Friday, September 13, 2019

Revelations From Week 2.

I maybe got a touch dramatic earlier this week. I mean....I was tired.

And frustrated. But it was an emotional malfunction I needed to have.

Because, I emerged from it all with clarity and understanding. It's not that I wasn't allowing myself flexibility and compassion in the middle of a highly transitional season for my entire family. It's that I was also trying to shove myself into a box of productivity that looks like everyone else's.

pink hydrangeaAnd if there's one thing I've learned about myself over the past few years, it's that I function differently than the masses and I'm way more successful when I operate within my tendencies.

I can't help but drive myself crazy with my inability to keep a normal schedule or to hold myself to specific standards (rebels tend to annoy even themselves). And I approached this new phase of life with its 25 free-flowing hours a week thinking, here's my chance! NOW I can make myself do it. I have the space to see things through without being interrupted for snacks or argument mediation.

But what I learned this week is this: just because conditions are closer to ideal doesn't mean that my entire temperament has changed.

And also this: just because I don't currently financially contribute to our family and I feel guilty for not having an actual job-job doesn't mean that I have to force myself to keep normal work hours in some punishing sacrifice of my time.

In an ideal world - were I an Upholder or an Obliger, I had a few more hours in a day, the funds to hire a maid - maybe I could fit myself into one of those neat and tidy schedules. Or if the well-being of my family depended on it, maybe that would be the motivation I need to (probably miserably) force myself into it. But I don't have to right now. And I'm not going to get anywhere (especially when I'm not being compensated for it) by pushing and shoving. Why make it so hard on myself? Why let the ego keep on making plans when I am so good at listening to my heart and soul (when I let myself)?

So, that said, week 2 of my journey is wrapping up, and I can pinpoint 4 specific revelations I've had this week. Here, here to progress.

Screw the schedule (Dedication is enough)
You know what self-help got wrong? Telling you that strict time management is the ideal way to accomplish a goal. Screw that. Listening to your soul and following your passions as they present themselves to you makes a lot more sense to me. I already knew this! WHY? WHYYY was I trying to work against that? (I blame you, society.) So I've decided that if I keep an evening checklist of tasks to do for my future self, and I wake up early enough to leave my house on time, the rest of it can go to hell. I am dedicated to writing now, and while my time gets annoyingly filled up with errands, appointments, chores, and sick kids - they will not be able to steal all 25 of my kid-free hours every week. Writing will still happen.

Take Your Wife To Work Days For Focus
I set out on this journey with the intention to "write on location" at least once a week - preferably on Thursdays. My list of places to utilize being: Matt's work (aka, my in-laws' house), Starbucks, Panera, and the public library. I've been doing this, and it's a great change of pace sprinkled with quality time and coffee breaks with my husband. While all of the locations are good for inspiration and a focus on writing (there's no sink full of dirty dishes guilting me away), Matt works in an actual home - with blankets, squishy furniture, a coffee maker. It's so easy and cozy to settle into a day of writing there without distractions but WITH the comforts of home. So if alllll the other days of my week have been eaten up by other tasks, I just decide to go to work with him and boom -  my writing hours are protected.

The 2 Day Rule
I've been treating school drop off for Luke as my morning commute. It's a super-quick drive (seriously, like maybe 1 minute tops), but no matter where I go next - even if it's right back home - it feels like a morning drive. I'm enjoying it - it feels refreshing. While on this commute, I listen to the morning radio show on our local top 40 station, and I picked up a little piece of advice from the hosts this week. They shared a clip from THIS video about how a man made a habit of fitness by never missing the gym two days in a row. Applied to anything else, this rule makes sure that you work on your goal or your habit at a minimum of every other day. It allows you take breaks as often as every 24 hours, but requires you to pick it back up in equally as long. This is a great strategy for rebels, and I plan to use it in my writing goals going forward.

Writing with Luke
My son was given his first middle school writing assignment this week. He whipped it out in study hall and brought it home for me to check for spelling errors. Only, after reviewing it, I realized that the only thing his story had was a timeline of events and a loose setting. There was actually no plot to be found. When I pointed this out, he reacted with stress and anxiety, which lead to conversations that lasted well after bedtime. We had conversations about middle school being a different ball game than elementary school, about caring about the quality of your work rather than the speed at which you turn it in, and about not being afraid to be seen because of doing a good job. (He didn't want to bring extra attention on himself.)

I promised him that I would help him edit and revise his story, and he'd have a final copy completed by Friday. The assignment isn't due until Monday, but this way he could enjoy his weekend without having to think about his story at all. Together, we've brainstormed ideas, edited his grammar, and turned his work into a story worthy of a middle schooler. He ended up coming up with all of the plot points and specifics all on his own - I was only there to re-work sentences and make him rethink a few word choices.

It was torture to him - but it was great fun for me. I played the role of editor one other time in my life. I used to edit a community blog for a parenting network, and I LOVED that job. I've always had that work in the back of my head as something I might like to do again. Some of the questions I set out to answer on this journey center on my future specific career paths and the education needed to follow them, and this experience has reminded me that both teaching writing specifically (or any ELA centered curriculum) and editing are both careers I wouldn't mind spending my time on. It's funny, though - in all the years I spent dreaming of teaching as my profession (even as I sat in education-based classes), I only ever pictured myself working with the early education set. Maybe my actual place is with kids Luke's age - 9, 10, 11, 12 - kids needing to refine their abilities to carry them through their higher education and not yet understanding their own voice.

It's not a decision by any means, but it's a piece of the puzzle, for sure.

Also done this week? I finished my first online writing course and wrote two short stories in the process. Things are moving along!

I hope all the other weeks to come prove to be this thrilling. xx

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