This morning, I woke up full of promise. I was going to finish writing the chapter summaries for my memoir, begin an SEO keyword analysis for my new client, and review writing posts from my book proposal classmates. I also planned to write a blog post. Each of these tasks is a necessity.
Here’s what I actually accomplished today: I ordered holiday cards for my family and my business, wrote half of the chapter summaries, reached out to contacts for my client, and am now writing that blog post. The blog post is about five hours late. And, I only have about an hour left to get “work” done before I go pick up my son.
What does this tell me? I need to prioritize better. I feel like a broken record here. Prioritize, plan, schedule, blah blah! But, how else am I going to reach my goals?
I’m going to consider more facts before planning my days from now on. My first deliverable to my client isn’t due until “before Christmas.” My book proposal class is over on Wednesday. I’ve got to plan for random administrative tasks like holiday cards that eat their way into my time. So, the days need to be planned with looming deadlines in mind, not just what “should” be done.
Make sense? Of course. Simple? Not really.
I've had this blog for a little over three years. At first I was Gung-Ho Blog! It was my space to release tension about my marriage, my friends, my job, and my world. I posted pictures of concerts, poetry about domesticity, and personal fears about lumps and careers. Strangers became friends and gave welcome feedback on my work. An old friend from college got in touch and we starting swapping poetry again. It was fabulous. And, because my privacy settings were stringent, I felt invincible.
Then, I posted an entry about how daunting online marketing – my chosen profession – was. It's an ever-changing, shoot-me-in-the-face, gotta-get-to-another-conference-or-I'll-fall-behind kind of business. Three years ago I was overwhelmed in only the way a 20-something year old can be. Now, I'm all grown up at 31 (hear the sarcasm); and I'm used to it now.
Back in 2007 when I'd just risen to the rank of online marketing manager, I published a few innocent posts about the online marketing beast. One mentioned that I had to get "occupational glasses" because I stared at the computer screen too much. A week or so later, the nice HR director of my company said that she'd heard about my glasses and wanted to compare frames.
Er? My glasses weren't even ready from the ophthalmologist yet. I hadn't worn them nor told anyone in the office about them. …Or maybe I had. I couldn't remember. But, even though I wasn't in any trouble whatsoever, I felt exposed. So, I started censoring myself.
I don't know about you; but when I censor myself, I might as well put down the pen. My writing becomes useless. This blog dwindled down to nothing. Then I got super busy with my career. And I had a baby. And I got super busy with my career and my baby. Blah blah. It was the same story as every working mom.
Except now I really miss writing. And, I find that I don't really care as much if people know that I am wearing my occupational glasses right now as I type. In fact, I've gotten to a point where I don't give a hootenanny what anyone thinks about me. (By the way, "hootenanny" just passed spell check. Yes, I am turning into Ned Flanders!)
I'm in the middle of writing a memoir about my triumph over mental illness. In order to make my dream of publishing books come true, I'll have to admit to everyone that I spent five days in a mental institution. There's nothing in this blog that I can write that will raise more eyebrows than that. So, censorship has been thrown out the window. And, for the fifth or sixth time, I'm back.
Welcome to Divinest Sense, musings of a Mad Memoirist. (The name for the blog and my most recent handle are taken directly from my favorite poem. Check it out below, "#11" by Emily Dickinson.)
When I was 22 years old, I downed a bottle of Prozac and landed in the mental ward of PG County Hospital. I only spent five days there; but the experience changed the course of my life. A friend of a friend is currently going through some similar issues. She feels completely alone and can't talk to anyone about it. For B and other women like her, I'm writing some thoughts down…
I know that there are chemically imbalanced people out there… But, sometimes, for some people, sanity is a choice. I met some of those people in the mental ward. Actually, everybody that I met there had a choice.
You can choose to be sane or you can just let go. Choosing sanity means different things for different people. The nurses and doctors of the mental health profession would prefer their patients to regularly attend psychiatric therapy, take mood altering prescription drugs, and blend into society. That’s definitely a valid strategy for a lot of people. But, really, choosing sanity is about owning up to who you are and about not driving yourself crazy trying to be the person you or someone else thought you should be. Choosing sanity means figuring out what you need to stay grounded – whether that’s yoga, therapy, love, writing, or clown shoes – and being faithful to your course no matter what. Choosing sanity means making a commitment to discovering where the wrinkles will crease your face, a commitment to survival.
Letting go is the opposite. And, the funny thing is, letting go is not necessarily a choice. It’s a lack of action. It’s simply not choosing to be sane. It’s letting the days go by and letting the depression or anxiety or alcoholism or drug addiction worsen simply because you’re too set in your rut to do anything about it. Letting go leads to trips to the ER and to the mental ward. Almost nine years ago, I’d let go and I hadn’t known it.
My roommate on the crazy wing was 20 years older than me and had lost count of how many times she’d been in some hospital's mental ward. She was friendly and well-kempt. She even looked a little like me. It was a wakeup call. I didn't want that to be my life. And, so I chose to pull myself together. It wasn't an easy task. But, the first step towards being a sane person content with life is to choose sanity.
B, I hope you choose sanity soon. It'll be hard. But, it's worth it.