I spent a lot of time Not Writing this year and I am disappointed in myself.
The year started off strong and I even signed up for a month-long online writing course. (Alice Bradley’s The Practice of Writing, which appears to be offline for updating so I’ve linked to her blog’s homepage.) I really enjoyed the course, but struggled to find the time to do the daily exercises. When I got really behind I would go through rapid-fire catchup sessions while Sean would get Flora ready for bed. Then, when my colleague went on a two-week vacation, I was doing a lot more at work and was just too burned out to write at night. Truthfully, there were probably only a few tough days at work, but once you start on a Not Writing cycle, it’s hard to get back to Writing. I acknowledged that I didn’t give the class the attention that it deserved – or that I wanted to give it. I have the PDF of all the class notes in my email, and I haven’t had the guts to even look at it yet. The course ended more than six months ago. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t just keep up and keep going.
I still feel ashamed, and I’ve wondered many times over the last few months if I should just give up writing and blogging altogether. I’m still here so I haven’t given up yet. but I haven’t figured out how to shut the negative voices up and just write anyway.
I’ve written a few blog posts and percolated ideas since then. I know logically that writing leads to more writing, which leads to better writing. I know I need to kick my own ass to actually make the time. I’m hoping the dark and bleakness of winter will encourage me to write. If not that, football season and Sean’s new Xbox will keep me away from the TV so that’s one distraction gone.
So many people/magazine articles/advice givers/general know-it-alls say ‘get up an hour earlier’. I already leave my house by 6:30am on weekday mornings. In a perfect world, I’d be leaving at 6:15 and getting out of bed at 5:45am at the latest. I just can’t get up any earlier. I stay up after Flora goes to bed so that I can have time to myself. Sometimes I even spend it with my husband. (Blasphemous, I know.) I’m usually in bed by 10pm, and I need that sleep. I need that time with my husband. I need that time with myself. I want to use more of that time to write, but lately, I’m just so burnt that I can’t do more than read or play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Those hobbies are valuable to me too. (I started playing Tapped Out because Sean was playing it and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Now it’s one of the few video games we’ve ever played together, which is a nice bonding experience.)
I’m writing now, so I’m hoping that will open the floodgates a bit. Maybe that will lead to some actual Writing. Or just plain old ordinary writing. I’m willing to start small.
< Insert long, drawn-out, trite paragraph about how I haven’t been writing because I’m too busy Enjoying My Summer With My Family here. >
That’s not quite how not writing here for two months happened, but at least that’s out of the way now.
This time of year feels filled with promise but I still end up with a case of the sads. I love summer and the end of Labour Day always feels like such a buzzkill. I’m the one reminding everyone that summer isn’t actually over yet, but everyone else is too excited about their new school supplies and sweaters to really listen.
My end-of-summer melancholy comes with a side of guilt too. My birthday was on Saturday and Flora’s is on Wednesday. Hello thirty-five and five. I shouldn’t be sad around my birthday! And I really shouldn’t be sad around Flora’s birthday either. I like birthdays and getting older doesn’t trouble me much (yet – let’s be honest here). Because this year’s birthdays are significant (in that they’re easily divisible by five), I keep looking at the two of us and wondering “When did it all happen? Am I a good enough mum? Do I do enough for my family?” Then I wish for the proverbial Room of My Own so I can just sit down and create something without everyone hanging off of me and listening to the soundtrack of my choosing. I need to toughen up on that stuff. If I wait for the time to be right, I will never make the time to write.
/end tangent here.
It’s been a good summer. My tomato plants grew taller than Flora and are now drooping over their cages. I’ve harvested the yummiest cherry tomatoes ever for a couple of weeks. I will probably have tomatoes of various types well into September if not longer (weather-dependent of course). We spent lots of time outside. We barbecued. We were just another Ontario family enjoying their summer. And I’m not ready for that summer to be over yet.
I love this time of year. The weather is finally starting to warm up and there’s been enough rain for the lawn to be lush and green. Flora and I went outside after supper tonight so she could play and I could watch and take pictures and just hang out. The air was warm and it just felt so good to be outside on a sunny evening.
“Mama, I want Bunny to watch me play soccer.”
I had the best seat in the backyard so Bunny sat on my lap. I held Bunny up so she could see Flora’s kicks and runs and shouts of “GOOOAAALLL!”
Flora got Bunny when she was a baby and she is now a cherished member of our family. I check Bunny for loose threads and I pray her head doesn’t come off in the wash. I wash her in a lingerie bag to be safe.
At four-and-a-half (well, really, almost three-quarters but who’s counting), Flora is obviously not a baby. I am astounded at what a big kid she’s become over the last year. But when she’s at home, she likes Bunny to be nearby. Even when she’s doing big kid things.
Flora tells me regularly that she wants to keep Bunny forever. I always tell her “I hope you do”.
Then when she’s out of earshot, I murmur to whoever is with me about my worries that Bunny won’t make it that long. Most childhood toys don’t.
I hope Flora does keep Bunny forever. I love her too.
This little surprise was sitting on my desk when I came back from lunch yesterday.
March 29th, 1996 is when Sean and I first became a couple. We didn’t get married until June 2004, but this date still matters to me.
Seventeen years is an odd number to celebrate but it marks that I’ve been with Sean for half my life. We’ve stuck together through our late teens, our 20s, and now our mid-30s.
Here’s to another seventeen years. And to seventeen more after that. And if our health prevails, another seventeen after that. And maybe a few more to make sure we got it right.
While last week’s time change has made my weekday wake-up routine…challenging, the extra sunshine at the end of the day really has made a difference to my mood and energy. I’m also taking my iron and vitamin B12 pills more consistently and that might be helping too.
In the last week, I’ve signed myself up for aquafit classes (starting mid-April) and an online writing course. I’m still working through the Web Fundamentals track on Codecademy before I start on actual programming fundamentals. I’ve also been reading lots of novels – some quality, some trashy – which you can see on my Goodreads “read in 2013″ list. That’s one advantage to my longer commute – more reading time!
Sean and I also started watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. We mainlined Season 1 last week and just started Season 2 yesterday. I love when we find a show we enjoy watching together. Sitting in the same room doing separate things is okay, but doing something together – even if it is just watching TV – is good for our relationship.
All that TV-watching seems to be slowing down the progress of my reading, writing and coding. I’m not watching a lot of other TV right now – not even my beloved Y&R. (I’m so behind!). Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to sleep. There is so much to do and learn and experience and only so much time I can devote to do all of it after work and when Flora doesn’t Need Me Right Now. Obligation trumps desire, but hard work deserves reward.
How do you find the time to fit everything in that you want to do once you’ve fulfilled the obligations and minutiae of your day? I can’t cheat myself of anymore sleep than I already do. Your tips would be welcome.