A Plastic Bin.

Last night I packed a dream into a $13.99 plastic bin that I picked up at the Container Store. I know it was the right thing to do. It was the only thing I could do. Leaving little reminders of what might have been all around my house did nothing but sadden me. I probably should have packed things up months ago, but I’ve been holding on to that dream, thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would come alive again. Yesterday I had a most vivid realization that it won’t.

So today, this first day of July, I try again to look forward. The last 24 hours have been harder than I expected. Over the last nine months, I’ve had moments where I felt strong and moments where I felt completely broken. I’ve had days when I couldn’t imagine what would come next and days when I was determined to build a future that I would want. I’ve made a point of traveling and racing and scheduling more travel. I have focused a great deal on training, which has paid off and helped me feel stronger physically and mentally. Just this past Saturday, I felt so hopeful. Then a hard reality sank in, and I’m back to being raw. I think of those geometry toys that are interconnected collapsible links that you can build into shapes and then with one pull, you can collapse them again into a pile of sticks.  Some moments I’m a pretty shape and some moments I’m the pile of sticks.

As much as I’d like to crawl into that plastic bin and sleep the day away with all those little things that I still love, I can’t. I won’t. I will work. I will swim and run after work. And I will trust that life really is wise, even when I don’t understand it.

Wednesday List #10 – Five Ideas to "Finding" Time

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make the most of my time. I’ve been told again and again that I impress people with how much I am able to pack into my days. I do feel like I’m generally good about using my time well. I work. I train. I write. I’m in book clubs and breakfast clubs. As of last month, I host a writing group in my home. I keep up with people I love all across the country. I’m proud of all of these things, and I love doing them.

I’ve made some decisions recently to cut back on commitments, and I think that’s really helped me focus myself more. But there is always room for improvement. So how can I better use my time?

  1. No more new TV: I already watch General Hospital (do not judge me), Smash, Nashville, The Good Wife and The Voice. I record these shows and rarely get behind on them. I also often watch Glee and Ellen, but sometimes I’m watching them weeks after they happen, unlike my “A” list of shows that must be watched, more often than not, the very night I record them. I’d love to watch Downton Abby, especially given all the Facebook drama I see about it, but I simply can’t. I’d love to go back and watch Mad Men, Lost, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock or a host of other shows, but no. I am maxed out on television. Maybe I’ll catch these shows in recorded form seasons or years from now. But for now, no more new television for me.
  2. Spend More Time on Housecleaning: I find that I’m more productive at home if my space is well kept. If it’s cluttered, then I tend to want to sit on the bed and watch television. But if I can see my dining table, I can see the things I can be doing at that table – things like writing for me, writing for clients, keeping up with my financial records and bills, or writing letters or cards. Also, if my house is clean, I tend to want to spend time there, which often ends up more productive than time spent out.
  3. Read More: Reading inspires me to write. When I read something I love, it makes me want to write something someone else will love just as much. When I read something I don’t love, I think, “If this got published, I could be published too.” The best is when I read something written by a friend. Like this past weekend, I read Saving Gracie, which was written by a friend from my old church. I know Kristen. She is a real person with a real talent who found her way to a real publishing contract. The reality of all of that and the beauty of her work make me think that being published isn’t just some illusive dream. It is Kristen’s reality. It can be my reality too.
  4. Recommit to Toastmasters: I’ve been a member of Capital City Toastmasters since 2007. The club gives me an opportunity to develop my ability to speak to an audience. It also challenges me to write because, when I am active, I have to deliver prepared speeches. Lately though, I have not been a regular participant at Toastmasters. I have pulled away some out of insecurity and being a little down, but I’m ready to recommit. Toastmasters helps me be more productive and more creative, both of which are important to me. Somehow, I find hours within my week to get ready for my speeches because I want them to go well. I want people to enjoy them, and I want my presentations to be fun for me. I find all kinds of time when my pride is on the line!
  5. Go to Bed Earlier. I have been making a conscious effort to get to bed earlier. I like to wake up early to run with friends, take a spin class or swim. It’s hard to wake up at 4:40 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. if I don’t go to bed by 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 at the latest. When I sleep well and wake up on time, I get my workout in and the entire day is off to a good start. That starts up my productivity in a way that sleeping until 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m. never has.

I will continue to think on this subject as I continue to make the most of every moment. I have considered reducing my time on Facebook or setting windows of time where I will check and respond to emails or read blogs. I have also considered getting rid of my television altogether. I know I can continue to improve in this area.

How do you find time?