Sunday, November 06, 2011
(This train of thought comes courtesy of all the people out in the hills today shooting at things. Bow hunters don't bother me as much, because all in all they're pretty skillful, but anybody can buy a gun and go shoot turkeys and small game....or their brother-in-law. "I thought he was a squirrel." Kinda makes ya wonder, doesn't it? But anyway....)
Since my husband died last year, I've been asked many times, "Aren't you afraid, living up there in that big old haunted house, way out here by yourself?"
Well, first off, I have no problems with whatever "haints" might be in my house. I've always been more worried about the living than about the dead.
Secondly, while I may have one of those little perimeter security systems, I rely on it more to tell someone if the house is on fire than to prevent intruders from messing with me. I prefer my back-up system of dog and shotgun.
I remember a story my grandmother told me about a friend of her who raised...I think it was cocker spaniels. She had a red setter, too - sweetest, silliest dog in the world. But my grandmother's friend, a gentle little writer, said that she knew if anyone ever raised a hand to her, that sweet, silly dog would tear his throat out without hesitation.
My grandmother always had Dobermans. Beautiful intelligent dogs and wonderful family members. But if anyone came to the door, the dog (and there were many over the years) would always stand between the family member and the visitor in the doorway, until the visitor was okayed by the family member. They always got up in the night, too, to "make rounds", and that sound of dogs padding quietly around the house, their tags jingling a little, has always given me a special feeling of security.
My Uncle David, my grandmother's brother, was a kind, funny man who raised bees and collected antique postal trucks. He was the one who taught me how to shoot a 12 gauge without dislocating my shoulder.
I've retained both dog-raising and shotgun skills, and honestly, while the technological security system is a fine thing, and I do sleep with my cell phone at my side, dog and shotgun are also right handy, and if I had to bet, I'd bet on them any time.
I'm jes' sayin'.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
I'm gonna choke 'em.
Let's think of it this way:
Your friend is diabetic, maybe has been from birth, or maybe developed it later, but the bottom line is that her pancreas doesn't make enough insulin, or the way it is used by the body isn't quite right.
Can you hear yourself saying, "Oh, for crying out loud. You're not "diabetic". You just think you are. You could make insulin if you tried. You just like the attention of everyone fussing about your pancreas. You can eat anything anyone else does if you just put your mind to it. It's all in your mind. Come on! Snap out of it! Make some insulin, already! You know, you're bringing the rest of us down with your so-called "insulin dependence." You're just being self-indulgent. All you need to do is talk to someone and your pancreas will be just fine!"
Sounds silly, right? Substitute "brain" for "pancreas", "depressed" for "diabetic" - it's pretty much the same thing. Depression is a biochemical issue, not a play for attention or a character flaw.
I'm glad we had this little talk.
Friday, November 04, 2011
I'm old enough to have read Dr. Spock when I was having children, and he always stressed that schedules were good for children. It became fashionable in the 1970s - maybe earlier - to allow children to eat when they were hungry and go to bed when they were tired - this was referred to as raising the "natural child", if I recall correctly. But Dr. Spock was all about routines and schedules, and because I didn't like the idea of never knowing when people would be eating or sleeping, I went with him. It drove my spontaneity-loving husband mad, but both daughters turned out well.
The last few years didn't allow much adherence to schedules - too many crises and unplanned events - but now that things have settled down I'm trying to work myself into some routines. I think a lot of the reason I don't get exercise in is because I don't schedule a time for it; the reason my meals are sometimes not the best is because I'm used to eating sort of catch-as-catch-can, rather than being sure to have what I need to prepare something nourishing and reasonably simple. Getting the 1600+ words written each day is more difficult than it need be because the activity has no "home" in the day.
My usual meal schedule, I'm sorry to say, is, after I get up whenever I feel like it (and often much later than I'm really happy with) I have some coffee and then just sort of wander in circles for an hour or so - read the paper, do the puzzles, fill the furnace, tend the critters, whatever - and two or three hours later I'll have something light like some fruit and cheese or a small sandwich. I do whatever I'm going to do - which way too often is nothing - and then somewhere between 4 and 5 p.m. I'll make some sort of supper, eat a bunch of it, and later on go to bed before I get hungry again. I usually have an adult beverage or two before or with dinner and a brandy or sherry before bed (and yes, I know how many calories that adds up to.) This is all just so not good enough.
So I'm trying to pry myself out of bed at a decent hour - when I wake up the first time, which is usually sunrise, as opposed to rolling over and deciding to sleep more. I don't sleep well, but I'm willing to bet it's largely because I don't get enough exercise and I sleep in too late in the morning, then go to bed too early (left over from fourteen years of getting up at 4:45 every morning.)
Then I'm going to take my little - actually not so little - Pad Planner and pencil in time for exercise and writing. And I'm going to try eating three meals instead of two.
I know that in the past when I've tried this, its downfall has been that I tried to schedule in *everything* I wanted to do - scheduled meditation, scheduled reading time - and things I felt I had to do - scheduled cleaning, scheduled shopping. It wound up that every minute of every day was scheduled, so I abandoned it almost immediately.
This is all new territory for me - having no one to "answer to" or show up for. I've spent the last year since my husband's death just lying on the sofa, waiting for various legal problems to settle out and trying to be gentle on myself, but I think it's about time I tried to get my legs back under me. I think part of the reason is that I miss having routines and schedules.
Deepak Chopra, one of my heroes, says that routines are comforting to the body, and I believe that. I believe that's why they work so well with children, and may be highly underrated for adults.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
(For anyone not familiar with this form of self-induced torture, NaNoWriMo is a yearly challenge to produce a novel of 50,000 words or more during the month of November. See nanowrimo.org for more information.)
I'm the first one to admit that I have a real problem with self-discipline, second only to issues with procrastination. I began writing the 50,000 word novel to see if I have the self-discipline - or can develop it quickly enough - to complete the writing challenge. I started a day late (see above re: procrastination) and so far have roughly 2500 words down - about a day and a half's worth. However, this is the second day in a row that I have sat down with the intent to work on the novel and have done so.
Two days in a row may not feel like much to you self-disciplined types out there, but for someone like me, it's a real milestone. Not only did I actually begin something, rather than just thinking and/or whining about it, but I kept at it for a second day.
Oddly, this little burst of discipline or motivation or whatever we want to call it, has already begun to leak over into other areas of my life. For the second day in a row, I ate a healthy breakfast and will soon have a healthy supper. I also - two days in a row here, kids - got a wee bit of exercise and intentionally drunk a glass of water. Again, for lots of people this will not seem like much of an accomplishment, but for me, it really is, for I am the poster child for Short Attention Span Theater.
Luckily it does not have to be great writing, it just has to be writing. So I'll keep at it for another day, and then perhaps a day after that, which will surely be some sort of Personal Best. And we'll see what happens from here.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
"Think about the last time you had the choice to fold under pressure or to rise to the occasion."
This is similar to when well-meaning (or not, I guess) folks ask if you're all right. What can you say? I've wondered, if I were to answer, "No, I'm not all right, not in the least" if the questioner would then press the magic rewind button and make the trouble go away. The closest to the usually obvious answer, "NO!" that seems acceptable is, "I'll be fine."
"Folding under pressure" sounds like a delightful option, a sort of Victorian era swoon, that causes one to be gently lowered onto a velvet-upholstered day bed. The next day the swooner would be sent someplace quiet, to wear a white dress and sit outdoors on a bench on the lawn, feeding ducks. "Shhh. It's all been too much for her, the poor dear."
I do understand that sometimes people handle bad times poorly, and this could, I suppose, be called "folding under pressure." We've also all seen people who, when confronted with disaster, mutter, "the heck with all this" and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. But to me, the first person is trying to rise to the occasion, just doing a poor job of it, and the second is neither rising nor folding but refusing to take part altogether (which may be avoidance and may be self-preservation and good common sense - but that's not what we're talking about here.)
Maybe it's naive of me, but I believe people genuinely do try to rise to whatever occasion presents itself. Because of their own histories and personal make-up, they may meet with varying degrees of success, but I can't imagine anyone saying, "No, sorry, can't cope. Must take to my bed and wait til you've all solved the situation. Don't forget to bring my tray and be sure my tea is hot and sweet - shock, you know."
To add to this, I believe that the worse the situation, the more people are willing and able to respond. Evenings when the mosquitoes are bad might find folks hiding indoors, but in times of war or natural disaster or just severe family hardship, people are quite good at assessing the situation and acting. We may joke about a "crise du jour", but I believe that in a genuine crisis, most people will make a mighty attempt to "rise to the occasion."
It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
Sir Winston Churchill
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