Never Put Off Till Tomorrow . . .

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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

There are many things that I would change about myself. If I had to choose one thing to change about myself, right now, it would be my habit of procrastination.

I always seem to dread even simple tasks, and I do not know why. There are just some things that I do not like to do, and I try to avoid them, but eventually I know that I will have to do them or chaos reigns.

For example, while studying at the university, I was required to take math, science, and languages. These were not my best subjects – especially math – so I tried to avoid doing the work. Of course my grades suffered. So I finally decided to do the subjects I hated most FIRST. I got it out of the way and could then study the subjects I loved – literature, journalism, history, and geography. My grades improved in all my subjects, because I worked harder at my bad subjects and was relaxed and happy when studying my good subjects.

I found out later that Dale Carnegie endorses doing the hard tasks first, so at least I am in good company.

I still procrastinate over the dumbest things and I then constantly nag at myself to do them.

To try to stop this self-defeating behavior, I write master lists of all the things I need to do. I try to do the most onerous tasks first. Of course, my master list has grown to an unmanageable size do to my procrastinating. My master list includes everything that I need to do – from cleaning and shopping to writing blog posts.

I try to do things I dislike while doing things I enjoy – for example, I will give myself manicures (something I absolutely hate doing, but I can’t afford professional manicures on a weekly basis), I will polish silver, or I will exercise while watching TV shows that I like.

Sometimes I will set aside a whole day for doing things I hate – mostly cleaning. I especially hate dealing with and organizing paperwork. I just hate it. Paperwork seems to multiply like rabbits. I have had several legal and medical issues for the last few years and the paperwork engendered by these issues is enormous – filing cabinets stuffed with papers. I set the timer so I only have to do paperwork for about 30 minutes at a time, because if I do it much longer than that I literally start to have panic attacks. I actually start screaming.

Much of this paperwork is about negative things and makes me feel like an utter failure, so I don’t want to see it on a daily basis. I hate filing, so I have taken to organizing much of my paperwork in binders, especially old files that I keep for legal purposes but hate seeing in my filing cabinets. It’s actually much easier for me, and I don’t dread it so much.

The strangest thing is that I procrastinate doing the things I love to do! I am a professional writer, and yet I find myself constantly pushing off my writing projects. I don’t know why. I love to write. When I finally tackle the project I enjoy it. Is it because I am so self-critical?

The writing usually is well done when I am finished, so I do not know why I do this. I need to set enough time aside to do my writing projects properly, because I need to write rough drafts so that when I enter the editing stage I am ready. I am a relentless editor. I love editing my work. I tell myself to just write the damn thing and then I can get to the editing stage!

Written for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

Book Review: Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu

Title: Off Balance
Author: Dominique Moceanu
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Year Published: 2012
Format: Kindle
Source: I purchased this book.

Dominique Moceanu won an Olympic gold medal along with her Magnificent 7 teammates at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She was only 14 years old, tiny (4 feet 4 inches tall!), cute and charismatic. She has a new memoir called Off Balance: A Memoir, detailing her life as an elite gymnast.

Here is Dominique at the 1996 Olympics during the team competition:

Her life on and off the gym floor has been difficult. She had complicated relationships with her family and with Bela and Marta Karolyi, her official coaches during her champion years. Her parents were Romanian immigrants, although Dominique and her sister were born in the United States. While she loved her mother and sister, her relationship with her father was fraught with complications. He was domineering and abusive.

The book opens when Dominique is an adult, and receives the biggest surprise of her life. Her parents had kept a secret from her and her sister for many years.

Dominique is bitter about many things but she also gives praise where it is due. She actually adored her first coaches, but when it became apparent by the age of 10 that Dominique was exceptionally talented – Olympic material – her father whisked her away to the Karolyi ranch in Texas. She was not at all prepared for the transition. She was shy and was used to a positive environment in the gym, but in Texas she was hopelessly confused and upset with what went on. For example, her favorite coach at the gym simply disappeared (he was fired) and no one ever mentioned him again.

Much has been made of the fact that she was miserable with the Karolyis. Actually, in this book she seems to be more mystified by their actions. After the Olympics they seemed to want to have nothing to do with her. Even though she won a gold medal, she didn’t win any individual medals and apparently that was considered a failure. Even her parents were discouraged from praising her too much.

Moceanu’s body changed rapidly after Atlanta but she still kept pursuing gymnastics – because she loved it.

She had made quite a lot of money from touring in gymnastics shows after the Olympics, which her father had put into building a huge gymnasium. Moceanu famously ran away from home as a teenager and tried to get her legal emancipation from her family. What happened after that is riveting reading.

Quite frankly, I was surprised by this book. If you read enough gymnastics message boards as I do, you would think that Dominique Moceanu was the devil, or is at the very least lying in the gutter with a needle in her arm. Many people find her hopelessly bitter because she has voiced her unhappiness in how she was treated many times. Perhaps because she was so cute and spunky while performing, some gym fans just refuse to accept how difficult her life really was?

Even before her book was released it was being compared to Jen Sey’s notorious gymnastics memoir, Chalked Up, about that author’s bitter experiences in gymnastics. But Moceanu’s book is well-written by her “co-authors” Paul and Teri Williams. The book was far more detailed than I expected, although it does slide over some of the things that happened in her career after 1996, spending more time on the events that happened in Moceanu’s personal life.

Moceanu is currently happy and productive, married to a gymnast-turned-physician, and they have two young children. Her children are involved with gymnastics, since she always loved the sport, but not the outside pressures involved with elite gymnastics.

If I Had A Book Deal . . .

You’ve been offered a book deal! What would you write about?

Getting a book deal is a dream of mine!I have so many things that I want to write about! I would love to write a book of essays, I would love to write a novel, and I would love to write and photograph a book about New Jersey. I would use some of my photographs from my other blog, New Jersey Memories. I would also have an excuse to buy a better camera. It would give me a good reason to travel around the state and take photos!
Of course I’d like to go to Europe to photograph and write about it – Italy, France, Spain, and Germany – that would be great. I’d also go to Australia and New Zealand and Japan and China — all over the world. It would be great if I had a publisher who’d pay for my travels, especially if I could bring my husband with me.

Perhaps this wanderlust comes from my parents. My mother was born in Lappland in northern Sweden. She always wanted to see America, so as soon as she saved enough money, she traveled to England and stayed there for awhile. She hitchhiked around England and Scotland (it was a lot safer then), and then finally came to America.My father was born in Odense, Denmark. He rode his bicycle by Hans Christian Andersen’s house every day. He traveled all over the world, including living in New Zealand for awhile. Then he came to the United States, where he eventually met my mother in Brooklyn.

I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I grew up in a with a strong European environment. I did live in Denmark briefly as a child, after my father started writing for a Danish newspaper, but my mother was homesick for America, so we came back.

I always heard their exciting stories about their travels, and I would really like to do some traveling, too.
I’d love to travel around the world, take photographs, and write books about the places that I’ve been.

Written for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Friday Blog Hops!

It’s time for Friday book blog hops! I’m answering the questionsfrom two top hops: Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy- for- Books, & Featureand Follow hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read.
At Crazy-for-Books:

Q: How long does it take you to read a book?

A: It all depends on the book! Some books are such easy reads, but some books are very thought-provoking and have a difficult subject matter. For example, I recently read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and I read it slowly and carefully because it was a long, incredibly detailed book with many different themes. I made the mistake of reading it in bed at night, and kept falling asleep because it was late and I was sleepy! Then I vowed to sit in a chair and read it properly and give the book a fair chance, and I’m so glad that I did, because it’s a great book.


Q:What drove you to start book blogging in the first place?

A: I needed a creative outlet! I love to write, and I waslooking for a way to do so on a regular basis. I kept seeing ads from Blogger to start a blog, and one night I just did it! I had no idea what I was getting into and really didn’t know what I was doing. I chose a subject that I wasn’t really interested in, and I didn’t realize that blogging was so much work. My first couple of blogs were just terrible, but I learned a lot.

My third blog,New Jersey Memories, was originally going to be a blog about happenings about New Jersey, but it eventually morphed into a blog of photographs I took around New Jersey and writing about them. I was always interested in photography, but my first photos were terrible because my camera was crappy and I didn’t know how to take pictures. My photography has vastly improved, however, and that blog is still going strong. I love taking pictures.
I started writing about New Jersey books on that blog, and then decided to create a different blog just for books, and that is how The Literary Lioness started. I actually thought of the name before I started the blog.

Doing two blogs is a lot of work, however, but I do loveblogging. I’m still a writer, and send stuff to magazines in hopes of being published. I love that blogging lets me be published immediately!

Please follow me on Google Friend Connect and Linky Followers if you can!
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Book Review: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

Title: Autobiography of a Face
Author: Lucy Grealy
Published: 1994
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback
Source: I purchased this book. 

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy is like no other book I’ve ever read.

When Lucy was nine years old, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Her likelihood of survival was slim. After her surgery to remove part of her jaw, Lucy was permanently disfigured. She had to endure the cruel taunts of her classmates. She also came from a highly dysfunctional family.

Many more surgeries followed to “correct” the disfigurement but they were ultimately unsuccessful, and came at a terrible emotional cost to Grealy.

Since I knew the eventual outcome of Lucy’s story I expected to be depressed while reading it. But Lucy was so self-deprecating and had such a sly sense of humor that I enjoyed it tremendously. She wrote several other books but this book is her most lasting legacy.

This book was a huge success for Lucy, giving her the attention that she craved. Alas, it was not to last.

I highly recommend Autobiography of a Face. It is a book that you will not soon forget.

You can read more about Lucy here.