Richard Flores IV

Heat Waves and other Ramblings

There were a few reasons I moved away from California and a few reasons why I chose Washington to move to. Among the top of the list was that I wanted to escape the heat. I was tired of 100 degree days. I was tired of there being a lack of rain. I wanted a nice cool climate to move to. But that has certainly changed this summer.

Each summer it seems to get warmer and warmer. It seems like when I got here any weather in the low 90s was rare. But now, as I sit through two heatwaves in one summer, It has become clear that warm weather is now a part of the Pacific Northwest.

Considering many of the homes here, including mine, don’t have air conditioning it is rather unbearable when the weather is like this. Doesn’t help that working from home means I can’t escape it. The only blessing is that my lower floor, where my office is, does tend to be a little cooler that the rest of the house.

The heat keeps you from being motivated to do just about anything. In fact, I was supposed to be working on a short story, but all I wanted to do is complain about the heat. The funny thing about heat is that everyone wants to complain about it. It is the one thing everyone seems to do in the heat.

I wish that complaining would turn into action about these things. But that is something that I could rant on for some time, which isn’t really the purpose of this blog post. But for the sake of us all, including our children, we need to do something.

Back to the topic at hand. The heat hasn’t dissuaded me too much. I am still getting writing done, finishing two short stories this week. I also submitted four others to markets. While short stories were not my plan to combat the writer’s block I discussed in my last blog, it seems to have worked. Though I do still feel a novel project pulling at me.

Overall, it has been a pretty productive week. I won’t get any writing done over the weekend as I have family plans. But I do plan to be back at it on Monday.

Well, that is my rambles for this week. Simply put, it is fucking hot. And I need to install AC in my house.

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The Dreaded Block

As many of you know I have been doing writing streams over on Twitch for the fast few months with a focus on accomplishing small amounts of writing each day. It has been very successful with regard to ensuring I take time each day to write, but also in socially interacting with fellow writers and fans. Overall it has been a great experience.

I have been working on the third book in The Serenity Saga since we started the Writing with Richard segment on Twitch. We finished last Friday, and it was an emotional experience for me. And while it is only the first draft it marks a major milestone is my fifth novel, and the third (and dare I say last) novel of the series. I’ve spend a lot of time living life with these characters. All around it was fitting to finish it on stream since it was the streaming that inspired me to finally start writing again.

But then came the next concern. What do I write next? What do I do for Writing with Richard now? How will I create more content that is both engaging and gets me to write. Though I have other novel ideas in play, I wanted to focus a bit more on my short form stuff. After all short form is what got me my first publication and inspired me to get my first novel out there.

Monday rolled around and there was a bit of a freak out. My file full of story ideas in nowhere to be found. I jot ideas down in my phone as they hit me, and then add them to a document on my computer with story ideas. And when I went to access that repository I couldn’t find it. They have apparently been lost.

We filled the time on Monday fairly well by discussing cover art and what will come next in getting the novel ready for publication. I’d even looked up some writing prompts to inspire us for Tuesday’s session. On Tuesday I got one of those ideas ready, found the character that was perfect for it, and put together a great flash fiction story that I hope will make it to the pages of the a publication soon.

But Wednesday came along and that was where it all went to shit. It started off alright. I have had the idea of a world in my head. A climate change world that would fit well with a prompt I had found. And I knew I’ve wanted to write this story for some time. But as we got on stream and got ready for the writing session I realized that I didn’t have a character. I needed one in order to make the story work, obviously, but as a character driven writer it felt as though it was all forced. And that was when it hit. The Dreaded Block. Writer’s block.

Nothing I put down felt right. I wrote and deleted and wrote and deleted. It all just felt wrong, forced, and all around trash. It sent me spiraling down from there and I wound up ending the streaming early. I spend my dinner and my evening feeling as though I’d failed, was not good at what I did, and not cut out to be a writer or a streamer.

This isn’t the first time I’ve hit a block in my writing, I think every writer does a number of times. But it was the first time I had in front of other people. It was the first time I felt like I had failed not just myself but others. Of course, all of that is in my own head. But it was tough.

It did leave me reflecting on writing in general and what to do about my block. I took some of my own advice in previous posts and took a step back. I realized that my block was coming from two places. First, I was trying to force myself to write something I wasn’t ready to write. Next, I was feeling a bit frantic over the fact that I’d lost so many story ideas. When you factor that all in with being “on stage” at the time, it all added up to a block.

So as today came around, I thought I’d take the chance to break down the block by instead focusing on writing about what had happened. Writing this blog post, which is being written live on stream, has helped to get the words flowing on stream again.

The pressure I felt to write something was entirely self pressure. The idea that I have to write a few short stories is also entirely self driven. So I realize that I should instead write what I want to write. Which, right now, is another novel length (maybe) idea. So I may bring my focus to that. But today I wanted to write this blog post, so that is what I did.

Writer’s Block isn’t always so easy to break down and I recognize that. I may well find myself stuck again tomorrow or next week. But it helps to have some idea of the cause so that you can root out what you need to do and get back to it. And I am still glad to have these streaming sessions where I can connect with so many people. It was good to spend the first part or today’s session just chatting before diving into this blog.

Sometimes the Dreaded Block just needs time to sink away. Other times you can push it down. But what I want you all to know is that it is normal. It happens to us all. You can get past it.

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Imposter Syndrome

There tends to be two thoughts when the term “imposter syndrome” comes up. The first is that every writer, or any creator for that matter, suffers from it. The second is that you’ve never heard of imposter syndrome and as such you’re struggling to identify the feeling. In both cases, imposter syndrome does have an effect on the creator.

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

What is imposter syndrome? Simple put, it the feeling you don’t belong, particularly when it comes to creative content. For writers, it can be described as the feeling that you are not a successful author and may never be. As it aptly named, it is the feeling that you are an imposter among every other writer. It is like a fucked up game of Among Us, were you’re the only one playing in your mind.

I suffer from it in a just about everything I do, both creative and in my regular job. And no amount of knowing that everyone else suffers from it changes the feeling that I am really an imposter. I understand that what I am feeling is normal and I understand others feel that way too, but I just can’t help but let it bog me down.

I wish I had some great post on the 10 things that you can do to combat imposter syndrome and move past it. But I really don’t. When it hits it can be really hard to fight the desire to quit. In some cases I have done just that, or gone on hiatus.

It happened to me last week while streaming a game I absolutely love. I just felt like I was nobody and quit my stream early. And to be honest, I’ve not really recovered from it. Overall, I have been thinking of quitting my live streaming activities. And while that is live streaming, and not writing, it is strongly echoed in my writing career.

What I can say is that while I don’t have a long list of ways to combat Imposter Syndrome. I do have some positive things that come from recognizing that it exists and that it is normal. I think these have helped me from making drastic decisions while under this influence.

The first thing I do is to acknowledge that what I am feeling. I also acknowledge that this is not a feeling based on facts, but instead on overthinking. This allows me the chance to recognize what I am doing to myself and take pause to think about other things.

So once I know that I am dealing with Imposter Syndrome I can take pause on making any decisions. This is huge in keeping me from making the wrong choices that I could regret later. Because, especially when it come to quitting, it can be difficult to undo the choice.

It also keeps me from going down the rabbit hole of despair. Which is a good thing to help keep in the right mental state and pressing on. It allows me to continue to do my writing even while I feel like I may be an imposter hack. As long as I am getting words on paper, I am doing something right.

Finally, I take a moment to recognize what tossed me into the mental failure mode. This helps me to prevent the things the typically cast doubt in my mind. For writing, this can often be looking at my sales numbers or reviews. Sometimes it comes on from reading a great novel that leaves me thinking that I could never write like them. And I often feel that way after leaving a convention where I was surrounded by great people.

Now some people will say that you should avoid the triggers of your imposter syndrome. But that isn’t always practical or wise. I love attending conventions and I can’t imagine not going to them. I think reviews are great and should read them. And you need to know your sales number for tax season. There is no way I am giving up reading.

But what I can do is recognize that this feeling is coming and know what that will do to me. And when I expect it I can be ready to handle it. And that has helped a lot.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on handling imposter syndrome, but I want you to know you are not alone in feeling it. It is normal to feel this way. And most all, you are not an imposter.

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

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We’re Back!

I could start with some long winded back story, and delay the announcement in a effort to get you to read all the way to the end. But I don’t have time for that, and I am too excited, to hold this all in. Besides, great news deserves to be announced.

Factor Four Magazine is returning in January 2022.

Several things are aligning both mentally and financially to make this all come back together again. First, and foremost we have a solid financial profile to ensure we can afford this long term. Second, I’ve aligned myself with my passions recently to discover that publishing isn’t just something I enjoy doing. It is something I have to do for my mental health. And third, I haven’t given up my love for Flash Fiction.

There is still a lot to be ironed out in terms of the details, but I know a few things off the bat that I can share.

For the writers:

What I already know: Submissions will open in late September or early October 2021. Our pay rate will be professional level.

Things I don’t know yet: Maximum Word Count, Contract Terms, submission requirements, and total number of stories each issue.

For the Readers:

What I already know: We will offer the ability to read our stories free online. We will have an annual print anthology of all stories for the year.

What I don’t know: Issue release frequency, issue release format (other than online), and our cover art styles.

Other Details:

There is still a lot to do. We have to update the website, gather some editors, and start the submissions. We also need to get a contract together that is good for authors and us.

One of the big things is that I’d like to create a collaborative effort in this magazine with a team of fellow volunteers. I am having a meeting with some people that are interested in volunteering on July 7th. If you are interested in taking part, let me know on Twitter and you can join us for a quick meeting. I am looking for people to assist with several aspects of the magazine. While there will be some time commitment, I understand that the positions are volunteer. So we can talk out what you want to do and how much time you can share.

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Debut: Wednesday Night Writes

This week was an exciting week. I started a new regular feature on my Twitch account called Wednesday Night Writes. On this one hour segment I answer questions about starting your own fiction publication. These questions were sent to me by Zach who was thinking of starting a publication. I also answered questions as they came up in the live chat.

This program is designed to by like virtual programming you’d find at a convention. I hope to have discussion panels, author interviews, and much more. No idea is off the table. If has to do with writing or publishing I want to talk about it. You can join me on the show, make suggestions, or email content like Zack did. You can do that here.

I air the show live on Wednesdays at 8pm PST (it will move earlier later in the year). After 24 to 48 hours, I will put the live video in its entirety on YouTube. You can join the chat, follow my schedule, and get notification when I go live by following on Twitch.

I won’t always share the videos on the blog here, but because this was the debut I wanted to share it. You can watch the video here:

https://youtu.be/BmOYGN5Enyk

Please share the videos on my Twitch and YouTube Channels.

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Ramping Back Up

When you’ve been in a creative slump for a number of years, you don’t just fall right back into it. Well, maybe you do but I don’t. And since inspiring myself to get out of the slump, I haven’t written anything on a story yet. This despite the fact that I have set aside 2 hours per weekday for writing.

But I have been ramping back up slowly. I have got more active on my Twitter, posting there far more regularly. I am blogging weekly now, as I really wanted to do. Reading nightly has become a thing for me too. The next step I am taking is integrating writing talks and novel readings into my Twitch Live routine.

But the words won’t come out when it comes time to write fiction. I open the files, I’ve even reread a few pages of past writing from the novel I need and want to write. But when the time comes, the words just don’t happen. And largely I think a few factors are at play here.

First, I really am working through the publishing need with myself. I honestly think it feels like I need to do it. I know I am a broken record about the closure of Factor Four Magazine. But, it bums me out hard anytime I think to write. Even when I sit down to blog I think about it. Overall, I think this is making my own creative writing slump. I’ve worked out that my sudden passion write again, in bubbling some need to publish again as well.

Second, I haven’t had that inspirational visit to conventions for a long time. That’s been hard as well. The people, the environment, the social aspect, and best of all talking on panels, all inspire me to keep creating. But, those things are not possible for right now.

But I am tackling this on a few different levels in order to slowly ramp myself up into what I need to do. One thing I am doing is I will start once or twice weekly readings of my novels on Twitch live. I am nervous as hell about that. Even in live readings, I get really apprehensive about. But I am going to try it out. One hour reading on Sunday night. Depending on the feedback I will go to twice a week.

I am also going to do some live vlog type stuff. Thinking about Wednesday night Writes, in which I talk writing to my audience. I am thinking about what the visual aspect will be. Also thinking of doing interviews with other writers and publishers. And panel discussions on topics in the writing community. I plan to make that a weekly feature, starting next week.

I think rereading my works will really help get my mind in the frame of the storyline and ready to write again. If I get a good response to the readings, then maybe that confidence boost is what I need. The other thing that my mind has done, is begun to think about some small amounts of revenue that could be generated from streaming live. I am hoping that I could funnel that towards more creative passions.

And while reopening Factor Four Magazine seems like a pipedream at this point, I think it is important that I recognize the possibility and let my mind dance around there. But I also need to focus on what my goals are. This year that goal is writing, reading, and streaming. So I need to get aligned with that. That doesn’t man that I can’t think about what needs to happen to return to publishing. It just means that I need to explore that AFTER writing time.

We are only four weeks into the new year. No reason to be hard on myself. We are slowly ramping things back up. Social presence is important too. And this blog is great for exercising my mind and my thoughts. I am going to get there, I will be successful, and it will be worth it to do it at my pace.

Much love and thank you for the support.

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Separation of Passions

Last weekend I started to explore a new passion of mine. I know it seems like odd timing given my post about setting goals and sticking to them. But I do have a logic around this choice. But it has brought up some questions about separation of the arts we partake in.

Let me start with the… well the start. I have begun streaming on Twitch. You can find me there streaming games I like to play. In the post I referenced above, I mentioned that video games are something I have to set time aside for. So, to me, streaming games offered only a little more time commitment while also allowing me to build up some type of social community.

I have talked about the community that KailelleXD has built on his streaming community in Twitch. I realized it was something I wanted to do, and I realized that I could offer something unique with my perspective and my passions. And I even thought maybe I could mix some writing related streams into the mix.

But there in lies the question, and the topic of this post. Should my Streaming aliases by separate from my writing and publishing? Should I have a separate Twitch social media platforms from my writing platforms? What are the advantages to separate and what are the advantages to linked?

Right now I am keeping them together. I had two Twitters when I ran Factor Four Magazine and it was tough to manage two of them. I also am not sure if I want to set up another Facebook page, as they are terrible at presenting information to followers anyway (unless you pay). And finally, the idea of a second YouTube for highlights seems silly.

Starting with the YouTube, I honestly don’t use it much for writing so that could easily become a streaming showcase. But I do eventually want to go back to doing readings, vlogs, and Q&A sessions. All things I intend to do on Twitch, eventually, for a live audience. I have seen artists using Twitch to showcase the art process, and I wonder if writing can’t cross into that realm.

Writing is less visual than the visual arts… obviously. But couldn’t there be a chance to do something fun with readings and other interactions. My thought is like convention panels, but virtual, and one time. If 2020 showed us anything, there is an opportunity to do things virtually.

Twitter on the other hand has been very writing and publishing focused. So I have been almost feeling like I am crossing a line by posing Twitch content. The other side of this argument with myself says it is my Twitter and I can do whatever I want on it. And obviously there is an opportunity to build an audience that may cross over with each other. I certainly have noticed a videogame fandom and Science Fiction fandom overlap.

This website and the blog have always been writing focused, and I am not sure that I will dive too deep into the streaming world on here other than to briefly mention it. But I am not sure I want to create another website for myself that is around streaming. Besides the Twitch site capture about all I need from a streaming site.

Facebook, well they are useless for promoting the artist and content creator anyway, so that’s not a real concern. But there is a new factor to consider. Discord. Discord is really popular in the streaming world and I see a huge value in the writing world to create writers groups within it. I thought about creating a discord for Factor Four Magazine before I closed it.

The final factor is that so many people within the Twitch community stream behind aliases. I have one too. This is a lot for the same reasons as writers use a pen name. I don’t write under a pen name, and so if I combine the social presence it will be easy to determine who I am in real life.

However, the way I see it, since I am already out there in this community what would be the difference. And my Twitch alias is something I’ve used for years. In the end if someone wanted to know who I was, they’d find out.

Overall, I don’t have an answer yet. But I feel like I need to get to an idea very soon. If you have any input, thoughts, or ideas please let me know because I want to know what you think.

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Breaking the Habits

You can probably search the internet and find plenty articles about the good habits that a writer needs to have. You can probably even find some blockbuster (writer’s block busting that is) ideas to get you writing in ways you never thought possible. Maybe you even found this post in one of those searches.

But what happens when you have habits that are interfering with your ability to start new habits? In this case, the habit of writing regularly. As they say, “Old habits die hard.” But why is that? What makes us stick to our old ways over the new? Even if we enjoy the new, we tend to fall back into the past way of doing things.

I’ve read articles that say a lack of passion or a lack of dedication are to blame for this. They’ll tell you that if you want something you need to be dedicated, and if you’re not achieving it you must not be dedicated enough. Your passions are misplaced.

BULLSHIT!

These people make you feel as though you’re not good enough. You must not really be the writer you thought you were. Worse of all, they offer little more advice than to pull yourself up and get it done. And after a number of years of feeling in a slump with my writing I realize there is little truth to the idea that I lack passion or dedication to the desire to write and be a writer.

So I thought I would take a moment to offer my perspective and how I am working to get myself back on track and break down my old habits. Will it work for you? I promise nothing.

First, identify what it is you wish to achieve. This may sound simple, but don’t make it about a large goal. Make it about a simple solution. Rather than, I want to write 10 novels this year. Think, I want to write X minutes a day. You may think, I want to market myself more. But instead think, I will dedicate one hour twice a week to self promotion.

Next is recognition that you’re not achieving what you want to accomplish. Time gets away from us all and it can be very hard to recognize your missing opportunities to improve. Don’t confuse this with procrastination, which is actively putting things off. When you say I want to write X minutes a day, it can be easy and the end of the night to not even realize you didn’t accomplish the goal. You didn’t intend to miss out, you didn’t even notice, but it still keeps happening. The problem is, one day turns to one week, turns to one month, and next you know, nothing you hoped for was done.

Now that you know what you want, and you recognize you are not achieving it, take a look at what it is that is keeping you from doing it. What takes up your time and keeps you from that goal? Identify the pitfalls, but also recognize what you have no control over. Don’t expect to change things you can’t change. You won’ t ever be successful if you do that. But what you can look at is your other obligations, and see if there is a balance. You can even find some you’d rather not do anymore and work towards elimination of those roadblocks.

Now for that difficult part, the breaking of the habits. What are things you do that take up time that you could be working on your goal of writing? What are some mental habits you have that prevent you from getting started? What isn’t needed in your day? Be realistic with yourself. Don’t say you’ll make the kids eat PB sandwiches for dinner every day so you don’t have to waste time cooking. But instead evaluate other areas you use your time. Especially those where you lose track of time.

There is no magic trick for making bad habits go away, and there is no way to magically get rid of those things you’re doing instead of your goal. But once you see what you’re doing rather than getting your dreams done, you can tell where to start. Humans are species of comfort and habits make us feel comforted. It may not be daily habit, but a response habit to a stimuli.

I spend most of the last quarter of 2020 looking at this and trying to determine why I wasn’t writing. My goal was to write more. But that was too grand. Some days words just won’t come out. Other times the day just gets away from me. So I broke it down further. I just want to write more. Still not well defined. So I broke it down to, I want to dedicate time to writing.

I recognized why I wasn’t achieving that goal despite wanting to do it. First, I was depressed, and feeling a bit disgraced, from the closure of Factor Four Magazine so I retreated, subconsciously, away from writing and reading Science Fiction. But also, I was filling my time with scrolling Facebook, again and again and again. Seeing nothing new, but still doing it. I realized that was because of the lack of social connections I was feeling. And finally, I filled my time with video games, something I enjoyed. That was all in addition to my obligations to work, feed my family, help run the home, and getting my kids to their respective events.

I realized that if I dedicated 2 hours, between when I get off work until when I need to start cooking, to writing projects, I could accomplish more writing. But I worried about those days my wife wasn’t at work I’d rather spend the time with her. She has a preference to gaming. So I scaled my goal back a bit more. On the days she was working, I’d dedicate the 2 hours to writing. On her days off, I could use the time to game. I also didn’t want to eliminate gaming from my routine on any day because I enjoy it. So after dinner, on any day, is dedicated to free time until 9 pm. This allows me the time to game, or scroll Facebook.

At 9 PM it is time to wind down for bed. And so I dedicate the last two hours of my day to reading a book. One, I recognized I wasn’t reading enough to be happy. Two, I know how well writing and reading go hand in hand. And three, it allowed me the chance unwind in a way that is conducive to better sleep in comparison to checking my phone.

By putting this into a schedule I created some definition around my day. By piggybacking off of a required schedule (my work day) it was easy to transition from one into the next. And my wife calls me on her way home from work, giving me the perfect stopping point to begin working on cooking dinner. It creates the definition I needed to get started. And I already find myself running over from time to time.

Now the trick is not to fall into old habits. I caught myself scrolling Facebook during reading time just the other day. And it wasn’t until I was going to bed that I realized I never started the next book on my “to read” list. Don’t beat yourself up, recognize the need to fix it and try again the next day.

I have this weird idea that everything needs to start on a Sunday or Monday. So when I’d mess up on Monday, I’d think. I’ll just start it next week. Well, then I’d never get it done. This is another reason why I went with my wife’s schedule to start. She works a rotating schedule, so it didn’t have to by Monday to start.

I am still working hard to break the old habits. Today work ran late and I thought about skipping out on writing. Instead I realized I could write this blog post and still accomplish the need to work on writing related stuff. But I just as nearly said I didn’t have time and chose to walk away. It took the conscious effort to work out a solution. Dinner became chicken strips and fries, so I could throw them in the oven and finish this post up.

I hope this process helps you some along your path to achieve your goals. And I hope that it works for me. What are some of the tips and tricks you use to stay on point with your goals? Share them in the blog comments. I want to hear them!

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2021 is Here

“Well shit.”

Two simple words, but something I found myself saying a lot in 2020. It was a year of changed plans, adaptation, and all around fuckery. But perhaps what worries me the most was that in January 2020, I’d have never expected it.

And now we are 7 days into 2021 and if this was one of those free trial offers, I’d be canceling before my credit card was charged.

Sometimes we can’t control the things happening around us, but we can control how we react to them. I spend most of 2020 saying, “When this is all over I’m going to…” And I realized it was largely a depression based reaction to the entire situation.

But 2020 wasn’t all bad. I have many blessings that I many others may not be able to claim. And though the pessimist in my is gaging at the thought, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the positive.

First and foremost I did construct an office for myself in the my house which included wiring the home for ethernet. I am not a handy person and to complete another remodel feels good. It needs some final touches, but I was glad to accomplish that.

COVID hit my home, and while that isn’t positive, it was a blessing not to be hospitalized and that we all recovered. And the experience was enlightening to me as it was unlike anything I’d had before and offered a perspective into what some are going through.

Neither my wife or I lost our jobs due to the pandemic which was a huge concern at the beginning. The concern was more out of the unknown than anything else. But both of our employers did a great job of explaining what they were doing and how they were protecting us. So I felt reassured knowing what was going on. My wife had to report to work every day throughout this all. I’ve been fortunate to work from home most days.

The other advantage to working from home was getting the ability to be home with my kids more. In the past, work days often felt like I went to work, commuted, and then rested for the next day. But I feel like I’ve discovered more time to cook, eat as a family, and just enjoy family life. Though I must admit working and trying to track three boys’ school activities is really hard.

I was very late to the Animal Crossing New Horizons craze. Not joining the island community until late October. And a I think the hidden thing about that game is the community around it. My wife pointed out a Twitch streamer, KailelleXD, who has built a fun community around the game. And honestly it really made the last few months of 2020 bearable.

2021 Countdown ACNH style

I was really worried how a stressful 2020 would combine with a holiday season, and this community gave me a chance to unwind and have a little fun. While the game is certainly a fun escape in itself, social interaction was a nice change. Though again, I honestly miss in person interaction with people.

So 2021 is here, and it is starting off rocky, but I am hoping to put some focus back into my passions. I hope to continue a fight for change and I hope everyone has the best of health. I won’t go into a resolutions in this post, a reflections post is clich√© enough, but I do hope to have a successful 2021.

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Why is Exercise so Hard?

I am really sorry this post comes late this week. I think I have a good excuse. In a way it inspired this blog post. So there is at least that much to say for this.

I have been really working hard to increase my exercise level. I talked about that some in this post. But it sure doesn’t seem to be coming easy and I suppose if it was easy for me I wouldn’t be around 75 pound over weight.

Back as a boy and teenager, I was incredibly skinny. I could eat just about anything and it didn’t seem to matter. I was also more active, playing Soccer through high school, riding my bike everywhere, and just playing outside most of the time.

But as happens with all of us, age has caught up to me. And I am far from an old man, but I am certainly not the teenager I was. When I got my first job, I developed a fast food addiction. I bought it all the time. I loved to cook, but the convenience of a drive thru wins. And then, frankly speaking, it is addictive and the portions are large. I have little control over myself when it comes to food.

Then I developed a coping relationship with food. When I am depressed, sad, stressed, or otherwise overloaded I have to have food. And not a salad.

Finally, I moved in to a more sedentary life style. I stopped sports, mostly because I’d reached an age I couldn’t play youth recreational soccer. I worked full-time, and slowly my job migrated to a sitting position as I advanced within the industry. And I started to develop hobbies that were more sedentary. Video game, writing, movies, reading all replaced sports, playing outside, and running around with friends. Last, I could drive now and I didn’t spend any time on my bike.

Then I discovered I had diabetes. And as they told me all the things I can’t eat, I realized I’d be miserable. And that made me just kind of think, well fuck em, and I ate more of what I shouldn’t.

But I knew it had to change and I set myself some activity goals. Mostly around the None to Run program. The problem with most exercise programs for me, is that I expect instant results. I expect to see something right away. And finally I generally don’t enjoy the solitary nature of exercise. I loved Soccer because I was out there with a team playing a game. The exercise wasn’t the reason I was there.

But there was something about this None to Run program that I really liked. It was slower progress than the Couch to 5K program. It felt doable. Also there was no focus on weight loss goals, or distance, just time. And my wife’s schedule change was making me change my schedule and the time was available now. And I stayed on that program longer than any other program I’ve tried.

But at 9 weeks in I had an injury. My knees were in a lot of pain by week 6 but I’d recover by the next day. But on the ninth week, I couldn’t recover and it turns out it was a real injury and I was out for several weeks. And now I am have a hell of a time restarting it.

Part of the problem was that when I started I had really thought that this COVID thing would pass and by this time I’d be able to run a 5K. And though I still want to do a virtual 5K, it just doesn’t feel the same as running that first 5K with a group of people. But there was something else.

The fear of getting injured again. It took a lot longer to recover from my knee injury than I had expected. Facts are your body doesn’t recover as easy when you get older, but add diabetes into it and recovery is painfully slow.

To satisfy my need for a group, fun exercise I also signed up for a spring learn to play hockey program for adults. It was going to be with a group of friends that I’ve developed through my son’s hockey team. I’ve never ice skated before, and so I planned to take some time on public skating.

I bought all the gear and the next week everything shut down due to COVID. Then suddenly on Monday they announced it would start today with small groups of less than 5 and a number of other safety precautions. Which was great, accept I’d never spend a day on the ice.

I signed up for a private lesson that was on Thursday. It started well, but I took a pretty bad fall. I don’t remember the fall, but after trying to skate again the instructor noticed something and we left the ice. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet.

End result was I got a mild concussion. There is likely some whiplash and other associated muscle injuries. I was told to avoid bright screens for 48 hours (thus I didn’t write a blog yesterday as scheduled).

So here it is Saturday, and I am taking it slow as I try to recover. No ice sports or physical activity until I have a follow up with my primary care doctor. It is suspected that I will need to stay away from activity that could cause head contact for several weeks. It is all pending another evaluation.

And so as I write this they are having the first learn to play class, and I am missing it. And I have to wonder, why the fuck is exercise so damn hard? Why does the motivation come and go? Why the hell can’t exercise solve the problems of a poor diet? (And I won’t get into my diet issues right now, but I am improving those). And how do I do all this without losing my motivation during an injury?

Why do doctors recommend losing weight to manage diabetes, but most diabetes medications seem to cause weight gain? The ones for weight loss never seem to work for me.

I understand this is a bit of a rant and complaining post. But I really hope that by getting it out there, some tips and tricks will come my way. Someone already suggested I start the None to Run program over from the start to try to spark the excitement again. Of course I may have to wait until I get cleared by the doctor now.

Any of my fellow writers, followers, and have tips? Does anyone know of a Couch to 5K equivalent for strength training? How to you find the motivation?

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