Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Read Me (ROW80 Check-In)

Read Me by Alice Popkorn - flickr

Another unintended hiatus.  12 days this time.  *Sigh*

The last one was grief-driven following two severe losses--the Rainbow Bridge crossing of my furbaby Merlin and the realization that it was unlikely a move back to the Rogue Valley Oregon to join my husband would take place before the fruit season began in August and his hours increased towards full time and thus would not happen before the holiday season was over.

Merlin got sick while I was still reeling over the May 11 anniversary of my last visit with Ed. When we finished packing up our house and Ed prepared to move back in with his parents while I returned with my sister to my mom's in Longview WA.  An unwanted separation required to make me eligible for healthcare after his company took it away from us. [see early entries under Lifequake label for details: January-February 2013]

This 12 day hiatus was driven by a team of black horses named Guilt and Remorse whipped mercilessly by Shame.  The triggering incident happened on the same day as the exhilarating coast trip that I posted about on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th.  The day I found Happy after running full tilt on the beach and splashing through the surf.  It happened as the sun was setting while we were in the car traveling home on Saturday the 6th.

I seemed to be successfully putting it right through Wednesday the 10, when prepping my last ROW80 check-in, Toes in the Water.  But that was an illusion created by avoiding thinking about the incident until I started prepping for the next check-in on Thursday the 11th for my Saturday night ROW80 post (a version of this one) in which I intended to share aspects of that incident directly relevant to ROW80 Goals.  Revisiting the memory was like popping a nasty boil which foiled my attempts to write about it coherently.

The incident began benignly when my sister, Jamie, asked about my progress regarding my goals.  I shared a few of my most recent triumphs, setbacks and insights, including the story I shared in Room to Run (ROW80 Check-in) that same weekend.  In which I retold from memory an object lesson on time-management presented by a motivational speaker--the one about filling a bowl with big rocks followed by small rocks followed by gravel followed by sand...The point being that in order to fit in the big (most important or most time intensive) tasks they have to go on the schedule first.

At the end, my sister Carri, who was driving, chimed in with her concept of what constituted the big rocks--God and relationships topping her list.  Jamie added self-care, understandable in light of her chronic autoimmune illness.  Then Jamie turned to me and asked what my big rocks were.

I don't know whether it was because God, relationship and self-care had already been mentioned and seemed anyway to go without saying or it was because my mind was already on prepping my ROW80 for that night's post and thus my focus was on writing and the fact that for me writing had to be one of the big rocks.  At any rate I listed writing first and went on to share the insight that I shared in that night's ROW80--that I needed to return to the early bird schedule and this time it really was for me and not primarily to please anyone else.  Something that both my sisters had been after me about.

I also mentioned crochet because it was so closely tied in with the storydreaming for me and to my mind represented one of the only ways I had to gift others with something worth exponentially more than the small amount of cash I could afford to spend and because all the gifts I'd begun and never finished in the last two years were a weight of shame on my conscience.  Though I mentioned only the tie-in with storydreaming.

As my enthusiastic relation of all of this began to wind down, Jamie asked if she could repeat back to me what she was hearing and I agreed.  Within a dozen words though the balloon of my Happy, inflated by the romp in sand and surf, popped.  For what Jamie had heard me say was that my hobbies topped my list above relationship and God and self-care.  At that point my brain shut off my ears and I interrupted with a passionate "No!  Stop!" with intent to make clear that classifying 'writing' as a  hobby was completely misreading me.

Adding to my distress was the decades old nature of this misreading of me by my family and friends going back to my early teens and my assumption that Jamie was different.  She was not a blood sibling nor had we been children together.  She was the baby sister of a friend a few years younger than myself.  I'd known her from age 6 when I was in my early 20s, and babysat her a few times.  At age 13 she was orphaned and became a ward of my parents and my family had rallied around her soon accepting her as one of us.  She spent a lot of time at my house throughout her teens and by the time she entered her twenties when we could relate as adult to adult she had become my friend and confidant and we called each other sister-friend.

Jamie didn't stop at my interruption, so neither did I.  "Writing is NOT a hobby!"  I shouted, focused only on the thought that her 'repeating back what she had heard me saying' was so egregiously wrong in its first phrase that nothing correct could be built on its foundation.  Not only wrong but the use of the word hobby constituted a judgement, a prejudice against that which I identified as ME.

In the heat of that moment I had an epiphany and unlike myself did not withdraw to ruminate in silence on it but began expressing it, still talking over the top of Jamie.  "Writing is my spiritual practice, how I relate to the Divine as I define it.  Writing is my psychotherapy, how I relate to myself and discover who I am and what I stand for and what I want.  Writing is where I work on my marriage and other relationships between face-to-face encounters.  Writing is how I process all new information and experience.  Writing is how I learn and how I share what I know.  And anyone who really wants to know me needs only to read me!"

I did not get it all said nor as well said as the above before our exchange of 60 seconds or less had devolved with Jamie taking offence and raising her voice above what I could without loosing mine to accuse me of attacking her. And then my passion withered into weeping as it always did because of my childhood training that made all strong emotion other than tears anathema--the essence of disrespect.  And I had just raised my voice to a shout with my mother sitting in the seat in front of me.  An act that would have earned me the full force of her shaming tone between the ages of two and twenty if not the rare slap.

Jamie asked for a timeout.  My parting shot as I turned to stare through blurring tears out the window was a mumbled, "I was happy.  Why can't I just be happy? Why do I always get punished for being happy?"  I doubt anyone heard me as I barely heard myself over the hum of the tires.  But that set the tone for the next hour as I wept silently in the way Mom had taught me at age 7, holding my breath as all the muscles of my face exerted as for a scream or wail but keeping my jaws clenched against letting any sound out or displaying the 'ugly cry face'.

As I wept I flagellated myself over my shameful display, over abusing Jamie, and disrespecting my mother and all in all making a fool of myself.  Intermittent bouts of self-pity had me bemoanig the impossibility of complying with the expectations of all those who cared about me, claimed to want more 'relationship' with me yet seemed unable to relate to what I saw as the essence of me.  Not only did they equate my writing with leisure activities that should be relegated to the dregs of the day after all duties, obligations and commitments to others and self had been fulfilled, few showed any voluntary interest in reading my writings.

Jamie was the only one who had read nearly every story and partial story, every poem and essay and nearly every blog post and I'd shared my frustrations with this struggle with my family many times which made it so bewildering to hear her use the word hobby--the very attitude I'd been subjected to by my family since writing became an integral part of my life around age 9.  Because of this I strongly suspected she'd been participating in one of those "What are we going to do about Joy?" conversations I'd overheard many times before I left home and then heard about via one or more of the participants over the years since.

I couldn't know it was true but it felt true enough in the moment to feel like a betrayal. And to make me feel isolated and unsafe and motivate me to crawl back into my shell.

The gist of these conversations [between my parents, between them and one of my siblings, between Mom on the phone with her mother, one of her sisters, my step-grandmother, or her closest friend] were that my style of relating to others that was shy on steroids, my inability to shift my attention from one thing to another, my plethora of phobias, my violent startle reactions earning the unwary approaching me from behind an elbow in the gut or a glass of liquid in their face, my emotional volatility between elation and despair, my awkward, graceless klutziness in both word and deed, my reluctance to make eye-contact, my serial obsessions, my hoarding of weird stuff, my perfectionism that preferred a fail over turning in unfinished assignments, my aversion to change and most bewildering of all my twisted inside-out sense of priority were all as alien to them as if I'd been transplanted from another galaxy.  I was apparently the proverbial Changeling.

Since that night I've struggled with the fallout--the messed up ears and sinuses from the vigorous silent weeping, the shame and guilt and remorse, the second guessing of self, the withdrawal from social interaction, the endless self-punishment.  Among the latter was a choking off of the writing urge.

As always the less I wrote the deeper my mood fell and the less I wanted anything to do with myself or anybody else.  The less I wrote the more confused I got, the harder it became to find meaning in the daily drift, to find motivation to engage in any activity, to feel alive.

This is what writing means to me and even I can sense how alien that seems.  But without it it is I, myself, who feels alien to me.

[Jamie, I know you'll be reading this eventually and I want to thank you for giving your permission to share publicly a story that is not mine alone.  I wish to apologize again for my abysmal behavior that night and invite you to respond in comments or otherwise with any clarification or insight you might have had since that evening or after reading this.  I love you my sister-friend.]





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Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Foray's in Fiction: Quote

Visions by Alice Popkorn -flickr

“The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said that to be an artist means never to avert your eyes. And that's the hardest thing, because we want to flinch. The artist must go into the white hot center of himself, and our impulse when we get there is to look away and avert our eyes.”
― Robert Olen Butler
From Where You Dream

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Block, Blocked, Blocking

Too soon to crow, but...


I started crocheting again last week.  Picked up the Rooster Filet that was my Secret Santa project last year.  Still not done tho its been in the stage of nearly done for six months.

As always I'm having issues with the finishing.  Not just getting it finished but with the finishing techniques that turn a fiber art project into a useful item.  This is the case with ninety percent of my unfinished projects.

Crafter's Duffle.
Including the Secret Santa  project from 2012 that is still unfinished primarily because the Mobius strip (that pile of brown on the left above) became too bulky to carry around after surpassing 4 inches in width and required a complex put away/get out protocol to prevent the thread tangling in the strip or loosing track of the working loop and risking unraveling an hour's work while fixing it.  Not to mention the time it took to fix it.

This has been a formidable block to working on the Mobius Strip for with a 5-10 minute get out/put away process it felt pointless to get it out unless I was sure of at least 45-60 minutes of uninterrupted work.  Time blocks of that size are rare and far between with all the duties I have here at Mom's and when I have them on the weekends she is at my brother's I usually need them for the sorting, organizing, rearranging projects and writing, research and exercise.

That is a getting-it-finished issue.  The finishing techniques issue is with the over 200 tails needing tucked on the panels seen in the picture to the left.

The Mobius strip is to serve as the bottom, side-pockets' back and carry strap for the crafter's duffle I designed myself in July 2012.  Working on it consumed the six months before Christmas 2012.  I worked 6 to 8 hours a day through August, stepping it up to 8-10 through Thanksgiving and then 16 to 20 through December 23.  I'd so miscalculated how much work was going to be involved!

I fully intended to maintain at least the 6-8 hour per day until it was done once I returned from the three week visit to Mom's in January 2013 but then the lifequake rocked my world and I never got to go home except for a few short visits until early May when there was no home to go home to.

I took it on the coast trip last Saturday and got a good 90 minutes of work on the way.  I thought it best to leave it safe in its bag for the return trip after we climbed back into the van with who knows how much sand in our clothes and hair and whatever that sticky stuff the wind plastered us with.  I could feel on my hands and face and legs where skin was exposed so knew it had to be in my clothes as well.

In that 90 minutes though I did make it all the way around one edge or 1/2 the entire Mobius or 8 feet of 2 chains + single crochet, repeat.  All the way around plus 18 inches.  Completing a Mobius round or both edges is 16 feet and adds 1/4 inch to the width.  It is now at 9.5 inches and I'm aiming for 12.  I'm sure I'll be speeding it up with practice. I was once doing the whole 16 feet inside 90 minutes.  Or two episodes of Stargate or Desperate Housewives or Madmen.  This weekend while Mom's gone it's going to be Star Trek Enterprise.

I'm probably going to be sorry I set it down that way to set up the photo shoot for the rooster filet.  Especially considering the unexpected offer of help I received:

No thank-you Bradley.  Not Helping.

Actually Bradley was asking me for help and holding my work hostage until I complied.

The rooster filet issue was with the blocking.  No amount of blocking was going to make a trapezoid into a rectangle.  The bottom was four inches wider than the top and one side was two inches shorter than the other.

This was probably the result of:
  • working on it in too many different moods which can change the tension causing the stitches to tighten up or loosen up
  • switching crochet hook sizes by accident which changes the size of the stitches

My solution was to work a row of slip stitches all the way around, adjusting tension intentionally to tighten up the looser stitches.  It seemed to be working until I got to the third edge--the wide bottom.  I worked it over and over before getting it right.  I probably reworked it a dozen times.  Sometimes I'd skipped stitches which caused the fabric to bunch.  That's a vision issue.  But the primary problem was keeping the tension just right.

I think I finally got it.  The test blocking looks promising though I still need to finish the 4th edge.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toes in the Water (ROW80 Check-In)

This pic of my sister at the surf's edge last Saturday is a
good depiction of my current stance toward my writing goals
one week after returning from a 2 month hiatus.


I made significant progress since last week when I finally broke my posting hiatus and jumped back into ROW80.  My round 3 goals as stated last Wednesday were:

  • Define my intent for round 4 and work to recover the story dream for Blow Me a Candy Kiss so I can return to the structural rewrite that was interrupted by my furbaby's final illness in late May.
I'm still fiddling around with defining Round 4 Goals.  Going slow on purpose.  Do not want to overdo them again.  So I'm taking mental notes as I observe the experiment I'm conducting as I add tasks back into the mix.

Progress has been in the second part--recovering the story dream for Candy Kiss and returning to the structural rewrite.  Since last Wednesday I've made a point of giving undivided attention to the story dream--essentially daydreaming it and jotting notes occasionally.  Until Monday this was done randomly at whatever time of day I could fit it in.

Then last week I began re-reading Robert Olen Butler 's From Where You Dream as it is the one that taught me how to daydream the story before starting to write scenes and why it was crucial to do so if you aspire to literary fiction. He also advised never to miss two days in a row of focused work on the story until the first draft is finished.  

He also stressed how important it was to begin work on your story each day first thing--before encountering or using language in any other capacity.  This takes advantage of having just been submerged in the unconscious where the story evolves and prevents being sucked out of the dream by the predominately abstract nature of mundane language usage.

This reminder, that seguing directly from sleep-dreaming to story-dreaming was in the best interests of the story, immediately quashed the dithering about whether to return to the early bird schedule. I had myself more than half convinced that I was a natural night owl and should stop fighting it. Yet I knew that at least for the duration of my stay here at Mom's the early morning hours are the most likely to be free of interruption.  Hence the dithering.  

There's now no wiggle-room for dithering. So I began moving my wake-up back from noonish to 9ish as a first step and making my first activity a 30 to 50 minute Candy Kiss daydream.  This morning, Wednesday, that was followed by two hours of research for the next scene followed by an hour or two of rewriting that scene in the Scrivener rewrite file garnering me several rewritten paragraphs and three completely new ones.

Altogether quite a successful week for writing.  And that doesn't even count keeping the daily post going with no more than a 24 hour lag on a few.  Besides which, I got several of the hiatus backlog posted--all of the Sunday Serenity and Chin Grin, the story of my bad fall on August 12.

I guess you could say I have my toes in the water.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Going Where My Heart Will Take Me


Faith of the Heart -- Star Trek Enterprise Titles Song
Lyrics by Diane Warren
Sung by Russel Watson
Originally recorded by Rod Stewart

It's been a long road
Getting from there to here
It's been a long time
But my time is finally near
And I can feel the change in the wind right now
Nothing's in my way
And they're not gonna hold me down no more
No there not gonna hold me down
Cause I've got faith of the heart
I'm going where my heart will take me
I've got faith to believe
I can do anything
I've got strength of the soul
And no one's gonna bend or break me
I can reach any star
I've got faith
I've got faith
Faith of the heart
There are five more verses: Russell Watson - Faith Of The Heart Lyrics | MetroLyrics



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I started watching reruns of Star Trek Enterprise on Netflix last week and by the time I heard the titles song the third time I was beginning to own it--the sentiment of it.

Since then I've seldom let the show continue without playing the titles a second time and often three or four times. Now the song plays itself in my head all day and I'm starting to feel it viscerally.

I've come to identify with it to such a degree I've taken it on as my personal anthem.

Since I've found several YouTube versions I probably won't feel the need to replay them at the beginning of every episode.

Star Trek Enterprise was the only Star Trek series I never got to see all the episodes.  In fact I have seen less than half of them.  They were always changing up the schedule without warning--switching from Saturday night to Friday night, switching from the 7pm slot to 4, 6, 8, or 9pm or even 1am--usually to accommodate a sport show.

Star Trek began weaving itself into my psyche at age 9 becoming second only to the Bible and tied with Shakespeare in impact to my sense of story.  From age 11 through my late teens I was a rabid fan of the Classic Star Trek--Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scottie, Sulu, Uhara, Checkov--and recognized even before age 13 that a great many of the episodes were parables.

I realized recently that it had been years since I'd seen classic Star Trek episodes and began to long for them and thought it was about time I take advantage of their availability on Netflix but once I signed in and saw Enterprise and remembered I'd missed so many episodes when they aired, I decided that it was fitting to watch the prequel to the classic Star Trek first.

Watching Star Trek now is an exercise in tracing my relationship to story back to its roots.  I wish to re-encounter as an adult and as a writer all the stories that enthralled me as a youth.

It's also homage to the first stories I wrote that weren't children's picture books or chapter books--Star Trek fan fic.  Though I didn't know that's what it was called and it was long before the Internet so I didn't know anyone else did it and only a handful of my sixth grade classmates ever saw any of the pages.

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Sand and Surf and Sisters

These three vids were taken by my sister Jamie at Sunset Beach Warrington Oregon on Saturday.

This a bit of a lazy post.  By embedding my sister Jamie's fb posts I've not had to upload the vids to my YouTube channel nor write the explanations.  Thanx Sis.

Spinning on Sand
This screenshot from the above video is an iconic image representing the day for me.  Twirling like that was a favorite thing throughout my childhood.



This my sister Carri running on the beach

I only wish there had been a vid or pictures of me running as that was such an awesome sensation--running free and fast and fearless for the first time in decades.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Serenity #405

Sunset Beach Garabaldi, Oregon
 Mom, my two sister's and I went to the beach yesterday.

One Way to Stay Warm
 It was supposed to be a warm day but the ocean breeze overpowered the sun.  Mom and my sisters spent most of the two hours in the chairs bundled in jackets and blankets.  I stayed warm by staying in motion--running, spinning, slopping through the shallow surf.

Taking pictures.

Sun Dazzled

Wet Sand and Shallow Surf--Made for Running

A Couple and Their Dog Cavorting

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Saturday, September 06, 2014

Room to Run (ROW80 Check-In)

Room to Run
We went to the beach today.  Mom my two sisters and I.

It was Sunset Beach in Oregon not far from the mouth of the Columbia River.  The expanse of sand at low tide is vast, flat and wet.  It is possible to drive the car onto the packed sand right to the edge of the wet sand and park which allowed Mom to walk to the spot we set up the chairs to watch the surf.

It's possible to drive on the wet sand uncovered by the low tide but not wise to park there for long if you intend to drive off of it again.

Between our chairs and the surf line was an expanse of wet sand at least the width of a quarter mile racetrack.  I knew from experience that this it the best possible surface for running.  It's nearly as low impact as a trampoline.  I took off running toward the water.

I actually never sat in a chair the whole two hours we were there.  I ran and wandered, slopped through the edge of the surf, spun in circles with my arms stretched out until I was too dizzy to walk straight, stumbled zigzag fashion until I could hold a course and ran some more.  And started all over again.

It was the first time in decades I was able to full out run without hesitation for there was no fear of tripping, stepping off the edge of a narrow path or running into someone or something in motion darting out from the dark periphery of my visual field.

Having heard it was going to be warm--high 70s or 80s, I'd dressed in layers starting with shorts and a tank top.  Over the tank I'd worn a hooded, long-sleeved, lightweight cotton pullover for the ride against the car cooler's icy breath.  I fully expected to pull it off once we arrived.  My sister came prepared to body surf on her boogie board.

But we were met with a stiff churning breeze. Chilly and stinging with the moisture and sand it carried. I had to put on a hooded windbreaker and a cotton scarf around my neck.  With my legs bare I was still tensing with the chill.  Which is why I started running and then stayed in motion the whole two hours.

Those two hours freed me from the oppressive caged feeling I've been struggling with for months.  Fifteen minutes in I found Happy.  It lasted until at least an hour after climbing back into the car.

The breeze seemed to have swept my mind free of clutter giving me clarity of thought.  Briefly, but enough for me to latch on to an insight or two.

Seeing the sand stretched out all around reminded me of a motivational story I'd read on line recently.  One I'd heard before:

There was a speaker (preacher or motivational) who set a large transparent bowl before his audience and put in it several large rocks until there was no room for another.  
He asks the audience if the bowl is full and they chorus 'Yes!'   
He then adds a bunch of stones half the size of the rocks until there is no room for more.  
'Is it full now?'  and again the chorus answers 'Yes.'
Next he adds rocks small enough to close up in his fist until there is no more room.
'What about now?'  Still the chorus of 'Yes.' but maybe fewer voices, maybe a drop in volume.
Now he pours in gravel.  And asks again.  The yeses are mixed with noes many sounding like questions themselves.
And sure enough there is still room for sand, filtering down through the crevices and crannies all the way to the bottom.
'Surely it is full now, eh?' He asks, pouring himself a drink from a pitcher of water.  The chorus is divided into firm yeses and noes.
He grins, pouring the pitcher of water over the surface of sand.
Retold in my own words.

The rocks, gravel, sand and water represent items on a todo list.  The main point being made is that in order to fit in the biggest things--the highest priority or most time-consuming--they need to go in first.  The secondary point is that many tasks can be fit into the interstices--standing in line, waiting rooms, stalled traffic.

I was reminded once again that writing needs to be one of the big rocks.  Although many of its related and component tasks can fit into the interstices it needs also a block of dedicated time.

Which has given me the missing motivation to return to the early bird schedule.  A motive that is purely my own.  Not an attempt to please my husband who is a natural early bird.  Nor to comply with anyone else's idea of what I should be doing or even my idea of what others think I should be doing.

I will be easing into it though.  For to start off with expectations of an instant and perfect switch would set me up for failure.  Still I don't think it will take me as long as it took last year when I began the transition the first time.  The insomnia is not as intransigent and I won't have to relearn the same lessons from all the trials and errors from that time.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday Forays in Fiction: Plot Points Punning

Literary Plot Points in Pun Form

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Fiber Delights

Two New Fiber Arts Books
Happy Dance
My sister came home from shopping and presented me with two fiber art books she picked up for me at a thrift store.  One has 900 cross stitch patterns the other has how-to and patterns for crochet, knitting, needlepoint, embroidery, quilting, and rug making--braiding and 3 kinds of hooking.

Just turning the pages in them is giving me so many ideas.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Of Stress and Goals and Spreadsheets (Row80 Check-in )

free me by Alice Popkorn --flikr

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Having just returned from a two month unintended hiatus and finding ROW80 on its end stretch I leaned toward not joining the round at all.  It seemed pointless.

But then I realized there were several points:

  • defining my intent which is an exercise bringing clarity to it
  • announcing my intent which is submitting to accountability
  • confessing failure which is both an exercise in accountability and in redefining intent in light of what does and doesn't work

Round 3 Intentions:

Define my intent for round 4 and work to recover the story dream for Blow Me a Candy Kiss so I can return to the structural rewrite that was interrupted by my furbaby's final illness in late May.

Confession:

My intent at the end of round 2 was to continue in the same vein as I had been for over a year: the time investment goals, the spreadsheet, the twice a week check-ins.  But then life happened.  For a brief explanation see She's Back.

Some of it was out of my control--a doubling and then tripling of the number of days per week I was on duty with Mom.  For that which was in my control I was choosing differently.

It looked a lot like laziness but I'm not so sure it was.  I think it was burnout.

It began when my furbaby Merlin got sick in late May and my whole world narrowed down to the single focus of nursing him through his ten day approach to the Rainbow Bridge.

Once he was gone (June 4th) I gave myself another week for mourning and doing things that felt good to elevate my mood.  But instead of picking up the old reins after that, I found I was dropping more of them.

Altho my mood would elevate for days at a time it was not stable and the falls were deep and harsh

This looked a lot like depression and probably was but I've come to realize recently that under that depression was profound anger.  As the weeks of June became the weeks of July and then the weeks of August I was acting out in ways comparable to that of a teenager rebelling against authority.

The week Merlin was sick my husband and I put the time-management coaching on hiatus and after Merlin was gone he said he wouldn't be willing to continue where we left off until I got myself back on track.  His point being that I knew what to do and didn't need my hand held again to traverse that same path.

The schedule made me see red.  It brought the raging toddler out kicking and shaking the crib bars.

The one thing I rebelled against the most was taking my Trazadone on time every night. The anti-depressant that is also a sleep aid.  Again, like a toddler and a teen I was rebelling against bedtime.

So I lost the hard won early bird schedule.  Tho there were 3 or 4 24-40 hour days in the last couple months it was more common to be shorting my sleep by one or two or three hours.  Averaging five or six over a week.

Sleep deprivation adds up fast that way.  And this led to a volatile mood and addlepated mistakes from silly to serious. One led to an accident that was potentially life-threatening and left a permanent mark on my chin as an object lesson. (Watch for See the August 12th post Chin Grin to go up retroactively soon, if I remember I'll return and link it here)

All of the books and online material I've been reading on schedules, habits, and time management insist that once the protocols are in place, far from confining they are freeing.

This is because all the minutia of daily life goes on autopilot.  You don't have to invest time or energy into figuring out what happens next.  You can actually use the time you are doing a mundane task to plan upcoming complex tasks, daydream, listen to audiobooks or any number of things of a mental nature.

I do believe that.  With my head.  I think my heart is lagging behind because of a profound sense of failure.  Which was self-created as I am now certain that I was expecting way too much out of myself.  I was establishing unreachable goals and then beating myself up over not reaching them.

One of the biggest factors instigating the unintended hiatus was my inability to get the twice a week check-in post prepped.  Just looking at the spreadsheet made me nauseated.  Thinking about the growing list of time investment goals made me weak-limbed.

I spent a lot of time prepping ROW80 posts and then having to change the timestamp and redo the spreadsheet screenshot and find a filler post to put in the Wednesday or Saturday slot left open.  A few times the ROW80 was ready but I had five or six posts that needed to go up first and couldn't manage to catch up before the ROW80 check-in window closed.

That OCD I had over keeping my string of daily posts unbroken was a slave driver flaying joy off of everything I once rejoiced in.

I'm hoping I will be able to relinquish the need to have an unbroken line of posts.  Both in letting go of most of the filler posts in July and August and in going forward.  But I was only able to convince myself to restart current posting without catching up by keeping the option open of putting up the past due drafts as I get them prepped.  And there is a draft for every single missed day in various stages of readiness--all but a few needing some combination of editing, images, links, labels and fact checks.

So what was I doing with all that freed up time?

  • a lot of on duty days which mean meal prep and clean up twice a day and being available to tend to Mom's needs
  • reading to Mom at both lunch and dinner now
  • a lot of vid chats with Ed that averaged twice a day for a total of two hours until recently when his hours picked up.  Now we have once a day averaging 45 minutes with longer ones on weekends.  Soon we'll be getting even less and it won't get better until after Christmas
  • reading a lot--finishing an average of 2 books a week.  Most were impulse reads not on my IMWAYR? list.
  • writing a lot--personal journaling, long rambling blog posts that never got posted, poetry
  • storyworld dreaming--never lost this habit
  • some fiddling around in the Candy Kiss rewrite file--am both anxious as in eager to get back to work on it and anxious as in wary for loosing the momentum I had just before Merlin got sick was so demoralizing.  It is so hard to get back into the story dream once you've been pulled out
  • email organizing--inbox built up to 12K before I got serious.  I worked it down to 4K with filters by mid August but its back up to 6K again.  Time to start unsubscribing I think
  • Reading AWAI materials (copywriting courses)
  • ebook hunting and calibre library organizing
  • watching 7 months of saved up news pods in two weeks--Rachel and Anderson
  • just recently began watching TV episodes on Netflix again--started with the last season of The 4400
  • a modicum of crochet while listening to news or transformational videos or audios found linked in emails
  • meditating and guided hypnosis
  • watching a lot of uplifting YouTube videos--especially Got Talent and X Factor, giggling babies, cavorting kittens, sassy toddlers and drumming.
  • drumming a lot myself--with my drumsticks on every surface in reach in this room or around the house when I'm home alone.  My favorite is the exercise ball
  • sorting, organizing and rearranging endlessly--significant progress has been made on both the room upstairs that is my closet and office and the boxes downstairs packed for the move last year that need to be unpacked, sorted and repacked--most of the contents reflecting my penchant for hoarding
  • exercising--on the mini-tramp, isometrics, several real runs with my cousin's wife, a walk on the lake with my sister
  • working a nutritionist's program with my sister--3 week purge diet, lab tests, food diary, and lots of reading material (got started in Neflix again because I was hunting for several assigned videos which I've not watched yet)
  • primping in front of the mirror--am wearing size 16 and L without the X now--down form size 24, and 2X since my arrival here in January 2013.  Waist down from 44 to 37 and weight from 220 to 160.
I just noticed that in spite of not requiring much of myself (other than that related to Mom's needs) over the last three months everything that was on my original time investment list for ROW80 is on the above list, woven into my days because I wanted it: exercise, reading craft, reading fiction, storyworld dreaming and writing.  The only one missing is writing fiction.

I find that very encouraging.  It means those activities have become a part of me.

Though I must note that I wasn't doing them all everyday.  That requirement was probably impossible, setting me up for repeated failure.  

I think if there's anything that needs to be done everyday it is the fiction writing since losing the story dream can mean months of frustration trying to reclaim it.

See what I mean about confession contributing to redefining intent?  I've just gained clarity about the shape of my Round 4 goals.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Workstation Redo Elebenty Hunnurd n Nighty-Night

Standing in Door Looking Catercorner at Tramp 


Standing in Door
Straight at Window
How many workstation redos have I done in the last 20 months since my arrival at Mom's in January 2013?

It depends on whether you count the major and minor tweaks of the major furniture rearranging events.  If the tweaks count, since I never really stop fussing with it, the number could be equal to the number of days I've been at Mom's.

Any way you define it, I've lost count.

But nearly every time I think I've got it right and start using it as intended, it is only a matter of hours or days before glitches and snags in the concept show up and I'm constantly fiddling with it to improve productivity which is the primary purpose of the redos and tweaking.

It often feels like I spend more time rearranging or tweaking the latest redo than I spend actually doing the productive work the stations are for. I'm so frustrated at having my productivity itself always taking second place to prepping the place for the work to commence.

If you all are getting bored with hearing about them, I don't blame you.  I'm getting bored with doing them.

Standing on the Tramp Behind Chair
 I can see I'm going to be tweaking things to level my keyboard...

The picture of the house in the left top corner is one my Mom painted in college of her family home.  Which I later knew as Grandpa and Grandma Myers' house in Gerber California.  Such strong memories attached to it.  Gazing at it while leaning back in my chair is so relaxing.

The empty crate on the far left back of the desk is waiting for the next batch of library books as I've been hankering for a library visit for awhile now but my sister's been too busy to ask it of her.

Read Write Draw Craft Table
Setting up the card table again took a huge chunk of the scarce space but if I actually get to be productive with projects which entail working with my hands and spreading out materials and instruments it might be worth it.

For projects that need more space, the two stacks of five inboxes can be moved over to the big desk.  But for all other times it is necessary to have them close at hand--reachable from the chair.

This is right behind my left elbow as I sit at the keyboard but a two foot scoot back and a 90 degree swivel puts me right in front of it.  My Tatto Otts lamp I got for Christmas is set up on the left and is in the best most useful and versatile position since I first set it up.

I am really looking forward to breaking out the crochet again.  And if this section of the workstation works out over the next couple of weeks I might break out the die cut and embossing machine I got myself for Christmas and never taken out of its shipping box. The project I've in mind for it is making bookmarks and greeting cards.

[This is my second post since ending the hiatus and it's going up nearly 24 hours late.  Ah well.  Better than several weeks late.  See yesterday's She's Back  for explanation.

Watch for the missing Sunday Serenity posts to go up over the next couple days.  Most of them were ready or near ready but waiting for the posts preceding them to go up.]

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Monday, September 01, 2014

She's Back

Did you miss me much?
I'm ending (I hope) the long unintended hiatus that began June 6.

I don't know what it is going to look like this time.  I'm being encouraged by many--husband, counselor, sister, mother--to not reimpose the daily posts rule.  It's probably good advice but yet, I balk.

But the rule is what got me in this fix.  First the stress induced by the pressure and then the reluctance to post the current day's post before catching up the backlog of drafts.

Oh boy, is there a backlog.  As I continued to open drafts nearly every day, choose the topic and write off the cuff rambling rough drafts.  But I seldom got them ready to post.  Something was always missing--editing, links, images, fact checks...when I was called away or had to walk away because I was falling asleep over it.  And when something was all but ready to publish, I held off because of the lineup of unpublished drafts preceding it.

Playing a role in the inability to keep up with the posts was a mood riding a rocky road in a mountain range with high peaks and deep valleys and switchback curves.  Right around the one month anniversary of loosing Merlin to the Rainbow Bridge I was feeling pretty optimistic with how quick my bounce back had been but just days later I fell off the cliff again.  After it happened it happened for the third time nearly exactly 4 weeks apart with shorter, less intense dips two weeks between the severe dips, I picked up on a correlation with the Full Moon and the New Moon.

Add a thunderstorm building up over the weekend of the full moon in August that cut loose the day after and watch out.  In its wake I was antsy, agitated, and addled which contributed to the serious fall on Tuesday the 12th when I was on duty with my Mom while my sister was out of town.

A physical fall.  I got pictures and am planning to go ahead and finish prepping that post soon.  Watch for it.  It's title is Chin Grin.  That one and several other posts whose contents are both significant and time sensitive will be going up in the coming days.

Another factor limiting the time I had for prepping posts was the doubling and even tripling of my duty days and responsibilities.  My sister had a number of commitments from afternoon grocery shopping, and chiro, massage and doctor appointments preventing her from being at home for dinner prep to several multiple day out of town events one of them a second oral surgery.

My typical one or two duty days a week leapt to three or four and I think there was one that was most of a week as my sister-in-law was also going to be out of town the same weekend Carri was so she was unable to have Mom that weekend.

Another thing taking time away from posting and other favorite activities was this nutrition program my sister and I joined that involved a detox diet, lab tests, food diary, and reading and documentary assignments.  There is a post in the works from the beginning of that explaining it.

Along with posting many other of my favorite passtimes fell aside--fiction writing (except for the story dreaming), crochet and crafting, reading (briefly), watching Netflix and podcasts, the earlybird schedule.

Things I was doing: writing personal journal/memoir as therapy, writing poetry, the sorting and organizing of the stuff from my home still in boxes, inbox organizing, adding to my calibre ebook library and fiddling with the metadata, daydreaming, sleeping, playing word games and Bejewled Blitz on my Nexus, rearranging my 'office' again and again and...

Eventually I added reading back and have put away one or two books a week since mid June.

I also broke out my short story Blow Me a Candy Kiss several weeks ago and fiddled with it--minutia editing not structural rewriting which is still unfinished.

Even tho I was writing a significant amount I never got around to posting my intent to join Round 3 of ROW80.  Partly due to the backlog of missing posts but mostly because I had no heart for setting goals.

The continuous failure to meet my own expectations was playing a huge role in my mood's volatility.  I couldn't bare to look at the spreadsheet.  And not just because I'd messed it up by accidentally changing the date column into an endless repeat of one single month (which irked my perfectionism) but because the thing just blinked failure at me every time I looked at it.

Well I'm not getting off to a very auspicious start to this come back either seeing as how I started this post nearly twenty hours ago and it still hasn't gone up.

As I write this paragraph it is Tuesday late afternoon and I'm on duty and it's time to start dinner and for the first time in a long time I've been awake over 24 hours.  30.5 to be exact.

Which doen't augur well for there being a Tuesday post.  I have in mind a picture or two of my current workstation which I spent much of the weekend and Monday setting up.

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