Oct 142017

So yesterday was a really busy day as planned. I did record the English podcast episode in the morning, even though my voice was not in the best shape, and then, just when we were about to leave for lunch, I got an email from my sister and a phone call from my aunt telling me that my mother had to go to the hospital the day before.

Nothing life-threatening, she hurt her back, and they will only be able to tell what’s wrong after Monday because they need to do an MRI, and the very small hospital she’s at doesn’t do MRIs every day. I’m very grateful for my sister and aunt keeping me in the loop because my father is not the type of person who’d call in a situation like this. These are the times when sometimes I wish I lived a little closer to my family but then if I did live a little closer I would have to be right in the middle of all these people trying to communicate and figure things out, and failing. And I would probably feel obligated to look after my father who will be completely able to care for himself for a few days. And my aunt is checking in on him and on my mother as well.

So guess what? I did not clean anything yesterday. I know, shocking. Also the most important thing right now, I know.

The rest of the day went pretty well, we had Chinese and sushi at the restaurant near us, and the owner remarked on how tall the boy has grown, and about how his voice has changed, and then I went back home, and taught a student, and then I phoned my aunt and tried calling my mother, and then I taught some more, and I was so confused that I forgot to remind my last student to pay for her lesson (I did put a post-it in her file, though, so I can remind her next time.), and then I talked to my mother on the phone who did not sound as loopy as I would have thought with all the painkillers, and then we had dinner, and the boy and I watched another episode of „Star Trek: The Next Generation“ (one with Q that was really excellent), and then I baked cookies for the spinning meeting today, and then I went to bed way too late.

I only slept for 6 1/2 hours but I got 3 hours of deep sleep according to my sleep tracker, so yeah? I guess? Have a cookie to distract you:

IMG 0927

Today there will be running, and then I’ll take off for the meeting. I already have my spinning stuff and my purse packed, I only need to add the cookies and a spindle. I am also participating in the „Herbstlesen“-event again even though I don’t really have the time for that today. On the other hand I have already spent about 90 minutes reading because I woke up before 6 am, and it’s 8 right now.

Tomorrow is blissfully empty, no appointments (well, we could go out to brunch to meet people but I guess we won’t), only a little puttering around and some singing to do. I guess I’ll need that.

Oct 132017

I just tried to turn my laptop on to write my daily post but it itsn't booting properly. I've been waiting for this computer to die on me for more than a year now. I hope it isn't quite time yet. I has been somewhat quirky but functional. Which is okay if you remember that this computer is more than seven years old. (And now that I'm typing this (on the tablet) I find that the laptop has decided to boot after all. Phew. I can do most things on the tablet but I can't record a podcast on it which is what I'll be doing this morning. At least if everything goes as planned.

Yesterday I was pretty good, the only thing I skipped was the strength training. I guess I have to find a different way of doing it because after running, teaching, and doing other work all day by 6.30 I'm rather reluctant to do something strenuous before getting dinner.

I did learn some things about how to market books, though, I did watch a video I had been wanting to watch for weeks, and I finally found all the lyrics to the songs I want to record for my mother's birthday and printed them out. Baby steps all the way. Same with the novel I want to write in November, I now have a document in Scrivener with parts that say “beginning”, “middle A”, “middle B”, and “ending”. Very important steps for sure.

And I managed to go to bed almost on time, and can now say that according to the last days' experiments every time I turn the lights out at 9.30 I will get enough sleep, every time I turn the lights out at 10 I don't. I have no idea why I wake up an hour earlier after turning the lights out half an hour later but that's what it is. It does remind me of the days when I still had a toddler who found it impossible to fall asleep. Often when we tucked him in a little earlier falling asleep would be much easier for him.

Though I have to say that I don't have any problems falling asleep. According to my sleep tracker it takes me 11 minutes every night without fail. Unless I'm seriously overtired, then it takes four.

I know, sleep is just so fascinating. Well, it is when you're not getting enough.

Today will be extra, extra busy but fun (I hope). I will attempt to finally record the next English episode of the podcast, go to the Asian place around the corner for lunch with my husband and son (which I've been looking forward to for days now), then teach a lot, in between do some cleaning (wish me luck), then listen to the podcast so I can publish it tomorrow, then watch something on TV with the boy while my husband goes to the city to see a free improvisation concert, and then bake cookies for tomorrow's spinning meeting.

And then go to bed on time.

Should be completely doable if I don't spend all my time on the internet.

We'll see how that goes.

Oct 122017

Yesterday was a full day, I was not lazy and still didn’t manage everything I wanted to. Which is alright. I even went to bed early and slept a little more than eight hours. Bliss!

I did print the revised novel two out and the rough draft of novel three (which still lacks an ending, I know what will happen, I just couldn’t bring myself to write it). They make nice satisfying piles of paper on my desk. Novel two is still too short but I’m thinking maybe I should trust my former self about the first version not being good enough. I’ll reread both, though. I only have no idea when I should do that.

Time is really my biggest problem. Doing more of everything is working in a way but doing more of everything while getting enough sleep, and exercise, and keeping the house in a semblance of order – tough. (And no, hiring a cleaner is not an option. First, cleaners cost money that I don’t want to spend, and second, a cleaner won’t do my dishes or laundry or tidy the house. Actual cleaning costs me between one and two hours a week, and that should be easily found if I stop spending so much time online.)

Which is a challenge I’ve been thinking about for a while now, going offline – or mostly offline – for some time. I’m too chicken to do it at the moment, though.

Not drinking alcohol is going well, and last night I didn’t even binge on food. Yeah me! At the moment I don’t even have cravings for beer much but I’m sure that will change once I’m sitting in front of TV on Friday night because that’s traditionally accompanied by the first beer of the weekend. Well, I’ll just substitute an alcohol-free beer instead.

We won’t go to the Greek restaurant soon, though, because they whip out the ouzo even before you’ve properly entered the premises, and a bike tour to a beergarde on Sunday is out for similar reasons. So we’ll go and have Chinese for lunch tomorrow, less temptations.

Today there will be another 5K run, quite a bit of teaching, and then I hope to finally get started on my mother’s birthday present. I’m so behind, it’s not funny anymore. Somewhere in between I will have to find time to clean parts of the house, and maybe change the sheets. Also do fifteen minutes of strength training, and continue my „going to bed early“-streak.

This will be really exciting for sure! Stay tuned!

Oct 112017

So this marks the last day of my daily journaling experiment, and I must say it is a success. I did manage to blog every day (and yes, I still haven’t rewritten the lost day 6-post but I did write it, I swear), and I even liked it.

I hope you liked it too but I guess if you thought that reading something from me every day would be a little too much you’d not be reading this anyways.

I think I’m going to keep this up – within reason. So I won’t kill myself to post every day but I’ll try to. Posting daily works better than posting weekly because somehow I never quite get my act together on time, and so I kept procrastinating about that weekly post for weeks. Which doesn’t work.

Other than that I have been feeling both really excited and somewhat meh and overwhelmed at the same time. Excited because I had an idea yesterday for a new novel, and also I had the idea of writing it during November (for NaNoWriMo), and also live-blogging the novel on my author blog. The new blog is still a work in progress, and I’m not quite sure how to use it yet, so I’m trying things out.

Of course writing yet another novel is so not sensible, and in a different genre than the trilogy is even worse, and live-blogging it is rather insane. So I thought it would be a good idea, as one does.

The overwhelm comes from all the things I need to do. I still want to finish revision on the trilogy (and the best would be if I could do that before November. Chances are slim, though. I spent 40 hours on the revision of novel two which is much less than I would have thought. Now that novel is short (too short, unfortunately). Also those forty hours were spread out from the beginning of January until now. Ugh. I did do other things in between but not that many.

I also want to get the new blog going, of course, I’m still not happy with how it looks, and I need to set up a newsletter (and a sign-up for that newsletter) for people who want to know about when the trilogy comes out. And the big project for this month is to record some songs for my mother’s birthday. Which is on October 28th so I have a firm deadline for that.

I’m also having second thoughts on novel two (as one does). I wrote this one twice because I found the first version so bad that I thought writing it again would be the better choice. Now I’m sitting there with a 55,000 word, very short, novel that I’ve completely torn apart and rewritten and I’m afraid I made it worse instead of better. And yesterday I stumbled over a printout of the first version of that novel, and that is a juicy 89,000 words, and I really liked the opening scene. I think the writing is much fresher. Which wouldn’t be surprising.

Of course my next move should be to reread both versions, and then decide on what to do. But I’m seeing myself spending another year on revision for this thing, either revising the first version, or – even worse – tearing both versions apart and trying to make them into a new whole. Also I’ve lost track of what actually happens in each version of each novel. There is something to be said for writing and revising quickly because then you don’t forget everything.

Well, it is no use. I need to finish the trilogy (don’t think I haven’t toyed with the thought of giving up), and for that I need to reread both versions and decide what to do. I have a feeling right now that the first version is not as bad as I thought but if that’s the case I have wasted a year (well, not comepletely because I have learned loads and have written the rough draft of another novel), and I will still have to revise that one.

No, not fun.

But that’s the pro mindset, isn’t it? You do the work that’s necessary to make it as good as you can. No matter what. 

Yesterday was a rather full day, by the way, even without the novel-writing woes. I went to the orthodontist by bike, and it looks as if the boy will get rid of his braces soonish. We have to decide whether to pay for a wire to be glued behind his teeth permanently after finishing the whole course of braces. Right now it looks as if we won’t. It isn’t covered by insurance, and isn’t really necessary, just would make things easier.

Before, I ran a few errands and went to the health food store, then I taught quite a few students, did strength training (for all of 16 minutes, yeah me), had dinner, and flopped down at the kitchen table. Oh, and my husband’s new guitar came. He is happy with it, it doesn’t sound like anything he owns yet, and I could already hear him play differently with it. That’s one of the fun things about different instruments, you get to play in a different way with them too.

Then I didn’t do nothing, didn’t wash a single dish all day (be glad you’re not looking at our kitchen right now), and went to bed on time. Only to not sleep well, and wake up too early yet again. Yawn.

Today is a new day, though, and I will pick myself up again. There will be running, and lots of dishes, and I’ll go to the supermarket, and I will definitely practice those songs for the birthday present, and I will print out the revised version of novel two, and the unfinished raw draft of novel three (good thing I just ordered printer toner and paper), and then I’ll go to bed on time again tonight.

And I will tell you all about my really exciting life again tomorrow. Fun!


Oct 102017

I know. I’m always busy. And I also know that there are people who think that I’m doing this and talking about it the way I do so that I can feel superior, or important.

The thing is that when I turned 40 (ten years ago) I realized that there are a lot of things in my life that I want to achieve, and by 40 I hadn’t achieved a lot of them. I found that there were mistakes that I kept making, and things that I had wanted to learn or master but my daily life didn’t reflect any of them. I wanted to become a real musician who made her own music in front of people but what I did was sit around reading novels or blog posts while whining that I didn’t have the time.

So I decided to change things.

I’m still not where I want to be, and you might have noticed that „making my own music“ is no longer high on my list but I’m very aware that time is limited, and if I want to live the life I’m imagining I need to start here and now.

That doesn’t mean I’m one of those productivity people who claim to only produce things of value every waking hour, I cherish time spent just talking with my family, or re-watching a TV show. I don’t want to be an efficiency machine. But I also know that my time and energy is limited, and if I don’t direct it in a way that helps me achieve my goals I won’t achieve them.

So eating delicious food, exercising, and restful sleep is high on my list because a) it makes me happy, and b) it will keep me healthy (I hope) so that I can enjoy life for longer.

Making a little music every day is also high on the list because it makes me happy. It’s also a good thing to show my students that music is enjoyable and something you should do every day.

Writing every day (like on this blog) also makes me happy, and working on my novels the same, also if I want to be a writer (which I want to) I need to learn how to finish things. And earning money with something I do every day anyways would be the icing on the cake. The way things are looking now I might have to work until I drop dead. I really hope that I will want to continue working for the sheer fun of it but I’d rather have the opportunity of deciding if I want to work or not.

The crafting brings me a lot of pleasure, and it’s one ofthe few things I do where I get to hold a tangible product in my hands. Also the fashion industry is not a nice thing so I’d rather be somewhat independent in that regard.

And then there are the mundane small things that need to be done every single day: the dishes, signing papers for school, calling students on the phone, vacuuming the house, doing the laundry and such.

Which means that I need to get moving. Not in a massive stressful way, just in a „one step at a time“-way. Doing a little thing each day to get things moving in the right direction.

Sorry. This post was brough to you by a „Don’t always put so many things on your to do-list“-remark. My to do-list is actually rather short from day to day if you look at the list of things I should be doing as well but that don’t fit into my days. And I’m so restrained that I’m actually refraining from starting another podcast because I know I don’t really have the time. (But I really want to.)

On the daily grind, I did manage to not drink a beer yesterday. There was a pretty big temptation to break out the champagne even because I managed to finish revision on novel two. I still have to read it through again but most of revision should be done. Phew.

I didn’t get a lot done yesterday. I had a list, and couldn’t cross anything off. But then I told my husband things like, „I finished revision on the novel!“, and „I started working on the author website!“ and „I started researching genres for my trilogy!“ and found that, um, yes I had done a few things. (Also managed to get a prescription renewed, found out how to access voice mail from the new phone, and re-scheduled a lesson. And ran 5K.)

So not a completely wasted day.

A completely wasted day for me would be lying around on the beach doing absolutely nothing. The horrors.

Oct 092017

So yesterday was another pretty unproductive day. I still felt like I needed a day off but I’m not quite sure that was the best thing to do. I did spend most of the day reading, finishing an excellent novel, and knitting and crocheting.

I also managed to finally watch Nick Stephenson’s free training videos. I found the first one not all that interesting but then I’ve been reading about marketing for indie authors for quite some time now, and I listen to all the important podcasts in that area, so I do know a thing or two. (Not enough, for sure.) But the second video made me all happy about promotion for once, and so I decided to finally get my own website for my writing stuff, not a free wordpress blog.

And that is making me all happy and excited. Some time today or tomorrow susannewinter.com will go live.

Of course that means I just made myself even more work. I need to transfer content from the old blog, and make it look decent, and activate an email address or two.

Being unproductive last weekend also means that I didn’t manage to record the next podcast episode. I had planned to release it last weekend, and the next German one next weekend but now it looks as if there will be the English episode next weekend. I am committed to podcasting every other week but there’s no need to do it every week.

Of course I keep thinking about adding yet another podcast to the mix which is really insane.

I also have a long, long list of things I need to do for the teaching website, and I’d really like to make this blog here look better and update it. Somehow I never find the time.

I just made a list of things to do for this week, and it is pretty full already. If I went offline for the week I could easily do it but I guess I won’t.

Only two more days until the end of this daily journaling challenge.

I am starting a new challenge today, by the way. In an effort to get better sleep (and lose some of the weight I gained back) I will refrain from drinking alcohol for the next three weeks. Maybe four weeks, I’m not sure yet. And my husband is making noises about joining me. Which would be a very good thing. It is somewhat easier not to drink when no one is opening bottles of wine under your nose. Very good wine, usually. But I’m pretty sure that better sleep will be worth it.

So I hope you will all have a great week ahead, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oct 082017

Yes, I was full of plans for yesterday but I ended up doing almost nothing.

I did go for my 6K run, and it was fun even. The running is going better and better at the moment. I keep feeling a twinge of the old hip pain here and there but seem to have found a way to make it go away which is great.

Then we made spaghetti bolognese for lunch. The boy only got leftovers and hour early because he had to leave for a friend’s birthday party. Then I sat down to read an eat a piece of cake, and then there came the slide into nothingness which is pretty typical for my Saturdays. Especially if I hadn’t gotten enough sleep.

I wanted to record the English episode of the podcast which is a pretty big thing to do. Those episodes run rather long and I need to make a list of things to talk about first. Since I’m blogging every day these days I didn’t have all the posts I needed in my blogging software’s feed, and so I went onto the website to look for the topics I had talked about and the projects I had worked on.

Only to find that I couldn’t access my blog. This has been happening a little too often lately. I did get an email saying something about server maintenance but having the blog down for two hours is bad.

So no podcast. Which gave me an afternoon off which could have been nice. Only I was so tired that I just slumped down in front of the computer refreshing ravelry. I did read a little but didn’t do any of the other things I wanted to do.

Then there was dinner, and then I waited for the boy to come home. I found that I was growing a little nervous when it got dark outside and he wasn’t home yet. It turned out that he was with a friend and they managed to miss two trains in a row. They did spend the time waiting actually studying for their upcoming Latin test, so at least that was good.

I did manage to go to bed on time, and sleep for 8 1/2 hours last night, so I’m hoping to be more energetic today.

I’m planning to get everything done that I didn’t get done yesterday.

Yeah, I’m not convinced either.

Oct 072017

Deciding to become calmer and more stoic didn’t turn out to make a difference yesterday. I tried, though.

The day started well enough, I made a list, and even put the weekly cleaning into my schedule but then shortly after my husband’s breakfast things went off. First there was a note from my MIL that my husband’s uncle and aunt would be visiting the day after. Which would have been unfortunate because for that day – today – my husband is expecting a friend over, the boy is invited to a birthday party, and I was planning to record the next epic English episode of the podcast which always takes a few hours.

But then, just as we were trying to calm down from the excitement of totally changed plans, there was another phone call from the uncle. Change of plans again! They would come over the same day! Yeah!

So. My plan of preparing the podcast and working on the novel in the morning, and cleaning the house after teaching went mostly out the window. I tried swapping things around, and clean in the morning but didn’t get far.

The funny thing is that in the end I didn’t even see the two of them. They came after I started teaching, and I didn’t have a single break until after they left. But that feeling of having no control over my life, and that someone can come at any time and change my plans for me is something I really hate.

And yes, I know that the feeling of control is an illusion. I still like it.

So I did not clean anything yesterday, and did not prepare the podcast. Meh.

The other thing was that my husband found a guitar in his guitar magazine that he really, really wanted. He does own a lot of guitars already but he loves every single one of them, and he plays them all. He doesn’t have one like this, though, and the sound and make would be a great addition to his setup. He isn’t someone who buys new equipment all the time just for kicks. In fact he had been sure that he had all the guitars he’d ever need. (When he told me that some time ago I pointedly refrained from saying anything. I knew that that’s not how it works.)

Of course he doesn’t really need it. We’d probably better off spending money on a new sofa. But then I reminded him that this is one of the things that he’ll regret later if he doesn’t do it. The guitar is not too expensive, it’s just a little irresponsible. But if you look at things that we value nice furniture scores way lower than musical instruments.

We talked a lot about this guitar yesterday, and in the end I told him to go ahead and order it.

And then, just when we felt like we had had enough of the day we went out to see a band. One of our students was playing at the local youth center. Which was fun because we were the oldest people there, including the band member’s parents.

The concert was fun too, though I couldn’t quite shake off my music teacher perspective. I really, really wanted to have a word with the singers (there were two bands with a total of five singers). Each one of them would have sounded so much better if they had just set the mike a little higher and – this is very important – actually had sung directly into the microphone. They were all too soft, and you couldn’t really understand the lyrics. Sometimes it’s a little weird watching these things as a music teacher. Also almost none of the musicians every looked up from the floor, or talked to the audience.

It wasn’t that the bands were bad, they were pretty good actually, especially the second one, only when you’re standing there, seeing the potential, and feeling that if they just changed a few things they would be so much better – that’s not easy.

We were very happy with our student, by the way, he did well.

Then we went home a little later than we wanted which means I didn’t get enough sleep yet again. Today will be insanely busy, I guess. Unless I break down and spend the afternoon slumped in front of the computer doing nothing. We’ll see how that goes.

Oct 062017

I did okay yesterday up until lunchtime, and then it went all downhill.

I ran my 5k (and it’s going better and better, by the way, taking intervals away seems to have been the right decision), and helped making lunch so that was alright. The bad thing was that I thought I would have a ton of time in the afternoon because teaching only started at 4.30. Well. Maybe I’ll learn some day.

After lunch I went to the supermarket (good move), got myself a piece of cake (not quite as good), ate it right away (okay-ish), and then that was it for the rest of the day. I barely managed to take a shower before teaching (one of these days I’ll teach without my hair being still damp from the shower), and by 4 pm I couldn’t stop yawning.

So I taught very few students, tried to do strength training, and gave up after a few minutes (running two days in a row plus strength training might have been a little too much but I hope I’ll get used to it), had dinner, and then actually managed to go to bed on time.

Still. No music, no novel, nothing.

I really hope to do better today. My husband will make pizza for lunch, I hope to prepare the next epic English episode of the podcast, and clean the house plus teach. Tonight my husband and I will go out to see a student of ours play nearby. I’m looking forward to it but I can already see that tomorrow wlil be a bust yet again. It is getting a little tiring. (Oh, and on the subject of fatigue, I went to bed earlier last night, slept well, and am feeling a little more human right now.)

And now I need to sign off, meditate, and get to novel revision.

I read something about ‚staying calm in chaos‘ yesterday plus a piece about how elite soldiers stay calm in a crisis. I guess I really need to learn how to do that because every tiny little thing throws me off my game. We’re not talking full-out panic stuff here, just things like a day off, or parent night at school, or going out tonight again.

I did decide that I wanted to become more stoic not that long ago. (No idea if I talked about that here.) That will need a lot more work, though.

So. Breathe. I guess.

Oct 052017

I had a good day yesterday. Which was pretty typical. Give me a day with almost insane amounts of things to do and I’ll do fine. Not several weeks in a row but still. I went to the post office, the health food store, the farmer’s market, ran a short 3 kilometers, took a shower, tried taking a nap (couldn’t fall asleep), practiced a little, taught, had dinner, and went to the parent-thing at my son’s school.

Which was not as bad as I had feared it to be. I often come home frome these kinds if events feeling like a bad mother, and like I should do way more. There were two or three teachers telling us parents to supervise homework better, and make our kids do this or that but I was really happy that his German teacher reminded everyone that you can’t really make a teenager do something, and that they should be old enough to organize most of their stuff themselves. Phew.

In the past I was often left with the feeling that I shouldn’t work in the afternoons, and spend my time sitting next to him while he is doing his homework, holding his hand. Mind you, he really wouldn’t care about that. My MIL did try to supervise his homework but in fourth grade he told her he was now old enough to not need that anymore, thank you. (We’re not talking about the fact that he didn’t do his English homework for today, and only found out this morning after breakfast. He had thought he had time until tomorrow. Despite packing his English books into his backpack last night. Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

He was also very surprised that he’ll have to go to the orthodontist today. For the second time in a row. Guess who will be surprised again at lunch.

The other thing rattling around in my head (apart from a ton of annoying, little things from my epic to do list) is about my fatigue/tiredness/exhaustion. Tini commented yesterday that the cause might also be something thyroid-related or a vitamin deficit, or something.

Now I had the idea that that might be the case as well. Probably not thyroid because I get that checked out pretty regularly (though I have to make an apointment for my next hormone checkup) but maybe this is not about sleeping. And every time I fear there is something else wrong with me I decide that first I need to get enough sleep for a few weeks, and then if I am still feeling tired I will go to the doctor.

And then I don’t manage adequate sleep, and then I start the whole thing over.

So my plan is this: 1) I try to go to bed at 9.30 every day as often as I can, 2) I stop drinking alcohol for about three weeks starting Monday, 3) I will be more strict again about no screens after dinner, 4) I’ll keep a sleep log. I have all the data from my sleep tracker, I only haven’t found out how to get the .csv-file into any spreadsheet software in a way that it makes sense but I’ll figure that out today. And then I’ll put that data into something that makes sense when I look at it.

The sleep tracker is leaving me scratching my had, though. It tells me that it took me 11 minutes to fall asleep yesterday, for example, and those 11 minutes happened between 11.16 and 11.25. Huh? And it does that every time.

I need to get a grip on this feeling sleepy thing, it’s really no good. I have gotten so used to feeling completely zombified most of the time, it’s not even funny anymore.

So, sleep log it is.