Writing in micro steps

via Daily Prompt: Micro

I’d be lost without micro steps. If I have too large a writing goal looming, I quickly despair and frantically search for ways to procrastinate. The task at hand seems too large. This is when I wish for superhero powers to bolt through the pages with eloquent words, memorable humor, and meaningful message flowing beautifully between the pages. One can wish and daydream.

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Writing teaches me, or rather forces me, to embrace micro steps. I’ve learned that any type of writing takes immense patience, self-discipline, and constant surrendering of perfection. When I begin reading a new book and start spacing out I feel a tinge of guilt as though I’ve betrayed the author’s trust.

I’ve always had fears about writing, but it rose to a new level in graduate school complete with heart palpitations, panic attacks, and dizzy spells. So I combated those writing fears and insecurity with my procrastination motions: cleaning frantically, snacking voraciously, seeking distractions, starting a new project, surfing the web incessantly, or deciding that tomorrow is a better day to start. On one of these procrastinating moments, I lazily walked to the school bookstore and found a writing book by Anne Lamott: the highlighted excerpt on the back cover encouraged me to the core.

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Back cover excerpt: bird by bird by Anne Lamott


I could relate. My writing was not about birds, but her story still applied: sentence by sentence; paragraph by paragraph; page by page. One step taken is closer to the finish line than lingering at the start. It may not seem like much progress in the micro steps, but those little parts contribute to the whole.

Invisible goal of exercising and now finally doing something about it

via Daily Prompt: Invisible

Change is hard to make, and even harder to accept; even the ones that are good for you.

My new year resolution did not include anything about joining a gym or working out for that matter. Wanting to get stronger physically was an invisible goal that kept nagging me with guilt, but the task seemed daunting and overwhelming. Thankfully, Chris felt it was time that we work out and get active as a family.

For the past five years exercising was a luxury that we overlooked for ourselves. With the plethora of health issues facing Ellis and other life stresses, we were just happy to survive. But my lack of energy frustrated me and it only kept getting worse. Countless people and doctors have told me how exercise would improve blah, blah, blah, and then some more blah, blah, blah. I needed to change so that I could do more than survive.

Even though being healthy and strong sound good, being proactive about it is terrifying.  Change will require, well…change: a disruption in my comfort zone that will be very uncomfortable for a while. However, a dear friend listened to my woes and reassured me that working out is an opportunity to get stronger physically and not just about looking better. Strong sounds good: I want it. I need it!

Next dilemma: What do you wear to the gym?? The choices are overwhelming and I didn’t even know what I needed. All those magazines with toned bodies in trendy athleisure intimidated me: Will the ladies come to the gym looking like that? Hearing my excuses and knowing that I can get easily overwhelmed, Chris knew that I would stall going to the gym for weeks. As the practical spouse, he went and bought all my gym clothes and sneakers. All this from a guy who profusely sweats when I ask what he loves about me. He’s very squeamish when it comes to verbal affirmations.

*side note:

After a few gym visits, I quickly realized that the perfectly dressed models in athletic wear are mainly reserved for glossy magazine pages. Those pictures drove my insecurity, set up unreal expectations, and made me feel that everyone at the gym would look like that besides me. Unbelievable! How could I be so naive?? gullible? I should’ve known. I’ve quickly learned that it’s perfectly fine to show up wearing whatever you like as long as you are comfortable in it.

Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.
– Robert M. Hutchins

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Baby steps. I’m hoping that I don’t run out of motivation. Chris and the kids are excited and their enthusiasm is rubbing off on me, so I’m hoping that keeps the momentum going for me.

Deliberately making exercise a part of life is stirring up a lot of inner turmoil. It’s hard to change and to challenge my prehistoric views about rest, exercise, body image, self-care, and the very hard fact that using energy to exercise will somehow give me more energy: it seems counter-intuitive. Another ancient view I need to dismantle is the false belief that doing something good for myself is selfish. I’m realizing the opposite is more accurate and empowering: not doing something good for myself is selfish.

The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Wonder at seeing a rainbow

via Daily Prompt: Wonder

Kids wonder all the time. To see and hear the output of their wondering is magical stuff.

I often find that I take a lot of things for granted: seen that before, done that too, nothing new. However, In California, rain is very rare; it’s highly anticipated in our home and the kids and I enjoy listening to the rain sounds coming down the gutter. Recently on the drive home on a rainy day, we saw a bright, distinct rainbow in the sky. Kids have seen it before but their level of excitement was off the charts. It was a precious mom moment that made my heart flutter a bit.

Ellis was oohing and ahhhing in her car seat; Elliot was clapping but his eyes welled up with tears. Confused, I asked him if something was wrong: Was it something i said?; Did he fight with his sister?; Was he feeling sick? Later at home he whispered in my ear that he cried because the rainbow was so beautiful. His comment surprised me because I was in disbelief that a young child could be moved to tears. I underestimated.

His reaction reminded me of William Wordsworth’s poem:

My Heart Leaps Up (1807)

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

I’m sad to admit that my sense of wonder has waned over the years. However, raising young kids, who are curious about everything and unafraid to experiment, teaches me to wonder about wonder, see things anew, find joy in small pleasures (like seeing popcorn pop in the microwave), and to enjoy life as it is.

Life is much too short to overlook the beauty of nature around me, so I’m trying to slow down and become that person whose heart leaps for joy at seeing a rainbow in the sky.

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Learning one new word can chip away at ignorance

(a day late posting dim daily prompt)

Mulling over the daily post words is broadening my understanding of various words and dimming my ignorance.

Every morning I eagerly scroll through my feed to see which word is chosen. Then I make a decision of whether I’m going to take the daily prompt challenge or wait for the next word tomorrow.

If I had more discipline to wake up early to write, I may be more successful posting regularly. But the thought of starting the day before kids scares me…will I have enough energy to last the day? It would be nice to have uninterrupted hours where I’m not scooping up another overturned box of toys, cleaning up spilled milk, making meals, or doing a multitude of mundane things that moms do on a daily basis.

I’ve been told that this season with young kids doesn’t last forever and eventually they’ll need me less. ok, ok, I digress: back to writing about the daily word prompt.

 

Have you noticed that when writing with the word in mind, your understanding of the word becomes less certain? It does for me. If I repeat the word in my mind over and over again, its meaning becomes more vague. Whatever I think I knew about the word becomes less clear.

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This constant looking up and examining words makes learning new words more empowering. Words have so much power to transform, encourage, challenge, enlighten, and inspire.

Profuse worrywart

Profuse

I’m a profuse worrier. I worry about worrying too much or sometimes worry that I’m not worrying enough. Other times when things are going swimmingly – I jog my mind for things to worry about.

Mix in the OCD and that makes for a jolly mix of psychosomatic symptoms.

God has helped me journey through some large worries that seems to get even bigger in the middle of the night. I look back and see how He made pathways in unlikely roads. I had to let go of the worries to make space for something better. C.S. Lewis quotes St. Augustine in his book The Problem of Pain, which clearly encapsulates the hard discovery I made: “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full – there’s nowhere for Him to put it.”

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To make room for the good, I’ve got to let go of the useless and profuse worries.