Posted in Creativity, Seize the Day!, Time, Writing

A Judging Squirrel Picture is Worth a Half-Thousand Words.

squagI have totally been misusing after-work hours today (and most others) neglecting my art, adult coloring books.  Ha!  I wish that was really the problem because I can’t get enough of those, and I have new gel pens and a bad words book.  It’s really funny to see flowing cursive curses surrounded by paisley patterns and glittery colors.

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Nuts and Bolts!  Can you imagine this guy with a swearing thought bubble!  It makes me laugh.  I’m so immature sometimes.

But my true neglected art is writing.  I promise to post a new blog!  I think I can.  I know I can. Squirrel!

Oh, how I procrastinate to create!  I interrupt my free time with online shopping, puzzle building, exercise, coloring, games of Skip Bo, social networking, and so on. All of this keeps me away from my stories though.

Why do I often hide from the keyboard?  I am not a squirrel but am a mole, tunneling underground with only a few finished projects and a messy yard.  I don’t play Whac-A-Mole and instead breed more reasons to keep from my writing.

Why do this?  I truly love words and making them sing on the page. I love writing and have so much to say.  I’m not secretive.  I’m not lazy.  But I think, therefore I am the intrusion to my own creative muse.  Thoughts come and go, and so do opportunities to write with a genuine commitment.  I let them soar away like a flying squirrel.

Squirrel!  I just want to go nutty on this little gavel pounding varmint.  Who is this fuzzy judge in the picture urging me to compose something new, refreshing, and interesting?   The pressure is on to create, yet I just want to go Bill Murray-Caddy Shack-Crazy and crush him.  I will steal his food. I will plug up his hole in the tree and…

And actually I will hug him.  Yes, yes I will.  I will call him George and I will love him and pet him and squeeze him. I will pet his feather duster tail and hand feed him buttery Ritz Crackers.  I will shake his little paw in thanks for getting me off the hide-and-seek writing hook. I do not want the squirrel of judgment looking down on me.

I really must balance on my alphabet beam or I’m going to lose some letters. Oh dear!  What would happen if I even lost one of the twenty-six alphabet characters.  I once went a whole day without the letter “L” on my keyboard where I teach.   It was very hard to be Mrs. _ucas.  What the “L”?  I needed that middle of the alphabet player, so I’m not willing to lose a single one, not even Q (I get it.  He needs U to make sense, but they’re quite a beautiful couple if you query me.)

Seriously, no more distractions.

Squirrel!  I have stories to tell, and this year I’m getting it done!!!

 

Posted in Dogs, Health and Wellness, Running, Seize the Day!

And I Would Run 500 Miles, and I Would Run 500 More…

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I first composed the barebones of this over four years ago to highlight (and lowlight) the final run of my first year’s electronically recorded miles using the Nike Running App. Each venture out is as unique as the Pennsylvania snowflakes I waltz with each winter.  This last run of the year was certainly a rarity.  Road running is full of excitement, rewards, and surprises with unpredictable weather, terrain, and strength.  NOTE: I avoid treadmills like lima beans and will only touch one if I absolutely need to.  

In September of 2012, I figured out that I could track 500 miles before my one-year “appiversary” on November 30, 2012.  This is a little story about those closing, annual steps.   

Today, using the same app, I calculated 570 runs and 2624 miles. Such a little thing has made all the difference at inspiring and holding me accountable me as a runner.  This morning, I also saw yellow-vest-guy taking his morning stroll (more about him later).  

*** NOVEMBER 29, 2012***

Tomorrow marks an entire year since I invested my best $2 for my iPhone’s Nike Running App. Its accurate record keeping and reliable GPS have motivated me to go faster and further.  The past 364 days granted me various runs with a burn of over 50,000 extra calories, often stemming from Goldfish Crackers swimming in my red wine sips (my favorite food and drink combo ever).    

Today I got up at 5:00 am to snag my 120th run of the year, the one that would get me to mile 500.  I ventured out and kissed the frosty 28 degree November wind with Vaseline slathered lips. The dogs and I were ready to hit the road. I pulled my hat down tight over my ears, placed my headphones atop, and nestled my phone in my armband. I pushed start and listened to the encouraging female app voice countdown, “Three-two-one, beginning workout.”  

img_0309The first two miles were chilly but comfortable.  Both dogs had an extra spring in their paws, like they knew this was a special run for me (Every run to them is always special, like extra bacon on Christmas morning).  Today’s course was our street lit neighborhood where the dogs know the hills, flat parts, and possible cat sightings.

Italia’s aging hips and legs still carry her forward, but to avoid injury she only runs a couple miles.  We needed to clear about five and half, so I dropped her off after two and accidentally “ended” the app workout instead of “pausing”.  Dang, I just wanted today’s final mile to happen during one run, but I couldn’t dwell on it. I just had to track two separate workouts instead of one.  

Louie would finish the final miles with me though.  I used to feel guilty returning Italia while Louie remained,  but he’s still such a rambunctious pup who needs the extra exercise.   He is almost a year old and is both hyperactive and noisy.  He barks at everything with legs, without legs, with wheels, without wheels, with shadows, and without.  He barks at his own echoes of barks.  Louie is the annoying neighborhood barker.   When I can zap some of his energy, it helps mute his squeaky squawk.

Back to the driveway, I hit “start” again waited for the “Three-two-one, beginning workout” signal and sped up the hill.  The sky barely lightened since we started. Thankfully the streetlights shine on, especially during these starless, cloudy mornings.  

The next two miles were smooth and serene.  So far this was a good run.  The randomly shuffled tunes blared out the best motivators for a private race like this.  I fist pumped around the hood to the beats of “Born to Run” (not joking), “Old Time Rock and Roll”, and a Serbian Orthodox chant that helped me pray.  My feet lightened like a gazelle while I dreamily prepped for my finish line and the extra cyber cheers my app would deliver.   

Suddenly, the fuzzy needle scratched over the record album as a street light burnt out while I ran beneath it.  That happened only once before, and that was a very bad day.  Oh oh.  Was that a skunk odor spoiling the refreshing air?   Louie kept pulling to the right, the source of the smell.  I didn’t have time to be jinxed or skunked.  I was too close to the end for these distractions.    

With less than half mile left, I zipped through my final song-length’s-hill.  The finale, the monumental moment was near.  I got back into the groove and danced up Stephen’s Road to Rusted Root’s “Send me on my Way”:

(On my way, on my way) I would like to reach out my hand, I may see you, I may tell you to run (On my way, on my way). You know what they say about the young!

This song reminds me of college when I was twenty-years younger, and a pack-a-day smoker, not a smokin’ runner.   Thankfully, I gave that habit up and picked up this one.

With just one-tenth of a mile left to go, I diverted back into my current reality.  More than ready to flash to the end and grab my imaginary medal, I’d love to report that something like “Chariots of Fire” belted out while I crossed my personal finish line.  “Ch, ch, ch, ch bring in the synthesizer, the piano, the percussion, the strings!  We are here today to honor the legend.  Donna’s gonna do it! Cymbals! Who has the bloody cymbals? With hope in her heart and wings on her heels.”  Instead, the cowbell clanged with absurdities and obscenities.    

Louie tugged at his leash again, this time to the left.  He spied my elderly neighbor taking his early walk. This active old man and I have never spoken to each other during these morning jaunts around the hood, and except for the obligatory wave, I only know that he lives in a well-groomed ranch and wears his reflective fluorescent yellow vest every time he walks.  I’m a chatty neighbor and would love to talk, but he just lifts his hand in a half-mast-wave and keeps a serious stride.  It’s obvious that he doesn’t want my morning chit chat, so I just wag my hand like a puppy’s tail and smile.   

When Louie saw yellow-vest-guy, his need to greet him was strongly intense.  Maybe he thought he could get the quiet man to do a trick and speak.  Louie yelped and whined and bolted toward him with relentless sheltie persistence.  I screamed a bunch of opposing, confusing commands, “Louie!  Stop it! Heal! Come on! Let’s Go! Damnit! Quit it!”   My crazy minion of a canine and I tug-o-warred with his paisley print leash.  Yellow-vest-guy stood like a statue until I got things under control.  I wonder if he thought I was yelling at him or if he realized my dog was obnoxiously trying to jump on him to lick his shiny reflectors.  

When I successfully yanked Louie back, my iPhone came loose from my armband, jetted out, and dove to the earth like an asteroid.  “Sh#@!  My phone!  My miles!”  I quickly sprinted to and picked up my device that luckily landed in the grass instead of the road.  Although it seemed unharmed, I still hadn’t made it to my finish line,  my app cheers, my fake crowd of fans, my self-made trophy, and my triumphant end.  

Yellow-vest-guy stood still, like a mannequin, while I cursed Louie (who now angelically sat by my side like the champion of puppy obedience school).  I swore at my cheap piece of sh%@ armband and shook my phone like an Etch-a-Sketch trying to get it out of screensaver mode.  I stripped off my non-touch screen gloves to get back to the app.  

I needed to record my 500th mile!   There it was, Nike+.  I plugged the headphones back into the phone, and started running towards home with the phone in my hand.  Three-two-one, and in a breath I caught my 500th mile.  Imagine that.  I was only seconds away from my goal that ended with embarrassing expletives, disturbances of the peace, warped facial gestures, and foul dog antics.  

Perhaps my next running year will end on a more victorious step, but, if not, all the footprints that lead up to it will hopefully be as glorious, therapeutic, peaceful, painful, relieving, and  energetic as this one.  img_0310

Posted in Seize the Day!, Writing

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo – November 1, 2016

Who out there knows what this is?  If you don’t are you curious?  Is it a name for a grandma?  Is it an expression from a new character on earth (similar to Mork from Ork — Nano Nano).  Is it the worst possible name to give to your brand new puppy?  How about your new kitty?  It stands for something, but if you’ve never seen it, then you might come up with all sorts of other balderdash meanings.  

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it happens to last the entire month of November.  Sometimes, I mistakenly substitute “November” for “Novel,” but it’s all good as long as you string together 50,000 words in a month: 11/1-11/30.    

This activity, contest, and writing incentive stretches beyond our nation and inspires people of all origins and nationalities.  It would just be weird to call it InNoWriMo after all these years (International November Novel Writing Month).  You can write in the language you feel most comfortable.  Hell, you can use OP talk if you want, but that would be really difficult and you would not entice a very large audience (See it here: http://www.wikihow.com/Speak-Oppish)

In a Nano Nutshell, the goal is to write the rough draft of a story using 50,000 words.  That’s a decent length (understatement for this 500 a word day gal) to cover in a month.  I wonder if there is a half marathon or 10k for this race.  Phew, I might be able to pull that off more than a full event…

Ahhhh!  Look at me already giving myself the boot, like I’m ready to kick my fingertips off of this endeavor.  I’m busy though!  

Wah!  All of us are busy.  That’s why we need things like NaNoWriMo to push us.  I think I can. I know I can. I know you can. I know we can.  OK.  Let’s chug along.  It doesn’t have to be perfect (not even close).  

To get down 50,000 words would take a lot of drafting and gobbledygook from me, so I am willing to cut it in half or even half of that (I don’t do math, so who knows what the hell I just didn’t commit to). Anyhow, I am promising to write something brand new each day for at least thirty minutes. My participation will be to show up each day and add new words that hopefully make some sense and contribute to my plot/s.

I vow not to revise what I slap on the screen until NaNoWriMo is over.  Perhaps I will mine some diamonds when I go back and edit and revise.I think that is a good plan for now.  

With that said, I better wrap up this blog so that I can start building my novel.  Ahh, nuts! It’s already 10:16 pm and my bedtime is 10:01.

Maybe tomorrow…

Posted in Seize the Day!, Writing

Forced into Submission

I am not the type of woman who readily submits.  I enjoy control of my own ideas, truths, and opinions.  If I submit and share myself with others, will I become possessed in ways I don’t want to be?  What challenges and new rules will I have to yield to? Will I lose the lifelong freedom I’ve maintained over my heart, mind, and soul?  What if I’m rejected?  What if I’m accepted?  Oh dear, it’s so much easier to just resist the process.  

These are the bizzarro thoughts I entertain when I consider taking my writing to the next level to seek publication. My writing process has been to write, recite parts of the story to anyone who will listen, revise, share a copy with a few loved ones, post it on Facebook (and now here on my blog), and/or put it into a random folder and bury it like junk mail.  What a writing graveyard I made!  R.I.P. is the final stamp on the tombs of my personal narratives, poetry, memoir, and stories.  Word ghosts haunt me.  

I often scold myself,  What a waste of paper, cyber space, time, and the alphabet!  Then with typing fingers and a hopeful change, I promise my muse, I will submit.  I think I can.  I know I can.  Squirrel!  And just like that, I get distracted and abandon the work I started.

I am a dirty little part-time sunshine when it comes to sticking with a piece of writing.  I have affairs and one-night stands with ideas; I enjoy the passion for a fresh story and hang out with it as much as I can until I get bored or stumble upon something I misconceive as better.  

You know what is better?  Running with the polished piece across the finish line to the cheers of a crowd.  I would love to be the one to add a little more cowbell to a reader’s day, to move, inspire, and entertain them with words. BUT, I have NEVER sent one piece of work to an agent, editor, or publisher.  I just quit rather than commit to entering the publishing world.  

Today, this will all change though.  I am not speaking figuratively here and literally vow to submit a short story to the editor I recently met at a writer’s conference.  I pitched to her and she expressed interest and requested the story.  

Wowza!  Whatever comes of this step, makes me thrilled to finally cross the threshold and send someone a completed piece of writing.  I loved creating this story and how it turned out.  She might too, but if not, her conversation at our pitch session inspired me enough to want to enter this unknown realm of publishing.  

I’m ready to seize and shake the writing cowbell today and wake the buried pieces of my heart, soul, and mind that have lain to rest.  

Use your talents.  You got ‘em!  Don’t wait for a rainy day… It’s gonna be a sunny one! Shine on! 

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