Thursday, January 31, 2013

Balancing the Priorities

Daily Word count : 1,107
Total Word count on the WIP : 9,411

Sometimes I think the most difficult thing in life is setting priorities. Setting the direction you want to spend each moment of your life.  Balancing all the things we want.  I've figured out three things about the balance in my life.

1.) I require other people to keep me accountable. 

I tried going to the gym by myself for two years. I went sporadically, but  would often skip weeks at a time. When I made a commitment to go lift weights with a friend, I manage to go, even when she doesn't, because in my brain it is marked down in permanent marker as "Go to Gym with Friend Lizardface." 

(She doesn't look like a lizard. But she had a bad reaction one day to eating shellfish, and she called me to wail, "I have a face like a LIZARD. I have lizard-face!" The name has sort of stuck, but in my defense, she posted THIS picture of me to Facebook and is therefore not a good person.)

Seriously? I was trying to grab some lunch before I went back out to fight, and I was starving. Who takes a picture of a friend when they look like that?!  Lizardface. That's who.

That is the singularly most awful picture of me ever taken. Also, I leave the hyphen out of Lizardface because she is a librarian and it makes her nuts.

I didn't get much done on my novel until I joined a writer's group. We meet weekly, and take turns submitting. So every three weeks, I have to have SOMETHING done. And sadly, it usually gets done the day or so before I'm supposed to submit. 

But it gets DONE. That's the thing. The progress is slow, but there IS progress. And it's all due to other people keeping me honest.

2.) I admit that I only have room to prioritize four things at once.

The problem with this is I have about seven things I'd LIKE to prioritize.  Cleaning the house, making healthy meals and eating regularly, going to the gym, writing, armored combat, caring for the Buggit, and my calligraphy & illumination artwork. 

What do you mean we're out of bananas?!
Three of those slots are filled at the moment with baby care, cooking food, and the gym.  That means that writing fights with the other three for my time and attention. And the house does NOT get cleaned nearly enough. (Though cleaning a house with a 19 month old is sort of a Sisyphean task anyways.)  It means if I wanted to focus as completely on writing as I SHOULD, that the other things that make me happy (and keep my marriage functional) would suffer. So I've had to accept that even though I should be spending an hour or two a day on submissions, and at least two hours a day on writing, (about the time to get 700 words on an average day.), it's not going to happen, because SOMEONE has to do the dishes, and my husband works 12 hours a day so I can stay home with the Destroyer of Worlds.

When the baby is bigger perhaps I'll have more room for priorities, but right now, that is all there is.

3.) Trying to squeeze more time for extra priorities by sacrificing sleep, healthy meals, or regular exercise is REALLY STUPID counter-productive.

Turns out when I don't get enough sleep, my mood tanks, and I get more susceptible to fears, worries, beating myself up, depression, and other stupid stuff. The baby has had me on a regimen of sleep deprivation for the last 19 months, because she simply does NOT sleep through the night. Never has. At this point, I don't believe she ever will. Any further sacrifice of sleep is punitively painful the next day. If it happens two days in a row, I'm almost unable to function the third day. So staying up late to write until 2 a.m.? Can't happen for my own sanity. There are writers with kids who can do it, and I applaud their superhuman abilities. I can't. And I have reluctantly come to accept that.

Eating junk food? Affects my mood severely. I like cooking, and I'm an excellent cook. Sacrificing going grocery shopping and making dinner for time and Wendy's tends to send me into moody tailspins. I don't know why, but fast food with lots of grease and salt really screws with my emotional stability. Guilt over eating the fatty food? Neurotransmitter reactions? Don't know.  Had to accept that too.

Not exercising.  This was the newest epiphany, and it took me two years to really come around to believing, but when I make it to the gym regularly, I'm generally more productive over all for the rest of the day. Serotonin, endorphins, more neurotransmitters? Could be, but I've accepted that I get more done and am generally happier when I exercise regularly. Also, the gym has free daycare for 2 hours a day. So I get some non-baby sanity time. Also very good for me. :D

What hard lessons did you have to learn about priorities in your life?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Day Today - Taking a Tally

Zumba this morning!  - YAY!

Baby does not wish to nap. - BOO!

Baby will nap, if Mommy lays down with her and tucks her into an armpit.  - YAY!

Alarm on phone fails to go off, and the friend I babysit for finds me snoring and drooling on my baby when she comes by to drop off her child.  - BOO!

Toddler Dance Party! (Toddlers dancing to Club music on the radio is hilarious.) - Yay!

Synchronized Toddler Poop!  - BOO!  And Ew. Two poopy toddlers do smell worse than one alone.

Nachos!  - YAY!

Toddlers are stealing all my nachos! - BOO!


More Nachos! - YAY!

On balance, I think I'm having a pretty good day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Your House is on FIRE! - and other things I got to say this week

On my way home from Zumba a couple days ago, I passed a house with furniture burning in the carport.

My first thought?  "Baaad breakup."  Seriously.

But then I realized I didn't see anyone outside screaming "Take that, you asshole!" And I backed the car up to double-check.

Nope, uncontrolled fire in the carport, and licking its way towards the house. No persons with a hose trying to put it out.

So I called 911, and I gave them the address and situation, and they hung up on me! I would like to believe the call was dropped, but there were weird typing/transfer noises that indicated things were happening on the dispatch end, and then it hung up.

I called them back, and tried again. This time the dispatcher did not hang up on me, but asked questions. Where, how far from the house, blah blah. Then we both hung up.

The house seemed unoccupied (10:45 a.m. on a Tuesday), with the only car off to the side of the driveway, but I got out anyways, and went to bang on the door. I heard a little dog start barking furiously.

"Crap." I thought. I banged on the door again and yelled, "Your HOUSE is on fire!" I went back to the car, to find something to possibly break a window with, so I could let the dog out before the fire got to the house. Just as I got to my car, the homeowner poked her head out of the door, looking sleepy and confused.

I yelled, "Your house is on fire! You need to get your dog and get out!"  She started to come out, and I yelled, "Call your dog!"  She ducked back inside, and I could have kicked myself. Never let someone go back into a building that's on fire. Cardinal rule of fire safety. The fire was just starting to go after the carport, so I didn't immediately yell at her to come back. She came out again within the three minute mark of me going to yell at her again, with a large tabby and a little bichon frise-looking puppy the size of a chihuahua.

We put the pets into my car. Luckily, they did not seem disposed to mess with the baby in the car seat who was saying "Doggy! Doggy! Cat! Cat! Doggy!" They sat very nicely in the back seat. The dog roamed around a bit nervously, but the cat found a comfy spot, and assumed the meatloaf position with the placid acceptance of any obese cat in a situation that shows no signs of involving food, pettings, or being chased.

My husband is a paramedic with the fire station literally a half-mile away, so I was really curious to see who would show up.  First on the scene was the battalion chief in the special "Chief truck!" He confirmed that I wasn't a crazy, and that the fire was real. Then he got a fire extinguisher out of the truck and ran up to the house. By this time, the carport was going up, and I wasn't sure how much good he was going to do, but I found out later that he was trying to surround the fire so it wouldn't spread.

Next was a fire truck from another station, and then my husb rolled up in his truck. He yelled at me to Go Home! (With a smile), and I yelled back "I can't! I have her pets in the car!"  He paused. "With my daughter?!"  "They're very nice animals!"

He checked on the homeowner while she watched the FD put out the fire, and then went to verify that I had not in fact left our child to be eaten alive by strange pets. (And to play peekaboo with the buglet.)

The homeowner's mother showed up shortly after, and we tried to transfer the animals to her car. The dog went easily, but the cat dug ALL four feet into the seat, and had to be forcibly dragged out of the car. No yowling, no biting, just a narrow-eyed determination to keep all fifteen pounds of cat planted precisely where it was.

The mom and the homeowner both thanked me, and I went home feeling proud of myself for not screwing up my role as a good neighbor.

Now I told you that story to tell you this one.  I posted about it on Facebook, feeling that I had had an interesting morning. I got a deluge of "WOW YOU'RE A HERO!" I got really upset. Because what I did was not heroic. It was what you SHOULD do as a decent human being. It is what I would hope any random person would do.  It is a major part of my belief system that deep down, people will do the right thing when pushed.

I complained to my husband, and he confirmed that in fact, it is NOT the common action of people calling 911 to either stick around, or bang on the door, or even to call and give the dispatcher full information.

It shouldn't be that way, I argued.  It is, he replied. But it shouldn't be.

I don't care what he says. I'm going to keep my faith in humanity's better half.  And I did get a reasonably good idea for a short story from the whole thing, so hey. Win, win.