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Posts tagged ‘health’

Mid Summer Update 2020 – I’m Okay and I Hope You are Too

It has been a while since I posted here. To be honest, I did feel like posting much. This year has been tough for so many and the last thing I felt like doing was adding to the noise. I felt like being quiet, still, and reflective. I live alone, which is great for the most part in a non-pandemic, but it can be problematic. By living alone, I am the one be to seek out human interaction. I make the effort to call, drive, fly, or any other kind of interaction with the world outside. The pandemic has severely curbed that. Six months ago, I saw my co-workers, family, and friends on a regular basis. Now, mostly Zoom, or email has been the norm. I have gone to see my parents and a few other family members. I am sure to mask up and stay a safe distance away. (Side note: My mom had a tested negative a few weeks ago. She had no symptoms, but needed to get one before she could go to the doctor. So, it seems following the rules of masks in public and social distancing have kept her and by default, my dad, safe. Yay!) But it’s not the same.

Back in March, I couldn’t write. Fiction was a luxury. I recorded no fiction writing that month. The guilt for wanting to do something so frivolous made me freeze in my tracks. Everything kind of stood still. I was aware the seasons were changing. I stopped wearing my winter coat and broke out my spring one. The cherry blossoms appeared. The days got longer.

It wasn’t until April 4th, the day before my birthday, that I really woke up. It was Saturday and I had plans to dash out to the grocery store early. I reached for a tea cup and my back seized up on me. I was bent over in agony, my back spasming several times, trying to reach for the pain killers. A few hours later, after the drugs had kicked in and had a ice pack on my back, I vowed to myself that I needed to take better care of myself.

First better physical care. I never really healed all the way from my surgery in 2019. I dropped a lot of weight, but it came back due to stress, new medication, and a job where I sit all day long. I may not have been able to get to a gym, but I certainly had more time (no two hour commutes anymore) to do something at home. Also, no more stress eating. I tried to clean up my diet, drink more water, and figure out how many calories I should be eating. Things are not perfect (when is it ever), but I’ve lost weight, sleep better, and no back pain.

Second better mental health. I realized that my feelings toward fiction writing were my ego talking. Not writing depressed me. I beat myself up for not writing. Then I asked myself, what good does that do? How does my guilt make anything better. So I started to write again… and I haven’t stopped. Lately it has been everyday, but I started with just a few times a week. At least this way I feel productive, hopeful about the future. I believe my better attitude helps others. Now when people ask how I am, I can say I’m pretty good. And by me talking about how I stay sane and strong, other people start to think about what they can do. My mom has taken up weaving. My brother is going back to school (on-line). Maybe folks are realizing that life is short. Time to start exploring interests and aiming for life goals.

I also started to mediate daily. A few minutes a day to remind myself what/who I am grateful for has done wonders. Like most people, I had been focusing on what I don’t have in life. Now l still have goals, but I also take a time out to remind myself, that I do have a lot that some people don’t have. I still have a regular paycheck, a place to live, people that care about me, my health, and a thousand other things that I take for granted. That daily reminder keeps my ego in check. No guilt anymore.

The novel progresses. I’m deep into it now. Dare I say more than half-way? It feels like a real story now, with multiple characters, setting, dialogue, etc. Moments that were only in my head are now on paper. I hoped to be done by the end of the summer and that is possible. For reference, I haven’t written anything over five thousand words in over a decade. This is the biggest project I have worked on since GW Bush was in office! Yep, it’s been a while. I didn’t even know if I had another novel in me, but here it comes. Flowing out everyday like a steady stream.

I’m doing my best, and I hope you are too. I hope you are taking care of yourself in every way. Even after this pandemic ends, I hope you continue to live your best life. Times are hard right now for many and there is a lot of fear. I don’t have the answers, but I do know, for me, that making my little corner of the world the best it can be makes all the difference.

I’ll write another post sooner than 6 months — I promise.

About Burnout

Ah! It’s Beautiful Spring Again!

Spring is always a great time to renew oneself. Something about the new flowers, the fresh greenery, and the mild weather makes us all feel refreshed. Awake. It’s also a time when I tend to want to write more. I sometimes have these big, scary goals for the summer and think to myself, “I can do this!”

But this year, I’m trying a different approach. As I stated in an earlier post, I’m working on balance this year. I read lots of articles about people not getting enough sleep, not eating well, not taking vacations, and neglecting their mental health. Everybody is grinding, working on their hustle, and trying to make ends meet by working a bunch of jobs back to back. While I do think there is a time and a place to burn the midnight oil, I don’t want that to be my everyday life.

I believe that sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health. As someone who has gone through bouts of insomnia, not getting enough sleep causes me all kinds of other problems. I don’t sleep, so I’m tired in the morning (and all day long), so I reach for caffeine to get me through the day. I make poor choices on food (opting for things with a quick energy) and find myself tired but not sleepy at night. So the cycle repeats.

Now that I have a better handle on my health, I find myself getting a good 7-9 hours of sleep a day. I’m rested, more focused, and ready to tackle the day. I also find myself making better choices with my diet and I’m more productive. I honestly don’t think I could’ve done a blog post a day for a month challenge a year ago, when I felt so bad. Now look, we’re eighteen days in and I haven’t skipped a day yet!

Working like a crazy person may seem great and might even be fun for a little while, but I don’t think it is sustainable. After 20 years of working a full-time job and writing fiction, I know how important it is to find a balance. Your body only has so much give as you age. And mentally, it can take a toll to wake up and realize that all you’ve done is work and not built a real life.

Same is true for the other side. If you’ve partied a decade of your life away and not gotten serious about the kind of life you want to build, you may be shocked at how much time you’ve wasted not going after your dreams. Burnout from an immature life can be just as damaging as being on the grind all day, everyday.

Maybe that’s why NanoWrimo hasn’t really appealed to me. I’m more slow and steady, with my writing. Other aspects of my life, like getting out of debt, I could go crazy on for a short period of time, but not writing. A few pages, or paragraphs, a day is my speed. The story gets written and I get my sleep. Maybe this is why I am still writing after all these years. I haven’t suffered burnout from it. I write at a steady pace (although not much) and don’t get sick of it.

Balance, that’s where the magic is for me. With it, I can do the impossible.

Finding Balance

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about balance. As I said earlier, I went to the doctor and she encouraged me to get back to exercising now that I am almost fully recovered from surgery. I want to fit that in again, along with fiction writing and my regular stuff. But I’ve also been thinking about other aspects of my life that I’ve let fall to the wayside. There are friendships I don’t put enough time into, travel I’d like to do, spirituality I’d like to explore more, and a whole host of other aspects.

About 15 years ago, I heard Tom Wolfe speak about the writing life. He said one of the best things a writer could do was go out and live a life. Don’t just sit around and write. Go out and see the world. I remember him saying that. He felt that writers had become too insular, where they were only writing about themselves as writers and nothing more. A dangerous, slippery slope I hope one day to never fall down.

A full life, full of mundane and exciting stuff is what we should all aim for. I’m striving for that now. Not an easy thing. Sometimes I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions and other times I feel like the dullest person in the room. Maybe the answer is that I need to do what I can each day to feel like I’m living my best life. Some days that’s going to be binge watching TV. Other days it will be squeezing in a workout and one thousand words of new fiction. And some will be spending time with the family/friends. I don’t have to do everything everyday.

I have to focus on doing my best each day and keeping things interesting.

On Being Grateful

This will be quick post. I wanted to write something about where I am right now. My birthday is in a few days and I’m thinking a lot about what went down over the last year. I still think about my parents taking me out to dinner last year. My mom remarked how cute the neighborhood was around the restaurant. I agreed, but also knew I couldn’t afford it. Cut to a year later and I’m living around the corner from said restaurant. Sometimes all you have to do is speak your desires into the universe and the universe shows up to help.

So, yeah, the last 12 months had highs and lows, but I find myself very grateful that I got to live them.

Great family.

Great friends.

My indexing/electronic editorial career, which I love as much as writing.

My writing career (which is still alive). I may not be writing up a storm, but I’m still creating work I care about and believe in.

And my health. Yep, I’m grateful for the best health I’ve had in years. Maybe I needed the surgeries and recovery to remind me how important it is to take care of myself. Sometimes I can get so focused on one goal, I forget that having a well rounded life makes me a better writer.

A few months ago, I stared a gratitude journal. This is separate from my regular life journal. In the gratitude one, I write a few sentences about what I’m grateful for in the day. I find it relaxing, almost soothing to start my day like this.

Not a bad way to start the next 12 months.

Happy Spring!

Goals for 2019

It’s 2019! Happy New Year!

I’m 26 days out from my surgery and feeling good. Not going to lie, it was a tough recovery and I didn’t really feel good until around the 14th (about a week after I came home from the hospital). But day by day, I felt better and while I didn’t get any writing done, I did have a lot of time to think about what my goals were going to be for the year. For the first time in a while, I can really concentrate on writing. I don’t have to think about money, or my health. I’ve cleared those hurdles, and while I’ll keep an eye on other parts of my life, this year, I’d like to shift the focus back on getting my writing career moving forward.

Also, please enjoy these snowy pictures I took. It may be cold, but winter can be beautiful.

Goal #1– Finish my novel

I’ve been working on and off since 2014 on this book. It needs to be finished. Even if it is bad, I need to finish it. For a long time, I didn’t think I had another novel in me. I wrote two other novels years ago (think late 90’s and early 00’s) and they were bad… but I finished them. This new novel is the first idea I’ve had that I think could be a full novel. I JUST HAVE TO FINISH.

Goal #2 – Write 6 new short stories this year.

This one is a bit of a cheat. I have 2 stories that I’ve started and I need to finish them. So really, I just need to write 4 completely new stories. Not too hard. I’ve found that calls for themes in journals, or, anything really, can spark a story for me. I also find them to be a good break in between novel writing.

Goal #3 – Write 100K words

Not hard if I finish my novel.

Goal #4 – Grow followers of the blog

I’ve had this blog for a while now. 10 years (next month) I think. And while, I’ve never been too hung up on growing my following, I shouldn’t ignore it either. I think the best way to do this is to post more often. Consistency breeds growth.

Other Goals

  • I haven’t forgotten about my 100 rejections challenge from a few years ago. I’m still doing it. I got 3 more rejections this month. Currently, I’m up to 75.
  • I also want to attend more writer conferences. So I think I will set myself the goal of going to 4 this year — one for every season.
  • More consistent with the blog. I’m thinking about changing the look, but we’ll see.

That’s all my writing goals for 2019. Wish me luck. See you on the next post!

What are some of your goals?

 

2018 Recap – The Highs and Lows

Hi Everyone. 2018 is almost done and I thought I would share the good and the bad that happened this year. Usually at the beginning of the year, I have such lofty goals. I tend to aim high with my writing ambition, but reality always has a way of bringing me down to earth. In a way, this is good. “Swing for the fences,” I say.

But it can be a bit of a let down when you get to the end of the year and you’re nowhere close to where you thought you would be. Still I did accomplish a few things.

First, let’s recap the tough stuff:

  • I didn’t publish a blog post once a month like I said I would last January. Honestly I got too busy with the day job, house hunting, and health stuff (more on this later). Now that I finally have a few days off, I can post something.
  • No story acceptance this year. If you don’t submit, you don’t get accepted. In the first half of the year, I didn’t submit anything. I got better in the second half and got a couple of personalized rejections (always nice), but I was so used to getting something accepted that I am kinda bummed I won’t have a new publication to share. Still maybe this means I will have more than one in 2019.
  • I didn’t write enough this year. What is enough? Yes it’s arbitrary, but I wanted to finish far more than I did this year.
  • I wasn’t a good literary citizen. I didn’t go to any¬†book festivals or conferences. I didn’t go see any writers speak, nor did I buy many books this year (I got a gift card for Christmas, so this will soon change.)
  • Finally, my health declined somewhat. Starting around February, I noticed that I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel bad, just different. My energy level was low and I felt a familiar ache in my lower abdomen. Needless to say, my fibroids, that I had surgery for 8 years ago, had grown back. I couldn’t have the surgery right away because I didn’t have enough vacation days. Pair that with an outpatient surgery on my right breast (not cancer) to remove some abnormal cells and the anemia that came with the fibroids, and you see why my fall and early winter felt like an endless stream of doctor visits.

Now let’s look at the good:

  • I had a story published this year at 4StarStories. I’m so happy this story found a home! After years of rejections, this really gave me a boost.
  • Without any marketing, I managed to sell a few copies of my chapbook that I self-published a few years ago. Considering that most self-published books never sell one copy, I’m proud that a few copies made it out into the world.
  • I finished 2 stories this year. Despite my lack of writing, I did finish a couple of stories. And a finished story is always a good thing.
  • Despite having no acceptances this year, I did submit to new places. This year, I submitted to a few markets that I read, but never really considered submitting too. They were either doing a theme that I had nothing for, or I didn’t have any story at the time to submit. This year I tried my best to send something to new markets, even if I didn’t think it would be a great fit. In other words, I didn’t self reject. I submitted work that I liked and let the editor reject me. You never know until you try. (Side note: I submitted things that were still in the market’s parameters. I just didn’t let the voice in my head that keeps telling me to pass on the market because the story isn’t good enough win.)
  • I did a writing retreat this year. I’ve already written about it, but I loved it and can’t wait to do another.
  • I bought a condo. Even after months, I still have to get used to the idea. But so far, I’m liking it.
  • Even with all my health problems, I’m getting better. My first surgery went really well. I had very little pain and recovered quickly. My second surgery is this week, and I’m glad it is so early in the year. I want to start off 2019 with a healthy beginning. Plus, thanks to the iron pills for the anemia, I have some energy back. I think in about 2 months, I’m going to feel so much better!

So that was my 2018. After my surgery, I’ll post my “Goals for 2019”.

Happy New Year! See you in 2019!