Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sometimes I don't brush my teeth at night...

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "The Mental Game"

...nor wash my face. I know, you're judging me, probably thinking, "My God, the plaque!" It's okay, I judge me, too. But, there are some nights, when I am cozied-up in bed, reading a book and the room is already cold because we've turned off the radiators - and it is too easy to reach over and turn off the reading lamp and snuggle down to sleep. I don't want to throw back the duvet and brave five minutes of exposure to get clean teeth and face. Hell, I'll only clean them again in the morning. 

If only it were just my teeth I neglected.

I have this back injury due to a car accident, a dysfunctional sacroiliac joint to be precise, and it took me years of pain and ever-more-limited movement to finally get it sorted with the help of a phenomenol physiotherapist. It happened seven years ago, and I have only made progress on resolving the issue in the last year. Before the accident, I was a very fit runner. In fact, I was training for a marathon when the accident occurred. Today? I'm still battling to get back to where I was, but it took me six years of misery to even get here.

What in the name of all that is holy, is my point?

My point is, sometimes I'm a bit lax about taking care of myself. I've been throwing myself into my writing all year (all fifteen days of it), which is great, but I've gone a little overboard. I'm supposed to get in my 2 mile walk, some yoga, my physio exercises and strength training every day. I'm supposed to take a break from sitting in front of my computer every half hour.

At first I was vigilant, setting a timer on my computer to remind me to get up, walk a bit on the treadmill and stretch my upper body and arms. But, then there was the day I was so into my scene, I forgot to set the timer. A few days later and the timer was already a memory, and I've been working very long days.

My back began to ache, but I ignored it. Flash forward a week, and I was back in my PT's office, barely able to sleep because of the pain. You'd think I'd know better about office injuries. Remember the girl with tendinitis in both wrists?

It's all about moderation

My back was killing me, but I didn't get up and move. I wasn't listening to my body. It wasn't until I went to yoga class this morning that I got a clue. My teacher read a quote about having moderation in your life. Ah yes, then it hit me: my back being out-of-whack again was the symptom; I was being too extreme. I like extreme. Extreme is exhilarating, but it usually has some sort of repercussions you have to face up to.

Um...what does this have to do with writing?
We creative types can be a bit...obsessive, focused, determined, extreme, etc. But, we have to remember to take care of ourselves while following our passions. We can't let everything else fall apart because it will kill our creativity in the end.

I know it's not sexy. I've been seduced down the road to extreme too many times. What is less sexy than the word moderation? Extreme is a lacy black thong and moderation always seems so...granny pantie.

However, I've got to stop letting myself be seduced by the dark side. If my body falls apart, my mind follows and then where does that get me? Plus sixty pounds and depressed, that's where. Very difficult to write anything when you're back hurts so much you can't think and you're too depressed to get out of bed.
Time to check in with reality

I can't sit for hours on end, without a break, and expect to be able to walk when quittin' time rolls around. I know this. Plus, I've been wearing myself out with long days without breaks. I need to be more focused, get my work done earlier and take care of my body throughout the day. This means less time futzing around the forums and blogs (thanks JeffO for the reminder) and more regular breaks for activity and movement. Simple.

What about you? Anyone else out there go to extremes in pursuit of their passions (or just because it's Tuesday)? Have a good story to share? Leave a comment so I know I'm not the only crazy artist out there.

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon


  1. Ironic that a blog post was part of what got you to that realization, isn't it? I'm glad I helped in some small way.

    Pain is not a good thing, and it sounds like, because of your history, it's easy for pain to get in and grab a big hold of you fast. Yeah, buzzers or bells going off when you're In The Zone are a pain in the butt, but it's better than the real pain if you don't take care of yourself. And I think it will make it much easier to get back In The Zone when you feel well physically.

  2. Yes, Jeff. You made a very good point in that post. Not that we all have to live life like there's no tomorrow, but it is good to remember that "there is no time like the present." Now is all we really have, so might as well make good use of it. Wow, that was a lot of cliche!

    I think I've had too much going on in recent years and I've let external things get in the way of taking care of myself. It has taken me a long time to realize that you have to take care of yourself first, in order to do any good.

  3. I recently got awarded the Liebster Award. One of the rules is that you pass it on to eleven people who have blogs -- so I've sent it on to you. The post is here:

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate the award and the mention on your blog.

  4. Great post. Loved the line- I don't want to throw back the duvet and brave five minutes- know the feeling. Moderation- What's that? lol. Sounds like you're at least taking care with your yoga. When I get into a project I get obsessed.

    1. Thanks, Martin. Yeah, moderation is not something I'm good at. I love to get obsessed about a new project, least at first. There's always an ugly downward spiral in the end, though. I'm sort of famous for it amongst friends and family.