Never Enough Time

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"Whirlpool" by Shutinc - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

“Whirlpool” by Shutinc – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

l’m intrigued with Jane Friedman’s recent post about her work ethic, using the concept of privilege to explain her productivity. It made me question my own time management skills.

Balancing my personal life and my creative endeavors is a challenge for me, a losing battle much of the time. Often, I make it worse by focusing on what I’ve left undone instead of what I have accomplished. That’s when the rant in my head begins, the name calling on a continuous loop—an endless list of words that help me tear myself down when I haven’t done enough, giving my inner critic the power to make me believe I’m not good enough and never will be.

Many writer friends and I discuss this downward spiral that appears when things get in the way of our work, a bottomless pit that sucks us in and sabotages our work. We talk about ways to shift this destructive pattern. Is the answer trying to get more done? Or is it as simple as a change in our perspective?

How can I better manage my time for working on creative projects with my family responsibilities and social commitments? I have an enthusiasm that just won’t quit for any social project or event that comes my way. It has been a lifelong struggle for me to focus—to discern—to just say “NO!” to these activities that would sidetrack me away from my writing. As with Jane, I have tried any number of tricks and techniques using time management and organizational skills to stay on track. I’m still working on it. And life keeps getting in the way.

If I focus on my inability to get things done, it affects not only my mood, but also my productivity. What might happen if, instead, I focus on my successes? The glass half full argument. As a writer, I can view my own time, money, talent, creativity, clarity, passion and fortitude as scarce or abundant. Sometimes reality and perception is far apart.

The dictionary offers numerous words to argue for the negative point of view. On a bad day I can feel needy, deficient, poor, lacking, wanting, impoverished, indigent, destitute, a pauper. When resources are limited, they are meager, inadequate, insufficient, negligible, scant, exiguous, piddling, measly and paltry. I can see myself as defective, faulty, flawed, inferior, second-rate. It’s appalling. So many words to degrade myself.

In contrast, I can relish in my abundant, plentiful, profuse, copious, ample, rich, lavish, abounding, generous, bountiful, overflowing, prolific, teeming, plenteous, resources galore!

The point is, how I label myself can encourage and support my creative process or discourage my writing. If I become dishearten, I will scare off any hope of success. It really is up to me. My choice is to work daily to change my inner recordings, to let go of the former list in order to instill the latter.

So forgive the exuberance of my own verbosity—words my fourth grade teacher wrote out for me to read the next time my father used a fifty-cent word at the dinner table. He often bated me with an uncommon phrase and my curiosity pushed me to ask its meaning. Instead of simply answering the question, Dad would order me to leave the dinner table to fetch a dictionary (this was back in 1960), read the definition and use the word in a complete sentence. This happened on a regular basis.

Luckily, in spite of Dad’s pranks and my brothers’ teasing, I developed a passion for words. Even though Dad was tough on me, his innate ability to weave a new tale at every family gathering inspired me to write, and still does even though he died before I committed to writing as my life’s work. Memories of my family affects me in ways I didn’t understand until I began to write about them. So, thanks Dad for all the words. I’ll try to put them to good use.

As for finding time to write, I’m learning to be easy on myself when events like Christmas keep me from finding the quiet time I need to be productive. But I’m always working on my stories in my head and scouting out any opportunity to wrangle a few words into a meaningful piece, whether it be a poem, short story, new scene for one of my books, or a blog like this one.

If you’ve made it to the end of this somewhat long rant, maybe you will share a comment on how you manage your time in order to accomplish the things that are important to you.

 

Women in the Second Half of Life

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Girls Running With Horses: a watercolor from my Ft. Wayne, Indiana art school days.

Today, I’m finally taking a break from my writing, poking my head above ground to see what’s been happening while I’ve been hiding on the farm working.  I’ve missed bopping into town to visit my friends (which I will do tonight at the Spring Artscene in Rockford Illinois to see the opening of Roni Golan at the gallery at Emmanuel), surfing Facebook, the Twitter-sphere, and of course my favorite blogs.  This morning, Lynne Spreen at her Any Shiny Thing blog triggered a slew of conflicting thoughts. It was about women in the second half of life, staying on the hamster track (turning wheel) or taking it easy.

Am I retired? I guess you could say that, although I don’t think of myself that way. Yes, I’m collecting Social Security, to help pay the bills until I can sell my first book.  Travel, yes. Putz in my garden, yes. Read for days on end, yes. Kick up my feet in a silent house and just muse about anything and everything, yes.  But retired? Never.  At 63, I’m just getting started.

Maybe, you’ll say, I’m a late bloomer.  Actually, I do most things backward.  The only kids I raised were two twelve-year-olds starting about ten years after I went through menopause.  I didn’t settle down until I was 45.  Not by choice, but by circumstance.  I moved 50 times before that, but not since.  I still hope I never have to move again.

I am a proud, card-carrying feminist.  I believe in girl power–have since I was ten when I protected all the other girls on the playground from the taunts and harassments of the boys by kicking the offenders in the ankle with my pointy flats.  I was the tallest in the class and they were terrified of me.  I still sometimes terrify some men–thank god not my husband–but those who fear powerful women.

Now, a bit about women and power.  Yes it’s nice to have corporate power, though I never had that.  I ran a not-for-profit and several of my own one-person-dog-and-pony-show businesses.  But I was never in charge of a lot of people. Well, except when I just took charge, which I have a tendency to do, because I’m a visionary and an organizer and well, I guess I just think I know what to do when everyone else seems to be hesitating.

I’m not usually quite this upfront with my pushiness, but hey, I’m leaning in.  Anyway, at 63, I guess I care less about how many people like me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still care.  I just care a bit less.

Financial power is the piece I’m still hoping to achieve.  The power to do what I want, when I want, help who I want, travel where I want.  That sort of thing.  That’s the power I can get down with.  Freedom from at least that worry–for at least a while.  I’ve learned nothing lasts forever, and sometimes not for very long.  So I enjoy it while I can.

About other women and retirement, I have two things to say.  First, do what feels right for you.  Everyone is different.  Sure we have commonalities.  And it’s fun to discuss all the pros and cons.  But in the end, its our decision, our choice.  Follow your gut and don’t be so damn hard on yourself! (I’m talking to me as much as anyone else.  That inner critic is the toughest voice to silence.) Secondly, if you only help one person with what you’re doing in the second half of life, you’ve made a difference, and probably in a way that no one else on earth could have done.  So Ladies, do what feels good.  Rest, play, work.  If it’s the right kind of work, if feels like play anyway.  Just be sure to get eight hours sleep every night (or at least most nights) and eat an apple a day.  That way you’ll have lots of years to change your mind and continue the debate and squeeze it all in.

And thanks, Lynn for giving me the idea to vent on one of my favorite topics–women.

If you have a different viewpoint, or just more of the same, I’d love to hear it.  Leave a comment and I’ll respond as quick as I can.  I still have a few pages to finish on my YA.

Starting Over

A young foal standing next to her mom.

Just getting started.

My website LeafRiverWriter.com crashed a few weeks ago. With the help of BlueHost tech support, I was able to retrieve my blog entries, but the design elements and widgets are lost. I’ve decided to take my lemons and turning them into lemonade.

I’ll be redesigning my entire website, refocusing it on what I love to do and to write about: HORSES.

Don’t panic if you’re not a horse person. I’m hoping to find a community of people (or perhaps gather a new one) who just loves horses. You won’t need to know anything about horses to enjoy it  because it’s not about “how to…” although you may learn a few tidbits in that area.

In my future blogs, I’ll be talking about what it’s like to “live with horses” and why I do it.

Having a horse on our property, we’re responsible for everything from finding or raising hay (we do the later) to scheduling hoof trimming every six to eight weeks (longer gaps in the winter because their hooves grow slower in the cold), maintaining their environment (mending the barn and mowing the pasture), along with keeping their stalls mucked out takes more time, physical work and education then boarding a horse at someone else’s facility.

So why do I do all that if I don’t ride my horses anymore? I’ll be writing about that too.

Living with horses is a lifestyle that grows out of my spirituality, a connection to earth and all living things. An expression of that belief is my art.

A close up picture of a horse's left eye.

Maggie’s watching and waiting.

Horses are included in my quilts, photographs, watercolors and clay sculpture surrounded by archetypes from Women’s Spirituality and nature up close. That art will appear in my blogs as well as on my art website TrotTownStudios.com (a site which is also in the process of being redesigned.)

This new vision of my social media presence will take time as I accumulate new computer skills from Lynda.com, so I’m asking for your patience. More importantly, I’m saying stay tuned. Lots of good stuff is coming.