Hunkering Down

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HUNKER

Dictionary.com defines “hunker” as: to hide, hide out, or take shelter (usually followed by down):

“The escaped convicts hunkered down in a cave in the mountains.”

 

Now, I’m not an escaped convict, but on Tuesday I’ll be hunkering down in a cave-like office in the mountains to finish writing Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder.  I have seventy pages written so far, and it has “only” taken me over two years to do that, ha ha ha!

I have some amazing mentors willing to help me, including the bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival), Lisa E. Henderson (author of A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom and Thief of Hades) and last but not least, my husband Craig, who wrote the multiple-award-winning Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.  

Despite having had the opportunity to “just do it”, I keep procrastinating.

Today my Facebook newsfeed reminded me of my dilemma.  A famous Maya Angelou quote appeared:

 

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While I’ve always admired Maya Angelou’s writing, I’d have to say there are greater agonies than bearing an untold story, such as drug-free childbirth and a little thing called bipolar disorder.  But I definitely feel like I was meant to write this book, I yearn to make it happen, and I won’t feel complete until it’s finito.

Anyway, last week I read a few chapters in Darien Gee’s book Writing the Hawai’i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story.  (I’m not from Hawai’i, but I love anything related to the Aloha State, especially Kona coffee and chocolate macadamia nuts!)  Gee states early on that it’s tantamount to set a deadline to complete one’s memoir.  She was so convincing about it that I felt inspired to set a deadline.  One of my favorite authors SARK prefers to call it a “completion date”, but I don’t mind the rather grim tone of “deadline” – it has a certain weight to it.

Deadline.  It’s a simple-sounding action, isn’t it?  Deceptively simple.  Perhaps setting a deadline will work some kind of magic into my subconscious and it’ll nudge me into accomplishing my dream.

Why not? 

I chose March 18th, 2015, my 45th birthday, to complete my first draft.  Coincidentally, March 18th the same day as my American Collie puppy Lucy’s birthday, so I consider it to be quite a powerful day.  If things go as planned, I’ll buy a vegan chocolate cake from Black China Bakery (they made our wedding cake) and invite you all to come enjoy a piece!

I originally meant to work on Birth of a New Brain during the summer, but my “best laid schemes” fell to the wayside.  At first I felt so discouraged, but after my initial disappointment, I let it go. (Don’t you dare start singing the song from “Frozen”!)  

In any case, I knew I’d be able to concentrate on my writing when my daughters’ school began.

Avonlea and Marilla  return to school Tuesday, which is also Rilla’s seventh birthday.  I like the fact that I’ll resume writing on Rilla’s birthday, and that I’ll end on the birthday that I share with Lucy!  The birthday bookends seems propitious to me – I’m into that kind of superstitious way of thinking.  

When the girls are in class, I’ll have the luxury of time and quiet.  Last year I was usually the only one in the house, and while it was wonderful to have a peaceful environment, it was a little creepy too.  This year I’ll have my canine muse Lucy to keep me company.  She likes to sit on my feet as I write at my desk – I love her soft warmth, and fortunately she isn’t so heavy that I lose the circulation in my toes.

Lucy Muse

I’ll take advantage of the school year to finish writing Birth of a New Brain, even if I’m the only one who reads it! If I can grow two humans, surely I can finish writing half a book.  Right?  (Uh oh…I hear crickets chirping in my mind.)  I’m going to try really hard.  

This leads me to the subject of my blog.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve never had aspirations to be a professional blogger.  I live half an hour away from Silicon Valley where BlogHer was created.  I knew from reading the San Jose Mercury News that blogging was hip, lucrative, and a creative outlet for writers, but I still didn’t feel drawn to it.  Then seven years ago I opened up my first WordPress blog, but my blogging didn’t “take” because I was still severely depressed.  

Last December, after trying over 20 medications, I finally started taking a medication combo. that worked to lift the bipolar depression.  I impulsively gave blogging a half-hearted second try and it took ahold of me in a profound, very cool way.  

I thank my lucky stars that blogging has been such a pleasure.  While writing has been stressful and frustrating at times (and I’ve written about feeling jealous of the mega-successful bloggers!) my participation in the blogging community has been overwhelmingly positive.  Blogging has helped me strengthen my writing discipline and introduced me to many gifted writers.  Another perk that I know you can relate to has been the “likes” and comments I’ve been fortunate enough to receive; they’ve made me feel heard, appreciated and understood.

 

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I used my blog as a way to prove to myself that I could write on a regular, even prolific basis.  I still don’t know how the hell I blogged every single day for several months straight.  I wasn’t hypomanic or manic.   It sure wasn’t hypergraphia (compulsive, extreme writing) which I actually experienced right after Rilla was born.  I wasn’t on illicit drugs of any kind.  Moreover, I was taking fairly high doses of three sedating medications: lithium, tranylcypromine (Parnate, an MAOI) and the infamous Seroquel.  

I believe that writing regularly stimulated my brain and actually kept me from becoming depressed

If I didn’t feel such a deep-seated drive to write my book, a goal which I’ve had ever since I was nine-years-old, I’d blog all the time.  But I know that I need to hunker down and take the energy I’ve directed towards blogging and funnel it into….you-know-where! (It rhymes with “nook”!)

I don’t want to quit blogging cold-turkey because that would make me depressed!  I don’t need to write novella blog posts like I used to do, either. I plan to blog once a week and see how it goes.  Blogging weekly seems reasonable, and it’ll keep me connected to the blogosphere.  I’m telling you, it really lifts my spirits to stay in touch with my blogging friends on a regular basis.  

I’ll aim to post on Mondays so I can use the weekend to free-write and have fun with it!  I’ll keep you updated about my life and the progress of  Birth of a New Brain, and I’ll stay in touch with you via your blogs, without fail. 

Take care, friends, & I wish you a wonderful week!

Dyane

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Tahoe Ramblings

 

Avi on John Muir Trail w:Lucy

Avonlea and Lucy on the John Muir Trail

 

As we reach the end of our Tahoe vacation we’re celebrating Marilla’s seventh birthday. We just received a text from the girls’ Granny.  She told us to go out to dinner as a gift from her, so the family’s mood is upbeat.  The girls are discussing the kinds of cake they wish to order, which is obviously the priority when you’re about to turn seven. (And, I admit, my priority as well.)

It’s a lazy weekday afternoon and I’ve wasted the entire past hour trying to guess the password for the cabin’s internet connection.  Yes, it turns out there is internet access here in the Munchkin, but we don’t know the password. There’s no record of it to be found anywhere in the cabin. When Craig called the owner about it, she told us she wasn’t adept with computers, and she had no idea what the password was!  As we’ve had a good relationship with her for the past six years, he didn’t want to push the subject of the password.

I decided to create a “Guess the Password” game, trying out different Tahoe-themed phrases. (My personal favorite was “bear country”.) Surrounding homeowners’ wireless connections popped up on my Kindle screen, but they were all locked.  I knew that chances were one in a million that I’d guess the password, but stubborn me – I wanted to give it a shot nonetheless.  I’m sure the password is something I’d never imagine in a million years, so I’m done with my game!

As much as I miss my internet connection and cable television, I know in my heart that it continues to be in my best interest that I keep away from the net and other media during the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death.

Every few days we’ve stopped in front of a library to tap into a wireless connection so that my husband could do some work, but these pitstops have lasted for only a few minutes.   In that amount of time I hurriedly posted to my blog and checked my email.  I could have visited a coffee shop alone to catch up on emails, Facebook, blogs, etc.  I’ve been tempted to do that more than once, but it hasn’t felt like the right thing to do.  My intuition keeps telling impatient me to wait; we’ll be home soon enough.

I went for years not using Facebook, and I only began blogging regularly last December.  My life won’t fall apart from missing ten days of my online creature comforts.  

As I write this post, I’ve been glancing out the window to see if my bear “friend” has decided to swing by and give me another panic attack!  I’m sure Lucy would be less-than-thrilled to spot a live bear; I prefer to see bears via a nature documentary.

Craig and the girls headed out to their special swimming spot they’ve named “Icy Rock” on the Truckee River while Lucy and I hang out in the quiet Munchkin.  The inviting couch, which has a view of the stunning Alpine Valley mountainside pictured below, is the perfect place to stretch out and read a book.

Photo on 2011-07-28 at 09.00 #2 

Now that I’ve finished Jennifer Hentz Moyer’s sobering-yet-inspiring memoir “A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness – A Story about Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” (and postpartum bipolar disorder) I’m going to read something a little lighter in tone: “Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970’s” by Tom Doyle.  That’s what I’m going to enjoy until the door swings open and two very exuberant, soaked little girls will come in to tell me about their encounters with crawdads and ducks on the shores of the Truckee.

Long before the internet entered my life, my first love was reading a book.  It feels so good and luxurious to sink into my book and to stay there for a while without interruptions.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend an afternoon…except, perhaps, for some chocolate gelato.  It just happens that there’s a pint of Double Chocolate Talenti in the freezer, and it has my name written all over it!  (The rest of the family has the sense to know that Mommy’s gelato is hers and hers alone.)

Have a good Friday & weekend, and I’ll catch you on Monday!

take care,

Dyane

Avi jump