Returning to Exercise

Sometimes though exercise just isn’t possible due to the other commitments I have. 

Life takes me away from exercise from time to time, whether it’s illness, playing with my son, taking my dog for a walk, vacation, getting together with friends or any of a bunch of other things. It happens and I’m at peace with it. Sort of. I’m trying to accept that I can schedule my life all I want but events will happen to disrupt my plans.  

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By giving myself a pass and being okay with not exercising for whatever period of time I don’t, I find it much easier to get back into exercise when I’m ready physically and mentally. Sometimes I have to start at the beginning with the 1, 2, and 5 pound weights but even then, I find it easier to progress and get stronger than when I first started exercising.

I used to make myself feel guilty about all the things I should be doing and wasn’t –  exercising, finishing assignments early, writing, cleaning. Feeling guilty about not doing those things sucked all my willpower to do those things. I would feel so bad about myself and feel like such a failure that I still wouldn’t start them. So I decided to stop making myself feel guilty about something I hadn’t done and start being kind to myself. I started to recognize that I could only do so much in a day and could only say yes to so many things before I burnt out so now I give myself a pass and decide that tomorrow will be a day that exercising may happen. 

I’m slowly getting back into regular exercising. I run with my dog when I can, I go to the gym, I walk. Illness and work pressures have made this a stop start process so I’m not really into a routine yet. That’s okay because I’m doing what I can when I can and sometimes that’s amazing.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about being stuck and as a result, not exercising. I’m coming out of that total paralysis that sucked all the joy out of exercise for me. Fingers crossed!

Mary Robinette Kowal – Elma York

I decided to read The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal because I’ve been listening to her podcast for years and thought I would give it a try. 

I’m not a fan of alternative histories, because I like history. History is already full of interesting twists and turns and there’s enough of it for a lifetime’s exploration rather than imagining what could have been, in my opinion, anyway. Alternative history is a big section of the fantasy/science-fiction market so it obviously has an audience and people always enjoy asking “What if?”  

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

I was so surprised how much I enjoyed this book! Elma York, the main character, hooked me with her strong contributions to the space program and her desire to travel into space.  

In this alternate history, a meteor slams into Earth and brings about climate change on such a scale that humans have to seek out another planet. Yet, this is the 1950’s so they must speed up the space race. 

Elma is smart, very smart, so smart that she does calculations in her head faster than anyone can do with calculators. She works at NASA as a computer, since computers don’t exist yet,and supports those who are working to get rockets and men into space to colonize Mars. 

Notice I wrote men. I should have also written white men. This is the 1950’s so even though Emma flew in World War II (this still took place in this alternative history), she is not considered a suitable candidate to be an astronaut because she is a woman. 

Elma handles the judgement by pushing back against it, time and time again, applying for and demanding her place amongst the men who are going up. 

Fighting for something that should be merit based and isn’t, is exhausting. It shouldn’t be happening and Elma asks why it happens when she sees black men being excluded from the space program because of their skin colour, and when her and her colleagues are excluded or worse, paraded around as astronauts only if they show enough skin and do their make up to be a part of the game. 

In our own times, these are questions that should have been left in the 1950’s but they remain with us still.

Someone shrieked. That was me. I had jumped and thrown my hands into the air like I was some sort of gymnast…They were staring at me, and I didn’t care.

“They’re taking women astronauts!”

Those lines can very nearly be written for today. Thankfully, we have had and hopefully will continue to have women astronauts like Roberta Bondar, Christina Koch and Stephanie Wilson.

 Elma gives us an opportunity to re-examine whether or not our society is actually merit-based and if it isn’t, how can we make it merit-based. This is a complicated problem that requires us to ensure all have the potential to get the skills to participate in a merit-based society but if Elma and her fellow humans can get off the planet, then why can’t we demand that equality?

Camaraderie in Axe Throwing

Shared interests create commonality and friendships, even with people who are disparate. 

I forgot that. I saw it when I was a kid watching my parents in their dart league. Through a shared activity, they could chat with other people that they normally might not talk to or have much to talk about with. 

A friend invited me to axe throwing night at his club, Batl: Backyard Axe Throwing League. The scoring is simple and for a more complete description than I could give, check out the FAQ page. At this club, people face off one another in a round robin style tournament each night for a season (eight weeks).

The night was filled with axes bouncing off targets, people throwing one or two handed, people showing me their axes, people sitting at tables and watching others throw axes, and people watching their own scores in comparison to others. It’s a loud but not too loud event where things are happening and everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves. 

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Of course, darts is nothing like axe throwing. One person (who I later learned works at the axe throwing club) visibly winced when I asked about scoring and commented that it was nothing like darts (don’t make this mistake!). Fair play, the scoring is nothing like darts but the camaraderie, the chatter, the ambiance, all of that energy and warm human interaction buzzing around me, was. 

People love to lament nowadays that social media has led us down a path of no human interaction where we lack empathy and understanding of each other. I saw no evidence of that when I watched people throw axes. And guess what everyone was doing every time they threw an axe – exercising and having fun at the same time! It is possible. 

**I didn’t participate in throwing axes only because my shoulders dislocate (subluxate? Physicians, discuss!) when they are out to the side so throwing at or above shoulder height is out of the question, especially large, sharp objects. 

When Words Collide 2019

I’ve been going to When Words Collide for 7 years and the knowledge I’ve gained has taken me much farther in my writing than I would have ever gotten on my own. I attended this year’s festival (check out #wwcyyc2019 for highlights) I was really surprised how many new and different panels there were, ones that I had never seen before so of course I had to go see them. Unfortunately that meant I didn’t make it to enough publisher events but I bought enough books to make up for it. I’ve just started The Dame was Trouble edited by Sarah Johnson (published by Coffin Hop Press) and it’s off to a delicious start with a tale of a shrewd woman looking out for herself even as she holds her hand out to help others.

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Dwayne Clayden’s presentation on “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” had tears flowing (I refuse to acknowledge that any tears touched my cheeks or that my nose was running) and surprised quite a few people, in a good way, with its heartfelt tenderness and fresh honesty. His presentations are always interesting and he’s got a wealth of knowledge from years working as a police officer and as an emergency medical technician (EMT).

Dave Sweet’s presentation on “How to Sell a Life Sentence” was relevant to my own work and so I had to go. I’m never disappointed when I go to his presentations. They are often filled with sad stories of those who have suffered, but his gritty lived experiences give writers and readers a glimpse into the city outside of our house, our car, our workplace where people are experiencing the most powerful stories when their loved ones don’t come home, or their own choices catch up with them. Characters and books and adventures and the theory that we explore at such festivals can often feel disconnected from people out there who may be experiencing their own trials and bridging that disconnection, for those who see that suffering every day, can bring a story to life.

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Next year will be ten years for this fantastic festival! The organizers have done a phenomenal job building a bigger and better festival every year, one where new people arrive with fresh faces and repeat attenders can’t help themselves and gush.

A lot of people give their time and effort to make events happen – presenters, editors, agents, volunteers. I have to give another big thank you and shout out to all who volunteer their time.

#wwcyyc2020 looks like another promising festival. In the meantime, time to put my new knowledge to use. Happy reading and writing!

 

Struggling

I haven’t been exercising at all lately (How off brand! Twirls hair around finger, stomps foot, walks off) and it’s affecting me. I’m quick to lose my temper, all the time, and bubbling with thwarted desires. My mental paralysis is swallowing my home and work life, and yet I’m finding it so hard to get up off my chair, go downstairs at home or go to my gym at work (in my workplace!) and lift those weights or run on the treadmill. Last year, I could get up every morning at 4:30am and go for a run. Now, I only get as close as picturing myself running (is that a start?). 

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Exercise isn’t hard really. All I have to do is make the choice and do it. I can’t really explain why I don’t. I am stuck in many aspects of my life and wonder if this is some weird physical manifestation of that psychological status. It might be. It doesn’t make a difference in the end because I am standing still, not exercising, letting my emotions control me. 

This is where I am right now. Someone once told me to be kind of myself when I was at a low point and this is a semi-philosophy that I have embraced fully. For now, this is where I am – not exercising, focused on writing, and undergoing a lot of self reflection, examining past decisions and the regrets they have led me to. 

The internet appears to be a place where I’m supposed to talk about how everything is great and positive and that I have learned lessons and I’m becoming a better person. I have no idea if any of that is happening right now but I do know that I am stuck. I will not be stuck forever so I will not beat myself up about it or badger myself. Feel this moment and then see what happens. 

To all those who might be stuck out there, that’s okay. Just don’t stay too long (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). To others, let me know what action, plan, thought, motivation, whatever, unstuck you. When Words Collide 2019 is coming up so maybe I will pull myself out of this quagmire at that wondrous celebration of all things writing and reading.

 

Fonda Lee – Kaul Shaelinsan

With Jade War out, it’s long past time I mention Fonda Lee’s Jade City, where Ms. Lee has imagined a new world, a contemporary alternate history with a rich history that intimately informs its present. Cleverly woven in, I can see Lee writing books chronicling the history at which she’s hinted. 

Into this world returns Shae, the youngest of the Kaul clan, even though she had tried to step out of it. 

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Her family is a crime family which doesn’t just have its fingers spread throughout Kekon, they rule Kekon and the city Janloon through their use and control of jade. Jade gives users enhanced abilities, but only if that person has trained to use it. 

Shae, who trained to use jade but chose not to use it, leaves to remove herself from clan business and ensure that she makes it on her own rather than in a world where everyone would assist her to curry favour with her family. To test one’s mettle, to be successful on our own merit drives us forward and it has driven Shae to make herself the most vulnerable by going to a foreign country where no one knows her or cares about her country and learning how to be successful. She returns educated, poised and ready to navigate her family and her country on her own. 

But she returns to the Island that shaped her family and herself and a favour to her brother Lan pulls her back into clan business.

Shae’s quiet workings, a relatively minor character who wants to be minor, reveal a critical weakness that may undermine the whole family. Yet, despite her not wanting to be involved with her family’s business, she makes decisions to protect her family, inserting herself into the business out of a sense of honour and duty. By doing so, her life will be ruled once more by her family. It’s a difficult choice to make but she does so to protect her family.

Her loyalty to her family mean that she has to make difficult choices that pull her into her family’s ways and business. However, there is no doubt or hesitation on her part. She makes the requests of the people around her that have to be made to look after the family’s interests. 

We don’t get to see all the results of Shae’s actions but Jade City laid a lot of promises for Jade War. 

 

Desert’s Daughter is Done!

The first draft is done! 190000 words! 

I finished Desert’s Daughter and I plotted my way through it. Even though I plotted it, my manuscript still managed to surprise me, so that’s delightful!

Editing will come but definitely later…for now, onto another edit of Burnt or maybe writing short stories.