Thursday, October 25, 2007

If I could put time in a bottle....the first thing that I'd like to do is to spend everyday ...(thank you Jimmy Buffett)

By all standards, every standard you could possibly imagine, I am not an important person, but if you were to look at my day timer, you'd think even the president would need to wait in line weeks to meet with me. (actually he'd wait forever--but that's another story--or maybe I'd meet with him right away to straighten him out--that's another story, too).

I bought my Franklin Covey planner six or seven years ago. It took me hours to decide on the color -- but when I spotted the apple red one, my heart stopped!

The first time it took it out on a date, I attended a coaching conference in Marin County and left it on the seat of my chair as the 'THIS SEAT IS TAKEN' unwritten note for five minutes, or 300 seconds, while I ran to the ladies room. In my absence someone spilled water on it. My beautiful red leather planner now a mushy soggy smelly mess. I knew it would leave a big old water mark, too, which over the years faded into a 'new/old' color, dingy red.

Near the end of conference the woman next to me whispered that the gal behind us had a little 'water accident', she said pointing her finger through her ribcage. Little? She went on to say she told me this because she didn't want me to think she did it. Another check mark for high standards!

Anyway, I started looking at my planner -- there is time for everything except nothing. Let me clarify, there is time to do everything no matter what, but no time to do nothing. I guess we'd call that 'unscheduled' time, but it feels like a foreign phrase, doesn't it? Unscheduled time, huh. (gives you insight as to how spontaneous I am doesn't it? And a peek at my memory retention abilities...)

Am I the only one who's time constipated? One minute it's noon and the next minute my husband's walking through the door and it's dark ... and he says, "Oh, are we going out to dinner tonight?" Bless him he never adds 'again'.

Anyway, this time thing got me thinking. How do women who work full time and have a brood of kids at home do it? Or people who use wheelchairs? And people who have to walk instead of drive? Or people who never seem to have enough time? Or aren't good time schedulers? Or people who get caught up in their dreams and whoops, they've missed an important meeting? Does God give them extra minutes because they need it?

No wonder life is a chaotic lunacy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meditation? Who has time?

Om, Om, Om. Meditation. Breathe. Relax. Ah,what would I do without it? I could describe the last six plus months and that would give you a pretty good idea.

The thing about meditation is, I need to make time for it.

When I don't meditate, I am a little snappy (not the good snappy as in 'chic' or 'snappy wit') but more like snapping turtle...not good. But who has twenty minutes twice a day, make that once a day, to meditate? I mean really. I have more important things to do than to be a slave to something that inspires grace, compassion and patience after I do it, don't I?

Why would I take time meditate when it pretty much guarantees my day will at least start out well, even if it begins to swirl and crumble during the middle of it????

In her book "One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers", Gail Sher says, "Before his enlightenment, Buddha was also tempted to extremes. Afterwards he taught the middle way." I love that, don't you? I am no Buddha, but I am tempted by extremes --

To paraphrase Sher, the 'middle way' isn't the easy way out, it's not being rigid or lax, but living in the middle. For example, if you want to eat a box of candy, you allow yourself a few pieces. You're not depriving yourself of all of it (rigid) nor eating the whole box (lax) (and yum).

I decided to apply the 'middle way' principle to my meditation practice. What would happen if I meditated for ten minutes instead of a whole twenty? Would it work just as well? Would I have the illusive calm-compassion-grace I can only find with a twenty minute meditation?

Having had this love/hate relationship with meditation for years, I thought it would be interesting to try. Twenty minutes straight is hard. While it does works, it is torturous for me to sit that long. I get antsy. I get alligator eyes and must peek. I need to know how many more minutes do I need to endure this and then TIME IS the meditation. (the fact that the timer is set doesn't count ... ahem)

So I've been doing it, this sitting for ten minutes, my own personal 'middle way'. And it works. Yay!

Frank Sinatra sang (he was never one of my favorites but that's another story) ... "I Did It My Way". And doing it my way works -- for me that is.

Now I'm wondering where else I can apply the 'middle way' to my life. Yoga? Exercise? Food?

If you're struggling to do something and it isn't working, you might give the 'middle way' a try. After all, You've Got to Please Yourself (Ricky Nelson -- can't help it these things it popped into my head...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One time yoga damsel turned yoga matron

Ever gone to a yoga class? I mean ever gone to a yoga class after a period of not going to one for a couple of months? Let me tell you...

I'll never again brag about being limber. Nope not one bit. I am a rubber band stretched just beyond her snapping point--but not snapping--just losing all of her elasticity like an old pair of, well all I can think of is, an old pair of underpants -- you get the point...

And, it all happened because I had to keep up with everyone else in class, that would be the yoga instructor wearing her cute pink yoga pants and hibiscus flower top, in what I can only assume is a size "0", and the 'girls' who were probably 18 to 20.

Yoga is supposed to help you focus, give you inner core strength and create a feeling of calm and peacefulness. That may just happen, but right now, in this moment, the focus is on pain, the inner core strength feels like I need help sitting up and calm and peaceful are coexisting only because I've taken more than my fair share of over the counter pain meds. And tonight might be a good night to drink...

Do I sound bitter? I don't mean to. I guess getting older is taking its toll on my ability to rationalize in a more mature way -- but wait -- if I'm mature, why can't I just accept that fact that, heck, I used to be young, now I'm not?

What does all of this say about me? I think it says I am way more competitive than I thought, that I can and did turn myself into a very proud pretzel but at what cost? (see above) And, was it worth it? (see above) Arrgghh!

The art of aging gracefully...I'm not there yet and you know, I'm not sure I want to...I don't think I'll do the pretzel thing again, though :-(

Friday, October 12, 2007

Story Board: 21 done, 10 to go

I am upstairs in my office getting ready to work on my story board. I finished story boarding the first 21 chapters complete with summaries, seasons, place, time, characters, and the dreaded comic strip depicting the 'action' in each chapter. (that's one story board per chapter.) A big nod goes to my fabulous coach, Mary, who coached me to complete 21 story boards by the 19th. She did such a good job inspiring me that they were finished Sunday night. Yahoo and hallelujah! Thank you Mary!

The good news is I've graduated from potato heads to little action stick people. Some of my comic strips, make that most, look like a four year-old did them, but that's okay. They hang in our guest bedroom so I can figure out what the next step is and where to put the chapters still in need of a board. (I do feel a little sad for guests...)

The challenge is story boarding the last ten chapters. These are the chapters I couldn't figure out what to do with because of my poor organizational skills. I tried to hold all the information, chapter by chapter, in my head. Impossible. Between memory lapses and 'mental pausings' as my friend Eileen says, my brain couldn't do it. So, these last chapters need to find homes among the existing 21 story boards. There definitely are places for them --that's why I wrote them--I just can't remember where they belong. But, when I'm finished it will take care of my editor's question of "is something missing here?"

Apart from my lack of solid organizational skills, Nineteen Darby Way is coming along great!!! I love the protagonist and the various predicaments she finds herself --I just need to plug those incidents in the right spots so she doesn't appear to be in the middle of a psychotic break.

That said, story boarding is the best organizational tool! Finally, I know where I am in this sea of words and paragraphs and chapters. The goal now is to finish these last 10 chapters by the 19th -- wish me luck...
Wanna write? Here's a PROMPT: The real truth is....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Procrastination whispers in my ear ~ do this, do that -- but do it later. Right now, let's go have fun! Yes!

Anyone out there know what I mean? Come on, some of you must.

During the spring, I started working through the exercises in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron with two writing friends.

So began our journey. We wrote 'morning' pages as Julia Cameron calls them, took ourselves out on artist dates, ruminated over the questions at the end of each chapter, and checked in with each other every week, as our built-in accountability.

My buddy, procrastination, would wake me up bright and early to remind me to do my morning pages--MORNING pages--not afternoon or evening pages, but morning pages, not almost three but THREE FULL PAGES -- handwritten.

Okay, fine. So some mornings grew procrastination legs deep into the evening and I'd scrunch up in bed at night and scribble out three morning pages to keep my commitment. Except they weren't MORNING pages, they were midnight procrastination pages, which left me frustrated. I started wondering...

Did my morning pages count if I didn't do them in the morning to start my day off in the right 'writing' frame of mind?

Are morning pages written in the morning the magic formula to being a good writer?

What did all of this say about me as a writer--did it say I was committed or should be committed?!

After a few weeks of driving myself crazy, taking little credit for writing every day unless things were done just right, I had a chat with my writing com padres -- they didn't say the word crazy, but I got the point: the point is to write, doesn't make any difference what time of day it is--it's about finding the right time for you, er, me.

Turns out the best time for me to work on my book is late afternoon and evening. But the morning pages? I do them mostly in the morning now because I get up a little earlier. But they count anytime -- day or night. They count if I only write 2 1/2 pages, too! And finding a good time to write takes most of the pressure off because I'm doing what works for me not Julia Cameron. Follow your own intuition!

Any time devoted to writing is good and working with your own body clock helps squash the procrastination bug.

Here's an interesting web site for writers with lots of articles about writing, organizang, etc.

Wanna write? Here's a PROMPT: The thing about procrastination is....