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Aging and Prioritizing

Words for the Week: sigh, social, depressed, frustration, birthday

Yes, only five words this week…I missed a couple of days. Remembering to choose a word on Friday and Saturday nights when I’m not reading/writing may take some time.

Last week was very frustrating just due to the slow speed at which things I needed to get done were getting done. But I did fight to make progress, and the little I did make was good and solid, so there’s that.

I turned 46 yesterday, and it’s the first time I can remember that I actually felt like I aged over the previous 12 months. I think the near constant stress and change of pandemic and election year living, coupled with my body going deeper into perimenopause certainly contributed to that. And then there’s my stupid hip which has been hurting for the last six weeks or so, and miraculously fixed itself Saturday night (a somewhat painful process that felt like a tendon or ligament slid fire-like over my hip bone to get back to where it needed to be). Hopefully that’s on the mend – I’ll be careful with it for awhile and work on building up the muscles in that area to stabilize, if I can.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been low in iodine, as a couple sheets of seaweed daily seems to be helping with some other problems I’ve been having. Problems or changes, I guess, depending on how you want to look at them. Either way, I’m game for whatever helps me feel the most normal, relatively speaking.

I’m still trying to figure out a good writing workflow, and that’s frustrating me more than pretty much anything at the moment. Mostly because the workflow I have, which is to dictate on my way to and from lunch at noon and then transcribe during my late-night writing hour feels like it’s just too slow. I don’t really feel like I’m making enough progress, which is annoying and frustrating.

All this means I need to either figure out how to be more awake at that late hour, or I need to figure out how to prioritize my writing for earlier in the evening. I’d prefer not to do that, because that’s my unwind and relax time with the dogs and hubby, but…if I want to be on track for the 10 year retirement plan, I need to step up my publishing game. And to do that, I need not only to write, but to finish things on a reasonable timeline.

I think for this week, I’ll try getting off the couch at 10pm (instead of 10:30 after the news, or 10:45 after Colbert’s monologue), getting the kitchen cleaned and making sure I have a full hour to write before midnight. It means skipping the news, but…do I really need to watch it when I get news and weather all day long via the internet? I like it as it’s kind of a “end-of-day” signal for my brain, but it’s certainly not necessary. And it’s the least difficult thing to cut out of my evening – I still get dinner, gaming and TV with the hubby, and a walk/time with the dogs.

So, that’s the plan. Alarms are set. Here’s to more words this week!


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Audio Posts and Making Room to Edit

I’ve been thinking about making these blog posts available in audio format as well, since I’m recording them anyways. I’m dictating them basically so that I can transcribe them back. But as we were discussing earlier, some people prefer to listen rather than read. So I was curious if there’s any interest in me making these available as audio files as well.

I don’t have the time or the inclination to do any editing on the audio files (or making them “pretty”). So it’s just going to be raw audio with all my hemming and hawing and rambling and occasional double sentence structure. It’s not going to be like a professional podcast by any means, though I did download Audacity so I could cut out the long silent beginning to the recording. I typically start the app recording before I start driving, and then don’t start dictating until safely out of my parking space and on my way. Safety first!

But if there’s any interest, I’d be happy to post it, so you can listen to my ramblings rather than reading them if you prefer. I’ll post this file (see above – it’s an mp3, so should play on pretty much anything), and you can let me know if you listen to it. If you prefer to listen to the blog posts instead of reading them, please try to leave a comment somewhere – Facebook, Twitter, on my blog, whatever. Let me know if it’s something that you find useful, or if it’s just extraneous.

One more quick note – I’m speaking slowly due to wanting the transcription process to be as accurate as possible. So it’s much slower than I’d normally speak. You might want to speed it up a little for listening. 😉

In any case, last week, you may have read my ultra whiny blog post about my frustration with not being able to do as much as I would like to do. And that is a huge issue for me. But more so when I’m really tired. And last week, as I said, I had a couple of nights where I made bad choices. I got to bed late – really late. And I got very little sleep.

I’m not used to that anymore. I guess until I started getting 6 hours of sleep a night, I never realized just how how much my brain was not actually processing as well as it could have been on four and a half hours of sleep. It’s kind of one of those, “you don’t know what you’re missing until you get it” sort of things. In any case, being tired makes me whiny, frustrated and a lot more pessimistic about everything, really.

So I got some sleep.

And I checked out my schedule and did a lot of math. Well, I didn’t do the math – I used a calculator, because that is still one of the premier functions a computer can do, so I don’t have to. Anyways, I did some math – added up some word counts and some dictation counts. I looked at the time I have available, and I rescheduled a bunch of my routines. I made a scheduled plan for my dictation times, because they’re pretty set in stone, for the most part: going to work in the morning, going home from work at lunch, going back to work after lunch, and then going home at night after work.

So unless I have the day off work, I have four 10 to 15 minute segments where I can dictate something. That leaves my late night writing times free for editing or scheduling blog posts or doing social media stuff or formatting books or whatever.

I will need more time to edit, because I’m writing a lot more with dictation, but it requires more editing as well. I’ve been doing my budgeting on Friday nights, and I usually don’t get started until around midnight. It takes me a couple of hours, because I don’t just budget – I also pay bills and plan for the future by doing more math (because I love it. Not!).

But the thing about the budgeting is, I can do it amidst distraction. I have it set up now in a program, and I’ve got recurring payments scheduled and my bills all in there. It’s highly automated now, so I can do it with distractions – I don’t necessarily need that hyper-focus I needed in the beginning. So what I’m going to try is doing the budget earlier on Friday nights, after I walk the dogs. And if I can get that done before 10, 10:30-ish, then I will have that late night time on Fridays free. I’m going to schedule out three hours from 11 o’clock at night till two o’clock in the morning, just for editing fiction. I’ll go through the first edit of just cleaning up the transcript files and making them into a first draft, basically.

I guess you could argue that I could write during that time too, and not have to clean up so much. The thing is, it’s harder to be creative late at night when I’m already tired from the day. I’m tired, and my brain isn’t working as well as it should be at that point in time. So it would take me longer to write from scratch than to just clean up a wonky first draft. Also, I can’t type as fast as I can dictate. But I can edit pretty quickly if the words/ideas are already “on paper”.

I’m going to try that, and then my late night time will be for editing and scheduling blog posts, and working on formatting, cover and publishing minutiae. We’ll see how that works for a couple weeks.

It’s gonna take me probably two weeks to get into the new groove. But I’m excited that I have a plan. And if it doesn’t work, I have a couple other options that I think I can try that might be effective.

I think it’s gonna work out pretty well one way or the other.

Now if I can just figure out how to clean my dining room table off so that I can use it for something other than storage. But that will be my next project. I need to get this writing stuff figured out first.

Thanks for joining me, whether you’re reading or listening!


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Frustration

I used to be really good at getting stuff done. I used to be a pretty prolific writer, publishing several books a year, I used to keep up with multiple blogs, several social media outlets, several newsletters and even my own email – all while keeping up with my day job. But times and perspectives change, priorities shift, and…now I get less done, and most days I’m quite frustrated with that sad fact. Because even though my priorities may have changed, the fact that I want to write and publish at those former levels hasn’t.

I guess the thing that frustrates me most is that my priorities are in competition with each other, but I feel like health really has to win out for the long term. I sleep more and workout more now, which is what uses up a lot of my former publishing time. It’s a little over 2.5 hours out of my day – which is a lot of time, when you think about it (I sleep an extra hour and a half, and workout for an hour most nights). I do this in an attempt to stave off some of the less-savory parts of aging & genetics…the parts like dementia and/or Alzheimers, and the lymphoma that runs rampant in my family. It may work, it may not, but…I’d rather err on the side of caution, there.

My job also requires a lot of mental energy, and more social energy than I have to spare. So I’m mentally exhausted a lot of days when I get home, and after dinner and walking the dogs my brain just says “no more, I need to rest” and…that’s that. I do try to rally late at night to work, but then there are before-bed “chores” and whatever I didn’t manage to get to earlier (or whatever I’ve forgotten for several days and only “just now” remembered). Often by the time I sit down, I’m tired again, and I only have half an hour before I need to get to bed for a full 6 hours of sleep (the minimum needed for nightly “brain-cleaning” chores that stave off dementia, so the scientists say).

This is why I am so thrilled to have discovered dictation, so I can write during the day when my brain is already in “work mode”. Unfortunately, I now have the problem of words that need to be edited. A lot of them. And now I’m trying to figure out how to use the minuscule amount of time in the evenings I have to do that. Which would be somewhat easier had I not signed up for a monthly knitting class this time last year. I have one class left at the end of October, and I’m behind 3 half-squares, so I need to spend an hour or so knitting every night until those squares are done if I want to finish by the last class. There goes another hour. *sigh*

Obviously, I’m whiny this week. Not enough sleep (staying up to get things done…bad), the weather turned cold and gray, etc.

Less whining, more working. I’ll get there (again).

Probably after a night of decent sleep. So, Wednesday, maybe?


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Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week