2020-02-22 It’s a Great Day to Waste Some Time

A few nights ago I went to a program downtown which had a central focus on the topic of Wasting Time. You might be surprised to learn that it was “In Praise of Wasting Time” which is the title of the book by Professor and Author, Alan Lightman. He was the key speaker in the discussion and shared the stage with a facilitator and a panel of four other people. It was a great program to attend and though I agree whole heartedly with most of what was said (which might even be considered obvious), I still struggle with it (the concept of wasting time) on a daily basis.

Since then, I have been wanting to write my thoughts down on the discussion and the topic itself, but sadly and quite ironically, I have either not had the time or been too distracted by my other goings-on. That’s what is at the heart of the matter.

Dr. Lightman explained that in society today, we basically schedule activities for almost 100 percent of our day. From the minute we wake up till the minute we go to bed we have blocked in something to do down to the 10 to 14 minute interval. I think about this in regards to my own life and I know that it’s true.

I don’t intend to bore anyone with that schedule, but it seems that even as my work hours decreased, the trade off was more chores and responsibilities that replaced those 8-10 work hours. I think the exception to this was right after I quit my job and was immediately hit with a huge block of time where I could truly do anything I wanted and didn’t feel bad about spending a few hours just sitting about or going for a walk or a bike ride.

Now that I have completely made the transition to my new life, I still have that big block of time to work with, but somehow the mentality has shifted. If I’m not cleaning or cooking or running errands for the fam, I fee unproductive. I feel as though I am not doing enough with my day. To make matters worse, when Jim comes home from a long day at the office, I immediately feel guilty because of all the work he has done and feel like my contribution isn’t enough.

How then do I shift that mentality back and give myself permission to “waste time”? Which for me, is more about how I feel about it when it does happen. Because, to be fair, I can be pretty good at wasting time. I just feel like shit afterwards.

In addition to that, I’ve been wondering what the definition of “wasting time” is. I think for me that is key. During the program Dr. Lightman defined it as anything that you do which is not attached to a goal. That is still too broad for me because it only opens other questions. What is considered a goal? Some things are obvious and some are not.

One example could be if you set aside 30 minutes to read a book for pleasure. Is that goal oriented? You are structuring time and accomplishing something. You are getting value out of it. So is that wasting time? Perhaps in the eyes of some yes and some no. So it’s subjective.

Once a week I allow myself to plop down on the couch and watch 50-120 minutes of a TV show (the Bachelor). It’s mindless and I really don’t get anything out of it except entertainment. Is THAT wasting time?

If the definition were more refined to include a statement like, “time where you mind is not actively engaged/distracted in a specific task and can wander to anywhere”, then that is completely different. Now you eliminate TV and Movies and Books and even meetups with friends, which I would contend are never a waste of time.

Anyway, yesterday (the date I started this blog post), it was beautiful outside—Sunny and 55 degrees—and I could not justify walking on the treadmill and writing. I had to get outside and walk. When I got to my destination and got out of my car, I did have a brief thought that I would type on my phone while I walked as I do often on the treadmill at home, but it just felt wrong.

People were walking their dogs and kids and conversing. The scenery was lovely and it would have been a shame to have my head down on the phone. So I just walked. Of course I also did that thing I do and stop like every 10 seconds to take a picture. Or think I’ve got some cool, creative shot of the sun descending on the horizon— light filtering through the trees, and walk a ways off the path into the mushy grass to get just the perfect angle. Needless to say, I did not end up walking very far and the whole time I was wondering, “Is THIS a waste of time?”

Perhaps. I did have some interesting thoughts and spots of inspiration throughout the day, most of which went nowhere. I suppose that is OK. I think that’s kind of the point?? I dunno. I should probably read that book.

That’s it for today folks. As I said, I started writing this yesterday and so now it’s Sunday which is also, in fact, another great day to waste some time.

Time to get out there and do nothing! 😜

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-08-21 Tick-Tock

I’m checking the calendar again.

How long has it been since my last cortisone shot? How many days until my next period? How many months until my wedding? How many days until my next assignment is due? And at the moment, the biggest elephant in the room.. how many days until next Monday, when I will be another year older.

Time is fatal.

Ohhhh so much drama. It’s like the perfect storm right now, due to the ticking of the clock against all the aforementioned events. I’m so damn grumpy and while I’m left-brained enough to know that it makes sense and is completely within my control, my right brain is stomping its feet in tantrum. It wants to be upset which makes me wonder if it’s just for the sake of something else. Oh, hell, the human brain is so flawed.

You want to know how you know it’s so screwy? Ten minutes before I came down to the treadmill to walk and write, I had some caffeine. Now as i feel it kick in, I’m suddenly feeling better. My mood is improving and it’s not just the venting words that’s doing it. It’s the chemicals mixing in my system affecting my brain. How can one tiny little variable, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or a steroid shot or a hormone like testosterone make that much of a difference. But they do, the science (of which I know nothing about) is there. It’s real. And it’s all connected.

I’ve historically been concerned about my health, getting enough sleep, eating right, getting exercise and making better choices about what chemicals I put in my system. I had to learn some lessons the hard way, but I’m better now. And now I’m in maintenance mode trying to figure out a good balance, practicing moderation. I’m doing ok, but struggles persist. That’s life.

I’ve moved beyond the diet and exercise and sleep puzzle for the most part (maybe not sleep) and am now facing age and the ticking of that clock and mental challenges I’ve not had before. The fatigue and brain fog are real. The pain in my arm is real. The lack of desire is real.

Yesterday I complained that I didn’t want to just get a shot or take a pill or have hormone pellets inserted into my rear again, but today I’m all like “maybe” if it will help, then why not. And now that I’m caffeinated, I’m sort of convinced that I should make those calls today. Wondering if I can get in yet this week so my tennis elbow will be better by Monday. Perhaps.

See how my tune has changed in just 30 minutes??!!

Anyway, now that I’m feeling better, it’s time to get this Wednesday party started. Time will always be fatal, but that doesn’t mean we should waste it.

Cheery-oh, let’s go!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-04-30 Farewell April, See You In My Dreams

Another month is coming to a close today and it’s already transforming into a phantom in the rear view. Another opportunity to begin again and another hourglass glued to the table. And what did I make of it? Did I make the most of what I was offered?

As I sat in the dry sauna at my gym this morning I could not help but think about the time, not so long ago, when Josh and I would have regular “sessions” at the gym, walking on the treadmills and around the pool and talking in the sauna. Now my life is completely different and I wonder if that was real or just a daydream from some parallel universe. It doesn’t feel like a thing that actually happened. And what about Barcelona? That was only like 3 weeks ago yet it’s quickly fading. Perhaps there is something wrong with my brain.

Something awry in my synaptic pathways and arches that is unable to retain connections. Just like the tendons in my elbow, they are just frayed twine that sometimes cause pain when I bend and flex. Yeah, if I use certain muscles I’m quickly reminded that it’s not a good idea. Does that mean I should just quit trying? With both issues, the answer is “I don’t know”.

I wrote a poem about it once.. the daydreams and memory loss, not the Tennis Elbow. It’s like some defense mechanism that was engaged and perfected early in my life to blur some terrible experiences and now it’s broken and out of control. My brain can’t distinguish the good from the bad and so everything goes fuzzy after a while. It all turns into a daydream. Is that just me I wonder?

One of the mentors in my MFA program, JP, says as writers we typically return to a small number of topics or central themes again and again. The things we choose to write about ARE us. We cycle through those things because it’s is what we know and also what we are trying to sort through. We are encouraged to engage with those things, to use them as an energy source that help us fuel the light we are shining on truth with our words,

It’s a safe group to interact with and that allows those topics to surface and be known. I’ve heard stories from people that I know were born out of the trauma in their lives and there have been some pretty deep and gut-wrenching events I’ve now been witness to. With that, my insecurities start to fester and grow. What have I to offer? What truth can I possibly contribute that might be worthy of reading? Daydreams? Really?!

Still, I write because it is who I am. There are words inside of me begging to be set free regardless of their origins. Perhaps at some point my light will shine bright enough to cut through the haze of ny daydreams and reveal something more.

For today I’m content to just look back at 29 days of April and feel grateful for how full and wonderful my life is. And then look forward to the month of May and all the great things that we have planned. All I can really do with that hourglass is make the most of every moment.

Next Stop.. May Day,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-08-11 Contemplating Full Time

Guess what? My boss called me yesterday afternoon and “tried” to plant a little seed about me working full time. They want me on permanent payroll putting in 40 (probably plus) hours a week. I say he “tried” because I listened intently and didn’t bite. I’m not sure if he expected me to ask more questions and be excited or was truly just putting it out there to think about.

I only really asked one question… what would be the benefits of doing that? In my head I’m already getting all they have to offer. Ive got the health plan. I had to boost my hours to 30 a week to qualify for that. I was invited to the company retreat which was only supposed to be for full time employees. They don’t have 401k. I’m pretty sure they do not have a solid structure for PTO. I asked my co-worker what he got when he negotiated full time, salaries status and he said “uh, unlimited”. What? Really?

I know my ex who was a dev at Linked-In had unlimited vacation as long as the privilege wasn’t abused, but that was a big company that did things like rent out a stadium for their company Christmas party in the Valley. This place is like 20 employees and consultants/contractors. My whole outlook on vacation time is that if they only give 3 weeks paid (and I need more than that obvi), then the salary has to go up to cover potential unpaid vacation. I’ve always been able to manage on 4 or 5 weeks (that includes sick days), but that’s cuz my salary was the bomb and I live well within my means as far as the rest of my bills are concerned.

With being paid hourly, as I am now, I manage my own time. I don’t work – I don’t get paid. I work extra – I get a bonus. Because of school, I have weeks I can only out in 25 hours and those I don’t where I can balance out to 35. Thinking about 40? Nope, no thanks. Been there, done that. I’d like to say never again but using absolutes is foolish.

He offered the security of having a solid gig versus being on contract. A little birdie in my brain tells me I do not need to worry about that. I was appropriately enthusiastic about the conversation and told him I’d think about it and see how things go as school really ramps up (any minute now on that). Probably if I was done with school, I would consider it. But on the other hand, if I was done with school maybe I’d be looking for a new gig which is more in-line with my life passions. Interesting things to think about anyway.

It’s Saturday and my darling daughter is getting her hairs did for the start of school this week and I’m hanging out at the gym. I asked the lady at the salon how long it was going to take and she said 2+ hours. Yup, she’ll be sitting in a chair for 2 hours “bored AF”. She already texted me once complaining she was hungry, but she’s the one who refused to get out of bed until 2 minutes before we had to be out the door. I offered to bring her a pop tart but she said no and I’m pretty sure she thinks that would be embarrassing. I know.. I know “cool story bro”.

I may cut this set short anyway as I’ve got lots of tomato’s to process. I’m making a big batch of pico for a party tonight which was a hit last time. I also need to do some creative reading and writing. It sometimes takes me a while to get into the zone and today I actually have that time. Hey.. I don’t say that very often! I need to use it wisely.

If I worked full time, I’d have more money, but less time. I think that makes my course of action crystal clear.

It’s Always About Time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-08-06 No Time to Waste

It’s Monday again and I’ve got lots of awesome in queue this week. It looks to be busy with a full assortment of work, school, appointments for the kids and kitten, and meet-ups.

The work week is front loaded with tasks that are time sensitive and I’m hoping to get most of my hours in before Wednesday or Thursday which will leave the back half of the week open to make serious progress on my first school packet. We’ll see how that works out.

Today Z has a dentist appointment with our Family dentist who I’ve been going to see for like 25 years. They are not in our new PPO health plan and I took her to a new dentist about a month ago. That dentist basically told us she had like 12 cavities that needed to be filled. I find it incredibly hard to believe that in just 12-18 months time her teeth would have taken such a turn. They were in good shape just that short time ago. We’re getting this second opinion cold today. Call me paranoid, but I think that’s the best way to validate the first dentist’s findings. True she has taken to drinking more soda lately, but could that cause such decline so quick. We’ll see.

I’m also transitioning back home today from spending another great weekend with my sweetie. That means packing up all my stuff including my kitten and driving back home where I haven’t been for three days. I’ve gotten really efficient at the process. The only complication that remains is the fact that Kayla can sense something is up when I start loading the car and she goes into run-away-and-hide mode. She’s fine once I get her harness on, but catching her has become a challenge. 🐱💗

Anyway, that all translates to a late start of my day’s activities. It’s 10 am and I’m still on the treadmill at the gym. I tried to do elliptical for the first time since last Thursday and my body wasn’t having it. I’m still sore from a minor medical procedure I had last week. Damn.. that’s another thing I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t yet because I was too busy enjoying my amazing weekend doing nothing special with my special someone.

For real though. We go on errands, watch shows, hang out around the house talking, do chores together, visit family and friends, workout, and it just feels like normal life. He understands I have to put hours in for work and school and is super supportive. I work and he gets stuff done around the house. It feels very much like this is what life should be like. Every instinct I have is telling me this is it. This really is it. And for the love of the Universe and every sub-atomic particle in it, it’s about time!

And time is key. In my life I’ve wasted a lot of time and now I’m saying “no more”. If I only get one shot at this.. I’m gonna make the most of it. Right now that means it’s time to get off this treadmill and kick this Monday’s ass.

Let’s Jam,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-01 Holy Shit, It’s July

It should come as no surprise since 1.) Yesterday was June 30th and 2.) It’s felt like July for weeks now. I haven’t done any biking or tennis this year at all cuz it’s either too hot and humid or it’s pouring down rain. Is this Nebraska or some jungle deep in the heart of the Amazon?

Well even though it should have dawned on me before just now typing the date out, it still kind of snuck up on me. Like most days, weeks, months, I came out the gate strong and full of vigor and motivation and ended tired, unsatisfied with my progress, and forgiving myself for being human, but I AM human, so it’s ok. Like Jack White says in Little Cream Soda, “Oh well oh well”.

My brain is scattered this morning. Am I really going to continue to talk about the weather or am I going to put down a solid Sunday Status or and I going to recount my experiences yesterday with the writing workshop or perhaps the family pool party that the kids and I attended last night? Too too much!

How about I focus on one magic moment.. from the pool party…

There I was, tentatively taking a quick dip in the pool, one eye on the other party goers/summers and the other watching the low dark clouds above defying nature and moving in several different directions at once. We all were. I’ve never been swimming in a storm before. We had checked the radar and the current cell was well south and east of our location and moving north east. It was sure to miss us so we decided to get in. There were rumbles in the distance and knowing how foolish it is to tempt fate, we were ready to book it inside the house at the first real sign of trouble (lightening).

Then the rain began to come down. Everyone sitting in chairs headed for the house but the rest of us were already wet. Instead of booking it to the house, a few folks said “hot tub time!”. Well ok. So the kids and I and Jim and several of his relatives got out of the pool and into the hot tub and there we sat, under the protection of a massive pine tree.

The sensation of being in the hot water and looking out at the rain just pouring down all around us was incredible. The best part was sharing that moment with my favorite peeps. I looked over at Z and C and could tell they were having fun. It was a brief moment in time, but priceless. Those moments are few and far between and I need to take all I can get.

Soon after we got in the hot tub there were a few bright flashes in the Sky and that was it, time to give up the moment and head for the safety of the house. We grabbed the towels out from under an umbrella and made a beeline for the back door. The party continued inside and it was good. His family didn’t stay terribly late and after that the kids and Jim and I sat in the kitchen talking about random things. It was a great night.

Like I said, few and far between and before I know it, these last few teenage years with my children will be in the past. Just like July snuck up on me, so will Spring of 2020 and Summer of 2022 and then they will be off making their own way in the world. That means I have to try and make the most of each day and the time I’ve been given. It truly is a gift and I have to remind myself to not waste it worrying too much about what I did or did not get done, or how many steps I got, or whatever.

With that, I’m going to turn my attention away from yesterday or this past week or month and focus on what’s next… something else Incredible (Incredibles 2). 😉

Happy July Ya’ll, Make the Most Of it!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-19 The Time Puzzle

One of the hardest things to do, especially for someone like me who thrives on routine, is recognize when something is not working as it could or should and make a change. It’s even tougher when that “thing” is something that was previously optimized for maximum potential.

My routine. Goals. Meeting Expectation. And Time.. The timing of everything. The self-imposed expectation. For all of my cold, calculated precision I can’t seem to figure out the puzzle of time. I’m going to thoughtfully guess that it’s because the puzzle is a moving target. Something is always changing around me and therefore, there is no static solve that ever going to be the perfect fit. Or, even if it is, it won’t remain that way for too long.

Despite getting my taxes done, and signing up for residency, submitting my poems to the schools spring contest, and getting the trash out to the curb on time, I’m feeling behind. In the past week I’ve sacrificed some of my exercise regimen in order to make progress on a few things. I’ve sacrificed writing for other writing and one set of relationships for another. The short story is that there is just too much to do and not enough time. And now I’m awake at 3AM and feeling like I’m going to fail doing something, or that I’ll manage to do everything, but it will all be well below average. The rest of this week and the week to follow are already crushing me.

Tomorrow (today) is Thursday and I’m severely behind on work. My focus has been other things and now it’s time to buckle down and get something done. I haven’t even worked 6 hours so far this week and THAT isn’t going to pay my house payment. There’s a writing workshop in the evening but I already have plans with JS and doing either one of those things puts my parenting on the back burner. Tripple booked and I have to choose.

Friday I’m meeting with the IT director of a local hospital about a potential job opening. I probably would not even consider it except for a friend who works there and has been singing the praises of the organization for years. Frankly though, I can’t see myself working another 40 hour a week job while trying to do school too. What I am doing now is already testing my limits.

Friday I’m also planning to go visit Leah at Westwood. I used to go every week and and now I am down to every other week. I know I’ve recently written about how wonderful Jazzercise is, but I’m definitely back on the fence again about it because of the time and monthly expense. It’s tough to justify when my gym is 80 bucks a year and I can do classes there for free.

Saturday things get even worse. I’m potentially tripple booked again and have to somehow make 5 things fit into one morning/afternoon. That’s Jazzercise (again), donating at the Red Cross, the poetry workshop, meeting with Denise (who I cancelled on last Saturday due to illness), and also, yeah, spending time with my kids. I just can’t do it all. Jazzercise is the first to get cut, especially if I managed to go Friday.

If I donate between 9 and 10am, then I should be good to go by 11 downtown to the poetry workshop. That runs until 1:30. If I scoot from there to CB I can meet Denise at 2, but she’s got other plans at 3 so that probably won’t work. Since I am missing the first half of the Poetry session on Thursday evening so I can visit JS, I don’t really want to miss again Saturday. They only do these like 4 times a year.

If I don’t meet with Denise, I’ll reschedule on her AGAIN, which is probably not leaving the best impression. I also only see her about 4 times a year. I really wish something could be on Sunday. On Sunday everything starts over again for the week and to add insult to injury, I’m also now officially a week away from another big assignment for my MFA coming up due.

So, not only do I have to find 24 hours worth of work in the next three days, I also have to read like a hundred pages and write three critical essays. My brain hurts just thinking about trying to fit it all in. I’m going to have to be agile with my days and nights. I’m going to have to continue to mix things up and shift things around in order to fit it all in.

If there is one thing I now for certain though, it’s that sacrificing sleep is NOT the answer. Ironic that it doesn’t stop my brain from trying. It’s now almost 5AM and I have to see if I can get a few more hours. Try and forget it all and find some peace in dreams.

Until Tomorrow (later today),
Miss SugarCookie