Anything worth experiencing takes effort. When we lack a focused resolution, it is easy to find ourselves consumed by life’s crazy whirlwind of doubts, fears, anxiety, and hopelessness. Without thinking, we sink into predictable patterns of consuming massive amounts of data and processing complex concepts faster than any supercomputer. Feeling confused and overwhelmed, we plead for five minutes of silence. Is it any wonder we cope by vegging on the couch? Or we can make a different choice.
My alarm rings at 5 AM, and I force myself out of bed. No one else is awake, and calmness perfumes the air. I move in pre-dawn stillness as I brew my coffee. My oversized mug steams when I step onto my deck and wipe the dew from my chair. These early morning hours hold a special magic. Photographs cannot capture the beauty or brilliant promises on the horizon.
Songbirds sing, squirrels scamper, and a rabbit nibbles the tender growth in my strawberry patch. I snuggle into my warm jacket, sip my hot coffee, and discover I have found happiness. This quiet moment reminds me of the value inherent in simple things. These five minutes set me on a hopeful trajectory.
It only took one minor slip-up. It was nothing extraordinary, hardly even trivial, but a single seemingly insignificant snafu was enough. My schedule is discombobulated, and I am struggling to get it recalibrated. Why is it that the tiniest issue can send us spiraling out of control, and fixing things so you can return to normal entails herculean efforts? It shouldn’t be this difficult. My mind tells me a misstep should mean a slight detour, a jig and a jog, and bam, your back where you are supposed to be. Instead, I’m slogging through a quagmire. I can see my path, but it is not quite within my reach.
Patience. My old nemesis of wanting everything done yesterday is lounging in a hammock with one of those frou-frou umbrella drinks and he is laughing at me. He is enjoying this. His mirth sparks my anger. I grit my teeth, harden my resolve and start planning one thousand ways I can wipe the smirk off his face.
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 365 words.
My schedule often demands I write late at night. Exhausted, from twelve to eighteen hours of activity and ready for bed, creating an original story can be challenging. I have adopted a new strategy to make even my midnight writing sessions productive. The trick is scheduling, planning, and working while I slumber. It sounds crazy, right? But the results are surprising. The last thing I do before I cuddle my pillow is to decide on the next piece. I may have a concept or some vague notion, or I might be clueless. It doesn’t matter. I only need a general direction.
Tired, yawning, and falling asleep, I assign the problem for my brain to solve. I tell it to conjure a tale for the morning. Upon waking, I sometimes discover a fully formed idea, with a beginning, middle, and a satisfying end. I take notes, scribbling away, so I don’t lose the thread. If I feel compelled and have a few spare moments, I open a document and spew whatever is in my head. Otherwise, hold the story tight until my next scheduled writing session. On other occasions, only a seed has germinated. Those ideas I nurture, forming more details throughout the day. Since I started my experiment, my nocturnal puzzle-solving sub-conscience has not disappointed me.
Rainy nights, Mondays, and migraines get me down. But not for long, because I won’t let anybody count me out yet. I’m not built to wallow or moan and complain about how bad I feel. I actually felt pretty awful and ended up going to bed early. As a result, I am officially three days behind on my A-to-Z Challenge. Yeah, well, I’ll work on finishing those stories and getting them posted, I promise. They didn’t build Rome in a single afternoon, and the word on the street says life is a marathon, and sprints are for the perpetually exhausted. I’m working on my best tortoise impression. How am I doing?
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 426 words.
Every project reaches a point of desperation. Your deadline looms, unanticipated problems arise, a key player calls in sick, shared files become corrupted, your internet connection doesn’t connect, and pouring rain ruins the sparkle on your freshly detailed car. Then a product you need is back-ordered, and you don’t dare ask what else could go wrong. That is the precise moment when your laptop flickers and your mouse refuses to respond. You hear King Richard’s voice ringing in your ear, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
Multiply by ten, and you know my past week in a nutshell. These challenges are annoying, discouraging, and a fact of life. Whenever I make changes or create something new, the universe conspires to throw obstacles in my path. I like to be in control. I aspire to perfectionism, and these setbacks try to infringe on my sacred writing time. In a perfect world, my house is in order, my head is clear, my soul is calm, and I sit at my pristine desk and write.
If I allowed my perfectionistic demands to interfere, I would never write. Instead, I embrace the imperfections. My screen flickers as I type. I disconnect and reconnect to the Wi-Fi and remember to save my document often. The phone rings, and I let it go to voicemail. The helpful people at the other end probably want to ensure I have renewed the warranty on my sixteen-year-old car. I narrow my focus, harden my resolve, and work with purpose. I will complete the project. The words may not be perfect, but now they exist, and they wait for my brutal editor to make them presentable.
A minor incident over the weekend left me struggling to engage my superhuman powers of concentration. I’m still trying to determine who left the kryptonite sitting on the counter. I have my suspensions that it was the same pesky rabbit who left a trail of neon-colored eggs and delicious candies strewn across the yard.
My dear friends helped with the hazardous material containment, and the experts signed all pertinent paperwork and issued the “safe to return to work” placard. My schedule says I have fallen behind, but all is not lost. With focus and proper application of my bottom to my chair seat, catching up shouldn’t take too long.
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 295 words.
I’m an optimist. The choice was easy pessimists are way too depressing. As a child, I remember listening to people spouting gloom and doom. They predicted the sky’s falling and swore we were going to hell in a handbasket. I trembled in my shoes, cowered under my covers, and prayed the boogeyman wouldn’t creep from under my bed to carry me into the night. Each morning the sun arrived to banish the darkness, and a brilliant blue sky buoyed my hope.
Their predictions rarely came true, and I learned to dismiss their warnings. Perhaps I was precocious when I challenged the status quo and dared to seek the silver lining. I looked for evidence to discredit their opinions. I imagined a bright future filled with boatloads of opportunities and smooth sailing. Not that I don’t have negative thoughts or feel depressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. It may seem counter-intuitive, but recognizing negative thoughts, confronting them, and challenging their validity puts you on the path to optimism.
Life can be awful, scary, and uncertain. But the fact is, change is constant. There is a saying that everything comes to pass, but nothing comes to stay. So, I can focus on the negative and drown in misery, or embrace the option of celebrating the rain, smelling the roses, and creating a bright future.
Saturday ended up being another unplanned busy day while coping with the dreaded allergies. The good news is that I believe I have turned the corner and am on the road to adapting to Spring. Wish me luck.
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 364 words.
Shh, don’t tell the others. Friday gets lauded for her weekend kickoffs, but you still must deal with the 9 to 5 grind. Sunday is for family, napping, and getting ready for the week ahead. Monday, poor Monday. She is the black sheep of the flock. Tuesday and Thursdays get lost in the shuffle and overlooked. They serve as the workweek workhorses when you close the door, put your nose to the grindstone, and get projects accomplished. Wednesday and her hump day antics are in a class by herself.
But Saturday is the day I get to define. Whether my schedule calls for a whirlwind of running errands, down and dirty chores, a backyard BBQ, or forgetting the alarm and waking with my internal clock, Saturday is ready, willing, and able to adapt. Saturday can be anything I require. She is flexible, ready for a full day of work or relaxing on the couch. And best of all, she never complains about what we do or do not have planned. Who could ask for more?
I’m having a rough time shaking these silly spring allergies. Yesterday I woke with a head full of congestion, itchy water eyes, and a pounding headache. I did the only sensible thing. I called off work, took more medicine, and returned to my bed for a blissful couple of hours of deep sleep. Hours later, after a long, hot shower, I almost felt human again.
The unexpected bonus was I had an entire afternoon to myself. It felt decadent. I used the time to finish a few pesky tasks that linger in the nether regions of unimportant today but impossible to ignore. They only serve as guilt inducers as I copy them from one list to the next. Yesterday I completed them, purged them from my file, and I never want to see them again. And, of course, I dedicated a segment of the afternoon to sit at my desk and write.
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 1050 words.