Giving Up Procrastination For Lent

Drowning man

I was going to do something for Lent, but never got around to deciding what.

I don’t want to “give up” anything; I want to add something.

I want a new challenge, a new activity, a new project.

I did the digital declutter in January and started a book club in February, now I really need something for March.

I could (re)commit to Edna’s O (my new reference book about endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide, serotonin and oxytocin) and say: FIRST DRAFT: By Easter I’ll have a first draft.

I could do that, but it doesn’t meet one of my Project-Driven Life criteria for a new project. It doesn’t check the “excitement” box.  And it really needs to. Or else I’m not going to be happy.

At the same time, I also realize that happiness isn’t a requirement for a worthwhile and enriching project.

I realize too that happiness requires struggle. (I wholly subscribe to that Stoic tenant. I do.)

But, I also need stim every day, even painful stim, if necessary. I want to feel as amped doing my work, as I will for having done it.

And truthfully?  This research really does excite me —once I’m in hip deep. So why all this sissy toe-dangling at the beginning? All this reluctance to get wet?

Once I’m in I know I’ll be fine, happy as a clam in fact. But it’s the anticipation of that head-hitting-the-water dive into the deep end every day that stops me, that fuels my procrastination. That’s the real struggle, not the actual work.

So I resist. But not for the next 6 weeks. No!  For the next 6 weeks I’m going to slay the resistance monster, make it numero uno on my To-Do List every day.

Might also be a good time to re-read The War of Art, and find an accountability partner.

Any takers?

Crank Time

Here in Pennsylvania it rained. All day.

G is so sick she sat on the couch and binge-watched DVR-ed episodes of Long Island Medium  and drank copious amounts of hot water laced with coconut oil and raw honey. She is really sick.

I did 47 loads of laundry, went to the ATM, and to the store for ingredients to make homemade chicken soup (Jewish penicillin) tomorrow. Between Jennifer’s good advice (thanks Jen!) and my soup, we’ll wean her away from women with scary fingernails who speak to the dead.

While we were in Portland I did no writing except here. That was the plan. I gave myself permission not to write on vacation, but what it means is that tomorrow I need to sit in the Space Chair and start to crank.

Cranking isn’t writing. Cranking is like hand-pumping water. Nothing comes out for the first 500 pumps, but then, lo and behold, a little trickle, then a gush, and another, till eventually you’ve got a nice gush of paragraphs flowing.

I had that gushy rhythm going before I left, but I lost the momentum.

So now it’s crank-time again. This is why writers need to write every day, to keep the gush going.

 

Dropped the ball

So as it turns out I’m not Wonder Woman after all. I can’t write and meditate and blog and strength train and get in 10 thousand steps and teach Power Yoga and clean the studio and walk Boomer.

Today I crashed and burned.

No writing. No meditation this morning either. (But that will get done before bed and I am posting this blog now.)

Still.

I dropped the writing ball and that is making me frustrated and sad. I will re-start  tomorrow with a “double,” but this was not how I wanted my day to roll.

The problem was I tried to add one more thing and that one more thing caused the whole structure of my day to come crashing down.

The thing I tried to add was steps. Ten thousand of them. I need to move more but moving’s at odds with sitting and writing.

How do writers like Murakami do it? How do they manage to train and run marathons and write novels at the same time? I’ve read his book on this subject and he makes it sound so sane and effortless, but it’s on the verge of impossible.

G and I have challenged each other to log 10K steps on our Garmins every day. She does this easily, so she set her goal at 15K. I barely get 5K on a good day. The only physical stuff I do is some yoga and my twice a week sessions with Vince, which is not enough.

So I am going to be walking to and from the studio and looking for other opportunities to log steps. But I also have to log words.

I have to figure this out, and I will.

Stay tuned.

It’s “Go” Day

I have been working on a writing project that just can’t seem to launch.

Or, let me re-phrase that:

I have been working on a writing project that I can’t seem to launch.

Jennifer and I have been talking about it and she’s given me exercises to do.

Make a calendar.

Create tasks.

Break it up into manageable bites.

Plan a celebration for the end.

Today it started. Today I worked 3 hours on it. I am committed to 3 hours of intense, focused work every weekday. I am taking weekends and vacations off. The 3 hours-a-day might need to be scaled back to 2 hours, but for now I am going to work on building some “focus” muscle.

I will have a finished book by September 1st. I will have finished all the writing before we go to Rehoboth the first week of August. The month of August will be devoted to squiring it through Create Space.

I have calendar-ed it all out. I have created distraction strategies, and today I sat down in my Space Chair at 9 on the dot and wrote until noon.

I am going to use this blog to chronicle my trials and tribulations and the “meta” of what it means to commit to a writing project and see it all the way through to the end.

I want to “prove to the possum that it could be done.”

The working title of this book is called “Amp Your Vibe” and it describes a strategy for figuring out what you want to be when you grow up,– regardless of your age, –by creating projects that will maximize your full human potential.

Blogging about my process is part of my strategy for getting it done. My consistency muscle has been strengthened by blogging here every day, so I’m going to use it to get this damn project done –and shipped.

Don’t believe me, just watch.

 

How many streaks are too many?

I want to start another streak. A yoga streak. I need to get my personal practice back. Bad.

The other day I subscribed to Udaya so that I would have lots of classes to choose from and no excuses. My pre-streak started today when I woke up, took a hot shower, slathered myself in coconut oil, put on my yoga togs and walked to Sandy’s class.

Hip openers were on the menu today, and they were sweet. I so appreciate being able to take a class, and not have to teach all the time.  I took Lisa’s spot in the back corner. Now I know why she likes it back there. It’s cozy, you’re under the skylight, and you have the illusion you can’t be seen by the teacher.

(You’re wrong of course, but it’s still nice to pretend.)

I am counting today as day 1 of what I hope will grow into a 108 Day yoga streak.  But it won’t be an official streak until Day 10, which will be April 29th, just as the Yoga Challenge is winding down. *Fingers crossed.*

(I have written extensively about how to start streaks, pick streaks, the benefits of streaking, and what to do when your streak ends.)

The only way I can stay consistent with anything is if I make a Streak out of it. Today is my 60th consecutive blog post here, for example. Even if I wind up writing drivel some days, I am going to see how long I can keep this going.

I am also tending a meditation streak and this week I will hit 80 consecutive days without a break. (Previously, my longest streak was 120 days.)

I am also back to writing in 750words. Here’s what my homepage looks like today:

750 words full size screen shot

 

My longest streak on that platform was 1029 days. I have just about every badge on that platform except the NaNo badge. Next month I am going for it, which will entail writing 50K words in 1 month.

What this means is that I will be tending 4 streaks simultaneously: Blogging, Meditation, Yoga, and 750words.

I love how these streaks both structure my days, and add value to my life as they keep me aligned with my highest goals and aspirations.

But I also know the more streaks I have going, the greater the probability that I will bonk. It’s like juggling. Two balls are easy, it’s when you add the third and the fourth balls that you court disaster.

Disaster here I come.

I Do Not Love Writing

I do not love writing. I love having written.

Writing is something I resist with every molecule of my being. And because I resist it so fiercely, I know this is what I need to do.

Because one of the things I really believe is that my resistance to writing represents my fear. My fear of facing the murk, of not being able to write to clarity, of being boring, of hard work.

Mostly I resist writing because it is hard. It is hard to face the way my mind works, or doesn’t.

But here is one thing I know for sure: I cannot think without a pen in my hand, or without my fingers free on a keyboard. I have a hard time keeping track of a line of thinking unless I can follow it with a pen or a series of keystrokes. I can’t just sit and ponder. I have to write.

I have to take a pen and start scribbling, or open up OmWriter and start talking to the little trees.

I need to string sentences together the way artists need to sketch.

I have to scribble in order and make sense of the jumble in my brain– the spaghetti mess.

It really does feel like my head is full of spaghetti most of the time. All these discreet lines of thought that weave and snake around each other. It is very interesting, all this mess, but there is no clarity.

So what I do when I write is the same thing I do when I pick up a fork and a spoon and begin to attack a plate of spaghetti.

I find one strand and then begin to twirl it around the fork, using the spoon to keep everything on the fork from slipping off.

When I get a forkful, I lift it to my mouth and then I can taste it. Digest it.

 When I write I begin with one little sentence, and then keep twirling, word after word, sentence after sentence, each paragraph representing a manageable forkful of thoughts. And, using this method, I can sort out all the “spaghetti mess” of thoughts in my brain and find nourishment and sanity. .

When I am finished and read what I wrote, there is usually clarity in place of the twisted mess. It sometimes takes a long time to tease out clarity if my thoughts are particularly messy and entangled, and that’s why I need to write every day.

And if I do go too long without writing, and the spaghetti mess mounts up in my mind, I get really cranky, and irritable, and hard to live with.

It gets to the point where I can’t think at all. And all I do is consume media instead. Usually crappy media, too. And then I feel like an airhead, and forget why I ever thought writing was good for me in the first place.

Whereas if I write daily, I can not only keep the mess cleaned up, but I can also, sometimes, if I’m lucky, come to a place of relative emptiness—a clean plate, if you will, where there is no mess to clean up, and where there may now be space for new ideas to come in.

And that’s a good place to live.

Winterlude

In the week between Christmas and New Years I rented a little apartment in Ithaca, NY.  I needed a getaway: from Christmas, from busyness, from tired.

I needed a retreat. But instead of booking myself into a fancy place like Kripalu, I tried a “self-guided” retreat this time, in a nearby city where I know a few, but not many people, and where I could be happily alone.

I cooked up a a batch of kitchari in my home kitchen and brought that to eat, along with a few other staples.

Every day I cooked up the kitchari for lunch with greens I bought at Oasis.

 kitchari bowl

The man at Oasis who checked me out told me this joke one really cold morning:

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?

A: Frostbite!

I drank a lot of hot water which I heated up an electric kettle I found in the apartment kitchen. But the mugs there didn’t fit my hands so I wandered into Handwork and bought a beautiful handmade mug for my hot water.

The one I bought was made by hands, for hands.  It is beautiful and I treasure it. It is currently sitting on the the table beside me. It will forever remind me of this time of great regeneration.

IMG_1430

I sat on a small brown couch all day and edited my manuscript.

IMG_1417

I slept like shit. (The bed was very mushy.)

Most nights I stayed up very late. (For me.)

I sat on the windowseat and looked out.

IMG_1426

I finished The Distraction Addiction.

I started Daring Greatly.

I went to yoga every day.

When you teach yoga every day like I do, it is such a thrill, such an utter indulgence to be led. I got to follow someone’s else’s path every day and it was lovely.

I went to Starbucks. (Not every day, but almost.)

I cruised through the bookstore a few times. I ran into people I know, and like, from home. I ran into people I know, and like, from Ithaca.

I sat and meditated with my dear friend Zee, and her friends, on New Year’s Day, and then had Indian food with them afterwards at Diamonds.

All day I worked.

I noticed the way I worked. I noticed that I like alternating between digital and analog; between computer and fountain pen. When I started to stagnate on the computer, I’d pick up the pen and a fresh world would appear. When I felt that world begin to fade, a return to the keypad ignited me again.

And in this way, back and forth, digital to analog, hour after hour, day after day, with breaks only for fresh hot water and to pee, I spent my interlude.

I worked on my manuscript, but I wrote other things, too.

I wrote deep reflections on all the yoga classes I took, for example, pondering what it really means to be a yoga teacher, and how I might become a more effective one.

I wrote my “manifesto” which was deeply inspired by the two books I was reading. My manifesto lists the qualities that I hope to cultivate and manifest in myself and my life from this time going forward. I love this list and feel so happy to have finally articulated it.

IMG_1431

I wrote in OmWriter, which is a new writing platform for me. I was inspired to try it from the writer of Distraction Addiction. I really like it a lot. I found it allowed me to go deeper into reflective space than I have ever gone before, and stay in that depth longer.

I severely limited my connections to other people, and to distractions like email and internet. I only went online twice a day: morning and night, and would not have gone on at all if I didn’t have a business.

I thought about installing Freedom but my self-discipline was strong enough and I really didn’t need it. Still, I like knowing that it exists, because I can foresee a time in the future when I will need to utilize it.

I loved living in this small, walkable city. Everything I needed and wanted was less than a 5 minute walk away: yoga, health food store, bookstore, Starbucks, even an indie movie theater. I could walk to Indian food and Thai food, as well as Tapas and Mexican and vegetarian.

On my last day, G came and we went to see the movie Wild. For my final dinner, we chose the tapas restaurant right below my apartment. We drove home in two cars, following each other.

IMG_1420

(my apartment was on the 2nd floor, the 2 windows on the left with the white blinds.)

As I drove home I thought about the Prius, and how the battery of that car recharges every time you apply the brakes.

It recharges when it brakes.

What do you know? Me, too.

Go figure.