Tomorrow, I will go back to the day job for the first time in sixty-four days. Summer is over for me in less than twelve hours. Nearly half that time traveling and writing; it has been wonderful. Next Spring if the editing gods are kind I will have two new pieces ready for publication.
But, my wonderful summer is not what this post is about. It is about balancing work, life and the pursue of my writing dreams or as I like to call them goals.
Education does allow me to have time off even if it doesn’t pay well. It does allow me to have that sweet, sweet health insurance and believe it or not, a lot of job satisfaction. I love my daily interactions with students and staff. There is, however, no denying that it is a hard job and balancing it with a healthy home life is hard. Trying to figure out how to balance all three is more than a little challenge.
This past year, I have gotten much better at it than I have since I started teaching thirteen years ago. The biggest thing I did was move away from a life that wasn’t working for me.
The life that I have built in the last year contains a lot more boundaries than the one I had. I don’t let things bleed into one another. Work, even as a teacher, stays in the building with a few rare exceptions. I can do this because I get to work early and organize myself. I keep a calendar that has both writing and work commitments on it so I know ahead of time when things are going to get tight.
This also includes scheduling time to write, date nights and chore days. Chore days are days that I set aside to work with my godfathers on big household tasks like fixing the barn roof or putting the pool together. Come to think of it, I schedule a lot of things.
And it works for me.
Why? Because as much as I schedule myself, I also forgive myself if writing doesn’t happen or if the dust bunnies start creeping out from the corners.
I forgive myself if having dinner with my family means that I don’t have time to write before bed. I forgive myself if I get into the flow of writing and three or four other things on the to-do list don’t get done or I stay up a little too late. Or when I get sick and the only thing I can do is take care of myself.
Balancing things can at times mean letting some things have more time as they need. The beginning of the school year means that for the next month, I am going to be more tired than usual. It happens to me every year. I will write about half as much as I normally do. Any writing deadlines that I have must be adjusted.
Balance isn’t giving equal time to everything, but giving things the time they need and letting go of things you can’t tend to.
What works for you to maintain work-life-dream balance?
My heart broke recently. If my life was a book, the reader would have seen it coming before me. They might have been screaming at me to see what was a happening. Cursing at me for seeing it myself. Most of my friends did. They saw the doom on the horizon and braced themselves. But, I am stubborn and kept sailing toward it; right off the edge.
Once I love someone I don’t know how to stop loving them.
So I cry. I write. I cry. I plot and I write. I’ve done a lot of writing in the past week. Last night is the first night since it happened that I got any sleep.
In years past, I would have pour everything into expressing that heartbreak as if that is all I am a broken, tangled heart. There would have been lots and lots of bad poetry. Some drunken texts and heartfelt emails. Tears in the grocery store and at red lights. Days and weeks where I would gave shut down. My work would have been suffering.
Whether it is an increase in maturity, a lack of fucks to give or the way it ended, I am not a hot mess. I am still a mess. You don’t love someone for over a decade to be over it in a week. We first got together when I was twenty-eight. A year out from a devesting heartbreak and I fell completely and utterly in his thrall.
Maybe he is fine, right now. I don’t know. He had been pulling back over the last couple of months. He would say he has just been busy and this is true. As a writer and director, he has a ton of work obligations on top of other things.
From his perspective, I am the one to blame. I see it as both of us, but ya mostly him. I didn’t speak up when things bothered me. He keep putting off phone calls and visits. I looked for and saw reasons to explain his behavior. A recent health crisis only added to the list of reasons. But the postponing of things I needed to stay health in the relationship was a constant. Samantha on Sex in the City might just have turned to me and said “Honey, he just isn’t that into you.”
And she would have been right.
It is also true that I set the pattern where that behavior was acceptable. I was always waiting for him. I wanted to do it. I believe that by doing so I was being supportive. I own my own behavior. I own it so I can forward.
Asking some of my friends, why I got so much venom tossed my way at the end? Why did his last message not only kill our relationship but scorch the earth. It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t asking for much. I wasn’t trying to put anything on him. I just wanted to see him. Yes, I am just as naive and innocent as they statement sounds. That really was the intent of my last communication. I just wanted to see him.
I have waited for the time to be right and finally I got tired of always waiting. I have been supportive over the years to his career. If a job meant that our time together had to be rearranged, I was ok with it. I helped in any way I could. He did support me just not to the same extent. Truthfully, that bothered me.
The physical distance didn’t do communication any favors.
I accepted a smaller place in his world just to stay in it. A place I now realize means that many of the people who call him friend, don’t know about us. So why when I asked so little did I get so much venom.
The answer is simple. It makes this whole thing easier for him. If I am the villain or at least trying to make him one then it is easier to move on. He doesn’t need that negativity. He really doesn’t. If I am crazy and obsessed then he doesn’t owe me anything. It is in his best interest to get the hell away from me. People will congratulate him on getting away from me. If I was cheating on him, something he insinuated more than once over the last couple of months then even more reason to do the hell away.
I am not any of those things. I didn’t cheat on him. If I was approached by someone, I told them I told them I had a boyfriend. I didn’t make a big deal of it. Still I would get text implying that I was?
I did distanced myself as soon as realized what was happening. When I realize that this was the end. I didn’t wait. Weeks ago, I had decided that if we broke again I would do what I needed to make sure this break was for good. I only begged a little and tried my best not to demand answers. Mostly I was in shock.
Would I like those answers? Yes and no.
Yes, because my heart wants to understand. No, because the mind knows that even with the answers the likelihood that I am going to be comforted by them is slim.
Heartbreak gives me insight into my own character as well as how to write characters. Fear has ruled me for most of my life. I could have moved to New York, I was willing to move, I just needed a word from him. I was afraid. Afraid that he didn’t really love me. Afraid I won’t be able to find a job. Afraid I couldn’t deal with being up close to his other partner. Fear of rejection was a big part of the decisions I made. Some of which he didn’t ask me to make. I did it because I thought it would help. I was wrong. Hear that I was wrong.
While he has been in New York for the last couple of years, I dreamed of seeing New York with him. I wanted to go to shows and see the Met. It is one of my favorite museums on the planet. I daydreamed about the changes that live in one of the greatest cities in the world. I didn’t voice those desires to him. I didn’t say that I wanted more than to visit. When he mentioned me being there as an aside. I jumped on it. I didn’t discuss it. I was too afraid. I kept waiting for him to say more.
My own motivations are messy. How could I think that my ex or my characters motivations would be simple?
Sometimes they need to be messy. If they are too straight forward then they are boring. They need have layers just a like an onion and they don’t alway smell pretty. (Thanks Shrek) They have to have that human quality of relatablity.
Recently, I finished reading the Prisoner in his Palace by Will Bardenwerper. It is the story of “Saddam Hussein, his American guards and what history leaves unsaid.” History leaves a lot unsaid.
Saddam Hussein was sadist, a tyrant and a whole lot of evil things. He had two of his son in-laws gunned down after convincing them to return to Iraq. He was also an affable old man who expressed concern for the soldiers guarding him. He even gave one of them his watch before being excuted. He is a villain, but he was also a husband, grandfather and friend. Although, the latter provide to be quite dangerous to many Iraqis.
The book showed the complexity of Saddam’s character and how even knowing the evil that he did, it was hard not to like the guy. Reading it was eye-openoing in a lot of ways. Saddam was a villian, but his motivations were complex. He did awlful things because he thought they were the good things. He wanted the best for his people. His methods were evil. His intents according to him were only good.
Thank you, my love, my characters have just gotten a whole lot more interesting. The character that I patterned after you will still continue to make appearances in my work. I know you were pissed when Anthony was created. You thought people would judge you because of him. You didn’t see that Anthony was one of the heroes. I promise not to take my heartache out on him.
And thank you for all the things that you did to help me on my journey as a writer. This blog is here because you encouraged me. You gave me advice when I needed it. You are an amazing man, writer and friend. I miss you, but I get it.
If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook. Her novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon. You can also find her on Instagram where she posts pictures of foster critters and other adorably evil things.
Writing was slow this weekend. Not because Captain A returned, but thanks to a lovely winter cold.
I spent most of Saturday in a hazy followed by a nap. Then another nap. I did make it in to the land of the cognizant for a couple of hours to watch Deadpool with a friend. (Great movie, but please don’t take your kids. Seriously, don’t do it!) I thought about writing, even opened the notebook to begin writing. It was a fail. I ended up crawling into bed and staying there.
Sunday wasn’t much better. Although I did watch two more movies while I was at my sister’s house enjoying some homemade treats and doing pretty much nothing. (Thanks, Zee-Mama) I came home and went straight to bed.
This writer has been laying in bed all morning trying to summon the energy to get into gear. And you know what it isn’t happening.
The dishes aren’t going to get done. The laundry will stay slightly stinky and I will spend most of the day drifting in and out of napping.
And that’s alright. It is ok, to take care of myself and not to push myself. It is ok to let my house get a little messy.
It isn’t a permanent state.
What I can do right now is get some rest and take care of myself. Burning the candle at both ends won’t help the next book get written or grade the student papers. All it will help do is give my cold a lease to stay longer.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a waste of time. It is necessary.
So, it is back to bed for me.
Love and Sneezes,
P.S. Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon. It is only .99 cents for the month of February.
The best gift this year came with a gold bow on top and wrapped in a DAV (Disabled American Veteran) blanket found in a thrift store. My Papa put a gold bow on his head on Christmas and it was awesome. Not that my father has never done anything cool or cute before. At 4’11”, he can’t help being adorable although at times he is the charming bad ass.
I call him Cranky. He started yelling at the TV a couple years ago and hasn’t stopped. He is a Fox News addict and while I am grateful that he has started voting, his renewed interest in politics has been some what distressing.
When he is in the hospital, I call him, Sir Crank Pants. I don’t care what the nurses thought of our banter, making my dad smile is one of the best things in life. One nurse told the doctor that my dad was delusional. He isn’t. Stubborn as hell, set in his ways but not delusional. He can learn and grow. He is slow to trust and loyal to the core; mess with one of his kids then you are in trouble.
Two weeks ago, Momma and I were sitting down to eat lunch and drink mojitos, our little tradition, when my sister called. The message which came to us was that Papa had fallen. Our order was cancelled as we rushed out the door waving goodbye to our mojitos. And not caring in the slightest.
We arrived at the hospital and discovered that he hadn’t fallen. His sodium was so low that our family doctor (yes, we actually have one doctor for all of us) called and told him to go directly to the Emergency Room where we found him. He looked so small draped in a hospital gown. He may be short, but predictably he has never been small.
He has always been huge in my life. A giant.
When I first met Papa, I was already taller than him. He was dating Momma and I was living with my birth father. Papa’s arrival meant that she could be a physically part of my life. She didn’t have a car and was living in a closet, not a small apartment in New York. She had no way to get to me. No way to see me. It also meant that Momma had the support that she needed to prosper once again. She got the spark back and started her own craft business.
He came into my life and I got Momma back. All of her.
And he is still here.
My Papa is still here, living and breathing and stirring up trouble and driving us all blessedly nuts.
That is the question; at least when it comes to weight loss. Do you weight or measure yourself? Or both?
I like the first option and have been doing so nearly every week for the past two years. This past week, I hit the scale and discovered that I have lost a total of thirty pounds. There is a chart recording the journey on my frig.
Thirty pounds and only one dress size.
I have told myself again and again that what the scale says doesn’t matter. But, when it goes down I am ecstatic. Still there are days when the mirror returns an image I would rather not see or the numbers go up instead of down. One that I despite the kind things come from friends and family. Is it society or years of negative self talk?
Or maybe it is being told that people have a problem with my body or that they should have a problem with it. I know that is weird, but dating sites include turn offs like excessively heavy. Exactly what does that mean. At nearly 5’10”, most folks never realize that I am overweight. They see I am not skinny, but wouldn’t say that I am overweight well at least not to my face.So am I excessively heavy being overweight? I have also been told that my cleavage is disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself for exposing it.
I am not a size eight, I am an eighteen, yet when I go into shops catering to curvy gals I often find tents on hangers instead of clothes or people looking down on me for not being big enough. I am serious on the last one. On more than one occasion, I have gotten looks that I give to skinny folks when they talk about being fat when I have talked to others about my weight concerns. Since that day I have been more cognizant of the looks which I give to others. Size discrimination goes both ways.
It isn’t the size that I am working on shrinking. I am not really trying to shrink anything. The main goal of walking twice daily and watching what I eat is to be healthier. When I was twelve years old I was injured in an ATV accident. Both my knees suffered hairline fractures. As puberty progressed other things developed and jogging was not an option for me. It hurt both my legs and my chest from physical activity. (Sports bras are your friends, ladies. Always try them on.) I am also severely gluten-intolerant which means that if I encounter gluten bad things happen like my abdomen swelling to the point I couldn’t where pants. Good thing, I have great legs.
The scale is a double edged sword for those seeking to be healthier. It can mark milestones or cause enough frustration that some people quit. Thirty pounds seems like a lot of people tell me they can see the difference, but when you are still in your old jeans it is hard to feel accomplished. That’s when I slide into chairs in the school district’s auditorium and didn’t feel like I was in a vice grip. Seats at the movie theater have also been easier to move in and out of. The final test for me was when I boarded a plan yesterday and was able to sit comfortable in their seats.
You have to determine how you are going handle what the scale says and remember that it is only a number. My scale is at school and doesn’t come home with me in the summers. I use it and my chart as a way to remind myself that I have made tangible steps towards my goal.
This summer after I get back from this most delightful break(I’m in Denver), I will be back at finding ways to incorporate healthier habits into my life. When I get home I will be ignoring my scale until the fall and just concentrating on staying on my better me track. Do I have an ideal weight in mind? No, not really, I want to be more comfortable in my own skin, run a 5k and all and all just be healthier.
Monday Morning comes every week. You would think that I would learn to prepare for it.
Nope, every week it sneaks up on me. Attacking me when I am just beginning to get things done or so I like to think. The truth is as hard as I work, I am afraid at times and like to pass it off as my own laziness. So I dilly and a dally on unimportant things or start projects that I can’t finish.
There is plenty of time to prepare for school on the weekends or in the hours after school. Maybe not the killer lessons I always want to teach, but a lesson nonetheless. I would still be working fifty or so hours a week and in theory wouldn’t be so stressed out all time time.
My own self-doubt cuts at me like a knife and I spend time dreaming of what if’s instead of what next. I collect books and links to help work past these mental blocks and they sit unread and unused. I fall into psychological traps which my ego tells me that I am too smart for and yet, I am there again and again.
I want to free myself from stuff and have managed only to collect more. It is hard to say good-bye to things when my depression and anxiety clings to them. This past week during a lovely insomnia fit, I cleaned out two bins in my dinning room which have been sitting there for months since I first got a roommate.
Efforts to meditate have been met with heavy resistance. The negative aspects of my personality want to live and they fight for it. Day by day, I work on creating a routine that is healthy and rejuvenating. Some days like today. I don’t have a plan or don’t stick with the plan.
The plan was get up at six and take Luke for a walk. Get ready for Wacky Tacky day and leave for work about seven just in case they needed help in the cafeteria. If not, go to my classroom and prepare for the coming day and week. My walking buddy cancelled and I slept in. Luke was delighted that he didn’t have to get up, but not so happy when his morning walk was cut short. I arrived at work late and barely had time to get everything set up. Still I plotted a course in my head and got the students on track.
Everything was going well until third period. Then one of the girls upset with her feedback didn’t listen and in frustration I let the paper fly from my hand she became in-sensed, claiming I was aiming for her head despite the physical impossibility given that I was seated and she was standing, threatened to beat my ass. I don’t believe that she really meant me harm, still her words could not be ignored and a report was written. She earned herself a four-day suspension. At lunch another student locked herself in the bathroom and was screaming in English and Spanish at her boyfriend or at least that was the gist of the conversation I overheard. The big problem was that she left her baby in the cafeteria unattended, a sweet toddler who had no idea what happened to her mother. My lunch was spent listening to and attempting to get her out of the bathroom. She came out when the other party hung up and received her only special invitation for an exclusive vacation. Two days.
Frustration and fear leads us to act out. I tend to work myself over the coals daily for things that are truly out of my hands, spending so much time worrying that I don’t take care of things that are in my control and then when they veer wildly into chaos add them to the list of things to torture myself with, opting for a more internal approach that causes less outward drama. Like my girls, I avoid criticism and try to do better with as little effort as possible. Then fed up with the negative cycle, I dive back into life and get things done at least for a little while. Sometimes to be honest, I bully myself into getting up and going to work or starting/finishing a project. Asking myself again and again why am I not doing what I should and want to be doing. This is the reason that I finally finished the grad school application and applied for five adjunct teaching positions over the weekend.
Still days like today exhaust and send me into spirals of self-reflection. I vow to do better or at least attempt to do better the next day and work on a plan. A real one with contingencies and oh, yes, I promise to write those lesson plans.
Thirty days without soda and so far I haven’t retreated to the comforts of carbonation. I feel better and today, my jeans glided on instead of being pulled and tugged while I contort myself into them. I have been trying to think of what to work on for my next thirty day challenge.
I want to bring something into my life.
Saturday, I said goodbye to my friend, Krista, along with about sixty other souls. We cried and laughed remembering the woman who touched each of us. She was one of my mentors when I began teaching and the first to really get to know me and like me. I inherited her classroom and my magnificent classroom library got its start with the books she left behind.
She was a unique soul whose passion for life was undeniable. She loved to sing and at one point worked as a magician’s assistant. She gave up the road to provide a more stable home for her daughter and became a passionate advocate for students who found their way into her classroom. I missed her last outing because I was tired. Mentally tired. Exhausted. It really hasn’t gotten any better.
Once a upon a time, I wasn’t like this. Well not so much, but I had a better grasp on things and was able to flow more easily with life. I don’t believe that life’s ups and downs should be label drama. Things maybe dramatic from time to time that doesn’t mean that they need the label of Drama with a capital d. Drama is for the stage not to manufacture by human beings when they feel bored or don’t know how to act.
Working with teenagers, I see and hear a lot of Drama on a daily basis. My former roommate was also fond of it. Instead of talking to me about getting some of her rent or deposit back she has been getting others to talk to and threaten me. Drama.
Saturday, I was reminded that I also believe in living my life differently that beat of my life isn’t to be found in reacting but in acting. Krista took mediation classes with me. She listen to me. Now is my turn to listen and return to the beat of my heart and the rhythm of my breath as I take my place on the meditation cushion again.
Everyday for the next day thirty, I will be taking time to meditate. I’ll let you know how it goes.
6 A.M. ~ Sunday Morning and I am falling off my yoga mat in my living room. Literally. Thankful that it is just me, the puppies and my friend, Sonia. It was Sonia’s brilliant idea to wake up and early and work out. She also took mercy on me and ended our experiment shortly the warm-up.
I love yoga and have always dreamed of being able to attend classes on a regular basis where I could glide with pride to the back of the class.
The downward facing dog pose doesn’t look hard, but my muscles seem to reject it as soon as maneuver myself up.
The day went south as I raced off to work only to have the check engine light come on with a wicked engine rattle. After work plans were canceled thanks to the rain or should I say mini-monsoon, which closed rides at park for nearly two hours. Dropping my car off at the shop, I came home to find my new roommate sitting in a tub on the front porch with the door wide open talking to guy with pants down to his ankles. I felt like suddenly I was the parent of a teenager when the young man skidded off the porch. It was a bit weird. Especially, when you are used to either living alone or with a quiet sedate roommate who keeps to himself.
The day was just like the pose, a tumble of events with laughter intermixed. Today, I am going to downward facing dog again and everyday until I get it the form right. I am also going to work on keeping the philosophy that my days will always be right so long as I continue to mix them with laughter, gratitude and humility.