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Apparently my previous post was a little too sobering for anyone to read/like/comment on – which is fine – I am still glad I pushed away my fear of confrontation enough to bring it up. It’s what so many introverts/writers struggle with, isn’t it? That fear someone is going to attack you for your beliefs, standards, work, you-name-it.

Anyway, that actually isn’t what I’m writing about today. The day before yesterday I had an epiphany. Well, okay, maybe not an epiphany, but God talked to me about some stuff that has [hopefully] helped with  . . . well, me.  As anyone who has been reading my posts know, I started a new schedule in January (as I do basically every year of my life) to ensure I had time to work out and write and still have a little bit of an evening – it involved getting up at 5:00 AM. I have been having an awful time with it.

My body has been refusing to adjust to this new time frame. I can barely make myself go to bed early as I internally argue that I am a night owl, and it is ridiculous to go to bed at 9 or 9:30, and that is like when the peak of my energy often happens. Which results in little sleep as I very crankily rise at 5:00, and rush through calisthenics/stretches, getting dressed, doing my hair, putting on makeup, finishing assembling my stuff, and rush out the door to beat HOV hours, grabbing lunch and breakfast on the way and feeling generally very disorganized and extremely upset that I have to do this. I usually calm down around 6:15 as I sit down in Starbucks to do my devotions, have a fairly good day, and become cranky again around late afternoon as I realize I have to do it all again the next day.

I felt like I was SERIOUSLY living for weekends, and told myself over and over again I could get sleep then and that that is when I could live, and around Saturday evening, inevitably becoming depressed that the rush and lack of sleep would start again in less than 48 hours. And then thinking ahead to when the next vacation/day off might be that I could be on a “normal” schedule for a day or so.

It hit a peak on Wednesday. Having gotten started on calisthenics about 5 minutes too late, I didn’t have time to even do makeup, and as I walked out, I looked at Daniel and said, “I can’t keep doing this.” I knew I had to figure out something that wouldn’t make me dread every day of every week.

As I sat down to devotions about 25 minutes later, I had a hard time concentrating, the frustrations still welling up inside me overwhelmingly and the obvious suddenly occurred to me – this was NOT temporary. Not if I planned to remain in this job, keep early hours, and wanted to work out and write. I would be doing this for the foreseeable future, and my heart sank like a rock. I just couldn’t. I rather distractedly finished devotions and went to work halfheartedly.

Now, my work has a wellness program – you get points that translate to money if you do things that they consider good for you. One of those things is watching weekly short videos on how to improve your health and your life in general. I began this week’s video as I scanned my e-mails and thought about how I didn’t want to work – and that is when God decided to use a secular means to hit me with a 2×4. This video has nothing to do with Christian life or ethics, but as I listened to their “pep talk” on being healthier, they asked, “What are your excuses in life? It can be anything that might convince you not to work out or eat healthy.” And that is when it occurred to me. My excuse was that I am a night owl. Therefore I shouldn’t be forced to get up early. I should be able to stay up late all I want. As I reluctantly conceded this internally, they continued, something along the lines of (significantly summarized):

Change is not fun. It is not easy. It takes sacrifice and courage to keep going. If it was easy everyone would do it. What type of attitude/emotional reaction do you have to your challenges? Negative reactions will elicit [insert multiple bad physical reactions]. But when you look at something as a challenge instead of an obstacle, you have a different reaction – your hormones rise to the challenge and seek to overtake it. So instead of letting excuses and negative emotions get in your way, look at it as a challenge and rise to meet that challenge.

It was a lot longer than that, obviously, but that was the essence of it. And as they talked, I recalled the verses I am currently memorizing in Philippians 4. Whatsoever things are [honest, true, just, lovely, of good report] . . . think on these things. And I realized that the same thing they were trying to teach – that you should look at challenges in life as a positive instead of as obstacles to get frustrated with – was essentially what God teaches us to do as well. In the same chapter we are instructed to be content in any state of life. So at that moment, I decided to change my thought pattern. I would view my weight loss, writing, and working goals as challenges to achieve –  challenges I would have to work hard for, sacrifice for, and in general act like one of those heroes and heroines I love so much from books who always (somehow in a few paragraphs or pages!) overcome physical difficulties through sacrifice and striving.

I recalculated and realized I would only need to rise 15 minutes earlier (yes, 4:45 AM) to still accomplish all I wanted to, get  home in a timely manner, and not be rushed. So, VERY long story shortened-a-tiny-bit, I have implemented that, along with a more joyful attitude, since Thursday morning (yay! Two days!) and what an incredible difference it has made already. While it is has been difficult to go to sleep early because my body is so used to later hours, I haven’t been chafing inside at the need to do so, and, it is probably partially God’s strength, but getting up at that insanely early hour really hasn’t been bad. I’ve even been cheerful. And I have the appropriate amount of time I need to accomplish everything I need. And when I start to feel that familiar dread, I remind myself that it is a challenge I am trying to overcome, not an obstacle.

Now, I totally realize it has been all of 2 days and next week I could be right back where I was before – but I pray I am not. I pray I take this to heart, because I am pretty sure God is firm on having a good attitude, no matter the situation, and especially when you are trying to be wise with your time and health. Being happy or unhappy is a choice. My choice. And I choose joy.

Joy

 

 

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I almost sat down to write last week, but to tell the truth, I was so upset over New York’s recent legislation allowing abortions up to birth that I couldn’t. I debated for awhile about writing a long article talking about abortion – but I don’t know. I feel like there are already so many articles out there and those that are pro-life read them and those that are pro-choice don’t, no matter who writes them. So, I will mention only one thing that stuck out to me. One girl responded to a post about it on Facebook and said something along the lines of, “I go back and forth on the abortion thing, but this is just horrible!” And I couldn’t help but blink and shake my head. Because – I want to ask – actually the same thing I want to ask so many people – at what point do you deem the “magic moment”? At what point does that baby suddenly become a baby instead of just a fetus? Why do you think it might be okay to do abortion earlier, but later is no good because THEN and ONLY THEN it is a baby? Do you seriously believe that one millisecond it is a fetus and then suddenly a millisecond later it becomes a baby to be protected? That’s absurd. No, life begins at conception. There is no magic moment. Abortion is killing children just the same earlier as it is later – it is only more clear later that it is a child being torn to pieces. No one can ever convince me that the picture below is not of a child, killed because it was inconvenient.

aborted-child

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I just ordered a planner completely themed around being a writer. Yup. They have those. How I only thought to look for them now, I have no idea, but there are apparently plenty of them – some of which are plenty expensive as well. But, they are so cool! They let you track your word counts, goals, tasks (writing or otherwise related), have character sketch pages, plot pages, and any numerous amount of things that you didn’t even know you needed until you saw it! I looked up several, but narrowed it down to the two presented by The Writing Pal, and almost against my better judgement, went for the expensive one. The WriteMind, which lets you customized. To tell the absolute truth, I kind of liked the idea of the Novel Planner better, but I simply fell in love with the planner covers in the WriteMind. Also, apparently it transports better, and that is kind of important. I can’t believe I spent that much on a planner (I have a hard time spending that much for shoes!), but at the same time I am super excited.

Writing, or rather, editing, has been very off and on this week. We are training in a new person at work and between that and meetings, it has been hard to squeeze in long enough lunch breaks to actually have time to edit. I am still working my way through Writing Magic, but decided to skip the writing exercise for today because it is a long one and would take most of the time and I wanted to write a blog post for no particular reason (except maybe to avoid editing).

I’ve also cut my 45 minute lunch break down to 30 minutes so I can leave work earlier and work out in the gym downstairs but still get to drive home before traffic gets horrible.

It can be very hard figuring out priorities. Cutting out 15 minutes of writing/lunch time doesn’t seem like much, but add in heating up and/or prepping food for lunch and suddenly your time has dwindled to very little indeed. But – I want both to write and to lose weight/get in shape/be a healthier person. And, as I am discovering this week, I am apparently more likely to actually work out if I do it before I get home because once I get home I just want to settle down and enjoy the evening after a long day’s work. So I am going to try this for awhile and see what happens. Hopefully I’ll get into enough of a groove that I can settle down to writing pretty quickly – and either way it is still more than I have been doing!

Anyway, good luck to all of you who are also trying to balance life and writing! I know I’m not the only one.

work-life-balance-300x292

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As part of my new year’s resolution, I have a new schedule (as anyone who knows me at all would have already guessed).  I get up at 5:00 AM, do a quick 10-minute workout (sometimes Calisthenics and sometimes stretches as instructed by the chiropractor), get dressed, do hair and makeup, grab the lunch my husband has packed up for me and am out the door by 5:45. I am in DC by 6:00 and at a Starbucks down the street from my building by 6:10, where I get a small coffee and do devotions for half and hour. Then I pack up and am at work by 6:45 AM. This allows me to take a 45 minute lunch break, which I have been using to write. I am trying to do some sort of writing exercise and then work on editing my God’s Masterpiece book.

Today’s writing exercise/sort of lesson was a common theme – making your character suffer. Apparently a lot of authors don’t want bad things to happen to their character. I have never had that issue. I have stopped killing off every one in my books, relegating it to only a few, but those few must go, no matter how much I cry while I write it.

Today I discovered, however, that when it comes to making my characters’ suffer, I am fine with emotional suffering, but I have a hard time with physical suffering. Oh, they can starve to death or be exhausted or things like that but – the book I am going through (Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine) made me write out the scene in which Red Riding Hood is eaten by the wolf, with instructions to describe exactly how she felt, what she saw, etc. etc., and fairly strict instructions that she was to actually be eaten. I did so, reluctantly – because how horrifying is it to write out a scene in which someone is eaten? Especially since you know that, in non-fairytales – they aren’t actually swallowed in one bite. I wrote it out as much as I could, shuddering inside the whole time, and probably ended it faster than the exercise wanted me to.

But that experiment taught me two things. One, which is what I already mentioned – there is a difference in physical and emotional suffering – and I may have one down, but am terrified of the other. And two, that as terrible as suffering such as that is, it is prime for description and feeling. So, while I doubt I will ever write a book in which someone is eaten, or even physically assaulted outside of perhaps being hit, I am going to work on the physical suffering side, particularly when it comes to descriptions.

And now my 45 minutes are up, so it’s back to work with that awful scene still in my mind. Thanks, Gail. Thanks.

cool-girl-phone-blanket-work

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So, I know last year I said I wasn’t doing resolutions – I was just doing goals (ultimately the same thing, right?) More and more people do that, I think – shrug off resolutions as an overrated thing that are made and broken year and year (true enough!). Therefore, in an attempt to fit in, I occasionally refuse to do resolutions. But secretly? I love them. And you know what I love about them? Nothing too unique. Just that it’s a legit excuse for a new start. Again. While the middle of the year, it may feel silly and perhaps useless (at least for me) to be like, Okay, I messed up the last three months, I’m going to start again, no one few people ever laugh at you for doing that on the new year. It is a time of fresh starts and perspectives. My goals are the same as last year – losing weight, writing more, being a better Christian – but every year I get back that motivation that I seemed to have misplaced throughout the year and I think – Okay, maybe this time. Not saying I shouldn’t try harder during the year – but I am goal and list oriented, and New Years feels like my ISTJ/Type 1’s time to shine. I should probably just embrace the fact I love that, and move forward with the same resolutions year after year without being embarrassed to admit it.

When I think over last year, I feel like rather a failure. I did succeed in losing weight – temporarily – and then gained it back during the holidays. And I submitted nothing for publication. And I only wrote on a regular basis every now and then. I didn’t study a new language. I did move forward in my career – in a rather unexpected direction – but that is it. I don’t have an excuse for any of it except lack of discipline. (Perhaps that should be my overall goal this year – installing discipline!)

I make no false promises to myself or God this year – I know that more than likely I will fail again to fulfill all my goals – but that isn’t going to stop me from making them and from trying – again and again. And one thing I am especially going to try to commit to – is to try not to be afraid to be myself. Not to adjust my opinion to fit in with other people – but to realize that it is okay to have my own view of things. Many people don’t think I struggle with that – but every single time I hear someone express something, I instantly start to rationalize why they are right in my head, assuming I am wrong or should adjust my thinking. It is a constant struggle that I hope to someday get the better of.

So here’s to a new year, resolutions, lists, schedules, perfectionism, not being afraid, and trying again and again.

new year's resolution(1)

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I was in Atlanta this week for work – three days with four hour meetings and then networking events. It was delightful for me as an introvert, as I am sure you can well imagine.

I may have gotten bored during one or two – okay, three – moments, and I decided it was an ideal time to look very involved while actually practicing my attention to detail skills. So I went around the room and wrote down a one to three line description of everyone’s ears. And for the first time, I actually understand that Monk episode where he says he can identify the bad guy by his ear. Did you know every ear is unique? Some of them you have to study hard to figure out why it is unique, but there are an amazing variety of ears out there, people.

I am sure you are sitting there, imagining me, during a meeting, staring studiously at someone’s ear. And yeah, that’s basically what happened. But I did try to wait until someone at least in that general direction was speaking so it could, at a cursory glance, appear as though I were watching the speaker.

Are you curious about the outcome of my experiment? I hope so because I’m about to post them below, word for word on what I jotted down! So if it isn’t polished sounding – that is because it isn’t. Also, I got better as time went on. It is surprisingly difficult to describe what an ear looks like.

  1. Almost elf-like ears, sticking out from the head just enough to distract. Bit of a curve as it attaches the lobe to the cheek/neck (what is that area called?)
  2. Giant ears, especially for a rather thin face that one envisions perhaps sickly, but mostly sulky, as a child.
  3. Ears that looked as though they could flap and maybe fly once given the chance.
  4. Appropriately flat against the head, and the part that might be unattractive covered by distinguished white hair. A bit on the long side, but that rather matched his somewhat elongated face.
  5. Tips of otherwise quite appropriate ears curled over just slightly in an attempt to distinguish themselves from an otherwise blase face.
  6. Hair concealed the ears, making one wonder just what she was hiding. Large, small, pointed, round? Something to detract from an otherwise dainty visage, other than the nose?
  7. Ears that rather matched the whole of his face – a bit broad and fleshy and definitely loath to smile.
  8. Rather reminded one of a curving path, with multiple venues from which to choose. The irregular lines could perhaps be a maze rather than a path.
  9. So flat that the curve along the inside of the ear peeked out like an irreverent schoolboy in a church pew.
  10. Almost kindly, when looked at alone, but become absurd once compared with the triangular face and broad side of the cheek.
  11. Almost inflamed, but actually just lots of tissue. The wrinkles on the lobes strangely matched the wrinkles across the forehead.
  12. A wealth of hair covered all but the rather large lobe, which stuck out underneath as it desperate to breathe.
  13. A significant indent did its best to separate the lobe from the rest of the ear, rather unreasonably as the only significance was in the ear itself, shaped more or less like a cup.
  14. Top of the ear curled gracefully into the ear itself as if curtsying. Following the curve of the rest of the ear led to rather unremarkable features and a broad, flat, lobe.
  15. Unremarkable if it wasn’t for the large inner ear that looked like a basin lined with a lip to keep from falling in.

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I was healthy for the first two days of my new job – and then sick for a week and a half. The second week of my job I lost my voice and couldn’t even talk. Is there anything worse than not even being able to answer properly when the director/vice president of your new company comes to ask how it is going and your voice goes in and out while you  try to respond? Thankfully a long weekend came up and apparently all I needed was three nights of 12 hours of sleep because my voice came back, my cough receded, and my congestion went to almost non-existent. Then four short days of doing actual work, and everything was starting to get bad again, so apparently I just have to figure out some way of keeping up my health and getting enough sleep if I want to remain healthy while working in DC proper.

But now it is Thanksgiving week and thanks to a no-work-from-home-for-six-months policy at my new company I get the entire week off instead of teleworking. Which, based on how busy it has already been, is probably good. We started off our trip to Oklahoma by going to our second to last citizen’s police academy training class, wherein we got to practice spinning out in old cars, drive in police car, and pretend we were officers at a traffic stop. We then started our drive, and stopped at Horton Vineyards, which is our favorite VA winery, for a tasting, and finally really got on the road a little late, but still managed to get about 6 hours in before stopping for the night. We drove almost nonstop on Sunday and finally arrived around 7:30 PM.

Now, I know what you all really want to know about – how is NaNo going? Well, I’ll tell you. I am at 20,300 words. I am supposed to be at 33,340 words. So. . . could be worse, but could definitely be better. I have very high hopes of miraculously catching up and even surpassing my supposed-to-be word count this week. But – considering it is already 11:30 AM here on Tuesday, and we are going to a movie this afternoon and then shopping and tomorrow we are going shooting and then to see Daniel’s brother’s new house, and prepping for Thanksgiving, and then Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then tree shopping and decorating Friday and then leaving Saturday . . . I might be a little optimistic. But better that than giving up, right?

I am rambling something horribly in my story right now. But as long as it gets words out that is better than not at all. And I can always delete and rewrite later. Besides, it’s not as though I am as bad as Tala and Yuki!

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