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No More Mrs. Potato(head)

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It’s hard to avoid. As a part-time writer, I sit a lot. You know the mantra: butt in chair. If you’re not sitting down, it’s tough to write.

I also read. A lot. That’s crucial to writers too: you have to read a great deal to develop your writing craft.

And if you’re past your 30s, if you’re 40-something or you’re in your 50s and definitely if you’re 60-something, you discover (fat roll by fat roll) that all that sitting makes the writer start to resemble a potato.

This summer my bad horrible catastrophe shameful eating habits came to a screeching halt. I’d avoided getting a true physical for several years, but never avoided indulging in treating myself when work got stressful or when there was a reason to “celebrate” (making me an equal-opportunity overeater). Potatoes (could that be called cannibalism?). Chocolate. Bread. And lots of sedentary activities (like writing, reading and TV watching). It all led to a hat-trick nobody wants.

High blood pressure (it had previously been amazingly low). High cholesterol. And diabetes (type 2).

Although I was mad that now I’d have to invest in one of those old people pill organizers (me, who hates to even take an aspirin), the diagnosis was a good thing. I’ve changed my lifestyle–which is something writers need to examine. What is your lifestyle like? Your choices might be hindering your writing progress.

When I searched the internet for “writers’ issues” I found a number of lists. One issue resonated with me: taking care of myself so I can take care of writing.

What can I do as far as self-care? Here’s a few things:

  • Part of taking care of myself is exercise. If I let myself go until I look not like a potato but instead like a whole bag of potatoes, I won’t be writing too much longer. I’ll be in a vegetative state. Or dead. And that terrifies me. I have at least a couple of books in me. One is finished but not yet published. One is only begun. I’m 60. I have a limited amount of time left. 
          If I start to exercise, the blood flow will improve, which means blood will head to my brain 
          along with going to my lardy butt other body parts.
          Also, endorphins are released during exercise, and endorphins are always a good thing. I’m still
          working on finding an exercise regime that works for me… but exercise is going to be a part of
          my new lifestyle.
  • Eat decent food. For the last couple of months, I have the same thing for breakfast: a smoothie. It is not the most delicious thing, but I’ve gotten used to it. I throw in a few strawberries, a handful of blueberries, half a banana, a handful of fresh spinach, a carrot, some low-fat (plain) Greek yogurt and some milk. For other meals I try to stay away from white bread; instead, I do my best to opt for salads (homemade dressing) topped with candied walnuts croutons cheese salmon. I sometimes indulge in things I shouldn’t, but I make it the exception instead of the rule.
  • Don’t sleep your writing time away. If writing is your full-time job, you might think it’s okay to sleep in late. However, perhaps those early morning hours, when everyone else in the house is asleep, is your most productive writing time. Get up early and write for 30 minutes. An hour. Or be an owl. When the larks go to sleep, stay up and write a bit.
  • Seek out emotional encouragement–from yourself as well as from others. You’ve got to keep yourself moving forward, even if nobody else is around to encourage you. When you do have friends and family who are cheer leading for you, enjoy it… and know that you’re deserving of it.
Just like I’m growing as a writer, as a storyteller, I’m also growing as a human. Sadly, it’s taken 60 years for some lessons to sink in but hopefully, the next 10 or 20 years will be marked by better choices… and me taking better care of me.
Sioux Roslawski is evolving. She’s a middle school teacher, a slacker-of-a-writer, and a dog rescuer. If you’d like to read more about her, check out her blog.

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