The Courage to Start Over Again

I find myself “back at square one” when it comes to my fitness goals. After a year of limited ability to exercise, followed by surgery, followed by recovery, I find myself with the ok to exercise from my doctor and no motivation to do so. I did go out one day and I ran three miles. I felt as if it were a half-marathon and that I was under-prepared. I was sore for four days afterward. Apparently I’m not ready for that and need to start slower.

Dejected and unmotivated, I decided to re-read my blog to see how I was able to get started the last time. Not only did I find my initial posts motivational, I found that I have left a record that, if not beneficial to anyone else, is a goldmine for me.  I struggled just as much back then just to get started walking on my treadmill. The difference is that I know just how far I got from that humble start. I need to do it again, and I need to find the courage to do it. I think I just did.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that I already did this and shouldn’t have to do it again (the “poor me” trap), or the trap of thinking that I am just not the fitness “type”, or the trap that it just doesn’t matter. I do have to do it all again, but hopefully this time I will learn from past lessons and not get discouraged or take too many false steps.

I am the fitness type, because I’ve been fit and I loved it. I learned this late in life, not having been much of an athlete as a child. I learned that strength training makes me more stable…more graceful (I was never a graceful child). Running, eventually, makes me feel healthy and energized…at least the shorter runs do. The longer runs make me feel powerful in a whole different way…conquering my fears and proving to myself that I can do it.

It does matter. Being fit and healthy is a gift that only I can give myself and one that will extend my life and enhance my quality of life as I get older. It matters because it makes me better at all I do, provides me with endurance, energy, and perspective. It gives me confidence. I was getting used to the words, “I am a long-distance runner”, now I’ve removed all my “13.1” magnets from my car because they made me feel like a fraud. I earned them with blood (not much), sweat (a whole lot), and a few tears.

It won’t be easy, but what worthwhile goal ever is? I have new commitments that will make it harder for me to find time for fitness, but I’m used to scheduling challenges. I have my own, personal record of how to get to my goals, and I will…

Find the Joy in the Journey!

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Knowing When to “Say When” and When to Say “Hell Yes!”

I felt an odd mixture of adrenaline and regret as I walked through the Health Expo to get my race shirt. Passport in hand, I stepped up to get my bib, one that I wasn’t planning to use, so that at least I could get my shirt. I’d paid $75 for the privilege. It’s a lovely, silver shirt…one of my “colors”. Now I don’t know if I should wear it or if that would be dishonest.

When I signed up, in a moment of exuberance along with two colleagues, I was in the midst of training for a different half-marathon, my fourth and one that I actually ran. Since then, I have had a series of set-backs, minor ones, but enough to cause me to break training.  I made the tough call between running untrained and gutting it out just to say I did it, or knowing when I am not prepared and humbly admitting it.

I’ve only been a runner for two and a half years. I’ve gone from huffing and puffing for 90 seconds at a time when I started Couch to 5k back in June of 2012, to running four half-marathons. I need to find the happy medium, which I think is running about 3 times a week for three to six miles at a time. Maybe when that is my normal, training for another half-marathon will come more easily and not be a huge commitment and change in my life. Or maybe, I’ll have more time in my life later and will want to dedicate some of that to training. Meanwhile, I want to run because I enjoy it and it makes me feel healthy.

I never really did 50 things by the time I turned 50, but I sure did a lot more than I would have otherwise. I didn’t even envision running a 10k, much less five 10k’s and four half-marathons. I’ve read more, listened to more music, de-cluttered a lot (but never enough), gotten my affairs in order, and much more, all while working full time and raising my family.

Now it’s time take a step back and take a long view of the rest of my life. I see a new path in front of me. Running will be a part of it, and so will my family, and all the rest…but I am coming to a point where I can see passion and fun intersecting with meaning and purpose.image

So, here’s to the next chapters in my life! When I was at the Expo, I saw a Superwoman skirt. I didn’t see the point in the skirt without some sort of matching top, so instead I got a shiny, orange, ruffled skirt to wear in the Halloween 10k I signed-up for to keep me in a good running frame-of-mind and to assuage my guilt at skipping the half.

I’ve come to learn that “balance” is not really possible if you want to experience as much of life as possible, so here’s for trying new things, finding passion and fun, meaning and purpose.

Find the Joy in the Journey…even if part of that is running in an orange, sequined skirt every once in a while!

 

I Need A Mental Health Day

I have so many things I want to do around the house, so many things I want to do to advance my personal health and well-being, and meanwhile, work is crazy and I still have some unbelieveable loose-ends to deal with. So, I decided to take a day off just for me. I decided to take a mental health day! I am fortunate that, after 25 years at the same company, I have a lot of vacation. I so wish I had the money to use all of those days to travel on international adventures, but, barring that, I may as well use them to advance other objectives.

So, of course, I made a list longer than my arm of things to accomplish. I chose a day when my younger daughter was on a school trip, so I didn’t have any chauffer duties. I could sleep in! And so it began. I slept in until about 6:30…after all, I am a creature of habit! I tried to turn over and fall back to sleep, and I did…until around 8. Ultimately, I got up and ate some breakfast then put on my running clothes. After a somewhat leisurely 3-mile run, I offered my older daughter a ride to her job and after dropping her off headed to the gym. I did my upper and lower-body workouts. I figure, why do just one if I’m there? I never do the core work. This is a problem. I don’t want to pull out a mat and do the work in the middle of the heavy lifters…but even though I can do the core work at home instead…I never do.

As I started my workout, I realized that I’d completely filled out my workout worksheets. So, after I finished, I went up to the desk to ask about new worksheets. They were puzzled at first, but then directed me to my fitness assessor. I headed for her office, but it was closed and I’d been advised by the front desk that she had an appointment. So, noticing another door into the general area of her office, I went through and approached her office from the other direction and found that she was alone. Knocking and entering, I asked for more worksheets. Of course, she wanted to sign me up for another fitness assessment. I demured at first…I’ve not done the core work. I’ve gained, not lost weight…but, I have done the strength training. She assured me that I couldn’t judge my progress without another assessment.

I have less than a month to kick myself into gear…start that core work, run more often, watch my diet. The problem right now is that I am so busy with my younger daughter’s sports schedules, softball and basketball practices and games, that I’ve not been able to commit to any races. I find that signing up for races is the best way to get myself out on the road and running, so this is the crux of my running problem. So, I will look for a couple of races that can fit into this busy schedule. I’ve also found a trick to get in some core work…a 30 day plank challenge. Now, I don’t know if there is any merit to it, but theoretically, it will get me from 20 seconds on the first day to four and a half minutes by day 29…then whatever you can manage on day 30. As for my diet, well that will take a little more work to figure out.

So, after my workout I drove home and took a shower, than met a friend for lunch. I spent the afternoon doing a little decluttering. Later I picked my daughter up from her job and made dinner. We relaxed as a family watching some crime drama TV. I enjoyed my “mental health day” and got a sense for how I could work on my goals on my days off without becoming overwhelmed.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and find the time for what matters.

 

Back Home Again In The Valley

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years pondering my future. What do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I want to live? What do I want to spend my time doing? One thing I never considered was moving “back home”. Every Memorial Day Weekend, I do go back home. I revel in the homecoming weekend with a local festival, a carnival, two parades, and high school reunions. Mostly, though, the weekend is about family reunion with my dad and his brother and sister and their families.

This year, I went to the all-class reunion with my sister and dad. I felt a bit bad that after two generations, the third only knows our hometown one weekend a year. My sisters and I all moved away. Our cousins moved away..oh, wait, my aunt’s son and daughter actually ended back in our home town.

At the all-class reunion, a man approached me. I am really bad at recognizing people, but I did figure out that he lived across the street from me the last couple of years of high school. He was a year ahead of me and his sister was in my class. He asked me if I remembered that his dad drove the three of us to school. I didn’t. Then he said maybe it was only once. Hmmm. Meanwhile, I’m looking around the room at this throw-back to a seventies kegger…sure enough, the vast majority of the folks in the room were graduates from the 1970’s. I was despairing of seeing any of my own classmates when one walked in with his wife from the class behind us.

I enjoyed the evening, but the highlight was a heartfelt discussion with my classmate. The rest of the weekend was filled with lots of family time. On Saturday, I slept in. After that, I went through the hotel breakfast buffet, then put on my swimsuit and swam laps in the just-opened pool. I love swimming…note to self, have a lap pool in retirement! Then I met up with my family and we ended up the evening at a rib cook-off listening to American folk music and eating some amazing ribs

Sunday I dragged my kids out of bed so that I could make the hometown race. Next up was the hometown parade…also known as the “candy parade” for all the candy tossed out. After the parade, we headed to my aunt’s, the glue of the family. The kids, first and second cousins, had no problem connecting after a year apart…such a wonderful thing to see! The kids, ages 5 to 20, played non-stop. The adults, from early forties to early eighties, chatted non-stop! We vowed to meet-up at the Memorial Day Parade in the morning.

The Memorial Day Parade in my hometown is a quintessential event. It is very short. I walked in it as a Brownie and Girl Scout as a girl. I remember being told that we had to march along regardless of whether or not a horse ahead of us had left a problematic deposit in our way. That never ended up being a real problem.  The parade ends at the local cemetery where a small ceremony includes a 21 gun salute and the recitation of the Gettysburg address by a sixth-grader. My family gathers in front of grandma and grandpa’s house. My grandparents moved out of the house about forty years ago and are, themselves, up at the cemetary, but we still think of the house as theirs.

The house sits on a corner, at the end of the parade route. Once the parade has passed, we part ways after a series of hugs and goodbyes and see-you-next-year’s. As I hugged my cousin goodbye, she informed me that several houses were for sale on her street, just around the corner. She expressed her desire for me and my sisters to move back home. As I looked around at my dad and his siblings, my sister and cousins, and the next generation of kids, I did feel the pull. When these kids are all grown, how many will return here for this special weekend? It gave me pause. Something to consider as I figure out just exactly how I want to spend my retirement years.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the love of family, no matter how seldom seen.

Those Fearsome Hills

As I sped along the highway between my adopted hometown, the only hometown my children know, and my birth hometown, I enjoyed the drive in my little, stick-shift car. Although I drive a small, fuel-efficient car, it is completely up to any challenge, or so I thought. Certainly the state trooper who stopped me could attest to the fact that it can hit top speeds! With a grandfatherly touch, he assured me he’d have me on my way quickly and even advised me of the speed-traps up ahead. I was careful to obey the speed-limits for the rest of the weekend, but what I didn’t anticipate were the challenges from the fearsome hills of my beloved hometown valley.

Last year, I ran the hilly 5.25 mile race in my hometown. It was the longest run of my life at the time and the distance and hills were a worry. I had been training with the Bridge to 10k program and was near the end, so I figured I had the distance work covered. I added some hill work to my training and felt as prepared as I could be in the time I had to prepare. My main goal was to run it in under an hour and at 57 minutes, I met that goal. In the intervening year, I’ve trained for, and run, four half-marathons, the last one in mid-April. Recently I’ve added strength training and cut back on my running.

I approached the run this year with a more relaxed attitude and more confidence. In the end, I ran it in 57:18. My legs were fine and those hills and the distance weren’t a problem for them. It was my heart and lungs that suffered from the hills, those fearsome hills. I started off slowly, mostly due to the crowd of runners trying to push out of the narrow main street. I was distracted at first by a drone, hovering over us, purportedly photographing the start of the race. Soon enough, I was through town and on the first ascent.

Since the prior year, I’d learned a lot of techniques. I knew when to take the water, to walk while I drank a small portion of it, then to get on running. I knew to lean forward at the ankles and push my way uphill, I knew to open up down the hills to gain ground. I was comfortable with the distance and just kept plugging away. The biggest problem I had was that I’d lost some cardio-pulminary  strength. My legs were fine on the hills, and that’s what probably got me across the finish line at about the same time as the prior year…but then I had to go sit on the sidelines for several minutes to catch my breath.

Afterward, I re-joined my family and drove a group of us back to the hotel so that I could take a shower before we resumed our family reunion activities. This was the first time I’ve driven a manual transmission vehicle on these hills. In all the years I’ve driven a stick shift, I don’t ever recall having to downshift to get up a hill, but in my hometown, several hills required a downshift to third, but one impossibly steep hill took a drop to second to manage. These are the hills I ran.

I learned a few things from this run. The human body is an amazing, adaptable machine, but it requires a lot of maintenance and it requires frequent use.

Find the Joy in the Journey and the fun in taking on the hills in your life!

Time to Pick Myself Up, Dust Myself Off, and Start All Over Again

I am starting out my journey to self-integration by feeling very dis-integrated. I’ve missed 6 days of work in the last couple of weeks, two for a funeral and then four due to illness…an illness that lingers and wears me out. I skipped running altogether for a week and got behind at work. Having decided that during Lent, I want to focus on becoming a more whole person, a more integrated person, I find myself starting at a point when I’ve temporarily lost the center.

All the more reason, as I get well and start running again, to figure out what belongs in my life and what doesn’t. I’ve started down a path to add strength training and language learning to my life, yet neither has become a habit yet. Both have fallen by the wayside during my illness. I do think that both of these fit into who I am and therefore need to become a part of my life. I’ve successfully incorporated other things into my life over the last few years, including writing and running. Others I’ve managed in fits and starts, like reading more. 

I know some secrets to success and need to employ them, but some are easier said than done. I know that I should cut some things out of my life to make room for what should be in my life. I’ve already cut out a lot, so it’s hard to figure what else to cut. For the next several years, my life revolves to a large extent around my youngest child and I am reluctant to cut any of that time. Being there for her sometimes means, quite literally, being there.  For her.

Right now I’m trying to figure out how to add or fit-in new activities. One secret is to schedule them in. I find that I am more likely to do something if I schedule it, especially if someone else is involved, someone to whom I’m accountable. In training for the half-marathon, both last fall and over the winter, I’ve scheduled my workouts and written them into my calendar. I planned them into my schedule or planned around other things already in my schedule. I feel accountable to my work team, who gave me the race registration as a birthday gift, to keep up with my training and do my best in the race.

My plan for learning Spanish was to use the Duolingo app during unplanned downtime. I’ve since discovered that the app is more interactive than I realized and requires me to listen to phrases and to speak phrases as well. This is not something I can do while waiting in line at the grocery, as I had imagined. So, I need to plan time alone to work on it. The weight training has to be done at the gym, since I don’t have the equipment at home. As with the running, I need to plan ahead and put the appointments down on my calendar. I need to schedule my quarterly follow-up with the fitness consultant to keep myself accountable to someone else.

I still have a lot to think about with what I want to be a part of me now, and in the future. Meanwhile, I’ll focus on incorporating the first two while keeping an eye to maintaining or even gaining more balance in my life.

Find the Joy in the Journey…if one path doesn’t work, try another!

 

Incrementality–Baby Steps Are The Key

When I started thinking of what to write about today, the psuedo-word “incrementality” came to mind and stuck with me for days. I thought maybe I made it up…but at least Urban Dictionary put the lie to that. It ascribes the following definition to the word:

The belief or mindset that anything can be accomplished if you tackle it one small step at a time. The frame of mind that is the opposite of “all or nothing” thinking. Phrases a person with a positive incrementality might use include “baby steps”, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”, and “start small and build.” “Slow and steady wins the race” is the motto of the person who possesses incrementality. This is the tortoise, not the hare.

Now, when I hear “baby steps”, I crack up! This reminds me of What About Bob, the hysterical comedy starring  Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss’ character writes a not-so-scholarly, pop-psych book entitled “Baby Steps”. But, silly as the premise is, Murray’s character embraces it and makes it work. In the process, he causes his doctor to lose his mind just as he’s regaining his own sanity. Then again, perhaps the concept has some merit…which is why I am embracing it now.

I can run 13.1 miles…ok, maybe I’d struggle if I had to do it tomorrow, but I did it three times last fall and I”m almost halfway through my training to do it again in April. When I started out, I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile. That was just 20 months ago. Even 10 months ago, the farthest I had run at one time (except once in high school) was 3.2 miles. Did I go from running three miles to running thirteen overnight? Heck, no. I built up incrementally.

A little over a year ago, I lost 26 pounds. Did I do it in one week? No, I did it in 13 weeks…a fairly steady 2 pound loss per week. I look back and I’m impressed. I want to lose more, and I am having trouble getting back into the patterns that I had that worked for weight loss. Meanwhile, I have decided to look at this 14 month weight-loss plateau as a positive…14 months showing I can maintain the weight loss. Time, though, to take more baby steps to getting closer to my real goal.

One of my other goals has been to learn another language and I’ve been indecisive about whether to study French (a language that I love and want to learn for sentimental reasons) and Spanish (a language of far more practical value). I know I won’t learn it quickly, I need to learn it incrementally. The choice of language has been a major stumbling block, but recently I’ve been told bluntly by two different people to learn Spanish.

photo (2)First was a someone from work whom I recently learned was fluent in German due to being an Army brat as a kid. He brushed off my excuses and told me I could easily learn another language from tapes during my commute (although he demurred a bit, knowing my commute is just a few miles). When I told him I couldn’t pick between French and Spanish, he scoffed at me and told me to go with Spanish. More recently, I had the pleasure of dining with two Frenchmen visiting Detroit. Language learning came up, and even though they are French, they told me to choose Spanish. That was the final deciding point for me…if a Frenchman can recommend that an American choose Spanish over French, why was I fretting?

My ultimate goal this year, is de-cluttering my house…and here again, the concept of incrementality could be my saving grace. If I treat de-cluttering as I’ve treated running, I know I can do it. I need to have a plan…preferably in writing. I need the plan to be reasonable, but challenging. I need it to be simple and “check the box” rewarding without tremendous effort on most days. With running, there are days of great effort, but there are more days of working at it for under an hour, and even days off. The question I have for myself is, can I do this for other goals? I think I can.

Find the Joy in the Journey…knowing what you want to accomplish is half the battle…and taking baby steps on a regular basis is the other half.

Hit The Ground Running

Well, I’m 50. I made it! I am excited to start this new phase of my life, leaving behind my forties which started out fine, but quickly descended into a constant state of stress over one shock after another. From gut-wrenching to uncomfortable, to life shattering, they never ceased. I started my 50 by 50 project to move beyond all of the stress…and I was quite successful. It’s behind me now and I am thrilled to be moving on.

One of my new passions is running. I have carefully cultivated it over the last year and a half, and it’s still pretty fragile. I trained for a half-marathon throughout the summer and ran not one, but three, in the fall…then I ran a chocolate run 10k  two weeks ago…then nothing. I started to think that my running days were over…I’d let too much time elapse since my last run. I did mean to run, but the lack of time, the darkness, all worked against me. In the end, the bitter-coldness got me when all else failed.

I thought to run the day before Thanksgiving, but it was 18 degrees out and a dusting of snow covered the sidewalks…small puddles had become slipways. On Thanksgiving, the cooking responsibilities and family time took precedence. I awoke after a good night’s sleep at 7, realizing that if I’d run the 10k Turkey Trot I’d have had to have gotten up two hours earlier. I was thankful for the sleep, but still regret missing out on the cool running shirt.

Then it was my birthday, and watching my daughter play basketball and taking my kids out for a celebration dinner left no time to think about running. We had a lovely dinner, reminiscing about other family moments at fancy restaurants. The funniest was remembering the moment when my youngest accidentally smacked her butter knife on the edge of the table and it flew up into the air and “buttered” my black jacket. Then my older daughter deadpanned…”we are not fancy people”…we broke out in laughter at the memory!

So today, I kept checking the weather while I enjoyed my time off by playing Words With Friends. I had another tournament basketball game to attend for my daughter, so that limited my procrastination time.  Finally, I put my cold-weather gear on and got out the door. Ah, it felt so nice to be out in the cool weather, to be walking down to the park with my iPod turned on blasting eighties music in my ears. It felt great to run, to move my muscles and feel my body respond to the familiar exercise…I hadn’t lost it. My muscles remembered and rejoiced that I’d engaged them in the run again.

And so, I hit the ground running…running into my fifties! Fifties are the new thirties. I don’t know if I believe that, but I love it anyway! Wherever you are in your life, believe in yourself…strive to do your best, don’t listen to the naysayers in your life, rise above your adversities, do it, just do it!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and Journey on!

 

Procrastination: My Nemesis

I think to really grow, we must take on our nemesis head-on. For me, that is procrastination. I think, in part, my procrastination problem is related to being an introvert…in other words being internally motivated. If I cannot figure out what motivates me, I end up procrastinating and not accomplishing my own goals because I just don’t know that I truly know what they are or knowing them, don’t know how to believe in them. So, like any other INTJ, that is an introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging human being, I did some research into procrastination.

I learned from Psychology Today in an article titled Can Procrastination Ever Be a Good Thing?  that there are psychological benefits from procrastination…otherwise why would we do it? These are obvious…

  • You get to put off unpleasant tasks in favor of more enjoyable things
  • Problems may end up getting solved without any effort from you
  • You can avoid the possibility of failure or success
  • You get to avoid the discomfort of doing something you dread
  • You can avoid the anxiety you feel about the task
  • Someone may come to your rescue and do it for you
  • The demands placed on you get lifted because you drag your feet

I can relate to each and every one of those, but I think there is something more. I believe that sometimes, we just need to be unproductive for a while; to get off the fast track in at least one area of life. Perhaps procrastination is the psyche’s way of telling us, “enough already”! After all, don’t we all need a reprieve at one time or another? It’s one thing if you are just a lazy soul who never follows-through on anything versus a productive person in one sphere of life who finds it difficult to be productive in all spheres at once.

The article made me curious about procrastination and how to overcome it. It turns out that there is an entire sub-genre of self-help books on the very subject. Looking through some of the descriptions, comments, and reviews, it seems a waste of time to me. You can buy a workbook and work through all the reasons why you procrastinate, thereby pushing off your priority list further, or you can just go ahead and get a few things done. There is even a sub-sub-genre for procrastinating women focused on anxiety and the fear of failure. Is that a particularly feminine problem? A post for another day…

After searching some more, I came up with a delightful blog called You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion which included a post titled Procrastination . His recommendations were more direct than undergoing psychoanalysis or filling out self-help workbooks to figure out the underlying psychological problems preventing you from getting things done. In essence, if you make a choice for your future self, you will make an idealized choice. When that future arrives, you’ll make the same choice you would have made if it had been an immediate choice. For example, eating a brownie instead of a salad or watching a low-brow movie instead of one that requires you to think serious thoughts about humanity. If you are asked to plan ahead you’ll plan to have a salad and watch a high-brow movie next week. But for today, a brownie and a comedy will do just nicely. When a week goes by, guess what? You still won’t want to eat salad or watch an emotionally difficult movie. The author ends with this:

Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.


The bottom line is that you have to think about thinking to get yourself to make the harder decision to delay gratification. I realized that I have done this successfully in at least one area of my life: running. Instead of telling myself I would be come a runner starting in the future, I broke my goal into such small pieces that I really had no reason to procrastinate. Once I got to the point where I could run for 5 kilometers at a stretch, I needed more motivation. I signed up for a race. That was my current self telling my future self that I had an obligation to run the race and therefore my current self was compelled to train. I still procrastinate about running, but not to the point of paralysis…I actually do go for a run most of the time that I plan to.

So, now I just have to think through how to make myself do all the other things that I’d really rather not do! Cleaning up my house is the main thing. I can picture such a lovely, peaceful place to live in…if only it cleaned and maintained itself. Perhaps throwing a party would do it…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the way past procrastination to a life well lived instead of frittered away.

Reading, Writing, and Running–Part II

Twenty-one days until the BIG FIVE-OH, and I’m still reading, writing, and running and little else. I am not writing anywhere near as much as I’d like, but I have been reading more and running three half-marathons. I can’t do it all, so I decided to do what ever I want in the little spare time that I have…that has meant not much in the way of housekeeping and little other balance in my life. But then, I think balance is an over-used phrase and I’m not sure whether it’s worth having anyway, at least in the short-term.

So, I signed up for three half-marathons when I never intended to run even one. I trained for months and then ran on a slight injury for my first. Unsatisfied, I signed up for one just seven days later and got the time I wanted. Then I felt lost, not knowing how much to run and when any longer, so to delay any sort of new plan, I signed up for a third, which is coming up shortly. I do not feel prepared, and have learned that in just two short weeks I can go from trained to unprepared.

With all that running, it has made it tough to keep up with my writing. I still want to finish my novel and since it is National Novel Writing Month I thought I’d dust off the old manuscript. Never mind that I’m super busy this month. So far I’ve gotten a much better handle on my characters and my storyline, but not written any new chapters.

Being a supreme procrastinator, I handled all this lack of time and direction, by picking up a novel that my son had been wanting me to read for the last eight years. I wrote about Ender’s Game in my last post and how it opened up a window into my son’s mind for me. I was quick to pick up the second book in the series Speaker For The Dead and dive into that. So much for my writing.

Both of these novels were the so-called “author’s definitive edition” and as such the Introductions were written by the author, Orson Scott Card. As I’ve read these introductions, I’ve gotten a view into the mind of a science fiction novel writer. I’ve learned a lot about writing, re-writing, learning, setting aside, re-writing, learning some more, re-writing some more. I’m a bit daunted by the task in front of me to get my own novel written. Most of all, though, I know I can get the basics down this month, but that there are so many more things I need to think about in my novel. I need to get the basic story down so that I can then tear it apart and put it back together again, over and over again.

I know the fundamental flaws in my novel. I’ve tried to build it on a Campbell’s Hero Cycle framework, but I’ve let the main character act too independently…I need to identify her helpers and bring them on her side early into the novel instead of my idea to explain their roles all at the end like a classic “who done it”. I’ve written the novel in the third person from a single point of view. I’d like to keep that, but that means more integration of dialogue between her and her helpers.

I find the whole idea of writing a novel, a really good novel, so exciting. I need to dedicate a lot more time to it or it will never get done. I don’t think I can do it for a few weeks of the year, I need it to be my main project for the next year or even two. A lot has been going on in my life behind the scenes this past year, but as that draws to a close, I’m ready for the next chapter of my life. That next chapter includes writing my novel.

Find the Joy in the Journey…the housework can wait.