They say, “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity,” and this week is about rest, relaxation, sleep, taking it slow, clearing the schedule, and pouring drinks with pretty little umbrellas in them. Sometimes you need a vacation, a staycation, no matter the time of year. I packed my bags, stocked the pantry, have the delivery service app installed, and called in sick. I have my itinerary and have programmed the GPS with the coordinates to Spa Island, the Copacabana Lounge, the Easy-Living Livingroom and Theater complex, and The Comfy Comforter Executive Suite. It is funny how the map resembles my house’s floor plan.
The weather forecasters predict five to eight inches of snow, and I expect I will be housebound, eh, I mean unable to get a flight home before Friday. Superwoman promised not to help. I think she’s secretly hoping for a massage.
Yesterday I spent the day doing as little as possible. I realized the other night that it has only been two weeks since my body revolted, and in a state of total exhaustion, forced me to sleep for the better part of four days. I and still have days where I feel like I am wearing a lead suit. Try rising from a chair, climbing a flight of stairs, or opening your laptop to type. It takes determination.
It took months to reach such extreme exhaustion, and fully recharging my batteries will require time. I still have obligations, but I have reevaluated, rearranged, reassigned, and renegotiated everything possible. I added one critical stress reliever — a daily afternoon meditation hour that often resembles a nap.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 306 words.
We are nearing the end of January. Almost one month into the new year and I am still working on my New Year Resolutions. I know many people have already abandoned their hopes and dreams. Statistics tell us 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. If you made a fitness-related resolution, then the second Friday in January was the fateful date when commitments crumbled. My goals are audacious, ambitious, optimistic, and exhausting. This month has shown me I was too confident with some and overly generous with others. No worries, I put on my editor hat to assess, revamp, and make needed adjustments.
I decided to shorten some goal’s finish dates and remove them from my list. However, bumping the timeline affects the remaining goals. Since I am struggling, it is clear they need extra work. I extended their timelines, added steps, and created more precise details to augment the process. There is a benefit to completing the simple goals first. Once finished, my time available to work on the more challenging goals expands. It is the current plan, anyway.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” is the line from Act-III, Scene-I of Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, and it is becoming my mantra. This week has left me tired, and while I got a lot accomplished, I am still not where I want to be. Bumpy roads, setbacks, and slow progress towards my goal will not deter me. Despite exhaustion, feeling outnumbered, and at a significant disadvantage, I will face the walls of Harfleur, and I’m determined to win.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 461 words.
What day is today? I never seem to know anymore. Yesterday, I didn’t realize it was Friday until 8 pm. Like the trendy meme says, “I wish days of the week underwear were still a thing.” If they were, I might have a fighting chance. My life is a jumble of agendas, must-dos, obligations, and deadlines. My calendar dictates my activities, but even with careful planning, my world lacks structure.
Working from home, I no longer endure my everyday commute or notice the signposts separating my workdays from the weekend. My typical day job routine starts earlier and ends later than when I worked in an office. This difference results from shifting evening family duties into previously verboten work hours. Without clear delineation, business hours leak into the entire week. Experts tell us increased screen time messes with our internal clocks. Between computer for the day job, Zoom calls, smartphones, games, and streaming my favorite shows, I find myself forever sucked into the evil blue light. I bet the reduced winter daylight and my general anxiety are contributing to my nighttime insomnia. Is it any wonder my biggest daily challenge is dragging my butt out of bed in the morning?
As crazy as it might sound, the answer is more organization. Those silly experts say set routines, provide clues and markers to distinguish Friday from Sunday. In the Pre-Industrial Revolution society, women adhered to the “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday” arrangement. Maybe it helped them distinguish the days of the week more easily. An assigned task for each weekday was common enough to appear in nursery rhymes and folk songs. There is comfort in knowing what is expected on each specific day, though I plan to update the poem to suit my needs more accurately. I propose to write essays on Monday, short stories on Tuesday, and maybe flash fiction on Wednesday?
I have lost track of days. Somehow, they all meld into a constant flow of daily demands, interruptions, inconvenient rescheduling, and broken promises that create a world where nothing ever quite gets finished. It is over a week away, but maybe I am living my Groundhog Day in advance. Other people’s demands and availability buffet and manipulate my schedule into an unrecognizable mishmash of fragmented opportunities for my most important work. While I prefer static, dependable, time-blocked calendars, I have yielded my preferences to push a few projects across the finish line. I need them completed, done, finalized so I can focus my energies on my passion projects.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 494 words.
I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. Deadlines are easy to despise. I bet you can list dozens of reasons you detest them without breaking a sweat. I was not a fan until I understood the secret powers inherent in well-crafted, targeted completion dates. Now I am a convert, and I am becoming a firm believer in tight deadlines.
Call me crazy, but seeing a finish line and a checkered flag gets me moving. It’s even better when I combine an element of competition. Who doesn’t enjoy bragging rights and the thrill of winning? Setting clear, defined objectives with milestones and endings is exciting and provides a source of inspiration, ideas, and possibilities. It gives me purpose. My personal goals up the ante for my motivation. These are the promises I make to myself and seldom share with anyone else. They rise to the top of my priority list, and I work diligently to meet those drop-dead dates. Who wants to look in the mirror and admit failure? Not me.
Success does not come without a cost. I can’t commit to every opportunity. Choosing one activity often means I must say no to others. It’s painful in the short term. I would love to binge-watch the latest Netflix release, but it doesn’t feed my sense of accomplishment. It only creates nasty feelings of guilt. Winning, finishing early, is a reward that keeps on giving. I celebrate a job well done, and my accomplishment fuels my desire to start the next project.
The absolute best aspect of deadlines is they give me a specific place to stop. Time’s up, step away from your keyboard. As a perfectionist, I could tweak, rearrange, adjust, and spend hours running down fascinating rabbit holes with nothing to show for it. Deadlines force me to release insignificant minutia and focus on the key elements. They compel me to decide and move on.
But every well-conceived deadline needs a buffer for the unexpected. You never know when you might be sidelined by a fever and head lice.
Interruption Central — if you have blood pouring profusely from your head, a bone sticking through your skin, or a tool lodged where it shouldn’t be, please proceed to the front of the line. All others kindly take a number and wait.
Yes, Wednesday was one of those days. I sit at my desk, compose my thoughts, lift my fingers to type the first part of a brilliant sentence, and bam – speed bump, train derailment, clean up on aisle three. I read a study that says you require15 minutes to return to productivity after an interruption. I believe it. Where was I? What was my point? I haven’t a clue. It looks like I’m starting over. Again.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 381 words.
The problem with beautiful falling snow is the need to shovel it from sidewalks, driveways, and car windshields. It is one winter task I relish, especially when I can complete the work in nighttime silence. I tried, stayed up late in hopeful anticipation, but when I fell asleep in the morning’s small hours, it was still snowing.
The alarm slowly penetrated my hazy dreams. With reluctance, I let them slip from my mind to meet the cold, bright morning. Frigid might be a better word since my thermometer read a whopping sixteen degrees as I pulled on a hat, jacket, gloves, and sunglasses to start my day. A little voice told me to dig out my time-tested Icelandic wool coat, and I paid for my laziness with bone-cracking chills for the duration of the required work hours.
All was not lost. A steamy hot pot of Good Hope Vanilla tea, a warm vanilla sugar cookie, a cozy fire, a thick blanket, and a short restorative nap was all I needed to set the world right again. Bitter winter weather spurs me to act, often for self-preservation reasons. Freezing conditions demand forethought, action, and contingencies to account for the worst-case scenarios to preserve life. Writing may not hold such dire personal consequences. But inside me, a glowing ember of desire burns, driving me to produce stories when there are few distractions and an atmosphere enhanced by inspiring vanilla winter waves.
Do you prefer writing in the summer or the winter?
Wind chill drops our real-feel temperature to 16 degrees. Gusty winds buffet the house, and I snuggle under a warm wool blanket and pull on my favorite pair of soft cashmere fingerless gloves. They were an impulse buy, a decadent splurge, and they make me so incredibly happy. No more blowing on my fingers like poor Bob Cratchit had to do. Now, I can hunker under my blanket, pull my hoodie over my head, balance my laptop on my knees and work in a blissful cocoon of warmth. The only danger I face is falling asleep after a long day.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 462 words.