Today, We Vote

Today, we go a-voting. A-voting, we go.

My cold and I went to the polls today with our good friend hand sanitizer. We did our patriotic duty, and then rushed home for recliner time.

I honestly thought about skipping the vote today. I don’t feel great. Driving was the last thing I wanted to do.

But, I kept seeing an ad for one of the gubernatorial candidates with whom I disagree about everything. So, a-voting I went.

End of story. Going to find tissues.

Summer Cold + Crossfit

We have a cold. We. Matt and I.

This means that I will not be going to gym today, but I will be enjoying watching other people workout for today is CrossFit Games day.

I love CrossFit. I do not do the CrossFit. I love to watch it.

In my experience there are two kinds of sports spectators: The Deflated and The Pumped.

The Deflated watch events like IRONMAN competitions and the CrossFit Games because their partners want to watch it.

While they are watching, they don’t see the athletes as people. They are something else. Something other. Something they cannot be.

The Pumped watch these events, all the events, whenever they get a chance. They rewatch events, documentary, interviews, because those people, those athletes are just like them.

They breathe in and out. They have families. They aren’t perfect, but they are showing us all the things of which we are capable.

I’m a member of The Pumped.

I watch IRONMAN competitions, marathons, CrossFit, and more, because if those people can do that, I do a little workout five days a week. I can get myself into the best shape of my life one day at a day opening doors for me to do something cool like kayak, run a 5k, or hike an ultra.

So, my tissues and I are glued to the television watching these gladiators without colds do superhero level workouts.

At 5:10p, they’ll be rowing a marathon! Excuse me while I add that to my workout list.

Cervical Biopsies Do Not Feel Like Period Cramps

This is my personal account of having cervical biopsies. I share details of a medical nature in the article. If that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, do not read. If you are about to have cervical biopsies or if you have had cervical biopsies, I hope this article makes you laugh, makes you knowledgeable, makes you feel less alone.

I was clueless. 

I went into my appointment for a colposcopy knowing that a biopsy or two was in the cards for me, and I still showed up with my running clothes on and headphones around my neck.  I had a 50-minute run scheduled and a little biopsy wasn’t going to stop me.

I signed forms, dropped trou, and stretched out on the table with my feet in uncomfortable, metal stirrups.

Note: If you are a person that designs medical furniture such as exam tables, you can make a fortune developing stirrups that are padded. Look to the adductor machines at your gym for inspiration on keeping the thighs open for doctor and patient safety. Those little metal stirrups suck!

After painting my cervix in vinegar and then iodine, I was told that I definitely needed biopsies taken. Plural. Four or five.

I asked if I needed to brace myself, and my doctor replied, “I don’t know. Do you? I’ve already done one. They mostly just feel like period cramps.”

Easy, I thought. I didn’t even feel it.

The adrenaline must have worn off because I felt the second one and the third one. These were no period cramps. 

They were lightning bolts. They were punishments. They were…avoidable.

If you take nothing else away from this personal account of cervical biopsies, take this: ASK TO HAVE YOUR CERVIX NUMBED. IT IS LIKELY THAT NO ONE WILL OFFER IT, SO ASK FOR IT. 

Then, I started to feel faint.

I have low ferritin. Translation, I have low iron stores.  I’m a bleeder. I take a supplement as recommended by my doctor, and I get along just fine in the world. On the exam table, while getting biopsies, I don’t do so well. 

My doctor had to sit with her hand pressed on my cervix for a while. This created a painful pressure that I will not soon forget, but it was necessary and helped to stop the bleeding. I requested a snack or some juice to bring me out of my fog.

It took me about half an hour to sit upright. It took me 15 more minutes to walk.  I was given a pad the thickness of pillow to adhere to my underwear for the bleeding.  My partner had stubbornly insisted that he drive me to my appointment. I have never been so grateful to have a partner as bullheaded as myself.

I had this procedure three weeks ago as I write this. I have had nightmares all but two of the nights since. 

After I shared my story with a friend, she told me she went through the same thing! I shared with another friend, and guess what. She had the same thing done.  A family member who had biopsies 35 years ago still remembers the pain vividly and said that it was worse than childbirth.

Only two women I’ve spoken with who have had cervical biopsies said they were painless. I was not crazy. I was not overly sensitive. I was not alone.

Note: It took me two weeks to completely heal. That’s twice the average person’s time. This is all because of my iron issue. Since then, I’ve had a normal period and returned to the gym. I am waiting to be scheduled for a LEEP surgery soon. 

Things like abnormal pap smears, cervical biopsies, and LEEP surgeries feel terrifying and isolating. They shouldn’t. 

Lots of women share the experience of being told their pap smear was abnormal or that they have abnormal cells on their cervix. There is no reason for us to go through this alone. It doesn’t make us brave or strong to hide our feelings. It just makes us alone with our emotions!

The moment my friends and family told me about their experiences, I felt lighter. I felt a little bit better.

I hope this helps you feel a little lighter and a little bit better, too.

A Brief Bio

I was just perusing John Scalzi’s blog, and I read a section in the About section of his site called “A Brief Biography of John Scalzi”. Click here to read it.

I am following his lead in this post.

(By this, of course, I mean that I liked it and decided to copy it.)

Hi, there. I’m Barbara Burgess. I tend to include too much in bios and about sections of social media profiles, web pages and author’s notes. In this post, I aim to keep it short and simple.

All of the following is accurate of July 27, 2018.

Born: February 5, 1982. On this day, the number one song on the charts was Centerfold. Yep. Enjoy that one.

Lived in: Everywhere between North Carolina and Nevada as my house is on wheels.

Education: Regretfully dropped out of college. Happily acquired many health and wellness certifications.

Employment: Yoga instructor and writer.

Personal: In a committed relationship. One step person. Big dog.

Bibliography: Articles here. Children’s books here. Sci fi, fantasy, sweet romance, lesbian and straight rom com are all scheduled into my writing calendar. Aren’t you lucky?

Other: Fernando Learns About Asking appeared multiple times on the CMT show Nashville.

Today, We March to #EndFamilyDetention

Social Media Map

If you are new here and are looking to follow me on social media, the list below is a map of where I am on social media and how I use (or don’t use) it.

Instagram

I post here daily, because it is so dang simple.I post a picture of my coffee mug every day, and I post word counts and vlogs in the stories section. Love Instagram! Follow me here: Instagram.com/hellothisisbarbara

Facebook

I have a page on Facebook, but I have to admit that I do not push it or use it…YET! As of right now, I share Instagram posts in there. Mostly, I have this page because everyone has one. If you have any suggestions on how to use Facebook pages for authors, I’d love to read an article or whatever.I do have several Facebook groups as well. I’ll share those as they become relevant.Follow me here: Facebook.com/hellothisisbarbara

Twitter

I used Twitter the same way I use Facebook for a while. I am still trying to find my way of using Twitter as well. I do repost from Instagram on there from time to time.Follow me here: Twitter.com/hellothisisshe

Pinterest

I use Pinterest to make storyboards and vision boards. I share a few public boards. As it gets closer to publication dates for my longer form books (books for young adults and adults), I’ll share character inspiration boards and setting boards.Follow me here: Pinterest.com/hellothisisbarbara

Something Stole the Suet

We have a bird feeder.

I am enthusiastic about birds and all wildlife barring mosquitoes.  (I have no idea what purpose they serve other than spreading disease and making me uncomfortable.)

Yesterday, I put a fresh block of suet out for the downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers that visit.  As I type there is warbler on it!

As I was making my coffee this morning, I looked out and saw a little, male downy pecking away at … nothing.  The suet cage was open, and the block of suet was gone.

A thief had come in the night and taken it!  

Raccoons.  Definitely, raccoons.  

I am happy to feed all the raccoons and squirrels and what have you, they need only fill out a request form in the lobby.

In an effort to not be stolen from again, I have replaced the suet and zip-tied the cage shut. 

So far, so good. Now, I have to have a talk with a squirrel about nesting upon the bird feeder. 

She must share, or she will not be allowed to dine at this establishment anymore!

Health Writing Sprints

There is no right way to do a writing sprint. You just have to find what works for you and do it over and over again.

I have tried lots of things to keep my active body and my creative mind in sync with one another. The following is what works for me currently.

Writing Sprint with Active Rest

20 minutes on – 10 minutes off

Here’s how it works: I ready my timer or ask Alexa to start a timer for 20 minutes. For that 20 minutes I write, write, and write some more.

When that 20 minute timer goes off, I immediately set a timer for 10 minutes. During that 10 minutes, I do something active.

Sometimes, it is just washing the dishes. Other times, it is a brief walk with my dog. I also have a seven minute workout app that I use during breaks from time to time. Most days, I pick three exercises and preform them for a minute each with a 30 second break between.

The goal isn’t necessary to take up every single second of the 10 minute break with an activity. Sometimes, you need that 10 minutes for a bathroom break, snack break or to return a call.

There are lots of ways to use that 10 minutes, but I always use it for something active (unless bathroom).

Catching up on The Daily Show, YouTube videos, or browsing social media of any kind is not an option when I am “clocked in”.

In many cases, adding active rest to your writing sprints can reduce repetitive stress pains like elbow pains, eye strain, wrist tension, and numb legs.

(Of course, it goes without saying that if you experience any pain while writing, go to the doctor already! Geez!)

On Dictation

This is not a post about dictating books as I do not dictate books.  It does not work for me.

I own six books on dictation and have read them.  I tell you this to let you know that I did the research before I tried and failed to dictate my books.

Without filling this blog post with a story about the majority of my writing voices being male, I will just get to the parts of dictation that worked for me.  

Idea Capture

I walk my dog roughly five miles a day, and I am what some might call a gym rat. 

Without fail, I will be 1,000 steps into a walk away from home and my journal when the best story idea of ever slaps me across the face.

This is where dictation can shine, shine, shine.  

I use the voice recorder on my phone and speak a one or two sentence synopsis of the idea

and carry on walking.  

When I get home, I drag and drop the voice memos into Dragon Transcribe, and there are my ideas ready and waiting. 

Walk Through

When a story idea is beyond the concept phase and has a hint of beginning middle and end,

I’ll start walking myself through the story aloud.  No punctuation.  No dialogue.  

I do this while walking or pacing around the kitchen island.

Most often my sentences sound like this:

“So, he says something about not being a dog, and she asserts her professionalism.  Also, there should be lots of trash around.”

See.  Very informal, because no one else will ever see or hear these notes.

Just like before:  drag, drop, transcribe.

Outlining

This is the most valuable way to use dictation in my opinion.  Idea capture and walk throughs are great, but this is where the rubber meets the road.

Basically, I take a walk and tell myself the story scene by scene.  Each scene is only two sentences long with little side notes about lines I definitely want to use.  I also throw in questions I might have about characters or settings.

I tell the story to myself until I am done.

When Dragon is finished transcribing and I have cleaned up the text, I have an easy to use outline.  

Normally, these outlines are one or two pages.  

Basically, I use dictation as an accessory to talking to myself.  So far, it is working pretty well.

I hope you found this helpful.  If you use dictation or transcription, I would love to hear how you use it.

Mega List 2019

For those of your who are new here, a brief explanation of the Mega List:

The Mega List is an ongoing list of things I want to do. By do I mean, actually do or learn or try or experience or feel. This list is not a once a year thing. I visit this list often throughout the year, because I am constantly checking things off of the list.

Yes, it gets done.

Everything on the list is meant to make me feel the way I wish to feel in my life. Example – If I want to feel productive in my life, that means I must produce something. So, writing “write books” on my Mega List isn’t enough. I have to write the specific book I want to write, and then write it. Then, I mark it off the list which makes me feel like a productive superhero.

The Mega List is so stupid simple. I used to make it complicated. I had categories and color coding which is fun and nice, but at the end of the day, I was just making a pretty list. Making a pretty list, having a planner and writing stuff in it is not the same as doing. More doing. Less thinking about doing.

Mega List 2019

I keep my Mega List in a notebook, and I move the list over when I need to change notebooks or whatever. I also keep a digital copy of it, but I find the paper and pen work best for me.

My list is long and has projects that I’m not ready to share yet, but I will share a few things on my list here (these are in no particular order):

Play an instrument daily for 20 minutes – I play guitar, ukulele, and a little piano (which is funny, because piano is the only instrument for which I had lessons). This year (2018), I may have played ukulele for about six or seven hours total. I’d like to bring the music back into my life. 20 minutes a day seems reasonable.

Martial Arts Training – Years ago, I took jiu jitsu. I think I was pretty good. I’m low to the ground, so my balance is great and my ground fighting was/is alright. I would like to get back into it, because 1) I loved it, and 2) I’m writing a series that involves some fight scenes, and I’d like to work with a professional on the weapons fighting in the story.

Scuba – I’m a little afraid of water. This might come as a surprise since I kayak a lot, but I’m not a fan of swimming or going under water. I thought I’d meet this fear head on and make friends with my fear.

Self-Portraits – This one is a little nutty. Your life changes a lot from 20 to 30. I’m 36 as I write this, and my circle of friends has completely changed. Not for any bad reason.

Everyone is living their lives. Sometimes, that means the Universe pulls you apart so everyone get the most out of their own lives which is wonderful. In my 20s and early 30s, I was surrounded by artists of all kinds. My life was caught on camera a lot. I had a historical records of all of the cool stuff I’d done with my friends or that my friends had done. I don’t have that anymore, so I am going to witness myself a bit more by taking self-portraits daily in 2019. I’m not talking selfies. I’m talking portraiture. Once upon a time, I was a photographer, so I’m brushing off those skills for the joy and the record.

Like I said, there are many things on the Mega List, but these I think will be the most challenging for me. Playing an instrument and taking self-portraits will be daily exercises unless illness stops me. Scuba training is something that will take a couple of weeks and some cash. Martial arts is something I can start at home using my own knowledge and some old books until I budget the classroom time and funds.

What About Books?

Book writing and publication are of course on my list. I have dates, titles, and marketing plans all worked out for two books. Books are coming. July of 2019 is going to be momentous for me as a writer, because I will be publishing under two pen names in two very different genres. More on pen names later, but in brief – Pen names are fun and liberating. I will tell folks they are pen names, so no lies. Just fun with pen names.

What About Exercise?

My exercise, health and wellness life is solid. I’m never miss two days of exercise in a row unless I feel sick. I eat what I want when I want, so I don’t track my calories or anything. Also, I’m the cook in the house, so it is literally up to me what we have for our meals. Makes the don’t-eat-like-a-jerk-all-the-time rule easy to follow.

What About Travel?

I do have two trips in mind for next year, but it is very possible they’ll have to wait until 2020 which is totally fine.

What About…?

Everything else? Like I said the list is long. Throughout 2019 as I tick things off of the list, I think I’ll share them here. I might skip a few for personal reasons, but I’m happy to share successes and failures with you, my three readers.

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What I Read: August 2017 Edition

Here’s the list of things I read this month.

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Me and the Kid Next Door: A Micro Play

(WALKING DOG – LARGE MALAMUTE/HUSKY)

KID NEXT DOOR:  HEY

ME:  HEY

KID:  I LIKE YOUR DOG.

ME:  THANK YOU!

KID:  HEY, I’M THE KID THAT SAID THAT I LIKE YOUR DOG YESTERDAY.

ME:  I KNOW.  I REMEMBER.

KID:  HEY

ME:  HEY

KID:  I’M RICHARD.

ME:  I’M BARBARA.  THIS IS RIVER.

KID:  I KNOW.

(PAUSE)

KID:  I HAD A DREAM LAST NIGHT THAT I HAD A WOLF DOG AND HER NAME WAS RIVER.

ME:  THAT’S SO COOL.

END.

All names of humans have been changed to protect privacy.

River is River in real life, because River don’t give a fruitfly about nobody.