Greetings from procrastination station!
You guys, I write constantly.
You should see the scads of blog drafts I have saved.
But are they good ideas? Possibly.
Will I follow through? Perhaps? Or not.
I’m a copywriter by trade so when it comes to assembling my own thoughts and blogging with the fervor I so desire I have been about much typing, no posting. Cobbler’s children - no shoes, yada yada.
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram and know what a type 7 (aka THE ENTHUSIAST) is you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Excited about all the things and all the projects. But in stress…Type 7 goes to the unhealthy side of a Type 1 in a perfectionistic, self-critical mode and thus blog post drafts and no actual blogging. When’s the perfect time of day to focus on writing when I’m tri-vocational (I know, right? I’m excited about vocations too) and my husband’s bi-vocational and we’re raising two boys, sometimes a godson and always a dog?
So here’s the thing.
I was listening to this Jen Hatmaker podcast a few weeks ago and while completely inspired by her interview with the prolific author and fellow New Englander Jodi Picoult. She said so many amazing things in their interview but what gripped me was her account of being a multi-tasking GODDESS.
While raising kids. And farm full of animals. While doing ALL the things. Also can we talk about THOSE LUSCIOUS CURLS?!!?!?
I was the mom who took my laptop to swim practice and to nursery school pickup. I learned that if you have even 15 minutes, you can get something out.
Here’s an excerpt of the interview
Jodi: I was much more impressive when I was younger. I had three kids under the age of four, and I was their primary caretaker. I used to write whenever Barney was on television, or at nursery school, when they weren't hitting each other over the head with a sippy cup. Anytime I could, I would sit down in a 15-minute block and I would write something.
Jodi: I was the mom who took my laptop to swim practice and to nursery school pickup. I learned that if you have even 15 minutes, you can get something out.
Because of that, I don't really buy into writer's block. I get that question a lot. I think writer's block is for people who have too much time on their hands. And the way I prove this is by saying, "Hey, remember when you were in school and you had a paper due the next day and you had writer's block? Isn't it miraculous how that writer's block cleared up the night before that paper was due?"
JODI FREAKING PICOULT WRITING BEST SELLING CONTROVERSIAL, ETHICAL ISSUE CENTRIC NOVELS AT SWIM PRACTICE OR DURING BARNEY?
I sit in a carpool line weekly and like things on Instagram while eating snacks… want to interview me next, Jen?
STOLEN MOMENTS MIGHT JUST BE THE VERY MOST PRODUCTIVE AND MEANINGFUL MOMENTS
I find this to be true in parenting.
We have a no screens/no headphones rule in our car unless it’s a really long road trip. Some of the best conversations, top-of-our-lung sing-a-longs and even learning to read have happened zipping around town in our car (and we live within a mile to pretty much everything we do). We have a breakfast table tradition that even if it’s only 10 minutes on a typical school day/weekday that I sit with my boys with my coffee and we just chat. I get all kinds of good intel at these mini-round tables like how many times a week we’re shaving (gulp), what teachers we like/dislike, what we dreamed about last night and what homework we just now remembered needs to be finished in the next 10 minutes (Jesus, come)— but, man, is it hard when I have a full plate and schedule and would love to use that time to make my hair look like Jodi Picoult’s for work instead of a rat’s nest stuffed in a bun.
I find this to be true in working out.
Ever since my 6 week stint with a HIIT style local workout gym I realized that I could get in “reps” all the time. So I started committing to rotating sets of 10 pushups (a lot for me) with bicycle crunches and planks for 15 minutes before showering on days when I haven’t practiced yoga (HOT yoga btw, thus the rat’s nest hair sitch) and I have to say, I feel a little stronger. Fifteen minutes adds up over the course of the week, especially when you completely lack upper body strength like me. I’m 5 ft. tall, in my 40’s and have a lot of moment stealing to go so if you see me don’t expect things like “definition” and “sculpting” or “not jiggly” or “even just one pull-up”, you know, actual fitness stuff.
I find this to be true in our home maintenance.
My mother in law is a real estate maven and weeds her yard anytime she’s on the phone at home. I do this when I answer my phone at home (but I don’t really use my phone for talking). I also can eat an entire block of cheese depending who I’m on the phone with but that’s a skill I don’t have time to unpack here.
I’m part of a FB group with daily cleaning challenges and I tell myself that I may not be able to keep the entire house clean every day but the sink can be the one frontier we can conquer daily… or maybe the one task on the FB group challenge. Because have you ever looked around your living space and thought:
“It’s just too much - let’s just move?!” Me either.
Ever followed these 15-min declutter strategies? I have a single mom friend who blasts the kids’ playlist of choice and does a 15 minute power clean/dance party every weekend. I’ve tried it. Ours is more of a whine-party but the music at least masks it a bit.
I find this to be true in the workplace.
I work with immensely organized artist of whom I’ve never known the likes who also runs a consulting business who was processing his thoughts on and practices of workflow with me and he asked me about mine and I was like….um…imagine randomly throwing darts at a dartboard except that those darts are covered in peanut butter by noisy pre-teen and teen boys then in between randomly throwing them at the dartboard you have to run a million errands which involve transporting amps and bikes while having more meetings than even a people person can handle while being distracted/fixated on lighting/lamps in every setting as well as the soundtrack or lack thereof and also there’s a dog barking in the background.
That’d be my workflow in a nutshell.
But I’m learning: when to turn the phone off. No social media blocks of time. Certain days scheduled without meetings to focus on tasks. His post here even resources you with apps to manage and maximize your workflow. I can actually say I’m using some of these apps, albeit not well, and they are game changers.
I wrote an entire message last year while on the sofa of the waiting room of our local car mechanic. Why? Because it was an inspiring space? Not even. Because like Jodi said, I HAD TO. I needed to speak a few days later and still didn’t have THE IDEA. But there was no time for writer’s block so I had to do it then and there. And it’s probably one of my favorite teaching moments to date.
I find this to be true in my spiritual life.
Me + God alone for 15 minutes = changes everything. My outlook. My perspective. My heart. My sarcastic to the core New Englander attitude. Some people, many people whom I love, can meditate for an hour and there are times I can focus for long periods of time but I’m all over the map and planning for a spiritual baby sprint is just more where my head and heart are.
Sometimes it’s reading, sometimes it’s listening, sometimes it’s songwriting, sometimes it’s reflecting on art, sometimes it’s journaling, sometimes it’s creating, sometimes it’s just being still and knowing God is God and, as Anne Lamott says, God is the great “not me.”
Oh and in my marriage. yes.
If not coffee than a glass of wine is sort of our unspoken mantra. We will have time just the two of us sipping something and we will talk about things not pertaining to bmx, heavy metal, fortnite or burp contests- just US stuff. Every day. The “we really don’t have time but let’s sit here just a few minutes” conversations are usually our best. One of my favorite dates of the year was a few weeks ago when we spontaneously stole away from work for an hour or so to our favorite deli and had fresh squeezed mimosas with lunch.
OVERWHELM IS REAL BUT SO ARE LONGEST OVERNIGHTS
So in this new year, here’s to incremental moment stealing and microbursts of energy-expending when really we could be just scrolling Instagram or observing our nose pores in the mirror.
Believe me, I’ve had many a day that a Bioré strip removal was the most productive thing I accomplished so there’s no judgment here.
Overwhelm is REAL. As are our dog’s fur tumbleweeds that mysteriously appear every morning after WE JUST VACUUMED THE NIGHT BEFORE. What is happening and what is this hellish hair magic?
But that feeling of not knowing how to get where you want to be might involve more chipping away than conquering in a day.
Like the very wise Kimmy Schmidt once said, “You can do anything for 10 seconds.”
Anne Lamott says step one of writing is BUTT IN CHAIR.
Maybe it’s also knowing that your butt doesn’t have to be there for hours or even one hour, the setting doesn’t have to be perfect and that chair might be your car or the baseball field or an airplane even though they’re showing a Kristin Wigg movie and your headphones are already plugged in.
Mountains can be moved during an episode of Barney… or a little tidbit pebbly part of a mountain according to Jodi.
If what you hope to be or do is yet to happen, may you be open to taking on bite sized pieces of dream-realizing, friends. May we all.
Multi-tasking like mothers.
Moment stealing mimosa-toasting on a Thursday at lunch like lovers.
Seizing those boring waiting rooms, long lines and car rides to find something better and deeper.
I’ll leave you with Jodi…