Plotting for a Pantser: The Great Experiment

As a writer, I’m primarily a pantser*. I get a line or an image or a snippet of conversation in my head, I sit down to write and just see where it goes, letting events unfold before me. I also, often, will get a portion of a story in my head. These sections are larger than the snippets but they are far from complete. For example, the last book I wrote I had the beginning chapter and the final battle in my head before I began, but not a whole lot in between. The story before that, I had all the villains and most of the main conflicts ready to go but I struggled with my main character. Sometimes an overarching theme comes to me first, sometimes I think up a plot situation, sometimes I wake up from a nap and discover almost a whole story in my head, and sometimes I see a single color silhouetted against a sky.

Long story short, I usually work out a lot of the details as I write. This method allows me to play; to write lyrically, to take detours, to discover. I strongly believe that our unconscious is doing a lot of work without us realizing, and I’m happy to see what it tells me.

However, my average time for writing a novel is clocking at two years. TWO YEARS! That’s just to get the story down beginning to end. Add on to that editing, beta readers, re-editing, pitch materials, querying, etc. and the process really stretches out. Now granted, I tend to edit as I write (something that happens because I’m pantsing, i.e. not all those detours and discoveries work) so I will say my complete draft is usually pretty clean. But still, two years feels like too damn long. Especially if I truly want a career writing novels.

SO! I decided to move outside my comfort zone. Take Off Your Pants is a book about plotting. Written for pantsers (or anyone) by a self-proclaimed reformed pantser herself, Libbie Hawker says she also took two years to write a novel before starting her outlining method. Yay! I’m not alone! I dove into the book.

Then I took a deep breath… and now I’m trying to apply her methods to my next novel.

This is a bit of a struggle, because pantsers want to pants. On the one hand, I love that her method puts certain aspects of story-telling front and center; aspects I feel are critical to a great story. Such as, she recommends starting with your characters’ story arc(s), their flaw(s), the external goal, and overarching theme (not in that order), and leaving plot alone for later. I totally get this approach. I also develop these early in my own stories. But these elements can take a lot of deep thought and I am used to letting them unfold over a longer period of time, possibly 2-3 months. I also tend to let major symbolic points and lyric elements reveal themselves as I go. Her method is making me put the deep thought portion of my work on the front end, before I start writing. It’s also helping me really think about and flesh out all of my characters before I write. So that part I love love love.   

On the other hand, I feel simultaneously as if my brain hurts from thinking too hard AND that I’m not doing anything when I could be writing. That is totally all on me! Hawker claims that she can outline her whole book, front to end, in about a day. Which… GRRRL… mad props! I’ve been working on mine for about a week.    

Which brings us to the next step… start filling out, very loosely, some of those plot points. Hawker says to make the plot points super broad with plenty of room for creative freedom, mainly around the character’s drive for a goal and what’s thwarting them.

Oh my god, people! It’s like my brain just slammed the brakes on me! I don’t know what the problem is… maybe I’m still tired from the last book, maybe I need to switch to poetry or just read for awhile, maybe my pantsing just wants to pants, but whatever the reason, my brain does not want to work on this part of Hawker’s process. At least at the moment. I wouldn’t say I usually have a problem with plot either, because what’s more fun to a writer than dreaming “Hey! What happens next?”  

Now I’m in a death grapple with my own resistance. (Both of us are being incredibly stubborn.) I am committed to giving plotting a chance, because ultimately, I would love to write a novel in six months. Hawker successfully uses her method to write novels in incredibly short timeframes. My experiment is in process. Hopefully soon, I will have a developed outline ready to go for this next novel. How the writing portion turns out after that is anyone’s guess.

But it sure will be fun to see it unfold.  

(Ha! See, the pantser always wants to come out!)

*A pantser someone who writes by the seat of their pants, unplanned. As compared to a plotter, who usually has the plot outlined/planned before writing. I actually thought, before I read this book, that I was a main dish pantser with a hefty side of plotter. But after trying to apply this method I realize how singularly pantser I’ve been all my life. Like Atkins level.

Kitty Kai Never Dies!

So, years ago I did a post about introducing a new kitten into our household of older cats. One of those older cats being a massive, jealous diva queen whose temperament towards new kittens was like Johnny Lawrence’s reaction to Daniel-san in Karate Kid. (No Mercy!) Our kitten, Ginger, was and still is a sweetheart; very non-confrontational, would prefer to sleep than fight, and enjoys belly rubs from strangers (and no, it’s not a trap! She really likes her belly rubbed!). Rather than deal with our older terror, Ginger often hid in my lap under a throw blanket. And jealous diva cat never lightened up (*cough* Kreese) so poor Ginger had to deal with her for years.  

Well, over time we lost the older cats and now we have a new younger cat, Harriet. I really thought that things would go smoother introducing a kitten this time around, but instead this happened.

Ginger, seeing new kitten: What the…? Goddamnit! I thought I was finally an only cat! What. the. FUCK Mom?!

Harriet sees Ginger: FRIEND! Yay! Play play play play play!

Ginger: Yeah, no. *Hiss, turns her back*

Harriet: Friend play!

Ginger: No. Go away. You stay in your corner and I’ll stay in mine.

Harriet: No, YOU play! Plaaayy!

Ginger: I’m leaving now.

Harriet, manic look sparking in her eyes: Nooo! You will play with me! You will be my friend! *fly tackles Ginger from behind*

Ginger: Ugh! Get off me! I don’t want to hurt you kid!

Harriet tackles again. Which is rather like a ball bouncing off a wall.

Ginger: Damnit! I didn’t want to have to do this!  *throws out tentative paw in the nicest swat ever.*  OK, that means ‘no’! Do you understand? NO! Now go play somewhere else! *mutters under breath* Dumb kid, see what you made me do.

Harriet, eyes so wide they look like they’re going to fall out of her head and quivering like a junkie: NOOOOOOOO! You will love me! YOU WILL LOVE ME!!!!! I’LL MAKE YOU!!!!

Ginger, looks at me: Another one? Really?!

Me: Um… at least she’s not trying to kill you? *shrug*

*Harriet chases Ginger out of the room.*

Me: Oh, that’ll stop soon.

A year later… still waiting. I’m sorry, Ginger. It’s hard to be that adored.

Love Hard! Love First! No Mercy!   


Second Book Finished! Now Reset

Okay, so. I finished my second full-length novel two days ago. That means the story, beginning to end, all the words, is complete. No parts of "oh I should fix that" or "let me get back to that section" or "what should I do here". Complete. And pretty clean. That doesn't mean I won't have edits... I sent it off to my freelance editor; I've got a beta review lined up and others to schedule. But the story itself... IS... FINISHED!

I don't know how to explain the feeling of having the story that's been in my head for so long be out fully on the page. Excited, nervous, satisfied, anxious, exhausted, jubilant maybe? Plus, a bit of floundering. I've been in the final crunch for so long (months where I thought I was "at the end". Turns out I completely underestimate my own word count,) that I have to figure out both what to do with myself and how to keep this momentum going. (Like, I've been really productive for the last couple of months. It's been super cool. I don't want to lose the habits I'm in right now.) This feeling has happened every time I've written something (2 full length novels, 1 kids chapter book, assorted short stories) so I imagine it'll happen with everything else I write, too. Except poetry, which is always oddly satisfying, even when it's bad.  

Don't get me wrong, I have a pile of other projects, and marketing materials to write, and research to do. There's just a period of resetting my brain

But also, keep working. No pressure.  *slight hysterical giggle ensues*

BTW, my second book is called Walk the Web Lightly. It's a 73,000 word YA contemporary fantasy. Here's the rough pitch/story: 

Fourteen-year-old Naya’s artistic family can see the lines of time, but she doesn't want to go into the family business. To win her dream of becoming a doctor, she has to finish Grandmother's contest before the deadline. But someone is rigging events around her, and if her secret gets out she’ll not only lose the freedom to choose her life, it will jeopardize her entire family.

Now on to the next!            


Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal Cups

Recipe first, blather second. (I don't know how to do those fancy schmancy recipe layouts so bear with me.)


Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal Cups

2 tablespoons melted butter (I used salted butter)

1 egg

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup of packed brown sugar (plus a little more, I made mine a heaping 1/3)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 muffin pan

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan  and set aside (or use a silicon muffin pan). 
  2. Mix together all ingredients - except oats - until well combined.
  3. Add oats to wet mixture. Then spoon into muffin pans, keeping an even amount of liquid to oats in each cup.  
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until set.
  5. Let cool completely if you want portable oatmeal cups, or eat warm. 
  6. Store leftovers in the fridge. 
  7. Makes 11-12 muffin cups


First of all, this is NOT turning into a cooking blog because come on. If you've read me at all you know me and cooking have a tumultuous relationship. Second! I can't stand when I go to look for a recipe and there is a long post before the recipe talking about memories with their grandmother, and the wonderful smell in the kitchen, and blah blah blah, cooking with my family, blah blah. I just want the fricking recipe! So I put all of my long, unimportant-to-your-life drivel at the end of the recipe. Because I'm real, people. I know your pain.

OK. So a local coffee shop has these oatmeal cup things that aren't oatcakes and aren't oatmeal muffins and aren't oatmeal breakfast bars, and they basically taste like flavored oatmeal-to-go. Like little condensed oatmeal blocks you can hold in your hand. Obviously, I'm obsessed. And I can't find a recipe. *sad face*

But baked oatmeal is the closest so far! The recipe above is my own take, cobbled together from a bunch of different sources. You could basically flavor these oatmeal cups anyway you want by substituting the orange juice with milk or another liquid. I'm still working on a denser texture, so I may update this recipe, but these are really good for a basic grab-and-go oatmeal breakfast. I have them in a bag in the fridge and I microwave them 20-30 seconds before eating. They are also super tasty fresh out of the oven, but put them in a bowl because they won't hold their shape until cooled completely.

To serve family style instead of cups, just throw the ingredients in a baking dish and cook 30 minutes or until set. 

I actually love this idea as a make ahead and serve to guests sort of thing, too. I haven't tried freezing them yet, but I suspect they'll be fine. Since I'm not big on cooking, when I actually get around to cooking, I like being able to make enough that I can just grab the finished product later. It's called "conservation of laziness resources".  :)

              - wg

P.S. Must love oatmeal.


Unexpected Pandemic Fallout

Phone shoulder is real, yo! You know that aching stiffness in your non-dominant shoulder? The one that holds the phone as you swipe at it like a cat batting a fly? I've got to stop playing games on my phone. Especially Redecor. I got sucked into that one because I really do like decorating a room and, between you and me, my house looks great! But that game is fixed for a very particular aesthetic AND they don't give you enough color options without you paying out a ton of cash! Not that the extra colors really matter because everyone only votes on the BORING designs (beige beige grey beige), to the point that I just make all my designs blah so I get the votes, and that is a sad, sad social media way to live so why am I even playing?!

Oh yeah, pandemic.

Also, I'm a bit addicted to all the research options at the tips of my swipy paws. I now have the freedom to look up every passing fancy that flits through my brain. And trust you me, some of them are pretty stupid. Who was in that movie? Do only birds have wishbones? Are there documented incidences of granny on granny violence? Between the research and the games I'm really jacking my shoulder. I looked it up (shocker) and it's akin to having SWIMMERS SHOULDER! But without the benefit of being bikini ready.  

But wait, you say, didn't you have the freedom to look up stupid crap any time you wanted before? Yes, but now I have the TIME. Before I was busy running errands, and grocery shopping, and driving my kid around, and and... and doing other stuff that I can't remember but surely miss! (Maybe). Now I have pandemic time... and phone shoulder. 

Support groups coming soon to a zoom near you. 

Summer in Pandemic

It is so blazing hot here I feel like a cheese slice cut into the shape of a woman and melted onto my couch.  We don't have AC. Usually we deal with the heat fine because we're used to it but Humidity has decided to come for a visit. What the fuck Humidity? Haven't you heard of COVID?! You shouldn't be traveling. We don't want your sticky germs and sapping damp, thank you. Just because you don't have to wear a mask doesn't make you cool. Besides, this is California. We don't DO Humidity. (We do fire season. Duh.)

That's something about the pandemic no one thought about... there would be nowhere to go when the weather turns hot! No movies, no malls, no inside dining. I could wander around Target for a couple of hours but even that has it's limits. I'm sure someone would yell at me eventually for standing in front of an open freezer door and breathing on the ice cream. Plus, I bet everyone without AC will have the same  idea. (Because let's face it, we have limited options and we're not that original.) And then as hordes of people come in to beat the heat, there will be socially distancing chaos at the Target!     

I guess I gotta go old school on this... find a kiddie pool, fill it with ice, and park it in the front yard with my lawn chair and inappropriately short clothing.  That way I'll have the appropriate amount of space between me and my disapproving neighbors when I wave. All I need is wine in a cracked jelly jar and some watermelon seeds to spit. I'm looking forward to it already.

The Slug Life

I feel, simultaneously, like I'm getting a lot of long-neglected things done AND I am the laziest person alive.  Motivation has slowed down as much as our economy has in this shelter in place era.  Which on the one hand, I would never ever wish these circumstances or anxiety on anyone, and on the other, I am very well rested.  I've read some good books, watched good shows, and played a game I'm enjoying very much on my phone (you can do it Lily, you can save your garden!).   It's amazing what the step back has put into perspective.  It's hard to get upset over much of anything that isn't life threatening right now.  Traffic? Meh.  Social media snipe? Who cares?  Politicians? I just turn off the TV.

However, this also means there is no sense of urgency.  I'm working on my second book now.  At the beginning of each month I tell myself, "This month I'm going to write a 1000 words a day! Woohoo me!"  But it actually turns out like this...

"Redecorated" front room (i.e. packed up Easter stuff (a couple of weeks late)). Words written: 70 words a day 

Cleaned up yard/garden garbage, which has been accumulating 2-5 years. Words written: 50 words a day

Ordered new window shades, which I've had on the back burner for three years. Words written: 0

You can see the alarming pattern right?  Now in my defense, my house and garden are looking pretty darn cute, but I've got to make a change. 

Today I ordered curtains for the bathroom...

and... I blogged!

OH MY GOD, SHE'S ON FIRE!!            - wg takes a bow


P.S. Why isn't "slown" a word? I.e. things have slown down. Or maybe just "slowed/slowing down" had a baby and its name is "slown"? My motivation has slown. Life's been crazy so I'm gonna slown. I'd chip in for the cake but my income is slown.  That makes sense, right?

P.P.S. Aw shit, I just looked up slown and apparently it means slut clown.  Now I'm just offended as a feminist.  

Goofiness is Contagious

Well, I've reached the point of the shut in where I'm breaking into spontaneous song. ESPECIALLY if my son is playing video games! There is just something about a teen concentrating ferociously on a screen that brings out the jazz hands in me.

Me (dancing in front of the screen): Hey, whatcha doing? Am I BOTHERING you?

Chance: Mom! Stop it! I've got to kill the thing at the time in the place for the team! 

Muted voice from his headphones: Tell your mom you like big butts!

Chance: Shut up! I'm not telling my mom that!

Me: Ha! You like big butts! JAZZ HANDS!

I know I'm not the only one breaking out the tunes. I have to say it is pretty refreshing to see people letting their goofy flags fly. Suddenly we can't walk around in front of each other with our fancy leggings and hot cars and social status so there is no reason not to be a goofball! Plus, there's that whole world wide epidemic going on, so you know, perspective. It's like everyone realized that being cheerful and silly and posting a video of it is WAY more fun than anything on the news right now. 

So THANK YOU!  And... dare I say it... maybe we're even being closer to our true selves? Quirky goofiness and all? Maybe we're being brave in a different way in this often scary time?

I hope so. Everybody boogie! 

My Attempts at Youth are Backfiring

I've changed over to a new face cream, one that's "age-appropriate" for my current circumstances.  Those circumstances being that I am NOT the 20-something my heart and emotions and even dreams feels that I am, but I am, in actuality,  Let's just say my insides don't match my outsides. However, my outsides have argued that hormone fluctuations are really wreaking havoc on my skin so I decided to try the next phase in skin care and forgo the cream meant for younger selves that I have been using for years and still really love and move on to the more intensive, "age-defying" cream.  (I'm so down for denial and defiance.) 

But instead of feeling plumped and refreshed and oozing in collagen I find myself walking around with a slight, never-ending headache that at first I attributed to a neck kink or fire smog or the stress of watching 13 Reasons Why (because I finally stopped avoiding it like a pussy and watched and cried and now want to hug every teenager who comes my way, except that's ultra creepy even for a mom, and I want my son to watch it but if I push too hard HE WON'T WATCH IT AT ALL! and it's important! so strategies to get a teen to watch, anyone? anyone? Bueller?) but it turns out I'm having headaches because I think I'm allergic to the freaking face cream.  Like the scent that I didn't think much about, lightly perfum-y but doable (and it should fade throughout the day right?), just insiduously burrows into my skull.  So again, instead of being renewed with a youthful glow I'm walking around with a little furrow between my brows and a slight scowl of pain and an overall tired expression that is basically aging me as we speak.  That was not advertised on the bottle.  

(Or again, it could be watching 13 Reasons Why. Which I can't quit even if I wanted to.)

Back to 20-something face cream and teen dramas.

Today's Theme Is Do What You're Avoiding

That's why I'm writing this post. I've avoided my blog. I've been avoiding writing in general. Not all summer. I had a good run in the beginning. I've had a lot of introspection and a lot of deep thoughts but it's been scattered.  I've been writing in pieces.  That might sound confusing if you're not a writer. You're writing, so that's good, right? But when you're writing in pieces that often means you're not finishing. It's a lot of jumping around.

There were some deaths this summer. People I knew, people gone much too soon. There have been shootings. Everything all in a row like it always seems to happen. I've been sad. Not depressed or distraught, just sad in a deep way. Just heavier. Sometimes there is so much going on in your head and your heart that you can't get anything out.

But it's hard because it feels like you owe it to get it all out. Owe to whom or what I don't know. Maybe that other person who might be going through the same thing?

So... I knew the victim of a workplace shooting. I lost a family member to sudden cancer. I know a family who lost their child to cancer after years of fighting. There were all too young for what happened. I don't often talk about these types of tragedies because they're not my stories to tell. (And I feel very strongly that I don't deserve attention for other people's pain.) But in this cycle of avoidance that I've been in, I suddenly feel like I should speak my experience. Especially in the wake of other mass shootings. It's been utterly heart-wrenching. Those days where everything just seems very heavy and seeped in sorrow. Those days where anxiety rules and won't let go. Those days where nothing seems to improve. I feel it, too. You are not alone. You are never truly alone, even when it feels like it. 

And yet... I still believe in people . I still think the world is full of amazing things. I still have faith.

Perhaps the greatest weight is that the world holds both all the time. And we have to hold it, too.

I'm not saying anything new here. I'm not offering any solutions. I think I'm just saying... I've been sad. It's OK to just be sad. It's OK to grieve that life is hard. It's OK to still smile, too. To keep going.

(I thought I was avoiding writing. Funny how that happens, huh? As all these feelings crash down.)

Love you guys.        - wg 

I Don't Want to Jinx Myself...

It is the end of the school year!  Usually by this time, there have been so many events and and extracurriculars and end of year of projects (besides getting up at the ungodly hour of 7:00 o'clock every morning for months!) that we're all a little bedraggled and ready for a good summer rest.  Summer plans are made but the day to day is vague and heavily reliant on "nothing".  But I don't know, this time it feels different.  There is energy in the air.  It feels like something is about to HAPPEN.  I don't know what exactly, but it feels like purpose is stirring. 

*shiver* Ooh! It's all vague and oracular and delicious feeling.  (I should totally write horoscopes. But not, you know, ones tied to astrology because I don't know anything about that.  Except my ADHD and talking shit is so Gemini.)

Maybe I'm just not as tired, maybe I'm ramping up with the sun.  I feel like writing a lot.  I think about writing all the time.  So perhaps, this summer, will be... extra productive?  (Don't jinx, don't jinx, don't jinx.)

Fingers crossed please.

Remember Kids... Don't Google and Blog

I seemed to have tweaked a muscle in my collarbone.  I wasn't even doing anything, just sitting at a meeting and when I moved it felt funny.  I didn't think pulling that particular area was even possible.  I mean, I can't flex my breasts like Dwayne Johnson can.  Especially not both girls separately.  He really gets them going so that seems like he would pull a boob eventually.  (I suppose I should call them "pecs" but that just seems silly.  We all know he's boob popping.)  I figure there must be a gene that lets you isolate those muscles.  One I don't have.  (I had to immediately go google that by the way.  If the government is really tracking all of our google searches then I bet there's a file on me somewhere that is a real interesting read.  (Google results were, sadly, inconclusive.  But don't worry Google, even though you let me down, I still love you.))  I also don't have that gene for rolling your tongue into a straw.  But despite that I HAVE taught myself to sort of whistle weakly!  Like an airy, tuned hiss.  I am very proud of that.  I can do two, maybe three notes.  I might, someday, be even able to do a limited variety of bird calls!  A girl can dream.

I guess I'm kind of addicted to internet searches.  I google stuff all the time!  Sometimes I go to bed and then something pops in my head and I have to look it up or I can't sleep.  Have you ever tried to sneak google so your family doesn't catch you?  (Me too!)  I'd like to say I can quit at any time but I'm not sure that's true.  I blame it on my parents and the educational system.  I collect knowledge like a magpie.  Then I promptly forget that knowledge because I'm old and I have to google it again.  It's an addiction that feeds itself!  Well, I do remember random juicy facts like platypuses only have one working ovary and toilets come in different heights.  Because I totally need to know both of those. (Actually, the toilet one comes in handy. I'm short.)

Anywho, if I've really pulled a muscle in my collarbone a quick search says I need to stick rice on it?  Wait, no, that's an acronym, R.I.C.E.  Yeah, that's too much work.  Did I mention that I have a short attention span?

Holy shit, I just googled the rolling tongue gene and it's been debunked!!  Our educational system LIED!

The Evil Laugh Goes, "Mauve Mauve Mauve!"

Ugh!  I did not mean to let so much time pass between posts.  Things got real busy real fast.  I got called for jury duty right about the same time that I realized I needed to plan whatever we were going to do for the summer, and also at the same time that I needed to get a bathroom remodel going because, oh my god, our bathroom is falling apart. 

I mean, it's functional.  It works, you can use the toilet and take a shower and all that.  Just try not to pay attention to the dripping faucets (3), broken drawer (1+), the mineral buildup that even acid won't eat through anymore, and the mysterious stains that look unmysteriously like (ahem) mold.  The last time it was updated was somewhere around '89/'90 so...  You know when people say things like "My bathroom/kitchen/bedroom is perfect! I love it! I'm going to keep it this way for the rest of my life!!"  Well, I can tell you from personal experience, 30 years later a lot of stuff is going to be broken.

But I gotta give it to the previous owners... lasting 30 years shows they bought quality stuff!  However, I am over 80s mauve and colonial blue.  SO. OVER.

For those of you who don't know what mauve is... behold!  This is almost the exact shade of our bathroom tile. Everywhere you look.

Image result for mauve

As part of the compendium of hideous mauve items you can also enjoy a mauve skinny tie or skinny jeans.

Image result for mauveImage result for mauve

The jeans are a slightly more palatable shade. However, I don't think those hips are real. Or maybe her waist. Something was definitely photoshopped there.

Here's a beautiful cake in mauve! But let's face it, out in the end, it's not gonna be pretty.

Image result for mauve

In fact, when you type "horrible things in mauve" in google, Barney the dinosaur pops up!  Although technically, Barney is horrible purple.  Mauve as well were quite a number of bridesmaids dresses that are just trying too damn hard.  There is also a book, "Mauve:  How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World"!

Um... my bathroom thanks you?

Keeping Menopause Classy

I gotta tell you I'm not digging this menopause thing.  It's painful, lumpy, awkward, and odd.  There are also smells.  Years ago, I put together a whole list of the Things They Don't Tell You in Lamaze, all the silly, gross, funny details and shared experiences of pregnancy.  I'm half-tempted to start a new list for menopause.  Except I'm really hoping it'll be over before I have enough for a list.  Really, really hoping.  Who I am kidding?  I've already got enough; I just don't want to relive them. 

The symptom I'm currently enduring is my boobs growing.  Because, apparently, one out of five women's breasts get bigger during menopause!  Who the hell knew that?!  It never even occurred to me that could happen.  I believed that once you were done growing, except by pregnancy or purchase, your boob size was set.  But no!  At first I thought my girls were just bloating, like maybe I ate too much salt.  Then I thought my bras were worn out, that's why everything felt weird.  Then I got mad at the manufacturers for changing the design of my favorite bra because it used to fit!  Damn you bra manufacturers!  Just stick with the design already.  My ta-tas were sore and sensitive, too.  That's when I realized it was hormonal and I thought, "oh, well, the swelling will go down soon".  But it hasn't gone down.  I bought bigger bra sizes and they still didn't feel great.  In fact, some days I don't want to wear anything at all, except now I've got flotation devices bobbing all of the place.  Then I went and got professionally fitted.  It was the fitter who casually mentioned breast growth during menopause.  I still didn't think that was happening.  But my hooters kept swelling, everything kept hurting, it all just seemed out of place.  Finally, digging through the internet, I read up on it.  

One out of five.

The worse thing is how blind-sided I felt. It's not like they went over this in that puberty class in 5th grade. "As your body goes through hormonal changes you may experience sore breasts, mood swings, acne, possible weight gain, and painful cramping. Oh, and by the way, you'll go through all of that again when you have kids. AND when you go through menopause. Enjoy!"  That would have been helpful.  Or any class on menopause would be helpful!  How about just an informational luncheon? Older ladies coming together to share a new chapter of The Talk.  "Well, dear, things may start falling out of your twat now. Or it'll dry up. It's hard to tell. "  It's the stage that no one covers.  You'd think there would at least be a pamphlet on menopausal breast growth because one out of five is, you know, kind of significant.

And that's just the tip of the tender iceberg.  Everyone hears about hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings, but there's a whole slew of other symptoms that I, at least, had never heard about.  Enough wacko symptoms to make you think you're going crazy.                

So if you've got a menopause story, feel free to share it. I'd love to be crazy with company.

            - wg

Music for the Mid

Things have been alternately busy and pokey lately, in that way that culminates in having too much to do one day and not caring to do anything at all the next. On the busy end, my kiddo (who is suddenly much too grown up) finished his play for drama and his drum show and then went off on an 8th grade D.C. trip during spring break. Whoof! (Yeah, a whole lot could be unpacked there but I'm putting it on hold lest I go maudlin.) And in two weeks he has auditions for high school! (Oh, my heart.) In between all that we have a bathroom remodel coming up and I'm trying to organize summer plans. 

And then there are those moments where I just stare for way too long at this game on my phone that involves making matches and hatching dragon eggs. Come on, everyone needs a dragon.

So while I sort out where my head has gone while my legs went in another direction I'll leave you with a bit of music.

This is Vola Tila, with New Behaviour.  Cheers!


Writing Slowly but Surely

I seem to be in a good writing groove at the moment (knock on wood, fingers crossed, step on a cat... wait, no). I've hit a pocket of ideas for the second book that I'm exploring and it's turning into some interesting copy.  I have a rough outline and an idea of the big story arc, but I'm still definitely in the experimenting phase.  I actually really enjoy this part.  All the small details start to come out but it's still very open and organic. I begin recognizing layers of themes; ones I intended but also surprises that develops as I write.  It's always fun to see what your unconscious comes up with when you're not paying attention.  (Sneaky, sneaky unconscious.)  I get to play while I'm writing and that's always more fun than "hurry up and finish and/or fix".

I'm still not the fastest writer but I'm happy if I'm steady. I find I waffle between being furiously jealous of "fast writers" and slightly disappointed in the results of said fast writing.  I mean, a lot of the time when I read someone who says they're a fast writer it's still really good (then, oh the jealousy).  But sometimes, sometimes I'll read something and it feels... well... rushed. 

But I'll be honest, the envy still wins out.  If I could get to twice my current word count and still feel like I'm playing... I'd be very, very happy.  ♥

Mark Your Progress and Take a Deep Breath

I wrote this a year and a half ago...

    "Occasionally I come up with mottos for my life. It's entertaining and sometimes pithy. Or maybe they're just mottos for the moment, since I keep changing my mind and creating new ones. But one of the overarching lessons I keep running into through my trials and tribulations is this one: Stop holding back, Girl!    

    Which is a little scary because I'm not exacting a shrinking wallflower.  And maybe that is the point because I think I need to scare myself a little."

I never posted it; it's been sitting in forgotten draft mode this whole time.  It's interesting to see where I was then.  That unfinished post was about my tendency to curb my gut instincts.  It was about letting my fears get in the way of starting things, of second guessing that I knew what I was doing, or that what felt right was too strange, or what I wanted to accomplish was too much.  It's funny how often the strength of our power and the strength of our doubt mirror each other.  I was essentially afraid to trust myself. 

But part of me must have remembered that motto because since then I've finished a novel and I'm starting another.  I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone a number of times.  I've tried new things.  I was successful at some things and not others.  I've been proven wrong when I thought I knew something and I learned because of it.  It was hard, but it was great.

Lately I've been getting a lot of messages from the universe that seem to boil down to an entirely different motto...

Let go. 

I just got used to not holding back, to getting things done, to just do it!  I accomplished quite a bit in the last year and a half.  I've gotten real good at being in control of all the details to accomplish things!  I became the master of my own destiny.  Except now I'm supposed to... not be the master.

*groan*  I'm not sure which motto is scarier.  And have no doubt, I am scaring myself, I am uncomfortable.  I know (with the gut instinct I've learned to trust) that in another year or two there will be more progress, there will be more accomplished, there will be more learned, and there will probably be another step and a new motto.  I know this!  But I gotta ask... why does every incidence of growth require so much dang discomfort? 

(Until then, breathe and repeat... "May I open to my experience just as it is. May I open to my experience just as it is. May I open to my experience just as it is." Taken from the Self Compassion Pause.)

                 - wg

Babies to Menopause Went Faster than I Expected

Well, this blog has unofficially gone from having a baby to entering menopause. I say "unofficially" because while my hormone levels are technically well in the grooving to the oldies range I'm still having spotty encounters with Aunt Flo, and while I love and honor Auntie in my life, it's really about time she stop popping by. It's not you, it's me. OK, some of it is you. You never call, you're kind of flighty. You're always talking about cats and making a mess. You eat all my chocolate. I'm done.

Anywho, I think the confluence of high hormones and cranky Aunt is making my OBGYN's head explode a little as he has insisted on doing a biopsy. (Because, you know, the medical community... they'll do one study on women in the 80s and then insist that every woman is JUST LIKE those twenty women in the study always!* Then they'll go back to testing important medicine like penile enhancement.) Do you know what a uterine biopsy is like? It's like changing a tire, except instead of using the jack to hike up the car you use that on the girly bits to crank open muscles meant to hold in a baby roughly the weight of a bowling ball. Those muscles? They're like barre workout strong! (I took a barre class once and it kicked my ass. Sore for days.) Then after you've cranked the muscles open, you take a long pokey stick and scrape your insides. Scrape your insides!! Because you get to feel everything. So. Much. Fun.

Well. Two weeks until we get the results for that. Which kind of reminds me of when we were trying to have kid number two; there was a lot of waiting. It wasn't that long ago. I mean, over the course of my whole life, fertility to non-fertility really kind of flew by. Say, if I live to 90 that means only about 30ish years were baby-making years. That's kind of weird. Especially since I started this blog because I had a kid.

But that also means that for most of my life I won't be having periods, so WOOT! New chapter, baby!

               - wg

*Not based on scientific fact. Just lots of observation.