Saturday, November 29, 2014

It’s that time of the year again

I was whining to M.H. the other day about how I was so jealous I hadn’t come up with certain brilliant ideas because if I had, I could definitely—maybe easily!—have written the best-selling books that resulted from them. My problem, I said, was that I never got any brilliant book ideas.

He reminded me of an idea I told him about months ago and informed me that it was good enough, that I could definitely work with it, that I just needed to put in the effort. Hmm. Maybe so.

So that leaves me face to face with the actual problem: that I am terrified to start a project like this.

I keep thinking of Gretchen Rubin’s advice for tackling a huge thing, which is to set aside 15 minutes—and only 15 minutes—to work on it every day. That idea is really more for projects like “organize 22 years’ worth of photos”—which I also desperately want to do—than for creative endeavors. But I wonder if I could apply the same principle so that I make at least some progress on the book every day, even if it’s minuscule. Something like 200 words? That’s shorter than this blog post.

So I’m thinking New Year’s resolution. If the book turns out to be terrible, I won’t really have lost that much of my time (and income-earning potential) to it. And if I do chicken out, I can always switch to that photo organization thing and still call it a win.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Expert Advice: Writing about doing something awesome

Every now and then I think about the Ironman I did THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO (can you believe it’s been so long??) and I inevitably get sucked back into reading my blog posts from that time. (The entirety of the race month, June 2011, is of course a particular favorite.) I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of reading about it. And I’m still not sure if I was more using writing to keep myself motivated to train or rather just training just so I’d have something cool to write about.

But the two fed into each other so beautifully that it’s put me in the mood to give you some Expert Advice on this one and only thing that I’m an Expert on:

Expert advice for doing something awesome: If you write about what you’re doing with a positive spin—or at least reframe a negative development into a hilarious anecdote or a lesson learned—you can use your writing to shape your reality. I found that the feelings that I wrote for myself became true, even if they sometimes started out a bit, um, loosely based on the truth. Lots of times my training was discouraging or mundane, and I just plain refused to write it up that way because I wanted to challenge myself with my blog, too, and my main goal there was to be entertaining. I learned as I went along that memory can be selective, and the parts you commit to writing are the parts your brain clings to. On top of that, the plans and intentions I wrote for myself also came true, so much so that it was occasionally downright eerie (like in the case of my pre-race “Fantasy Race Report,” which—I just checked—ended up being about 90 percent accurate).

Expert advice for writing: If you like to write, and you happen to be doing something really cool in your life, that material is G-O-L-D. Do not waste it! Write that puppy up, whether you intend to share it with the world or not. It is such a gift to write something that wants to be written—and I speak as someone who desperately wants to write regularly but has almost nothing of particular interest to write about anymore (which is just about the saddest thing I ever heard; note to self—fix it). As a bonus, afterward you will have the best souvenir ever.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The new normal

5 a.m. swim practice is continuing to turn our lives upside down, but some of it is good. It means I get in two extra yoga classes a week with my favorite teacher, and I’m starting to feel really strong again for the first time since my shoulder injury more than a year ago. It’s still hard to force myself out of bed, though. And, hypocritical as it is, I still can’t repress my instinctual reaction when I walk in the door at that hour and see EVERY treadmill humming, which is, “All you people are nuts.”

Going to bed and getting up early also puts us more in sync with the sunlight. There’s really no getting around it being dark for a bunch of your waking hours this time of year, but the sun has been rising just about the time I’m leaving yoga or am working on breakfast, which is nice.

The major downside, though, is that we are even more out of sync with Dex. I rescheduled our dinner hour so that most of the time we can all be there, and I’m clinging to it hard, even if it’s just once a day—and even if three of us have to go to bed right after the dishes are done.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dirt under my fingernails

Despite the fact that I will be working a little both Saturday and Sunday, this is the closest thing I’ve had to a restful weekend in months. Check it out: I got to sleep in AND I went outside for an hour. I might even go crazy and jump into the bathtub with a book later.

It’s a good thing my schedule allowed me to leave my desk today, because I really needed to plant those bulbs I bought online before our weather takes a very nasty turn next week. I would have done it a long time ago when I was still gung-ho, but the bulb people were adamant that I not plant until the weather was consistently in the 50s or below. That’s so the bulbs won’t rot in the ground, so it seems like good advice, but the word “consistent” doesn’t really apply to Montana. I never saw a weather window that I thought was appropriate, but this weekend was definitely the last chance: Technically it’s still too warm, but starting Monday it’s going to be below way freezing all week and might snow 70 feet.

I’m bummed that winter is about to start, but hey—October was absolutely lovely, so at least we know the snowy season isn’t going to drag on for six months this year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And now a word from my sleep deprivation

It’s no Ironman or anything, but I would say the exhaustion of being a parent volunteer trapped at a swim meet all weekend ranks right up there with…I dunno. Swimming in a swim meet all weekend, maybe. I had almost no voice afterward—a result of cheering for my kid, being the announcer for three days straight, and (mostly) trying to have shouted conversations with people in the world’s loudest venue. M.H. and I also had a planned but drastic deviation from our diets because we knew there wouldn’t be anything low-carb available there. By Sunday night, we had HAD IT in every possible way (including the “I never want to see Halloween candy again” way).

Then instead of resting and recovering on Monday, we jumped right back into getting up at 4:30 a.m.

I’ve been using those early mornings to go to yoga, sometimes, but mostly to work. It’s ridiculous how I’ve been living lately, actually. The days are short enough now that to say I work from sunup to sundown is an extreme understatement. Every afternoon, the setting sun hits my computer monitor in just the wrong way and causes a glare that makes it hard to work—and that’s how I know another day of my life is shot, because generally I haven’t set foot outside.

I know I need to make some changes, but right now I’m too tired to think of any solutions, other than writing a cathartic blog post and then getting back to taking a shovel to the giant pile of work.

P.S. to people who care about the swim meet: Mik did great! I wasn’t sure how it would go, because I know he’s exhausted, too, but he improved his times in eight out of eleven events and got his first “A” time, which is a big deal. His strokes look strong and much improved from last season.