Thursday, January 27, 2011

Conserving Energy

When Jason is away, like he is for three days this week, I need to conserve energy or I'll never make it through. This concept of conservation is challenging for me. I want to go, go, go and get a bunch of stuff accomplished so that I can relax with him when he gets home, but if I don't slow down now, I become quickly grouchy and tired, which isn't helpful for any of us.

It's frustrating to feel that you are learning the same lessons over and over. New habits take a long time to form. I understand this in theory, but in practice I find it really hard to manage. I need to balance my life, with a mix of leisure and effort, and it's not wrong to take time to unwind and recharge. I have to downgrade my expectations, particularly when Jason is away, to make them less ambitious so I don't burn out.

This may be part of the subconscious reason why I hate it so much when he goes on a work trip. It's as if I don't trust myself not to go a little harder, get an extra few pages written, or do a bit more around the house so that I can relax when he returns. I think I'm looking at that the wrong way. I need balance all of the time, not give 110% now so that I can back off to 90% later on. I need to strike a mix of achievement and leisure every single day.

I keep circling around this nub, but I'm really more comfortable dealing with the extremes of all or nothing than a little success and a little failure all in one day. In November I had a mini breakdown and ceased all writing to recover and focus on my strained marriage and family life. That worked well, but I had no pressure on myself to write so I could balance the "nothing" aspect with relative ease.

In January, I was ready to dive back in, and I set what I believed to be reasonable writing goals for each day. I kept up for awhile, and felt like I could take on the world, but in the last few days I've been slipping again, for a variety of reasons, and now that Jason is out of town I'm aware that I must be very careful not to race until I'm overloaded.

How did I go from "nothing" to "everything" and not even see that I was making that transition? Our lives are like that. Our past precedents will trip us up so subtly that we don't see it happening until we are face down in the mud. I want to change this pattern before I stub my toe and begin to fall. The only way to do it is to step out of my comfort zone and relax even if I haven't completed my pages. Sort of a snub to my task-master nature, with its relentless demands and tiny but very effective whip to keep me moving.

My kids are important, and being both mom and dad to them right now means my writing may need to take a backseat while I give them what they need. This is okay, and I must continue to offer myself the permission to do so. There will be time to do everything I need to do. Exercising on our new treadmill is good, but it takes time, and so does chatting to a friend or sitting on the couch to watch a Glee re-run while eating popcorn. Balance. So elusive and yet so necessary, and I can only get there by making a deliberate choice to go against my driving need to perform.

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