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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back Next Week

It's not the kind of vacation with fruity drinks and white sand beaches.  It's not the kind of vacation with sleeping late and extra reading time.  

It's time to step away from my usual round of writing and working, and to spend some time with my mother.  And my sister.  And her family.

Next week, time for blogging.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Facing Down the Paper Monster

I've been up to my hips in opened and unopened mail and other paper detritus for some time now, despite having read a fair amount of good practical advice about digging out.

Today, my son's search for an anticipated notice from his school-to-be inspired an initial sortie, overdue for what turns out to have been about two-and-a-half years.  Instead of tree rings, or carbon dating, I can use the dates and postmarks on the swirl of documents to determine when I last tackled this mess in a serious way, and thus establish the age of the paper monster.

I have periodically taken steps to stem the tide of incoming bulletins and solicitations, but to insufficient avail.  In the course of the couple of hours I stole from other occupations this morning, I discarded dozens of credit card offers addressed to my husband, my older son, and myself; sorted a mishmash of depressing investment reports; suffered a severe paper cut while handling just the last couple of months worth of health insurance explanations, health bills, and threatening notices from collection agencies resulting from the constipated claims payments engendered by the not-so-great recession; stuffed reams of advertising flyers into the overflowing recycling bin; and endured guilt pangs fostered by a tilting stack of requests for donations to compelling causes.

I would estimate that I am about a quarter of the way into this campaign.  I am also beginning to acknowledge that my files are not going to hold all the "keepers" from this massive sifting.  It is probably time to revisit the approach laid out by Laura Stack in Chapter 6 of Find More Time:  How to Get Things Done at Home, Organize Your Life, and Feel Great About ItAlthough I had good intentions the first time through, I confess that my aspirations stayed just that.  And I hadn't even committed to any real purging--just to minimal catching up, and trying to avoid falling further behind.

But today's session whetted my appetite for offloading much of this unsolicited legacy.  I am tired of devoting so much space in my home to the stuff other people want to send me.  If I can't find a space to sit down, why should last month's mail enjoy an undisturbed resting place?  And why is a corner of the addition we're still paying for be taken up with files and shelves dedicated to containing my decades-old collection of this unwanted lot?

I am looking forward to continuing my battle with paper over the next couple of days, to filling more paper bags and ushering them out the door, and to attempting once more to attack the sources with the goal of weakening the beast.  

Wish me luck.  I'm going in. . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Still Reading "Still Procrastinating?"

Today being Tuesday, it is time to consider Chapter 11 of Joseph Ferrari's Still Procrastinating?  The No-Regrets Guide to Getting it DoneThis chapter is entitled "Procrastinating at Work," something most employed procrastinators probably know a thing or two about.

To begin with, Dr. Ferrari could have benefitted from a writing instructor's feedback on his first few paragraphs.  And I know.  I used to perform such services for pay.  

He lost me the first time with his apparent assumption that interruptions reported by corporate employees in a 2008 New York Times article, amounting to "28% of the average workday," are evidence of procrastination, despite the employees' complaints that such interruptions are "unnecessary and not urgent."  If in fact these "interruptions" are self-initiated, then it would have helped convince this reader had Dr. Ferrari said so.  If they were a function of the environment or management structure--e.g., porous work areas, and frequent time-wasting meetings--then I am not persuaded that they constitute procrastination, though they may undermine employee focus and thus feed postponement.

My major quibble with the opening section of this chapter is with the befuddling contradiction in Ferrari's treatment of the growth of the American work week over the last several decades.  He says that labor saving devices have 
added  six-plus work weeks . . . to average U.S. workers' lives from 1965 to 2003
and then speculates that we have spent them watching TV!  Is he saying that we are doing this at work?

Then he asks if we are
still not convinced about the U.S. work ethic?
and cites Steven Greenhouse's The Big Squeeze, who
reports that productivity in America increased 60 percent since 1979.  Employees in the United States work 80 hours more per year than Canadians, 120 hours more per year than the British, and an unbelievable 340 hours more than the French.
He follows this by asserting that
Even so, workplace procrastination exists among U.S. employees and workers in other nations.

Ferrari doesn't really address the loss of leisure and of work/home boundaries, or how much of the time and labor we've saved has been sucked up by the expansion of work responsibilities.  Nor does he consider that procrastination, under such circumstances, may be, at least in part, a survival strategy.  If some of us didn't put off the occasional work assignment, we'd have difficulty attending family celebrations and tending to personal hygiene!

In a less tortuous section, Ferrari illustrates the economic costs of procrastinating, to ourselves and to others.  He provides some sobering numbers, for example, of the nest eggs built by "procrastinating" retirement savers versus those who begin their savings earlier in life.  And he suggests that we find ways to more immediately "fine" ourselves for procrastinating, as a way of influencing our own behavior. 

Ferrari goes on to examine the demographics of workplace delay.  He informs us that white collar workers, both men and women, are more likely to procrastinate on the job than their blue collar counterparts.  Corporate white collar workers procrastinate more than noncorporate, and sales workers more than middle level management personnel.  (Ferrari believes that the technology that facilitates such work also provides distracting off-task opportunities.)  Curiously, workplace procrastination by business managers appears to be more common in the Northwest region of the country.

In a section that purports to deal with "Jobs Chosen by Procrastinators:  The Role of Creativity," Dr. Ferrari identifies only one occupation that appears to have more than its share of procrastinators, and that is "news reporters."  He doesn't discuss any of the other seventy-five occupations represented in the forty-three hundred surveys he and Dr. Piers Steel analyzed, so it isn't possible to assess the role of creativity, or the other factors that news reporters may have in common with other procrastinating workers.

Ferrari follows this revelation with a recommendation that we consider four "techniques," which we might use to avoid workplace delay.  They are:
  • Confidence [Is the "technique" having some, or rating  ourselves on how much we have, as he advises?]
  • Focus
  • Brand [Understanding who we are, in order to "shift attention to what you offer others and gravitate toward the things you can control in your life.]
  • Reward [Again, another "huh?"  What Ferrari says about this doesn't communicate anything about reward to me.]

After this (to me) baffling list, Ferrari launches into the discussion of creativity I was looking for in the earlier section, though he doesn't relate it to occupations.  But, as in Chapter 3, he expresses skepticism about the claim that taking more time with a project enhances quality, and ultimate productivity.  He concedes that this can be the case, but holds that it is generally just a dodge, and one that employers should see for what it is. 

In the rest of the chapter, we learn that Tuesdays are our most productive days, according to a study of "150 senior executives from a thousand [sic] of the largest U.S. companies," and then are presented with several lists of improvements we can make to confront out procrastination at work, which include:
  • Purchase software with back-ups, tech support, and easy-to-find files.
  • Print and read an e-mail message once, then file it.
  • Check your e-mail only once per hour. [I'd have to increase mine quite a bit to reach this standard.]
  • Identify very needy clients and give them more time [Really?]
  • Make a decision and keep it, but develop back-up plans.
  • Recognize the differences between tasks you must do and those you want to do.
  • Prioritize tasks.
  • Distinguish between what the team considers essential and what can wait.
  • Recognize trends of the future.
  • Maintain social ties within and outside the company.  [Is he telling us to have a Facebook page?]
  • Minimize interruptions and distractions.
  • Maximize organization.
  • Figure out what is causing you to procrastinate to find a solution; you need to know what is motivating your tendency to delay.
  • Conquer your fears.
  • Make a list of what needs to get done, and then organize a plan to complete each step.
  • Why not do the worst tasks first?
  • Set realistic goals for what you need to accomplish.
  • Keep a to-do list.
  • Allocate time.
  • Set and respect deadlines.
  • Use your time wisely.
  • Stay on task.
  • Collaborate and cooperate.
  • Avoid unnecessary follow-ups.
  • Cancel routine meetings.
  • Pick your projects carefully.
  • Keep busy.
  • Don't put off layoffs.
  • Enforce punctuality.
And there you have it.  Ending work procrastination in 29 easy steps.  What have we been waiting for?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Done for the Week: Waiting for the Thaw

I'm slowly coming back from hitting the wall, in terms of my level of activity.  This past week, I had a bit more energy, perhaps because of the physical exercise I got.

Spring is teasing us here in Wisconsin.  After temperatures in the 80s on Sunday, the rest of last week brought a chill wind, some rain, and even snow flurries on Saturday.  All of my outdoor rallies and ventures in petition circulation have taken place in the cold--no friend to my Raynaud's syndrome.  Hence, the whitened fingers with which I have held signs and extended pens and clipboards.  And the frozen toes on which I have marched and stood and walked. 

This morning, I awoke to snow on the ground.

This is what I got done last week, in this inclement season.

Done for the Week:  April 11-17
  1. Continued off-season race training; completed Week 7 of C2K--three training sessions
  2. Finished Sepulchre, by Kate Mosse
  3. Continued significant volunteer support to transitioning nonprofit
  4. Attended state Joint Finance Hearing on Governor's proposed biennial budget
  5. Attended budget protest rally
  6. Circulated recall petition door to door; 3 hours total
  7. Attended Board Meeting
  8. Attended Issues Night
  9. Attended Good Jobs & Livable Neighborhoods meeting
  10. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
  11. Published 4 blog posts
  12. Meditated 7 times
  13. Participated in interviews of two finalists for Lead Organizer position, and in hiring recommendation
  14. Got one son and husband to the gym with me once each
  15. Attended 2 yoga classes
  16. Had dinner date with my husband
  17. Got my last learning driver to driver's ed 5 times 
  18. Shopped for groceries
  19. Cooked
  20. Caught up on laundry
  21. Took son shopping for clothes
  22. Drove son to DMV, and signed as sponsor for learner's permit
  23. Watched basketball with husband and sons, including first playoff game of one of the two teams we root for
  24. Saw my therapist
  25. Tracked down and took steps to resolve one son's termination from our health insurance 
  26. Paid brief visit to sick grandson
  27. Paid our monthly bills
  28. Kept my household checking account out of the red for another month
  29. Met with website client
Apparently, I neglected to record a focus goal for last week.  My intended goal, however, was to complete Week 7 of the Couch Potato to 5K training program, which I did  

I continue to struggle to find time for the training, given all that's going on.  I am exhausted too much of the time.  Combined with early morning meetings, and other commitments, which push available training time later in the day, I am drawing heavily on my reserves of perseverance.  But I am more consistently in the zone of reaching my minimal goal than I was just a few weeks ago.  For next week, my focus goal will be to complete the C25K Week 8, and to spread the three required sessions more evenly over the week.

Meeting last week's focus goal was, in my opinion, also the most important thing I got done over the last seven days--which is why item 1 on the list above is not only highlighted in green, but appears in red text.

I am certainly not the only one who battles a chronic low-level depression these days.  Nor am I alone in experiencing difficult moods in the spring.  Exercise and meditation are the most effective approaches I have found to dealing with feeling sad, overwhelmed, and edgy, as I have recently.  So I intend to keep making time for these essential remedies, particularly in my currently stress-filled circumstances.

We are living in uncertain, and contentious times.  I would amend the bumper sticker/button/coffee mug saying, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," to read "If you're not anxious and depressed, you're not paying attention."  But maybe that's just me.  In any case, I'm aiming for tolerable mood and energy, enough to keep me carrying my share of the load and believing in the possibility of a better day, and better conditions for all.  Bliss seems out of the question at this time.  I will, however, be glad to see the sun and some mild weather, when they finally show up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

99 and Counting. . .

On the order of onomatopoeia --you know, those words that sound like the noise being referred to, like "bang" and "wack" and "sizzle"--here is a way to procrastinate with the word procrastination.  (And by the way, clicking on  onomatopoeia  will take you to a nifty site where you can waste lots of time on onomatopoeia games.  Just in case you're on a roll.)
Clearly, any amount of time spent on seeing how many words you can make from the letters in "procrastination" is a waste, and by definition a way of putting off doing something more worthwhile.  I could have been paying my monthly bills this evening, since we actually got paid on time this month.  Instead, I produced the following, using abnormally lax--some would say virtually nonexistent--standards:

action     ant
cant     cantor     carp     cars     cart     cast     coin     corn     corps     crap     crisp     crop              

nation     nit     notion                       


pain     paint     part     partition     past     pats     pins     pint     piston     pits     point     poison     poor     port     portion     post     potion     pots     print     prior     proctor           

rain     rant     raps     rasp     ratio     ration     riot     rips     roast     roost                         

saint     saps     satin     scant     scion     scoot     scorpion     scorn     scrap     scrip     sin     soot     sort     Spain     spar     spat     spin     spit     spittoon     sport     spot     sprint     stain     star     start     stint     stir     stop    strap     strip     strop     stoop     strain                           

tact     tans     taps     tarp      tars     tart      tins     tint     tips     toast     tons     torpor     tort     traction     train

Wow!  What an accomplishment.              
I invite others to weigh in on words I missed, thus encouraging the spread of the scourge of the p-word.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Of Warriors, Humble and Otherwise

Sanskrit Name: Baddha Virabhadrasana
English Translation: Bound Warrior Pose
Also Called: Humble Warrior
I've been thinking today about the concept of the warrior in Shambhala Buddhism, and about the various warrior poses, or asanas in yoga.  One reason for this preoccupation, I'm sure, is the physical residue of this morning's yoga class--the muscle memory of not insignificant discomfort. 

In a 2002 article in Shambhala Sun, Cyndi Lee reveals 
one of the best kept secrets of the world--yoga asana practice is not necessarily relaxing. People who come to a retreat looking for a siesta-like yoga experience could be disappointed: folding yourself up like a pretzel may not be a mellow moment--and unfolding is not a piece of cake either.  The relationship between effort and outcome is clear, as opposed to the picture of the beach yogini, arms outstretched peacefully, as if the ends of her fingertips were plugged into a bliss-cloud of happiness. It appears as if she could stay there effortlessly and indefinitely. But the truth is, after only a few deep breaths holding that pose, most people’s arms and legs will begin to quiver involuntarily.
The various Warrior poses are not the highest hurdles in my own ascent.  Half-moon /Ardha Candrāsana and Fierce Pose (also Power or Chair Pose)/Utkatasana) are my personal bête noires--and only because my recently resurrected practice has not yet led me back to more strenuous undertakings.

But it is the Warrior posture, and mentality, that interest me here.  As a pacifist, I have been intrigued to encounter the Warrior within Buddhism, and in yoga--both practices that we generally associate with peacefulness.

Historically, we are told that the Buddha himself was born into the warrior class.  The US military's first Buddhist chaplain, Lieutenant (jg) Jeanette Shin, blogging for Wildmind, tells us that while

[t]he Buddha never advocated the killing or destruction of “infidels” of any religion or doctrine, and always recommended the path of nonviolence. . . .
Shakyamuni’s life and teachings reveal a person raised to be a heroic warrior invested in honor. While he renounced the life planned for him by his parents, as a secular warrior-king, he used the language of warriors to convey the Dharma, so he could stress that following the path of Dharma required similar virtues possessed by warriors.
Thus, we find that
[t]erms like charioteer, sword and shield, war elephants, banners, fortress, archers, arrows, poisoned arrows, are all used in expressing the struggle to overcome one’s delusions.
Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, has written and taught extensively within the tradition of Shambhala Buddhism, begun by her teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  In this tradition, the journey toward awakening is known as the "path of the warrior."  Shambhala teaching speaks of the
bodhisattva-warrior, one who is brave and confident enough to overcome self-centeredness in order to help others.
At the heart of this warrior practice is compassion.

And for the body, as well as the mind, Lee reminds us,
the practice of yoga becomes a training program for being centered, awake, confident and flexible within effortful situations.
Ms. Lee advises the practitioner, in assuming yoga warrior poses, to
try to notice when your body gets tired or your mind gets bored. Stick with it anyway. When it feels difficult, try not to overexert but instead apply “right action”--action composed of rhythm, movement, direction, energy and intention, but never aggression. This attitude is in line with the warrior's code, and engenders courage to face reality and relate to it appropriately, using the weapons of gentleness and awareness. 
In musing about this today, I am encouraged to think of myself building strength and equanimity, both mental and physical, in my practices of yoga and meditation.  I am certainly in need of both as I weave in and out among the obstacles placed in my path, as in all of ours, in the present day.

I aspire at least to introduce my inner chicken to the warrior I can become.  And to keep on training.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Tales Out of School

The picture to the left looks like me in my graduate school days.  Add a few silver strands to the hair, and it looks like me these days.  Still enamored of books.  Still struggling to keep up.

So I was eager to read what Joseph Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating?  The No-Regrets Guide to Getting it Done, had to say about academic procrastination in Chapter 10, "Academic Procrastination:  Why Students Delay, and How It Affects the Rest of Their Lives."

Would Dr. Ferrari solve the mystery of why I will most likely die A.B.D.?  Could he shed light on what happened to my Ph.D. dreams?

As I have come to expect from Ferrari, I had a little trouble wrapping my head around some of what he had to say on this subject.  For example, he calls students who procrastinate in school situational procrastinators; and he goes on to tell us that such people are "procrastinating, but they are not procrastinators."  Hmmm.  

And what kinds of things don't they procrastinate?  Ferrari gives as evidence that such behind-the-times students are not procrastinators their enthusiastic attendance at hip-hop concerts, consumption of beer at frat parties, and arrival in time to gain free admission to a movie.  

Are we therefore to believe that there is some group of people who procrastinate across the board?  People who put off getting up to get a slice of chocolate cake?  Who don't get around to watching their favorite TV shows?  Would these, then, be the real procrastinators?

Next, we learn that between 70 and 75% of students admit to frequent school-related procrastination.  Ferrari would have us accept that this widespread behavior is associated with poor grades; spending more hours on projects and studying; engaging in cheating and plagiarism; and having incomplete assignments and course work.  Do 70-75% of students get poor grades; spend inordinate amounts of time of their work; cheat and plagiarize; and accumulate incompletes?  I was one of his procrastinating majority, but my grades were excellent, and I never cheated or plagiarized.  If I had, I could have been done a lot sooner.

This overwhelming majority of students, in contrast with the minority who don't procrastinate, 
claim a high degree of these personality attributes:
  • Self-handicapping behaviors
  • Guilt feelings
  • State, trait, and social anxieties
  • Rebelliousness
  • Indecision
  • Irrational thinking
  • Public self-consciousness
  • Societal doemands for perfection
  • Parental criticism
  • Parental performance expectations
[and] a low degree of these:
  • Optimism
  • Decisional self-confidence
  • Personal self-confidence
  • Self-esteem
  • Life satisfaction
Academic procrastinators, according to Ferrari, are likely to have diffuse identities, like our decisional procrastinating friends from his Chapter 3.  That is to say, they desire to avoid learning about themselves and their capabilities, which leads them to put off tasks and performances which might reveal inadequacies.  They are likely to feel like imposters.  And here's something that doesn't seem all that irrational, or unusual to me--but maybe that's because I am a certified academic procrastinator.  Ferrari and a colleague found that 
[t]asks that students procrastinated on . . . were reported as those requiring more effort and being more anxiety provoking and unpleasurable than any other tasks during the term.
Ferrari also tells us that academic procrastinators often lie about why their work is late--70% of the time!  And students who admitted using "fraudulent excuses" felt little or no guilt.  Again, not me.  My professors heard the real deal from me.  No multiple dead grandmothers, homework-digesting canines, or papers left on the bus--unless they were.

At the chapter's conclusion, Ferrari appends two useful sections which include practical tips for dealing with writer's block, and with time-management difficulties.  The advice is generally sound, if not particularly unique.  But he loses me again with his final paragraph, which begins
I hope you see that academic procrastination is common, and such procrastinators are not the same as other forms of frequent delaying individuals described earlier in this book.
But I don't.

And his final sentence
Get it done, just do it now.
is yet another example of his frequent exhortations, which seem, at heart, to be telling the procrastinator to just not procrastinate

I'm afraid that Dr. Ferrari has been no more successful in explaining my difficulty in completing my dissertation than the fleet of therapists who have already taken a crack at the question.  And despite the chapter's title, he has not said anything about "how it has affected the rest of my life." 

Next week--Procrastination at WorkMaybe that's where the real procrastinators are hiding.

Done for the Week: Still Crazy After All These Weeks

Last week was beyond busy.  Insane, actually. The craziness extended into yesterday, so I am posting what should have been Monday's Done for the Week today.

Here's the list of what I accomplished, in between obsessive absorption in weirder and weirder state political happenings.

Done for the Week:  April 4-10
  1. Continued off-season race training, returning to C25K; completed Week 6--three training sessions
  2. Finished The Sunday Wife, by Cassandra King
  3. Continued significant volunteer support to transitioning nonprofit
  4. Attended open house at new recall office
  5. Gathered signatures on recall petition; 9 hours total
  6. Attended Get Out the Vote Rally
  7. Voted
  8. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
  9. Published 3 blog posts
  10. Meditated 6 times
  11. Met with my meditation group for the first time in several weeks
  12. Called three references for lead organizer candidate
  13. Got one son and husband to the gym with me once each
  14. Attended 2 yoga classes
  15. Ran with new triathlon training partner
  16. Attended triathlon training party with Sally Edwards
  17. Had dinner date with my husband
  18. Registered for upcoming 5K event
  19. Got my last learning driver to driver's ed 5 times 
  20. Had dinner out with one son
Last week's focus goal was "to complete Week 6, and two of the three sessions of Week 7 of the Couch Potato to 5K program."   I received some news early last week that gave me a bit more breathing room with respect to the May 1st 5K I am planning to participate in.  So I decided not to push my training, given its less than ideal conditions the past few weeks.  

Instead of accellerating Week 6's completion, and attempting to complete Week 7, I decided to adhere more sensibly to the Week 6 schedule.  I was able to complete the three prescribed sessions, and am feeling more confident of completing the program at this point.  I even had a chance to run outside for the first time in months, when Sunday brought us temperatures in the 80s.  It was a pleasure to begin training with my new partner.  I am looking forward to her return from Costa Rica, and to stepping up our routine. 

I believe that the most important thing I did last week was to turn in 3+ sheets of recall petition signatures.  If we are to stop the assault on programs and people I am concerned about in our state, we will need to act to restore our fractured democracy.  My state Senator has been at the forefront of the ongoing efforts to abridge rights and dismantle the social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, all the while championing tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.  She and her colleagues have gone far beyond anything the voters were led to expect when they took office.  And they have acted with cavalier disregard for the rules set up to protect the process, and the rights of citizens.  I am hopeful that we are close to completing our effort to give the voters an opportunity to register their reactions to this new reality.

And in the meantime, I will continue trying to find a balance I can live with as we go "Forward, not backward," to borrow one of our movement's chants, this one based on Wisconsin's state motto.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Way Off the Beaten Path, Again

Another late night, after another crazy day.  It seems that there are going to be a lot more of them in our immediate future.  I'm trying to learn to roll with it--but not to roll too far, too fast, or too erratically.  And not to lose sight of where I'm going.

Many of us experienced some pretty serious whiplash yesterday.  We began the day relaxing into the temporary euphoria of positive election results.  We shopped, cooked, paid bills, wrote blogs, walked our dogs, and caught up once more with the lives we've been putting on hold so often these past couple of months.

And then a very large bucket of cold water was delivered around dinner time, as roughly 7500 votes were "suddenly" discovered, reversing the outcome in the state's Supreme Court race more than twenty-four hours after our candidate had declared victory.

It's getting hard to remember the time when each day didn't bring one fresh outrage or another.  It's getting hard to remember my once relatively stable inner gyroscope.  

What good is a to-do list in a whirlwind?  

Like Scarlett, I intend to think about it mañana.  Unless the sky falls in.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

After a Horse Race, Back on My Own Horse

I made up a new life rule this week:  

Anytime I 

1) put in a full day shift collecting recall signatures at a polling place for a "spring" election (that's what they call this chilly, needed-my-gloves-and-long-underwear season);  

2) then stay up way too late waiting to learn of my candidate's narrow (204 vote) victory (for whom I, of course, did not electioneer while collecting recall signatures); and 

3) do so while continuing to put in hours on my two paid jobs, I am allowed to put off blogging until I have recovered.

So invoking that new rule, I did not blog Tuesday or yesterday, when all my free time was spent glued to the horse race for Supreme Court Justice in Wisconsin.  

My obsessive self worries that, having broken my year-plus string of weekday blog posts, I will have weakened my commitment to being a serious blogger.   But even my two youngest kids, who take the usual young persons' stance toward adult preococupations, have exerted some energy to encourage me to slack off, and to lighten up about the possible downward slide.

I may attempt to make up the missing posts--and I may not.  Time, and personal energy, will tell.

This is not going to be a season of "business as usual," whatever that was.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Done for the Week: Giving Up on Perfect

Last week was busier than the previous one.  The community organization for which I work part-time; do way too much volunteer office and IT work; and function as a leader in and outside of my congregation continued to ramp up for tomorrow's crucial election.  I am doing better, however, at pacing myself--necessitated by intermittently swelling family demands, and a level of moral fatigue that is beginning to seem chronic.

Here's the list of what I accomplished last week.

Done for the Week:  Mar. 28-April 3
  1. Continued off-season race training, returning to C25K; completed 2/3 of Week 6
  2. Finished South of Broad, by Pat Conroy
  3. Continued significant volunteer support to transitioning nonprofit
  4. Attended meeting of lead organizer search committee
  5. Attended rescheduled Issues Night
  6. Participated in teach-in on state's proposed biennial budget
  7. Worked my two part-time jobs
  8. Published 5 blog posts
  9. Meditated 7 times
  10. Got both sons and husband to the gym with me once each
  11. Attended 2 yoga classes
  12. Saw my therapist
  13. Helped my son with emergency shower faucet replacement
  14. Cleaned off my dresser
  15. Cleaned off desk in my bedroom
  16. Cleaned off workspace couch
  17. Had lunch with new triathlon training partner
  18. Had a 24-hour sleepover with my 3-year-old grandson, including museum visit
  19. Had dinner with my sister-in-law and her family
  20. Called my mother
  21. Shared an evening out with my husband
  22. Got my last learning driver to driver's ed 5 times 
Over half of the items on my list are in red, because together they represent what I feel is the most important thing I did last week--which was to give myself, my family, and my home some much-needed attention. 

Last week's focus goal was "to complete the remaining training session of Week 5, and the three training sessions of Week 6 of the Couch Potato to 5K program."   

Weather, a hectic schedule, and fatigue combined to derail my plan.  Intentions to run on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all bit the dust, and it was Thursday before my feet met the track.  I had revised my training schedule to omit the last Week 5 session, and had started with Week 6, session 1. Saturday was to have been my second training session, but it was "rained out" by a sudden plumbing disaster, requiring immediate attention.  I completed the second session yesterday evening.

I still intend to participate in a 5K race on the first of May--ready or not.  But it is probably unrealistic to expect any perfect training weeks between now and then.  My focus goal for this week is to complete Week 6, and two of the three sessions of Week 7.  This amounts to running three times this week.  One of those runs will be with my new training partner, a friend who plans to participate in the Danskin triathlon with me this summer.

Anne Lamott writes that

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. 
Today, I'm working to believe that this season's training will come together, if I just keep at it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Achievements of a Soon-to-be-Rich-and-Famous

Breaking news!

I am elated to announce that I have just sold my novel--Anything But Quiet on the Western Front--to Doubleday.  The deal specifies publication by Christmas, and a $100,000 advance.  I always knew one day my hard work would pay off, but this is beyond belief!

In an unrelated event, I ran my first ever 8-minute mile yesterday.  At this rate, I should cut last year's triathlon finishing time in half for this year's August race.

All this, and the best good-hair day of my life.

Oh, and yeah, finally getting to show off the handsprings I mastered all those years ago, in preparation for just such a confluence of events.

Sometimes, I guess, the gods really do smile down on us.

And sometimes, it's April Fools Day.