Work-Life Balance vs. Dreams

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.

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One of three calendars, I use to keep me on track. 

 

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.  img_10851-1The 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?

 

 

 

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Home Sweet Home

The Day with Verbs

Up with the throbbing  head again

No wine to blame

stumbled out the door

into the world

locking myself out

meandered my way back in

set to work

putting things here and there

walked the dog

recycling to the bin

errands ran

dishes to the sink

clothes to the hamper

litter to the bin

walked the dog again

finished the dishes

three pills

then off to bed

little moments building a day

a life

A New Year’s Message

How you begin this year should not indicate how the rest of it is going to go.  A few bad days doesn’t mean that the whole year is going to suck.

Please remember that as you move through these first couple of weeks of 2016.  It is a new year, but the only magical thing that happens at midnight on December 31st every year is an agreed change in our perceptions.

Universally,  the decision was made that when the clock strikes midnight everyone gets a chance to start over.   Articles are published about New Year’s Resolutions, people share their hopes and dreams,  and we all move forward as if something momentous has changed for all of us.

The problem is that we wake up the same people that we were when we went to bed. We have accepted the narrative that while New Year’s is a great time to make changes while also accepting  no one is really going to hold you to those resolutions.

Sometime in February the articles on why we didn’t succeed in our resolutions and we will feel better about letting ourselves down.

We have gotten use to disappointing ourselves and looking to others for inspiration.  We tell ourselves that if  others can do it we can do it and then we beat ourselves up for not doing it.

My 2016 has been a little rough. Yep, three days in and things are a little bumpy.

Sick Lu
Sick again?

My first day of 2016 found me in bed after being sent home from my mother’s house for being sick. My family looked at me, declared that I was deathly pale and sent me packing. Not the best way to begin the year, but it is how I began my year.

On the second day of 2016, I tried to dye my hair purple and ended up dying the bathtub and my finger nails. Don’t ask me how, just know that I really did this things.

And today, the third day of 2016, I am cleaning the house with a headache and trying to write a new blog.  True, I am sick. True I still have the bills that I didn’t pay staring at me and a house that really needs to me to attend to it. Oh, and I forgot to pay a traffic fine in 2016.

Sweet Potatoes from my garden. I grew a thing.
Sweet Potatoes from my garden. I grew a thing.

However, it is also true that yesterday, I baked two sweet potatoes that came right out of my garden, that last night I was able to spend time with a dear friend on her birthday and that there is still a pretty comfortable roof, albeit a messy one, over my head. I have gotten myself up every day even when not feeling well and gone for a walk, done some stretches and done some writing.

The good is mixed in with the not so good.  Oh and there is a nice pot of chili on the stove.

I think it is important to note not how you begin a thing, but how you finished it and all the little steps in between.  And it can’t hurt to listen to the wise words of Julie Garland. Have a great 2016. Make it a great one.

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Writing Exercise – I am Poem #1

Every nine weeks, my students write a new I-Am poem to help build  their writing portfolio and so they can see how they changed over the course of the year.  It is interesting to read them because often times even though they know that their poems will be read by me they confess little truths about themselves.  The format is simple and can be altered easily to let them express themselves more freely.  Tonight, I decided to write my own to get my creative thoughts flowing. 

I am tired and burnt out

I wonder if I will ever cease being living in a state of permanent exhaustion

I hear the not so quiet sounds of students working

I see myself getting older and wondering where all the time went

I want to do so much more than I am

I am constantly working to find a way out

I pretend that I have it handle, but I’ve never really been good at this game

I believe there has to be a way, a better way than the one I am living

I touch the brace on my leg and count the days until it is off

I feel the pain between my shoulder blades taunting me

I worry that there will never be another book and the thing my body has become will be permanent

I cry too often

I understand the cycle and know that tomorrow or tonight I will find my fight again.

I am myself and this is only temporary

Starting and Stopping

For the last year, I have been starting to get better: better at writing daily, at exercising, and at this game called life. And then I stopped. I would love to rationalize my behavior, but I am closing in on my fortieth year of life and frankly, I’m tired. Tired of being too scared to make the changes in my life that I need and want to make. Tired of not being happy at the end of the day. Tired of feeling like I am letting the people I love down.

Today, I am adding being in pain to the list of things I am done with. Yesterday, I received an answer to why my foot and ankle have been hurting for the last couple of months. I have a bit of bone under the arch of my foot, as well as a bone spur on the heel of the same foot. On Monday I see the podiatrist and, hopefully, work out a plan that will let me get back to exercising and feeling better physically and mentally. It is hard to work out when you hurt whenever you move.

It seems like every time I get going in one direction something happens to stop my forward momentum. After 39 years of this happening repeatedly, the reason became clear. Like most people, I am my own worst enemy.

I am the one who hasn’t spent enough time writing, exercising, or choosing joy. I made those choices and now I am burnt out, constantly exhausted, and out of options. I get up and go through my day looking for magical escape hatches that don’t exist.

Do I have a plan to change? Yes.

Will it work? I don’t know.

Part of my plan to write more is to enlist some help in editing and promoting my work. Thanks to a good friend and talented editor, Cat B. of Catalyst Editing and Consulting, for agreeing to work with me. She is going to help with this blog, and also with upcoming projects. The second part of the writing plan is for me to get off my bum and just write. No more excuses, just writing.

As for the rest of my life, I have a lot of shredding to do so I can start living my own joy. Life is too short to do otherwise.

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 new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

Eight things

Months ago, I was tagged to write one of those things you didn’t know about me posts.  I delayed, procrastinated and then finally decided to turn it into a blog. And then I delayed, procrastinated and repeated until today.

Sorry, Lisa A. that it took me so long to do this.

And thank you for giving me something to help work my way out of my current writing funk.

1) Wishlist Obsessed ~ When I want to shop and can’t, I make wishlists on Amazon and now Modcloth. It distracts that party of my brain that keeps attempting to destroy my budget.  Sometimes it back fires when friends find these lists and obtain for me the item desired in a moment of on-line passion which seemed like a good idea at the time.  Luckily it has only produced one embarrassing Yuletide moment when I didn’t know what the item was.

2) Gardening Reduces My Stress ~ Taking care plants or playing in the dirt has always been soothing for me.  I like having dirt under my nails and grass between my toes.garden4

3) Complaining LessI am working on complaining less and being grateful for all the things I have in my life.  This isn’t so much of a goal as it a life philosophy. And you know what I am really happier than I was a year ago. My depression is still with me, but it has less power.

4) Dancing ~ I love to dance, but going to clubs for me is scary so I haven’t been out to one in a long time.  My anxiety makes it difficult for me to go out as much as I would like especially if I think people will be looking at me.  I still dance nearly everyday, just not when people are looking. This also makes attending dance class tricky.

5) Reading ~ I re-read the Anita Blake series from start to finish at least once a year. Twice if I a new book comes out.  Currently, I am re-reading Skin Trade before I read Dead Ice. There are books in every room of my house and a special shelf for my signed books. DSC_1640

6) Skulls ~ I have a collection of skulls which my mother started when I was a teenager.  I still have that skull pendant that she and Poppa gave me. At one point, we all had one. Now I think I am the only one who managed to keep hold of it over the the years. Being a pack rat helps. There are probably thirty or more skulls in the collection. They also remind me that life is precious and fragile. DSC_1643

7) Year-round Halloween ~ If you come in my house, you will notice right away that something a bit spooky is going on. This has lead some people to speculate that I never put my Halloween decorations away. This isn’t true. There are five boxes in storage that prove otherwise.

8) Minister ~ I have been an ordained minister for the last sixteen years.  It all started in college when some friends asked me to marry them. Since then I have officiated at over a dozen weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies. It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to watch couples begin their lives together and to stand with families as they say goodbye to their love ones.