Confession…

I’ve been working on this post for five days. That’s not really my confession, it’s just that wording it has been difficult.

One of my resolutions this coming year is to exercise — get active, get out of the house, do more physical activity, and especially build up my upper body strength. So here’s the thing: When money was tighter, I used to avoid exercise because I worried that working out would make me more hungry, and I’d have to spend more on food. There. I’ve said it. I actually used to be afraid that getting healthy would be more expensive than…well, not. For the same reason, I used to drink pop all the time to save the juice for the kids, eat peanut butter and jam twice a day so the kids would have all the cereals, soups, mini ravioli, etc.

But things have been getting better. I cut out most of my pop drinking last year, or at least the non-diet. I know that the diet pops are just as bad for me in different ways, so I’m trying to focus back on the herbal teas. It’s the fizz that’s the hardest to let go of — I like fizz. Bubbles on my tongue just make me happy.

The exercising, though — I need to do that. I’m not sure whether it’s going to make me more hungry, but I have to dive in, anyway. There will always be bills to pay, but I won’t always have my health.

I’m afraid of making this resolution and not keeping it, but I asked my husband for a membership to a local gym, and the wonderful man obliged. Now the hard part is breaking my pattern and actually getting there…but last night I found my workout clothes (old-ish leggings and some workout tops donated by a friend who lost some weight), and on the weekend I retrieved my running (lol) shoes from work. The only thing stopping me now is *me*… well, that and making sure my kids are good. The gym doesn’t have babysitting, but my son is just about old enough to babysit his little sister. It’s making sure they’re fed and happy before I go, but it’s probably better for my peace of mind if I wait until my hubby gets home from work. I’m very, very good at making excuses to NOT go to the gym, but I’ve also been making an effort to get out of the house on walks, so going to exercise is something I am GOING to do.

Now, here’s a question: two years ago, I got back into yoga for a bit (which I want to do again, if I can make space in this small house to do it) and I tried running. I lasted until a big heat wave. I found, though, that on the days I exercised, I wasn’t able to do very much writing. In fact, barely any. On the days when I sat around on my bum, I did a ton of writing. So how do I find the balance between the two? Also, those were things I did in the summertime, when I wasn’t teaching. Can I find a balance between these during the regular school year? Teaching all day…parenting when I get home and in the early morning…going to the gym at least three times a week, after school (or evenings, maybe)…writing when? At bed time? On the days I’m not at the gym — maybe while waiting for the kids during their activities (karate & dance)? There’s reading for my own pleasure, too. And cleaning. Let’s not forget the cleaning.

Sometimes I think I should be like Sheldon on TBBT, scheduling time for everything. I’m not sure how well it would work, though. Something always comes up, when I’ve tried that in the past. And not accomplishing something in the time I have allocated is simply bruising to my self-esteem.

But I need to have time to write — the third book in my trilogy has been percolating and it feels like it wants to take shape. And promoting, I have to make time for contacting reviewers and bloggers. Book One of the Talbot Trilogy will be coming at me any day now for edits, and Book Two needs revisions and editing. At the same time, I need to get out and be active (in some way that doesn’t hurt my stupid ankle), spend time with my kids and help them with their homework, spend time with my hubby, keep up the house with their help (and spend time training them to do so)… Is it any wonder that hiding in my bed seems like a much easier alternative?

I am not a Type A personality, or whatever — so if you’re like me, how do you keep it all together? What do you do when you have to let something go in order to get other things done? How do you prioritize?

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Three Days after Solstice

Even though I didn’t celebrate Yule the way I wanted and had envisioned, I still enjoyed the moment as it passed.

I have a clear memory of a conversation I had with my mother, though whether I was 11 or 12 at the time isn’t certain. What I do remember is telling her that when I became an adult, I would be celebrating Christmas as an expression of joy in winter: that I would be rejoicing in the change of seasons, in the beauty of winter, because that was the value I saw in the holiday.

I still see that.

And that is what I have been doing. I’ve been listening to traditional Christmas carols — the songs about sleigh rides, snow, evergreens, mistletoe. None of the winter elements of the holiday have much to do with the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem. But they have everything to do with Saturnalia, with Yule, with the time of the year when Persephone has descended to the underworld and life sleeps. When the snow comes, and the days shorten, we have two choices, as I see it: we can run away and hide from it, OR we can embrace it.

This year, I have chosen to embrace the cold. I’m doing much better at taking my children outside to play and slide and make snow angels. I’m lighting candles, and enjoying the peace of the dark nights. I’m taking my dog for walks in the winter night, admiring the lights on neighbourhood houses.

All of the colour, the glowing, the giving and receiving of gifts — it speaks to me of balance. When the world grows dark and cold, we join together (whenever we can) to reflect on our blessings and share our abundance, so everyone has enough to get through. There is so much symbolism in gift-giving, in the plump energy of Santa Claus. We party, and feast, and decorate, keeping our spirits going.

So, as a Pagan and a Wiccan, and a witch, this season has a lot of meaning for me. It goes deeper than the label. I may not have done the ritual I wanted to perform for Yule, but already, three days later, I can feel how the wheel of life has turned. It’s an intangible sensation in the air, in the body, in the sunshine. We’ve passed the test of the dark and the sunlight is slowly returning. When my children and my husband open their gifts tomorrow morning, and I receive their tokens of love, we’ll be completing our own ritual, celebrating our beliefs in each other, and in the potential of humanity to overcome all that is cold, dead, and wrong in the world.

On the practical side, until then, I will be cleaning and getting the children to help me with that, until their father comes home and our fun activities can begin.

I hope that, whatever you believe, you are with family and friends this week, or next. That you are safe, happy, healthy, have enough to eat, clean water, warmth, and love with you.

BB

Feelings, Logic, and Christmas

I did not attend my staff Christmas party last night. I think I should have gone, but I can’t change the fact that I stayed home.

I told myself that I was staying home to save a bit of money. We’ve had some unforeseen expenses this month, so it seemed like a good decision at the time.

I told myself that I am a socially awkward penguin and it would be better if I avoided my peers again. (I’ve been eating most of my lunches alone, quite content to not engage in conversations with anyone.)

I didn’t want to risk hearing about our current job action, and knowing that my husband is sometimes uncomfortable around my colleagues, I didn’t want to have to worry about that.

When he told me I could have gone alone, that just felt…weird.

I think what is bothering me the most — in my attempt to look at my feelings logically — is that the staff Christmas party is an annual gathering, a ritual that is part of the season, and by not participating in it, I have skewed some of the balance in my life. (Well — what balance there is.)

Some of my best memories of Christmas as a child have to do with going to see people. I love certain Christmas songs because I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car, snuggled warmly in coats and blankets, travelling the highway either to relatives or on the way back home. That security of knowing I was loved, protected, and at peace with the world — it seems to come more rarely these days.

We won’t be seeing much of our family this year. Maybe that’s also what is bothering me.

We’ll be able to see my parents on Christmas Day, since they’re only an hour and a half from here, but to go another five hours and visit our in-laws and my brother — it’s just not going to happen. We managed it, very last minute, last year, after telling ourselves we weren’t going to go anywhere. But this year we are definitely staying home.

It hurts that no-one has offered to come up and see us. I know that some members of our family are just as cash-strapped, but the ones who could probably afford it haven’t offered or said they wished they could come.

To me, Christmas is a time for gathering with your loved ones, enjoying their company, catching up and just being together. I hate the pressure to buy things, so I often make gifts if I give myself enough time. (I haven’t made any this year, as yet.) But I love watching someone open a gift I have chosen or made for them. I love feeling welcomed into someone’s home, or having someone here. We don’t often have guests in our little house, but I like it when we do.

So maybe my bad feelings today are linked to that knowledge that we won’t be seeing our extended family at Christmas. It’s too expensive and the distances are too far this time. The big family gatherings I remember from my childhood are happening less and less. I know this hurts my dad and my mom, too — this is one of the reasons why they’ve given me a hard time over missing my cousins’ weddings in the last few years.

I also tend to feel the weight of the world at this time of year. I am acutely conscious of the suffering that happens in so many places. I get torn over what charity to donate to, and the barrage of pleas to help suffering children tears at my heart. I feel most vulnerable at this time of year, as fragile as one of the ornaments on my tree. I also tend to get physically sick when I get my break from work, and I’m already feeling the most recent virus getting its party on in my body.

Christmas feels like such a lonely time to me. I can feel myself beginning to spiral down into depression, and though I’m taking steps to try to stop it — walks with my dog, attempting to keep my house clean, sending cards and wrapping my children’s gifts every night — it feels like a black hole has opened beneath me and is slowly pulling me in. I am unhappy. Over the last few days, I’ve just wanted to cry all the time. I wonder whether knowing we were going to have visitors would help… Certainly, it would add to my stress, but it would also give me incentive.

Last night, I watched a holiday episode of “Community” in which Abed was having difficulty accepting that his mother wasn’t going to visit him for Christmas. I understand that very much. The feeling of wanting to just shut down, shut everything out, because numbness is easier than pain…

That was another reason why I didn’t go to the party last night. I long for numbness, and I think I would have had way too much to drink. My husband went to work at 4:30 this morning. I didn’t relish the thought of being alone with my kids with a wicked hangover. And I know that drinking is not the answer to my mental illness.

Christmas, Yule — the celebration of togetherness, of working our way through the darkest nights of the year, blowing off steam, glorying in the purity and beauty of winter — is both pleasure and pain to me. I love it and I hate it. I want to indulge, and I want to withdraw. I want to make my loved ones happy, and I want to be surprised by someone I love, to spend time with them and yes, maybe even be given a token of their affection. Knowing that the latter is not going to happen — that I won’t see my big brother (with whom I have only recently begun communicating with, on a regular basis) and his family, my sister-in-law and her family, etc. — it hurts a lot.

And I know, in the grand scheme of things, that I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. I also feel what I feel. And right now, I feel…miserable. Christmas songs make me feel sad. Seeing trees lit up through the windows of my neighbours make me feel sad. I want to take to my bed and sleep through the holiday. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way. Won’t be the last.

So if there is anyone out there who feels like this at Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate — or if you know anyone who suffers with depression at this time of year — please, leave a comment below. Sometimes knowing I’m not alone in this is incredibly helpful. Sharing coping strategies would be good, too. I’m told frequently that I put too much pressure on myself, and this time of year it’s particularly strong. Leave a comment, and I’ll consider it a hug of support.

Love,
Tori

Post-NaNo, Pre-Christmas/Yule, with Injury to Boot

So. I feel great that I met my writing goal for November, and now have a second completed book — to which I must now devote time in editing and revisions. Meanwhile, I have three weeks of marking to catch up on (that’s actually kind of normal for this time of year, for me).

My daughter’s birthday is this week, and her party approaches on the coming weekend. I haven’t done any present shopping as yet.

Nor have I decorated for Christmas/Yule. The house is still in its disorganized, jumbled, frightening state that it was in October.

I have held off my seasonal affective disorder for 30-odd days, but since I sprained my ankle badly over a week ago, it’s looming in the background like a great shadowy cloud. Not being able to move is definitely contributing. I recognize that there are many people who sustain worse injuries and anticipate being off their feet for much longer. What concerns me is how mine might potentially impact my mental health.

It’s not for lack of trying. I obediently took to crutches for four days after the incident, and then attempted to move without them for a day. It was a mistake. I had a number of colleagues tell me with great delight (haven’t heard so many “I Told You So’s” in a long time) that it was too soon to try walking solo. Returned to crutches. Took a day off work. And then had someone tell me, “You’re still on crutches?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Although I have much more mobility and much less pain, I’ve been told and have read all about how sprains — especially bad ones — take a long time to heal, and if you’re not patient, are never really the way they were. So instead of cleaning the mess of my home, shopping for Christmas cards and Christmas lights, going with my children and our dog for some lovely walks in the fresh snow, I’ve been sitting. And sitting.

And sitting.

I’ve attempted some writing. After 30 days of daily writing, I’ve taken about a week’s break, and now I think I am ready to get back.

But what I really want is a clean house, decorated for Yule, with room for yoga and wrapping presents.

Santa, can you hear me?

Also, some help on how to make my children pick up the slack — that would be nice.

I do have to say, though, that my adoring husband has been doing what he’s able, on top of his 12-hour work days driving taxi, to stay ahead of the dishes and laundry.

What this experience has brought home to me (um, yet again) is that I need to turn a deaf ear to whines of not wanting to do things and engage my children in helping with the upkeep of our home. That will require training, patience, and consequences.

And motivation on my part. Motivation is something I lack in the darkest part of the year.

Santa, I repeat — can you hear me?

Covers: Anthologies and e-Magazines

Book Covers Banner December 2012 Alternate

my titles, from left to right & top to bottom:
“Mist and Midnight”, “Telltale Signs”, “A Living Specimen”, “Brain Games and “Bio-Zombie”, “Thy Will be Done”, and “Tabitha’s Solution”

New Release! “Tabitha’s Solution” in Having My Baby!

When Tabitha’s baby is a week overdue, she’s willing to do just about anything to get the labour started! Funny, sweet, and poignant…

Click on the link to order your copy, and enjoy the excerpt below! 

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/anthologies/havingmybaby.html

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He was nearly a week overdue.

Tabitha traced the red circle she had drawn on the calendar to mark her due date six and a half months earlier.  

“Time to come out, little one,” she murmured, patting her full, round belly.  The burden inside shifted lazily under her touch.  “Just try not to hurt mama too much on the way, all right?”

In twenty-four hours, if things didn’t get moving on their own, her labour would have to be induced.  Tabitha was more than ready to get going, but the prospect of that particular medical procedure somehow bothered her more than the idea of giving birth itself.  Her body would know what to do when the time came.  Having extra poking and prodding to make it happen seemed a little like — overkill.

But her midwife had been adamant:  if she was not in labour by the 7th, away to the hospital they would go.  No home birth.  Possibly a c-section.  

It seemed like her pregnancy could be summed up in numbers.

Six and a half days overdue.  

Two years of trying — less than some parents experienced, but longer than others would tolerate before heading to the fertility doctor.  

Eight pregnancy tests before her husband, Rick, was assured that they were really and truly going to have a baby.  He’d been thrilled after the two little blue lines appeared in the first test, but he’d suggested that she pee on the stick again, and again, and again, just in case.  After all, the second test had shown negative results.  Later, at the midwives’ office, they’d learned that a false negative was a common phenomenon in the early stages.  

There was no doubt about it at this point, Tabitha reflected. The negative had definitely been false. 

Forty pounds of extra weight…please let it come off quickly, she prayed.

Tabitha wrenched her gaze away from the calendar as the kettle shrieked on the stove.  She padded heavily over to turn off the element, not quite waddling but not in an easy gait.  Since her pelvis had loosened a few weeks ago, walking was a bit of an adventure in balance.  Her great, round belly made her feel like a cow at times, unwieldy and awkward.  In other moments, when she caught a glimpse of her silhouette with her full breasts and plump bottom, and her hair grown out longer than it had ever been, she felt deliciously womanly and sexy.

An opinion that Alex was happy to share.

“Hey, gorgeous,” he called out from the top of the stairs to their basement 

apartment, “I rented you a movie for tonight!”  

The sound of the door shutting echoed down the stairs.  Tabitha smiled tiredly.  No matter how fat and exhausted she became, her husband never failed to make her feel better.  She listened to him coming in, tromping down the plastic liner on the carpet.  

“Shoes!” she reminded him, without turning.  

“Shoes,” Alex grudgingly agreed, grumbling cheerfully as he turned back to the bottom steps.  

Every speck of dirt showed in their tiny wall-to-wall cream carpet one-bedroom flat.  Organization seemed to be the one goal that consistently escaped Tabitha’s grasp — there were copious piles of textbooks, binders, bills, used tea mugs, and discarded notes on every flat surface, marking her as a university student in her final year.  The bright, open-concept main room had enough space for their two second-hand couches, the coffee table, a cheap wooden shelf for the cable-less TV and VCR, an overcrowded plywood computer desk, and their kitchen table.  The boundary between the living space and eating space was marked by a large fruitless orange tree, the only plant that Tabitha had managed to avoid killing with love.  

She called the plant “George”.  

Tabitha’s inability to keep green things alive didn’t bother her as much as the clutter in their home.  Alex never complained that they couldn’t actually eat at the table.  The worn-in sofa cushions were fine, he reassured her; the baby certainly wouldn’t care.  She plunked a decaffinated tea bag in her mug, eying the piles of clean laundry in the middle of the room that still needed folding.  Her husband’s clean aprons and chef’s coats lay precariously on top of the largest pile, taunting her.  She couldn’t procrastinate on the housework anymore, having finished her last essay for the term that morning.  At least, with the baby so overdue, she had been able to complete her final assignments and would be awarded her degree.  That was one worry she could finally put aside. 

But the mess… If their home was going to be ready for the little stranger, she had to get busy after he changed and went to his second shift of the day.  Alex did what he could to contribute, washing dishes, making meals ahead, and doing all the grocery shopping in the knowledge that Tabitha loathed those chores, but he had been working extra shifts for months to put extra money aside.

Who knew?  Maybe a round of energetic cleaning would get things in the uterine department moving!

 __________

Download your copy today — http://www.melange-books.com/authors/anthologies/havingmybaby.html

 

 

I’m live on the Coffee Time Romance until midnight!

Come and post a comment — read some excerpts (if you’re 18+) — you could win a pdf copy of Midnight Thirsts and Midnight Thirsts II!

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/showthread.php?t=27497

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/showthread.php?t=27502