Monday, May 21, 2012


Things I will conquer this week:

1) Second edit of the first 1/3 of my novel
2) Walking and Yoga 5 out of 7 days
3) Stick to Weight Watchers Points
4) Clean something each day, even if it's small
5) Take my vitamins each day

The yoga is already making a difference, I think. I felt more energetic today. I've managed to plow through my to-do list, and physically my body is not resisting me as much. My mind is still a bit sluggish, but when I got home from work today, I felt like I shook off my cobwebs and got down to business with what I needed to accomplish - cleaning a little, cooking a little, exercising a little, editing a little. It's a nice feeling after walking around in an unproductive haze for who knows how long.

I'm looking forward to seeing how my yoga improves my riding experience. I noticed my back muscles were feeling really fatigued after riding on Friday and Saturday, probably because I've just let my core become so weak and now I'm re-adapting to balancing on a motorcycle. Hopefully I'll notice a difference if I get a chance to ride again on Friday!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Did Yoga!

I've completely fallen off of the health wagon for the past year or so. And by that, I mean I just haven't been exercising or eating particularly healthy. I've had bouts where I'll try to eat less, but I still eat bad food, and then I just decide to dive in and eat whatever I want and the cycle starts all over again. I've done a little walking here and there, but I haven't done any weight lifting or running or anything of that nature. I just find that I'm frequently tired due to stress at work, so I stress-eat bad food, which is just self-defeating, as it causes me to have even less energy.

I keep meaning to do things - like start walking outside a bit each morning, or pick up some healthier choices at the grocery store - but somehow the time doesn't ever seem right, or I'm not in the mood, or I'm too tried. Or I want to exercise, but I didn't plan a good routine, and I don't feel like planning a routine, so I may as well just not do it. After all, if I'm going to do it, I should do it right, right? And instead, I end up not doing it at all.

Well, today I decided to just skip to the exercise part of my Yoga book. I get it - Yoga is a lifestyle. Be gentle with yourself. Don't get wrapped up in ego. Relax, balance, focus, etc. But the fact is, I really want to increase my flexibility and overall health right now. And if I have to read through the additional 100 pages of philosophy before getting started, I know I'm going to continue to get bored and eventually forget about it and move on to something else.

So, I very gently dove into yoga this afternoon.

I selected some fairly basic, easy poses, most of which I've tried before in other fitness classes. I focused on my breathing and easing myself into each pose to where I felt comfortable. I took my time in adjusting my position until I felt like I was in each pose correctly, and tried to maintain my balance and focus in each one. And, afterwards, I felt pretty good!

I feel liberated, in a way. I didn't need to make sure everything was perfect. I just wanted to make sure I did something. I've always been one of those people who always has to have everything in order, list made, double-checked, plan in place, etc, before doing anything. Which is ridiculous, because being like that tends to stall me out mid-execution. It's tough being a detail-oriented planner-type with what I suspect is a mild case of ADD.

It's a good reminder for me, though. Not everything has to be perfect; in fact, it's pointless to try and make it perfect. Sometimes it's better to just start with what you have, and go from there. I need to remind myself of that when I'm editing. It's great to want to put the best novel out there that you can. But it's never going to be perfect. Not everyone is going to love it or agree with what you did. But taking that first step and putting it out there will mean a lot more than sitting on it indefinitely until "the right plan" is in place. It's OK to make some stuff up as you go. So maybe it's time to take a cue from yoga and be kinder to yourself and your writing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why I Ride Motorcycles

Most people who meet me don't picture me as someone who would ever ride a motorcycle. I'm either fairly geeky-looking or fairly girly-looking, depending on which day you meet me, and in general I don't have the kind of attitude you'd expect from a typical biker chick.

The woman who sold me my motorcycle later told me she thought I was a secret shopper at first, because I was really not the type. We later worked together for a year and a half or so when I was the marketing coordinator at that same Harley dealership.

I fully confess it: I got into motorcycles because my now-husband was into motorcycles when we first met. He took me for a ride. The first time, I was terrified. It was a very uncomfortable ride for the both of us. The second time, though, I really relaxed and enjoyed it. That was when I got hooked.

That summer, he let me zip around a vacant lot by the river on his dirt bike, just learning how to shift gears, keep my balance, and get a feel for what it's like to be on two wheels. Then, in October of 2006, I got my bike, a 2007 Harley-Davidson XL50 (aka 50th Anniversary Sportster XL1200).

Long story short, I didn't really learn how to ride it until the following summer (it was the end of riding season anyways) when I got the job at the Harley shop. I took a five-day class, which I chronicle at my old blog here.

But the reason I ride is something I have a really hard time explaining without lapsing into the typical "independent woman" platitudes. It's not that I'm a hardcore feminist. Anyone who knows me knows I'm meek as milk and fairly awkward. But there's a part of me that takes pleasure in female competence. I don't run around trying to surpass all of the men in my life, but I like the fact that I can do something that a lot of men view as a male activity. I can connect on a level that doesn't involve sex and flirting, sort of like women who actually enjoy, and are conversant in, sports. But I can also do what I'm talking about. I'm not great at it. But I can ride a motorcycle; I rode one around Sturgis, and I even enjoy a few favorite local riding spots.

Riding still scares me sometimes. I look at people who commute on a motorcycle during the summer months and wonder how they do it; I frequently find myself in situations in my car that I don't know how I would've handled if I'd been on my bike instead. But on the other hand, when I do ride, I just love that I'm doing something for the pleasure of it. I ride so I can take in the scenery, look around, and meander without a particular goal in mind. I ride for the sensation of being on a motorcycle, and for the challenge of it. And there's a weird feeling you get after being on a motorcycle. You walk with a certain kind of pride. On anyone but me, I'd refer to it as a badass swagger. For me, it might just be that I successfully managed to ride another 50 miles without dying (go me!). I imagine it's the kind of relief you feel after managing to not kill yourself. But it's also just an appreciation for life - what you get to see and do in your limited time here on planet earth. And some of that might include an adventure on your own two wheels, if you're lucky.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Funny moment of the day

Hubs: Amazon just recommended that I buy "50 Shades of Grey"
Me: WHAT!?!? What did you order?
Hubs: A soap dispenser for the kitchen, air freshener, and water filters.
Me: (realization dawns)....Amazon thinks you're a housewife.
Hubs: .... you're so right.

I am officially creeped out by Amazon's targeted marketing system.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The results

So, despite my mild case of ADD yesterday, I did manage to get something done this weekend. In fact, I got quite a bit done. I'm more than half-way through my first round of editing on my novel, and I think I'm going to set a release date for sometime next month. I still have some larger kinks to work out towards the end, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

I have an idea for a sequel already. I really didn't intend to turn this book into a series, but I can see it being a duo. What's that called, actually? Three books is a trilogy. But two books can't be a bilogy, right? That's a bit too much like biology. Plus Auto-correct says bilogy isn't a word, and I'm pretty sure it knows everything.

I'm not looking forward to the end of the weekend. It's not that I really hate my job or anything. I just really prefer writing. I like my isolated little bubble, where I can drift off on a tangent and it's actually a good thing, and I don't have to worry about whose time I'm supposed to be billing. Plus there's time to cook. I like cooking.

If you know the technical word for a book duo, please enlighten me in the comments. I'm far too lazy to Google it for myself right now. Thank you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Editing Day

Think I'll keep a time log just to see how I spend the day I intend to use to edit:

7:30 am: Wake up. Realize I don't have to go to work. Try to go back to sleep. Yell at husband for snoring. Eventually doze off again.

9:00: Wake up. Recall that husband promised to make coffee and breakfast for me today so I could focus on my novel. Stare at him creepily until he wakes up. Engage in some witty banter. Realize he isn't getting out of bed.

9:45: Trudge to coffee maker. Prepare bowl of cereal. Stare out of window. Check how my mutual funds are doing.

10:05: Walk to where husband is still sleeping. Harass. Lose interest. Clean office up a little bit.

10:20: Husband gets up. I go to study. Set up computer. Run out of office screaming because there's a FREAKING WASP BUZZING AROUND IN THERE.

10:22: Husband valiantly slays wasp. I feel mildly guilty but stay away just in case it comes back to life and insist he flushes it. Begin editing a chapter, keeping an eye out for additional wasps.

10:45: Feel paranoid that wasps are lurking about, waiting to interrupt my creative genius. Check the storage closet for a fly swatter. Do not find one. Husband promises to take me out to get one during lunch break.

10:59: Edit two chapters.

11:30: Husband interrupts to tell me birds are nesting in the herb garden. I go oohhh and ahhh.

11:33: Edit half a chapter.

12:00: Begin writing blog entry.

12:15: Edit a paragraph

12:35: Wander off and change clothes. Think about motorcycles.

12:49: Edit a sentence.


3:48: Return from lunch+errands (good pizza, Target, petting rescue dogs at PetSmart, check on real estate investments) Check Facebook.

3:49: Edit.

4:30: wander off and get a spiked cider.

4:45: Resume editing. Believe I'm obviously far more talented with spiked cider as my muse.

5:09: Watch baby moose video on Facebook.

If ever I wondered why it's taken me five years to edit this novel, now I know.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Diversify or Concentrate?

I have been bombarded with choices my entire life. It's really defined me as a person in many ways, mainly because it's left me virtually incapable of making a decision.

I still remember when I was growing up, my parents took me out furniture shopping for a new bedroom set when we moved to Richmond, VA. I can't tell you how many different furniture stores we went to, how many different sets of beds and dressers I looked at, how many different styles there were to choose from. It was exhausting. It was frustrating. I hated every second of it.

In retrospect, I know I was lucky to even have the option of going furniture shopping for my own room. But at the time, I really could not have cared less. I was fifteen, I had no taste whatsoever (and still don't), and every time I actually made a decision about something I liked, my parents would remind me of my dozens of other options, as if I'd somehow made the wrong choice. Granted, one of those choices involved zebra prints and lots of reflective surfaces, but hey -- they asked me what I wanted. We fortunately ended up with a very tasteful set of furniture. I, of course, had nothing to do with selecting it. Which is probably for the best. I was kind of resentful of all of the fruitless furniture shopping trips, though.

Years later, I take the experience as a lesson in a theory I've been developing lately. There is something to be said for a lack of options. It's efficient. It focuses your attention away from all of the fluff, and hopefully puts you in a position to make the best choice out of what you have to work with.

The same is true of selecting a profession. I once had a dean at my undergraduate college explain to me why he hated approving credit overloads for students - he felt like people were spreading their studies too thin, perhaps in hopes of covering just enough ground that they'd be employable to someone, somewhere. He kept having to approve credit overloads for people who were double- and triple-majors, with additional minors in underwater basket weaving as a fall-back. But looking around at the job market these days, it seems like more opportunities are available for people that focused themselves - they picked something, and just went for it. All or nothing.

I think the same can be said for writing. More success is available to those who focus.

Think about it. If you decide that all you want to be is a writer - or a singer, or an actor - what would you do differently? How would you spend your time? You could focus on your craft AND work on the business end of things. Could you think of ways to make ends meet while you focus on your dream?

But then consider how things might be going now, while you're trying to "diversify" - working another full-time job, writing during off hours, squeezing it in when you can. I think this describes a lot of people who are trying to get by financially while holding out some hope of pursuing their dreams on the side.

It doesn't bode well for me, either. I'm not gonna lie - I diversify all over the place. I split my time over a gajillion different projects. My writing performance is spotty at best. I'm not even going to admit to you how many times I haven't gone to the gym lately. I take on so many goals at once, all of them end up suffering in the long-term.

Don't take this post as a ringing endorsement to go out and quit your job immediately (although I wouldn't blame you if you do). But it's food for thought - if you could focus, and concentrate, and just do what you want to do instead of diversifying over several different things, what could you accomplish? Do you see the value if only doing a few things well instead of doing many things at a mediocre level? Can you work towards that now?