Wednesday, July 15, 2020

ROW80 - Life Happens

Mom with her friend/caregiver wearing the crocheted tunics I made them

A lot of mental bandwidth as well as time messaging back and forth with family has been commandeered by the ongoing events around Mom's stroke.  She is still in the hospital for at least another day but they are already warning us that the insurance could come back with denial of further hospital stay any day.  They still haven't decided whether they are going to send her to in-patient rehab before sending her home.  They say she isn't exhibiting enough stamina for it.  But as of yesterday she still needed two people to assist her in transferring in and out of bed and chairs.  I can't imagine how that is going to work at home going forward. But the other option is worse in the new reality.  If she has to go to another living situation the rules for most of them don't allow visitors.  Please pray for her and our family.

Meanwhile, to help me keep my mind from zooming race-track circles I continued the sort project.  This is also something I could be doing to contribute to the new reality as my stuff has been overrunning Mom's room.

So it is to some extent understandable that I haven't met all of my writing goals this week.  But on the other hand, journaling is something that would help this situation and yet I've been avoiding it.  I did manage to get the poem collection project started.  And I did open the journal file today.  Since one of my issues is initiating, I need to give myself some points for both of those things but there is no way I can call it satisfactory.  At least I'm not entertaining ideas of giving up 'because I've already failed' as I once would have.


The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Camp NaNoWriMo July 2020

2020 Round 3 ROW80 and July Camp NaNo goals check-in:


Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  Unsatisfactory
* Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Satisfactory effort
* Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15 min Daily MInimum -- This is a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler in the book From Where You Dream. -- Unsatisfactory
* Read Fiction 30 min Daily Average --  Above and beyond
* Read/Study Craft 15 min Daily Average --  Above and beyond
* Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  --  Above and beyond
* 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  Unsatisfactory
* To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged. --   Satisfactory

* Personal Journaling 45 min or 1000 words whichever come first Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  --  Unsatisfactory


Sorta Sorted

This is the sort project on Mom's bed as of Sunday.  I don't want to take time to take, edit and upload a pic of what it looks like today but it is now a full layer deeper and part of a third as I left the nine 11 gallon Ziploc zipper bags in place and spread more boxes and bags over them to sort.  It was easier on my back to have the added height.  Since Sunday I've sorted through at least another dozen boxes and bags, eliminating at least 50% of their volume.  I have several more empty boxes and bags to show for it.

I'm getting better and better at letting go.  The sort project has become my therapy as it is helping me sort my mental and emotional stuff as I sort my physical objects.  And it is giving me something to OCD on to replace the tendency to OCD on Ed.  I've nearly broken the habit of keeping a running narrative in my head of all the things I plan to share with him in our next chat.  I've nearly reached peace with the understanding there will be no more 'chats' no more casual sharing of thoughts and emotions, pitfalls and triumphs.  Future communication will be utilitarian for the purpose of separating our respective belongings and proceeding with the legal divorce.

For an explanation and links to backstory see the ROW80/Camp NaNo Goals post.

Read more...

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday Serenity - Accomplished

Smiley Turtle
This is the crocheted turtle I made for my sister's birthday.  It was begun for Christmas.  I had the two African Flower motifs and the head crocheted by early December but then stopped work on it to focus on a large sweater I was making for her.  Then I could't finish the sweater because I ran out of yarn and the colorway was out of stock for months. I also had a scarf in the works at Christmas and thought it was done all but the finishing touches but when I picked it up earlier this week I discovered I'd accidentally decreased a whole mesh section half way through and had to undo and redo that half.  Now I'm having trouble with getting the fringe even because of my visual issues and I may have to go ahead and give it to her with ragged looking fringe so she can trim it even herself.
Swimming Turtle


That left me with the turtle as the only item far enough along with hope of finishing in time.  I had been estimating a solid four to six hour day.  It took three six to eight hour days.  It was all the fiddly tasks needing 4X reading glasses and the frequent breaks due to eye strain.

This was made with size 10 cotton crochet thread with five colors counting the green for the head and extremities.  I'd done the motifs in four colors so that left eight tails each needing tucking and then the two motifs needed sewing together and stuffed and the opening for the stuffing sewed.  Then the head stuffed and sewn on.  Then the tail and feet each crocheted, stuffed and sewn on and each of them took multiple tries as I kept loosing count and having to take it out to the end of row 1.  Then the button eyes needed to be sewn on and then the smile.  And more tails to tuck!  My least favorite task in crochet.  After I got the smile on I discovered I'd put it on what was supposed to be the top of his head.  Sigh.  No way was I going to take it out and do it over.  Not at 2AM.

To give you an idea how small he is, his head is about the size of my thumb.

Hat Tip to Jayda In Stitches for the pattern and tutorial.  Tho she did hers with size 4 worsted yarn.
Log Cabin Afghan
The Log Cabin Afghan I made for my nephew whose birthday was Monday.  The colors are Burgundy, Forest Green and White in Caron Simply Soft.  Below is a close up of the braided loop border that I 'invented'.  I put that in quotes because I don't know for sure it's not in anybody else's repertoire or pattern books it's just something I came up with back when I was still doing only bookmarks.  I do it with two rows of six chain loops staggered around the edge with the single crochet's of the second color done in the blank stitches between the ends of the first color.  Then I take a very large hook (K or bigger) and pull the second loop through the first and the third through the second and so on around.

For the last several rows and the edging I had to sit on my bed to work as the weight of it was pulling it off my lap or just messing with my tension.

But at least I finished this one ahead of schedule--in the wee hours of the 1st.  Leaving what I thought was plenty of time to finish the three items for my sister's birthday yesterday.  But between the sort project, Mom's excursions to ER, eye fatigue and my typical miscalculation of how long a task is likely to take, I ended up with only one finished tho a second one is very close.
Braided Loops Edging
So these birthday projects are part of the explanation for why I had such a poor showing on my ROW80 and Camp NaNo goals but only part.  There was also the major sort project I started Friday the 3rd the day Mom left to spend ten days at my brother's. That gave me the chance to spread my sort project out on her bed without needing to have it put away by Sunday afternoon.  I worked hard on it right through Tuesday. See bottom section for pic and details.

hen Wednesday I had the restart issue discussed in that ROW80 check-in and added to that was the news Mom was exhibiting signs of a stroke and they were taking her to the ER. We were relieved when they did not find evidence of a fresh stroke only the damage from the 2008 stroke. Then Thursday I started work on the scarf for my sister, discovered the issues with it got to the point where I gave up fussing with the fringe and picked up the turtle kit.  That became my near total focus for two full days and I was just getting my head back into it Saturday afternoon when news came that my brother was returning to the ER with Mom as her condition was worsening.  She was unable to get out of bed without help that morning.

So my attention was split between the turtle project and messaging back and forth with my sister who was at the beach with girlfriends and who was messaging and phoning back and forth with our brother all afternoon and into the late evening when they decided to keep Mom overnight for an MRI as the CAT scan was still showing no evidence of a stroke but the symptoms were still screaming STROKE.  So the Doc was thinking the new damage might be masked by the old damage and an MRI might give them a better picture.  So they checked her in that evening and actually did the MRI before bedtime and by 9pm I knew there would be no further messages before morning so I could focus on the turtle again.  I finished it at 2AM.  The second night in a row that I fudged my new bedtime by several hours.  I do not fudge the wake up tho as it is important not to let the wake up time creep or the bedtime cannot reestablish itself and the endless feedback loop will bring all my recent health and well being accomplishments crashing back down around my head.

I was already noticing the evidence of sleep deprivation yesterday afternoon: rising anxiety, impulsiveness, poor judgement, memory deficit, focus deficit, mood dives, impatience, scattered thoughts, silly mistakes.  So I'm determined to get myself in bed by sundown even though I won't get to address any of the writing goals today.  Efforts would be sub par anyway.  I may get to do some of the read/study goals if I lay down soon enough.

Tho I suppose I could count this post as it is enough like the journaling concept to make no difference.

At least I won't have to clear Mom's bed off as I had been anticipating all week. She was supposed to come home this evening according to the original plan before the ER visits.  But that is a blessing I could do without.  Late this afternoon the doctor confirmed she has had another stroke in the same location as before and they are going to keep her for a couple more days and then probably rehab.  If they are unable to help her regain what she has lost this time everything is going to change here and I'll probably have to re-calibrate my goals.  She is currently unable to get herself out of bed or dress herself.  And it takes her two minutes to answer the question 'Are you too warm'  with 'I - I - I - I --- think --- so.


The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Camp NaNoWriMo July 2020

2020 Round 3 ROW80 and July Camp NaNo goals check-in:


Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  Unsatisfactory
* Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Satisfactory effort
* Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15 min Daily MInimum -- This is a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler in the book From Where You Dream. -- Unsatisfactory
* Read Fiction 30 min Daily Average --  Above and beyond
* Read/Study Craft 15 min Daily Average --  Above and beyond
* Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  --  Above and beyond
* 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  Unsatisfactory
* To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged. --   Unsatisfactory

* Personal Journaling 45 min or 1000 words whichever come first Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  --  Unsatisfactory


Sorta Sorted

This is the sort project on Mom's bed as of this evening.  It represents huge progress since the 3rd but also since New Years.  This week I passed a major milestone in having sorted though every jumbled box, bag, drawer, cupboard, nook, cranny, closet in my areas of control in the upstairs rooms. Now, with similar and alike stuff all gathered into one place I can take those bags and boxes and do fine tune sorts of individual categories which will seldom require spreading out on Mom's bed for more than a few hours if at all.  The final step after individual categories are sorted is to calibrate the size of each group of items' home base and designate the location and any necessary container.

At that point a lot of the items I'm holding onto for now can also go away as they are either containers for sorting into and out of or prospective home containers for items or project kits.  Some of that is already happening as I progress.  Most of that pile of boxes seen in the right edge of that picture is already redundant.

I still need to do the same for the stuff in the garage and the stuff in the basement.  The garage will be easy as it is all stuff that was sorted and packed in preparation for the hoped-for return to the Rogue Valley to rejoin Ed which morphed into the hope to join him in his new apartment across the river but that's not going to happen and now I need to go through it all to separate His and Hers and repack.  The basement area was the sort project I abandoned when Ed moved up here in 2016 and I'd already removed to the garage most of the useful household items and what remained were items most see as garbage but I saw promise for upcycle craft projects. Or as tools for the sort project itself.  With the practice I've had at letting go of stuff these past few months that shouldn't take long to complete.

I'm getting better and better at letting go.  The sort project has become my therapy as it is helping me sort my mental and emotional stuff as I sort my physical objects.  And it is giving me something to OCD on to replace the tendency to OCD on Ed.  I've nearly broken the habit of keeping a running narrative in my head of all the things I plan to share with him in our next chat.  I've nearly reached peace with the understanding there will be no more 'chats' no more casual sharing of thoughts and emotions, pitfalls and triumphs.  Future communication will be utilitarian for the purpose of separating our respective belongings and proceeding with the legal divorce.

For an explanation and links to backstory see the ROW80/Camp NaNo Goals post.

Read more...

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Blue Screen Angst - ROW80 Check-In

Blue Screen Angst

On the evening of Tuesday, June 23, while my mom was preparing for bed my computer froze in the middle of a video and then presented me with the above screen.   I recognized it as the screen that announces "Your computer has a problem.  We're gathering date and preparing for a restart"  But the text was unreadable with the pixels all crawling all over each other.  Half an hour later nothing had changed and there wasn't any sounds of hard drive activity.  I planned to do a forced restart as soon as Mom's lights out ritual completed but when I returned from Mom's room the screen was black with white text that read: Please insert boot disc.

I yelled down the stairs for my nephew who came up and sat in front of the screen shaking his head for a long time.  I was freaking because I'd just realized that I hadn't backed up my files onto the external drive for months.  Not since at least last summer well before I started prep work for NaNoWriMo.  Tech geek tho he is, he had no better idea than the one I'd been planning to implement on the first screen:  forced restart.  So with my blessing that's what he did.  And I lucked out when the restart ended on the usual sign-in page and the sign-in landed me on my desktop.  But he cautioned me that since we had no idea what triggered the issue I should not open the browser nor any aps until I had rescued my files.  That way if opening a file or ap triggered another crash at least I would have my files.

That took the entire night.  The last of the file transfers happened nearly twelve hours from the moment the blue screen appeared.  By then Mom was awake and dressed and awaiting her breakfast tray.  And I had found myself passing the 24 hour mark awake for the first time since the April read-a-thon and for the only time in several months that had nothing to do with an event for which I'd planned to stay awake.  There was a time when I would have seen this as a failure because I'd broken the long streak of successful full night sleeps but I was able to see it instead as a simple anomaly and be grateful I had been able to stay awake to rescue my files and confident that it was not an harbinger of a return to hit-and-miss sleep.  I knew I had the tools and skills to get right back on track.

And so I did.  I planned my day to make sure I was ready to crawl into bed as soon as Mom was ready for lights out Wednesday night and I slept twelve hours and by the time I'd had my first coffee Thursday I felt as though nothing untoward had happened.  Mood, energy, stamina, brain power were all back to the status quo I'd been enjoying for months.

That brings me to today's events that are affecting the fulfillment of the ROW80 goals I just posted Monday.  My computer started getting sluggish late Tuesday and then it told me it needed a restart to install updates.  But I as usual had too many aps and browser tabs open with tasks awaiting completion so getting those handled had to take priority over the ROW80 goals especially any that required opening any more aps or windows.  Tho I did allow myself to open browser tabs to complete social networking tasks, visiting ROWers to see their goals and leave comments.  I probably tripled the goal for that while completely bypassing anything involving opening a word processor or Scrivener.  I wrote long comments in a few cases which might be considered a substitute for journal entries.

To add to today's angst, my sister informed me late last night that she was going to have to take Mom to the doctor today and ended up spending the afternoon and evening in the ER with Mom who'd been exhibiting signs of a small stroke since Sunday night. Mom has been spending the week with my brother's family and the symptoms weren't texbook so it took awhile for the back-and-forth texting and phone calls between my sister and my brother and his wife to lead them to that conclusion. Turns out there were no signs of stroke in the scans so it's still a mystery why her speech is slurred and she's listing to the right.

Do I need to spell it out that this has taken up a lot of mental and emotional bandwidth for the last 24 hours?  If I could have opened my journal and invested that particular angst into it that would have helped but I couldn't or rather I couldn't open the established one on my main computer and the alternatives I've worked out since and discuss below had not yet occurred to me.  i.e. having alternative journal options for emergency situations. 

Overall tho I consider the first half week a success.

2020 Round 3 ROW80 and July Camp NaNo goals check-in:


* Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  Very Good
* Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Satisfactory effort
* Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15 min Daily Minimum --  a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler's From Where You Dream. -- Satisfactory effort
* Read Fiction 30 min Daily Average -- Above and beyond
* Read/Study Craft 15 min Daily Average -- Satisfactory effort
* Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  -- Above and beyond.  Probably clocked two hours each day.
* 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  Zero effort but understandable due to circumstances so will not say unsatisfactory.
* To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged.  . --  Zero effort but understandable due to circumstances so will not say unsatisfactory.
* Personal Journaling 45 min or 1000 words whichever come first Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  . --  Zero effort but understandable due to circumstances so will not say unsatisfactory.  

note to self:  set up a tree notebook journal I can default to in future and/or an Evernote notebook I can access with one of my android devices and the Bluetooth keyboard I use with them.  Having alternatives provides flexibility and encourages thinking outside the box in the midst of unexpected events and stressors. Lack of flexibility is an issue with Asperger's and if I knew how to create a measurable goal to address it I'd include one for ROW80.  These concepts just came to me while I was prepping this 'report card'.

Read more...

Monday, July 06, 2020

Of Truth and Words and Rude Epiphanies - ROW80 Round 3 2020 & Camp NaNo July 2020 Goals

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Camp NaNoWriMo July 2020


I'm back.  And I'm committed.  

It's been a long four year hiatus struggling with conflicting priorities and personal drama that choked off my fictional storyworld like bindweed overtaking the yard, garden and house.  But I finally broke through the denial and excuses and woke up to reality and made the hard choice that will, as a side-effect, allow me to put writing back in the central place it always has been whenever I'm allowed to be myself.

On June 7th I gave up on my 41.5 year marriage because the only other option was to give up on myself.

The backstory for this can be found in the early posts with the Lifequake label but a succinct summary that hits all the emotional high notes can be found in these four poems written in 2013, 2015 and 2020 in this order:


Ed's an alcoholic who refuses to admit he is and I've been taking half or more of the blame for it for decades because I believed he drank to ease his anxiety which was high because mine was always hovering at panic levels. Or because being responsible for a legally blind wife was too stressful. Or because my infertility denied him the children we both craved.  I gave him a pass for his pathological lying because I believed he told his stories to 'protect' me or out of fear I'd freak out when confronted with bad news.  And I endured the random withdrawal of affection or communication as my just punishment for stressing him out.  

So I believed and so I behaved until this latest three week binge and withdrawal in the middle of the shelter-in-place pandemic rules, during a time my anxiety levels were the lowest they've ever been in my memory (in spite of the near apocalyptic current events) and in the midst of my months long accumulation of one triumph after another over the various deficiencies in my character that he'd named as most anxiety provoking for him.  This proved the falsity of the hypothesis I'd been operating under for over 40 years.  

I was not to blame for any of his choices.  Not this time.  Not ever.

About a week into last month's withdrawal I smacked my face into a hip-high bookcase bending down to pick up something I'd kicked into due to my visual impairment.  This gave me the opportunity to verify the truth of the metaphor I've repeatedly used to describe to him the pain his withdrawals inflicted on me.  I would say that I could not imagine a punch in the face could be any more painful.  Now I know for sure that is true and not hyperbole. Now I can testify that being emotionally and physically frozen out by someone whose 'love' is the center of your world is equally painful, equally cruel and equally unjust as a physical blow.  

By any other name it is abuse.

By no definition available in any dictionary or philosophy does this behavior have one whit to do with love.

Another epiphany related to how all this impacted my writing came to me while watching a YouTube ad about Joyce Carol Oates's Masterclass in which she is emphasizing the importance of being a truth teller to any kind of serious writing.  That you have to be willing to look fearlessly at even uncomfortable truths and not flinch at revealing them in your work.  I'm totally paraphrasing but the gist is there.  

I came to realize that there were two levels on which my refusal to face the truth of my marriage's dynamic was sabotaging my writing. The first level is in all the unconscious effort my psyche invested in not seeing the truth and the second level was all the conscious effort that went into protecting him from being found out by family, friends, acquaintances, employers and landlords.  The primary way I protected him was by keeping my mouth shut so that I never contradicted something he may have said when I wasn't present and this always devolved to shutting down the flow of words on paper and screen as well. 

It also resulted in my sabotaging all the relationships I had before marriage and prevented me from developing any other close adult friendships.  If you are always watching every word you think or say for potential booby traps you eventually learn to practice silence.  True friendship cannot thrive where truth is not welcome.

That doesn't even begin to touch on the aspect of being willing to speak the truth publicly once you are able to say it to yourself.  This post may be considered TMI to some and even completely inappropriate. Though I have had Ed's permission since 2005 the year my Dad was dying to share on my blog some of the negative impact his behaviors were having on my writing, I know there are those in both my family and his that believe that you don't air dirty laundry in public and might find some of what I share shaming to the family.

Even Ed might find some of what I'm willing to share now objectionable but since he is now completely ghosting me he is unlikely to encounter it. Thus it is far from my intent to weaponize my words to exact revenge on him. Or even just influence him in any way. He is neither the target of my words nor my intended audience.  

My entire purpose is to excavate my own soul and reclaim my own sense of self. So to prevent even accidental negative blowback on him I spend some minutes every day holding him in the Light of Divine Love praying for him to find his own way back to his own true self. I no longer feel any duty to be the one to rescue him.

This post is written for my writing community and any family member who might encounter it will just have to deal because I am through being silent about the central truths of my life.  I am through having others dictate to me what is OK for me to think, or say or believe. I am through protecting everyone else from their shame while taking it on myself in silent agony.

This is almost precisely how I felt in 1994 when I broke from the cultish funde church I was raised in when the Elders were splitting up extended families with excommunications over doctrinal minutia while quietly covering up domestic violence, child abuse and molestation perpetrated by those allowed to teach from the pulpit. I wrote in my journal at the time:
 all those sober Elders who appointed themselves our teachers, who point proudly to the missing Rev. before their name and the lacking Ph. D. following, are far from lacking in B.S.  Their head’s and heart’s are stuck so far up inside their hollowed out egos--that echo chamber where they hear nothing but the sound of their own voices, but think it God’s--they couldn’t see the light if the sun orbited their eyeballs and they couldn’t know God’s love if Jesus himself walked up and kissed them on the nose.  None of them will ever have any further authority over me, mind, body, soul, or spirit.  I would wash their feet in my spit!  And anoint their brows with the sweat of my pits!  They are worse than the blackest hearted crook.  They are hypocrites!  When they try to make out like they got God’s mouth in their ear, I want to ask how far he sticks his tongue in!
That's me writing as a fearless truth teller.  I need to find her again.  To own her again.

I thought that over the following decade I'd learned to think for myself but now I realize that I've never been able to feel comfortable with any conclusion I came to on any topic if I sensed any disagreement or disapproval from Ed.  I thought I'd repudiated my need to proselytize but apparently I still had a burning need to convince someone besides my own self of a truth before I could own it completely.   My husband became my guru.  Not by his conscious design but by default because I had not yet learned to own my own mind.

Now I have to go back over all that old ground all over again.  That is why, like with my last several NaNo projects, this ROW80 round is going to be focused on personal journaling.  There will be some stream of consciousness word flow but for the most part I'll be writing to a slew of topic or specific memory prompts I've collected in those recent NaNo files and will continue to add to as concepts or memories occur to me.  Some of those memories will be written using the same techniques as in fiction which I hope will re-enliven those skills and hone them for a near future return to my storyworld.


2020 Round 3 ROW80 and July Camp NaNo goals:



  • Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  This used to be a major challenge for me but I've got it managed since mid March.  No more all-over-the-clock sleep 'schedule'. No more multiple day awake manic episodes.  And I've done all that in spite of going off anti-depressants over a year ago.  I switched to over the counter 5HTP, tripling the dose I'd been taking as a supplement for over a decade.  Done with med nurse supervision.  The process proved that most of the mood disorder symptoms were rooted in sleep deprivation fueled by anxiety which is part of the sensory information processing issue in Asperger's.   
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Swaying on the mini-tramp can include all three simultaneous.  There are a number of other ways I can do any one or combine two but it is essential that each one is included every day.  And this represents baby steps as it is barely a quarter of a healthy level of these activities.  Besides they have proven to provide a high yield return on investment as whenever I've practiced any of them it stimulates creativity, memory, and insight; lowers anxiety, and increases energy, stamina and a positive mood.
  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15 min Daily MInimum -- This is a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler in the book From Where You Dream.
  • Read Fiction 30 min Daily Average
  • Read/Study Craft 15 min Daily Average 
  • Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important.  Plus this is preparing the ground for future promotion once I'm ready to publish
  • 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  It's been years since I've made clean copies of manuscripts in my portfolios and for most of the noveling writing challenges I've never printed hardcopy.  That is a lot of words to mine as between 2004 and 2015 I participated in more than one such challenge per year-- Nanowrimo, Junowrimo, Camp Nano, ROW80 and Sweating for Sven.among them.  That is a lot of novella length WIP just gathering electron dust.  A conservative estimate is over 20.  I've been wondering for sometime now if the neglect of these stories after the challenges were over is at least partly responsible for the storyworld's elusiveness over the last several years.  I'm hoping that this exercise in honoring their existence will cure my character's recent shyness.
  • To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged.  This will take most of the Round as there are over 80. See Poems by Joy Renee Portal.  Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • Personal Journaling 45 min or 1000 words whichever come first Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  This is not intended for future publication tho I do expect that eventually material begun here will lend itself to development into personal essays for blog posts and new poems and stories.  This is what I've been doing for the last several NaNo and I'm hoping that the addition of the new willingness to seek and own my personal truth through this exercise will unlock the fictional storyworlds for me again by the first of the year if not in time for this November's NaNo.
  • Read more...

    Sunday, July 05, 2020

    Sunday Serenity --Poems for Life



    Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

    There is just something about having poems read aloud to you.
    Especially by someone who knows how to read them effectively.
    And with a voice like buttered toast.
    I've listened to several on this channel but this one is really speaking to me in my current trials.

    Read more...

    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    Library Loot June 2020

    Library Loot June 2020
    The Public Library here in Longview, Washington has just begun accepting returns of items still in our possession at the time the shelter-in-place rules came into play locally in late March.  And they are accepting placement of holds and the checking out of up to five items for six weeks.  The catch is there is still no going inside.  Delivery of the items is via drive through and the arrangements need to be made ahead of time by email or phone so the items can be prepared for you on the day of your arrival.  Prepared includes checking them out to your account even though you are not there to present your card and placing them in a sack.  When you arrive in the parking lot you remain in your car and someone approaches to request your ID and then the bag prepared for you is brought.  In this case since I don't drive my sister was my designated retriever as arranged via email earlier in the week.

    The four items:


    • DVD of the movie RBG about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
    • Book on CD: The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
    • Tree book: Islam in the Modern  World : Challenged by the West, Threatened by Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith With Tradition by Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
    • Tree book: The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati


    Islam in the Modern World was a surprise as it was not one of the items I placed on hold.  It was related closely by subject but yet very different.  The one still showing as on hold in my account is: My Isl@m : how fundamentalism stole my mind--and doubt freed my soul by Amir Ahmad Nasr. 

    Ah, same last name. 

    This one is a memoir of someone extricating themselves from a fundamentalist religion and I collect these stories to compare with my own experience.  I find that all the fundamentalisms have more in common with each other than with the mainstream or traditional practice and faith of their own religion.  Tho I'm disappointed in having to wait until next time for the memoir I'm quite interested in the overview of the same issue by the Islamic scholar.

    The other tree book was the first item I put on hold as soon as news came of the plans for drive-thru checkout. I had The Catholic School checked out from late fall right up until about a week before the Library closed for the duration.  Tree books are very difficult for me to read and the bigger they are the harder it is to control the placement of the page in relation to the angle of the light and the distance to my one eye that can still see text with 3x magnification. 

    This book is over 1200 pages.  It takes me five to seven minutes per page and my wrists and arms tire after half an hour.  So do the math.  It is still not available in audio at the Library of Congress talking books or BARD and the Kindle is going for $19.99.    Get real!  I've discovered via on-line searches that the ebook is available through the Overdrive/Liby systems that contract with local libraries but the Longview library has not acquired it for their Washington Anytime Library.

    I'm really excited to get back to The Catholic School and am hoping I won't have to start over.  The book is translated from the Italian and is a coming of age story that is based on events in the authors own life that are centered around a horrifying national scandal that took place in the 1970s when several young men who had attended the same Catholic School as the author abducted, tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered multiple young women.  Albinati attempts to analyze all the cultural influences that contributed to the psyches of these young men.

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    Monday, June 15, 2020

    Neither One Nor the Other--Maybe Both?

    Infinity Scarf/Shawl
    I made this Infinity Shawl in approximately three weeks.  I started it the week of May 20th a few days after I'd 9 finished for the month of May at that point.  I allowed myself to start this new project as a reward and with a promise I was going to work it steady until done. One of my motives was to find out how long it took me to work through a whole cake of Red Heart It's a Wrap.

    I was estimating a week but it took about three although the events around the final breakup of my marriage ate into crochet time and near the end of the cake it developed a snarl that took me over two days to untangle.  So I think a fair estimate is 10-14 days of steady work averaging four hours per day.

    One of the reasons I need to know how long it takes is ever since I ordered and began working with my first It's a Wrap I began collecting the colorways including multiples in my favorites.  I've already made another infinity scarf with a hood and a circular collar tent dress thingie with large mesh for wearing over summer outfits or swimsuits.  I've not posted pics of either of them because they are in the all-but-finished bag awaiting tail tucks and other finishing touches.  I've also got two more shawls on the hook--one a triangle the other a mandala.  And I've got plans for two or three shawl and skirt matching sets.

    Red Heart It's a Wrap - Action

    The Mandala shawl I'm making is with the colorway Action and I've ordered a total of 5 of that colorway in the last year.  I'm intending to make a skirt and a sleeveless top out of it to make an entire outfit with the shawl.  There is another colorway in blacks and grays I've collected for the same purpose.

    This yarn is a lace weight cotton/acrylic blend that creates a supple drape and is soft to the touch.  I delight in working with it.

    Read more...

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