Musings on March

Remember how I had a plan for the month of March?   The first half of the month went really well as I wrote in my mid-month update.  But after that things rather fell apart.

I had finished a very rough first draft but I was at a crossroads.  My characters had built their own lives and the short story idea wasn’t working out with the plot lines very well.   I loved the plot that had developed but now I didn’t know how to make it work as a series of interconnected short stories.  So I dithered a bit and finally took a day off to consider the situation: novel or short stories?

While dithering about the writing was going on family life was intruding upon my writing time.  And then physical issues butted in and I confess:  I gave up. For now.

The good news is I loved doing the writing.  In the near future I plan to keep experimenting until I find a writing plan that works for my life, right now.

What did I learn?

  1.  Writing everyday is not for me.  Weekends were especially difficult.  I am a parent and parenting often takes precedence over everything else.
  2. Having a spreadsheet “yelling” at me that I was behind on my word count was not helpful.  I do much better with goals of completing scenes.
  3. But I do like the idea of seeing my word count progress divided up by writing session.  So I am making my own spreadsheet that I can adapt to my writing style/goals.
  4. Writing while walking on the treadmill was very helpful, really kept me focused. (I am walking as I write this!)

 

Since March ended up being about a lot more than writing let’s talk thyroid and menopause and allergies.  Yes the triple headed monster has re-emerged.  The first half of the month I did some excellent healthy eating, I was sleeping well and I felt like I had my allergies under control with the right combination of meds.

And then poof!  Total exhaustion, short tempered and eating everything in sight.  I went straight from my period to PMS to having another period ten days later.  So peri-menopause?  Of which I can do nothing about.  Or thyroid?

As luck would have it my prescription is due for renewal so I got my thyroid level checked this week and it is higher but still in the “normal” range.  But looking at my results on-line and looking at levels from the past five years I noticed (again) the pattern of how my TSH is always higher in the spring. So the doctor is renewing my meds at the same dosage but I will be secretly (don’t tell my doctor!) upping my dosage for the next two months or so during allergy season. (My prescription is filled via mail order and somehow I have ended up with an extra bottle. I have no idea how.) And we will see if I feel better in the next week or so. If I don’t feel better I guess that means it is menopause and you will find me on the couch in stretchy pants eating junk food.

As for the allergies my meds seem to be working pretty well.  My only issue is a bit of post nasal drip which leaves me with a bit of a sore throat some days.  I can live with that.

Not the March I had imagined for myself, but life is like that. It was a good experiment though.

Tune in tomorrow for an April surprise!

 

The Ides of March

Nothing to beware of though, everything is going along swimmingly. This is my promised mid-month mini update post.

I have written every day but one and my word count is a bit behind but not alarmingly so. It was a little bit tough getting started but I have to admit I am pretty proud of myself for not being totally de-railed by distractions beyond my control.  (I have two parent teacher conferences scheduled for this week and I keep practicing the tactful and calm logic I am going to present as to why collaborative learning in core subjects is not in my son’s best interest. And a second distraction has to do with dealing with my poor body’s tramp toward menopause. Sigh.) I have remembered to be kind to myself though and it is really paying off.  The writing itself has been a joy.  My stories have taken a surprising turn and I love how I started down one path and then found a whole different plot line developing.

I took some pictures to cheer up, well the whole rest of the country which seems to be experiencing extreme cold, sleet, snow and blizzards.  What perfect writing weather! 🙂

(If you look on the left side of the first photo above, the featured photo, you can see the start of two teeny green oranges!)

Buds on my lemon tree.

 

 

My son gave me a packet of mixed heirloom flower seeds for my birthday last September. I unbelieveably remembered to plant them mid-February and it looks like a lot have come up.  Now I hope they can survive this unusually early heat long enough to actually bloom.

 

The weather has turned from winter to spring to summer in the last two weeks.  Temps are now reaching the low 90’s and the smell of citrus blossoms are perfuming the air.

We picked all the oranges off the tree before they started to rot in the heat.  I think I will add fresh squeezed orange juice to our St. Paddy’s day menu!

Back to my writing!  See you in April!

The Month of March

I have always liked the idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) held in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words, typically the first draft of a novel. But November doesn’t work for me. My mind is filled with Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping. My son has two holiday breaks, Veteran’s Day and five days at Thanksgiving. We typically have at least two football games to attend and well, you get the idea.

But March is a nice quiet month. So I am doing my own NaNoWriMo.  I am not going to work on a novel but rather an interconnected short story idea that has been floating around my brain for some time now.  I have pages of notes and ideas to get me started and we will just have to see how it goes.

I am also borrowing Anne Butera’s (of My Giant Strawberry ) idea of a creative retreat. She always has the best ideas!  I am hoping taking a bit of a blogging/internet break will help me focus on my writing.

So my goals for March are to write eight short stories and stay off the internet except for the  bare minimal household essential tasks like paying bills and reading e-mails from my son’s school.

I will write one short post around mid-month and let you know how I am succeeding.  (Not even going to think about failing.)

In the meantime enjoy the approach of Spring!

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I miss seeing the tulips peek up through the snow but this small vase of pink cheered me right up.

K is for Killjoy

Killjoy: a person who spoils other people’s fun or enjoyment

I know this A to Z challenge isn’t a person but it is being a killjoy of my blogging experience.  Wait.  I am bummed because the challenge has turned out to be a challenge?  That’s weird.  I am going to persevere, sorry about that.

I am already thinking of how I will tackle the challenge differently next year.  I have a few ideas. Perusing the other blogs has been helpful.  I have seen lots of  interesting themes.  I know it would be best to start drafting posts well before the challenge begins.

Doing this year’s challenge off the cuff has been good in some ways though.  I have had to push myself a little, learn to prioritize a bit better.  I find I actually enjoy writing each day.  This bodes well for August when I plan on starting to conquer my personal goal of writing some fiction.

What I am not thrilled with is spending so much time on the computer.  This has been compounded by the temporary loss of my treadmill. I remind myself it is only for one month. Now that I know how to schedule posts I could take a day or two off. It’s not like I can get fired because I didn’t read any blogs for a day.

Here is the link to the A to Z blogging challenge.  Maybe someone else could read some blogs for me?  There is more than a thousand to choose from!!  Thank you in advance 🙂

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So as not to be a total killjoy here is a fun photo of a dragonfly I took last summer. (If I had known ahead of time I would have re-painted my toenails!)

 

Goals for 2016

After a bit of thinking and a lot of doodling I have come up with THE LIST. Since I won’t be starting until mid-January there may still be some tweaks but for the most part this is what I am going with.  They are in no particular order and I will be implementing these habit changes one at a time using the “Zen Habits” method.  I doubt they will all get done, actually if I have just two or three new habits firmly entrenched by the end of the year I will call it success.

  •  Improve eating habits
    • reduce grain intake and search for healthier grains
    • keep sugar intake low
    • avoid chemicals, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
  • Steps
    • experiment with grain free recipes
    • eliminate processed treats (no more store bought cookies, desserts etc)
    • decide ahead of time when I am going to break my rules and keep track

Goal: better sleep, better mood, less joint pain

@ I am already doing most of these things to some degree but I want to try a little harder.  I have begun looking up all the ingredients on things like crackers and cereals and researching to find the healthiest flours.

  • Increase my physical activity
    • longer walks with dog (10k steps per day goal)
    • yoga
    • jump rope
    • biking
    • hand weights
  • Steps
    • create a schedule
    • start small

Goal:  better sleep, better mood, tone muscles, increase upper arm strength

@ this one is going to be tough because I don’t really like to exercise. I also need to be flexible and adjust my routine to fit the time of year.  Swimming in the summer instead of walking for example.  But this is where the Zen Habits will be very helpful.

  • Meditation
    • two 5 to 10 minute sessions per day
  • Steps
    • start small
    • be patient with myself

@ I had already started on this goal, I thought it would be a good one to give the “Zen Habits” method a practice run with.  But then I got sick and now I need to start over.  Such is life.

Goal:  peace of mind, better focus

  • Writing
    • finish writing something, anything
  • Steps
    • set time or word count goal
    • investigate entering some contests

Goal:  to write enough that I can think of myself as an author, to feel a sense of purpose, to add another dimension to my day.

  • Photography
    • take better photos
  • Steps
    • watch a Great Courses DVD I bought this year
    • read blogs about taking photos
    • look into photo editing software

Goal: become a more knowledgeable photographer

@ I enjoy taking nature photos and am ready to up my game.  The last few years I have made myself a calendar and I want 2017’s to be fabulous!

Hopefully I will have the patience to take my time and attend to each new habit properly.  This time next year my days will look very different if I am successful.  I am looking forward to change, feeling better and discovering who I can be in this next phase of my life.

 

How to be a Stay at Home Mom

The title is actually a question, not a statement.  I used to wonder what Moms did once their kids were in school all day.  I am still wondering.

Last year was E’s first year of full day school.  I was thrilled to have enough time to get all my chores done and still have some time for myself.  All of kindergarten and the summer before first grade I dreamt of the many things I would do.

This school year started with no expectations and no plans.  No dreams.  Three weeks in and I am still at loose ends.  It is time to think of goals, projects and who I am going to be for this next phase of life.

I considered going back to work but I don’t really want to.  I want to be there for my son after school and holidays and sick days.  I like our non- stressful mornings and after school snack and homework time.  I like being able to take lots of camping trips.

My thoughts turn to writing.  Could I be a writer?  Sure, anyone can write (say all people who read a lot).  Of course not everyone can write well. What should I write?  Is this blog enough?  A novel seems very ambitious but I do have years of time.  And one novel already started.  Actually two.  With an idea for a third.  Should I try short stories, maybe enter a contest or two?  Do I want to make money writing?  Is it okay to have writing be a hobby?  Would writing make me happy?

Would writing make me happy?  Ah, there is the real question.  Now I need to figure out the real answer.

Random Bits

  • My doctor’s appointment went really well.  One, I am not crazy, and two she said my weight was “perfect”.  Perfect! Who doesn’t love that?  I wanted to run right out and eat a hot fudge sundae.  As for the not crazy part, wheat could very well be making feel cranky and causing my joint pain.  It is normal for changes to occur with age and the wheat intolerance could be a new thing and not even related to my thyroid issue.  Hmmm.   So this week I am back to avoiding wheat and  expecting to feel on top of the world again by Friday.  My thyroid antibody level is good, well in the normal range.  If I feel bad in the spring I will get tested again.  The doctor doesn’t think there is a known (proven) link between allergies and hypothyroidism but every person is unique and  I may have one.  Hmmm. 
  • What has been crazy is this heat. I really don’t want to leave the house or cook or do anything the least bit strenuous. There have been a few days where I wait until late afternoon when the sun is less intense before even getting in the pool.  I call this nauseating heat or crazy heat, as in I must be crazy to live here.

 

  • Summer lasagna. I have been doing pretty well using my CSA items each week. We had a couple of eggplant we had picked when we picked apples right before school started and I made ratatouille which was okay but not a fave. So when we got 2 eggplant in our CSA box I was a little stumped as to what to make. It was much too hot for a traditional eggplant parmesan but then I found a different recipe for a lighter version and modified that a bit more to keep things easy. I cut the eggplant into ~1/2 in slices, skin on and brushed both sides with garlic olive oil. I broiled each side for about 5 minutes then put it in a baking dish. I topped the broiled eggplant with leftover homemade spaghetti sauce that I had in the freezer. This sauce had ground turkey and diced summer squash in it . Then I threw a layer of mozzarella on top. That was it. I popped it in a 375 oven, set the timer for 30 minutes and went and jumped in the pool. When we came in the house it smelled just like lasagna and the taste? Wonderful and yet light enough for the heat wave. I could not believe how much we loved it.

 

  • My new downstairs office.  Not really loving it.  I miss the privacy and space upstairs, having a desk to spread things out on and a bulletin board to hang things on. My new space works okay during the day when I am home alone but I have given up trying to get anything done after 3:00p.  I still have no idea where to hide Christmas presents or the Santa wrapping paper.  I am still working on finding the best way to organize paperwork.  One positive side of the move is the view out the side window.  In the mornings I set up my workspace in the dining room.  (i.e. take my laptop out of the drawer and put it on the table.)  Then I open the dining room sheers and I have an unimpeded view of our grassy side yard and trees. I  can actually forget I am in the desert with this view. Since the window faces west it is nice and cool in the mornings but the sun in the late afternoon makes the room too warm to be comfortable  and too glary to see well.  So I close the sheers again.  Now I am wondering if I need to buy and install a second curtain rod so I can close the regular curtains in the afternoon.  I have put buy and install second curtain rod on the to do list. (Done!  I will get to test it out this afternoon.)

 

  • Right now I am drowning in good books to read.  This happens every once in awhile.  Sort of like your eyes are bigger than your stomach adage.  Yesterday I started reading “Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks”  by John Curran despite being in the middle of “Some Luck” by Jane Smiley and “Bertram’s Hotel” by Agatha Christie.   I need to pick up “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” from the library as after a very long wait it is finally my turn.  And I have four more library books on my shelf waiting patiently to be read.

I have words to write and words to read, Life is Good.

How to get your house clean…

Decide to become a writer. Plan to write a book of any sort. And the next thing you know you will be scrubbing away!

We are now up to the sixth day of school and I still have no plan for my days and not surprising I am doing no writing. At some point during the summer I remember thinking I needed a plan and that it should start the first day of school. Should I have a set time to write or a daily or weekly word goal?  That was as far as I got in my thinking and then I moved back into summer vacation things and never decided any answers.

I came home to an empty house the first day of school and began cleaning.  The truth is the house needed cleaning.  The three weeks since we got back from camping in the mountains had been crazy busy preparing for the start of school and squeezing in last bits of summer fun.  So day one I tackled picking up, vacuuming, laundry.  I also had to do something with the overabundance of apples we picked and thus a spurt of several days of baking ensued.  Dutch apple pie, apple cake, maple apple crisp, with apple strudel still on-deck.

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I finally painted our short laundry room hallway ( I am relieved to finally get that done!) and now I am scrubbing the kitchen cabinets.  I have never before scrubbed kitchen cabinets in my life.  I have always moved before they got past just needing a wipe down stage.  Have you ever looked at the top edge of the upper cabinets?  Go look.  See what I mean?

When you find yourself deep cleaning the house it is time to make a serious writing plan.  I start writing  Monday.   In the meantime I have a few cabinets left to degrunge which will be the perfect time to contemplate what I really want to accomplish this school year writing wise and the details to make it happen.

Half the Year Gone!

Since six months have gone by I decided it was time to look at my goals for the year and see how I am doing.
It took a few days after vacation to get back into our routine but now things are going well again. I am feeling better, sleeping well and realized my extreme crabbiness was simple PMS. (Possibly exacerbated by less than great eating choices over vacation.) I still made my doctor’s appointment for my regular annual exam in mid-August. I am going to start a list of questions to take with me so I don’t forget anything.
My goals for this year:
Write every day: Rather on hold until school starts up again but I am reading blogs and writing down a game plan of different things to incorporate or try to help make me a successful writer if not a published author.

Don’t be afraid to use things: I feel like I am doing okay with this one.

Play before work at least sometimes: I am actually doing pretty well with this one now that it is summer vacation. Pool time has been trumping making dinner at our normal time and keeping the meal really simple. Often I make some sort of cold side dish in the morning (cole slaw, macaroni salad etc) and have my husband grill something when he gets home. We have also been eating a lot of carrot sticks and cucumber slices, even easier than a salad!

Take 5 minutes everyday to just sit: I have been doing very well with this one. I usually wake up early and I go outside and water the plants and then just sit for a few minutes. I also spend time floating around the pool admiring the clouds or sit under the patio during thunderstorms. (The monsoons have come early this year. Seems like thunder chases us out of the pool every afternoon for awhile though the rain so far has been spotty.)

Healthy eating: This will always be a work in progress but we have been making progress. I rather gave up on the Farmer’s Market. I am not sure why I find it so hard to go but I recognize a lost cause when I see it. Instead I signed up for a CSA and my first pick up is this week. More on that in a later post. I also just bought a Nutribullet to make smoothies. So far I love it and am excited about trying lots of different combinations of fruits and veggies. More about that when I have had more time with it.

Exercise:  I resumed my yoga and jump roping  no problem after vacation.  Plus I swim most days and try and spend 10-15 minutes swimming back and forth with minimal stops.  Hopefully I will be able to see the difference in my arms by the end of the summer.

Purging:  I am still making small advances in downsizing my possessions.  Lately I have been  working on my wardrobe.  I browsed a few blogs searching for a what an almost 50, stay at home mom should be wearing.  The prevailing theme seemed to be mix and match with just a few pieces of good quality that fit well and you are supposed to pick a basic color palette.  While I am not ready to commit to having just 6 tops and 6 bottoms like one person,  I am working on purging those items I may wear but don’t really love.  (I read a good tip that said don’t go by if you wear something but ask would you buy that article of clothing today.)  I am being cognizant of the outfits I really like and that make me feel good and those I wear that make me feel meh or that I don’t really want to leave the house in.

I am also starting to look around my office for what I love and use and what I have simply because I have it.  On deck this week for purging is the laundry room.  I did the games and puzzles earlier this year but looking around I can see more miscellaneous items that can go.

Some random bits to update:

The new bedroom closet organization has grown on me and is working very well.

Relishing reading my Agatha Christies.  Love being able to browse my own shelves to find one that suits my mood.

I am really enjoying church and signed up again to donate a dessert for the men’s shelter in July.

I got a new hairstyle and I LOVE it!

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HAPPY SUMMER!!