Monday, October 23, 2017
23. I interrupt this series to practice what I preach.
I am sitting at a terminal in my beloved second home, the public library. It’s seven p.m. on a Monday night. I’ve worked all day, done the grocery shopping, and now it’s time to write.
Life hasn’t stopped being stressful, but I’d adjusted to the ever-present stresses and things were moving along swimmingly. And then the past couple months got bumpy. The bumps didn’t feel like speed bumps. They were the kind that seemed to cause my stress and anxiety to accelerate.
Then on Saturday, with six blog posts planned out, but not yet written, my four-year-old laptop’s charging port stopped working. I knew it was losing juice on Friday morning when the screen displayed: "The battery level is very low. Plug in the computer." The problem was the laptop WAS PLUGGED IN.
I ran downstairs. I grabbed my flash drive and ran back up the stairs. I went into the office where I store my external hard drive and went to town backing up files and photos I should have been backing up all along.
“Mom, have you saved Astrid?” Cadence’s first thought was of my book. And her question reminded me that while I did have it backed up, I hadn’t backed it up since working on it two weekends ago. With a calm determination, I breathed deeply and kept copying files. Gratefully, the laptop still had power after I’d completed the back up.
I’m annoyed that I’ve got to buy a new computer. I’m annoyed that I didn’t have all 31 posts written ahead. I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of having to make trips to the library to do my writing.
But actually more than anything, I’m grateful. I'm grateful that I had time to save all my stuff. Not having a computer at the ready means I have to be creative with my time management. And this: I’ve learned how to schedule my posts for the next few days. This was a feature I hadn’t employed before, but necessity demanded I figure it out, and put it to use, which may potentially ease the need to go to the library every day for the rest of the month.
The biggest thing I am grateful for? The test of whether I can take it easy with myself and my expectations when life doesn’t go as planned. Do I mean it when I write about being gentle with myself? Do my actions match my words?
This computer mess is giving me the opportunity to prove to myself that I really do. As a 31Days participant, I am part of a network of writers who cheer each other on for the month as we write and publish our posts and read each other’s words. I have often observed how hard on themselves these women are when they find themselves a day off their schedule, or they come down with a cold, or life simply gets in the way of the writing. For the past two years, I’ve cheered them on. I’ve reminded them that there are no real rules to this challenge. Writing and publishing for 31 days is a guideline. The world won’t come to an end if a day gets skipped or they have to finish the series after October 31.
Having my computer malfunction before the series ended presents an opportunity to tell myself the things above that I’ve shared with other writers. Am I listening? Do I believe my own words? Am I giving myself a break?
The answer is yes. A resounding yes. As I have said in the past, it will not matter in a week or a year on what day the series is completed. What’s most important is that a body of work will exist after a strenuous period of contemplation, writing, and publishing. That is where I am concentrating my focus, and I believe it wholeheartedly. I know these circumstances would have knocked me sideways two years ago. I appreciate the self-care I am offering myself in real time. I call that progress.