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!

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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!





Addiction and the Soul-Hole

29 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

What is the cause of addiction? Bucket loads of research have been done to answer that question. Some think it’s genetic – alcoholism runs in families, for instance – but co-dependency and learned behavior happen in families as well. In many addictions there is a substance that ‘hooks’ the user: nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, while in others the ‘fix’ is a compulsive behavior: gambling addiction, binging/purging, sexual compulsion. In either case, it appears that there is a change in the function of the brain.

Some addictions have met with approval in some circles: workaholism, smoking in the 1950s (think of the Classic Movie channel), and sexual crimes (think the gang bang as a gang initiation). All that has changed in the past 50 or so years, with increasingly restrictive laws governing public smoking, DWI and DUI, and drug incarceration.

More interesting to me is the emerging brain science concerning behavioral addiction/compulsion. In an article posted on November 20, 2011, Hilarie Cash writes:

When we enjoy playing video games or get caught up in gambling, we experience a similar euphoria. These highs are not something to be worried about, in moderation. The addiction begins to take hold, however, when we do it too much. Then the brain is forced to withdraw neuro-receptors in an effort to restore balance. This is what we call tolerance, and we no longer get the high from the same level of activity or drug use. Now, we need more. And if we go without, we go into withdrawal. In the case of behavioral addictions, that withdrawal involves primarily psychological symptoms (irritability, restlessness, poor concentration, increased anxiety and depression, etc).

In this article from June 2011, Alexandra Katehakis writes:

Both Robert and Clarissa suffered emotional deprivation in childhood. Both have developed rituals to mask the wounds that never healed. While their motivation and end result–despair–are the same, their acting-out blueprints are different.

Clarissa’s compulsions are more indicative of a love addict. Her interactive style is labile, with a come-here/go-away emotional charge that is echoed in her chaotic relationships. Clarissa’s “drug” of choice is less about sex than about a particular romantic experience.

A classic sex addict, Robert is more attached to specific sex acts and sexual encounters than to people. His style of relating is detached, aloof, and avoidant–thus his preference for nameless, interchangeable sex partners.

 


I believe that one key to addictive behavior is childhood emotional deprivation. In my protagonist Steven’s case, a series of emotional wounds in childhood and again in later life led to a separation from his essential self. His addictive behaviors serve to mask a deep inner discomfort – he describes it as ‘an itch that can’t be scratched’ – and as long as he returns to his compulsive behavior, that itch will not be healed.

While he is truly addicted to nicotine (and later, alcohol), his sexual acting-out becomes a behavioral compulsion, in the same way that someone can be drawn into out of control gambling or video gaming. While there is societal approval in some circles for the kind of things he does, for the most part men like him are a father’s nightmare.

 

He is a typical liberal college prof, as well as a Cradle Catholic and feminist. If you think that adds to his ‘itchiness’, you’d be right! Even he has difficulty reconciling his beliefs with his behaviors; his logical scientist’s mind rationalizes what his soul cannot accept. This inner conflict further feeds his desire to do whatever he can to bury that primal wound, until he finds himself sucked into the maelstrom called ‘hitting bottom’.

 

And what happens next? It’s a twisty/turn-y story which I hope will keep Steven Canelli in your thoughts for some time to come.





The Darkness Within

26 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Gustav Jung

Such is the theme of my WIP, His Original Sin. Steven Canelli, for all his good points, cannot – WILL not – face the pain that drives him. It’s easier to use – whether it is alcohol, nicotine, work, or women – and, in spite of his prodigious intelligence, he takes the ‘easier’ way out time after time, until he hits bottom. It isn’t that he doesn’t see the endpoint. He uses (that word, again!) his brilliance to rationalize his actions.

That’s the way it always is, isn’t it? People in general won’t face facts until they have to, until they have no other choice. I know that’s been true in my life. I refuse to enumerate the many times that I continued on a particular path in spite of that nagging ‘oh dear, this isn’t going to end well’ feeling, that inner warning system maxed out in the red. Usually when I’ve stayed with a course (never mind the looming brick wall) it’s been because I felt that I had no other options. The truth? I had no other easy options.

In Steven’s case, it’s easier to just pour another drink, light another cig, or chase another skirt. Easier, until it becomes impossible to overcome the consequences of his actions. Perhaps that’s why I adore this character, in spite of his behavior. He’s me, in a different body, making different choices, avoiding different pain… but still running, running, running, until he can’t run any longer.

(And what is he really running from? There’s a hint of it on this page.)

Thanks to my good friend Gayle Greenlea for posting the Jung quote to Facebook. I hadn’t intended this Tuesday Quotes blogpost to become copy about my book, but it fits so well!

What about you? What are you running from? What situations aren’t working in your life? Where could you make other, harder, choices, which might result in beauty? Where are you holding back out of fear of… success? failure? Let me know in the comments.

Oooh boy. I could go on and on with those questions, and probably will, in my journal!








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