Wednesday, May 29, 2019


I haven't gotten around to finishing one of the stories I started this year. If I can get it finished, that would make three for the year. So I'm still behind, even when I finish, but at least I'd be done and able to move on from that one. I keep thinking about it and not getting to an end.

Over the weekend, Ambrose brought up to me a theory, that people know who they are, what they are good at, from a young age, and simply actualize that knowledge as they grow up. His opinion is that is true for both of us, but I'm not sure about me.

I thought about what I've known myself to be good at from a young age. Reading. Schoolwork (especially standardized tests). Maybe writing.


Because a child who is good at writing isn't the same thing as an adult who is good at writing. Writing that is good for a child is not the level one expects at an adult, professional level. I doubt myself. I doubt my skills and abilities when it comes to things that I cannot measure. That, perhaps, no one can truly measure.

Everyone gets to choose their own opinions on books and stories. Liking, not liking, loving, hating. There is no objective measuring stick that can tell you that one book is good and another is bad. Sure, some might be "bad" due to poor grammar or word choices, but if the story is compelling, some readers can and will overlook that. And other books might be "good" because they are proclaimed to be so by the literary canon. But some of those books are not to many people's tastes, and that's just the way it is.

And yet, every time I send a story out on submission and get rejected, it gets to me. I want that validation that having a story purchased would bring. I don't pay attention to any of the stories and books that I've put on Amazon. I know I have trickles of sales each month, because Amazon does send me emails when I'm going to be getting a payment. I'm alright with trickles, because that's not nothing. But I still wish I could see something bigger happen. Validation again.

So I'm not sold on Ambrose's theory. Especially as I look at what my physical habits are now. I'm more physically active now than I've ever been in my life. I backpack, alone in the wilderness, and with company. Those aren't thing I would have imagined I'd ever do, or seen myself as capable of doing.

I'm a manager at work, which is not something I ever saw myself doing. I never liked taking the lead when I was young. It didn't seem like the kind of thing that suited me. And yet, I am doing it and not doing a horrible job.

Perhaps he would argue that those things were always in my subconscious mind, and I've been aiming myself at them without realizing. And I think about how my upbringing, my socialization, involved a lot of suppression. Be quiet. Don't cry. It could very well be that I believed I could not lead, and I believed I could not be physically active, and so it was true until I stopped believing it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Oh, Coffee...

I've resisted taking this step for a while now, but, on Sunday, I finally decided to quit coffee.

Coffee is one of the foods that I should be avoiding on a low residue diet. I wanted to see if I could "get away with" drinking my single morning cup each day, and, for a while, it seemed that I could. But I started paying more attention to how drinking coffee made me feel. And while on the weekdays it seemed to be treating me alright, on the weekends, I did not enjoy it.

If I drank coffee before working out, then I had to deal with a lot of needing to pee. Plus I would get some lightheadedness and just generally not feel that great. And my weekend workouts run late enough that drinking coffee after them can keep me up at night. My husband can drink coffee whenever he wants and still be sound asleep five minutes later. I can't drink coffee within about 6 hours of bedtime without feeling the effects.

The other factor that made this a difficult choice was that I am one of those people who have a hard time stopping coffee. I get physical withdrawal effects, including an incredibly nasty headache that can last a week if I go cold turkey. I'm trying to ease the withdrawal by not completely cutting out caffeine, but instead greatly reducing it by switching from a morning coffee to a morning green tea.

Well, I did go all day Sunday without any caffeine, so I had a headache most of Monday even with the tea. But then on Tuesday, I woke up feeling more awake and alert, even at 4:30 in the morning. The headache did come on Tuesday, but it didn't come on as quickly as Monday's or as strongly, so I think this method will prove better than cold turkey for me. I've gotten off coffee before, and I know that I don't need it to function. In some ways, I function better without it. I'm hoping to discover whether my tummy functions better without it.

I'd hate to say goodbye to coffee for good. I never liked the taste of it as a kid, but I've always loved the smell of it. It's a nice morning ritual. But if I can prove to myself that it adversely affects my tummy, then I'll stop. That can't be any harder than getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go to CrossFit, right? And I do that all the time now, even though there was definitely a time in my life when if I was awake at 4:30 in the morning, it was because I never went to sleep.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


My tummy seems to be calming down. Health-wise, I'm feeling pretty good this week. I mean, I'm really tired, but I'm pretty sure that's entirely due to the ramping up of exercise that I've been engaged in for the last couple weeks. 

I had a beer last weekend - just one. It was a bit of an experiment, to see how I would feel, and if it would affect my stomach adversely in an obvious fashion. I probably should have waited until I felt 100 percent better in the tummy before doing that, but there was a social occasion, so I took advantage of it. 

The beer was good; I think if I had been more diligent in drinking water, and maybe if I hadn't sat in the sun for an hour, that I wouldn't have noticed any effects at all. As it was, I felt a bit dehydrated and hungover in the evening, and my stomach was quite unsettled the next morning. I felt a bit dizzy and lightheaded as well, especially as I set out on my hike. 

See, on Sunday, I did a CrossFit workout, then my Spartan prep workout, came home and ate a meal, then headed right back out for a hike up to Table Rock wearing my new hiking shoes and my zpacks Arc Blast. It was the first time I hiked with that pack with weight - not much of it, but some. A good 14 pounds or so. And at the start of the hike I felt sick. I had to stop and pee at the first two opportunities. But then I started climbing up the trail and I felt better. Not great, but better. 

My bowel movements haven't quite evened out to the point where I want them to be, but my stomach is overall feeling much better. The main problem I'm having lately is that feeling of lightheadedness, especially when I work out. I try snacking and I try drinking more water and I try drinking more sports drinks... None of it seems to have any effect. Though snacking can help, especially while I'm working out. 

Ambrose and I are generally trying to address the stomach blip by mostly bland foods with a slow reintroduction of more spiced foods. Well, I should write that Ambrose is. I only hear about the plan after it's been in effect for a while, because he's the cook. 

I do feel good about staying the course and trying to address the stomach issue. I still am not feeling that panicky feeling I had before that made me feel like I had no control whatsoever over the pain going on in my abdominal area. We're figuring it out. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Health Spike

I was doing just fine, but something set me off. I suppose it's possible I do have IBS as well as mild gastroparesis. The nausea is back, and I feel like I'm not passing my poop in a timely fashion. There's abdominal pain, in a variety of flavors, from a general ache to a needle prick poke to a cold burning and the feeling that something just isn't right.

I have suspicions on two items that might have triggered this. I'm looking at salsa con queso and iron supplements.

In the past, I've had issues with taking multivitamins. Some brands would give me a stomach ache, so I bought name brands. And then I stopped spending money on vitamins because I was tired of having expensive pee. But, I donated blood for the first time in April, and I was feeling pretty tired and rundown afterwards, so my husband and I decided it might not be a bad idea to take some extra iron.

Closely coincident with the taking of the iron, I returned from a workout and suggested that we put salsa con queso on our shrimp and rice dinner. Salsa con queso is kind of cheese, but not exactly the same as cheese. And it has little bits of peppers, which include skin, aka residue. And I'm supposed to avoid residue and limit milk.

Given that, I'll be limiting my dairy intake a bit more closely, sticking mostly to kefir and yogurt drinks.

I'll be avoiding both iron supplements and salsa con queso until this tummy upset passes, but I do feel more confident now that it will pass. And I'm a bit excited to have found that something triggers the pain instead of it feeling completely random. Looking at the whole thing more as a puzzle or a system problem that needs troubleshooting is a lot better for my state of mind.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Getting Over It

When I was in junior high, I got bullied by my brother. He was being bullied at high school, and, being a teenager, didn't handle it very well. He passed his anger to me, and I turned that anger and the taunts inward. I accepted that I would never be athletic, and that trying to change that was pointless.
Even when I did Tae Kwon Do for a while, I knew I wasn't an athlete. I could memorize forms alright, but when it came to actually doing things, I fell short. 

In college, I explored some athletic things, but I always held myself back. I always believed that I couldn't run, couldn't get much stronger. That wasn't me. I scorned runners while secretly admiring that thing they could do that I knew I couldn't. 

When I did start running, and then backpacking, I began to get a new understanding of myself. Not quite an athlete, perhaps, but athletic. I could move my body and what it needed to survive across miles of mountains, through forests and across streams. What I looked like to others didn't matter, because I could DO these things. 

For several years, I lived within half a mile of a CrossFit box. I would drive by, even walk by, but I never got the nerve up to go in. I blamed the fact that the website didn't have any pricing information, but the real reason was that I was scared. I believed that I didn't belong there. 

After a move across town, another CrossFit box opened near my new location, within a quarter of a mile. As if the universe were giving me a hint, pushing me closer to a kind of exercise that I imagined was far beyond my reach. 

Just to get my foot in the door at Arbor CrossFit, I've had to overcome a harsher critic than anyone external can ever be. To convince myself that I was worthwhile, able, took years. So if anyone there were to imply or outright state that I didn't belong, I would shrug it off. Maybe even laugh and agree and keep on doing my work. Because I've already stepped over a much higher barrier than anyone else could ever generate.

There's nothing anyone else could tell me that I didn't tell myself for years. Not good enough, doesn't belong, not an athlete. I don't think anyone would, but if someone did try to tell me any of those things, I might cry. But I'd also burn with a desire to prove them wrong. I proved myself wrong, after all.

I haven't done much writing lately. Fiction writing, that is. I wrote a few stories, then did some submissions, and then stopped when the rejections came back. Because there is this voice inside me that tells me that I'm not good enough. That my writing doesn't work. That I'm never going to sell a story anyway, so why bother?

Writing has been something that I've been "good" at. To get to the point where I'm writing and submitting stories hasn't been the same kind of difficult journey that exercise has been for me. Writing was my escape from everything when I was in high school. I'm well practiced at it, and yet, I meet with "failure" again and again and can't seem to get myself in the mindset of working past it.

Sure, I've self published a number of stories, and I'm rather proud of my nonfiction offerings. But I'm not getting into a habit of writing fiction, which is the only way to really improve (practice). When I recently articulated to a friend the way I feel about my athleticism, I realized that I need to put that same kind of doggedness into my fiction writing. I have it in me to ignore the critical and just enjoy the workout.

Time to do the same for stories.