Big Picture Time

It’s snowing today. I decided to go for a walk in the woods for inspiration. The excursion turned out to be more illuminating and instructive than expected. I walk through those woods all the time, and I realized today that I have a tendency to look down at the ground while I’m walking. Part of that is just my nature and a bit of a defense mechanism. I tend to curl into myself, but I’m also looking down for stumbling blocks, pitfalls, obstacles. Shit.

While it’s important to be mindful of the details of each step, you can’t solely exist in that place. You miss a lot that way—everything else going on around you. I recognized that I tend to move through the world a lot of times in a kind of tunnel-visioned fog.

That seems counter-intuitive for a writer. One would think I’d notice everything. When I’m paying attention, I notice a lot, but mostly how things feel as opposed to how they look. On today’s walk, I noticed how the dip in the center of my top lip was colder than the rest of my face. My right big toe gets cold before the rest of my toes. When I went to lick my lips, I could taste the moisturizer with sunscreen that I put on before I left, and zinc oxide tastes like soap. Gross.

At one point I looked up and was almost startled at what I saw around me. Some of the trees seem to be stricken with this weird green coating that made me think of aliens. When the tress get wet, the bark is a richer brown than when they’re dry. Wet snow sounds different than dry snow—more like the patter of rain than peaceful stillness. And the landscape can be grey, dreary, shiny, and sparkly all at once.

I also saw three young swans, which reminded me of how another of our local swans was killed by a car a week or two ago. It tended to take its sweet time crossing the road from one part of the marsh to the other. I wonder if the guy who hit it was looking down or if he saw the swan in the distance. I’m choosing to believe that he wasn’t looking ahead because it would be a pretty shitty thing to see a creature ahead and hit it anyway. A discussion for another day.

But the importance of the bigger picture and looking ahead instead of watching each little step goes beyond speaks to knowing when to do each, because there is a time for focusing on the details, and there’s a time to trust in your ability to navigate the landscape and just move forward.

An illustration of the point is cross country runners. In high school, my daughter was racing at a pretty high level of competition. At the speeds these kids were moving at, they really didn’t have the time or space to watch each step. They just had to go. They did need to be aware of the competitors around them—how close were the footsteps or the breathing of the person coming up on their backs. How much room did they have to take the twists and turns of the course without hitting a tree. But more importantly, they had to focus on the person right in front of them and keep closing the gap between them. If they got out front, they had to keep their attention on the finish line.

This isn’t to say they ignored the details, but there was a time for that. Before each race, they took a jog through each course. This was the time to notice where the roots were, where they could turn an ankle, where the choke points were. That was their time to plan and think about how to navigate. Once the gun went off, they had to trust in those plans and throw all caution to the wind. They had to fly.

I remember one race at our home course. It had been raining, and the course was a muddy, disgusting mess. There was one hill, which really was just about a fifty foot, steep incline that they had to go down. It was slick, and it was dangerous. And not one girl slowed down in the slightest. Amazingly, most of them stayed on their feet. A couple wiped out, and those who did, got right back up without breaking stride and kept going.

So the short of it is, there’s a time for caution and planning and thinking about the details. But much of the time as we navigate the world, we have to look ahead at where we’re going. We have to trust in our preparation and our ability to bounce back from setbacks. Some of those obstacles are better detected by looking at the larger landscape than at the little patch of ground at our feet. When opportunities arise—whether it’s the opportunity to absorb the beauty around us or if it’s the chance to race towards our dreams, we won’t accomplish much unless we’re looking up.

Holiday Struggles and Illumination

Unpopular opinion: I really dislike this time of year. My favorite holiday is Halloween because it’s just strictly fun, no pressure. Thanksgiving starts to bring in drama, usually of the family variety, but it’s still enjoyable. But by the time the December holidays roll around, they come with relentless messaging around gift giving, family, indulgence and merrymaking, with subtle hints of obligation. These days, you can’t walk through any store without experiencing the big corporate holiday pressuring, and so I find the season to be a lot more stressful than joyous. I recognize that I’m not alone in struggling through the holiday season, but this year as I take stock of what is working in my life and what isn’t, I’ve come to some unsettling realizations about what the holiday season brings out in me. I recognize that while some of my gift-giving and my accumulation of material crap are often rooted in fear of lack, shame, and poor boundaries, awareness of these patterns will allow me to head into the new year with healthier habits.

I started pondering these questions a few days ago because it occurred to me that I was going overboard with my spending—both on gifts for others and on myself. I legitimately enjoy giving gifts to my loved ones. If I see something they will enjoy, I’ll get it for them. In some cases, I’ll take the time to make gifts, which is again something I enjoy. Usually not a big deal because the intentions are pure. But at some point, I found myself stressing over making gifts for people adjacent to the ones I wanted to make things for or agonizing over sending things because I had to. If I give a gift to this person, that one might feel offended. This person sent me something, I should give them something in return. It’s called exchanging gifts for a reason, right? But giving out of obligation doesn’t feel good. If anything, it becomes a weight. I finally came to the conclusion that this type of giving is really about trying to gain or maintain acceptance. It’s selfish and fear based. And neither party wins. The recipient will likely on some level feel that the gift wasn’t given out of love and the gift may end up being just more meaningless stuff to clutter up their lives. There’s nothing wrong with gift-giving if it’s done in love and a real desire to bring someone else joy, but if it’s just an obligation, the impulse needs to be curbed.

I tend to impulse buy and accumulate lots of stuff, and I had to examine what was driving that behavior. That was more complex, but I narrowed it down to two things: fear of lack, which goes back generations, and cultural messages about lack, wealth, class, and even caste. The generational piece comes from being raised by a single mom who lived during the Depression. In other words, there was a constant condition of not having enough in a person who spent their formative years not having enough. Now I find myself stocking up on things due to the constant worry that we will run out of the things we need. I bought wrapping paper the other day thinking we didn’t have any when actually we had way more than we needed in addition to numerous gift bags of various sizes that I always save and reuse. That type of survival mentality is reinforced by retailers who lead us to believe we’re getting a better deal buying larger quantities. Technically we do, but we also spend more than we need and have to store more than we need.

Then there is the constant messaging around status and class that seems to require proof of status by consuming the symbols of that status—big homes, cars, electronics and smart everything. There’s a constant race to keep up with the next person as a sign of value. This isn’t news. This attitude can work its way into gift-giving during the holidays—did I spend the same on each kid? Did I balance out the numbers of gifts? What was less obvious to me was how caste rules play a role in the accumulation of material possessions. People of color in this country are told in subtle and not so subtle ways from day one that they are less. Lacking. For myself, I think part of my accumulation of stuff is an attempt to feel just as good as my peers who exist in upper caste stations. I think it’s partially about fear of not having enough but just as much about fear of not being enough.  

Probably the biggest revelation I had was that these things I accumulate end up adding to the clutter in our home, and the clutter has become like a fortress. I’m very introverted and highly empathic. So that makes me very protective of my space and who comes into it. There have been people who have come into this place that should be my sanctuary. My safe space became the opposite. And so, I’ve allowed my home to become—cultivated it—into this cluttered, uninviting mess. That seemed easier than standing up for myself and enforcing my boundaries.

I’m not sure when I stopped being able to say no and set boundaries for myself. When I was young it wasn’t an issue at all. I remember the end of seventh grade, a friend came to my house, and we planned to go hang out. When we got to my house, I had a message from my mom that I had to get rid of all the stuff from the school year that I didn’t need and generally clean up before I could go anywhere. This friend got bored and started tearing pages out of workbooks I was throwing out. She was adding to what I had to clean up. When I told her to stop, she escalated, and I seem to remember at some point her throwing water. In hindsight, I get it—she was just playing and trying to have some fun. Obviously, she watched too many afterschool specials that glorified that nonsense. My patience quickly ran out, and I kicked her out of my house.  

I think the difference there was that we were peers and equals. There was no perceived hierarchy. But when it comes to families or elders that changes things. Caste training also plays a role when someone in a typically privileged position crosses lines. It becomes a little harder (for me anyway) to put a stop to unacceptable behaviors. That, however, is a different topic and a story for another day. The point is that the pattern of building walls of stuff instead of just creating healthier boundaries has come into question because it’s been out of control this holiday. Almost like insurance against anyone coming here.

Going into 2023, in addition to the motivation playlist and vision board I plan to create, I definitely have some work to do on these issues. I need to work on self-acceptance so I don’t feel the need to seek external acceptance. Likewise, I need to break the mental chains that tie worthiness to material objects. Last and most importantly, I need to stick to my boundaries so I can enjoy a comfortable and uncluttered home without fear that it will be overrun and that I will be trod on in the process.

Redefining My Own Beauty Standards

Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans

Recently, I’ve been thinking about standards of beauty, specifically what I find beautiful and attractive in myself and others, what I find unattractive in myself and others, where my beliefs around beauty originated, and whether the original beliefs still ring true. For at least a couple of years this has been something to grapple with because the aging process has drastically changed my appearance, but honestly, I had issues with it even when I was much younger. Coming to it now from a perspective of observing my actions and reactions is enabling me to do some internal restructuring, getting rid of that which simply isn’t true and redefining my standards according to my own truth.

Most of my beliefs, like those of many people, come from conditioning and having unrealistic beauty standards imposed upon us by different external sources like society or different influential industries. For a long time in our current culture, women in particular have received messaging that being super skinny with young, supple, unblemished pale skin, large breasts, and small hips were the only paths to being considered beautiful. Those messages are changing, but honestly, it’s too slow and there’s still a lot of discontent around appearance. Similarly, the male ideal has been tall, white, square jawed, and ripped, but not too big.

Societal standards have traditionally excluded entire races, ethnicities, and age groups from any hope of being considered beautiful. Even with the changes and the increased diversity that has emerged in the fashion and entertainment industries—the main influencers—there’s still an emphasis on thinness, paleness, and youth.

Being of Caribbean and Latina descent further complicates matters for me because of the added messaging around body proportions, colorism, and hair. And now I can add the effects of gravity and shifting body composition due to hormonal changes into the mix. Much of this dogma about the “wrongness” or undesirability of certain traits was filtered through the gaze of colonizers who were invested in dehumanizing those they oppressed and has been internalized and reinforced for generation after generation. This isn’t news. But until now, I never sat down to think about how it impacts me daily.

Weight and body image have been huge issues for me, especially after having kids. I went from fitting that super skinny ideal to the extreme opposite, which has left me at times feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, lumpy, and unattractive. I remember when I was around twelve or thirteen, someone drew a picture that was supposed to be me—a stick with a bubble a third of the way from the top and another bubble facing in the opposite direction just below center. While some people teased me, and I would later start actively trying to gain weight by chugging protein shakes (regrets! Hindsight!), for the most part, I could embrace my body and know that I had a body that others wanted. By my twenties, I was still thin enough to wear sexy outfits, but I was thick where it counted. That was when I lived in a more urban area surrounded by people who looked like me.

That changed when my environment did. Moving into predominantly white spaces, my thick thighs and heart-shaped booty suddenly seemed freakishly big. I felt fat for the first time. Little by little I started hiding in oversized clothes under the guise of being “comfortable.” Except I never was. Aging and hormonal changes pushed me to a weight where I was in physical pain and emotional misery over how big I had gotten. Despite what my doctor was telling me to the contrary, as recently as two years ago I saw myself as borderline obese. I think a lot of that had to do with being around people who had the similar proportions to me and thought that they were ridiculously overweight.

I also never saw myself as pretty. I would typically describe myself as cute, reasonably attractive (my body was the big gun in my arsenal before I got married), decent looking. Never pretty and beautiful? That would get a laugh from me. There were things I liked about my face, mostly my eyes which have always been big and kind of sleepy. I always liked my dimples, which is ironic since they’re technically a deformity, yet some rando decided they were cute. But I have a crossbite, which would have required breaking and resetting my jaw for six weeks to fix it. That makes my face appear asymmetrical and I’ve never felt comfortable with that part of my appearance. As I’ve gotten older, I notice that my face has changed too. My jaw seems squarer, and my nose seems larger, neither of which motivates me to enter any beauty contests. My skin is still pretty smooth, so there’s that.

Lastly, hair is always a big thing for black women. I didn’t even learn how to manage my hair in its natural state until I was in my forties. I relaxed it constantly until I was in my twenties and then had a few brief breaks of other styles—I had a high-top fade in college and wore dreadlocks for a few years until I chopped them off because I was pissed off at my stylist. (Because that would definitely show her!)

I find it interesting that my hair was typically the thing I struggled with the longest, but it was the first area where I was able to shift my thinking and standards. While it took me a while to learn and understand my natural curls, it wasn’t that hard to accept their beauty. I still have days where I cringe, but we all have bad hair days. Overall though, I love the different curl patterns and I’m even getting over worrying about frizz because as my hair turns grayer, the texture and curl patterns are changing too. For a while I dyed my hair purple because I didn’t have to bleach it, and it actually helped to minimize the frizz. However, I want it to turn all white. I think a head of all white hair is beautiful and elegant. So, I finally stopped dying it about a year ago. I love where it is these days, and I will refrain from bleaching and dying it white. I’ll just have to be patient.

Weight was the next area where I was able to embrace a new paradigm. What really got to me was that at my heaviest, I was in pain every day, and I felt like I couldn’t move. I was running, but the extra weight made something that was already challenging feel so much worse, and then I started injuring myself. Even training for half marathons wasn’t taking the weight off. As I process them now, my views on weight and the attractiveness of bodies are less about aesthetics and more about health. Numbers are less important than vitality, strength, and the ability to breathe, to move freely.

To me freedom of movement has always been beautiful. It’s why I’ve always loved to watch dance. And so, what I find beautiful now might be a thin lithe body, but it might also be a larger body. Once I changed my mindset to wanting to be healthy, it made shifting habits and changing lifestyle a lot easier. That was much more motivating that just wanting to fit into some old jeans. As my weight came more under control and reached a target number, other things started to change, and I became more intentional about what I consume, how I take care of this mobile home known as my body, and what I wear. I changed to a completely plant-based diet. I take care of my skin, which I never made time for. I am seeking clothes that feel good, not just look good.

I wonder if part of the reason society is so down on people who are overweight is because we somehow equate that with being unhealthy when that’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of skinny people who are unhealthy and plenty of bigger people who are quite healthy. Likewise with aging—it’s a reminder of our own mortality. No one wants to think of themselves as unhealthy, weak, or moving closer to death. So does that kind of fear-based thinking factor into our acceptance or rejection of someone as attractive? Beautiful? Our view of the world reflects ourselves, including our fears, so many of societies standards may very well be based on fear. At the very least, someone is feeding and profiting off the general public’s fear.

Now that I’ve find beauty in myself in these areas, my last hurdle is to find it in the image staring back at me through the mirror. That’s the hardest one, but my beliefs about my own appearance have taken fifty-plus years to sink in, and they won’t be driven out overnight. I’ve started by focusing on preserving and caring for the parts I like—taking care of my skin, especially around my eyes. The other day, I invested in a toner, eye serum, and revitalizing moisturizer with sunscreen. I’m not a fan of the moisturizer at the moment—it feels heavy and makes my face itch. Probably because I’m not used to feeling anything on my face. So, I’ll need to find something lighter. But it’s a start to what will be a trial-and-error process. After that, maybe I’ll start exploring some lip colors. And daily affirmations. Going into next year, I’m optimistic that someday, I’ll find beauty looking back at me.

Connection, Entrainment, and Healing

A few months ago, I came across a free course on sound healing. On a whim, I signed up. It was mostly just to get people to sign up for a more in-depth paid course, but I did learn a couple of useful things from the free course. One lesson had to do with the concept of entrainment, and this has served me very well recently.

The third definition of entrainment in Dictionary.com is “the synchronization of different rhythmic cycles that interact with each other.” Meriam-Webster defines entrain as a transitive verb meaning, “to draw along with or after oneself.” In the course, it was compared to how women’s menstrual cycles will sync up, and in that context, it had to do with how vibrations naturally entrain towards each other.

To be a bit less esoteric about it, another example would be how someone with a radiant or sunny personality can walk into a room and immediately, palpably, lift everyone’s spirits. Conversely, someone with a negative vibe—I think of the character Eyeore—can really bring the vibes in a room way down.

So what does this have to do with healing, and why has it been on my mind lately? The most obvious answer is that surrounding oneself with positivity and higher/brighter vibrations is healing for oneself. But on a larger scale, putting out that higher/brighter vibration is healing to everything and everyone in one’s immediate sphere. Thinking about all the darkness in the world these days, I see how attending to my own vibration—staying positive, hopeful, optimistic—contributes to brightening my own little corner of the universe. And the same goes for every being who brings their own light into their own environments.

I’m remembering the scene from the 6th Harry Potter movie where all the students are holding up their wands to banish the Dark Mark from the sky. Each one is just a tiny pinprick alone, but in unison, they eradicated that darkness.

For my part, I’m trying to be more mindful about sharing my process and lessons in a positive and optimistic light in the hope that something will light a spark in whoever comes across my words. There’s even been a shift in my horror stories (not giving those up & not sorry) because I find myself leaning more towards empowered, lighter outcomes as opposed to the bleak endings I used to gravitate towards.

I feel like this is the way we move the world towards healing—one light at a time.

Process and Routine

Thinking about process right now. And what is becoming clear to me as I try to get myself into some routines is that trying to be that writer who sits down and writes for X hours per day and churns out X000 words per day isn’t going to work for me. Discipline isn’t really the issue. I can do that. I did NaNoWriMo for many years—I lost count—and always hit my target. So it’s possible for me to do that, but it’s not sustainable for me. And even though I’m putting words on the page, they might be pure, directionless crap. So I feel like I need to find a different process that is more in line with my personality, lifestyle, and other responsibilities.

I did some research recently about the habits of some of the greatest writers, and I certainly found some solid advice that resonates with me. The idea of ending before you’re done so that you know exactly where you’re starting when you get to the next session is brilliant. And I also saw a lot about getting exercise and having a dedicated space. I can check those boxes.

But what I realize is that trying to do anything for extended periods makes me restless and my mind wanders and then I procrastinate or engage in some other distraction. I’m fairly sure that if I were growing up now, I’d be classified as ADHD. But in my day, I was just really smart and eccentric. I can focus on things in short bursts, like 20-25 minutes before I need to move, unless I am super engaged and the words are flowing. Then I can sit for hours. But that’s not an everyday thing.

Maybe it would be a more efficient use of my time to make a list of what I want to accomplish for the day and then just tick off boxes in whatever way they get done. I already have my routine of doing yoga every morning, except when I had Covid—I had to take a couple of days off because I literally couldn’t move. And then I make my tea or hot lemon water and I do my tarot readings for the day. I can make my list after my readings. That way whatever else comes up can be fit in around what I know I have to get done. And on those days when the words just flow, I can stay in my little cave as long as I want. How beautiful is that?

One of the reasons I started freelance writing years ago was because aside from loving to write, I wanted flexibility—in what I wrote, who I wrote for, and how I did it. So why should writing fiction work any differently? There needs to be structure, but it needs to be my structure. I’ve never fit into anyone else’s mold, and I don’t think I can start now.

Doing Away with Roles and Limitations

I was thinking about roles earlier—how we identify ourselves according to the roles that we perform. We live in a culture that has a tendency to be obsessed with categorizing and putting things into little boxes, which is annoying. But we all tend to have these roles that we fit into, like I might have the role of mother, or I might identify with the role of writer. We identify multiple roles simultaneously, all the time, so people are constantly wearing different hats. You don’t necessarily take off one hat when you operate in the space of another hat. For instance, I might be acting in the role of Mom when I drive my daughter to work, but I’m also wearing a driver hat, and I’m also wearing black woman hat. All these things overlap and intersect constantly.

One thing that I’m trying to be mindful of these days is that because one can have multiple roles, they don’t have to define one’s self-view. All those functions can be true simultaneously. Even being many things at once doesn’t equal the sum total of anyone’s identity. Leaning too much into or identifying too much with designations is very limiting because they don’t account for so many other things that one could do or be that maybe hasn’t been revealed yet. So it’s not necessary to be so tied into or wedded to the roles that are put on us, sometimes without our consent. Gender is usually (not always) assigned to someone based on their genitals. But we now know that gender identity can differ from gender assignments.

I’m thinking about this topic in part because I have this online space, this website, that’s usually just sitting here. I haven’t used the blog or put anything much in there because I felt like this is a writing space and my author page, and so I should only put stuff there that pertains to my writing, or writing in general. I limited the content of this page. And further I limited it to specific kinds of writing like—primarily fantasy and horror. But that’s not the only kind of writing I want to do. Sometimes I want to just write about my thoughts. So this space stagnated because of the role that I assigned to the site. The beauty is that I can choose to expand it.

What I want to do now is use this blog space to write whatever I’m thinking about at any given time, unlimited. And further, I don’t want to limit my writing anymore. Maybe sometime I will write a romance or maybe I’ll write a children’s book (unlikely but you never know). Perhaps a memoir or a self-help book, who knows. I want to start using this space more than I have. In terms of looking at the roles that identify me, I personally am trying to lean away from any specific designations because even in a particular job, you don’t do just one thing, right?

I used to work in accounting. I had multiple tasks and responsibilities—sometimes I had to do payroll. Sometimes I had to do travel reimbursement. Sometimes I had to do escrow accounting. Within a role, there can be multiple branches and there needs to be fluidity in moving between them. So being wedded into one way of identifying oneself or what an identity looks like at one point doesn’t necessarily allow for growth and expansion. If one’s goal is to keep growing and expanding, they have to release the idea of being this thing because it might go through many iterations and manifestations. So I think this space is going to evolve, and I am going to evolve with it.

Brief Reflections on 2013

214px-Adult_deer_tick

I try to avoid all the usual end-of-year trends toward lists and replays, but when the alarm went off this morning, I started thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish today. This led to the realization that 2013 has been a year of some high highs and some devastating lows. I’m typically a middle-of-the-roader, so for me, these extremes are noteworthy.

Personally, on the most positive end of the spectrum, I had three stories published and actually got to see my name in physical print book form twice. When I saw the print version of Stalkers, I won’t lie, I nearly (very nearly) cried. These were huge accomplishments for me, and they gave me the confidence and drive to think of “novelist” as an actual job title and a real possibility. So there was that.

At almost the same time (I think it was literally a week after my first acceptance), my whole little house-of-cards life was collapsed by a stupid, six-legged beast the size of a pinhead. Ugh. I have developed an undying hatred of all tick-kind. While I won’t get into all the details of all the ways Lyme disease ruined the past six months, I will say that I have sworn off card-house building and anything domino related. And I’m recovering, so there’s that.

A small consolation from the Lyme debacle was that it inspired a mini story. When I started the first course of antibiotics, a friend showed me a contest prompt: write a 40-word story that begins and ends with the same word. I had nothing else to do but lay in bed in pain, so I transferred all my negative feelings of the moment into a story. I never submitted it because, at the time, I was mentally incapable of figuring out the hows.

But here is the mini-short that Lyme made:

Tick needed a human to pass the lyme to. He waited on a blade of grass, hitched a ride on Deer, and hopped on Cat’s scruff. A human appeared.

Chicken chomped the insect. “You’re not giving my human lyme, Tick.”

 

Clearly, I was not in my right mind, but it made me smile for a bit. I wrote two versions. This seemed the stronger of the two.

 

Ironically, I had written a novel several years ago in which one of the villains used a tick-like weapon. I wonder if I was having some kind of premonition.

 

Anyway, overall, 2013 taught me a lot and assigned me lots of work to do for 2014. Hopefully, I’m up to the tasks. I don’t do resolutions, but I have some goals in mind.

  1. To sell or indie-publish a novel this year
  2. To transition from “freelance writer” to “author” as a job title
  3. To get on solid financial footing

 

Do you have any major accomplishments or lessons to share from the past year? What are your goals for 2014?

Derailed but Not in a Bad Way

For the past week and a half, my Unicorn submission preparations—all my writing, really—has been derailed by illnesses. First, my daughter came down with Strep and was home from school for several days. Now I am trying to shake some unspecified viral sinus infecting thingee. (My brain stopped processing once the doctor said I wasn’t getting antibiotics to get rid of it.) This has not been a complete waste of time though. I think I see a silver lining in the pain, suffering, and inordinate amount of fluid from the past days.

One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is the research. I love learning new things, and I can sit at this screen for days researching random topics. We don’t need to get into how often I actually do that. While I’m not what you’d call a science geek, I won’t lie; I find the occasional experiment fascinating. Which brings us back to my sinus issues.

Once I quit mentally cussing out the doctor, I read the info sheet she handed me explaining why antibiotics are generally prescribed for sinus infections only if they don’t clear up after a week on their own. What I originally heard was, “Blah blah blah suck it up for a week.” The handout gave several drug-free suggestions for helping clear said sinuses. One method is nasal irrigation using, among other devices, a neti pot.

I was familiar with the concept of the neti pot and nasal irrigation from my days teaching yoga, but I never got up the nerve to try it. Here was a perfect opportunity. I could experience it and record all sorts of gross details for later use in my writing. I certainly did not expect to come away with such a wealth of information as I did.

Some observations:

  • When I first start pouring the saline solution into one nostril, there’s a weird glugging inside my head as the liquid goes through the nasal cavity. This happens more when my sinuses are really clogged or swollen.
  • I have not yet felt like I am drowning, but since the pot is see-through, I can watch the water level decreasing, which takes for-ever. At least it feels like forever. Which makes steeling myself for the second nostril more fun.
  • If I mix the saline incorrectly, it burns a little, like when you get pool water up your nose after a cannonball. There is a good reason I don’t do cannonballs into pools. I don’t enjoy burning inside my head.
  • My favorite part of this process is when one side is so clogged that the solution doesn’t run through from one nostril to the other but instead backs up into my mouth. It tastes salty, let’s assume because of the saline.
  • I’ll spare you the after-effects once the pot is emptied through the nostrils.

Aside from this thing actually helping my illness, these details may prove to be invaluable one day. As a middle-grade and YA writer, the chances of me calling on them one day are relatively good. If, for example, I ever find myself needing to write about milk coming out someone’s nose, I am in a much better position to describe it than I was a few days ago. Overall, I would have much preferred to have my health than this information, but at least I’ve been able to put the time to good use.

Pardon me, time to irrigate again.

Welcome!

Welcome to my author page!

I had a whole post written about my preparations for the Unicorn Writers’ Conference in March and how all the revisions for my two manuscript review sessions are falling into place. But a funny thing happened during the 6 hours that I’ve spent trying to build this site. I had to reinstall it, and I did remember to back up the .php files with the content. Or so I thought. Guess which file didn’t get backed up? Right–my blog post.

When will I learn? Write posts in Word and copy them. Never write directly into the blog (yes, I am doing that right now, but I will copy this into Word before hitting ‘publish’) I actually got nervous and switched to Word before finishing. So there. Another recent lesson I hadn’t written about but will now–keep each version of your manuscript.

I had a scare last night when I realized that the only copy I had of the full manuscript of my fey novel was in PDF format. I had other files that were named to indicate that they were supposed to be the full manuscripts, but at some point, I must have accidentally overwritten one and backed up the overwritten copies. Cue frantic search for a PDF to Word converter.

Fortunately, one friend let me know he had a converter for me at the same time another friend reminded me that I had sent her the manuscript in Word over the summer. Whew! This time when I saved it, I made it a read-only file. When I’m ready to make the next round of edits, I will copy and paste into a new file with a new name. So that was my most recent writing adventure.

I don’t remember what all else I wrote earlier. I listed a couple of books that have been invaluable during my revision process:

Second Sight by Cheryl Klein
The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson

The rest of my previous post is being fogged over by the haze of an impending migraine. So thanks for visiting and I look forward to sharing my process with you.