Nanowrimo is here…but I am cleaning bathrooms..

So Halloween was brief for me. I mostly helped my “baby” finish cleaning his house, then fell asleep on my couch by 8. This morning I am going slow as well. Slept in till 0630. Seems funny to not be training with Dawn this morning…in two weeks I restart, mostly because of work schedule, starting tomorrow I work 5 days of 10plus hours, three days off and five more days of 10 or more hours. Will still run and bike a little today and then alternate them daily. Also completely back to clean eating. Enjoyed the little binge of carbs and grease and sugar and really tasty porter the last two days but my sinuses and joint pain remind me that clean eating is a bit better for my body, LOL.

Anyway I have eight stories to write for my newspaper job and 5000 words for Nanowrimo to get in today, but first off to finish the cleaning on y sons old apartment.

Namaste friends!

Life’s obstacles do not define me, or faith precedes the miracle

There is a video out in the cloud ( wanted to add the link but still on the techie learning curve with that one and opted for finishing the blog over obsessing on the link) that is of me at my heaviest, trying to get into my sons lifted jeep. It is hilarious and I try and try and try to get into the front seat with more creative contortions and finally succeed in getting up there, only  I end up in there backwards.

I saw an obstacle, I set a goal, and when one method didn’t work, I tried again. I was persistent, creative and not afraid to laugh at my learning process. My son video taped it with my full permission. I wanted a record I could look at to remind me of how things really were, and well, because it was funny to be the person confuzzled by such a small challenge and figured it would make others laugh as well.

However, the real obstacle wasn’t the jeep, although that was what was the practical manifestation of the problem. The obstacle was a lifestyle focused on intake and excess of calorie consumption without disciplined expenditures, I was very fat and very out of shape.

I like running, but it is hard to run when your frame is bearing double its designed load and the support structure is weakened by disuse. I wanted to ride a bycicle, I liked the idea it looked fun, but I never learned as a child and I would full-on panic at sitting on a bike and lifting my feet. I like lots of outdoor activities but I was pretty inhaler dependent as well due to compromised breathing. I also really like food and it is easy to drop onto the couch, switch on a mechanism like the computer or TV that requires nothing of me but existence and a few finger pushes and consume addictively high calorie consolation for how hard it is to do what ever I am struggling with at the moment.

I would love to say that I suddenly had an epiphany that day I struggled to get into and addressed the real problem. I didn’t. I laughed at myself and made excuses for why I couldn’t change.

However last November when I moved to my new home I got on the scale and realized I was well on my way to adding a third persons weight to the two people I was already carrying on my frame and slowly began to make changes in how I ate and lived. I still did not have a concrete goal though and so my weight would go down a bit and up a bit and down a bit more and then up to the starting point.

I was also struggling with my health and depression again so I started rereading my go to people when I am tanking emotionally Kabat-zinn, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle and remembered that to get somewhere one must have a destination. It was now May.

I have had completing a Triathlon on my bucket list for more than 5 years. However just “I wanna do a Triathlon” wasn’t enough to get it done. I picked a race date at the end of October and signed up. Now I had a deadline. I needed to find a place to swim, learn to swim, a bike, learn to ride the bike, and relearn how to run, and probably needed a trainer.

My personal obstacles were pedal neuropathy, physiologically reduced lung capacity, a now 237 pound body(I was on my way back down) on a frame meant to be 137, and a tendency to whine, some lower back and neck and shoulder issues. My liver wasn’t really happy with me either and I pretty much lived on Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep moving through the bodily aches and pains.

And yesterday I met my goal.

The miracles along the journey were too many to even list or count from finding an incredible chiropractic practice through my friend Sara who were very willing to work with my limited finances (I did do a lot of over time and robbing Peter at first because the reduction in pain from going to Backfit of Gilbert was immense enough to know I needed the care), my daughter-in-law and son joining in and offering me not only the use of their pool but their side by side training support, same son and DIL and also Pat taking me to their gyms, the unexpected gifts of my bikes, my sons careful research and persistence in teaching me to ride the bikes, and the list goes on and on and on…

What I know today is life is full of opportunities to learn new skills, change old habits and focus on what works instead of what doesn’t. Wishing is a good first step. Then comes making a measurable goal. Next is making the effort, sweating the sweat, moving through the pain, believing anything is possible and somewhere along that road comes the miracle.

What’s up next for me…well continued training and an April race that is longer, where I will be even faster and stronger. And well, its November, which means Nanowrimo starts tomorrow and a 50,000 word novel will begin with one sentence.

After that, I am thinking maybe space travel.

Magical contagion and viral hope versus realistic anhedonia….

About a week ago, I saw John Lennon’s piano in the wood so to speak; the one he composed "Imagine" on, the one that toured in the name of peace. It has come to its final home in the Scottsdale, AZ, MIM.

Physically, it is a unprepossessing and somewhat battered Steinway, but metaphorically it is the womb of legend. In the pristine and silent museum I approached this shrine. Just outside my rational vision vibrated a messy kaleidescope of noise and color. With more than ears I heard the larval notes being played, a few bars at a time, as the tune inspired by Yoko’s poem  crawled from the ivory into Lennon’s hand. I was infected and affected and my eyes got a little wet; deep breath to ground me.

It is not hard for me to Imagine. I do believe in magic and the contagion of invisible things, like hope and germs, love and hate, peace or despair. There is a science to it all, and I think it is not coincidence that a belief in magic (albeit some name it faith) has increased in the last few decades as our control of the "meat" world has slipped beyond our usual means. Hope is what we have to sustain us even as social paradigms, religious paragons and political ideals fail to keep our bodies safe or our bellies full. Spreading  viral hope is why I still write, even though the days of making my living with words is behind me. Like many modern writers my work has a bit of fantasy in it. 

Fantasy literature as a genre is at an all time high, especially among the young readers. The Horatio Alger stories of my childhood and the detectives who only needed to wear the right pumps and follow the clues don’t work as well in a world where the rich and powerful grow ever more rich and powerful as the working middle class become the working poor. Self made men are not believable heroes in a time when success is more often who you know than what you do. To believe in a fairy Godmother gives us Cinderella’s singing voice, so that we can sing into wells and out windows while the corporate step sisters grind our families beneath their bejeweled heels. I too have wished uopn a star and so I understand the increased cultural popularity of fantasy writers; but what of the equally burgeoning paparazzi parade and cult of celebrity. If we seek to escape the wicked tyrants, what explains our then obsessive collecting of every small sequin that falls off these same grinding shoes?

It is the self-same magical thinking that makes us play Elven Avatars, knock wood, and buy lottery tickets that fuels the modern cult of fandom.  By being near to, or touching, or even just reading about those who have what we desire we hope to become a little more like them.  I understand this magical contagion; just as I was transported by the energy of Lennon’s piano, I attend author signings, have paid for backstage passes to meet the original RENT cast and distributed flyers in sweltering heat to shake hands in awe with the members of Queensryche. I did this to get a little magic fairy dust sprinkled on me.  Most recently, I sat at the feet, so to speak of a much admired game designer for an evening sharing my Porter and inhaling his genius like a drug. 

I guess it is the choice of pop-culture’s Tinkerbells that puzzles me. The quality of the dust is unrelated to the level of a persons celebrity for me, it is correlated instead to my ability to be transported by the body of their work and where there "magic" takes me. Hence my dismay this morning as i shopped the current crop offerring in the digital cult of celebrity..

It started with me  putzing around this morning telling myself I was trying to figure out what to write, (when in fact I was avoiding writing.) I was surprised, may I say flabbergasted at the top ten stories I surfed to with Twitter, LJ and Yahoo. I was even more horrified as these are not what the media is force feeding anyone, it is what the public enmasse are choosing to click on themselves.

Three of the stories were horrific versions of human cruelty that propagated a belief in realistic anahedonia and the rest were scandal mongering. The upside of all this was I was cured of surfing in about 45 minutes which is a very short time for me to be cyber distracted and I was totally re-inspired to Nanowrimo.

Words are my weapon. Naming is powerful. My stories of hope and compassion vibrate when I speak them, even if you don’t hear them. Every  Naming matters.Psychology Today ran an article a few years ago about an experiment where people watched the sugar being added to the water and the labels being placed and yet they had a hard time drinking the bottle labeled "poison", the participants also hesitated at the bottle labeled "not poison" since our minds have a hard time registering negatives in the portion where connections are made,  although none hesitated to drink and enjoy the bottle labeled "sucrose".

I  don’t remember all the details, but the same article went on to tell about it taking twice as many positive connections to overrule negative connections. Maybe I will look up the article when I am done nano’ing. In December I can Google the Psychology Today website, I know it was 2007 or 2008 because of where I read the article. It would be nice to read it again, but for now I will just keep on prepping for Nanowrimo and encouraging and commenting to my nanobuddies, because its gonna take a lot of  creative, positive, and hopeful hedonism to get this world back on track. I shift the signed copies of  "Medicine Road" and "Here There Be Dragons", knock on the wooden table that displays them, pop in another CD and  rock  out my gratitude to the divine I am not in this alone.  I may never be Tinkerbell or even a Lost Boy, but this november with 50,000 words, I will fly.

Writers Block: When I grow up or You Never Make Mistakes Just Opportunities.

The writer’s block prompt for today asks if my parents made any mistakes. I have come to believe they did not. This might be hard to believe for anyone who knows my biographical history.

My father did not know best in very many things. However, he was the one who, when they discovered I was reading better than I was talking, brought me ever more challenging books, and when I had finished all the volumes in the children’s section gave permission for me to check out whatever I wanted from wherever I wanted in the library. He took a toddler to a Robert Frost reading at the college and his showing off my ability to dramatically recite led to my youthful acting career. One of the only bits of professional writing still extant in the digital age is a direct result of being with my foster parents which would not have happened without my father making the choices he made.

My mother was a brilliant, artistic and musically gifted woman raised in the straight jacket of conservative religion. Economic realities forced her ever into the workforce and yet she made our daily bread, sewed our clothing and maintained an impeccable house. All this while still keeping all the rules and choices of her religious and cultural identity. From her I learned the textile arts and how to make something useful out of nothing, she was the master of Stone Soup. She died when I was still a child.

But the question was, "Did my parents make mistakes and how has that affected my adulthood?" This week I panicked, true panic attack with tears and palpitations and that tunnel feeling of trauma because I was standing in an empty apartment that had been home. This effect might be considered a negative and is residual eddies of a stone cast by my father when I was a teen, but was his leaving a mistake?

I think that question is easier when one is young and still believes in sourcing the root of a problem and blasting it into oblivion, rather than trimming the branches and leaves of whatever weed or tree has grown into some usable shade and then finding a cool spot to sit. For years and more than a few dollars I searched for the growth point of my affirmative answer to that question. I am glad I never found it, or eradicated it. I like the shade.

I was once my parents biggest critics.I held them forever ransomed in my heart for all I was and all I hadn’t in my life, and I thought I had nothing and I didn’t really like me. Therefore, I didn’t really like them. During all this I still was employed, had relationships, bore children. Inside the empty hole grew larger from the acid of anger and hate until there wasn’t enough anything to fill it up. Thankfully my life exploded or imploded in such a way that I sought help. Helping others was an integral part of helping myself. As Authentic Self began to gain in strength and I realized how little in life really was about me, I stopped wanting to root out and change my past.

I tried to grow past blame and anger and grow into a bit of personal and social responsibility, so in talking about my parents and childhood I switched my tactic to humor and forgiveness. I made a joke that covered in one sentence the made for TV-movie scandal plot that was my childhood complete with historical allusion. I forgave my parents, because forgiveness is never permission. I forgave, but did not forget nor would I see their choices as anything but mistakes and internally my Ego still excused many of my own "mistakes" by internally referencing my childhood circumstances.

As I stepped from the victim cape and into a victor costume came guilt; and I am one who believe guilt has a place in our lives, not shame, guilt. A conscience is a wonderful thing to nurture, sort of an internal GPS that says hey, you are truly making a wrong turn here, I stopped looking at all that had been done to me and instead began to look at the trail of havoc I had wrought. I have remained stuck in this mode of still believing wrong had been done to me and I had done wrong and trying to do less wrong while repairing and being responsible for past wreckage.

Recently another paradigm shift has begun to take place. It all started with my eco-consciousness and wanting to learn to compost. It is amazing how nourishing a little garbage can become when properly handled. Compost was my epiphany. Now I am applying the three "r"s to everything that is past and using it to help what I currently am planting.

"R"educe: Less is more. Whether its writing a novel, eating popcorn or driving the freeway, I go for the minimum number needed to fill the need. This also applies to my ego, preferring to un-capitalize the "I" and get it a life, cause its really more fun when its not about me.

"R"euse: Most of life’s experiences can have a point if we let them. Compost the organic, restructure the fallen, and re-imagine the neglected. This works for things, people, and experiences. Who knew the tatting I despised learning as a child would be so prized as a skill by my renaissance friends, or that old t-shirts made such good rugs. And nano-buddies, Writing is one of my favorite ways to re-use all my experiences. A life of only happy would a boring novel make. If your life is truly broken, as mine was once, then what an opportunity to create a beautiful mosaic.

"R"ecycle: Share. Ideas, hugs, everything. Pay all the good stuff forward. And no worries, there really are no new ideas, just new ways of presenting them that make them an original. Love eddies forward in remarkable ways, and those "mistakes" my parents made were "blessings" whose waves pushed me to shores where my life would never have landed otherwise.

I am a summation of all the threads that interplay to make this weave and therefore I would not name one a mistake and pull it free. Of course I am old, and a parent, and a parent whose children have become wonderful men in spite of her parenting so my answer may be tainted or at least tinted by that perspective.

In summation, I made myself a rule when I began writing this blog that I would follow in print one of my ethical guidelines "If you can’t say something nice, you just aren’t trying hard enough, and if you still can’t say something nice even after effort then silence is golden." I thought this would be hardest in areas of my childhood or health and yet I find as I accepted the writer’s block challenge today, this is not true. I can say parenting is a lot like writing. Not everything that I write is brilliant or even usable, but none of it is mistakes and some I have cast aside have later become the basis for true brilliance.

My parents actions may have rarely made the "To Do" list of any parenting book, but I would not be who I am today without the sum of all their decisions, and I like who I am today. So, no, my parents didn’t make any mistakes and neither do I. But there have been a WHOLE LOT of opportunities to compost. 🙂

Invisible Friends

I just checked my guest stats and it seems my invisible friend from childhood is back and visiting quite regularly. I do love invisible friends, some I can see while no one else does and the ones I can’t see. Welcome invisible friends. If you read my blog yesterday you know I am partial to invisibility.

I am not a stranger to online blogs as I have been cyber soliloquizing since the Bulletin Board systems of the 1980’s (the last decade I was cutting edge) but am relatively new to Live Journal. I actually made this blog on Live Journal because of the plethora of Nanowrimo participant connections available AND the fact I do not already have a Live Journal persona. Bonus fact was discovering that authors I admire also have Live Journals where I can read bits of their lives and inspiration on a daily or almost daily basis. I did not realize that I could look and see who had visited my page until this morning as I scrolled through the top key options, I saw "guest stats" and the old Ego jumped up crying "is anybody listening?" and clicked the button . This is when I realized my invisible friends are back.

The first thing I learned though as I scrolled through my options, is that for a mere 20$ a year I can rid myself of the advertising and optimize my journal experience. Since I am someone who once supported herself through more intangible creative efforts than my current gig as a nurse, I like to support those whose genius make my life better, I will therefore willingly pay the $20, and yes ridding my morning of advertising loading then clearing is definitely a bonus motivation. I also learned that I have invisible friends.

I on the other hand feel no need to sneak here so “ Yes” Live Journal creators and maintainers and bloggers I will be your visible friend and you can bank on that as well. Paying for the privilege of using someone else’s ideas brings me to another musing as I here my Inner Budgeter way the time spent earning against the privileges of paying, "but you can still use it for free.." I ignore and pay.

I am constantly amazed at the creators, writers and artists out there who will in almost the same sentence tell me how they wish they could really support themselves (get rich) through their artistic, design or verbal efforts and then tell me how they got someone else’s efforts free. I smile and listen because I am trying to do that more. [This entire decade has been about letting go of my ego driven attachment to judge the world or make everything about me and my opinion of things, a challenge for someone whose youthful gifts of concise sharp penned criticism (bloodying the egos and professional reputations of other creative types) were rewarded with lots of accolades and attention and financial remuneration.] See, this last interjection is just proof of how far I have to go in my struggle to allow Authentic Self to master ego, as I once again make it about me.

Bleh! I almost erased that last line but will not as really the personal rules of preparing for Nanowrimo deny that possibility and it is an ironic twist that makes me smile, my squirmy, uncomfortable smile but still a smile. Now back to the blog I mean to write….

I read authors’ blogs because I also like free stuff, but I like free stuff that is offered for free. I grew up believing that taking something for free, that someone is charging for, is called stealing. I do not believe in stealing. Reading authors blogs is meant to be free stuff so I like reading them for the same reason I like samples while grocery shopping. I also read authors blogs because I am a too avid reader and no human being can create books fast enough to feed my appetite for their work. Blogs give me snacks of my favorite living authors words and ideas between the book meals appearing. (New Gourmet Meal "The Dragon’s Apprentice" is sitting on the table right now waiting for me as my reward tonight for updating my resume and putting in an application.) Finally, I read their blogs because it gives me a chance to feel, however misleading the feeling really is, that I know them a little in this the real world not just in the world and characters they created.

I like the sense of connection between me and someone I admire. Author blogs stream into my everyday life like some cyber ley line; their blogs bring their light and magic into my home with just a few clicks of a button. Some blogs I read are of less famous but equally talented people, life a particular australian poet who if she wants you to find her can be found in my blog comments frequently, she is not invisible. I read them for the same reason I read famous authors. Also I like the safety of internet “connections” as well as its ability to fit anywhere in my over scheduled life. I do not like its cultural counterpart “loss of privacy”.

I am unclear what the national obsession is about, this voyeuristic knowing as intimates people we have never and may never meet while ignoring the people in the same room; think reality TV, blogs, gossip magazines, paparazzi, etc. While I am not immune to its siren call, I do not understand it anymore than I understand cheeseburger addiction. However, fast food friendship is not what I mean about wanting to know them a little. I read my favorite living writer’s blogs (for example James Owen: http://coppervale.livejournal.com; John Scalzi at http://whatever.scalzi.com/) for the same reason I more than occasionally buy cut flowers for my home (the cheap ones from Trader Joe’s are the longest lasting and most beautiful), not because I think this makes me a gardener but because I want raise my light quotient I carry forward and take through my door in my smile and thoughts some of the beauty and light they bring to my world on a daily basis.

Hour finished. Time is up and I still need to ramp up a bit. I only managed 886 words and my goal is 1000/hour. I hope my invisible friends you enjoyed today’s installment . And I am off to apply for jobs! Have one already but am moving the end of this month and need a second one to get the ends to meet. ….