Friday, July 22, 2011

Rebel With or Without a Cause?

I have a closet rebel living inside me.  I was a good kid, you know the type, plays by the rules, does her homework, boring.  Of course it’s much more exciting to be a rebel.   And lately there’s a rebel that’s been sticking her nose in the way of my two goals, to become a published author and to get to my wedding weight.  Doesn’t she want to be a thin, published rebel?
As I get closer to my goals, it gets harder and I have to  command myself to do a lot of things my little rebel would rather not.  Like...
I have to write each day, and 1000 words.  
I have to exercise.  
I have to drink lots of water.
I have to stay away from empty carbs. 
But in reading Linda Spangle’s 100 Days of Weight Loss I found out that when I say those three little words  “I have to”  I am inviting in my rebel, who shows up and wants to do the opposite.  
It’s easy to recognize my rebel.  She's the one that wants to have a Carmel Frappacino instead of decaf coffee with skim milk.  The one that wants to check emails instead of writing.  The one that wants to watch The Biggest Loser instead of exercising.
So how do I deal with the rebel?  I get tough.  I bully her.  I chastise her.  But lately that hasn’t been working.  She digs in her heels.  Then I try and be nicer, offer rewards.  But she is a rebel and when I say apple she says pie. 
Spangle offers a different approach, change the words.   Instead of I have, I choose to.
Seems small but my warped rebel brain couldn’t argue too much with this.
Spangle says, “I choose to puts you in charge and affirms that you want to see results. It eliminates the harsh, parental self-talk that makes you feel oppressed or rebellious.
So I intend to try it out... 
I choose to write 1000 words first.
I choose to walk 45minutes on the treadmill.
I choose to submit my short story to three suitable publications.
So what do you choose to do with your rebel?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Multi-tasking - Good or Evil?

I’ve been trained as I’m sure many of you have to be the consummate multi-tasker.  
For me it started in my teens doing homework while watching TV.  Then as a wife and mother, multi-tasking became a necessity and took on epic proportions.  But lately, much has been blogged about multi-tasking and writing.  Most contend it is not a good idea, to surf the internet, check emails, facebook, read and comment on blogs while sitting with your WIP (work in process) open.
And then, of course, multi-tasking and eating, is a big No No.  Many diet gurus expound on the virtues of focusing only on your food while eating.  I’ve heard, I should set the table with my best china, put flowers in a vase, soft, instrumental music in the background, and preferably eat alone.   
So my two current goals of being published and getting to my wedding weight do not seem to support multi-tasking. 
Instead, I should - Be present.  Be aware.  Concentrate on only one thing at a time.
Nice life if I was on vacation, or lived in a monastery. 
But I recently found Linda Spangle and her books.  
In 100 Days of Weight Loss she says,   
“You don’t have to completely avoid doing anything else in order to stay conscious around food.  But you do have to pay attention to your actions.”  
She goes on to say  “If you choose to eat while you’re watching movies or TV,  just don’t become oblivious to your food.  Instead, learn to divide your attention between the TV and your plate.”
She calls it awareness training.  
So if I can do this with food and eating, can it be done with my WIP and writing?
I think it can.  And when I analyzed what I was doing at the computer while attempting to work on my WIP,  what I found was surprising.  I would check my email, or look up a website, usually unrelated, when I was at a small stuck point in my writing.  My muse, my brain, my creativity needed a little percolating time.  Then I would go back to my WIP and continue to write until I would get stuck again.  I would percolate by checking blogs, commenting, and then go back to my WIP and writing.
Before, instead of computer searches, I use to get up and usually search for something to eat or drink to get unstuck.  Not good for the diet, or the writing.  So I realized I am actually being more productive and eating less as a result of staying in my chair, and at the computer. 
And as long as I don’t become oblivious to my WIP sitting open and waiting, I think I can safely divide my time between internet and writing, just like I can divide my attention between conversation with family and the food on my plate.
So I will continue to work on my awareness training because I don’t plan on checking into a monastery anytime soon.  
Feel free to weigh in.  Do you split your attention?  And if so, is it good or evil?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

That Dreaded P Word

No, not Plagiarism... Plateau
I have two ever-elusive goals, mostly because I have yet to embrace the Zen of Just Being.  They involve writing and weight loss.  And after months, okay years, of pursuing the goal to be published, and to see the scale at my wedding weight, I now find myself facing the dreaded P word.
Plateau, as a noun, has a rather serene definition:  an area of relatively level high ground.   Okay, I could tell myself that’s where I am.  On a beautiful vista looking over the landscape of my accomplishments thus far.  
But since I am on a pursuit toward an end, the P word, as it applies to me works more as a verb.  And that definition is not as serene.  
To plateau:  to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.  Yeah.  That’s more like it.  
The scale won’t budge and the words won’t flow.  I’m plateauing.
Which leads to the even bigger F word... 
Of course,  country and western wisdom says that I should just keep trucking even though the digital number on my scale refuses to move, for weeks now.  And my new words have shrunk to zero, as I revise the first chapter of my WIP for the umpteenth time.  But instead, I rant, rave, curse.  
Why, oh why is this happening?  
I am still exercising, dieting, writing, taking on-line classes, so why has my forward motion ground to a shrieking halt?
It’s inevitable and there are explanations.  So I reassess and really look at what I’m actually doing.  Looking to see if I have loosened my grip on the effort it really takes to accomplish my goals? 
A nibble here, a taste there.  A glass of wine on the 4th.  Reading blogs and surfing the internet in the name of research, instead of actually writing on my WIP.  And listening to that ever present, nay-saying critic in my head, instead of the wise guru on my shoulder.
I need to adopt a strategy to deal with plateauing.  So I vow to shake things up.  Relieve some of the monotony and boredom in my diet with new low-cal vegetables and foods.  Increase my exercise intensity, with short bursts of running on the treadmill.  And to write first thing in the morning before checking emails, blogs, websites, and even my classes.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to see my way through this stage of plateauing so that it doesn’t lead to an avalanche.
And I’d love to hear how you deal with your plateaus, or plateauing.