The next chapter: November 2018 update and #NaNoWriMo 2018 wrap up

Ah, friends. So glad you stopped by 🙂

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo 2018 and I finished with 36,828 words. It’s basically what I predicted. In one way, it’s a comfort that I know myself so well. In another, it’s disappointing that I can no longer push myself beyond what I know to be my limits.

Well, I could, but here I am on December first, exhausted, as it is. Mind you November also gave me the gift of a time shift courtesy of Daylight Savings and that tends to upset my sleep for a week or two afterward. Losing an hour is worse than gaining one. So, there’s that.

Let’s break down the final week of NaNo, shall we?

Sunday last week, I wrote 1,194 words.

Monday, I managed 1,039.

Tuesday, 1,047.

Wednesday, despite having what ended up being a two-hour recording session (I’ll let you know when the result is available online and you can hear what a total nerd I am in comparison to the composed and brilliant people I get to work with), I wrote 1,069 words 🙂

Thursday was another rough day and I only managed 705 words.

And on Friday, I wrote 1,525 words.

NovemberProgress

What that means is that I’m past the first plot point in Tamisashki and heading for the midpoint.

What’s ahead?

I’m going to continue drafting at the much more reasonable pace of 500 words a day. I may write more, particularly on a weekend or day off, but 500/day is my goal pace and if I end up taking a day off here and there, I can definitely afford it 🙂 I’ll probably be drafting into March or April, depending on how things go.

I also have a couple of critiques due, which I’m going to work on in the next week, a DIY MFA team meeting on the 5th, my next column for DIY MFA will be due on the 11th, and I think that will keep me busy for the month.

I’m also going to start my annual planning cycle, set my goals for 2019, and be on the lookout for Jamie Raintree’s 2019 writing and revision planner 😀

Finally, I’m going to shift back into a more normal routine. Curation will pick up again not this coming, but the next week.

In other news, yesterday was also Phil’s last day at his day job. He has to go back to fulfill a couple of key obligations, but he’s now officially retired. Technically, he’s on vacation into the New Year and has some severance that will carry him through until March 31st of 2019. It’s a nice little cushion and will give him the time he needs to decompress and decide what’s next for him.

Torvi is showing every sign of becoming a sweet dog. She still gets inordinately excited when meeting other dogs and people, but she’s calming down. She also still has the irritating habit of getting bity when she has a want and can’t think of another way to express it. And she hasn’t distinguished between good and bad attention yet, but I think she’s beginning to.

Health-wise, I’m quite content, not having had a legitimate period since May. I don’t know whether it’s the ablation, or menopause setting in proper, but it’s wonderful. I’ve settled in at a thirty-pound weight loss since this time last year. I’m almost back to my wedding weight, which is a good place for me to be. While I could stand to lose a little more, I can definitely live with my current size, shape, and general sense of wellbeing.

I’m going to see my doctor this week to check on my blood pressure (I’ve seen signs of elevation, recently—what’s stressful for Phil is also stressful for me; also the uncertainty of not knowing how we’re going to survive after March 31st on half our income—so, yeah), a few new aches and pains, and a particularly irritating keratinaceous growth (AKA, horn) that may need to be removed.

And that’s about it for this month’s update.

Next month will see my end of year wrap-up and I’ll share my 2019 goals.

Until Tipsday fires up again on Dec 11th, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Advertisements

The next chapter: June 2018 update

Hello all you writerly people!

I know I’ve said this often in recent months, but this past month has been a weird one.

It started off well, but in the first full week of June, I was asked to deliver training with just one week to prep in and amongst my other duties. We didn’t even have a proper participant list until the Thursday before the class was to start. At least no one had to travel.

So, a week of frantic prep and two weeks of training followed by five weeks of post-training monitoring (PTM). Yeah, I’m going to be busy through to August.

I’ve had another life lesson confirmed for me. I no longer have to deliver training away from home to feel exhausted by the activity. Introvert me has to be on all the time in front of a class. It really leaves me drained at the end of the day with little to nothing left for my creative pursuits. And what little energy I have is still focused on Torvi, who, while she is showing steady improvement as she grows older, is still a handful. More on the T sitch, later.

On Wednesday of the second week of training, our group was inducted into a new PTM pilot project. The first class and group of monitors was chosen to be the pilot in advance of that class. The participants, their team leaders, and the trainers and monitors were all provided with training and information prior to the class. In other words, they were well-prepared.

Following the training, we were scrambling to mark the final tests, create course summary reports, and my co-facilitator was the lead monitor for the transition week, essentially dedicated advice and guidance for the whole class of fifteen. Plus, we both had our own agents (three each) to take care of.

I won’t get into the details, or this will be a very long, ranty post. Needless to say, it was madness.

JuneProgress

Given the crazy, I think I did pretty good. I wrote more days than not, and I wrote less than I would have liked, but I wrote, and that was the biggest part of the battle. I only wrote 6,635 words of my 10K goal, or 66%.

This means that it will be one more month drafting Playing with Fire. I should, however, finish the draft by the end of July.

I wrote 3,363 words on this blog, or 129% of my 2,600-word goal, got my DIY MFA column in early at a honkin’ 2,141 words, or 241%, and assembled my last Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 4,072 words, or 102% of goal.

In all, I wrote 16,213 words in June, or 92% of my monthly writing goal. Not too shabby 🙂

I did nothing in terms of creative events this month, but I did have supper with a good friend the other night. We haven’t seen each other in forever and it was lovely to catch up.

This coming month, however, I’ll have a couple of events to share. I’ll be heading down to Ad Astra next weekend, and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild will be holding a workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz on the 28th.

I may have another critique group in the making. I’ll find out more tomorrow and be sure to fill you in when I compose next month’s update.

In other news …

Phil continues to trudge toward sanity at work. It’s still rough, but they’ve hired someone who’ll be able to ease some of Phil’s burden and who’ll be starting mid-month. There will be some training before the new hire is going to be able to take some of the workload off Phil’s shoulders, but it’s another small win.

Health-wise, I’m pretty much sorted. My doctor put me through a battery of blood screenings, and other tests, and all of the results came back showing that I’m in good health. The one issue I’d wanted to investigate turns out just to be age-related and manageable without medication. Oh, and I have fibroids, which I didn’t have a few months ago, but I haven’t experienced any problems as a result of them. Funny, I don’t feel old enough to have these problems …

And … five months after the ablation, I had my first non-period. It was essentially just prolonged spotting. I’m cautiously optimistic.

We have one class left in Torvi’s intermediate obedience. As I said above, she’s improving, but she’s still a handful. One bit of progress is that I was able to take her across town in the car—without meds (!) I think we’ll be able to stop using them soonish. She may never enjoy the car, and she’ll probably drool every time we take a ride, but she’s not really distressed, and she hasn’t thrown up.

I took her to get her nails trimmed and she was snappy with the groomer. They may have to muzzle her in the future 😦

Feisty pup is feisty.

Tomorrow, I’m going to introduce her to a beach and see if she’ll swim. If, as I suspect, she’s got a good bit of husky in her, she may not do more than wade in and get her belly wet. I’ll be instagramming the pics.

And that was a month in this writer’s life.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Muse-inks: Sick away and figuring out where the stirrup is

This past week, I spent most of it out of town at a learning event for work. I carpooled with three of my colleagues, none of whom drive. The rental agency gave me a Ford Expedition, which I appreciated on the winter highways, but not so much in the parking garages of North York and Richmond Hill.

The hotel we stayed at was driving distance and we had to find parking at the office every morning. The mornings weren’t so bad. It was travelling down Tuesday and trying to find parking around noon that was the challenge. I levelled up my large vehicle driving skills, though.

And, as I mentioned last week, I had a cold the whole time. Being sick away is exhausting. I still have the dregs, but I’m in recovery.

Phil was not so lucky. I shared my illen with him prior to my departure and, as he texted me on Tuesday, “the man cold dialled up to eleven.” He’s still quite sick, but he’s determined to go back to work tomorrow because of the difficulties I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Torvi was quite good for him through the week but, because he was sick, Phil shipped her over to my mom’s most days, so he could stay in bed. Torvi destroyed Mom’s welcome mat, two hats, and she’s had to move the hall tree (an antique) into the basement and close the door. Torvi was jumping on it and threatened to tip it over.

Once Torvi is spayed and has her final vaccines, I’m definitely investing in obedience training.

While I was down south, because I was sick and on call for driving duties, I didn’t really have a lot of time to devote to creativity. I generally tackled essential duties, like curation, and went to bed early.

I let things slide Friday night after my return and caught up yesterday, though I was obliged to have not one, but two, naps yesterday. I should be fit to return to work tomorrow as well, though.

I did write a little bit in the last week, however. Sunday and Monday nights, I was able to commit a few words to Playing with Fire, and on Thursday night, I wrote a few more. Yay me 🙂

This is where “figuring out where the stirrup is” comes in. I’m ready to get back on the writing horse again, but the first step is to figure out where the stirrup is. One can’t get back in the saddle until one finds the stirrup. Not everyone has the ability to vault onto the horse and ride bareback 😉

I suppose I could have extended the metaphor to saddling the horse and tightening the girth, but the horse has been saddled and waiting for me since I started to think about PwF again. I think I’ll leave the equine metaphor there for now.

This morning we lost an hour. Daylight savings time is another challenging time of year for me. It usually takes me a week to properly adjust my sleeping and waking habits. I’m hoping my naps yesterday helped. We are creeping closer to the vernal equinox, though, and spring. It’s lighter in the mornings and the quality of the light is changing as the earth shifts on its seasonal axis. My mood is improving.

I also have my follow up appointment with my gynecologist for the ablation this week. So far, I have experienced two very light periods and I have stopped discharging in between. I’m seeing it as a good sign and have stopped taking my iron supplements. I’m going to let my body adjust to its new normal and hope that I don’t get anemic again. The blood tests will tell the tale, though.

I’ve also lost about twenty pounds since last fall. It’s mostly been due to Torvi and my increased level of activity from walking, caring, and playing with her. I weighed the Torvi-beast this morning, BTW … She’s 48 pounds (!)

I have hope that this cold was just a stress thing and that my recovery heralds an overall improvement in my health. There’s still Phil’s uncertain work situation and my ongoing pay difficulties that have to be overcome. Those were the stressors that helped to make both of us vulnerable and until we both have solutions in place, I anticipate that we will continue to face a few challenges.

My critique group has, after a delay due to various members moving and adjusting to life in new time zones, started up. This is another good thing.

20180311_141325

And … my orchids are in flowering mode again!

I’m going to be taking some time in the next week to try to refocus and organize my life again. I have been in denial that I could take on pup parenthood and that I could still devote the same kind of time to everything else in my life.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, something’s gotta give. I don’t want that something to be my writing anymore and it can’t be Phil, Torvi, or the rest of my family. Fiscal necessity means it can’t be the day job, at least not in the short term.

What does that leave? That’s where things get interesting and that’s where my efforts will focus for the foreseeable.

All these things are first world problems, though. That is to say, they’re not really weighty problems in the bigger scheme of things. I have to keep things in perspective and hope I’m not whinging too much.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

The next chapter: March 2017 update

It’s April already.

Though I’m grateful for spring and the returning light, there still seems to be too much to do and too little time to do it in.

Still, things are progressing.

It took me a while after finishing Wavedancer to get my head around returning to Initiate of Stone. As you can see from the screenshot, the first eleven days of March were spent working through my opening chapter, long hand. I tried a few things and finally settled on one of them.

MarchProgress

Is it any better? I think so, but I’m hardly objective. Unfortunately, it’s added four pages to the ms. I’ve been trying to cut back in other areas but, so far, I haven’t been able to shrink the overall word count. There’s still work to be done.

You will also see that I only made 74% of my revision goal for the month. This is what happens.

I nearly met my writing goal for the blog at 97%.

But I didn’t revise any of my short fiction. Again. My head’s just not there. I know I should forge ahead, regardless.

To be specific:

51,552 words revised of 70,000 on IoS

5,648 words of 5,800 written on this blog

One distraction has been getting my travel arrangements made for the Writing Excuses Cruise. Most of them are in place. There are just three days between the cruise and WorldCon that I have to settle. I’m going to spend them in Finland. My hotel is booked.

A friend has lent me her Lonely Planet guide to Scandinavia. I’ve decided I’m going to spend one day visiting Marttila. Yes. There’s a city in Finland that’s shares my last name. That’s why I want to go.

I’m also trying to assemble my taxes (which melts my brain).

I continue to assemble the monthly newsletter for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and I’m now on a couple of sub-committees for the Canadian Authors Association.

I like to keep myself busy?

Health-wise, I’ve had my first appointment with a specialist who will be able to help me, but I may have to wait for up to a year for the procedure to be performed. The hospital has cut operating time (grrr).

I’m walking more, despite a stubborn case of plantar fasciitis. I have new orthotics, but my feet are slow to adjust. I’m back to doing yoga in the mornings. I’m no longer on the iron supplement. For now. It doesn’t seem to have made a difference to my energy levels, one way or the other. Will keep y’all informed as to how things are going.

Work is chaotic. There was a site refit and so lots of disruption over the last month or so. Repeated packing and unpacking for painters, the installation of new workstations, and, finally, moving to a new workstation on another floor of the building. Everything should be in reasonable shape come Monday.

We voted on our latest contract offer, but we won’t know the results of all the votes until April 15th or so. I’m hopeful, but even if we ratify, it probably won’t be until September that we see anything in terms of our retroactive wage increases.

My back pay for my last acting position hasn’t been resolved yet, either. They say maybe June? They’ve missed every deadline so far, so I’m thinking August.

And people wonder why I’m not such an enthusiastic worker these days. Seriously?

The snow is melting, though, and we’re experiencing more days above zero (Celsius). The sun is out more. It’s brighter. I feel myself emerging from hibernation.

I’ll have another column out for DIY MFA next week, and a couple of lovely things to tell you about in next month’s update.

That’s it for me for now.

Until next I blog, be kind, be well, and stay strong. Remember: love is the greatest of magics.

The Next Chapter

Sundog snippets: The other thing

Sundog snippet

Real quickie here.

Just posting to let everyone know (and hope that you all keep me accountable): I’m quitting smoking.

Phil is too, and already this morning, we did the circle and snarl.  This evening he snapped at the dog.

Day one is almost over though.  It can only get easier.

Other than feeling a little “floaty,” I think I’m doing well.

Come Tuesday, I’m heading out of town, training for the day job.  My hope is that by the time I get back, we’ll be done our initial and respective detoxes, and things will be looking up.

Our motivation?  Phil added up what we spend on cigarettes between the two of us for the year: over $8,000.  That could have covered all our contingencies this year (Nuala’s ALC repair, the gazebo, Bucket).  Instead, we put everything on credit cards and then transferred it to the line of credit after.

We really couldn’t afford all this.

With the elimination of smoking, though, that $8k can go toward the line of credit and/or the credit cards to keep our debt down and eventually reduce it to $0.

The goal is lofty, but we’re going to do our best.

Wish us luck!!!!!

Stop Smoking - Quit Smoking

Stop Smoking – Quit Smoking (Photo credit: Free Photo Fun)

Sundog snippets: Pupdate, July 2013

So here’s a quick pupdate for you.

First, the story so far:

In January, Nuala had an ACL repair. On the heels of that, she contracted a UTI. We administered antibiotics. She somehow scratched herself an aural haematoma. Rather than having it drained, the vet recommended letting her body metabolize the blood. We agreed.

The follow up urine sample, however showed extra protein, which is usually a sign of a problem with the kidneys. Blood tests showed that Nu’s kidney enzymes were in perfect balance. An x-ray revealed no stones in either kidney or bladder, but an enlarged liver and spleen.

The vet recommended an ultrasound. This would require a journey of several hours for which Nuala would have to be sedated (she doesn’t travel well) and several days off work for Phil and me. The ultrasound may or may not have found anything and may or may not have resulted in a laparoscopic biopsy, which may or may not have proven clinically definitive. We declined.

We changed her food to a kindey health diet, and started her on a regimen of ACE inhibitors. Nuala subsequently redeveloped a UTI and this time we have the urine sample cultured. It turned out to be a massive e-coli infection. Uber-doses of antibiotics later, she was once again clear of infection, but the high protein in her urine remains a concern.

Where we are now

The vet is again encouraging us to consider the ultrasound. We’ve discussed things at length and here are the ultimate reasons Phil and I are not going to follow through with it:

  1. Nuala is behaving well, she’s feeling better than she has in a long time. Her residual limp from the ACL surgery is almost unnoticeable. By all accounts, she’s happy.
  2. What will the ultrasound reveal? The existence (or the lack of existence) of a growth of some sort.
  3. If the growth is benign, will it be removed? No (unless its negative impact on Nu’s health is severe).
  4. If the growth is malignant, what can we do? Not much. Cancer in dogs is notoriously fast-growing and often has metastasized before an operation can remove it. Though they do have canine chemo and radiation, the course of treatment would again involve travel and its effectiveness is not as good as human therapies.

While it may result in a better diagnosis and possible prognosis, we may not be able to act on it quickly enough to make a difference.

So we’ve decided to stay the course with her current medication and see how things go.  If Nuala’s health worsens, we may have to revisit and reconsider our decisions, but I honestly don’t think this will happen.

Our last dog, Zoe, had cancer, and we did what we could, but the cancer was aggressive and ultimately fatal. The operation to remove the cancer wasn’t effective, was very hard on her, and it may have bought her two weeks, but they weren’t a good two weeks. Her death broke our hearts and it was two years before we thought about adopting another dog.

Whatcha got there?

Nuala hoping to scam noms from Phil 🙂

You may disagree with our decision, but I hope you can respect it.

Here ends what I hope to be the last pupdate for some time. Nuala really is doing well and until we can see a reason to, we’re not going to put her through further procedures.  She’s been through enough this year already.

 

Sundog snippet

A life sentence with mortal punctuation: part 7

Last week: It takes sixteen years, but finally, I see the light.

Sorry this is a bit late.  I was actually WRITING today and I lost track of time.  It’s been a very good day 🙂

So that’s what it’s called

The Way Out, or Suicidal Ideation: George Grie...

The Way Out, or Suicidal Ideation: George Grie, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I learned a new term last week: Ideation.  I didn’t know that those pesky and persistent thoughts of self-harm and violence had an actual name attached to them.  Specifically, it’s called suicidal ideation.

Thanks to a friend for that.

How I deal with my depression

This week, I just wanted to go over a few of my symptoms and the strategies I’ve developed to deal with them.  Some issues I still don’t have under control, but I’ll share how I’m working through them and my progress to date.

What I don’t do

I have chosen not to go through extensive therapy and after the Paxil, I chose not to take any other kinds of medication.  I know people who struggled for years to find the right medication or combination of them to address their symptoms and in some cases, they still become accustomed to a particular dosage or formulation/combination and have to search for and acclimate to new medications.

This takes a lot of time that I have decided I can’t afford to take.

Everything that I do, I do on my own, and I know that for some of you, that will make you uncomfortable.  It may mean for others that I think I know more than you do.  I assure you: I do not.  I only know what works for me and share it in the hope that others will be able to benefit from my experience.

Others still may feel that my depression can’t be that bad if I can manage without talk therapy or psychoanalysis, medications, or a combination of all of the above.  You are welcome to your opinion, but please do not abuse me for holding to mine.

How I learned

When my father had his breakdown, I was scared to death.  I’d heard that depression and other mental illnesses had a genetic component.  If nothing else, it might predispose you to developing the disease, or other diseases yourself.

I started to pay attention to my father and to what my mother said about him.  I started to pay attention to my friends who had other kinds of mental illness, and the behaviours they exhibited.  I started to ask questions about how they dealt with their diseases and to think about whether their strategies would work for me or not.

When I got into my self-help phase, one of the exercises in one of the many books on the subject indicated that you needed to examine your life and the past events that may have contributed to your depression.  I did this in detail, repeatedly.  The greater part of at least one journal is filled with it.

As life went on and I continued to experience symptoms and the fall-out resulting from them, I continued to adapt and refine my strategies.

Having a mental illness of any kind can seem like having another person inside of you.  Have you ever heard one partner say of another, ‘That’s not her talking.  It’s the depression.’?  It can be very true.

As you might do with any other person, adult or child, you have to treat your illness with respect.  You have to take the time to get to know and understand it.

As with anything, mindfulness is the key.  Be aware in the moment and hold the lesson of it close in your heart and mind.

Mellie’s deadlies

  1. Ideation
    I’ll start with this because I already mentioned last week a bit about how I handle these unwelcome thoughts and feelings.  First, acknowledge them.  If you try to ignore them, they’ll only come back more persistently.  Then, accept them.  They are a part of you because they are a part of your illness.  They are thoughts.  You don’t have to act on them and you certainly don’t have to fear them.  Fear will give them power.  You don’t want that.  Finally, thank them.  I’m serious.  They’ve made you aware of something important about you and the nature of your disease.  Once they feel this respect, they will go on their merry way of their own accord.
  2. Exhaustion
    I am tired all the time.  Most days, I feel like I could stay in bed all day.  On the occasional bad day, I might.  My depression is only one cause of this.  Insomnia is another.  Hormones are another.  My malignant hyperthermia (MH) may be yet another cause.  Ultimately, they are likely all connected.  MH is a funny condition.  I’ve read of some people who show symptoms of what used to be called chronic fatigue syndrome, and others who are largely bed-ridden because of their symptoms.  One of my relatives suffers from the much-debated fibromyalgia.  I believe that this may be an affect of the MH.  Regardless of the cause, several things have helped.  Regular sleeping habits.  Because of work, I have to get up at a particular time.  I find that I wake up about this time whether I’m working or not, and whether I choose to stay in bed or not.  I’ve tried sleeping pills for the insomnia and didn’t like their side affects.  I’ve always felt nervous using medication to solve a problem.  Naps don’t work for me.  I used to nap all the time, but if I sleep during the day, I’m more likely to have trouble sleeping at night.  I’ve tried herbal remedies, warm milk, keeping the bedroom dark and quiet, but the thing that seems to help the most is going to bed at a set time and waking up at a set time.  Exercise.  I find that if I’ve exercised, even just walking, at any time during the day, then I’m more likely to fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night.  Getting used to it.  This may seem a little harsh, but you can function when you’re tired.  I do it every day.  I’m very aware of my physical state and I can see the signs of when I’m getting too exhausted.  This will be an individual thing, but it’s important to know your limits and the difference between functional tired and dysfunctional tired.  When I fall into the latter situation, it may well be time for a day off.
  3. Rage
    In general, I’m a laid back person, so laid back, in fact, that sometimes I don’t react in the way people expect.  I never express it, but part of my depression is rage.  This is where some people find talk therapy helpful.  They can unload all the unpleasant baggage they’ve been carrying around and have someone tell then that it’s alright, that it’s normal to have these feelings.  I find this to be similar to ideation, but I substitute my journal for a therapist.  Like a therapist, my journal doesn’t judge.  It just accepts.  I don’t need the reassurance of anyone else.  I know that the rage is one of the effects of my depression.  Journaling my rage allows me to unload in a healthy way and unlike talk therapy I have an artefact that I can refer to.  I can return and examine my thoughts and feelings and see if there’s a pattern.  Because I journal about my dreams, creative ideas, and other everyday events, I can often connect trigger events to my written episodes of rage.  There was a period of several years where I had a lot of rage to vent.  Now, not so much.  I think my journaling has helped me immensely in this regard.
  4. Self-doubt
    This is related to number five, but finds its source more in the friend wars and in the negative experiences I’ve had as a creative person.  Since I’m socially awkward, I can get the feeling that nobody likes me, even though I know this isn’t true.  I try to keep a few central truths in mind.  First, the people in your life are there because they are equipped in some way to handle your shit.  This means that they are true friends and accept you even when you act like an idiot or say something strange or unkind.  They love you regardless.  Trust them.  Have faith in them.  The opinions of people who don’t ‘get it’ are not worth your time or energy.  By and large, I try not to care what people think of me, but I find that, when I look at it objectively, I am generally well-thought-of.  Creatively, I keep in mind that I have been published and not just by one source or in one genre.  Many of the rejections I get are encouraging ones.  I have also claimed my identity as a writer.  I’ve been writing since I was a child and I’ll continue to write until I die.  It’s who I am.  Publication is a wonderful validation, but I don’t need it to feel good about what I do, or to keep doing it every chance I get.  Writing is a healthy addiction.
  5. Self-hatred
    This is the biggie for me and strangely, I’ll spend the fewest words on it.  My version of hell is to be confronted with all the things that I’ve said or done that have hurt someone else.  At heart, I feel that I’m a terrible person and I don’t have to look far to find confirmation of this.  I don’t have to look far to find confirmation of the opposite either.  I have few, but intensely loyal friends, a small, but deeply loving family.  It may sound bizarre to some of you, but I’ve had a string of wonderful pets in my life that have all taught me what it is to love unconditionally.  My self-hatred is born of fear.  Striving for self-love is an act of courage.  I try to be brave every day.
  6. Emotional instability
    Though my crying-at-the-drop-of-a-hat days are long over, I can still be a basket-case from time to time.  Some of this I attribute to hormones.  I first noticed when I was younger and on birth control that my emotional instability was at its worst.  In the years since, I have occasionally had need to go on the pill again for various reasons, and though I’ve tried a number of different formulations, without fail, I become weepy.  Even without artificial hormones, I can still take a maudlin turn at certain points in my cycle.  The early years of my relationship to Phil were the worst.  The smallest things would send me into an ‘end-of-the-world’ funk for days, sometimes weeks, and Phil has confessed to me since that there were times when he thought we wouldn’t make it as a result.  Phil was, in part, my salvation though.  His intelligence stimulated and inspired me, his keen and twisted sense of humour, so like my own, has kept me laughing all these years.  He can make me laugh until my cheeks and stomach are sore, until my eyes tear up.  It’s amazing what a good belly-laugh can do for you.  We have several values in common and I trust him implicitly.  We are the best of friends.  We just happen to be married 😉

Above all, writing has been my best therapist, my best medication, and my best spiritual balm.  It was only when I started to write regularly that I really started to get my emotional house in order.  Much of my journey feeds into my writing and I continue to explore the themes of my life in the pages of my stories and novels.

There is something of me in every one of my characters and often pieces of the people I’ve known and loved.

Have you been able to turn an illness to your favour?  Have you mined your life and experiences for your stories?

This is not the end of the story, though it will be the end of this thread of the tapestry.  Next week I will return to my narrative where I had to leave it to discuss my depression in more depth.  This has been a story within a story that had to reach its conclusion before I could continue.

I hope these stories have served some purpose and will continue to do so.

Good night and I hope everyone had a happy Easter.

Monkey around already!

Today, I attended a Webinar sponsored by TrainingIndustry.com and presented by G. Michael Maddock.

In business, there are often synergystic pairings: Walt and Roy Disney; Wilbur and Orvil Wright.  One is the creative genius and the other is the business mastermind.  Maddock calls them the idea monkey, and the ringleader respectively.

At work, I identify with the idea monkey but I also have the focus and vision of a ringleader (I think).  I had to ask the question: can one person be both?

The answer: yes.  If the entrepreneur is in business for herself, she has to be both.  I think because of my writing, which is essentially self-employment, I’ve learned to be self directed as well as creative.

Other interesting learning bits:

Dr. Edward Hallowell, whose research influenced Maddock.  His primary area of research is ADD/ADHD and some of his research has identified similarities between highly creative or innovative people and those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

This was an interesting piece, especially given my recent postings on creativity and adversity in My history as a so-called author (A born storyteller … and Three blind mice).

The insight equation: I [statement of fact] because [reason] but [tension].  Example: I want to pay via credit card online because it’s convenient, but I’m afraid of fraud.  (Paypal’s insight).  The critical piece is the but + t (for tension).  So when thinking about a problem to solve with innovation, look for the sexiest butt 🙂

Expertise gets in your way.  Think outside the box?  You can’t read the label if you’re stuck inside the jar.

Finally, intelligence is painful.  You have to learn from your own mistakes.  Wisdom is better.  You get to learn from the mistakes of others.

It’s quite a bit to digest, but like most of the things I learn through my day job, it has implications not only for my work as a trainer and course designer, but also for my creative life.

What have you learned lately that seems to tie into your life in diverse and interesting ways?  Are you an idea monkey, or a ringleader?  If you’re a ringleader, do you like to monkey around?

A born storyteller …

Storyteller is just another name for liar.

In grade one, I think all my classmates (and teachers) thought of me as a silly giggler, a liar, and cat-lady-in-training.

I didn’t even know how to write properly yet, so I exercised my creativity by telling my classmates in “show and tell” about the latest stray cat that I picked up on the way home.  They’d always run away after a few days and so I could show the class a different picture from the cat book I’d checked out of the library and tell them that my latest find looked just like that.

Daydreaming was also a preoccupation.  Because my dad had epilepsy, it was thought that I might too and that my habit of totally “zoning out” was actually petit mal seizures.  Later in life, I was formally tested for epilepsy and there was absolutely no sign of it.  I’d just delve so deeply into my fantasy world that there was nothing could tear me away.

If I was born 20 years later, I’d probably have been diagnosed as ADHD and drugged into submission.  As it was, I was “spoken to” and ignored.  I was deemed enthusiastic but disruptive by different teachers for different reasons.

Can you see the mischievious? Just call me “wee devil” 🙂

Really, I was painfully shy, and the giggling was a way of deflecting uncomfortable situations, which meant pretty much everything.  To this day, I still laugh when I offer a thought or suggestion to my colleagues or manager at work.  If it’s too radical, my suggestion can always be dismissed as a joke, right?

The daydreaming-at-inappropriate-times thing stayed with me until my mid-twenties, and then I started to get clever about it.  I’d restrict my mental ramblings to my “alone time” so no one would be put off by my apparent disinterest in whatever it was they were saying.  Now I cultivate solitariness.  As I writer, I have reason to, but as a creative soul, I simply can’t do without.

As for the telling of stories, I’ve always wondered what might have happened if someone had recognized what it was I was trying to express and encouraged me to turn those imaginary powers to something else.  If I’d started writing my dreams and stories down earlier, where might I be today?

Ultimately what-ifs and might-have-beens are only intellectual exercises.  None of us have do-overs.

A few months ago, one of the writers I consider to be a mentor, Barbara Kyle, presented this TED talk (via Volconvo) to her creative network: http://www.volconvo.com/forums/content/226-do-schools-kill-creativity.html

It is 20 minutes well-spent, trust me.  Sir Ken is incredibly funny, but his message is dead serious.  Currently, it is not the business of schools to nurture creativity, but to create useful/functional members of society.  I rather agree with Sir Ken, that only by nurturing the creativity of our children will schools produce truly valuable members of the human community.

I’ve also been disturbed by the resurfacing of the ADHD debate.  Are children being over diagnosed/incorrectly diagnosed?  This debate has been around for decades and it still hasn’t been resolved.

Some food for thought:

Were you a creative child smothered by a school system that didn’t recognize what your “acting out” meant?  How did you come to understand your creativity and who helped you through that sometimes agonized and agonizing process?  Did you ever feel less valued or less intelligent because you were more creative than academic?