Tues. Aug. 3, 2021: Love The Libraries

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cool

For some reason, the weekend feels like a really long time ago.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog. I’m slowly gearing up the other blogs.

I didn’t manage my time properly, so I ended up writing up script coverage all weekend. I need to figure things out better, so I have weekends off from the coverage, or it’s just too much.

I found out that a new independent bookstore opened, within walking distance. My first instinct was to run right over and check it out. However, I decided to wait until I get paid, so that I can actually spend money there (not just buy one thing because I feel like I can’t go in without buying something, but buy several things and give them some serious business). I also discovered that, at Norad Mill, on the way to Wild Oats Market, is a yarn store. I don’t need more yarn – I have so much in storage. But there’s a yarn store, so you know I’m going to go there.

The list of possibilities for upcoming Artist Dates grows. And that is a good thing.

I like that there are places I can frequent within walking distance.

Norad Mill also has a yoga studio, with strict vaccine rules for in-studio work. Even with that, that everyone needs to be vaccinated, masks are welcome within the studio, I’m not sure if I feel comfortable going back into the studio. There’s another studio (near the new bookstore), but it’s online only right now. As much as I’d like to go back to class, I’m not sure, even with precautions and protocols, I feel comfortable enough so to do. I feel like I’d need a separate set of mat, blocks, props, etc. to take to class that would need to be decontaminated and kept separate from my daily mat and blocks I use at home.

But it’s nice to know that the studios here follow protocols. Unlike the studio on Cape, where, during the height of it all last year, pre-vaccine, people could be inside without masks.

I received sad news. The Broadway colleague fighting COVID, who seemed to be improving, died of a heart attack on Friday night. He was a sweet, gentle soul who is an enormous loss.

It also increases my rage against anti-vaxxers. They are domestic terrorists, walking biological weapons, and need to be dealt with as the murderers they are.

Saturday, I put the cat condo back up. It’s in a corner of the living room. Because the ceilings are so much higher here, it doesn’t dominate the room, the way it did in the Cape house. The cats aren’t sure about it yet. It has to be their idea to go back into/onto it.

Worked on unpacking/setting up my office some more. It’s better, it’s workable, but I want it wonderful, and it’s not there yet.

The new Eureka vacuum arrived. It’s wonderful. It was also horrifying to see how much dirt was in the rugs that the other vacuum hadn’t picked up. But now, we’re finally getting things clean.

When I lived a block from Times Square, in NYC, the constant cleaning was discouraging. I’d scrub everything down; an hour later, there was a light layer of soot and grime over everything. When we first moved to the Cape, a decade ago, things were a little gritty because it’s sandy (beaches have sand), but, overall, it was cleaner. However, it got progressively dirtier, as trees are cut down, and there were the constant mowing/leaf blowing/chain saws. The dirt had an oily residue from all the machinery in constant use. Even with regular house cleaning, it was difficult to get it clean, much less keep it clean. As we unpack, even though we cleaned things before the move, everything needs a second, thorough scrub.

The dirt and dust, at least so far, is a different, lighter consistency. So far, at least, it’s easier to clean, even though we technically live in a city.

Who knew there were so many kinds of dirt? Not soil, but dirt.

Sunday was about some more unpacking. There are still a few boxes in the living room that need unpacking, but it’s not stuff for the living room. And we need to rearrange some stuff, and decide what to put on the mantel. So far, nothing looks quite right. Our mirrors are the wrong size and shape. I feel as though it should be a painting. If we keep the porcelain figurines (which have been in the family for generations and keep getting hauled around) on the mantel, I feel it should be a pastoral scene with a lake (for feng shui, there needs to be water over a fireplace, even if it’s not a real one), so it looks like the figures stepped out of it. If we move the figures (although who knows where), it can be some other sort of painting, as long as there’s a watery vibe to it (but not a sinking ship type of thing; not good for feng shui).

I tried putting the pieces I brought back from Australia oh, so long ago, when my play was produced there, but they don’t look or feel right there, either. They will probably go in my office.

Monday morning, in my first writing session of the day, I passed my daily quota, for the first time in months. It felt good. I’m getting back in synch with my creativity. I’m starting, slowly, to feel like myself again. The self I was when I moved so optimistically to the Cape ten years ago (nearly eleven now), although I doubt I’ll ever feel that level of optimism about anything ever again.

Got out some LOIs, caught up on email. Worked on the class presentation. Walked down to the post office to mail a few things.

I can see the college library from my front windows. So, yesterday morning, I walked over and got a Community Card. I have permission to both check books out of the library and to work in the library (it was practically empty today and everything is well spaced, but if COVID numbers keep going up, I doubt I will). Everyone at the college – students, faculty, staff, vendors – is required to be fully vaccinated, at least. But I don’t want to push my luck.

For research, it’s a fantastic library. Lots of books I can’t find anywhere else. I only checked out two books, but they will keep me busy for a bit!

Home, tried to get back to work, had a bad case of the I Don’t Wannas. Did a little unpacking and rearranging.

Worked on some script coverage. Started the next book I have to review. Paid some bills.

An interesting call for a flash fiction submission landed in my inbox, so I’m playing with some ideas.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat, with the eye pillow on, and Willa was absolutely convinced I was dying, and it was her job to resuscitate. Poor cat. Her original human, who gave her up because he was too sick to take care of her and of Charlotte, must have been in bad shape.

At least I’m sleeping better.

As I’m roaming around the neighborhood, learning my way about, I’m meeting various neighbors. People are good about distancing when unmasked outside, and everyone in the area is vaccinated (most are connected to the college, or to other companies that insist on vaccination). The timbre of conversation here is so different than it was on Cape.

For comparison:

Topic: My life and work in New York, and it comes up that I worked backstage on Broadway for years.

Typical Cape Cod response: “Oh, so you were fired and came here? But I bet you still have connections. How soon can you get me free tickets? There are lots of shows I want to see, but I’m not paying those prices.”

Berkshires: “I bet you got to work on some cool projects and with some talented people.”

(For the record: I was not fired. I was aging out, and wanted to leave while I still loved it).

Topic: Professions. I’m asked what I do for a living, and I respond with “writer.”

Typical Cape Cod: “What’s your real job?”

Berkshire: “Can we get together one day to take a walk around the lake/get coffee and talk about how you approach character and plot? I’m vaccinated, I promise.  I’m trying a few things, and I’d love to hear how you do it.”

See the difference?

Not everyone on Cape was like that, of course. The people who became my friends weren’t like that, or we wouldn’t have formed friendships. But, at networking or Chamber Events or Writers’ Center events or art openings, meeting and chatting with new people, that same response came up over and over and over again, for years.

Not that it’s perfect here. The Town Clerk still hasn’t responded to my request to change voter registration (which, according to the Secretary of State’s office has to be done here), and the equivalent of my health organization hasn’t responded to any of my requests for information. The original requests went in nearly a month ago. The local chamber of commerce hasn’t responded to my request for information (although the larger 1Berkshires has).

But when I meet people and talk to them, I’m met with interest, rather than the hostility of “you think you’re so great because you work in the arts, but you can’t be that great or you wouldn’t live here” which I got pounded with constantly on Cape for years.

It’s not about my view of my own “greatness.” It’s the fact that this is my profession, not my hobby, I put in the work, and earn my living at it.

Up early this morning, wrote my 1K in longhand. It felt good. There’s stuff I need to research, details, but the writing itself feels good, even though the story itself is light years away from what I usually do. Stretching is a good thing.

The bulk of today’s focus will be on the materials for class: finishing up the Power Point presentation, putting together the handouts. My host is doing maintenance, so I can’t upload anything until tomorrow, but if it’s ready to go, that means I can upload, test, and troubleshoot before Friday’s class.

I also have to make another trip to the post office, and then I’ll swing by the public library to return books/pick up books. I think it’s nice enough to walk today, so that’s what I’ll do. Walking more is both a good way to learn the area, and a way to regain fitness and strength. It’s safe to walk around here, too. People aren’t idiots, and don’t roam in unvaccinated packs, like they did on Cape. Even when we’re unmasked and vaccinated, we give each other room, passing on the sidewalk, etc. None of this invading personal space and literally blowing on the backs of people’s necks that the assholes did during the pandemic on Cape, thinking it was “funny.”

Got to do a grocery run, too. I’m out of oat milk. I put cow’s milk in my coffee this morning, and that was a mistake. We need a few things like eggs and butter, too.

Time to get back to work. Slowly, I’m finding my work rhythms again. I still get tired quickly, and have to take more breaks, but taking breaks isn’t a bad thing. When I take proper breaks, I’m more focused and productive when I actually work.

And I’m soooo much more productive working fully remotely than going into someone else’s office.

Back to the page, hoping for a good day, on multiple levels.

Mon. Feb. 19, 2018: “Be Kind To Your Mind” #UpbeatAuthors

The topic today is “Be Kind to Your Mind.”

I find that works in multiple parts.

Meditation
The first part has to do with making the time for meditation. Quiet time, to “just sit” and let the detritus of the day drop away is vital to mental health. When I find myself unable to concentrate, it’s usually because I haven’t taken the time to meditate.

I meditate every morning, after my yoga session. I started adding an additional meditation at night, right before bed. It’s helped my sleep patterns. Nights I don’t meditate, I tend to wake up around 1 or 3, my head filled with worries about the past day or the coming day, have trouble falling asleep again, and then struggle the next day. Nights when I stick to my meditation schedule, I can usually sleep through until about 5:30. I usually get up around 5:30 or 6 anyway.

Mindfulness
Studies prove “multi-tasking” is both a myth and detrimental. I’d rather do one thing well than five things half-assed. This is especially true when I write. I need quiet; if I have music on, it’s music without lyrics. I NEVER have TV or a DVD on when I write or edit. I can always tell when a student does that; I can usually even tell which program was on, or what was listened to. It infects the text.

Be kind to your mind by doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. You will do it well, you will complete it more quickly, and you might even enjoy it.

Instead of Negative Self-Talk, Positive Action
The other part of being kind to your mind is to stop the negative self-talk. Stop beating yourself up for a thoughtless comment or a mistake. When you make a thoughtless comment or a mistake, apologize and move on. Make sure it’s a genuine apology, without qualifiers. “I’m sorry IF I upset you” is NOT an apology. It’s not taking responsibility. “I’m sorry I upset you” is an apology. No excuses. An attempt to make it right.

“I’m sorry I made a mistake. I will be more careful moving forward.” In most work situations, that suffices. You and your supervisor or co-worker can build on that.

Also, stop qualifying when you say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you say “no,” you don’t have to explain why, or flounder to come up with an explanation you think will be acceptable to the person you refused. You said “no.” That’s enough. If pushed, just remind that person, “I don’t have to explain. I said no.”

When someone criticizes you or blindsides you, yes, it hurts. It’s upsetting. Admit your feelings, to yourself if not to anyone else. Don’t repress them. “Yes, this person hurt me.” “Yes, I am angry.” Your feelings are your feelings.

Then, break down the feelings. Was the criticism justified? Is it something you want/need to address? Who is this person in your life? Someone important? Someone you need to remain cordial with? Someone who really doesn’t matter (such as an online troll)? Figure out the person’s place in your universe. If necessary, ex-communicate them from it. There’s nothing wrong with ending associations with toxic people.

If it’s justified criticism, and it’s something you need to address, admit your anger and upset, and then figure out why the criticism is justified and what you want to do about it. Do you need to think before you speak? Do you need to adjust your attitude in a certain situation? Are you behaving in a toxic way to others and it’s time to change? Figure it out and then take action.

Once you’ve made a decision and acted on it, you can stop replaying the incident over and over in your mind. Forgive yourself. Forgive the other. Move on and work on living a better life.

New Experiences/Artist Dates
Another way to be kind to your mind is to experience new things. Don’t just go to work and go home and turn on the TV. Read a book by a new-to-you author. Check a DVD out of the library of a type of movie you hardly ever watch. Pull up your local events calendar. Libraries often have programs free to the public. Art galleries have receptions for new shows, free to the public. At least once a week, go out and do something out of your ordinary schedule. As awful as the news is right now, find a trustworthy news source (not just one that reinforces what you already think, but one that shows multiple, well-sourced facets of a situation) and keep up. Let yourself do something fun and silly that you don’t usually do. Take a class. Play miniature golf. Go on a garden tour. Visit the small, local museum you drive by on the way to work. Volunteer at the nature sanctuary to help them put in a butterfly garden. Work in your own garden — without your phone nearby. Just take an hour and work in the garden, focusing on each task you do as though it’s the only task in the world.

Julia Cameron calls this an “Artist Date.” Many of her techniques don’t work for me, but this one does. She suggests doing your Artist Date alone. If you’re constantly surrounded by people, that’s great. It helps you hear your own inner voice and figure out your responses. But for many writers, who spend the bulk of their time alone (or with the myriad of characters that exist in our heads), a mix of solo Artist Dates and Artist Dates with people you don’t see often works better.

Get Rid of the Phrase “Guilty Pleasures”
I do not feel guilt in my pleasures. I don’t care if other people like them or approve of them or laugh at them. As long as they don’t hurt anyone, they are MINE, and I revel in my pleasure.

Keep a Journal
One of the best ways I’m kind to my mind is to keep a journal. Yes, there’s this blog, which talks about my process and how I try to integrate writing and life, and how they influence each other. But I also keep a private, handwritten journal where I am free to say anything. I can be my best self. I can also be my worst self and then work my way back to a better self without inflicting harm on anyone else. I can work out what I really think and feel about things that upset me, and figure out the actions I can take to live a better life, a life that inflicts as little harm as possible on those around me and on the environment.

Integrate
Keeping up the meditation practice WHILE you do these other actions becomes a self-supporting loop. It’s a step toward a more holistic life.

 

Published in: on February 19, 2018 at 7:43 am  Comments Off on Mon. Feb. 19, 2018: “Be Kind To Your Mind” #UpbeatAuthors  
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