July Changes and Challenges

First of all, look at this picture! Isn’t it pretty?

I took this yesterday morning just before sunrise.

We also saw a deer for the first time coming out of the trees. To the other side of the yard, there’s a large field with a pond and there’s usually seven to nine cows multiple times a day. This is all very different than being in Charlotte where there was a really busy road on the other side of our backyard. Here, there’s a pond and trees and cows and well, now deer.

It’s August. In my mind, that means we’re on the downhill slide from Summer and headed into Fall. I realize we still have a while yet until we see temperatures below a hundred with equal humidity, but a girl can dream and dream I shall until it becomes a reality that I’m able to open the windows or sit outside by the fire pit and roast marshmallows while watching football.

But back to July for a few minutes…

It started out with me deleting Instagram from my phone. I missed it for a few days in the beginning, but as the month went on, I stopped missing it. I stopped looking for it. I haven’t been on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I have had no voices in my head save my own. I haven’t compared myself or my progress to anyone else. I haven’t spent countless hours scrolling and living vicariously through other authors, publishers, editors, readers, food bloggers, coffee companies, etc… The only social media I’ve had anything to do with has been Pinterest and YouTube.

Pinterest has been something I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while, until the past few weeks when I needed some new recipes.

YouTube is where I go for videos on writing, food, and exercise. And all three of those things changed for me in July.

I wrote a lot. Not by anyone’s standards but mine, but still, I wrote a lot. I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by any stretch, but I did write. I also added a lot of new story ideas. I mean… Y’all  just have no idea. My brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on the daily. Sometimes more than one a day. There are some started, and there are others percolating in the back of my head. I typically have to write at least one page so I remember what the idea was. I haven’t had this happen in YEARS!

My diet changed. Not because I wanted it to, but because my body decided it wanted it. The change it picked? Dairy. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to do it. But I did… And I started with coffee because of course I did. I figured that if I could find a way to drink coffee without dairy, then I could pretty much handle anything else without dairy. So, I went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They are amazing and I love them. I am beyond grateful Greenville has one. They have a large assortment of non-dairy creamer and half and half. I bought several and have been experimenting with them. I can do this. I also began switching out other products that contained to dairy to ones that don’t. Slowly, I’m adjusting and adapting. And there have been a few benefits beyond my stomach not being upset every time I ate… My joints haven’t been hurting as much. A lot of sluggishness and bloating has disappeared. I’m enjoying cooking again. I’ve found a lot of dairy-free information on YouTube that has helped me and recipes on Pinterest. I have a friend who is dairy-free and one who has a daughter who is. They have helped me a lot, as well. I am learning in the kitchen and finding things that work for me. My goal is health and to feel better and to have a little fun with it.

And finally, I am exercising again. I had been walking a lot when we first moved here, but as it became increasingly hotter, that stopped. I don’t want to walk at nine o’clock at night or six in the morning. I don’t want to gasp for breath because the humidity is such that I can’t fight it. I used to do yoga through YouTube videos and walking from home through YouTube videos, so why not try other workouts. I found one that is for women 50 and over who are going through menopause and while the woman is beyond perky and grates on my nerves every so often, her workouts are moderate and short and fairly enjoyable. I like them and they’re helping me get my heart rate up, get my resting heart rate down, move easier, and in general feel better. I haven’t lost any weight, but that isn’t the point for me. The point is health and yes, I do believe you can be healthy at any size if you’re moving, eating balanced, and enjoying the majority of things in your life, laughing and smiling more.

And now that we’re in August, I’m still exercising, still learning all the ins and outs of dairy-free which is a lot plant based, too, and still writing.

I hope you had a good July and while I know some of you love Summer, I know some of you are like me and you’re looking forward to Fall.

I’ll chat with you later.

My Favorite Channels

I watch a little bit of everything on YouTube. Movie reviews, technology reviews, interviews with actors or authors or musicians, day in the life, coffee making or coffee products, music videos, creative life, writing advice/motivation/inspiration, how-to’s, productivity, meditation, exercise, and some what-i-eat-in-a-day…

One of my favorite channels is called The Cottage Fairy. She lives in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest. She’s young and talented and lives a life I wish I had been brave enough to embark on myself. Her videos are beautiful and full of gorgeous music and images, full of nature and slow, intentional living, and creativity.

Another favorite is Chris Fox‘s channel. He’s a science fiction and fantasy author who puts many things about being an author, having a business as an author into perspective and into terms that are easy to understand. He’s got a couple of courses, a non-fiction book series on writing and marketing, and his videos are short and educational. He’s got an approachable way about him and his content that isn’t a my way or the highway style. I appreciate him and have learned a lot from him over the years. Of course, I should put some of that into practice and I might be able to turn this writer ship around.

Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author. She puts short videos out there that are often very pointed in the message they’re trying to convey. They are actionable. They give you, me, whoever is watching an action to take to get out of our own way. She doesn’t sugar coat and I like that she’s my age and when I listen to her, I don’t feel like I’m too late to the party. Her thing is do the things you don’t want to do… Just get up and do it. Her book is called The Five-Second Rule. Count backwards… 5-4-3-2-1. And when you get to one, get moving. This hack has helped me a lot.

Morgan Drinks Coffee… She’s lively and fun and makes coffee drinks. She’s a barista in real life and loves what she does, loves coffee. She’s not a snob about it, she’s not pretentious. She’s fun and her videos are both educational and just plain fun. Another coffee channel I follow is James Hoffman and he is pretentious, he is a snob, and he is delightful and fun and I learn a lot from him, too.

And my favorite movie/television review channel is The Critical Drinker… He’s not family friendly. He’s not woke and he’s not politically correct. But he picks apart movies and shows from the perspective of a writer because he is one. He’s not kind or generous with his thoughts unless it’s deserved. Some of his opinions are hard to hear if he’s taking apart one of your favorite movies, but I’ve found a lot of times, that that’s not a bad thing. He’s funny and direct and he seriously doesn’t give a fuck. I like that about him. He’s not pandering to anyone. Plus, his accent is just…delightful. And that is the only thing delightful about his channels.

I love YouTube. It’s currently the only social-type media that I visit and spend any time on. I don’t feel any sort of comparison or stress when I’m there. I do feel a bit of ‘Wow. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn’t scared to try. I wish…’ I try to watch a variety of channels because there’s so much good information, so much relevant information, so much incredible creativity and inspiration and motivation to be found on YouTube.

I used to only use the site for music videos, or movie trailers, or Ted Talks. But then I began exploring other things that were of interest to me and found a viewing home for myself. I often have videos playing in the background while I’m doing something else, like writing this blog or cleaning or the dreaded eating while watching.

Here are the links to a few other channels I really like and subscribe to… Trust me, there are many, many, many more than this.

Amy Landino…productivity and motivation

Gabe Bult…minimalism

KDP Univeristy @ Home…publishing

Kate Cavanaugh…writing

Becca Syme…writing, motivation

Exploring With Josh…exploring and documenting abandoned places

I Am Athlete…podcast with four NFL players who interview other athletes and talk life.

Taylor Swift…do I really need to say anything here?

Therapy in a Nutshell…mental health

Abbey Sharp…food, what i eat in a day reviews, general nutrition knowledge

vlogbrothers…authors John and Hank Green who also run the fantastic Crash Course series of educational videos.

And with that, I don’t have anything else for today. Well, nothing else here. I do have revisions, writing, and a few other things to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side.

 

I Wanted To Be A Planner Person…

…but I’ve learned that planners don’t work for me.

I read a book recently, Dear Writer, You Need To Quit by Becca Syme. It was great and it gave me a lot to think about. One of the things was a process the author calls QTP or Question The Premise. This is a tool to use when you need to question something, perhaps when something isn’t working the way you think it should or when you start to adopt a thought process because it works for everyone else and you believe it should work for you, too. For instance:

Planners make people more productive. But…do they?

Everyone should write every day. But…should they?

Procrastination is bad. But…is it?

Becca suggests questioning the premise of the thought, idea, statement, belief, etc… And it can work with anything. She has a whole series of QTP videos on various things regarding writing and I haven’t watched them all yet, but I will because I’m learning a lot. She has one about planning the year out and I did plan my year out because everyone says you should and I fell off that wagon before January was finished and now I’m curious about her QTP video about the subject.

Anyway, so yesterday I found Becca’s video about planners on YouTube and I’ll link it at the end for you to watch if you’re interested. Basically, I fit what she describes.

I buy the planner. I use it for a bit. Then I don’t.

And then I see all the writers who use planners, who swear they’re more productive because of the planners, who spend hours and small fortunes on decorations and stickers for the planners…

Inevitably, I think that I just haven’t found the right planner yet. I haven’t found the right system or method or layout or collection yet. So, I’ll waste time searching online, going to the stores (when they were open for us to do that), spend money I don’t need to spend on yet another planner that should work because it worked for this or that writer.

When I get home, I’ll lay it all out and fill it in and check the boxes when I’ve done the things, all proud of myself for about 3 days or 10 days or a month, sometimes I can stretch the feeling for 2 months, and then… I don’t use it again for weeks and weeks.

Then… Because I’m hella behind, I’ll feel a surge of ‘boy, I was more productive when I used the planner’ and I’ll open it up, skipping ahead to the current date and start again only to fall off even faster. Pretty soon, I’ll start beating myself up because I’m not productive at all, planner or no. I’ll go right for the I’m just too damn lazy spin and I’ll stay here for a while, then dust myself off and just go about life without a planner. But the cycle will start all over again. It always does. Because there’s something wrong with me. I have a defect. It’s me. Not the planner. Not the system or method or anything else. It’s me.

And truthfully, it is me, to a point.

I’m not a planner person.

I’m not a planner. Not like that.

I’m what Becca describes as a Data Responsive person… And I fit her definition of If I see it, I’ll do it.

She uses another term… Data Controlling. If I plan it, I’ll do it. That’s not me. Planning three months, six months… Hell, planning one month in advance or even a week in advance doesn’t work for me.

I do like getting all the shit out of my head because it will help me focus to brain dump. And I do like seeing the list. I do like crossing things off the list. But I’ve tried three different planning methods this year so far and it’s only the middle of April.

So, what does this mean for me? Well, it means, I need to resist the temptation to buy planners. I need to unsubscribe to all the planner newsletters I receive. It also means I need to stick to that which does make me more productive and what does keep me on top of all the things. I need to be able to see things. I tend to look up more than I tend to look down and when I look up, I see the whiteboard and the calendars on the wall. Everything is written out in bright colors and catches my eye and triggers something in my brain. I know these things work for me, but damn, I wanted the planners to work because the planners work for everyone else! Or…do they? (See what I did there? LOL)

Another thing that works for me is not getting up from my desk. Once I get up from my desk, I don’t want to come back to it, so my list of get-to-do’s needs to be short and sweet and only comprised of the top things I want to get done that day. I plan to try the index card or post-it note method to see if either of those will work for me along with writing things up on the calendars.

I have three calendars on the wall…

One is yearly. I put releases up on that one.

Another is monthly. I add my daily word count on that one.

The last one is weekly. I haven’t used it much, but the idea is to take what’s on my index card/post-it note and add it to the calendar each day so by the end of the week, I can see progress being made. I’m one of those people who needs something enforced multiple times and in multiple places so it gets into my head.

I also have a large, plain whiteboard where I keep plot points or other books ideas so I don’t forget them, or things I might need to work out, or the direction I want to take a book in. I have a OneNote account where I keep this information, too, but if it’s not IN FRONT OF MY FACE like the whiteboard, I won’t open it up, I won’t look at it. I will, in fact, forget that it exists most of the time even though the folder is on the desktop.

I need to see it in order to do it. It doesn’t need to have an extra step like open or find under a stack or clear the desk so I can use it.

I’ll miss looking for the pretty planners and seeing all the cool things that people do with them, but planners don’t make me more productive and therefore are a waste of time for me.

Another thing about me…

I’m an all in person. If I see one part of thing needs to be done, I’ll do all of it. For instance, laundry… If I see one group of things needs to be washed, I’ll decide there and then that it all needs to be done and I’ll just do it. I was trying the house cleaning method of this room this day and that room another day and nope. I would rather do it all and get it finished. That kind of lends itself to the If I see it, I’ll do it mindset as well. I don’t want to have to drag cleaning supplies out multiple times a week or fold laundry every day of the week. I’d rather just do it and get it done.

Same with reading a new book. I want to read it all. Either the whole book or the whole series. I want to spend every waking moment reading until finished.

And the same with television shows. I’d rather binge and finish, than to start and stop and start and stop. I’ll lose interest, even if it’s something I love.

If I see it, I’ll do it. If not, I won’t do it at all, or I’ll forget about it for a while until something triggers my brain about it.

So, I’m going to link the video from Becca here about planners and let me know which type of person you are… Does a planner work for you and help you be more productive or are you more like me in that you need to see it and then you’ll do it?

 

Thanks for reading and I’ll write again soon.

Lissa