Monday, September 09, 2013

Habits




I read this article on the 99-Percent website some time ago, titled A Master Plan for Taking Back Your Life.  I think I bookmarked it to use with the class I was teaching at the time which included a book on what the internet is doing to our brains.

The article notes that every act that chips away at our willpower diminishes our ability to resist temptation and focus our energies.  There are multiple decision points in the act of reading on the web, each with their benefits and their accompanying Lernean Hydra-like links, dooming me to a distracted exhaustion.

Just as Charlie, my nephew's daughter, won't leap about the kitchen for endless hours, according to the article, we, too, should think about chunking our time into 90-minute intervals, taking a rest in between.  I find that if I slither onto the web in the morning, sucked into by email, then the New York Times headlines, then blog reading, I look up and it's nearly lunchtime, and my day has gone an entirely different direction.  When my children were at home, the day was compartmentalized by school schedules, their activities, and church meetings.  Since they've left home, my day has been defined by my tasks, rather than me thinking about how I want to structure it.  The digital interaction that seems now imperative needs to be factored in, rather than ignored.  This 90-minute idea could be a good habit to grab; new habits for our new digital world. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Shifting Perceptions




In our house, it's always been Dave who doesn't notice things.  It's kind of a relief, because he doesn't notice when the dishes aren't done, or the house is dirty--those kinds of things.  No pressure housewifery.  But I always say I could leave his birthday present in the middle of the floor for months and he'd just step over it, not seeing it.

So I was pretty surprised the other night when he walked in the kitchen, looked out the window and said "What happened?"  I was standing at that window, preparing dinner.  I turned to him, "What do you mean what happened?"  He pointed.

And outside the window, the tree that is tall and reaches up to my sewing room and which I look at every day had lost a major branch.  It had perhaps cracked in our recent storms and had fallen to the ground.  Huge. 

And it was me who had not noticed it. You can see the hole, below, and the stub of the branch poking into the empty space.


It's another way to demonstrate how I feel lately, with everything shifting under my feet.  I was contracted to teach Tuesday/Thursday in this new semester, but AFTER the first day of school, the Dean's secretary sent me an email asking me why I wasn't in class that Monday. Apparently they'd switched my classes and had neglected to inform me. (And no, they didn't apologize.)

The students showed up that second day (Wednesday) with all their books, but it they were all wrong.  They weren't my books, but the ones listed on another class.  We're now headed into the third week of the semester and every Monday I have to remind myself that I'm teaching that day, not Tuesday.  

Whereas before I used to love books with great pathos, now I feel like they pull me under, and I didn't listen to any all summer long, while I recuperated from foot surgery.  I can't find things.  I don't have the energy to really dig into some deep drawer-cleaning-out.  I used to be the BEST drawer-cleaner-outer.  My children make jokes about our garage, and could I please get it cleaned out before they have to?

I don't really know how to describe how I feel except to reference it to the summer before I went to college, when I sat on my bedroom floor, cutting out clothes for fall, knowing that all lot of things were going to change in my life, yet unable to see what they were.  In hindsight, of course, I went off to college, got married the following June and never again sat on that floor with scissors and pins and patterns.

We always think of only adolescents changing.  Or of toddlers learning to walk.  Or Twenty-Somethings morphing into the most delightful adults, having pushed (as my daughter would say) the "Grow Up Button."  But on the cusp of sixty, the frame through which I perceived the world through my fifties seems ill-fitting, out-of-shape, like it was meant for someone else, yet I don't know what I will use next.  I could write something here about not seeing the forest for the trees, but after this week's experience, maybe I can't even see the trees, with their fallen branches. 

All I can do is wonder what's coming next, the ground unsteady beneath my feet.