My word for the year is BALANCE. It seemed to be easier to balance work, family, and everything else when I was working. Perhaps that was because I had a 7-4:00 job, which pretty much organized a good portion of the day. Now, I have free reign (more or less) and need to parcel out the day according to what needs to be done, or what I want to do. The down side to that–there is a lot of leeway for avoidance tactics and for focusing in on what I love to do (work in my studio) and the remaining business of life. Over the years, between chronic illness and trying to get back to the things I love (quilting is at the top of the list), the more unpleasant and overwhelming tasks have been somewhat neglected from time to time.
Enter The.Monster.List. This concept, writing down every stinking thing you want or need to do, was totally overwhelming to me. I put it off for about three years and then was recently reminded of it again by Jackie Wolven (#DoGoodWork).
(Hire Her.) I met Jackie when she gave a series of workshops on branding, social media, and marketing that was geared specifically for writers. I used to be a creative writer, but now basically just write this blog (often about quilting projects) and took the workshops mostly so I could help my daughter who is self-employed as a dance instructor and performer but also writes in an epic way. She is multi-talented; she also has permanent brain injuries, with some cognitive issues, so I often take notes. Right now, she is working on a new venture, on-line instruction in creative movement. (I’ll let you know when she launches–then you can Hire Her, too.)
After making my Monster List, I still felt overwhelmed. (I know about Trello and other electronic aids, but I prefer notebook paper/Uniball.) Then I started checking off tasks and giving myself silly, smiley-faced stickers. I started out slow, doing things in my studio that would not take much time or effort but that needed to be done. Then one day, I brought in my long white table, plopped it in the front room, and thought about The Photo Project. Then after ignoring that for a week or three, I pulled out one of the boxes full of photos. It only took me a few days to go through this box because it only held three years of Christmas card photos, graduation/wedding announcements, etc. There was also the rest of my loon collection I had been looking for and greeting cards which I was going to donate and never did. After placing everything in my latest album, I pulled out the other box and dispatched most of the contents of that. My problem now is, I do not have room for another album so I’m going to combine the two oldest into the new square archival kind (versus the magic page kind) only so I can get more on each page. Most of my photos now are digital, but that is another overwhelm which will be dealt with later this year. In the meantime, I sent most of my picture frames to Goodwill–just don’t have shelf or wall space–and will make a large collage with some of the family photos. Here are photos I rescued from a fabric book of a fishing trip with my in-laws. Fourteen, count ’em, walleyes that day at Lake X, somewhere in Northern Minnesota.
Balance. I tend to get obsessed with my projects and let everything else around here go until it screams at me–ankle-biting dust bunnies and near bio-hazardous bathrooms, for instance. The cupboards and drawers have been screaming at me for months. Sometimes a small event will precipitate action. I wanted to make Red Lobster-ish biscuits but my Bisquick had live weevils. It took me several days to clean my pantry. A huge box of brownie mix, use by 2007–really?–gone. Old flour–gone. Rubbery shelf paper–gone. Other expired foodstuffs–gone. Now my pantry would rival that of Julia Roberts’ character in Sleeping With the Enemy. Cue Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique…
If you are bored, cue to joke about the lesser of two weevils (Master and Commander).
Sometimes The Monster List is too vague. Clean kitchen cupboards and cabinets, for instance. List them out and tackle one at a time. Tackle a task, do something fun–that will be the balance I try to achieve this year.
NYE at our house is boring. Dinner, Netflix, probably in bed by 10:00 as usual. I’ll go to sleep picturing the ball drop. May 2019 bring you health, healing, and, yes, Balance. And, hey–be careful out there (Hill Street Blues). Till next time (and next time will be shorter).