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Hello, my name is Sandy.

Project Hair: COMPLETE (Day 927)

My hair is gone - chop chop! It's actually been two weeks now, and I feel great. :) Here's the before and after.

before and after my haircut

I love what Abbey did with the cut, and we put a bit of colour in it too. And most importantly, I still love it when it's been freshly washed, when I roll out of bed in the morning, when it's kind of gross after sport. Messy, low-maintenance cuts are definitely for me.

Here's the view from the back, showing the subtle colours in the sun.

shaggy, short layering in the back

The weirdest part of this whole experience was seeing the hair once it was cut off. It sat on the table like an animal tail; I totally expected it to hop around - eeeeh!

We ended up donating it to Locks of Love. I hope it makes a nice wig for somebody. :)

Catching up

Let's catch up over a coffee. I've had one already, so you go get yours. I'll still be here when you get back.

I expected to post a lot more in October, but things got crazy all of a sudden. But packing is now done, moving is done, cleaning is done, I've had a haircut, which I'll tell you about in my next udpate - and now I'm doing the thing I decided I wouldn't do again: NaNoWriMo.

We're in a super tiny place now, easily less than half the size of where we were before. When we first thought of moving here, I was hesitant because it felt like we'd managed to fill a whole big house with stuff (even after konmari-ing), and also because you get less personal space in a smaller home.

But we've been here two weeks already and it feels like we have more personal space. Our possessions feel more manageable, even though we're still living out of boxes. Maybe it's because we can see what we're dealing with instead of having it all tucked away in massive cupboards and drawers. Maybe it's because we can see the boundaries of our physical surrounds.

Well, whatever it is, it seems to be working. So I'm going to stop worrying about it in case it falls off.

Today, is a freelance writing day. I'm writing about money and technology.

decaf soy mocha in a tall glass

Packing and moving

It has begun. Packing in earnest. Destashing like a mofo. Preparing to move. Things I do not need in my life right now include:

  • running out of packing tape
  • finding yet another box of stuff I thought I threw out last year, and
  • the cat throwing up on the rug.

But these things happen and we keep calm and carry on.

my cat

Lately, I've been waking up early most days to go for a run/walk. It's part of a 4-week fitness plan to slough off the laziness and ennui of winter. And of my life as a whole. I've become very conscious of how easy it is to slip into languid habits and use tiredness as an excuse. That's not to say tiredness isn't a good reason, but everyone gets tired, and also, why do we get so tired all the time? What habits force us into feeling rutty and slumpy?

I don't know the answer, and I certainly don't have a solution, but this "getting up a bit earlier sometimes" has helped. I'm clocking fewer hours of sleep a night on average, but I feel like the quality of my sleep has improved. Just from getting activity levels up throughout the week.

The 'me time' is nice too. I have lots of distraction-free time to think about stories and plans and other things. I've learned there are some exercises I prefer to do alone, and even though I hate running, it has been the easiest and most consistent part of this month-long regime.

nasi lemak on a plate

Things I've accomplished in the last week that make me feel OK about having a Netflix binge tonight:

It's been a year

It's been a year since I started my career as a writer. So much has changed in my life, like now I'm relying on notebooks like life support, and regretting my potato phone because I need my electronic note-taking device to perform better. My care factor for the UX and design world is in steady decline, which I never thought would happen. And I don't feel so stressed out about work any more.

This experience has taught me a lot about myself, about people and business (and how I do and don't want to do business). Friends and family have been supportive, and I'm ever so grateful for the good vibes and cheer they've sent my way. I'm super grateful to my Mum for the freezer boxes of dinner, especially when I'm in a writing frenzy and can't make time to cook. Our relationship has improved since I've been able to make time to go visit. Can't complain about that!

I'm happy I pivoted. And being totally biased, I would recommend everyone seriously consider a pivot at some point in their lives. Maybe take a couple of tiny steps towards change. Even if you decide not to follow through in the end, at least you'll have tasted and daydreamed.

That said, for the last few months, I've felt like I was spinning my wheels. A lot of doors opened up that looked like awesome opportunities, and I felt ungrateful for second-guessing them. Life's like that sometimes, isn't it? You can find yourself in a great place, but if it's not the right place, it quickly becomes draining.

When I decided not to pursue horticulture as a profession, I felt very light and free. I guess that 'wheel spinning' sensation was a sign I needed to whittle my pursuits yet again.

So, crafting was the next to go. I love it, but unexpectedly, I found I loved the writing more. What a reversal! Writing was only meant to keep me clothed and fed while I built my arty-crafty empire, but oh well. These things happen.

I loved and love-hated NaNoWriMo, and even though it's been torture trying to rewrite my manuscript, I'm driven to commit. I'm in love with my characters, in love with their worlds. I want to see this book through, whether it ends up being good or not.

Also, while working on this book, I've also come to feel 'unworldly'. I had a pretty sheltered, coddled life growing up and now even in adulthood, still feel trappings of naïvete. Isn't that strange for a 30-something? Well, I don't know what kind of pivoting this translates to yet, but gutfeel tells me it's all related somehow. We shall see.

Anyway, my plan for the next 12 months will be to finish my book.

Pretty whittled, huh?

Breathing in, comfortably

Lately, I've struggled to blog. It could be residual burnout from #blogjune, but it's just as easily bad timing. When I make a point of sitting down to write a blog post, I simply don't feel like saying anything. As soon as I go have a shower or do something on my ever-growing list of chores, my brain is all blah blah blah write this down next time you're at a computer. Then when I get to the computer, you know the rest. It's a cycle.

I have, however, felt very compelled to work on my novel. Since finishing the first draft, I've realised so much of what you write for NaNo is only good for putting in the bin. Sure, some writers are so good that they produce a workable first draft under duress. But for less good writers like me, NaNo is there to open the door.

The past nine months have been an excruciatingly slow process of stepping through. Then stepping back. Another cycle. In the time it takes me to not finish my manuscript, a child could be conceived and born. Maybe by the time I'm ready to contact an agent, that child will have grown up and had a child of its own who can write a novel faster than me.

In case you were wondering, yes, I did just sit down at the computer to complain. :)

A recent-ish issue of German designer Tobias van Schneider's newsletter introduced me to the idea that creativity is like breathing. Usually, this concept is framed as a "work vs rest" deal, which is tricky to balance if you love the work you do. If your work matches how you see yourself. If you have workaholic tendencies beneath your wings.

But breathing - that's easy! My brain doesn't have to spare the clock cycles to wonder if what I'm doing qualifies as work or rest, or if the fun I'm having might be slightly more taxing than it should be. That meta-thought is hard work too. Somehow, I know instinctively if I'm breathing in or out. No worries, no dramas. This metaphor is good.

So I've been relaxing and self-care-ing guilt free, taking in movies and playing games in the name of breathing in, and it seems to be working. I exhaled a lot too over the last few days and still managed to write this post without feeling breathless.

And now, it's time for bed. Nite nite. :)

Signals and noise

It is decided. After much pondering and wondering, I'm starting a newsletter. Friends and family have been super supportive, and my cats have wandered across the keyboard several times in solidarity.

You can get more details and subscribe here. :)

Other than that, my week has been eventful:

  • My dentist confirmed I definitely need braces. First consultation is next month.
  • Our moving plans are officially official. Konmari 2.0 has begun.
  • Work on my novel no longer feels like I'm clutching at straws. I've learned that creating good characters is harder than making new friends.
  • I'm totally OK with Star Trek Beyond being pretty much a Fast & Furious remix of Star Trek TOS. Once again, Pine nails the Shatner body language when he and Spock banter. And they pulled off the Sulu stuff in a dignified and classy way. Well done, movie-makers.
  • Finally, I'm still reeling from Stranger Things.

What have you been up to lately? Tell me on facebook or twitter.

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