In May I wrote a post updating what I had been doing during the first five months of the year. The post focused on how I have been taking care of my Aunt Ruth and at the same time, how I was managing the work on my manuscript. The post also mentioned that in Florida I met my weight goal of 140 pounds while being on Noom.

Appropriately, on New Year’s Eve, next week’s post will be a recap of the whole year. Today I want to talk about Noom. It is true that there was a day in April, in Boca Raton Florida, that I weighed 140 pounds. That moment, like much of life, was fleeting. Because I couldn’t seem to maintain my weight goal and the scale was going up instead of down, I stayed on Noom.

As I mentioned in my post, 2021 Goals and Resolutions, Noom is an app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to help people develop better eating habits and lose weight. On June 24th, 2020, I started using the app. At some point, the articles and lessons switched to a maintenance mode, which was not that helpful. I asked my coach, who may or may not be a real person, to set me back to the beginning. This meant that I was doing the lessons a second time. What can I say, I am a slow learner.

The second go around I took notes and really tried to pay attention. These tactics did the trick. Since November 4th, I have consistently weighed 140 pounds or less. The lowest has been 137 pounds. In December 2019, I weighed 165 pounds so that means I have lost 28 pounds.

Noom worked for me. Maybe it was because I paid but I don’t think so. After a year and a half of using the app, I have a better sense of my eating patterns. I now know which are beneficial and which are harmful. My maintenance strategy is to weigh myself almost every day. If the scale starts going up, I will look at my notes and redouble my efforts. I am confident I will be able to maintain this weight. Although it was a slow process, I am proud of the determination and focus I showed in losing the weight.


As many of my readers probably know, I attend writing groups that Nerissa Nields runs. She always starts her groups with a writing prompt. The prompt can be a poem, or an excerpt from prose writing. In October she read from  This is One Way to Dance by Sejal Shah. The book is a memoir told through essays. I haven’t read it, but I would like to.

Nerissa’s prompt dealt with Shah’s feelings about the cold. To escape the cold, she goes so far as breaking into an unlocked car to find something warmer to wear. I am posting the free writing I did in response to the prompt from Shah’s book.


I hate being cold. In the summer when we use air conditioning, I often sleep in a winter nightgown and use a heavy blanket.

In the fall of 2009, we spent a month in NYC. It was a busman’s holiday since we were both doing research. Despite that, we also got to enjoy the city. Fall weather in New York can be very unpredictable. One day – 75 degrees, the next below 60.

I got dressed one morning to go to the 42nd library for a day of research. The previous day it had been warm and sunny. Dressing for the last battle, I put on capris and a short sleeve shirt. I didn’t even bring a sweater, something I usually do. I was already cold before we even got to the library. The building was freezing. I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t get warmer. Eventually we left.

Being physically uncomfortable and not being able to settle in your own skin is extremely unpleasant. Acute or chronic pain as well extreme temperatures can produce those unpleasant feelings. I have experienced all these things at various times in my life due to accidents, illness and not dressing properly for the actual temperature. All these experiences show me how deeply connected the mind and body are.



NaNoWriMo Summary

I completed NaNoWriMo on Tuesday. I wrote every day in November, even on Thanksgiving. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 30, I wrote 20,998 words. I completed Chapter 8, writing 63 pages to add to the 15 I had before I started NaNoWriMo. After I finished the chapter, I wrote 19 pages of the Epilogue. The shitty first draft is now done.

Besides the over 20,000 words I wrote for my book, I also blogged every day, writing a total of 4,490 words or almost 18 more pages, for a total of 102 pages in a month. I have blogged every day for a month one other time. It was a good experience both times, but I did find writing daily both for the book and the posts a bit draining by the end. To say I was productive is an understatement.

I won ten badges from NaNoWriMo, and I used their counter to update my word count every day. The counter is one of the best features of NaNoWriMo. Doing NaNoWriMo was the final push I needed to complete the first draft. I am very glad I committed to doing it.

The other structures that helped me finish was the yearlong PVWW class and my fellow classmates. The structure of meeting monthly, having to give your work to other people and reading their work in turn all kept me focused on my goal for finishing. The twice a week writing groups I attend that Nerissa Nields runs were also a tremendous help in keeping my motivation strong.

I have been working on this version of the book since the summer of 2015 so it feels great to be done. Of course, there is still plenty of work to do – revising, reference, bibliography as well introduction d conclusion. I am giving myself some time off from the book to let everything I have accomplished settle in. Starting this week, I am going back to weekly, not daily blogging.

See you next Friday.

NaNoWriMo Day 17

Today, I wrote 466 words. According to the NaNoWriMo counter, I have written 12, 461 words so far in the month of November. NaNoWriMo posts daily pep talks. Today’s was from Emily X.R. Pan, author of, among other works, The Astonishing Color of After.

I loved this part of her post. “The book becomes part of the air that I breathe, the impostor syndrome diminishes, and I can focus on the fun. The fun is the important part. That’s why we do this, right? So, enough procrastinating. Let’s go dig up some words.”

I am at a difficult part of the current chapter and I am also worried about the word count ballooning. Pan’s words are a good reminder to think why I am doing this and try to have fun.


NaNoWriMo, Day 14

I have completed two weeks of NaNoWriMo. Because of my headache on Tuesday and the flood on Friday, my daily word production has decreased. I do have 59 pages in the chapter, so the daily production doesn’t concern me that much.

Today I wrote 290 words. Even if I only wrote that amount each day for this coming week, I will definitely  finish the chapter because I don’t really want to have the chapter be any longer that 65 or so pages. I hope this week is less eventful.

NaNoWriMo Day 13

Because of the flood yesterday, I decided to cancel my attendance at Nerissa’s writing retreat. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate and I wanted to have more flexibility over the weekend in case there were things we had to do related to the flood.

When you have a very concrete plan and the plans change, it can be hard to regroup. That is how I felt this morning – a little adrift. Having two floods in nine weeks is also discouraging so that affected my mood as well. I took a nice long walk, over an hour, with my husband, and then came back and wrote 570 words. The chapter is now 58 pages so I am in the home stretch.

As I am writing this post, the sky is getting darker and darker. I am terrified that it will pour and, once more, we will have a flood in our basement.


NaNoWriMo Day 12

Before I started NaNoWriMo, I  talked to myself about keeping my expectations in check and realizing that life happens and I would have to roll with the punches. It is good I worked on that because today we had another flood.

All of Amherst had a flash flood . The water was coming in so quickly that our sump pump couldn’t keep up and, once again, my office flooded. I had written about 150 words when this happened but I had to stop, basically in mid sentence.

I could see the water coming up through cracks in the unfinished part of the basement. It was very frightening, so we called the fire department. They came quickly and at first they could not figure out where the water was coming from. They concluded that it was coming up through the basement floor. They tried to pump the water out, using a  hose that they snaked through the downstairs bathroom window. To get the hose through the window, one of the firemen put his fist through the screen.

Their pump didn’t work because the waters had started to recede and wasn’t high enough to trigger the float. They advised us to get an external floor pump. Fortunately one of our lovely neighbors had such a pump. Anther neighbor lent us a shorter hose than the one we have and we pumped the water into the toilet.

We then used towels and our water vac to get up the rest of the water. This was particularly discouraging because last weekend we put back all the stuff from one of the rooms downstairs that we had moved out when we had the flood from Tropical Storm Ida.

It was about three hours of solid work and we still will have to put the rooms together again, probably next weekend.  The firemen said to throw out one power strip that got wet. That and the screen is really  the only damage, which is fine. My papers were all safe.

I was able to come upstairs and write a little more for a total of 319 words today. I feel that was an amazing  accomplishment. I am so grateful that we are okay and for the wonderful help from our neighbors. The firemen were very solicitous and understanding and I plan to make a donation in their honor.

As climate change increases, there will only be more of these floods and violent rain storms. The Democrats must pass true climate change legislation for the planet’s sake.

NaNoWriMo Day 11

Today I wrote 586 words. I feel the end of this chapter is in sight. Tomorrow, in the late afternoon, I will begin attending a two and half day hybrid writing retreat hosted by Nerissa Nields. I am going to do it virtually but a few people may be at Nerissa’s house.

Because tomorrow, I will have a hour and a half chunk of writing time, I am not sure how much words I will produce before the retreat starts. I am still trying to rest and not get any more eye strain.

Today I wrote for a few hours and then took a long walk with my husband. It makes for a more balanced day. One task I need to get done, before it starts getting much colder, is switch my summer and winter clothes around. I am fortunate that I have enough space to do this seasonal readjustment of my clothes.

NaNoWriMo Day 10

Yesterday, after I had written for the day and also had a rough draft of my blog post, I suddenly had a blinding headache that would not go away.  I went to the doctor and she said it was eye strain from staring at the computer . She advised me to take it easy and to try to reduce my exposure to blue light.

After posting my blog, I didn’t look at my computer or phone for the rest of the day. This morning I also did not look at either until a little bit before my writing group meeting was starting. My head feels okay right now but I am still going to try to take it easy.

I know I have been working furiously and I should probably slow down. Also combining strenuous exercise almost every day with hours of concentrated thinking and staring at the computer is not a great idea. I have decides to do yoga and tai chi as my exercise for the rest of the month. Of course I will still go skating.

Today I wrote 982 words which brings my NaNoWriMo total to 9,157 for the ten days. With the over 900 word I wrote on Halloween, I am at at least 10,000. Since my original goal  was 500 words a day for a total of 15,000 in the month, I now only have to do 250 words or one page a day for the rest of November. That is reassuring to me since if I need to rest I can.

NaNoWriMo Day 9

Today was a weird day. I went with my husband to the doctor. He is fine but the trip back and forth was disruptive to my day. I couldn’t figure out ahead of time how long the appointment would take so I didn’t know if I would make my writing group at 12:30. Because I was a little panicked about all that, I wrote about 75 words in Keep on my phone. I think that means I am either very committed to this process or crazy.

I did make the group and wrote another 500 words or so. I have been going at a breakneck pace and I feel I need to slow down a little and take care of some of the tasks that are part of my daily living. I just keep reminding myself that if I write 500 words in a day, I have done my job. That keeps me from getting too overwhelmed by what is ahead of me.

My final word count for the day was 668. See you tomorrow.

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