Living “As If”

The Green Study will return to posting on March 8th, 2015.

Thank you to the new readers and commenters who arrived at The Green Study through the Freshly Pressed post Time Travel on Facebook. Sit back, lower your expectations and let’s get to know each other. Or not. I’m not good at small talk. Maybe I should just get back to writing. 

canstockphoto1697101It might have been the two rice and bean burritos that I ate for breakfast. Or the Netflix bender that lasted a couple of hours, watching “The IT Crowd” – a show I’ve been through at least twice already. Maybe it was the fact that I woke up thinking “I’ll never do anything exciting in my life again” or that I wondered if I was dying because everything ached.

Whatever it was, I was ready to throw in the towel yesterday, prepared to sink into a miserable pool of gluttony and self-pity. But I’ve been here before. I know the ending. I’d be filled with recrimination which would fuel several days of deprivation, punishing exercise and a regimented schedule that usually included some pious volunteering, structured writing times and no burritos.

Over thcanstockphoto10115026e weekend, I’d resolved to do some winnowing of my book collection, which was starting to overflow in unstable stacks about the study. I ran across Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I’d purchased it in 2012 to get some support during National Novel Writing Month. It still had that new book smell. I flopped in my chair and started flipping through it. At the beginning, the author lists secrets to writing a book in a month.

The first secret was to Work “As If”. In summary, when writing, you should take notes of things that need to be changed, but write from that point forward as if those changes had already been done. This keeps you moving forward without getting hung up on the editing. If your character’s name was supposed to be Luigi and you called him Bob, you wrote him as Luigi from that point forward.

I’ll likely implement that idea while working on my book, but it occurred to me that this might be a technique that would work in other areas. What if I went about the rest of my day as if I were productive and energetic? What if I went about my day as if I’d eaten a nutritious breakfast, spent a couple of hours writing, doing yoga,  and getting things done. What if, from that point on, I functioned as if I hadn’t been a sloth?

So, I went to the gym, editing out the doomsayers of feeling good – guilt and self-loathing. I was a tad slothful, but moving. Then I came home, wrote for a couple of hours, cleaned the house, made dinner, did some reading. My deep and erudite thought was “Now THAT is how you pull your day out of the crapper.”

canstockphoto1323495Today I’m going to live as if I’m a writer who needs to get this novel done. That being said, I’m going to do what I often do after a post gets a lot of traffic and I’ve had loads of interaction with humans. I’m taking a break for the next couple of weeks from blogging. It’s an introvert thing. I’ll be back when US Daylight Savings Time screws us out of an hour in the midwest.

Thanks again to the generous readers and commenters. Welcome to the new subscribed readers. It’s lovely to meet you and I look forward to more conversation!

Until I return, I’ve put together a list of posts that I enjoyed writing and that will give you a pretty good idea if you want to keep following along or run away as fast as your fingers will type you:

The Green Study: Have We Met?

Will the Real Blogger Please Step Forward?

Love is Not Smothering…with a Pillow

Snipe Hunting for Writers

Boundaries and the Huggy Sunshine People

From Chicken to Merely Insufferable

She Knows Nothing…But She Should Know Something

Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone

Being Just Right

Kicking Your Mom

Defending Yourself Against an Ambush

canstockphoto4928698One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” with Peter Sellers. His character, Inspector Clouseau, has a hired manservant, Cato, a martial arts expert. Cato, when he is not serving, is employed to ambush Clouseau in order to keep his combat skills sharp. The ambushes nearly always lead to funny, but massively destructive scenes. It’s a specific sort of humor and not for everyone, but it makes me laugh nearly every time.

I was thinking about the ambushes that happen in everyday life. It’s 4am – my sleep was taken over last night by a long list of anxieties about things that must be done. I tossed and turned, woke up 4 or 5 times, eventually laying there angrily until I wrote a post in my head about it. And here it is.

I have to start really questioning my activities, when, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted and have very little to show for it. What happened to the time? What happened to my early morning ambition? What did it get hijacked by?

Picture it. It’s a beautiful sunny, but cold morning. The “to do” list is sitting on my desk, neatly written out from the night before – even written in order by priority. It’s artistry. I shower right away, as this is key when working from home. Shower and dress right away or you’ll find yourself at 2pm, eating soup out of a can in your pjs, because all the dishes are dirty. Not much will be happening that day. But on this day, I’m showered and dressed. I’ve eaten a super healthy breakfast. I get my child off to school. I sit down at my desk, energized and ready to go. Then Cato shows up.

Cato is the phone call from the family member that leaves me angry and hostile for an hour afterwards (let’s get that emotional eating out of the way). Cato is in my computer as I click through the news, blogs and email jokes. Cato is the cat that decides throw up in six different places in the livingroom. Cato is the home schooled kid next door who is playing basketball against the house. Thump, thump, thump.

Cato can come in all forms, shapes and sizes. He can be the coworker who hangs over your cube wall telling you his descriptive colonoscopy tale or how her boyfriend did her wrong this time, gnawing away at your time and your senses, like a dog with a bone. Cato is waiting around every corner.

Now, being ex-military and a red belt in taekwondo, I feel that I am in the position to give advice on how to handle an ambush: run away screaming like a grown woman when she sees a house centipede (come on now – they’re creepy!). It stops ambushes cold. At some point, everyone stops talking to you out of fear that you will shriek and run. The ambitious ones will run after you and still talk, but this is why you need to work out – you can shake them on the first flight of stairs.

Today, I’m ready for ambushes. I’m not answering the phone or checking emails until I’ve taken care of priority tasks. I’m taking a brisk morning hike in the woods to shake off the cobwebs. And I’m definitely showering. If Cato shows up in the form of a house centipede in my bathtub (why oh why do they like my bathtub?), I’m killing it dead.

Here’s wishing you an ambush-free day!

Except for maybe this video…hey, where are you going? Why are you screaming?