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Stuck on an Escalator

[I’m so stuck on this escalator that I started writing this post in early December.]

2014 has been a transformational year for me. You wouldn’t necessarily notice this on the outside. I regret to report that I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost late last year and earlier this spring. Despite taking a wonderful class that gave me all the tools and the “Whys” for getting healthy, I didn’t evaluate the changes I vowed to make against 42 years of habits and behavioral patterns. I wanted to do it all and do it NOW. As a result I find myself four months later doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. I had the vision of who I wanted to be and I was so freaking passionate about it that I’m sure I drove those around me nuts. You can only run on pure passion for so long before you burn out and returning to what your brain can do on autopilot. On autopilot, I tend to gain a lot of weight and it isn’t long before I find myself once again stuck on the escalator. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this video. If it helps, I’m not even as capable as the first man stuck on the escalator. I’m pretty much exactly where the woman is, eye rolls, huffs, and all.

But my weight isn’t the only way in which I’m stuck on an escalator. I find that analogy works very well for my reading and blogging life, too. In 6 weeks I will have been a book blogger for 8 years. Right now that feels like at least one year too many. While there are many things about this life that make me get down on my knees and thank God for having this opportunity, I’m stuck. Over the past year or so I’ve tried various things to rekindle my love of book blogging, but thus far they’ve been no more successful than the people in that video. If the idea even makes it to my blog (most have not), I rather quickly end back up sitting down on the escalator stair waiting for the repair man.

Deep in my heart I love reading. I love just about everything and everyone associated that I associate with reading. More and more over the years reading and writing reviews has become a chore. I know this isn’t the first time I’ve written about this and I know that many others before me have some to this crossroads. Passion for anything can only take a person so far. Couple that with unrealistic vows and commitments and you find yourself right where I am. I’m not a 100+ books per year kind of reader, yet I have been forcing that upon myself. After all, I set my initial goal of reading 52 books because that was a stretch for me. After that, the joy I found in the community and its place in the publishing industry inspired me to read more and more books. Over the past few years there’s been this perverted Nwanda with his saxophone on my shoulder reciting, “Gotta do more, gotta be MORE!” and I’ve listened. Only there’s a problem. The longer I’ve tried to be who I’m not because I’ve been tempted to take on more than I can handle and enjoy, the less energy and desire I have for something that means a great deal to me. When I found myself sitting on that escalator stairs contemplating pitching all the books over the ledge instead of reading them, I knew it was time to take action. After all, when I pitch a book I want it to be out of the deepest rage possible, not out of boredom. What’s the point?

As I said, 2014 has been a year of transformation for me. I have come to see very clearly that I’m not only stuck but I am complete control over changing that. This post has been brewing for a long time now. Not only has my blogging slowed down considerably, I find myself less and less often engaging with Twitter. Still, I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. A couple of months ago I was prepared to write an “Auf Wiedersehen” post on my next blogiversary. Then something strange happened. I joined Sheila’s Harry Potter reading challenge and I found a joy in reading and sharing the experience with others that I took a step back. Because I wasn’t trying to devour one book because three others were impatiently waiting on me, I had time to read a book, write a post I was inspired to write and then *gasp* read and have a conversation with other readers on their blogs. Wasn’t that how this all started? That’s what I want back.

_____

It was at this point that I got stuck writing this post. I began a paragraph about how I see 2015 playing out from a reading and blogging perspective. Now, a good month away on I can see why I couldn’t finish. Once again I was setting myself up to return to this very same place. I want to know all of the answers now. I want to fix everything now. No more. The truth is that I don’t know exactly what 2015 holds in store for me as a reader, a blogger, or an eater for that matter. The couple of sentences I wrote about how I would read and blog already sounded like they were written by someone else. Instead, while I’m keeping dust off this busted escalator, I’m going to take some time to make an honest assessment of myself and figure out what I want most out of life. I’ll know when I’m on the right track when I start feeling all of the passion about the vision I’m creating. This year I’ll play it smart, though. I’ll have my list of baby steps in hand to keep me going. After all, even when it’s operational, an escalator is simply a flight of stairs. The best way to climb it is one step at a time.

30 Comments

  • At 2015.01.06 07:28, Marcia Lengnick said:

    You, Go Girl!! Thanks for sharing..I admire you!! But I’ll miss you too!!
    Marcia, who Summers near Ludington, MI

    • At 2015.01.06 13:31, Literate Housewife said:

      Thank you so much, Marcia! I’ll still be around, but maybe just not talking about the latest and greatest books. My bookshelves are packed with books I’ve not had a chance to read. Now’s the time. 🙂

    • At 2015.01.06 07:55, Kay said:

      I love this post. I have recently (like in the last week) returned to blogging after stepping away and deleting my blog of 6+ years. I did that a couple of years ago. I quit reading blogs. I just totally pushed all the stress (and blogging had become that) out of my life. But, over time, I missed it. Missed the friends and talking books – discussing what I’d read. I am back to a simple, simple approach. Reading. Sharing. The end.

      Good for you. Take your time to see what you really want at this moment of your life. I think for many of us, we just did exactly what you described. Wanted to read more and then forced ourselves into these little, tiny spaces that got more and more constricting and about to blow up. And I understand what you say about being passionate about weight loss/eating better. I’ve done that over and over as well. Lost a goodly amount, passionately threw my whole self into the process…and then hit a wall. For me, I can only sustain that level for so long (apparently 4-ish months). Anyway, again, I applaud you. Take your time. And good luck.

      • At 2015.01.06 13:35, Literate Housewife said:

        Thank you for your support and sharing your experiences. Part of what has kept me going even at my slowest times is that I know I’ll miss all of the bookish conversations. I do have a small book club in town, but other than that I don’t have many people who love reading as much as I do. That part of me, knowing it can be fed, would starve the instant I completely stopped blogging. I know it.

        I like your simple, simple approach. Reading. Sharing. The end. I think a similar simple approach to healthy eating is just what I need, too. Eat a little less. Move a little more. Love myself. Then end. 🙂

      • At 2015.01.06 08:32, BermudaOnion(Kathy) said:

        Keeping up a book blog is a lot of work. Add a career and a family and it’s no wonder you feel burned out. I love your blog and all it’s contributed to the book blogging community but agree that you need to take care of Jennifer. If that means blogging sporadically or not at all, so be it. Happy New Year!

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        • At 2015.01.06 13:38, Literate Housewife said:

          Thank you, Kathy. I love your blog, too. I hope to be a more visible reader now. I’m sure I’ll find a balance between reading, blogging, and participating that works for me most of the time. It will be interesting to see how things play out now that the kids are getting more independent.

          Happy New Year to you and yours!

        • At 2015.01.06 09:12, Mary said:

          Hi Jennifer. You’ve expressed what a lot of us feel from time to time. I wish you a sense of calm and peace as you allow yourself to decide what to do going forward.

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          • At 2015.01.06 13:39, Literate Housewife said:

            Thank you so much, Mary! Peace and calm are just what I need right now.

          • At 2015.01.06 10:03, Alex (Sleepless Reader) said:

            Happy New Year Jennifer! I also stepped away from blogging for almost two years. At several moment I forced myself to come back because it would be a waste after the work I’d invested so far, right? Wrong. But recently I felt the pull of it, started reading other blogs again and got excited again about the prospect of joining read-alongs, making lists, etc. So far so good, but it was the right decision to wait for the right time to return.

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            • At 2015.01.06 13:43, Literate Housewife said:

              Happy New Year to you, too! It’s good to hear that those who took a step back eventually want to return. This is what has kept me from turning the switch completely. I would say it’s funny that read-alongs are getting us back into the groove again, but I think it makes sense. A read-along allows many people to discuss the same book at the same time. It’s the conversations that make book blogging what it is. By keeping focused on that instead of reading the latest and greatest, etc… will give us the energy we need.

            • At 2015.01.06 11:16, Michele (A Reader's Respite) said:

              Well, you probably know what I’m going to say: holy cow, we’ve been doing this EIGHT YEARS? How did that happen??? Gah! You know I hear you loud and clear, my friend. I’ve been flirting with this on and off for the last five years. And it sucks the fun right out of it. I think you’re on the right path now. I will say that it’s been much better since I stopped forcing myself to comply with some self-imposed blogging schedule. You need to drop the blogging guilty (what *is* that, anyway?). Once you get rid of the idea that you *have* to post something or review something on a schedule, it helps tremendously. But I think it takes a while to get rid of that mindset….we’ve developed habits that aren’t easy to get rid of, you know? Bad habits – like having to post three posts a week minimum – aren’t so easy to drop. So stay strong. It’s worth it in the end. I’ll still be here, reading what you have to say, always. And you need to find a place that brings you peace and happiness above all else. Everything else can go to hell in an apple cart. 😉 Besides, we’ve got backlists to read, right?

              • At 2015.01.06 13:48, Literate Housewife said:

                I know, right!?!?!?!? In fact, a week from Saturday will be my 8th anniversary. Time and books have flown by. I would really be interested in knowing if there is a similar lifeline for long term book blogs. Although I’m sure not everyone who has been blogging as long as we have feels this way, but I do sense a pattern.

                I’m very much looking forward to reading from my backlist. I’ve got the last 4 Harry Potter books to read, all the books I’ve bought over the past 8 years but haven’t touched, and new things I’d like to explore, like The Game of Thrones. All of these things are possible and fantastic. They simply require letting the rest of the crap go.

              • At 2015.01.06 11:38, Beth Hoffman said:

                This is such a great post! I’ve never wrapped my mind around how you bloggers keep it up. Eight years … that’s just amazing (and certainly had to have been exhausting at times). No matter what you decide or where life leads you, you will always be my pal.

                • At 2015.01.06 13:53, Literate Housewife said:

                  Thank you, Beth. Your books have been among the highlights. No matter what happens with this blog over time, I will always be your fan. 🙂

                • At 2015.01.06 12:32, Beth F said:

                  I agree with others — take care of YOU! It can be hard to do everything and want everything, but you and your family are the most important thing. We should never turn the things we love into the things that give us the most stress. Step back, assess, and stay in touch every once in a while!

                  • At 2015.01.06 13:54, Literate Housewife said:

                    Thank you! Very excellent advice indeed. No matter what, I’ll always know where to find you guys. 🙂

                  • At 2015.01.06 12:51, Nise' said:

                    Jennifer, you are not alone in what you have/are experiencing with blogging, reading and life. It shows a lot of wisdom that you can articulate it so well. Taking care of yourself is most important, listening is just as crucial. Do what you can and leave the rest. It is easy to say, hard to do. Baby steps.

                  • At 2015.01.06 20:13, Shannon @ River City Reading said:

                    I haven’t been around even a quarter of the time (crazy!), but I can completely imagine that plowing through this for that long would totally the fun out of reading. I’m glad you’ve started to find what does and doesn’t work for you – baby steps sounds like the perfect way to finish navigating.

                    • At 2015.01.06 21:34, Jennifer said:

                      Thanks, Shannon! Over time the pressure certainly builds up. The key is to not let the beast that is book blogging make you become the reader you’re not. Had I not tried to read much more than was natural for me, I would be in a better place. Then again, I’ve learned a lot about myself at the same time. Baby steps and embracing the journey should get me to a much better place.

                    • At 2015.01.07 06:35, Julie Quirke said:

                      Hi Jennifer,

                      I love reading your blog, and totally understand the need to just play by your own rules. I used to be able to devour a book in a day or so, but lately the urge has left and it now takes me often a week or so to read one, I am sure it is a middle aged lady thing.

                      Also like you I am stuck on the weight elevator too. After losing a lot last summer, it has crept back on, and the lady hormones (or lack of) isn’t helping. So I am just going to try and make small changes. Not buying any soda or chips, having more fruit on hand and piling on the veg at dinner time.

                      Anyway – wishing you luck on your journey.

                      Julie Q

                      • At 2015.01.08 22:58, Jennifer said:

                        As with all things in life, our reading rates are bound to fluctuate. I think that might be part of my issue, too. I was forcing myself to read more than was natural and then my desire to read and attention span are changing. I’m all out of kilter. My lady hormones haven’t started to get out of whack yet, but my time isn’t far off. All the more reason to do like you’re suggesting and start making little changes. They add up over time and I will be much happier with myself if I’ve already tackled my lifestyle demons when the big M hits.

                        Thanks so much for your support!!!

                      • At 2015.01.07 18:48, Ti said:

                        Nothing comes easy, does it? I know how you feel. Been there, many many times. I hit WW goal TWICE. That’s right. Not once, but twice. I know I can do it again but I’ve decide I don’t want to. My goal was always too low, in my opinion which set me up for failure. Your body, naturally wants to be at a certain weight and it’s finding that weight and a weight that is healtjy at the same time, that presents a challenge.

                        As for blogging. I can relate there too. I have had all sorts of health stuff thrown at me this year. Eye strain to the point of near blindness. Migraines which I haven’t had to deal with in a very long time and which really derailed my end of the year reading. Now I come back to work to what could be a cracked tooth or a major sinus infection. Obstacles. They suck! LOL.

                        I think it’s important to do what you feel best. Only you know what’s best. You can’t do thing based on what others want you to do. Sure, I want you to hang around the blogisphere but catching you here and there when you were around was okay too.

                        You’ll figure it all out. Maybe not all at once but you will.

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                        • At 2015.01.08 23:04, Jennifer said:

                          Ti it is good to know I’m not alone in my struggles. I’ve also gotten to a weight that I liked twice only to gain all the weight back again. I will figure it out, though. Baby steps. I will be happy if I just successfully make three or four lifestyle changes this year. If I focus on those and not necessarily weight loss, I’ll lose weight anyway. Then I can build on those.

                          I’ve not had to deal with health issues, but those things are even more frustrating. At least I’ve not read because I haven’t felt like it. I would be so irritated if I wanted to read but physically couldn’t. I sure hope you get your sinus infection cleared up and can keep those migraines at bay. My husband gets them and they are no fun.

                          Like you said, I’ll figure this out. Maybe not all this year, but it will fall into place. I’ll blog as much as feels good and go with that. I’ll be around and hopefully will be around your blog more, too.

                        • At 2015.01.08 08:28, Karen White said:

                          I have to admit I’ve missed your reviews over the past year, but I so applaud and support everything you’ve expressed in this blog – and I loved the video.
                          What struck me in reading this post was that you seem to be on the way to re-finding your writing voice. It is terrifying to not know where you’re going, but I do believe that it’s the only way to step into true creativity. Give yourself time and space to listen to your own instincts and impulses, AND to take care of your body! In my (mostly failing) experience, it is the hardest thing as a mom to find that balance of taking care of self, so that I can take care of others.
                          Thanks for this inspiration and good luck!

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                          • At 2015.01.08 23:08, Jennifer said:

                            Thank you, Karen! I really appreciate your support. It is difficult to make sure you take care of yourself when you’re a mom. BUT, you best take care of your family when you’re strong and healthy. I will take care of myself. My kids deserve it.

                            I hadn’t thought about my writing voice in all of this. Maybe my lack of interest in blogging is because the old routines just aren’t working anymore. That’s kind of exciting to think about. If not book and audiobook reviews like I would typically write, what else? That gives me something to think about. Thanks!

                            I’ll keep working on me and I hope you’ll keep working in the recording booth. I’m going to do a lot of walking this year and I need your company. 🙂

                          • At 2015.01.08 14:18, Meghan said:

                            This is a great post and I can relate to it significantly – I’m trying very hard to just leave off the stress and return to blogging whenever I feel like it, not when I have to. I agree with all of the other commenters – put yourself, your family, and your health first. We’re not going anywhere and I know I’ll be happy to read your blog whenever you feel like writing, even if it’s not about the latest releases or news.

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                            • At 2015.01.08 23:11, Jennifer said:

                              Thank you, Meghan! It is hard to leave that stress behind. Some people deal with that by burning their candles at both ends. Lately I’ve just gotten into this frozen state where I can’t do anything. Here’s hoping that if I follow my fancy reading wise and think about what Karen said about rediscovering my writing voice that I’ll figure out what needs to be done. I hope you do, too!

                            • At 2015.01.10 18:14, Michelle said:

                              Hang in there, girl! We will all be here for you whatever you decide and however 2015 turns out for you!

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                              • […] I’ve always appreciated the way Jennifer has openly confronted the struggles she’s had as a book blogger, and as 2015 begins, she feels that the Literate Housewife is “Stuck on an Escalator”: […]

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