There’s a scene in “The Incredibles” where the mom calls the dad at work and says “we are are officially moved in,” and he says something like “and the last three years don’t count because…” to which she responds that she finally finished unpacking.
That’s how I feel with my new office space. It only took three months, not three years, but really – I’m kind of embarrassed that it took me that long. The thing is, I generally have a ton of work to do, and when I’m in the office, I’m not there to decorate. So here it is. Drum roll please….
Notice the new file cabinet which took me two hours to put together. And the ergonomic key board tray (which you can’t really see because my chair is in the way). But trust me. It’s great. Everything is exactly where I need it, and I have a whole section there on the left where I can spread out papers when I’m working on something. So much space!
I even love the bare brick walls, though it’s pretty tricky to get anything to stick to them, by tape or tack. I managed to tape a few family photos to a ribbon that I hung from an old nail, but it’s kind of ghetto.
I think I’m going to have to spring for a few frames to put the photos in, and maybe a few tall plants to fill the bare walls a bit.
It’s a work in progress, but the exciting news is, I am officially moved in.
The other day at work I was doing some uploading and formatting of images for a new site, and rather than listen to music as I usually do, I decided to put on a TED Talk. I was just feeling nerdy, I guess. But man, those babies blow me away every time.
If you’re not familiar, TED is a conference that is pretty fancy. People at the top of their game give talks, and the people who put the whole thing together post everything online FOR FREE. Of course, there’s so much content, that it can be a little overwhelming, but I like to click on the check box for “most viewed,” and it usually turns up interesting stuff.
So this other day at work, I ended up listening to this one:
It’s about how we are better at everything we do when we’re happy. You should watch it if you have 10 minutes to spare.
If you don’t, I’ll tell you the kicker – this guy has done research on how it is we can train ourselves to be happier (and therefore better at everything we do). I did a little screen grab for you:
Three gratitudes means writing down three new things that you’re grateful for every day. The rest is pretty self explanatory, except the random (or as he calls them intentional) acts of kindness – he describes that as writing an email, first thing every day when you sit down at work, to someone saying why you care about them, or why they’re great.
This guys says (and I’m inclined to believe him, because you don’t get to do a Ted Talk just by walking in off the street) that if you do a 21 day training of these 5 things, you will begin the process of reprogramming your brain – to be happier.
If this were an infomercial, I would totally be pulling out my credit card.
So I’ve been thinking how I should do this. 21 days. It would be really interesting to see how I felt as the three weeks progressed. But then I think – the main thing that makes me unhappy is being over-committed. It’s a bad habit I’ve been trying for a long time to let go of.
It wouldn’t take so long. The exercise and meditation would take time, and I guess the journal writing would too. Let’s say it’s an hour every day. Man, if I had an extra hour every day I’d sleep. Or work on my novel.
But maybe I’d be happier if I devoted some time to trying to make myself happier.
In any case, I’ve been going around on this for about 5 days now, and I’m not any happier (or sadder) than I was before. If I did it every other day would I be half as happier at the end?
Who can say?
I was talking to a dear old friend of mine this last weekend. He was staying at our place while he and Daniel took some time to work on a screenplay together. They’ve been collaborators for years.
Anyway, we were talking about where he would sleep on the couch, or downstairs next to the exercise equipment, and I was warning him about the kids being up early. He said he’d prefer the couch. He added that he’s been getting up early anyhow and not to worry. As he is not yet a father I pushed a little – no, really, they get up early. And he totally surprised my by saying that he’s been getting up around 5 every morning to write before going to work.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one who’s on this whole “5am is a great, quiet time to get some quality creative work done” train.
This would be a more impressive story if you understood the extent to which this friend and I (once upon a time) perfected the art of late night drinking. Now here we are, getting up before dawn to write our stories before heading to work like the good, responsible people our professors likely doubted we would ever become.
It was a new found link in a long standing friendship.
Okay, I figured it out. It actually wasn’t so hard. It just required me taking a good, honest look at how I’m spending my time.
I’m actually quite good at time management. I track my work hours to the minute using TaskTime4 (which is great), and I’m a planner by nature, so the problem was not in either of those arenas.
The truth is, I’m losing 3 to 4 hours a day to two new activities.
The first I’m actually quite proud of. I’m training for a seriously hard-core obstacle race called the Tough Mudder
So to avoid any serious embarrassment on the course, I decided to train using the Insanity
Okay, not really. But I am loving how I’m feeling, so while I may not keep up my workouts at this intensity after three more weeks, I will need to find some consistent method of keeping in shape.
The other 3 hours a day that I am pissing away, I am not so proud of. I’m ready to admit, here, on my blog, that I have a serious “Breaking Bad” problem. I can’t help myself. My guy and I watch an average of three episodes a night, all the while cursing Netflix for their convenient streaming form of distribution. We both have so much we could be doing with that time, but now that we’re in the fourth season it’s almost as if we’re pushing through to the end just so we can be done with it and go on with our lives. How appropriated that it’s a show about meth. We are junkies for it.
So mystery solved. If I want to have more time to work on my novel I need to put down the remote and step away from the TV.
Or, I could go for the cigarettes in the closet option and stay up all night tonight to watch all the remaining episodes straight through.
But that would be crazy. Right?
I promised myself I would start the next draft of my novel on August 1.
It’s now the 8th, and I haven’t so much as looked at the thing.
The reason (I swear it’s a reason, not an excuse) is that I’ve had a lot of work coming in, which is great. My freelance business has been riding a bit of a wave, with some great new clients coming in, bringing lots of interesting work. Given that my guy and I both work independently, I feel like it’s important to take all the work I can, as I can, because we never know when one of us will hit a dry spell.
But dry spells are historically when I make progress on the novel, so I find myself conflicted. I don’t want the paid work to slow down, but I’m not working on my precious book. I feel like I have very little time lately (I’m writing this blog post as my girl gets ready for school, quick and dirty like – so please forgive me my typos this morning).
I need to figure out how to prioritize so that the novel keeps moving forward. Maybe I need to stay up later. Maybe I need to take the time I’ve set aside for exercise and use that. I can’t imagine turning down work, but maybe that time will come. I just don’t know. I’m feeling frazzled. Are there any other freelancers out there that have some wisdom on this?
I’m setting a goal of getting my head wrapped around this by the end of the week. I’ll post on Friday to let you know what I figure out.
It’s funny sometimes how life tends to synch up. Some call it fate, others karma, or even divine intervention. I’ve always chalked up to luck.
Whatever it is, it happened to me this morning. I went to yoga for the first time in a long time. It was a new class, and a different teacher than I had ever had, and it was awesome. Aside from being a kick-ass workout, I happened to drop in on the day that the instructor was discussing the third chakra. Apparently this class has been working its way up the energy chakras class by class and the third is about the core. On the more metaphysical side, it’s about the strength that we all need, the burning fire that keeps us motivated and powerful.
The instructor talked throughout the class (without ever doing that annoying yoga voice – the one I use with my kids when I want them to sleep), about how we all have to nurture that inner fire and strength, and that we must build our own core (physically and metaphysically), before we can branch out and help others. It was kind of about being selfish, so that you can then be a source of good in the world.
Anyways, I’m sure I’m getting that all wrong, but the takeaway for me is that it’s okay to say no. Sometimes you have to turn down things you would really love to work on, because if you spread your fire too thing it will die out. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. A friend send me this link the other day to an article about just that – How to say No
It’s something I always have trouble with, because there are so many things I want to do and support in this world. Right now, with two small kids, a freelance career and a novel that is chugging along by the tiniest of baby steps, I really just need to focus. My plate is full.
In the meantime, I need to practice saying no. Not to sound too California hippy about it, but I need to stoke the fire that is my third chakra. Right now it’s a tiny little flame, but I think it has the potential to be a bonfire.