Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getting my shit together

I hope my mum doesn't read this post because she hates it when I swear. If only she knew that my first instinct in most situations to swear. I find it to be very effective. Mum, on the other hand, wisely taught me that we can always find a better word, a word less caustic and more becoming of her daughter. Unfortunately, once I left home and joined the big world of college roommates who shopped at the Gap (I had only ever heard of it in movies, but I've since made up for lost time), drank lemon drop martinis, and swore like sailors, I threw her advice to the side. I blame them, yes, but they gave me so many wonderful things, too, that I just can't hold it against them.

So today I'm not talking about organizing my day or my responsibilities as a parent who works at home. No. I'm talking about getting my shit together. My lack of energy over the past year has given way to some terrible habits. I feel like there are pieces of me all over the place. My shit is a mess.
Sorry, mum, but there just isn't any other way of saying it. Please forgive me.

Here are some of the symptoms: twice in the last week I have gone to the trouble of arranging to borrow my grandfather's car (Matt takes our only car to work) so that I could run important errands, like Shira's two-year check up, and twice I have forgotten to take the car seat out from our car to use in the borrowed one. The first time I had to cancel our plans, the second I was able to find one to borrow at the very last minute (thanks, Aunt Jo, again). This is an easy one to solve: prepare your day the night before. Easy, right? Not so much. When you feel overwhelmed by everything and you're moving at the pace of a slug, preparing the night before seems unimaginable. With long days spent at home, often working in circles (hence, needing to get my shit together), I resist planning for the next day with great determination. It doesn't make sense: the next day will be easier if I take some time to plan beforehand. I get it.

Matt will often try to encourage me to plan ahead. Around dinnertime he'll ask me, so what are your plans for tomorrow? Is there anything I can do to help? Yes, he's that supportive. But in an annoying way. He is so incredibly good at organizing his time and preparing in advance, and no matter how much I complain, I'm jealous. If you were to ask Matt what time he'll be leaving for work the next day he would tell you that since he has to stop for gas he'll be leaving at 5:19 am. I can honestly declare that I have never in my life planned my departure down to a minute. Now, I'm not beating myself up about not being just like Matt. We all have our strengths, and one of mine is spontaneity, and the ability to be really present in a given moment (because my mind isn't busy planning and keeping myself on schedule). I couldn't give this up about myself even if I wanted to, and I don't. But I would like to make my life a bit easier, and I know making a habit of planning my day the night before, getting paperwork and lunches and meeting times together, will do just that.

Here's another symptom: I spend my day wandering around the house. I'm not a lazy person, even with my low energy, but the disorder of my days, sometimes due to lack of planning, other times the result of feeling like so much of my life is in flux, makes me feel as though I have one hundred things to do and I can't seem to get started on even one of them. I'm not sure where to begin, so I wander from room to room, picking up toys, washing dishes, checking an email, responding to a student, reading one page of a cookbook. Rinse and repeat. Some of this disorder is simply a reality of working from home. There are schedules for the girls (school, naps, a million snack breaks), deadlines to meet, cleaning to do, and all of these things happen in little bits throughout the day. I  can't always decide to spend the next two hours doing a particular task because I will be interrupted roughly one thousand times by Alyce and Shira. Working at home means flexibility (which is wonderful), but it also means that I do much of my work at inopportune times. Lately this flexibility has felt oppressive, hence the need to get my shit together.

So what do I do? I have a pretty good idea. I need to sit back and consider all of the tasks I need to get done, think about my time, and separate my day as best as I can. I can't do everything, no matter how hard I try. And sometimes, just sometimes, I need to say no to making an impromptu batch of muffins because I know it will mess up the schedule I have set for myself, and no matter how good those rhubarb and strawberry muffins will taste (which will be made tomorrow, as per my schedule), I need to wait. One of my tasks this weekend is to outline all of my responsibilities and think, really think, what I need to do to incorporate these into my day. I'll get back to you with what I learn.

A lot of what I'm thinking about lately has to do with wanting to feel excited about my days. I can't always love everything I do, but I owe it to myself, and to my family, to live my life a bit lighter. Andrea Scher wrote a post last week asking, Do you know what it feels like to lose your sparkle? That's how I feel, like I've lost my sparkle. I'm usually sparkly, and I miss that. Getting my shit together is going to help me get it back.

The photos today are from my last 24 hours on Instagram. You can follow me there @mostdaysiwin.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I quit my job a year ago to pursue my career as a writer. While I love it, I've felt lost and out of sorts for the past year. I need to learn how to manage my time better and I desperately need to get my shit together too. People don't seem to understand. They mean well but say oh just make a to-do list or wake up earlier. But I'm so overwhelmed it's hard to even know where to begin sometimes. It's good to know I'm not alone. So thank you for sharing your story. Hope all's well with you now :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Megan. I still struggle with this stuff all the time. It is such a process. I think what people might not understand is what a switch in identity can do--even when you have new goals and ideas that you are excited about, it can be really hard to redefine your own internal structure.

    Good luck with your own changes!