Sunday, January 7, 2018

Living Timelessly in 2018

Gratuitous Bookstore Cat Photo:
The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas
I have always wanted to start a collection
of bookstore cat photos. Maybe this will be
the year I actually do so.
It's a new year and I have not made a single mistake in writing the number 2018 yet. A good sign, as it seemed as often as not in 2017, I would pause before writing the date to contemplate the year. 2010? 2013? Where exactly in time was I?

I did make resolutions this year, and no, I'm not going to talk about them here. You will see the results of them if I succeed. You won't if I don't. Enough said. Once upon a time I called myself the Queen of New Year's resolutions. Then I spent several years saying that last year's plan worked well enough, I'd simply keep on doing the same ole' same ole'. This year I'm somewhere between the two, and I've committed to checking in with my family on working toward some long term goals.

I am trying something different this year, and seven days in, I'm fairly pleased with the results. For many years now I have been a diligent tracker of time. Perhaps a bit of a side-effect of a freelance lifestyle, or simply a need to document how I spend my time to give myself a record of progress made, I can go back many years and tell you how much time I've spent on "job" related tasks, such as working for/in my husband's law office, and working for the farmers market (a job where, though I was technically an employee, I was the only employee and pretty much the boss of me and how I managed my time). I can tell you how much time I spent on freelance work, most years broken down by the type of work I was doing (writing for pay, writing for fun, ghostwriting, editing, and other). In recent years, I've even tracked time spent on some of my volunteer commitments, not because I felt like I owed the communities I volunteered with any certain amount of time, but because I felt I owed it to myself to make sure that I was spending at least as many hours on me as I was on other people. I have a tendency to put myself last in line of importance, and by tracking these hours, I got better at making sure I was putting in time for myself, as well.

Last year, 2017, I found myself almost evenly divided between two jobs (for lack of a better word -- two things I was committing my time to in order to put food on the table and feed my soul). I was working as the hubby's office manager, and publishing via Meadowlark Books (which seems to be the answer to my me time vs. other people quandary -- Meadowlark is for me, but working with other people and for them, too). Both are jobs I expect to continue for the foreseeable future.

But one of the struggles I developed was this idea of getting to work on time. And if you are your own boss, and you are giving yourself anxiety over getting to work on time, well... that seems kind of the opposite of the point of being your own boss, correct?

So in 2018 (so far), I entirely stopped tracking my time. I don't even have a clock/phone on my bedside table. (I've actually been experimenting with this part for a few months now.) I get up when I wake up. I get around and do the important things for me first. (Ideally, this is a long walk and likely some yoga, but the frigid temps this week have sent me to the gym, which I don't like nearly as much as walking outside with the dogs, but it's still close to home and certainly preferable to frost bite when the morning temps are in the single digits.)

I get into work when I get into work, and my days have been pulled along by some sort of balance between what needs to be done and what I most want to work on next. It's been very relaxing. I feel like I've experience days of complete flow, just going from task to task, not worrying about whether I should be on one clock or another, or even paying attention to what time of day it is. Two days I ended up staying at the office rather late. One day I left rather early. The other I stayed through the typical time of 5 o'clock.

I don't know yet if this is related, but I've read two entire books since the first of the year (The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman = good enough I read all the way to the end, and Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green = FABULOUS and deserving of a written review which I hope to get to). I think the fact that I'm not feeling compelled to get up at a certain time has allowed me to read a bit longer into the evenings than is typical. And if I'm being honest, though the days have been pretty great, my sleep has been less than ideal. I mostly attribute this to the lack of long walks outside. I think my body misses the fresh air. Or maybe all the reading accomplishment is because I'm still on a roll from vacation, which looked something like this:

  • Plan to go into the office the week prior to Christmas, but mostly find excuses to do other things, to go home early, to hang out with my kids and in-laws.
  • Read Artemis, by Andy Weir (totally enjoyable -- not as fantastic as The Martian, but a fun read and worth my time)
  • Read Traveling While Married, by Mary-Lou Weisman (quick read -- enjoyable -- she's not my kind of traveler, nor my kind of married, to be honest, but I enjoyed the essays)
  • Spend an incredibly joyful day unwrapping gifts with the hubby and kids. (We haven't done traditional gift giving in our family for several years, but went with the full surprise stuff in a package this year.) We played a game, watched a movie, ate some of our favorite foods.
  • Had an Christmas Day family brunch with the in-laws at our house--buckwheat pancakes, real maple syrup, and berries. Yum!
  • Read Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir, by Amy Tan. (brilliant -- Amy is always brilliant -- I love her, I love her writing, I took notes -- will more than likely read this one again this year, or maybe next)
  • Finished the annual Holiday Letter. It took many days of writing and rewriting. Finally had to turn it over to the hubby to edit as my morose was showing a little too darkly. 2017 was far too filled with sad, sad things.
  • Cancelled our anniversary trip to Omaha (it was expected to be about 10 to 15 degrees colder there than here, and we were looking at single digits)
  • Made a trip to the bookstore in Wichita, instead. That's how we roll in our house. A celebration--even 27 years of marriage--is not complete until you've spent two to three hours in a bookstore. We took the kids. It was an amazing time.
  • Ate at Red Lobster for our anniversary and told the kids the story of why the Red Lobster in Wichita is our go-to anniversary celebrating place. (Short version: It was super cold on December 29 in 1990, as well. We had planned to drive all the way home to Lawrence on the day we got married, but my sister gave us a cash gift as we were taking off and between the cold and the Oreo cookies frozen to our windshield, we decided to stop in Wichita, thinking we'd get a fancy hotel room for the night. No such luck. But we did end up enjoying a decent meal at Red Lobster.)
  • Read and took notes on most of two magazines picked up at the bookstore, Forward Reviews and The Writer's Chronicle.
  • Got to see Illuminations at Botanica in Wichita. Awesome. Well worth the time spent out and about in the cold. 
  • Starting reading two other books and a literary journal that I will perhaps report on later should I finish them.
  • Worked on some contracts and contacts for Meadowlark Books.
  • Went out to eat with the in-laws at our local favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa Ramos.
  • Fixed the water leak under the kitchen sink. (on New Year's Eve, no less -- only three trips to the hardware store, not counting the trip I made six months ago for the initial supplies which have been sitting in a bag in the corner while the sink drain continued to leak, leak, leak away and I periodically remembered to empty the catch bucket I had placed beneath the drip--who am I kidding, hubby mostly emptied the bucket... and the sink has been leaking since we moved into this house--it simply used to be a little leak that a shallow tray would catch and I realized about six months ago--why is the cabinet/floor all wet?--that our leak was now sizable enough for a small bucket--a bigger bucket would have been better, but there was only room for a small one)
  •  Filled the New Year with games and a puzzle and the above-noted New Year's Resolutions sharing with the family.
It was a good end to a hard year, starting with the death of my aunt and my sister-in-law. We lost too many friends along the way this year. We lost our dog, Naisey. But it was a good year, also, in spite of the hard parts. I got a book of my own published, though I've barely taken the time to talk about it or sell any copies! I got my Munchkin #1 back from Ireland (she did study abroad fall of 2016/spring of 2017). My Munchkin Boy took me to Germany (which has a nearly 24,000 word travel journal, but I've managed to write nothing about...anywhere!). Two new dogs and a cat joined our household. I'd almost forgotten how much joy dogs can be. Having slid into the geriatric years with our Naisey was kind of clouding my outlook.

And so that's perhaps a summary of some of the many things I could have blogged about last year, but didn't. Perhaps I'll do better this year. I'd like to commit, but I'm still not keen on making another New Year's resolution, so we'll just have to see how things go. 

Meanwhile, I've been up for about four hours and the sky is finally light, though filled with grey. It's a Sunday, which has often been without time constraints anyway, but I'm listening to my soul tell me it's time to fix another cup of coffee. So, off to grind some beans and boil some water.

If you've made it this far, please know that I appreciate the fact that you check in here, now and then. I appreciate you, and I hope that your first seven days of 2018 have been promising, as well. 

Here's to an attempt at living timelessly in 2018. 

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