Be Kind to Yourself

Nothing like re-reading last month’s thoughts to realize I could have FINISHED my 3-month workout program if I’d stayed the course this past month. Instead, I spent some time in the pool and tried to fit in a few workouts as I eased into the school year and our radically altered schedule.

So I present to you the motto I embraced after D was born and it seemed like life entirely fell apart: “be kind to yourself.”

No, it’s not groundbreaking or original, but it works for me. This morning I needed a quiet cup of tea and a few minutes of meditative silence to recharge and get out the door. I can’t express how much better I felt for taking the time to do that.

We all fill so many roles in life to the members of our family, to our jobs, to everyone but ourselves. If you’re working full-time, you don’t get to turn off being your kids’ parent, your spouse’s partner, or your moral self. It’s difficult to be everything you want to be to everyone all the time: sometimes you have to recognize and accept that you are good enough just the way you are.

Laundry doesn’t magically wash and fold itself any more than the dishes empty and reload the dishwasher themselves. Kids (and adults) make messes. Everyone needs food to eat, so someone needs to shop for it and cook it. If you have a house project, party, or a vacation to plan, you have to fit that in between everything else.

If you have a book to write…well, good luck to you. I count any words written as forward progress. More than 15,000 words into Book 3 of Sea Deception, I finally dug myself out of the hole created in the first scene that derailed my entire outline.

But when do you do the things that are good for you? I try to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. The only time I often find to write, though, is late at night. Sometimes a rough day means I want a glass of wine at dinner. And late writing sessions make getting up for a morning workout difficult. Combined with feeling out our new schedule, it means that I haven’t devoted sufficient effort to my workout program this month, though I have clocked a number of exercise minutes according to my fitness tracker.

I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert, but lately I’ve recognized longstanding habits that point to introversion. For example, I don’t like to leave the house if I don’t have to: there’s always plenty I can do inside the house. Luckily, my husband happily takes on the grocery shopping and takes the kiddos with him. I recharge my personal batteries by reading alone or spending time by myself. He wants to get out of the house on weekend evenings (understandably) but in this season of busyness, I want nothing more than to stay in and eat comfort food in my lounge clothes.

But I love to talk to people and enjoy socializing. I’ve worked in sales and loved doing theatre in school. It’s really hard to embarrass me: public speaking and last-minute requests to present just don’t faze me.

Every personality quiz I’ve taken for work identifies me as an extrovert. But all of those quizzes recommend that you put yourself in a work frame of mind. I found an online quiz yesterday that perfectly pegged the truth: I am a “public extrovert and private introvert.”

Finally, an explanation that reflects my need for alone time!

Staying Inside the Lines

I don’t like adult coloring books. Coloring inside the lines of detailed drawings frustrates me because I lack the patience and precise tools to accomplish it well. But I stopped at the library today and passed a table inviting patrons to take a moment. So I did, with this result.

Imprecise, a little confused, very colorful: this bookmark summarizes how life has been going lately.

A major house project is nearly complete, and along the way a bunch of other stuff broke. But at least there’s a final-ish product that we can now use and enjoy. And the other items have now been replaced.

Traveling doesn’t make anything go smoother. Delayed flights, extra laundry, more stuff to put away, loss of home time, and missing the planned schedule…I feel like I’ve been on the road a fair bit of the summer.

One munchkin is about to start school…which makes both of us anxious. We did stop and get school supplies together, which was a fond childhood memory of mine I wanted to extend to her. Trying to readjust everyone’s schedule is much harder.

The other munchkin is about to have a birthday party. Some people love planning parties. Some people like crafting. I like the latter but not so much the former. Trying to balance the time I have with the work to be done is a fine line. I want to make him happy and I enjoy seeing my friends, but I struggle with doing enough and being happy with the result.

Then there’s another planned trip for which some prep work needs to be done. I’ve made a plan but haven’t executed–and won’t–until after the birthday is behind us.

Meanwhile I just started Month 2 of a three-month workout program. It’s kicking my behind: while I feel stronger, the scale refuses to budge. I am focusing on the “beginner” plan and doing it as well as I can. While it’s a hit on the ego to treat myself like a beginner, I do occasionally have to swap or add rest days to the program to keep myself going. I also don’t prioritize the time to do more exercise right now.

Work, of course, continues its daily slog.

The balance is always my writing. My remote coworker said today that we needed to regularly schedule our time together to get our work done because we always de-prioritize it in favor of everything else. There is wisdom to his words. It seems like making time to work on my writing always gets the least of my attention.

By the time the kids are abed and I get back downstairs to a desk, the question is not “how much do I care about this story?” but rather “can I do this story justice right now?”

I finished my final revision of “Sea Dreams” on a printout. This re-read and review uncovered a number of small problems with the manuscript. Right now I’m typing in the edits for the last seven scenes. After that, the story is off to beta-readers and the only changes to the story will be from their identified errors.

I’ve also got the sequel printed out to treat the same way (cutting one editing step from my original process). But I’d like to finish writing the third book before starting the sequel’s edit.

Recreation-wise, I’ve been wrapping up “Quantico” and watching the Netflix series “Anne with an E,” and I’m still only halfway through the past season for “Arrow” and “Big Bang Theory.” I’ve also been reading a few books, including a graphic novel and the memoir “I am Malala,” which I highly recommend.

So for now, it’s on to the next item on the to-do list while I try to keep a grasp of that evasive tranquility.

Do you feel like this season of life has been busy, or have you been coloring inside the lines?