Just As Things Started To Fall Into Place…I Got A Brush Stuck In My Hair

I’ve struggled with motivation (lack of) and procrastination (lots of) lately. Maybe it’s the harsh winter with short days and excessively cold temperatures. Maybe it’s that I just have way more on my plate than I can handle. Regardless, I’ve managed to power through some things while putting other things off…I think there are a finite number of really big things I can deal with and, whether or not I consciously prioritize, my brain does it’s own prioritization and decides for me.

Now that my house loan is squared, which has been a hugely stressful issue for me, I’ve been able to make another big decision. Just in the deciding, I feel relief. So, today I was energized. I had two bookends to my day, with studying to fill the middle…no more procrastinating!

My younger daughter and I headed off to get her learner’s driving permit this morning. We didn’t rush to get out early, instead we took it easy. There is only one place on a Saturday to go, and when we arrived, there were hundreds of people in line! Two hours later, we walked out with our task accomplished. Next we stopped at Target to get some things for a care package for her sister who is spending a semester abroad. Back home, I ate my lunch, then launched into my homework.

I was in a zone…my phone, and all of its distractions were temporarily forgotten. Three hours later, I’d redone an assignment that I knew I’d not done correctly. My professor never collected it, but I knew I needed to figure it out. Then I went over another assignment that my professor had returned to me…I had the wrong answer. After going over it a number of times, I finally found my errors and corrected them. I e-mailed it to my professor and looked at the time. I just had time for a shower before I was taking my daughter and her friends to a high school musical.

I’d bought a new hair styling product at Target that promised to give me some volume to my non-voluminous hair. I carefully followed the instructions which included spraying my hair, rolling it in a round brush, and drying it with a blow dryer…Less than a minute later, I had a ceramic brush glued to my hair. After many failed attempts to remove the brush, including jumping back in the shower and trying to use shampoo to dissolve the spray, and soaking conditioner through it to try to loosen the grip of the brush, I ran out of time.

I ended up driving the kids to the play, half an hour away, and even stopping for gas on my way home. I’m sure that the traveling and fussing with the brush, which was kind of obstructing my view, only made my hair tangle-up all the more. Back home, I texted my son to find out when he got out of work. I ended up picking him up then having him drop me home and go back for the teens. Then he and his sister went on a mission to find me some detangling spray. By the time they got home, it was almost midnight.

In the end, there was no saving my hair and my daughter cut it off of the brush. So, now I have a big chunk of hair missing right in front. I won’t lie and say I didn’t cry. It took me over two years to grow out my bangs and in one fell swoop I’d destroyed it.  Fortunately, the old “comb over” is working to cover up my embarrassing mistake.

Tomorrow is another day, and a chance to try to get that motivation back…

Find the Joy in the Journey…the road may be crooked, but as long as you know where you are going, you will get there eventually.


Procrastination: My Nemesis

I think to really grow, we must take on our nemesis head-on. For me, that is procrastination. I think, in part, my procrastination problem is related to being an introvert…in other words being internally motivated. If I cannot figure out what motivates me, I end up procrastinating and not accomplishing my own goals because I just don’t know that I truly know what they are or knowing them, don’t know how to believe in them. So, like any other INTJ, that is an introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging human being, I did some research into procrastination.

I learned from Psychology Today in an article titled Can Procrastination Ever Be a Good Thing?  that there are psychological benefits from procrastination…otherwise why would we do it? These are obvious…

  • You get to put off unpleasant tasks in favor of more enjoyable things
  • Problems may end up getting solved without any effort from you
  • You can avoid the possibility of failure or success
  • You get to avoid the discomfort of doing something you dread
  • You can avoid the anxiety you feel about the task
  • Someone may come to your rescue and do it for you
  • The demands placed on you get lifted because you drag your feet

I can relate to each and every one of those, but I think there is something more. I believe that sometimes, we just need to be unproductive for a while; to get off the fast track in at least one area of life. Perhaps procrastination is the psyche’s way of telling us, “enough already”! After all, don’t we all need a reprieve at one time or another? It’s one thing if you are just a lazy soul who never follows-through on anything versus a productive person in one sphere of life who finds it difficult to be productive in all spheres at once.

The article made me curious about procrastination and how to overcome it. It turns out that there is an entire sub-genre of self-help books on the very subject. Looking through some of the descriptions, comments, and reviews, it seems a waste of time to me. You can buy a workbook and work through all the reasons why you procrastinate, thereby pushing off your priority list further, or you can just go ahead and get a few things done. There is even a sub-sub-genre for procrastinating women focused on anxiety and the fear of failure. Is that a particularly feminine problem? A post for another day…

After searching some more, I came up with a delightful blog called You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion which included a post titled Procrastination . His recommendations were more direct than undergoing psychoanalysis or filling out self-help workbooks to figure out the underlying psychological problems preventing you from getting things done. In essence, if you make a choice for your future self, you will make an idealized choice. When that future arrives, you’ll make the same choice you would have made if it had been an immediate choice. For example, eating a brownie instead of a salad or watching a low-brow movie instead of one that requires you to think serious thoughts about humanity. If you are asked to plan ahead you’ll plan to have a salad and watch a high-brow movie next week. But for today, a brownie and a comedy will do just nicely. When a week goes by, guess what? You still won’t want to eat salad or watch an emotionally difficult movie. The author ends with this:

Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.

The bottom line is that you have to think about thinking to get yourself to make the harder decision to delay gratification. I realized that I have done this successfully in at least one area of my life: running. Instead of telling myself I would be come a runner starting in the future, I broke my goal into such small pieces that I really had no reason to procrastinate. Once I got to the point where I could run for 5 kilometers at a stretch, I needed more motivation. I signed up for a race. That was my current self telling my future self that I had an obligation to run the race and therefore my current self was compelled to train. I still procrastinate about running, but not to the point of paralysis…I actually do go for a run most of the time that I plan to.

So, now I just have to think through how to make myself do all the other things that I’d really rather not do! Cleaning up my house is the main thing. I can picture such a lovely, peaceful place to live in…if only it cleaned and maintained itself. Perhaps throwing a party would do it…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the way past procrastination to a life well lived instead of frittered away.

Anticipation, Motivation, Procrastination

I have been so busy lately in every aspect of my life and in some ways that is a life saver and in others it’s terribly disconcerting and leaves me longing for time to focus. Being overly busy is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. Have you been there?

This time of year has been a low point in many years…one in which I have decided to take on some huge challenge because nothing much is going on. I guess I am used to that dynamic and tend to take on big challenges this time of year. In recent years, however, this time of year is full of work obligations and my routine of taking on something new and big is at odds with my new reality.

So, I go through my weeks so very busy. I look forward to the weekends as a time to finally get something done for myself, and yet my weekends are bespoke. My younger daughter’s basketball schedule dominates my evenings and weekends…and as I anticipate this last week of basketball, I find that the success of her team means at least one more week with a championship dominating the following weekend. I love this stuff! Don’t get me wrong…I just struggle to find time for, well, me!

I am a great procrastinator. Sometimes, because I am procrastinating, I turn to something unrelated and go full throttle to accomplish something other than what I think I “should” be doing. Ha! At least I get something knocked-off of my to-do list. Not bad. When there is so much on my to-do list, this seems to be the best way to go. Is it?

Lately, I’ve put all my excess energy (provided I have any) towards losing weight and getting physically fit. Turns out, there are a lot more pulls on my time. Turns out that despite my efforts at physical fitness, I’ve not lost a pound since the beginning of the year. Turns out, that although I’ve not lost a pound since the beginning of the year, I’ve lost an inch  and a half each off of my waist, hips, and thighs.

So, this morning, I was trolling through my closet looking for that next size down. I started out as a size 14…not that I would admit it, so I pretended I was a 12. (Keep in mind that I’m at max, 5 foot 4 inches and with bird-bones). So, after losing 18 pounds, I dropped a dress size to a 10…in reality, I dropped two dress sizes, from 14 to 10. But now, I’ve lost only an additional 8 pounds without an additional drop in size…or have I? I’m wearing these overly-loose 10’s and wondering when/if I’ll fit into an 8. Gauging solely by my weight, I’m 20+ pounds from being an 8…

Never-the-less, I started trolling through my closet. I found nary an 8. What is going on? I have no clue. I found many size 6 pants, all obviously too small. Then I found a sole pair of pants that looked like they might fit…a “big” size 6. I pulled them on, past my thighs…past my hips…past my waist, zipped and buttoned. Wow! They actually almost fit. Maybe in 5-10 pounds they will be a good fit.

I recalled that I put some too-small clothes in boxes and stored them in the attic. I ventured up to the attic and found the boxes of old clothes. Sure enough, I found some of my own clothes among the out-grown children’s clothes. Most were maternity clothes and some were clothes two or more sizes too small. I did find one box of sweaters which might have a few items which would fit. Inside, and on top, was a lovely, zip-up, black cardigan…a prize, no matter what else I might find.

I am still puzzling about what I wore underneath this cardigan and even more so, what pants I wore with it…I dream of some grey, wool, trousers…but they are nowhere to be found. Now I anticipate the fun I will have in cleaning out my closet…except that I don’t have time to do it in the near future.

I find myself motivated to clean-out my closet…I anticipate the joy I will feel from getting rid of clothes that are too big or too out of date. I am feeling my way past procrastination, and yet, there are still the limitations on my time beyond my personal limits.

Find the Joy in the Journey…sometimes anticipation is a virtue worth the wait!

We Are All Wonder Women

If you’ve been following along over the last 20 months or so as I make my way towards 50, you will have seen that I’ve stumbled many times along the way. I’ve bumbled down paths that were dead-ends and I’ve retraced my steps more times than I care to admit. Yet, here I am bumbling on some more and finding a measure of success here and there. I was going to state that I am no Wonder Woman, but when I thought about it some more, I realized that not only am I a Wonder Woman, so are you…so are we all, we women and men who raise families and work so hard to improve the world in our own, many varied, ways.

So, busy as I am, I am trying to step back every once in a while and make sure that I am on the right path. Sometimes I juggle so much that I am in danger of dropping not just one ball, but getting off-balance and dropping them all. I find, however, that some of the things I do help me to keep my balance and some are more prone to knocking me off. Exercise has become something that I look to for strength, balance, and even a little grace. It helps me sleep at night too.

Even though I’m not getting as much exercise now as I was in the fall, I continue along my Weekend Warrior way, and with still some measure of success. I even thought I may have broken my weight-loss plateau yesterday, as I’d dropped two pounds…but it was back again today. Yesterday was my day to take my measurements again, as I do every four weeks. I had found a few weeks into my plateau, that I’d actually lost an inch off of my waist, hips, and thighs…those oh-so-critical areas! Well, with still no weight-loss a further four weeks along, I measured again. To my surprise, I’ve lost an additional half inch in each of the critical areas.

My clothes are getting kind of loose on me, but I’m not down a second dress size just yet. I really need to get past the plateau and drop about another 10 pounds before I reach that next goal. I’m dying to clean out my closet, but I’m just too busy and haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve decided to put a box by my closet and every time I try on something and it is too big for me, I’m going to immediately fold it and put it in the box. This way, I’ll get my closet cleaned out eventually and I won’t have to sort through things I already know are too big.

Sometimes it’s those tiny steps that I take that turn into major changes in the end; and sometimes they just end up as another box cluttering up my life…at least for now. Sometimes, being the great procrastinator that I am, I find myself compelled to work on one project when I “should” be working on another…I just go with it. After all, at least I’m getting something done that needs to be done. One friend told me that what you do when you are procrastinating is actually more important than what you are avoiding…your subconscious mind at work. Hmm…

So as I lurch my way forward and sideways and sometimes backwards, but always with an eye to the end results, I encourage you to do so too. Take that first or next step. Even if it’s in the wrong direction, you will learn what doesn’t work and can move on to something else.

Find the Joy in the Journey…celebrate your failures and your successes and even those times when you think you are only holding steady.

Time To Stop Worrying And Start Doing

I’ve had a lot of troublesome problems come up since the beginning of the year and somehow, though I worried about them, I did little to fix them. They seemed so overwhelming, so unfair, and sometimes I tried to fix them and got frustrated with my lack of progress…and so they stayed and they grew. Like little grains of sand in an oyster, the beads grew like pearls as I isolated myself from them as much as possible. But the more you try not to worry about something, to push it to the back of your mind, the more stress it creates.

This past week, as I wrote about how hard it is for me to concentrate when my traveling spouse can’t make it home, I vowed to change how I deal with problems, so this week I am taking on my worry beads one-by-one.

I started with the little ones, the ones that were still in the “important” stage and not the “urgent” stage. I learned this important distinction long ago when I got my first, and long forgotten, Franklin Planner. It meshed well with what I was learning from reading Stephen Covey’s books…so no wonder they eventually joined forces. The important things should be worked on first…and if you follow that rule, you should not end up with urgent items.

I remembered and paid the first installment of my property taxes hours before the deadline (oops, almost slipped into urgent!). I signed my younger daughter up for basketball well before the deadline (I learned from previous experience that they really stick to the deadline). I wrote a recommendation for a colleague on LinkedIn at her request. I did some other, seemingly small things, but some required me to set aside a portion of my time and/or do some preparation work which needed my undivided attention.

I felt a sense of accomplishment with each checkmark I made on my task list and finally felt ready to attack an urgent issue. The simplest one was dealing with the IRS. While I was on vacation in July, they sent me a notice saying I’d made a mathematical or transcriptional error on my 2011 return and that I owed a sizeable sum of money. I knew that I likely made a mistake, but not in the amount of money I owed, so I let it slip to the bottom of my list. Then I got a form from them to fill out to go on a payment plan. Interest was also starting to pile up. Still, I did nothing.

So, newly energized with my recent successes and my determination to change my behavior, I Finally picked up the papers they had sent and I checked over my tax return and found my error. The notice declared that if I didn’t respond by a date, over a month in the past, with a payment, I was admitting they were correct and I’d be accruing additional penalties and interest. I dug my head out of the sand, picked up the phone and dialed the IRS. After listening through multiple levels of the phone tree and being on hold for quite a while, I got a live agent on the phone.

She was pleasant. She listened to me. She believed me. She stayed on the line while I pulled up the form I’d filled out wrong and filled it out correctly. She stayed on the line while I printed it out and faxed it to her. Then, I stayed on the line while she updated the system and declared my problem gone, vanished, resolved. An enormous weight seemed to lift off of my shoulders and energy to fix my other worry beads surged through me. This was the easy one and was the most recent…so I know I need to plow ahead on the difficult ones.

As for the beads, the little pearls made by the oyster when a problem drops in his shell…better for him to push it right out than build a pearl around it. Afterall, the oyster gets no benefit from the pearl and loses his life for someone else to profit from it. Not a good model!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and don’t put off those important tasks lest they turn into monsters!

Couch Potato to Runner—Defeating Procrastination (C25k Week 3)

Week three of my C25K routine started out a bit slower. I got up on Saturday and putzed around for a while, but finally put on my running clothes and shoes and warmed up. I got my iPod and turned it on only to find that the battery had run out. I had checked it just the night before and it had been fully charged. Apparently it has a bad battery or some other problem. So, I plugged it in and did housework while it charged.

I tried to keep moving and stay warmed up…I did the laundry and the dishes and went up and down the stairs putting things away. After about an hour I thought the iPod should be fully charged, but by then it was about 1 p.m., and I thought I shouldn’t run during peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so I procrastinated and did more housework. At 2 p.m. I realized that since it was daylight savings time, peak sun time really lasted until 3! But finally, at 3, I ran out of excuses and I felt silly wearing my running clothes all day just to take them off, so I got the well-charged iPod and headed outside for my work-out.

Week three is a shorter work-out than the first two weeks, but each week the running intervals get longer, so this week I was running for three minutes without stopping. I don’t think I could have managed that during week one, so I really am improving, albeit slowly. But slowly is the point. Even so, I’m starting to feel the impact on my knees, which are arthritic. I feel way too young to have arthritis and it’s not like I am a long-time runner who wore my knees out prematurely. But, nevertheless, my knees are worn. The best thing for them is to lose weight and running is what I’ve chosen to do…hopefully my knees will make it!

I did my second work-out on Monday and this time I left the iPod charging until the last minute just to be sure. Everything went well until I returned home and found that the C25K app was frozen at the end of the routine. It wouldn’t let me post my success to Facebook, it wouldn’t even let me get to the next workout. This somehow resolved itself by Wednesday, so I was able to finish out week three.

I find myself feeling really great after a work-out…maybe I’m getting a bit of “runners’ high”. I feel energized and happy. Part of this is the work-out and part is the music I’ve picked which is all feel-good music. I only have six songs in my playlist, but they last about 30 minutes. Here is my little playlist:

  • Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O.
  • If I Had A Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies
  • Shiny Happy People by R.E.M.
  • We Are Family by Sister Sledge
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys
  • American Pie by Don McLean

Week four will have me running more than walking and the running intervals hit 5 minutes. That seems a big increase from week three, but I’ll trust the process since it has worked so far. I’ll complete weeks four and five while I’m in Ecuador. I’ll have to recruit my husband to go with me…I don’t know if that will even constitute a warm-up for him, but depending on where we are I don’t think I should run alone in an unfamiliar place.

Find the Joy in the Journey!

Related Posts:

Couch Potato to Runner–The Plan (C25k Week 1)

Couch Potato to Runner–The First Obstacle (C25k Week 2)

Couch Potato to Runner–Getting Past A Defeatest Attitude (C25k Week 4)

Couch Potato to Runner–Being Flexible (C25k Week 5)

Couch Potato to Runner–Getting Past The App (C25k Weeks 6 and 7)

Couch Potato to Runner–Listening To My Knees (C25k Week 8)

Procrastination Destination

I am a procrastinator, and I fight my procrastinating tendencies on a daily basis although not always with the same intensity. Sometimes, I just go with the procrastinating flow and find that I get a lot done, just not what I set out to do! Yesterday, I set out to do my taxes. First I wanted my husband to send me all his paystubs and his W2…this turned out to be very time-consuming for him and after he handed the flash drive over to me, it turned out to be very time-consuming for me to rename the files and store them, plus print them out. Once I had them all, well, I had to go back in Quicken and enter all the details. Fortunately I quickly got the hang of the copy/paste transactions feature.  (Now I know where I stole some of the time I’ve used to write over the last 10 months!)

Meanwhile, every 10 or 20 minutes, I’d get up and DO something. File a paper. Find a paper. Find a file. Do the dishes. Wash the frying pans. Staple some papers! Such an exciting day. I also tried to reconcile 3 months-worth of statements from our credit card…this got my dander up as I had all of MY receipts, but only a third of my husband’s (and these I trolled through every possible repository to find). I am about three months behind in this and it seems that I should get my whole financial house in order before doing my taxes.

Then, I got an e-mail. It was my favorite kind of e-mail, the kind which announces a new blog post from someone I follow. Well, this one led me down a wonderful bit of procrastinating and gave me the idea for this post! But, let me back up a moment. This blogger, Elyse, writes a blog entitled Fifty-Four-and-A-Half…an homage to the sorry state of being just shy of the age to be grandfathered into current Medicare benefits. When I first found her blog I checked out how long she’d been blogging and discovered that she started on the same day that I did, which was my 47 and a half birthday….I still don’t know if we share a birthday, but close enough!

Elyse found a widget on the I Write Like site that lets you enter a writing sample and it tells you what famous writer’s style your work most mirrors. She wrote about it in her post, Who Am I?  I was instantly hooked…procrastination destination! First I picked a chapter out of my “book” about industrial espionage (where a person quite like me, except better, saves her company from the nefarious deed).  J.D. Salinger! That’s right, even unedited, I’m drafting works like the great recluse!  Then I got all crazy and put a bunch of my posts through the widget. Here are the results.

Still Crazy After All These Years! Is a post I wrote about my 25th anniversary…Cory Doctorow. At first I thought of E. L. Doctorow…wow; he’s a writer I like and admire. Then I looked Cory up on Wikipedia. Ok, Canadian activist, I can admire his enthusiasm, but I have no idea how well he writes.

I’m Having a Dickens of a Time Reading My Dickens is a post I wrote about reading Dickens. I have always averred that A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite novel, so I re-read it (loved it) and then turned to Bleak House. So, which writer did I most emulate here? Turns out to be P. G. Wodehouse (maybe I should write under my initials?). Well, I’ve read a bit of Wodehouse, but many years ago. I found it very funny in a very British-sort of way. Go figure that I wrote about an English writer and the analyzer tells me I write like a British humorist. Hmm…

My Funny Valentine’s Days is a post I wrote in nostalgia about Valentines days past…as with this commuter marriage I spent this last one alone.  Raymond Chandler? Really? Not sure how my romantic mis-adventures equate to hard-boiled detective stories of the first half of the century. But, he is an American author…maybe if he’d come up as a match to my novel I’d feel vindicated, but at this point I’m hanging with J. D. Salinger!

Things I Learned From My Dogs—Part II: Bailey is a post about our second dog…one which exemplified many popular dog aphorisms. The writer? Rudyard Kipling. Ok, I don’t think this analyzer is completely looking at writing style…subject seems to be part of the equation! Nevertheless, I’ll take a comparison to the illustrious Kipling any day.

So, my writing style mirrors some famous English-speaking writers of modern history from Canada, The U.S. , and Britain. Maybe the analyzer needs a finer algorithm, but it sure entertained me during a few of my procrastinating moments yesterday!

Find the Joy in the Journey and remember that sometimes progress comes through a circuitous path!

Watching Paint Dry–Part III: Patching Things Up

Sometimes I put things off because I come up against what seems to me to be an insurmountable obstacle, or just something I don’t feel capable to handle. That often turns out to be an illusion and just another way to procrastinate. This was the case with my big painting project last year. The obstacle was two places on my stairs where the drywall was broken; I didn’t know how to fix it. One was relatively small, and I figured I could use some drywall tape, maybe a few strips overlapping, to cover the hole and spackle over it. The other hole was much larger and I couldn’t see how I could stabilize it.

On occasion, I would sigh to my husband that I didn’t know how to fix the problem and he would reply back that oh, it would be easy to do. Then I would wait, hoping that he’d fix this easy problem so that I didn’t have to. In the meanwhile, my project was on hold. In reality, I don’t want my husband working on little projects around the house. He travels extensively for work and when he’s home, I want him to have time to spend with me and our children. Even so, I let this project slide on the hope that he’d fix things for me.

The project started out pretty big: paint the walls and ceiling in my stairwell and down the upstairs hallway. It got bigger when I cleaned off the stairs to the attic and added a window as well as additional walls and ceiling. I still have some additional work to do before I can prime and paint the walls, including painting the additional ceiling in the attic stairs, but I finally tackled the broken drywall.

While trolling the aisles of Home Depot a few weeks ago, I picked up a drywall patching kit for the place in my mudroom where the doorknob pad had recently been shattered by a big gust of wind slamming the door open. I’m proud of the work I did on the mudroom and wanted to make sure I maintained that small space even as I planned bigger projects. But while I was getting that kit, I saw additional patches of various sizes and bought 2 larger patches. I also bought a real doorstop…what we had really needed all along.

The patches sat around (i.e. became clutter) for a couple of weeks, but one morning I decided it was time to patch the mudroom wall. It turned out that the patch in the kit was too small, so I opened one of the larger patches and discovered that they have a steel plate in addition to the drywall mesh. Great! There’s no way a doorknob will get through that! So, I stuck the patch on the wall, spackled it, and later sanded it smooth. Once I’d finished the first patch, I took another look at my stairs.

It turned out that the small patch, which was just mesh tape in a 4×4 inch square, was the right width for the small drywall hole and about twice as tall as necessary. I cut this piece in half and soon had the small hole patched up. Next I turned to the larger hole. The last large patch was not quite wide enough. A bigger patch wouldn’t do because this one also had a steel plate in it that would barely fit the rise of the stair. Then I realized that if I used the remaining half of the smaller patch in one area I could use the larger patch for the rest…soon I had fixed the hole! It’s not perfect, but certainly better than I expected.

When I think back, I have to wonder why I let this part of the job stop me in my tracks. Now that I’ve overcome it, very easily as my husband had suggested, I am confronted with the rest of the project and it still seems so huge that I’ve contemplated hiring a painter to finish it off…and then I realize that I’ve already done all the hard work. Although it’ll be time consuming, painting flat walls is the easy part!

Find the Joy in the Journey. When I stopped procrastinating about my perceived obstacles and just got on with the job, I found a little slice of it.

Related Posts:

My First De-Cluttering Project—The Mud Room

Watching Paint Dry—Part I: The Trim

Watching Paint Dry—Part II: The Ceiling

5’s-ing The Attic Stairs

And That’s All She Wrote

Writing a novel is a life-long dream of mine. Some of my earliest books were Little Women, with Jo March as a writer loosely based on author Louisa May Alcott, and Little House on the Prairie, with Laura Ingalls as both author and subject. These authors inspired me to be a writer myself. I knew you should write about what you know, and for years I thought I hadn’t experienced anything interesting enough to write about. Too bad I didn’t know that everyone, even young writers, have a unique story to tell. Too bad I didn’t have a teacher that encouraged me to write.

My mother did encourage me and thanks to her I now have a few examples of my childhood writing. She mailed me a big envelope of memorabilia the other day and it included this little fable that I wrote in fourth grade:

The Hen and its Chicks

Once there was a hen who had many chicks, but she could only lay one egg each day.

One day she decided she wanted to lay more eggs a day (the more chicks she got the more she wanted). So, finally she decided that if she ate more each day the more eggs she’d lay. So she ate more and more each day and got fatter and fatter. Soon she was enormous but she still layed only one egg a day.

One day her chicks all died because she hadn’t left any feed for them. So she didn’t have any chicks at all because she was so heavy that when she sat on her eggs they broke.

Moral: Don’t be greedy

I don’t know where I got the idea for this story, although I’m sure the assignment was to pick a moral and write a fable about it. This one is a bit macabre…with the hen letting her beloved chicks die trying to have more. What a twisted little mind I had! Maybe I should try my hand at horror…

When I was a teen, my mom told me not to despair, that Margaret Mitchell was 37 when she wrote Gone with the Wind. That provided me with a lot of comfort, not to mention a built-in excuse, until the day I turned 38. By then I had three small children and a full-time job; I sure had a lot of experience to draw on, but no time!

A little over a year ago, I had an idea for a novel and I decided to try NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I started my novel but only got about 3000 words down. This year, I decided to try again with the same novel. In October, I pulled out my novel and even added on to it a bit. When NaNoWriMo started in earnest in November, I got about 9 days behind before I even started. I worked on it for a few days, getting over 4,000 more words down. And that’s about it. When push came to shove, I focused on my blog (and painting trim, de-cluttering, and generally procrastinating) and not my novel.

So, although I wrote in Physical and Mental Challenges for November, that I was going to get the whole novel down on paper, I didn’t make it across the finish line. Yes, there are three more days left, but I’m gearing up for a busy week and it’s going to have to wait. I won’t let it wait too long, however. Margaret Mitchell died at the (very young!) age of 48, struck by a drunk driver. I take two lessons from this…one is to spend as much time with my family while I’m on this earth, and the other is to get that novel done sooner rather than later.

Find the Joy in the Journey and keep sight of your dreams along the way.

Procrastination–My Nemesis

I can be bad when it comes to procrastination. When it’s really bad, I actually accomplish a lot, but just not what needed to be done at that time. I can remember times in graduate school when I needed to study or write a paper and instead, I would bake bread. It was something I needed to do because my husband and I lived 2 miles from the nearest grocery store and we didn’t have a car. Every month we’d walk to school for class, and then afterward walk to the grocery store. We’d fill up two shopping carts and take a cab to our apartment. Since bread doesn’t last too long, I’d make my own on a regular basis. Well, I’d make bread when I didn’t want to study!

Two days ago, my procrastination took the form of an over-the-top new “Big” idea which I wrote about in My Next Big Thing. Woo Hoo! It really is a great idea and I really will continue down the path of learning as much as I can about water, water policy, water reclamation technologies, and the like. It’s a great “big” idea, don’t you think? Kind of along the lines of solving world hunger…but I mean well and I’ll be happy if my contribution is small, but meaningful. So, I dove into the topic and ordered a recently published book on the subject. One minute later I got an e-mail that the book was scheduled to ship! 24 hours later, I got an e-mail apologizing because the shipment was delayed. I see this as a sign! Someone up there wants me to accomplish my November challenges instead of procrastinating by reading a book about water…as important as that may be to future challenges I give to myself.

So, I have decided to set up some carrots and sticks to guide me along the way. I’ve also come up with a training plan for my running challenge…I should do the same with the book writing, but frankly I only have so much time in my days and as long as I’m making progress, I won’t beat myself up for not writing a certain number of words over the month.

For my running challenge, I pushed myself along by registering for a 5k. Next I went out at lunch the next day and picked up my race packet. I shared a photo of my jersey on Facebook, letting my friends know I’m planning on running and making it really hard to back out! I’ve come up with a training plan that seems to be working. On Thanksgiving, come hell or high water, I will be in a 5k and I will finish. If possible, I will run the entire way and come in under 27 minutes. I know that is slow, but I’m being kind to myself and looking at this as a long-term commitment to getting into better shape…better a slow race than to overdo it and end up giving up on the whole idea (another procrastinator’s trick). I’m also hoping to keep pace with my almost-16-year-old daughter…who could run circles around me if she trained…but given that she’ll just go out and run a 5k with no training, I think we may be averaging a similar pace.

As for the book, the carrot is having the whole story down on “paper”. The more I can get done this month the better. If I can actually write 50,000 words this month I’ll be over the moon…but at my current average of 500 words a day, I’m running at 30% of the pace set by NaNoWriMo. The cool thing is that I am dreaming about the story! I am coming up with new ideas and figuring out how to solve the problems that are arising as I flesh out the story. It’s fun!

And procrastination, my nemesis…at least I get things done when dealing with it. The other day I cleaned out my utility closet…and I can see a few more de-cluttering projects getting done while I’m not writing my novel nor working the rest of my plan!

Find the Joy in the Journey…even in the Detours!