Searching for Balance: An Update

OvereatingI don’t know about you, but I tend to be all or nothing. It’s true in how I eat (either off sugar or face down in chocolate), how I read, how I work, and how I love. I’m a binge-everything. Which, uh, makes it very hard to find balance: I’m either going full throttle or at a stand-still (or creeping in reverse like a tortoise on retreat).

Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene Coahuila) isolated on white background.

This fall, I’ve been stuck in turtle mode. Why? Some personal stuff, but also because last year was such a whirlwind of writing and editing and publishing and meeting new readers and attending fairs and making promo and just figuring out this whole “how to be an author thing.”

ASMPreOrderAdThanks to you all, I’ve already succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I’m no NYT bestseller, but I’ve got regular sales and, more importantly, y’all seem to really like my books! I’m so touched and surprised and pleased and … and … terrified.

Private Or Public Directions On A Metal Signpost

Terrified? What? Yeah. I am. Because what if the next thing I write, people hate? What if I’m not “doing it right,” whether in terms of publishing frequency or keeping a street team or knowing where to be when or…? “Not doing it right” is the worst fear of a perfectionist. Because I guess it’s code for “failing.” And who likes failing?

So, yeah, stupid anxiety’s got me pulling my head into my shell.

familyselfieThe other hard reality I hit this summer was realizing I can’t put quite as many hours into my writing career as I feel I need to to “do it right”, because, well, I still have a darling husband and two wonderful kids and a messy house that need me. And friends and family to be with it and…and…

See? That balance thing again. Dang it.

portrait of young gymnasts training in the stadiumLast month, I fell off the beam. After manically doing flips and handsprings for over a year (figuratively – in real life, I hurt myself doing somersaults now!), I suddenly found myself face down on the mat.

And I haven’t wanted to get up. Just this week, I realized it’s because I’m scared if I do, I’ll return to trying to pull off a routine that surpasses my current level of talent and ability. That all-or-nothing thinking again. Oops.

Female legs jogging on a trailTime to stand up. Time to take those steps forward. One foot in front of the other – no fancy tricks required, just steady movement. I’ve got my NaNoWriMo project set (A Delicate Matter – Sophie’s story!), The Demon Duke to edit, and a whole bunch of other authorly things to catch up on.

Joy, sunlight, wheat.

Because screw you, anxiety! You won’t rob me of my joy anymore. I’m ready to get back to the happy and peppy and fun-loving Margaret I truly am, the one who’s so grateful for all the blessings she has – including the ability to be on this journey with y’all. Because sharing the love is what I was born to do, peeps.

Thank you, dear readers and writer friends and everybody who’s supported me and cheered me on this far. I’m gonna figure this balance thing out. Because I have a whole lot more stories to tell and I love writing them. I love sharing them. And I love you. With all my heart.

Book pages in the shape of a heart

#Whole30, Week 3: Wait, This is Getting Easier.

anneWhole 30, Week 3.

If you’d tried to tell me last Sunday that I’d be sitting here today, writing this in a rather mellow mood, I’d have bitten your head off. Especially if your head in any way resembled noodles. And yet here I am. Have I found the promised Tiger Blood? I don’t think so, unless my tiger is still a newborn cub. But I do feel more … resigned to this Whole thing. Is that because I’m closer to the end? Or because acceptance is part of the grief cycle? I don’t know. But I’m grateful for it. I still can’t say I like eating this way – but I can’t deny some of the results:

  • I’ve dropped 17.5 pounds. (Yes, I know, the Whole 30 police would tell me I have to start over for getting on the scale. I’m not going to.)
  • I am sleeping better at night. I don’t wake up at 2 a.m. anymore. I’m still more tired during the day than I wish to be, but the sleep quality is improving. Now if I can just get myself to go to bed earlier (I conked out last night at 10:50 rather than midnight, and do feel much better today).
  • I don’t feel a slave to food. I still have cravings, yes, and this week my longing for pizza has been particularly bad. But on a physical level, I do not have that insatiable beast in my head yelling “EAT EAT EAT” all the time.
  • A couple of people have told me I look noticeably thinner.

I’m still waiting for Tiger Blood – for the extra energy, the positive attitude, the thrill with this way of eating. I’ve been struggling with anxiety a lot this week (book edits play a big part in that). But sitting at Day 21 and feeling as if I can make it the next 10 days with no problem? That’s miracle enough for me right now .

angry1995Whole 30 – Day 15: 

I woke up angry. Just absolutely pissed off at the world. I have no clue why, so to attempt to keep from inflicting my non-sensical wrath on my family, I attacked the kitchen, cleaning it with gusto while singing along at the top of my lungs to music on the radio.

beefstiryfryWhole 30 – Day 16: 

Maybe it’s good that I have been forgetting to keep daily logs. I’m now trying to recall the week from several days later. Son came home with strep throat from school. I’m feeling very stressed about book edits.

Tried to make a beef stir-fry for lunch. Used stew meat, so I don’t know if that’s part of it, but I could barely eat the stuff. I had put 1 tsp of coconut aminos on it (which I don’t think I tasted), but I doubt that’s it. Forced some down anyway, but so frustrated by the rejection of foods I think I like. Didn’t eat much for the rest of the day.

Whole 30 – Day 17: 

Still here. Still doing it. I do know I felt a bit better in the morning this day, but by the afternoon, I was feeling sick. I think it was an honest bug; I had a slight fever, and ended up going to bed from 4-8, and then back in bed by 10:30. Hardly ate anything, but hardly wanted to.

body-weight-scaleWhole 30 – Day 18: 

I was naughty and got on the scale again. I’ve dropped 17 pounds. 17 pounds in 17 days? What’s up with that? That’s actually rather scary, as I don’t think it’s healthy. On the other hand, I’m sure a bit will come back when I eat more, because I ate almost nothing yesterday.

Woke up hungry. Ate a hamburger for breakfast, and it actually sat okay. Finally made a new, authentically Paleo chicken recipe for dinner: Latin Chicken. Husband and I mostly liked it, kids did not (too spicy). Still felt hungry in the later evening, so ate two pieces of deli roast beef (approved kind I found at local food co-op). That didn’t sit well. Still, I was delighted to actually feel hungry for part of the day.

papajohnsWhole 30 – Day 19:

Hungry this morning. And craving. Craving pizza and donuts and sloppy joes and all sorts of things. Bummer.

Mostly a good day – fairly even mood. Two people told me I looked noticeably thinner (when I told husband they said that, he said, “I said that, too!” Yes, sweetheart, you did, but you see me every day and you see me naked, so you’ll notice more. They don’t.

Hungry, though, and lots of strong cravings. Especially for pizza.

Fountain penWhole 30, Day 20: 

I cannot believe I’m on Day 20. This has definitely gotten easier. I’m still not crazy about the foods and probably not eating a wide enough range, and certainly not within exact specifications. But I’m still doing it, and the scale today says I’m in a decade I haven’t seen in years.

Extra tired this morning, and frustrated because I’m not editing. Some of this self-flagellation is deserved, as I certainly COULD have gotten a lot more done. On the other hand, I’ve had kids home sick 4 out of 5 days.

Made pizza for the family tonight. Totally wanted it. Ate roast beef and strawberries instead.

dqWhole 30, Day 21:

Took chocolate to my book signing. Didn’t eat it. Made mashed potatoes tonight for the family. Didn’t eat them. Watched everyone eating ice cream cake in honor of my sister’s birthday. Didn’t eat it. But you know the crazy part? I didn’t even feel particularly deprived. Now, granted, I think that’s because I know eventually I can have them if I want. Still, a good feeling.

Ten more days, baby. Ten days. And then reintroduction – because I’m not going to be stupid and throw this all away on day 32. Please wish me luck – your support has been invaluable.