Liberate

Today’s session was self lead and full of crying because I don’t fucking know why, but day 30 always is a tear fest. It’s certainly got something to do with succeeding and knowing you’ve been on this journey with thousands of other people all over the world and somehow feeling them through the ether, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by someone else’s emotions, but I’ll never really know.

It’s hard to do a forward fold when your nose is stuffed up. Really throws your breathing right off! But I completed a 30 minute practice today with little guidance–sometimes I synced up with Adriene, sometimes I did my own thing, sometimes I modified what I wanted to do because Rutherford had parked himself underneath me in chaturanga. I crave direction in yoga because I have no way of telling how long I’ve been practicing. Sometimes ten minutes feels like an hour, sometimes thirty minutes feels like I just started. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, maybe your body tells you when you’re done like that.

In any case, 30 days of yoga, and thus blogging, is officially over. I don’t think a single day has gone by where I felt like either was a challenge. I missed two days, but I didn’t beat myself up about either, and I feel fine looking back on them, so it seems my mental state has improved significantly. I feel more flexible, stronger, active, and happier. Basically, everything I needed was accomplished.

Most importantly, I’ve reestablished a daily yoga routine. This is something I need in my life, it’s not to be ignored.

In less healthy news, on my quest to become a good kitchen witch and baker, I made pretzels last night for the first time. They were amazing:

Recipe is here, I just don’t mess with the pretzel salt. I ground a little pink salt onto them before they went in the oven, but they probably didn’t even need that after the bicarb bath.

They’re not particularly pretty and maybe not what you imagine when you think of a pretzel (kinda like me as a yogi), but they were so soft and chewy and surprisingly buttery considering I only used two tablespoons in the dough and then just melted one tablespoon more and spread that out over all six of them in the end. I made some spinach artichoke dip on the side as well and roasted some broccoli and cauliflower because of green reasons, or “greasons.” Not the kind of dinner you should have often, but okay for rare occasions and baking trials!

I definitely went to bed with bread gut last night though. Bleck.

This morning I planned out my habits for February in my bullet journal. Here’s my monthly spread for February, keep in mind the designs for the headers I stole from something I saw online:

I was smart enough this time to not put birthdays on here before I took the picture.

If nothing else, maybe my handwriting will improve from journaling. Probably not, but provided it remains somewhat legible there will at least be a little log of my life in 2019. Will my possible future children care? Maaaaybe? I need to make it more interesting if that will ever be the case!

Advertisements

Celebrate

I really wanted to write this sort of uplifting post today about being a cheerleader for someone else. I wanted to say something like “celebrate someone in your life today, someone you wouldn’t normally.” Because there are a lot of people out there who are jealous and snippy and want to tear everyone else down, but really we should be proud of people when they succeed and happy when they are happy. But I can’t exactly find super eloquent words to do this, so instead I’m just saying it plainly.

Cheer for somebody, tell someone they did a good job, be proud–even silently–and see how that feels. Because I gotta tell you, it feels SO MUCH BETTER than jealousy. Instead of picking out someone’s flaws, pick out their perfections, allow yourself to be impressed by them, inspired, excited about what they’re going on to do. Celebrate humankind.

Dedicate

A subtitle for today’s blog could be “Planning for Brainstorm February,” but I gotta stay on this month’s brand, and dedicate actually works out. I dedicated today’s practice, as Adriene asked us to, to “my work.” It was meant to be a person or a thing that wasn’t ourselves to prove how self love and care isn’t selfish, which I 100% agree with, but I wonder if choosing my writing really is selfish. I reasoned that I’d like to write for other people, I want to bring joy to others, but am I capable of that? Is it not just selfish but self aggrandizing to think that’s where this all will lead? I dunno, but that’s what I did.

I’m at least an ancillary believer in putting things out into the universe to make them come true, so I’ve formed a writing plan for the next month and for the whole year. I even wrote it down in my bujo. Woah.

One of my 2019 goals is to complete three new first drafts. I did like half to two thirds that last year, so I know it’s possible with some proper planning. Currently NaNo is traditionally in November and camp runs in July, so I’ll be observing these for two of my drafts. I was pumped to find out the NaNo people actually run two camps, but bummed to see they’re in April and July. July and November are four months apart, but April isn’t equally spaced like the others, so I’m creating my own little NaNo event in March instead so my drafts will be equally spaced, leaving my three full months between writing sessions for editing of last year’s and this year’s drafts and, if I’m so inclined, other new writing projects.

If 2018 taught me anything, it’s that a well-thought-out, specifically designed plot will help me reach my word goals. That is not to say the plot cannot change as my characters reveal themselves through the story, but when I find myself in times of trouble, my methodic plot comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: “just do this shit right here, you already wrote it down, Jesus.” So to get to that point, I’m dedicating February to plotting. For the rest of this week I’m tying up my SAT loose ends, then come Monday the 4th I’m following this schedule:

  • Monday – Story one’s premise, general outline, character sheets, and how I see the story ending
  • Tuesday – Plot act one
  • Wednesday – Plot act two
  • Thursday – Plot act three
  • Friday – Fill in plot holes, flesh out any parts that were skipped
  • Saturday/Sunday – General clean up

Rinse and repeat for three weeks until three plots are written, then use the last four days in February to pick which one I’d like to work on in March and to fix anything up that needs to be done before jumping in. Maybe this seems lofty, but I have about five different stories rolling around in my brain already to choose from for this process, and I have many of the characters and events thought out and even written down in some instances, so I’m not going in completely blind.

I don’t really write in “acts,” but I can generally feel where they fall in my work. Acts one and three, or the beginning and the end, are typically 25 to 50% of the whole thing while act two, or the middle, is at least half if not more of the story. It’s the alternative meat product in my vegetarian sandwich. So I’m not too sure I’ll have “equal” work for the middle of the week, but then again I’ve never worked like this before. I guess we’ll see at the end of February if it works out at all.

Power

Today, I have the power to stay on task. I mean, I had the power to stay in those standing splits the whole time and do shiva squats, so I could probably conquer the galaxy if I put my mind and brawn to it today. But we’ll save becoming Supreme Leader of the Universe for another day.

I’m also writing about pirates and an invisible ship today. Sort of like Jack Sparrow meets old school Wonder Woman. Except there’s also dragons. And I’m getting lots of chores done, and planning a tofu fried rice for dinner with leftover hibachi that’s going to be killer. Oh! And I did my February bujo spread and a little planning for the upcoming month. God damn I’m on a roll!

In other, not as great news, I was looking at my credit score and found some discrepancies. 1) A debt that I’m completely unaware of and 2) Two hard inquiries for the same pull. Both are pissing me off, but while I can dispute the debt, I can’t dispute the inquiries using the bureau’s online system, so I’m going to have to call them which I’m sure will be a shitshow. I think it’s utter bullshit that these companies, which are completely private and seem to be held to absolutely no standard and are wrong so frequently. (Seriously, you NEED to watch that whole video in the link.) A very smart friend encouraged me to sign up for Credit Karma a while back, and I am so glad I did. But I’m going to drop the anger, and focus on fixing it.

January is almost over which means I need to soon take a step back and evaluate what habits have been working for me this month and what has not. Specifically, I need to look for a method for tracking habits related to writing that goes beyond sprints and word counts because February is going to be brainstorming and plotting heavy, but I don’t know how to track those things exactly. I’m thinking the best way may be to just set minor goals throughout the month because it’s hard to track progress when brainstorming isn’t exactly tangible. I might write a thousand words about two or three scenes one day, then I might write a hundred words but get down a third of the plot, so it’s a little wibbly wobbly. If you have suggestions, I am so hardcore open to them! And hopefully if I figure something out, I’ll share them here.

I also need to figure out how I’m going to blog going forward. I think I’m going to end January with more views than I’ve ever gotten in one month, so daily blogging is tempting, but I know it’s not sustainable, and that’s the key to any habit or change: sustainability. Also, the content isn’t the quality I’d like to hit. I like utilizing quantity for productivity–and that really does work for me–but we love a quality queen, right?

Drop

Anger is addictive. Next to food, it’s my drug of choice, and it’s at the top of the list of things I’d like to drop.

The problem is, it feels good to be mad, doesn’t it? Of course, no, not really. Being in a foul mood, yelling, finding irritation in everything–these aren’t pleasant experiences. But they can be cathartic, and that’s, well, it’s kinda bullshit, isn’t it? I mean, what the fuck? Shit that makes me feel good should be good for me! God damnit brain, GET IT TOGETHER!

Whew, see how easy it is?

I have some coping mechanisms, I tell myself to “be zen,” and I ask myself if this person–the one who’s angry all the time–is who I want to be. The answer is “no” 99% of the time. But I do struggle with being the kind of person who lets things go and ending up actually the kind of person who gets walked all over. It’s not one or the other, surely, but you must admit, it’s more of one or the other.

The key might be to drop even more and sooner. Don’t hold onto annoyances, but don’t let them go. Air your grievances, let every day be Festivus, and maybe less of those things that bug you will happen in the future. But probably not a whole lot less, so you gotta just let some stuff go. Or not. I don’t fucking know.

Alive

It’s crazy how much more flexible I am at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning. I like starting my day with yoga after a hot shower (I don’t function without showering first thing in the morning, this is a result of being very greasy, very hairy, and very sweaty at night). Yoga can set the tone for the rest of the day, remind me to basically be a better, more patient person. And I’m generally pretty flexible anyway. But oh boy, yoga at day’s end has me getting into poses so much more easily.

Alive was a much shorter practice, so it fit into my day well. We had another busy, long day which was full of fun, but I was concerned I wouldn’t get on the mat once we got home. I will admit I thought about just packing in two practices tomorrow, but realized I would have been disappointed with myself tomorrow if I did that. Now, no disappointment, only pride! Sure, it seems a little thing, taking 14 minutes from my day to stretch, but you gotta know by now it’s not.

Balance

I LOVE BALANCING POSES. They make me feel like someone who is graceful and elegant and all the things I’m not. Today, I successfully did not place either foot back on the ground until the video prompted me because I am a goddamned crane/dancer/tree.

We’re moving into the last week of Dedicate which means I’ll soon be on my own to motivate myself to get on the mat every day. You’d think it would be the same–just get up every morning like I’ve been doing and get to it–but there’s something special about completing a series, collecting those experiences as they come out, that makes it a tiny bit easier to begin. Getting on the mat is the hardest part, Adriene always says.

I read a quote once about balance, but I can’t find it now. it went something like this:

You don’t find balance by standing perfectly still, you find it by constantly shifting.

I can’t recall the exact words, but the concept stuck with me because it’s not one of those bullshit-isms: it’s actually true. In a yoga pose, you don’t try to come to complete stillness in order to stay up on one leg, you have to move a tiny bit to stay there, and really you should be breathing and moving the whole time anyway. If you strive to find complete stillness, you’re a lot more likely to fall over (and hold your breath which isn’t great). Similarly, in other aspects of your life, you won’t find balance by halting your progress or sticking to a perfect routine because the world around you is constantly shifting and if you don’t go with the flow you’re sure to be knocked off course.

So when I’m in tree or dancer or really anything, that quote floats around my mind in some way, like a mantra. It’s not standing still, it’s moving to accommodate everything else.

Joyful

Man, this is necessary after yesterday’s big ole downer of a post.

But listen, I do have something to be joyful about. (I mean, I actually have hundreds of things to be joyful about, but this one specific thing is just the cat’s pajamas to me right now.)

I FINISHED A BOOK. Reading, that is. I finished reading an entire book. Wow.

So yeah, I get that that is not a big accomplishment, especially for someone who touts themselves as a writer. In fact, reading is an absolute necessity to be a writer–that’s what all the other writers say anyway–but my problem has always been getting part way through and wanting to go write myself and not picking the book back up. I decided I was changing the habit in 2019, and so far it’s going great.

I finished The Color Of Magic last night and even started Equal Rites before going to bed. I’m often afraid of stealing from the things I’m reading when I write, so I used to chose to read books way outside of the genre I was writing in, but I’m writing a comedic fantasy now, and I’m reading them as well, and this seems to be going a lot better than I expected. I could never write like Terry Pratchett, he’s legitimately just too fucking good for me to worry about copying.

I’m also pretty joyful about how much stronger I’m getting from yoga. I lost quite a bit of strength from being so sedentary in the last few months, but it’s quick to come back. My planks are pretty rad now, and I’m holding poses in ways I wasn’t able to before. Progress.

Steady

Clouding up my mind today has been the people who, and the ways in which those people, made fun of me when I was younger. See, I ordered a laser hair remover from Costco, and it just arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I am fucking PUMPED this thing is here–it’s something I’ve wanted since I learned laser hair removal is a thing–but I’m also having a little bit of post-traumatic stress from thinking about why I want to epilate so badly.

So here’s a story for nothing more than my own catharsis. Let me guarantee you this upfront, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned by reading farther other than a deeper look into my psyche.

I, like a lot of people who grew up to have a shred of empathy in their shriveled little hearts, was made fun of a lot growing up. I was a kill ’em with kindness kinda kid in elementary school, and when these other kids recognized that I was just genuinely nice and smart (they very often thought I was mentally challenged because I had a lazy eye and a droopy face–not that that would have justified cruelty) some of them stopped being too awful to me.

Case in point: in 7th grade I had terrible acne (I hit puberty a few years before most of the other kids, so I got to experience the face explosions first) and there was this boy who called me “pizzaface” or just “pizza” because I was Italian, greasy, and, well, I suppose it looked like I was covered in pepperoni. I didn’t even like pepperoni! It was so unfair! I felt all the shitty feelings about it, but I found a way to kind of laugh it off. Then that kid became one of my best friends, and even when I moved away, we still talked and saw each other for a few years after that. So yeah, basically I had a shining, win-em-over personality.

But once I was a teenager, my personality didn’t matter so much anymore, and kids were into playing the long game. Also, enough of that bullshit really wears you down. Teen-aged angst buoyed by being made fun of for things way out of your control and a huge dash of social anxiety is a pretty good recipe for character-killing-serum, but I do still vividly remember the first time I was essentially bullied when I went to a new school in the 8th grade.

I was in some sort of computer class. This was the very early 00s and most of us knew more than the teacher, but “keyboarding” was still inexplicably on the curriculum. I was sitting next to this girl who was very sweet, very pretty, and also very, very dumb. She was a cheerleader and seemed to be one of the happiest people around (ignorance truly is bliss), so even though I thought I should feel bad for her, there seemed to be little to feel bad for. Anyway, this story isn’t really about her–she was actually one of those rare people who was really popular, but also really nice. No, no, this story is about Jeremy.

And yes, Jeremy is his real name.

Jeremy was, and I assume still is, human fucking garbage. I know you can’t know this for sure, you only have my words here to go off of, and at the time I didn’t know this either–I was new to the school and didn’t really have any friends yet–but I hope I can sway you with this anecdote upon which you will judge the whole of Jeremy’s worthless, POS character.

So prettydumbnice girl needs help, and the instructor has already written her off as a moron, so I’m happy to oblige because I’m not an asshole. I’m leaning forward in my chair to look over her shoulder, and she’s actually getting it. I love when you show someone something and then they do the thing and their face lights up with realization. That’s such a good feeling! And here comes Jeremy to ruin it.

I’m tapped on the shoulder, turn, and there’s his stupid fucking face, but at the time I didn’t know what a stupid fuckface he was, so when he goes, “Can I tell you something?” in this incredibly serious tone, I think something sincere is going to come out of his mouth. No idea what, but to 13-year-old, kind, helpful, empathetic me, I am thinking, Oh, this person might also need help, what can I do? and I tell him, “Of course!”

“You have the hairiest back I have ever seen. I mean, seriously, just the hairiest. It’s like you’re a monkey.”

He delivered this in the same sincere, flat tone, staring right into my eyes like I wasn’t even human. Like he was just practicing being mean. So since this was the 00s, low-rise jeans were hardcore in, and as I was leaning forward, my lower back was exposed. At the time I had no idea how hairy my back was–I mean, I’d never seen it, obviously–but it suddenly became the center of my goddamned universe. I had known my eyebrows were way too bushy thanks to previous teasing, but quickly discovered so much more of me was hairy–too hairy–and all thanks to that comment.

And don’t worry, I’m not writing off Jeremy because he just said one mean thing to me. I watched him be an utter dickface over the next five years to a plethora of people. He’s earned every shitty name I’ve called him here plus about a thousand more.

With the rise of body positivity, women have been embracing natural things about themselves, including hirsutism and even just normal hairiness (we are mammals,after all, despite what every razor commercial and post-apocalyptic movie armpit would have you believe) and I think that’s great. But I’ll never get over that feeling when I was 13, and even though I can openly talk about it now, it still hurts me. I’ve spent almost 20 years trying to remove unwanted hair, I’ve irritated the fuck out of my skin, I’ve bled, I’ve given myself chemical burns, all in the pursuit of hairlessness. Maybe now I’ll get there, or at least a little closer.

What did today’s yoga have to do with all this? Well, not a lot, or maybe everything. Adriene’s letter for today talks quite a bit about loving what you see in the mirror, working for yourself instead of on yourself, and I appreciate that, but part of conditioning your mind is often changing the physical things around you. This is part of my effort to do that.

And I realize it’s not a fuck you to the people who bullied me. Looking the way they thought I should isn’t a fuck you at all, “glowing up” doesn’t absolve me of feeling like crap back then or teach them a lesson. In fact, I’m sure nothing I do now or ever will affect the Jeremies of the world. Like I said, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned from reading this blog, it just is what it is.

Lead and Light

I’ve thought quite hard about it, and the best way I can describe how I felt yesterday is akin to a deflated balloon. It’s not a unique simile, but it’s the most accurate.

It was like I’d lost all my air, and just sort of bumped along on the ground, listless and droopy. I realized this morning, after completing yesterday’s yoga session, that had I started my day with that, I probably wouldn’t have felt anywhere near as terrible, but the hardest part is getting on the mat, after all.

Today was significantly more productive, though. I set myself up a sorta block schedule to keep from wasting the day away and boy did it work! Well, that and my iron constitution. Well, maybe more like aluminium? In my bullet journal, I have a section where I track six habits and yesterday I didn’t get a single one, not even taking my vitamin! But today, well, today I got them all. That is an improvement.

I just finished today’s yoga which had some really enjoyable forward bends that I hadn’t done in this way before. I executed them really well, and then I did a terrible job at a few incredibly low skandasana, switching from side to side. I’m discovering a kind of universal weakness in my knees, specifically the left one which is really unfortunate, and my fear of really fucking it up is probably holding me back, but then again, fucking it up for real would definitely hold me back.

If nothing else, I am incredibly motivated for the rest of this week. I’m going to finish my first book of the year probably tonight (yay!) and by the end of the week I’m hoping to have another 10-ish thousand words in my project. That’s the kinda wave I need to ride.