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I feel the need to extend my apologies to you. I’ve been providing you with visual yums in the form of photos of the day, and I love doing that, but I haven’t been regaling you with word-treats on a regular basis.  I have a lot of half-started posts and tons of things to say.  In fact, I have a ridiculous 280 drafts sitting in my “Posts” folder here on WordPress. Some of them will never be finished, and I know that, but I’d say at least half of them are ripe for the picking.

There are always excuses for not writing.  Believe me, I know this.  Every writer does. It takes a discipline that I never imagined, and as we know, discipline is not my long suit.  It was easy to work on the novel when that was my focus, but with the jobs, the houses, and trying to steer towards the star of my future, I just haven’t been able to recapture that focus.

I know I’m writing now and I could be writing something far more engaging than an apologetic post, but I felt it might assuage my guilty conscience.  On the hopeful side, the move is scheduled, the house is coming along, and I am optimistic that once we’re a bit more settled, I’ll be back to a more settled writing schedule.  So I’m asking you, please, to bear with me.

I promise I’ll be back. 

On January 1, I decided to participate in WordPress’ “Post-A-Day” (see details here).  Since I post with a fair amount of regularity, I didn’t think this would be too tough.  However, as others who post frequently know, it is sometimes hard to come up with anything to write about.  I have been known to resort to random thoughts, or, if I have too much time, one of my Slightly Bizarre History posts. 

As I have been contemplating my future – both the journey and the destination – I am recognizing that I need more discipline.  The lack of discipline in my life is a detriment to me.  My recent relationship was really helpful in providing a sense of discipline, as my partner had trained himself to be quite disciplined and it worked for him. For the most part, it worked for me too.   At any rate, I feel it is good for me – it feels like something I have pushed against unnecessarily – really just to be contrary –  for my entire life, and I’d like to stop pushing against it now.

So the “Post A Day” feels like a pekingese-sized way of instilling a bit of discipline in my life.   And that, my friends, is something that makes me smile.

 

(And Boo here ALWAYS makes me smile!)

I’m finally almost well, except for a kind of constant sinus headache.  That’s good.  Now, I find I don’t know what to do with myself. 

I’ve always worked, and it feels strange and wrong not to be.  I had no idea how much of my identity was wrapped up in my work.  I feel guilty about not working like I always do.  And what’s more, I need to be working harder, since I’m trying to work for myself, and that’s where the stuck feeling comes in.  I need to fall back on my own advice to overwhelmed people: make a list.   Just like when I was in the office, have an appointment book with appointments, even if they are only with myself.

Discipline: my ever-devil.  I knew this would be a problem.  More later today.

I’ve been putting off writing this post — just kidding.

How many of us are lifelong procrastinators?  It starts with delaying brushing your teeth when you’re five, progresses to waiting until the hour before it’s due to type your term paper, matures to waiting until the last possible day to pay your bills, and concludes with the ultimate procrastinatory act — hanging onto a last thread of life when you should have died weeks ago.

I am guilty.  Yes, I am.  Have I passed this gene onto my daughter, or is it just something that comes naturally to her?  Or just something that comes naturally to teenagers, as a way of expressing their independence?

She has become a “just a sec” person.  You ask her to do something and it’s “hold on”, “just a sec” or “in a minute”.  What to do with this behavior?  Yelling seems pointless.  Punishment doesn’t work.  I am on the fence about it because I KNOW it’s one of the few ways she has to express that she guides her own life at this age.  And because I spent so many years not saying “how high?” when my ex said “jump.”

She had a project due today.  She’d had it for a month – read a book, do something creative to show the content, and answer eight questions.  She started one book, and switched to a different one midstream – I can understand that – it happens.  Especially when the first book is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  But I told her last week that I did not want her finishing this at midnight on Tuesday night.  She’s had plenty of time.  So what did she do?  She finished it at 11:00 last night.  Perhaps I was not specific enough?

I told her yesterday that for the next project, things were going to be different.  I don’ t know HOW things are going to be different, just that I need to do something to try to drill some conscientious homework discipline into her.

And then I ask myself why I feel the need to be drill-sargeant in this area.  Do I have any right to, since I was the one who stayed up all night typing term papers until the ten-minute mark to class?  Am I trying to keep her from the discomfort of my own experience?  Am I trying to help her succeed?  She’s had straight A’s for years.  And some people do their best work under pressure – I’m one of them (at times) – perhaps she is as well.

I’m not a control freak Mom – in fact, I’m about the farthest thing from it.  I’ve got more of the hippie approach – live and let live, make your own mistakes, etc.  And I don’ t really feel that putting me off with “just a sec” is disrespectful (although her dad does.)  Maybe it’s that I want her to understand that some things, like your work, deserve a certain level of importance and attention.  She’ll find other things in life that do too, things that should not be treated with the same cavalier attitude, the attitude which implies that something else matters more than the task that duty requires.  Being a bit verbose, aren’t I?  I guess I’m trying to work this out in my own head. 

It may tie to my pet peeve of taking responsibility for your own actions, your own things.  It may be one of those lessons she’ll have to learn on her own when it backfires on her and she DOESN’T get the grades she so prides herself on.  Either way, I suppose I need to let her own the problem (as my buddy says), but that’s not what Moms do – though maybe it’s what they need to do. 

I was going to say that I trust that she’ll figure out what’s most important, and I was thinking that means work and duty and conforming to the requirements of society and adulthood.  Huh.  To that, I say “Bah!” and perhaps “Pah!”.  She’s already got her priorities straight.  Do your best, love the people around you, make time for nature and friends and follow your own star.  Isn’t that exactly what I’m fighting to do now that I am breaking out of the corporate coffin?  And isn’t that what we want our kids to do?  I don’t want her to be CEO of Nestle (though that would imply all the chocolate I want).  I just want her to be happy and independent and comfortable in every sense of the word.  I want her to be able to toss her hat up in the air, having made it on her own.

Just the things I have been procrastinating about for the last fifteen years.  Go figure.

I’m not talking about architecture and domination. 

I’m talking about order and good habits. 

I’ve always viewed myself as being both unstructured and undisciplined.  Kind of a free-flowing ‘gal’.  (Ugh, I hate that word ‘gal’.)  On my way to work this morning, I decided I needed to do a little self-examination to see if this is indeed true – am I more like a flapping flamingo than a steady eagle? 

Let’s take a peek…

I am a confirmed pig.  Of course, I mean pig in the nicest possible way.  I’ve always been quite fond of pigs, and have, in fact, been experiencing a mild yearning for a teacup piglet. 

But back to the point.  I’ve never been what you could call ‘tidy’.  Our house growing up was tidy enough, but cluttered, as my Dad was a saver – one of those people who kept almost everything, because you never knew when it would come in handy.  He stopped short of being a hoarder, but not by much.  I think that was a common characteristic of depression-era children.  I inherited the trait.  E-Bro, on the other hand, inherited my Mom’s less-is-more attitude.  (This woman gave away her wedding dress, for gods sake.)  The clutter in our childhood home made him nuts.  MY room was always a disaster area. 

My Mom eventually stopped hounding me about it, and just kept my door closed.  I’ll admit to some slight embarrassment when our house was burglarized when we were on vacation one year, and it was difficult to tell that they had ransacked my room. 

During college, I lived one summer with a friend who defined himself as a “surface dweller”.  Everything he needed was on the surface, not hidden away in a drawer somewhere.  I was wonderfully comfortable with this approach. 

Once I moved out on my own, things didn’t change.  My little studios would just morph from clean to ground zero over the course of a month.  One day, about once a month, I would walk in my door and see that it was a disaster.  Then I would clean it up.  And become oblivious again, until the next time.

Pat was never the neatest guy, but he had a lot of anal-retentive in him, and so my slob-esque qualities were a source of constant friction between us.

I just have a “what’s next” attitude towards being tidy, which translates to ‘drop the towel and it is gone from my consciousness.’   I don’t like this attitude.  I’ve resolved to change it many times.  I always feel better when my house is clean and tidy and I have less stuff.  But somehow, my resolutions never stick.  Why?  WHY??

Since moving out of Pat’s house, I am definitely better at getting rid of things, but still I can feel the clutter starting to rebuild.  I am NOT powerless to change it.  But somehow it’s not at the forefront of my consciousness.  Mr. GF expressed an attitude the other day that I yearned for.  He said he liked taking care of his things.  That’s exactly what I fuss at Kelsea about, as she seems to display my attitude of  ‘a dropped towel immediately passes into another dimension,’ although fortunately, not my attitude towards saving things. 

I want her to take care of her things.  So why don’t I take care of my own?  Setting that example is the best way to get her to follow it.  And I WANT to be like that.  There’s a sense of peace that comes from lack of clutter and from order, and a positive sense of caretaking that comes from taking care of your things.  As if the things themselves appreciate it.

A larger issue is that this undisciplined attitude spills over into taking care of myself.  I don’t get enough sleep.  I don’t eat right.  I set good exercise goals, but then let them go.  And that’s not what I want to do.  I want my 27-year old body back!  Perhaps that’s unrealistic, but hey, I’m not asking for my 21-year old body back, and I’d settle for my 30-year old body.  But it’s not going to happen by thinking real hard, now is it? 

I feel decidedly better when I take care of myself.  There have been lots of excuses for slacking off – depression, losses, the divorce, the lumps, too much work.   There’s ALWAYS some excuse.  Which means that there should be NO excuse – other than projectile vomiting, because no one really wants that in the weight room.  What is it in me that keeps me from pursuing what I want?  Is it inherent laziness?  I’ve always worked, and have never considered myself to be lazy, but perhaps I am wrong.  Is it fear of success?  Meh.  Don’t think so.  Is it the need for immediate gratification?  Possibly – I may have been turned towards that attitude by our society’s constant emphasis on immediacy.

Having a partner in these kind of things helps.  I have always done better with a workout partner.  I always wanted Pat to help me with housecleaning (didn’t happen).  And now that I am on my own, it gets harder to do it all alone with each passing year.  Kathy and I have talked about walking together when she gets back after the first of the year.  But here’s the problem with that…

I just found out that my job officially ends on February 28th.  Lack of time will no longer be an excuse.  It will be time to stretch my flamingo wings, to see if I can grow pinker and stronger and more orderly, in order to make my life move forward, in order to not just stand in a marsh on one leg, head tucked beneath my wing.

It will be nothing if not interesting.

April 2014
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