There was a time when, if you looked up procrastination in the dictionary, you’d find my picture right next to its phonetic spelling. Even now, I succeed in accomplishing my goals in spurts, like a sprinter. But, I want to be more like a marathoner because, after all, this is a long race we’re running.
In my younger years, I would often wait until the midnight hour, literally and figuratively, to do things like laundry or that 40 page term paper on the redemption cycle as represented by earth elements in King Lear. True story.
Then, as it so often does, life caught up with me and my mercurial ways. Certain things just didn’t flex into my creative scheduling. Bills, work, grown up chores, and the eventual realization that, whatever I wanted to accomplish in life, I was responsible for putting into play. I have an expiration date, and contrary to what most of us so-called visionaries were taught to believe by other so-called visionaries, so do our dreams and aspirations.
After a few (okay, MANY) unladylike stumbles and outright epic failures, I realized that my goals were more important than my perceived freedom of spirit. I began to prioritize, whittle down, and focus. None of these actions come easily to me. I can’t even call them habits yet because, even as a 40-something, I still struggle. Daily.
I make to-do lists, lose them, and start over with a new piece of paper (sorry, trees). Between my full-time job, being a mom and (trying) to be a homemaker, sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in freelance work before 9pm. Then, there are my working manuscripts: my memoir, my novel, and my fantasy trilogy. Oh, and those short stories. . . *sigh*
It’s unrealistic to think I can do it all, and yet, I feel like a failure for not being able to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, etc. etc. (If you’re under 40, you probably won’t get that reference. Sorry.) After beating myself up for not living up to my own expectations (or delirium, maybe?), I usually come back to reality with a clearer vision. I count my blessings and remember to be thankful. I remember that, yes, tomorrow IS another day and sometimes I remember that the rest of the day – the afternoon or even this next hour is fresh and unspoilt.
Then, instead of making the day’s to-do list on paper, I email it to myself. Instead of attempting to write 3 chapters between the hours of 9 and 11pm, I tell myself to do one page. One page is good. One page is great. One page is freaking FANTASTIC!
Can I bake 3 dozen cupcakes for the school bake sale this Thursday? No, but I can take home some reading pull out pages and collate them over the weekend. Can I clean out the car, weed the garden, and make a batch of cookies between getting off work and taking my son to his piano lesson? No, but I can grab a few things as I get out of the car, water the mums, and look through the cookbooks quickly with him to pick a recipe to bake together on Saturday afternoon.
Can I say no? Yes.
Can I compromise? Yes.
Can I be patient and forgiving, with myself? Yes.
And so can you.
There are many reasons we procrastinate. Only you can look inside yourself for your unique answer. For me, my reasons vary. I’m tired. I’m afraid it won’t turn out the way I want. I think I’ll have more time later. But, I challenge each of us to look at our lives and realize we’re on a one-way trip. What do we really want to accomplish while we’re here? What will bring us joy? What on our list is worth making a priority? What can we let go?
When you decide what’s important to you, revisit it daily. Spend time with your goals if you want to make them realities. You might stumble and fall, but keep getting back up. Move forward a little or a lot everyday, and you’ll make it.
It happens every day, more than once and, usually, more often than necessary. It starts innocently enough. Maybe you begin to feel a bit fidgety. Your toes start wiggling, and your mind becomes a bit distracted. Could you be…hungry?
Yes, of course, that must be it. It’s been at least an hour or two since you’ve eaten, and now you’re starving, famished even, and on the verge of dramatic interpretation as you stumble toward the vending machine in what you assume can only be a low-blood-sugar induced stupor. The oxymoronic vacuum of feelings sucking at you from the inside out must be a craving for something sweet. Or something salty. Something substantial, or just a little something to tide you over. Peanuts or pizza? A diet Coke and Doritos, or a handful of mini-marshmallows (don’t ask)?
I won’t pretend to be the first person to point out the differences between craving and hunger, but I’ll be happy to be the millionth person to bring it up again because I make it no secret that I’m an emotional eater. 🙂 I wear my insecurities, heartbreaks, and suppressed feelings on the outside, for everyone to see. So much for that magical cloak of invisibility, eh?
Just last night I found myself craving something. My day had been lacking in certain ways, and I was feeling unsatisfied because there are some things that I want to be different, but I just don’t know how to change them. Turning my thoughts away from the seemingly impossible, I stood up and began wandering. I wandered into the kitchen, put an errant cup into the sink and looked around at a whole lot of nothing. The last of the good Christmas treats had either been consumed or pitched, and all that remained were a few random hard candies. Bah, kids’ stuff. I leave the kitchen, disappointed and dull.
I know I should focus through this hunger and spend the energy on something useful, like writing, but I find myself standing in front of my dresser, instead, dolefully rummaging through my sock drawer (don’t ask). Nope. Nothing exciting there, unless you count the walk down memory lane courtesy of my favorite pair of socks – black with a vine of little red roses that I’ve saved since high school. (Yes, I have hosiery with history. Please don’t judge.)
And so, the walk through my house is fruitless, turning up not one bit of chocolate or chips or anything to feed my craving. So, I did the next best thing — I went to bed a little early and found myself having a good cry. Was I crying because we were out of chocolate? No. Was I crying because I was hungry? No. My tears were cathartic, calorie-free, and maybe, just maybe, what I had needed in the first place. Maybe I wasn’t hungry. Maybe I was sad, lonely and disappointed. Maybe what I craved had nothing at all to do with food. Maybe instead of chocolate chunk cookies, I had craved cleansing. Instead of shoveling something in to push down the hurt, I just needed to let it out.
As we walk this journey together, you and I, please let me challenge you as I challenge myself. Be true to yourself. But, before you can be true to yourself, you have to be honest with yourself. Come to terms with the terms of your life. If there’s something you don’t like, do your best to change it, at least the parts that you can. Cheer up and do something positive. Resist the temptations and get rid of the tasty goodies. Save your sock drawer for socks 🙂 Look for the value in the emotions you are trying to ignore. Acknowledge them, work through them, and then let them go.
Live true. Live free. We’ve got this :0)