Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Writer’s Wresolutions

2015 is going to be a good year. We all hope so. We all hope that the next year will be better than the last (at least, the Counting Crows do). It’s the reason we make resolutions; it’s a way to ensure that the year will be better by making ourselves better. Quit smoking; drink less; exercise more; eat better; blah blah blah. By February most resolutions have been abandoned. The ones that hang on are either made people with stone resolves or were not that hard to begin with (eat salad once a month; give to charity, as in $1 to that panhandler at the corner by Walmart). My resolution is not to make resolutions. Instead, I am creating challenges for myself. I can easily drop a resolution by using the excuse that, really, it’s practically implied in our society that I will anyway.

This year, 2014, I quit smoking. I set a date and, for once, I did it. Honestly, it was one of few, but great, accomplishments that I made this year. I challenged myself, and I met my goal. I made a Gallon A Day challenge for myself to both increase my water/liquid intake and force myself to write about it every day. I’ve been successful on the whole. I have basically made myself accountable. It was a challenge, so I strove (strived? strove seems right) to meet it. Even when I fell short, I didn’t feel bad; I forgave myself.

So, my challenges for this year, so far. I will be coming up with new ones as I go along. Some are going to seem small, but they’re big to me. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t need to make it official.

1. Participate in Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. Part of the inspiration behind calling my resolutions (ugh, let’s ban that word) challenges, this project urges reader’s to complete 24 reading tasks such as a book by an African author, a book published pre-1850, etc. In doing my research and going through my to-be-read shelf, I’ve realized I won’t even have to make any big investments in order to accomplish most of these tasks. It’s really more a matter of being conscious of what I’m reading. To be honest, I didn’t read as much in 2014 as I used to. I need motivation to get back to the thing I love so much. Ive already started with my short story collection pick, BARK by Lorrie Moore. I will be documenting my reads on my long-neglected, if ever used, companion blog to Random Lines Working: Jillie’s Bookshelf. Regular progress updates/thoughts will happen here.

2 Yoga-A-Day/Yog-A-Day/Stretch A Day. Hell, who knows what I’ll call it, but after my water challenge wraps up, I’ll be doing 10 minutes a day of yoga and documenting it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s way more than zero.

3. Continue drinking water. I won’t be as anal about it as I’ve been for my water challenge, but I like my results, and want to continue reaping the benefits.

4. Write more. It took drinking water to get me regularly posting to my blog. I’ve barely written anything since editing my manuscript, even though I’ve been very proud of the few things I’ve published this year. I want to make sure I stay in the habit of putting words down, no matter the subject… though, I won’t count grocery lists.

5. Publish more. I realize I have no control over the opinions of editors, but submitting more work, means my chances go up. I want to publish at least 6 book reviews. With three already in the works, I shouldn’t have too much trouble achieving this goal, but the other three, who knows? That’s why it’s a challenge. Not to mention I have to write more in order to have more to publish.

These are just the challenges I’m starting with. There’s always the possibility of NaPoWriMo, or a new 30-day challenge I haven’t come up with yet. There is room for editing, changing, evolving, growing bigger or smaller. That’s why they’re challenges and not resolutions. Don’t make promises to yourself that you might break. Don’t say you’re going to make these catastrophic, ridiculously huge changes. If you fail to follow through, you’ll end up feeling guilty, to say the least. I have millions of excuses why these challenges are too hard to meet. But the point is trying. The point is doing what I can to raise myself to a certain level and feeling good no matter what rung on the ladder I get to. Challenge yourself. And be proud of even attempting greatness.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Gallon A Day: Day 23

This will be a quick post since I have a lot of writing and blogging planned for today.

I’m still doing good. My changes seem to have levelled off. I’m happy but not freakishly ecstatic like I’ve been a few times. I’m still motivated. I’ve actually gone the last few days without a nap, though more than energy, it may attributed to the sleeping I’m going since the kids don’t have to go to school.

A new thing I’m noticing, and I may totally be imagining this, but I swear the little lines around my eyes have filled in. My skin is not perfect and smooth like I had hoped, but it seems brighter. It’s just not as dull when I put my makeup on now. I still have those dark circles, but I dunno, I feel like I look better, regardless. I suppose that’s the most imnportant when doing anything that has to do with improving your body/appearance: that YOU think you look better, at least that you FEEL better. It will be interesting what my yoga challenge brings me after these 30 days are up.

As for tonight, Day 24 and New Year’s Eve, it will definitely be an experience. I’ll be hydrated and drinks are free at the party I’m attending, so I won’t be mindfully self-monitoring my $5-a-finger whiskey consumption. It’s actually the first big liquor-involved event I’ll be taking part of since I started my water challenge. Maybe I’ll actually alternate between water and alcoholic beverages like a smart woman is supposed to, and avoid a massive hangover in the process. We shall see!

Happy celebrating to all!

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Poem of the Week: December 30th, 2014

I’m a big fan of Lee Ann Roripaugh, especially her tsunami poems. So glad to see it as a poem of the week!

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Lee Ann Roripaugh’s most recent collection of poetry, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Press in 2014. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review. More of her work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

SHAPESHIFTER TSUNAMI: A SCARY EPITHALAMIUM
By Lee Ann Roripaugh

s/he’s the glitter of koi
snake’s chain-mail slink / heart-shaped
cockle belly dragging
as she FaceBook creeps
on tiger’s hushed paws
velvet-horned / oxen-eared
shy-eyed as a rabbit until
camel’s spit and eagle’s claw

s/he gender-switches easy as
the sea change shimmer
of lenticular flicker pictures
flipping with each shift of light:
MTF / FTM / sea walnuts
to Venus’ girdles / emperors
and clownfish / sea stars
or the beautiful moon…

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Gallon A Day: Day 22

It’s still hard to get a whole gallon. I know people who sit at a desk all day who seem to have no problem, but they also have no other drinking option, and in their corporate settings they don’t have the luxury of snacking whenever they want, so I suspect the water helps them feel full between meals. (#longasssentences) I fill my water bottle and try to keep it by me. My problem seems to be that I get so wrapped up in whatever I’m doing–reading, writing, even cleaning–that I don’t consume anything. Luckily, I’ll never be one of those writers that entirely forgets to do basic things like eat dinner, yet I can still go hours feeling hungry or thirsty without reaching two feet to my left to remedy the situation.

I’ve been drinking more water with dinner. I usually hate that, but I’m getting used to it. Even if I’m drinking something else, I still have my water bottle. I’ve noticed that some of my favorite drinks from Starbucks (I’m even ordering decaf now, so I can count it, signaling both desperation and body-snatching) are much too sweet for me. I’ll order a hot chocolate or chai just to have something that isn’t water only to find myself alternating between sips of that drink and sips of water to cut the sugar overload… I still have no problem with candy, though even that I chase with water rather than my usual coffee or soda.

Speaking of soda, I’m barely drinking it anymore. I can’t count the caffeinated ones so I don’t drink them and I just don’t default to the others like I did a month ago. Sure, I still have a can of Sprite or ginger ale if I feel like it, but I mostly don’t feel like it. I’m finding my indulgences to be wine or a good beer, simply because they don’t count, so they’re like a treat to me. Consequently, the more hydrated I am, it seems, the quicker I feel the alcohol. Weird, but productive in the sense if I’m going for a softer edge at the end of a trying day, it’s accomplished much quicker.

Happy hydrating, all! Le chaim!

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Every Book Prize You’ve Ever Entered

The Sundress Blog

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Note: Winner does not receive actual trophy.

Thank you for your interest in the It’s Awesome To Win and It’s Awesome to Lose Book Prize from the University of Pobiz Press. We take pride in our reputation for being the most transparent book contest in the publishing world, so please carefully review the following information to learn about our manuscript guidelines, ethical standards, and reading/judging process.

  • Authors who wish to enter our contest should familiarize themselves with our catalog. We encourage you to buy at least three books in each genre we publish.
  • We accept submissions in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, graphic narrative, and multimedia sculptural affirmation. Please note that we are not interested in translation, genre, or social issues.
  • To preserve anonymity, all submissions are read blind. We endeavor to avoid our colleagues to the point that we cannot recognize their work without first and last name attached. Current students…

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Gallon A Day: Days 16-21

Ugh, another bulk post. It seems I’ve been better at drinking water than I have at writing about it (which was most of the impetus for starting this challenge in the first place). Overall, I’ve done well over the holidays. Christmas was rough because I wasn’t feeling well. I was awake for maybe six full hours all of Christmas Day. I basically slept off whatever tropical virus is striking down writers and children everywhere right now.

Seriously, everyone is sick. Even my stepson has pneumonia, though he’s doing much better than last week. It’s actually pretty interesting to me that I haven’t gotten more sick than a few headaches and my deep-sleepy Christmas. I have a lowered immune system due to my various health issues, so I usually catch everything. I even got those nasty flulike symptoms from the flu shot that isn’t really the flu but feels like it and was laid up for almost a week. The fact that I’m doing okay almost makes me question whether or not my fluid intake is helping me be healthier.

I’m holding steady at four pounds lost. Technically a win, but I still don’t fit into the clothes I grew out of. Only sad because there’s a particular skirt I didn’t have occasion to wear until it no longer fit. Next month, I’ll be embarking on another challenge for myself, also geared towards a healthier me: 10 minutes a day of yoga. A nice easy minimum that can easily go overtime and can really only benefit me. Hopefully, that will get me closer to the skirt.

This is something I’ve noticed since starting this challenge, and realizing I’m already in the home stretch. I’m interested in challenging myself. It gives me something to write about, sure, but I also like myself for doing it, even on the days I’m not making my goal. I don’t have all the energy I thought I’d get back nor do I have the perfect complexion I was hoping for, but my skin seem brighter, my moods are so much better, and I actually feel like I know the difference between thirst and hunger.

As I wind down this challenge (9 days left!) and the year, I’m looking forward to the other things I’ll be accomplishing. I know I’ll definitely be drinking more water, even after I no longer “have to.” ;-

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Showing Off

Kate Gale: A Mind Never Dormant

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You little show off you, stuff it, shove it, stow it away, put down your wings, stop flapping, quit preening, quit boasting, quit bragging.  I heard all that as a child but now that I’m not a child, I can strut around a little, spread my peacock wings, I can blow my horn, toot my whistle, flap my arms.

Kids like to show off.  “Watch me mom, watch me jump, run, skip, watch me dive.” Kids like their parents to see their little antics because they’re just learning to use their bodies and all the ways that the body works are exciting.  Watch me fly.  Watch me leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Watch me.

But usually, as we grow up, someone talks us out of bragging about what we do.  Someone says, Sit down, hush up, be quiet.  It’s unseemly to brag.  Especially if you’re already a grownup. …

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My Holiday Card

Merry whatever you celebrate!! Happy holidays 🙂

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Gallon A Day: Day 15

If only beer and whiskey and caffeinated coffee counted toward my goal. Working backstage at a concert last night meant I completely forgot my water bottle and I felt too awkward to ask the band if I could sneak one of theirs. I did get a big glass when my friend and I went out afterwards but it was just barely enough. So I missed my gallon goal by 24 oz. yesterday. Y’all. I’m not doing very well, am I? At least I’m trying and that is always what matters most.

I do feel better overall. I’m motivated. Water is even becoming a sort of default. As soon as I wake up, if I have a slight headache, or my mouth is just a bit dry I go for a small glass of water. A quick 8 oz. and I’m on track. It’s a great feeling to know I’m taking care of myself without really trying. That is a huge deal for me. And I’m feeling so good about this challenge because it not forces me to do something so obviously healthy, but something I thought would be too hard to accomplish in real life. In fact, I’m so inspired by it that I’m thinking of making 2015 a year of challenges for myself. Small ones like this one. Little changes to write about. Really, that was the main reason I began this challenge; I was blocked and felt I had nothing to write about. Doing this means I have something to write about every day.

As I continue drinking water like it’s falling from the sky for the next two weeks, I’ll be thinking of what else I can do. I’m thinking next month may be 10 minutes a day of yoga, a small goal, but so healthy.

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Gallon A Day: Days 10-14

It’s always hard to maintain anything when you’re not feeling like your best self. Since my doctor’s appointment last week, I haven’t been feeling well–pain, fatigue, overall grossness. Of course, I functioned as I needed to, but I just never got around to typing up my experience because by the time I napped or took a pain pill, I had to function in the real world, not online. It just had to wait. BUT I am back, still in pain, but drinking and blogging away.

Even though I was in pain, and just felt awful for most of last week, I still made sure that I was doing everything I could to keep on going with my challenge. I met my goal or came within 12oz. every day! It’s really a change for me to be in a lot of pain and still be able to maintain an upbeat attitude. I was still joking around, performing, laughing, affectionate; usually I hole up in my bed like an infirm Victorian. I really do attribute my improved mood on the hydration. Even if I’m not having a depressive mood, I still get pretty maudlin and despondent when I’m not feeling well because it’s so frustrating, and quite often. It sucks to not be able to function the way you want to. But lately, I’ve been able to still be happy for the most part, even if I got snarky. (Though I maintain that my snark is still humorous if you get me and my personality.)

I’m still getting pimples and whatnot as my toxins get forced out by all that water. And even if my undereye circles haven’t faded away and the minor wrinkles are still there, I feel prettier. Maybe my complexion is brighter, but I can’t tell. I’ll post “after” photos at the end of my 30 days and y’all can judge for me.

Now for the big news: I am down 4-5 pounds!! (I add the hyphen to account for clothing difference.) That’s huge! Doing nothing else but making sure that my body was getting the fluids it needed, I lost weight. I’m not saying people should suddenly abandon their careful/restrictive eating plans and stop exercising in favor of simply drinking more water. What I’m saying is that I find it amazing that just one change made a crazy difference. So, if you are on a plan, staying hydrated  appropriately could help meet your goals. But talk your doc, obviously. I know nothing about health. I eat pizza rolls four times a week as if they were a valid meal option.

On to a holiday week filled with gift wrap and eggnog (and a quite fair amount of water)!

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