Thursday, March 19, 2020

Most Peculiar, Mama

We are living in strange days, indeed.

It's March 19th. On March 1st, I was sicker than I have been in a long time. Usually when I'm sick, it's a cold for a couple of days--and I always stay out one day longer than I probably should, because I'm a baby and I hate being sick. But on that Sunday night, I emailed our admin assistant at school and told her that I would probably be out. A few hours later, I awoke out of a sound sleep, absolutely bathed in my own sweat. I was freezing and I could not get warm. By mid-morning, I had muscle aches, chills, and a dry, ticklish cough. My fever never went higher than 101, but I was miserable. I was so weak and tired. Andy had to drive me to the doctor. They swabbed for flu. It came back "inconclusive." My doctor said she diagnosed a flu case every day, and I had all the classic symptoms, so they were going to treat me for flu. I dutifully took my tamiflu, and I rested, and I did not. get. better.

By Thursday, I was at least functional. But I couldn't get rid of the cough. By Saturday, I was well enough to go to the play. I sat up high in the balcony, and I left before anyone could hug me. I was back at work on Monday. I felt fine. Still had that dry cough, though--and I told my mother that if it wasn't better in a couple of days, I'd go back to the doctor. I thought it was bronchitis.

I don't think it was bronchitis now.

So my ordeal was basically over by the 9th of March. On that date, the US had about 700 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Monroe County, where I live, was still 3 days away from identifying its first positive case.

Today, the US has over 9,000 cases. Monroe County has 22.

That's crazy. On the day I felt like I was better, there were 700 cases nationally, and 0 cases locally. Ten days later, those numbers have grown exponentially. And I don't know if I'm one of those cases--I may never know for sure--but I'm suspicious of the timing.

Luckily, I was very careful. Although we went out to dinner on the night I got back from the conference, I avoided hugging my mom and dad. I was definitely 6 feet away from them, and I was vigilant about washing my hands and covering my coughs and sneezes. I didn't want Dad to get sick. I also restricted hugs from my students, and I wiped and washed and covered and all of that. I haven't heard of anyone getting sick at school, and I think we would have seen it by now.

I am staying home. School has been closed. We are teaching remotely. It's the weirdest thing. And I think it's going to get more and more weird--and maybe scary--as time goes on. This morning, I had a terrible dream where I watched Colin almost drown right in front of me. I didn't do a thing to save him; I thought he could save himself. By the time I realized that he was in trouble, someone else had saved him. Colin looked at me with accusing eyes. "Why didn't you jump in, Mom? I thought you were going to let me die."

"No one's been in the water lately," I told him. "We've forgotten how to drown."

Sunday, March 8, 2020


So... flu.

Not coronavirus. Flu. I went to a conference in Philly, and all I brought myself was this lousy t-shirt flu.

I left for Philly on Wednesday. I had a wonderful time. Made a fun new work friend, dazzled (or possibly annoyed) everyone with my lit and opera talk, and rode home Friday with the big Overboss, who was not feeling well. And who passed the germs to me. By the end of rehearsal on Saturday, I was feeling ill. By the end of the day on Sunday, I could not get out of bed.

I stayed in bed until roughly Friday. I had a low-grade fever, a sore throat, a dry cough, muscle aches, and chills. It sucked. I was so tired. Like, tired-to-the-marrow-of-my-bones tired. I missed a whole week of work--on top of the three days I missed for the conference. I missed production week and opening night of Shrek. It was horrible.

But I'm feeling good now. My writing streak is over, but I'm proud that I made it 57 days. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

So now that the play is over, I have not a whole lot on the horizon. I'm not doing the 5k now, but that is okay, too. Because it is time to find something new. The Dopey is scheduled for 2022. That may seem like a long way off, but it's not. It's less than two years out. Lots to do to make that one happen under my own witchy powers.

Meaning running. The whole entire thing. And paying our own way. The whole entire thing.

It's time. Everything in me says, "It's time." For everything I want. Because it's not just going to be handed to me. I have to actively seek it. And, as a little voice told me last night, "If you don't want to keep getting your hand smacked, stop reaching out for things that aren't yours." This may sound mean, but it's true. I keep giving my attention to things that aren't mine, things I don't want. And these things end up being important, so they end up consuming my time. At the conference in Philly, one of the speakers was talking about how time and attention are the new currency. I never really thought about this before. If my time and my focus are like dollars in my wallet, then I am wasting them if I don't spend them on what truly, truly matters and makes me happy.

No. Not just happy. JOYFUL.

I feel like that's been the whole freaking lesson these past two years. I am not a "suck it up and deal with it" kind of badass. Maybe I was at one time, and maybe I will be again. But this iteration of Tierney wants new powers. I want grace and flexibility. I want stamina and strength. I want to eat food that makes me say YUM. I want to have fun preparing it. I want to write books that make young people dream of bigger, brighter, braver worlds.

I don't want sweat. I want silver. Does that make any sense?

Probably not, but I'm going with it. This is my Year of I. I'm in month 3, and I'm learning and changing and growing. Now that the flu is over, it's time to fly.

Friday, February 21, 2020


I made a New Year's Resolution that I was going to do whatever it took to get to where I wanted to be in 2021. We are almost at the close of month two. It's February 21st. I have written at least 200 words a day since January 1st. I have over 20,000 words.

This makes me proud. It also makes me scared. I am over 25% of the way to my goal of 73,000 words by July 1st. Last summer, I tried this technique, too. I ended up with 57,000. That's 75% of an average YA novel. And none of it actually is a YA novel.

It could be. I could go back and edit and revise, knowing what I know now about structure. I'll bet I could actually turn it into something decent, too. It's just sitting there, waiting for me to play with it. But I'm invested in this new thing, and the 200 words a day goal is working. How much of it will be usable is anybody's guess. Still, I'm doing more planning in advance, and I'm hoping that this will keep me from falling into the pit that I ended up in last summer. Or was it two summers ago? I think it was two summers ago.

Wow. In the summer of 2018, I said that my life would be different by the next summer. I didn't realize how right I was going to be. New job. Happy job. Much, much happier household. I'm working productively on projects that I love. I'm getting a handle on our finances. My credit rating is actually GOOD.'s time to tackle the health again. What I've learned--oh, such hard-won lessons--is that plate-spinners have to focus on spinning one plate at a time. Get that one plate going, then work on the next one. And don't get freaked out if a plate drops--if all the plates drop--because it's part of the process. It's all about creating and automating the system.

What if the whole point was to get that first plate--HEALTH--spinning, even though it was destined to fall off? What if the spinning of the first plate showed me that the spin was even possible, and was only meant to give me the courage to start more plates a-spinning?

Ha ha, Universe! I see what you've done there!

In 2016, I started spinning the HEALTH plate. That started whirling so nicely--I thought it was fixed. But in the latter half of 2017, it started teetering, and I became so unhappy. I started spinning the CAREER plate. While I worked on that plate, I also began spinning the WRITE plate. The HEALTH plate fell and broke into little bits. The CAREER plate was wobbly, but the WRITE plate was working. Then they switched: the CAREER plate stabilized while the WRITE plate got all wonky. Meanwhile, HEALTH was completely destroyed. But I was busy spinning the HOME plate (ha ha...home plate) and the RELATIONSHIPS plate. And thank goodness I was concentrating on those, because my husband had a breakdown. If I'd been focused on training for a marathon or stuck in a soul-draining job, I would never have been able to cope. Just like if I hadn't been focused on HEALTH in 2016, I would have kept a cancerous uterus.

In 2019, I really worked on that HOME plate. I decluttered over the summer, and I knew--I KNEW--that it would change the flow. Once I cleared some of the junk out, more would dissolve naturally.

It's working. It really, really is. I'm now spinning the FINANCES plate. In December, I applied for and received a credit boost. I am being 100% responsible with it. And I have told NO ONE about it. But people are already noticing, because I haven't had to borrow money from them. This break, I opened every damned piece of mail that was sitting in that office. I filed it all. Next step is to finish the taxes, and then we get caught up on the medical bills. Meanwhile, as I worked on all of this, I kept spinning those other plates. I kept loving, playing, writing, cleaning, planning, and doing.

And now, at last, I am picking up the plate that started this whole, crazy adventure. The other plates are whirling away, doing their things. They may teeter. They may crash. But goddamn it, they are spinning right now.

So it's back to HEALTH. But this time, I am using my new mindset. Which is actually, when I think about it, my old mindset: that this whole HEALTH thing is a journey, and I will experiment and notice effects, and find the combination that works for me. I still love running. But I need more. I still love eating clean. But I want more variety, and I don't want to always be saying "no" to food celebrations. I will try new patterns to see what keeps that plate spinning.

And here's what I've discovered about the whole thing. It's not about plates spinning. It's about BALANCE. The sticks underneath the plates are key. And the other thing: it's about FAITH. Plates will drop. That's part of the system. But once you get them spinning, you can move on to other plates, and then come back to correct and refine. You have to believe that one or two (or all) plates dropping isn't the end of your adventure. FAITH is picking up another plate and setting it to spin again.

I have done so much hard work here. Laying it all out like this--in this post--helps me to see it. I have nothing to be ashamed of. It's hard to be back at the beginning, looking at the shattered remains of the HEALTH plate, knowing that I have to work on it all over again. It feels like I'm back where I started--but then I look around, and I see these other plates spinning, and I realize that I am so much better off than I was in 2016.

Yes. It's so. much. better.

So...deep breath. Pick up the new HEALTH plate. Set it carefully upon the stick. And begin to spin.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Show Yourself

Hello to my big, bright, beautiful blog!

It's February break. We are almost through the tunnel and into the spring weather and sunshine. Just a few more weeks of indoor hygge left. (She hopes.) It's been a nice winter. I have continued one of my 2020 goals--writing at least 200 words a day--without fail. I faltered a bit on the running/weight training, but then my sister sailed in and revamped the basement for me. It's clean. It's almost totally painted. I'm going to finish painting this week, and then put my medals and some photos down there. But the big news is that the treadmill is working, so I have no reason not to run. I have been using it. It's super fun.

Six weeks until the 5k. I'm actually excited. The hard-won epiphanies I had in the latter half of 2019 are still operating. But the biggest one--the "Frozen 2" epiphany--is that it's time for me to Show Myself. I have been playing it safe. Hiding. But it's time to step out into the light and Do the Next Right Thing.

It's time to trust my heart and trust my story. It's time.

Saturday, January 11, 2020


We are eleven days into 2020. It feels like it just started, and yet it's already a week and a half into this year!

I had a dream last night that I sailed through my race on the 28th. I ran the whole thing in under 40 minutes. That seems like such a faraway goal, as I haven't even run a full mile without stopping--yet. But I did it less than six months ago, so I know it's within reach. My training is going well. Eating Paleo is easy, too. I don't seem to be losing any weight, but I feel so much better. I think I need to drink a lot more water. I finally figured out where the ice machine was at work, and made certain that I was allowed to use it. Yesterday was the first day I trotted down there and got my water bottle filled with ice water. So much better! I'm going to get a couple more bottles so that I always have one there to use.

Today is a running day. 2 minute run/2 minute walk times seven intervals. For some reason, seven seems crazy to me. But I did six, so what's one more?

And the writing is happening, too. I said to myself last year, "Goddammit, this is the year I do it. And if I can't do it in a year, I'll just know I'm not meant to be a writer." And I did it--I wrote just about every day, and by the end of the summer I had 57,000 words--but no book. Yet I feel closer to being a published author than ever. I now know that just writing every day is a start--but it's not enough. I am not a total pantser. I need a rough plan, so that I'm not just throwing paint against a wall and hoping it turns into art. So this year, I'm taking the element that worked (write every day) and adding a new element (write only certain sections), and we'll see what happens.

It really is alchemy, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Crisis of Motivation

I kicked butt yesterday. Today, "But" kicked me. I woke up at 4:17--right on time to accomplish both of my goals, but it's 5:43 and I'm still on the couch. I don't want to go to the Y--even if it is only a strength training day. I'm doing the E-Gym circuit. It only takes about 15 or 20 minutes, but I don't want to go. I don't want to start the day off by running back and forth all over the place.

Don't wanna don't wanna don't wanna.

I can adjust my schedule. I can wake Colin up, get him on the path to get to school on-time, and then leave to get to the Y by 6:50. If I'm done with my workout by 7:20, I should have enough time to shower, change, and make it to work by 8. But again, that requires focused energy that I can't seem to muster this morning.

Option 2: Go right after work. I'm not done until 5 today. It's the first day of musical practice. The earliest I'll probably be ready to leave is 5:30--then I can scoot over to the Y, do a quick workout, and get home before Colin leaves for Scouts. I'll see my family for maybe 30 minutes.

Don't wanna don't wanna don't wanna.

Option 3: Go while Colin is at Scouts. Drop him off at 7:00, then wheel over to Schottland for an e-gym session and a soak in the hot tub. Pick him back up at 8:30.

Do wanna do wanna do wanna.

Because that seems less chaotic. More relaxed. More productive.

But it must get done. I am taking a chance by leaving it until the end of the day, rather than knocking it out at the beginning. I'm trusting myself to Do the Next Right Thing.

Fingers crossed.

*Edited to add:

Saturday, January 4, 2020

One Good Thing

As I told Andy yesterday, the one good thing--perhaps the only good thing--about regaining what I've lost is that I get to surprise people again. About eight weeks into 2016 (when I started getting serious about running), I started hearing compliments. "You look wonderful," people would say. "How are you doing this?" Heads started turning. Mouths started dropping open. I wasn't imagining this. At one of Colin's school events, a casual acquaintance seemed a bit distant to me, and I worried that I'd somehow offended her. She texted me the very next day and told me that she didn't even recognize me! That sort of thing happened quite a bit. I even got an informal reprimand from my boss at Sodus for my "racy" clothing. I felt sexy and powerful--and not a bit sorry for it.

But I think it will be different this time around. This is not about appearance so much now. This is about ease of living. I loved flying on an airplane and not wondering if the seatbelts would fit. I rode roller coasters and didn't worry about the weight requirements. I knew cheap resin chairs would hold my ass at picnics. I could tie my shoes by bending over. And yes, I started to believe that I looked good in clothes, and I certainly wouldn't mind doing a happy dance in a dressing room again. But everything was easier in 2016--not just on the outside, but on the inside, too. I want that again.

So this is Day 4 of my first quarter. I have been doing very, very well. It's hard to be back in this place, but as one inspirational quote read--I'm not starting from scratch this time. I'm starting from experience. I know the keys that will get me where I want to go. And I don't want to go back. I want to go forward. I'm moving into my 50s, and I have decided that the Wise Old Crone thing is not a given. I don't have to look like Yoda yet. I can transition more gracefully.

I can't be 46 again. I can't have 2016 back. But I can take the good things I loved about that year and figure out how to adapt them to 2020. I will put them in my satchel and carry them with me. This time, I won't drop them when the journey gets tough. That is a lesson worth the price I paid for it.