And on the Seventh Day, She Rested

I’m not much of a Sabbath person in general — not being one of the People of the Book and all.

But, I did rest physically today. I’d worked out well all last week. I did three days of good solid swimming interspersed with three days of kickin’ weight training. I planned to rest today.

Last winter I was getting back into swimming while rehabbing knee surgery. My physical therapist had cautioned me that while I was antsy as hell to get moving, I had been through some relatively major surgery. Doing my therapy and being faithful with it was great, certainly. But when I started hitting the pool again, I was cautioned to work up and refrain from swimming on consecutive days until I got my strength back.

I followed medical advice better than I usually do after the surgery. It was an elective procedure1 and I figured with all the pain in the ass that I went through to get it done, I was damned if I was gonna risk a graft failure from breaking Rule One. Know what, it really did take awhile for me to get my strength back.

I’m not rehabbing anything now, which is nice. Even so, I’m taking the lesson I learned about the importance of appropriate rest to heart. I say “appropriate rest” because there’s a line between getting enough of a workout, driving yourself into the ground, or wimping out then claiming virtue for “getting enough rest”. In my case, I’m a writer. I sit on my butt all day long. My leisure activities are nearly as sedentary. I’ve spent the time today when I wasn’t working knitting. (Almost done on a kickin’ sweater with mjollnirs! Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless yoke sweater is da bomb!)

I’ve been feeling antsy. You know you get when you get into a project and excited about it. Thing is, appropriate rest is part of keeping the body healthy. I’m feeling a bit like a racehorse, pawing at the ground, tossing my head, ready to go! go! go!

Which is not a bad way to start the week, I think.

1 You can live fine without your anterior cruciate ligament. You just lose some stability under physical stress.

Swimming, Open Water and Writing

There’s something just innately satisfying about swimming a mile. Well, I swam an 1800, so that’s slightly over a mile. Took me 48 minutes and change.  No, I am not a fast swimmer!  For swims like these, I’m grateful for my Otterbox (waterproof casing for an iPod).  I was listening to Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I wish there were some marathon open water swims where I live. You’d think with all the lakes around… I mean hell, Lynne Cox, that crazy1 woman who swam in the Antarctic spent her early childhood in Manchester, NH!

I’m not in the least interested in participating in a triathlon, though.  I remember bitching last winter and swearing I was gonna try to start an open water swim event.   Looks like to get such a thing going, I may have to do just that.  Feh.   Maybe I could talk to the Master’s team over at my pool and see if there’s something doing I didn’t know about.

I got some good news.  I’ve got a month more on my gym membership than I thought I did.  Gives me another month to dig up the money to continue it.  I haven’t been doing worth a damn on the weights — at least getting my butt to the gym.   For some reason, I’m more likely to stumble outside my bedroom first thing in the morning, and take 20 minutes six days a week to do an upper or lower body workout than I will go to the gym to do a full body workout three times a week.  I suppose I shouldn’t sweat it.  My body doesn’t care if I lift heavy stuff in a gym or in my home as long as heavy stuff gets lifted!

But, I am swimming, which is also important.  Lately I’ve been swimming on the days I’m not teaching computer classes.  Gets me out of the house on days I don’t have to work away from my writin’ chair, and ensures I do something besides sit in my writin’ chair all day.

I have to finish outlining a document for a client today and study for a class in MS Access I’m teaching tomorrow.

1I use the word “crazy” with the upmost respect. I love to swim and all, but that woman is hard core!

Be Yourself

Yesterday was fantastic, professionally. I delivered some kick-ass service that’s really helped a couple of clients get to where they wanna be. Projects like that are just plain fun.

I learned an important lesson, too.

You get advice as a youngster starting out in the world that seems conflicting. Goodness knows I always thought it did! You’re told on the one hand to “be yourself”. Then you’re told “be professional.”

Well, “myself” is hardly the image of the professional woman. All suits, sobersides and cool efficiency isn’t me.

I didn’t claim the stuff I did in the poly community on my resume.

I would even tone down my accent in the office1. Now, I did that even when I lived in Virginia, because there is a perception that thick accent indicates a lack of erudition.

When I quit working as an administrative assistant, I was taking a big risk, and I really decided to go whole hawg. I re-wrote my resume as a CV. If I had relevant experience, I claimed it, by God! That means my CV2 shows the polyamory stuff.   And I found out that it worked.  It got me shots at work I wanted.

When I teach?  I let the accent run wild and free.  It doesn’t make me appear stupid.  It makes me appear approachable.  The colloquialisms that come out when I relax my diction are funny.   When you’re teaching something as dry as computer applications, humor is necessary or your class goes to sleep.     Approachability?  That’s even more important.  Students have to ask questions to learn!

Part of it had to do with a misunderstanding of what “professional” means.  To be professional only means you’re delivering a good service in the context of your environment.   If you’re a lawyer, it might mean a suit.  But, I know of at least one lawyer, however, who has her own version of a writin’ chair and probably works in her robe and slippers as often as I do.   Your eccentricities are assets if you take the trouble to understand them.

Being yourself just as hard as you can is really what works, because then you’re centered in the joy of what you’re doing.   As foo-foo and woo-woo as it sounds, the other rewards come when you do it.  Every dollar joyfully earned is worth two earned with grudging effort.   When you’re centered in being you you’re delighted to work as hard as is necessary to get what you want, but it doesn’t feel like work.  You’re just doing what you do and it’s great.

1 Mostly Richmond, VA with overtones of Stafford County.
2A Curriculum Vitae is not only for the academic or the medical professional. If you have a “nonstandard” life of any sort, if you do volunteer work that is experience in something you’d be interested in being paid to do (organizing cons translates into events planning!), if you’ve written a lot… All these things are life experience you can put on a CV. It’s more useful than a resume and gives a clearer picture of what you have done and can do.

Swimming Hair Care

Swimmers, here’s a little trick:

Get thee some Mane ‘ n Tail (it used to be marketed as shampoo and conditioner for horses, but people use it with good results, too), wet down your hair with non-chlorinated water, put a little Mane ‘n Tail on your hair and work it through, then put on your bathing cap and do your workout. Afterwards, wash and style as usual.

Your hair will be all soft and shiny.

Don’t use too much or your cap will slide off and you’ll be leaving a trail of conditioner scum and make no friends at all in the pool.

But it really is a good treatment for hair abused by chlorinated pools.

I’ve been reviewing my goals for this month.  I’m quite on track.  It’s hard for me, sometimes, to let go of the big picture and concentrate on the day.    Now don’t get me wrong.  The big picture is crucially important.  I refer to it each time I plan my month.   But when I’m planning a week or a day, I’ll look at my goals for the month or the week rather than the year.  I try never to look more than one step up timewise to keep myself from getting overwhelmed.  I try to look at my yearly goals only 12 times a month after I made them.  I know it sounds funny, but I think this is going to work.  Making sure your dailyness is leading you where you want to go, it’s all good.

I’ve always been lousy at “slow-n-steady”.  I’m trying to teach myself this, as if I do a little slow and steady and do accomplish everything I plan to for the year, I’ll have had a happy, productive and balanced year!

Repeat after me: I brought this all on myself! [1]

My kids are going to be with me this weekend, and I don’t often get a whole weekend to play with both of them. They wanna game. I made up this diceless game based on the Discworld many months ago. I’d call it more interactive storytelling than “gaming” per se, but the kids really enjoy it. I’m just glad I have had the experience of being a GM before so that I knew to take notes. I suppose there are advantages to have a Mama who is a writer.

Speaking of being a writer, this is the weekend that the Universe has decide to gift me with a lot of work. I guess I can scratch the goal of writing an effective proposal off my to-do list. This is my opportunity to make sure I can use effective time management skills, right? Unlike the cliché, I don’t miss deadlines!

However, I am going to be spending a lot of the weekend doing fun stuff with the children, ’cause, well… I have my damn priorities straight! Hello coffee, my old friend…

It’s funny. I’ve sat at the very desk at which I am now sitting2 writing queries to magazines that were (I now know) way the hell out of my league before I graduated from High School, for God’s sake, because this is what I wanted to do. At the time, I’d read science fiction stories that portrayed technology that had… well, more or less the Internet as we know it3. I remember thinking, “God, that world seems neat! Too bad I’ll never live in it.”

Well, I do live in it now, and ya know what? It is neat!

1 RE: the title. One of the attendees of PolyFamilies CampCon 2004 had a habit of saying this. I found it both funny and oddly comforting.
2I have a laptop. I don’t always work in the same place. These are my two other common workspaces:

3Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein leaps to mind.

What to do on a snow day? Swim!

I didn’t go swimming at 5:30 this morning.  It’s snowing and I don’t like driving in the snow.  I’ll walk to the gym later today when and swim then.

School is closed, so I’ll be taking my son with me.  Yeah, just the “snow day” treat — a long swim!

If I’d had somewhere I had to be later in the day, I probably would have gone ahead and gone swimming early this morning, but I don’t.    I usually get up early to get in my swim just because if I get it done, I’m up and going for the day, better.  Still, it’s nice when I don’t have to!

Got some site work to do.

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a user of MS Office, I really encourage you to try One Note.  I find it a fantastic planning tool.

I’ve been collecting a book list for the Polyamorous Misanthrope recommended reading page, but it’s going to be very different from the usual Polyamory “recommended reading”.  It’s not that the poly books aren’t good.  Many of them are excellent.  But I’m going to be dealing a lot more with historical example of social dynamics (why yes, the Oneida Community among others), and modern practices in negotiation and interaction.  I’m increasingly of the opinion that the new business model for interaction works very well indeed in poly situations.  Yeah, I’ve got a Misanthrope article brewing on that, too.

I’m also looking at the shambles that is That Damned Book and wondering where to go with it.  I had it all plotted out and when I read what I’ve written, individual scenes are kinda keen.  But as a flow of plot and events, It Just Won’t Soar, Dammit.  I’ve been working on That Damned Book intensely for two years now.  (And have been noodling with it for more like twelve years).  Maybe I oughta just let it go.  I wrote At the Foot of the Throne, which is a much better story as far as plot and pacing, in about seven months.

Oh, for you writers?  If you really enjoy novel writing software, I encourage you to check out yWriter.  I do use and enjoy it.  It can’t solve my problems for me, but golly does it help with planning and plotting!

Getting Things The Fuck Done

Getting Things the Fuck DoneI said I would stick to my goals, so I have not planned to swim today. Original plan was to swim 900 yards every week day until the end of the month, so that’s what I am going to do.  I may cheat and use the hot tub, though. <grin>

This does not mean, of course, that I do not have a metric assload of things to do.

  • I want to write a timeline for getting stuff done for the PolyWorks Fund group to tear apart. I’ve been procrastinating horribly on this, and I’m not entirely sure why. Must… Get… Done… Today…
  • I want to write a much better query for At the Foot of the Throne and find another publisher to whom to send it.  My book let me show you it.
  • I’ve got some projects I wanna bid on.
  • I need to re-do my Polyamorous Misanthrope dragon image to clean up the header.  Write a whole new theme for the blog would be favorite!  Not sure exactly what I’m going to do with that, as I’ve tweaked the present theme all to hell instead of creating theme independent widgets.
  • I’ve gotta write a new page for the Polyamorous Misanthrope  that links to books and stuff I think are poly-useful.  I have a feeling some people are gonna take exception to some of my ideas. (At least, I hope so <EG>)
  • Must write more on That Damned Book.  I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas and imagery for it on my morning swims.  I think that while listening to audiobooks to try to kill off lap boredom is useful, there’s a lot to be said for using that time to let my mind roam free.
  • Gotta record greetings for a couple of listings on my advice line.
  • I really want to get the house cleaned up.  It could  use some Loving Care, maybe even mop the kitchen floor.  I’ve been working downstairs, so the clutter in the bedroom is not giving me the visual reactive cue of “Clean me up, dammit!”

I’m finding myself listing all this stuff I need/want to do, and I’m really having to discipline myself to make sure they’re congruent with January’s Goals.   If they’re not, I just make a note for next month to decide what February will look like and will these things lead me to the final accomplishment of Goals 2008?  I know it sounds goofy, but I’m good at getting excited and sidetracked, so this really helps.

Did it for this week

Well, I did manage to hit the pool every weekday this week since I’ve decided to get stern with myself about the exercise.

I live in a relatively small town, but it was a bit of a surprise this morning to share a lane with my family doctor. I’m not sure if he recognized me1. I never would have pegged him as a swimmer. He seems more the runner type, but I suppose cross-training ain’t all that unusual.

I’m trying to decide if I should just stick to my original goal of swimming 900 yards every weekday this month, or if I should up the yardage. Since my original fitness goal was to swim at least four miles this month, I think I’m gonna just stick with the 900 yards deal. At 4500 yards a week, I’ll have swum considerably more than miles by the end of the month.

I’m noticing a problem I have with getting to goals, and I need to address it. I’ll go all hard core on a goal then burn out, rather than go slow and steady — looking to the long term. It’s why my goals for this year were relatively modest. I’m having to restrain myself from going hammer and tongs at the things that interest me. I have a good plan for the year and need to stick to the “slow and steady” version if I want to ensure I get there.  I’m glad I wrote everything down, let me tell you.  Having the original goal written down as a referent makes it a lot easier to say, “Woah, slow down there, Hoss.  You’ll get there if you stick to it slow and steady.”  I’m already finding great value in having that yearly goal, then breaking it down by month, week and day!

It’s so easy to get sidetracked.  As I was swimming, I was trying to plan how to get my weights workout in. I started all these plans about spending hours in the gym, blah, blah, blah. As I was coming home, I started laughing at myself. Just sticking to the original plan will be fine. I don’t need to go harder. It’s even possible that I shouldn’t go harder.  Accomplishing exactly what I set out to do for the year will be a good year enjoyed and well-spent.

1One does not chat in a swimming lane at 5:30 in the morning.

Intelligent Goal Setting

Multi-talented people (which I would bet money includes most of you reading this), because they can do anything sometimes feel that they should do everything.

You wanna find yourself spinning your wheels and not getting much useful done, this is the way to do it.

I’m doing an experiment this year. I’ve got four basic year-long goals. If an activity does not apply to one of those goals, it does not belong on my to-do list.

This is not to mean that I am not allowed to do things that don’t apply to my goals. What this means is that I’m not allowed to do things that do not apply to my goals first.

My goals for 2008 are to lose 2 lbs a month, triple my monthly income doing what I love (less impressive than it sounds. I’m still waaayyy in the early stages of my business), make sure my friends/family understand I love and appreciate them, and get the PolyWorks Fund fully up and running with a specific goal dollar amount as our first year’s giving. Hardly onerous, but certainly a solid, productive year.

This is easy to break down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. At the beginning of each month, I decide what I want accomplished by the end of it. At the beginning of each week, same. This helps me set appropriate daily goals, which is where the real work is done. Other than planning sessions, I do my best to keep myself focused on the day at hand. I probably won’t give December 31, 2008 another thought until sometime next December. I know where I want to be, and the steps to get there. The steps are the important part now.

Notice “declutter the house” is not on the list at all. Does this mean my house will fall to rack and ruin in 2008? No. If it were in danger of doing so, I’d’ve had a housekeeping goal for this year and dropped one of the other ones. What it means is that unless I’ve accomplished what I set out to do for the day, I’m not to be cleaning out closets. If I get a wild hare across my butt to do so after I’ve accomplished my daily goals, that’s all good. I’m just not allowing myself to spend a lot of time on things that have nothing to do with what I’ve decided to accomplish. (Obviously, there is cleaning and organizing that does directly relate to getting my work done. Gotta maintain the files, etc. These things do make my to-do list).

I try to keep my to-do lists relatively short, too. Before I put it in Outlook (yes, I use Outlook as my task-tracker, etc.) I ask myself is this really productive, or is it make-work? I’ve noticed the very, very busy seem to be just awfully proud of being busy rather than actually accomplishing stuff. Anyone who has worked for someone who likes busy for the sake of busy knows what I am talking about! It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re self-employed and feel guilty that someone might think you’re being “lazy”.

I know all this planning sounds like wheel spinning. I find that it is not at all. Every hour I spend doing it seems to save me about two when it comes to getting stuff bloody well done.