So hi there, it's Crabby McSlacker, barging in with another extended guest post introduction. Sorry about that! But we've got a giveaway going this week, and a couple of other things I need to mention before we get to the good stuff: in this case, a real-life tale of inspiration, written by the author of a fictional work I think you will love.
Mary's newest novel, which we will be giving away to two lucky readers (details below) is called Rita Just Wants to Be Thin. If you are not one of the readers who wins it, then I think you should buy it ASAP, because it looks to be fun and insightful and entertaining and well-written. Or heck, even if you're planning to win it, go ahead and buy another copy anyway and give it to a friend!
So, how come I'm all: the book "looks to be" awesome?'Rather than the less weasley, more definitive, the book "is" awesome?
It's because I am not allowing myself to read the novel any further than the Amazon preview pages will allow. Which is killing me, because it's off to a great start and I would really love to finish it.
But as many of you know, I am currently working on a novel myself, and as it happens, one of the two main characters is a woman trying to lose a great deal of weight. Reading someone else's take on the same topic would mess with my head and thus my writing process for a number of reasons which are weird and hard to explain but nonetheless very real.
More on the giveaway below, but also, we have some other combo guest post/book giveaway posts coming up, so if you don't win this time, you'll get more chances! Cranky Fitness likes to support spunky authors by giving them a forum here, and it's only a HUGE COINCIDENCE that every guest post I put up means one less post for me to write!
Two more totally unrelated things:
(2) Cranky Fitness is a big fan of Jennipher Walters excellent blog Fit Bottomed Girls, which is always sensible and informative without being dull or preachy. Well, it's had a dramatic mobile-friendly makeover so be sure to wander over there if you haven't recently! It also contains a mind-reading "Recommended for You" feature which for some reason thought I might need some tips on mindful eating and dealing with cravings. Um, who, me?? Sigh. How can they see through the computer like that?
OK, anyway, now on to the main attraction...
Becoming the Person I Want to Be
(Instead of the One I Was Afraid I Would Become)
by Mary W. Walters
By my late twenties, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to be a writer. Not only did I love to read and write, I also loved the whole idea of being a writer. I imagined myself in the future, living a writer’s life – long days of creating fiction interspersed with occasional public readings from my newest book to audiences who hung on my every word.
I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but no matter how long it took, I was determined that I would get there. I would become that woman.
Ten years later, I’d published a novel, some short stories and some essays, even a radio drama. Reviewers for the most part seemed to like my work, and small groups of people came out to hear me read: sometimes they even seemed to hang on my every word. That part of my life was all I had imagined, and I loved it.
But writing is no way to make a living, so when I wasn’t writing, I was stressed. I was stressed about everything – my teenaged kids, my relationships, my work deadlines, my lack of money: you name it. And while I was stressing about everything, a few bad habits were turning into serious addictions. I was smoking too much, drinking too much, eating too much… sometimes all at the same time. Which added to my stress: now I also worried that my addictions were going to kill me – later if not sooner. My doctors' advice just reinforced my fears, and a brush with breast cancer didn’t help.
By now I had a totally different image of my future self than I’d had when I was younger. Now what I saw was an enormous grey-haired woman rolling home from the liquor store, several bottles of fortified something tucked between her immense hips and the seat of the motorized wheelchair she now needed because her arthritic knees could no longer support her weight. An oxygen tank was strapped to the back of her wheelchair; tubes snaked into her nostrils.
In short, my image of the future was now fashioned out of fear, rather than from hope.
Gotta quit. Gotta quit.
For the next ten years, I was always trying to quit smoking. I was always trying to quit drinking. I was always trying to lose weight. Every day I made a new resolution and every day I broke it. I am pretty sure that I tried every single smoking cessation, drinking cessation and eating cessation program known to humankind – and I failed with every one of them.
Somehow I also managed to write and publish a few more books, but not as many as I would have if I hadn’t been so obsessed with my lack of money and my bad habits. (And, to make things worse, the price of cigarettes and booze kept going up and up, and the publishing industry fell to pieces!)
Finally, I hit bottom. And finally – with the help of a doctor I had gone to in despair – I began to realize that I had been taking the wrong approach. I began to understand that I could never quit anything when I was focussed only on the quitting. What I had to do was stop thinking about what I was afraid of, and start remembering what I wanted to become.
What I Did Next
At age 50, I took that image of myself as a failure and I essentially shoved her off a cliff. When I saw her trying to claw her way back up toward me, I shook my head at her. That wasn’t me. No more. After a long time, she grew weaker and stopped trying to return. Now I almost never see her.
In the meantime, I took that other image, the one which had become lost in all the stresses of the years, dusted her off, and put her back in front of me where I wouldn’t lose sight of her again. I did some fine-tuning while I was at it: imagining every aspect of what I wanted to become. I was getting to the age where if I didn’t do it now, I’d never get another chance.
The woman I wanted to become was strong and healthy. She was aging powerfully and well. She was a woman whose children and grandchildren would see her as a role model – and (this part hadn’t changed!) she was a writer whose books (and blog posts! And Tweets!) made people sit up and pay attention: hang off her every word.
First, I quit drinking… one day at a time. That turned out to be much harder and to take much longer than I thought it would, but it was nothing compared to quitting smoking. That I had to do one hour at a time. Both of those recoveries caused me to gain even more weight than I was already carrying around, but I couldn’t let myself worry about that. Finally I turned to the challenge of getting healthy, and a few years later, I was able to get serious about actually losing weight.
I didn’t do any of these things out of fear of what might happen if I didn’t do them, or because I wanted to fit into some outfit for a certain event. I didn’t do them because the doctors told me I had to, or because my loved ones said I should. I did these things for me – because I know who I am, and because the person that I am has goals. I did them because I want to live long enough to enjoy my life and the people I love for as long as I can – without sickness, without shame, and especially without fear.
I Am Getting There
I have not fulfilled my vision yet, but today I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I get out and exercise regularly, and I weigh 35 pounds less than I did four years ago (I still have 20 pounds to go).
And I write. My latest book – a novel called Rita Just Wants to Be Thin – is the story of a woman who, at 29, learns the lessons that it has taken me a lifetime to figure out.
Who knows? Maybe some day Rita (or one of my other books) will put me on that stage I’ve been imagining for so many years, in front of a room full of readers who are hanging off my every word. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s okay. Because what really matters is what happens offstage, where most of my life is lived. And there, at last, I am finally getting closer and closer to becoming the person I have always wanted to be.
Mary W. Walters is the award-winning author of several novels, a collection of short stories, and a book about grant writing. She blogs regularly at The Militant Writer, and is also the founder of the online community, Success After 60. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Book Giveaway Rules:
How to Enter: Please leave a comment that is at least vaguely relevant to the blog post, along with the country you reside in.
Why do we need to know where you live? Because:
One Physical Copy (or ebook if you prefer) will go to a winner from the U.S., Canada, or the U.K.
One additional Ebook will go to someone NOT from the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. unless there is no one who is that far-flung who enters the drawing.
Winners will be chosen using the Random Number Generator.
Also, if you do not want to leave an email address in your comment, then you must check back with Cranky Fitness to see if you won and email in to claim your prize. Winners will be announced Monday August 31st, and winners will need to check in by Sept 7.