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Sharpening My Focus

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

I've written 2,206 words so far today in my current book project, Smoke and Steel. I hope to push it up to 2,500 words for the day, but before I do, I want to talk about The Artist's Way and The Daily Stoic, both of which are sharpening my focus on the things that are truly important in my life right now.

Really, my priorities come down to two things right now:

  1. Improving my health

  2. Dedicating myself to my writing

My house can stay dusty for now. Once COVID is kicked to the curb, I'll host a party, and have to clean. Until then, I really don't care.

The Artist's Way can get a little much on the God side of things for this old agnostic grump, but I continue to plow my way through, writing every day in the Morning Pages. I think I've missed two days since beginning the 12-week program in mid-October.

I've repeated several weeks and I'm currently on Week 10. Life has its ups and downs and I try to roll with it, hence the repeated weeks. I will do them over until I feel ready to progress to the next.

The Daily Stoic is incredibly helpful. I even paired it with the Daily Stoic Journal, which allows for introspection and entries in the morning and evening, although I typically just write in it once per day. I committed to reading the passages for each day, and writing in the journal. Around now, or sometimes as early as mid-January, is around the time that all of my New Year's resolutions fly out of the window. This year, however, I believe will be different.

Improving My Health

Yesterday, as I wrote in The Artist's Way Morning Pages in the afternoon, following my first but not last, colonscopy, my thoughts drifted to my health. I'm fifty, going on fifty-one. I'm overweight, and my BMI is 35.2. I'm pre-diabetic, with high cholesterol, and both are controlled easily with metformin and Lipitor. My left hip and often my knees and the bottoms of my feet all ache and pop. Time has caught up with me. And it's caused me to question, what do the next three-plus decades look like? How will I spend them? And how painful will they become if I don't lose this extra weight?

I wrote down the number of 180, which is forty pounds less than I currently am and said, "I'm going to lose this weight, one pound per week, by the end of 2021." My ultimate goal would be to weigh around 160, some sixty pounds less than I weigh now, which I hope to accomplish by Summer 2022.

It is at this point that I will note that I have said things like this before. They last for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but eventually they fall away.

I went as far as to calculate how long it would take me, walking at 1.5 mph on a treadmill each day to burn 500 calories. And not willing to stop there, I wanted to know how much walking it would take for a 160 pound me to burn 500 calories per day. After all, it isn't just how much we have to walk NOW to burn those extra calories, but LATER as well. The answer was: 2.5 hours. Right now that means around 700+ calories burned, but at my ultimate target weight of 160, it will take 2.5 hours.

"Why so slow?" you might ask. And the reason is simple - multitasking. I can think of no worse fate than having only ONE thing to do, walk, and nothing else. So this will be my writing time. And because I'm writing, and 2.0 is sometimes too fast, so 1.5 mph will just have to work.

I cobbled together a schedule that looks like this:

6:00-7:00 Wake up, coffee with family, Morning Pages and The Daily Stoic

7:15-8:00 Yoga, weights, sit-ups

8:00-10:30 Walk and write

11:00-12:00 Clean Cottage West, eat first meal of the day

Sticking With It

This morning, as I sat down to write my Morning Pages, I remembered one of the last things I thought about before falling asleep...

How do I stick with this when I never have before?

I asked it another way this morning: How do I keep my commitments to myself?

If I make the commitments and stick with them - I'll succeed. I'll lose the weight, I'll write the books (and sell them and make money).

I'm one of those people who if I promise something,, I'll practically kill myself to keep that promise. So why am I so good at breaking promises to myself? Do I not matter? Am I not important enough? Am I afraid of success?

I was asking all of those questions and more. It's important to examine our lives. It's important to ask the questions we don't necessarily want to be asked. I wrote:

Am I afraid of success? Or afraid of what life would look like without struggle? That was [my first husband's] problem. He was smart as hell, but constantly shooting himself in the foot. At every opportunity. And his life has been miserable, poverty-stricken, and pretty much without meaning as a result.
I don’t want that.
I am tired of struggling and saving every little penny. But I’m seemingly NOT tired of this in-between. Where I’m not majorly ill, but not particularly healthy. Where I’ve written ten books but not found success.
Is in-between what I really want?

The jury is still out on how I make it stick, but I'm working on it.

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