Thankful Thursday: Better Late Than Never

Sometimes taking the most simple action can quell my anxiety. Yesterday as I worked on this revision and felt overwhelmed by the many, many details of my madcap story that must be explained by the end of the manuscript, I started a list.

LOOSE ENDS / EXPLANATIONS NEEDED

Whoa. Behold this literary rocket scientist at work!

I’m trying hard to stop kicking myself for not creating the list at the outset of this round of revisions and, instead, be grateful for my peace of mind in the here and now.

Thankful Thursday: the Dr. John Sarno edition

I just got home from a run in which my right hip got SO tight, I was forced to stop running. The pain was close to excruciating. It was definitely in the oh-my-effing-goddess category, and if I hadn’t known about the mind-body connection, I might’ve panicked and thought I’d suffered some horrible injury.

But I knew better.

So I stood there in the street and talked out loud to my brain. I said, “Brain, I get it. You know that I’m under a great deal of stress lately. You know I was just now thinking about how slow I’m running, how tired I’m feeling, how hard life seems to be these days. I was feeling sad-angry-depressed. And then BOOM,  my hip locked up. But guess what? This bogus pain, that is NOT rooted in any kind of physical reality, will only get in the way of me being active and coping with those emotions. Running is what I need to do to live my life. Your job is to make sure I don’t trip on anything. Your job is to process info from my eyes so that I can enjoy the signs of spring and process the bird songs I hear, so I can identify those feathered friends. Your job is to work with my body that absolutely requires movement in order to handle stress. I must be active. Let’s work as a team.”

And then I started running again. I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel great. My hip was still tight, still painful, still annoying as hell. But as I ran, I talked some more. I pointed out to my brain that I was running, that the bogus pain hadn’t achieved the desired effect of making me focus on the pain so that I’d “forget” about the hard stuff in my life. Instead, I was going to continue running so that I could cope with the many challenges that wouldn’t just magically disappear because my hip was locked in muscle-spasm-hell. By the time I finished my run, my hip had loosened. It’s sore after spasming, but there’s no lasting damage.

My brain is being very tricky lately. Last week, I suffered tightness and pain in my neck unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (Zippy could hear the vertebrae click when I tilted my head forward). I have to admit, I got caught up in that one and didn’t immediately recognize it as mind-body stuff for a couple days. But as soon as I started talking to my brain, it loosened up. It’s still not 100% better, but I am being active and living my life. I have not given in to a bogus “injury” that isn’t rooted in any kind of reality.

If anyone’s still reading and is interested, there are forums in which people discuss all sorts of physical conditions that they’ve been able to treat as mind-body conditions. Our brains are very crafty and will go to great lengths to manufacture pain to distract us from life’s stresses, difficulties, and anger-inducing situations. Sometimes we gotta be smarter than our brains.

Thankful Thursday

Today I kept writing despite
the overwhelm
the nasty voice
the fatigue
the feelings of futility
the sweet seduction of giving up
the anger
the impatience
the I’m-so-effing-sick-of-you
the stack of unread library books
Netflix
despair.

 

 

 

 

Today, I’m thankful I kept writing.

Thankful Thursday: people-and-places-in-my-head edition

I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I’m very grateful for my creative life.

For the past few days, I’ve immersed myself in a work-in-progress project I’d had to put on hold for much of December while working on another, and yesterday told Zippy I’d fallen in love with the manuscript all over again. I’m grateful to love the work I do.

Today my gratitude is more specifically about the refuge my fiction provides.  Admittedly, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. Earlier, I had to make a shaking-mad phone call to my House Rep’s office after learning about his pro-NSA surveillance vote and I just hopped onto Twitter in time to read about Agent Orange’s racist and hateful remarks about people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin America. The very act of writing that out has me so agitated, I’m now chewing at my cuticles. Clearly, the people and places in my head don’t keep the ugly at bay 24/7.

BUT.

I do have an outlet when the current reality feels too horrible to contemplate. And I hope that’s true for everyone, whether it’s watching goat videos or smelling sweet puppy breath or welding sculptures or hiking or drumming or blowing raspberries on a baby’s chubby tummy or resting in a pool of sunshine or . . .

Please, do whatever it takes.

Thankful Thursday

  1. I am almost finished with revisions and will send off manuscript tomorrow.
  2. My smiling, happy Emma dog and I had a nice run around the neighborhood after I finished working for the day.
  3. Zippy vacuumed while Emma and I were out running.
  4. Michigan State is up by 20 over Notre Dame at the half.
  5. I can still feel gratitude in the face of so many scary-difficult realities in the world.                                                                                                                                                           

Thankful Thursday: Writing Roosters edition

Last night I met with my critique group, The Writing Roosters. (Yes, we’re aware that it’s funny for a membership of six women and zero men to be roosters.)

Our mascot that oversees every meeting.

It was my turn to receive a critique and the group didn’t disappoint. I’m grateful for their willingness to point out holes and weak characterization and plotting improbabilities in my novel, and also to let me know what they felt I’d done well. It was my first draft and I now have a pretty firm grasp on how to revise.

I received lots of guidance last night, but want to give a special shout-out to Claudia Mills for using Track Changes/Comments a whopping 429 times! Thank you for getting down and dirty with my manuscript, friend!

 

Thankful Thursday: trail run edition

Today I’m thankful for these awesome shoes that carried me over the rocky and uneven trails this afternoon:

I’m also thankful I had the trails 100% to myself as I ran, never seeing another human during those 35 minutes, not once, not even off in the distance.

I am thankful for the company of the 80 million grasshoppers, the occasional butterfly, the what-I-hope-was-a-hummingbird-and-not-an-enormous-insect buzzing in my ear, the one bunny that allowed me a glimpse before disappearing into the rabbit brush, the sunshine, and the unidentified bird with the black tail.

I’m thankful for the strength in my legs, the power in my lungs, and the lack of ego that allowed me to walk when I felt like it.

Finally, I’m thankful that the rain didn’t fall until I was already home.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for Planned Parenthood,
a women’s health care organization that provided me
a much-needed walk-in appointment this afternoon.

Everyone in that clinic was kind and friendly,
and I salute the important work they do.

Thankful Thursday: Zebu’s Big Adventure edition

Last August, my 20-year-old son left for Uppsala, Sweden. He lived and studied there for two semesters. As I write this, he is flying back to Colorado. His study abroad adventure is nearly over. (The adventure continued up to the last minute: He and nine other passengers were caught in a long, passport line and arrived at their gate just after it closed, so Iceland Air stopped the plane  out on the runway and had a bus deliver Zebu and the other nine passengers to the plane.)

Zebu in Stockholm when we visited in May.

Over the past several months, Zebu has said that his study abroad experience has been the best year of his life. It didn’t start out so well.

When he arrived in Uppsala, he discovered that TSA had locked his suitcase. Half his belongings, including his raincoat, were inside. He paid a taxi driver way too much to drive him into the city and then spent an entire rainy day hauling the 50-pound suitcase around the cobblestones, trying to get it unlocked. Kind people in luggage stores tried different keys, with no success. Someone finally directed him to a shoe repair store where the man cut the locks off the suitcase.

Zebu later confessed that that day, as he struggled with language barriers, a lack of wifi, hunger, and jet lag, he wanted nothing more than to turn around and fly back home.

Obviously, he’s very glad he stayed. And here he is in May, standing outside that shoe repair store.

I asked to see that store when we visited, because it felt symbolic. I was privy (via phone call and texts) to his frustration and panic as he couldn’t get his suitcase open, and tried to help from my end. He ended up finding his own solution. And ten months later, a confident young man is returning home after the best experience of his life.

For that, I am very grateful.

 

 

 

Thankful Thursday: the travel edition

Zippy and I are leaving today for Amsterdam. Neither of us has ever been to Holland, despite my maternal grandfather immigrating from there way back when. It’s late in the season for tulips (bad timing, huh, Barb?), but that’s okay. We planned this trip around our schedules and Zebu’s. He’s finishing up his study abroad in Uppsala, Sweden, and we will see him after our stay in Amsterdam. (We’re also spending an afternoon in Copenhagen on our way to Stockholm.)

I hope to post an image each day. Should liven up this mostly-Colorado blog!

.

Thankful Thursday: The such-a-good-girl edition

Today I’m thankful for my new walking buddy who did such a good job with me just now. No twirling, snarling, lunging or barking in 2.11 miles of neighborhood walking that included four other dogs on leashes.

Yet another out of focus photo of Emma who's always on the move.

Yet another out of focus photo of Emma who’s always on the move.

 

 

.

Thankful Thursday: The sunshine edition

weather-station

This is Zippy’s indoor weather station. As you can see, it’s sunny and 65 degrees outside. Granted, the outdoor thermometer is in direct sunlight right now so it’s really only 65 degrees against the bricks on the south side of the house. But still. Sixty-five degrees in January!

I’m going out for a run around the neighborhood and am looking forward to cruising past the snow piles lingering from last weekend’s storm.

Gotta love Colorado and its split-weather-personality.

 

 

.

Thankful Thursday: The I-finally-freakin’-did-it edition

If you happen upon this, writer-friend Linda Salzman, you might be happy to know that yesterday I finally, finally wrote the final scenes of the YA I’ve been wrestling with since the beginning of time. Are they perfectly written scenes? Hells no. Are they fleshed-out scenes? Absolutely not. Are they even close to being what they’d need to be in a final draft? HAHAHAHAHA.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement (“Do it!”) to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

The scenes I wrote yesterday are, at this point, a collection of placeholder words. A roadmap for the next draft (should I ever have the inclination to wade into the manuscript that right now feels like a horrible, torturous place to spend time). I learned about the value of using placeholder words from writer-friend Laurie Schneider, and I must say it’s one of the most liberating tools in my writing kit. The pressure is off when I’m creating placeholder words; all that’s required of me is to literally hold the place in the manuscript with clues for my authorial intent. The details come later.

So after writing those scenes, I printed out a hard copy and wrote out a few notes for myself before packing everything away in an accordion file. At the soonest, I’ll read that manuscript again in a month. But I have a feeling it’ll take longer than that for me to muster enthusiasm. After finishing, I’d gone back to read the opening chapter, thinking it would fire me up by reminding me the rest of the book is stronger than the ending. *insert hysterical laughter* Turns out, I’d arrived at the THIS BOOK SUCKS MORE THAN A HOOVER stage, and it’s gonna take some time for those feelings to fade.

The good news? I’m already reacquainting myself with another project. This one has huge potential and fills me with excitement. So take that, nasty voice! (Also, I was very grateful for the distraction of this “new” project when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie Reynolds dying the day after losing her beloved daughter.)

There are sad and horrible things happening all over the planet, but I’m grateful for the fictional worlds I create in my mind. Sometimes the pretend is the only thing keeping me from being crushed by the real.

 

.

Thankful Thursday: The Encouragement Edition

Al Jolson once said, “A responsive audience is the best encouragement an actor can have.” Well, the same goes for writers. This morning I received an email from a writing friend that was not only incredibly generous, but also kind and encouraging. Her words have buoyed me all day, and I believe they’ll keep me afloat for quite some time.

I’m hoping I get the chance to do the same for someone else very soon.

relay-baton

 

 

 

.