Monthly Archives: May 2012
I have often, over the years, complained to my friends that I don’t have any discipline. I’m usually greeted with much resistance to that idea. “Oh no! You have plenty of discipline.” they say, “You write in your morning pages, you feed the kids, you have kept up a weekly blog now for over 9 months.” There is no point in arguing but I laugh to myself.
I really don’t have much discipline. Discipline implies an orderliness and consistency. One of the definitions in my Apple laptop New American Dictionary is: to do something in a controlled and habitual way. I may write my morning pages, feed the kids and keep up a weekly blog but there is nothing controlled or habitual about it.
What I really am is persistent. Again with the dictionary: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. (I think the little detail that I’m also usually the one providing the opposition is a topic for another blog.) So either with discipline or with persistence I seem to get things done, but somehow I believe it would be easier for me if I could ease up on the persistence and acquire some more discipline.
Now I suppose I have to provide examples to explain my thesis. This weekend (I think) I have managed to take my blood pressure medications every day. I dole them out along with Orion’s meds first thing in the morning. Of course on a holiday weekend this may be closer to noon, but it’s still first thing. (This counts as discipline except when he’s not here and I forget to do it at all.)
Somehow I can not manage to actually TAKE the medicine when I dole it out. (Again, that would be discipline.) Instead I put it someplace (like on the kitchen counter) where I can’t help but see it, often, throughout the day. Each time I see it I think, “I should probably take those.” Holiday weekend aside, I’ve taken my meds closer to 8pm than the usual 8am all weekend. Nagging at myself until I actually do it, that’s persistence.
Likewise today’s blog. Monday was Memorial Day and so I went out on Sunday morning and took pictures for a blog memorial. I figured I would write it, sit on it, edit it and even if I chose to take the holiday off it would be ready to go Tuesday morning. I would have done all that too, if I was disciplined.
Instead I decided that the memorial blog was a bummer. If I was going to continue to court joy I needed something a little more upbeat. So I changed my focus from a memorial to fond memories. Sounds almost as nitpicky as discipline vs perseverance doesn’t it? The change in wording did change the tone of my thinking and I proceeded to think about fond memories. Then I started to think about photographs.
I have photographs (in theory) for the fond memories blog. They are probably in my flooded and moldy basement. They are not in electronic media. They are not in any particular organization (unless I pull them out of the scrapbooks my mother made for the kids when they were little- her discipline not mine.) This task, besides being daunting, came along with my current frustration with the technology of a new phone. (Karina and I upgraded to smart phones last week and I’m totally lost.)
The nice thing about persistence vs discipline is that persistence is about the outcome and discipline is about how you get there. I’ve actually lost friends (and maybe a husband) over this small distinction. I am very good at fulfilling my promises. If I give you my word I will do what I said. I may, however, not meet your expectations of what I meant.
The friend that I lost asked me to come over and help her with prep for a catering event she was running. She knew it would be an all day affair and I agreed to come in the morning and stay until we were done. She estimated 8 hours. I was having what turned out to be a torturous and complicated pregnancy. The complications started with me throwing up that morning.
I showed up when she asked willing to work. I was really out of it, really sick (but pregnant sick so doing food work didn’t seem problematic). and still persevered through-out the day. I did step out to take a nap at one point and the 8 hour day became closer to 14 hours. I was literally dying (although we didn’t know that at the time.) My friend was really angry about writing me a check for the hours I’d worked. This in spite of my saying “I really don’t know how long I worked or how much time I put in. I know what time I arrived, what time I left and that I took a nap in the middle. I have no idea how much time I lost napping or running to the bathroom.” She expected discipline, I persevered.
So here we have a wordy blog going out quite late in the day on Tuesday, not Monday. The topic isn’t memorial. The photos are essentially nonexistent. None-the-less I continue to produce a weekly blog. Don’t mistake this for discipline. It’s simply persistence.
It seems that I forget to allow joy into my life. Oh, it’s not that it’s not there. I am just very quick to nod at it and dismiss it. I move on to the next thing that needs to be done rather than allowing myself a moment to experience pleasure.
I came to this rather surprising insight while talking with a health coach. We were talking about exercise. She was hoping I’d find something I really like to do. I told her that historically, as soon as I find something I actually like to do I stop doing it. Something else takes precedence, especially if I might be having fun.
I also mentioned that even when good things happen to me I am reluctant to take the time to gloat. Isn’t that an interesting word choice? If I celebrate, delight in the moment, allow myself to experience joy the voice in my head accuses me of gloating. Unpacking the old baggage is a significant part of the work of exploring spirituality, but sometimes it feels like reaching blind into a bag of mousetraps!
Dare I admit that if it wasn’t for my dear friend Kate (THANK YOU!) I probably wouldn’t have even celebrated having my book accepted at the publishers? It’s true. She called me up beaming for me. She had a beer in her hand and insisted I get myself a drink and toast across the phone lines. She gave me permission to actually take some time and bask in the moment. Yes, as stunned and pleased as I was I needed permission to be joyful.
So now I have taken up a daily practice of actually looking for things that bring me joy. I find myself singing along more to the radio. I find myself turning off the TV and reading a trashy novel. I find myself thinking about flowers.
I used to fill my house with flowers. Every month I’d spend money at the florists for an armload of blossoms. I’d fill in with flowers from the garden or my blossoming plants. I know I stopped the florist because of the budget, but when did I stop bringing flowers in from outside?
Every time my hibiscus blooms it makes me smile. It’s like a present for the day. I delight in walking past the flower displays at the grocery store. I even enjoy the little flowers at the top of my chives. So I’m going out to the grocery store and getting myself a bouquet along with my milk and eggs. I deserve all the joy I can get!
As you all know from my last posting I’ve spent the last week in writers hell. Many trips to the library and lovely conversations with reference librarians later I’ve at least got the appropriate information to create citations. I do not, however, have anything in my head worth writing about.
I thought about a mother’s day posting, but then it’s post mother’s day and that just didn’t make much sense. I thought about writing about stress, but my stresses are minor compared to those of my friends. I’ve got close friends dealing with cancer, the loss of a grandparent, the violent loss of a cousin, and the likely loss of a child. It’s no wonder I didn’t get much sleep last week, but in relative terms I’ve got nothing to complain about.
This feels like a week of “hurry up and wait.” I’m busy, I have a long “to do” list. I just don’t feel the forward progress. Maybe when I finish with those damn citations and turn in the edited manuscript that will change. The list is filled with household tasks, laundry, grocery shopping and dealing with the lawn and those on going things are not nearly as rewarding as finishing a chapter in a book or hearing from the publisher.
I’ve taken a few other stabs at the blog for this week but there isn’t anything that warrants a second look. I’ve been doing a lot of other writing. I put together a class or two. I’m getting a workshop proposal drafted. I’m reading and responding to notes and blogs that I’m reading. Maybe that’s why I just feel like a chat. I’ll give up trying to find something profound to say. Let’s sip some tea and shoot the breeze and enjoy the summery weather.
I will start by being reassuring. I did not receive a parking ticket, or a traffic ticket, or any kind of summons to court. Sadly, neither was I mentioned in an official capacity for a “praiseworthy act.” No, my dear friends, I have simply heard back from the editor of my book.
The good news is that I do not have to do massive rewrites. Apparently my writing is clear and engaging. Points to me! However, the publisher I’ve chosen has a reputation for a higher content standard than is common among books on spirituality. (That would be why I picked them.) He wants to hold my chatty humanities text to an academic social sciences standard. Footnotes a la Terry Pratchett are not acceptable.
Let me give you a little bit of background. I have never written a research paper in my life. I have a BA in Theater Arts and never took a college English course. I dodged the bullet so to speak. I tested out of the Freshman English requirement and never looked back.
I had a class in high school final quarter, senior year that was all about ‘writing the research paper’. I have all the theory necessary to accomplish the task. I can even identify a properly cited entry off a test page. As it turned out I had plenty of credits to graduate without the English class so I blew it off.
Now after all these years I’m finally cornered. I have to actually write citations for my thesis. I have to put together a bibliography. I’m suffering. I make an off handed comment in the book about Jazz theory and training. The editor says, please cite a source. Shit.
I’ve been involved in music all my life. My mother turned down a scholarship to music school in favor of nursing. My sister, the music teacher, had an offer from the Sydney Philharmonic upon graduating with her BA. I played in band from 5th grade through 12th. I listened to a radio interview awhile ago with a jazz musician talking about learning jazz and jazz camp. Do I have any idea who that musician was? Do I even know if I heard the interview last month or last year or ten years ago? No, of course not. But now I have to find a source that supports my comment (or I suppose delete the comment.)
I know how to write a citation for Encyclopedia Britannica, but how do I write a citation for Wikapedia? In looking for quotes for the book I would remember something existed and then go find it on line. It was convenient. Do I cite the online source or the original? There are so many sites that promote it, the King James Bible exists in perpetuity on line. It’s certainly easier to find a quote through Google than by digging out my grandmother’s copy, who’s pages are crumbling and falling out of the binding.
Then there are the movie references. Sure most of those movies were originally books, but it’s the visual that I’m referencing. Do I list the screenwriter, the director or the original author? Is it important to note the city and state of the studio or is listing the country of origin adequate?
I understand that citations are important. They add a level of validation and credibility. They can also be so much self referential bullshit. Especially in small fields of study (the Mayan prophecies, paper review science research, biography of a saint) one or two authors become prominent in the field, reference each other’s work and then everyone else references them. Digging deeply, the page of bibliography boils down to one original source, but the bibliography itself is impressive.
The massive spreading of a small bit of misinformation is not limited to on-line sources. The computer world simply means the spread is faster and broader. It’s easy to find supportive quotes outside one’s field of expertise. It’s hard to validate that information except by review of how broadly it’s distributed. So maybe Mark Twain said it and maybe he didn’t, but everyone on line seems to think he did. Pick one and write a citation.