Looking back on 2012, my personal journey

1 01 2013

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Yes, I’m back.

2012 was a year of extremes for me.

January: In the middle of an incredibly busy month, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I started Row80, but was unable to keep up with it due to my health problems.

February: A young friend who was working with us from time to time stayed with me, and I loved her company. I learned a lot from her! She continued to stay with me off and on through the beginning of June.

March: I continued to deal with shattering exhaustion from years of sleep problems, calling in sick frequently. However, better sleep finally began to turn my health around, and by the end of the month I was feeling almost normal.

April: So normal that I attempted Row80 again. Call me a glutton for punishment! I hit my stride in April.

May: Work was overwhelmingly busy, but I soldiered on.

June: I was still on-point with my blogging, writing about my novel and the science behind it. I also took an audition with two weeks of preparation. I don’t recommend that to anyone! It was an exhausting experience, and I will not fly American Airlines again, until they are out of bankruptcy.

July: The Black Dog of depression came home again.

August: There was nothing memorable about the first three weeks of August. I wasn’t dealing well with the Black Dog. At the very end of the month I went on a last-minute driving trip to New Mexico and Colorado.

mountain-55499_640

The Red Rocks of New Mexico, from the pixabay folder of user Brigitte Werner

During that trip I ended up in Boulder, CO for the first time ever. That’s significant because my protag spends 6 years there at CU, and although those years aren’t a significant part of the book as currently visualized, it does shape the man he becomes.

September: I was barely home when my former BFF bludgeoned me in a meeting about work. Within two days I spiraled into anxiety, which danced with the Black Dog as I worked out how to deal with both. I went back to Al-Anon, finding a home group that’s full of recovery, and considered going back to church. The 27th of the month another good friend had a ‘cardiac event’. Did I ever mention that my number one fear is a heart attack?

October: Much of my friend’s hospital time happened in October: a double bypass, four Code Blues, pulmonary emboli, and an internal defibrillator. I continued to deal with waves of anxiety and depression. There was no question of doing anything creative… it was one day at a time at this point. I went to a church which had been recommended to me a couple of times, but didn’t connect. (My friend is currently on the mend, thank heavens!)

November: Our symphony season was in full swing, and my other BFF was back in the US from overseas. She was with me part of the time here at home, and I went with her to Boulder for Thanksgiving with her cousins. It wasn’t terribly cold there yet, but I loved spending more time there with her… and I also got my desire to live there out of my system. My anxiety finally began to wane this month.

December: I finally got the Black Dog under control, and we had some time off from work. To my delight, I found that my creative juices were starting to surface again! Playing the Nutcracker got me in the holiday spirit, and the 25th Anniversary of the publication of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities spurred me to read it for the first time. I intended to study it (and still will) – though I haven’t finished it yet, because I joined a book club at work, and devoured Yann Martel’s Life of Pi in two days for a book club meet. Christmas was spent with my parents, on some of the coldest days thus far this winter. Back home on the 26th, then on December 30th I found my church! I’ve never considered a downtown church, but the moment I stepped into the sanctuary at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church I knew I was home.

Losing my BFF has spurred a spiritual transformation in my life. I turned 55 in September, and made the decision in August to stop coloring my hair. The transformation of the growing-out process mirrors what’s going on inside of me… I’m coming to terms with my age and station in life, now enthusiastic and full of possibilities for personal growth in this second half of life.

I doubt that I will return to Row80 until later this year, but that doesn’t mean that 2013 is goal-less. More about that later on! It’s enough to say that I will be blogging once a week, starting now.

What was 2012 like for you? How did it change you? Let me know in the comments!





Is this a Belated or an Early Row80 Update?

28 07 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Sometimes life catches up with me, and for the past two weeks I’ve been emotionally underwater. Everything has been more than I could handle; I ended up frustrated and tied in knots. I even let a previously-scheduled, unfinished blogpost go out on Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get around to editing it tomorrow. I made an overnight trip last weekend, and had my cousin here for a couple of days this week, but that’s not why I was immobilized.

I think it was the black dog – depression – once again.

Black dog by Michelle Buntin

In the past 24 hours I’ve taken some steps to once again manage the black dog, and actually got out the flute for some quality time: scales/arpeggios/Mozart. I’m thinking about my WIP, and this blogpost is another effort to pull myself out of this slump. I had big plans in the exercise department – an hour-long morning walk – but that came crashing to the ground last night when I slipped on my carpeted steps while taking the dog out last night, resulting in a couple of jammed toes. Ouch. I slipped because my vertigo came back this week, though it’s manageable for now.

Okay, enough whinging! How about some good news? The house is clean, including the kitchen sink. The dog is happy, and I get a deva-style haircut next week. I’ve been having big fun experimenting with hair gels, and my curly locks are out in full force. As soon as I publish this blogpost I’m heading out for a walk (a slow walk!), and then opening up Scrivener and finish inputting the macro edit that I did two weeks ago, in preparation for sitting down and finishing up that first draft.

How was your week! I’m looking forward to reading others’ Row80 updates!





Row80 Week 2 update

15 07 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Week two is behind us!

I started out the week with good intentions, but by Friday was in a slump. It was as though I had no brain power at all, so I gave myself a break and did little positive, save info/entertainment consuming. Needless to say, the goals have gone by the wayside.

They fall into four categories:

Business: Completely redo my business website, including adding a wordpress blog.

Nothing. I’m aware that I need to do some major work on this… but giving my brain power slump, nada.

 

Creative: Finish HIS ORIGINAL SIN, and get it to beta readers by the end of August.

I am 99% finished with my synopsis, as per last week, and I need to re-arrange my Scrivener file to align with the changes in the plot. I was waiting until I was back home (I’d been visiting my Parental Units™), but here I sit with the iMac, and I’ve not done a thing. 😦

Creative:  Restart work on my second WIP, last year’s Nanowrimo novel.

This is on hold until I finish my WIP.

Creative:  Get started on my Halloween costume.

And I was just thinking, “I need a crafty project!” But this will require thinking, so no dice. Next week? Not likely. I’m back with my folks’ to visit my cousins (and meet my new nephews!)

Daily life: Finish losing that twenty pounds.

This is what’s been occupying me this week. I’m officially down 4+ pounds once again, and the sugar cravings are much better. I’ve managed to ‘just say NO’ to simple carbs and sweets (though Friday night I did indulge in a bit of Endangered Species Bat Bar – dark chocolate with cocoa nibs!! To. Die. For.)

My fav meal is breakfast, and I like to cook my own version of the Traditional Aussie Brekkie – the hearty version.

 

This morning I started out with 1/2 clove garlic + white onion sauteed in butter and olive oil. I added four sliced white mushrooms and a whole sliced tomato. Sauteed the lot with a couple grindings of Alessi’s Dipping Spices. Emptied that on to my plate, then fried an egg in the same pan. I ended up chopping up the egg and stirring it into the veggies – it was delish! I also had 1/2 cup greek yogurt with fresh raspberries and whole raw almonds, and 2 cups of coffee w/half and half.

Another thing I like is to saute baby spinach, or baby arugula, or a mixture of both, in butter and olive oil with a bit of the aforementioned Alessi spice mix.

Brekkie is the biggest meal of my day – it’s getting so hot in the afternoon/evening that I’m not that hungry.

Daily life: Practice every day.

I’ve been practicing. Not every day, but yes.

 

Daily life: Continue my Better Life Habits™ from last round (exercising, house cleaning, dog grooming).

This is going so well! The kitchen and bath are clean, I’m walking every day for at least 30 minutes. The dog is clean (and the grooming goes much faster when she’s not been neglected). After seeing this article I knew that I had to do something about all the time I spend sitting in front of the computer. So I elevated the iMac, and half the time I’m standing when I’m websurfing. It still works for me when sitting, but it’s not optimal. I may rig a keyboard stand so I can type standing up. I’m considering getting a standing desk, but it’s a bit dear for me right now. Perhaps in the fall? We’ll see.

Platform building: Continue blogging three times a week: Row80 update on Sunday, Tuesday Quotes on Tuesday (Duh!), third blogpost later in the week.

I missed the third blogpost this week – as I said, I just couldn’t think. Ah well, that will have to do.

Platform building: Be on twitter, and comment on at least one blog every day.

Twitter = FAIL

My email is overflowing with blogposts to read, and if I don’t see to it every day, I get overwhelmed. I have been commenting, though, and learning a lot!

Platform building: Including platform building for my business.

Oy. This won’t happen next week, either, since I’m back out of town. Perhaps the next?

This past week was eventful, weather-wise. It had been horribly hot (over 100F already!), but evidently El Niño is ramping up, because we’ve had several days of rain! Thunderstorms, daytime heating showers, they are such a relief, even though the humidity is awful.

 

How was your week? If you’re doing Row80, what’s news? Are you managing to stay focused?





July 8 Row80 Update

8 07 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

I cannot believe that the first week of round three is already over. Let’s see how I did with my goals this time.

They fall into four categories:

Business: Completely redo my business website, including adding a wordpress blog.

Nothing. Nada. I haven’t even plotted out what all I need to do for this. Next week!

Creative: Finish HIS ORIGINAL SIN, and get it to beta readers by the end of August.

I am 99% finished with my synopsis, which I needed to complete in order to organize Steven’s life into three acts. I still don’t know what my opening is, but I have a better idea of that than I did this time last week. I hope to get the synopsis to Ali and Sally for their perusal within 10 days. Hopefully feedback from these amazing writer grrrlfriends will help point me in a positive direction.

I have finally some writing and editing of various scenes in the book. However, I still have some scenes to write, so my first draft is technically not complete at this time.

Creative:  Restart work on my second WIP, last year’s Nanowrimo novel.

Though I have had some idle thoughts about the Umgonnan, this is on hold until I finish my WIP.

Creative:  Get started on my Halloween costume.

Daily life: Finish losing that twenty pounds.

More like “Re-start losing the twenty pounds”. Yeah, I gained back three of the four that I’d lost from June, mostly due to my audition adventures. No worries, I’d fallen off the diet wagon for my food addiction of choice: sweets. I’m now on day three of a quasi-Paleolithic/South Beach-style diet. The sugar/sweets cravings have been horrible, but I know that if I persevere they will lessen, soon.

Daily life: Practice every day.

This is coming along! I’m excited about it, especially Mozart.

Daily life: Continue my Better Life Habits™ from last round (exercising, house cleaning, dog grooming).

Definitely on the right track here. Enough said!

Platform building: Continue blogging three times a week: Row80 update on Sunday, Tuesday Quotes on Tuesday (Duh!), third blogpost later in the week.

I heart blogging. This is not much of a problem for me right now, especially since I have more time in the summer. I have a list of blogposts scheduled, up to August in the case of my Tuesday Quotes series.

One thing on my to-do list is to come up with a blogroll for this blog’s sidebar. I have a handful of must-read blogs in a couple of categories that I want to share with the world.

Platform building: Be on twitter, and comment on at least one blog every day.

Twitter is my nemesis! I’m not enjoying it at all recently, since I haven’t been doing much #wordmongering. I will be getting back to that, especially since I’m almost done with the WIP’s synopsis. I’ll be back to straightforward writing soon. I miss my wordmongering buddies!

Then there’s the blogging community. I have been frustrated by the WordPress reader. I prefer for my subbed blogs to show up in my live.com email feed, and recently when you click ‘follow’ on someone’s WP blog, it sends it to the Reader instead of your email like before. I haven’t found an easy way to get to my subscription lists/options, either.

Platform building: Including platform building for my business.

Nothing happening here. ::rolls eyes:: Next week!

Tomorrow I’m having a face-to-face with the awesome Ginger Calem! She will be the fourth area writer that I’ve connected with in meatspace, and I am so psyched! I met her through Sally Driscoll (her link is above), and we’ve been Facebooking for many weeks. We planned to meet last month, but I had a bit of a detour that kept me busy.

There is noting like sitting down with a cuppa and chatting with another writer. If I thought that writing was fulfilling, the connection with other writers makes writing even more so. Facebooking, blogging, etc is a great way to connect with writers across the globe, but face-to-face is the best. I hope that I’m able to take in some of the area writing conferences in the next couple of years, and look up even more of my internet writer friends.

How was your week? Is your summer going well? Or, for you Southern Hemisphere folks, how’s winter coming along? If you’re interested in what other people are doing for Row80, you can find more Row80 updates here.





Row80, Round 3

2 07 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Round Three starts today, woohoo! What is the end date? Because I have a hellacious amount of stuff that I need to do!

My goals fall into four categories:

Business:

Completely redo my business website, including adding a wordpress blog. Oy. This is a big one!

 

Creative:

Finish HIS ORIGINAL SIN, and get it to beta readers by the end of August.

Restart work on my second WIP, last year’s Nanowrimo novel.

Get started on my Halloween costume.

 

Daily life:

Finish losing that twenty pounds.

Practice every day.

Continue my Better Life Habits™ from last round (exercising, house cleaning, dog grooming).

 

 

(Yep, that’s my girl!)

Platform building:

Continue blogging three times a week: Row80 update on Sunday, Tuesday Quotes on Tuesday (Duh!), third blogpost later in the week.

Be on twitter, and comment on at least one blog every day.

 

This includes platform building for my business. Oh. My. I think I needed to get started five years ago!





Home Again

28 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

I’ve been home for a day, and I thought I’d comment further on my recent adventure.

I returned fully six hours after I was scheduled to return. Thank you, AMERICAN AIRLINES for a completely FUBAR five days… I’m not going to fly with you again anytime soon. My second flight on Saturday was cancelled due to there not being a crew. I have no idea why that happened, but it severely affected my ability to do what I came to do – play the audition. Given the result and the lost time (and sleep), I might as well have stayed home.

 

My first flight on Tuesday was delayed over five hours due to a problem with the airplane. By the time I reached the head of the line to change my connection, I had to wait an extra hour and a half in DFW because an earlier connecting flight was full. It could’ve been worse. A later flight to DFW from That City was cancelled, and all those people had to scramble to change their plans, as well. That is simply unacceptable when your prime directive is to move people from one place to another on a schedule. Not only do you inconvenience your passengers, you inconvenience your staff.

With one notable exception, the people of AA: the ticket agents, to the gate agents, the flight attendants, the flight crews, were all wonderful, helpful, and did their best to make this insane trip more bearable.

 

In what has to be an amazing coincidence, today Boston Magazine published an article online about the Boston Symphony’s recent percussion auditions. I have never approached an audition with anything like the dedication of Mike Tetreault. Perhaps that’s why I remain in the job I have. I definitely can identify with his sense that he lost the audition at a particular moment – I experienced that same realization at some point in mine.

 

(That would be the Chicago Symphony on stage in Orchestra Hall. I’ve played on that stage, though not with the CSO.)

I did not approach the audition with the attitude that it deserved, mostly because I have a quite casual approach to making music these days. One surprising result of the audition was the desire to take music making more seriously. It remains to be seen if I will do that, with everything else I have on my plate. You can read all about that in my first posting in the Third Round of Row80, which will go live on July 2nd. I’ve been thinking about Steven and my WIP, perhaps I’ll actually do some writing later today.

 

Oh, and a huge, Texas-sized THANK YOU to my new followers! You guys make my day. I’ll do my best to keep things interesting around here.





The End is in Sight

21 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

The end is in sight, and no, not the end of my first draft! The end of the Sharp Left Turn that I mentioned the other day. I leave for the audition on Saturday, whether or not I’m ready. The tickets are bought, the friends who live there are contacted, the place I’m staying is booked, and my audition time is set.

Did you see that, above? The phrase ‘whether or not I’m ready’?

It remains to be seen whether or not one is ever ready for a symphony orchestra audition. My preparation is continuing, and will up until I walk out on stage, just me and my piccolo, thankfully behind a screen. Yes, symphony orchestra auditions are blind, usually until the final round.

Today I’m afraid to hope. I’d love the gig, I’d love the change of scenery, I’d love to leave Texas, even if the other place is equally Right Wing. I’ll survive. After all, I’ve survived here all this time!

The interesting thing is that when I try to think about the future after not winning, of returning here to stay, I come up blank. It’s as though my subconscious simply can’t fathom that. I find that curious. Hopeful, and curious.





Sharp Left Turn on the Road of Life

15 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Just when I thought that I had all my Row80 ducks in a row, life gives me lemons. Oh, wait. ::grins::

Yes, I’m a professional musician – it’s my bread and butter.

 

Since the Recession of 2008 it has been thin sliced white bread with margarine – many symphonies have undergone difficulties during this time. Our orchestra declared bankruptcy in 2003 before returning in 2004, so the lean times have been with us even longer.

In the meantime I’ve done myriad things to keep body and soul together, but I recently learned of an opportunity to audition for another orchestra: the Piccolo Chair.

The chances of me winning this audition are slim, even though I’m quite talented. First: it’s been years since I’ve taken an audition, and auditioning is an art unto itself. The more you take, the better you get at it (hopefully, that is). Second: According to the conventional wisdom, auditioning is a young person’s game. I’m fifty-four. That in itself makes it very unlikely that I would be hired, even if I was the ‘best’ player that day. Third: It’s in two weeks, and I just pulled out the excerpts and started to practice on Monday. You read that right. On Monday.

I thought that I wasn’t going to take it, mostly because getting ready for an audition is bloody awful. I absolutely HATE the preparation for an audition: the same X number of orchestral excerpts that I’ve practiced off and on for over thirty years – and they still aren’t perfected (that’s how tricky they are). Not to mention the same solo concerto. (Here’s an AWESOME performance of the one I’m working on. That guy makes me want to cry. He’s amazing.) I have places to go, people to see, A NOVEL TO WRITE… but I found a way (via my Parental Units’ ™ Reward Points) to take the audition for free. How can I not do it? I have no excuse for not practicing – right now my time is my own.

Generally speaking, people will prepare for an audition like this for two-three months. My audition time is June 25th during the 10 am hour. Needless to say, I’m excited. Can I do this? More importantly, can I do this DIFFERENTLY than I’ve ever prepared for an audition before? In the past I ended up tied in knots, and even though I mostly made it to the final round, I didn’t win. I’ve been in the finals/runner up more times than I can remember, for great orchestras: Philly, Boston, Cincy, Dallas, Los Angeles. Orchestras where people make in the six figures.

But this isn’t a six-figure orchestra. That’s fine: it’s still twice what I make here.

The upshot? Row80 goals are out the window. I need my hands for the piccolo this week, and next. I’ll be back for the July 2 opening of Round 3: Row80, the 2012 Edition.





June 10 Row80 update

10 06 2012

It’s Sunday again, already. Last week was insane, with three days of symphony auditions (I was on the judging side of the screen), most of one day spent hanging out with a close friend, a 100-mile roundtrip to meet Irene Preston (Sally Driscoll was there, too), and yesterday I was so tired that I was wondering if my sleep apnea was acting up again. Today I’m back to normal, so I guess that wasn’t it.

I can’t find my list of row80 goals. Perhaps being better organized should be on the list for round 3! (Starting July 2, oh my!)

The house looks like a bomb hit it. In my defense, I spent much of last week exhausted, shell-shocked, battle-weary. The symphony season ended on a high note, and now a vast expanse of four months with no symphony work stretches before me. Said four-month period will also be hellishly hot (90-105F/32-40C), severely limiting outdoor activities. Thank heavens for iced tea with mint! I’m grateful for this free (read: unpaid) time to work on the book and my other business… and it’s also enough time for me to (hopefully) establish the life habits that fell by the wayside in the last two weeks.

Okay, enough with the excuses. Better life habits were down the drain for me, but that will change, immediately.

Creativity abounds. No, really! 5532 words. I started working on my synopsis of His Original Sin. I ended up Macro Editing as I wrote my synopsis (a term I hadn’t heard until I read this blogpost by Jody Hedlund), which was big fun. Here’s Jody on macro editing (my bolding):

I like to refer to the macro edit stage as rewriting. I think the term sufficiently sums up the entire process, which involves analyzing the big picture elements of our stories and rewriting, adding, or deleting major parts in order to make the story more appealing to readers.

It’s that adding/deleting/rearranging that I was doing. The rewriting is coming next, after I finish writing all the scenes. Oy. It seems that I had some kind of row80 goal that the first draft be finished this round. Three more weeks? I think I can do it.

I’ve also added a page to this website, a preliminary blurb about my WIP, His Original Sin. It’s linked above – let me know what you think of it, if you wish. I’d like to add a pic or two to the page, but since I haven’t even begun to think about the cover art, it will have to wait.





Row80 update 6/3/12: I’ve been bad!

3 06 2012

Sort of, that is. Last Sunday I simply couldn’t bring myself to write an update for row80. I had company, so I gave myself permission to skip a week.

To recap the last two weeks: two weekends of amazing concerts, one with our usual guy, the other with the amazing Cristian Maselaru, who stepped in at the last minute for Alondra de la Parra. I would make a comment on the orchestra’s reaction to the substitution, but let’s just say that we can’t wait to see Cristian again.

As far as creative goals, they are blossoming. Here’s my word count.

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/13-5/19: 6611 

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/20-5/26: 933

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/27-6/2: 3416 

Again, it’s obvious when I had company. Late last week I started working on my synopsis, so much of the 34k words was on that. In writing the synopsis I’ve inadvertently done a large amount of plotting and macro editing – I don’t know how many words/scenes I’ve ditched in the meantime, but I’m sure that the WIP’s 116k has been trimmed significantly. I’m aiming for 85k total (and yes, I pulled that total out of my behind), and I’m 90% settled on a title: HIS ORIGINAL SIN. The macro editing has resulted in more shaping of the complete manuscript, with inserted ‘Soliloquies’ in the voice of a couple of important characters. It’s turning into an opera, with the Intermezzi and Entr’actes. Oh! Maybe I should stick with the opera meme and call them ‘Arias’. Hmmm…

My other creative work is at a standstill: no knitting, no mask-making, no practicing. That last bit will change this week. More on that another time.

In the Better Life Habits category, I’ve averaged 112-115 minutes of walking per week. That’s not enough, but given that it’s already summer in South Texas (and bloody HOT), I’m more-or-less satisfied with this. I’m looking into other exercise programs for the summer, after encountering a retired female neighbor who has abs of steel. Me?

Abs of flab. Ahem.

As far as generic household habits, they are coming along much better. Sort of. Actually, it varies from day to day.

Social Media = FAIL.

I missed last week’s check in, I didn’t write a third blogpost (though I have a backlog of Tuesday quotes posts, so I’m keeping up with that.) Between the end of the symphony season, my guest, and the dog being sick (she’s better), I let blogging slide. I did have a last-minute meetup with Ali Dent last week, so my 1x/month get together with writer friends happened, even though we thought it wouldn’t. Yes! And there are plans for more meetups in June, stay tuned for that. My plan is to finish the synopsis and get it to my writing partners for their critique, then finish the first draft – I have a few more scenes to write. Then comes printing out the WIP, and doing a major edit/re-write. My goal? Have it ready for beta readers in August.








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