Unquiet Mind

It will shock none of you to know that I have a spreadsheet I use to track my word count.  It’s a straight forward thing.  In one field I keep track of actual words written.  In another I keep track of actual manuscript words, so that I can see what I’m actually netting (as it is usually less than what I’ve written).  I track this information daily, and have a page per month, and of course an annual total, so that I can compare each month to the others.  It’s quiet obvious, looking at the totals for each month this year, that my life hasn’t been normal since February.  My overall word counts have plummeted, a general sign of an unquiet mind for me.

I simply have TOO MUCH INPUT.  Multiple jobs.  Students.  Family.  Illness and death.  Travel.  Trying to sell our house.  Trying to buy a house.  Various forms of social media.  Keeping up with friends.  It all combines such that when I sit down to write these days, my brain hears the grown ups from Peanuts.

I used to be a champ at blocking out distractions. From stress to actual noise, I could just totally check out, such that I would habitually look up and realize my husband had been talking to me for five minutes and I hadn’t noticed.  Apparently I’ve lost that ability.  Even when I sit down at the end of the work day to get in my daily chunk, when I turn off the internet, etc. my brain is still…oh SQUIRREL!  My focus is SHOT.

I’m a big believer in the mind-body connection.  It’s why I am usually really good about taking care of my body, both by eating healthy and exercise.  I tend to think that if you put garbage in, you get garbage out–in the form of weight gain, poor concentration, being tired, and inefficient…and…hey that’s sounding really familiar.  I’ve gained 9 pounds since November, have the attention span of a gnat, want to do nothing but sleep, and seem to take 9 times longer to do things than I reasonably should.

See video above.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about it or get mired in frustration, as that’s not remotely productive.  I’m constantly preaching the power of positive thinking to participants at #ROW80.  It’s useless to dwell on what you didn’t do.  Past is past.

Sometimes it’s really hard to practice what I preach.

But I’m working on it.  I’ve gotten steadily back into the habit of exercise.  The stationary bike is the easy part.  That’s my daily reading time (I’m a multi-tasker, remember?), so as long as I’m reading something good, I always get that half hour in.  In the last week, I’ve been pushing to add back in some kind of workout during lunch, which is what I was doing last year when I was whittling my waist down.  Sometimes that’s boxing (Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout on Wii).  Sometimes it’s yoga.  I picked up Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown last weekend.  It didn’t leave me a whimpering puddle of goo, so I’ll say that it’s better than The 30 Day Shred.  But it’s Jillian, so it’s still hard.  I can cope with hard, so long as it doesn’t involve bouncing.  All those jumping jacks from the Shred make me wanna hurl.  Yesterday I finally got ahold of Nu You Yoga and Pilates for Wii, which I’ve been wanting for a month or so because DUDE, I need some Zen STAT.

Image via Wikipedia

I used to be an active practitioner of yoga and meditation–back in college where I had plenty of that elusive thing called FREE TIME.  In the last nine years since I graduated…not so much.  But I wanted to get back into it and Nu You seemed like the ideal way to do it.  (WARNING: Unsolicited sales pitch/review ahead)  It’s a dynamic game with lots of customization from the total newb, to the very advanced.  You can pick from an assortment of goals–weight loss, focusing on a particular body part, flexibility, strength, and a bunch of others.  There’s also a full meditation program.  I’ve only done it twice, but I absolutely feel that muscle sore I did something sensation.  And it will actually estimate calories burned, which is great, as I really have no concept of how much yoga burns.  Pot’s been doing it for a few weeks now and says she definitely feels better when she does it.  The program is set up for a daily workout, either the full version or a quick workout (which is kind of condensed).  There are also challenges, core exercises, and a bunch of other features I haven’t yet figured out.  Anyway, if you’re wanting to get into yoga and pilates, this is a great way to do so without having to join a gym.  /pitch

I actually got up this morning and wrote first thing (well, after calculating exemptions for my students, which I was supposed to do yesterday), and was able to get my 500+ words in within an hour.  The house was relatively quiet.  Hubs was still asleep and the dogs weren’t ready to be active yet.  And I hadn’t gotten tangled up in email or sales or Twitter or any of the 8 million things that usually occupy my brain.  It’s got me considering something really radical.  Possibly getting up even EARLIER and trying to write before work.  Obviously, I’m pretty naturally resistant to this concept.  Morning and I are generally not on speaking terms.  But it’s equally obvious that trying to do it after work isn’t working, and now that I’m working out again at lunch, I don’t have the time to do much.  It would seem that mornings may be my only option.  For a while anyway.  We’ll see if I actually consider this Monday morning when my alarm goes off.

8 thoughts on “Unquiet Mind

  1. Some days I swear you and I were separated at birth. Not the spreadsheet word count thing but the rest today. I hear the grown-ups from Peanuts all the time, glad it wasn’t just me ;P

    Thank you for the review. My sister just got into yoga and is loving it, and getting some of the exercise programs (for me) was one of the selling points for us to get the Wii.

    I love Dark & Early for new wordage but have found it doesn’t work for me when it comes to revisions or plotting. Good luck Monday morning!

    1. It will be interesting to see how it goes because I don’t really constitute a cognizant being until I’ve been up for a few hours. I’m contemplating if maybe I can get up and start with yoga to get my eyes open in a less…jarring sort of way…

  2. Great post Kait! I totally feel your pain. Been running 4-5 hours of sleep for the last month, adjusted my thankfully flexible day job schedule so I can be off earlier, which means a 2 am alarm time. Sigh…but it’s worth it.

    I do make sure I spend at least a brief period of time every day doing something that I find personally relaxing (I guess this is a tip, just don’t fall over). Doesn’t matter what it is just so long as it isn’t anything related to any type of work or obligatory activity.

    Hang in there, everything in life is temporal, it is just the moment that seems eternal. 🙂

  3. Kait, I may have mentioned this before (who knows, my brain is crazy), but I’ve found that when one part of my life is in control, the rest of it falls into place. When I’m exercising and eating right, I can also write better, I actually go to the trouble of taking the makeup off my face before bed, I read the Bible like I should…you get the picture. It amazes me how our minds and bodies are so connected.

    When I was first reading your post, I was actually going to suggest yoga for focusing your mind, but then when I got more into the post, I saw you were already there. :0)

    Okay, it’s back to the Wii for me. You’re very inspiring.

    1. YES! Everything has felt very chaotic for the last few months, so I’ve been struggling to take back that control. I think this new yoga regimen will be good for me.

  4. You can do it, Kait! Start slowly at first. You do have a lot on your plate. Maybe read a page a day and build from there. That’ll put a dent in your writing albeit slowly. No need to beat yourself up. Just forgive yourself and start over.

  5. I get up at about 05.15 to write most days, and as long as none of the kids wake up I can get sone good writing done. (currently thats about once a week. The kids are suddenly allergic to sleeping past 5am.) I have been known to use EA Active 2 for the wii and my opinion of it is high. Before kids I was in the gym twice a day, no 3 littluns later the closest I ge is driving past on the way to work. Your determination and honesty in your posts is refreshing and rapidly becoming the highlight of my day.

  6. Happy Easter Kait! Er, yes, I’m a little behind. Meanwhile – and this comes from a night owl – if you can make it a regular habit, writing first thing in the morning, before work, is the best ever! There have been days where I’ve been tempted to call in sick instead of getting up and heading out to catch the train, because I’m on such a writing roll. Morning writing works *that* well!

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