Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sunday afternoons are great. Until you start feeling guilty that you aren’t doing anything. But, really, a good sluggish Sunday can be rejuvenating and even fun. I was up at 6:30 so that must count for some level of activity? Right? We did go for a long up upriver this morning (late morning really), so maybe “lazy” isn’t quite accurate. Following my general process of writing something or at least doing something related to writing every single day has been eye-opening. The more you do something, and discover you’re actually pretty good at it (or at least don’t suck at it, as is my case), the more fun it gets and the more time you want to spend on it. Okay, so maybe cleaning the bathroom doesn’t fall into that category, but I wasn’t thinking about odious chores. I was thinking more along the lines of ‘things I like to do or want to do’.

We had a long conversation about process vs. goals on our walk. I’ve talked about this before, but it is so relevant to my life these days that I keep coming back to it. Writing isn’t a goal. It’s a process. Through the process of writing and revising and editing, I will have a completed book. And, it will be good. I have bought into this notion that life improves when you look at a process for getting and staying healthy, getting and staying financially comfortable (however you define that), getting and staying happy (not just content, but happy). Mike just sent me a link to an interview with Nick Saban (winningest college football coach). And he talked about how he impressed on his players that their job is to run the route, know what they’re supposed to be doing each play, and do that. If everybody on the entire team does their job every play, they will win football games. It’s that simple What’s not simple is keeping everyone doing their jobs. Quarterbacks get rattled and step out of the box a few counts before their supposed to, wide receivers think they see a chance to play the hero and miss the catch instead. Saban said his goal isn’t winning football games, it’s making sure that everybody is doing their job and doing it correctly. After that, the game will take care of itself.

Process not goals.

Process means that if you hit a snag or bump in the road, or fall down or whatever, you simply get up, figure out what happened, and keep following your process. Part of the process is learning from your mistakes and failures. What went wrong there? Why? How can I avoid having that happen in the future? Or if unavoidable, how can I mitigate the effects? What makes me happy? What do I need to do to get there? At the very least, what is making me unhappy and how can I eliminate that thorn from my life.

It’s not all going to happen at once, but if you take things one issue at a time, you will be surprised at how success there will generate good feelings and keep you moving through your process towards even greater success in all things. Above all, be sure to acknowledge gratitude for those things or areas in life that are doing just peachy. I can say from experience that expressing gratitude leads to more things to be grateful for. A virtuous circle is created.

One of the ways I’ve managed to make my life happier and less stressed is to stop watching or reading or obsessively following the news. It simply stresses me out and for about 99.999% of it, there’s nothing I can do to change the situation. So, why stress about it. One of the best ways to stop obsessing over the news and/or politics, for me, is to stay off of Facebook. I allow myself 2 days a week to go on to FB. I keep in touch with a number of people I know in real life and with whom I want to stay connected. Twice a week allows me to see what they’re doing, respond, chat, etc. Then bail out until the next FB day. This has reduced my procrastination significantly and lowered my stress levels as well. I can highly recommend it!

So, a lazy Sunday afternoon is not a bad thing. I will read Janice Hardy’s book on writing conflict and continue editing my own book. It’s all part of the process of working at something writing related every day.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Image by Jörn Heller from Pixabay

Suitcases

Who would have thought that something as simple and as worn as old roller bag suitcases could send me into a well of sadness? For the fourth Saturday, we have been cleaning out the storage unit where I put all my parents things after my dad died in 2013, and then added in the few remaining items when my mom passed in 2016. Yes, it’s been over five years that we’ve been paying for a 10×15 climate-controlled storage unit. Running out of estate money has made it a priority to clear things out.

Three weeks ago we took all the remaining furniture and bed to Good Will and to the dump. Two weeks ago we shifted everything remaining into a much smaller space and then took boxes of books home to sort through. The suitcases did not make it into the first run to the dump. Nor did they make it to the second run. Today, we planned on getting the rest of the books and figure out what, of what remained, would go to Good Will and what would go to the dump. This time, I knew the suitcases should go. As we were talking before we left the house, I started tearing up. There’s something about those suitcases that, more than any of the stuff/items/furniture I’ve been sorting through over the last month, most fully evokes my parents for me. I can picture them in my mind’s eye, walking steadily, if not rapidly, through various airports, pulling the bags behind them. Philly, Dublin, Munich, San Francisco, Portland, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong…they traveled a lot and enjoyed the hell out of it. Always with those roller bags.

Interestingly, they were the exceptions among their siblings. My mom’s sister would come out to Philly after my parent’s moved out here and she made one epic trip to South America, including Antarctica, with her second husband. But after that trip, she stuck to traveling between Sacramento and San Francisco, and then Philadelphia.

My uncle, my dad’s brother, hasn’t left the West Coast since he moved there after leaving the Navy. Now he lives in central Washington and travel is limited to driving down to Sunriver, Oregon, where we all meet up for a family reunion every year, and down to Napa Valley for short wine-tasting vacations. Other than that, they don’t travel. Of course, my aunt (uncle’s wife) doesn’t drive and is afraid to fly. That will limit your excursions.

I find that I’m sort of halfway in between. I love to travel, especially to Europe and around this country. But, I find that multiple trips in a couple of months are tiring and afterwards all I want to do is sit at home for about six months.

We got to the dump and while I was fussing with getting a couple of old lamps out of the back of the car, Mike got the suitcases and tossed them into the back of the trash truck. I didn’t even see them go, and I actually thought we’d forgotten to get them out of the car until we left. I’m glad I didn’t see them go. I tend to anthropomorphize things a lot and seeing them in the trash truck likely would have wrecked me.

It’s done and I’m okay with it. It was time. Who knew suitcases could evoke such emotions?

Coddiwomple

This word popped up on my FB memories thingy today. “Coddiwomple” means to travel purposely towards an as-yet-unknown destination. This is perfect for 2019. I’m coddiwompling into the year! Whee! The definition is a little bit off, I do know where I want to end up, I’m just not sure, right now, how I’m going to get there yet. I’m writing (in fact, I need to get back to it as soon as I finish this post), and I’m creating a vision of how I want my life to look (found those ideas from this book by Jen Sincero, along with inspiration from Scott Adams). This is not to say you can sit on your butt dreaming and expect it all to fall into place before your very eyes. There is a lot of work involved. But, this is what I want, so the work is almost immaterial. I will look back in a year and say, yes. It is all worth it.

At the same time, this is a very scary thing to contemplate. I find myself saying things like “Well, if it doesn’t work, I/we can always do X”. And, I have to remind myself, that no. X is not an option, not if we want to move forward with our lives and into a new, more fun, and more in our control life. Writing this blog, and writing fiction are my new world or worlds. I have discovered a creative streak in myself that I never knew existed. Or, rather, I knew there was a little something there, but the über-practical voices of my mother and grandmother were always reminding me that one could not, and should not try, to make a living being creative. So, I threw my energy elsewhere. I threw it into education and into being an educator and a researcher. But, now, 25 or so years on, I’m realizing I’m not happy. In fact, my annoyance trigger is dangerously close to the surface. And, right behind the annoyance trigger is the “I don’t give a f*&%” trigger. This is not a good thing. Regardless of how I feel about my life right now, I don’t need to be going off on students and colleagues. Bad form, as my dad would say.

So, sitting here on Day 9 of 2019, I’m going to go for what promises to be a cold, very cold, windy, walk, and then come back and write, write, write. And, then squeeze in some class prep and syllabus work. And, then continue to coddiwomple!

Go coddiwomple!

The Last Week…of break

A week from today classes start. I will be back in the rhythm of the semester by the end of next week. This is a very familiar place to be. I am working on prepping my classes, because I put that task off until now. I am also trying to write and do research. More personal, but still research. As always, I head into the spring semester with a mixture of hope and dread. Hope, because it’s a new semester and that always brings a sense of optimism. Also, the spring semester is followed by summer! Yay!

Dread, because I’m afraid that the freshmen will not have learned anything from their mistakes last semester (years of teaching supports this hypothesis). and because, administratively we’re entering another period of uncertainty and that means faculty never really know if their ideas, programs, trips, etc. will be approved as before, cut, or ignored. Regardless of whatever else the semester brings, it will bring change. And, change is a scary, exciting thing.

I am a creature of habit; got it from my parents who definitely were creatures of habit (when the bartender pours your beers as he sees you through the window, you’re a creature of habit). But, I think that the majority of humans are creatures of habit. So are other animals. We have the ability to recognize long-ingrained habits and to persuade ourselves to ditch those habits. Hence, the plethora of books, blogs, articles, etc. that urge us to get out of our comfort zones, push the edges of the envelope, change our world, etc. etc. etc. While exciting to contemplate, such change is often scary to implement.

So, where am I going with this rambling? Well, in the words of Mal Reynolds, captain of the spaceboat Firefly, “no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.” I am embracing change, some of it pretty radical, and I am going to enjoy the hell out of the roller-coaster I’m currently building. I promise to post updates.

(picture is personal photo)