It’s amazing how easily and fast I can get derailed. Habits are, indeed, deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome. Coming back to my keyboard is another distraction and ploy of avoiding on what I need to do. But to give myself credit and not to feel totally weighed down with defeat, my tax return is mostly done. I just need to recheck it and push the send button. I have 3 days to do that. AND I’ve finally phoned for an appointment with my gynecologist. I’ve skipped out my checkups because of Covid. I was happy to have an excuse. What’s left weighing heavily on my plate?
Those damn paper clutter. Now that my tax return is mostly taken care of, I can peck at it. I better do a bit every day. There’s no escaping the pain of it. I have to schedule some time for it daily.
The garden thing. I had so many things done and growing last year by this time. I’m struggling with everything this year. But the greenhouse is doing well with all the greens. We can stop buying lettuce. There’s enough of lettuce, spinach and kale. We’re getting some radish. The outside raised bed has been seeded with salad greens the other day to take over from the greenhouse. But there’s seedlings to be transplanted into bigger pots and the sprouted squash seeds to be potted up, too. I’m sure there’s many other seeds that I need to start up. I’ve lost or I haven’t had a track of what or where to grow. It’s an ugly feeling. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and disappear.
It is 3 days later. I’ve hit the SEND button on my Tax Return. It is sent. I am another-thing-taken-care-of lighter. I’m almost ready for that first day of the rest of my life again. But first, I need to finish writing this post. I need to write this as the last post of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. True, I dropped out at almost midpoint but I still wrote 14 posts in April. And this is number 15 – a wrap up. I would not consider it a failure. Quitting is really wisdom on my part. I now know when to stop when something is not working any more. And how did I know?
I felt the fatigue of writing every day. It was no longer pleasureable.
I could not feel I had a purpose in being in the Challenge. I had no business or product to promote. I write because I love words and the creativity that comes from stringing ideas and words together. I didn’t have a good fit feeling.
I felt there was a competitiveness that was not good for me. I wanted to go back to writing for myself. It is good to engage with others but I could do that also on my own terms.
I was wishing for more time to do other things in my life. I needed time to tend to greenhouse, starting seeds for the garden. I need more time to care for my self, to read books I want to read…
At the end of the day/month, I am happy. I am not a complete dropout. I participated part of the month. I might participate again in the next challenge. Now that I am more aware of when to step back/off, it will be better the next time around.
I’m on my second cup of tea, awaiting the snow storm. Perhaps it is a little early yet but the sky is steely grey. The sun is trying, a brisk breeze is stirring up the beautiful dead growth on the living roof of the shed. I flunked all 6 tries on Wordle. Now to make something of the day. Some days are easier than others. I’m hitting the not easier days. That’s how the cookie crumbles.
I know that this, too, will pass but what can I do in the meantime? There are many things that I could do. I just don’t feel like doing them. I don’t feel motivated, excited. Nothing grabs me. Nothing is wrong but everything feels bland and grey like cold, dirty dishwater and today’s sky. I guess I can pout and have a tantrum but what will that do? I can also do nothing and become more sodden. I’m sure that will lead to more boredom and misery. Better that I do a Suck it up, Buttercup and go through the motions -even if I don’t feel like it. That’s the penalty of being an adult.
I find it helpful to ask myself How does it feel? now and again. It is a good way of working through and out of my stresses and blahs. I’m not feeling so grey now, finding a hook to hang on to. It’s soothing tapping on the keys, making words and sentences. It builds me up as I find ways out of my blandness. I don’t need to hurry. I can take time, linger and savour these moments sitting here. It is rewarding to work and find a purpose, a reason to be.
This morning we went and got our fourth Covid vaccine. It was something we could do to help maintain our health. We made a couple of stops on the way home. One was to a mall to mail some letters and to buy mousse for my hair. I made a trip to the washroom while I was at it. It has been a long time, 2 years since I made a walk through the mall. I couldn’t remember where things were, having to follow the signs at first. There’s much change. Seems a bit silly but I was so happy to see the food court. The washrooms were just a hallway down. A flood of memories came rushing back – coffee with my mom and dad at the mall after our visits to the library. Such simple things can make me happy.
Our second stop was the library to return read books for different ones. It is snowing and the wind is howling. I am hunkered down snug as a bug with books to read, drawings to be drawn and splashed with paint. Oh, I have Hong Kong milk tea and barbecued pork buns from the Chinese store for treats. I am at ease. I am no longer stressed or feeling bland. Perhaps I was feeling the approach of the storm. I am such a weather vane.
I am feeling so much better now that I’ve opt out of the thread loop in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am no longer obliged to read the 2 posts above mine. It frees up not only time but my sense of obligation which is very weighty. I like rules. I think they promote order. I think I am taking them and the UBC too seriously. It is also time for me to take a break from the challenging element of showing up every day. I am remembering a Wayne Dyer quote: When change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
I wrote about working/writing smarter the other day. One of my faults is not knowing when to quit. I do know that now. I am walking my talk. Being committed to too many things is stressful. It does not lead to productivity nor sense of restfulness or peace. My mind was always engaged, having no time to rest. There was no time to organize my surroundings and to declutter. I yearned for time to read a story book like I used to. When I found some time, my mind was too distracted and frazzled to concentrate on the words.
I made the decision to opt out of parts of UBC just two days ago. I am surprised at how restful my brain is feeling already. I had time yesterday to watch Professor Paul Gilbert’s video on compassion and how it can help us lead happier lives. It is an hour and 17 minutes long but well worth it. It explains the tricky brains we’re born with. It is faulty by design but it is not our fault. But if we learn and understand how it works, it will help us live better lives. Learning is and always has been my passion. There’s always things to learn and opportunities to improve from where we are now. Every day is another first day of the rest of our lives.
The house is quiet. I am alone. Times like this, I feel Sheba is still here, keeping me company. I was feeling tranquil and peaceful until I checked my emails. Now I am all nettled and disturbed. I take a deep breath and another one. I watch my steam and breath evaporate into air. I close my eyes and drop my shoulders. This is life. Take charge of it.
I’m doing the best I can. I get up and put disturbed energy to use. 3 rooms are vacuumed and I am sipping a cup of decaf. This is a good time to slow down and really watch Professor Paul Gilbert’s videos on understanding our tricky brain and using compassion to take us into a better life. Last night I was in a hurry. I was stressed and too focused on writing my post on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. As a result I did not get a good read on the video. Not only that, I made a mistake of copying and pasting the wrong link to the loop. My post was deleted by the moderator, though I had corrected it by that time.
I thought about arguing the point. Then I had second thoughts. How important is it to stay in the loop? My topic was interesting and important maybe only to me but my post was not well written. How important was it for me to have 2 comments on it because the 2 writers below me were obligated by rules to read and comment on it? I rather people read and comment because of their interest in the content. I’m rethinking the ‘challenge’ thing. I’ve lost some joy of my writing space. I am not competitive with others, only with myself. I am not selling any product or service. I want to read and write of things interesting and important to me.
In the light of day, it makes sense to revamp my must dos. I am not abandoning the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will go by the rules and not put my link in the thread. This will free up my sense of obligations. I have alot of my plate for April. That deadline for Tax Return is closing in. I am not feeling ready. My greenhouse and seedlings and seeding are yelling at me. I have an online class with U of S Tuesday afternoons. April Love is easy, gentle and soothing and do-able. My #100dayproject is on top of my must list. My daily draw/watercolour are improving day by day. I am so happy with Helios I painted as a puppy and a one year old. They’ve made my days.
Day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am trying to heed my advice on working/writing smarter. I am stuck, staring at my almost blank screen. I am not waiting for motivation to hit me. I’m tapping, then deleting, tapping, deleting. I am sure I will find a rhythm and I will be off and flying. I did rise early this morning. I meditated, trying to bring my mind back to my breath each time it wandered off. Then I spent time trying to solve Wordle. I didn’t succeed and abandoned after a short session. I am not perfect. I have fallen victim to all the time wasting techy distractions.
It is not my fault. I/we have a tricky brain, prone to addictions and distractions. I was born with it. I had no choice in the matter. Our tricky brain needs compassion and training. There’s alot of information on it out on the world wide web. I went searching. I remembered watching a very interesting presentation given by Professor Paul Gilbert on the Mindfulness Summit a few years ago. However, I couldn’t find it on YouTube but this one is on the same subject and is excellent. It is an hour long but well worth it.
So I’ve wandered and meandered. It is so easy to be distracted but it is a good distract today. It is valuable to understand how our brain works and have evolved. I hope the knowledge will help me work and live better.
Day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Another new day. Another new page. It is a grey morning. 1℃ outside at 8:30 in the morning. Snow and wind in the forecast. Meanwhile in the greenhouse, it is 8.9℃. The rock thermal wall and the buckets of water are doing their job well. I did not drop the shade cloth/blanket under the ceiling last night. I thought it wouldn’t hurt and might help to have a little chill for the greens and snow peas. The greens are forming their first true leaves now. The snow peas popping up in rows. I am pleased. I think we can have a fresh salad or two by end of April.
I am feeling a bit frazzled by the challenges I have undertaken. My mind is always preoccupied – thinking, thinking and more thinking. Good thing I still have presence of mind to refill my medication ahead of time. But I forgot to pick it up till now when I’m filling my week’s pill box. It will be a good reason to walk to the pharmacy later on, snow or no snow. It’s a good reason to slow down, organize and find ways of working smarter and better. What are the ways? Here are some that I’ve found on the world wide web:
take more breaks
front load your week
chunk similar tasks together
schedule tasks according to your energy level
cut down your to do list
take an afternoon nap
turn off notifications
switch back to pen and paper
track your time and productivity
spend time in nature
get up early
set up a start date for tasks
know when to quit
don’t wait for motivation
manage your surroundings
Here’s what I am doing at present.
I am getting up early. Usually between 6 and 7 am. I meditate for 20 minutes. Sometimes I work on Wordle and or watch YouTube on gardening and art. Sometimes I work on my drawings if there is time before breakfast.
I have a small to-do list each day for April. The must include a drawing for #the100dayproject, a photo for Susannah Conway’s April Love and a post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I fit in other things according to priority.
I do chunk similar tasks together. I can’t think of examples right now.
I don’t wait for motivation. I get motivated once I start.
I don’t multitask.
What I could/should do.
Review my goals more often. Why I am in the Ultimate Blog Challenge – it’s my venting, meditative space and to improve my writing. I want to strive for content, clarity and brevity. More doesn’t always mean better.
I don’t manage my environment well. I am easily distracted. So I could set a limit to my scrolling whilst on the keyboard. Allowing myself to read one article is a do-able limit.
I have clutter. It’s a tough one for me to clear. Maybe I should start with my head first. I have so many thoughts running around it’s amazing I can get anything done. I have to work on bringing my attention back to my breath more often during my morning meditation.
I don’t know when to quit. It’s a good time to practice that now. Readers will be thankful for brevity. I know I am.
It’s wonderful to step out on a Saturday morning to a breakfast at my esteem A&W with the girls again. Now if I can have my Saturday morning swim back at the YWCA it would be perfect. Perhaps that’s asking too much all at once. Be grateful for what I have now. And I am. I can, perhaps check out other pools but I am a creature of habit. I like the familiar. At my age, it is ok. I am adventuresome enough. I don’t need new challenges. I can wait and see.
I am stretching myself now by writing a second post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Yesterday we had a road trip. It’s a good reason to step away from my keyboard to have a tiny rest. A break sometimes is helpful in giving us a new perspective. I’ve been away from A&W for 2 years now except for one visit last summer. Absence has made me see how much I take things for granted. I now have so much more appreciation of all the small and ordinary things like breakfast at A&W.
There is nothing fancy about A&W but I love the big windows looking out onto 8th street. I love the bright red of the booths. I find the atmosphere conducive to easy exchange of conversation. And the food is good. What can go wrong with bacon, eggs and toast, eh? This morning I had the whole enchilada – bacon, sausages, eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee. I guess that’s a bit heavy on the calories. It’s breakfast and lunch. I can afford the extra calories. I am back at exercising Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Life is good.
Another Saturday morning coming down. It’s a bit cloudy with the sun making a strong push to shine through. I’m looking forward to stepping out to meet a couple of gals for breakfast. I like to put down a few words first to find an opening for a conversation/post. If I leave things too long, it’s a bit tough to get started. That’s something to remember for everything. Don’t procrastinate. You might not get this opportunity again.
We had a road trip yesterday. It was a nice break to get out of town and our every day hum drums. It was a chance to check out how the guy’s sailboat fared at the marina over the winter. It was quite a sight to see all the boats up in the parking lot. We thought it would be a treat to dine in a small town restaurant but we forgot that small town diners doesn’t necessarily mean small prices. I would not have minded much if the food was hot and delicious. I can’t say that it was bad but the cheeseburger soup was salty and lukewarm. The beef melt on a bun was tasteless. Not really complaining but I’m much more appreciative of our home cooked meals.
We had a nice day and drive to and from. I got to see the Saskatchewan landscape in spring time. The new artist in me paid more attention to the splendour of the trees and nature’s palette. It was a day well spent.
It’s Day 7 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I find every day a challenge as soon as I get out of bed. Some challenges are better than others. I do love the writing, drawing and painting of life. They can set my heart a-beating and a-blaze. I am sure I have put in the 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours in both of them now. I’ve created this writing space in May, 2012. That makes it 10 years of writing. My first #100dayproject was in April, 2016 – the start of 6 years of my art journey.
Right now the writing poses more of a challenge for me. The Ultimate Blog Challenge has rules, not manybut some. It doesn’t pose any problem for me. I’m a Miss Goody Two Shoes. I like rules and I like abiding by them. But that’s not the case for everyone, it seems. For as long as I have been in this challenge, there’s been rule breakers. And don’t tell me that they don’t understand. Everyone participating is a writer. We know how to write, some better than others. Therefore it is reasonable to assume we can read, too. Most of the time rule breakers don’t bother me that much. But lately, I’ve been quite annoyed. Now, I have to get it out of my system and say the famous words: Let it go!
There, it is gone. It is a small irritant, magnified by my stupid thoughts of the moment. Generally the UBC group is a bunch of good eggs, supportive of each other. I am happy I am in the mix. Meanwhile, I babble on. It’s been mostly a beautiful sunny day. It got up to 12℃. The greenhouse got up to 33℃. I hope the cool loving stuff won’t bolt. I seeded a couple more things – petunias, basil and microgreens. I’m pretty happy with how things are growing. Another week and maybe I can seed some lettuce, spinach and other greens in our raised beds outside. Life is good.
I do have another challenge – the patience to proof read and edit. But, I bit the bullet and edited. Hopefully I’ve caught all errors and words that didn’t belong.
Day 6 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is too early to take a break and skip a post. I will plod on. Over the winter I had taken a beginner’s watercolour course. I learned that the foundation to a good painting is a good drawing. Therefore, my choice for #the100dayproject is to do a daily drawing. According to Malcolm Glaldwell, if you practice one skill for 10,000 hours, you’ll have a good chance at becoming an expert at it. I’ve done day 53 now. I haven’t counted how many hours I’ve put in. Somewhere in the last while I felt I made a somewhat breakthrough.
Practice does make for better. I started out doing everything so carefully, measuring and making a grid. I used a pencil and eraser. I wanted perfect. My drawings turned out well but I felt a bit stifled. I couldn’t start without my grid and measurements. This was the opposite of what I used to do. Before taking any classes, regardless of whether I was using watercolours or acrylics, I drew with my paint brush. No pencil and eraser. That made me scratched my head. I wondered how I did that. They weren’t great paintings but they weren’t terrible either. Some of them were actually pretty good for index card paintings.
I decided to give up the pencil and eraser. I did pen drawings. No eraser needed or of any use. No rulers, no measurements and no grid. I just put down a mark with my pen and away I go. I scratch here and there, adding lines. Somehow it all comes out ok. I astound myself sometimes. I guess I must have more confidence when I know I can’t erase. I better make good or know how to fix it so that it comes out ok. And adding some watercolour sure makes the drawing come alive. Besides putting in the hours of practice, it helps if you have good paint and good paper. And you have to love the object of your creation. When a photo grabs me, I know that I can draw it. Those photos usually hold a story or an emotion. They speak to me and spill onto the page in ink and colour.