Laziness now hurts productivity (and yourself!) later

There’s always something to do.

There’s the day job. A house to clean. Laundry to put away. The opening chapters of a novel to rewrite. A short story to revise. A dog that needs walked.  Normally I’m up to the task, but today, the thought of doing any of that makes me want to lie down and run up the white flag.

Yesterday I wrenched my neck. I’m recovering, but slowly, and it’s really painful.  Plus it’s my own damn fault.  If I were to rewind this little episode, I wrenched my neck because…

…my neck muscles have become weak and flimsy…

…because I haven’t been stretching like I should…

…because I’ve been avoiding workouts and physical activity…

…because I got lazy and stopped doing them.  Combine that with a worsening posture (also the result of no exercise) and it was only a matter of time before some pin came loose.  Writing isn’t exactly a strenuous physical activity. Sitting for hours on end, bad posture, lack of blood flow, strain on your poor tired eyes … one might call that downright dangerous to your health.  It’s bad for circulation, digestion, the immune system, and recovery time.  If you’re not moving, you’re aging.

I want to be doing all of the above tasks. Some tasks (like the day job, taking the dog out, etc.) must be performed, non-negotiable.  I want to dive back into Chapter 3 of the new opening.  I want to be taking notes on the series.  Mentally, I want to do it all, and maintain the pace I’ve managed for 2013 so far.

My neck and shoulder, on the other hand, want nothing more than to curl up under a couch blanket with some Icy-Hot, a glass of wine, and Netflix all night.  It’s a tempting siren song, but I will fight this urge to cast away productivity.

I will write tonight.

And I will pick up the weights.  I will take this as a wake-up call to get back on a consistent physical routine.  Because I want to get back into fighting trim.  Because I want to regain my balance and coordination.  And because I hate the smell of Icy-Hot.

Seriously, I reek of menthol.

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Baking

I have this lofty dream of being a baker.  Not professionally, just . . . able to bake.  So far, all I’ve managed are some muffins.  And pizza dough, if that counts.  With a pizza on top of it.

There’s a lot for me to learn.

Simple lessons came early.  One of my muffin recipes said “mix all together in one bowl,” so I added all sorts of ingredients from the list into the same bowl–wet and dry.  The batter came out clumpy and was ridiculously hard to mix.  And it’s not like I haven’t witnessed the “wet bowl vs. dry bowl” wisdom from watching cookies being made, so, no excuse.  Except that the recipe skipped this instruction and I didn’t have cause to think about it.  Now I know.  Separate wet and dry bowls.

I’ve recently come into possession of a stand mixer and I’m really itching to start baking with a vengeance.  And I know where I want to start:  bread.

Now I’m reading on the internet about different flours and the gluten content of each (mine is not a gluten-restrictive kitchen, but I do want the different types of food to come out tasting like they should).  For instance:  bread flour? Who knew?

There’s this whole science to baking–and cooking in general–that fascinates me.  I still think it’s magic that adding salt to cookie batter is necessary to make them sweeter.   Put ginger root in tea? Holy crap!  So the chemistry of various flours and yeasts is proving to be a little overwhelming.

And since yeast is “living culture” I have of course been trying to make friends with it when I proof it.   Hope you’re ready to bake today, yeast.  Time for your warm bath, yeast.  Open wide, here’s your sugar.  I know it’s your favorite.  Now foam, you yeasty bastards, foam!

And then whenever it does, I lift my fists to the sky and shout that it lives.

Baking is fun!

The Year of No TV

On January 1st I did what has been heretofore impossible for me and I shut down the television.  I’m way too addicted to it and it’s time to see if I can cut (or unplug) the cord.

I only have one TV in the house, and I don’t get cable channels.  But I have a Netflix subscription and a lot of movies on disc and it got to the point where that was eating up a lot of free time.  Netflix streaming is addictive!  Why watch one episode of Dr. Who when I can plow through five?  How fast can I get through a season of Damages?  What documentaries are new this month?  If each Parks and Rec episode is only 22 minutes without commercials, surely I can get through three in an hour compared to two on broadcast.

It was getting out of hand.  I was neglecting my reading, I was neglecting my writing, and was getting generally squishy.  If I wanted to stop backsliding on actual creative stuff, I needed a change.

So, riding fresh on the tail of some other self improvement successes, I unplugged the TV and cancelled Netflix.

THE RULES:

-No DVDs, streaming content, or broadcast television in the house.

-No internet bypasses for shows, such as Hulu or network sites.

-Outings to movie theaters are okay.

-Going to someone else’s house for the purpose of social viewing (like movie night, or the Superbowl) is okay. (Looks like we’re hosting a Superbowl party anyway.)

-Exceptions are made for coverage of a major news story or the presidential election.

THE CHALLENGES:

-No TV? Dang it!

-Really, watching television is stress relief for me. I already had my resolve tested; three weeks ago my car, on the verge of many fatal ailments that had been anticipated in February, got worse and died.  So while I had an inkling that I was going to replace it, all of a sudden I found myself scrambling to get the car loan stuff and the insurance stuff and that “find a car” thing done.  I am a worrier by nature, and if ever there was a week where I just wanted to turn off the worry switch in my brain, it was that week.  I settled down to read a book and kept drifting to worries about the car, when some TV would have definitely helped.  Not fun, but I’m on the other side of it.

-I’ll have to listen to radio when football starts back up next season.

-Any traditions (like our Christmas movie, The Family Stone) will be shelved this year.

THE (vaguely defined) GOALS:

-Read more, off-internet.

-Write more.

-Draw more.

-Blog more. (hey!)

So… we’re a month in.  I haven’t cracked yet.