The title, song quote, and photo are an illusion. They make it seem like I had a wonderful, dreamy day of writing, right? The idyllic day writers imagine in their minds when they decide to become writers. Like Henry David Thoreau, isolated in our wilderness and focused on our project. Here is the true story…
I work part time at a small school district, and we are a 4-day week school with Mondays off. It’s wonderful and they are my favorite day of the week. Usually. However, once a month is teacher workshop day, and it’s always a Monday. Since I’m part time I only work half days, but on these days I have to be there 8 hours. So I dread them. I dread doing what a great percentage of you probably do five days a week. If you love your job, congratulations! If not, I’m sorry you have to spend so much time there. I do love my job, but like most teachers I prefer to work with the students than go to meetings.
But this past Monday, our administration gifted us a free day! They know teachers are burnt out, subs are short and we are covering other classes, conferences are coming up and report cards are due, and morale is low. I am fortunate to work for a district who cares about their employees. A free day! Imagine all the things I can do. Imagine all the writing I can accomplish…
Cue the laughter here. As many of you can already determine, I did not spend 8 hours writing. Just because we have a day off doesn’t mean everything else stops too, right? I did go into work, because I needed to get some prep done which I had left for today, when I thought I’d be in the building. A co-worker who was there too asked if I wanted to have lunch. We have to eat, right? And friendships are important to our well being. It’s good for the soul to laugh, vent, commiserate.
I went home a little after noon, feeling good knowing I still had all day ahead of me. But I started to feel tired. The mid-afternoon slump. I decided a walk would help. After getting some fresh air I felt better, except my neck has been killing me. I called the chiropractor to schedule an appointment, and what do you know? They could fit me in at 3:00! One hour. I decided that’s not enough time to get into writing, so I got my daily chores out of the way. Then after seeing our local chiropractor who did her usual fabulous job of adjusting me, I went home ready to write. There were still lots of hours left in the day!
But I’m thwarted yet again! My oldest son texts me, wanting me to bring him food on his break. I know he’s sick of fried deli food, and I said okay. This time I distracted myself by putting away the Halloween decorations, so when Paul comes home on Thursday I don’t have to hear about it (he knows I am slow about everything, and I believe it both amuses and frustrates him).
After running my oldest son dinner, I’m home making ours by 5 o’clock. My youngest son and I ate, then spent some time together since we were both otherwise occupied earlier. His friends were off school, and they’re not usually home during the day so I let him play games online with them. I decided I’d skip homeschooling today, and pick up another day (love the flexibility of homeschooling). Plus, then I’d have more time to write.
Cue the laughter again, because now it’s after 6 o’clock and I haven’t done one bit of writing. My oldest has to be picked up from work at 8 o’clock, which pretty much ends my day (I am not a night time writer. My brain works much better at 4am than 9pm). One and a half hours is what I devote to writing on my free day.
Yet as I write this, I’m reflecting on what I did get done today. I did some things for myself, spent time with my kids, prepped everything for my week at work, fed my family two meals, took care of my beloved pets, and finished my chores. And I wrote. Even though it’s a tiny fraction out of my day, it matters. I have a draft for a blog post, and half an hour left to work on my short story. I could have easily tossed it aside and given up, kicked back and turned on the tv or went on my phone. It’s what I would have done before I made this decision to focus on making my dream a reality. So I persisted. That’s part of the hard work—to not throw in the towel and give up because it seems as though life is tossing every obstacle in my way.
And it’s what balance is about. Instead of being disappointed when you don’t get done what you thought you would, look at what you did accomplish. Imagine what your list would look like if you wrote down absolutely everything you did that day. I bet you’d be surprised at how much you achieved. And some days we don’t, but that’s ok too. To be productive, we need to recharge. We tend to push ourselves hard, and call it laziness when we aren’t checking off our to-do list. I think it’s ok to listen to our bodies and not feel guilty when we take a break. I think it’s important to make sure at least one thing you do each day is for you, and you only. Sometimes it’s accomplishing a step towards your dream. Other times it may be the much needed nap you took, or the time you spend with a treasured friend.