It’s Gonna Be Tough

For a while now I’ve been letting my fear or lack of motivation get the best of me. My projects have suffered, my confidence has suffered, and I’ve been disappointed in myself. But now I’m determined. I’ve set deadlines for myself, and goals for myself, and I’m trying my darnedest to make it happen. And, slowly, I’m starting to feel like my old self again.

This coming week is going to be a bit of a test. And it will take a lot of willpower and determination to get me through. Why? Two reasons: deadlines and a new challenge.

The deadlines I’m referring to are the goals I set myself for May 1. I need to have my A Life You Want website up and running, and I need to have my kitchen and bathrooms cleaned. Since I’m not quite as far along as I would have liked, it will be a struggle to meet the deadline. But I’m still determined. I have made progress in all of the goals: I’ve worked on the kitchen, tackled one of the bathrooms (though not completely), and worked on the website. I was originally going to have all of today to myself (Kevin was supposed to have the kids), so I probably would have had a much easier time of things, but we switched days, and now I have plans with the kids (it was my idea — I kind of shot myself in the foot there). Now I have to scramble to get it all done in time. Can I still do it? We shall find out!

The new challenge I mentioned? Well, this week I have decided to participate in national Screen-Free Week. If you want to learn more, you can head to the website: The basic challenge is to refrain from screen-related entertainment for a week. You’re still “allowed” to use screens for work and school, but you challenge yourself to avoid screens any other time. No games, no Netflix, no turning to the screen for mindless entertainment and passing the time. The idea is to rediscover all of the great activities you can do without screens, and pull yourself away from a screen addiction.

I decided to take on the challenge because Avery (and myself, if I’m honest) has gotten a bit too attached to screens. I mentioned the challenge and he started crying. It’s the entertainment he turns to whenever he looks for something to do. And half the time I don’t even know if he’s enjoying it — it’s just his default. He needs screens in the morning, in the car, in the evening. And there are so many other things he enjoys that he misses out on because he always reaches for a tablet or phone or TV.

For me, I’ve turned to screens too often as a distraction, as a way to keep from getting bored. But what I’ve noticed? I waste a lot of time and miss out on things, too. I say I don’t have time to read, yet I have time to check Facebook a million times a day? And when I don’t have the option to have a screen, such as when I’m driving, I am able to think so much better. I come up with new ideas, or figure things out, or solve problems. I need to back away from the phone and computer to clear my head.

Now, of course, cutting out screens completely is not an option. My job relies on a computer, for one. I also need screens to work on my businesses and websites. So what I’ve decided is that I will “allow” myself screens at work (though only work-related screens — no watching Hulu while I’m working), and I will go online for a half hour in the morning, and a half hour in the evening. This will enable me to catch up on anything business-related I may have missed, plus work a bit on my websites. I am allowing myself access to e-mail and messaging, but no Facebook in between, no games, and no videos.

There are a few benefits of this. First, it will give me time to reconnect with my kids. I don’t spend enough time playing with them. I’m expecting to have fun, whether I’m excited about the prospect or not. I suspect I will also come up with a bunch of new ideas (not that I need more, but it keeps my mind sharp!). Also, it will encourage me to focus on my cleaning and non-screen tasks – and will show how much time I really am wasting with a screen. I’m calling this a detox and reset: a way to kill any addiction and reset our defaults to a time when we weren’t so dependent on screens.

The challenge starts tomorrow (April 30) and ends Sunday (May 6). My first deadline is Tuesday (May 1). It’s going to be a crazy week! But through it all I’m pushing myself, changing my ways of thinking, and building confidence — even if I’m not completely successful. Progress is a win! And I’ve already made more progress over the last couple of weeks than I had in a while.

It won’t be easy, but I’m determined. Wish me luck!

Bit By Bit

Bit by bit, I’m trying to pull myself back into confidence and motivation. I’m trying to push down any doubt and anxiety and do things. So far I’ve written down several big projects and set deadlines for them, with one big overall deadline of the beginning of the school year. Why then? Because I’m hoping to start grad school, and I’ll need the time after that to focus on school work.

I’ve created deadlines at the beginning of each month, from May 1 through September 1 (with the note that the September 1 deadline is actually when school starts, since I don’t know the exact start date — though it will likely be at the end of August). I have deadlines for business projects and deadlines for cleaning projects, and, yes, they overlap. But that’s simply because some of my “free time” is more conducive to one project than another (especially when I take energy levels into consideration).

The first deadline is, of course May 1, and it is quickly approaching. What’s on the list? For business-type projects, I am finally finishing up the A Life You Want website. I’ve even announced on the site that it will be launching on May 1, to hold me accountable (not that many, if any, people visit the site, but still…). A Life You Want has remained on my to do list, partly because I have a book out there that coordinates with it, and partly because I think it’s important and has potential to help people. But I want to see it DONE! While I do plan on posting on the blog moving forward, the overall site will remain mostly static, so it will not require much work once it’s up and running. So that will be a big relief once it’s finally completed. For cleaning projects, I am finishing up my kitchen (the big stuff — I realize that dishes never completely get finished, and I will have to keep up with regular maintenance), and I am deep-cleaning my bathrooms.

Other deadlines are as follows:

  • June 1: Apply for grad school (the deadline for the fall semester is June 1), and clean the library and playroom. I also have Usborne Books & More paperwork to take care of.
  • July 1: Get Children’s Reading World up and running (I’ve made a list of what this entails), and clean the living room (if you saw the state of my living room, you would understand why this gets its own month!).
  • August 1: Update Creative Endeavors inventory and web presence, and clean/create the basement playroom.
  • September 1: Clean the rest of the basement

Of course there are other important tasks that need to be handled along the way, like potty training Emily and figuring out her preschool, signing up both kids for summer camp, tackling the yard, assorted Usborne Books & More tasks, and more, plus miscellaneous to do items. I’ll definitely be busy over the next few months!

Now you may be saying to yourself: “this sounds like more planning, not more doing. Where’s the action?” Well, I have been taking action, as well. I have finished typing up the original blog posts for A Life You Want, and typed up a couple of the articles I have written for it, as well. I have worked a bit on the kitchen. I have looked into financial aid for grad school. And I have called a potential school for Emily and gotten an application. And, though they’re not on the deadline list, I have two vendor events scheduled this week for Usborne Books & More: one today, and one on Friday evening (and I’m hoping Friday’s event will lead to bigger things, but we’ll have to see). It may not be as much as I would like, but it’s a start. And if I can keep going this week, I know I can make serious progress. With determination, I know I can even reach my deadline goal. And isn’t that the point? I work well with a deadline. So having one should help, right?

Along the way, I’ve already felt the pull to do the tasks that are later on my deadline calendar. And I knew that would be the hardest part. I want to do everything and get it done NOW! But that wasn’t working, and it’s not practical. So I’m using whatever willpower I have left to discipline myself and keep myself on track. With a little luck and determination I’ll be checking stuff off before I know it!

Overcoming Fear

When I was younger, I had no problem jumping into new endeavors. Starting my own business, self-publishing a bunch of books, tackling any idea that came my way. Somewhere along the way I became scared, or hesitant, or reluctant to keep up that attitude. I’ve discussed this before. Maybe the long stream of failures made me gun-shy, or I’m simply older and wiser now, and more inclined to realize the possibly negative repercussions of my actions – especially since kids are now involved. Or maybe life has just gotten busier, and my confidence fell by the wayside. Whatever the reason, I find this change in attitude is taking its toll. Suddenly it’s as if I’m too scared to take real action on anything.

Nothing is more frustrating than have things I need to do — things I want to do — and feeling like I’m not making any progress in any of them. I finally know what course I want my life to take: what I want to do professionally and with my kids and in my home. And yet I’m stuck getting nowhere.

I can make excuses: I’m too tired, too overwhelmed. I don’t have time. There are more pressing things that need to be handled. Yet somehow I find time to check social media and e-mail a million times a day. I have the time and energy to plan and tweak and make lists. So what’s really holding me back? Is it fear? What can I do about it?

I think there are a few issues here that I need to address:

  • Fear of failure — and of success. What if I fall on my face again, this time with what I believe is my “purpose”? What if I succeed — and discover this is not what I want to do, or that it’s more than I bargained for?
  • Uncertainty of priorities. Obviously my kids come first, yet there are so many other things that I want and have to do that I’m not sure what to tackle first, which leads to my getting nowhere, doing a little of this and a little of that until I’m just frustrated that nothing’s getting completed. But what do I do first?
  • Staying healthy, and addressing personal needs. Often the times I have available to tackle my projects are when I’m most tired: early morning or evenings, when the kids are in bed. At that point all I want to do is relax. But where do I draw the line? Is it just a question of determining how important the tasks are? Or of finding a balance?

As with everything, my way to figure out the answers is to think about them. As a problem-solving introvert with a knack for looking at all sides of an issue, I can often evaluate the problem in my mind and process what will be the best course of action. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Game plan:

  • Limit my social media and other screen time. Have scheduled times when I can check Facebook and e-mail, and stick to it.
  • Push myself to stick to my planner. I’ve worked hard to create a daily and weekly schedule that fits my needs and wants. And yet I keep deviating from it. That has to stop, at least most of the time.
  • Set deadlines. Look at my many projects and determine when I would realistically like (or need) to have them done (ASAP is not an option!). Then, prioritize based on urgency and tackle them, one by one (or two by two, depending on the projects and time availability).
  • Fake it ’til I make it! In the beginning, especially, it will be difficult to have the confidence and motivation. I think (I hope!) this will change with time.

Once I get back into the habit of getting things done, and I start seeing progress being made, I think I will feel better. At least that’s what I’m hoping! I hope that getting closer to my goals will keep me going. I’m tired of being stuck

The fear and uncertainty are still there, and they likely will be for a while. But if I can prove to myself that success is an option, perhaps they will fade away. If I can show myself that I really can reach my goals and get where I want to be, then perhaps I will once again be confident, motivated, and happy. What have I got to lose?

Brain Dump

This week was definitely different than last week! And not really in a good way. I believe I mentioned last week that I had to focus more on family this week, and that happened…for better or worse.

To start, on Monday evening Kevin and I finally told the kids about the divorce. It went about as expected: Emily didn’t really understand, Avery cried and yelled for a while. Once the initial burst of emotion passed, however, Avery was OK. And, while I’m sure he’s still processing it, he seems to be dealing pretty well. And his behavior, surprisingly, hasn’t gotten more out of control as I feared it might — though of course this may change down the line once it really hits him! He actually had a couple days of good behavior at school. I suppose the best I can do is be there for him if he needs to talk, and make sure he knows how very much I love him — and hope the good school behavior continues!

But that is actually not the biggest thing that happened this week. On Wednesday, after battling cancer and other health issues, my grandmother passed away. Though of course we are all saddened by her passing, she had been sick for quite some time, and it was expected. And, in many ways, it is actually a relief. The past couple of years had been a struggle, both for her and my mom, dealing with doctors’ appointments and treatments and hospital visits, and never knowing what the next day would bring. She hadn’t really been living for a while. But, still, something so final can be heartbreaking, and it will be difficult as we go through her stuff and get used to not having her in our lives.

Amidst these family dramas — and actually for a while now — my brain was ready to burst. I have been feeling like I have so much stuff crammed in my noggin that I can barely function. And that overwhelming feeling is not fun! It’s hard to get anywhere; it takes so much energy just to tread water. So I decided what I needed was a “brain dump.” Basically I needed to write out everything that was taking up space in my mind: things to do, ideas and thoughts, questions, uncertainties. Getting it all on paper means it didn’t have to take up room in my head. Here’s the result:


Seeing it all written out, it’s no wonder I was feeling overwhelmed! And, to be honest, there are little things I didn’t write down, like what I’m going to wear today and tomorrow, finishing up Easter prep, and other daily to do items. But once it was all down on paper? I could breathe a little easier. My brain didn’t feel so cluttered. And I actually started to have new ideas (not that I really need more!). In short, I started feeling more like my usual self.

During this brain dump I didn’t take the time to think about or process any of the items I was writing down. This was supposed to be a clearing of the mind, not a way to get more overwhelmed. Over the coming weeks I will be reviewing the lists, seeing what can be done quickly and what requires more time, fitting new routines and tasks into my weekly plans, and overall just processing it all and seeing where to go from here. The overwhelming feeling may return, but I’m hoping to be able to focus on one area at a time, without letting unrelated tasks and projects interfere. I need to find a way to plan out my days and weeks so it doesn’t all bombard me at once again. That, I fear, may be easier said than done.

The biggest problem? I don’t want to take away anything (except for the annoying household chores, and I can’t really do anything about those!). All of my projects mean something to me, especially the ones that align with what I’ve determined to be my purpose. And yet I keep coming up with new things that mean something to me, new directions and ideas and projects. How can I balance it all? How can I stay true to myself without having to sacrifice something that’s important to me? And how can I ensure my kids don’t suffer with all of my multitasking and goals?

I have my work cut out for me. But fortunately I feel more equipped to tackle the challenge. Let the fun begin!