It’s still early

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Experiment: Life

I keep getting frustrated with myself.  Bogged down, feeling like a toddler, I DON’T WANNA!  Don’t wanna get up, or decide what productive thing to do, or wash dishes, or … or … or write, of course, because that’s there too.  Or worse, I want to write, but I don’t want to tear open the vein and feel what’s there.  Or I don’t want to keep banging my head against a wall.  I dunno.

I’m trying to rewrite my vampire story, and I’m stuck on this scene.  Do I just need to bang my head on it harder?  (That’s my default assumption, it may be faulty.)  Is it the wrong scene and I can’t see it because that’s always been the scene?  Or am I just writing the wrong story right now?  What’s the right story?  How would I know?

The other morning I woke up grumpy.  I was tired (I’m always tired when I wake up), and I was thinking of all the things I haven’t done, should’ve done, should I get up and wash dishes, should I help Ben with breakfast, should I should I?  Or worse, I should I should.  And some of the grumpy got turned outward on Ben, because that’s what happens.  So then I wonder, is there some psychological reason I’m grumpy?  I should do something to get un-grumpy, because I shouldn’t be judging myself.  So now I’m judging the judging.  o_O  Seriously, my brain.

I haven’t worked on the story in days, and I haven’t worked on anything else either.  Because my brain is judging and saying “You should be finishing this vampire story!” and instead of some other part of me saying very linearly, “But that’s the wrong story” or “But I’m coming at the story wrong” or anything so useful, I just don’t want to write, and I feel miserable and grumpy.  Because the part of me that can determine whether it’s the right story isn’t linear, so it doesn’t communicate in whole ideas like that.  It just gets grumpy.  Or stubborn, and some other part of my head gets grumpy.  (When I’m in it, I can’t always tell which part of my psyche is having which reactions.  And notice the part of my brain making that sentence thinks I should be able to tell, and is judging me for that.  Oh, the judgment how it swirls.)

Anyway, so I was telling Ben about my grumpy morning, which actually started with a grumpy evening the night before, after he went to bed, but it’s not much different from the grumpy morning so I didn’t bother telling you about it before, but I was telling him about the grumpy evening and the grumpy morning.  And he said*, “I guess I’m not surprised that you’re having tough emotions and doubts at this stage in your experiment.  It’s still early.  But I have no doubt that you’re going to succeed.”  And then he went away to do something else.

And I remembered I also have confidence that I’m going to succeed.  And I have confidence that it’s going to suck sometimes, because learning a new thing always sucks, and I’m learning a whole new way of living.  It always gets rough before you make a breakthrough.  I’ve been having a lot of rough, these past few weeks, interspersed with awesome.

And today I read this blog post by Amanda Palmer, who makes awesome music, who’s married to Neil Gaiman, who makes awesome books, in which she reviews his latest book and their marriage.  Two artists married to each other.  Two artists who had long solo careers of being creative in a particular way before getting married, and not always knowing how not to hurt each other while doing their own things.  And I’m so envious of them, because they know how to do their things already.  They’ve had years and years of making art for a living, in which to discover that they work best alone, or in short bursts or long bursts or intense obsessive** weeks of Making Art, or whatever.  And I’ve had one month, half of which was actually vacation.

It’s still early, yet.

——

* He didn’t actually say it like that.  I don’t remember his words.  But these words get me to the same feeling I had when he said his words, so they’ll do.

** This word is never spelled the way I think it should be: obssessive.  Or maybe obsssesssive.  If you’re going to be obsessive, you should have tons of extra esses.  I’m just sayin’.

What is a “Good Day”?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Experiment: Life

Editor’s Note: I started composing this blog post on June 1st, but didn’t manage to post it until 10 days later. I’m behind, but it’s such a great subject that I figured you’d want to read about it anyway. 🙂 I have a couple more posts that are nearly ready to go, I just need to stuff them into the blog. I’ll try to get them up soon.

The first of June! A whole new month, and the first whole month of my new life!

Today I pose the question: what does a good day look like?

Is a good day when I’m fast-moving and productive? Sure. Is a good day when I’m upbeat or happy all day? Absolutely.

But are those things requirements for a good day? After yesterday, I am glad to conclude no.

Yesterday* I woke up sluggish. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for longer than five minutes before I was asleep again. This lasted hours. I asked Ben to set an alarm before he left for work, so I would know when to check on the cooking beans… and I slept through it beeping for about five minutes. Whenever I woke up I would think, “ugh, I really want to be moving, why can’t I stay awake?” I got up three times to check on the beans, and then headed straight back to bed, first for napping, then for mindless games on my phone. “Ughh, why am I so lazy and useless?” I asked myself. I started thinking through all the good reasons for me to be sleepy… I went to bed at a reasonable hour, I’d napped the evening before… and in the afternoon…** Well, my mom told me she slept for a week when she stopped having a job, maybe this was just a delayed reaction. I finally got up and looked around for easy breakfast to eat. “Ugh, I don’t even want to make food. At this rate I’ll be a useless person, eating fast food and sitting on the couch all day!”

Long story not quite as long, most of the day sounded like that.  Finally while I was out on a walk, I noticed that there were gorgeous roses and I’d nearly missed them because I was so focused on why I’m sluggish, instead of focusing on what’s good about the world. Dude, LOTS of things are good about the world! It was sunny, there were roses, I was moving, I had a hat to protect my eyes from the sun, I have a home, etc. As I continued walking down the hill toward the post office, I had a bounce in my step and was noticing the trees and the cars and the ocean… and then had a funny view from outside of myself as the jaunty heroine who has just lifted herself out of a dark hole, and now has a montage scene of being outside in bright colors with a smile on her face, which would be followed by her making food or going shopping or something else appropriate for a montage scene. 🙂

When I got home, I started (or resumed) puzzling over my brain, but this time without the overlay of “what’s wrong with me”. And what I finally realized is that my analytical mind (or perhaps my judgmental mind, or my Critic) spends all of its time measuring me against a ruler that only has the following marks:

  • Not Even Trying
  • Not Good Enough
  • Nice Try
  • If You Were This Effective Every Day, You’d Actually Be A Useful Person

Seriously, even when I have a great day, I judge myself for not having great days every day. No wonder I have a hard time staying motivated. So now’s my chance to completely recalibrate my ruler. What should the marks be?

  • Good Try!
  • Good Job!
  • Awesome!
  • Kicked Serious Butt!***

That ruler might be more motivating.

So yeah, large parts of the day were miserable and uncomfortable and unmotivated, but because of all that I made this huge realization about myself. Now that I can see the ruler, I can choose a different ruler. Therefore, it was a fabulous day. I should be so lucky to have more days like this.

——

* Yesterday = May 31st.  It was a Friday.

** Incidentally, this is total nonsense.  I’d woken up totally early on Thursday to have breakfast with friends, then shopped at Target for an hour and a half, and then got stuck in traffic coming home^.  I had every right to be tired from a day like that.

^ Rush hour traffic.  I always stayed at work until after the traffic was over, and now that I’m not working, why should rush hour traffic apply to me?  Sigh.  I’ll have to get used to planning around this.

*** Apparently nice me who always thinks I’m doing well is really into exclamation points. 😉