I think January might become my reset, reflect, rejuvenate month from now on. I might even call it a Sabbath month.
- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day, youngest child’s 15th birthday;
- Visits from the two adult children, daughter-in-law, and grandson; and
- Assorted projects, obligations, and appointments that have come up since early December
… the last week or so has been a welcome relief.
January has had some events and such, but compared to December, it’s been generally rather quiet. I haven’t had much in the way of commercial writing this month, so I’ve been sort of resetting everything–diet, exercise, daily habits, and the like. I’ve been rejuvenating my soul with reading and knitting, and I’ve been focusing on reestablishing a habit of prayer that has not been robust these last few years.
In any case, it’s in this atmosphere of internal rejuvenation that my Facebook memories reminded me of a rather important anniversary.
It was three years ago that I started my journey to become healthy.
For three years, I have not missed more than two days of exercise in a row except for the week I had the flu. The times I’ve missed more than one day in a week have been largely due to getaways or vacations. I’ve lost about sixty pounds, give or take, and kept it off. I finally got rid of my “fat clothes,” and my closet is full of clothes that fit me well–not too big, not too small. And the last time I had bloodwork done, all of my numbers were “normal”–even cholesterol.
But as I reflect on the last three years, and even as I type that summary, the truth is that the paragraph above is an incomplete story.
It skips right over all the days I had to fight my nature, my internal demons, and my schedule challenges to exercise.
It doesn’t tell you about the times I had to say “no” to the treats and indulgences in order to build healthier habits–or the times I didn’t say “no” and then paid the price.
It doesn’t account for the two injuries I endured from my own stupid choices and the fitness setbacks I had to overcome in the healing processes.
It ignores the mental struggle of recalibrating my self-image. For a long time, catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror or window was disconcerting. My actual physical image didn’t match what I saw in my head.
It doesn’t mention the ongoing struggle with eating the wrong things for the wrong reasons, the effects of weird hormonal swings typical of a woman in her late 40s/early 50s on weight and cravings, or the latent body image frustrations of someone who still–still, after all these years–compares herself unfavorably to airbrushed idealizations in magazines.
The snapshot at the top doesn’t reveal the struggles of the climb, the setbacks, the switchbacks, the pauses, the rests, the stops…
Nor does that snapshot look forward to the maintenance, the next phase of the journey, the new goals…
Why am I thinking about all of this today?
Because I’m stuck.
I’m stuck on The Taurin Chronicles. I have not written any new words in a few weeks, nor have I made any editing progress.
I’m stuck on commercial writing. There are projects simmering and clients/prospects who aren’t quite ready, but I’m still not where I want to be, and I’m having a hard time refocusing my marketing efforts in a way that’s sustainable and productive.
I’m a little stuck on progress in the fitness/weight realm. I’m taking the right steps to get refocused in the right direction, but it takes time for progress to show up, especially when one is “of a certain age.”
I did finally finish the print version of Bloodbonded. That’s pretty cool. But the sheer number of continuity flags I stuck into that book–combined with the ones I need to remember from Ravenmarked–is… well, daunting, to say the least.
Here’s the thing: My health journey consisted of a lot of setbacks, resets, and do-overs. That journey isn’t over. It’s not a climb up the side of the mountain to a spot with a great view where I can just sit for the rest of my life. It’s more like a climb up to a wide plateau–an endless steppe or meadow or pasture that requires me to keep walking.
But the problem is that I want to just pour myself into a massive, focused change and then sit back and let the change produce results.
I want to be able to intensely focus for a short time to coast for a long time.
And that’s not what ultimately produces long-term results.
Looking back over three years, here are some things I’ve learned. Or am learning.
- Macro-changes come from micro-choices. Every time I chose to push back against the demons, get creative with my time challenges, and eat carrots instead of potato chips, I made a micro-choice that pushed me toward a macro-change.
- Big goals are tsunamis; little goals are ripples. Tsunamis are deadly and dangerous. Little ripples in a stream–those are usually tolerable and even pleasant. If I had said “I want to lose 60 pounds and run a half marathon” three years ago, I would have given up within a week. Rather, I just said “I want to not be so sad and maybe lose a little weight.” My “ripple” was just facing the sadness that had a grip on me. It was a big ripple, true, but a ripple I could face. Likewise, the huge writing goals I have in front of me are tsunamis right now. I need to focus on the little ripples–sending five e-mails, writing one blog post, or checking in with a couple of those “not yet ready” clients and prospects.
- Be content with the daily accomplishments. I have a list of things I want to do each day. My list always exceeds the available 24 hours. I need to be content with what I do accomplish each day and not berate myself for the things I don’t get to.
- Be kind and give grace. I still fight my perfectionist, over-achieving nature. It is so easy for me to fall into self-recrimination when I don’t do the things I set out to do as well as I want to do them. But over the last few years, when I had a bad workout or made a bad choice, I intentionally practiced kindness and told myself, “it’ll be better tomorrow.” I am still working on being kind to myself and giving grace in all the other things.
- I can only do one thing at a time. Aside from the obvious limitations of the space-time continuum, what I mean is that I can only make one choice, one decision at a time based on the available knowledge of the moment. In getting healthy, I could plan ahead for meals or snacks or workouts, but I still had to make that choice when the time arrived.
- Every moment is an opportunity to choose. Facebook or prospecting, cookie or apple, knit or exercise–every moment offers choices. Choices are just choices, and if I make a “bad” one, well, that’s what I did. Move on. If I chose a good choice over a better choice, well, at least I did something that benefited me. And the right choice for this moment is not the right choice for another moment. Life is not that regimented.
- Self-care is important. This is the central thing. Sleep, spiritual health, fitness, diet, mental wellbeing–these things are the roots of the tree that will eventually produce fruit. It takes several years for a fruit tree to mature. Why should I expect anything less from myself?
When I started my health journey, I had no idea where I would be in three years. I didn’t even know where I’d be in six months. But I kept making micro changes and working on habits, and now… here I am.
So where will I be with writing in three years?
I have no idea.
All I can do is make micro choices today that will hopefully result in macro results down the road.
What that means for The Taurin Chronicles is this…
I think in order to get unstuck, I have to back up and deal with all my continuity notes. When I look at Unquickened, I find myself overwhelmed with minutiae that I just can’t seem to keep track of. So I created a wiki, and I’m going to focus on that a bit every day just to get my world in order. It’s my fervent hope that doing so will untangle Unquickened and give me a better picture of what should happen going forward.
In the meantime… I know that I need to write a little fiction every day, just because I’m a better person when I do, but as I’ve tried to put words into Wisdomkept recently, I’ve just… stalled. I think it’s mainly because I don’t have a good grasp of where it’s going. So… I’m noodling over where to expend my fiction-composing energies. I kind of want to do something outside of The Taurin Chronicles just to give my brain a little cross-training. I may return to the world of the Six Vales–the dragon western series I started years ago–but I’m not sure. I may also try to compose a new short story or novella. I’m thinking about that.
In any case, since I’m discovering that I really stink at making predictions or setting release dates, I’ll just say for now that I’m focused on the micro-choices that will eventually result in a finished series. Y’all know by now that I am not fast, but I can at least promise that I am conscientious.
And in three years, I hope to look back on the micro-choices of today and see macro-changes in the mirror.