Trying to Walk the Line

Blogging is a delicate balance for me, which is why I fall off the wagon so frequently and for so long.

I want to eventually be known as an author, and so I want to keep this blog somewhat professional.

I want to demonstrate who I am on a personal level, while keeping some things private.

I want to participate in political discussion, without being too radical or offensive.

I want to talk about what’s going on my life, without being boring, or again, getting too personal.

This is tricky!

That’s one of the reasons I talk about books and writing so often, and sometimes food, and for a while there, quite some time ago, I talked about running. (Now I focus more on walking than running.)

I don’t know how to fully be myself and yet be a moderate, buttoned-down version of myself that will be palatable to any future readers I might have, or agents who might want to see what I’m all about before taking the leap with a book of mine.

When things get a little overwhelming in my personal life, it’s almost impossible for me to compartmentalize enough to find anything at all to blog about that isn’t something I would feel uncomfortable sharing with the general public.

When I get in a low mood, I find it difficult to even write book reviews, because I tend to be more negative, and I really don’t want to do that when talking about someone else’s hard work – not in such a public space.

So, what does that leave? Blog posts about postage stamps and boot laces, apparently.

Sigh. I just don’t know. I’m trying.

 

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The Small Town Morning Walkers’ Club

Yesterday, I went for my walk at about 9:30, and became uncomfortably warm enough to cut it shorter than I would have liked. My usual route doesn’t have much shade, which I typically enjoy, but the sun has been quite intense for the past week or so.

This morning, I was better prepared to leave early. I finished my bowl of granola and soy milk, and then made it out the door at 7:15. The walk was so much better!

As I crossed the picturesque stone bridge in town, I heard a woman’s voice yelling, “Nancy! Nancy! Yooohooooo! Nancy! Wait up!” Then there was a whistle.

I finally turned around to see someone jogging toward me, and so I lifted my hat up from my face a bit and asked her if she meant me. She said, “Are you Nancy?” and I told her I wasn’t, which was becoming more clear to her as she got closer.

She had apparently walked past Nancy’s house a few minutes ago, and thought it was too early to text her, but had wanted to walk with her, so she was excited to have possibly run into her friend. I apologized for not being Nancy, which was silly, but I felt bad at causing her disappointment.

I introduced myself, I guess to clarify how not-Nancy I was, and she reciprocated, then I let her pass and wished her a good day.

She was walking more quickly than me, so she disappeared quickly around the corner at the end of the bridge.

When I turned the same corner, I spotted her again… talking to a woman who definitely had some similar physical characteristics to me. My new acquaintance was animatedly telling a story, and turned to look behind her. Seeing me, she laughed and pointed in my direction. I smiled and waved, and she said, “Beth, meet Nancy! Nancy, this is Beth!”

Life’s funny.


Hard Work, Self-Denial, and Guilt: The American Holy Trinity; or, Why I Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Reading for Hours

Yesterday was a rather “up” day for me. I had an elevated mood, an above-average amount of energy, and a sort of big-picture, expansive mentality. I had several ideas of blog posts to write, but I ended up doing other things, since I had already written for the day.

I could have written something and saved it for later, but I was in instant-gratification mode, so I tweeted a lot instead.

I realized yesterday while I was going for my second walk of the day that I was spending my day exactly how I want to spend all my days: reading, writing, and walking. I need to get the ratio sorted out, but I want to use most of my time on those things.

The reading is the best part, so I want to dedicate the most time to that. Writing helps me to feel creatively satisfied, and if I’m writing about what I’ve been reading, then the two justify each other.

Walking helps to counteract the sedentary nature of the other two activities (I’m thinking in terms of physical health here), while also giving me space to think about what I’ve read and what I want to write.

(It’s not that those are the only things I think about, but a lot of my pondering is framed as if I were writing an essay in my mind, and I come up with quite a few of my blog posts while walking.)

The ideal situation would be if I could get paid to read books and write about them. I’m hoping that if I keep at it, and keep getting better at writing book reviews (and other things, of course), I might someday be able to earn money from it.

I haven’t given up on my books, and I plan on eventually getting at least one of them published. I’m not sure how successful or lucrative that would be, and I don’t think I want to write a steady stream of fiction to earn a living, so I think it’s important to try to hone my nonfiction skills as well (if not more so).

I don’t currently have a job, and I’m not looking for one right now. I do think I would like to be a financial contributor to our household again at some point, though, so if I can get to a point where I am able to freelance in some way, that would probably be best for me. I don’t really thrive in other types of work environments… but that’s another story for another day.

I think what would be really neat is to not feel guilty about spending hours reading during the day. Maybe I need to be getting paid to stop feeling guilty, or perhaps I can manage to shift my mindset in some other way. As long as I’m still getting the laundry and vacuuming done, keeping the fridge stocked, doing the housewife thing, then it shouldn’t matter what I’m doing with my free time. I should be able to enjoy my chosen activities without the word “lazy” tickling the back of my mind.

…But then there’s that American mindset, pervasive and demanding, the one that creates a nation of overworked people who don’t sleep enough or play enough, who turn to alcohol and drugs, illicit and prescription, to relieve their constant stress.

It’s not a recipe for happiness, but it’s been drilled into our heads since we were taking our first steps. You must constantly produce! If you’re not breaking a sweat, if it doesn’t hurt a little, you’re not working hard enough! You only deserve a beer if you’ve worn yourself into apathy by the end of the day!

Leisure is almost a dirty word in this culture, and pleasure is seen as something that is sinful, something we must be furtive about, or “make up for” later. It’s important to remember that this is the American way, not the way of the world. Simply because America has many excellent qualities does not mean we are right about everything, and this particular thing is making us unhappy.

This post is turning from a ramble into a rant, so it might be time to wrap it up.

My point is that cognitively, I know it’s acceptable for me to determine for myself how much time to spend cleaning, and how much time to use for my own enjoyment, which includes writing or some other creative endeavor. It’s difficult, however, to shake off that feeling of “if this isn’t bringing in money, it’s a waste of time, frivolous, hedonistic, lazy.”

I think it’s time for me to develop and cultivate a different attitude about this. I encourage you to join me. Let’s all do something that makes us feel good, and allow it to do just that — make us feel good.