- My previously-moody kid reverting to a normal kid 😃
- My “Spark” Planner (now the Volt Planner)
- Notability App and the JotPro
- The Secret Weapon, Evernote and GTD integration
- Easter in Boston
- Our new bathroom
- Writer Unboxed Unconference in Salem
- Finishing my YA Sci-Fi novel.
- Our trip to Scotland in June
- Hanging out with my nieces and nephew
- The Hamilton Mixtape
- Writer’s Digest Conference 2016
- Meeting LJ Cohen
- Meeting Kylie Quillinan
- Meeting Jo Eberhardt and Marta Pelrine-Bacon in real life.
- Texting with Linda about Deacon Blue
- Learning to love the Passion Cycle
- Using Anchor to break into podcasting during StoryADay May
- Taking a writing class from Mary Robinette-Kowal
- Interviewing Mary Robinette Kowal for an article
- Being approached by dream editor to write an article for her magazine
- Writing the article
- Having the article accepted
- Pitching my novel at WDC16 and getting 9 agents in 90 minutes to say ‘send me pages’
- Sending out the novel to agents
- Getting encouraging feedback from agents about my novel (even when they were declining to represent it)
- Sharing my novel with K
- Tracking things (time – Laura Vanderkaam, writing words, writing blocks, reading lists, workouts/weight)
- Rye Manhattans
- Port Royale (card game)
- Being on the DIYMFA podcast
- The Potties’ visit
- My critique group
- Going to Sarah’s book signing
- DIYMFA’s Storytelling Superpower Quiz
- Giving a talk at the Wilmington Writers’ Group
- Learning to play “Severus & Lily” on the piano
- Knitting preemie hats for the Kiwanis
- Watching the house across the street being rebuilt
- Connecting with Julie Jordan Scott over Periscope
- Doing a mini Burns Supper with Haggis towers and Atholl Brose
- Sending book proposal
- Meeting book editor at conference
- Interviewing Stuart Horwitz
- Seeing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons performed by the Pennsylvania Philharmonic at our kids’ middle school
- Seeing The Musical Box
- G’s friendship with N
- Hanging out with N’s mom at the pool
- Going to see Bad Moms with B
- A, being a lector at mass
- Remembering that Catholics not-in-Philadelphia-Archdiocese can be cool (thank you Boston!)
- Running my StoryADay Warm Up Bootcamp in April!
- The Serious Writers’ Accountability Group at StoryADay
- Les Miserable at the high school (wow!)
- K getting me tickets to see Amy Schumer and letting me take B
- StoryADay Live! Presentation on Dialogue at Main Line Writers
- Massages with Kate
- Jake Simubukuru concerts at the Colonial
- Doing a 20kg Turkish get up
- Doing a 24 kg Turkish get up
- Facebook Live! on Creativity, from Hogwarts
- G starting Middle School
- G drumming (and starting individual drum lessons)
- G’s band concerts
- A’s chorus concerts
- G joining the Middle school chorus
- A going to Hershey with the chorus
- Going to Broadway trip with A, his friends and a Republican campaign manager the week before the election
- GP coming here for local presentations
- Finishing F’s 50th Aran sweater (and the fact that it fitted beautifully!)
- Apple Pay
- Taking control of the master card bills
- Using AA miles to fly to Writer Unboxed Unconference for free!
- Freelance gig for BD
- City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Going to Glasgow Science Center with L&M
- Going to Horrible Histories Live show with my kids and parents.
- Killing the landline
- Getting G a phone
- A and K building a computer together
- Pokemon Symphonic at the Mann Center
- Pokemon Go
- Setting up a pocket money system for the boys
- Speaking at Just Write
- The Just Write Story Jam in Spring City
- Octavia Butler
- Getting a ‘wow’ from critique partner when she read the end of my novel
- Braving the Surf Rider at GWL
- Posting a make-up-free selfie after waterpark fun with kids. Looking great.
- Open mike reading at Main Line Writers
- Running StoryADay September by recycling the May prompts (totally legit!)
- Reading lots of short stories and logging them
- Singing with the PREP kids. The K-4 kids are so cute
- Fran Wilde & Chuck Wendig’s book signing
- Watching Sherlock with G
- Taking my parents to Chanticleer House & Gardens
- Meeting with LD and talking about kindle fiction
- Outlining a series of cozy mysteries 😃
- Thanksgiving in Orlando with K & the boys
I was researching some Scottish stuff for a new story and came across this fun reminder of how people talk where I grew up.
Normally these lists are full of things that people *think* Scottish people say, rather than anything I can actually ‘hear’ anyone saying. But this one’s spot on.
The only one I’ve never said is “Braw”, but I know people who use it.
I’m angry this morning.
I’ve been angry about having-voluntarily-become-a-citizen-of a-country-where-people-elected-Donald-Trump-as-candidate-for-President for a long time.
Today I’m specifically angry that someone I know, a ‘pillar of the community’ in my town, thinks it’s OK to dismiss Donald Trump’s 2005 chat about how he treats women, because “Bill did it too”.
OK, let’s go:
1. If We’d Had Proof About Bill
If we’d had this kind of iron-clad proof about Bill Clinton’s character would he have been elected president? Maybe.
1991 was a long time ago, even though it doesn’t feel like it to people my age—except when you think about how far we’ve come on issues like, uh, acknowledging unwanted sexual contact as the damaging assault that it truly is.
2. Bill Clinton is not running.
If you think Hillary is morally weak for staying with her husband after knowing what he was like, then you clearly will have no compassion for other complicated human emotions and situations.
Why do abused people stay with their abusers? Why don’t drug addicts just pull their socks up? Why do we have to pay all this money to put ramps in for the couple of disabled people who might conceivably want to enter our buildings? (Can’t they just wait outside until we send someone down to help them like the infants they are?)
3. When we had proof of Bill Clinton’s actions, he was impeached.
We didn’t invite him to stay on. We weren’t proud he was our leader. It’s not ‘going all Democratic” or “defending the Clintons” to demand that we don’t knowingly elect another man like him.
He is not “a dirty boy”. He is a grown, 70 year old man, who has shown us the content of his character in many and varied ways. This is only the latest.
And, at the risk of being accused of defending Bill Clinton (which I am not), he HAD some skills in the job he was doing. He trained for it his whole life. He qualified as a lawyer. He apprenticed as governor of a large state. Twice.
I disagreed with many of the policies he put in place, and think the fallout from them has been bad. But he understood government. He did not need on-the-job-training.
4. Contact Without Consent is Sexual Assault
People like me, your sister and your mother had to put up with Trumpian behaviour from the moment our periods started, because now we were women.
You had to smile and laugh and learn to brush off grown men in order to voice being called a bad sport or a ‘shrill harpy’ or frigid or worse, to avoid being physically intimidated or attacked.
We had to endure being touched and propositioned by strangers because ‘it’s just a bit of fun’.
5. Assault is Damaging
When someone decides they can be in your personal space, touch you however they like and demean you when you say no, it is a psychologically damaging assault that leaves an impression. It might make a dent, or it might crush someone, but, as with all interpersonal interactions, it has an impact.
Are we clear on that?
6. A Climate of Degradation Doesn’t Just Hurt The Target
Sexual predation doesn’t just hurt women. We have to stop saying “this language has to change ‘for our daughters and our wives”.
We have to change this language for our daughters and our sons and our wives and our brothers and for all human beings.
This culture hurts men too.
Decent men feel bad, and often powerless when the Dude-Bros let loose. Decent men have historically felt stressed and constrained by cultural norms and had to tamp down their natural decency so as not to look like a “fag” or a “pussy”or whatever demeaning name guys like this would throw their way; guys that might be their boss, or their partner on a project, or 243lbs of angry muscle.
7. How The Threat of Sexual Assault Affected Me
First, I’m fine.
I’m tall, and strong, and opinionated and I never once felt in danger from a man.
I did, however, learn to be careful about how I bent down to pick something up.
I learned to tug my skirt down.
I learned it was not OK to go out alone.
I learned to smile and deflect when men tried to chat me up on the train, when I was 13.
I spent the years when Bill Clinton was busy being elected, at university, with one hand on the rape alarm I kept in one pocket of my biker’s jacket and my other hand on my sharp housekeys as I speed-walked home with my head down. From. Studying. At. The. University. Library. I was 18.
It never occurred to me to get particularly angry that I had to do this. I had been conditioned to think that I might get attacked and that if I did, I needed to prove I had done everything possible to excuse myself from blame.
Let me repeat that: I didn’t expect to be attacked. BUT I learned to walk with my head down, not making eye contact, carrying a rape alarm, so nobody would blame me (much) if the unthinkable happened.
I internalized this at 18.
What did that do to my character? I don’t know, because whatever it did is part of me now and always will be.
Is this what we want for our children?
I wasn’t angry on my own behalf, but now that my kids are approaching their teens, I am mad as hell.
- I’m angry that my boys will be viewed as predatory.
- I’m super-angry that my friends’ tall, beautiful, bold, witty daughter will soon begin to duck her head and shorten her stride if she dares go out after dusk.
I’m angry that I, an adult human being, think twice about taking walks in quiet places lest something bad happen and I get blamed.
I thought we had moved past this. I was 19 when Bill Clinton was elected. I was 33 when Trump was recorded making these comments. I am 44 now and I have one question:
Can we stop?
Can we stop normalizing this behavior, please?
And while we’re at it,
- Can we stop thinking it’s OK that African American mothers have to train their sons to be meek so they don’t get in harm’s way, sometimes by officials of the state?
- Can we stop treating everyone who’s poor as if they’re weak?
- Can we stop dismissing everyone with an accent as lazy because they ‘haven’t learned English properly’ when they’ve uprooted their lives and learned to live and work in a new culture, raising kids in a place where they don’t understand the school system, taking fewer benefits than they’re entitled to and paying more of their income in taxes than richer, native-born Americans?
- Can we stop demonizing people because they love who they love and they just want to be treated equally?
- Can we stop asking people to calm down, when we’re metaphorically punching them in the face?
- Can we start respecting that my experience may not be the same as your experience and that two realities can be true at the same time?
- Can we stop pretending we’re Christian or Pro-Life when we do not demonstrate it with our words or our actions, not to mention our policies?
Let’s Move Forwards, Not Backwards
We have proof of the kind of man Trump is and he’s not “a dirty boy”. He’s the kind of damaging, hateful man who wants to take us back to a time when wolf whistling was cool, and it was ok to not employ people because of their parents or which side of the tracks they came from.
I though we were making progress. I thought people like Donald Trump were figures of fun, who we reviled and kind of pitied.
I didn’t think we were ready to put them back in charge.
So, I didn’t get any writing done yesterday.
Lessons learned: Write First.
(I don’t know why I have to keep I learning this one over and over and over and over again,Maybe one day it’ll stick.)
Today wasn’t shaping up much better for the writing. Sometimes my job is to actually raise my children, not just make sure they don’t stick their fingers in sockets or run out into traffic. After an intense session of “talking a not-yet-teen off a ledge” and discussing what kinds of pictures we can and can’t take with our phones, it was a little difficult to immediately switch gears and throw myself into fiction. Especially when I hadn’t done the thing I said I was going to do when is signed off here the other day: I did not go and sketch out the next scene I need to write. Which, of course meant I was left with the prospect of starting from scratch while emotionally riled up/elsewhere.
Hmm. Not a four-star recipe for success.
But, as I keep saying, lesson learned. However briefly.
In other news…
I sent off the book proposal to the publisher today. I had stalled and waited for an opportune moment, with the result that I’ve been sitting on this for almost four years now. The actual proposal went to an agent last November. She was very encouraging, but suggested some changes that stalled me almost completely, driving me into StoryADay May season, when I could think of nothing but that. Then I was traveling and…
It occurred to me this week that this was the perfect moment. They don’t come along often, but I had banked on this being one, what with the boys being in camps, and me having nothing else pressing on my plate, (apart from, you know, finishing the novel…)
So I checked it over, made some changes, added new data about the growth rate of my list, and undoing some other changes I had made in Feb. Then I bypassed the agent, who had said I could, if I wanted to contact the publisher directly. I’ll pull her back in if there’s an offer of a contract and some actual money. If she wants to be involved. Otherwise I’m in trouble.
And yes, I had the telltale rush of adrenaline to the head and neck region as I contemplated hitting the send button. Checked it a couple more times and hit send anyway.
And now we wait.
To be honest I haven’t had the best luck contacting this person in the past, and I know I’m hitting them at a busy period, but we’ll see. If I get some kind of acknowledgment of receipt, that’d be nice.
Ten years ago I posted this, back when my journal was still over at Livejournal.
The Battle of the Somme began 90 years ago today. By the end of the day 20,000 young British men were dead, 40,000 more were injured. By the end of the battle one million people had been killed or wounded.
These were the parents of my grandparents generation. Except they probably weren’t, because so many of them died. They called them The Lost Generation. Imagine what the world might have been like if we had not lost so many bright young men on that one day. What might they have achieved? What diseases would we be without? Would we have avoided other wars?
This was the defining moment for a generation that grew up to send their sons off to another horrendous war, one that would also come to their towns in the form of air raids. Everyone must have lost someone they knew in the First World War—in mud and noise and horror—only to go through it again twenty years later.
Today we can watch bombs being dropped, exploding, in real time. But how many of us are really touched by the death and the awfulness?
But our history must not be forgotten. It is horrible and important.
90 years sounds like a long time, but my grandparents were born around this time, raised by people who went through the awful shock of The Somme and other WWI battles. My parents were raised by the children born during WWI and raised in the shadow of WWII. It’s not that long ago. These were real people, real families, all ruined by nation-building and the greed of the ‘great’.
Sometimes I get annoyed with myself for not getting more writing done. Then I look at my day. Here’s today:
– 6:30-wake up, pack bag for day.
– 6:45-make breakfast for G
– 7:20-drive G to school, with his percussion kit
– 7:50-Settle in at coworking space. Critique 2 stories for writing buddies. Slurp a protein shake. Compose & publish writing prompt blog post; minimal promotion for post; critique 35 more pages for writing buddy.
– 11:40-Race out of coworking space. Drive 11 miles to writing group meeting. Eat chicken salad during meeting.
– 2:45-leave to pick up G and his percussion kit from school.
– 3:10-pick up groceries, unpack groceries, marinate chicken, empty dishwasher, wipe down surfaces.
– 5:00-sit down with coffee to read story A has been working on for weeks, while on hold with a business-related call (25 mins later, still on hold).
I still have to cook dinner, clean up, monitor homework time and, I hope, spend some quality time with the spouse.
Good thing I “don’t work”, isn’t it?
Sometimes I see this kind of post on Facebook:
I love handwriting. I think everyone should have a good, fluid, readable handwriting style. But. I can’t subscribe to this knee-jerk ‘we must teach loopy handwriting to seven year olds so they can read the Constitution’ mindset.
I’m Pretty Smart But…
When I went to university as a joint English/History student, I couldn’t read this:
I certainly couldn’t read this:
(in cast you’re wondering, it’s the Magna Carta, one of the most important governmental documents in my country’s past, and still hugely important in the history of most modern democracies).
People Who Can’t Read Cursive
My husband, who can get by in French, can read scientific documents in German, has a PhD and did postdoctoral research at Harvard, has invented a couple of drugs, and makes the world a better place every day, didn’t understand why he could no longer read our son’s writing when the boy hit second grade.
The school had taught him cursive…which my drug-designing, guitar-playing, Latin-reading, grammar-correcting, polymath husband had never been taught.
It hasn’t exactly held him back.
And if he needed to know what the Constitution said, he would learn cursive. Or ask a trusted source.
Which brings me to Point A and Point B of this blog post.
Point A – The Love of Learning
Should we really be spending valuable time in elementary school, forcing children to learn an archaic type of handwriting that they may or may not ever need?
What better way to squash the love of learning in children who may not have the manual dexterity (from the Latin for “right-handed”, dating from a time when left-handedness was considered a sign of being in congress with the Devil) to master it? I know both my boys have HORRIBLE handwriting, in spite of their teachers’ efforts to make them write like 18th Century schoolgirls, because they lacked the interest or fine motor skills to master the form at such a young age.
I understand that it’s a good thing to be able to be able to read your country’s founding documents in the original.
But it’s not essential.
I learned to read Middle English in order to appreciate Chaucer…but I was 19 at the time, and had elected to study English Literature full-time at university.
I learned to read early moveable type fonts (think: Gutenberg. All those elongated “S”s!) so I could read explorer’s journals of their voyages to the New World…but, by that time I was 20 and thrilled to be given the opportunity to do so (white cotton gloves, no backpack, and frowning, supervisory Rare Book Librarians, and all!)
More importantly, I learned to rely on translations of things that are considered the founding documents of their disciplines. I read Beowulf (arguably the first great English language epic) in translation (fabulous translation by the poet Seamus Heaney) because I can’t make heads nor tails of the Old English. I trust the scholars to have done that for me. Scholars funded by public and private funding sources. Scholars who are (ideally) free to concentrate on the work, not the politics or economics of doing their job.
I was developmentally ready, and I was excited, to learn these things. I wasn’t 7 years old. I wasn’t trying to learn to decode and to compose at the same time as I was trying to read these new forms of writing. I was mature. I could handle it.
Point B – Trust, But Verify
If we are to have any hope of living in a society, we must learn to have trusted sources, to trust each other. We must learn to allow people to be experts, and trust that their motives are no less impure than our own.
I don’t read the Bible in the original languages; I trust 2,000 years of church scholars to come to some kind of understanding of the text that represents The Truth (even in 14 years of Catholic school, the only time I really learned any Latin was in the music room!). I trust Seamus Heaney to represent the spirit and the letter of the poetry of Beowulf. I read side-by-side versions of Chaucer and used scholarship and judgment to figure out if the ‘translation’ was trustworthy.
No, we shouldn’t rely on one or two people to tell us what’s in our historical documents.
Yes, we should fund robust and independent scholarship, so that we alway have experts who can give us diverse (and probably argumentative) arguments about what they mean.
We do not ALL need to by polymaths, Renaissance Men, or Jacks of All Trades.
It’s OK to be an expert and trust other experts. (For example, I don’t want my hypothetical heart surgery to be performed by my General Practitioner/Family Doctor, and I’m fairly certain she’d be much happier to recommend whichever “nice Jewish boy” — her usual, impish referral — she respects the most.)
I Love Handwriting
I’m not against teaching handwriting. Far from it. I think it’s important.
- Handwriting lights up parts of the brain that typing doesn’t, boosting both creativity and memory.
- Handwriting allows you to slow down and consider what you’re saying, compose sentences before you write them down.
- Being able to write with a pen, means putting your hands all over the paper, which you can then send to someone miles away. They can hold it, knowing that you held it. They can touch it and feel a thrilling connection to the physical reality of you.
- When I look back at my handwritten notes and journals, I can see what mood I was in simply from the size and shape of my handwriting.
- It’s important to be able to write fluently, fluidly and in a way that can be read by yourself and the general population, because computers and keyboards are not always practical or optimal. (For the record, I recommend learning to write in a nice, clean italic, joined-up style. If you have already learned to write, you can still teach yourself this style as a useful alternative to printing or cursive.)
And I think it probably is fine to teach cursive handwriting in schools.
But I think it’s probably much more useful to teach them a less-convoluted, more practical form of joined-up writing that lets them take notes quickly and efficiently, and then teach them cursive in the middle school History class and the art room; Latin in the music studio (andante! Edit: Thanks to Craig for gently reminding me that I also learned Italian there too!); and most importantly, let them learn enthusiasm for scholarship and expertise in every room in the school.
I know it’s a wonderful thing to listen to classical music live.
That’s why I brought my nearly–11 and just-turned–13 year old sons to the school auditorium for the 2pm Sunday performance.
And I know it’s annoying when people distract you.
This is why I’m sure you’ll have noticed (since you were obviously watching us) that I was silently correcting my 10 year old when he got fidgetty: stilling his hands with mine, making sure he wasn’t kicking the seat in front, quietly prompting him between pieces as to how many more movements were still to come.
What Went Down
Towards the 1 hour 10 minute mark, I admit he was moving around a lot. I’m sorry it distracted you. It distracted me too, especially as I felt a responsibility to correct him over and over again, so that he wasn’t disruptive.
Having got to the last piece in the concert, you felt you needed to lean forward and tell him that there was only one piece left, with the unspoken “so for goodness’ sake sit still” hanging in the air.
Thanks for making me really uncomfortable.
Thanks for making me miss most of the last piece as I tried to figure out how much we had annoyed you, or whether you were trying to be supportive. And wondering why you waited until the short, last piece to make your displeasure known.
I’ll bet you didn’t notice the way my boy was squeezing my hand in time with the music. Or the way he shared your chuckle of glee when the motif from the first piece came around again at the end, in a piece by a completely different composer.
I’ll bet you didn’t consider that I’m trying to bring my boys up to be well-mannered, cultured, and excited by the passions of others (wasn’t the violinist amazing, by the way?).
What The Future Holds
I know it’s annoying to be distracted during a concert.
I also know that I was one of the youngest people there, not counting my boys. And I’m 43.
If we want live orchestral music to survive as a form, we need to make concerts (afternoon concerts, at that!) a hospitable place for people with children and for first-time concert-goers. The soloist did. Remember? He told us to go out to the bathroom whenever we needed to; he wouldn’t mind. He said he’d cue us when to clap and, when we got it wrong, he laughed and said “We’ll take it!”. He was the perfect host.
Without people like me — paying full price and bringing along the next generation of fans — orchestras will not survive.
So. I will continue to take my kids to this regional orchestra’s Sunday afternoon concerts in the middle school auditorium. And yes, the 13 year old will read his book for a while. Yes, the 11 year old will fidget towards the end of a long concert without breaks. And then, one day, they’ll be ready for the big city orchestra’s Saturday night concerts, where they will pay big money to hear amazing music, I hope, for the rest of their lives.
If, that is, there are enough people willing to brave the tutters and the sighers to keep orchestras alive that long.
Habits Update Jan 2016
Last month I was writing about habits over at StoryADay.org and trying out various ways to change my habits — not just for a day or two, but for the whole month.
I had varying degrees of success and I learned a thing or two. I thought I’d share them here.
Habits I Was Trying To Develop In January
- Taking a new medication every morning (Routine? Ugh!)
- Writing fiction regularly, to a goal of 10K words a month.
- Reading a spiritual meditation every day.
- Tracking my food intake.
Things That Went Well
I wrote about this at the start of the month. I had taken part in a study once that used this technique to make habits stick, so I knew it ought to be powerful, but I don’t think I really believed I could make it work so well.
But I did.
Now, every morning when I wake up, I roll over and take the medicine that’s sitting next to my bed. (My incentive to remember this is actually pretty perfect: it has to be take on an empty stomach, so if I don’t stick to this, my first coffee is delayed by every minute I waste. Aargh!)
My 30-day challenge for January was to read a spiritual meditation every morning. I anchored that habit to “the moment my son gets in the shower”.
Logging My Words
I have had a love-hate relationship with logging in the past. When I set daily goals for my writing, all it did was make me feel terrible. Partly because I was setting ‘best of all possible worlds’ numbers. And partly because I’m not built to write consistently every day.
Realizing this, I settled on 10,000 words of fiction a month, early last year, and made that my goal.
Logging the words (especially on a day when the writing is going slowly) really helps me to feel like I’m making progress.
My fitness trainer, sick of hearing me whine about how I can’t lose weight, made me promise to log my food intake. He promised he wouldn’t judge me: that we were just going to use what I wrote down as data. (He made me sign something because I was making such terrible faces at him).
And when I thought about it, I knew, from logging my words, that I could use the data to help me feel better. So I did. And I went from losing no weight (or gaining) to losing a pound a week two weeks in a row! (Trust me, for me, this is huge).
The simple act of recording and quantifying a thing is a powerful way to take misconception and emotion out of the equation.
- Setting a reasonable goal (323 words a day or 1300-ish calories) and trying to meet it MOST days, is manageable.
- Tracking it, over a month or more, lets you see that you are neither as awesome nor as awful as you suspect you are, on any given day. And that’s OK. Because “consistent” is what will win the race.
Make It Friction Free
Everything that worked to make my habits stick, was based on my lifelong pursuit of
If I have to prepare a lot of stuff before I start on The Thing, I’ll never get to The Thing. So I try my best to have a smooth entry into every task.
…lives by my bed and my lovely husband brings me a glass of water every day when he gets his first coffee. If I had to get up and go downstairs, find my meds wherever I dumped them yesterday, find my slippers because the kitchen floor is cold, get water, then take the pill, I would not get it right every day.
My book of spiritual meditations is sitting next to the bed with a hairpin marking the page of the next meditation (because I always have hairpins lying around). As soon as I hear the shower turn on, I grab the book. It takes very little time to read, but having it on my bedside table, and anchored to a specific action is what makes this habit work.
If I had to search for the book every day, my son would be out of the shower and demanding breakfast before I’d even picked it up. If I tried to find a time every day to squeeze it in, I’d end up scrambling to read the meditation as I fell asleep every night, which wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
I keep all the notes for my novel in the same notebook I use as my journal and my list-maker and my ‘taking notes while on the phone’ book. This saves me from having to find the right book either when I want to make notes, or when I want to find them again.
I number all the pages and, from time to time, go through and add to the “table of contents” that I create in the back few pages of the book. This helps me scan through the ToC and find out where my latest brilliant idea is, for the next part of the novel. I also have a list of scenes that I know I want to write soon, right in Scrivener. They’re brainstormed and ready to go, which helps me figure out what to write each time I sit down.
Food, ah food. How I love it. But one of the reasons I eat badly is also the reason I hate logging food: I don’t plan ahead.
If I’m scrambling for lunch when I’m already hungry, then whatever is to hand is what goes in my mouth. Lots of it. Then I have to figure out how much I ate and how to log that (I use MyFitnessPal, which is good because it has a massive database of food, but bad because you have to find the foods, then figure out how to quantify your portion, then do it again for every component of a recipe…)
In January I took my doctor’s advice (a lovely woman who struggles with all the same issues I do!), and started making up salad jars. It’s an easy portion-control method and means I always have something to grab. It almost doesn’t matter what I put in there, because of the built-in portion control aspect.
I pick one recipe a week, shop for the small quantities you need to fill four 16 oz mason jars, then spend a little while on Sunday or Monday, making up lunches for the week ahead. (I like this Spicy Peanut Zoodle Recipe and her Chicken and Spinach salad jars with grapes and a mustard-thyme dressing. I know I’m a year or two behind on the Mason Jar Salad trend, but I’m here now. Let’s party!) Even making up your own dressing and chopping veg doesn’t seem so bad when you do it once and feed yourself four times. And I LOVE all the freshness and crunch. I especially love being able to open the fridge and eat instantly (mmm, fooooooood).
The other thing (and why I went off on this rant in the first place) is that if I eat the same thing every day (or rotate a few receipes over a few weeks) I can log the ‘meal’ in MyFitnessPal once and I never have to enter in all those individual ingredients again. I just select “Asian Zoodle Jar” from the “My Recipes” tab, and it’s done.
See? Friction Free.
It doesn’t work for every meal or every situation, but batch-cooking makes it easier to prepare healthy meals and log them. (I know, rocket science, right? Reinventing the wheel, sure. Discovering things for yourself: sometimes essential!)
What I’m Still Working On
Our routine goes way out of whack at the weekends. I need to develop different anchors for the some of the habits at weekends.
Also, I get embarrassed about logging my food. I don’t know why, but I do. Any suggestions for getting over that?
This Month’s 30-day Challenge
This month I’m trying to relax for 15 minutes a day, with something unrelated to housework or reading/writing (I’m mostly doing meditation, exercise, knitting, and musical things so far).
I don’t have a good way to trigger this. I’m thinking maybe ‘after lunch’, but that’s kind of nebulous. I do need to take a little sanity break midday, but I haven’t found a good way to anchor it yet. Do you have any ideas for me?
Next month I’ll be back to talk about my Relaxation Challenge and about the Permission To Write theme I’m writing about all month long at the StoryADay blog.