I’ve been having a weird month. I don’t have a fiction project in full swing, I’m working a lot at the day job, and frankly, things have felt sort of stagnant. I spent May, June, and July in a sort of whirlwindy flurry of activity. Starting Searching for SuperWomen, frantically revising a book for submission, working a heap at the day job, trying to plan myriad things so that the autumn will allow me to do what I have to do without making our finances implode. Busy stuff.
When August rolled around, I looked at the pile of Could Be work. Starting a new book. Moving SfSW forward…somehow. Blogging. Everything.
And something in me turned two years old and relearned a two-year-old’s favorite word: NO.
When August hit, something in me said NO. I obviously haven’t been blogging around here. There have been days in August where nothing went up on SfSW, and I didn’t fill the gap myself. I attempted to start writing a new book and then set it aside and read four books instead.
Part of my mental aversion to the flurry I’d been caught up in for three months stems from normal life stuff. We gave our notice for this hellacious apartment, but had nowhere lined up to move. We had to be out in 60 days…then 50 days…then 45 days. We looked at apartments and heard that word again: no. We found a glorious, perfect place, and they said NO. Because people think huskies are aggressive. All the work I’d been doing at the gym and in karate for months didn’t seem to be paying off when it came time to get on the scale. I was frustrated, discouraged, and exhausted.
This week, my schedule flopped around and gave me three days off. At first, my thoughts were, “I’m going to go to the gym every day! I’m going to write 10,000 words of the new book! I’m going to write blog posts and re-start Confessions of a Star Trek N00b and watch three whole series of Doctor Who and maybe all of Battlestar Gallactica and OH, I’m also going to bead and maybe go hiking and…and….and….”
Putting aside both my clear inability to compartmentalize time and my unwillingness factor the number of available, non-sleeping hours in a day into the above smorgasbord of activities, when Sunday rolled around, my gears came to a screeching halt of NO.
And I realized instead that this was me:
And maybe this:
Because when Sunday happened, nothing else did. I looked at the list I’d inscribed on the inside of my rib cage, and when Spouse said, “Hey, wanna go see Wolverine?” I said, “YES.”
We didn’t end up seeing Wolverine. Instead we ended up having a nice lunch together and then deciding to go up to a local orchard. We bought fresh white peaches and two huge bunches of basil, some black raspberry jam and four pounds of raspberries…that we picked ourselves.
Those are, in actuality, our raspberries above.
We came home and cooked a beautiful homemade, part locally sourced pesto for dinner. We ate and watched TV and relaxed. And on Monday, I got up, bought Spouse’s birthday present, went to karate, and worked out at the gym. On Tuesday, I did nothing. Almost…nothing at all. I didn’t write a single blog post. I didn’t pen a single word of the new novel. Instead I read a book and puttered around the internet. The only thing that actually happened on Tuesday was that Spouse and I went to check out an apartment.
Sometimes saying NO is the best thing you can do for yourself. I’ve taken a day or so to reevaluate several things. What I want out of this autumn, and what I’m willing to do to get it. I have my zombie race in October, followed by a move, followed by a visit from my fabulous friend Kristin and our time at Capclave. I want to go to the Salute to Supernatural convention in Burbank at the end of November. Those things are all going to require some work on the front end. And a lot of it.
If you are still reading and not picking your nose and wondering whether the sky might turn orange today, you might have caught the word “race” in the previous paragraph. I’m running one. There are obstacles to go with it. And zombies that chase you. Because of that, my fitness level is something that needs my attention. It’s not currently bad, but I’m still carrying around 10 or so pounds I’d rather not be carrying when the zombies come.
Here are the things that occupy my list of Things To Happen for the autumn:
2. Race/Belt Progression
3. New Novel
4. Growing SfSW
Those four things require a lot of extra work, a lot of mental energy, and frankly, they require my face getting peeled off the floor this week.
It’s the second day of my work week, and today I woke up ready to reevaluate. It’s like I graduated from the terrible twos of my days off. Part of my feeling of NO I’M DONE last week I think stemmed from the feeling that I’m in control of nothing. Our housing situation, my writing career, whether SfSW gets fifty views in a day or 300 — all of those things feel out of reach. Part of my reevaluation has been to focus on the things over which I do have control. Those last ten pounds giving me trouble? I know my body, I know my metabolism (such as it is, which is crap), I know what I need to do to make it happen. I want to have the financial freedom to relax with Kristin when she’s here and not have to work at all? I need to pick up shifts now and not go out to eat (which, bonus, helps with the whole nutrition thing). I want to survive my zombie race? I need to hit the gym even when I’m tired.
I think part of my three days of NO was my way of taking back some modicum of control. For toddlers, learning the word NO is the first act in having agency over themselves. Their first way of expressing when they would rather be doing something else. Until that point, they are limited by their parents. Told when to eat and sleep and go here and go there, and when they finally learn that they can also use this word that has been applied to them to get them to stop yanking on the dog’s tail, they go nuts with it. It allows them to feel like they have some control over their tiny lives.
But the kicker at the end of all this is that there are things I can control. I can control what I put in my body and stop my denial about how my own personal body works. I can control the weights I lift, how much I run, and how often I stretch after karate. The work I do today and tomorrow and the day after that dictates the freedom I’ll have to go to the conferences I want to go to. I can control those things. I can.
It may sound a little silly, but the epiphany I’ve had this week stems from the serenity prayer. I’m an agnostic, but it still holds a lot of wisdom. This week I’ve found some of the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I’ve rediscovered the courage I need to change what I can, and sometimes saying NO to the noise gives you the quiet necessary to know what the difference is.
Here’s to a new beginning.
Oh, and we got the apartment we looked at Tuesday.
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