Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Gift of Health

It's my birthday!

Just kidding (but you take me out to lunch if you really want to)

We've seen way too many people die in the last couple of years. It sucks. It also sucks that the deadly health conditions came as a surprise to their family members.

That's not cool. 

I don't know when I started doing this, but for as far back as I can remember I've been giving myself the gift of health.

I wish this meant that I was not obese and that I exercised 3x/week and ate my daily fruits and veggies and didn't get quite so many units of alcohol. Nope, not so much.

The birthday present I give myself each year is a medical checkup.

There's a lot going on in my daily life and remembering to schedule and getting organized enough to actually GO to that annual checkup can be a challenge. The way I've managed to make this happen year after year is that I schedule everything before my birthday.

Here's my thought process: Birthday coming up, hooray! Ooooh, I better get that dental appointment and pap smear and GP visit on the calendar.

Each little bit of anticipation for my birthday also helps remind me to get in to the lab for the pre-physical bloodwork and to take care of those niggly details.

And presto! Each year for my birthday I have info about my health so I can jump into the next year of life.

All jokes aside, please get in to a doc and check your own risk factors for non-communicable diseases like
Heart Disease
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Lung Disease

I look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

SUAW!? What on earth is that?

So what is "Shut Up and Write!" I hear you ask.

As a writer/artist/creator, it's pretty straightforward. You show up, we chat for a bit then follow up with an hour of solid writing/drawing/creating. We don't critique each other's work or even really discuss it. It's more of a chance to be social while we're (usually antisocially) creative. I also find that the mental preparation to come to SUAW! and the intention to have a specific output at the end of the session doesn't give writer's block space to take up residence.

SUAW! is totally not a review or critique group. We socialize for a bit and then we


(or design or make movies or draw or in some way create) The only structure you'll get is your own goal to knock out 500 words or two pages or a blog post or whatever benchmark you've set for yourself while you're here.

It's a little more involved if you decide you want to keep the SUAW! fires going as an event organizer. Over the last three years I've learned that the group needs more than just a date on the calendar, it needs an anchor at the meeting.

Here's what I use for the times that I organize / anchor / host / moderate / timekeep (pick your verb of choice) the group:
  • I schedule an event on FB a few days before. Funnily enough, there have been a few times that I've scheduled a day-of event and had a good turnout. But in general, it helps my personal writing process to have this a few days out on the calendar. 
  • I try to keep all discussion and commentary on the SUAW! group page. SUAW! is bigger than me, it's powerful to know that we're all experiencing the same kinds of things. Keeping the discussions on the group page also helps because I don't check FB often, if everything is on the group page the chances are higher that someone other than myself can respond to an inquiry.  
  • The day of the event I check the RSVPs on the FB event to have an idea of how many people are coming. 
  • I try to arrive at the location 5-10 minutes early and stake out a good spot for the group for the initial discussion. After the discussion everyone tends to move around to the position/space that feels best for them. 
  • When the discussion begins, I try to welcome everyone by name. I depend on the group attendees to help me with my writing, it may be the first time we've met, but even before they've arrived they have already helped me get to a better position to meet my writing goal. 
  • Set intention for the session, beginning with my own. <----Other than the actual SUAW! this is the most powerful part of the entire activity. Dreams turn into action when said out loud in front of other people. 
  • Chat for a little while, try to get everyone to share something. I try not to press too much if someone doesn't want to talk; one of the things that makes this group so powerful is that introverts can be social without having to open up a lot or say much. 
  • I remind everyone that we're here to focus, I ask for limited phone calls, alarms, etc, beginning with turning my own ringer off. 
  • Find the anchor/moderator/timekeeper for the next session (maybe you?)
  • Start at the agreed on time. I set my phone timer so that I don't get carried away with the conversation. This may be earlier if a small group, later if a larger group or if everything is running late. 
Here's our SUAW! group. I hope you can join us sometime, and I really hope you can host a group sometime. You're helping me write :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Shut Up and Write! Suva

 2014 29 posts
 2015 43 posts
 2016 21 posts
 2017 8 posts
 2018 4 posts

Before we moved to Fiji I would see my neighbor-to-be Mary's posts about Shut Up and Write! Suva and I couldn't wait to move to Fiji and join the writing group.

In 2014 I moved. I started going to SUAW!

I LOVED it! I met so many new and fascinating people through the group. I was writing for Island Life magazine as well as posting on my blog almost weekly. Things were jumping!

And then life happened. One day I will write about those days, but today is not that day. 

And then I stopped hosting SUAW!

And then I stopped going to SUAW!

And the stats show what didn't happen.

Recently a new arrival asked about activities in Suva and I realized that the writing group might be a good match. I scheduled a date in our SUAW! FB group and not only did people show up, they mentioned how much they had missed it. Offline I had people tell me about the difference it had made in family members' lives. Even before I got to SUAW this week it already felt so awesome to have it on the calendar! I'm really happy Shut up and Write! has restarted and I'm looking forward to getting more thoughts off my chest and out into the world.

Here's our group. I hope you can join us sometime, and I really hope you can host a group sometime. You're helping me write :)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Camp Rules

And then one day the boy grew up and went away to study and his mom and dad missed him very much. 

When our son was younger we had "Camp Rules" for when he was away from us. They went something like this:
- Call us when you get there.
- Only one call once a week except in case of emergency. This might be skipped entirely based on the length of the camp or where the camp was held.
- If there are problems, tell someone there before you tell us at home. This doesn't apply to emergencies. 
- Call us when you leave and let us know when to expect you home. Again, this was sometime skipped based on the length of the camp or where the camp was held or if there was an alternate contact for this info.  

When he went off to study we collectively agreed that Camp rules applied. Now we have a weekly video call that generally lasts about an hour. We have a few text messages that go back and forth during the week, but except for serious issues we don't expect him to check in with us (although we love it when he does!) and we try not take his attention away from his studies.

In some ways parenting at younger ages was easier. I worked with university students and could see the manifestations of different behaviors in young-adults. At home we could then support the behaviors we wanted and deliberately discourage the ones we definitely did not to see in the adult version of our kid. I could turn to the literature for specific hands on tips for what to do and how to do it and when to do it.

I know the job of parenting is to work yourself out of a job, but it's so strange to be in the actual process of separating. When he was little I bought a tiny iron skillet for his breakfasts. As he got older and his appetite got bigger I used larger and larger skillets. Now I find myself looking at the little one-egg skillet and missing him like crazy and wondering what he cooks his breakfast in these days.

Now? Well, although we say we're using camp rules we're actually in new territory. Now we're making it up as we go along.

And I guess to a certain extent, no matter what stage of life we're in, that's what everyone is doing.