Sunday morning, my granddaughters and I were on the patio watching the birds and drawing. Their mama and papa were out on a run. Being a want-to-be artist, I had my set of 48-Prismacolor colored pencils out for us to use, and the girls were delighted that I was sharing.
At one point, Abi asked, “Are you a stay-at-home grandma now?”
“I work from home. Is that what you mean?” I asked.
She shook her head. My mind whirled with the possibilities of why she chose to ask this question.
Suddenly, the word “now” jumped out at me. What’s changed?
That’s when I realized I hadn’t spent my weekend grading assignments. I hadn’t said, “Not now, I have to finish grading all weekend.”
And, so I tested my theory.
“Do you mean that I haven’t been grading papers all weekend?”
Tough But Necessary Decision
For the first time in over a decade, I’ve decided to take a break from teaching. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I enjoy teaching and the interactions with my students. I’m a good teacher, and my students and the chairs of the departments acknowledge my value.
However, A Writable Life is growing, my clients’ books are nearing completion, which means book launches are not too far behind. And my own writing is demanding more of my attention. For months (and probably years), I had been working almost non-stop, squeaking in a few hours each week for myself, and have fallen behind some foundational business tasks and even client projects.
No Peace Within
The anxiety of always having something to do weighed heavily upon me. I was drinking coffee in the morning and again in the afternoon to rev me up, and then drinking wine every evening to wind me down. Because my exercise was sporadic and my food choices were not the best, I’d gained weight as well. My thyroid suddenly began functioning less efficiently, and my adrenals were strained (again).
And so on August 24th, I posted the last of the summer grades and took off the professor hat––at least for now. I’ve promised to give myself the fall semester to see where my business wants to go and discover the writing that wants to come through me. Part of me is relieved. One of my mentors, Darla Englemann, said to me many years ago, “If you can’t do it with heart, it’s not yours to do.” From Abi’s observation, I probably didn’t seem like I was grading with heart––and I know I wasn’t.
Recognizing the Fear
Along with the relief is some fear. While I’m excited about the books that are being launched this fall, doubts are sprouting up. What if these are all the clients I will ever have? What if the proposals I have circulating won’t be accepted? What if my writing sucks?
These fears make no sense. I’m a good writer, and I have several new creations niggling at my attention. I also do great work with my clients, and several have more than one book in them. I also know that if I don’t make space for new clients, they won’t come through. The Universe abhors a void––and quite frankly, I haven’t had one until now.
As the day unfolded and my son and daughter-in-law returned from their morning date, I decided to have my nails done and do a few errands. I meandered through Ikea, looking for ways to use my space more efficiently. I went to Costco and stocked up on the food I needed to reset my body.
I’ve committed to giving myself the next few months to nurture my body in a greater way. I’m shifting my lifestyle to ensure that I have time to exercise each day, alternating walking with weights with cycling on the Peloton. I’ll do yoga for at least twenty minutes each day to balance the hours of sitting at my computer. And as for my nutrition, I’m dialing back on the caffeine switching from half caffeine to just a third. Gluten and dairy are off-limits. And I’m passing on my evening wine.
There’s even more time for meditation and contemplation. Who knows what might shift with these changes!
I’m already noticing some pivoting. On an after-dinner walk with the girls, Goldie, their mama, and Auntie M, I picked up a couple of branches from a freshly cut plumeria tree. At first, I thought I’d plant them the next day, but I dug right into the task, finding pots and potting soil and cutting the stalks so that there would be fresh “meat” to apply the rooting powder. The light of the day had faded as I watered the plants, and I realized that it had been a long time since I had worked the soil. There was never any time or energy. And now it felt so good.
Slipping into bed, I read for a bit, satisfied with my day. I’d stayed away from my computer and emails. I didn’t GTS, nor did I hop on Amazon to add a few things to my cart.
It wasn’t easy, but I’m committed to making this shift.
There’s a part of me that has sacrificed “me” in all of my busy-ness, and I know that if I’m to be an even better writing mentor, writer––and grandma, I’ve got to break the addiction to being ever-present for others and slipping into constant doing.
And this morning, well, I’m writing.