Wednesday, October 13

Where to Find Me Now

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Thursday, August 12


We leave for vacation early tomorrow morning. I hope that we get to the lake in time to see something like this view:

Lake Ossipee at twilight

I'm bringing a bathing suit and some books! To read! I'm most excited about finally having the chance to read Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. We'll probably eat some lobsters and ice cream. The Critter's grandparents will be with us for a couple days, so maybe Beckett and I will go out to see a movie. I admit I'll have some work to finish up over the weekend, and we'll probably go outlet shopping (ugh) for some clothing, but otherwise, I have no real plans for the week.

So, I'll be gone for a while. But I'll be back and posting again on Monday, August 23 ... but not here! Change your bookmarks, Google Reader subscriptions, RSS feeds, and etc., because when I return, I'll be blogging at my new site:! In fact, you can check it out now!

Tuesday, August 10

It's a To-Do List, Not a Wish List

Tuesdays at The Variegated Life: a look at how I'm making this working-at-home-while-mothering thing work. Or how I'm trying to make it work, anyway ...

Though I often fantasize about the day when I cross the last item off my to-do list, the truth is that that day will never come. I try to remind myself that the never-ending to-do list is a good thing. I have things to do! I’m alive!

However, though I know that my to-do list is never ending, I don't really want it to get any longer than it is. Here's how I (attempt to) manage the stuff on my plate: I actually have three lists!

Master To-Do List (3+ pages long)
This list includes everything I want to do someday. I keep all this stuff written down so that I don't have to fret about it—or even think about it at all. I review my master to-do list weekly, adding to it if necessary, and moving tasks from it to my current to-do list.

Current To-Do List (2+ pages long)
This list includes everything I want to do soon. Right now it has four parts. On one page, I list tasks related to my various jobs and tasks related to my personal goals (for poetry writing, blogging, and getting my shit together). On another page, I list all the assorted other stuff I want to get done—send packages, set up interviews with potential babysitters, etc. On a third page, I list all the stuff I want to get done before we leave for vacation—on Friday! Thank goodness, that part of the list is short. I review my current to-do list every evening, adding to it if necessary, and moving tasks from it to my daily to-do list for the next day.

Daily To-Do List (1 half-page long)
This list includes everything I want to do today. I have to be strict with myself about this list, and to tell the truth, I haven't quite figured it out yet. As I wrote last week, a to-do list represents a set of agreements with myself, and by breaking those agreements, I lose my trust in myself, which feels rotten, rotten, rotten. Over the past few weeks, as I've written these to-do lists and observed what actually gets done, I've learned the following:
  • Don't list what I wish I could do in one day. List only as much as I actually can do in one day: the job-related stuff that has to get done, the next small steps toward meeting my personal goals, and one to three of those assorted other things that I need to do. Nothing more.
  • Unless a sudden change in plans requires otherwise, don't try to do any other work than what's on my list. As Crash Davis advises Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham: don't think.
  • On the other hand, do actually make an honest effort to do the things on the list—especially if I dread doing them. I've found that if I've made an honest effort to do what I planned, I can renegotiate what's on my list (for example, by deciding to take care of something tomorrow rather than today) without any feelings of self-recrimination.
  • As soon as something new comes up, or if I think of something that needs to be done but hasn't made its way on to one of my lists, I write it down and get it off my mind. Usually I write it on the bottom or the back of my to-do list. Or I might write it on one of the index cards that I carry with me nearly all the time.
One unexpected side effect of writing down my ideas as they come to me has been marvelous: I'm finding that I have more ideas! Good ideas—not just ideas about more shit that needs to get done, but poetry-writing ideas, blogging ideas, and so on! By getting all the crap off my mind, I have better access to the deep well of creativity inside me....

To give credit where credit is due: These practices are based in part on ideas I've learned from It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys by Marilyn Byfield Paul, Getting Things Done by David Allen, and the blog Zen Habits by Leo Babauta.

Friday, August 6

{this moment}

{this moment} A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama: A single photo — no words — capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment to pause, savor, and remember.

Thursday, August 5

Who Invited You?

It's a joke my Polish great-grandmother used to say whenever you did something silly or stupid: Who invited you? And now it's been one year ten months two weeks and four days since the Critter was born, and still I look at him trotting down the sidewalk ahead of me, practicing his jumping, playing with his cars, drawing with his crayons, writing with my pens ... and I wonder: Where did you come from? Who invited you?

I ask Beckett if he ever stops to marvel at the fact that he is actually a father! Of the Critter! How did that happen? How bizarre! He says that no, he does not think such thoughts. But I cannot be alone in my feeling that it is strange to be a mother to a creature I know so intimately and who yet surprises me every day—or in my wonder that the strangeness of being a mother seems to have no end.