I’ve been thinking a lot about boxes. As in, the boxes we place ourselves in.
(I’m trying out the VoiceOver for my articles, and this is my very first attempt. It’s a little clumsy and fumbly, and I have a cold so my voice is a bit affected. But if you prefer audio, I hope this helps!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about boxes. As in, the boxes we place ourselves in. This is something I do all the time, making rules for myself and acting like this is the person I am from now on.
For example, I used to claim I was gluten free. I’d give it up for months, and refuse treats I wanted because I didn’t eat gluten. But then I’d enjoy a nibble of something with gluten. Then a snack. Then I’d fling my rules about gluten out the window as I ate bread, pasta, tortillas…
And this rule breaking always came with guilt. Like, did everyone notice I was breaking the rules? If I decided to give up gluten again, would they point out that I ate a sandwich the last time they saw me?
Whether I’m actually sensitive to gluten or not, I don’t know. Probably not. I think it was more about diet control, because nixing gluten helped me limit my carbs and calories. And many of the symptoms I thought were the result of gluten have disappeared by just eating healthy.
The point is, I’d boxed myself in with a rule I was so sure about, only to feel completely conflicted when those rules no longer served me.
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I am writing this at the tail end of resolution week, a week reserved for solidifying our goals for a brand new year. A year when I claim I don’t do New Year resolutions, but inevitably end up writing them out anyway.
I don’t actually think it’s a bad idea to have goals, or to create them the traditional way at the beginning of the year. But it’s when we put ourselves in a box when it’s an issue.
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My daughter coined this word, flexitarian, to describe the way she eats. Okay, so she didn’t actually coin it. The fact that spell check isn’t correcting me means it’s probably an actual made up word. But I heard it first from Summer, and I think she’s brilliant, so I’m giving her credit.
P.S. My daughter is also an author, getting ready to publish her first book, an inclusive fantasy novel with pirates and faeries. You can follow her on Instagram here.
At any rate, my daughter and her boyfriend eat mostly vegetarian. They do it because it makes them feel healthier, and also because it’s good for the environment. But they aren’t strict about it. Sometimes when they’re at an event, meat is the only option. And sometimes, bacon feels like a good thing to eat.
Whenever my daughter does choose to eat meat, she’s questioned about her food choices. “I thought you were a vegetarian,” someone will ask, gleeful about catching her breaking her own rules. “No, a flexitarian,” she’ll correct them.
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I think we should all be flexitarians, but with life. Stop with the hard and fast rules about the person we are, the beliefs we have, the people we hang out with, the kinds of books we read, the routines we perform, the identities we take on…
What if, instead of making rules and setting them in stone, we recognized what was right for us in the moment?
For example, in my own life I am struggling hard with marketing my books. I launched a book this year and spent a good many months working on promotion. I did a good job of it, and prided myself on being a person who used social media effectively and kept up with the trends.
But in November, I unplugged so I could start working on my next book, and the break from the noise felt really, really nice.
Now it’s the beginning of a new year, and I still haven’t returned to marketing my books. Social media feels hard, and I’m tempted to pull the plug and dismantle all my social media accounts and just disappear.
Except, I am also recognizing this is just a season. I am not defined by this moment. I do not need to make any permanent changes. I just need to honor the space I’m in now, and that’s a space of writing and reflection, and being still and quiet.
Here are a few other ways I’m an unapologetic flexitarian about life:
My writing time is not just for writing my novels. I am now including short stories and blog articles as worthy writing practices.
My work wardrobe includes classy slacks, dressed up denim, and feminine dresses. I wear the outfit that fits my mood.
I read mostly romance, but the last book I read was dystopian and it was fantastic. And I don’t need to defend or explain my book choices to anyone.
My faith has become a lot more fluid, and open to recognizing spirituality in all forms. And I don’t need to defend or explain my faith to anyone.
My politics recognize that no side is all good, or all bad. And I don’t need to defend or explain my politics to anyone.
I’m in a season where yoga is my nightly practice. But sometimes, vegging in bed is my nightly practice. And when the weather warms up, maybe some kind of outdoor activity will be my choice of movement.
I am planning to publish Substack articles every Sunday, but know that there will be weeks I want to write more, or when I need to write less. Or want to publish on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday. And I don’t need to defend or explain my writing schedule to anyone.
How can you be more flexitarian in your own life?
What I’m writing
On the subject of goals and the boxes we put ourselves in, I wrote a short fiction story about New Year’s resolutions. The prompt: Write a story in the form of a list of New Year's resolutions. Reason to read this: My actual Amazon impulse buys make an appearance. You can read it here.
I’m still plugging away at the edits for Book 2 in my Sunset Bay series. Here’s what I’m discovering: when I stop writing for a long period of time, I tend to make up a ton of stories about the book I’m working on. It sucks. There isn’t enough angst. The humor falls flat. The couple is boring. But when I get back into it, I start to unravel all those lies. The book is funny. And touching. And the angst is 🔥. With enough discipline, my goal is to get both of these books out this year. But don’t box me in on that goal. 😉
What I’m reading
I just finished Sand, by Hugh Howey, and it was everything you’d expect in a Hugh Howey novel. The man is a master at storytelling, and this one is no different. The story is about a family living in a post-apocalyptic world, where the world we all live in is now buried under miles of sand. The tension in this book is high, and the character building is off the charts. 10/10 recommend.
I’m currently reading The Stolen Heir, the latest Elfhame book by Holly Black. Last year, I devoured all the other books Holly Black wrote in this world (The Folk of the Air series), so when this book published this week, I jumped on it. And it does not disappoint. This time, the story includes Oak, who was a young child in The Folk of the Air series. The book is young adult and has the same charm and magic, plus the melding of the human world with the faerie world. It’s definitely keeping me up past my bedtime!
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What I’m Listening To
This playlist has been the perfect way to end my day. It’s even better in headphones. And if your unwinding routine includes 😌💨, this playlist is ear candy.
What I’m obsessing about
My fiddle leaf fig is still just a baby, but last week she grew one huge leaf, and she’s doubled in size since I got her a month ago. Once I re-pot her, I can’t wait to bring this baby to my new office!
(and, why yes, that is a Gabe Kapler bobblehead who cheers me on while I’m writing)
I don’t just write rambling blog posts, I also write novels. Find them all here.