Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Than Just a Number

I'm one of those people who "sweats" everything.  I think and I over analyze, and I think some more.  I'm a quick decision maker, usually, but I worry about almost every single interaction I have with everyone in my life.  I wonder if that made him mad.  I wonder if I hurt her feelings.  Does she like me?  Does she hate me now?  This probably stems from some deep rooted insecurity or self-esteem issues I have, due to alopecia and how it's affected my emotional well being.  At least, that's was a psychologist would say.  People are people though, and they all act differently and think differently, and over think differently, or don't think at all.  I'd take over thinking over not thinking at all any day.

Over the last couple of years, I've been thinking about health and weight.  I've been over thinking it and analyzing every last bit of food I've put into my mouth.  When I have a splurge day--despite telling YOU it's OK--I usually beat myself up!  I'm really good at beating myself up and being hard on myself.  It's one of my greatest flaws: perfectionism.

I read this article on Shine yesterday, and I absolutely LOVED it, and I needed to share it with all of you who have struggled with your weight your whole life and seem to not be getting anywhere.  I'll sum it up for those of you who are too lazy to click on the link.

Basically the article is called, "Can you be Fat but Fit?"  The consensus through new studies is YES!!!  If you work out and eat relatively right, but don't lose weight then YES, you can be fit.  The key is working out and eating right.  That's always been the key to being healthy: reducing caloric intake and increasing caloric output.

My favorite party of this article was the fact that moderately obese people live 3.1 years longer than normal-weight people.  Now, I don't know how much of this is actually TRUE, because I read this on Yahoo!, and I didn't go looking for statistics to back it up, but I like this idea.  I like the idea, and I think I've always tended to agree with it, that if you are doing the right things, like eating and exercise, then you are prolonging your years and your life.  The number on the scale just doesn't mean a thing, even though we all have a psychological need to see it go down.  We've been fed bull crap about ideal weight our whole life, and we've been fed unrealistic images of men and women whose life is to EXERCISE every day.  These actors and actresses in magazines have personal trainers who basically kick their asses for a living.  Regular old people simply don't have the time or the need to want to exercise 8 hours a day.  We don't live in front of a camera.  We live our lives, and we need to make sure we're healthy to be their for our kids and to get the most out of life: to fulfill our purpose, if you will.

Don't sweat the small stuff and hem and haw when that number on the scale doesn't go down.  Live your life in a healthy way by doing the following:

  • Moderate Exercise for 30 minutes a Day.  This can include walking.
  • Eat Right, but don't monitor EVERY BITE
  • Stop looking at the Scale
  • Know in how you feel how fit you are.  Everyone can tell when they start a new exercise plan.  Their breathing improves, they can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, and generally they become more active.  You can sense your body feeling and looking stronger.
  • Annual Physicals: Keeping an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure is a better indicator of total health than the weight on the scale.  If these things are in check, then most likely you're doing fine.
  • Addressing Your Mental Health: Mental Health Issues can take away your drive, from exercise and eating weight.  If you're depressed then deal with it in a productive way.  Seek help from a counselor or a psychologist.  Talk to family and friends.  Figure out how to get out of your funk so you can live a healthy life. 
Keep Moving!  Never Give Up!  Live a Health Life. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Baby is Three!

Today Darling Daughter turns 3!  Three years of sugar and spice and everything nice.  Three years of kisses and hard squeezes around the neck.  Three years of her sweet giggles and joy.  She is the happiest child I have ever met. 

Darling Daughter's favorite color is pink.  Imagine that?  For the first year of her life her wardrobe only consisted of pink, as I could not get over the fact that I had a girl.  She loves princesses and baby dolls, especially the Julie doll handed down from her older cousin.  She also loves the leap pad.  She likes drawing.  She loves television, especially D-d-d-ora!  She loves to eat, especially nutella toast, but will try almost anything you put on her plate.  This girl will not miss a meal

For the first two years of her life, she didn't really like anyone except me, Big Mommy, and Big Daddy.  She has warmed up to her Daddy so much this year that he is almost the center of her world.  She is slowly becoming less and less of a Mommy's girl and becoming more and more of a Daddy's girl.

She is sensitive and sweet and she is stubborn too, just like her Mommy.  She loves to sit on my lap and just be with me.  She loves to give kisses and show affection.  I love this girl with all my heart, and I'm so glad she completed my family.

Happy Birthday BIG Three Year OLD!!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Motivation Revisited...Again

I've always had problems with motivation.  In high school, I think I studied a handful of times.  My Dad and I would have yelling, screaming matches, as he would try to have me do my homework downstairs at the breakfast room table, just trying to make sure I got it done. I usually did finish it, with a lot of huffing and puffing. 

In college, I was self motivated, mainly because my goal was to stay as far away from home as I could.  I was in Washington D.C., and I was loving life, and my ability to stay there hinged on me not failing out of school.  I did it, pulling off a 3.75 and figured out how to set attainable goals, but still when I left school I was an idealist and somewhat thought things would just be handed to me.  I didn't realize you have to work hard for everything you want.  What you put in is what you get out. 

For a long time I was afraid.  I still am, some most days.  Afraid to succeed, afraid of rejection, afraid to love, afraid to get to0 close, afraid to lose.  But you can't live your life being afraid.  You have to take that initial step, that risk; in order to succeed you have to risk failing first. 

Son Number One is a motivated kid.  After getting used to (and hating homework), he now studies his times tables in the car.  He works hard at gymnastics.  He'll work extremely hard to earn points to get rewards.  He inherently *knows* how the system works.  I wish I had at age 8, but I was lost in my make believe world, busy playing with my imaginary friends and living in fantasy land.  Some days I still live in fantasy land.  Fantasy land can be a wonderful diversion, but it won't get you anywhere.  You can say: I'm going to win the lottery, but if you never buy a ticket then you definitely WILL NOT. 

Sometimes when things don't go my way I start acting like a petulant child.  Maybe everyone is this way.  But I start to drive all the motivation out of my body.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and be lazy and ignore everyone.  I have to fight super hard against that to get myself back in the game.  This week I got back into the game.

I risked, and I won a little bit, and I lost a little bit.  Here's what happens when you take a risk:

  • I motivated myself to stay on MyFitnessPal, and I lost 3 pounds
  • I started editing my book again.  I sent out to another agent.  I wrote some words.
  • I received a rejection, but it was a nice rejection encouraging me to keep working on my second novel and sending out to other agents. 
  • Despite feeling lazy yesterday, I left the house and cycled 5.5 miles.  I burned 314 calories.
To me, setting the goals and motivating yourself is worth taking the risk.  What's the worst that can happen?  If I never submitted my book, or finished my book, or even started writing my book then NOTHING would happen.  But, because I finished a novel and started submitting it, I'm getting feedback, and even if that feedback is negative it's encouraging me to keep at it: to follow my dreams.  It's showing me that I CAN DO THIS!!!  Take a risk, and you will succeed.  Motivate yourself and you will get there. 

Do Nothing, and you will get exactly that: NOTHING! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In One Year

In One Year:

  • I've taken approximately 8,500,000 breaths.
  • I've blinked about 7,700,000 times.
  • I've slept about 2,555 hours. That's approximately 106.46
  • I've drank 1,095 cups of coffee. 
  • I've made 3 goals per week for a total of 156 goals per year.
  • I've followed through on roughly 117 of those goals.
  • I finished writing 1 novel.
  • I edited the novel, and I moaned and complained about editing the novel about 60 times.
  • I was rejected by 4 agents.
  • I read 22 books
  • I hugged my kids about 1,825 times...probably more.
  • I told someone I loved them about 2,500 times...probably more.
  • I did about 208 hours of Taekwondo.
  • I cried 26 times.
  • I lost 20 pounds
  • I gained 10 pounds
  • I've laughed 5,475 times. 
  • My sons have probably laughed about 109,500 EACH!  The world is funnier when you're smaller, apparently!
  • I've worked 2,080 hours.
  • I've burned about 200,000 calories
  • I've run 1 5K.
These are my yearly accomplishments.  It's funny.  When you're going through your day, you never think about how something looks in a year.  Working 2,080 hours seems insane, but we all do it.  Laughing 109,500 times in a year seems AWESOME!!!  Writing 1 book and running 1 5K were my biggest accomplishments this year. Maybe my next birthday when I do this list again having my book published will be my biggest accomplishment.

For me, goals help me keep track of the big picture.  I've set goals over the last couple of years, and I maintain weekly goals.  I strive for what I achieve; sometimes veering off track and sometimes letting the emotions of the day get in the way.  I always find my way back.  Looking at the big picture like this is fun, but setting yearly goals doesn't help, because it's too overwhelming.  It's more fun to look at your annual successes, to think about how all those weekly goals added up to such a huge success.

People who are successful in weight loss and just in life in general know that goal setting is a huge part of the process.  In order to achieve what you want, you have to go for it.  You have to be able to make realistic goals for yourself and then do something about achieving those goals.  For me, it started with setting a routine.  I want to write 2,000 words a day, so I will.  And yes, sometimes routine gets old, and then you need to change it up.  No one wants ho hum all the time.  If we had ho hum we would never laugh as much as my boys do!

My goal this year (after just saying annual goals don't work) is to LAUGH more.  My goal is to stop rolling my eyes when I think something isn't funny.  My goal is to live in the moment with my kids, to love them and hug them more.  My goal is to listen more. My goal is to feel more satisfied with myself and my achievements and to stop being such a dang perfectionist all the time.  After all, I achieved a lot this year and I have a lot to be proud of and thankful for in my life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Live Life and Laugh

I was bad yesterday.  My sister texted me around 8:30 PM and said, "Where's your food journal?"  I texted back, "I'd rather not list it." 

After five days at home with the kids by myself, the last thing in the world I wanted to do last night was make dinner.  It took me nearly an hour to pick up two of the kids and make it to my Mom's house where Number One was waiting.  Then, Number One wanted to bring a petrified lizard into the car, and so that was another battle.  There was no gas.  I needed to go to Costco.  I drove to Costco and then we went to Ixtapa.  I had already decided at 5:15, on the way to get Number Two I needed some cheese.  There's nothing better than comfort food. 

I'm thinking a chicken and cheese quesadilla probably has about 1,000 to 1,500 calories.  I ate the whole thing.  So, no, I didn't log it.  I'll do better today, even though I'm going out to eat for a friend's birthday lunch.  I'll have to make better choices.  Sometimes it's okay to splurge, and last night was one of those nights.

On the way home, the boys would not stop saying, "Stupid butt," and giggling like it was the funniest thing in the world.  I told them not to say, "Stupid butt," which just brought on more giggling.  They giggled themselves into bed, and they giggled and laughed and mimicked me while I read them their bedtime stories, and they giggled when I sang, "You Are My Sunshine," and when I got onto them for being loud.  Then Number Two started crying and Number One said he didn't want Number Two to sleep with him, and they fell asleep, chests rising, tears fresh on their eyelashes, exhausted from all that giggling. 

The giggling reminded me of a time when I was little and my Mom and I went down to Sebastian, Florida to visit her family. For some reason, I think it was just she and me, but my cousins were all there.  We were exhausted when we arrived, and we went into the basement and pulled out the foutons and lied down, and I couldn't stop thinking of funny things to say.

I said, "Goodnight John-boy!"

My Mom giggled, and I fell into a fit of laughter and she said, "We're slap happy from being so tired." 

And I curled up next to her and I went to sleep, exhausted from the thrill of just being alive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Little Blurb on Being a Mother

Being a parent is the hardest job.  I never understood people who said, "Oh, you don't work?" to stay at home Moms.  Stay at Home Moms work harder than anyone else I know.  They have to entertain children, and keep them functioning throughout the day, answering all their demands, feeding them, holding their hand, being there for them.  There's a huge reward at the end of the day though, when your child climbs on your lap, all grubby hands or knobby knees and looks at you and says, "I love you Mom."  There is nothing in the world better to hear.  A child equals unconditional love.  The love a child has for his mother or father is the love he searches for in a mate later on.  Why?  Because it is completely unconditional.  A mother loves you no matter what. 

My kids made my Mother's Day so special this year.  Hubby was out of town.  He went to visit family.  I'm used to being spoiled rotten, so I was actually a little sad I wasn't going to be able to sit in bed and just hang.  Instead, I was pampered by my kids.  These three little hooligans made my day:

Before we went to Dunkin Donuts for a decadent treat, I told the kids I needed to shower.  I think every mother has been there, with the kids right outside the shower door, screaming something to you.  "Mommy, I have a boo-boo!"  "Mommy, my Ninjago guy can fly!"  "Mommy, Mommy..."  and you say, "What?  I'm in the shower," and the kid just says, "Mommy," because all they really want is your attention.  As I was showering yesterday, I thought about poor Octo-Mom.  Yes, sometimes my mind wanders to strange places.  How in the world does she ever shower, as a single parent with 8 small children?  I shudder to think about what her bathroom experiences must be like!

We had our trials and tribulations this weekend.  Overall the kids were good.  Darling Daughter is so sweet, until about 7:30.  Then, as Hubby says her 80 year old smoker voice erupts, "I am not going to bed!"  She is determined she will get her way. She stands her ground and looks at me, and she thinks she will win!  I told one of my friends the other day, she reminds me of a vampire, "She turns into some evil creature at night, despite being so happy and loving during the day."  I am stubborn too, so you can imagine the battles we had.  I won this weekend though.  I had to put her in the room with the door locked.  I hate doing this, and in fact I remember when I was little I used to babysit a mother who did it and thought it was awful!  This is one of those "ah-ha," moments where I can actual feel her pain from years ago, with a child who won't go to sleep.  Last night she was only in her room for ten minutes before she decided she would pee on the potty and then sleep in the guest bedroom.  She doesn't like her room for some reason.  Most nights, she ends up as my bed partner. 

This too will pass.  Just like her standing in her chair last night at dinner, stuffing chili mac in her mouth, and saying, "I have to pee." I look over, and she's just standing there, legs spread apart, pee streaming down onto the wooden chair.  I made her finish her dinner, and then I cleaned her up.  She told me she wanted a bath, but they had already had two baths that day.  I said no.  Smelling like pee when you're 2 isn't a big deal. 

But mostly, I derive joy from them.  I love Number Two's laugh and his too loud voice.  I used to have a too loud voice, and I remember my Mom always telling me to be quieter.  He is a good listener, and he sleeps in his own bed.  He has the best imagination.  He loves to play in Darling Daughter's dollhouse with me at night.  He is the "big brother," who happens to be Spiderman. 

And then my first born.  He will always hold a special place in my heart.  The one who made me a mother.  We were playing with our neighbors this weekend.  They have a one year old, and she kept pushing the little toy lawnmower up the hill and getting it stuck.  He went and brought it down and patted her head, and she smiled at him and started following him around everywhere.  He loves little kids.  He's passionate and self-motivated. 

I love my kids.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thirty Minutes a Day to Achieve Your Goals

I've been working really hard to stay motivated with my weight loss.  I think I mentioned I gained 10 pounds, and now I'm trying to take it off...AGAIN.  For me, for my lifetime, it will be a never ending battle. I am just not one of those girls who can eat whatever they want, exercise when they feel like it, and stay skinny.  I'm big-boned, which is really just a nice way of saying "thick." 

But, I don't mind.  I like my curves.  I like that I have hips.  Not very much of my weight is in my stomach, so I know that plays out well for me in regards to heart disease.  I eat well, and I exercise, and I sometimes splurge, so I know I'm setting a healthy example for my family.

I have been logging into MyFitnessPal every day and logging my food every day, in part from my sister who has been texting me every day if she doesn't see my Food Diary.  I love the accountability.  I actually think what her reaction will be if I ate a Super Size Cheeseburger meal and fries.  And, we tell each other when we cheat, the struggles we have staying within our points system, and our exercise achievements.

Speaking of exercise: I'm dying to go back to Taekwondo.  It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  I miss it so much.  I like the discipline, and I like having someone motivate me.  Plus, I miss my friends from there.  We all just have so much fun.

If I'm sitting at home, I can always find a "valid" excuse to avoid exercise.  I need to read, or clean out the closets, or play with the kids.  All of these are noble, but they shouldn't take the place of daily exercise.

Today, I jumped on the trampoline for 15 minutes with Darling Daughter.  I don't think that burns many calories, but I did hurkeys and toe-touches, and it felt great.  I also don't know whether I should be doing that with my leg, or whether it is considered "weight-bearing" exercise, but I would think not since you are not banging down on heavy pavement.  After that, I came in and did some strength training exercises with the medicine ball.  I did sit-ups and dreaded push-ups.  I don't think there will ever be a day when I LOVE push-ups.  They are just not for me. 

I felt so good to be using my body.  I can always feel a difference in my happiness level when I exercise.  I can always feel the benefits of it, no matter how little I do, and every time I exercise I think: why did it take me so long to recommit to doing this for my body?  There's nothing like looking at your body and feeling so good about coming so far and realizing the reason you achieved your goals was because you put your mind to it. 

And to top it all off: I stepped on the scale this morning, and I lost THREE pounds.  Tangible benefits.

So my goal is to do 30 minutes a day of exercise over the next week.  I have to build back up somewhere, and now that the bronchitis is exiting my body and my stress fracture is feeling better, I know I will achieve my goal.  I will just think of this guy, when I am sitting on the couch and trying to find someway to make up excuses...

The 30 minutes do not have to be in a row.  You can find exercise by looking for it: gardening, taking the stairs, CLEANING. 

Never Quit.  Achieve your goals.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Purpose Driven Happiness

Today I was thinking about happiness, or the lack thereof.  For most of our lives we’re told by our parents, our teachers, our peers, “I just want you to be happy.”  But what is real happiness?  Real happiness is a positive state of mind and the ability to gleam the good from just about any situation.

It is true that people who smile more tend to be happier than those who don’t.  You can, in essence, make yourself happy by pretending to be happy.  You know, like the old adage: fake it until you make it.  That’s pretty true about happiness…most of the time.   

But sometimes it can be hard to find happiness.  You have to want to be happy in order to be happy.  You have to strive for happiness.  So many people I know say having faith in God provides them happiness.  They put their trust in a superior being, and it lifts the unhappiness from them.  That doesn’t work for me.    

For me happiness is defined by a sum of its parts.  Way back last year or two years ago, when I started this blog I was unhappy.  I look back at that time, and I think it’s because I had no direction.  I was content in feeling “blah,” only I wasn’t really content.  I was seriously unhappy.  I had no purpose—no direction.  I was sitting around feeling intensely sad, and I wasn’t doing anything about it.  Wallowing in your sorrow will only make you more sorrowful.  It won’t help dig you out of it.

I decided, with the help of friends and family, to find a purpose.  I think a lot of people find that purpose in God, but not me.  I prefer to find a purpose in something solid, some goal I can attain, something I can strive to achieve.  For me, I found that purpose in writing.  I started writing every day.  I started making changes in my lifestyle: losing weight, exercising, writing.  All of these things, once I realized how achievable they were, seemed to give me a purpose for my existence. 

I started realizing the more I was happy, the more other people in my life were happy.  The more happiness I felt, the better off the kids.  Now, looking back, I can’t believe I spent so many years on the couch wallowing in my own misery.  I wasted a lot of time doing nothing, when I could have been doing something.  But, you know, hindsight is like foresight without a future.  There’s no point in looking back at things that cannot be changed.  There’s no point in wishing something could be that cannot be.  There’s only a point in setting a goal for the future, driving yourself with a purpose, and achieving that purpose so you can find happiness and fulfillment.  At least, that’s what works for me.    

Monday, May 6, 2013

Motivation Strikes Again

I've had a few weeks of ho hum.  A few weeks of, "I can't do what I really want with this stupid leg fracture, so I'm just going to sit on the couch and act like a baby." 

Then I tried on a pair of my jeans, and they were getting tight. Everyone knows that feeling, right?  You slip into your jeans, expecting them to fit the same way they did last time you put them on, but instead they are hard to button.  Your belly fat hangs lasciviously over the rim of the denim fabric, and you justify it to yourself, "That's because I just washed and dried them yesterday.  Denim tightens up, it will loosen up as I wear them through the day."  But then it doesn't loosen up, and you realize something (like Trixie!!!)..."I've gained weight!!!"

Yes.  Ten stupid pounds.  Ten pounds of, "I can't do what I want, so I'm not going to do anything and I'm going to sit here on the couch and read books, watch TV, and stuff my face." 

Enough of that.  That's stupid (the word of the week, Miranda Grace).  That doesn't get you anywhere except for maybe two or three sizes up. 

I really have my oldest sister to thank for the motivation.  She signed up for MyFitnessPal, and I added her as a friend.  She messaged me and said, "Input your food, girl!!!"  So, I did.  I started on Saturday, and then I input it again on Sunday, and already I'm feeling better.  I can tell I was eating too much.

Yesterday, I did my own strength training class at home, complete with medicine ball, sit-ups and push-ups.  Then, I picked up my bike from my parents' house, and I rode it home.  I'll tell you riding a road bike after years of not doing it is not as easy as it looks.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to go 4.59 miles!  The wind was pushing against me, and I pedaled and pedaled, but I really wasn't getting anywhere fast.

Still, I woke up today, and I could tell a difference.  Not in pants' size yet, but in my attitude.  I simply feel better when I exercise and eat right.  It makes a huge difference in my moods, and I know I have to incorporate it in my life in anyway I can. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Field Trip Fun

Yesterday, I chaperoned on Son Number One's field trip to Camp Chandler.  I hadn't been to Camp Chandler in a long time. I think the last time I went there was for the Indian Princess games with my dad when I was about seven.  His name was Sharp Knife.  I was Moon Glow.  I still have our totems. 

We drove up, dark clouds loomed in the sky threatening rain.  We parked on the big grassy knoll.  I remembered it.  I remembered the exact way it looked.  I remembered doing egg races there, and losing but being so excited to receive a ribbon that said, "I tried." 

The kids were excited.  They bounded off the bus, and we gathered around the flagpole.  Our group got to hit the canoes first.  Our tour guide decided, since we had such a small group, the kids could do paddle boats instead.  There's no risk of tipping or rocking the boat with paddle boats.  I was all for that.  They were safely secured into their life vest, and off they went.

After paddle boats, we hiked up a hill, the kids running far ahead of us and all the parents complaining about how out of shape they are, what diet they're on, and the man boasting about how his wife started a low carb diet that week and he somehow managed to lose 10 pounds.  I told him a man could decide NOT to look at a candy bar for a week and lose 10 pounds.  Men generally have it easier in the weight loss department.  He laughed.

We went onto Indian Games.  The tour guide here separated the kids into three groups: Creeks, Choctaws, and Seminoles, and she made them play Indian/Native American Games to see which one was the strongest.  They had to grab each other's arms and pull and try to pull each other across the bag. 

Wouldn't you know it?  Three girls won.  That's because girls are always stronger than boys, in so many ways.  Oh yeah, also there was an unfair advantage: the land they were standing on was sloped, so the person down hill always had an advantage.  Plus, girls have better lower body strength than boys.  Boys have the upper body strength.  But still: girls are better than boys.  At least that's what I took away from the 8 year olds!

Around this time we ran into Frank, the camp's mascot. 

The poor pig was assaulted by about 50 screaming, arm-flailing 8 year olds yesterday.  I do hope he's still alive.

After Indian Games, we had lunch.  Then we went to Archery.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at Archery, because I was too busy exhibiting my awesomeness.  They lined the kids up on the bench, and they each waited their turn to shoot the bows.  Number One had his turn, and he didn't want to shoot left handed so he went with his right (which probably handicapped him a little).  He had the strength, but he couldn't really aim at the target, so his arrows went far but not into the target.

I was just dying to get my hands on the bow.  I used to love archery as a kid.  I became quite skilled at it during summer camp, and later my Dad and Mom bought me a bow for Christmas.  I still have that bow, somewhere.  I may take it out again and go to the archery range, who knows?

After all the kids had their turn, I asked our guide if I could shoot and he said sure. 

My first shot went into the ring right around the bulls eye.  The kids thought I was unbelievable!!!

They started chanting, "Go Number One's Mom!  Go!!!"  I heard them tell Number One I was awesome, and I'll tell you what: there is nothing like being cheered on by a bunch of 7 and 8 year old kids to stroke your ego!

Last night, after we were home I went out, but Hubby said at bedtime Number One said, "Dad, Mom got all her arrows into the target.  It was awesome. She's such a bad ass!"  Ok--I don't condone the language, but to be called a bad ass by your 8 year old, well that's pretty bad ass!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The World of Writing

Yesterday, I finally downloaded iTunes to my new computer.  I need the music for writing, but instead I played the Sims and blogged about the past.  I've had a problem with procrastination this week.  I attribute it to the fact, that mostly, I've been feeling under the weather.

I had an asthma attack yesterday morning.  I hadn't had one in almost five years.  I sort of knew it was coming.  I keep waking up to cough at night, and I cough almost every time I exercise.  All of these are signs of asthma.  I felt puny from it until about noon, and then I sort of rebounded and felt better. 

I think the lack of exercise is getting to me, and due to the asthma attack yesterday, I didn't ride the bike at all.  I'm feeling like I'm getting out of my routine exercise-wise, and it's driving me nuts.  I like the outlet.  And speaking of outlets: let's talk about writing for a bit...

I've been slowly submitting my first work to agents.  I am also almost constantly editing. I've added a few more aspects to my character, tried to make her real, three dimensional.  I had a lot of feedback that she seemed cold, out-of-touch, heartless in her I changed that.  I didn't want her to come across like some heartless person.  I wanted her to come across as a person who needed to make a tough decision in her life to see where she needed to go next.  We've all been through that right? Tough decisions.

The revision process is hard.  I actually really hate it.  I hate reading through and trying to act like I have new eyes.  I hate adding and cutting, and trying to add feeling that wasn't there in the first place.  In fact, I found a great cartoon that shows exactly the way I feel when I revise, except for I do my revisions on the computer, not on paper.  Don't kill all those trees!


I received three rejections in a span of two days.  I've made a spreadsheet to catalog who I've sent out to, who has sent me rejections and who I haven't heard from.  I still have four out there I haven't heard from.  I haven't submitted at all this week, because mostly I've been working on a new piece.

I was taking a different route and working on a piece of historical fiction from the 1920's, but I haven't had time to research.  I had some inspiration from the Boston bombings recently, and I spun another story, which is surprisingly easy to write.  In fact, the words just roll out, and much less research is involved (although still some--there is always some).  I actually am feeling pretty good about this new work, and I've already written about 10,000 words.  I work on it every day, and it seems to be coming together. 

I'm reading Rust Hills, "Writing in General and The Short Story In Particular," and so far it's ok.  I tend to question how much an actual book or actual class can teach you about writing.  I'm sure I could learn something about structure, flow, plot, character sketches, but I tend to write without an outline.  The story is just drawn out of me like coal from a mine, somewhere deep inside where it's stored, and then it pours out onto the paper.  I think most natural writers have this tendency, and maybe there is something to learn from the plotters and planners, but I haven't found it yet.  I've never been a plotter.  Still, I'll gleam some hint of new information from this book and others that I read, even if it just propels me to write and to submit more, then it is useful. 

That's where I am in the world of writing.  I'm getting organized, finding out how to submit, where to submit, and what to do.  Eventually I will get published, even if it takes the rest of my life.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wayback Wednesday: Stranger Things Have Happened

When I was in college, I lived in a two story brick house with a finished basement with five other people.  The house was on Albemarle Street.  I loved Albemarle Street, even though I never once for the 2.5 years I lived there ever pronounced it right. 

I had my own room there, up the stairs and to the right, next to the computer room and next to Jandy's room--the resident pretend-like-we're-married couple at the age of 19.  They played Mom and Dad, while the rest of us all played wayward children and griped and complained about their "rules."  Home Sweet Home. 

Willie owned Albemarle Street--not the whole street, but just the house--I'm just not adding the number here in case some person in D.C. (long shot) reads this blog and decides to go see who lives there now.  Right when you went into the door on Albemarle Street there was a door to a left with a tiny, and I mean teeny tiny, guest bathroom.  This bathroom had no vent fan, and it got muggy and unusable, so Angie, who loved The Rolling Stones but hated the Beatles, called Willie and asked that he send a contractor over to install a vent fan.

The contractor came; skinny, bearded, tool belt hanging from his stick-like hips, and a dazed look in his eyes.  He spent a long time in the bathroom, cutting a whole in the ceiling, then said something about parts, and he left never to come back.

When I say never, I mean never.  About two months later, after many late night conversations with various guest about the hole, we finally get a call from the company.  This is how the call went.

"Doug was out there in February to install a vent fan in your bathroom?"

Angie says, "Yes.  He never came back.  What happened to him?"

"Oh.  He died of an overdose, and we're sorry we're just now rescheduling, but there were a lot of people on his list who were never contacted."

Just like that, so passé--so flippant.  Oh--he died of an overdose, as if this kind of thing happened every day to every single contractor you knew.  Angie hung up the phone and blurted it out to us, and we could barely stand it.  Crazier things have happened you know, like your roommate sticking your cats claws into the electric socket, and finding a friend who doesn't know how to ride a bike at the grand age of 21, and trying to teach her in your 9 x 11 backyard while you are all drunk...and there are about 20 other hippies standing around commenting on it.  Yes...stranger things have happened then the contractor ending up dead.

Like the time we went to Halloween at Art-o-matic.  I went as a goth girl, but really I was dressed as a slut.  We were waiting for friends to arrive, and we were already having a party, but Angie and Tiff and I decided to walk up Albemarle to the old Hechinger's, which they had turned into Art-o-matic (I wonder what's there now).  We walked around looking at the art, statues, murals, antiques--every single kind of art, and what some people describe as art that's not really art, was there. 

We left, me dressed as a slut, and I don't remember what Tiffany and Angie were dressed up as, or even if they were dressed up as anything, and we ran into Sideshow Bob and a Bear on the corner.  The Bear was tall, and I wanted to climb him.  And Angie, who doesn't know these people, sticks her tongue down Sideshow Bob's throat and then invites them back to our little soiree at our house.  By this time my other friends had arrived, and it was blatantly obvious that the Bear had little interest in Sluts, although I'm pretty sure Angie and Sideshow Bob were having a little show on the side down in the basement.  Again...memory could be deceiving me. 

I was an undergrad assistant for a Sociology professor, and the next day I had to describe to her why my hair was suddenly pink.  I put it in a ponytail, trying to hide the highlights, and still she discerned it as I was passing out papers to her Grad class and the lecture was about to end.

"Lauren, is your hair PINK?" 

Surprise, surprise.  Stranger things have happened, like your contractor dying of an overdose and the hole in your bathroom never being fixed, and just becoming a conversation piece for a "once upon a time" story.   
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