A Month-Long Rest and Rebellion

Feb 11, 2013 | Gratitude, Health & Fitness, Humor, Writing

Abducted by Aliens?

I’d like to say that it was all a grand experiment to see if anyone would miss me that day gravity stopped working and I fell off, but of course I’m connected on Facebook and Twitter with anyone who might give a rat’s whiskers. Anyone who might have spared a raised eyebrow is well aware that this flat, shiny disc we call Earth did not, in fact, flip over in one of its 6 billion year cyclical dumpings and send me off to an alternate universe.

Did I hear a “More’s the pity” from the Peanut Gallery? Hmmph.

I forget how appalling it must be to post “Did you miss me?” and get back several awkward replies of, “You…were gone?” Or, a baffled hedge of, “Everything okay?” That’s a safe reply, because it’s not an outright admission that no, in fact, we hadn’t noticed. It’s a bit tepid, though, if your Internet buddy has been posting a month-long litany of woes, such as “House burned to the ground last night. Wife tried to save the pictures. Dog tried to save the wife. Coroner unable to determine which remains are which. Still haven’t found the kids. Hopefully, they were just abducted by aliens.”

It’s humbling, really, how easily distracted we are by whatever’s right in front of our noses. Family, for example. Work. Life in general. There’s only so much the human brain can juggle before it all comes down like a house of cards. Having observed this phenomenon over the past three decades, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that no matter how much it stings to realize you could vanish into the Bermuda Triangle and life would go on just fine without you, it’s worse to be the one who’s typing the tepid, “Everything okay?”

When I was dealing with breast cancer, two years ago, a friend was dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of her husband. It took me six months to notice something was horribly wrong, and a hurried review of six months’ worth of her Facebook statuses to have a clue what to say. I felt better knowing she hadn’t noticed that I was dealing with breast cancer, either. Fortunately, we both understand that it is not lack of love, concern, or caring–just a temporary dearth of brain cells that are adept at juggling billions of bits of input every day. We were both immersed in offline crises and wouldn’t have been much help to each other at the time.

Before we indulge in one of those awkward silences, followed by an even more awkward, “Everything okay?” I hasten to add that yes, everything is even better than okay. Things have changed, dramatically, on the career front – in a good and happily distracting way. My broken foot refuses to unbreak itself, and I am still dragging it around in Herman Munster’s boot, but it isn’t hurting me at all. I’ve discovered Downton Abbey, American Horror Story, and Fringe on Amazon Instant Video, and have been making up for my near-refusal to watch TV over the past year. I have almost caught up on sleep, and it has been delicious.

How have you been? Everything okay?

Netiquette ProTip #742: No family member should learn of a significant health-related event in your life – or receive news of your death – via Facebook or Twitter.

Perversely Rebellious

Another reason for my absence, I’m sure, is my habitual refusal to do anything I sign up for online that involves creating new “habits” unless those habits are actually required. In other words, while I thrive on work-related deadline pressure, I can’t complete NaNoWriMo now that I’ve proven to myself that I can, in fact, write a crappy novel in a month. I really am committed to losing weight and gaining strength and stamina, so I am sticking to SparkPeople.com and my nutrition plan; however, I am not that committed to blogging every damned day, so this “30 Day Ultimate Blogging  Challenge” has had the effect of completely shutting me down. Same with the “30 Day Gratitude Journal,” which is a marvelous idea – in theory. In reality, I’m thankful every day but I can’t seem to remember to write about it. I’m grateful, though, that in the act of forgetting and avoiding these pseudo-commitments, I’ve remembered a lot of other things that are more important.

Finding Joy…or, Better Yet, Letting It Sneak Up On You

The Internet has long been my “escape” – just as books or movies are. The Internet is my playground. When it becomes too full of obligation or regulation or even just a guilty reminder of all the obligations I’m avoiding by being on it – or, when it becomes too much like everything else, to the point where I need an escape from my “escape,” then it’s all a bit pointless and I take a break. When writing becomes a chore, I grab my camera – or paint. Same thing with blogging. But what I’ve realized is that this works with a great many things, including work. Not to get away from the onerous job, but so that we can come back to it fresh and rested, with creative new ideas and approaches to the problems and challenges it presents.

People say, “Let go and let God,” and I think – whether you believe in God or not – this is how the subconscious mind works. Let go. Stop focusing so hard. Let the ideas percolate in your imagination without thinking about them constantly. We spend so much time “focusing on our passions,” when perhaps we ought to take a break and let them simmer for a bit. Maybe let our passions and imagination intermingle and play with each other while we’re not so busy mentally supervising and compartmentalizing them.  Trust that they are all there, just waiting for a break in the wall of intense, so-very-grown-up concentration. Sleep–perchance to dream. Isn’t that why we have vacations? When you wake up, when you come back from the beach truly refreshed and ready to face Monday at the office, something’s going to click into place. When work–whatever work is–feels joyful and playful and indistinguishable from the “escape,” you’re doing it right. When the escape feels like work, you need a third option.

For a third option, I highly recommend Downton Abbey, Fringe, and sleep. 

So, how’ve you been? Everything okay?

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Your father!

    I enjoyed reading this Perspective. And I’m glad you’ve decided to review your own priorities. Love you.

  2. Libdrone

    I completely agree that when your hobby blog gets to be a drag, the very best thing you can do is take a break from it. I am frankly proud of myself for managing almost 80% of the time to blog every day in that year I pledged I would. But even with that huge goal, I definitely found that it just doesn’t work to write your heart out every day. Sometimes you just don’t feel it, and imho it is far better to walk away and come back when you are in a frame of mind to write, rather than struggle and struggle to crank out a crappy post, just so that you can say that you posted something today.
    Libdrone recently posted…Ancestors Society CountrysideMy Profile

  3. Donna Marie Johnson

    New Fan Here! Hi, Holly! Wow, you have me raotfl (rolling all over the floor laughing). Very insightful and well written.
    I was so trying to just skim… but I had to read it all. I have other things to do, but I really needed to read this, too.
    Thank you for confirming what I’ve been thinking! Sometimes bloggers / online entrepreneurs can get a bit too intense and too busy… life is about a whole lot more and living and enjoying it is so very much more important.

    (irony: I am on a 365 day writing journey. lol!)

    God bless you and yours.

    ~Donna Marie Johnson, Your Social Networking Liaison
    P.S. Found you via Michelle Shaeffer’s blog post on what not to blog about… great post and discussion over there.
    Donna Marie Johnson recently posted…What Are Three Missing Pieces of Many Social Networking Plans?My Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      You do know how to start a fellow blogger’s day off with a smile and a sense of real accomplishment, don’t you, Donna Marie?

      Do not forget, on your 365 day journey, that while writing every day is a laudable goal, weekends (and other time off for good behavior) serve an important purpose. If we’re to “write what we know,” then we have to get outside and live, have experiences to draw from, observe and listen to others (how else can you write convincing dialogue or craft a persuasive argument?), and let ideas simmer and percolate in the subconscious. I think that this is an important part of the writing process, so long as it doesn’t become an exercise in procrastination and outright avoidance. When someone who loves to write finds themselves doing anything BUT – right down to picking the fuzz off the carpet and doing dishes by hand when there’s a perfectly good dishwasher right next to them, there’s a problem. So before you get to that point in your 365 day journey, remember that all these other parts of the process are good and important and worthy, too. Write a paragraph on those days to maintain the discipline of writing – take notes – but don’t force yourself to apply butt to chair and write flawless prose just because you’ve taken an oath to write every day for 365 days. That’s the fastest way I know to trigger rebellion and burn-out.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…A Month-Long Rest and RebellionMy Profile

      • Donna Marie Johnson

        I totally heard you, Holly. I am a strategic blogger … don’t do everything on my blog every day, though I make it look like I do, lol. And I usually take off two days a week, plus holidays and other mental/emotional health days, as needed.

        I’ve been blogging since 2000. I’ve had my share of fits and starts. I totally get the burn-out thing and have put systems and processes in place (finally) to make sure that I stay fresh every week. My mentors/coaches have so helped me in this… I couldn’t have done this successfully a year ago.

        Also, I have learned not to be so rigid… sometimes writing is boring because it really is boring. So, now we have audio blogging, video blogging, and pinterest / instagram to help keep things fresh and fun … while still staying focused on being a blessing to those who God has called us to serve.

        I am so looking forward to your future posts, and, hopefully, connecting off blog, too. I’ll see if I can find you via social sites.

        Thanks again!

        Donna Marie Johnson recently posted…Thankfulness Challenge Week 3 – A Shining ExampleMy Profile

  4. Rusty

    Well, glad to hear everything is ok since I’ve been diligently checking your blog at least twice in the past 6 months, err well maybe it’s been a year, and it may have been with another persona it was still me. (and by other persona I mean my real persona since this persona [Rusty Quill] is a squidoo pseudonym, but you get my drift – or my draft even if it was a daft draft) Boy it’s chilly in here… at least we have Fringe in common. 🙂

    Glad to see you still at the blogging game by the way.

    • HollyJahangiri

      Rusty, I’m CRUSHED! Only twice in the past six months? I’ma go out in the garden and eat worms… well, not really, but if I’ve got a Rusty Quill laying around my back yard, I’m going to make sure my Tetanus shot’s up to date before I venture out barefoot. 😉

      Good to see you here, Rusty. (Your quill’s rusty? My fountain pen keeps clogging and needs to be given CPR at least once a week… I hear ya! And how is it that Fringe has about four times the number of episodes in a season as anything else? I may never catch up. I feel like there are two alternate universes, now – Fringe and dreams – and Walter Bishop’s the only one who understands me, some days. Don’t look at me like that…)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Thoughts on Technology, Community, Censorship, and FriendsMy Profile

    • HollyJahangiri

      Rusty, how’d you manage to fill up my Spam box with this same message – five times? You don’t look like a spammer to me, but apparently one of my Bouncers has other ideas. I’ll have to have a word with him… but try not to get on his bad side, eh? (I even edited your comment to add your Squidoo link!)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…A Month-Long Rest and RebellionMy Profile

      • Rusty

        Only five times? Geez I thought I snuck through at least 7, I’ll have to try harder this time. 🙂 I don’t think your bouncers like the squidoo links or something. And it wasn’t the same message, I had to change the message slightly each time. 😛

        I’ve been Fringing with Netlix, ooops ..flix pesky fingers are rusty too. (maybe someone could take that idea and run with it though) I may be a bit behind on the episodes, I can’t remember where I left off now – I may be a season behind.
        Rusty recently posted…Discover Deals on Invicta Diamond Watches in 2013My Profile

      • HollyJahangiri

        Well it was six, if you count the one that made it through! (The Bouncer’s still giving me funny looks and isn’t convinced about your email address, either. Thinks you’re impersonating an artist?) I do think you’re right, though – he tends to give that look to everyone associated with the Squid. I think he had a bad experience with a tentacle down there, once. 🙂
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…A Month-Long Rest and RebellionMy Profile

      • Rusty

        Gees tough bouncer, hey I think I remember him now that I take a better look in the daylight- he was the one who started a fight at my gallery opening and ruined my art career… I haven’t updated my work in years now.. I hope he enjoys the calamari basket I bribed him with to get through this time..

        • HollyJahangiri

          Ahhh, now, see – I can give HIM dirty looks if he gives you any trouble. Your credentials, Sir, are impeccable. 😉 Must’ve been the whiff of squid. He had a bad reaction to shellfish, many years ago, and refuses to believe that squid didn’t just crawl out of shells like hermit crabs to taunt him. Not to worry – I happen to LOVE calamari. Thank you, Rusty.

          ::kicks Bouncer, mutters, “Bad Akismet, no crunchy calamari for you!”::

  5. Peppy

    Hello Holly,

    This is my first visit to your blog and, wow, I immediately felt right at home. Your perspective on blogging – posting frequency and what can happen when life gets in the way of our detailed writing schedule….you know, the schedule that, when reality meets lucidity, leaves little room for the inconsequential things of life like eating, sleeping…breathing. 🙂

    I will be back.

    Peppy recently posted…[Not] Gone… But ForgottenMy Profile

    • HollyJahangiri

      I’m so glad, Peppy! Feeling right at home is exactly how I want people to feel when they drop in and read. The rest has done me good, I think. But as much as I enjoy the instant gratification of the running conversation that is Facebook, the more I realize it’s getting in the way of slower, more thoughtful writing – blogging, short stories, all of it.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Thoughts on Technology, Community, Censorship, and FriendsMy Profile

  6. Mitch Mitchell

    I’m going to say that it’s not all my fault. I noticed that your blog wasn’t updating in my reader so I didn’t stop by. Then I noticed one post sitting there saying you were moving & your RSS feed was changing; that explained things. Still, we were talking on Facebook so I never knew that you had stopped, although now I’m catching up with a couple of posts of yours that I still wouldn’t have known were around.

    I hope you’re feeling better about it all; now let’s get back to work. 🙂
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…How Do You Accept Criticism?My Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      I don’t recall saying it was your fault at all – but what makes you think you get off the hook THAT easy? I think Facebook has finally taken over everything… but now that it has, it’s got my stubborn dander up, so I’m going to try to spend more time HERE.

      Seriously, Facebook is instant gratification, but not nearly as satisfying as having a blog of one’s own, and people willing to hike over here to read it. 🙂

      I’ll have a new blog post up soon, and hope I can finally “spill the beans,” as it were, on a fun new assignment coming up later this month.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Theme and Motif, Bopping Me on the NoseMy Profile

      • Mitch Mitchell

        LOL! I still get off the hook that easily. I’m following 250 blogs through my reader; I need to cull that down again. So, if one person drops off, it would take awhile to notice since there’s so much new stuff popping up to take its place.
        Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Verifying Google AuthorshipMy Profile


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