Day 10 – I quit

What I want more than anything else right now is to achieve self-discipline. Quitting might seem an odd way to begin focusing on that goal, but a key aspect of self-discipline, as opposed to imposed discipline, is that it should be meaningful.

For me, daily blogging is not meaningful. It’s a dead bore – largely because I’m so darn fixated on thinking about something to write about that will justify hitting the publish button, that I don’t have time to think or do anything that’s actually worth writing about. Enough! Henceforth, I will aim to write a little every day, but to post only weekly, on Wednesdays.

Mainly, though, I want to begin establishing some other disciplines, or habits. And this is a challenge, because although being up and moving is easier and less painful, it’s still hard. My energy levels are still frustratingly low; I really thought they’d be better by now, but although my head is generally clearer and I have periods of reasonable energy, I get tired quickly. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re carrying around a whole extra person.

Anyway… I’ve made a list of stuff I need to do every day. Mostly it’s housework and a few outside chores. There’s some desk work, including writing and income generation, so that when I need to sit down I can do so without wasting time. And there are some activities I do just for joy’s sake, like training Argos.

Little by little, I am reconstructing my life, incorporating a richness than I’ve not been able to allow myself for … far too long.

With the Daniel diet I’m getting my body into shape. No of course I haven’t quit the diet – do you think I’m nuts? It’s no fun and I’m pretty sick of it, but I’ve survived the first 25%; just one month to go and I can adopt a less restrictive approach to eating. I’ll be controlling my diet for the rest of my life, of course, but it won’t always have to be this stringent.

Anyway … the body is coming right. Now I want to expand beyond my skin and pay a little more attention to my immediate environment.

At the back of my mind is the knowledge that I’m still neglecting the most important task, which is to focus on the spiritual … but I’m just not ready to do that right now. It’s too easy to start out praying and end up navel-gazing. So I’m just trusting in God to wait for me for a little longer.

That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for staying with me!

Your turn. Are you happy with the shape of your life right now? What techniques help you live to the full each day? Continue reading “Day 10 – I quit”

Just another Wednesday

Some days give one a quiet sense of things accomplished, small steps taken in the right direction. I’ve had a few of those just lately, and it feels good! No huge achievements or startling epiphanies – just life lived quietly, one day at a time.

Like … sitting down now to write my second blog post in a week – thanks mainly to inspiration by the inimitable Aussa. (Yes, okay, go and look, click “follow”, but mind you come back, okay?)

For the first time in months, maybe years, writing is not a struggle. I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anybody, including myself. I could work on any of a number of ideas I’ve lined up among my drafts, but instead I’m just going to record today – because really good days make memories, and really bad days leave wounds, but days like today get lived, and that’s worth noting.

Had to interrupt this for a quick errand of mercy. It is HOT – 106F, and I just saw one of our swallows on the veranda outside the window that I’m facing. (We have a pair that comes every year to raise a family or two under the veranda roof. I would like a whole colony; the poop is a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it to have NO FLIES on that side of the house, despite being close to the corral.) The poor creature was all fluffed up and panting. The river is only a quarter mile away, but I wouldn’t want to have to go that far in this heat. So anyway, I’ve put a bowl of water on the table outside, with a stone in it for perching on, and two guinea fowl all the way from South Africa, because all the best restaurants have exotic decor.

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And … now I have company. Himself and I share an office, and sometimes that’s a lot of togetherness. I do have my own (incipient) office, aka the Ivory Tower, upstairs … except that we don’t actually have stairs to get up to it. The room was inserted under the roof as an afterthought while the house was being built, and we have yet to figure out where the stairs should go. So for now, Himself and I share, and I should mention that he is unleashing his muse. Alackaday!

He is creating a video, complete with a carefully selected theme tune, that he filmed this morning, while I was playing with the tractor. The farrier is coming tomorrow to give Vos and Lizzy their monthly manicure, and I think we’re overfeeding them because the amount of poop they had generated was enough to make you go DUNGGGGGG. Jim scraped it all up into a tidy heap, which he was about to push off to the side of the corral, but then it occurred to me that I should probably learn to do tractor work myself because, you know, he’s getting old and all, and occasionally cranky, and anyway I’m fed up with being ineffectual around machinery. So I poked around a bit between reverse and first gear and – WHOOPS – up onto the dunghill, and making the scraper thingy go up and down, and you have no idea how big a gouge it makes when you rev and those huge tractor tires spin in the dirt! Eventually the heap was artistically untidy again and I had enough dust behind my contact lenses to feel that honor had been satisfied, so I let him get on with it.

No, I am not going to share the video. I was wearing shorts. My knees are visible. They have dimples. Nobody without the questionable benefit of a marriage license needs to see that. You’re welcome.

Anyway, driving the tractor was only one of the interesting things that happened today. The fun started shortly after sunrise, when I reminded Himself of various outdoor chores we had to do before the heat became unbearable. So the first task of the day was to persuade four reluctant and exceedingly stupid steers to move from one pasture to another. This involved much slow stomping through tussocky grass waving long whips, while they basically ignored me. Not for the first time I fantasized about just hopping up onto Vos driving them – I know for darn sure he was a cowhorse in a previous life – but that is probably not going to happen any time soon. This is why…

Vos Rearing

Then it was time to clean up the corral before Himself got going with his tractor. While I was picking up the random bits of junk that had somehow ended up in there (willow branches that Vos and Lizzie have done chewing on, and random toys and bits of wood that the wind or the dogs have brought in), I noticed that we’d grown ourselves a new crop of rocks. Yes, indeed, here in Eastern Washington we grow rocks. A scientifically inclined friend once tried to blame it on tectonic plates, but I’m pretty sure it’s trolls. Anyway, I wandered off to the veggie garden in search of a wheelbarrow so that I could cart them off somewhere useful. Himself said it was next to the grape arbor, but…

07-16 Weeds are winning

… I couldn’t find it.

After my previously described tractor-riding adventure, I came back inside and read a few chapters of Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings” (highly recommended). Then I channeled Dave Ramsey and updated our debt snowball for the first time in about eight months and discovered that our debts had shrunk by about one-third despite being completely ignored, thanks to nothing more complicated than scheduled bank payments and this:

Credit card cut into pieces
Picture from Dollar Photo Club

Yes, cutting up your credit cards really does work. Who knew?

And now here I am, watching the shadows stretch toward the river while the swallows swoop around the veranda. There are a couple of finches, too, panting and ruffled. I hope they notice their water bowl soon! I’m pleasantly achey from the morning’s exercise, and I feel good about what I’ve done with today. It’s quiet – Himself is done with his artistic endeavors, and is off reading somewhere. The dogs are sprawled on the floor, asleep. All is calm.

Ah. Spoke too soon.The baby wants his dinner…

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Argos

What are the ingredients of an ordinary but good day for you?

“The Significant Burden of Being a Grownup”, by Andrew Smith

I don’t know Andrew Smith’s work but will definitely be looking out for “Grasshopper Jungle”. Because I LOVE reading YA literature, firstly – not all of it; I dislike the really dark stuff (and it’s out there), and I REALLY dislike the stuff about nasty girls doing mean things to each other. But beyond that crud, you’ll often find the most creatively adventurous out-of-the-box imagining in YA lit.

What particularly encourages me about Smith’s comments here, however, is his statement that YA is a genre, it’s not about the age of the readers. That is so true, yet it had literally never occurred to me! It gives a whole new perspective to my own book, “Raven’s Way”, and for the first time in a long while I feel inclined to dig it out, throw off the restrictive bs I’ve “learned” about “writing for kids”, and get serious about rewriting the story I want to tell, the way I want to tell it.

Nerdy Book Club

In the summer of 2011, an awful lot of terrible things happened to me. It was kind of like the end of the world in many ways (cue apocalypse inspiration). My son, who was only 16, was getting ready to leave home and go away to college, and then one of those predictable and periodic internet/social media firestorms erupted over an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal describing the harm inflicted on young people by the dark and negative content in Young Adult literature.

You know the piece, I’m sure. The author happened to name me first, quoting from my novel The Marbury Lens, as though I were some sort of apex predator in the Axis of Child-Damaging Literary Evil.

I take things like that really personally. I know I shouldn’t, but as a parent, and as someone who is very involved with young people, being labeled…

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Inhale, hold nose, jump

Here’s the thing … this blog is boring. It’s boring because I’ve been too scared to let it out of its closet. I write things, then I think “Oh shit, what if someone reads this … and knows it’s about ME? What if someone is hurt, or offended, or thinks I’m a loser?”

Well, stuff it. If you’re hurt or offended, get off the page. If you know I love you, you better know I know you’re not perfect, and I don’t care. And, furthermore, if you claim to love me, you better not care about my warts either. If you do, that’s your problem – you deal with it. And if you don’t know me but think, on reading, that you might like to, feel free to stick around. Say your piece. I’d like to hear what you think.

As for me … I don’t know why I feel the need to blog, but I have a gut-deep sense that THIS is the way back to serious writing, and THAT is the one real thing I need to do. I am 56 years old, for crying out loud … It’s time to quit procrastinating and start doing. No more spending hours of daylight in bed, hiding behind a book, watching the hours tick by, and wondering what the fuck happened to my life.

So. I took a breath and I posted a piece that’s been sitting in hiding for a couple weeks. I jumped. 

I’ve hit the water. I’m down deep. I’m swimming.