T is for Time

There’s never enough of it, no matter what.  Not in the practical sense or the philosophical sense.

When my grandfather died, this point was brought home pretty sharply to me.  I wish that I had been able to see him once more, but as it was unexpected, I didn’t have time.  Even if I had, it still wouldn’t have been enough; it never is.

I hear lots of people (myself included) talk about how there’s not enough time for everything on the to do list.  That’s true; there’s not.  It brings to mind a story that sharply clarifies priorities.  Take a few minutes to read.

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

-Author Unknown

F is For Fear

How often have you let fear stop you from doing something you wanted to do?  I’m not talking about phobias- of heights, of snakes, etc.  I’m talking about the littler fears that are really much larger.

In my case, it’s fear of sounding dumb, or worse, sounding like a know it all.  I’m quite awkward in social situations, and I get nervous and trip over my tongue when I try to make friends.  I know I’m not dumb, far from it.  I just tend to sound that way because I get nervous and words get jumbled.  Other times, I’ve pushed myself to talk, and get accused of being a know it all!  It’s just that I’m more comfortable, being pedantic and talking about trivia, facts and figures, than I am talking about personal stuff.

I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences from both respects.  On one hand, I really am an introvert and really do prefer to stay home with my books, my animals, and my laptop.  On the other hand, I have to wonder if I’ve allowed fear to hold me back in some ways.

As I thought about this (since I often write blog posts in parts, over a period of hours or days), I asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  At first, the answer was, “nothing.”  I feel pretty content except for always running out of time to do what I want, namely, write.  Even when I do write things other than blog posts, I tend to get distracted, allow it to fall low on my priority list.  In other words, I seem to be sabotaging myself.

I had a huge revelation in the shower today.  I wrote my last novel before I thought about getting published.  For those of you who already know this story, I apologize.  Seven years ago (yes, seven), I wrote a novel.  It was my third?  Fourth?  (I didn’t say they were good).  This one was different.  It was actually pretty good.  I wrote it over a period of one magical summer.  The words just flowed out.  Yes, it needed a ton of polishing, but it had good bones.

After I finished it, my husband asked a seemingly innocent question, “You write all this stuff… why don’t you ever try to get it published?”

The question blew me away because it had just never occurred to me before.  So, I started doing research.  I contacted editors and agents.  I went to writer’s conferences, read everything I could online, and subscribed to magazines.

And I haven’t been able to finish a novel since then.

I’ve started several, several I know, as a reader, have the potential to be better than the one that started me on this journey.  I’ve edited, polished, sweated, cursed, and rewritten the novel that put me on this path in the first place.  But I haven’t gotten any closer to getting it published than I was seven years ago.

Is it fear that’s stopping me?  What if it isn’t my lack of organization, lack of time, lack of discipline?  What if it’s just plain old fear?  Puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?

This being Friday, this is going to double as a writing prompt, and really, I think it’s a perfect writing prompt.  Whether you’re using this for journaling or fiction, ask yourself, or your character, this question:  What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  What chances would you take if you (or your character) only had a few months left to live?  What would you (or your character) do differently?  What would be important in life?

Time Flies… Please Come Back!

I’m just not good at keeping schedules on my own.  When I was younger, I was one of those people who always had trouble getting to work on time.  I was usually something like two minutes late or just getting there as I was due.  Lucky for me that I only held one job that would have fired me for that, and even they were lenient with me.

These days, I do much better at getting to work on time.  I’m usually at least 15 minutes early, sometimes more.  However, I’m not very good about keeping to a schedule on my days off.  I think about it.  I want to.  But other things always seem to come up.

This means that while on “work” days, I manage to exercise, pack my lunch, write my blog (well, mostly), play with the dogs, and eat breakfast (not in that order), on my days off, I manage to… well… surf the internet, read books, cook some stuff, and do dishes.  I have a hard time finding time to write, even though it’s right there.  I also have trouble getting everything done that I want to.

I keep doing things like writing myself schedules or swearing to be more disciplined.  I don’t need to make time to do what I want.  It’s there; I’m just not using my time efficiently.

I know this doesn’t sound related, but stay with me.  I’ve failed at a lot of diets over the years.  I’ve gone on them, then off them when they didn’t work.  So far, I’ve managed for the past two months to make a “lifestyle change.”  I have not gone on a diet.  There are no forbidden foods.  I’m just eating a whole lot more veggies and a whole lot less processed food.  I’m happier, have more energy, and have lost some weight.

So, I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to try to “get organized” or make myself a schedule.  There’s no “falling off the wagon” that way.  I’m going to try to incorporate one hour a day of writing (on my days off).  Maybe I’ll go with a more realistic 15 minutes a day on my work days to start.  It doesn’t have to be all at once.  If I miss some days, no recriminations, no problem.  Just try to do it the next day.  And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to ask myself why.

So now you know why I don’t post every day.  I’m sorry!  I mean to.  I usually have ideas. I just never quite get around to writing them down.

I don’t do well with limits.  I’m not much of a sweet eater, but if you tell me I can’t have chocolate cake, that’s all I’ll crave.  It’s the same thing with the schedule.  By putting so much focus on what I “have to do,” I forgot that I tried to create a schedule because it’s all stuff I want to do.  Okay, not the dishes.  Or the cooking.  But you get the idea.

I’ll let you know how it goes.