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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Late (Again) Because Too Many Funny Things Happened on the Way to Wherever

Is this you?

Or this?

Or this?

                                          Absent-Minded Professor Brainard's housekeeper tries to keep                                                 him from missing his wedding--for the third time!

Then this week's Procrastinating 101 may just resonate, as we look at "Cure Five:  Get Focused and Organized" in Diana DeLonzor's Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.

According to Ms. DeLonzor's schema, the Absent-Minded Professor is one of the seven types of chronically late people--which you might be if you answer yes to two or more of the following questions:
  • Do I frequently forget appointments, meetings, or where I put the car keys?
  • Do I often forget names and details of conversations?
  • Have I frequently been accused of being unobservant or of not paying attention?
  • Do I notice that the light has turned green only after the driver behind me honks?
  • Do I regularly digress from the subject when speaking?
  • Do I jump from one activity to another before the first is finished?
(That would be three yeses for me.)

DeLonzor says that three main "problem areas" typify those of us who find ourselves in this overall profile: 
  • Distractibility (like The Family Circus's Billy)
  • Forgetfulness and Disorganization (like, well, me)
  • Lack of Awareness of Others (like Fred McMurray's Prof. Brainard, who kept forgetting to show up for his own wedding)
The legions of individuals who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder--like one of my children--have major struggles in these areas.  But not all of them, or of the rest of us, need Ritalin or some other concoction to cope.  And we can all benefit, argues DeLonzor, by taking these three steps:
  • Learning to stay focused on one thing for a sustained period of time
  • Getting organized and adding structure to our lives
  • Increasing our awareness and observation of other people
As in her previous chapters, DeLonzor approaches our reform by outlining a series of exercises designed to help identify the ways in which these behaviors and tendencies are making us late, and practicing new habits.  

My favorites on her list?  Meditation to improve focus; and establishing times and days for certain tasks.  The first of these I continue to work on making time for, finding that the more I need it the less likely I am to do it--grrr!   The second is perennially difficult for me as well.  And I am not helped much by my freelancer's schedule.  I am inspired by DeLonzor's simple instruction, however, to make another attempt to set up at least a skeletal structure, and to resist the impulse to agree to whatever scheduling requests and changes my clients and part-time employers might suggest. 

So no, Ms. S, I can't squeeze in covering for you at a luncheon next week.  I'll be meditating.

And next week Tuesday?  I'll be here blogging about Cure 6--for the timeliness Rebels in the crowd. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Done for the Week: Missing the Essential

Why does it feel like last week was so busy?  Because it was? 

Why does it feel like I'm avoiding the most important work?  Because I am?

Done for the Week:  Nov. 21-27, 2011
  1. Biked twice--nursing undiagnosed injury--shin splints?  tendonitis?  DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness--it's a runners' thing)?
  2. Walked my dog three times, with various family members 
  3. Read Love Invents Us, by Amy Bloom; Called to Freedom, by Stephen Boehrer
  4. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
  5. Published 3 blog posts
  6. Continued significant work on current clients' projects
  7. Attended Jobs Prayer Vigil
  8. Attended Town Hall for proposed city Jobs Act
  9. Continued to collect recall petition signatures
  10. Celebrated Thanksgiving with my family
  11. Had my daughter and her growing family over for day-after-Thanksgiving dinner
  12. Babysat my new granddaughter and her four-year-0ld brother twice
  13. Refinanced our house
  14. Watched one episode of Boss with my husband
  15. Scheduled weekly volunteering at Recall office for the duration
  16. Continued reading Elizabeth George's A Traitor to Memory aloud with my husband
  17. Watched one episode of Eureka with my son
  18. Replaced broken toilet seat
  19. Cleaned the kitchen and sunroom/dining room
  20. Cleaned out entryway closet
  21. Started cleaning my study 
  22. Scheduled car repair appointment
  23. Scheduled doctor's appointment
  24. Ordered birthday present for my mom
  25. Ordered replacement part for the dishwasher
  26. Got new running shoes
  27. Tried new turkey leftover recipe
  28. Scheduled piano repair/tuning appointment
  29. Went to Happy Hour with my husband
  30. Did laundry

I didn't spend the last week just spinning my wheels, but I did, as this week's quote says, "not do the one thing [I] ought to do."  I don't exactly feel that I am wasting my life, because most of what I am busy with is important to me.  But I am coming to realize that it is time to get back to work on my novel.

I have been experiencing some noticeable muscle/joint soreness lately and, in true hypochondriacal fashion, registered a fear the other morning that I might have bone cancer.  While it is much more likely that I have merely overdone my training, and underdone my sleep and necessary self-care the last couple of months, that moment of anxiety was enough to clarify some things for me. 

Like everyone else, I do not have unlimited tenure on this planet.  And like most of us, I do a fairly good job of ignoring that fact most of the time.  But when I was staring it in the face that morning, I thought of my novel.  And I thought that its unfinished state would be my deepest regret if I were suddenly to run out of time.

And thus, my focus goal for the coming week is to resume work on my novel.  And in service of that goal, I plan to employ Neil Fiore's Unschedule--subject of the single-most viewed post, hands down, of my blog.

As to last week, my most important accomplishment was refinancing our house.  Not single-handedly, of course, but in cooperation with my husband and my credit union.  This act matters because of the thousands of dollars and years of financial freedom it will reclaim for us, so that we can keep it together that much longer--provided we don't die of bone cancer sooner.

Last week's focus goal was "to continue the effort to get to the gym," and to "try to walk my dog on days when I don't work out."  Because of the whole fake-bone cancer thing, I was forced to take it easy workout-wise.  But I did manage to make it to the gym twice, and to walk my dog three times--twice at the dog park, from my house to my daughter's and back, a short drive but a forty-minute round-trip walk.

And now, in the interest of keeping some time for (gulp) my personal n-word, I'm declaring this post done.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Thanksgiving: 10 Things to be Thankful For if You're a Procrastinator

Everything, it seems, is political these days.  The internet is awash with advice on how to avoid political wrangling at our holiday tables; how to eat ethically; and why we should opt out of a politically incorrect celebration of our vanquishing of a native people.  Here in Wisconsin, people are using the occasion of the holiday to recommend the removal of the "biggest turkey of all"--our governor.

But whatever our stance on Thanksgiving, the holiday, it can serve as a reminder to be grateful for all that we have.  So whether we are preparing a feast (with or without meat; organic or not) or a TV dinner; suffering relatives or other fools, or dining alone; eating out or in; or boycotting the whole turkey day thing--we can take a moment to appreciate the good things in our lives.

If we are procrastinators, we may be late (for Thanksgiving, or whatever else we are doing today), but we do have some "gifts" that are all our very own.

Ten Things to be Thankful For If You're a Procrastinator:
  1. The long-suffering friends, family and coworkers who love us anyway
  2. The "procrastination industry"--all those writers, researchers, bloggers, therapists, coaches and consultants who are hell-bent on improving us
  3. All the cool t-shirts, mugs, hats, mouse pads, refrigerator magnets and other paraphernalia that make light of our condition, and allow us to announce it to the world
  4. The time we can spend smelling the roses when we're putting off something else
  5. Fast food, microwaves, express lines, all night copy shops, and all those other cheats that aid us in our last-minute dashes
  6. The luxury we allow ourselves to complete no project before its time
  7. The good company we're in
  8. Always having something to do, by virtue of never having finished so many things
  9. Not having a worse affliction/character flaw
  10. Tomorrow
Rather than wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, my wish is for you to Be Happy, and Give Thanks!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Getting Ourselves in Line

Diana DeLonzor's seventh chapter in Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged--"Cure Four:  Develop Your Discipline Muscle"--is our Procrastinating 101 focus for this week.  I can't say I'm all that thrilled at the prospect of yet another admonishment on self-discipline, especially two days before Thanksgiving.  But I'm committed to slogging through, and learning what I can.

Is the notion of lagging self-discipline more palatable because the chapter begins with a quote about a nun with this trait?  Are we in good company if it can be said of Maria, in The Sound of Music, that "She's always late for everything, except for every meal"? 

In her introductory paragraphs, DeLonzor reminds us of studies indicating that we late-niks as a group have more issues with self-control than do those who generally arrive, and complete things, on time.  Dr. Piers Steel has written most comprehensively about impulsivity as a contributor to procrastination in The Procrastination Equation.  

DeLonzor also points out that self-discipline is not necessarily an across-the-board issue.  We might do quite well at quitting smoking, or exercising, or cleaning the kitchen nightly, but play waayyyy too much solitaire on the computer, or play chicken with the snooze button, or read just one more chapter when we know we don't have time. . . .  (Hmm.  Sounds familiar. . .)  Reading this made me think of something I learned from reading Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and blogged about earlier this yearself-control is exhaustible.  That is to say, those of us who are fighting our natures or battling stress on many fronts may simply run out of the capacity to behave optimally. 

What is this capacity whose supply can be outstripped by the demands of our everyday lives?  In DeLonzor's nutshell, self-discipline is 
all about. . . the ability to make sacrifices and accept limitations.  It's the strength to choose what's best in the long run instead of what feels good right now, even if it means having to give something up.
And for each of us, our difficulty (or facility) with self-discipline is largely determined by
  • Our experience with effort and discomfort
  • Genetics
  • Family influences
    So, are you one of those challenged by impulsiveness?  Three or more yeses in response to the following questions qualify you as an "Indulger," plagued by a "weak discipline muscle."
    • Do I have several bad habits that I've tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to conquer?
    • Do I tend to play things by ear, rather than sticking to a schedule?
    • Do I frequently say or do things I regret?
    • Do I have difficulty starting projects?
    • Am I usually impatient when I have to wait?
    • Do I lack long-range goals and daily plans?

    My answersWell, maybe a fewYupNot reallyNope; finishing projects is my bugaboo.  Depends on what I'm waiting for--dentist appointment and flight boarding?  yes; Christmas and check-out lines (unless I'm late for something), not so much.  And yes

    I guess that makes me sort of a borderline Indulger.  Yeeks!  I'm already an official Rationalizer, a Producer and a Deadliner.  Is is possible that I commit all 7 deadly sins of lateness?  Or are these quizzes like a lot of zodiac signs and fortune cookies, general enough to apply universally given a liberal enough reading?  But I digress--another character flaw.  Back to self-discipline, and the cure.

    Interestingly, DeLonzor relies on different research findings than those invoked by the Heath brothers to maintain that habits of self-discipline carry over from one realm to another--that we can build brain structure that assists us in resisting impulses in new situations. 

    For the Indulgers, and yes, the borderline Indulgers among us, DeLonzor recommends this three-pronged approach to developing our self-discipline "muscles:"  
    • Learn to increase your tolerance for discomfort
    • Practice making transitions
    • Become a planner and goal setter
    For each strategy, she again provides a group of exercises--ten pages in all--designed to boost self-control.  Clearly, I don't have the requisite self-control, or the time, to engage in all of them.  I definitely plan to skip the first, which basically involves self-deprivation--and thus flies in the face of the self-care I've been advised to grow in my life.  I'm actually already pretty good at sacrifice and discomfort, having been a mother for 34 years now, and a Catholic for some 20 years before that.

    I would probably benefit, however, from these two:
    Practice stopping midstream.  Whether you're in the middle of an engrossing novel or watching a good TV program, practice stopping before you're ready, if even for five minutes.  Doing so will give you practice in making transitions so that when it really matters, you'll be up to the task;
    Practice making and adhering to a set schedule that includes time-estimates and priorities.
    And the key with this last exercise is to base the list of tasks and priorities on long- and short-term goals, instead of randomly adding items to a to-do list, with an unmoored goal of getting "as much done as possible."
    It seems, after all this time, and all the procrastination gurus I've consulted, it so often comes down to this.  Maybe there's a reason my post on Neil Fiore's "unschedule" is by far my most popular.  So far, I have not had/developed the necessary self-discipline to use it myself!  Perhaps it's time. . .

      Monday, November 21, 2011

      Done for the Week: Resisting Hibernation

      It's back!  That time of year when I struggle to get out of pajamas, and out of the house.

      It's dark well before dinner, and chilly temperatures have us encased in increasingly heavy clothing when we must venture out. 

      Add to that the accumulated fatigue of the last year's onslaught of crises, from the personal to the political, and my inner child is threatening a strike.

      I am still managing to put one foot in front of the other, if slowly, and to be semi-productive.  Here's what got done last week:

      Done for the Week:  Nov. 14-20, 2011
      1. Ran once, biked twice
      2. Read All Passion Spent, by Vita Sackville-West
      3. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
      4. Published 2 blog posts
      5. Continued significant work on current clients' projects
      6. Welcomed my new tiny granddaughter home, after 5 weeks in the hospital!
      7. Participated in Occupy Milwaukee event marking national day of economic emergency
      8. Participated in Recall Walker Kick-off Rally
      9. Began collecting signatures on recall petition
      10. Volunteered to staff Recall office
      11. Attended my organization's annual public meeting
      12. Watched two episodes of Boss with my husband
      13. Did laundry
      14. Cleaned out entryway closet
      15. Cleaned refrigerator
      16. Continued reading Elizabeth George's A Traitor to Memory aloud with my husband
      17. Went to Happy Hour with my husband
      18. Planned trip to spend Christmas with my mother
      19. Booked plane reservations
      20. Held family meeting to plan Thanksgiving dinner
      21. Cooked Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

      Two really important things happened this past week, only one of which I can list as a personal accomplishment.  The first is that my new granddaughter finally came home, after five weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.  She and her family are doing well, for which I am thrilled.  My son-in-law is on paternity leave through this coming week, so my own support duties are minimal for the time being.  When my daughter goes back to work, after the first of the year, I get to start remembering how to care for an infant and a preschooler simultaneously.  (I'm taking my vitamins.)

      Last week's other important thing was that I began to collect signatures on the petitions to recall our governor and lieutenant governor.  After ten destructive months in office, many of us are committed to putting an end to their consistently undemocratic campaign to radically undermine what's left of the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.  I expect to work hard while our 60-day countdown clock ticks.  Wisconsin--Forward!

      Meanwhile, I will continue to be engaged in trying to live my own life.  And I will need energy and stamina.  Apropos of this concern, last week's focus goal was "to work out at least three days."   I did manage to bike twice and run once, but one workout session combined biking and running--so actually I only worked out two days.  Our recent time change means that most available workout time is after dark, when my strong hibernation impulse kicks in big time.  All I really want to do after dinner is read, relax with my family, and go to bed early.  I don't even have basketball to keep me awake this season.  But I intend to continue the effort to get to the gym--my focus goal for the coming week.

      It helps that I am surrounded by challenged fellow-exercisers, including my husband, my triathlon training partner, and both of my sons.  I need to take advantage of the guilt I feel when I let them down, as they often don't exercise if I don't.  I plan to accept more of their invitations.  I will also try to walk my dog on days when I don't work out, and to exercise earlier in the day when possible.  

      It will be easier to work in working out if I can be in a bit more control of my time (more feasible since my granddaughter is home), and complete regular tasks, like blogging, before noon.  

      Whew!  I just made it.

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      Procrastinating 101: Beware the Dead(line) Zone!

      This week, our Procrastinating 101 focus is on Cure Three--subtitled "Get Off the Rollercoaster"--in Diana DeLonzor's Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.

      As in previous chapters, DeLonzor here leads us through a self-assessment, this one designed to determine whether or not we are the kind of adrenaline junkies whose lateness is of the "Deadliner"variety.  If two or more of the following statements describe us, she maintains, we are "Deadliner" material.
      • I work best under pressure.
      • I like a fast-paced life-style.
      • I often have difficulty getting motivated without an impending deadline.
      • I am probably more easily bored than most people.
      • I sometimes like to do things that are a little frightening.
      • I enjoy living on the edge.
      Personally, I think I am beginning to outgrow this status; but I have to admit that, as unpleasant as it feels sometimes, I still find myself "dashing around the house before work or furiously jamming papers into [my] briefcase before a meeting."  And I admit that "rushing makes [me] feel alive, focused, and purposeful."  Crazy, huh?

      DeLonzor holds that we deadliners are likely to be one or both of these two types:
      • Those who use adrenaline to relieve feelings of anxiety of boredom
      • People who require a crisis to get motivated
      Check, and check.

      It is not exactly surprising that Deadliners of either type tend to be procrastinators, too.  In an earlier blog, we learned what Dr. Joseph Ferrari had to say about procrastination fueled by adrenaline addiction.  We also confronted the research that shows that, despite what we want to believe, last-minute, last-ditch efforts seldom result in superior achievements.

      So why do we do it?  What is it about the breathless conduct of our habitual high-wire acts that keeps us in thrall?  DeLonzor answers these questions, in part, by sharing a couple of interesting findings.

      First of all, deadlining is apparently at least partly--some estimate 60%--inherited.  And it seems that a "longer version of one gene on the eleventh chromosome" is common among those of us who "crave excitement."  This gene "influences the brain's response to dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria, whose release may be triggered by exciting or risky experiences." 

      Additionally, research conducted by psychologists G. Anderson and R.I. Brown in 1984 suggests that individuals vary in basic levels of arousal, and that some of us with "lower level[s] of base arousal" may require more stimulation to feel comfortable.  (Maybe that's why I experience a sense of having two gears--comatose and maniacal.) 

      So if some of us are biologically inclined to push the envelope when it comes to completing work and getting places on time, what can we do about it--short of gene therapy?

      DeLonzor recommends these three "basic steps:"
      • Recognize how and when you create crises in your life.
      • Learn to motivate yourself in the absence of a crisis.
      • Find more constructive ways to obtain stimulation.
      Following the book's pattern, DeLonzor prescribes a variety of exercises for each of these three steps.  The two that hold most appeal for me are:  looking for patterns in my production/use of crises as motivators; and practicing doing things early, to build internal motivation.

      Something she doesn't deal with much, which is a serious issue for me, is the overall health consequences of living with self-generated stress.  I am hardly alone in our society in suffering from what has been termed "hurry sickness."  And many of us are coming to appreciate and long for the kind of calm that requires us to spend less time on the rollercoaster.

      Monday, November 14, 2011

      Done for the Week: The Short List

      Literally.  A very short list.  One of those weeks again.

      Done for the Week:  Nov. 7-13, 2011
      1. Read Separate Beds, by Elizabeth Buchan
      2. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
      3. Published 2 blog posts
      4. Continued significant work on current clients' projects
      5. Continued to give nearly full-time support to my daughter and her family as they coped with early arrival of their baby, and my daughter's continuing health problems
      6. Traveled to Houston on the weekend with my husband to see friends
      7. Saw Andrei Molodkin's Crude installation at The Station Contemporary Art Museum in Houston
      8. Visited Project Row Houses in Houston
      9. Saw Experimental Exhibit at Houston's Watercolor Art Society Museum
      10. Had a delicious dinner at Baba Yega Restaurant in Houston
      11. Did laundry
      12. Packed and unpacked
      13. Continued reading Elizabeth George's A Traitor to Memory aloud with my husband
      14. Finagled financial support for both sons in their separate educational ventures
      15. Took my grandson to his swimming lesson
      16. Meditated three times
      17. Took some time alone during trip with my husband
      18. Ordered room service breakfast

      As in previous weeks, helping my daughter and her family deal with the demands and difficulties of her medically complicated postpartum period and the needs of her preemie infant in a Level III NICU miles away was still my most important accomplishment this past week.  Enough said.

      Last week's focus goal was to "practice positive, non self-indulgent self-care, in whatever form I can."   I did manage to meditate three times, to spend some time alone while traveling with my husband, and to order room service breakfast.  All good.  However, I did not succeed in maintaining my exercise schedule in the face of the continuing demands of family support.  

      I have worked too hard at incorporating regular physical activity into my life, and attaining my current level of fitness, to let my new found athletic life slip away.  So my focus goal for the coming week is to get back to training, and to work out at least three days.  Because I need it.

      Tuesday, November 8, 2011

      Procrastinating 101: Too "Busy" to be on Time?

      Yeah.  I see the irony.  Here I am trying to share what I'm learning from Diana DeLonzor's Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged--and I'm two weeks late with this post!  

      In my defense, I was only up to the first of seven "cures" before I fell behind.  And there's been some unusual stuff hitting the fan in my life of late.  (No pun intended.)  I am going to make every effort to remain on track from here on.  

      Today in Procrastinating 101, we are, appropriately enough, looking at "Cure Two:  Beat the Busy Syndrome."  We begin with the ritual set of questions, intended to ascertain whether we are "Producers."  DeLonzor instructs us to answer these probes:
      • Do I feel the need to squeeze as much activity as I can into each day?
      • Do I view unproductive time as time "wasted"?
      • Am I pleased when the day goes by quickly?
      • Do I often underestimate everyday tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning or driving to work, even though I've performed those routines many times before?
      Two or more "yes" responses qualify us for the title.  (My own magic number is somewhere between two and four, depending on how scrupulously honest I am.  Which puts me in there with Zero Mostel, or Nathan Lane, depending on the era.)

      At the core of what DeLonzor calls "The Busy Syndrome" are a couple of key characteristics.  One is the fixation on productivity and accomplishment so common in our culture.  Many of us seem caught up in the attempt to prove our worth, to ourselves and others, by whirling through our days, complaining about how much we have to do while continuing to grow our schedules and commitments.  Add to this the magical thinking about time which comprises the second trait typical of "Producers," and you get the sort of habitual lateness scenarios DeLonzor relates, and I blush to read.  

      DeLonzor's "magical thinking" about time refers to the tendency to underestimate the amount of time necessary to complete a task, which results in trying to cram several too many activities into a short period of time.  Related to this difficulty is a general reluctance to arrive anywhere early, which might necessitate waiting.  Thus, we "busy" people find ourselves pushing the envelope on a regular basis, and constantly coming up short.  And late.

      Why do we have so much trouble being realistic about time?  DeLonzor suggests that right-brain dominance may account for some of the problem, since the left brain is responsible for organizational skills and accurate time assessment.  She shares, as well, Dr. Neil Fiore's notion of a Peter Pan Syndrome, in which an individual raised by indulgent parents fails to outgrow an "all things possible" attitude.  Such people "have a tendency to see the world and their surroundings as they would like them to be, rather than the way they really are."  (I know someone like this, but I wouldn't say that it applies to me.)

      Following a seemingly obligatory cultural criticism section, in which we are invited to step back from the competitive, achievement-focused values and behavior that surround us, DeLonzor points to a way out.  She advises the reader to:
      • Change your attitude about squeezing so much into each day.
      • Stop thinking of "waiting time" as "wasted time."
      • Overcome "magical thinking."
      For each of these goals, she outlines a number of exercises designed to promote its realization.  Two that I found especially appealing were:
      1. the suggestion of replacing "If I hurry, I can. . ." with one of the following mantras:
      • "Am I being realistic or optimistic?"
      • "Am I doing too much?"
      • "Is this something that I need to do, or something I merely want to do?"
          2.  the idea of listing everyday tasks; estimating how long they take to accomplish; and then actually measuring how long they take.

      I suspect that these two activities would address the habitual, and according to my children "obsessive" task-involvement which I engage in to the detriment of arriving on time anywhere; and my unrealistic assessments of what I can get done in a given amount of time.  (I persist in thinking, for example, that I can shower and dress in ten minutes, despite my daily failure to do so.)

      And now, if the reader will excuse me, I have to do three more loads of laundry, finish the dishes, call my sister, work on projects for two clients, and spend some quality time with my husband before turning in early. . .

      Monday, November 7, 2011

      Done for the Last Two Weeks: Having Hit the Wall

      One of the blessings of this blog has been the (admittedly not vast) "public" accountability for the way I run my life, which is built into these weekly done lists.
      And one of the curses of this blog has been the (thankfully not vast) "public" accountability for the way I stumble while running my life.

      This post's title blares last week's missing update. The story behind the story is some serious back pedaling.  The major dose of "good mother" behavior which dominated the last several weeks seems to have resulted in a tantrum-like reaction, in which I found myself unable/unwilling to do anything that a) was optional, and b) required any sort of initiative on my part.

      I've decided to think of it as a self-correction.  This designation seems like the shortest path back to what I think of as "my work."  And that includes, but is not limited to, this blog.

      Done for the Last Two Weeks:  Oct. 24-Nov. 6, 2011
      1. Ran three times, swam once
      2. Picked up new wetsuit
      3. Attended last Run Better class with Trifaster's Lauren Jensen
      4. Read The Farming of Bones, by Edwidge Danticat; Mothers and Other Liars, by Amy Bourret
      5. Continued to work my two part-time jobs
      6. Published 1 blog post
      7. Continued significant work on current clients' projects
      8. Continued to give nearly full-time support to my daughter and her family as they coped with early arrival of their baby, and my daughter's continuing health problems
      9. Helped my son complete loan papers for school
      10. Went out for three happy hours with my husband
      11. Watched second and third episodes of Boss with my husband
      12. Did laundry
      13. Watched the first two entire seasons of The Good Wife, in an act of utter escapism
      14. Continued reading Elizabeth George's A Traitor to Memory aloud with my husband
      15. Straightened out nagging bill issues
      16. Attended a special meeting on organization's proposed by-laws amendments
      17. Vacuumed several dogs worth of hair off our living room carpet--AGAIN
      18. Took my grandson to his swimming lesson
      19. Straightened, vacuumed, and dusted our bedroom
      20. Reset several clocks and watches back to Standard Time
      In between sessions of self-indulgence, I continued to spend significant--though decreasing--amounts of time during the last two weeks helping my daughter and her family deal with the demands and difficulties of her medically complicated postpartum period and the needs of her preemie infant in a Level III NICU miles away. 

      And this was still my most important accomplishment.  My daughter is beginning to recover, and my new granddaughter is doing well.  The baby has not yet decided to move beyond passive nourishment, however, which keeps her from coming home for the time being.  And so for now, and for the foreseeable future, Nana-ing remains Job 1.

      As part of coping with the stresses of this interval,  my focus goal, from two weeks ago, was to "resume meditating.  Period."   And to show for this?  Another epic fail.  Although I know that meditating is an important element of self-care for me, and a major contributor to the effort to depression-proof my life, I managed to avoid the cushion altogether for the last two weeks.  Part of the tantrum, it would seem.

      For the coming week, I am setting a more flexible focus goal, to accommodate the continuing unpredictability of my schedule and my current incorrigible nature.  I am committing myself to practice positive, non self-indulgent self-care, in whatever form I can.  I'll know it when I see it.