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
Monday, October 31, 2011
First a bit of background: I live in a 200+ year old house out "back of beyond". I believe I have ghosts, or whatever you want to call them - all benign, helpful presences - in the house almost all the time. The house has seen lots of births and deaths and everything in between, and with the exception of my daughters, everyone in my family and my husband's family has passed on, so there are plenty of contenders for "spook of the hour."
Last night at about 11:30, I was upstairs in bed reading when I heard a noise. It sounded like a, "Whoop! Whoop!" followed by a sort of grumbling noise - not a scary growling, but the sort of sound a big dog makes when it settles down. We have plenty of coyotes and other wildlife, but while the sound was sort of familiar, it didn't sound like coyotes or the town's resident wolf (we'll discuss that another time) and besides, it sounded like it came from the downstairs hallway. Lucy, our midsized couch-potato dog, was of course sound asleep, and Kona, our ancient collie, passed away last summer after a series of increasingly debilitating strokes.
The sound didn't seem threatening and I don't scare easily anyway, so I kind of pushed it out of my mind and went to sleep.
Kona, in his youth, used to have these streaks of exuberance where he'd race through the house, round and round, knocking over tables and people and anything else silly enough to stand in the way of an 80 pound dog having fun. I was thinking the other day (when I had to drag Lucy out of bed at 4:00 to go take a walk with me) that Lucy had never done anything like that, even as a puppy. Coincidentally, last night at supper time, Lucy, quite uncharacteristically, had grabbed her bone and then gotten down in that front-down, hind-end-up posture that means "let's play!" and then taken off in her first around the house zoom, an unprecedented three loops.
This morning I figured it out, and if you've ever owned a collie, you've probably figured it out, too. Collies are known for having a very wide range of vocalizations, and the reason I didn't recognize his "Whoop! Whoop!" was because it was his youthful voice, not the raspy, breathless voice he had in his last couple years. Apparently his spirit had been around all day, influencing Lucy and inciting her peculiar exuberance.. And that grumbly sound was, indeed, the sound of a big dog settling in, right at the foot of the stairs where he always slept, still keeping an eye on his household.
Friday, October 28, 2011
And now fall to your knees and thank God that these aren't your next door neighbors.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Never stay up until after 1:00 a.m. stripping wallpaper in your two-hundred year old house, while the tv in the next room is showing stories of Hauntings, all of which seem to begin,"The family was happy in their home, until they started to RENOVATE..."
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