Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ten Month Check In!

October's been a mixed bag.  The good habits I've been working all year to integrate into my everyday life - regular exercise, drinking lots of water, eating healthier food, staying on top of housework, and regularly taking time for small indulgences for myself - all of those got left by the side of one road or another this month.  In a way, it was depressing to see how quickly the wilderness crept back in to my little clearing.

But it's not all been gloom despair and agony on me. So let's look at what's been going on and formulate a plan for November, ummkay?

Different months are made for different things.  October was the month made for writing.  The month started with the annual regional popular culture conference, which was held in the graceful and somewhat quirky city of Savannah this year.  Last time I was there, I was strapped into a walking boot due to an Achilles' tendon injury, so I didn't see too much - and FryDaddy and I made up for that this go-round!  Our papers were well-received, we both learned some new things and we met some very nice new scholar-friends.  So, an all-around success.  For this trip, we had the best of intentions and (yay for us) we stayed within a rather strict budget (didn't go Tasmanian Devil at the deeply discounted book tables) and we walked a lot, but no - we didn't eat the way we should have.  But Walls BBQ is a must.  A must, do you hear?  (Seriously, I'm in favor of any 5 booth eatery where I can't get my pound cake because "I'm sorry, ma'am, it's still in the oven.")

This isn't right?
We got home from that and it was back into the throes of work.  (It should be mentioned that this was my fall break and, enjoyable as conferences can be, you don't rest all that much.)  In addition to my work load of five sizable classes, we were in the final stages of completing the Wanna Cook? draft, including the "bits & pieces" such as the acknowledgements and the source list.  As we're drafting those parts, other parts are coming from Our Intrepid Editor for revisions, and then we also started getting bits from our copy editor for the final fine-tuning.  It gets confusing to turn around that much that fast!  And there was Halloween candy.  And a spa day with Barefoot to celebrate (we both had milestones recently that were best marked with cushy robes and gigantic out-of-season strawberries).

In the last week, I've started making a real effort to get back to my established good habits.  I'm not there yet, but I have a plan.  In the meantime, the book is very nearly finished on our end of things (and hey - we've got a publicist!  I'm not sure what to make of that.) and the past months of good habits meant the house isn't in total disarray.  It's picked up (aside from one "hot spot" on the kitchen counter), but needs a good clean.  We got off-budget this month, but not to the point of using credit cards, so that can easily be corrected this next month.  And I can start carrying a water bottle and using the walking track again.  And FryDaddy and I are inking in some "couple time" that wild mammoths couldn't interrupt.

And I did not go mad.

I'm telling you - that's more of an accomplishment than it may sound.  In the past, I was so tightly locked into the shackles of perfectionism that if I didn't get everything crossed off my list ("Drink 70 oz. of water, check.  Walk at least 30 minutes, check.  Eat 5 fruit/veg, check" and so on), the day was a failure and I was a Bad Person.  To be able to look at the dirty kitchen floor and say, "I'll Swiffer it after work Wednesday" is a HUGE step!

Much work to do, true. But it's worth acknowledging that much work has been done.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Savor. Yes, You. Right Now.

Yeah, you have to look closely at the picture to make out the scratched-in letters.  That's sort of the point, though.  Savoring takes time.  Usually, we don't savor very well - we're in too much of a rush.  When you get caught up in deadlines and last-minute "emergencies that aren't" (I'm looking at you, everything to do with information technology upgrades) to the point that you forget to eat, you don't savor the meal that you hastily unwrapped and inhaled.  Sure, you kept from getting so hungry that you made a royal ass out of yourself in the client meeting, but really - you want to count that as a win?

Aim higher.

Look, I know more than I like to admit about failing to find balance between work and life.  I eat too many meals at my desk, I answer too many e-mails when I'm supposed to be at home off the clock, and I fret far too much about things, people, and places over which I have no - zero, nada, zilch, nil - absolutely no control.

So maybe I'm the perfect person to tell you this.


Just.  Stop.  Not forever, but just for a few minutes.

In the last few days, I've reached a major milestone in a project that started more than 18 months ago.  It's not done yet, although I think that faint shimmer on the horizon is the finish line, so I can almost see it from here.  This is a project that I am button-bustingly-proud of and it is only right and proper to take some time to savor the accomplishment.  (Seriously - if you wait for the world to crown you, you're likely to be waiting a l-o-n-g time for that sash and tiara.  I'm telling you, go buy your own and call yourself the "Possum Princess" or the "Count of Accounting" or whatever suits your particular fancy.  Don't worry what other people think - mostly, they're jealous that they didn't think of the idea and very few people will say much of anything to someone confident enough to wear a tiara, especially when coupled with a heavy scepter.)

So I've been savoring.  With the help of my intrepid co-author and Savoring Majordomo, FryDaddy, I have or have plans to:

  • Take a day off - no work at all on anything.  No checking e-mail, no "just this one thing."  Nuttin'.
  • Sleep in on a weekday.
  • Eat a deliciously hearty breakfast brunch that would make any decent physician blanch with horror.  But tell me what makes bacon better than warm maple syrup left over from a thickly-buttered waffle.  Exactly.  Nuttin'.
  • Read a sword & sorcery novel that is so by-the-numbers that I can predict the ending.  Read to the end anyway.
  • Take a nap in the middle of the day with my husband.
  • Decorate the house for Halloween.
  • Consider the possibilities of pumpkin.
  • Have a long phone call with my parents, who have been short-changed during this last writing push.
  • Discover new ways to combine coffee and sugar.  (Cortadito, anyone?)
  • Spend a day in an undisclosed location with a girlfriend, a stack of glossy magazines, and a licensed esthetician.
  • Make dinner from scratch.
  • Daydream about teaching the cats the foxtrot.
  • Eat an entire pint of really good ice cream in a single sitting.
  • Take time.

Above all else, take time.  Look around and be sure you can answer the question, "Why do I do this?"  Sure, sometimes it's simply to pay the bills and keep the wolf from the door; I get that.

But life needs to mean more than that.

Our responsibility is to make sure that it does.