My husband gifted me with a night’s stay at the hotel a mile from our house. So I was close enough I could be accessible if the house burned down or the kiddo’s heads exploded, but I was otherwise off limits.
I wrote on the balcony. I laughed at 20 minutes of vintage South Park (Drugs are bad, m’kay) until I realized with horror that I was wasting time. I took a long, hot bubble bath, and then crawled into nice, clean sheets that I didn’t have to wash. It was such a wonderful, wonderful night.
Mornings are a terror. Getting the kiddos dressed, finding lost shoes, doing a five-year-old’s hair, getting Oldest onto the bus, and dropping the girls off at school usually wears me out. I was on my way home to do some work when I saw this gorgeous rainbow.
It was bright. Really bright. It was probably the most defined, colorful rainbow that I have ever seen in my life. Breathtaking.
In that moment, I made a conscious decision to shove deadlines, laundry, and the To-Do List to the back of my mind. I flipped my car around and drove off after the rainbow. There was a light rain and I was listening to Christmas music in the car. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Canon, to be exact.
Many of you know that I struggle with anxiety and depression. It’s a major force, if not THE major force in my life, and I’m constantly building my day around it. But I make an effort to choose joy as much as I can. I take pictures of things that catch my eye. I remind myself of the good in the world, and while it’s an active fight, day after day, it helps me to recognize moments of peace when I can find them.
This was such a moment. Music and rainbows. I was so enraptured that I was actually surprised by an expected phone call that I had forgotten. I was to be interviewed for a city magazine.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I saw a rainbow and started to chase it. May I call you back from home?”
He quite graciously agreed and said he understood. Even that was a joy. I drove home and my terrible, stressed-out day felt more like something magical.
Most of you know that my anxiety is through the roof. I make a conscious effort to bring peace and beauty into my home, so I have things to calm me. Like my indoor jungle.
Sitting next to a warm bunny.
A sweet bowl for my kitty ring.
Marsh the Mystery Cat snoozing outside. Small things, all, but things of joy. They’re tiny islands of beauty in a stormy sea, and every time I see these things I smile.
What are some of your favorite things? Would you share them with me? I’d love to hear.
We all have those days when we’re charged with creative energy. We’re atomic bombs of energy, split nuclear atoms of joy! These are the days that we call off dinner with friends because we’re writing. We stay up in the middle of the night. We blow through three chapters, call ourselves geniuses, and then drop into bed.
Then there are the other days. I’m not talking about days where we’re merely distracted or disinterested. I’m talking about the darker, deeper days when we’re ill. Or nail-bitingly anxious. Or depressed. Taking a day off or two is no big problem, but those days could easily turn into weeks or even months. And if you’re trying to forge ahead with your dreams, two months of no writing is going to catch up with you. You’ll see your momentum backslide. Worse than that, you’ll hear that nasty, negative little voice that says you aren’t good enough. You don’t take your craft seriously enough, you don’t work hard enough. Your hair isn’t shiny enough (or is that just my negative little voice?) and your commitments are building up on you, becoming more than you can manage. If you’re sick/depressed/stressed/otherwise incapacitated, this buildup is the last thing that you need. The more stress, the more negativity. The more negativity, the less get-up-and-go you’ll find in yourself. And a writer without get-up-and-go is a stalled, unhappy writer.
Yeah, I’m there. I’m frustrated that I don’t have the energy to work as hard and as efficiently as I used to. But throwing my arms helplessly in the air only made things worse. Instead, I have devised a plan using my trusty timer.
15 minutes a day on a project. That’s all.
If I want to do more than that, great. If I get inspired, even better! If I do 15 minutes on a few different projects, I’ll laud myself as a goddess. But 15 minutes is my minimum. It’s short enough that I’m not overwhelmed by it, but long enough that I can get to work on something. Getting started is the hardest part for me, and once I’m going, I’m usually going for longer than my 15. But if I plan for 15 minutes, and give myself a mental high-five when I complete it, then life goes a lot smoother.
Do you have any motivational
tricks techniques that you use to keep yourself working even when you don’t feel like it?