riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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Juggling and Insomnia

I usually don’t have insomnia, but last night for some reason I woke up around 1:30 A.M. and couldn’t fall back asleep. After a few minutes of staring into space, I got up and went to my home office (formerly the dining room). It was nice actually, everything so quiet.

I made myself some coffee and set out to tie up some loose ends in preparation for the writing marathon that must take place between now and the end of the year, a marathon that will take place mostly on the weekends, but possibly also in the wee hours of the morning.

There I was shuffling papers, cleaning dishes, taking out the trash, responding to blog comments, cleaning up my desktop, when the puppy came out of the bedroom to look at me like,”What the hell are you doing?” Then she turned around and went back to bed. I could have kept going, but I figured I should try and get some sleep before work. I’m on a solid three-week streak of showing up on time.

Keeping a schedule, being organized and on top of things has always been important, never more so than these days. I can’t think straight in a disorderly, chaotic environment, and there is so much to think about right now that I’m literally just trying to keep up.

The memoir is currently out to my mentor and three other people for review. While I wait for their notes, I’m rewriting the pilot I gave my manager earlier this year, and drafting a new one. I want to have two under my belt for staffing season in the spring, a one-hour drama and a half-hour dark comedy, different subjects, different tones.

I’m applying to more residencies and television writing programs, all worthy endeavors but time consuming.

I’m scheduled to revise the script I optioned in March from another writer. If I can manage it, I’d also like to rewrite a couple of my own feature scripts, but that might need to wait until the pilots are further along. My plan is to basically always be writing. When one project is being read/reviewed, I’ll be working on something else.

On top of all that, I’m also trying to “get out more,” as in reconnecting with folks in my field. Social media networking isn’t enough. I need face time with people to rekindle the personal relationship, find out how and what they’re doing, where they’re working, and let them know what I’ve been up to, etc.

I’ve thought about dating too but, frankly, between all the projects, working full-time, taking care of Ruby, and taking care of life, I simply don’t have time.

It feels a bit like a juggling act, or like being in a one-woman band. Balls in the air, balls in my hand, eyes darting from this to that, mind focused, heart pounding but trying to remember to breathe, nerves rattled but trying to appear relaxed, friendly and like this is the easiest thing in the world.

As Diane Keaton used to say in (one of my favorite movies) ANNIE HALL, “La di dah. La di dah.”

Have a great weekend, folks.


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The Philosophy of Kaizen

Kaizen

According to WikepediaKaizen (改善) (pronounced “Ky-zen”), is Japanese for “improvement”, or “change for the better” and refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. It’s a phrase that’s also used in psychology to refer to the practice of making small changes/improvements in one’s life while working towards larger goals. (There is quite a bit of research on the meaning, origins and uses of Kaizen, as well as books like this one about the psychological aspect, and this one, more business-oriented.)

The first time I heard of it was in spring of 2011 during the caregiver’s support group I used to attend. I had just shared with the group that Kaz was deeply depressed due to his declining health, and I was at my wits end trying to figure out how to help him. I felt like the depression was making him deteriorate faster. One of the group members suggested that I encourage him to make little changes that might improve his outlook gradually. She said this was the Japanese philosphy of “Kaizen.” I discussed it with Kaz and he thought it was an interesting concept that made sense. He also felt like he was past the point of “small improvements” doing much good. It was a tough situation.

The other day the word popped into my head again when I was thinking of the small changes I’ve made recently and how they’re making me feel. It hasn’t even been that long (this is the second week), but I already have more energy and feel more upbeat than before. I’ve had moments of sadness but not the sluggish, hopeless feelings of depression. Even my attitude at work has improved, all because of these simple changes:

  1. Waking up earlier (with the help of four alarms) and showing up to work on time
  2. Walking, jogging or hiking every other day for at least 20 minutes 
  3. Cooking my own food 
  4. Drinking more water 
  5. Drinking less alcohol
  6. Eating less sugar
  7. Going to bed at a reasonable hour

 

Certainly not grand gestures, but I think that’s the point – little gestures, small improvements, which add up over the course of time. The challenge, of course, is to not lose patience or expect big results overnight. This has always been my downfall in the past, not seeing results fast enough and getting discouraged. I’m trying to avoid that by taking it one day at a time and not thinking too far down the line. I found this challenging to do when Kaz was sick because the ‘end of the line’ felt like approaching Niagra Falls and knowing only one of us would survive the fall. Things are different now.

Can you relate to the idea of changing things a little at a time? Do you have the patience?