15 January 2016

I remember my childhood differently

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Sometimes my mother will share a story about me as a child that I don't remember. Most recently, this has happened when my mom has been sharing childhood stories with Bo, telling her about who I was before Bo knew me.

But my mother remembers my childhood differently than I do.

Sometimes there are stories she tells about me that I remember happening to one of my siblings. I attribute this to age and working too much and taking care of four kids when she was younger. Just a mix-up.

But sometimes she remembers stories happening differently than I do. She'll tell me about something I did and the aftermath is nothing like the aftermath when I tell the story. Or she'll remember people being involved that, in my memory, were never there.

I have a bad memory. I readily admit that. But I don't think my memory is that bad. So I've begun thinking that my interpretations of what happened have shaded my memories, shaping my memories around my interpretation. After all, it seems that, more often than not, the memories that differ are those that I remember as bad memories but my mother doesn't. So maybe it's that my mind has changed these bad memories so that I don't remember my childhood as poorly as it was.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer. My mind has filled gaps and taken artistic liberties with my memories over the years. So now, when I hear someone else's version, it is not at all my own. Not bad or wrong memories. Just more...fictional.

I've given up trying to correct my mother. She's always sure that her version of the memory is correct, just as I am. And even if I have proof that she's the one who's mistaken, my mother thinks that couldn't possibly be right.

So I let it go.

And try to journal more often so I have a better record of my memories.

12 January 2016

Sometimes all I can concentrate on is pain....

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For quite some time I've been experiencing chronic pain. It is daily, with varying degrees of pain day by day (and within one day). Some days it's manageable, and I'm able to do what I need to do easily. Other days, I can barely sit at my desk because I hurt so much.

Lately there have been more high pain days than not.

Last week was hard. The kids were home, so we had the school/kids' schedule in addition to my regular work schedule. Usually that means late nights and early mornings since I do most of my work after the kids go to bed. And since I pick Puck up from school, I have to accommodate the lost time each day. Sometimes that adds to the stress, which makes me hurt more.

One of the hard parts is that people can't see when I'm hurting, and it's typically stress or lack of sleep or something like that causing the increase in pain. When I'm in pain, outwardly, I look the same as when I'm not in pain. And I worry that if I try to tell people I'm in pain, it will happen so often that they'll think I'm just complaining or they won't take me seriously or something like that.

People who don't have chronic pain don't understand chronic pain.

And they don't understand how taxing it is. Quite some time ago, someone referred me to the Spoon Theory. The idea is that, at the start of each day, someone with a chronic condition has a certain number of spoons. Each task that they complete, from getting out of bed to eating to driving to work, costs them spoons. Some days, pain or illness makes them use more spoons for simple activities, and they may run out of spoons sooner. Or, worse, borrow against tomorrow's spoons to get through the day.

If you don't have a chronic illness, you have an endless supply of spoons. And it can be hard for people to understand that, on a bad day, I can choose either eating supper or taking a shower. I can't do both. I can either pick my son up from school or deal with this difficult client.

And when I'm out of spoons, I'm done for the day. That's just how it is.

I'm in the process of getting more answers and an effective treatment plan. In the meantime, I take over-the-counter medications, use Icy Hot (when I think it will work), meditate, and do whatever I can to be kind to myself.

And I always try to keep a spoon on reserve to read a story to the munchkins before bed.

08 January 2016

Backgrounding the funeral book

I'm in the rewriting phase of the coffee house book, which is awesome but also a little scary and very intimidating.

So while I'm working on the coffee house book, I'm also doing the background work for the next book in the collection, which I'm calling the funeral book. I have my list of characters and the skeleton outline of the chapters, and I'm working on the character biographies and detailed chapter/scene outlines.

I did this for the coffee house book, too. Because of the way the coffee house book is structured, it was necessary for me to have a lot of background work done before I started writing. Well, if I'm being honest, it kind of started as a sort of procrastination technique because I was nervous about the actual writing part. But now I don't know how I would've gotten the story down without it. The character biographies let me create the vital parts of the characters relevant to the story and reference them quickly. The outlines keep the story moving forward once I get into it. And since many characters are overlapping in the different stories in the collection, I've created a file for each character so their stories in different books remain true to the character.

Besides, the funeral book background gives me something to work on when I need a break from rewriting.

That being said, starting the background work for the funeral book is starting to push me into that story's world, which, as you can tell from the moniker for the book, is a little bleaker than the coffee house book. And, in that way, going back to the coffee house book is a much-needed break from teh funeral book background work.

It's going to be a hard book to write, I think.

05 January 2016

Starting the year the right way

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I've made some goals for 2016. Some of them are smaller goals that will be easy to achieve, but others are bigger goals that will be more complex, and will establish a foundation for long-term goals.

But I'm trying to be smarter about my goals this year. I'm focusing on taking small steps a little at a time instead of big changes all at once.

I know that it'll be easier for me to be successful if I take it one step at a time, and experience has shown me that trying to do everything all at once is less than successful.

I'm optimistic about 2016. Bo and I have big, exciting short- and long-term plans, and we're finally making progress toward them. we've overcome some big challenges, and we have a plan to overcome some other challenges that have popped up lately.

2016 is going to be a good year.

It already is.

01 January 2016

This year's mantra is...

Two years ago, I decided to start focusing on one mantra to help me in times of anxiety. The mantra was chosen as a result of things I experienced the year before.

This year's mantra is

This is just a moment. Rise above it.

There were a lot of struggles in 2015, many of which built on one another, which was frustrating. Some of those struggles are over, some are still there, and some have gotten worse. So this year, in order to keep me from getting bogged down by anxiety and linking what is happening to what has happened, I've chosen this mantra as a reminder.

I have high hopes for 2016, based primarily on what I have planned, and what Bo and I have planned for our family. There are still great struggles to come, but when we overcome them, things will be very, very good.

Bring it on, 2016. I'm ready.