compromise · partnership · time

Time Wars

I’m slowly making my way through Minimalist Parenting, written by two women who, according to their bio blurbs on the back of the book, founded blogs named to the “Top 100 Mommy Blogs” (which both makes me want to puke that there is such a thing and inspires me!).  What I’m noticing, though, is that there is SO MUCH useful information in the book for any person who lives with someone else, be that a roommate or partner or child.

One of the questions asked by them early in the book is, “What is your ideal time style?”  If given an ideal day, would you plan it by the hour to ensure everything that you want gets accomplished, or would you seat-of-the-pants it and see how the day unfolds?

I am the former “Plan it down!” and J is the latter “Let’s see how it goes.”  Asking this of myself and of him illuminates how differently we approach our days, and also lends perspective to why we fall into tensions around shared time.

It’s important for me to see that it’s impinging for him when I ask, “When?” and it’s unmooring for me when his response is, “Whenever.”

As our lives overlap further, it becomes more necessary that we have consideration for the other’s ideal.  I need to take a deep breath when he says whenever and he needs to give me some boundaries of time within which to place that “whenever.”

I recognize that we’re pretty lucky that we’re well aligned on one of the major sources of couple tension—money—, but Money and Time can be part of one gestalt:  is there enough of it, how does one “make” more, can you “save” it?

J and I approach Time differently.  To embrace cohabitation bliss, we must each give a little latitude to the other’s approach.

Because however we view the sacred gift of Time, we’ve chosen to share it with one another.

 

habits · stress · time

Straining the Seams of Sanity

9-27-18.jpgWhen J and I were together he would bristle when I would try to get us to schedule something for the weekend.  My time is scheduled down to the minute every day at work, he’d practically beg, I just need my weekends to be open and unscheduled.  UGH!  But how will we ever DO anything if we don’t plan it?  What I want to spend time doing will be different than yours so if we don’t coordinate, they’ll never align — MUST PLAN THINGS!

So, sometimes we did.  And generally what happened was he was grateful that we had, though at the cost of cohabitation bliss.

AND, OH THE IRONY!  I am now experiencing what I think he must have been, and I feel kinda badly for my insistence…

My relationship with the clock has somehow shifted with the start of this school year.  Much of it has to do with the increase in my teaching and meeting hours.  My planning and grading hours are diminished, which means more work at home, on weekends, in my own “free time.”  Last year, there were entire stretches of school hours when I could sit and read a book for exploration of what we may do next.  Now, I’m feeling like I’m lucky if I have time to pee.

This isn’t altogether accurate, but that is how it feels.  And so, with my Action Partner, among the actions for the day that I text her each morning is, “GO OUTSIDE ALONE.”

Sometimes this helps, but strangely, even THIS feels like too much scheduling!

There are several people and events to coordinate in the upcoming weeks, and all I feel like doing is screaming.  They’re important, necessary events, but I could absolutely say verbatim what J had said to me: My work days are scheduled to the minute, I just want time to do whatever the hell I want!

But, I know myself better.  I really do.  I know that given time to “do whatever I want” generally looks like doing very little, and not in the good, “release achieving” sense of it; more in the binge-watching, pajama-wearing, did I brush my teeth today sense of it!

All things in moderation.

What I do know needs more expansion is this rush in the mornings.  Journal faster, meditate faster, blog faster, get on the road faster!  From the moment I set my mug on my breakfast table it feels like a stop-watch has begun, constricting and awful.

I have talked and delved enough recently to know that I do want to keep this whole morning practice thing the way it is.  I really do love it.  But there are essential adjustments to be made, whether they’re entirely an internal shift in framing or an external shift in doing, and likely both.

I don’t like feeling like a balloon about to pop.  Even if I am filled with candy.

 

adventure · habits · time

Glycerine.

9-13-18.jpgWhile devouring a copy of the AARP Magazine—that I definitely didn’t steal from my building’s mail slush pile—I read a letter to the advice columnist.  The writer asked if their experience of time speeding up as they were aging was “just them” and the columnist replied, “Nope, not just you.”

The columnist wrote that as people aged, the bold markings of time were often fewer and farther between, with the big milestones in the past and an increasingly habitual pattern of everyday life.  Much of what we do each day follows the same general format.  Set enough of these days beside one another and, the author notes, it’s difficult to piece them apart into distinctive memories, which is what helps us to feel that time has slowed.

So… “Where did the time go” is a more germane question to ask when I, say for random sake of example, watch Netflix after work each night or putter about my generic homecare errands each weekend?

The columnist suggests to punctuate this tide of calendar pages with events that are out of the norm.  Say, again for random sake of example(!), going to see Trombone Shorty tomorrow night, or taking my keyboard down from storage and actually trying to play it last night, or visiting the art museum this week with my girl friend.

It doesn’t feel to me that the surge of lost days and years is a consequence of advanced age.  I’m a few weeks shy of my 37th birthday, and I know of what the letter writer speaks.

Allowing days to pass with no significant deviation from the norm may feel calm, but it sure don’t feel memorable.

 

accountability · habits · time

Action Jackson

9.12.18.jpgIn one of the circles in which I run, there’s an emphasis on using our time to best support our visions and goals.  If you’re anything like me, that’s not exactly a snapshot of my daily relationship with time!

While I have attempted to make inroads—using a time plan, creating a habit calendar, telling you guys I’m gonna do something!—the truth is that without a consistent external form of accountability, I continue to make little headway toward goals small and large (see: “Play ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ by Christmas” second year in a row!).

So, one of these folks’ tools is to have an Action Partner.  After many weeks of telling my Goals Group that I wanted one, was gonna contemplate who might be good, was gonna maybe possibly reach out to someone, did reach out to someone (not good), I finally had the brainwave of someone to ask and, even more finally, asked her.

And wouldn’t you know: she was just thinking about who to ask herself!

We spoke by phone on Monday to discuss the details of how it might work best for us and we decided to go for it, starting Tuesday.  Which we did!  Eek!

And here’s how it went: I came home yesterday early evening and felt the immediate gravitational pull to continue watching Season 7 of Once Upon a Time (Hook, marry me), but before I became couch-beached, I opened the text I’d sent to my Action Partner in the morning: What did I actually commit to doing that day, anyway?

Well, truth be told, a few things I hadn’t yet done and could certainly do.  So. I. Did.

I spent an hour lesson planning and changed my sheets (yes, that was on my Action List!).  I did some dishes, too, as it’s on my Habit Calendar and “Follow my Habit Calendar” was one of my actions for the day as well.

I’ll tell you what: I did 4 of the 5 things I said I would.  I knew the last one would be a stretch considering I had to be in several parts of the Bay yesterday, so it will go on another day’s list.  And the crazy thing about doing that is eventually it will be gone. 

Habit Calendars are great, but there’s no external accountability (which I need…according to my “habit type” from Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before).  My weekly Goals Group is great, but it’s only once a week and usually means a flurry of catch-up right before the call.

I’m excited/curious/nervous(!) to see how this will go, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to try something different — and grateful to feel good at the end of a day, to feel like I actually accomplished what I set out to do.

 

habits · relationships · time

Crowd-Sourcing

8.29.18.jpg

NOTE: Today’s blog is a bit interactive.

Help!

One of my best girl friends told me a few months ago that I’m my “best” when I’m regularly doing something creative: blogging, music, theater.  Anything, as long as it’s habitual.

And I find now that I’ve begun blogging again on the regular since my return from summer break, I have to agree.  I tend to see the world differently when I know I’ll be commenting on and making connections to my own daily experience; I see with writer’s eyes.  And I love it.  It’s fun to think in a different manner, to connect to my daily ins and outs with a more meta-view.

But.  I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to accomplish this.

I wake up, journal for 20-30 minutes, meditate for 20-30 minutes, then blog for 30-40 minutes, including the time to proofread and post (there’s not much copyediting; you get it raw, folks!).

So, pad with a few minutes for a coffee refill or bathroom break, and I’ve got close to 2 hours of “morning practice” without having eaten breakfast or gotten ready for the day.

To streamline those latter “get out of the house” bits, I already am in the habit of hard-boiling eggs for the week and nuking 2 pieces of bread to take on the road, and washing my hair every few days instead of daily.  I generally try to pack my lunch the night before (like all grown-ups helping their little ones get ready for school since time immemorial!).

So — let’s just say that getting ready take 30 minutes, with a shower.  That’s 2 to 2.5 hours just to get in the car.

My commute is such that the later I leave, even by one or two minutes, it can add 10 minutes to my commute, aggregating all the time.  I am generally aiming to leave my house between 6 and 6:30, but the earlier the best.  When I leave then, I can arrive at work around 715, which is still not optimal (I’d love to be there at 7am to prep and settle in for my work day in relative peace, which starts at 7:45am).

So, my question to you all is: Is there something I’m not seeing?  

Frankly, waking up at 4:30 in the morning is absolutely insane to me.  It also makes it imperative that I’m at lights out by 9pm the latest.

I’m opening this up because I feel I’ve tried all the permutations I can imagine (including looking at living closer to my work; though rents are much higher there, I’m holding it as an option).  I’ve tried meditating and/or blogging at night, but that habit ends up badly for me because I like/feel I need the morning space to unpack my brain for the day so I’m not a d*ck.  When I blog in the evening, I also tend to push my bedtime out farther, since the evenings are less predictable, time-wise.  And when I meditate at night, it kind of feels like eating my appetizer after the meal, like it’s a little late to get the day’s benefit from it.

So, friends, I need more input, different angles.  Different Angels.

What would you do?

(P.S. I was out at a school retreat yesterday, so we were blogless.)

 

balance · progress · time

Even Elizabeth Gilbert took a Break.

4.23.18

The epilogue to Eat, Pray, Love, if I recall (maybe it was an interview) included author Elizabeth Gilbert admitting that in coming back to her regular daily life, she did loosen her adherence to her hours’ long daily meditation.  The demands of everyday life, I believe she wrote, necessitated that she create a new balance that allowed for her present needs and reality.

I take comfort in this idea—not as justification for my own procrastination or avoidance of eaten frogs, but that even “great spiritual masters” (though I’m sure she would never consider herself such!) have to consistently reapportion in and out, effort and rest, play and focus.  I take comfort because it means that I can, too.

As you read in Saturday’s blog, the concept of “Time” is foremost in my mind and plans and creation of my days lately.  In that blog, I shared Dr. Dan Siegel’s 7 types of time one should account for in one’s day, and that did include play time.

I remember when I was healing from cancer treatment, I questioned (rather unceasingly) whether I was still allowed to watch Ben Stiller movies.  (You know, like Zoolander.)  Meaning, with everything that had changed and happened, was it “wasting my life” to take 2 hours to watch something that was funny but shallow?  What was the value of humor?  Of frivolity?

Indeed, that question of allotting time for mental candy plagued me and can still rear its snarky head.  But, I’ve come to the other side of it.

My own answer, at least, is YES.  Yes, frivolity.  Yes, silliness.  Yes, “stupidity.”  Because it’s FUN.

And truly, what is the purpose, ultimately, of life if we’re not having any fun?

Now.  I can go too far, as you’ve seen me lament here, too, spending copious hours clicking next episode or reading the next chapter.  And therefore, balance is required among the rest of those 7 time allotments so that I can feel at ease engaging in play because I’ve engaged in work or connection or physicality.

The more I grow, the more I realize that balance in all things (though not necessarily equality) is the essence of contentment, self-esteem, and joy.

 

goals · success · time

All we are is dust in the wind, dude.

2.4.18 socrates-with-bill-and-ted

One of my favorite exchanges in film is this one between Bill & Ted and Socrates (delightfully mispronounced, “So-CRATES,” as in boxes).  Socrates then lays the following gem on the endearing surf-philosophers: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” (Albeit, he says it in Greek…)

I share this today because: What’s the deal with all the calendaring and habit stuff, anyway, Moll?

Listening to a habits book; reading said habits book; writing a time plan; crafting a habits calendar; listening to a 21-day meditation on time sickness.  Why?

Because of Socrates’ reply: There is only so much time; How will I spend it?

I’ve crafted a degree of discipline over the last several years about how I spend my money.  Discovered money is a useful tool, yet a harsh master; decided how to use it to best support my goals, desires, health, vitality, future and present.  How I spend my money reflects the values I hold.  And so, now, I look at another of the very few tools I have control over in my life: my time.

With the habits tracker eliminating decisions and encouraging a little effort each day (rather than the sprinter’s “exertion/exhaustion” purgatory), I’ve crafted and carved out more minutes in which to do that which I must.  Not dishes or laundry, but purpose.  To act in alignment with my purpose.

When I spend 4 hours on the couch both days this weekend reading Cider House Rules, is that in alignment with my purpose?  Hmmm, yes, reading is a love but, maybe just 2 hours would suffice!

When I clean out folders and boxes when I really need to start an avoided piece of writing for my weekly goals call?  Well, yes, clearing needs to be done.  But what ultimately moves me toward my purpose?  Certainly not “tricking” myself with apparent busy-ness so that I have zero time to write.

My next body of work is in the arena of effectiveness, success, and (forgive me) “flow.”  I can tell because the words I’m reading and listening to have begun to shift from time:  Oprah’s Super Soul conversation with Jack Canfield about success.  Downloading his Success Principles on Hoopla (the library e-borrowing app).  And this morning, starting the 21-meditation on…Manifesting True Success.

My weekly goals call has shifted in its tenor, too, from finding, making, using Time to a pulled-back overview of refining my larger goals and purpose on this earth:

Now that I’ve made time, how will I use it?

 

 

abundance · joy · scarcity · time

Chunk.

chunk 8 20 17

During a professional development on Executive Functioning last week, they expressed the need for students to Chunk.  “Chunking” is looking at the big picture of an assignment and breaking it down into bite-sized chunks of Time.

Have a 5-page paper due in 2 weeks?  Here’s how you back-track and pencil in smaller tasks… so it’s not the night before with 5 empty pages before you.

To varied success, I use a chunking practice for my own time, much as I use a spending plan for money.  To write my “time plans” I sit with a hot cup of coffee, a fresh piece of paper, and (most importantly) a pencil.  From there, the first item is always, “8 – 8:05am: Coffee and Time Plan.”  And I catalogue the day’s tasks on.

The frothy thing about a time plan is that it’s…fluid.  Moveable, crunchable, expandable.  And by “frothy,” I mean “maddening beyond all belief.”  Took 6 minutes to write your time plan, not 5?  Mom call you at 8:10, during your 30-minute journaling?  Run into a friend at the store and spend 15 minutes in a chat? **Eek!**

Time plans are fluid because my day is not a Swiss clock.  I find this troubling.

When I put my time into a plan, I feel like I have order, control over my day, my life, my emotions, destiny, successes and failures. But time, and experience, are wily bitches and I can’t pin them down any more than a mud wrestler.

Because I’m scared, much as with money, that there will never be enough. Our time here is short.  Yet I don’t want to strangle life so firmly that I don’t enjoy it!

Time is not to control, but to partner with. Time is a kid running up a forest trail ahead of you, then lagging behind to witness a beetle’s progress up a leaf.  I must be open to that fluidity… but I also must have a general map of our path through the forest.

There can be side trips and cavorting in crystal streams — indeed there must be, or I shall die — but without a destination, I am too lost in the forest of life (and procrastination and Netflix).

So my task for now is to be looser with my time, to recognize the abundance of it.  To deeply know that if I aim my time in the direction of my dreams, there will always be enough — whether or not I finish my blog at 8:55am.

abundance · mortality · self-care · time

The Teapot Enables You

teapot 8 15 17

You must note the way the soap dish enables you,[…]
The kettle is singing even as it pours[…], the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last.

David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You

My coffeepot, perhaps like yours, is electric with a clock and an auto-brew timer feature.  I have never in my ownership used this feature.  Until today.

Because of my new work schedule, new commute, and the relaunch of my daily blog, I am currently awakening at 5:30am, and it will have to be earlier once we move from “teacher prep” days to “omigod the students are here!” days next week.

Each morning past, I have woken up, pet my cat hello, and klutzed open the machine’s lid to pour in new water and grounds.  (For my own good, I have been forbidden by my boyfriend to brew a whole pot to drink throughout the week via microwave swill reheating…!)  This takes about 10 minutes from alarm to first sip.

But, this is inefficient in the industrial, technological age; I need my teapot to enable me.

Last night, for the first time, I pre-loaded my coffeepot with its daily matter and as I pet my cat and yawned in darkness this morning, I was greeted by the glug glug of the machine doing its work. I bumbled into the kitchen, ready to sip.

This may seem simple, banal even, but it’s progress for me.  For several years now, one of my aims has been efficiency, effectiveness.  Wanting to use the time I have on Earth performing actions that are aligned with who I want to be.  I don’t want to be the groggy-eyed medusa filling a daily water reservoir; I want to be the slightly-less groggy-eyed medusa sitting down to her daily journaling, meditation, and blog.

The coffeepot enables me to do this. Enables me to be present in the work I truly want to do (writing, creating, discovering, softening), rather than inefficiently toiling at Sisyphean tasks.

In this way, the coffeepot gets to fulfill its purpose and I, ten regained minutes at time, get to fulfill mine.

 

acting · action · change · commitment · confidence · kindness · laughter · life · performance · persistence · progress · recovery · relationships · self-support · sobriety · time

For those of you playing along at home. . .

For those of you playing along at home, below are a few
updates on things I have here written about:
  • The
    caffeine-reduction experiment has been a near-fail since beginning the
    temp job, but continues to remind me to feel guilty.
  • I realized this morning that the free bus I sometimes catch to BART can take me all the
    way to the city, instead of transferring to BART (thank you to my school’s
    student bus pass, making bus transit in the East Bay free).
  • I put
    back up the series of my paintings that I’d taken down during Calling in
    the One
    , at which time I’d realized that women
    not looking at their lovers was something I wanted to move away from. I
    put them back up when the okJew was potentially going to come over, and I
    didn’t want a blank expanse of wall over my bed. I’m not sure if I’ll take it back down. 
  • I have
    not yet finished, but I have begun, the art project for my friend’s
    wedding. It sits on my desk, accusing me.
  • I
    bought cat food.
  • I graduated with a Master’s degree a month ago. And I was offered a weekend job at said pet food store. Generously offered (not the compensation), but no thank you. Not yet, at least.
  • I have
    art that I need to make for the September art show my friend invited me to
    join. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s been backstroking through my
    psyche for a month or so.
  • I must
    follow-up with the boss at where I’m temping to ask her precisely what she
    meant when she said she would be happy to give me “a recommendation” for
    auction houses here and in the city (um, I meant NY city – I guess that habit still dies hard).
  • My dad
    will be closing on the sale of my childhood NJ home in the next month or
    so, and is planning to move with his fiancé to their new Florida home
    toward the fall.
  • I am
    eagerly awaiting June 20th, when the results of the daily
    sweepstakes I’ve been entering for a trip for two to Italy will be
    announced. You may be the lucky winner.
  • My
    writing style is influenced by who I’m reading currently.
  • At the
    moment, I just finished Nora Ephron’s new book, and began a collection of
    essays by David Foster Wallace, whom I’ve never read, but seen the
    author’s name so many times on my BART rides that I thought to give him a
    whirl. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I will
    be art modeling this Sunday for the artist who I first worked for, and two
    of her friends. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I have
    9 new voicemails I haven’t checked.
  • I went
    on the walk I’d planned to take on Tuesday evening yesterday evening, and
    it was glorious. I ate what must have been a small, cherry-sized peach,
    unless it was of course, a cherry, from a nearby tree which I jumped to
    pluck from the low hanging branch. I’m not dead, so it was not poisonous.
  • As
    soon as I get paid this cycle, I’m going to register for the summer acting
    classes at A.C.T., and I can’t f’ing wait. I looked up all manner of
    electronics yesterday that I could hypothetically use my more regular
    income of the next 6 weeks to purchase, and yet, I realized that what I
    really want are those lessons. And new shoes.
  • I’m
    now working one-on-one with a woman who’s found recovery around negative
    patterns of behavior with sex and men, and I’m infinitely looking forward
    to freedom around some of this.
  • I’m
    continuing to work with a woman one-on-one around financial recovery
    stuff, and am looking forward to being “placed in a position of
    neutrality” around money.
  • I love
    Patsy.
  • I haven’t
    yet played my bass with my friend with the drums up in Berkeley, and it
    too stares at me, not gently weeping, but with silent mewling.
  • I
    realized that most of the writers I’m reading right now have written as freelance
    writers, and it occurs to me, that I might be able to do that, if I look
    into it.
  • I
    haven’t applied to any jobs since last week.
  • I used
    my 3 lb weights yesterday after my walk for about 3 minutes. And began to dread the 3 hour posing/drawing session on Sunday.
  • Dr.
    Palm Reader’s office wrote to ask after me, and so I looked up my
    soon-to-end chiropractic benefits “in network,” so that I can get back to
    that kind of thing, without breaking my bank, or participating in a
    somewhat murky flirtatiousness.
  • This
    is the end of my list.