Monday, November 21, 2011

I Did It

It took a solo shopping trip, shedding my last clinical day, getting 2 good test grades, and a mini-mondo (doesn't even make sense) shopping trip with my mother-in-law in which I procured a few Christmas decorations, but I finally let go of the stress

Have some things suffered? Yes. I haven't written another word on my NaNo novel since my write-in with Nicole Ducleroir last Wednesday. As of today, I'm a little over 10,000 words behind. Doesn't matter. I'm not going to finish, and I'm okay with it. I have 23,002 words that I didn't have before November 1. I showed myself that I can write every day, even when I'm really, really busy. Even more important, I showed myself that I'm mature enough to make tough decisions about self-denial and discipline. And it payed off--the test that I gave up NaNo for ended up being my highest test grade of the semester.

I also slept a lot. Friday night I went to bed at 8:20pm and woke up at 8:30am. When's the last time you got 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep? It was glorious. Last night, after shopping with Evan's mom, I snuggled with Evan on the couch (again, around 8:30) while he was playing Final Fantasy XIII and fell asleep with the kitties wrapped around me.

Oh, and you know what else I did? This:

The final painting project is now crossed off my December To-Do list before December. Before this paint job, the whole wall was painted the same beige color as above the chair rail, but now the bottom half is "Carroway Seed." Although I don't like giving her money, I ended up buying Martha Stewart paint because I'm a cheapskate at heart, and the gallons were on sale for 19 bucks. I was pretty iffy about the paint at first--it's very, very watery/runny, but it ended up giving really nice coverage with only one coat. My mother-in-law swears by the Benjamin Moore paint that costs 50 bucks a gallon, but that's just not in my budget right now (or rather, I don't want it to be). I'm happy with the end result, though.

The paint makes a huge difference in the living room, and my hideous couch finally doesn't look so bad. Evan even rearranged the furniture while I was out shopping. It's not Christmas tree friendly, but we still have a couple weeks before the tree will go up, so that's okay.

Last year's NaNo novel is whispering in my ear, but I'm going to ignore it for now. I'm afraid Lola Sharp might fly down here and beat me with my manuscript if I don't finish Token.

So. Things are good. Things are groovy. I've smiled a lot in the past few days. School is so close to over I can taste it. The temperature has been in the 40's, which is very holiday-spirit-inducing.

I'm happy.

Are you happy? What have you been up to? Thanksgiving plans this week? Black Friday shoppers? Cyber Monday clickers? Do tell.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just Let Go

The boiling point, the straw that broke the camel's back--you know what I mean. Sometimes it results in an uncontrollable fit of rage, or maybe a crying jag or an ice cream binge. We all handle it differently.

Yesterday, I reached mine. It's a culmination of things: the semester's incredible stress load building and building and building, not having enough time to keep my house clean (which is very important to me, and a very big stressor when it's not clean), not having enough time to spend with my husband, barely making my hours for my (thank goodness work-from-home) name it, I probably have it as a stressor right now.

And then Monday I had exam number 3 for nursing school, and yesterday I had my next-to-last exam in Anatomy & Physiology, which happened to be a lab practical. Because of the way the A&P instructor does her grades, I have a good bit of leeway in that test grade. Honestly, I could fail it and still pull an A out of the class, as long as I get an A on the final. The nursing exam took up every bit of my time from last Thursday night until Monday morning.

I stopped doing NaNoWriMo. I stopped cooking. I stopped talking to my husband, mostly, and I stopped smiling.

Now all the tests are done. I don't have tests again until December 5-6, finals. I have Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping with my MIL and other good things.

But the stress is still there. I didn't get that feeling of decompression after I turned in my exam yesterday. I didn't feel great about the grade, and even though I have "wiggle room" I'm still a perfectionist, a straight-A student who feels like an 89 equates failure. Stress.

I'm 8,000 words behind on NaNoWriMo and I don't care. I realized that even writing, as much as I love it, is a stressor to me right now.

I can't take any more. There's a principle in psychology, called the allostatic load, which basically states that there will be physiological consequences when more stress builds up than your body can handle. Chronic stress, the kind that gives you hypertension and puts you at cardiovascular risk. The kind that steals years from you.

So I'm letting go. I don't like it. I'm not the letting go type. I'm the hold-on-by-the-fingernails-until-I-die-of-the-pressure type. But I'm going to try.

I'm going to write, yes. But am I going to kick myself if I don't hit 50k by November 30th? No. I made great strides in my novel, found plot twists and characters that are fantastic.

Am I going to spend all of my Christmas break frantically trying to finish my novel? No. I thought I would, and then the thought of that made me cry a little. Seriously, cry. Writing shouldn't make you cry. The things you love shouldn't make you cry. 

So give yourself permission to LET THE F--- GO. What's important? I'll tell you: family, loved ones, your pets, YOURSELF. YOURSELF. Yourself.

I'm going to spend my December crocheting Christmas gifts, trying to learn how it knit, organizing my closets, and painting my living room. I'm going to finally finish The Tudors as I wrap presents, just like I did last year and loved it. I'm going to cook. I'm going to run.

Because next semester? Next semester laughs at this semester. Next semester is this semester's great-granddaddy. And if I don't let go of the stress now, then who knows what will happen? What will I look like come March?

I don't want to know.

So give yourself permission to let go. I am. And I'm going to try like hell to actually do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Seven Things (not samurai, sadly)

1. For the first time ever, I actually utilized Dropbox the way it's supposed to be used.
     a. (subpoint to 1) I also finally remembered there's a Starbucks in my campus bookstore that's much closer to the parking deck than the library. Next time, I'll bring a coat. #marketingploy

2. Um, the point of 1 was to say that I wrote between lab and class today (at Starbucks) and managed to get almost the full 1,667 in. It was super nifty to be able to pick it up out of Dropbox instead of trying to remember the gist of where I left off.

3. I'm listening to so much Maynard this NaNo that I'm even dreaming with "Judith" as a backdrop.

4. A NYT bestseller whom I've been fangirling since I was 14 and follow on Twitter listens to Christmas music when she's having the worst writing days. I decided to apply that principle to my LIFE, so I started listening to a holiday station on Pandora over the weekend. Not only was I super productive (like, wrote 2 papers AND painted my kitchen and bathroom), but it put me in a good mood. Yeah, I'm one of those people who loves seeing Christmas decorations go up early and only takes my tree down when it's absolutely dead as can be (and then we burn it in the firepit and it's fun and games.)

5. I've been randomly asking people all week what their favorite Christmas song is. Consider this me asking you. For me, the holidays are a mixture of happiness, joy, and some sense of aching sorrow. Therefore, my favorite Christmas songs are, to me, both beautiful and sad. "The Christmas Song," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

6. I have to study a sheep's brain for my lab practical next week...

7. I hope you, person reading this right this moment, are happy. If not, you should probably listen to some Christmas music.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First NaNoWriMo Check-in

Yesterday at Target I caved to sentimentality and bought the same kind of Glade candle that I burned the first year I won NaNoWriMo. In case you're curious, it's the Creamy Custard/Apple Cinnamon 2 in 1. I actually haven't gotten it again since that NaNo, so it's special. I remember a lot about that November: I was a month away from my wrist surgery, I got really sick and wrote anyway, and I broke all kinds of personal records for word count and such. That novel eventually became the first one I ever finished. 

Happy memories. 

It's funny how much things can change in 2 years, isn't it? 

Two years ago Evan and I were living in the shoebox apartment; this year we're 5 months into our own house that we bought and pay for like grown-ups. 

Two years ago I had no clue what I'd be doing with myself; this year I'm almost done with my first semester of nursing school, have 4 finished novels under my belt and am merrily whiling away on my 5th. 

Also, two years ago we didn't have these:

Writing used to have a high production value for me, as in it was a production for me to get started. Things had to be clean, my desk had to be just so, the right candles lit, the perfect music, etc. I still appreciate those things, but I can plunk out words whenever and wherever I need to now (though I still need music, if at all possible). Maybe I'm growing up, huh? 

There's usually a NaNo thread showing off pictures of your writing space (which I love), but I didn't find it this year, so in the spirit of then-and-now, here we go:

I'm not sure where the original of this photo is, but this is what it looked like during  the first year I won NaNo., 2009.

Last year's space. I won't lie--I loved this office, and I still kinda miss it. 

My current set-up. I have a big desk calendar hanging on the wall to my left now, but everything else is the same. See how I tried to copy my old setup? It's not the same, but I'm pretty used to it now. Oh, and there's a lamp tucked in that back left corner by my desk, too...

So tell me: what's changed with you? Or if this is your first year participating, how's it going? Actually, how's it going period?