Archives for June 2015

Self-Care: Eat good food, preferably sitting down

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

I owe—entirely—the fact that I’m cooking again at all, to Kristin Schell. When the stress got bad, I didn’t eat dinner for more than a year. After about 3 p.m. every day I got sick to my stomach. Kristin’s recipes gently nudged me back to life and showed me that I really enjoy chopping veggies while listening to music by Patty Griffin.

My biggest problem, as someone who started flirting with anorexia at age 6, is that I still have trouble feeding myself. When I feel hunger, my default is to ignore it. (What? You don’t do that? Weird!) Or I berate myself for feeling hunger in the first place—surely if I were a better person I wouldn’t need to eat all the time.

The fact that I go to the farmers market once a week and get excited about spending money on fruits and veggies is major progress. The fact that sometimes I buy something beyond fruits and veggies, like homemade goat cheese or Meyer lemon-infused olive oil, is miraculous.

I have made complete peace with breakfast. It’s the one meal of the day I’m always hungry for and never want to skip. While I eat, I read the selection from Every Day Poems. Maybe if I brought a poem to all my meals, it might help them go down a little easier on the tough days.

Self-Care: Have fun at least once a week

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

Whoa. That’s a tall order. I mean, fun? Fun? FUN! Whew. I’m already exhausted thinking about self-care at that level.

The best I can come up with for this summer is this: Go to the movies or the theater once a week. This is something I’ve thought about doing for years. And it’s summer, so there’s lots to see—three stage productions on my local stage (four with the one I want to see in a neighboring town), plus it’s blockbuster season at the movies.

I really have no excuse.

But fun is hard for me. There are three general categories I find fun. One is theater/movies/books, all activities which can be solitary. The second is one-on-one time with a friend. The last one is a big family get-together—lots of people, lots of food, lots of drink. Our last one was right after New Year’s, on January 3. Now it’s summer. Does anyone want to go out to the lake? Lake Travis is finally almost full. Sometimes Island, which we all thought might be a permanent fixture, has sunk back to its proper place. I’d like to see that.

Seeing the drought begin to come to an end? That sounds fun!

Self-Care: Work to live, don’t live to work

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Please read her post here.)

As a general rule I don’t get writer’s block. My work at a monthly magazine doesn’t allow that. But in May, I could not get together my thoughts to write my column. I have a file called Potentials, and not even my potentials were coming together.

I suspected it was because I had just completed the rewrite of a manuscript. Was this normal? I called a couple of friends who have written multiple books. They both told me that, yes, it’s normal, and I should take some time off. I told them it was editing week and I was looking forward to editing 15 articles in five-ish days. I could hear the horror in their silence.

When you write for a living, the line between writing to live and living to write is fuzzy at best. I admit it—I do live to write. It has kept me from bursting into flame. Sometimes the fact that I have an interview to do or an article to finish or a column to start was enough to keep me going when I wanted to give in.

I’d like to explore this write-to-live thing, although I suspect it would be like saying, “I think I’ll stop breathing with my left lung.”

But last September when John and I took a week at the beach, I did not write. I did not miss it, not with the company of the waves and the sand and the migrating birds.

Self Care: Make a heart-to-heart connection daily

(I am joining Laura Lynn Brown at in her summer blogging project about self-care, a topic about which I have much to say—possibly too much. Please read her post here.)

During this prolonged season, I lost touch with many of my friends. Not completely, but gradually.

At the beginning I called everyone. I think I wore out my welcome, even as I tried to dole out the trauma judiciously. Talking to me, getting the lastest update on my unfolding crisis, must have been exhausting. When I’d ask my friends how they were, most of them were noncommittal. Did they not want to burden me? I longed for someone else’s burden!

And so, I stopped talking. After too many lunches with too many friends, after which I practically ran to my car, sobbing, because I couldn’t stand to get that look again, that, “oh my god” look.

So I stayed busy. Waited for the one or two people who never fail to call, not in 26 and 19 years of friendship (respectively). And both of those friends always share their burdens.

There is one good thing I did during this time, and that was start going to boot camp once a week or so. I’m a morning person, and pretty much everyone who attends a 5:30 a.m. exercise class is a morning person, too. I found my people. And I discovered chitchat.

Can I tell you how much I needed chitchat? With a group of people who, for the most part, didn’t know me, didn’t know my story, or were too out of breath to ask questions beyond, “Get much rain?” We tease. We laugh. There was a joke this morning because someone said, “my cousin’s wedding,” and someone else heard, “my husband’s wedding,” which led to more jokes.

It may not be heart-to-heart, but sometimes heart-to-heart hurts too much. It can make things worse. Chitchat and jokes are healing for me. So bring on the trivial. Get out your rain gauge and let’s compare. Somebody say something funny. Please.