Priorities and Sacrifices

I sense an all too familiar scenario here. Once again, when my editor/bestie hit me up on FB with the inevitable, “you’re on for the next two months of blogtopia,” I cringed a little. Okay. I fired off a ground scorching volley of expletives and then wept like a swatted toddler.

Let me illuminate my sitch.

I live with my hub, two grown man cubs, a daughter-in-law, a two-year-old grandchild, and a mother-in-law who is 90 and in the middle chaos of dementia. I also commute to a full time job. When I got the reminder from Kristina, I’d just returned from a whirlwind business trip to help an ex-employer—a day late due to flights being cancelled—my carry-on bristling with more work to be done, and oh, 2,500 words by Wednesday. Did I mention I’m also a writer who just got her novel draft back and is breaking out in hives because she just wants to work on her manuscript before all the little ideas sparking in her head are shooed off by, well… life?

So here’s the deal.

If you’re overwhelmed by life as you know it, by the incessant tyranny of the urgent or even the normal things like family members who want to eat regularly and supervisors who expect completed tasks in return for pay and you find yourself gnawing your fingers and shouting expletives during your commute because you have no time to pen that novel; know this: you’re not alone.

Sure, Plath could lock herself in her attic and pound out four pages a day and Stevie Nicks has a dancing plethora of journals in which she scribes daily, but for the rest of us plebes, that ain’t our story. Besides, Plath taped her babies in a room and ended her life. I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I’m not that desperate and neither are you.

We can’t write all day every day, but if we’re smart (and you know you’re brilliant, my sweet) you can write sometimes regularly. And here’s how. Brace yourself…

TIME MANAGEMENT

Ta Da! Seriously, if you’ve ever punched a clock, you’ve heard the phrase. Well guess what: it works at home too. And it is absolutely necessary for your sanity. Oh wait, that’s me.

So rule number one: Resist the tyranny of the urgent.

You must define what is truly important to you and truly worthy of a parcel of your time. And only you can do this. There is no magic number equivalent to your time investment that will give you the return of awesome mom, hot wife, employee of the millennium or bestselling author. You have to write that formula out yourself; proving it and reworking it throughout your life, and your only indicator that it’s working is that you’ll have a sense of peace. If you’re frustrated, it’s not working.

You have to work if you want to eat, and you have to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, so often the textbook method of “prioritize” doesn’t cut it when your grandchild is inconsolable, your mother-in-law has tied Walmart bags to her feet because the girl in her room (there’s no one else in this house) put wet on the floor (her words not mine), you just got home from a hellish day, still suffering from a tension headache and you have blogs to write and amortizations schedules due…

So here’s my fix: while holding the toddler and patting him, I tell the MIL to take the bags off her feet because we do not wear garbage bags on our feet, and I keep walking to the bathroom to find the Excedrin. While doing this I make mental note of the fact that this will be great fodder for at least one blog which I will write on Saturday because if I write two on Saturday and two on Sunday I’ll be good for my Wednesday deadline and after I write I will work on those amortization schedules. So now it is Saturday, I’m almost done with my first blog, I will ignore the email about the schedules until the blog is remanded to my editor/bestie and I will not worry about the rest of the urgent things on my list. The taxes. The rest of the stuff for my ex boss. Even my novel rewrite. And the closet that needs a personal visit from Marie Kondo. Okay, my life needs a six week sabbatical with Marie Kondo. On an island. With drinks that come in fruit and nut exoskeletons.

Rule number two: (and this will end this installment of Tam’s crazy life because this is a blog not a novella and I do have other things to do and besides, who has time for fifty admonitions?) Sacrifice.

Some busy is foisted upon us. I have to work. I couldn’t find employment closer to home so I have a gnarly commute. I have to engage my MIL because I live in her home and I promised my husband I would help with her and dementia is a monster no one can conquer alone. So I sacrifice comfort and time because that is who I am. As for the ex pat side job, I chose to continue a relationship with an ex boss. I’m compensated for my time. So I do it because I have given my word. More sacrifice. The blogging though? That’s writing. And I am a writer. So while I do have some crazy time constraints, blogging is an enjoyable task for me. (Don’t let the comment about hurling obscenities and sobbing uncontrollably fool you.) Of course I want to work on my novel, but this is a prioritizing moment. Pound out the blog, do some work, take a quick pulse on the family and then maybe a chapter or two rework is in my future. Unless I sacrifice my dream to binge watch Kitten Rescues with my husband. And sometimes in all the chaos and clutter, falling asleep on my hubby’s hairy chest is not sacrifice, but solace.

Peace.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor