A year


It’s sort of depressing to have a long-term blog that you’re really bad at keeping up. I can look back and see, pretty easily, the things I’ve been really excited about over the years.

There have been a few writing phases. Times when I genuinely thought I would finish a novel, come what may. Last year, I was deep into daily writing, and talking about writing in such earnest ways.

I never finished the novel.

I was so excited about teaching Les Mills classes for a while! For years, that was what kept me moving forward. And in some ways that’s nice to think about, because it ultimately led to me having the best job I’ve ever had.

In other ways, it reminds me I used to love this stuff. I guess that’s the way with any hobby that becomes a job. I mean, it’s a job.

But now, all those instructors who talk about how “passionate” they are about what they do, just make me roll my eyes. When I think about how much energy I put into it back then (and yes, passion), I feel like it was kind of silly.

Hmm. I am probably looking at this the wrong way. A certain amount of obsession was really good for me. Maybe that’s the feeling I really miss. Being in love with the idea of something, with a sense of possibility and potential.

There’s not much I’m in love with right now. Unless you count Lin-Manuel Miranda, ha ha! (*dreamy teenager voice* “He’s so great…!”) I am learning to play the guitar. And I’m doing some interesting things in my work life.

But life just… goes on. It’s hard to feel inspired about much right now.


I’ve got this! (Some of it.)


I’m trying to get my life together.  But I sometimes feel like I am not giving myself credit for all I am getting right. 

So,  here’s what I’m doing well on! Or at least better.  🙂

  • I am holding down a good job! I am able to do a good job even though I have a chronic illness and have to really talk myself into it most days. The job has good benefits and pays well enough to get my basic needs met on a part time schedule. 
  • I haven’t overdrawn my bank account in a while. 
  • I stopped biting my nails. When did that happen anyway? I tried to quit my whole life and it finally took. 
  • I’m not drinking,  for physical and mental health.   (And God have I wanted one this week.) 
  • I’m remembering to feed the dog and cats. I remember to take my medication daily. And to shower and eat and mostly keep up with basic household chores. 
  • I’m reading lots of good books. And writing an okay one. 
  • I keep a solid sleep schedule. I keep electronics away from my bed and sleep 7-8 hours a night. 
  • I’m still using Habitica.  So great! 
  • I keep my doctor appointments. 
  • I started seeing a therapist, who is helping me with my goal setting. 
  • I exercise regularly,  both as part of my job and for myself. 
  • I’m doing well without a car! I am mastering the bus system. 

Well,  that is a pretty good list! I feel like I could keep going, but I can always add to the brag list later. 



I am at the new clubhouse of my apartment complex. It’s nice. I can go to the fitness center while doing laundry. But a bunch of guys are in there acting like it’s their private gym, blasting rap music, talking loudly. I was able to deal for 30 minutes on the elliptical, but the LOUDNESS just… I understand my grandmother now, how she would say something was getting on her last nerve. That’s me.

I told myself it’s not rap music, because I am all excited about Hamilton tonight. But let’s face it, that’s not exactly hardcore, right? And I feel like it’s racist (or agist? Classist?) to complain about people and their rap music. (“Hey guys, can we put on Hamilton instead ?”) Because I play the pop music at the work gym pretty loud sometimes.

Probably just waited too long to take my meds. I was laying there at the end of BodyFlow (relaxation, lights off) thinking” That was terrible. They hate me.” Then, “Oh, I forgot to take the afternoon dose. ” It’s scary how noticeable it is.

How I Use Habitica.com


Excellent! I love Habitica. This is a great use of it… I hadn’t thought of having a one-time checklist for each day, so as not to over-book in advance. Think I’m going to try that!

Hannah Reads Books

Habitica, previously HabitRPG, is a productivity app/site that “gamifies” your life, assigning XP to daily tasks and giving virtual rewards in the form of equipment etc. for your character. Habitica pretty much runs my life now, and I promised in my post on writing approaches that I’d explain how I use it. It took a good while to set this site up the way I wanted, and it takes some tweaking if there’s ever a life change like starting grad school, but malleability is one of its great strengths. Built-in rewards, a social aspect, and the existential pleasure of checking things off lists are other perks. I’m highly motivated by checking off things on lists…

When you log in, you have four columns: Habits, Dailies, To-Dos, and Rewards. You can add your own rewards if you like, but your main activity areas are the first three columns.

Habitica 1

My “Habits” column is…

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Letting go


via I Suppose I Should Fight — A Glimpse Inside of a Troubled Mind


This really struck me just now, going through my blog reader. The way the best sayings do when they speak to your heart… I am holding on to regrets, expectations, and judgment- mostly of myself.


Medication helps so, so much. You know, it’s easier to let go when I’m feeling balanced and present. Which is a really hard state to maintain when you’re depressed or anxious. The mind will latch on to anything to validate the negative in that state, as if it’s searching for a logical explanation: why do I feel this pain? Why am I so sad?


It’s been interesting, since I started the afternoon dose a month ago, I’ve started to notice when the morning dose is wearing off. At first I noticed the physical symptoms, the heaviness and deep fatigue, the sense I cannot pull myself through this life with any sort of grace.


As I’ve become more aware of this shift in the day, I’ve noticed the earlier symptoms. A vague restlessness, the itch to get away from whatever I’m doing, usually work. I work in a fitness center, and everything starts to seem louder and more grating. I will take more frequent bathroom breaks, thinking, “I just need to get out of here.”


Or if I’m somewhere else, like driving, I suddenly can’t stand the radio anymore, or that a car is following too closely. The thought pattern here is, “I just can’t deal. I can’t.”


These thoughts and symptoms all but stop when I take my meds straight away. Which is a little scary. In that I’m soooo not in control of my brain. I have always stubbornly thought enough exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation would “fix” me. The last year had taught me that wasn’t entirely true. The last few weeks have driven it home.


I can help myself with all those activities and practices, and I DO, but nothing has helped as much as meds, and they help radically.


They help me to let go of what isn’t helpful.


But now I need to let go of expectations, and trust this process. I have set the bar pretty low, I guess. I just wanted to regain some interest in life, and some happy moments. And I did, but I was far from well… and I don’t know how well I am now, to be honest, though I am definitely better.


Maybe I could still feel better than this, and maybe I could be not just interested in life, but excited about it? I don’t know.



Just this


Sometimes I don’t want my life. I just want to trade it in, and hope for a better deal the next time around.

I know I have it so much better than so many people in the world. Logically, I know this. But I don’t like it. I am just feeling sorry for myself, I guess.

It’s been nice being off work, mostly. I’m not really sure it’s good for me, though. Maybe I SHOULD travel next time, instead of having so much time alone with my thoughts. I’ve had too much time to wallow in regrets and missed opportunities.

Like the other day I started thinking about how, when I was finishing up my English degree, I was encouraged to go to grad school by two of the people in the department who could have guaranteed my admission. I started berating myself about all the ways my life could be different.

But I also remember I didn’t want to keep going to school, and I didn’t want to get too caught up in academia. That I wanted to write popular fiction, and never mind if I haven’t yet, I still do, and grad school doesn’t lead that way.

I still wonder if I’ll ever be happy, whatever happens to me. I know I’m still relatively young and could do anything I put my mind to, but everything seems so disappointing in reality. I thought my current job would be so much fun and I’d be happy.

Magical thinking – that a person, job or thing will come along and create your happy ending.

So the path is ever thus: Seek contentment with what you have. Gratitude for the good things, acceptance of what isn’t ideal. To live this life, this moment, as best you can.

This morning I am working on a novel. A cat is on my lap. Dog sleeping nearby. I had a really good breakfast… it’s foggy and drizzly, and a great day to stay home and write. Can I be grateful for this? I think so. Forget about yesterday and tomorrow, and just live.

Just breathe.

Just getting started


Writing over the last year has mostly been a struggle to get started.

That’s gotten easier. Most of what I write now, I’m not quite sure it’s going to be something I type into the manuscript (/Scrivener). I just think of them as exercises, idea generation. Still, a lot of these exercises have become usable material, either in a scene or simply as character insight.

I write my first drafts, of most everything (including blog posts) in longhand. I just find it easier to drop into my creative mindset that way. Then I type in what makes the cut, and sometimes I do keep typing the scene, once the floodgates have opened.

One technique I’ve used this week is character A addresses character B. It goes on and on, as that character expresses his inner world to the other character. A surprising amount of that has turned into scene dialogue.

I’ve also been using other fiction to get me started. No, not copying. Rather, I examine things like paragraph structure and try to write something that mimics that structure. (I was getting into an awfully repetitive pattern: character acts, then speaks; Character responds, then acts.)

I’ve also learned to keep an eye out for small turns of phrase that can help me say things a different way. Yesterday, I made note of the phrase, “she said grimly,” and will use that as my jumping-off point today.

What is happening to my characters right now, that will lead one to say something grimly? I already have an idea, but I bet it will be different once I actually start writing it. That is what makes writing such fun for me, now I’ve let go of strict outlining. I am curious about what happens next.

I am on an adventure. 🙂