Reading helps with writing!

Standard

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I knew that writing was important
because every morning when I was a child, my parents kept asking about whether or not the
newspaper had been delivered. I began at about age 4 to look out the window and when I
saw the paper delivery person arrive, I would announce this news to the family. I can
remember that my parents couldn’t wait to get their hands on the source of news! That’s
why I knew that telling stuff in writing was a good thing.

Fast forward almost 60 years and I can definitely say that I have been writing one way or
another all of my life. When I was in my 20’s, I wrote a short story (humor) and sent it off
to an agent who proceeded to tell me that it was good but that in its current presentation,
it would not be bought by anyone. So for a fee of only (whatever it was at the time, I can’t
remember), they would edit and submit it to several publishers. I sent in my money but got
nothing but rejection letter after rejection letter. I gave up and don’t know what I did
with the story which was a loose version of an autobiographical incident that took place in
my own life. The agents, of course, strongly suggested that for an additional fee they might
be able to revamp the story and make it ‘sellable’. I was not so sure.

In the last 10 years, I have written and published a local on line magazine which I stopped
working on in March. In a way, it was a pity to end it because there were some very worthy
journalists who contributed each month, but it had become a heavy responsibility and I found
I had no time to write or develop the themes that have been dancing in my head for years.
Now I have a little bit of spare hours each day but I find that I can distract myself with
all manner of occupations before I eventually find my tush on the chair. I try to look at
this situation objectively instead of taking aim at myself and my writing habits.

Last week I had to renew a 600 page book at the library because I was not able to finish
reading it in the 3 weeks they loaned it to me for. The story is fascinating and it moves
fast but I rarely take the time to read during the day, saving it for bedtime when I know
that as soon as I put head to pillow, I fall asleep! Today, I will try to visit the recliner
I purchased a month ago (but used only 5 times so far) and read for an hour to advance in
the story. I find that when I am reading, I can actually work out some of the details that
are holding me back in my own stories.

Reading helps my writing because I can experience for myself the way another author
transports readers from one place to another. I am hoping to write more frequently
and more easily about universal things that interest all of us. It is true that every story
has been told. It is equally true that we can all tell the same story in a different manner.
Just ask any family with lots of siblings and they will each remember the same incident
in a different way.

I came across that lovely sentence by Steven Aitchison quite by accident. One click
usually leads to many clicks and hours wasted spent searching one thing or another,
but in this case, it was a good find.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy musing!

bing.com free to use image

More random thoughts on fat…

Standard

I have been thinking about the post I wrote yesterday. I wrote that I could say someone was fat because I am fat and know that we prefer to be called fat rather than overweight, etc. But when I woke up this morning, I realized that it’s not true…we would rather no one singled us out for description of any kind. On the other hand, I am a writer. That means that when writing fiction, or a screenplay for example, there are elements of a person’s physique that need to be described. If a character has a big nose, or crooked teeth and these are aspects which are somehow important to the development of the story, then they must be described as such. I am not sure what I am thinking is translating properly onto the written page but I am going to continue to write without too much editing. I don’t think there is much danger of lots of people visiting my page, it is an exercise that I do mostly for myself because it (blogging) is by far the easiest way to make sure I write every, single day.

My mother was always preoccupied with my weight. I have never felt it as much as I have in the past couple of years (probably because I weigh more than I ever have in my life!) and I see my mom every week as she lies on her bed and stares vacantly at her surroundings. My mother was fat during most of her life, although she did have a couple of successful encounters with Weight Watchers. She worried all the time about my weight and decided to go to Weight Watchers once herself so that she could force me to join her. I was only 15 at the time and really didn’t have the wherewithal to refuse. It was a very bad thing to refuse my mother anything, she could be very unpleasant to be around although at the moment it escapes me what particular thing she did to make
it so. Yell? Silent treatment? Physical violence? I really don’t remember because I mostly complied with her directives and kept her happy. But I digress.

Mom has been bedridden for more than 6 years. She has dementia. She is cared for at home because she was a very hard-working woman who was smart about making sure that when she retired she would have a steady source of income. She continues to earn her keep by living. I am glad she is alive. I love my mother beyond words even though our outlook on life and people were so different. Anyway, back to the weight thing which is on my mind constantly even though I have tried all kinds of ways to simply accept the fatness and move on. I went to renew my driver’s license earlier this week. They took my picture. I compared my picture to the picture they took 6 years ago, the last time I had to renew. 6 years ago was probably also 40 lbs. ago. How did this happen?

I am never hungry these days, probably because I rarely skip a meal or a snack. I would say my weight has been the same for the last 3 years and each morning I wake up with new resolve to have a “good” day. In the evening, I do enjoy a bit of chocolate and one or two small servings of cognac! Gotta be about 500 calories right there. In my opinion although there are no good or bad calories, calories are calories and whether you have “thyroid” problems or not, too few calories will make you lose weight and too many will make you gain weight. I need to give up something during the day so that I can indulge in my tiny slice of heaven in the evening. Today for example I ate a large croissant for breakfast with butter (not very much) and a tiny bit of jam. I just tallied an approximation of calories and it is about 600 since the delicious-tasting croissant was on the large size.

I am fat and I am very short and my metabolism (probably from dieting) has always been very slow. When I am in New York, I walk a lot and since I am mostly on my own, I find that I am too lazy or absorbed in other things to cook or go out for dinner so my eating (though healthy) does naturally scale down. My calorie intake is reduced and I am usually 5 lbs. lighter when I come home. I would love to blame my husband’s cooking on my weight gain, I would love to say I have a thyroid condition, I would love to say anything…but the reality (and I am good about facing reality) is that I have gotten older, it is no longer easy to lose weight and I have not been very diligent about portion control. My husband is already planning lunch, I am not hungry! I will not skip lunch but I think it will go in a different direction from breakfast. Perhaps a bit of cottage cheese and some vegetables. I am actually looking forward to that.

bing.com clipart

Pictures, memories

Standard

I have long been a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ fantastic shows. I don’t think I was ever really
curious to know what she looked like but I had the idea that she was fat. I can say that
because I am fat and I know that we now prefer to be called fat, rather than the many
adjectives that try to be politically correct or nice, you know the ones I mean, pleasantly
plump, overweight, a little on the heavy side, curvy. Well, you get my drift. If you’ve
been there you will most likely be inclined to agree with me that fat is fat regardless
of the degree.

Anyway, Shonda Rhimes wrote a blog recently, not sure how I came across it, but she remarked
that after a very big weight loss, she suddenly became visible to people who previously had
ignored her: men, women, it didn’t matter, everyone wanted to celebrate and comment and
congratulate her on the weight loss.

As I have shared in past blogs, I was fat all my childhood and until I was 19. At 19, I heard
a horrible comment made about me which had the effect of instantly reversing my heretofore
unsuccessful attempts to lose weight and keep it off. The remark was made without any thought
about the fact that someone was referring to a real person (me) with the feelings and insecurities
that come with just being alive at 19! If I had the person in front of me right now I would probably
thank her. In just a few months, I lost 35 pounds which I managed to keep off for the next 35 years
or so. And let me just say that although the weight came off because I severely limited by
calories during the 4 months, I learned all about nutrition and kept the weight off because I
was careful and disciplined about what I ate.

A few years ago, I don’t really know what happened but I became very lax about the whole eating thing.
My husband, who loves food as much as I do, became our household’s chef and as a result of his
wonderful, tasty cooking, I began to put on weight. It has taken about 6 years but I have achieved
the horrible success of going from a size M to XXL or even 2X depending on the brand. I am not happy about this “success” but I realized today (after re-reading Ms. Rhimes’ blog) that I have been
expecting someone to comment on my weight gain…forgetting that what people might say to a 19
year old, they would be more careful to say to a +60 year old. I think it was Ms Rhimes who said
that her weight is no one else’s business but her own and I guess it struck me today that that is
exactly true for me as well.

No one in my life makes any comments about my weight. I have not stopped myself from enjoying
life as always; I participate in activities, I am part of my community, I get dressed up, etc.
but I do admit that when I am winded after a couple of flights of stairs, or that when I see
pictures of myself in my current “condition” I am not happy and I often don’t accept that this
body, this shell that holds the same soul at 120 or 180 has never let me down in ways that matter.
Today, I am aware as never before that if I really really want to lose the weight, I am on my
own in this journey, no one can help me and no one can stop me. I have never felt so frightened
and liberated at the same time.

For today, I will accept that I did not get here overnight. I will admit that no matter how
much fat acceptance there is in the world, I would still like to recuperate the me I was 20
years ago. No matter how many manufacturers begin to pay attention to the reality of lost
revenue for their firms for not catering to this (sadly) ever-increasing market, I would
still like to be thinner. For today, this is where I am.

Writing takes priority!

Standard

I’ve been taking the 30 day free tutorial on Scrivener in the month of June. I confess it
is difficult for me to learn these complicated (and yes, it’s a little complicated) programs
by reading the tutorial and trying out things. I much prefer to have a youtube video to watch
(which I do and which I have) in place of a real teacher. But since I haven’t got too much in
the way of patience (there’s just sooo much to do!), I decided to put away the tutorial and
just simply start writing.

I think I will purchase the Scrivener after my trial period, in fact, maybe I won’t even
wait until the trial period is over, maybe I’ll just do it sooner. What I like about it is
that now (like in Garage Band), I can actually keep all my “projects” under one roof, if you
will. As a multi-tasker (not always a good thing) and having trouble focusing, I begin story
after story on word, or physically in a notebook, only to later find myself unable to recall
what I named the story or in which of the many physical pieces of paper I jotted down my
ideas. I’ve heard of people sitting and reading or writing for hours and hours but my life
is such that I really haven’t got the luxury of being able to spend many hours sitting in
one spot working on whatever story has inspired me. I am still pretty active in my town so
empty hours to play is a reality that has eluded me up to this point.

Enter Scrivener! Although I have not familiarized myself with every aspect, I can see that it
has already helped me keep a bit organized because I can name and begin writing each project
and Scrivener keeps them all separate and saves them for me until I come back and take another
shot at writing about whatever is inspiring me at the moment.

I have worked with Dreamweaver so some of the terminology and aspects of Scrivener are not
that hard for me to understand. I have always loved technology and have tried to keep somewhat
current in the technological realm. Not like the kids these days who are born with an intuitive
sense of how to work things but not so far behind that it would take too many hours to teach me.
I have a friend who is struggling with learning the Scrivener but I admire her perseverance and
I know that she too will become proficient after a while.

What I am trying to accomplish these days is just to set aside at least an hour a day for reading,
another hour for writing and between 30-45 minutes to practice a bit of guitar. Did I mention I
recently purchased jewel making tools and accessories? Oh, and what about the sewing notions (and
sewing and overlock machines I recently acquired to help out a friend who needed to move? Only
24 hours in a day and I act like there are 37! Oh well. Be gentle and do the best you can with
the hours given each day. The most important thing to do is enjoy life and be grateful.

Bing.com Free to share image

No time for apathy

Standard

I am not going to go on and on about how long it’s been since I wrote! What’s the
point? Let’s all be gentle with ourselves and realize that the pace of days gets
shorter the older we get.

So what’s been going on since I last wrote which was Father’s Day?! The 4th of July
just happened and I don’t know about you, but whatever your politics are at this time,
I think it is safe to say that all our celebrations have cooled a bit this year. My
husband shared with me that some politicians actually stayed home rather than face
the constituents who may not be so happy with them right now. An absolute lack of
leadership in “America” is present right now and I don’t think I am the only one who
feels this way. Rather than stay home and allowing ourselves to become anesthetized
by our feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, we need to involve ourselves on a
very local level and do our part. These are my thoughts at a time when, frankly,
I would rather be doing anything else. Sitting in a hammock, reading a good book,
drinking some lovely cool tea!

Alas, real life is happening all around us whether we pay attention or not. Signs of
impending war are making their way into our consciousness and it is important that we
be prepared for whatever is thrown our way. I personally feel tired at 61 and can no
longer participate in all the social activities that once made me feel so happy. I can
only imagine that at 71, I will feel even more so and think it is a matter of time
before politicians of that age begin to realize that their relevance and participation
will be better served on board that cater to the needs of the elderly, of which they
are part.

So those are my words for today. Although I have not been blogging here lately, I have
been writing each and every day and I feel very proud about that.

Have a good day.

bing.com free to use image

Father’s Day!

Standard

Here it is again, another Father’s Day celebration in which we must/should all
remember our dads. My dad is a quiet man whose perseverance despite all the hurdles
he’s had to face inspires me. I watch him as he tends to my mother who has been
bedridden for these last 6 years. It is amazing because I am not certain that if the
roles were reversed, she would have been able to do what he does for her day in and
day out. He is not a perfect person but he has qualities that I deeply admire and
for which I am thankful.

I was reading the other day about a book that recently came out called “Hunger” by
Roxanne Gay. I just finished reading an interview and I also came across some very negative
comments directed at a woman in Australia who also interviewed Ms. Gay prior to the launch
of her book and who then made some very unkind comments in the introduction. Backlash from
the public made her delete her comments and apologize but the damage to Ms. Gay was done and
I can identify with how cruel people can be about fat people either directly to them or
behind their backs.

I am not sure right now where I am in my weight loss/body image journey. I never really
think about being fat until I see pictures of myself where I don’t recognize me as me
but resemble my much heavier older sister! I think it is an ironic kind of punishmen,
self-punishment if you will, since I used to wonder how my sister “allowed” herself
to become so fat. I have had plenty of pictures to look at recently, as my son’s wedding
photographer took and sent us over 1,000 pictures to choose from. On the one hand, I look
too fat to me, on the other hand, I also look extremely happy! I joke that I’m never hungry
(a true statement) but I also know that being winded after climbing a flight of stairs or a
short hill is an aspect that might be changed if I lost a few pounds.

Anyway, my ramblings actually had to do with remembering that my father never, ever made
any comments about my weight when I was growing up. I understand too well the connection
between trauma and weight and always resented Mrs. Obama’s assumption that obesity in
school children was the product of unhealthy foods; it is a much more complex issue.
I believe that there really are ways in which our brain lets go or holds on to our fat
but most “normal” people can’t get that idea and focus only on food consumption. It is a
very complicated journey and as soon as I am finished with a few books I have recently
purchased, I will probably buy Hunger and see where and if I can identify
with Ms. Gay’s take on it.

Happy Father’s Day!

No procrastination

Standard

It’s a terrible thing to admit but I have always been guilty of putting other people’s
projects, chores, responsibilities, etc. ahead of my own. Now that my children are
all grown up and I have the luxury of many additional hours in the day when I can sit
and write to my heart’s content, I find I look for ways to procrastinate so that by the
time I actually do sit and begin writing, it is time to do laundry, or begin making
dinner, or go out to do errands! In order to get that best seller written (and I do think
I have one in me), I really need to put tush to seat and get going on it.

I’ve been reviewing the many events in my childhood that have made me the person I am
today. #45’s narcissistic behavior mirrors the behavior of many people I have met in
my lifetime, including a sibling and an ex-husband. About my sibling, I remember so
many actions that make my blood boil 50 years too late! It is amazing how some things
stay with you.

I am reading a book about Kabul. Every day life there (for women especially) is so
hard (when compared to the Western world) that I wonder how it is people still go through
the motions each day. For poor, uneducated women, there is little to celebrate, in the
book it sounds as if they are slaves and must do whatever they are told or face beatings,
starvations, humiliation, etc. I pinch myself every day that I have a great life filled
with opportunity and financial security. Even in the darkest days of my childhood, I
cannot recall feeling so put upon and burdened. I hope one day the people there may
enjoy knowing what possibilities exist outside their own dark surroundings and can
somehow find their way to them.

bing.com public domain image

Personal development trends

Standard

I have shared before that I was eight years old when my family moved to the U.S.
My mom did not work the first year we were here but by the time I was ten, she was
a full-time employee and 3 of her 4 children were latch-key kids. Our youngest
sister was only around 4 so she spent her days being cared for by a retired couple
and my older sister or I would pick her up from there every afternoon on our way
home from school. This is not an atypical situation for the newly arrived and I
guess I didn’t think much of it at the time, it was just the way life was.

While I am curious about things, I am not the kind of person willing to go through
hypnosis in order to bring up memories of the past, I honestly like my life and see
no purpose in exploring what might turn out to be a negative event. I would love to
know, though, what experience I lived through or observed that made such an impression
on me that I realized very early in my life that I am responsible for everything that
happens to me; that events aren’t necessarily as important as our reaction to them.

For example, as a latchkey kid and an older sibling, I had a tremendous amount of
responsibilities: pick up my sister, do the shopping, start dinner, straighten up,
do my homework, get good grades, etc. It made no sense to complain. My dad rarely
involved himself in household disputes and my mom was a bit of a tyrant and not
in any way shy about the use of negative words or the occasional slap to make us
comply with her orders. Rather than fighting or resenting it, I did my best to
do what was required quickly so that I could spend the rest of my time on my own
interests. The problem with this method is that I was usually ahead of my schedule
but my older sister rarely was ahead of hers and I ended up doing her chores so that
we wouldn’t have to listen to our mother’s screaming when she got home tired, hungry,
and anxious after a long day at work. My penchant for “peace at any cost” became
my mantra but until recently, I never really gave it any deep attention.

I received a phone call recently from someone who was inviting me to participate
in a personal development opportunity. I have been very interested in the Human
Potential Movement since 1971 (or before probably) and I am fascinated by the things
that people do, considering myself an unpaid journey(wo)man in this field. The
invitation, rather than interesting me, annoyed me because I felt I was being
pressured into accepting giving up precious hours on an evening when I would rather
perfect my craft (writing) or do nothing at all, something I rarely indulge in.
When my refusal to attend was met with incredulity at first and an abrupt send-off,
I realized I might have offended or even hurt my friend. Alas, I am too old and now
too aware of what I do want to do with my time to worry too much about it. I suppose
it will be a while before this friend reaches out to me but it is something I accept.

I used to love to watch a larger than life personality when he first started doing
infomercials. Since my desire to make every second of my day count is strong, I was
often sewing or writing into the night and enjoyed listening to his powerful message
of transformation. I was mesmerized by his ability to grab my attention and keep it
and I stopped short of purchasing any of his “empowering” videos or books simply
because I was very frugal and did not have too much money at my disposal.

I accepted that I could change my current situation if I wanted, I held myself
accountable for every single thing that I experienced. I guess you could say,
I didn’t really feel I needed the help but enjoyed the heck out of the infomercials!
A few years ago, I noticed that my “mentor” has changed a lot.
It seems to be all about marketing now, and where his videos and books
were available for under $50 back then, his workshops are now very, very expensive. My
love affair with him has ended and while I understand that many rich people can afford
his events, I am disappointed and saddened that he has gone this route. I have a minor
in marketing and I have never been comfortable with the notion of “making someone believe
they need something they never thought about before”. I think ethics have gone out the
window and I refuse to join that club. As I used to say and haven’t had to in a long
time, I want to recognize the face I see in the mirror looking back at me. At least
for today, I still can.

Image Bing.com public domain

A new beginning begins with a promise…

Standard

Call me old fashioned…I am! I love, love, love the idea behind weddings.
I think the commitment to work on a marriage after the glitter of the wedding
festivities is just a memory is a very sexy thing. In this modern world of
alternative ways to live ones life, I find that marriage is still something
that most young and old people strive to succeed at. Perhaps this is why despite
a failure or two, people continue to remarry. I am one of those people and have
so far succeeded in marriage #2! I am thankful I found “the one” and I am more
than confident, he feels the same way.

I recently attended a wedding that was more than 18 months in planning. Everything
was original, from the bridal party configuration to the wedding favors. Everyone
was happy; both families rejoicing in their children’s union and hoping for wonderful
things in the future. It was exactly what a wedding should be: the joining of two
completely different cultures with one single goal, to go forth in love and health.

May the happy couple and their families continue to be blessed.

Image of wedding cake: Bing.com public domain image

The strange things we do…

Standard

I’ve been house and pet sitting for a couple of days. I didn’t really know what to
anticipate except that I was looking forward to spending a couple of days on my own
with little responsibilities and lots of time to devote to my writing.

As I did yesterday, I have spent most of my day doing things that make it difficult
to sit down and write. For example, I took out the garbage from the disposal shed
and brought it outside where the carting company has not yet shown up to remove it.
I am worried about that because in the urban area where I live, a fine is issued if
garbage is placed outside earlier than the regulations call for or if the area is not
properly cleaned after the garbage has been picked up. This lack of removal has made
a very good excuse for me to go to the window and check out the situation. While I’m
at the window, I might as well look and see what is going on in the world and thus use
up a few more precious minutes that I could have employed writing.

It is raining, so every time I let the dog out for a short run to relieve her bladder,
I need to devote a few minutes to open and close doors, make sure she is dry before
letting her into the house, making sure I pick up her “deposit”…you get the picture.

Then of course, there is the distraction of getting breakfast, lunch, making coffee, tea,
taking a shower, making the bed, sweeping the floors, setting up the food and snacks
for the cat and dog…

It is just after 1 p.m. I have had my lunch and my tea. I am now all set up to begin
to write but find that I am cold so I will have to get up and look for a sweater to wear.
That means spending (wasting?) a few minutes on that and pondering life afterwards. I am
feeling sleepy all of a sudden, the light rain on the window and the slight chill in the
air conduce and seduce me to take a place on the comfy couch like I used to when I was
in high school. There is something about cold, rainy days that invites introspection but
is not a good companion to actual writing. Well, at least I was able to complete this
blog entry.

Image bing.com public domain