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NaNoWriMo Reflections

This is the first printed copy of my “manuscript”, hand delivered to my friend for the first set of feedback.

It took me about 3 weeks, total, to write over 50,000 words. I think this story has been brewing for more than twenty years. I will work on owning the identifier “writer” to the list of labels I hold dear. I joined a few groups, and I enjoyed matching my progress to a new set of peers. I was not the first one to finish, but I was one of the first. This story, this story that has been brewing, it was relatively easy to tell.

I very much enjoyed this writing process that wasn’t an essay, struggling to combine words into a poem, researching a subject I care about or not, or writing an opinion on things I really don’t care about. I wrote this for me. I wrote this with the hope that this story can inspire others to make a change. I wrote this story because my inner-self needed to tell it.

It is deeply personal, and it is fictionalized. I wrote about what I know, I tried to use dialogue to explain things, and I just closed my eyes and wrote what I saw. I was surprised when my characters said or did things I never imagined. I was surprised how I ended the story, as this was a 180-degree change from what I imagined 5 months ago when I received the idea. I was overjoyed to simply carve space to write. This was perhaps my most favorite thing. I blocked my days. I created an auto-responder for my email. I only allowed a few appointments in my month. My job, every day, was to write. I even completed the only tracker I have ever completed in my bullet journal – a  two-page spread tracking my progress in writing. This was the best job I have ever had: writing about something I wanted to write about, nearly every day.

I did not write every day. I didn’t even write my morning pages every day, though I wrote my morning pages more than my novel. I added a yoga practice and another consult to coaching what I should be doing with my life. In this consult, it was read that I should be writing before I told her I was writing.

I did write on days not previously scheduled to write. When I created my trackers, I thought about the ebbs and flows of my days and normal interruptions. I blocked out days typically for family time, giving myself no obligation to write on those days. I adjusted my daily goals for all the other days, leaving a rough daily goal of 2,500 words. This was to accomplish the set goal of 50,000 words by November 30.

On the first day of writing, and I did wait until November 1, I wrote 2,698 words. I waited to write more, because five months previous when I received the idea, I wrote a quick scene that was 494 words. The total for November 1, then, was 3,190 words. I was on my way, immediately, to reach my goal.

I used and fell in love with Scrivener to write and organize my novel. I am eagerly awaiting a special code that will gift me a substantial discount when I purchase my license, upgrading from the trial version I so enjoyed. I watched the official website and Scrivener estimate how much I needed to write per day to reach my goal and what my supposed end date would be. I finished on Saturday, November 25, 5 days ahead of schedule, though not the earliest predicted date.

I have been working on building aspects of my small business for over two years now with mixed success. That is, I have had some incredible fortune and incredible wins. And, I have had things that set me back and goals I did not reach. I have set so many goals over the last two years, some easy, some far-reaching, and missing so many of those goals. It was a blessing to set a goal where the ONLY factor was ME in reaching the goal. I wasn’t dependent on someone saying “yes” or “no”. I was only dependent on ME showing up, typing up what I saw in my head, and plugging away. That was perhaps the best feeling of this last month. Setting a goal I had no idea if I’d reach or not, and then realizing how easy it was and reaching it 5 days before the deadline.

I’m sure there are lessons to take back to my self-employment. I will save those for another day.

I hope I can find ways to write, and get paid. I hope that my novel makes sense. I hope the message isn’t too fluffy. I hope I ventured just enough into the dark side of thinking that it helps normalize all our emotions. I hope the emotional content I tried to share is relatable, believable, and compassion inspiring.

Terrified, I handed over the first copy today, for feedback. I eagerly await the response. Two more copies are scheduled to be delivered this week. I am thankful for this safety net of support where I can share this story and garner gentle feedback before I decide, “What’s next?”

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I more or less finished. I “won” by reaching the 50,000-word goal. I finished on Saturday, while we enjoyed the Oregon Coast and the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean.

I hope there aren’t too many gaping holes. I hope my version of a fictional story is believable. I hope it brings hope. I hope the emotions are relatable. I hope my venture into dark things is believable. I hope it’s enjoyed, at least by a few.

Toweling off her hair, she called to the children as she padded into her closet, “Are you dressed?” She was getting so sick of maternity clothes. Nothing was comfortable, except maybe pajamas. She hated feeling so uncomfortable in her own skin. She missed the days, so many years ago now, where she had finally felt comfortable with her body. She missed the days where she enjoyed the curves and flat parts and how it felt to move, freely.

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The Gadget Age

My preferred gadgets include my computer, my phone, my iPad, my journal, all the writing instruments, coffee, essential oils, and diffusers aplenty.

The year was 1995 or 1996, and I was taking a communications class in high school. We had the opportunity to use video editing equipment, we produced a morning news show, and we even had software that allowed us to make our own 3D graphics. We upgraded our gadgets from pencil and ink to computers.

Toy Story had come out just 6 or 7 years before. In 1994, Disney made waves with the ballroom, in the cartoon Beauty in the Beast, that was completely rendered with a computer. The “realistic” detail these 1s and 0s were able to employ were magical to watch. Some conversations questioned whether or not cartoonists would have jobs after this revolution came to its fruition. Schoolmates were wowing us by making a 3D ball rotate, getting the shadows rendered appropriately, and to uplevel their skills? They made a goblet, and they poured water out in a sharp-edged realm with no walls or floors. It felt like we were on the cusp of something amazing, and growing up with technology, our home computers, video games, computers controlling cars, it was all going to be amazing.

Today, I have the opportunity to coach people, primarily women, on their technology. I go into their homes, and I teach them how to use their computers, their phones, their tablets, and all the applications within, and show them how these things work together. Every single one of these women are smart, educated, and creative. They’ve led teams, taught students, they use technology to schedule and manage clients, and above all there is confusion. There is confusion, I believe, because none of these things really truly work together. We are making oodles of new gadgets every single day. Let’s stop calling them computer programs, web apps, or apps for our phones. Let’s stop calling these watches, computers, and phones even that – and let’s call them what they truly are: gadgets.

We have gadgeted the gadget, and we wonder why we are so confused with our technology. We have gadgets to check our spelling, to execute spelling, to put words to a form, to reshape those words, to take pictures, to edit the pictures, send the pictures, bookletize the pictures, we share all that, and in the sharing mediums there are similar gadgets to do all those things all over again. We hook them up wirelessly or with cords and we share things via airwaves or by email or messenger, and we never know which gadget is the right one at the time because we never have enough time to spend to get to know the now gadget when the next gadget comes out.

Technocrats idealize our technology, praising all these gadgets for making our lives easier. I am here to tell you, just like with the vacuum cleaner, our houses are no cleaner, our lives or no easier. In fact, I argue that we are even more confused. I have told people that in 1999 when I was working one of my first jobs, I listed 5 or so computer applications (ahem, I mean gadgets) on my resume. Now, I list well over 30.

Every job wants you to know their preferred database (ahem, I mean gadget) for use when there are hundreds to choose from. Every car goes through various upgrades of gadgets. Sometimes you even have to relearn how to start the car! Every computer software program goes through gadget upgrades that change where close buttons and print icons are. The older we get, the less well we handle that kind of small change, and the change only increases every year. Every year, we get more software engineers to design more software related gadgets, and the confusion only continues.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Are we at a stage where we’ve out-gadgeted ourselves? How do you cope with the alarming number of gadgets in your life? (I didn’t even mention kitchen gadgets or garage gadgets, which you could fairly add to this mix.)

Other Thinking on the Matter
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Post Op Conversation

The nurse called yesterday. We had to go through the normal post-op routine, ensuring things are healing in a timely fashion. I was surprised when we talked, extensively, about essential oils.

I shared how I used the pain blend and other oils on Levi. She expressed surprise and awe that they let me use the oils. Frankly, I was surprised too, and both of us for the same reason – the anti-fragrance policy. I read about it, but I ignored it for a few reasons. 1) I use the oils to manage my own care, and I slather them on daily to support my hormones, my body’s response to allergies, and so much more. They have become my scent. To opt into a “no fragrance” policy means I opt-in to poor health for the day. 2) Pure essential oils are not the same as “fragrances.” I took cannot stand most fragrances, and I often suffer from allergy-induced asthma. Yes, you walk by me dripping with your synthetic perfume, it will make my lungs very unhappy, and I’ll turn to my essential oils to breathe.

This actually happened the other day, in a different part of the facility. Levi and I walked in, sat down, and quickly it got hard for me to breathe. The combination of synthetics to take care of the building, hair products, and body products, and I was quite uncomfortable. So, I pulled out my solutions, quietly using it just for myself. One-half drop of each lavender, lemon, and peppermint, on my finger to the roof of my mouth. A moment later, as I was putting my oils away, someone asked if I was using peppermint. Then, she claimed she was allergic after I offered her some. I said I had already used it for my allergies.

May I offer a point of clarification? Semantics matter. Essential oils are a fatty drop, a part of the plant. Allergies are a reaction to proteins not fat. Yes, one can have a sensitivity to an oil and can be quite uncomfortable, but you cannot be allergic.

Back to the post-op conversation. After sharing all the things I did, our nurse shared a fantastic story. First, you recall, an important piece of healing from a surgery is having a bowel movement. We discussed how that might be difficult, and then she shared how she used peppermint oil when working in a maternity ward! She would either have her patient smell the oil or she would rub it on a toilet seat. She told me it worked every time. Smelling the oil provided comfort for that first bowel movement post surgery.

What way do you use an oil that isn’t often thought of?

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An Excerpt a Day – Day 9

I wasn’t going to write today. I specifically marked today off as a “no writing” day so I could focus, and give myself permission to focus, on just being there for my son in his surgery and recovery. Well, I cranked about a few hundred words in the waiting room, and now that everyone is in bed, and with the little snooze I had on the couch when we got home, I guess I’m energized. Suddenly, my muse told me I needed to flesh out another character. I needed to revisit some gaps in the timeline and fill them in. And, now… I’ve written 3,838 words today, for a total of 23,019.

“It was six months since Baby Girl had been buried, and he needed some time with her. He was still so surprised at how much he missed this little girl who didn’t have the chance to live life.”

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A Day at the Hospital

Okay, well, it was more of a morning than a day, but “a day at the hospital” sounds catchier to me. So, that’s the title of this blog. My son had to get a body part corrected, something we caught during the well-check visit. My husband would not appreciate me posting even that, “Can’t you leave it as it’s a private matter?” “It’s just a body part,” I countered. So, that’s all I’m going to tell you on this forum. The kid had a body part that needed correcting, and we found it in the well-check visit. This post is more about what we use, what we take for granted, what’s improved, and what I was able to use to care for my son.

We have insurance with a local HMO, and the surgery center was fantastic. They were prompt, efficient, and we were well-tended to. There was never a moment where we were waiting to the point we asked, “What are they doing in there?” The surgery center was really set up for day surgeries, so the waiting room wasn’t very large. The furniture was updated, sturdy, with an earthy palette. The kids’ section was delineated by a brighter, yet still, earthy palette, showcasing bright orange contrasted with a creamy white. Every single couch piece of furniture had a table dividing sections with pop-out charging stations. If we still smoked, those pop-outs would have been ashtrays. I love how we’ve upgraded and kept technologies that worked. The irony was not lost.

We were quickly called in, so my admiration of the updated furniture had to wait. The first thing we had to do was slather alcohol-based hand sanitizer on our hands. My eczema sensitive hands immediately dried out from the awful alcohol and other chemicals. We were brought to a partitioned space where we engaged in all the pre-op activities. They have little-stuffed animals to adhere to co-band tape to cover the IV spot. This helps kids to be less scared when they wake up from anesthesia. They let my son take his own stuffed toy, his “lovie” as a comfort. They explained things to him in a gentle, clear way, treating him every bit as a human the entire way. Then, they began explaining the anesthesia, and they brought out the mask he was going to where.

I commented, “Oh! That’s updated from the black one I had to wear when I had surgery.” The anesthesiologist who was giving us the how-to of what would happen replied, “Oh, that was a long time ago!” I think he was maybe my age? It’s so hard to tell sometimes. I asked, “Are you calling me old?” He said no, very matter of factly. But, I laughed and am laughing, still.

Next, they brought out the oils. FDA approved “oils” to be wiped on the mask for anesthesia. I balked, and I hope I had a poker face. I did mention that I have my own oils. I told them my son is sensitive to red dyes, so let’s limit those. So, they brought out the “clear oils”, which were: orange (actually natural), apple (WHAT THE FUCK), and marshmallow (you’re kidding, right?). I allowed Levi to choose one and didn’t press the matter further that I had my own. No, I don’t have “apple” or “marshmallow”.

Soon, he was whisked away, with one hug from me, and I went off to the waiting room. The surgery pharmacy was close by, so I bought acetaminophen for $3.95. The adult version. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE KID VERSION HAS A DYE IN IT. Are you kidding me? We wonder why kids act up when we lace everything they need to have with sugar and dyes with the hope it’ll make it go down better. So, we have adult versions, and I have a chart to feed him the right dosage. This was the first time I actually wanted a pharmaceutical consult!

Later than it should have been, I was called back. Things weren’t presented as expected, so they had to do a bit more. My son was starting to wake up, and as is typical, was acting sort of funny when people come out of anesthesia. He complained of what could best be described as acheyness and severe discomfort at the site of the incision and being dizzy. So, with permission, I put my blend (of frankincense, roman chamomile, and marjoram finished with fractionated coconut oil) on his feet. I tried to tickle him, but he was too groggy. A few minutes later, he asked for lavender. So I put lavender and helichrysum on his forehead. I added the digestive blend a bit after that, and soon, he fell back to sleep for maybe another 20 minutes.

Slowly, but not really slowly, he woke up, and we were home by noon. And, we’ve ended the day with a gifted meal from a friend (homemade fajitas!!!!). A mix of western medicine and natural remedies, and now my kiddo is playing video games until it’s time for bed.

What western ironies have you noted today?

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An Excerpt a Day – Day 8

Today, I wrote 3,000 words, bringing my total to 19,181.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” Bounced Jack and Elizabeth as they ran to the king-sized bed and jumped and hoisted themselves up, wrinkling covers, and tugging at Susan’s legs. They each had envelopes in their hands, and they were trailed by their father, her husband of 18 years.

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An Excerpt a Day – Day 7

I did not write in the morning, as preferred. So, I only cranked out 1,053 words today – about two scenes. The new total is 16,181. Here’s an excerpt.

“Occasionally they talked about “doing something”. Something that brought all their skills, dreams, and desires together. Something, that maybe, brought them extra cash, outside of their husband’s paychecks. Each woman had a different relationship with money and her respective husband. Sometimes it was really healthy, and they shared and planned together. Sometimes, it was the exact opposite where each spouse hadn’t dealt with their own trust issues and relationships with money and it usually resulted in each spending not according to any perceived plan.”