Random Thoughts on the New Year

In the tradition of starting the way I wish to go on, I overslept by several hours this morning.  Then I hopped on the exercise bike* for a while and then showered.  I drank a glass of water and then had some coffee with milk.

This is all being placed under the heading of Taking Care of Myself, which is my theme of 2015.**  Even the milk.

There were several bright spots in 2014, including meeting a few dear friends face-to-face for the first time (Hi, Marion, Lyra, Laura, Lisa, Amy, Dee, and Luis—and also Sherry, because seeing you is always wonderful!), finishing the draft of a novel and receiving some terrific comments on some stories I’ve written in the past.

But those lovely moments were more the exception than the rule.  And I think, looking back, that this was mostly my fault.

I was anxious last year.  Worried and self-conscious and depressed and burnt out.  I experienced several disappointments and disappointed myself in the handling of them.

The biggest reason for this was that I kept holding myself to personal standards I could not possibly meet, and didn’t realize that my mistake wasn’t in failing those standards, but in holding myself to them in the first place.

How can I possibly care for myself when I’m too busy beating myself up?

So I’m going to try not to do that this year.

This year, I’m holding myself to different standards:

I’m going to sleep more without guilt

Sleep QWERTY

Who says sleeping is a waste of my time?

Behind too sleep deprived to function is a waste, too, right?

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 I’m going to read a little every day

Inside a Book

Why mess with an excellent track record?

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I’m going to write every day.

Jane Writes

And whatever I write and however much I write will be enough for that day.

Doesn’t mean I can’t improve on the previous day’s efforts.

Does mean I’m not allowed to beat myself up for “falling short”.

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I’m going to follow Anne Lamott’s anti-diet.

Stop and Eat the Dandelions

I’m throwing out my food journals and exercise journals and apps and scales*** and so on, and will be making my own decisions about what makes my body feel right.

As my nutritionist told me:
“If you need a calculator to tell you how much food you “deserve” to nourish yourself . . . something is wrong.”

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I’m going to get  up and move a little every day.

Bubble Wrap Dance

And whatever I do and however much I do it will be enough.

Because moving, like writing, is one of those things that gets better with practice.

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I’m going to be the best parent I can be for my children—
not for other people who might be watching.

Rock Star Parenting

I am only beholden to my kids to be a good parent, not to anyone else, strangers or relatives.

If I get it wrong—and this is where the impossible standards will rear their smug-ugly heads, I’m sure—we’ll sort it out in their therapy sessions, later.

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I’m going to be kind to others
but set my own limits.

Zap Sign

Not because I think there should be limits to kindness, but because it isn’t kind to carry people if you can teach them to walk, instead.

And kindness given out of obligation can slide into resentment pretty quickly.
And then into guilt about that resentment.
And then . . .  yeah.

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I will stop apologizing for not matching other people’s assumptions about me.

‘Snot my problem I’m not what you expected.

dorothy-parker-quote-i-shall-stay-the-way-i-am-because-i-do-not-give-a

And to be fair, I will stop assuming that I know what those assumptions are in the first place.

That one’s all on me.

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And the big one:

I will stop blaming myself for not getting all of this right all the time.

Broken cup

 Because that’s another impossible standard I can’t maintain.

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These aren’t resolutions, exactly, but I’m resolved to give them a try.

You?

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*This is a lie.  There is not enough grace in my body to hop onto anything, much less an exercise bike with a high, extra-wide seat (plan ahead, I always say) that has been wedged between two sold pieces of furniture.  I have to hop several time on one foot to get off the blessed thing without falling face first onto my printer, but that’s not grace, that’s gravity.

**The theme of 2014 was the Year of Health.  I bought and used the exercise bike and dragged myself to the dentist and the eye doctor—the latter just under the wire—and was informed that I have, as Jane gleefully put it “anti-diabetes” or “hypoglycemia” as my doctor and endocrinologist put it.  So now, I also have a nutritionist who is one of the cooler people I’ve ever met.

***Except the food scale, because I use it to weigh ingredients from a couple of my British cookbooks.  And also letters.

Random Thursday: Random Resolutions

Resolved

Catchy alliteration aside, the following are not resolutions, just a brief, random collection of good ideas that I’ve been meaning to try out.  There’s a distinct difference . . . which I’ll explain as soon as a convincing argument comes to mind. Regardless, now seemed like a good time to put ’em out there so that my friends and family can call me on them a month from now.

If the only benefits I gain from this experiment are the opportunities to provide the joy of righteous nagging within the hearts of my loved ones and to hone my creative excuse-spinning skills, then I’ll consider it blogspace well spent.

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1.

Eat or pack breakfast every day.

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, pa...

I’m usually the absolute opposite of hungry until mid-morning, when I’m suddenly ravenous and thinking seriously about eating pencils to keep my stomach from answering patron questions.

That’s tough on my stomach, the patrons, and the morale of  the library’s pencil population.

It’s one of my core beliefs that writing utensils should not have to live in fear, so I’ll be packing a little something to eat at my desk during break.  Possibly even something nutritional—the morale of the break room vending machine is not my responsibility*—but I wouldn’t want to sabotage myself by making too many rules right away.

Baby doughnuts steps . . .

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2.

Use this, until the weather stops with the homicidal glee, already:

Exercise Bike

I don’t actually own it, yet, but it will arrive early next week, which gives me time to take down the Christmas tree to make room.

This isn’t a new fitness goal—that’s resolution territory—but more a matter of survival; I break out in chilblains just thinking about taking a walk outside right now, and it’s even too cold in the garage to use the treadmill.

For the sake of my sanity, I need an exercise method that’s the next best thing to sitting on my rear end in a warm house, reading.  Something easy on the knees and on sale, with free shipping.

I already have a little plexiglass book rest thing to hook over the monitor—the treadmill is hibernating and won’t miss it until Spring—and I’ll bet, with practice, I could manage to surf the net write edit while I’m pedaling away.

Stop laughing.  It could happen.

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3.  

Kick Pigeons out of the nest again.

Pigeon Lost

I confess—the last few months of last year, I took a querycation.

It was time to take a step back and reassess what I was doing and how I was doing it, and to fix what wasn’t working.

Thanks to a generous, brilliant, and patient friend, I now have a solid query letter and a bit more confidence.  I’ve already worked up another list of agents that could be a good, mutual fit.

And as most of those agents will be reopening their inboxes to new queries next week, which is when I’m taking a week’s vacation from the library, the timing couldn’t be better to launch Pigeons back into the process.

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4.  

Drink more tea.  

About a year ago, I succumbed to the caffeinated seduction of coffee, and it’s been a blast, especially in the mornings, when a blast is most appreciated.

But I miss tea.  I miss the flavors, the ritual . . . and the relative ease of entering my sleep cycle.

Plus it’s that time of year when the combination of wind chill, heating systems, and static electricity starts giving me the Winter itchies, and a little more hydration couldn’t hurt.

Japanese teapot and cups

Does anyone around here know Japanese?  I’d like to know if these are real kanji or kana symbols, and if so, what they mean.  I have a sneaking suspicion the ones on the tea cups say, “tea cup,” but I can’t tell.

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5.  

A Low Daily Minimum Word Count

Counters

Maybe not THIS low…

This is the closest to a real resolution I have, which traditionally means I’m dooming myself to weight-loss goal levels of guilt-ridden failure.

But I’m happier  with a daily goal, not to mention more productive—as long as the goal fits reasonably into my schedule.

It’s no secret around here that I have the occasional problem with identifying reasonable schedules . . . So this is also going to be an exercise in curbing my All or Nothing tendencies.

I’ve heard arguments for higher word goals being better daily habits, but there’s a sustainability issue for me—most of it child-based—and I’ve learned this year that lower goals tend to prime my pump until the bucket overflows anyway.

And, yeah, I should probably add something about eliminating (HEY-o) unseemly metaphors, but we all know the odds of my success.

Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

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Okay—if I made a real resolution, it would look like this:

Resolved2

Anyone else resolute in their non-resolutions?

Care to share?

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*I did not just feel a pang of guilt over that.  I’m . . . digesting.  Yeah.