Giving Up

Well, that hiatus was unintentional.

Thank you to those who stuck with me through my silence. I have an issue with perseverance from time to time, it seems. The funny thing is, when I suddenly stopped writing, I actually had a complete draft ready to go about just that: perseverance. Oh, the irony.

Today, though, I want to address the opposite side of perseverance. I’m dealing with it in every aspect of my life right now, especially in my health.

If you’ve been reading for the last few months, you know that my psychiatrist put me on Abilify to bring down my manic episodes. Once I quit drinking and put my medication on a schedule, the Abilify started to work wonders. The downside is the lovely side effect of putting on weight.

Yaaaaay.

I did CrossFit a couple of years ago and completely fell in love, but got sick and stopped going. If you don’t know anything about CrossFit (or have only heard horror stories), here’s the gist: your start with simple warm ups like running 400m, doing squat jumps, inchworms, and other such things that would have normally been my entire workout. Then you move into the high intensity stuff, like burpee bar hops, box jumps, pull ups, various Olympic weightlifting techniques, and you do them all in prescribed reps or for time.

I went home hurting every day and it was the greatest feeling.

Now I’m trying to push myself on my own. No coaches, no cheerleaders, no partners. It’s me against me and I’m telling you it’s a hundred times harder than CrossFit ever was. All I want to do is give up, but I know I can’t. I have to beat this medication and shed the weight before I hit another all-time high. I got on the scales the other day: 228. I was at 195 in October before I started.

This reminds me a lot of writing my novel, because there have been times when I’ve wanted to give up. I can’t. The reward is too great. The same principle applies here, but I’ve never really achieved success through exercise before. I’ve had 13 years of pushing myself to write a novel. I’ve had comparatively no time to push through my mental barriers here. I find myself stopping when I know a coach would be pushing me on. This is bordering on being the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

What about you guys? Is there anything that you have to really push yourself so that you don’t give up?

Again, sorry for the hiatus and the semi-rambling post. I’ll do better this next month.

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Hello 2017

Another year, another New Year’s post. I made a number of goals (not resolutions) last year. Let us see how those worked out:

  • Gotten all 12 years of my notes organized – done
  • Hired a literary agent – looooool, still working on this one.
  •  Leveled out on my meds – mostly
  • Changed jobs, whether that be via “demotion,” change of departments, or taking leave to finish my degree. – done
  •  Dated at least one person – we’re going to call this done, even though no official dates were had. It’s complicated.
  • Learned how to control my awful spending habits so that I have enough to hire a maid. – still working toward this
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos – nope

Not too shabby. This means it’s time to set up seven new goals for 2017. Let’s start with the ones I didn’t complete in 2016 and fill in the rest.

By the end of 2017, I will have:

  • Signed with a fabulous literary agent of awesome
  • Learned how to control my spending habits, which includes paying off at least 2 of my school loans and paying off my remaining credit balance. (I’m bound and determined to be debt free by the age of 30. I want to buy a house, dammit.)
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos
  • Completed two of my seven remaining college classes
  • Gotten my passport and Canadian visa
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Gotten involved in a serious relationship with someone who complements my brand of crazy

I think that sums up my plans for 2017 pretty well. It’s going to be a busy year. A good friend and I have resolved to be more involved in each other’s lives, so I’m excited for that. I’m still struggling a little with my mood and medication, but it’s so much better than it used to be (anxiety is currently high but manageable).

We’re gearing up for an interesting year, that’s for certain. Have you made any goals/resolutions for 2017? Not screaming in frustration at Trump’s Twitter feed, for instance? Let me know in the comments, and happy New Year.

Smile!

smileI read a blog a few weeks ago over at Anonymously Autistic about remembering the rules of social interaction. The author, Anna, has a written list of rules she follows to make sure she’s interacting with people correctly. Say hi. Smile. Talk a little, listen a lot.

I can relate to a number of things she listed, but the one that stood out to me was “Smile.” I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. Smiling when I first make eye contact with someone? That’s difficult, especially on a bad day.

My mom was shocked to learn that I struggle with smiling at people. I was raised to make eye contact, be polite, etc. I think my mother’s insistence that I make eye contact is the only reason I manage to do it now. So what about smiling? That comes with practice–practice I can do every day, a few times a day, even if I’m 100% alone.

A few years ago, probably around the time I started working at Denny’s, I made it a habit to smile whenever I saw a face. It did not have to be a real face. I have a pillow of Mitt Romney’s head (which I adoringly call Romney-Face), and even though it’s definitely cartoon-y, I still smile at it. That habit expanded to . . . the bathroom; specifically, the mirror. I made it a habit to smile any time I looked at myself in the mirror, which did great things for my self-esteem and for my ability to smile at people when I make eye contact.

What about on bad days? Same thing. It’s a legitimate habit. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile just as bright as I would on a good day. I still smile at the mirror. It helps a little. I do still have really bad days, on which I will actually avoid looking in the mirror because I don’t feel like smiling. Weird, right?

What about you? Any social rules you have to consciously follow? Do you do well with making eye contact and smiling at people?

Anxiously Bored

Almost exactly two years ago, I had a professor at Arizona State suggest to me that the best way to handle boredom is to do nothing. Don’t scroll through Facebook. Don’t flip through television channels. Don’t try to draw or find music. Don’t. Do. Anything.

It’s amazing what not doing anything can do.

I’ve dealt with some pretty serious boredom recently and the hardest thing to do is nothing. I find myself wanting to find some creative activity to fill the time. Instead, I’m taking my professor’s advice and I made a realization: boredom is my mind’s answer to being overwhelmed.

Now, there are people who legitimately have nothing to do and are basically wasting away by being bored. I’m not one of those. There’s always something to do; it’s a matter of if I want to do it or not. I actively avoid things that stress me out, so writing has been on my “avoid” list. There are a few things at work I’m avoiding. The question becomes: what do you do when you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to?

That’s where my boredom comes from, so now I’m taking time to just be still. It’s doing wonders for the anxiety. Saturday was bad, so I sat and stared at a wall for close to an hour before I figured out what I really wanted to do. Sunday was hella productive. Today is more like Saturday. I don’t really want to do much because the thought of everything I need to do makes me want to curl into a ball and hide under my desk. Combating that desire by sitting still takes more strength than I thought it would.

I’m pretty sure this is 90% just rambling, but I’m curious–why do you guys get bored? Is it really that you don’t have enough to do, or do you actually have too much and you need to disconnect? Does it tie into anxiety for you?

Hair

We’re going to pretend I got this post up earlier in the day. I definitely did not spend the last (*cough*27*cough*) hours sleeping. Look, I wasn’t feeling so hot and I was tired. Apparently like Rip van Winkle tired. And I’m still tired, so apologies for anything that doesn’t make sense.

So hair.

One of the bizarre things about writing a blog like mine is trying to find ways to tie together writing and mental health. If it sounds easy to you, then good on you; it’s not easy for me. However, hair ties into both rather nicely.

Me!

March 2014

Back in March of 2014, I cut my hair all the way off. Like, all the way. The next shortest I could have gone was a buzz cut, and I was tempted. The whole purpose of cutting it off was to get rid of everything–the dead ends, the hair color, the bad memories, and the temptation to keep cutting it shorter inch by inch.

Hair is a sign of power to me. Maybe it’s because my mom has always kept her hair long. Maybe the story of Samson really struck a chord with my childhood imagination.  Either way, hair and power are two things I cannot separate from one another. I think that’s part of the reason I kept cutting my hair when I felt stressed out. I felt powerless.

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March 2015

I made a commitment to myself that I would never cut my hair again . . . until I got married. That vow lasted longer than anticipated since my engagement broke off about six months later.

The picture to the left shows a few things:

  • My hair grew a full six inches in the first year [insert “Why the long face” jokes here];
  • I felt dead inside through most of 2015
  • This is roughly the length my male characters wear their hair at minimum.

Characterization-wise, I personally prefer to identify my characters’ perceived power with the length of their hair. In my first book, Devin’s hair is in a pixie cut (think the length of my first picture, but styled like someone actually wanted her to look cute). She’s timid, young, and naïve. By the last book, her hair is waist-length and she is among the most powerful women in the province. Similarly, one of my characters starts the series with waist-length black hair and by God she is possibly the most terrifying female in the books thus far.

The same thing goes for my men, but with the added complexity of how they wear their hair, i.e. a ponytail = restrained power. My leading man, Patrick, always wears his hair tied back because he thinks he is completely powerless in the real world. He has to hide the power and influence he has over people and it’s one of the biggest stressors in his life.

As for me, I’ve managed to keep the scissors away from my hair for nearly three years. I’m pulling a Samson: my hair has not seen so much as a trim since March 2014, and it really does feel empowering to know that I have been able to grow my hair out so long. I took a ruler to it the other day — it’s 18 inches long now. The weird thing is that I wear my hair back often because I don’t want people to see how long it’s gotten, like they don’t deserve that part of me. Bizarre, right?

What about you guys? Does hair make you feel powerful/powerless? If you don’t have or can’t grow hair, I definitely want to know your thoughts on the whole hair/power dynamic.

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November 2016