The First 15 Days

There was a group I signed up for at the end of the year, inviting “30 days of hustle” to jump start the new year.  Each day we get a little (or not-so-little) to-do in our inbox, designed to encourage or nudge us farther on our path toward our goal.

Today, the 15th, is a “progress report” day. Since my goal was about establishing patterns and habits (in how I eat), I can’t really suggest a “bridge” between where I’m at and 100%, but the challenges have shaped the way I think about what I’m doing, so I’ll just run through what we’ve done so far, with my goal (eating patterns) as the example. Continue reading »

Ten Tasks for Healing from Trauma (Wyn Magazine)

Oh, and I forgot to mention, here’s another entry at Wyn Magazine– my review of a book I think everyone (seriously. everyone.) should read. If you are blessed enough not to have experienced trauma yourself, this is a terrifically focused (aka short) survey of very important concepts that doubtless affect someone you know.

Jasmin Lee Cori (MS, LPC) has provided a tremendous resource with her book, Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life.

TRAUMA is an enormous topic, about which countless words have been written. The beauty of Cori’s book is how she distills the massive topic and its many relevant areas to their solid core. I never felt like anything I read was “fluff” or more explanation than a particular topic needed to get the concept across.

On the one hand I was thankful. I already felt like I was behind when I started the book because I am one of those women who did not recognize the trauma until after the fact. At other times I was annoyed, because I’d barely wrapped my mind around one idea when she set it down and moved to the next one.

Overall I believe Cori took the right approach: by introducing us to “industry standard” terms, she provides the means (vocabulary) to research any individual area further on our own.

In chapter five, The Journey of Healing, Cori has a list titled, “The Tasks of Healing.” These suggest a cluster of areas to strengthen that is supplemented with more detail throughout the rest of the book. These elements do not have to happen in order, but I found it helpful to see them untangled enough to lay out in a single line.

The headings are hers, and the summaries are mine, from the notes I took as I read the book.

(Read the list and more in the whole book review at Wyn Magazine.)

Busy Mind, Busy Life (Reading Notes)

Image courtesy of Timo Balk via stock.xchng

Jay got home Friday after a month away.

I’m starting to feel re-stablized, and ready to pick up whole books again. But this has been an interesting month of idea collecting (along with overwhelm…).

Every now-and-then I think I might start an INFJ blog, but then I do a bit of Googling and see there’s scads out there, and they make me notice more of my ENTP side, so I refrain from publicly claiming a “type” anymore.

For the most part.

But, for all you intuitive types who find yourself stuck between the “real world” of details and the “more equal” world of your thoughts and discoveries I will give you a peek into some of what my month of (blogging) silence has been steeped in.

It always seems like a crazy-huge variety while I’m reading and collecting, but sitting down in the (relative) peace and quiet of a school-isn’t-started-yet morning, I find a few broad headings can umbrella the frequent settings of my thoughts.

Even so, rabbit-trail chasers: you’ve been warned.

Body Thoughts

Writing Thoughts

Thoughts on Story/telling

Thoughts on Being/Belief/Behavior

From Sarah Bessey: We use words like “true” and “real” in reference to womanhood or motherhood or marriage, and I think it’s wrong to do this.

We use these words like they are freeing or universal or helpful, but they are forging new chains for a new law.  There is no such thing as “real” woman or a “real” man. If you are a man, you are a real man. If you are a woman, you are a real woman.

In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, helplessness and loss that can be healed by engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions.

Such an encouraging, hope-offering thought.

Thoughts on Book-Reading

I’ve signed up for Net Galley‘s reading & reviewing program, so I’m excited to make Reading Notes a more consistent feature here at Untangling Tales. My favorite non-fiction titles are about mental and physical health, and how they intersect with every-day life. The fact that these books are being written, and that they’re available to me = lots of warm-fuzzies.

Courage– Revisted

Image courtesy of Colin Brough via stock.xchng

It takes one kind of courage to look straight at  your life, compare where you are to where you want to be, and then dive into making your life the one you want to live.

It is another kind of courage (more in line with General Sherman’s definition) that has us look straight at the cost of something, and choose it anyway.

Both have been coming into play in this “year of courage” (as I labeled 2013).

I have had a string of successes and delights this spring.

  1. I adopted a dog that was just what I wanted (still learning how to train him ;])
  2. We had a family vacation in Hawaii that was almost completely stress-free and got me far enough into my novel that the momentum meant something.
  3. I finished my first 10 speeches to achieve my “competent communicator” award in Toastmasters
  4. I finished my novel last week, and am now letting my story-brain rest, working on non-fiction writing instead (blog, WynMag).
  5. I’m wrapping up a last few editing of WynMag projects and the first issue will go live soon. (And I’m ahead on my submissions for the next issue).
  6. I’ve got the children signed up in a homeschooling program for next year (that we will actually start this summer), so that we have more financial flexibility to explore and experiment with curricula to find what will work best for our family.
  7. We’ve sold the rabbits (most of them, anyway), bringing us down to pet-levels.
  8. Our second round of baby goats is due this week (and we know better what to DO this time, so the enjoyment level will be even higher).
  9. The children will complete their first year of “away school” next week, and I won’t have to be the bad-guy, sending them on with empty hopes that people might change, and the slightly less-empty hope that there’s not many days left.

These are all tied, in my mind, to the first type of courage.

Now comes the second kind.

Image courtesy of Sarah Peller via stock.xchng

In the process of getting healthy on a mental/emotional level, I’ve come to recognize a series of needs that I must not just balance or juggle, but meet.

  • Writing
  • Exercise
  • Right eating
  • Sleep

These are the non-negotiable for internal stability.

But having those covered allows me to see there’s a second tier that really enhances the first tier.

  • Clean Space
  • Calm companions
  • Achievable, completable goals
  • Spiritual pursuit (singular)

I suppose having spiritual pursuit in the second category is going to look bad to some people, but it’s true. Until I am stable physically and mentally, asking the hard questions and pushing in any realm that has Deep Meaning is simply asking too much.

One of my biggest problems, all through my mothering journey (I can’t remember much thinking about it before then), was an image of a robot changing its own batteries. That’s how I saw “self-care”.

Continue reading »

Story Beyond the Chase

Feeling chatty today? I’m feeling chatty.

Ruth, over at Booktalk & More, recently started a discussion about the novel heroine Marguerite, where she pointed out our culture’s obsession with the “chase” part of a romance, to the extent that we expect the story to trickle away once the chase is over.

In a sense this blog title is already a misnomer, because movement is required for any story, and chasing is a fun movement before or after the relationship is solidified.

I’ve mentioned before that “the moonlighting curse” isn’t strictly logical, and I appreciate how that (2nd link) article puts the focus clearly on the skill (and guts) of the shows’ writers, rather than what the actors do onscreen (Seriously, EVERYTHING is being done on television now to some critical acclaim, and it’s all about the Story and the way the it’s told).

But I digress.

Continue reading »

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 13): Life is working. Even though it’s Work.

So, to follow-up after that peaceful, grateful post about Rest, I realized it’s been a long time since I made a list of the stuff I’m engaged in. When it turned out to be seven distinct items, and I realized it was Friday, I knew I needed to jump back to Jen’s 7 Quick Takes Friday this week.

Here’s my “life activity list” the list in roughly the order of time consumed:

~ 1 ~

Managing the food.

It still feels weird to say this takes the most time.

I think this is because– judging by our stories: novels, movies, anecdotes among friends– food is invisible.  It just happens. I wish I lived in that sort of house/body. But I don’t.)

~ 2 ~

Managing the household and extras

Technically this ties back into the food, since food makes dishes.

Basically anything I have to wash clean or put away, along with the animals and outdoor work.

Now that the snow’s melted I am discovering all sorts of new work…

And honestly, it’s a toss-up about whether #1 or #2 takes more time.

~ 3 ~

Teaching the kids.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are the emphasis, but we also read novels along with books of science, history and whatever else strikes our fancy.

As I have more energy I also hope to do more management-training (items from the previous categories).  Currently I do most of that stuff because the *extra* required to get someone else into doing certain jobs is the extra I don’t have.

~ 4 ~

On-line Stuff.

Reading and writing and listening to music on-line (YouTube). Keeping up with some TV shows on Hulu (Castle, Bones, and Body of Proof).

~ 5 ~

Off-Line Stuff

Reading and writing and listening to music not-on-line.

My current goal is to swap these last two categories in terms of time.

I’ve had a surge of progress on my 2010 NaNo novel, and taken on a reading challenge that has forced me to look hard at what and why I read. I hope it will inform what I write.

~ 6 ~

Fiber work

On the edges of my life (and usually away from home).

I have the knitting I do a couple hours every Sunday morning (during the sermon and Sunday school), and the hand-spinning I do when I’m going to be semi-on-display. Continue reading »

2009 Book Wrap-up

Well, I didn’t even try to hook into any of the reading “challenges” floating around the web, despite referencing two of them on my own blog.

In the final analysis, I read 26 novels.  The count was encouraging, considering how few of those were in the last third of the year.  In my opening description on my 2009 Books page I said:

My goals for reading this year involves consuming copious amounts of books that wouldn’t nearly compare to more spiritual/applicable works, except that they’re part of the necessary education toward my (felt) calling of writing.  (See #5 here)


So reading YA Fantasy really is appropriate… and finally, (as a result of that realization) I’m no longer embarrassed to say what I’m reading.

But I tripped off the reading of novels when another need arose (usually to do with Homeschooling, food/weight loss, or relationships), and looking back I can see that *most* of that reading involved using books (as I like to say) as talismans; to reassure myself and/or ease anxiety (I did not record all of these).

I don’t think they were all bad or a waste of time, but I’m sure some of them were.  I’m not entirely sure how to prevent repeating the behavior next year, but maybe being aware will be useful.


Without further ado, the complete list/page of what I want to remember:

2009 Books

Continue reading »

Update, September 2009

Hmmm, here’s the quick rundown:

  • My kids have all started ballet.
    • Yes, even the 3-year-old boy, and no, he doesn’t think of it as a “girly” thing, it’s simply a kid thing since all the kids in his family are doing it.
  • Winter has arrived (not quite in earnest, but enough that to choose a walk is an act of the will)
    • to take the dog out today I wore long-johns under my corduroys, two long-sleeve shirts under my sweater and a polar fleece jacket over all.
      • And I did not feel warm until about 45-minutes into my hour-long walk.
    • Yes, it gets a lot colder, but (as I love to say this time of year) 40-degrees is a lot colder in September than in February. Which is my way of saying, we all adapt.
  • However, this is my first winter in 15 years or so that I’ve gone into cold weather without a layer of “insulation.”  I am still losing weight (almost 20lbs down since January, yippee!) and, yeah, I do feel colder.
    • But since I’ve always adjusted in the past, I imagine this winter can’t be a lot different…
  • Also, I got two more scenes done on the novel– one of them a no-brainer (7th review of a 7th revision) and one of them hard: I just added it last round, so it was needy.
  • Learning all sorts of new recipes, but haven’t decided yet how many are keepers (to put into regular rotation–assuming I have such a thing), or the best way to juggle both new and left-overs food.

So, all in all, nothing earth-shattering, or life-changing (though the ballet and the weight-loss both have the potential, I suppose), so you can see why I didn’t make mention of this sooner.  Even now I only take the time as a sort of warm-up.  I’m sitting with the children now (enjoying my illuminated keyboard and Pandora) as they go to sleep, bracing myself to jump back into the novel-revising.

I’ve stopped reading most of the writing blogs I follow.  The recurring theme is *dedication* in the form of priority to writing, which I used to Amen! with some vigor and now… I’m living a different life.

And it’s such a good life I can for no reason complain.

God is faithful, and if nothing else were true, that would be enough.

Examples of some Likes

In my Magna Cartas post I got pretty specific about what I like and don’t like in my entertainment.

I decided it would be most accurate to say entertainment, as I feel the same about these theses whether I’m reading, writing or watching it on-screen.

Some of my favorite examples.  It’s easy to see why my favorites rate that way, as they fit so many of my criteria.

  1. Physical (especially trans-species) transformation
    1. Any number of folktales.  Also,
    2. East and
    3. The Hound and the Princess
    4. A Well-Timed Enchantment
    5. The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis)
    6. The Cat who Wished to be a Man (Lloyd)
  2. Music as part of story
    1. East
    2. Dragonsong and Dragonsinger (McCaffery)– These are her only books that ended up on this side of the chart.
  3. Well behaved animals (impeccably trained or sentient)
    1. The Hound and the Princess
    2. Fire Arrow
  4. Mysteries that go deep into folklore
    1. The Perilous Gard
    2. Moorchild
  5. Making necessary elements of folk/fairy tales natural
    1. Ella Enchanted (Levine)
    2. Fairest (Levine)
    3. The Perilous Gard
    4. Shadow Spinner
  6. Genuine peril
    1. Enchantment
    2. The Sea Wolf (London)
    3. Inkheart            Continue reading »

Novel Magna Cartas

This was one of my favorite concepts from the book No Plot?  No Problem!

The idea is to make two lists, one of the things you love to find in your novel reading, the other things you absolutely hate.

As I recall, he pointed out that we tend to think in terms of the yuck stuff being good for us, and when we feel that what we’re doing is not ________ enough we reach into the yuck pile and act as though that can fill in the blank for us.

How true any of that is can be saved for some indeterminate point in the future.  What I want to do is share the lists I started before I began writing my Lindorm story

Magna Carta I (The stuff I like)

  1. Physical (especially trans-species) transformation
  2. Music as part of story
  3. Well behaved animals (impeccably trained or sentient)
  4. “Convenient” sleeping and awake times from the babies/kids
  5. Mysteries that go deep into folklore
  6. Making necessary elements of folk/fairy tales natural
  7. Genuine peril
  8. Threatening villain
  9. Uncertainty of friends (sometimes)
  10. Genuine friends (other times)
  11. A thinking character watching the process of his or her thought.
  12. Mixing folk elements from various cultures and seeing it “work”
  13. Complexity (lack of obvious predictability)
  14. Surprising twists and secrets that the reader discovers with the protagonist
  15. Cleverness
  16. Characters out-thinking one another
  17. Courtesy among enemies
  18. Truth-telling as a form of riddling and testing
  19. Witty banter
  20. Good conversations
  21. The protective defender
  22. Dramatic rescues
  23. Endurance through fear
  24. Acts of evil are shocking offenses to the way things should be.
  25. Misunderstood identity/”fish out of water”
  26. Build on characteristics the protagonist(s) have to begin with, but doesn’t imagine any of them are already complete
  27. Overcoming an old enemy through what they’ve learned on their journey
  28. More than one character changes
  29. Acknowledge (and explore to some extent) the power of relationship
  30. Thought-provoking observations

Magna Carta II (the stuff I don’t like)

  1. Not-talking being the reason something bad happens
  2. Smart characters acting clueless
  3. Sex without significance (i.e., without the benefits or the consequences)
  4. Defiant/disobedient/“mischievous” children being portrayed as cute and entertaining (I find them irritating)
  5. *Angst*
  6. Daily details that don’t advance the story (setting is fine, day-in-the-life-of, not interested).
  7. Over-hinting
  8. Dragging the There’s-something-important-you-don’t-know wait too long
  9. *everything* stacked against the protagonist
  10. Too much time is spent on the meaningless, to no end
  11. I can tell where this is going, it will end badly (and frequently was utterly avoidable)
  12. Cruelty (a villain chooses a particular evil *because* it strikes so hard and deeply into his/her victim’s psyche) — honestly I go back and forth on this one; I see its usefulness, too.
  13. The fate/destiny/end of the characters is utterly outside of their own control–can’t be changed or improved by wise choices or good counsel
  14. Conflict simply to wrack up the tension
  15. How do your likes/dislikes line up? If you make a set of your own lists, leave a comment with a link– I’d love to read it.