Four hundred and fifty-seven

Procrastination

It’s blog day and I have the whole day off to write.

10:00 am – (I closed at the pub last night, so I slept in a little) Wake up.  It’s such a beautiful day.  I think I’ll sit out on my balcony and read a book for a bit to wake up.

11:00 am – I’m hungry.  It’s time to make breakfast.  Maybe I’ll check my e-mail while I’m at it.  And check the weather forecast, read the news, check my Facebook, send directions to my friends for my parents’ house where my dad and I are having a big joint birthday bash this weekend, play a game of solitaire, check my e-mail again (hotmail and two g-mail accounts), play another game of solitaire because I lost the first one.

12:00 pm – Put on my bikini and lay out in the sun for a bit reading my book again.

1:00 pm – Make coffee and back on the computer making a playlist for the party this weekend.  I open my blog account, but decide I need to check my e-mail again.  Maybe something really important came up in the past hour that I need to respond to.

2:00 pm – I must have a shower.  I take my time – I have the whole day off, no rush.

2:30 pm – Make more food and eat while reading.  Debate whether I should be writing, but decide I have plenty of time and will do that later.  Decide whether I should run errands today or tomorrow.  Decide on tomorrow.

3:00 pm – Move to the couch to read.  Boyfriend calls from Montreal where he’s living right now and chat with him.  Make vegan chocolate chip cookies because I really want something sweet.

4:00 pm – Make a list of all the things I need to do.  Don’t actually do any of them.  Eat too many cookies.  Sit back down to read.

5:00 pm – Fall asleep on the couch.  It’s fine, it can’t be that late.

7:00 pm – Napped far too long.  Eat dinner and more cookies.  Open my computer to write.  Check e-mail again.

8:00 pm – Cross one thing off the list: take out recycling.  Realize how late it is and get frustrated with myself for not being more productive (although I did almost finish my book that I started last night).

8:30 pm – Respond to comments on blog.

9:00 pm – Finally start writing.

That is truly how I spent my whole day off.  It’s almost embarrassing.  I obviously needed the relaxing time, but it’s very frustrating.  Perhaps this is what people call writer’s block?  Although I don’t have a problem writing, I just sometimes have a problem forcing myself to actually sit down and do it.  That’s why the daily blog was so fantastic – I was forced to write every day.  And I still do (well most days, unless I’m working a really long shift at the pub and too tired to write anything worth reading), but it becomes harder and harder to devote good quality time to writing.  I love to write and when I actually sit down to do it, it pours out of me through the keyboard and onto the screen.  It’s just so easy to do other things, though.  There’s always e-mail to check, or laundry to do, or recycling to take out, or lists to make, or errands to run, or grandmothers to call (which reminds me…).

Friends have suggested I go write in a coffee shop without internet where I don’t have the distractions of my house and am forced to just sit and write.  I’m a server, though, so would be too worried about sitting there for too long taking up a table and would either be too distracted by that or keep buying things I don’t want so I’m not worried about it.  I go through phases where I write heaps, and then I have days like today where I end up leaving all my writing to the very end of the day.  If any other writers out there want to share their tips of avoiding procrastination, I’m all for it.

I find the busier I am the more productive I am, so maybe I should plan my days off with lots of things to do, so I have to slot in time to write.  Alas, there is no point in me complaining because it’s done and the day was very pleasant and relaxing.  And now I’m in the mood to write.  The two-hour nap means I won’t be going to bed for awhile, so book, here I come… (As long as I resist checking my e-mail again!)

Four hundred and fifty

The problem with trying to make ethical, sustainable choices…

Last year I examined a lot of different topics that changed me to the core and I hope will influence the choices I make for the rest of my life – for instance the information I learned when I lived at the poverty line and during good deed month, some of the videos I watched during vegan month, and what I learned about food during many of the months.  I’ve tried to make as sustainable and ethical choices as I can since learning this information, but it’s hard to draw a line between what is sustainable and what isn’t.  I’m reading Vanessa Farquharson’s book Sleeping Naked is Green (how an eco-cynic unplugged her fridge, sold her car, and found love in 366 days) and she mentions the problem with spices:

Things like basil, thyme, and coriander can all be grown locally, but garlic and ginger usually come from China, cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cumin from the Middle East, vanilla and curry powder from India, and so on, which means the more flavourful your meal, the bigger carbon cost it may have.

So unless you are a raw vegan who adds only locally grown herbs to your food, you are leaving a carbon footprint.  I never even thought about the environmental impact of spices.  The more I find out, the more it becomes overwhelming.  It feels like no matter what you do, you are screwed.

I recently went on a rant about TOMs shoes (for every pair you buy, they donate a pair to an underprivileged child in a developing nation somewhere) and how they might be doing more harm than good by giving shoes instead of helping bring jobs to poorer countries by manufacturing the shoes there (they are made in China).  I was upset that I tried to make the ethical choice and instead my purchase could be supporting something that hurts not helps.  Sometimes it’s so overwhelming I feel like giving up and just buying whatever I want to without the thought of where it comes from or how it’s affecting the environment and other people.

A friend of mine and former roommate who is more educated in ethical and sustainable products than anyone else I know (she owned a company that sold these kinds of products, as well as has a degree in nutrition, and has influenced me to use natural products and eat organic over the years) had an interesting opinion about it.  She told me that yes, TOMs doesn’t do everything perfect, but at least they’re doing something.  They are better than buying a pair from a company that makes their shoes in sweat shops and doesn’t try.  And her husband is from Africa and he often brings shoes to give to the kids because even if they were made there, there’s a lot of corruption and often the kids don’t actually get anything.  “You can only do what you can do.  Try to make the most informed decisions you can and continue to try to choose sustainable, ethical products.  None of them will be perfect.”

It made me think about how making simple choices can help.  If we all made simple choices, like used vinegar and water for cleaning instead of chemicals (which cleans just as good and is cheaper) or chose to buy shoes that were trying to help people instead of hurting them, the world would be a better, cleaner, nicer place to live – and might actually be around longer for generations to come.

So, here are my TOMs.  And I’m going to continue to do what I can do and make the best choices I can with the information I can find out.  Maybe my great grandchildren will thank me for that.

Four hundred and forty-three

Update on the book and the publishing process

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you all on the publishing process, and I know some of you are interested for your own writing journey, so I figured today would be a good day.  Well that and the fact that I’ve spent the day biking across the city, visiting one of my best friends and her adorable newborn baby (who spit up on me on several occasions, but completely adorable spit ups), then writing about Cooking 30 Countries and the aftermath of date month, and I’m pretty exhausted.

To recap how the process has gone so far:

  • After my blog was featured on Freshly Pressed, I got an e-mail from a literary agent asking to meet with me about representation.
  • We met for tea (her) and coffee (me), all went well and I sent her my prologue.
  • She and her intern both liked what I wrote and we decided to work together.
  • I am writing the book and sending it to the agent section by section for her to edit and makes suggestions as to formatting, the  information I’ve chosen to include, and the flow.

What’s happening now:

I’m up to the fourth month/section in writing and the second in editing.  My agent was away at the book fair in London, England (sort of speed dating for agents and publishers) and just got back.  She has sent me her edits for the prologue and the Extreme Couponing section which have been really helpful in pointing out what things I’m missing.  Sometimes it’s hard to make sure to explain everything and include all the details, instead of just filling them in in my head and assuming the reader will figure it out.  As well, she’s been great at filtering out unnecessary information I’ve added.  I’m pretty proud of what’s been written so far.  I think it’s going to be a really fun book!

We met the other day and chatted a lot about things I need to focus on in my writing as well as general book trends in the publishing industry (apparently erotica is very hot right now – excuse the pun – because of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy that has been flying off the shelves).  I am officially signing a contract with her once a friend of mine looks it over and we make sure we’re all happy  (it looks fair to me so far, but it’s good to get a second professional opinion before signing anything).  She then will start pitching the book to editors and publishers, starting with New York, then at other book fairs depending on what the market is looking like for the type of book I’m writing.  From there it’s up to my agent to negotiate for me and find the right fit for an editor and publisher with my book.  It’s all pretty exciting.  And I’m really liking how the book is going so far with the writing.

Alas, it needs to be finished before any publishing happens, so I better get back to it and write a little more before bed…

Four hundred and thirty-six

Still working on that one “out of my comfort zone” act that I’ve been avoiding

Part of me is desperate to get it over with, and part of me is avoiding it at all costs.  The dreaded stand-up comedy routine.  The thought of standing in front of a group of people telling them jokes makes my skin tighten, my insides jump, and my stomach work really hard not to heave all of its contents up and out.  I want to have a child-like tantrum where I lie on the ground flailing my arms and legs around, hitting the ground occasionally with my fists and screaming out “I don’t wanna do it” over and over again between sobs and attempts to catch my breath.  That is how dreaded the stand-up comedy thing is for me.  But I promised I would perform a stand-up routine last August during Out of My Comfort Zone month and I will do it.

The routine is written and I’ve been practicing.  I’m still not even close to being confident with it, but I can only do baby steps.  If I can get through the routine from start to finish without running around in circles (literally) in frustration, then I’ve accomplished my goal for the day.  The worst possible thing I could do would be to go up on stage and be so nervous everyone just feels awkward for me.  Unless, that’s part of the routine and people are supposed to feel awkward.  I squirm while watching The Office – especially the British version.

I’m pretty sure my coach and comedic mentor has given up on the hopes of ever seeing me up on that stage.  I haven’t forgotten or given up the goal to get myself up there, Peter!  I’m going to face my fears and push myself so far out of my comfort zone I am already embarassed for myself.  Some people hate heights, some dislike snakes, I dread trying to be funny in a room full of strangers.

I’m talking about this today because a run-in with a couple of old acquaintances got me thinking about how I need to keep pushing myself.  A couple of years ago I was working New Years Eve and was serving a group of guys and girls in their 30s.  They all had a few drinks and were loving me.  One guy in particular kept talking to me and asked me if he could go out with me on a date.  I respond like I do every time I’m single and someone who’s had a few drinks asks me that question: “come back tomorrow and sure”.  The next day was New Years Day and I was sure he wouldn’t remember, let alone come in hungover – especially when I saw him making out with another girl later that night.  Funnily enough, the next day he showed up with his buddy and sat at the bar.  I was shocked, but went and chatted with them.  Since then every time they come in to the pub we chat about our lives.

A couple of days ago they came in and I told them about the book and the blog and how much happier I am than a year ago.  The one asked me “if I were to tell someone one thing to do to be happy and simulate the results of what I went through, but without the 366 days of blogging, what would it be?”  I was about to respond that it’s everyone’s personal journey that they have to take, but then something hit me.  “Challenge yourself every day.  Do something that gets you thinking and learning and pushing yourself just a little.”  I must continue to challenge myself too – not just in writing, but in continuing my educational and social journeys.  First one – do the stand-up comedy routine already, Lindsay!

Four hundred and twenty-nine

Time heals all wounds?

I had a moment yesterday, when I was going through old text messages to remind myself of a few events, and I felt a huge weight come on my heart.  It felt like the weight of date month, everything I went through in my personal life, all of the hurt that I caused and the hurt others caused me, was an anvil pressing down on my chest threatening to cut off my ability to breathe.  Brief tears came to my eyes, but instead of running from them like I always do, I just let all of those events weigh down on me.  I finally let myself feel all of that pain and joy and ups and downs.  It hurt, but I accepted it for what it was and let it be a part of me.

Then the most amazing thing happened – the weight lifted, the pain subsided and I was okay.  I was more than okay.  I let it all go.  At the same time I let it be part of me, but not controlling me.  I let go of all the emotions of pain, hurt, anger, grief, and left only acceptance.  It wasn’t planned and it has taken a very long time, but I forgave those I needed to forgive, and most importantly I forgave myself.

I’m not sure that time heals all wounds, but it definitely allows for us to accept them as fact and move on.  I’m glad because I was having a really hard time writing about the dates without layering them with all the informations and emotions I have now.  By letting that go, I can really put myself in the place of where I was then.  It’s still hard, but in a good way – a healing way.