Jul 252017
 

So I've been feeling off, and unable to follow through with the things I want to do lately, and I've been looking for a reason and a way to get back to following my own rules and doing the things that make me happy again, and it's been really hard.

And the one thing that has been feeling like the cornerstone of all this has been my problem with running. I was in week nine of a “Couch to 10k”-program, and I just couldn't make myself run for as long as I should have. I tried skipping back to week seven so that the running intervals were shorter and easier but then I'd still think, “This is too hard, I cant do this, I don't want to do this, if I go on like this I'll keel over!” all the time, and I would stumble through the first few run intervals, and stop running thirty seconds before the end of the interval, and then at about the halfway mark I would decide that I just couldn't, or that I really had to walk to search for a new podcast episode on my cell phone, or that it was just way too hot, and then I'd walk more and more, and in the end I'd limp home and feel defeated.

And it was the same in almost every part of my life. I'd skip piano practice, I didn't even attempt to play guitar or ukulele, I'd shrug my shoulders and tell myself I could always revise my novel a bit longer the next day, and I'd go back and eat another bar of chocolate, or have another beer even though I usually don't drink during the week.

And I was feeling lousy. Still am, by the way, it's not as if I have triumphantly pulled through or anything.

And every day I would decide that this would be the day I'd turn things around, and I'd just go back to following my rules and living my life as I want, and then I'd shrug my shoulders again and tell myself, “But it's too hard! I can't!” Which is complete bullshit of course because I already did live like that and it was not too hard. It wasn't easy but it made me happy.

There was all this talk in my head. The “but I'm so tired”-argument, and the “but it's all too much”-one, and the “making an exception once won't be a problem”-one (that one's my favorite; gets me every time, and is never true).

And I knew that it was all bullshit, and I knew that I was in the process of making myself unhappy, and I still didn't want to stop. Of course it felt like I couldn't stop but at the same time I knew that was a lie. It still feels like I couldn't.

All of this was rather exhausting and ridiculous. I was starting to lose patience with myself. Being a whiny whimp is no fun. And then I was watching the Tour de France like I always do in July, and the moderator said something about how hard it is for the athletes to keep going, and to suffer every day for weeks, and then he told that the riders get mental training throughout the winter, and I was like, “Huh. Mental training. That's what I need.”

Because I already knew that it was all in my head. There is no real reason for me not to run for five minutes in one stretch. It's not super-easy but I should be fit enough to do it.

So I looked for books about mental training in sports, of course. And found that I already had one right there on my ebook reader, one that I had bought with high hopes that I had never read. It's called “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald (and I really dislike the title because if someone asks me that question my automatic answer would be “Screw you.” Which just proves that I'm not a winner, maybe, or just really contrary.)

But even reading the first chapter of the book did indeed help me. It says that while training and physical fitness do make a difference the thing that makes the most difference of all is in your head. The people who win races, and who do things that are incredibly hard manage to do so not because it's easy for them (which is what I used to think as an unathletic girl) but because they endure the discomfort and carry on despite it.

Now you can ask why one should trot along a wood path cold and wet, your heart hammering in your chest, and your head beet red. And I would tell you you should because it feels amazing. Not always while you're doing it, not immediately afterwards though both things happen at times, no, mostly because some time later, maybe only the next day you suddenly feel more alive than ever, and you can't stop grinning because life feels so wonderful.

So after reading that first chapter (and I definitely will be reading the rest of the book for sure) I went on my next run. And I decided not to make it easier but to just go on to the next week of the program, the one where I would have to run for seven minutes and then walk for two. Until then I had been completely sure I'd never be able to do that. And at the same time I knew I was being ridiculous.

I decided that I would endure, no matter how I felt, and if I were to keel over on the path unable to get back home it would be alright because my husband would come to get me.

I did not keel over. In fact around the halfway mark while feeling really awful, hot and sweaty my pulse really high with week knees, I felt that grin spreading on my face. The one that tells me I'm really happy.

And the rest of the day that grin stayed, and I did not eat too much chocolate, and I followed my rules, and I worked on my novel for forty minutes.

Now I just have to do it again today.

Jun 292017
 

So thanks for putting up with me whining last week.

While I still haven’t cleaned the house in any way (it got so bad that my husband vacuumed on the weekend which is telling), things are starting to look up.

I’m getting a little of my oomph back. So I have been able to power through the running intervals (this really was starting to get ridiculous), and I have been better at doing the daily maintenance stuff, I even managed to do the dishes before going to bed twice last week.

And there will be a glorious weekend with nothing on the agenda (apart from starting Camp NaNoWriMo yet again, and the yearly Tour de Fleece of course). At least we’re not spending the whole weekend biking through the rain, attending a party and sleeping in a tent which were our original plans.

Binge eating has been a little more controlled, and beer consumption is a little down. I still feel somewhat paralyzed, and I think it’s a combination of stress, attempting to finish novel three of the trilogy, and heat.

Teaching seems to pick up again which is good, and one way or the other I will get back to writing and revising.

I keep thinking that it’s important to share the lows along with the highs because otherwise you’d think there are people who have everything under control without ever slipping up. And one starts feeling like a complete loser if there is backsliding.

But I’ve come to reailze that backsliding is inevitable and something to plan for. And then you pick yourself up again, and you realign your goals and you change tactics, and then you start again.

And some day it will all come together and work.

But never for long.

But that’s okay because then we just change tactics until it works again.

Jun 212017
 

So you might remember me being all enthusiastic about getting up at five and finally moving forward on all my goals.

Well.

That didn’t last long.

I never managed to go to bed early enough, and so I didn’t have any energy, of course, and then we had that big performance, and I moved my sleep schedule back to normal, and then I just couldn’t get back into the groove.

Plus I still felt weird about the whole affirmation-thing.

Since I wasn’t getting anything done, and since I was still so tired that I was binge-eating almost every night I decided that getting enough sleep had to become my top priority. So I’m going to bed some time between 9.30 and 10 at the moment, and then I sleep until I wake up or until 6.30, whatever happens first.

And I’m back to my old routine of only writing in my journal when I have some extra time before getting up, and of meditating and writing on my novel right after breakfast. The bad thing about this is that I often don’t want to write because I never know when my husband will be getting up and coming over for breakfast. As I’m writing this it’s 8.45, and he can be here any moment. It could also be that he will show up at 9.30, this makes my mornings a little unpredictable.

But I decided to be cool with this and to just move things around as needed. Yesterday he was up real early but then I sat down to write at noon, something I never do. And it went well. But it was hard too.

I’m not back at a point where doing the things I want to do every day feels in any way easy. Sometimes I doubt that they will ever feel easy. I’m probably doomed to be a person who has to force herself to do the dishes every single time. Which does become a little exhausting. I seem to be a person full of resistance every single step of the way.

Like with running. I am right in the middle of doing a Couch to 10K-programm. I have now done week six and seven three times or so, and I still don’t manage to run for longer than two minutes at a time. Each time I vow that this time I won’t give up early, and power through. And each time I have some stupid excuse that I just can’t go on. It is too hot. There is someone with a dog, and I don’t want to run when the dog can see me because I’m afraid it will bite me. I have to walk so I can listen better to my podcast. Also it is way too hot.

And every time I swear to myself that this time I will run all three minutes, every single time, and then every single time I don’t do it. And every single evening I solemnly swear that I will brush my teeth right after dinner and get ready for bed, and not eat any chocolate or almonds or peanuts, and then every single day I find myself sitting in bed eating and feeling miserable. Mind you, I also feel miserable if I don’t eat chocolate, that’s why I do it, at that moment it feels better to eat and at least have that little splinter of pleasure instead of not eating. The only problem is that that makes me gain weight again, and I don’t like gaining weight either.

So I guess I have to learn to be just a little harder to myself. Because trying to feel good and comfortable all the time makes me really miserable in the long run.

So I’m trying. Every single day, and I’m failing. Every single day. And I’m running out of patience with myself but I still don’t want to give up.

Because that would be the alternative. Leaning back thinking, „Oh, I’ll just not write a novel than, no problem.“ and „Oh, I just get back to walking, who needs to be able to run?“ and also, „Well, I guess I’m just not cut out to be a slim person, people in my family have always been a bit on the chubby side.”

Which would be perfectly alright. Because many, many people would be happy having the life I have even without the writing and the running and the being thin.

Only I wouldn’t.

And that’s my dilemma.

I know what I need to do in order to be happy but I don’t do it because it doesn’t feel good while I do it.

So. What do you do when you find yourself in a situation like this? Give up? Try harder? Something else?

Jun 052017
 

and I feel like I am in a transition period again because two days from now our son and I are going to visit my parents for a week.

I’m pretty busy because I had wanted to finish the rough draft of the current novel until yesterday (which didn’t happen), and also I still need to sew most of the clothes I want to take with me. Which is completely reasonable.

See, the weather will be wet and hot while we’re at my parents, and I don’t have anything I can wear. I still haven’t bought myself new tank tops, or shorts, or even t-shirts. I do have enough fabric for a knit sundress, though, and I found that if I alter my denim wrap skirt, and finish hand-sewing the tank top I started last year, and sew elastics in a pair of leggings that are almost finished I will have enough clothes to last me through a week with the weather we’re supposed to have next week.

Of course I could have finished all these things sooner but I needed to also record the English episode of the podcast, and publish it, and today I will have to record the next regular episode of the podcast – so that I can stay within schedule – and that makes the whole thing a little harder.

And then our son and my mother-in-law decided to start taking the old furniture in his new room apart, and though I didn’t know anything about that beforehand I still felt compelled to help. I’m pretty proud of our son, he worked like crazy for hours yesterday, and only hit himself with a hammer once. His finger will be fine in a few days.

Of course the weather at my parents’ will be worse than here at home. At least now it says there will be lots of rain.

And traveling always throws me completely off so there’s that.

Well, I still have an hour until dinnertime so I better get started on all the sewing, don’t I?

May 262017
 
  • I am so tired at the moment that the only thing I’m longing for is sleep. All I can think about is how marvelous it would feel to just lay my head on the table and close my eyes.
  • Of course I promptly forget all about that every evening when it’s time to go to bed, and I then start battling tiredness with food.
  • Which is not unrelated to the fact that I’m about two to three kilos heavier than I want to be which at times makes me feel totally fat. And the next minute I see myself in the mirror and marvel at the slimness of my hips. These days when I tell someone how much weight I lost they tend not to believe me.
  • I slacked off in a rather grandiose way the last week which means I will have to do everything today. Until 2.30 or so. I am postponing the taxes, though, will have to do those over the weekend. Strangely enough I don’t enjoy doing taxes.
  • I am also full of ennui to the brim. None of the hundreds of unread books (or the dozen of books I have already started reading) appeals to me, everywhere I look there is so much stuff to do that I just lay back and flip through yet another book or website. And then I think how unappealing all of this is. Even the chocolate I’m eating by the handful is unappealing.
  • One of the most unappealing things at the moment is the novel I’m writing. I am about four hours away of finishing the rough draft, and of course that’s the point where I decide the whole thing is just too bad, too boring, and not worth it.
  • It’s a good thing that I know by now that that is just a normal part of the process for me. I’ll go through phases where I think it’s a) not too bad, b) the best thing ever, c) completely horrible in various stages. None of this means anything.
  • Of course that doesn’t make the writing any easier.
  • Of course sitting here waiting for me to be in a better mood won’t be changing anything, the only thing that will change my mood is kicking myself in the butt and do something.
  • This will be a fun weekend, I’m sure.

So, how are you doing?

May 152017
 

So the concerts went well, and we’re trying to get back to our routines and normal life. But it is harder than we thought.

I did expect to be exhausted and not good for much for most of the week, but I didn’t expect to feel completely limp and faint for the whole week. Friday was the first day I felt almost back to normal, but only almost. And my husband has felt the same.

So I spent most of last week basically doing nothing. A little knitting, a lot of reading, and not much else. I didn’t even go for runs, and had short walks instead because I felt so low on energy. I did sleep a lot, and set my alarm for 6.30 instead of 5. Turns out that eight hours of sleep is my limit these days.

But today I have decided to go back to normal. So I set my alarm for 5.30 (didn’t want to go overboard), woke up at 5 and did my morning routine thing. Now it is 6.20 and I’m writing this. I’m hoping to get back to writing my novel soon, hopefully after breakfast. So far this morning I have opened the document and stared at it for five minutes. I have no idea what will happen next, and am hoping that my subconscious will work that out while I’m having breakfast.

The downside of the concerts being over is that now I should have way more time and energy. And I should be able to do everything that has been left undone for the past two years.

But of course that’s not how it works, isn’t it? I’m always hoping for vast amounts of time to open up and then they never do. But my list of things to do is really long. I still want to declutter. I stopped a few weeks ago and haven’t gotten back to it. I still want to sew all the things. I still want to finish the weaving projects that have been lingering for years.

When I look at all of that at once it’s really overwhelming. My husband is almost in a panic right now because there is so much to do in the garden, and then he wants to practice all.the.instruments, and there is a lot to work on in the house as well. And I can totally understand him because I feel the same.

Of course there is only one thing to do. Take a deep breath, make a list, and work on it, slowly, one thing after the other, not stopping for the next few months. And at the end the house will be decluttered, our son will have a newly renovated room, we will have our living room back – mold-free – and there will be fresh vegetables from the garden. Only it won’t happen all at once.

But the novel will get written, and the instruments will get played, and our lives will become a little calmer. I hope.

May 052017
 

This weekend is the one my husband and I have been working towards for two years now. Tomorrow and the day after we will perform songs from 1967 with a band.

We have been practicing and rehearsing for months and months, we will have three people’ staying at our house overnight, and we will feed the whole band, all six of us.

 

I didn't really want to do this concert. It was my husband's pet project, and when he first came up with the idea I said no. In fact I said, “No way, not with me.”

 

Then I decided that if this is so important to him I will support it. Also I keep forgetting that I love performing more than I think I do.

 

Still. This will be exhausting for sure. I won't get enough sleep, I will have to be the one making breakfast and lunch and dinner, and doing all the dishes, and being around all day in case somebody needs something.

And then after dinner I will be standing on stage, helping with sound, singing background and shaking a tambourine. (Shaking a tambourine is surprisingly exhausting and painful. I find that an hour or so of banging the tambourine against my hand leaves me with a dire need of applying an ice pack. And then I'll do it again for another hour, and again the next day.)

 

And after the concert on Sunday we will unplug everything again, and move all the amps, mixers, cables, instruments, microphone stands and such back to our house, go to bed way too late, and on Monday I will need to get up at 6.30, make breakfast for our son, and then make breakfast for everybody else when they get up, after which I will start my normal teaching day again.

 

I'm hoping that the making of music will be fun, and I'm sure it will be. I'm also looking forward to having weekends off and being able to focus on my writing and my own music, and maybe decluttering the house.

 

Soon.

Apr 122017
 
  • It is the first week of Easter break, and I’m so out of sorts that I typed „Thursday“ in the headline at first. As you know I’m always a little thrown by things like weekends and breaks, and this week my husband is also away with a friend for a few days in Italy. Of course I thought I’d have huge amounts of time on my hand in which I could do all.the.things. Finish sewing the muslin for the performance dress, make all.the.music, read all the books, write like the wind.
  • Instead I spent Monday morning waiting for my husband to leave, then got frozen pizza at the last minute, made that, had lunch, taught a student, went to a doctor’s appointment with out son (we biked there and I managed to get lost twice), then teach another student, and that was that. Then go to bed way too late.
  • Tuesday the sloth descended on me, and I basically did nothing the whole day but sit, read and crochet. Until my back and arms hurt. I skipped my Tuesday run, did not practice, did not shower, and was extremely cranky by the end of the day.
  • Since past experience has taught me that me sitting and reading and knittein (or crocheting, whatever) and doing nothing else is a fast track to depression I decided to do everything right today.
  • I got up, did my morning routine, wrote, had breakfast, wrote some more, then waited for our son to get up (bad move when you have a teenager), was late for the run that I had decided to do today instead of yesterday, tried calling my mother, and just when I was about to get out the door to run errands she called me back, we talked for 45 minutes, I was way too late for erranding, went to the health food store and the pharmacy, went back, made baked beans and eggs for lunch, decided to read a bit before doing the dishes, and really buckling down, and the next thing I knew it was three hours later.
  • While I am halfway through the book I started yesterday somehow that doesn’t really give me that fulfillment and rosy glow that I hoped for.
  • I plain forgot to blog last week, by the way, which just goes to show how out of wack I am.
  • I promised my husband to buy gasoline for the lawn mower back in the fall, and he put the empty canister next to my bike. I then promptly forgot until he reminded me a few weeks ago. Also twice since, and last week. I might want to go and get gasoline but it’s always really weird to bike to the gas station, get the canister out of your paniers, fill it with a few liters, carry the canister inside to pay because I can’t just leave it standing around, and if I put it in the paniers the bike will topple over, and the bike back home.
  • I also forgot that I need to go to the cobbler to get my shoes back twice. Even though I put it on a list. Lists only help if you look at them regularly.
  • And now that my husband isn’t here not only do I have to cook every day (I have almost forgotten how to do that, by the way) I also have to water the millions of plants everywhere that are supposed to be planted in the garden in a few weeks. His whole studio is full of pots with seeds and tiny plants in them. Also I can never remember which of the vegetable beds outside is the one without seeds in it. I just water them all.

I’m really not cut out to deal with change in any way, I know. I’m hoping to get better some day but right now the only way I see is to just get the shoes and the gas right now (before the cobbler closes), then do the dishes, do strength training, go to bed on time, and hope for the best for tomorrow.

So, how’s your day going? Sloth? Not-Sloth?

Mar 282017
 

Yes, I know that’s early.

I’ve been whining about not getting anything done for months now. And it was even worse on days when we didn’t have to get up for school, and I didn’t have to teach. And I tried being more disciplined (nope), and writing my novel in the evenings (not going to happen), and telling my family that really, I would spend all afternoon working on that novel-thing but it never happened.

I had this regular writing time in the morning, right after our son left for school and that went somewhat okay most days. Depending on when my husband would get up I got about thirty minutes of writing time in. Or less.

And I tried, and tried, and tried. And then there was this Sunday where I was adamant about working on my novel but in the morning just when I was pulling out my computer to start our son would show up for breakfast, so I made him breakfast and sat with him as he ate, and then just when I thought I’d had a bit of time to myself my husband came down for breakfast too, and then it was time to do the dishes, and then it was time to help with lunch, and then it was time to do some more dishes, and then I practiced the piano, and then I went online for a bit, and then every single time I sat down thinking, that now would be the time someone wanted something from me. You know how this goes.The wifi went down, and I had to fix it. My husband needed me to find out which train to take to a concert the day after, he wanted my help with an email he was writing, there was always something.

Some time around 4 pm that day I just gave up.

And I remembered that just about every single writer I knew who still had a day job said that they were writing first thing in the morning. And 5 am came up a lot. And just a few days earlier I had listenend to the „Petal to the Metal“-podcast, and they had talked about this, and so I borrowed the „Miracle Morning for Writers“ book, read it that day, and set my alarm for 5.30 the next morning.

As recommended I did my meditation, and a bit of yoga, and affirmations (still not quite sure about these), wrote in my journal, and then I started working on my novel. And it went very well. And right after breakfast I worked on it some more. And it was fun! Not the drudgery from before. I was doing really well. And I was even thinking about novel revision throughout the day, and spending a bit of time in the afternoon to prepare for the next day’s revision.

It was glorious.

So I did it again the next day, and the next, and after a week I set my alarm even earlier to 5 am, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a few weeks now, I’m getting up at five, even on weekends, even when I go to bed too late, I don’t care, I just love this so much, and yes I know that’s weird.

But no matter what happens throughout the day, no matter who wants something from me, or if something goes wrong, or if I have a lot of work that day, no matter what I get to spend time just for me and with my writing first thing in the morning.

And it’s making me really, really happy. A little tired too but I’m hoping to work that out soon. Also it’s not as if I had been getting enough sleep every night before that.

So. What do you think? Is being really happy worth getting up at five?

Mar 082017
 

In the past ten days I have been kvetching to everybody about the fact that I haven’t gotten anything done in all that time. And then the person I was speaking to turned to me and said, „But you have been doing your running during, haven’t you?“ And my first reaction was, „Duh. Of course I’ve been running. That goes without saying.”

And that made me realize how much my definition of „doing nothing“ has changed.

There was a time when I was still living with my parents where I didn’t have a to do-list, I didn’t even use a calendar, everything I needed to do I could just keep in my mind, no problem. And doing nothing at that time did not include any kind of physical activity or housework for sure.

Mind you, when I was a teenager „doing nothing“ meant a lot of reading (we’re talking about ten books a week or so), a bit of playing the piano and the odd walk because even a couch potato as sedentary as me needs to get some movement at times. It also involved a bit of piano playing and singing. And knitting. Some sewing. Very little TV because we’re talking about the time when there were only three channels in Germany, and none of them showed anything during daytime, apart from weekends.

These days when I talk about „doing nothing“ or rather „getting nothing done“ I mean that I am somewhat on top of housework, and grocery shopping, and laundry, and that I have managed to do something like ten minutes of singing warmup and my twenty minutes of piano warmup, and my regular exercise, and such. And of course the knitting.

But the important things, the ones that count, are the creative ones. The writing. And the blog, and the podcast, and all the projects that I want to finish. And so I feel like I did nothing if I didn’t manage to write or revise anything.

And no, that doesn’t mean I’m hard to myself. It means that I am someone who wants to do projects and follow her creative dreams, and finish things. And if I am content with just the everyday things that won’t happen.

I’m still somewhat proud of being able to deal with the everyday things, and that exercise and playing my instruments are a regular part of my daily routine, that is as it should be. It still doesn’t mean that that’s enough for me at this time of my life.

I mean, after those two days of rehearsal the weekend before last when I was completely wrung out, after that I didn’t expect myself to get back to my projects right away. I scheduled a day off. And when I found that I was still really exhausted the day after I took another day off and that was okay.

But not doing anything besides mundane everyday things for a week without anything being seriously wrong? Not okay.

So, what about you? What means „doing nothing“ to you?