Four Full Weeks

☆ March 14, 2016

daisyhill

I did it. Four weeks of daily posting – starting and ending with artists I love, an unplanned coincidence that makes me happy.

I’ll tell you why I gave myself this challenge. I needed (wanted) to get back the rhythm and habit of writing every day. Strict deadlines force my ego to get out of the way – if I’ve committed to sharing something every day, I do not have time to analyze and overanalyze and reanalyze if what I’m putting up is good or who and how it might offend. The only way I could stick to my commitment was to ignore those questions, ignore the ego, and just be quick and dirty and real. This four week exercise got me out of the habit of caring whether what I was doing was good or if it would offend. I desperately needed to break that habit – particularly, in order to move forward with another book. I had to stop caring about the quality of a first draft. A first draft that sucks can be improved; a first draft that never gets completed due to perfection paralysis is just dead.

After surgery, and after getting my meds and supplements regulated to a point where I could do more than blob in bed half the day, I made myself go out on walks in the BLM every day. I didn’t particularly feel like going on those walks because I was still weak and had gotten out of shape. But I made myself go out each day, and I didn’t judge the quality of the walk. I didn’t get down on myself if the walk was really short, or really slow, or if I walked for ten minutes, sat down in the sagebrush for thirty, and then walked home. By doing it every day, no matter how poorly, I got better. The key, for me, was not focusing on how much endurance I had lost, and not caring how drastically my present self paled to my past ability. I started looking forward to going out on those walks, to being out on those walks; they became a highlight of each day, a happy habit. And now they’re filled with hills and sprints and I’m in better shape than I was before surgery.

I wanted to do something similar with writing. To do it, without self-judgement. To get into a happy habit, in service to a new book. And it has worked! I’ll be tapering off a bit, here – still posting regularly but not daily, also in service to the book. Thank you for the notes, comments, and emails. They – you – matter to me, a lot.

Comments

32 Responses to “Four Full Weeks”

  1. Patr
    March 14th, 2016 @ 7:22 am

    I have very much enjoyed that last 4 weeks. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. janice atkinson
    March 14th, 2016 @ 7:51 am

    I like it when people say it like it is and like they feel. And “truth”- I like truth. Thank you. Your posts help people in ways you cannot even imagine. Thanks over and over. JA

  3. C in Florida
    March 14th, 2016 @ 7:52 am

    Good for you, Shreve. Sharing your instinctive values and experience is helpful to all of us. You give people courage and compassion.

    Your sharing your struggles and challenges gives us new air to breathe.

    Always be You; you’ve worked to get good at it.

  4. Jane Cashion
    March 14th, 2016 @ 8:08 am

    Shreve, Thank you so much for this post today. You have given me the insight I just needed to read and comprehend. I am 64 yrs. young and have had thyroid issues for 38 yrs. I have been through the loss of my dad and then my mom. I started having very severe pain when I relocated and the new doctors decided to change my brand and type of thyroid medication. I had taken Armour for years. One dr. went so far as to take me off the meds so my body could detox. Oh yes, what a detox. I curled up in bed, could not run my little shop and a relationship ended…due to my not feeling well and lousy attitude…which obviously wasn’t strong anyway. When my dad died the grief was so strong. Then three years later my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I care for her during her short illness. My daughter had already gone through thyroid cancer, removal and medication adjustment over and over. I was then sued by my brothers over my mother’s will and the health issues just got worse. Lots of other things contributed but my zest for life is sapped. I keep saying I need to be like my old self. I WANT to be like my old self!! Everything is a chore instead of a fun accomplishment. I have even looked at my animals and their care as a burden, at times, and this is not at all like me. Now, after reading what you wrote, I see just how I need to set my mind. Not on what I HAVE to do but the joy and experience of doing it even if it isn’t to perfection or for long periods of time. Why did this not come to me long before now? As they say, you finally see the light!! Well, honey, I saw the light this morning through your blog!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I have found a wonderful endocrinologist who is from Russia. She helps both my daughter and myself. She accepts my research and suggestions for my own health and I hope she never leaves this area. I just have to quit recommending her as she is getting very busy!! Both my parents had thyroid issues and it is no joke! Take care.

  5. Jeff
    March 14th, 2016 @ 8:42 am

    It’s been a real treat to “hear” from you every day. Do continue!

  6. Marg
    March 14th, 2016 @ 8:43 am

    Sounds a bit like the “Use it or Lose it” adage. You go girl, we’ve enjoyed this past month immensely and I’m glad it was a positive experience for you as well.

  7. Susie Brandt
    March 14th, 2016 @ 8:44 am

    Steadily, like the rise of the morning sun, a smile spread across her face bringing a twinkle to her eyes and a glow to her entire demeanor. Joy shared was experienced twofold and was richer for the effort. She knew, in that moment of communion, that writers must write. Breathe in, breathe out . . . fingers tell the story.

  8. Deborah
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:03 am

    I’m glad you’re better than ever. Thanks for your honesty — I’m inspired to swap mind-sets to get to where I need to be for my training and health.

    Happy Pi Day!

  9. Torchy Hunter
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:25 am

    The very coolest thing is the mind change. We might not solve world hunger, but our minds are ours ,and we have the power, focus, and CAN change that. Thank heaven, and thank you, Shreve

  10. JoDi
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:38 am

    I love that point where something we’re making ourselves do becomes something we look forward to! It can be hard to remind yourself that point will come when you start a new habit, but it’s something I’m going to try to think of when I try to form a new habit from now on.

  11. Linda Kalend
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:50 am

    Brava. Both the accomplishments and the ability to see it when it’s happening and understand the solution.

  12. Steph in Oregon
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:58 am

    It’s been great to be on the reading end of this exercise. I’m glad it has helped you. Perfection should be a swear word :)

  13. bonnie
    March 14th, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

    thank you!! and love…

  14. mj
    March 14th, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

    Each hike starts with just one step. I too have had to work my way back to daily walks/hikes, not due to sloth but health issues. I feel a part of me is lost when I lose the ability to be out in nature, climbing hills in the woods. I’m glad you have recovered your strength and your stamina and then some. I’m also glad that the writing challenge helped you get back in the habit of writing. Thanks for all you’ve shared and continue on your road to success!

  15. Julie
    March 14th, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

    I’ve found that if I *make* something have to happen,if I like it or not….it becomes a chore, and I usually end up not keeping up with doing it. One thing that I have not done that with is riding my bike for an hour a ride, 3 days a week. What prompted that was my ortho surgeon telling me 3.5 yrs ago that I needed to swim or bike ride, to keep the muscle structure around my left knee, strong. Because if I needed a knee replacement surgery (had just had meniscus tear surgery done) I would recover so much better/faster if I kept up with either activity. So? I have. I amaze myself, because while I love to bike ride, I live in the hills of the East Bay (Bay area, I know you know it) and there is not a lot of choice for my bike ride without big hills. So,, I use this bike ride 3 days a week to “think”. And it’s just working. I hope you will find posting here on your blog to work…because you have people here who love to read what you write, no matter what it is you put here. I know when you said you’d post everyday, I found myself checking it everyday. Not just every now and then. I’m glad you found the will to do this, and to do the other stuff you talked about today.

  16. Anna
    March 14th, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

    Hi Shreve,
    I’ve loved your daily posts and would love it even more if you continued with this habit – just something that takes less than a minute to read. Always a welcome bonus when spending time at my desk. A great insight into other’s lives and the realisation that our lives are often very different. Please keep it up. Don’t think about it, just do it. All the best, Anna.

  17. shreve
    March 14th, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

    A ~ ha, things may take less than a minute to read, but they take longer to write ;) Do hit up my instagram, if you’re not already – I post pictures and little notes there that never make it over here: https://www.instagram.com/dailycoyote/

    ——
    And to all: Thanks, you guys!!!!!

  18. CeeBee
    March 14th, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

    And you (AND Charlie!) matter a lot (did I say a LOT???) to us!

  19. Karen
    March 14th, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed your daily snippets! I’m glad the exercise was successful, and that your walk-habit was successful, as well. We just have to do it— even if (we don’t like it, we don’t feel like it, because, ad infinitum)

  20. Micela
    March 14th, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

    As my parents used to tell me, most of success is just showing up every day! You have proved it! Congratulations!

  21. Terry V.
    March 14th, 2016 @ 5:25 pm

    Thank you for posting every day. I’ve followed you for years now and love the insight into your world – the animals and landscape. I live in the Los Angeles area and truly enjoy reading about the rugged life.

    Stay healthy. One step at a time.

    I follow you on IG and really enjoy those photos of your farmily.

    Thanks a million.

  22. mlaiuppa
    March 14th, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

    I completely understand.

    I never used to write. Didn’t like it. Probably because the ONLY writing I ever did was school assignments. As soon as I was out of school, I never voluntarily wrote anything. Rarely letters beyond thank you notes. Now with e-mail writing is a little easier but still more reporting than inspiration. Necessary business rather than correspondence. Nothing like actual writing.

    I do have some blogs but didn’t write much unless I was really livid about something that happened in the news or wanted to share a recipe.

    But in 2010 I challenged myself, inspired by a friend of mine who loves to write. I joined her on Livejournal and my New Year’s resolution for that year was to write something every day no matter how boring or inconsequential it was. It was usually reports on the weather and what I ate for meals. Occasionally something that happened at work or when I got in a car accident. That was valuable as I had documentation akin to a diary. But it’s not what you’d call writing.

    I’ve kept it up as best I can. I don’t miss days if I can help it and I go back and fill in if I do. I’ve also started to write beyond just reporting. Now I miss it if I don’t write something every day.

    I’ve gone beyond just noting daily data to thoughts and opinions. And I’ve opened my my blog to two of her friends that post on her blog frequently and have commented to me. Big step forward, but I still don’t care much what anyone thinks of what I write nor am I concerned over the quality beyond proper spelling and grammar.

    It’s the habit of doing it every day, not necessarily the content, that concerns me. It’s like now that I have an audience of three, I must say something every day.

    I missed it so much that when I went on vacation I wrote in a steno pad every day and then posted it when I returned home.

    I’ve done it for so long now that I miss it if I don’t do it every day and guilt sets in. There is a comfort in the repetition of daily posts. It has become a habit. Perhaps if I develop enough positive habits they will push out the negative ones.

    Funny. I tried a diary several times when I was young and never managed to do it more than a few times sporadically. I’ve now written 3,250 entries not counting comments. Fives years worth, going on six.

    I still don’t consider myself a writer or a blogger. Perhaps I am approaching autobiographical reporting. Is that a thing?

  23. torre
    March 14th, 2016 @ 10:09 pm

    i am sending a link to this blog to a friend – he knows i’m an avid reader of your work and how impressed i am of what you do. he is totally in a ‘perfection paralysis’ – perfect words. i hope he will read it and think about this. thank you for sharing!

  24. Heidi
    March 15th, 2016 @ 11:58 am

    I love this photo of Daisy, it looks like a painting. I’m glad you’re happy with the direction you are moving in.

  25. Scotty
    March 15th, 2016 @ 5:13 pm

    i have some big time medical issues in recent years. i used to have closure on various things but the anger and confusion i have now regarding the expense, the meds, the opinions, the adding on of new layers of issues…it’s just overwhelming.

    i will never again take going for a walk for granted. never have i been more thankful to be able to visit the natural world for another day. i would always say to live a good life stay out of court rooms and hospitals.

    anyway.. welcome back. good luck on your new book, keep it goin. i understand how it feels when the world closes in on you, it’s nice to see from your writings that you are becoming free again.

  26. Kim
    March 15th, 2016 @ 7:52 pm

    You’re awesome!

  27. rockrat
    March 15th, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

    I think the traditional notion of individual authorship is daunting. It’s why there are so many one-hit wonders. The biggest bands always have more than one songwriter.

    I like the notion of a wikibook. People have tons of disconnected stories that they’d love to see out there but don’t have enough stories or enough time to string them together in some masterpiece.

    Anytime you get writer’s block, post a situation or a partial plot line up as rhetorical question, and ask for shared experience. Take it or leave it. It’d be interesting to see what kind of a cohesive whole that would make. A lot of movies are composed from multiple points of view.

  28. rockrat
    March 15th, 2016 @ 10:44 pm

    Hmmm.

    Do you need a plot?

    Maybe, you could sort ask for one those too.

  29. shreve
    March 16th, 2016 @ 8:12 am

    R ~ wikibook – what a cool idea.
    Plot, I got. It was the matter of sitting still long enough to fill in the blanks that I was struggling with….

  30. Nicole
    March 16th, 2016 @ 11:24 am

    I truly enjoyed every glimpse into your life, however small, and looked forward to a new post everyday! I hope you challenge yourself to write like this more often. You are an inspiration to so many for just being yourself, so thank you for having the guts to show us your “guts”!

  31. Janet Howe
    March 16th, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

    I appreciate your candor when you post. I never have really understood people who feel they have the right to pass judgement on other peoples’ thoughts and feelings. I can understand it only if the subject is politics or religion–well, I’m not even sure religion is a subject anyone else has a right to pass judgement on since I think that we each have our own individual understanding of what the spiritual force in the world is. And as some others here have said, thank you for your insight that perfection is the enemy of actually accomplishing things. I am content to read your posts when ever you feel able to write them and I trust that you are doing something else you need to do if you aren’t posting for awhile.

  32. NancyMorgan
    March 21st, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

    I’m happy for you to be in your direction. I needed to read your forword about walking. I needed to hear that for myself to start small and build up a walk, thanks for that. I tread with a few of my dogs each day and they love it, and I like to see them happy. I am happy for your good health now! Always nice to hear from you. Love and good health. Nancy M. herddogs

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