Monday, February 28, 2011

Like taffy, I suppose...

I'm pulled in way too many directions.

With all the demands I get from others--husband, son, daughter, the list goes on--I have to ask myself: "Will I ever be able to put myself first again--without feeling guilty?"

And is it selfish of me even to ask?

Answers: I sure hope so -- and I sure hope not.

It's been one of those days...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Procrastinating my life

Procrastinating. Spinning my wheels. Standing in one place while the world passes me by. Whatever words I use to describe it, I feel ... stagnant. I feel as if I'm not doing enough to realize any of my goals and dreams. I'm finding too many reasons to quit, too many reasons to say that I can put whatever it is off until tomorrow. But what if there's no tomorrow?

I'm procrastinating about many things right now. First, my WIP. I haven't done much more than think about it these past couple of months. But last night as I was getting ready for bed, I asked myself, "Dana, what are you doing? You want to write this novel; you want to tell this story. Why aren't you doing it? What's stopping you? If you want to tell the story, you need to tell it. Stop merely thinking about it. Stop dreaming about it. Just do it. Just write."

For the first time, I really listened to what I was thinking; I finally heard myself. I can't keep thinking about this book; I need to write it. I still don't know what's holding me back on this project, but I realize that now is the time to write. Now. I can't listen to that critic in my head, the one who tells me that my idea isn't good enough. I just need to write--now. What if I don't have tomorrow?

This line of thinking extended into a couple of other things that have been bothering me. First, spirituality. I don't feel close to God anymore, not like I used to, and I feel such a need to "fix" that. I tell myself nearly every day, "Oh, I'll get back into Bible reading tomorrow" or "I'll start studying scripture again just as soon as my life gets a little less crazy." But I never do--I don't read; I don't study. I know I need to. Part of the reason I feel so aimless so much of the time--so directionless--is because I let the guilt I feel about how I live my life prevent me from nurturing my spiritual life. I miss that part of my life.

And then there's my weight. I'm not heavy--not even close. However, I do have a few extra pounds now after giving birth to two babies. I want to lose the weight, but the fact is, I'm lazy. I hate the treadmill, hate any form of exercise. And I love chocolate way too much--it's become an addiction. I feel like I have to have it or I can't get through the day--and that would be funny if it weren't the absolute truth: I can't cope with stress without chocolate. And I feel lethargic, out of shape. I need to change; I need to get healthy again. I need to stop saying that I'll do it tomorrow and start taking care of myself today.

I'm procrastinating my life. I keep putting things off for the future without knowing for certain that the future is there for me. I'm being stupid. I'm wasting time. I have to stop.

Now is the time to reach for my goals. Tomorrow may be too late.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The pressure to create

I've been thinking today about the pressure I'm putting on myself as I try to write my new novel. I don't like to say I have writer's block; I'm not sure I even believe in that term. I write every day, fiction and nonfiction, and for the most part the words come easily. But every time I start to think about my current WIP, something in me freezes, and I can't let myself go--my words and thoughts are tangled, and nothing I write seems, well, right. I don't feel the freedom that writing usually gives me; I don't feel like I can let my words just dance across the page. Instead, writing each sentence--each word--is agonizingly difficult. The pressure is on--and I'm the one causing it.

I wrote today, as I always write, but I wrote nothing on my novel, and each time I started to think about it, I would shove the thoughts away. I don't know why I'm doing this, why writing is suddenly tortuous rather than freeing. Maybe I'm just putting too much pressure on myself. Maybe it's not time for this WIP yet. Maybe I need to set it aside for a month or for six months. Maybe I need to allow some time to pass so that I can gain perspective on just what it is I'm trying to accomplish with this mother's story.

I'm frustrated. I have so much to say, but I can't find the words.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Writing and maintaining distance

I just posted these thoughts about my WIP on a Web site I contribute to daily and decided to post them here as well:

At its core, the novel I'm working on now is about something very close to my heart--motherhood--and I think that closeness is making the book more difficult to write. I put so much--perhaps too much--of myself into my fiction, and I sometimes find it hard to divorce myself from my characters. Certainly it's important to see the world through a character's eyes, but it's also necessary to maintain some distance, to see the character as a separate person with unique traits and complexities. I'm finding it hard to take that step back this time.

An unexpected day off

I know, moms never really get a day off, so technically, I'm still "at work." However, I declared today a snow day when I woke up this morning and saw all the snow blanketing the yard--with the promise of much more to come. I was supposed to take the kids to story time, but my friend called to tell how horrible her drive this morning had been, so here I am--here we are--at home.

This week has been so busy that it feels good to have a leisurely (if noisy) day. Right now the kids are playing with their remote control car out in the living room, and I've been getting some of my chores done: the store list is written for our grocery shopping trip tonight, I've completed my registration for the Barnes and Noble Kids' Club, I've done a little writing. Overall, it's been a productive morning, and I'm enjoying not having to rush around the way I have so much of this week. It's also nice to be able to write this post in the morning rather than late at night.

Tomorrow we'll be heading to Sears to have the kids' pictures taken, and I need to get their clothes ready and check to see if my daughter's shoes still fit. Other than that--and some cleaning via the instructions at Flylady--I plan on having a relaxing, stay-inside-the-house kind of day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The enemy of all writers


And I'm finding it an all-too-familiar enemy with my current WIP. Maybe I'm too close to my subject. Maybe I'm spending too much time on other things when I should be focusing on my writing instead. Maybe I'm just allowing my busyness to be an excuse.

Whatever it is--a slump, a block, or something else--I haven't been working on my novel nearly as much as I should. It's time for me to get back to my online writer's group, join in on the timed sprints, and make writing this novel the priority it needs to be.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fiction. Nonfiction. Me.

I'm not sure that one can classify fiction and nonfiction as "difficult to write" and "not as difficult to write," but for me, nonfiction has always seemed easier. I've never really had difficulty writing about myself, my life, my friends and family; everything--the scenarios, the character quirks and flaws--was there for the taking, and I was simply the one putting it down on paper.

Lately, though, writing about myself is becoming harder, and for the past six months or so, I've found that it's easier to hide myself in fiction rather than expose myself in the spotlight of nonfiction. I'm not sure what's driving this change, although I can postulate that all the failures I feel as a mom have subconsciously led me to fiction as a means of getting away from a reality I'm not proud of. However, strangely enough, my current project is about a mother and her struggle with coming to terms with her life and how she's living it. And motherhood, in fact, is a recurring topic in my fiction, both in my short stories and in my novel-length works, and the mother's struggle with guilt is a common theme.  Perhaps, then, I'm not finding fiction easier than nonfiction but more forgiving instead; with fiction, I can cover my real sins with the made-up sins of others, and no one will be the wiser.

I don't know. I think there's something here, but I'm not sure I've found it yet...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Boy, you take a day or two off...

Because I took a couple of days off to get ready for my son's birthday, I'm now way behind on everything: writing, housework, decluttering, my diet (ugh). I've been working hard all day to catch up, but the kids had doctor's appointments this morning, so I didn't accomplish too much on my list. I'm still planning on posting a picture of my son's cake, although I'm not sure when I'll get to it. Right now, I've just got to get caught up on everything so that I feel like everything is good. :) I'll be posting a "real" blog entry soon--I promise!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to my little boy!

It's my son's fourth birthday today, a fact I can hardly believe. It seems like yesterday that I was lying in a hospital bed in a too small room, recovering from an emergency C-section...

We spent a wonderful day at the children's museum, followed by dinner and the cake I had stayed up most of the night to complete. It turned out pretty well, but I don't consider it to be one of my best. I'll try to post pictures soon. I wanted to do so today, but last night our thermostat went out, and I spent most of the night not only wide awake working on the cake but freezing. I'll try to upload the picture when I'm not so tired.

That's all for today. I'm exhausted and happy, but I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. More tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pulling an all-nighter

My son's fourth birthday is tomorrow, and I'm just starting my annual all-night birthday cake baking and decorating fest. I'm making him a Motherboard cake (from PBS's Cyberchase), and since I couldn't find a pattern, I'll be winging it--and crossing my fingers that it turns out okay. If it does, I'll try to post a pic tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I want those "Sex and the City" friends

I'm on season four of my Sex and the City marathon, and I was thinking today about how great it would be to have a group of friends who are as close as Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. I have good friends, of course, but unlike the women on the show, I really have only one best friend, one person I know I can always confide in and turn to for honest advice. There's nothing wrong with having only one best friend, of course, and I'm very appreciative of the good friends who've been there for me in all the stages of my life. I just think sometimes that it would be nice to have an entire group of friends to rely on, have fun with, laugh with, and cry with--best friends who know they can depend on each other even when no one else is on their side.

Or maybe I just want to be a part of the Sex and the City group. I think Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha, and Dana has a nice ring to it. Don't you?

Friday, February 18, 2011

At a loss...

for words, that is.

It's late, nearly midnight, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write this post. It's been a long day, yet I don't really have that much to share. I spent the morning at storytime with the kids, the evening grocery shopping with the family, and the afternoon in front of the upstairs computer, trying (and succeeding, thankfully) to remove a virus. Everything else got away from me, and it looks like the weekend--with all the preparations I have to do for my son's birthday on Monday--will also be busy. It'll be fun, but thinking about it makes me tired. I'd better rest up...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

But I'm not a baker!

My son will turn four on Monday, so I've been frantically looking for a pattern for his cake. I'm not a baker by any means, and I don't consider myself that artistic as far as cake design goes, but I do pretty well if I have a pattern and directions. Last year I made him a Wubbzy cake and my daughter a doggy cake, and both of them turned out really well. I was pretty proud that I, with my limited ability, had managed to make them. I found the step-by-step directions online, so the whole process went pretty smoothly. 

This year, however, my son is really interested in Cyberchase, a PBS show. His favorite character on the show seems to be Motherboard, so I've been trying to find directions for a Motherboard cake. I haven't had any luck, unfortunately, so I guess this year I'll have to wing it by finding a picture and trying my best to copy it onto a simple sheet cake. I'm a little nervous about how I'll do, but my husband keeps telling me that our son will be happy with it no matter what, and that makes me feel a little better. I'll try to post a picture of the results--unless the cake ends up too hideous for public viewing!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More for the memory books

Since my children were born, I've been trying to keep journals that contain the cute or special things they say. So far, their quotes are all written on scraps of paper and scattered throughout the house, but one day I'll get them organized and put into the two beautiful matching journals I bought more than a year ago. One day...

Anyway, this morning I sneezed as I was rocking my daughter to sleep, and I heard her sleepy little voice say, "Bless you." Now, she says this a lot, nearly every time she hears a noise that even resembles a sneeze, but there was something about her tired voice and her heavy head resting on my shoulder that really made the moment special for me this morning. This one is going in the book.

My son said something cute today as well. As I was driving to storytime, I was listening to talk radio, and the guys on the show were talking in not-so-pleasant terms about some bodily functions. After a few minutes of quiet in the backseat, my son said in a tiny, sweet voice, "They're not talking nice, Mama." He repeated himself a couple of times, and I was just so proud of him for recognizing that the men were being crude and for knowing that we should always "talk nice." It was a reality check for me because I'd never really realized how much he listens to the radio. I changed the station.

Today was a wonderful day with the kids--one to remember.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Once again, I can't walk up the stairs without getting winded...

I've been feeling so sluggish lately. I'm not heavy, but I feel fat, so I've decided to try the Special K Challenge, starting tomorrow. I'm going to use the plan to jump-start healthier eating habits. I know what my problems are: too much chocolate and too much late-night snacking. If I can cut down on or eliminate these two things completely, I know I can get back to my goal weight. The hardest part for me --aside from reducing or giving up chocolate--will be exercising--I hate it. I hate to sweat, and I hate that being on the treadmill keeps me from doing other things that need to be done. I'm a multitasker, and I just can't multitask when I'm walking (well, except for reading, but I always manage to fit reading into my day. I have to; it's a requirement for me). My to-do list is forever on my mind, and there's always more on it than I can fit into a day, even without the thirty or so minutes that I'll need to set aside for exercising.  I'm hoping I can come to think of exercise in a positive light, that I'm doing something good for me, something I need to do in order to recharge and be able to complete the other tasks. I've been relying on chocolate for stress relief for too many years. I'm hoping that somehow I can replace that need for chocolate with a desire for exercise and being healthier.

Several years ago, I embarked on a program like this--eating healthy food in smaller portions and exercising daily--and I not only lost weight that I kept off for years (pre-babies!), but I felt so much better about myself: about the way I looked and about how wonderful it was to be able to walk upstairs without feeling winded, which is the state I'm in once again, sadly enough.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Like Aerosmith, "I don't want to miss a thing"

It bothers me that I can't remember all the things I want to remember, especially things about my children's lives. My son will be four in a week, and I was thinking today about how I can only remember flashes of days we shared when he was just a baby. I can picture the big events like his baptism and his first bath, but many of the small moments, the day-to-day things, have all but disappeared from my memory. This makes me sad.

I want to hold on to everything, every detail, every moment. I always want to remember the look on my daughter's face as she used the big potty for the first time; I want to remember how loving my son was today, how he kept hugging me and wishing me a Happy Valentine's Day over and over again, how he looked right into my eyes as I held him on the couch and told me that he loved me. I cling to memories like these with desperation. I write things down, of course--things the kids say and do--but already, when I go back and read a note from only two years ago, I can't always picture the event I'm reading about; so many of the details are already gone.

Life is so bittersweet.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Valentine's Day irritation

Every year, without fail, my husband buys me a box of chocolates.

Every year, without fail, my husband proceeds to consume said chocolates, even urging me to hurry up and open the box so he can have some--and he makes the first choice.

Every year, without fail, I fail to understand why he just doesn't get two boxes. I never know quite what to say as I watch the chocolate disappear, but in my mind I'm shouting, "Hey, this is my gift. Get your own!"

I really, really don't get this. Insight welcomed.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just because I want to remember...

I forgot to mention this two days ago, but on February 10, the day my daughter turned nineteen months, she peed on the big potty for the first time! She told us she had to go, but we didn't really think she would. Since then, she's asked to sit on the potty several times--although without the same results. Still, maybe potty training will be easier with her. Fingers crossed!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Something that made me go hmm

My sister sent me an e-mail today to let me know that my high school boyfriend, Greg, and his wife just had another baby girl--and gave her the same name as my husband and I gave our daughter.  It's a coincidence, nothing more, but I found it interesting nonetheless. Although Greg and I had discussed names in the six years we were together, this name was never one of them, so it struck me as funny that both of us, miles apart now and living different lives, having had no contact in about eleven years, just happened to choose the same, not-so-common name.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is it weird that I want to pat myself on the back?

I am horrible about throwing things away, especially if they have sentimental value. As a result, the four of us live in a very cluttered house. I've tried many times to declutter, but I get overwhelmed by the number of boxes and piles of stuff we have, and trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of is difficult for me. However, today I want to pat myself on the back because, although I've only been a Flybaby for four days, I've slowly been making a dent in my clutter, and I finally feel hopeful about getting this house in order. Every week we clean one zone--this week is the kitchen--and I find it so comforting to know that as I scrub my counters or clean out my refrigerator, people all over are doing the same thing. As silly as it probably sounds, I don't feel so alone anymore, and that in itself helps so much.

In addition to making headway on the cleaning, last night I made some progress with my novel. Yesterday was what Flylady calls Anti-Procrastination Day, and she advises everyone to do whatever it is that he or she has been putting off. For me, it was my novel, although I haven't been putting it off so much as I've been putting it last each day. Yesterday I actually gave it priority, and I logged into my favorite writing chat room and got some words down, so I'm really happy about that.

I'm feeling pretty good right now on the progress I've made on the house and on my writing, and I'm hoping I can keep up my enthusiasm and momentum.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The terrible twos already?

I've been having such a hard time with my soon-to-be nineteen-month-old. She's constantly throwing those kinds of fits where she'll either glue herself to the floor or go completely limp when I'm trying to put her in her car seat or stroller, and I'm getting more and more frustrated with her every day. I don't remember my son acting like this at all. I think that my daughter just has a double dose of stubborn, as her dad and I both like getting our own way. Whatever it is, I don't think I'll mind when it's over. The scenes are getting kind of embarrassing, especially since she has a habit of making them in libraries and malls...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Flying again

Years ago, I joined because my house was so filled with clutter, mostly things that were sentimental and difficult for me to part with. However, I couldn't keep up with all the e-mails (usually ten or twelve a day), and the fact that I was a full-time college instructor then made it difficult for me to complete all the tasks. I found that by the time I got home, made dinner, graded papers, and prepared for the next day's lessons, the last thing I wanted to do was clean and declutter. So I quit.

Now I'm at a point where the clutter has completely taken over. My parents recently moved out of their house and, needing space in their new apartment, they gave me all of my childhood toys and books and art projects... All of that is now packed in our basement, along with everything else I've accumulated through four moves and two marriages and two kids. It's all gotten to be too much; looking at all the clutter actually makes me sick. Yesterday, I decided to do something about it, so I joined Flylady again. I completed the first task--shining my sink--and as soon as I finish breakfast I'll be doing some decluttering in the kitchen. I like Flylady's approach, which is all about baby steps and establishing habits. I feel motivated to do this. I have got to get out from under this mess. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Too fast, too fast...

My husband just called me downstairs to take a look at our almost nineteen-month-old daughter, who'd asked to sit on the big potty for the first time. She looked adorable, sitting there with a big smile, chatting away, so proud of herself. But I want her to slow down a little.  Don't be too anxious to grow up, my baby girl...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lazy Sunday, Lazy Post

My husband is so excited about the Superbowl tonight, but I'm pretty ambivalent and won't be watching. (I get kid-patrol.) I'd guess I'd like the Packers to win, just because most of my family members are fans. But if they don't, I'm not going to cry about it... :)

The weekend hasn't been going as well writing-wise as I had wanted it to. I managed a few words last night but haven't had time for any yet today. As soon as I post this blog, I need to finish making dinner (tortellini soup), then clean up the kitchen. I'm hoping to sneak in a bit of writing after that--or maybe a nap.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I completed the edit of my sister-in-law's book last night and e-mailed the manuscript back to her. The best part was that I managed to finished relatively early--around 7 p.m.--so I was finally able to do what I've wanted to do for about a week: watch the Sex and the City DVDs I ordered from Netflix! I know they're frivolous, and truthfully, I've already seen most of the episodes, but, crazily enough, I felt like I'd been out of touch with some good friends, and I definitely needed the downtime. Anyway, I watched a couple of episodes last night, and now I feel better.

The rest of this weekend I plan to get back to my WIP. I'm excited to work with it again and to see what my characters are planning to do next.

Friday, February 4, 2011

No time to say hello, good-bye...

This will be a short post, as today has thus far been the day from hell, and I still have so much to do. I promised my sister-in-law that I would have her manuscript back to her by the end of the week, which is, well, today. I've read through it twice now and am working on my final comments, and I would be fine timewise if I didn't also have to make lunch, serve lunch, chase the kids, make dinner, serve dinner, go grocery shopping, etc. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night, and I'll be spending most of it with my metaphorical red pen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No joke

I used to joke about my "addiction" to chocolate. That's how I would talk about it--with air quotes. But I've realized recently that my "addiction" really is an addiction. I have been eating chocolate every day since I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now almost nineteen months old. And I'm not talking about small amounts of chocolate--a Hershey's Kiss or two, a couple of squares from a candy bar... No, I'll eat a half-pound of Hershey's Kisses or an entire candy bar (maybe even two, and maybe even king-sized). All at once. At one sitting.

It's actually a little hard to admit I have this problem. I use chocolate as my drug of choice when I'm stressed out. Anytime things start to get to me, I reach for the chocolate, and I really do feel better after consuming it. The other night, I sent my husband to the store for chocolate (my poor, tired husband who had just gotten home from work), and when he asked me what kind, I said, "I'm still on Hershey's Kisses." And it wasn't until I said that, that I was on a certain type of chocolate, that I really understood how dependent on it I am. It was scary to hear myself say those words, but I realized that they're true.

It's really a miracle that I don't weigh two hundred pounds. So far, the chocolate hasn't affected my weight, but  I do wonder what it's doing to my health. I need to try to cut back, but honestly, the thought panics me. I need my chocolate. There's really no substitute for me, and I don't know how to deal with stress without it.

"Hi. My name is Dana, and I'm addicted to chocolate."


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not the Mommy Guilt!

I'm feeling some Mommy Guilt today. We were supposed to get a huge storm last night, and I decided early this morning when I was awakened by sleet pinging against the window that I wouldn't take the kids to storytime today. It's held at the Barnes and Noble across town, and I worried the roads would be icy. I dislike driving in the winter, particularly since I was rear-ended a little over a year ago. Snowstorms cause me to clutch the wheel in a white-knuckled grip, praying all the while. I decided not to put myself through that today, and so I slept in a bit and woke up too late to get them to the bookstore.
When I looked out the window, however, I saw a gray day, yes, but only a light dusting of snow: no sleet, no blizzard, no trees bent in high winds. And so now I feel that infamous Mommy Guilt, that "I should have taken them to storytime since they love it so much" thought playing on repeat in my mind. I know my kids won't care; they may not even realize that today was a storytime day, but I feel guilty nevertheless, just one more guilt to add to the already towering pile.
Mommy Guilt: bah!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Red pen, don't fail me now

I'm about halfway through the second pass of my sister-in-law's novel, and I'm hoping to have it done and e-mailed back to her by the end of the week. Then I'll finally have time to get back to my own novel. I love editing--Developmental English was my favorite class to teach--but I love writing too, and sometimes (as I've blathered on about before) there just aren't enough hours in the day to do both.