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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Body Image: Let's Change It

I'm an adult.

I think things like, "How do I look?"

I look in the mirror and cringe on a regular basis. It doesn't strike me as an abnormal reaction. I don't often bother to verbalize my thoughts about it...

And yet today when I waiting for my six year old daughter to change into her swim suit I heard her say, "the top of my legs are so fat and ugly."

My first reaction was anger. "What?"
Then reason, "We don't talk like that about ourselves."

She looked at me stunned. I'm not sure what she thought my reaction would be, but I definitely did something she wasn't expecting.

Good! I thought. Now I have her attention. I had to figure out what to do with it, and fast.
I know my girl and there is only a limited window of use of sustained attention.

"In our family we only use the words healthy or unhealthy. Are you healthy?"
"I guess..."
"Good. I think so too. When we get home we can make a fun poster to highlight all the ways we choose to be healthy." (She is a sucker for posters--seriously. She's constantly begging to make charts and posters. It's cute).

This also gave me time to gather my thoughts and develop a plan for the new body image regime I had just instilled for my entire household.

Here's what I came up with. Body image should not be solely defined by our visible characteristics. Thank goodness I told my girl we were using healthy and unhealthy! I could use more than just physical appearance criteria! Phew, dodged a bullet on that quick reaction.

It's not perfect--and didn't cut and paste nice and dandy, but it's a place to start. Also I had columns- it just wouldn't cooperate with the blog thing at my skill/knowledge/tech level)

The Poster:

Approved terms for Szymanski Family Body Image


Adequate sleep
Active (physical activity)
Good hygiene (clean and groomed)
Learning about/working on things/skills
Develop talents
Service minded
Not enough/too much sleep
Unbalanced food choices
Poor hygiene
Disinterested in things/skills
Stunted talents/loss of talents

If the majority of your behavior is within the healthy choices you are healthy.
If the majority of your behavior is within the unhealthy choices you are unhealthy and must pick one area/behavior to work on. Start with one and build from there.           
Being healthy isn't easy. It takes a lot of work. Dedication, determination, and discipline are all required to be healthy. Few, if any, of us have all the areas of health listed conquered at any given time. As long as you are majority healthy, you are healthy If you're not- guess what it's not the end of the world!!! You can pick one single area to improve. Make a goal for just that area, maybe two goals if you want to be an overachiever. Bring that area back over to the healthy side and if your still off balance pick one more until you are once again majority healthy.
I for one m constantly cycling.
It's okay. I'm human.
And I do things like make my family group costumes like this (I'm proud of this BTW Aquabats rule)

I like fat. It's not a bad word.
However, using it in a way to speak negatively or oneself or others is not the proper use of the word. Fat can be good and I have a great appreciation for it when in proper context.
Honor fat, use it for good.

Let's rethink how we encourage good choices in our families. Not to mention how we frame body image in everyone. It's not just what you see.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Reasos I Love Numbered or Bulleted Blog Posts


1.  Convenience.

It makes skimming for relevant information much more convenient. I mean, who has time to read entire paragraphs for the single point of interest? Not me.

2.  Pretty.

My eyes just prefer the look of things ordered.

3.  Plays to my skills.

I don’t want to totally claim and embrace the fact I lean toward lazy, but bulleted items help me grasp one or two main points that I can put energy toward improving without bogging my brain down in the overwhelming information inside each paragraph. Even this paragraph I’m writing at the very moment is getting a little overwhelming for me.

4.  Time saver.

Along the same lines as convenience. I don’t have time to sift through irreleivant information. My kids are hovering at my side, telling me to look at them (balancing shoes on their ears—it’s a little impressive). My phone is dinging that I have some sort of notification, the school just called that one of my kids has an overdue library book, and I have to fill out claim forms, work forms, and time cards. So, yes I’m ever so grateful for the blogger who takes the time to put their posts into a list that allows me to pick and choose where to spend my time while browsing their ideas and suggestions.

5.  Teaches me organized thinking.

I am not the most organized individual. I have piles of papers in every room of the house. Books I’m referencing stacked on all surfaces, and stuff (I don’t even want to figure out what it is) shoved behind, under, and inside every furniture item. Thank goodness that blog post shows me how a non-cluttered idea should be.

…Now to find a bulleted blog post about de-cluttering my home in five easy steps.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Magic of Relating Experiences

I once read a blog post where a woman described being defecated on by her newborn son in such horrifically fascinating detail that I longed for the opportunity to commiserate her experience with her.
I've since changed my mind on that...

The art of relating an experience is what an author/writer aspires to do.
Doing it well is not only a skill, it's a master-craft.

Did you see Lego Movie?
Masterbuilders? Well there are MasterWriters.
Those are the people that can see the elements of an experience that can be arranged and highlighted in such fashion as to render the listener/reader incapable of turning away or closing the book.

Taking things from one mono-angle and elevating the perspective to widen your ability to appreciate the horror of butt-splosion from an unhappy infant.

We've all read the Facebook posts that say nothing more than *Boo, or some other derivation of bland complaint. Did you fall into the trap of following-up for more detail?
Did you get any more detail?
Often those who lack the vision to expound on their experiences from the start can't satisfy your curiosity (at least that's what I've decided to tell myself after totally falling for this kind of post and being left in the lurch).

How much more satisfying is being transported into a friends experience--getting a glimpse into their ability to manipulate an event based on their reinterpretation for entertainment sake? (I'm not talking exaggeration or falsification--far better. The ability to relate an event and make it so personal you know what someone is talking about even if it's never happened to you).
Last winter I was driving a particularly treacherous canyon road in the middle of a whiteout snowstorm. I was terrified. Literally scared out of my mind.
Guess what? That's not interesting.
And it didn't help me handle the situation with any additional skill or grace.

Drawing upon some story relator masters I had been devoting hours of spare time listening to/reading. I decided to *retell* myself the experience I was having.
Winter Olympics were happening during that time. It gave me a perfect opportunity to reshape the event.
NOTE: I'm still learning this craft of story relating--you will see the flaws, but this is a blog about the bumps in trying to bring myself up to the level of those I'm inspired by. Enjoy my amateurish awareness into new ways of thinking, speaking, sharing... :D

*I just won the gold medal in multi-ton vehicle canyon Luge! It was a white knuckle blind turn race with 27 competitors backed up behind me- poised to take the lead. No one could see worth crap. Making turns as we had all memorized them in the months of practice runs down and up the canyon. Practice paid off! We're alive! But, I got the gold- so HA!*

I failed to bring the reader into the moment the snowsheet cleared to reveal I was in the oncoming lane with a massive semi-truck yards way and closing. The only thing that saved me was the mind-numbingly slow speeds required under that kind of snow-terror-driving.

Practicing to re-frame my experiences, so that even I would want to have them, has a bonus effect.
My life is way more awesome than it used to be.
Almost every mundane event and experience can benefit from a change of angle. I have found I'm much more content day to day.
*If you see me staring insanely at nothing I'm being awesome. Ask me about it in ten minutes and I can relate to you how awesome the moment was.

If you want to experience True MasterWriters I'll direct you to:
Dan Carlin (this man is the best I've ever heard. Even if you have no interest in history, listening to his podcasts will heighten your expectations for retelling of events) Hardcore History
And anything written by Sara Baxter

There is magic in all things--If you know how to tell(show if you're writing, of course) it right.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to School Back to Blog

First Three Pages?

Are you kidding me?

I have to be interesting within the first three pages?
Wait, you said paragraphs...
That's not better.

I have a tendency to ramble into something good. I often fail at landing there directly.
When authoring a book there is a challenge--be interesting fast.

If you're reading this with the hope of my secret trick to overcome this obstacle you're in luck!

My Solution:
Write whatever comes out; Edit until you're left with something interesting.

Where does that leave me now?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finding a Medium

Medium has nothing to do with balance.
Good, that's out of the way.

I have been trying to illustrate some images and sketches for a couple of my writing projects.  I'm not the world's worst at pencil drawing, but I am inconsistent.
Terrible inconsistent.
If I get an image I like, I have NO WAY of duplicating it in any other pose or setting- it's just one single picture in one single pose that can only be used one single way. 
So not very useful if I need more than one illustration for a story.

I have been beating myself over the head trying to force a skill I haven't spent time to develop or improve on.  It's ne of my favorite past times (pretend like a skill is going to magically grow inside my head without study or practice- I blame The Matrix and Kung Fu for my ignorance).

I managed one sketch I approve of for one story aid.  Yeah!  So proud of me!!!

Even better I stopped trying to dream an undeveloped skill into my finger tips and decided to get back to my old standby- Glue Gun!
Yes, it's a form of being pro-gun.  I'm all for defending my rights!

I pulled out that finger blister contraption and got to work. 
My true medium is globs of glue the temperature of lava and otherwise useless scraps of fabric, ribbons, and buttons. 

I'm not sure if there is a class on improving your glue gun/scrap cutting skills, but if there is I'm sure I'd be a natural and ACE it! 
I can wield the otherwise-discard-able scraps into fabulous miniature dresses and runway worthy frocks (two dimensional versions of course).

You would think all my problems would be solved- but making little bitty flat outfits s really only helpful for illustrating one type of book.  Luckily I have a story line I've been working on in need of that exact illustration.  The rest of my writing efforts are still being battered with osmosis.  I've read basketball players can benefit from practicing in their sleep- If I keep dreaming that I'm an infallible illustrator it's bound to come true "I know art" will be uttered by me some day! (credit Keanu).

For now, I have realized my true medium is in hell-glue.  Or is it glue-hell?

Friday, February 7, 2014

I have been distracted by EVERYTHING!

I'm pretty sure I suffer undiagnosed adult ADD.
I have no idea how I got through grad school with this condition.  There were a lot of late night crunch time procrastination induced B level papers...  But, thanks to having stacks of research pre-done but unorganized, I was able to eek the basest of A grades.

I have reached a point where my ideas and my efforts just won't align- thus distraction city!

It doesn't help that social media caters to those of us with ADD.  New tweets rolling in every nano-second allow me to let my brain skip beats to multiple notions at once. 

Maybe if I only followed one or two people right?  I've thought of that. 
Problem: You get tweet posts from about ten gazillion people you aren't even following because annoying companies keep promoting stuff I have no interest in! 
I'm going to start the trend to boycott all promoted items/companies. 

But, I can't blame the media.  It wouldn't exist if people looking for the distraction from our mental battle didn't exist.  I am basically feeding my demons! 

Airplane Mode!  Yes, I use it to force myself to be productive.  How often?  Not enough.  I reset to mandatory airplane mode at least once a week for two hours.  If I wanted to get more done I would be disconnected from the internet everyday- for a set amount of time: not just once or twice a week!

I feel a new goal coming on.

Also, I need to organize my frustrated mind.  Just turning off the internet connection isn't enough for one as distractible as me.  There is Sudoku and Bonus Words to fill the void- and those aren't dependent on the internet.

So, how do I force myself to organize a naturally and perpetually disorganized brain complicated by a sticking point in my progress? 
I'm going to have to revert to Blue's Clues.
It might be because my 2 year old has that show running 24/7 right now (the Steve version- I will not acknowledge the purple shirt dude as a legitimate Blue-man).

But, there are key repetitive aspects of Blue that can help me in my distractions. 
First- take things in small and simple steps.
Deal with no more than three things at a time.
Write down the three issues to be tackled in one sitting- and LITERALLY SIT DOWN TO DEAL WITH IT!!!

That's right, no eating over the sink or pacing the hallway- I have to sit down and DEAL- organize.

!). Airplane Mode Goal- has to be upped to every day. *Grunt

2). Three step tackle- (I literally had to stop myself from skipping to football after writing that- I may be worse than I thought on the distractible dilemma).
Sit and work on three points relating to one thing at once- not three separate projects, but organize one thing into three manageable steps or points. 

This is going to be challenging- yay, I like a challenge!

Love to write, Write to love!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The More you Give the More you Get!

But, if you don't do your part and write in the first place you will probably be out Intec cold wondering where all the love is...

I'll tell you, it's at WANATribe, MyWANA, and WANACon.

Connect to other writers, bloggers, and tweeters of writing and blogging. 
I am still learning, but the resources and connections are uplifting and encouraging, not to mention educational.

I still have no idea how to make blogging more useful for myself- hence the weeks of absence from the effort.  But I have found editing, revising, scene description, character development, plot arch and other writing skills to be improved.

Connections have also brought better insight into when, where, and how to go about query, submission, self publication and the absolute NEED to have a professional editor phase before you approach any of these coveted steps in your writing process. 
I'm still searching the best editor/revision fit for me- just like finding the right doctor or shrink for you on a professional and personal level.  There is a right fit for you on a genre, professional, and personal level- you better find one! (speaking more to myself than anyone else).

My favorite part about finding online writing connections? 
It just feels good to let someone know they're doing well and you appreciate their example in writing. 
Try it.
Trust me.
It's worth your time to let someone know you appreciate their efforts. 

Write to love; Love to write!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make it BETTER!

You know when you create something you can clearly see where it needs improvement?
Anyone suffer the grand delusion that your creation doesn't need improvement- ever?

I recently discovered that I am not deluded nor do I have clarity.
I'm confident on some areas to improve upon, but have no vision as to how to accomplish that.

I do have a great idea how to make Pinterest better.  Not that it will help me, unless having a pin of an illustration on your wall for an extended period of time gives you publishing rights.  Don't worry, I'm not holding out for that.
I do think the pinning site should adopt more of an 'allRecipe' style.

Most of the items I post are crafty, DIY, baking, or 'I wish my house looked like this' kind of pins.  Wouldn't it be handy to search by supply list instead of some word jumble in a search bar?
I envision one of those pages where you can click on the supplies you have on hand and need to use up. 'paint' 'yarn' 'staples', etc
Click on the supplies and the site would filter to any project or post listing those as materials used- FANTASTIC!  Then I would know right off the bat if it was realistic for me to pin the thing in "I'm really going to do this" board or my "just trying to look cool" board.

Simplified idea for my needs and wants.  However, my writing is more difficult for me to pinpoint- or just freaking pin!  Where is the Pinterest board for my writing projects?  I need to just highlight and pin sections under 'needs setting detail' board, 'add character information/emotion' board, 'lacks conflict' board, etc. 

That way if I were feeling 'conflict' I could just go to my 'needs conflict' board and start filling in the gaps on that part of a story project.
Emotional day?  Just click on my 'add emotion' board and  engage in some writing therapy while developing more complex and repayable characters.
Olfactory senses firing on all cylinders?  Pull up the 'setting detail' board and stink up my story.

Definitely a good plan for making it better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Confessions of one battling a StoryFighter

I've been talking steps to improve my writing skill.
Doing drill and practice (okay, I did those for about three days and found myself distracted with story ideas and all the drill and practice became story puzzle pieces).

Researching method, style, content, and, resources. 
In truth this can be a highly depressing activity, and if I had a standing Zoloft prescription I would be better at this step.  As is, I have to search my house top to bottom for the chocolate remnants left over from Christmas to calm my amateur realizations of how many vast areas I need to improve.  Also, there are a ZILLION successful writers out there- seriously, once you start trying to learn from those willing to share, it's overwhelming... just thinking about the oceans of things I have to figure out-- where's the chocolate?!?

I set attainable goals.  I researched writing goals and time triggers, and even had a cute little saying.  It was actually working great, until I met my own inner nemesis once again- today.
My StoryFighter.

The StoryFighter is that part of me that refuses to get along with all my warm welcoming efforts to write out a story.  I am supposed to be encouraging my characters, coddling their efforts to share their adventures and divulge their true natures. 
However, the StoryFighter likes to trap my characters in setting that they can't get out of. 
Right now two of my characters in a project I'm working on are trapped at a University setting I know too little about to help them, and the StoryFighter keeps researching a butch of crap to make it impossible for them to move on with the storyline.

StoryFighter wants to hide the base and selfish intents of the antagonist, which I would like the characters to reveal and rise above.  I want them to come to terms with their less than favorable nature and make a valid, perhaps not always successful, attempt to improve.
Come on StoryFighter, not everyone is a Tris or a Katnis!  Though there is a big spoiler I could share for those who haven't indulged in their Divergent series yet.  I almost spilled some beans that really agitated my StoryFighter, but the aspiring writer in me LOVED it!

StoryFighter wants flat characters and more explosions.  Huh...  I wonder if Michael Bay has an inner MovieFighter.... 

StoryFighter also has ADD.  Seriously, can we stick to one storyline at a time?  I'm trying to help my characters navigate their existence and StoryFighter is inventing 27 new storylines all crazier and more complicated than the last.  Inception, I'm pretty sure StoryFighter wants to be BFF's with your concept developer, if only to know how they interpreted the last scene.  And also to flip ideas around that most people would think could only come from drug induced brainstorm sessions.

StoryFighter thinks 'when the kids are napping, you should be napping too.'
I might agree with this one.

StoryFighter likes Sudoku, but no one knows why. 

StoryFighter is intent on letting me know that none of the efforts, revisions, and skill building are getting me anywhere.  Thanks a LOT!

I guess I just keep battling.  The only thing worse than dealing with my StoryFighter would be becoming a StoryFighterBattleLoser.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Grudgingly Returning to a Good Habit.

What is it about letting something slide for more than two weeks that makes it so difficult to pick it back up?

Lifting weights?  I was doing great at that for a good three months; Hello Thanksgiving, goodbye routine.

Up at 6am happily?  Ok, lets gets realistic, I am NEVER up that early with a smile, unless I'm camping because then I can sit by the fire and sip some cocoa.

Writing a weekly blog- who really cares the topic right now, just the fact I put some opinions and experiences on a predetermined template because I have no idea how to adjust it. Ugh, the worst right now.

I haven't stopped typing away on writing the editors worst nightmare, but have no idea how to define the process right now, 

I'm proud of the ground I've made finding resources and other blogs and articles that have fantastic writing advice and connections.  Definitely read Kristen Lamb, if you want experienced words or wisdom.

You know the old idiom "the more you learn, you learn the less you know, or ever knew".
Somehow I've experienced a euphoric drive to hone the skill, or is it just learn some skills? 

But a sheepish hesitation to taut my blunderings. 

Despite having an attainable writing goal established and so far maintained this year, yes I'm claiming an unbroken resolution 4 days into the New Year, I have not set a blogging resolution.

Reality, shouldn't have to set a new goal.  I had a fantastic mediocre habit well established.  I simply let it slide with the mask of Holiday and Family time. 

The trudge of reestablishing a good habit is more painful than establishing it in the first place.  First hand knowledge, *three fingers raised tightly in the air.

So this year my real challenges are getting my slowly growing rear end back on the treadmill and writing whatever crap comes out on a yet to be determined basis, neither of which I have any intention of making into a resolution because they aren't 'ambitions' they are habits that I intend to put the tortured time into reestablishing.  But I will take the time to write out how much I'm kicking myself for letting such good habits lag.