Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Friday Five 4

Today I am in training most of the day. It’s about a topic I’m interested in, and there are snacks. But real talk? I kinda just want to nap.

Here are some things I’ve loved this week. My Facebook saves have been cute-animal-intensive. This solidifies my plan to do as little as possible this weekend and rest.

  1. I appreciate the work that Pastor Charles Johnson is doing in Texas. Fair warning – this interview is from a highly biased source, and I find the interviewer annoying in that regard, but I like his answers. Yay, public education!
  2. Tracee Ellis’s speech that lifts up single women with no children? LOVE.
  3. Andi is reading books about books during the holidays. I might have to join her. Drop by and leave suggestions if you want.
  4. This dog. “THROW THE STICK YOU MONSTER.” Hilarious.
  5. Goats really are the best animals. THE BEST.

Feel free to drop inspiring things (especially cute animal videos) in the comments. Have a good day!

Advertisements

If I Had a Band…

photo 5It would be a cover band, because I am not a songwriter. And I have an obsession with cover bands. I could totally see myself being in one. My first album would be a collection of my favorite songs to belt out on a long drive.

In order of appearance:

1. Build Me Up, Buttercup (The Foundations) – I love this song. I might even say that it is my favorite song of all time. A theme song, if you will. The album will start with a regular cover or a respectful nod to the original. Who wants to be the drummer?

2. Don’t Fence Me In (Roy Rogers) – So much fun. Favorite line – “Gaze at the moon until I lose my senses.” Okay, I’m going to need a guitar player.

3. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye (The Casinos) – This is the song that I want to dance our first dance to at my wedding reception. You know, if ever such a thing should happen.

4. Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill) – Oh, riot!grrl music – yeah, this one’s going on there.

5. Crazy (Patsy Cline) – Because I’m from Texas. And this song sounds awesome with a jazzy vocal arrangement that the people of the world just need to hear.

6. Dream a Little Dream of Me (The Mamas and the Papas) – this one reminds me of an old friend, which is exactly what the middle of an album should be.

7. Scotch and Soda (Kingston Trio) – An opportunity to show off my smooth piano skills (that I would brush up on if I knew I’d have to play in public) to cover up the fact that my voice is, at best, mediocre? Yes, please.

8. Black Coffee (every jazz singer since the beginning of jazz) – Do I really need to explain why with this one? Although I’d have to bring in a guest vocalist on this one. Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald sang this, y’all. I can’t compete with that, nor would I sully the memory of their renditions by trying to do so.

9. For Your Love (Ed Townsend) – Such a pretty yet simple song.

10. Love Me (Treat Me Like a Fool) (Elvis Presley) – Another crowd pleaser. Thank you. Thank you very much.

11. Build Me Up, Buttercup (The Foundations)- ending where we began, except with a punk or riot!grrl version – because that’s just how my cover band would roll.

I really, really want to make this album now.

photo 4

TW: eating disorders

I read a book tonight called Binary Star by Sarah Gerard. The main character was anorexic and bulimic, so it had the potential to be a little triggery for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t come away with a need to binge or starve. I ate dinner. I finished my water. I did a couple of loads of laundry. And now here we are.

I was prepared to put it down, though. It would have triggered something earlier in my life. I’m glad I didn’t have to, not only because I like to finish books when I start them but also because not getting triggered was an amazing experience. It’s one I’d like to have again.

I haven’t dabbled with consistent disordered eating or lied about my eating habits in a long time (like, the kind of long you can measure in decades). But I’ve wanted to. At some times more than others. It’s always been there, that unstable feeling like I’m standing at the edge of a canyon and need to concentrate very hard on not toppling right on in.

For a moment, it wasn’t there tonight. I saw the character’s behavior for the downward spiral it was.

Tonight I feel like I’m in my right mind, which is a new feeling for me regarding food issues.

I had a post scheduled to write today about being judged for my weight, both when I was thin and now. More accurately, I had planned to write the first of my nostalgia posts where I take old blog posts and reorganize them slightly to shed new light on the subject. I am going to take rampant liberties with this one.

The original post was about external messages that people (women, specifically) receive about weight and its ties to their perceived worth. That is a conversation I have often, and it is a conversation worth having. These messages are a plague. They’re dangerous. Particularly when they come directly from people we love. And the people who bear the heaviest burden of the effects of these messages are hardly ever the people actually responsible for them.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking more about how people in general and I in particular absorb(ed) messages about body image, process(ed) these messages, and turn(ed) that processing into behavior that’s not always healthy.

I have always suspected that problems can be alleviated but never really go away. I assumed that my history of disordered eating and all the messages that helped to lead me there would mean I’d always be stuck in doing the work of the cycle:

  1. A message is sent. It could be one of the abominable judgy messages, or it could be a message like a book with a character who has some serious eating disorders. It might even be a great message, like body positivity statements.
  2. The message sticks because I absorb it as a trigger.
  3. I reframe my internal reaction to the message. To me, reframing is different from adapting a positive attitude. For starters, the term reframing doesn’t make me want to punch the person who suggests it in the throat. To me, reframing is about getting to the truth of a situation rather than just throwing a blanket of sunshine over it, blindly hoping it will smother anything untoward that lies beneath. I filter through the message’s layers, attempting to separate them into piles of true and false, healthy and unhealthy, helpful and destructive. For the record, this doesn’t always go the way it ought to go, despite very good intentions.
  4. I react/respond with external behavior. Sometimes, I process, and the truth does set me free, and I behave with sanity and reason. More often, there’s no time for that, and the chances of making a good vs. bad choice are about 50/50. Sometimes I think it out and still make bad choices, such as eating more than my body is comfortable holding just because it’s there and I can.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. If you’ve ever wondered why a person with an addiction or mental health issue can’t just get over it, this is why. Getting over it is hard work. If it weren’t, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

Tonight I caught a glimpse of what it was like to arrest the cycle at stage two. I received a message, and my gut reaction was to see the truth of it. No trigger. No exhausting process just to get through the night intact.

This must be what people with a healthy relationship with food and good body image feel like all the time. It’s incredible. I highly recommend it.

And I have no idea how it happened. I mean, I suspect it has something to do with the years and years (omg the years) of working through that cycle (with and without qualified professionals) with varying degrees of success. But even the thought of that is exhausting, so if you are reading this and it hurts you more than it helps, let me just carry that to the unhelpful pile for you.

Nor am I done. I’m not saying that I’m cured and that I’ll never struggle with food issues or the temptation to engage in disordered eating again. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I kind of doubt it, actually, although that would be really nice. I learned tonight, though, that moments of right-mind, true, gut-reaction, health are possible. And that I want a whole lot more of that.

For all of us.

Love-Letters-to-Writers_screen_72dpi

Andi’s book is launching on November 14, and I’M SO EXCITED!!! As a member of her online writing community, I have benefited from Andi’s wisdom through my inbox every week, so it’s thrilling to see her letters compiled in a volume that I can share with the writers in my life. I interviewed Andi about the Love Letters to Writers, and I hope you enjoy it!

1. I am a to-do list person. One thing your letters (and your online writing group) have encouraged me to do is slow down and pay attention. Why is this important for artists in general and for writers in particular?

Oh, I’m a to-do list person, too. I like to feel like I’ve gotten a lot done, but I’ve learned that as a writer that product cannot be the end-all-be-all. Process is crucial, and part of the process for an artist is that we have to notice and bear witness to what happens around us. For writers, this means that sometimes our work is to take note rather than to shape things.  So sometimes we do a lot of writing that no one else will ever see.  We have to pay attention to our senses, to our bodies, and to our emotions. We have to slow down to try to see the Why? behind things . . . because it’s in that why that the life of a story lives.

2. You often write in your letters about the physical spaces you create to support the habits of your writing life. What common elements do you find necessary for such spaces?

For me, the space needs to be quiet. It needs to be filled with things I love but that don’t require my attention – pieces of art, books I know, objects that people I love have given me.  I really need to love the wall color (My office is painted in “Macaroni and Cheese.”).  I also need my writing space to be comfortable in terms of a chair and desk.

But that’s what I need. Every writer needs different things. Some people need to work in coffee shops for the gentle distraction of other people and their chatter, and others love to have music going all the time. Some people prefer a pristine, streamlined environment, and others find that the dining room table is ideal for them.

The key is for each writer to determine what works best for them and then to create the space they need. I recommend a dedicated space for writing – even if it’s that the dining room table becomes writing space after dinner – because when we return to the same space again and again to write, it creates a sort of mental memory of what we do there.  That can be a powerful tool for starting that day’s writing.

3. You are so gentle – in your letters, in your work, and in person. Have you found this gentleness to be useful in the work you do? Why or why not?

What a kind thing to say, Suzanne. Thank you.  In the work I do with writers, yeah, most of the time I think gentleness is key. We’ve all been scolded about our writing selves – either by teachers or blogs or by those voices that live in our own minds.  Most of us need to be spoken to with gentle directness, I think.

On occasion, my clients could probably use a more assertive coach who demands more of them, but then, the clients who work with me know who I am, so perhaps they don’t expect that.

In my writing life, well, I often wish I wasn’t so gentle. When I’m not working with writers, I research and write about the history and legacy of slavery, and I’m learning to make my voice more steely because American needs to hear the truth about this part of our American history.  I’m still gentle on the inside, though, so sometimes, it’s quite challenging to continue to speak strong on something that feels so obviously needed to me.

4. Great writers are often great readers. What is the best book you’ve read this year, and what did it teach you?

This is always a tough question, but I’ll just go with the first book that came to mind: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.  I read this book just after I miscarried this year because it’s about McCracken’s own experience of losing her son before he was even born.  It taught me to write raw about the pain I’ve lived, even if I’m not ready to share that rawness yet, and it taught me that you can recall the details and emotions of an experience even after it happens and even if you don’t journal the whole time. Sometimes, I feel like since I don’t journal my days I’m missing out on books I could write later, but McCracken’s memoir reminded me that those experiences still live in me – I just have to work to find them again.

5. What are your favorite moments when working with writers?

Oh, many.  My all-time favorite is when a writer decides to take herself seriously as a writer, when she decides to commit the time, when she decides to do the work because she WANTS to do it . . . even if there’s no recognition or paycheck coming. I love those moments because they are the moments I know that a writer is in and will keep going no matter what.  They aren’t that common, but when they come, I’m exhilarated.

I also love the moments when writers find that their own egos are not the best judges of their work, when they can put aside their intentions and what they thought a work was and hear the perspective of someone – a friend, a reader, an editor – who does not find the work flawless.  Those moments are the ones that make us better writers, and while they are painful, they are crucial.

I also love launch days for writers I know.  They aren’t always – or often – spectacular successes, but the joy of putting something out into the world, something built with hard effort and love, well, that’s a glorious thing.

Love Letters to Writers is available for pre-order now. Treat yourself to this gem of a book.

DSC01789_ANDI_CHOICE (2)

Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four dogs, four cats, six goats, three rabbits, and thirty-six chickens. She writes regularly at andilit.com

Friday Five3

This week has been full of festivities and people helping and raising money and reaching out. Here are some small snippets that capture some of the work and the joy on the intrawebs this week.

  1. You have probably heard of the attack in Somalia that left over 300 dead in October. Even if you haven’t, it’s not too late to help. You can find links to the story as well as suggestions for getting involved here.
  2. Postmodern Jukebox and Wayne Brady sing a 30’s style Thriller. Also check out Sarah Reich, one of my favorite tap dancers, on his left.
  3. I love seeing how people dress up for Halloween. Favorites this year were Shonda Rhimes as Debbie Allen and Kristen Bell as Magnum, P.I.
  4. There are a lot of things going on in Denton this weekend. I might go to all of them. Or I might just go to the Friends of the Library book sale.
  5. And finally, here are some pictures of people who absolutely did not want the damn cats.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Image-1 (10)

I am totally into the weather we’re having. It’s cool and fall-ish. So I’m going to ignore that it’s supposed to get to 91 degrees outside tomorrow. Not even going to mention it. I don’t know where you heard that.

This month, I was quite the joiner. I participated in Write 31 Days, of course. I was challenged to post seven days of black and white photos with no comment, but my comment is just that I loved doing that. The two above were my favorites. I also participated in Million Mile Month, although I definitely did not meet my goal.

Running is hard. And walking is slow.

Writing:

My 31 Days project was about running (specifically, how to do it and not get maimed or dead). It was fun (the writing part – not so much the running part). I love the momentum it gives me to post more regularly. To keep that spirit going, I am going to start reviving old posts from my livejournal days. I hope that you will enjoy these little nuggets of nostalgia.

For November, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, although I’m being cheaty about it and working on a current project. I’m not allowed to start any other writing projects until I finish at least one of my current ones. I’m putting my foot down. So November will be focused on (and hopefully getting close to finishing) Fishbowl.

Reading:

My favorite book I read this month – maybe this year – was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I love the characterization and the way it drove the story. I also re-read Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood PalThe library had the leather-bound version, and that was fun. Our book club from church had a lively discussion about the book.

I’m currently working through some Brene Brown (I’m on Braving the Wilderness) and reliving my childhood with The Boxcar Children. What are you reading?

Miscellaneous:

Work is in its slowest season, so I took a week off from work this month. I visited my parents and tried to rest. Yesterday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door, and our church celebrated by participating in a Hymn Fest with three other choirs on Sunday. It was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot.

And last but not least – I know I’m late to the party on this but I am addicted to Burt Bees lipstick. My lips have been super dry lately, and this not only helps alleviate some of that but also makes me look fancy.

What are you into this month? Comment below or join us at Leigh Kramer’s link-up page.

 

 

Roar!

This month, I have explored running and the elements that add up to doing it well. I managed a post to match every day except yesterday, which I am happy to call relative success. We have talked about hydrating properly, using food as fuel, getting sufficient rest, and staying safe. I’ve given some information, but I also learned some things myself.

I learned that I have severely fallen out of the habit of good hydration. Getting all the water I need used to be something I just did without having to think twice about it. Having actually paid attention to it this month, I see this is no longer the case. So I’m going to start tracking it again until I work it back into being a habit.

My favorite thing about running is that it makes eating well easier because eating poorly is how we end up with cramps/spasms/nausea. When I say absurd things like “I love running,” I rarely mean that I love the actual running part. Running is the worst. It’s sweaty and tiresome and hard to do indoors, which is where I like most of my life activities to occur. What I usually mean is that I love things that go with running. I love the runner’s high (it really is a thing). I love the general spike in energy I get from being active. I love the way, after a while, running makes my body remember how to move right (aligned, elongated…well, as elongated as I get).  And I love how easy it is to eat foods that fuel me well.

My rest week was illuminating. There was a disconnect between what I was writing, particularly about Sabbath rest, and what was actually happening. It is clear that I need to drop something(s). It’s not that I’m not getting done what I need to get done; I just find it hard to relax. It’s not a matter of good time management. Given all that I do, I have excellent time management, or I would be dead. In time I set aside to rest, though, I am constantly stressed out that I’m not getting anything “productive” done. As if rest itself isn’t productive and necessary. I’m not going to make any rash decisions, but I am going to take a few months to see what needs to be dropped so that when it’s time to rest, I can really rest.

Safety week also revealed some not-like-before trends. I have a real aversion to going out on my own that I didn’t really have a few years ago. Yesterday, for example, I walked by myself in the park, and I definitely had some feelings about it during the portion of the walk that was out of sight of the street. I am less confident that I could defend myself than I used to be. Last time I ran regularly, I was in good enough shape to take on someone who attacked me. Even if I couldn’t win, I could definitely maim and discourage. I don’t have that confidence now. I want it again. Now, I’m not going to add self-defense classes – that would fly in the face of my too-much-on-my-plate problem. But I am going to incorporate more variety into my already established routine to challenge myself to get stronger, and hopefully, the confidence will return along with the strength.

I hope you have learned something this month or at least have been entertained by my chatter. Here’s to running wild!

%d bloggers like this: