Peering into . . .

the inner workings of Alison Miller Woods

I Draw a Squiggly Line: A Year Later August 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 9:39 pm
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When I was young, my family used to play a lot of card games. And, as it often goes, those game nights wouldn’t work out the same for everyone playing. Sometimes there would be a winning streak for one person, or a losing streak for another (i.e. my mom always winning).

Thus started the family tradition of a squiggly line.

If you were continually losing, you took the score card and drew a squiggly line on it. That meant that everything would change for you and – no more losing streak!


Last August (2016) I was tired of not getting everything I wanted to accomplished. I had no mental energy to do anything beyond work and family. And I wasn’t doing that very well either. So I decided to start a bullet journal because it seemed like a system that would work well for me. It started out well. I had August all written out (and September because I was that on the ball). I had things like Back to School Night on the 22nd. Kids start school on the 23rd. I started one semester of work on the 24th and the other job started on the 29th. Then…

August 21st I added in: E.R.

August 22nd I wrote in: surgery.

And August 26th: Home from the Hospital.

September has same-day surgery to place my port catheter. And the start of Chemotherapy.

My bullet journal fizzled out after that point.

I would like to go back and write about it all (at a future point) because I couldn’t write during the experience. I don’t mean to say ‘couldn’t’ like it was so horrible I couldn’t bear to write. I just didn’t write about it. I didn’t get all the reading done that I thought I would either. When I wasn’t actively running my kids around or working I was more or less vegging out or sleeping.

I am extremely grateful for blessings, miracles, amazing family and neighbors, and modern medical science. I know that my case did go like many others and I’m not sure why. I am grateful for another shot at all of this. I’m grateful to be here to hear my baby’s latest goofy phrases, send my oldest off to college, and every other kids’ step in between.

There are residual effects from the chemotherapy. It has taken a long time to feel close to being myself again. And so now, I draw that squiggly line and say that the past does not define me or where I am going now. I am changing how things are going. I may try that bullet journal again (where I actually drew the squiggly line in the photo) but I am taking back control of my schedule and my goals.

If  I were a tattoo person, I think I would like to get two of them. A semicolon and a squiggly line.


The Precipice September 27, 2016

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I am standing at the precipice.

Toes curled over the edge, contemplating.

Just a few short feet below the edge floats a swirling bank of clouds. Blocking the way down. Is it a short drop into a safe pool of water? Is it a horrifying plummet with jagged rocks below?

I don’t know. Because I can’t see.

Tomorrow I begin chemotherapy for colon cancer.

What hides in the Stygian unknown? I have no frame of reference for what will happen. I understand the process that will occur tomorrow. But how will it effect me?

I hear stories of the ‘short drop’ variety and others of the ‘screaming and flailing’ flavor. What will be my experience?

I obviously won’t find the answers to these questions until I jump. It’s like life, I think. Sometimes the anticipation–the ‘not knowing’–is worse than the reality.

And if we want to fly, we always have to jump.

I choose flight.

My cancer story started last month and a lot of what I have been struggling with before that discovery makes more sense now. I haven’t been actively writing for a long time. The exhaustion went to the bone. It felt like my very soul was worn out.  So while I haven’t been able to work on the stories I love lately, it looks like I will have a bit more practice in the realm of creative non-fiction.  🙂


Sabbatical Concluded May 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 1:19 pm

Boom. We’re back!

Albeit with a bit less style than ^that. 🙂

My sabbatical is done. I learned some things, I think I have health issues balanced (at least adjusted), and I will have some fun news coming up in the next few months.

These are my new cute toes:


Okay, so they aren’t new toes. I haven’t gone with the total toe transplant yet. BUT, the polish is new. And the color?

Purple With Purpose

Isn’t that a cool nail polish name? 

And so that’s what we have now, purpose. Awesome.

Let’s do this! 🙂


Sabbatical of Sorts: What? February 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 9:30 am
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 Hello! Hi, there. Howdy. Welcome! 🙂

A little update on me and the blog. (Be forewarned that this post will be very GIF and photo heavy.) The blog will be on an unofficial/official hiatus for a bit.

I see you rolling your eyes and laughing at me.

But, since you look so good doing it, all is forgiven. 

I picked up this book at the library, hoping it would help.


Wait. 400 pages!? I’m supposed to be able to focus on that long enough to have it help? If I could do that, I wouldn’t need the book. 

It is true.

So, you know those really cool people that can juggle thirty balls, two flaming jack-o-lanterns, and a chain saw? Imagine I was going to do that act.

But I have never juggled before in my life.

I keep dropping everything. But when it is time to throw the next ball in, I keep saying ‘sure, throw it in!’

And then, with a million items to juggle all around me at my feet. I can’t figure out which one to pick up and start with. So none of them get juggled.

It doesn’t work so well with gourds of flame and sharp power tools.

So I am just going to put this picture here right now.

alisonmillerwoods potato crispy treats

“What is that?” Good question. 

It is a sight to behold. Potato Chip Crispy Treats.

Does that name work? Maybe PotMarsh. . . no.

PotatoMallow. . . hmm.

Anyway, it is wavy potato chips with melted marshmallows. Like Rice Crispy Treats only salty/sweet. 

Where was I?

Oh, right. My sabbatical.

I am planning on learning how to juggle. But I need to start with basics, like three balls.

Or one.

I need to learn how to catch one ball first.

So I am paring down ‘Teh Internets’ until I get things together.

Then I will TOTALLY be like Batman. 

And I will nail it on the ‘first try.’ 😀

So, the TL;DR version (Because believe me, I understand.): 

I am kind of a mess 😉 and I am backing slowly away from the internet (No sudden moves!) until I get things organized.

Catch you on the flip side! 


Something is growing? May 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 9:30 am



Look, something is growing! 🙂

Ignore the bright toxic-orange substance. That is just cayenne pepper. I am hoping it keeps the cats from using my garden as a litter box.


Just to give you perspective, this is what my garden has looked like for years. I call it my gourmet salad garden. Because, dandelion greens. 

We will have to see what all will grow and what I can keep growing and not lose focus halfway through the season.



LDStorymakers Writing Conference May 12, 2014

 I just returned from the best weekend! I was at an amazing conference – LDStorymakers.

I learned so much – I will be sharing some things in the coming weeks- and had a great time hanging out with other crazy people that love writing!

Publication Primer Group

 This is my ‘Publication Primer’ group. It is a type of intensive critique group with a published author as a mentor. We lucked out and had two wonderful author/instructors: Renee Collins and Tyler Jolley. I had a great time meeting the other writers in my group and reading the beginnings to their stories. 




Yay for writing buddies! These are some of the amazing people I have met through the chatroom. We meet in there and brainstorm, chat, or sprint (set a time limit and see how much writing/editing/whatever we can finish in that time and then check back in). It was really fun to hang out with them in person. 

It is also one of the very few pictures I took at the conference. I always think ‘Oh, I will get my picture taken with the authors that I fangirl’ and then I get there and don’t even ask for a photo while they sign my books. Maybe someday I will remember/dare pull out the camera :D.


One thing I always do at these conferences. . . buy books. Seriously. I saved my Christmas monies.

To give you an idea of my. . . problem (I don’t have a problem!):

This is a picture of my ‘to read’ bookcase in my room. Keep in mind that it only shows the front layer, there is another set of books behind the ones you can see. That doesn’t count the pile in the library I still need to read either, or the ebooks. *sigh*

To read

So, what do I do?


new shiny books

I bring home a literal bag of new (signed!) books.

They followed me home! Honest 🙂

But really, how can you resist a new book? What I need now, is time to read!


What books/movies/hobbies do you like to look forward to?




Lessons Learned in a Slot Canyon April 14, 2014

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This is what exhausted looks like. With a hat.


This weekend I was able to hike a slot canyon (two actually).

This is one of those ‘bucket list’ type things for me. I have always been fascinated by the canyons but have never had the opportunity to try them.

We went to Ding and Dang canyons. They are in the San Rafael Swell area in Utah. Not too far from Goblin Valley. 

What? You haven’t heard of Goblin Valley? – You really need to watch Galaxy Quest. Besides being really funny, there is a scene on an alien planet with a rock monster. The amazing rock formations they are running through are Goblin Valley. Anyway. . .

There were a few things I learned — “life lessons” I’m going to call them– while on this trip through these canyons. 


#1: If you are out of shape, slow and steady does NOT win the race. Slow and steady makes you dead tired. 

Each time I would catch up to the rest of the (more athletically-inclined) group at the rest spot, it was time to move on. *sigh*. 

BUT, while it doesn’t win the race, it does finish it. One step at a time.IMG_0163_adj




#2: Sometimes, what may seem like the easiest way down can get you really, really stuck.

It is sometimes tempting to take that easier path that slopes to the right. The path that looks smooth and gentle. However, when you scrabble down the pile of rocks in front of you, you can see where that ‘easy’ path really goes. It goes to a giant pile of boulders that don’t have a way out. 

Sometimes the easy way out – just isn’t. 




#3 Some obstacles will take a group effort to get through.

Seriously. Sometimes we can help.  Sometimes we need to accept help.














 #4 I can do really hard things. 



 Honestly. Really really hard things. Like – go on without me I will just die right here- hard things.

This last image? It is hard to get the scale to it. But, when I stood in the water at the far end (right underneath what is appropriately called a chokestone) the water went to the middle of my thighs. Oh sure, there were people in our group that could totally spider crawl across this whole thing. They didn’t get wet. But you know– I was pretty proud I made it through.

I am also super grateful to all of those who went with us and made sure we all made it. Thanks!


Seriously. You can’t even imagine the crazy.


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