Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Challenge

69 Days.

I just counted them. Exactly 69 days of summer vacation.

A wild idea hit me as I realized today is officially the last day of school... Well it was more like a "what if?" rather than a full blown idea, actually. What if I finished my novel and what if I shed those annoying 28 pounds by the end of summer vacation on September 5 when school begins?

I know it's insane. Advertiser's like to paint summer as a time of relaxation- lounging by the pool, sipping lemonade on the swing porch or reading novels on the beach. Who are these advertisers? Obviously none of these people have been home or on vacation with children who lack any understanding of the concept of relaxation. Summer vacation, no matter how much you love your children, especially if you are home with them, can be as relaxing as preparing for root canal.

So why would I choose this particularly busy period of time to take care of two massive goals I've been spending years trying to accomplish?

Because I relish taking on ridiculous challenges. Because I think this time it will happen. Because... because... because this time I feel like I can do it. I can feel the spark of motivation. It's the same spark I felt when I declared I would run the NYC Marathon. At the time the idea was beyond ridiculous. I had never even run an entire mile. But that spark ignited and suddenly I was waking up at dawn to run. And that spark led me to cross the finish line of the 1997 NYC Marathon.

The spark has been ignited. Time to GO!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Facing Down the To-Do List as Part of A Year Project

I love lists. I love the idea of lists. I love their order and formality. I love their optimism; it takes much strength to believe order can be forced from chaos. But lists can often be a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand they can help to organize but on the other they can overwhelm. Unfortunately my relationship with my to-do list has been a perfect manifestation of this duality.

I start out with the best of intentions. The cacophony of demands needing my immediate attention threatens to deafen me. I attempt to silence these demands by starting a list- simple. I think about the most important demand of that day and then list them accordingly. It starts off small but then before I know it the list has grown to two or more pages.

Now see this is where delusion enters the picture. I'm the product of 80's culture that indoctrinated me into believing I am a SuperWoman. I can do it all- "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up and in the pan" kind of thinking. So I look at his multi-page list and think if I just move fast enough I can get it all done.

And I make a great start... I might actually make it to 10 or 15 things marked off of the lists but the costs exacted for these accomplishments is too high. I'm exhausted. I race around like a blur. I try and continue the list the next day, trying to achieve even more "Mission Accomplished" success but it's impossible because more has been added and I see no end to the exhaustion and the frenzy of activity. Then I crash and burn and enter I period where I get things done in a random haphazard manner.

Today, I'm bringing back the "New User-Friendly" To-Do List. It has a reasonable limit of 5 things. Anything I get done beyond those 5 things is just icing on the cake and definitely requires a treat. At least one of these things has to be from my "Big Scary To Do List" I keep in a word document. These are all those things that hit you in the middle of going through life (make a doctor's appointment, call the plumber, take the car in for an oil change, etc.).

But more important than instituting a limit is allowing myself room to stretch out a task as needed. It's incredibly comforting to know that some tasks don't have to be finished in just one day. For instance, it took me two days to clean the inside of my car. I could have done it in one day but I wouldn't have been able to clean it as thoroughly or take-care of my regular workload which goes beyond the to-do list (cooking dinner, laundry, picking up and transporting, dishes, etc.) Now I can take one more thing off my "Big Scary To-Do List."

So far I'm moving along smoothly and relaxed. Is anyone else struggling with their to-do lists?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Year

I've decided to give myself a year.

A year to get through all those desires that seem to stretch off into the infinite. As long as time stretches out before me and there is no sense of urgency. I just keep plodding along.

This morning I had this EUREKA moment. The light bulb turned on and suddenly I realized what I needed to do.

I was in one of these depressingly circular conversations my newly diagnosed depressed husband and I have been having for the last month or so and I realized how much these conversations have turned into my life. All movement happens in the same loopy progression. I want to write. I write a little. I don't write. I want to write. I write a little. I don't write and so on and so on. I feel like every area of my life is stuck in this kind of loop.

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately and what I have seen hasn't been pretty. I can blame my husbands depression for some of this but ultimately, I have not been handling my life well at all. So instead of firing myself which would involve a lot of bureaucratic paperwork and pose a real hardship for the whole family, I've decided to give myself a year to get my shit together.

I know a year seems, as my teenage daughter would say, so random but I like the idea of a deadline. I also thrive on challenges. Whenever I've had a challenge placed on me and I only have a certain amount of time added with the responsibility of accountability, I always thrive. Well now I'm doing it, I'm standing up, clearing my throat and making a public statement before the universe.

A year or bust. A year or admit I am a miserable failure who needs to rethink her entire life. A year or admit to simply being nothing but a fraud. A year or continue to feel powerless.

I'm betting on the year. I'll post updates and tweets about my progress.

Bear with me as I'm making it all up as I go along.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Putting BenGay on My Bruised Ego

All this time I've been walking around believing I was in great shape. Yes, I'll even confess to being a bit smug about this. "Ha! I can go out and run five or six miles, easy-peezy." I've patted myself on the back as I run by darkened houses first thing in the morning or when a driver stares at me in surprise on frigid mornings or when the rain is pouring down and I'm running.

Then I met Shaun T... Well, I didn't actually meet him. To my amazement, one morning I was sitting and watching an informercial about the Insanity Workout. Usually I laugh at these kinds of things but then there were these people who kind of looked like me, in relatively good shape but soft and a little flubby around the edges and I was sitting on the edge of my couch.

Here's a bit of background: I was that woman other women hated. I could eat like a truck driver and never gain a pound.  Four weeks after giving birth to my daughter, I went to my high school reunion and no one believed I had been pregnant. I had to show them pictures. Two years after she was born I ran the NYC Marathon.

The weight didn't leave me as quickly with my second child but he was a giant baby. At my highest, I was 180 pounds while carrying him. This was more than 60 pounds over my normal weight. But the weight did come off.

At 39, giving birth to my youngest, I discovered my body just wasn't rebounding with the same quickness and I have to admit I slacked off. Living in the country, I found myself not getting outside and walking the way I did with my other two kids. I didn't run with any regularity. I didn't do anything with any regularity but I could still look at myself and feel I was in great shape compared to most people living around me. Sure I could stand to lose some weight but I can still get out there and run miles or kick butt on the elliptical machine at the gym.

But something was missing.... I didn't have the same power. My body wasn't as lean as it was and there was this annoying little pooch in my mid-section. And that's when Shaun T came in with his promises of strength and power. The brilliance of this informecial is that the producers didn't decide to only focus on overweight people to show the transformative powers of their fitness system but showed people who were obviously athletic and active people, like me. I closed my eyes and made the purchase.

Of course I sat with the DVD's hidden for two weeks embarrassed to admit I purchased something from an informercial (I still hide my LintLizard after each use). Then I put in the first DVD with the fit test and I scoffed- actually scoffed at it. Nothing seemed particularly challenging- squats, jumping jacks, ha! Then I did the Fit Test on Saturday and it kicked my butt hard. I haven't made sounds like that since I was giving birth. The next day, I could barely walk I was so sore. I skipped the next day DVD because of scheduling conflicts and the fact that I couldn't lift my leg without wincing. Yesterday I did the first Plyometric/Cardio DVD and had to scream uncle- I am not in shape!!!

Today is DVD #2. Hopefully my dog won't need to come over and lick my face as I lay prone on the floor unable to move. Thank goodness I can curl up in a fetal position in the luxury of my own home.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I'm cheating big time now. As much as I would like to stay focused on the collection of connected short stories, this novel that's been with me for seven years is dying to be written. I can't get the characters out of my head.

It's like being in the heady early period of a romance. I can't think about anything else. When I'm not thinking about these characters I feel lost and irritable. Other characters just can't compete with these characters and the creative world is just hazy outside of this novel. I've got it bad.

I'm taking the month of June to finally write this story out of my system. Now that I have the beginning, I feel like I can go all the way. I'm stretching my fingers, ordering more ink for the printer and opening a new ream of paper. Ooh, I'm excited!!