Slow Down

slow-down1There was a moment a few weeks ago when I came very close to standing in the middle of the office and yelling “SLOW DOWN!”

I didn’t. Because branch directors aren’t supposed to have temper tantrums.

But you can bet I thought it. I thought it as loud as I could. I thought it in the direction of my staff, and my boss, and her boss, and her bosses’ boss…

Because seriously, people. It’s not all urgent. Some of it may not even be all that important.

Of course, I’m a fine one to talk– the self-confessed queen of the “to do” list. But I’m learning.

Slowly.

(See what I did there?)

It took a few weeks of quietly beating myself up to finally stop feeling guilty for taking an unplanned hiatus from this blog while I was busy teaching a course. But I’m over that now. The guilt, that is. The course has one more class session and a lot of papers to mark.

I’ll be busy for a while. Truthfully, I’ll always be busy. In my family we’re wired for busy. But I’m gradually learning to be more selective about my busy-ness. I’m learning, for example, that I can actually say no to things that other people expect me to do. (And actually, Thanksgiving went very nicely even without me producing a turkey and a gazillion home-made pies.)

I went to a restorative yoga class last week. I haven’t done yoga of any kind for years decades. It was amazing. There was a moment, about an hour into the 90 minute class, when the whirring in my head stilled completely. Then, when the instructor directed us to gradually come out of the pose, a little voice in my head came out of nowhere and silently screamed “NOOOOOOO–I don’t ever want to leave this state of relaxation.” I’m going back to Yoga North today to sign up for more classes.

The first thing I noticed after last week’s yoga session was how much more energy I had. I came home from yoga and launched into a handful of minor home repairs that I had been avoiding for weeks because I was “too busy” to do them. They took mere minutes. In other words, I always did have the time to do them, but my mind was too busy to know that.

Ironically, I’m more productive when I slow down. But the secret is not to slow down with the goal of being more productive, because that won’t stop the brain from spinning. You have to slow down with the goal of slowing down.

If nothing else, try slowing down for just the 19 minutes it takes to listen to Carl Honore’s TED talk.

 

Alone sweet home

Image source: http://www.marcjohns.com/blog/2012/05/do-not-disturb.html
Image source: http://www.marcjohns.com/blog/2012/05/do-not-disturb.html

I was sitting with a group of women, chatting about our plans for the weekend. One woman had made plans to look after her young grandchildren for the day on Saturday. Her daughter had then called to asked if she would also take the kids for Friday evening. The answer was  a firm no. “But,” protested the daughter, “You never do anything on Friday evening.”

Which, my friend informed us, was exactly the point. Friday was her night to do, or not do, what she wanted.

Verbiage about differences between introverts and extroverts occupies almost as much internet real estate as the cute cat pictures. It is therefore commonly  understood that some people get their energy from being around other people, while the rest of us need to retreat from the world to recharge.

In spite of this, I’ve noticed that we all– introverts and extroverts alike– tend to refer in conversation to time spent home alone as “doing nothing.”  “Doing something,” on the other hand tends to have the default meaning of “engaging in some sort of activity away from home, and probably involving other people.”

On my “About” page I describe myself as, “A big-time introvert who makes a living with people, and comes home to people.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love the people — well, person– to whom I come home. But the truth is that when she heads off for summer camp my own introvert’s soul relishes its own kind of vacation. I look forward to coming home  from my people-filled office to a quiet space and filling my evenings with my own thoughts. With reading and writing and long walks. With strange little meals eaten at odd times. With no one but me caring when I do the laundry and whether the milk is getting low.

When I know I’m going to have some extended time alone, I plan all sorts of delicious solitary pursuits. But when the world gets wind of the fact that I’m on my own for a stretch of time, invariably this thing happens: well meaning people (of whom I am also very fond) start inviting me for dinner because I am alone. Sometimes I say no.

Here’s where it gets awkward. Because of our apparent cultural bias toward “doing things,” part of me feels guilty for saying no (really, it’s not you–it’s me). And then I feel like I should feel guilty for feeling guilty. And then I end up trying to explain myself to the universe in a guilt-laden blog post, when really the whole point was that I just wanted to guard my time alone for doing things like, say, writing blog posts.

Sometimes I say yes to the invitations. And I have a lovely time, and enjoy the people I’m with. But if I happen to have said no to you, then please know that it doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend the time with you. Rather, it means I need to spend the time with me.

I don’t really feel that guilty. But I do wish we could all stop referring to home-alone time as “doing nothing.” Because you should see the list of things I’ve got planned for these few, precious days of solitude! The list that, truthfully, I’ve been making for months in anticipation of this time. On the one hand, I don’t want to feel compelled to share with you everything that’s on the list. On the other hand, if I don’t guard the time I’ve set aside to do these things, then when I (inevitably) find myself back in the middle of other peoples lives, the things I didn’t do with my time alone will haunt and frustrate me.

I will, in other words, be happier when we do spend time together if I also spend some time alone. Doing something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I go walking: Day’s end

I have finally touched down after ten days of swirling in a self-imposed tornado of Doing.  Too. Much.

I knew I would overdo it, in the same way I know I will always eat just a bit too much at Christmas Dinner. I have been alternating between volunteering at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and happily gorging on the overwhelming buffet of theatrical treats ranging from lovely to thought-provoking to “well at least I only spent ten dollars on THAT.”

Oh and this was after a full day at the office.

As usual, my sleep deprived immune system has punished me for my excesses by conspiring with a nasty head cold. But I’ll live.

Meanwhile, viral disciplinarians notwithstanding, life is pretty good. Daughter #1 is riding high on a prime new job opportunity, and daughter #2 has been safely dispatched to camp for four weeks. I am even feeling considerably less panicky about my grading deadline now that I am nearly halfway through my virtual “stack” of e-papers. (Funny– as much as I like not having to sacrifice so many trees on the altar of higher learning, I do miss the physical satisfaction of watching the “done” pile rise as the “to be done” pile wanes.)

Most of my walking over the past ten days has been Fringe Festival walking– treading the downtown pavement from my office to my volunteer venue to another venue to see a play to the food vendors gathered in Old Market Square. It’s a different kind of walking: a getting-somewhere walking as opposed to the more contemplative going-for-a-walk kind of walking that fuels my writing.

Tonight, however, I managed a loop around the golf course.

The old concrete sidewalk that formed the path under the bridge has, in the past few weeks, been chewed up and replaced with a pristine strip of asphalt twice the width (the better to accommodate bike traffic to the stadium, methinks.) There are enough little brown rabbits grazing the lawns along the riverbank to populate the entire works of Beatrice Potter. A pelican floated by on the river. I was surprised to see a group of pelicans in a nearby retention pond a few days ago. This summer is the first time I have ever seen them in city limits. Perhaps because there is so much excess water this year?

On my way back, the sky was beginning to redden, and I reflected on how little time it takes to notice the days begin to grow shorter. I was reminded, as I often am at dusk, of the time my youngest astonished her camp counsellor by being the only seven-year-old in the history of Zoo Camp to arrive already knowing how to use the word “crepuscular” in a sentence.

Ok boys and girls, we call owls and bats “nocturnal” because they come out to feed at night. Does anyone know what you call an animal like a deer that comes out to feed at dawn and dusk…?

And then, as if cued by my reminiscence, there were the deer. Two of them–one young and one full-grown.

Sometimes it’s good to slow down.

Blurry -- because my phone battery was dying along with the daylight, and my subjects were not interested in a close-up.
Blurry — because my phone battery was dying along with the daylight, and my subjects were not interested in a close-up.

 

 

If you had just one question?

In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, a specially constructed computer called Deep Thought is asked: “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything?” The answer given is “42.” The answer is useless to the askers, because nobody thought to ask what was the question. Deep Thought then predicts that there will be an even more powerful computer constructed to come up with the ultimate question. This computer, it turns out, is the Earth.

As delightfully silly as Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series is, there’s an important lesson here. The more important the answer is to you, the more important it is to start out by asking the right question. My nephew understood this concept at a very early age. When his parents told him he could only ask Santa for one thing, he wisely reasoned that the best course of action would be to ask Santa for a fairy godmother who could subsequently grant him endless wishes!

Science fiction and fairy godmothers aside, I do think that when it comes to the things that matter, it is important, and not all that easy, to ask the right question. If my sense of purpose is about finding an answer, there’s a limiting quality to my quest. Because what happens when I find the answer? Achieve the goal? Get the dream job? Does life suddenly cease to have meaning?

But if my purpose is about asking the right question, that opens up endless possibilities. Because if it’s the right kind of question you can ask it over and over again and, like my nephew’s fairy godmother, it will keep giving you answers.

Douglas Adams isn’t the first, and certainly not the last, writer to ask the question about the question. Joan Osborne sings, “What would you ask if you had just one question?”

I don’t even think it matters to whom you are directing the question. Whether you are asking God, the universe, or yourself, if you only had one question, it strikes me that you would want it to be the one that offered up the biggest answer. Or the most answers. Or the answer that opened up the opportunity for asking more questions.

What would I ask if I had just one question? My question has evolved over the years. The progression looks roughly like this:

  • What should I be when I grow up? I like to joke that I’m still working on this one. In truth, I sort of am. Each time I have changed careers it has felt like I finally had my “dream job.” And then time passed and the dream, and eventually the job, changed again. But I have come to recognize that there are several words and phrases that make this question problematic. One is “when I grow up.” Because this question is all about living in the future, which, as I’ve explored elsewhere, is not a terribly hospitable place to inhabit. So over time I began to focus in a little more.
  • What should I be? I have invested a great deal of time and energy on “should” and nowhere near enough on “could” and “will.” Whether you are conscious of it or not,  “should” is almost always rooted in someone else’s expectations, and therefore it has a tendency to breed guilt and feelings of inadequacy.
  • What will I be? Better, but I have come to realize that this whole notion of “be-ing” is kind of fuzzy. I can say I “am” all sorts of lofty things, but it is my words and actions that are going to tell you what I truly am.
  • What will I do? At this point in my life, I have come to the conclusion that the best question is the one that results in action. Asking “What will I do?” always steers me in the direction of realizing what it is that I can do–reminds me, in fact, that there is always something I can do. “What will I do?” is about taking action in the here and now.

Like my nephew, I am going for the loophole. Having just one question doesn’t have to mean you only get to ask it once. If I had just one question, I would want it to be a question that, when asked over and over, would continually generate new and significant answers. The real question would therefore be a little more complicated:

What will I do here and now that will move me authentically in the direction of my purpose.

Poet Mary Oliver asked a slightly different question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” But I don’t want to spend my whole life planning my life. If I do the right thing today, the rest will take care of itself.

 What would YOU ask if you had just one question?

 

Aunt Molly’s School of Sensible Housekeeping

When I was in my twenties, new to a busy teaching career and newly married, I remember having a conversation about housework with an older colleague. The conversation went something like this:

Me:      How do you ever manage to get everything done? By  the time I am finished my marking and course prep I can’t imagine coping with all the laundry and the dishes and the housecleaning…

Her:     Well now, I just don’t go to bed until everything is done.

That was the last time I asked her for advice.

Instead, I opted to adopt the philosophy of housekeeping espoused by my great-aunt Molly.

My grandmother’s sister Molly was a creative woman who spent much of her adult life applying her creativity to managing a farm household with limited resources. Molly’s resourcefulness was of the variety that could turn a scoop of leftover chicken fat into melt-in-your mouth sugar cookies. While her culinary creativity may not translate well into the 21st century, I did learn from her other very important lessons that have stood the test of time.

Aunt Molly’s School of Sensible Housekeeping consisted of one fundamental principle, which she explained with this scenario:

You are sitting relaxing and you look up and notice a dirt spot on the wall. You have two options.

  1. You can obsess about the fact that you are now going to have to find a pail and fill it with soapy water and thoroughly wash all the walls, which of course will involve moving all the furniture, which will mean that you are going to end up washing the floor as well— and that sounds like way more work than you have the energy for today. Or tomorrow. So you leave the spot on the wall for days (weeks? months even!) during which you will become increasingly oppressed by the knowledge that you are a failure at housekeeping and probably by extension a failure at just about everything else.
  2. OR, you can stand up, grab the damp cloth that is probably already hanging by your kitchen sink, and wipe off the spot. Then you can go back to sitting and relaxing.

Aunt Molly advocated option #2.

Now, don’t assume that to mean that Molly was a lazy housekeeper. I am certain her walls, floors, and everything in between got a thorough scouring on a regular basis.  But there is wisdom in Molly’s spot-cleaning approach to housekeeping that has translated itself into a wealth of life lessons as I have contemplated her words over the years. Here are a few of those lessons:

  1. You are your own worst critic. When you look at the wall, do you see a small and insignificant spot, or do you see the whole world judging you because your entire house is a massive expanse of filth? Chances are someone else doesn’t even see the spot!
  2. There is always something you can do now. When life gets overwhelming, sometimes just exercising control over one tiny piece of it helps me regain a sense of perspective. If you can’t afford that big purchase you desire, can you put aside the first five dollars? If you can’t run the marathon, can you walk around the block?
  3. Solve the immediate problem. Sometimes I get stuck because I am trying to solve the wrong problem. Or too many problems. When that happens, I have learned to reframe the problem into something I do have the resources to address. Is the problem really that my whole house needs cleaning from top to bottom right this minute? Or is the problem that at this particular moment this particular spot is bugging me?
  4. It’s important to know what constitutes “enough.” Having been inclined, in my youth, to an unhealthy degree of perfectionism, I have spent a long time learning that you don’t need to do everything to have done something worthwhile. Don’t load unrealistic expectations on yourself when you should really be patting yourself on the back for what you have accomplished.
  5. Planning makes the big things more manageable. Eventually you will have to wash the whole wall, but in the meantime a little spot-cleaning can make it bearable. And then you can plan to wash the wall when you have more time. Or energy. Or helpers!
  6. A lot of little things together make a big thing. Does washing a wall mean you need to wash all the walls? Can you do one room today and another one tomorrow?
  7. And perhaps most importantly, it’s better to do the simple thing that’s right in front of you than to just think about doing something grand. Getting out of your chair and going for a walk is more productive than thinking about running a marathon. Writing a two or three blog posts a week may not be writing a best-selling novel, but it is several steps ahead of just thinking about writing a novel.

Of course it’s good to do the grand things too. But you’ll never get to the grand things if you spend too much time worrying about how clean the walls are.

Time clutter

I am going to “unplug” for a few days hiatus from cyberspace, so I have decided to use this as an opportunity to “re-run” a few of my early posts that were originally posted back when my readership consisted largely of my mother and a few close friends. 🙂

This was my second post, and remains one of my personal favourites.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The epiphany happened a couple of years ago in the express checkout line. I stood there with my basket of bananas or toothpaste or whatever other emergency item had prompted that particular grocery dash, and I stared long and hard at the magazine in my hand. It came to me that, if I wanted to reduce the clutter in my life, perhaps a good starting place was to quit buying magazines that promised me “10 easy tips for reducing clutter.” And while I was at it, a corollary might be to start managing my money better by refusing to buy magazines that promised me “10 easy tips for managing my money.” I put the magazine back.

That wasn’t the first epiphany, nor will it be the last. My path to living a simpler life has been slow and winding, full of backtracks and unnecessary diversions. But the one thing that has been consistent is that the more I simplify my existence, the more I want of less. I also discovered along the way that the process of reducing the clutter in my life and the process of managing my money better were in fact one and the same.

Stuff takes up space. Space costs money. It’s a fairly simple equation. By the time I sold my townhouse and moved into a smaller space, I was paying for the privilege of owning an entire basement room that was serving only one purpose: to contain stuff. It was surprisingly easy to part with a great deal of that stuff. The hard part was wading through it all to pick out the handful of items that I really needed to keep. Or thought I needed, because an interesting thing happened when I started unpacking it all in my new space. I discovered that even some of those things I thought I needed no longer had the same hold on me.

The funny thing about having less stuff is that I enjoy the stuff I have more than I did when it was hidden by a mountain of less important stuff. Now that I have less space to keep stuff, I think harder before I acquire new stuff. Part of the decision process is always “where will I keep it?” Sometimes that means “what can I get rid of to make room for it?”

Which brings me to the next big frontier in simplifying my life: de-cluttering my time. Certainly getting the physical clutter under control helps. If you only have what you need and everything has a space, you don’t waste nearly so much time hunting for things. But time clutter is a challenge for me because I am distracted by ideas. I have a tendency to go after what a friend calls “the shiny thing in the corner” when I am supposed to be concentrating on some other task. I check my Facebook page and before I know it I have spent an hour chasing links, some of which are gold mines, but many of which are of dubious value. What I really want to fill my time with is more writing—more personal creativity. So the same way that, if I want to squeeze a new jacket into my closet, that tatty sweater I haven’t worn in a year has got to go, I need to give up something to make room for something else. This blog is “something else.” At the moment the thing I have “given up” to make room for it is my day job—I’m on a temporary leave of absence. It is going to take some well thought out time de-cluttering to sustain it once my leave ends. Creating the blog is challenge to myself—a commitment to de-cluttering my time as ruthlessly as I have de-cluttered my closet and my bookshelves.

And if my blog lacks the polish and pizazz of other blogs you’ve read, chalk it up to my resistance to spending too much time and money on “10 easy tips to creating the perfect blog.”

Are you busy?

My dad was fond of the expression “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it” (which, according to the almighty Google, can be attributed either to Lucille Ball or Ben Franklin. But then hasn’t every famous quote been at some point in time attributed to Ben Franklin?)

Regardless of who originally coined the phrase, I was unquestionably raised to perceive busy-ness as a virtue. The expression, as I always understood it, implied that the busy person was busy because they could be counted on to get things done, and therefore were entrusted with the doing of many things. My parents were always busy people. My dad served on a variety of boards and committees related to his busy engineering careers. My mom was always helping out the elderly and infirm members of the extended family. Both were involved with endless church committees and other forms of volunteer work. Even now, late in her seventies, my mother’s infamous “book”– the daybook she carries everywhere to keep track of which grandchild she is picking up and which friend she is ferrying to an appointment– rivals my Outlook calendar for fullness.

photo source: diamonddreambuilders.com
photo source: diamonddreambuilders.com

My work is busy. And then I come home to more busy, doing all the things I want to do that I am too busy being busy at work to do during the day. Judging from my family history, I may as well accept that I am always going to be that proverbial “busy person.”  But lately, I have come to a couple of realizations about the nature of “busy” that have caused me to rethink my assumptions about the relative virtue of being busy.

Perhaps the reason you should ask a busy person if you want to get something done is that the busy person won’t say no. Perhaps they are busy because they won’t say no. Can’t say no. I know there have been times in my life when I was busy with things that weren’t all that important to me, but to which I had made a commitment from which I didn’t know how to extricate myself. I would like to think I’ve broken that habit, but once in a while I will catch myself signing on for some activity that, deep down, I really don’t think is how I want to spend my time.

I have also observed that there is a big difference between doing things and getting things done. And so I have started working a little harder at distinguishing between motion and momentum.

Motion, to me, does not have a direction. I can be in constant motion and be careening unproductively in a million directions. Motion is what my cat is doing when she randomly breaks into a sprint, tearing back and forth through the house with no visible pursuer or apparent destination. Motion looks very busy. And it can go on looking very busy for a long time.

Momentum, on the other hand, suggests to me that my actions are propelling me in a purposeful direction. That no matter how distant my ultimate destination, I do have one, and I can see the distance I have travelled. Even if I have to measure it in millimeters.

I’m always going to be busy. But I am learning how to watch my busy-ness more closely to ensure that it is not simply frenzied motion for the sake of motion, but rather a steady momentum that propels me step by step towards the things that matter.

Because travelling fast is only a virtue if you like where you’re going.

 

 

 

The size of now

The future is a very big place.

I know this to be true, because I have spent a lot of time there– typically getting lost in the big-ness of it.

It’s an easy place in which to get lost, in part because there are no reliable maps. Geographically speaking, the future is akin to those oceanic margins that cartographers of old so helpfully labelled “Here be Dragons.” Indeed, there may well be dragons. Or baby unicorns. Or giant radioactive sea slugs. A big problem with navigating the future is that, not only is it immeasurably big, it is also many. If I start from the point in time where I stand right now, I can see a multitude of possible futures, each one uncharted, each one spinning off into infinite combinations and permutations that shift and sway with each forward step.

here-be-dragons

Granted some of those possible futures are more probable than others. Given what I remember about the science of probability from high school math, I would put my money on the giant radioactive sea slugs before I would trust in the odds of a big lottery win. Especially since I don’t buy lottery tickets. But the fact remains that even the most well-informed prediction is no guarantee that something I anticipate is actually going to happen. And as for wishes

I’ve made a lot of wishes. I’ve wished on stars, wished on birthday candles, wished on trains going over bridges and coins thrown in fountains. I’ve wished away a lot of perfectly good nows in pursuit of some pretty nebulous what-ifs.

You know what I mean, because you’ve done it too.

Things will be better when…

I would be happier if…

I just need to hang on until…

But the future is a big place. So big that we can wander there forever without ever finding our way to the precise whens and ifs and untils on which we have staked our happiness.

herebedragons

“Here be dragons” was intended as a caution to the wayward mariner who dared wander beyond that which was known. It has taken me into my 50s to embrace the realization that all I can ever know for certain is now.

And, unlike the future, now is a very small place. Small, and surprisingly manageable.

It took me five decades of wandering lost through the dragon-territory of what-if and if-only to fully appreciate the size of now.

Now is the size of a single footstep.  Now is the size of the first word of the conversation you are dreading. Now is the size of the registration form for that course about that thing you’ve always imagined learning how to do.  Now is the size of picking up the phone to call the travel agent, the real estate agent, the divorce lawyer, the tattoo artist, the friend you had the falling out with. Now is the size of a single push-up. Now is the size of the word “no” when you would previously have said “yes.” Now is the size of the word “yes” when you would previously have said “no.”

Now is a place small enough to navigate without a map, because you can see all the way to the edges from wherever you stand. And you hardly ever see dragons.

 

 

Lizard Skins

lizardMeet my daughter’s lizard. If you’ve  been reading this blog long enough you’ve met him before, because he spent some time as my houseguest back in October.

He’s a skink. A blue-tongued skink, actually. And yes, that means he has a blue tongue. He eats worms and vegetables, and he’s rather partial to strawberries.

And on a regular basis he sheds his skin.

I was thinking about shedding the other day– shedding in the sense of getting rid of psychic and emotional clutter.  Thinking about all the old beliefs and assumptions that I have shed over the years. Thinking about dreams and wishes that were once of utmost importance to me that hardly seem to matter any more. Thinking about how my anxiety for the future dominates my thoughts so much less now that I have learned to live in the present.

When the lizard is getting close to shedding time he gets cranky. The old skin starts to become uncomfortable. When he finally does shed, there is a noticeable increase in his general energy level. And, of course, he’s just a little bigger.

When I am working my way towards shedding my attachment to an old idea, I too get the sense of being uncomfortable in my old skin — the old viewpoint makes me cranky.

And when I finally shed that idea that once fit so well but now feels so constraining, it does seem that, on a spiritual plane. I am just a little bigger.

 

Agley Again

 The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

— “To A Mouse” by Robert Burns

I swear I am the queen of good intentions. I know how I want to live. More vegetables; fewer donuts. More healthy meals prepared from scratch; fewer drive-by processed calories. More fitness activity; less Facebook. More focused writing; less aimless surfing. More mindful budget decisions; less impulse spending.

More time to do the things I love; less time wasted on things that don’t really add value anywhere.

And yet so often I catch myself sliding into a state of being I call “Surviving the Week.”

Surviving the Week is about having a fridge full of fresh vegetables, but not having the mental energy to assemble them into a salad, so I go to the cafeteria and spend money I don’t need to spend on a lunch entrée in which gravy is the dominant element.

Surviving the Week is about adding more paper to the “miscellaneous” pile on my desk instead of filing it away when I’m done with it.

Surviving the Week is about collapsing on the couch to watch mindless TV, even though I know I would feel better about life if I went for a walk.

Surviving the Week is about trolling old Facebook photos when I really want to be writing, because I didn’t go for that walk, which probably would have unlocked an idea and given me something to write about.

Surviving the Week is about beating myself up for not doing the things I really want to be doing, because I am distracted by things that are easy to do at the end of a tiring day.

I encountered this little creature on a walk back in the fall.
I encountered this little creature on a walk back in the fall.

I don’t want to be Surviving the Week. I want to be living mindfully, creatively, healthfully. And sometimes I do. But other times, like Robbie Burns’ wee Mousie, my best-laid schemes do “gang agley,” and I find myself  slipping into survival mode.`

Often that means I have simply overloaded my circuits by taking on too much. The irony is, that the things I take on that leave me feeling tapped out are typically things I want and like to do.

Like staying up way too late to write this blog post.