Category Archives: deep thoughts

Sliding back into the groove

It’s surprising how quickly some things can change, almost overnight.  I’ve gone from being completely blocked on writing and professional fronts, flailing about to find solutions to–what is probably making me feel best of all–the ability to be creative again.  Funny how that works.

It’s not that things have magically improved in my work life, which is the biggest negative  at the moment.  Right now everything is conspiring to make this the craziest, most twisted and positively most awful year I’ve ever had in this job.  I got slammed with a couple of things yesterday that, if I’d been hit with them sooner in the year, would have either sent me out the door screaming or dictated a resignation letter.  Instead, I buried my head in my hands for a moment, took a deep breath, then said, “Okay.  What next?  What else can happen that will make this year worse?”

(Because trust me.  This year really is the sum of every bad teaching experience I’ve had on an individual event basis all wrapped together.  I have no illusions that the universe will stop dealing me crazy cards.  Dear Universe: I GET IT.  MESSAGE IS RECEIVED.  I’M WORKING ON IT. KTHXBYE.)

Is the turnaround because I’ve come to a point of no return?  Or is it because I’m finally seeing my way out of things?  I don’t know.  I do know I bottomed out a bit over the weekend, thanks to the utter misery of this damn cold added to whatever is going on with my gut, and then started clawing my way out of it.  I made some decisions and took some actions.  I dumped a bit of the physical chaos in my home office and started making lists and a schedule.  It’s amazing how rewarding the act of being able to cross off things on a list can be.  It’s amazing how forcing yourself to impose structure, to take the time away from the crazy din of twenty different tasks that SHOULD BE DONE INSTEAD OF IMPOSING STRUCTURE and making that structure happen instead simplifies life.  How much the little structural things end up solving all the other tasks.

So yesterday morning I was able to be creative.  I spent the morning writing time productively crafting worldbuilding outlines and plans for Netwalk’s Children.  I think this novella might end up being the best piece in The Netwalk Sequence yet, just because I’m finally able to articulate some of the core issues that have been slinking around undercover about the whole damn thing for so many years.  We shall see if my writing is able to stand up to the ideas.  I know how when I wrote something significantly affects the quality of the story, and the sad fact of much of the Netwalk stuff is that it has not been written in sequential order.  It’s been bits and pieces pulled here and there, and even deft rewriting can’t cover up the differences in craft, at least not to my eye.

And I channeled my inner Sarah Stephens.  I know that character very well, god knows I’ve lived with her for twenty-three years.  I still don’t know all of her life and the things that twisted her into the brilliant but manipulative bitch she became in Netwalk and later stories.  But I know what the initial twist was, her ultimate soul-searching gut check that damned near killed her.  And occasionally it’s helpful to pull on aspects of that personality to help me get through the day (like, say, last night’s snark.  Which was more about work than about the rejection letter.  I can be very good at displacement).  Sarah is a construct but she’s a useful construct for those moments when it’s damn the revolution, bring on the apocalypse.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be things that won’t utterly shred my soul and bring me to my knees.  I know that.  There’s no way escaping how some deaths will eventually do that to me.  One death will do that for certain and is statistically likely to happen before mine (Mocha).  The other is a statistical probability but one of those things that you never know (DH) who goes first (and will definitely shred me to pieces), and the other (DS) would be a tragedy.  Those things just are.

So yesterday was a day for blowing up logjams and getting things done.  For moving on issues I needed to clear out of my head, and facing new obstacles with a grin.  I’m not quite up to a Rolex 4-star cross country course when it comes to the crazies, but it’s getting there.

I know where I’m going.  How that path happens, I don’t know.  But the way is starting to clear.

And meanwhile, it’s off for more plot noodling on Netwalk’s Children.  Oooh, I can hardly wait to start writing this one now!

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So more on weight management…the fit and fat crowd (hello, me!)

There’s been some interesting discussion about weight loss/maintenance over on the LiveJournal crosspost, and the discussion’s led me to think some more about the world of weight loss/maintenance/management.  So here’s my further thoughts, coming not just from the LJ discussion but from a moms’ e-list I’m on (we’ve been talking about how to help overweight kids regulate their weight).

For some people, weight management can be just an issue of how active they are.  Those folks really don’t get it when folks not in that classification talk about the need to restrict access to food/types of food eaten.  They naturally have good appetite regulation, often they are naturally inclined to be athletic, and for them weight loss/maintenance is just an issue of eating in a healthy manner and remaining active.  It’s not hard for them and in the event that circumstances happen (a health setback, usually) that they’ve gained weight, they are comfortable and confident that they will lose the weight again.

For other people, weight management needs to be an issue of both activity level AND controlling food consumption.  These folks may or may not be naturally athletic, and if they are active and athletic, that’s often not enough to keep the weight to a healthy place.  Usually in this circumstance there are issues with internal appetite regulation, and they actively have to think about controlling what they eat and how much they eat.  This is the category where you’ll find the “fit and fat” group (hello, that’s me!) who get really, really annoyed by the correlation that fat=unfit.  It is completely and totally possible to be fat and fit.  Been there, done that, have the pictures. Growled at the nurses who crank up the blood pressure cuff to painful levels because of the assumption that what they see means sky-high blood pressure.  Been gratified to see the shocked look on their faces when the final BP and blood work results come in.

So if you’re fit and fat, what’s the problem?  Often your stats are good, much to the puzzlement of your doctors.  Low blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, good aerobic fitness.  However, as someone who’s been there…what happens are problems in other areas.  Namely, joints.  Ligaments.  Tendons.  Flexibility.  Losing sixty pounds didn’t eliminate my joint and ligament pain issues entirely, but it sure made a difference.  Plus it is easier to recover fitness after a period of being sick.  And, for someone who’s active, carrying extra weight around your middle does limit your flexibility.

Additionally, even when you lose the weight and remain active, it takes vigilance to keep that weight off.  A minor indulgence can lead to a sudden gain of five to ten pounds, which piles up pretty fast if you aren’t watching.  That’s what led to my last yo-yo weight gain.  I started coasting, stopped watching the scale, stopped monitoring the food intake.  Even though I was still very active, the pounds started crawling back on.  Add in a spell of being sick with the Evil Respiratory Bug, which led to getting sidelined long enough for the slippery slope of weight gain to start (comfort eating while sick was one culprit, plus sucking on hard candies to help ease throat irritation), including my appetite readjusting itself to a higher caloric intake.  Medication changes didn’t help, either (Prednisone really plays havoc with weight maintenance).  It didn’t take long before I was back up the scale, and the last twenty pounds piled on within weeks.  Seriously.  One season I was buying new clothes in a larger size, and the next season those clothes were too small and I had to go up still another size.  Weeks.  A matter of two months from size 12 to size 14.  OMG.

What this last round of weight gain and loss taught me is that I really can’t depend on my appetite to regulate itself without my paying conscious attention to it.  I have to think about everything I eat, including calorie-laden drinks.  A year ago I could sip a soy chai without being concerned.  Now I can’t.  That’s the tricky thing about my metabolism…it adapts quickly and I have to keep fooling it by switching foods around.  And when I’m sick, I have to adjust my food intake and the types of food I eat to keep the weight away.

Not everyone is like this.  I suspect, in my case, one major factor was that I grew up with food being used as a comfort and a reward.  It didn’t help that I grew up with farm cookery, and was eating a lot of stuff that was designed to meet the needs of hard non-mechanized physical labor that I (and most of us, really) wasn’t doing any more.  I have had to consciously look for other rewards while still allowing myself the very limited treats to reward or comfort myself.

Food intolerances and allergies have a role as well.  A friend who is gluten-intolerant told me that she could literally gain ten pounds in one day from eating gluten accidentally, due to bloating and water retention.  While I’m not gluten-intolerant, I have wheat, dairy and egg allergies (respiratory allergy triggers).  That probably contributed to much of my youthful weight gain.  Additionally, I’m discovering further intolerances (crucial is an inability to fully digest the complex carbohydrates in healthy foods like veggies, soy, beans and nuts.  Beano is my new best friend) which may be contributing further to my weight management issues.

It’s a complex issue.  But for now, let’s just say that even though I currently don’t look fat, I have to manage my activity and diet levels aggressively.  I may be skinny girl now, but boy, do I ever remember fat girl (I was one who was horribly teased about her weight as a child).

I may look skinny, but inside is Fit But Fat Girl.  And that is a reality that shapes my life, long-term.  Exercise alone will not keep me at my current weight.  Exercise plus watching everything I eat and drink will.

And that’s just the way it is, for the type of body I have.

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Weight management issues

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that a lot of my friends are talking about weight loss/weight maintenance issues.  After all, we’ve just finished a holiday season and it is the New Year, with subsequent resolutions and attempts to reform one’s life.  Weight and body issues are probably one of the first areas that pop up for most of us.

Of course, a recent NY Times article ( about the problems those of us who trend toward natural heaviness ends up being slightly discouraging.  I fit the profile of the yo-yo dieter, though I’m trying to break out of that mold.  What I’m discovering is that I really do have to be obsessive about diet and exercise in order to maintain the weight I want.  Which means daily dates with the scale, constant contemplation of food choices, constant thoughts about quantity, and regular scheduling of exercise.

These issues are different for different folks, though.  Some people can exercise and see weight loss.  Others can restrict their diet and see weight loss.  But there are those of us (like me) who need to be very controlling of both diet and exercise to lose and maintain the weight loss.  I’ve done the yo-yo thing enough to know that yeah, I can eventually lose 20-60 pounds.  But it’s hard, and gets harder every time I do it.  Without monitoring quantity of food consumed and amount of exercise, the weight creeps back on.

This time around I’ve managed to keep the weight consistent for about a year.  But I still have to maintain the very restricted quantity diet to do so.  I can only allow myself occasional indulgences, and then offset them not just by exercise but by strict food control for a few days after.

I’m determined to beat the yo-yo effect.  I’d just as soon not deal with weight gain/loss cycles every five to ten years.  At some point–at my age, racing ever closer–it’s going to be harder on my body to manage these swings.  I’d just as soon lock the weight in now, and keep it at this level.  I’ve been fat and I’ve been skinny, and even with the need to exercise and control my food intake, I prefer myself at this weight.  I hurt less.  It’s easier to move and do things.  Oddly enough, my clothing choices remain about the same (no matter what size I am, it seems like all the cute stuff is in sizes I can’t wear–now there’s lots of cute XL/XXL/12/14/16 stuff), so that’s not really the issue.

How I feel is more important.  And, at this point in my life, between food allergies, food intolerances, and everything else I’ve got going on, restricting what I eat needs to be happening whether I do it for weight control or for allergy/health issues.

But most importantly, I am happy with myself as an active person.  I hoop, I spin poi, I ski, I ride my horse, I practice yoga, and I lift light weights.  I seem to have finally found the right mix of movement activities that are fun and that I can do.  Mastering skiing has shown me that I can do most physical activities available to me…within reason (running or other high-impact activity is Right Out, however, thanks to past injuries).  And in the last sequence of yo-yo weight gain, despite the weight, I was able to remain active and Do Stuff.  It simply took the addition of controlling food to lose the weight.  I got fit first, and then lost the weight.

Fitness first.  That’s my mantra for the New Year.  The rest of it just follows along.

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And now, 2012

Did I say I wasn’t going to write resolutions?

Yeah, well, I’m a writer.  You believe a statement like that, from someone who regularly sits down at the computer and starts spinning tales?  Foolish person, anyone who’d listen to a writer, she who breathes stories and other worlds into life, and believe that she wouldn’t change her mind.

2012 has to be a year of change for me, in many ways.  First of all, there needs to be a change in the Day Jobbe.  Period.  This won’t come as news to those of you who know me In Real Life and know what’s been going on.  More pragmatically, I’ve hit the point where I’ve maxed out any possible opportunities where I am now, and it’s not a comfortable place to be staying.  It will take a dramatic effort to change things back to the positive and I have absolutely no control and very minimal influence over that facet of the workplace.  If anything happened over my winter break, this reality came even more true for me.  I will probably stay on until June, but that’s not guaranteed.  Not now.  So one group of resolutions is clustered around the need for change in the Day Jobbe, starting with taking the ORELA tests to prove that I am, indeed, “highly qualified” and extending into networking to find a different position.  Whether that remains in traditional K-12 education or in something else is still up in the air.  Possibilities exist and I’m busy tracking them all down.  Possibilities exist, and I’m open to non-education opportunities as well.  I want something to do that doesn’t involve the godawfully long commute, is reasonably close to the barn, and has decent pay/benefits.  We’ll see what that brings.

More positively, 2012 will hopefully be a writing breakthrough year.  I am committed to working with The Netwalk Sequence through June at the latest and possibly longer, depending on how the sales go.  River has received its first, highly positive review.  I have three short stories that need to get written, with themes and mood somewhat akin to that of “River-kissed,” and they need to happen.  I also plan to go back into writing nonfiction, hopefully political writing but we shall see.  And I need to market that damn fantasy novel plus start up the Weird West novel.

Health-wise, I need to deal with the issues that are arising from the Day Jobbe weirdness.  Other than that, the key remains to manage my weight so that it stays about where I was before the San Francisco trip (oy, the weight gain!).  Increasing my fitness level is also important, and I’d like to get to the point where I can do a handstand (with wall) in yoga.  I also want to master the Palmer run, rather than just tiptoeing down it at the end of the season.

I need to keep the office more organized.  Paperwork for business needs to keep happening and it needs to get streamlined.  There are things which need to be done with the house that will need to wait until June (roof, ceiling repairs), but once June is here, it’s time.  I also want to expand the garden this year and get that developed to something I can manage even on the hottest days.

And I need to find time to do more reading.  Hopefully the new tablet will provide that opportunity (I’ve downloaded a batch of books already) and I can read down that pile o’books sitting in the bedroom.

So.  Lots of things to do, most of which are within my control (except for changes at the Day Jobbe, and I’m going to change that by removing myself if I can).  Onward to the new working year.  Stories to market today and, hopefully, another job app before I go off to the Day Jobbe.

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