No one denies that hard work is usually needed to get things accomplished, to reach goals. But have you ever noticed that sometimes the joy goes out of just doing one’s work for its own sake? Working hard morphed into making hard work of things.
It’s not always obvious when it happens, either. Let’s say you’ve acquired the habit of gratitude: you’re grateful for recognizing your calling, and for the opportunity and means to do it. The work draws you in; you learn the craft and you learn to hone it, you learn to recognize how it could be better and you are driven to make it better. And then one day it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, progress comes at a snail’s pace. You don’t sleep well, your neck and shoulders become stiff and painful–
–it stopped being fun. It became hard work.
So what happened? Could it be that your skill has enabled you to spot areas that have problems, and so you work and work at the solutions, only to find more problems–and still more problems–or the solutions don’t quite do the job? Do the words not come? Are the colors never quite right? Does the melody elude resolution?
Focusing on the problems instead of the process is stressful. Sometimes it is necessary, but when it becomes a regular thing, it isn’t any wonder the sense of gratitude and enjoyment fades.
The solution could be as simple as recognizing what has happened and adjusting one’s perspective, to stand back and appreciate the overall positive whole instead of the problematic parts. It might require a long break–but it might only take a few minutes. Step back from the problems. Remember the purpose. Reset.
The best part is when, after resuming your work with gratitude and a sense of fun–the problems often sort themselves out.
Once again, I got a big kick out of seeing my novel in print, this time the second Charlotte Anthony mystery, An Unexamined Wife. The Kindle edition was published right before Christmas, and many other things required our attention around here before we could set aside the time to do another edit, a layout, and then a proofread of the layout. I love the cover, the font, the off-white paper, just everything.
Opening boxes like this doesn’t get old
It takes Amazon a while to synchronize the print and Kindle editions, so if you go to the book’s Kindle page, it doesn’t yet show anywhere to click for the print on as of this writing. Click HERE to get to the right page.
To celebrate both the print edition of this book and the first publication anniversary of the first book, An Uncollected Death, the Kindle edition of An Unexamined Wife will be on sale for $0.99 on February 26, 27, and 28. This is a good time to get it more cheaply for yourself or for a gift. Of course, the print edition is something you can actually wrap
The third book, An Undisclosed Vocation, is coming along nicely, 30K words in. This week I’m writing the part that finally gives us the story of Charlotte’s background–her parents and other relatives, and her life all the way up to meeting Jack Anthony. I’m having a lot of fun writing this book. It was worth it to spend all of January just working on the plot.
Thanks so much to everyone who purchased my books and additional thanks to those who have left such great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well. The more the merrier. Oh, one more thing, in case you didn’t know, I also have an author’s page on Facebook, and post there more often than here.
One of the things I’ve consumed more than I need is food. I’ve always enjoyed well-prepared food; my experience of flavor and texture is intense–so much so, that I can wax rhapsodic about a dish and its particulars to the embarrassment and/or boredom of others. But as most of us know, being crazy about food can lead to all sorts of problems.
One Single Pea
I’ve also engaged in neurotic eating habits–eating too fast, emotionally, or too much of certain things. My “full” sensor often doesn’t kick in until I’ve downed a scary amount of food. My weight will yo-yo between the far ends of a normal range for my height, but more often flirts with overweight than underweight during my late middle age.
Whenever I’ve announced I’m going on a diet, others’ reactions have tended to be: why? I wasn’t fat–what’s the problem? Blessed with height and a fairly good metabolism, I could get away with a lot. But as the years have gone by, my creaky back, hips, knees, and feet have been telling me more and more often what my stomach has failed to do: you’re eating too much! Give us a break! The only times they haven’t is when I’ve been at or around my “fighting weight,” that five-pound range that’s on the slimmer side of normal, but not too skinny. Nearly twenty pounds lighter than I was.
My knees had gotten so bad they’d lock up when I tried to turn over on my side during the night–a pain that made me see white light, it was so intense. I could briskly walk a mile, but getting up from a chair was arduous. So I spent a fairly intense month in physical therapy to build up the muscles and tendons that hold the knee joint in place. Losing weight would also help relieve some of the pressure and stave off surgery. So I studied calories and portion sizes, and the verdict was clear: I needed a heckuva lot less food than I was currently eating.
I was grossed out by my own over-consumption. The visual impact alone of smaller, “normal” amounts of food on my plate was stunning. At my age, beauty isn’t as important as health and consciousness, so being model-slim isn’t the point–but being able to move around better, to eventually become one of those sprightly old ladies with loads of energy–that’s the point.
And only eating what I need is philosophically minimalist. That realization alone did more to break my inner glutton than the pain in my knees. It got to me on a deep-down level, and it’s changing my relationship to food. I still enjoy it, but am actually satisfied with less.
After a couple of months of watching every single calorie and serving myself one official portion of any given food, the numbers on the bathroom scale started coming down. A lot of the pain started easing up, too. The grocery budget started shrinking. Food prep time started shrinking. And my “full” signal is starting to come back. Indigestion is much less frequent. I’m finally starting to feel like moving around now that it’s not such a big painful deal.
But most of all, it feels right to just eat what I need.
Short and Sweet
To my surprise, my little manifesto of minimalism, The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All, is in the top twenty 90-minute Self-Help Short Reads on Amazon.com, and evidently has been for some time. That makes it, by Amazon standards, a Best Seller. Is that cool, or what? I certainly owe a million thanks to all of you who bought a copy over the years and have followed this blog since its inception in 2010.
That means The Minimalist Woman will soon be five years old, quite ancient by blogging standards. I guess it seems a weird comparison to me because I’m still living the way I decided to live at that time, and it’s become so ingrained, it’s second nature. Even the no-gift holidays don’t feel weird anymore. The only thing that feels weird is actually shopping for anything other than essentials–or changing what I consider to be essentials.
That last bit is connected to one of the best things about minimalism–it’s self-determined and fluid. Our Read more »
An Unexamined Wife is finished and available on Amazon.com! It’s also FREE ON CHRISTMAS DAY AND BOXING DAY, so I hope you’ll take advantage of this holiday present. It’s also a good way to get a review copy that is also an Authorized Purchase, and I’d be tickled pink if you left a review.
Charlotte is about to spend the holidays in Aspen with her daughter, but manages to first stumble across the body of Dr. Alonzo Garibaldi, the father of an old friend. She gets caught up in another murder investigation, and along the way she manages to fall in love with one of the least likely guys in Elm Grove, a character who played a big role in An Uncollected Death. He’s going to play a big role in future books, too, and will hopefully bring another element to Charlotte’s particular way of sleuthing.
Does this have anything at all to do with minimalism? You bet it does! The focus and financial control that is the result of living simply and making mindful choices has made it possible for me to find the time and energy to be a full-time writer. That, and a little help from my family and friends. I can go on about the details of minimalism until the cows come home, but the real proof is in the results as well as the process. A two published novels in one year (and they’re not short books, either) is proof. I intend to repeat this next year.
Now, off to get ready to turn my office into a guest room and get ready to make Christmas dinner! Happy Holidays to you and yours.