Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making a Comeback

Thomas Magnum on the 80s tv hit series, Magnum PI, often spoke of "my little voice."

I think we all have such a voice. Over the summer mine continually repeated the same message:

"What do writers do? Writers write."

My little voice was trying to tell me something. Somewhere back last winter I stopped writing, and wasn't sure why.

And then at the end of February, due to recurring knee problems, I stopped my karate training which, I love and miss. 

The background depression with which I live gradually deepened, but it took me until spring to realize it. The coming of spring with warmer days and more hours of sunlight lifted my spirits, but the depression persisted. As did my issues with ADHD and executive function.

I was in a mess. At the beginning of June I turned 64; the long term disability which began four years ago as a result of a major life crisis, and the related burnout, would stop in a year's time. And here I was, not yet able to return to work, and very much stuck on any of the projects which might over time help to generate some income.

Over the summer I alternated between anxiety and panic on the one hand, and what I hoped was some realistic thinking on the other. But the problem was, I didn't know what to do.

I tried to meditate regularly. While striking out on the regular part, what meditation I did was helpful. Mindfulness is everything it's cracked up to be.

But I remained stuck. I knew I needed to restart The Exuberant Eclectic, and move ahead. Yet, I had lost confidence, though I continually tryed to put the pieces together, to create a plan which would work.

Twice in the past few years I have tried to work with friends who would be my "external brain," with the hope that being accountable to someone with whom I discussed my plans, would help me to get unstuck and actually working on my ideas and projects.

And twice I had unintentionally managed to sabotage the process. Not intentionally. 

I needed to do something different. Bottom line - I am responsible, and it is up to me to make the choices and pursue the alternatives which will overcome my stuckness.

My ideas for the future, including developing this blog, involve various activities. That's where executive function comes in - EF is the part of the mind/brain which enables people to make choices, maintain a sense of time, attend to their tasks, transition from one task to the next, and all the other juggling which results in completed projects. My executive functioning more often than not is in dysfunctional mode.

Many times this summer I looked at notes I'd made for what I wanted to do - so many things, so little time, and where to start? I could see writing was a common factor in most of what I wanted to do. But how to find time to write, and do all the other things. Everything seemed important. 

Interestingly, I felt help was at hand - I just didn't know where or how to find it.

Then, this week, I was reading the daily internet newsletter EarlyToRise, which is edited by Craig Ballantyne.

How to Get Back on Track was the top headline, followed by: "Summer is over. School is in. It's time to get back on track. Today, be inspired to return to those habits that might have been slip sliding away from you. It's time to re-take control of your success."

I knew, having read Early to Rise over the years, that Ballantyne was one of those guys who liked to get up at 5 in the morning, and plunge into work. My own preference for getting a later start has kept me from giving serious consideration to his ideas, and maybe that was part of the reason why I didn't start at all. 

Now I was desperate. Besides, I had this little voice which kept saying, "Writers write." And for Ballantyne, writing was his top priority, what he did when he did at the top of his day before many people have even got up.

I had to take Ballantyne seriously.

Later in the day I was using my Kindle desktop app, and saw that I had Ballantyne's  Time Management: How to Get More Done in Less Time

I had bought it back in May, and barely looked at it. This week I read it in one sitting. For Ballantyne, the top priority is his writing. He does that first thing in the morning for a couple of hours. He doesn't even look at email until at least 10 am. He wrote about how hard it is for some people to transition from one activity to another (an executive function issue), and I was saying to myself, "Yeah, that's me." He suggested everything else in one's day is more likely to fall into place when a person gets up early and focuses on his top priority for a couple of hours.

Reading all of this on Monday, I decided I'd get up at 5:30 am Tuesday, and I set my BlackBerry's alarm accordingly. When I got up in the middle of the night, having had a poor sleep, I turned off the alarm. I got up about 7:30 am, my usual time. I felt crappy all day. But I read Ballantyne's words again. I decided to set my alarm for 6:45 am, and be working by 7:30 am. Here I am now, writing for the last hour and a half. I hope to gradually set my alarm earlier and earlier so that I can become comfortable getting up at 5:30 am. 

So, I'm back.

During the summer, I was aware of coming back to interests and concerns which had once been very important to me. Fortunately, they provide much to write about. I have now the challenge of maintaining my writing while doing the reading and research which will lead to a continual flow of blog posts.

I can hardly wait to see what happens!  :)
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