with the plan I chose. It was sort of funny, I was — almost without looking — going to get the Unlimited productivity plan, aka Do More Unlimited, because I use my cell service as my internet access while I travel, and of course I wanted to Do More. And then I looked at the options and realized, nope, no, definitely not. I am a Play More Unlimited kind of person. I’d much rather play than do.

So now I have Apple Music and unlimited streaming music in my life and I love it so, so, so much. I’m listening to all kinds of music and I love searching for random fun new things. I can’t even say what my big favorites are, because I mix it up all the time. But I like the playlists that Apple creates — Today at Apple, Breaking Singer/Songwriter, Piano Chill, and so on. Three times a week, though, the software updates playlists specifically for me: my Chill Mix, my New Music Mix, and my Favorites Mix. The Favorites Mix is entertaining because it is so often very wrong. I don’t know why Apple decides this batch of random songs that I’ve never heard before would be my favorites but they are often not. I love the New Music Mix, though.

I like making playlists, too. Not serious playlists, mostly, but random playlists, like the one I’m working on that includes every song I stumble across that uses the word “Hallelujah” in the lyrics. It’s got 11 songs in it right now: only three of them are versions of the Leonard Cohen song.

I’ve made a playlist for my current writing project, too, although I sort of screwed that one up: I started with individual playlists for the two main characters and then I merged them into one. Unfortunately, it worked better as separate playlists. “Worked better” equals “got me into the writing zone more effectively.” But when I started writing this story, I thought it would includes sections from Niall’s POV and so far that hasn’t happened. His songs in the playlist just shake me out of the mood. I might have to separate them again, but it’s 41 songs long, so it’s not a small project.

In other projects, I finished reading another three books from my ever-growing Write Better Faster list. The list is ever-growing, because one book seems to lead inevitably to another book and some of the books have resource sections which I then wind up adding to my list. According to my list, I’ve read 16 books since I started the class in November: I now have another 36 to go. I seem to be adding them at the rate of two new ones for every one I finished. But I’ve also rejected 9 as being not what I’m looking for, so if I can just keep that up, maybe I’ll finish someday. Maybe even by next November.

My favorite of the books so far, at least out of those that should be described as self-help, is Well Designed Life: 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life, by Kyra Bobinet. This book! If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t X, even though you know you should, she knows the answer. The most profound chapter for me (right now, anyway) is #4, about Me, Not Me, where she says basically that we develop our identities as children and as adults, we reject behaviors that don’t fit who we believe we are, without conscious awareness of the rejection. She mostly uses food and exercise in her examples, but it’s applicable to so much more.

When I first read the chapter and did the exercises, I immediately spotted one of my writing problems: I identify as an editor before I identify as a writer. That’s not good. If I could let go of being an editor first, maybe I actually could Write Better Faster. But the connections kept coming for me. Why do I identify as “Not a graphic designer,” anyway? Why do I think visual art is Not Me? Why do I look at all the self-taught cover designers and artists and think, “But I can’t do that.” Why can’t I? What makes that Not Me? Answer: probably some experience in early childhood that doesn’t relate to who I am now.

So I spent $50 on Affinity Photo, downloaded two books on it, and spent another $30 on a cheap graphics tablet. I don’t need to become the kind of artist whose work makes it into art galleries, but there is no reason why I can’t learn what I need to know to make lovely book covers. I also splurged on a whole bunch of fonts, because fonts are fun.

Zelda and four chickens
This image does not demonstrate my developing graphic arts skills because they haven’t really developed yet — I know how to crop, but not how to change the perspective. But it does show that the chickens have decided that Zelda is harmless, which entertains me. They still scatter in mad panic if I make a move, so I had to take this photo out the window, but someday I’m going to get a close-up of them wandering around her. That gold one on the side is definitely the bravest.