Posts Tagged ‘health’

(personal/writing) Writing in the wind

writer

I’m currently sitting in a comfy chair in an infusion room at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, with an IV in my arm, waiting for my next Remicade infusion. It’s raining outside, and as I’m on the 6th floor, I have a lovely view of the parking lot, and the rain. (Hey, at least it’s not snow. I don’t have to shovel rain.) Days like this, when I’m due for my medication and it’s grey, and I’ve had a very busy weekend, I’m usually NOT wanting to do anything. I want to just curl up in my chair and let the Benadryl take me away into dreams, but I’m still working on deadline, so no sleeping today.

I’ve also been re-reading The Artist’s Way – I am feeling…not blocked, precisely, but more unsatisfied. Like I know there is more I could be doing, but I’m stuck in the “don’t wanna” phase. I want to have this book done. I want to have the next book done. I just don’t want to write it.

At the same time, I don’t want to not write. I love writing. I love it when the words flow, and I love it when they don’t, and every page is a struggle, but it’s there and it’s blood and you can see it. It’s a tension within me, and the more days I go without writing, the more I hurt. And it’s a mental hurt, that slowly twists within me to a physical hurt. And I didn’t realize WHY, until I looked at The Artist’s Way and realized I haven’t been doing morning pages or artist dates or really anything other than slogging through life and work and BLEAH, as Snoopy would say. Not the way I want to live my life.

Part of this was what happened this weekend. Birka was this weekend, and it was a mixture of sad and happy things. The sad was going by the empty chair outside the merchant hall that someone had written “Uncle Olaf’s Chair” on, since Baron Olaf, who started the event and was almost always there, passed away suddenly in December. The happy was two-fold – I was feeling well enough that I didn’t need to “recover” so much from running around for two days straight, and I was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent, a service order in the Kingdom. My whole family showed up! It was awesome! And best of all, my mom passed along her medallion to me. I will cherish it.

But it showed me that life is fleeting, and that you can’t make excuses, or one day, there won’t be any more time. So morning pages are going to start again. I’m going to plan an artist’s date for myself, even if it’s something as simple as going to the library and browsing the books, or going to Gibson’s and coloring in one of my new coloring books by myself for an hour. It’s time to start refilling the well.

I start editing a new piece for a friend this week too, which I am SUPER excited about. And I’m putting together a website for another favorite project that I’ll be able to link to soon, I hope. I need to finish the Winter’s Secrets rewrite, and then it’s on to working on launching a Patreon project. I have plans, and I don’t intend to not work on them.

(personal) Tea, and the quitting of soda

tea

I love tea. It’s no secret that I love tea, and that I am a wee bit of a tea snob (yes, Molly totally gets it from me, except that I can’t afford to buy my personal blends all the time, so I do occasionally buy tea from the grocery store. But even then, it’s still the speciality teas. I just don’t like plain black tea anymore.) – but I used to have another habit as well. I used to live on soda.

 

It started in college, when I was on my own (yay!) and could make my own decisions about what to put in my body. It turns out I was woefully unprepared for such authority, which led to me living on caffeine, sugar, and about 4 hours of sleep a night. It was not a pretty sight.

 

In December this past year, I decided I was quitting soda again. Cold turkey. I’ve tried and failed to do this before – I’ve always cheated and then given up because “well, I’m just addicted and that’s it.” But this time, for whatever reason, it stuck.

 

I haven’t had a soda (barring mixed drinks) since December 3, really. I do not count ginger ale as soda, because I only drink it when I’m really not feeling well. But for those who used to know how to find me by following the trail of Pepsi cans, this is a huge thing. I’ve replaced the soda with iced tea and hot tea, and even occasionally with water. I still like bubbles, but I can get those with seltzer.

 

It hasn’t been easy. I still crave them, but I remind myself that tea is better (I drink mine unsweetened, so the savings in calories alone has been huge), and that soda bothers my stomach. That soda has a ton of processed garbage in it. That I have better things to drink.

 

That said, you will pry my rum and Coke with lime out of my cold, dead fingers. So if you see me with a soda, rest assured, there’s probably booze in it.

(personal/writing/advent) New Year brings new opportunities

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It’s the beginning of a new year, and one I’m hoping is better than last year. No, one I will MAKE better than next year.

 

I’m recommitting to several things – my goal to get healthy; my writing; and myself. Yes, I’m going to be enforcing my time to get better. I can’t take care of others at the expense of myself. I need to remember that.

 

Work is going to be VERY busy in the next month – my day job is in the financial sector, and it’s the tax season. Which means I need to be healthy, so I can work the hours I need to. In addition, I’m getting ready to publish Winter Secrets, which means I’ll be writing a lot, because well, I need to finish the rewrite by January 31. I’m also going to be doing at least weekly updates here (more if I can, but I’m only committing to weekly) so that I can keep all you lovely folks in the loop!

 

I’m not doing resolutions this year, but I have made out my business plan for the year, and I have three books to write:

  • The rewrite of Winter Secrets, which will be published in May
  • The first draft of Deep Waters, the first Pendragon novel
  • The first draft of Resonant Frequencies

I’ll have more on that later. I’m also going to be at ConCarolinas and Balticon in the early summer, and some others maybe later in the year.

(weekly update) It’s Sunday again – a day of rest, right? No.

Well, in a way it is. I’m in my favorite sweat pants and my DKP teeshirt, and I have no intention of changing. I’m going to move at a pace that still gets things done, but doesn’t wear me out. I’m getting my next Remicade treatment on Wednesday, and I’m still nurturing a cold (which needs to get the fuck out, because they won’t give me my meds if I have a cold), so it’s going to be a slow, steady mosey all day. And I can do a lot of it sitting down.

 

In writing news, I have the edits back from the lovely Sue Baiman for Winter’s Secret, so I can get working on those this week. Yay, this book is getting closer to being real! I also need to get cracking on the last of my beta read for Ripley Patton and get those back to her (omg, you guys, this book is SOOOOO good and she is amazing and you should go buy Ghost Hand now so you can start catching up). And of course, NaNoWriMo is coming, and I need to get moving on the outline for Advent #5.

 

In non-writing news, I’m holding on to an 18-lb weight loss in two months, and looking forward to doing more. I’ve gotten rid of my YMCA membership and started a membership at my work’s gym. No excuses! Also, Herbalife is awesome.

 

Well, the laundry isn’t going to fold itself, sadly. Time to get moving!

(health) Personal updates

Usually, fall is the time I start going into hibernation mode. By this, I mean that I start craving tons of carbs, bundling up in every blanket I can find, parking myself on my couch and refusing to move until spring. Yes, I’m probably more than part bear. Or cat.

 

Not this year. In August, I met up with one of my friends, who is an Herbalife coach, and it changed my entire outlook. I’m not normally a shake person. I don’t like the idea of not eating real food, and the chemical smells of most commercial shakes make me nauseous. But I agreed to try a 3-day trial, figuring at the worst, I’d make my way through it and then be done.

 

It was amazing. World-changing. When I got on Shannon’s scale that day in August, I was shocked to see the scale read 321 lbs. Yeah, that’s not a typo. I’d known it was bad, so I’d been avoiding my scale, but not that bad. No wonder my hips and knees were killing me, and I could barely walk 2000 steps a day. I knew I had to do something.

 

Before trying the shakes, I’d reached out to my gastroenterologist, to make sure this wasn’t going to be bad for my Crohn’s disease. To my surprise, he told me that Herbalife was actually one of the companies they suggested when folks were going through a flare, or had to give up solid food for a while (yeah, that happens. It sucks). So with his blessing, I started the trial.

 

I’ve been on Herbalife now for almost 2 months. I stepped on my scale this morning, and it said 303 lbs. My hips and knees don’t hurt much. I’m up to an average of 3500 steps a day, and steadily working my way towards 5000 (my first goal) every day. I don’t just use the elevator at work anymore – I take the stairs, about half the time. I’m starting to park farther away, because I can.

 

Best of all, when I’m having a flare, I know I can make myself a shake with protein and complex carbs that WON’T aggravate my symptoms, instead of filling up on white rice or applesauce.  I’m definitely a work in process, but it’s finally going the right way.

(personal/writing) A blissful, lazy Sunday

I don’t get many of these anymore. I slept late, had my shake for breakfast (for those who don’t know, I’m doing the Herbalife program right now, and it’s FABULOUS), and already folded a load of laundry while watching last night’s Ghost Adventures. Now, I’ve got a cup of tea, because it’s getting cool again, and instead of iced tea, I’m craving hot tea again. That’s part of fall I love. The fact that snow is coming? Well, having the snowblower means I don’t worry as much, so yeah, I’m okay with the fact that the seasons are moving on.

 

I’m baking bread today as well. I’ve figured out that it’s not the gluten that bothers me – it’s the artificial preservatives. Which is awesome on the one hand (Yay, real bread again!), but dude, do you know how much of what is offered at the grocery store is full of artificial preservatives? I can handle guar gum, xanthum gum, salt, and citric acid. That’s about it. But that’s okay, because it means I can use my bread machine again! Yay!

 

I’m writing again too. The current novel involves a poet and a watercolorist – both things I have very little experience with. So it’s a learning experience. But I’m enjoying it. I’m also writing it without an outline, and it’s not an urban fantasy that involves the world as we know it ending. It’s a reminder that even if there isn’t a super-evil coming to destroy us all, there are stories that are woven in the tapestry of time. Hmm, I might have Mark use that. A tapestry of time would be a lovely image for Abby too.

 

In addition, I’m working on the concept for the next Advent story. Since I introduced some of Drew’s family during the Wedding story, I thought I might investigate some of the other people important in Molly, Drew, and Schrodinger’s life. And how to do that? With books, of course. (I also admit to being inspired by a Pintrest post about doing a 25-day book Advent calendar. How cool is that?)

 

Today, I’m blogging, both here and setting up the week’s blogs over at Dark Knights Paranormal. We’ve got another investigation coming up on October 12 – if you’re in the New Hampshire area (or New England, really) and want to come along, you can sign up here to join us!  We’d love to have you along!

Trials and Tribulations, or why can’t Val update a blog on a regular basis?

Of course, this could be titled “Why can’t Val do anything on a regular basis?” I seem to have issues with regularity, and I wonder why.

 

It could be that somewhere in my dim, distant past, something linked “a regular routine” with “boring” and I HATE boring with a fiery passion. And yes, I know that routine doesn’t have to be boring. I just don’t seem to be able to stick with it.

 

However, I am not a quitter, and so I’m trying again. With some differences, of course – if it hasn’t worked before, why would I try the same thing? Also, see boring, above. This time, I’m leaving my laptop at the studio, forcing myself to go in. And I’ll be doing my blog updates at the same time as my writing – they may not be long, but dammit, I’m going to update! Starting today.

 

I’m on the tail-end of pneumonia (yeah, in the summer. I’m talented, what can I say?), and I’m coming off a low that is partly sickness, partly sadness, and partly frustration. My new goal is 250 words a day. I’m on the Magic Spreadsheet again, and I’ve got a couple of projects that I’m working on. I have an editor for Winter’s Secrets, and one of the projects in the queue is the wedding of the summer – Molly and Drew are getting married on July 25, and they hope you’ll be there for it! There’s a 6-day Summer Advent story that will be going on, and there will be at least one prize (come on, you want one of their wedding favors, don’t you?), so keep a look out for that!

 

Okay, I’ve got a lot to do today, so off to the word mines!

(health/personal) First goal met!

goal crushed

 

 

On March 1, I said I wanted to lose 6 lbs by the end of the month.  In the first week, I went to my Remicade treatment, and the scale read 310 lbs.  So I needed 10 lbs to get under 300, which was my first weight loss goal of the season.

 

Today, I stepped on the scale and it said 298.8 lbs.  Goal achieved.

 

Now, time for the next goal.  I’ve decided that I’m doing 10 lbs at a time, and giving myself a month to do so.  So by April 30, 2015, I want to lose 10 more lbs, which would put me under 290 for the first time in a long time.

 

I can do it.  I WILL do it.

(personal/writing/depression) It’s been a long winter.

snowpocalypse.jpg

I know, it’s still a long way until spring, but seriously, I feel like I’m trapped in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones world.  Between the depression and the SAD and the god-awful snow (seriously, there’s been like 60 inches of snow in the past month!), I feel like I’m smothered in cotton.  So what have I done?

 

Retreated.

 

I have totally been sleeping when I haven’t been at work, and eating all the foods that aren’t good for me (darn it, gluten!  Why are you in all my comfort foods?) and not writing.  Well, not really writing.  I did get some words in February, but I didn’t finish Secrets, and I haven’t finished the first draft of Deep Waters, both of which I wanted to do.  I haven’t lost any weight.  I didn’t make it to the gym.

 

But that’s in the past.  And I can’t change the past.

 

What I can do is focus on the future.  The days are getting longer (finally), and spring is coming.  I now have trackers that work for my sneakers, and I have my FitBit, which lets me see how I’m doing.  I have a new desk at work, and dammit, I have a birthday coming up.  I don’t want to be unhealthy any more.

 

I know it’s hard.  I know I’ll backslide sometimes (movie theatre popcorn, you are my kryptonite!), but going forward, I’m going to keep myself accountable here on the blog, on Twitter (I’m @vg_ford there), and on Facebook.  I’ve got modest goals for March:

1. 250 words a day

Not just on the blog, but on actual stories.  I need to keep writing every day.

 

2. 8 hours of sleep

Seriously.  I’m sleeping more, so that on the weekends I don’t spend until noon in bed.  And I’m going to try and stick to my weekday sleep schedule on the weekends, so I don’t screw everything up.  End result: if you see me online after 11 pm and I’m not out somewhere, tell me to go to bed!

 

3. 6 lbs gone

That’s the physical goal.  6 lbs will bring me under 300 lbs, and that’s my first goal.  I can do this.  No more soda, no more gluten, no more crap.  It’s going to be interesting, as my gut is not happy with raw veggies and fruits right now, but I’m going to try some smoothies, and more steamed/cooked veggies.  And real food, not processed food.  And water.  And tea.  (Glorious tea)

 

So there’s that.  I’m off now, to get my 250 words (at least), and then over to Mom and Dad’s for a roast lamb dinner.  I’ll see you all tomorrow!

(writing/personal) The first blog post of the new year

Happy-new-Year-cool-Clipart-pictures-free-Download2

 

Happy New Year, everyone!  Sorry I disappeared after the end of Advent – the holidays overwhelmed me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to write, never mind blog.  But I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Advent, and I promise, it’s not the last.

 

For those who may not know (I know I have some new readers here), I have an incurable disease – Crohn’s Disease.  It’s stress-aggravated, among other things, and I go once every 8 weeks for an IV treatment to keep it in check.  When I’m on schedule, it’s usually pretty good.  However, this holiday season, my 8 weeks was up on Christmas Eve, when the infusion suite wasn’t open.  So basically, I’m now 2 weeks late for my treatment.  To add to it, I ran out of one of my other meds, and had to go a week before the refill prescription was sent to my pharmacy.  It was NOT a good thing.

 

So I retreated for a bit, surrounding myself with family and close friends, and didn’t look at my computer very much (except to play Dragon Age Origins once, and getting stuck), and to be honest, it was good.  I did THINK about writing, and how I was going to approach this year, and what I wanted to do with the next 12 months.

 

This year is going to be a year of writing and publishing.  I have some concrete goals, and a plan of how to accomplish it.  My work schedule has settled into a 4×10 week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I work 10 hour days), and a lot of it is writing.  That, combined with an hour driving commute each way, means I don’t really want to look at my computer when I get home.  So I’m not going to.  I’m going to be writing on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and setting myself a goal of at least 1k each day.  That’s a minimum of 3k a week, which is fine.  I’m also going to be posting more here, but only on those days.  The other 4, I’m not worrying about writing.  If I do write, that’s awesome.  If not, that’s okay too.

 

It wouldn’t be a New Year’s post without goals, so here’s what I plan on accomplishing this year, writing-wise:

1. Two Advent stories.  Yes, two.  If you read this year’s Advent, you know that Molly and Drew have finally set a date – July 18, to be exact.  And well, they can’t get married without a story, can they?  So yes, readers, there will be an abbreviated Advent in July (6 days) for the wedding, plus another full Advent in December.  And I plan on having the first Advent story (now tentatively titled Winter’s Secrets) available in e-book and print in July.

2. Five more Pendragon novellas.  The response to Into Thin Air was awesome – I’m glad you guys liked it!  There was a short story in the Tales of the Tesla Ranger anthology as well, and I’m moving forward with the rest of the season.  Once all the novellas have been released as e-books, I’ll do a print omnibus edition as well.

3. A separate novel project.  Even though I’m enjoying working on self-publishing both Advent and Pendragon, I would like to sell a novel to an agent and get a big publishing house deal.  Because I would.  So I’m working on an urban fantasy take on World War 3, sort of.  Involving the United Nations, the Bright and Dark Courts, goblins, and the half-elven daughter of William Shakespeare, who’s currently working as a bartender in Manchester, NH.  As one does.  This rough draft will be done by the end of the year.

 

So yes, it’s going to be a busy year.  But a good year.  I’m excited.  And I’m dedicating this writing year, and all those to come, to those we lost this last year, especially PG and Nicole, because I’m going to do what I can to live not only for myself, but for them.  Life is too short, and too fragile.

 

Now, it’s Saturday, and I’ve got a word count to get.