Friday, January 29, 2010

Keeping the Blaze

I think the tradition of making resolutions is a good one. It encourages us to make good changes in our lives. All too often they last a few weeks, a few days, or even a few hours. But once in a while a challenge becomes a way of life. How do we keep the fire burning?

I have two resolutions – to write more, and weigh less. For me, keeping those resolutions is a matter of scheduling. I have to make time in my day for these things. Sometimes it’s hard, and there’s also the ADHD thing. I have a really hard time doing anything for a long period of time. It would be so nice if I could just check into the Biggest Loser Ranch, and bring my laptop so I could write between workouts! But that’s not going to happen.

So, I need more incentive. My writers’ group offered the challenge or writing 40,000 words in 35 days. Three lucky writers who meet that goal will get gift certificates to Barnes and Noble. I love to read. Plus I love a challenge. Originally I thought I would be doing well to make half that number, but to my amazement I’ve been keeping up – I’ve already got more than 24,000 words now! At this rate, I’ll have a new novel finished by summer. So the fire is definitely stoked there. My house is more of a mess than usual, and a lot of other stuff is getting neglected, but I’M WRITING!!

The losing weight resolution is a bit sticky. My meals are definitely healthier. I joined the gym and have been going three days a week. But there’s one monkey wrench in this whole thing: I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!! And I have difficulty throwing away perfectly good food. I did give a bunch of it to my daughter, but a few pieces remain. Still, I’ve lost a few pounds. Not nearly enough to suit my 110-pound mother, or my doctor, but it’s a start. Maybe I need Jillian or Bob breathing down my back.
As I mentioned, a lot of things are sliding around here because I’m busy writing 1143 words or more each day. And working, and studying, and eating and sometimes sleeping. The only sewing I managed to do this week was to shorten three pairs of pants. I guess that counts for something – my husband and my daughter aren’t tripping over their hems!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Retro Week

Last week several of my facebook friends and I participated in “Retro Week” and used pictures from long ago as our profile pictures. It was fun to see them and compare them to the way we look now. Some of the people I’ve known for most of my life had pictures that looked the way I remember them in school. Were we ever that young?

I scanned my kindergarten picture and used that for my profile picture. It got quite a reaction from my friends. My daughter’s reaction was “Mom, your eyes look so big!” My first response was that my face was a lot smaller, so of course my eyes (which, as I recently read, never change in size) look bigger. But then I started to think about the fact that as a youngster, I had a “wide eyed” innocence about life.

There is a tendency to look at pictures and times past and remember with longing “the Good Old Days” of our youth. We had our health, our energy, our dreams. What would we do differently if we could go back? It’s an interesting question. I’m not sure I would want to answer that. I had a great childhood. I went to college and had a career. I married and had children. There’s not a lot I’ve wanted that I haven’t had to some degree. Sure, it would be nice to have enough cash to not worry about how bills are paid, or to redecorate the house, but at least I have a house, and it’s warm and comfortable.

Were the Good Old Days really good? You bet. Do I want them back? No way. I’m enjoying what I have now. These gray hairs and wrinkles are badges of honor. I’ve earned every one of them. The past can stay in the past. I’m enjoying the present, and try not to worry too much about the future. I’ll probably cause my kids enough worry someday – as they say, turnabout is fair play!

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Writing report: I’m actually managing to write the requisite 1143 words a day! I’m at 1800 words – a full day ahead of schedule! This is shaping up as a great story – gotta keep working.

Creativity report: More quilt tops made. I also got a bunch of free fabric from a friend. The plan is to make a bunch of jammie pants for the females in my family. Maybe after the writing challenge is done?

Health report: Made it to the gym this week – a little sore, but feeling good. I’ve gotta go again tomorrow. The diet is not going so well. I REALLY like bread and cheese and chocolate …

Friday, January 15, 2010

A New Semester

This week GVSU started its Winter 2010 semester. I’m teaching the same course as last semester, so I’m hoping things will go as smoothly as it did in the fall. I really enjoy working with future teachers. Most are eager to learn, and cooperate with my requests with a minimum of fuss.

I’m also attending another semester of Japanese language. I’m getting so excited about my summer trip to visit my relatives, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to communicate (or at least understand!) a lot more than I did the last time I was there. Eventually I’d love to go and visit the places I’m writing about – far to the north, where my dad’s mother came from.

It seems the more I learn about the land of my heritage, the more curious I am. I relished my US and European history courses long ago, but I didn’t spend much time learning about Japan. Now I spend a lot of time looking up things just to verify that the events in my story could have happened, but lots of the information I need isn’t available in English. That makes me more and more determined to learn.

I feel so fortunate to be so close to a campus like GVSU, and to have a connection with it. I never expected to be a “college professor”, and I never thought I’d be a student at my age. But this is where my life’s path has led me, and I’m enjoying every step of the journey.

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On the writing front – with a goal of 40K words in 35 days, 1143 words per day, I am actually one day ahead! The story is coming along nicely, even taking me on unexpected journeys. My very patient hubby tries very hard not to talk to me when I’m typing – mostly because he knows he’s unlikely to get a coherent response, or an irritated glare if he does.

On the creative front – I’ve made several quilt tops to take to my sewing group next week! Most of them were made before I started the writing challenge.

On the health front – I’ve only lost two pounds so far. A massive cold sidelined me last week, and this week my knees are killing me. But I made it to my consultation. I’m doing well eating low-fat, and there are countless recipes available in magazines, online, and in the super-duper book my children gave me for Christmas. I guess my downfall is chocolate. There’s lots of leftover Christmas candy here. Gotta get rid of it! Hershey Kiss, anyone?

Friday, January 8, 2010

A New Challenge

This year is going to be one of accomplishments. I know this because there are so many people urging me forward, I can’t help but succeed at most of my goals. At our family Christmas gathering, my kids presented me with a book of great low fat recipes designed to help me reach my goal of eating healthy and beating this Fatty Liver Disease. My hubby is doing his own research, and filling the refrigerator with low fat options. As soon as I get rid of this awful cold and can breathe, I’ll start going to the fitness club I joined.

On the writing front, my local writers’ group is issuing a special challenge: write 40,000 words in 35 days. That’s 1143 words per day! There are some days when I have trouble writing 200 words, so I’m really going to have to make time to work on it. We can begin a new project, or add 40,000 words to an existing project.

We’re allowed to do some planning before the actual writing begins during our meeting tomorrow. I’m starting a new project, so I have a new set of characters, a new plot line, new conflicts and challenges. Unfortunately, since it’s a historical, I have a new set of questions to research. I’ve spent the week (when I’m not working or resting – this cold was really nasty!) online, looking up all sorts of details about life in Japan in 1900 to 1920.

This is all in addition to the usual stuff in my life – working, studying for my Japanese class, and oh yes – sleep. On the upside, if I’m busy writing, my hands won’t be stuffing food in my mouth. There’s nothing worse than typing on sticky, food-covered keys! So maybe the writing goal will help me to succeed in my health goal.

It’s a win-win situation, right?

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Toast to 2010

Happy New Year! I had a hard time deciding what to write about today. I’ve already talked about resolutions, (I only have one, and it’s a biggie), so that’s done. I thought about other ways that we celebrate new beginnings and decided I’d make a toast. We make toasts at weddings, retirement parties, and other celebrations. 2010 is another beginning, so here’s my toast:

May the number of checks you have to re-write with the correct year be few.

May the lines you stand in at the bank, grocery store and government offices move quickly.

May your children learn to value you and treat you as the saint you are.

May the weather cooperate with your days off and vacation plans.

May your needs be always within reach.

May your wishes and dreams become realities.

Happy New Year!