Back On Track

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I had a hard time choosing a photo to accompany this rambling post, about half composed in my mind.

Once I decided on the photo, I had to change the title.

I had been wavering between “Memories” and “Reminiscences” and had finally settled on the somewhat sappy “Down Memory Lane”. This one’s more suitable.

It is things like that that keep my anxiety level high, and my life in chaos.

I’ll have a simple task to do, but rather than just do it, I’ll decide I need to have the perfect tool to accomplish it, or the magazine article describing it, or my notes about how I plan to do it, so time is wasted in the search. In searching, distractions inevitably come up, and I’ll find myself going off on a completely different tangent, and in search of whatever I need for that job. It is multi-tasking to the farthest and most impossible extreme. It is the embodiment of the crazy-making “monkey mind”. It is a curse, and I’m working on it.

This year, I’m employing the Pomodoro Technique. It involves setting a timer for twenty-five minutes (they say twenty-five minutes segments are key to the success) and forcing myself to stay on task – whatever that task may be – for that length of time.

I’m also using a nameless technique that I invented myself to try to make the best of an out-of-control mind. It’s working title should be something like “if not A, then B”. It works like this. Magazines belong in the magazine rack, or in the recycle bin. If I’m in the middle of browsing through a magazine, I don’t want to put it in the rack, where it will be lost or forgotten. If not in the magazine rack, then on the corner of the side table. Multi-tasking through meals is not a good thing, for many reasons. Living alone, it’s an easy habit to fall into. If I can’t simply concentrate on eating, then at least limit distractions to inspirational reading (instead of surfing the internet, reading the news or watching old Bruce Willis films while trying to digest). I think it helps, a bit. It’s a work in progress…as I am.

Yesterday, I blew off most everything I was planning to accomplish. Today, I’m trying to get back on track.

In this new year, I’ve been starting my mornings with a simple yoga routine. It’s designed to take about a half-hour, and I generally do it first thing, while the coffee is brewing. Having missed yesterday entirely, I worked into it more slowly today.

With coffee in hand, I first checked the internet.

That’s another issue, here at home. First there is the writing and publishing of posts on a regular basis. I’ve been pretty steady about it, for a little over a year, and I’m proud of that. But then there is the distraction of thinking someone may have read, and liked what I wrote, and I am not right there to see it. Maybe someone even commented, and I’m not there to answer!

When I first got a computer, and got set up to receive Email, I was enthralled. I sent my daughter into gales of laughter one day by mentioning that she should Email me, because “sometimes I just turn the computer on and sit and wait to get a letter.”

It’s kind of the same thing with this little blog. I’m working on getting it under control.

But, this morning, with coffee, I checked the internet. I noted how many readers had checked in. I responded to a few comments. I read a few posts by others. Judith Baxter, who writes a lovely blog at growingyoungereveryday.wordpress.com had written about nostalgia. She grew up in London, during and after World War II, and was remembering butcher shops and cheese mongers and milk delivery.

By the time I started my yoga routine, I was in a reminiscing mood.

I try to concentrate on my breathing, the stretches, my balance…but my mind wanders. Employing my “if not A, then B” technique, I try at least to use my wandering mind for the greater good. I try to focus my distractions into something helpful, like easing kinks out of joints and muscles, or on affirmations and intentions for my day.

This morning, memories were filling my head.

The “Stork” is a simple standing and balancing stretch.

“Stand balanced on one foot. Fold other leg behind and hold foot…”

That was where I was, one foot in hand, when an old memory came out of the vapors, and made me laugh out loud.

As little children, we had all kinds of games and activities to pass the time and entertain ourselves. Some were classic children’s games; some were of our own invention.

We loved to race. There were plenty of us to compete, and my brother, Ted, was great at the “On your mark…Get set…GO!!”

We had foot races, both walking and running. We had hopping on one foot races. We had wheelbarrow races. Remember those? One child walks on her hands while another child holds that one’s feet in the air and walks behind. We’d do them running. In the yard! We’d do them as entertainment and for prizes at birthday parties!

When I think of how difficult one single push up is today, I can hardly imagine that I was once able to run from one end of the yard and back on my hands!

The other races we did, and the memory that set me off giggling this morning, were “Knee Races”.

Alternately, we called them (horror of politically incorrect horrors! Forgive me, it was the ’50’s) “Crippled Races”.

We’d line up on one end of the living room. Necessarily so, as it was the only room with a rug for cushion. We stood on our knees holding our feet behind us, in our hands. When Ted gave the shout to “GO”, we ran  upright – on our knees – as fast as we could to the other side of the room.

Can you imagine what a sight that was?! We must have kept our parents in stitches!

Odd, I can remember my mother chastising us for sitting “on our knees” at the dinner table. We were all small, and folded our legs underneath ourselves for added height. She’d warn us it would cause us to have bad joints and achy knees later in life. In fact, I do have achy joints. My sister Brenda’s knees audibly crackle whenever she uses them, even just going up and down stairs. I don’t remember ever being warned against the Knee Races. Maybe it was just too funny to give up!

Now, to pull this wandering story together, it’s early afternoon. I have finished my yoga, walked the dogs and wrote this story. Still, I have yet to accomplish many of the things I put off yesterday.  I’m ready to set the timer (for twenty-five minutes), and give it hell. I’ll check in later. Right now, time to get back on track!

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12 responses »

    • It’s the biggest obstacle in my life, and something I constantly struggle with…except for the days that I just say “what the hell…” and succumb to it! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

    • Oh, Sweetheart…thank you! It seems that whenever I write something that seems absolutely over the top, that screams to me of self-indulgent navel-gazing, that I fear will cause readers to cringe and turn away…I instead find out, happily, that we’re all just human, all struggling with similar issues. Thanks, Kate!

  1. I LOVE this post…everything about it is dead-on honest which makes it beautiful and worthwhile to read.
    Interesting that you mentioned the Pomodoro technique. In the very early days of my drug addiction recovery I had a counselor who suggested I use it to get my obsessive anxiety under control, which typically kicked in the second I woke up. At that time I fretted over everything and it was paralyzing and very unhelpful to moving forward. She suggested allowing 20mins of pure crazy worry and then STOP. I could schedule 2 additional worry sessions each day but that was all.
    Damn if that method didnt WORK!!!! I highly recommend the technique for anyone in need of getting their minds under control. People say “how do you turn off your mind when the timer goes off?” You just do! You tell yourself “I can think about X later but now I must stop.”
    SO glad you mentioned this!! I don’t use it often now but when I do it STILL works!
    Excellent post!!

    • THANK YOU!! I have to say, though there is a level of fear involved, it feels more rewarding when I’m “real”, not just essay-writing. The fear comes from thinking readers will say, “Well, she’s obviously wack-o” and step away. What most often happens instead is that we connect as the flawed, struggling humans that we all are. And I am always so grateful for that! Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

  2. This reminds me of a friend I had in Chicago. I’d go over to help her with a goal in mind, unfortunately, reaching what should have been the simplest goal would almost always require more than one trip to Chicago to accomplish.
    I remember one time I went over to help her build a closet in a loft she had just moved into.
    We reached a point where a trip to the hardware was necessesary. She said, “Bob we have to get going because the hardware is only open until 5:30 today.” (As if I was one who needed know that. still on EST, I was already an hour ahead of her.) I said, “okay lets go.” She said “oh, I think I have one of those, (whatever we needed), in my drawer that we can match it to”. Having been there before, I rolled my eyes in a direction she couldn’t observe, as she was also very tempermental, with emphasis on the temper part. She went to the drawer to find the “whatever”, in the process found a part to something she needed in an earlier project, which ensued a search for said project, which was of course in a box that was in a closet that had to be rearranged, which led to a search for enough hangers to hang the clothes that covered the box that contained the project that needed the part she found while looking for the “whatever”; and so it went until at least an hour after- ” Bob we have to get going…..” At that point she found me reading a magazine to which she exclaimed, “get your coat on Bob I told you we have to get to the hardware before 5:30!” By this time it was 5:15 and she had yet to find her keys.
    Fortunately she ended up moving to little town Mexico where time has little meaning.
    By the way she was also an artist. I often wondered- is it just part of the creative process that brings all beauty to our world.
    Sorry Cindy didn’t mean to hog your blog.

    • Well, I can recount projects that went precisely this way! In my case, I don’t know if it’s a left brain/right brain thing, an A.D.D. thing, or just the result of an undisciplined mind. The people that developed the Pomodoro Technique believe that you can train yourself. Life could sure be simpler for me, with less distractions, that’s for sure! Thanks for reading, and for your comments, Bob! Your thoughts are always welcome!

      • I have to admit when I am doing a personal project I do the same thing.
        With me it is just procrastination. I always thought it was due to the lack of confidence I developed as a child. I was the first born and a young father, often impatient, would step in when I was trying to do something and do it for me. Unfortunately that prevented me from learning and accomplishing the things to build that trait. It also taught me that if I just waited long enough dad would step in and do it for me, shielding any failure on my part. It wasn’t until moving away forced to do things on my own that I found I could do things myself- that it sometimes took failing to learn how to do them. I have accomplished and done many things in life that I never thought I could and though I normally up doing a decent job in the end there is still that foot dragging-
        waiting for daddy to step in.

  3. OMG ~ crippled races!! I love that and can totally relate. Those were the days when there was no political correctness and none of us intended to be offensive. I can also relate to the whole lack of discipline thing. However, I made a resolution to become more disciplined in 2013 and I’ve actually been sticking to it pretty well. Setting small goals is a good solution to feeling like you’ve accomplished something.

    It’s totally like a creative person to let your mind wander, I think. Instead of feeling badly for not accomplishing something just chalk it up to being a brilliantly creative person. And then tell us all about it in a blog post so we can enjoy that creativity with you!

    • I’ve been admiring your steadfastness this year! You are having some really productive days – and now weeks! I’m very impressed!
      Thanks for giving me such a nice excuse (reason) for my wandering mind! I’ll put that high on the shelf (with my “procrastinators are actually perfectionists” excuse) to pull out whenever I’m feeling low!
      Thanks for reading, Sara, and for your kind comments!

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