Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Monday, September 13, 2010

Done for the Week: Out of Focus

My mind is on the future this morning.  My boys and I leave for New Orleans on Thursday, to visit with my mom and my sister and her family.  In the meantime, I have to get packed and see that they do; finish cleaning the garage; complete arrangements for and attend a crucial board meeting; take delivery on a mattress set to replace the one that we've been sleeping on, which is not older than dirt, but is older than my all-grown-up daughter; replace two critical appliances in our kitchen which are simultaneously giving up the ghost; squeeze in some exercise before heading to the 90+ Louisiana heat; help get my grandson to his first week of preschool; finish my son's homeschool transcripts for online high school and submit them; finish the now-epic upstairs shower repair; get some writing done; get to yoga class; and get prepared to relax while I'm away.  

It's all feeling a bit Herculean.  But here's what I got done last week:

Done List--Week of Sept. 6-12

  1. Continued off-season triathlon training--biked once, swam once, despite my gym's erratic hours, due to Jewish holidays, and a weird back spasm triggered by setting coffee pot on the floor
  2. Finished Calming Your Anxious Mind:  How Mindfulness & Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, & Panic, by Jeffrey Brantley, M.D.
  3. Continued significant support to transitioning nonprofit organization
  4. Worked my two part-time jobs
  5. Published 5 blog posts
  6. Meditated 4 times
  7. Wrote 6 Gratitude Journal entries
  8. Wrote 6 Morning Pages
  9. Spent 1/2 day cleaning garage--needs another 1/2 day
  10. Ordered new mattress set and arranged delivery
  11. Received new tri bike as early birthday present from my husband
  12. Attended church
  13. Attended 1 yoga class
  14. Went out with my husband for Happy Hour; continued reading aloud Elizabeth George's In the Presence of the Enemy
  15. Arranged pre-birthday lunch with my sister
  16. Took my dog to the dog park twice
  17. Saw my therapist
  18. Attended organization's Issues Night
In red above is what feels to me like the most important thing that I did this week.  Of course, "receiving" a new tri bike was a lot more active than it sounds.  I had to participate in picking out the bike, get my head around the relatively modest financial outlay--at the low end of triathlon-worthy bikes, but still staggering to me--and deal with my related feelings of guilt and being unentitled.  (Lest I seem too decadent, I should point out that the bike I rode in my first triathlon was a quite respectable, but dirt-cheap Goodwill purchase, improved by a tune-up and the addition of a female-friendly saddle.  I removed the baskets for the race.  But still, I had the discouraging experience of pedaling downhill and watching other riders, on their lighter, more aerodynamic mounts, fly by me, coasting!)  I also had to sign on to the adjustments that riding this better equipment will entail.  (See muscle spasm above.)  But it signifies my continued commitment to triathlon-level exercise as a staple in my life.  And the physical and mental benefits of this enterprise will energize my other efforts and projects.

The attentive reader will notice that nothing is highlighted in green this week.  That is because I failed miserably to accomplish my focus goal for the week, which was "trying to write for 6 hours, and attempting to plan that writing time as if it were athletic training."  Though I continued to blog and to journal daily, not one page was added to my novel this week.  If this were athletic training, I would have experienced serious atrophy by such neglect.   My post mortem reveals that several factors contributed to my difficulty.  

First of all was my erratic work schedule, and other disruptions related to national and religious holidays.  My daughter's work schedule was altered, as it will continue to be throughout September--and this trickles down to me as her childcare provider.  So my search for routine will be challenged for the next few weeks until my life's externals settle down.  

Secondly, my household experienced some significant emotional issues--always hard for me to negotiate without losing focus on my own plans and intentions.  I need to keep working on becoming more "drama-proof."

Thirdly, the organization I work and volunteer for, and in which I have a leadership role, is undergoing major upheaval.  I have been making progress on limiting the hours I donate to bailing as we continue to take on water.  But this week I made a fatal error in showing up at the office too early on a day that was "filled with surprises."  Like most days are, of late.  Needless to say, and turning West Side Story's "Tonight" lyrics on their ear, the "hours seemed like minutes," and before I knew it, the day was gone.

And finally, and probably most importantly, feelings of inadequacy rush in where would-be-novelists fear to type.  I believe that the only cure for the fear that I can't write anything worth reading is to get on with it, and to resolve the question as I go.  So this week's focus goal, trimmed back in recognition of the challenges presented by my upcoming trip, is to spend a couple of hours before I leave on my novel, and to work on believing that I can write it.

Enough said.

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