Never enough time

standard October 6, 2010 6 responses

I struggle against it every day. The massive quantity of things I want to be doing against the limited amount of time each day offers.

This past week I’ve finally reached a certain balance between things that must be accomplished and my personal needs – you know: sleep, exercise, time with the family. In fact, I’ve even found myself with a bit of spare time here and there, definitely a novel feeling.

And speaking of novels, I’m even finding time to work on the edits. I’m fixing a chapter or two every day and slowly, but surely, I’m making my way to the end of the book.

I’ve reached a certain balance. A healthy, wholesome balance. 

But the problem with spare time, with exercise, with sleep, is that it gives my brain the downtime to come up with new ideas and projects. When I was over extended and struggling to keep up I barely had the brain capacity to make lists of things that still needed to get done. Now I’m free to dream and invent.

And I keep coming up with so many things I want to be doing. So many great ideas I want to put into practice.

And the downtime? The going to bed early? The taking an evening walk? All of that is lulling me into believing that I have the time to take on a new project. Just a small one. Or maybe a medium one. Or how about that big one over there, the one that could have such a positive impact on so many lives? That one is definitely worth giving up sleep or exercise!

But no. It’s not. Nothing’s worth giving up balance. Is it?

Because that’s the thing. There’s no such thing as a “small” project. There’s no such thing as “It’ll only take an hour or two.” It all threatens the balance one way or another and I’m determined to keep the Year of Awesome completely and utterly awesome.

I need to look at all this like I do shopping. Instead of impulsively diving head first into new projects, I’ll put them on “wish lists.” If I’m still thinking about them a week, two weeks, a month down the road, I’ll re-evaluate the balance and see if something can be shifted or changed to allow for the idea that won’t let go.

In the meantime I’ll try to savor the existing balance and appreciate the free time and the fun my brain is finally enjoying. And I’ll try to remember that life is long and that I’ll have time to get to it all if I just pace myself.

Is it back?

standard August 16, 2010 1 response

I’ve never been one to know when to slow down, take it easy, or even just take a breather. It’s my biggest fault really. It’s not that I don’t know how to say no, it’s that I don’t like to do so. As soon as I lighten my load I find another project I want to take on.

My brain thrives on the challenge. My body, not so much.

I have a history of dealing with physical side effects of pushing myself too hard. Usually I get sick. A nice bout with the flu or a bad cold. Nothing drastic, just enough to lay me up for a day or two. My body’s way of saying “Whoah there missy. Time for a nap or ten.” Sometimes my sciatica flares up, a physical reminder that enough is enough and the couch is lonely. More recently though the issues have had to do with skin.

Ick. I know.

The rash that was finally (at very long last) diagnosed back at the end of January went away after a hard course of Prednisone and a radical lightening of my workload. As the itch faded and my skin started to look normal again I started to forget about why I had lightened my load. Once again I started saying yes, taking on more, and more, and more.

A few weeks ago the sole of my foot started itching. This week my scalp joined in the fun. Then my arm.

I don’t know if it’s the same rash. It very well could be. It doesn’t really matter really. The underlying cause is more important in the end than the side effects.

I’m pushing myself too hard, too far again. I need to stop, breathe, and once again take a giant step back. My skin is literally trying to force me back into the present. (You try thinking about a million things while dealing with an unbearable itch!) I can get some medicine, I can take more steroids. But in the end the real cure is better time and resource management and maybe finally learning where my limits lie.

It’s a good thing I’ve already started.

Not that that’s helping my foot itch any less tonight.

Weekends are for family, not work

standard April 12, 2010 4 responses

I try very, very hard to turn off the computer on Friday evening and leave it off until Sunday evening. Back when I was the Managing Editor of the paper every single one of my days was sucked into the computer. I had to keep it on – just in case.

Once I quit the paper I resolved that weekends were for family. Just family. Not email. Not blog reading. Not Skyping, IMing, or even Tweeting.

For the most part I’m really good about my no-computer weekend resolve. Granted, I sneak a peek at my BlackBerry every so often, but I do try hard to stay off the actual computer.

The kids appreciate it, the husband appreciates it, and frankly, I like it too. I get to read more, play more, and just relax more.

Then, every so often, a weekend like this one rolls around where I have to keep a closer eye on the BlackBerry and then I actually have to get on the computer and work for a bit.

I had no idea it would cause such stress.

Because of a scheduling snafu I was late in lining up someone to interview for the column I still write for the paper. My article was due Friday, so I needed to find someone fast, schedule the interview fast, and get their story fast.

Fast turned out to be today.

I spent yesterday stalking my email and today prepping for the interview that I had managed to schedule during nap time.

Have you ever scheduled something “during nap time?” It’s code for “the kids will wake up the instant you start whatever it was you were trying to do while they sleep.”

I looked C in the eye and explained that I was going to be on the phone and she could. not. talk. to. me. at all. until I got off. She nodded solemnly and went to go hang out with her daddy.

Much to my shock they actually listened to me and no one talked to me or even came into the kitchen for the first 40 minutes of my call. Then C came to ask me something. I did some crazy waving and shooing away and she actually left the kitchen. Moments later Little L came to see me, only she didn’t leave quite as willingly. I had to apologize to my interviewee for the screams that rang loud and clear into the phone as M hauled Little L out of the kitchen.

I stayed on the phone and tiptoed into the living room, throwing a bag of popcorn to M before scurrying back to the safety and quiet of the kitchen.

A few minutes later I was able to wrap up my call and hang up. I had all my answers and a good feel for the article. I could hear the kids digging into the popcorn happily and I went to thank them for being so good and patient with me.

“I’m sorry I came to talk to you mommy.” C said sadly, looking up at me with her big eyes. “I just couldn’t take it any more!”

I understand her well. I couldn’t take it either. It was brutal being in one room working while they played in the other. I wanted to be with them, enjoying our weekend time together. We’re apart all week long. The weekends should be for family and family alone. It was good to have a reminder of that.

With no passion there’s no balance

standard April 9, 2010 1 response

For months now I have floated along on my own little cloud of happy. I’ve caught myself smiling like a loon at the oddest of times – 2am while dealing with a toddler diaper emergency for example – buoyed along on all the joy that permeates my life.

At long last I had found a balance of sorts and I was happy. Truly, undeniably, nothing-could-get-me-down happy.

Mornings were spent working on my novel, feeling fulfilled creatively. Afternoons were spent working at Tiny Prints, feeling fulfilled professionally. Evenings were spent with my family, feeling fulfilled on a personal level. And every other night were spend pounding the pavement in increasingly long runs, feeling fulfilled on a physical level.

True balance. Reached after years of trying to find it.

But as we all know, balance is a precarious thing. I took on a new responsibility, then another, and before I knew it my novel had fallen off the “Recent Items” list in my computer’s start-up menu. And I still didn’t find time to get back to it.

It’s been well over two weeks since I found the time to work on it. It’s been well over two weeks since I’ve been scrambling to once again keep all the pieces in the air.

I don’t like it.

I miss feeling happy all the time. I miss being content with my life.

I need all the pieces to be in place to feel balanced. If I’m not tapping into my creative side and giving it free reign, nothing else feels right and my self esteem starts to take a hit. Everything else goes downhill fast after that. 

Now that I’ve experienced the sweet taste of balance I want it again.

The insanity comes to something of a close tomorrow. Starting Monday I’m going back to my mornings at Starbucks, afternoons at work routine. With my new blog-every-other-day schedule I’m opening up every other evening for some of the work that has been taking up my morning novel editing time.

I will get the balance back, and with it my happy goofy smile. Even during middle of the night wakings.