Monthly Archives: May 2011

Time to Eat My Words?

Remember back at the beginning of May when I wrote about how I managed to write last year even though my life exploded. Bad idea. The universe being the ironic place I have come to know and love, my life proceeded to explode even further. And this time, my writing suffered substantially.

I just became a full-time home-schooling mama to two of my four kids.  Suffice it to say, I would never have planned to start homeschooling my kids two months before school lets out for the summer, but sometimes the things our children need come out of left field and we just have to yield.  So, like many mothers before me, I did what my children needed when they needed it, and I will be pulling my life out of the rubble when the dust settles.

Since then, I have been using most of my writing time for curriculum planning. I know this is a temporary period in our lives and I will have more time for my writing soon. (Hey, look, I’m working on a blog post – that’s something). In the meantime, I am jotting down notes in odd moments, outlining chapters during swim lessons, and keeping my eye on the long-term goals.

My website on play stalled on take-off, a depressing, but unavoidable situation.  As soon as I have a more solid grasp of this home-schooling thing, that is the first project I will be picking up seriously.

In the meantime, I am still writing. Just less. For now

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Stylish Blogger

Apparently, I am a Stylish Blogger. At least according to Patrick Ross over at The Artist’s Road. He has given me the “Stylish Blogger Award.”

In accepting this award, I am supposed to share seven random things about myself and pass on the award to five other bloggers. I hereby allow all recipients mentioned in this blog to ignore the chain mail aspect and accept the award anyway. For a humourous approach to not passing on the award, read HuffyGirl’s response to being recognized. I see it as a way to pass on kudos for blogs I read regularly, but don’t always make the time to comment on, so I’m going to play along.

Random Factoid #5: I practiced law with Barry Eisler. Seeing him making a living from his writing makes me insanely jealous work harder at my writing.

I’ll get to the other random facts in a moment, but first, a word about these other blogs. I read blogs to stimulate my creativity, motivate myself to write, and acquire new information. And I love novelty. I browse a lot of blogs, but I read few consistently. For the purposes of this award, I am focusing on blogs that touch me personally and that I visit often.

The Artist’s Road is one of my regular reads, so I am particularly chuffed that Patrick gave me this award. If someone else had given it to me, I would have given it to him. His blog is a mix of personal reflections, interviews or guest posts, and curated links to other web resources on creativity. A lovely balance. Thank you, Patrick.

Random Factoid #3: I am English by birth. I use chuffed in conversation. I also use whinge, git, gob-smacked, and knackered. I should use jiggery-pokery more often.

But, back to those bloggers I wish to give a Stylish Blogger Award. I have chosen to focus on blogs that have a style that fits their purpose. Not necessarily chic or fashionable, but something that keeps me coming back.

Laughing at Chaos: I discovered this blog through #gtchat on Twitter, a weekly chat on issues related to gifted and talented learners that @laughingatchaos and I both attend from time to time. She is raising twice-exceptional (gifted with learning disabilities) boys and blogs about the challenges she faces with a wonderful sense of humour.  I also have twice-exceptional boys, but I don’t blog about them. If I did blog about them, I wouldn’t be as funny as she is, so it’s better to just read what she says.

Random Factoid #2: As a child, I was the only girl I knew who played Little League baseball.

Lisa Rivero has two blogs and I love them both.  At Writing Life, she writes as a writer about writing, reading, and thinking, and posts small segments from her current work in progress.  At Everyday Intensity, she focuses on intense learners, giftedness, creativity and personal growth. She thinks deeply and writes eloquently at both sites.

Random Factiod #6: I have driven west across the continental United States (Boston to California) camping in State and National Parks twice, both times by myself. Two different northern routes.

The blog at Mandala Design Works is a special treasure. Mandala Design Works is a joint venture of 4 artists: Anita Bondi, Marci Molina, Stan Stewart, and Susan Bradford. Between them, they work in many media. The blog is linked to their online store and they all write for it. The blog features snippets of reflection, inspiration, or playfulness. Because the posts are usually short, I can drop by in a free moment and enjoy a brief encounter with a creative spirit. I am particularly partial to Stan Stewart’s poetry.

I am going to pause for some math. I have passed on this award to 4 blogs created by 6 bloggers. That averages to 5, so I am willing to call it done. But I have fallen behind on my random facts. So, without further ado, more random facts.

Random Factoid #1: My black Doc Martens had 14 holes. The purple ones had 8.

Random Factoid #4: Chances are I cannot Name That Tune – even if I love it and know all the words.

Random Factoid #7: I once managed to fall on my left shoulder and break my right thumb.

And there you have it: 4 blogs, 6 bloggers and 7 random factoids.

Enjoy!

The New Year’s Resolution I Didn’t Make

I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions this year. I discussed why in this post.

In particular, I didn’t make any resolutions about losing the last of the weight I gained during my last pregnancy. I gained the recommended 50-60 pounds for triplet pregnancies. Then, I was busy caring for young triplets and their older sibling. Exercise and healthy eating were vague notions rather than practices. And about 15 pounds stuck around.

Last year, I wanted to lose the weight but couldn’t do it. And it made me miserable. I wanted to be happier and if I wasn’t going to be thinner, I wanted my happiness not to depend on my size. So, this year, I let it go. I turned to InterPlay’s tools of Easy Focus to help me let go of my harsh focus on the number on the scale.

With Easy Focus, we open our perspective beyond a narrow, harsh, driven focus on specifics and allow ourselves to notice with our peripheral vision. As a physical cue to make this change in our bodies, we pretend to grab the tension from between our eyes, with one hand touching our foreheads, and then fling that imaginary tension out into the air while saying “Wheeee!” If it sounds silly, that’s because it is.  And that’s part of the point.  Easy Focus has a sense of humour.

Another Easy Focus technique is to imagine an issue or problem floating around in the air rather than sitting on our shoulders. It is a practice that invites the universe to hold to problem for us, rather like the idea that one can “let go and let God,” a way of acknowledging a burden without being weighed down by it. It is an imaginative practice, but it can have the physical effect of letting an individual body relax.

I let go of goals about my weight. Just let them float into the air around me.

Life is funny.

My husband tinkers with the way he eats. A few months ago, he announced he was going to try the Paleo diet. The theory is that human culture has evolved faster than human bodies and that our bodies have not evolved beyond eating a diet of foods that could be hunted or gathered. Legumes, grains, and dairy are regarded as non-food.  I was skeptical, but I watched as he ate that way for a few weeks.

He lost weight. He looked better. He felt better.

So I figured I would play with it and see. I noticed the  information my body gave me: how I felt, what foods I craved, how much I enjoyed eating, and how my weight shifted. I notices some interesting things. In my body, grains and dairy create cravings. If I don’t eat them, I don’t crave them.  But, if I have a little, my body wants more. Snacking on crunchy vegetables is satisfying when I don’t have the grain and dairy cravings.

And, my weight is very sensitive to grains and dairy.  Without any sense of deprivation, my body started shedding weight when I ate this way.  A week of sliding a little pushed the weight right back up and I felt sluggish and grumpy. And that negative change reversed quickly when I went back to eating fruit, vegetables, meat and nuts.

In InterPlay, we call the signals we get from our body ‘Body Data’, our accumulated knowledge about our bodies ‘Body Knowledge’ and our ability to use Body Knowledge to make good choices for our bodies ‘Body Wisdom’.

Your Body Data is different from mine. What your body wants may not be what my body wants.  But, I have discovered how my body wants to be fed. I found new Body Wisdom.

And I did it playfully.  With curiosity and interest.  No pressure.  Just a new practice and observation.

Writing When Life Explodes: It Can Be Done

This time last year, I was pumped from the 2010 Ontario Writers′ Conference and was pressing ahead with both writing and planning more writing. I was starting to develop a short story into a novel. My youngest kids were getting ready for full-day school and I was planning how I would spend my time writing while the kids were in school.

But, life got in the way.

Two of my children struggle with the institutions of education and have had challenging years. I have spent the bulk of this year either worrying about my kids when I could have been writing or providing school at home. Add to that a bad flu season with 4 kids and my scheduled work hours have become a joke.

Even with the demands of my family ruining my plans for this year, I have kept writing. Looking back, I realize that a few principles have been key:

  1. Commit to delivering work to people on a fixed date. I hate disappointing people. Deadlines push me to make time even when I thought I had none.
  2. Write every day. I don’t always succeed on this one, but, just like eating healthily, I know I feel better when I do, and knowing that helps me push toward that goal.
  3. Answer the question ″What do you do?″ with ″I write.″ If I tell people I write, I have to write to make it true. I wouldn’t want to make a liar out of myself.

Attending the 2011 Ontario Writers′ Conference last weekend, I found myself reflecting on the past year.

Last year, at the Conference, Robert J. Sawyer reminded us of Robert Heinlein′s rules of writing. A version of the talk he gave is available here. If you are unfamiliar with Heinlein′s rules, they are:

  1. Write.
  2. Finish what you write.
  3. Don′t rewrite.
  4. Submit what you write.
  5. Keep it on the market until you sell it.

Sawyer added a sixth rule: Start something new while you are submitting the other piece or pieces.

Robert Heinlein′s rules as amended by Robert J. Sawyer make good advice and I have been trying to follow them this year.

When I attended the conference last year, I had just become dedicated to creative writing after decades of dabbling. Last year, I entered a flash fiction competition almost every other month and won once. I used NaNoWriMo to complete a first draft of a YA novel. I had a short story published. The story I was trying to adapt as a novel turned out to be better as a short story, so I left it in that form. I have blogged irregularly at two sites, and guest posted at a few other sites. Not as much writing as I had hoped, but much more than I had completed in the previous year.

Last year, I chose not to have a blue pencil session at the conference to get feedback on my writing. This year, I submitted the opening of my YA novel in progress to an agent. And the feedback was encouraging.

At the conference, I met a woman who is just beginning her journey as a writer. Talking to her, I realized how much I have developed as a writer in one distracted year. In addition to writing and submitting, I have joined a writers′ networking group where I have found companionship and support. I have figured out what I need in a writing group and am networking to find one or put one together myself.

If you are in Durham, ON and need a serious critique/editing group, let me know.

I am making a few changes to the commitments I make for the next year to push myself to solidify better writing routines. I am not going to push myself too hard. My kids are creative, divergent thinkers like their parents, and raising them requires a lot of flexibility. But, I know from my experience this year that I can do it. I can write, despite the other chaos of my life.

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