Procrastination. Writer's Block. Kindness.
- 2,986 words (if poetry, lines) long
It's a sunny afternoon in Boulder. I'm at Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt, sitting at a counter that faces out the window into the parking lot. Cars roll by. Past the lot, Table Mesa Boulevard makes its final stretch west into the foothills and the neighborhood where I envision "Heroes to Believe in" taking place. (And how long has it been since that's been in the slush? Note to self...)
Things are peaceful. I am currently allowing myself what Havi Brooks calls "Island Time." Havi Brooks is an amazing inspiring blogger and you should read her stuff now. Or, well, whenever you get around to it really. No pressure. Your call.
It's been a Day Full of Stuff, which followed a Partial Week Full of Stuff, a Partial Week being all that's left when you're freshly back in town after a weekend at Gen Con. You know how it goes. First, the train is supposed to get back into Denver early on Monday morning, the better to leap back into Life As Usual. But what with the flooding in Nebraska reducing the BNSF to a single railway over which everyone proceeds single file, we didn't actually pull into the station until about 1:00 PM. And the Flat Niki Stage of Recovery stretched into Tuesday. So.
The Amazing Diaper Cat, Null, got a room to himself and his undiapered butt, so my job Wednesday was to Wash All The Things. This involved many journeys up and down the stairs so as to catch the washer at just the right time to toss in a quarter cup of Simple Solution Oxy Formula, which really does make the cat piss stench go away but is not optimized for use by the laundry load. I washed two loads and called it good.
Also, it's been hot enough in our house that guests need to sign a waiver indemnifying us against liability for their heat stroke, so it also fell to me to investigate replacing our air conditioner wall unit. Made the call Tuesday, met the HomeSmart representatives Wednesday, will have a new unit in the wall Friday. After more than a decade of this inefficient, dying, energy-sucking and stingy-with-the-cool-air refrigeration unit, we will have a new A/C box in the wall. I'm not sure I'll be able to take responsibility for whatever crazy impulsive things my unmitigated joy prompts me to do.
Today, Null went to the vet for Acupuncture Experiment #4. After this, we have to make the call: has it being doing him any good? Well... Maybe? He seems to be walking better and dripping less. He goes without a diaper again, because we find "helping" him at the litter box every few hours seems to erase most accident potential. He sleeps on the bed without leaving wet spots. But is any of this due to the acupuncture, or was it already the case if we'd shucked off the diaper sooner? Is he really walking better, or am I talking myself into seeing it? I... don't know. I'll be keeping an eye out for him.
Also, I made phone calls and decisions. Saturday, our old table and our old TV will find new homes at, respectively, Joyful Furniture and Ares Thrift. In the spirit of getting rid of unused things, I cleaned out my stationery drawer of empty or near-empty ink bottles.
So. As stated above: A Partial Week Full of Stuff. But have I been writing?
Well. I've been doing my Examiner posts and thinking really hard about getting back to other long-deferred writing tasks. I filed "Blackbird"'s latest rejection letter and decided where I'll send it next, which I'll do... tomorrow. And, figuratively out of breath from all the other stuff I've been doing, I've been smacking myself with guilt for not getting more done.
Did I mention Havi Brooks?
In my Internet travels, which get more ecclectic the deeper my avoidance cycle dips, I came across a link to Havi's "Bite Me, National Anti-Procrastination Day." I clicked it, thinking I'd read a screed about having One Big Day A Year defeats the purpose because us marathon procrastinators will use it as an excuse to put things off until said Day.
No. That is not what I read.
What I read was some of the wisest, kindest, most compassionate writing on the subject of procrastination. Just... beautiful stuff. Stuff that made the part of me that's sick of getting kicked by the other part of me feel acknowledged, spoken to, valued. And in was more than that -- when Havi writes from her own experience of procrastination and the effects that well-meaning but ineffective advice can have, it's like reading my own diary. If I kept a diary. If I was anywhere near as self-aware.
Or what about this charming quote on procrastination from another “expert” who wants to terrify you into taking action?
"Understand that this enemy is working diligently, 24 hours a day, to prevent any forward progress, so you must work even more diligently at eradicating it from your life."
Lovely. Thanks. Now I totally want to go get a bunch of stuff done. Oh, no I don’t. I want to curl up in a ball and cry.
I work with people who have these issues. People who have big, wonderful things to do in the world and are really, really scared sometimes to put it out there. Or even to talk about putting it out there.
I love these people with all my heart. They’re smart, creative and just generally awesome.
And then these so-called experts show up with their war-mongering and guilt-mongering and an entire day devoted to telling my people how much they suck. And it’s all so well-intentioned!
But it doesn’t help them. It makes them feel worse. They withdraw and retreat deeper into the stuff (guilt, criticism and self-loathing) that’s most harmful for them.
I’m here trying to help people who are traumatized by shoulds learn how to motivate themselves with love and attention. And this stuff freaks them out.
What about all the people who totally need help and aren’t getting it because they’re scared? Because they think it might make them feel guilty and horrible about themselves. Because they think they’ve tried what’s out there and know for a fact that nothing can help.
Well, I hope that everyone knows that not all methods involve kicking yourself and hating yourself. Because ohhhhhhh, that’s just got to hurt.
It does. It hurts a lot. Gods, it's good to read someone who gets that.
See, about half of any given Morning Pages session reads like this: "Here is stuff I gotta do today. [LONG LIST] And I'm gonna do it! Every bit of it! Except there's so much I didn't do yesterday. And I'm afraid if I don't do it today it means I'm worthless. I need to stop beating myself up. Why does even writing a to-do list feel like beating myself up?" And so forth and so on and variations on a theme.
So I just started devouring Havi's blog yesteday. Well, I collected all the Favorite Post type links into Scrapbook so I could read them offline at my leisure. I have another train trip coming up (anyone else going to World Con / Renovation?) and I could use the reading material.
Today I started dipping into it while between tasks. My fingers hurt and I was sick of being vertical, so I took the laptop with me for a lie-down and I read...
Is it scary to talk to your fear? To even acknowledge its shadowy presence in the room? Absolutely. I'm sorry. Hug.
And, Gods help me, I just wept.
Maybe I'm just a sap. I dunno. But reading this stuff has alternately got me energized and allowed me a measure of peace. It also makes me wish I could drop everything along with an extra $600 and run away to Portland for one of Havi's "Rallies," because, dude, blanket forts. I'm not quite ready to order her Procrastination Dissolve-o-Matic, mostly because I've been spending a lot of money this summer already and I'm rather behind on my money-making endeavors, but I would be really tempted if the eBook were available singly. So I continue reading bits and pieces in my breaks-between tasks, and I'm not going to pressure myself to OMG GET JUST ONE MORE THING DONE TONIGHT! but instead I'm going to eat the last few spoonfuls of my frozen yogurt with cookie dough and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and I'm going to watch the light change across the windshields of a hundred parked cars, and I'm going to give John a big smile when he arrives to pick me up and we head to the pizza place for dinner and Spiral Knights. And I'm going to have fun.
And tomorrow I'm going to get things done because each thing is a joy to accomplish, not because I feel guilty.
Well. That's the theory. It'll take practice to put it into practice.
You know, I don't actually like frozen yogurt. Under the freeze, it's still yogurt. It's still got that sour tang that sets my tongue on edge. But I tried it, and I had a wonderful afternoon here. Isn't that weird?
John's here. Gotta go. Hugs!