Last minute

Something guaranteed to spike my anxiety are last minute arrangements. I’m rarely one for making plans the same day unless it’s with a family member or someone close to me. I need to know how my day is going to look in advance with no surprises. I know this isn’t always possible because you can’t predict the how your day going to go, it’s part of the reason accepting what I can’t control is so difficult for me.

On Monday morning I was back to work after a week off. What I expected this week to look like was to work from home Monday to Wednesday and return to the office on Thursday and Friday. This wasn’t the case anymore. My manager had made new plans and decided we could all come back full time five days a week albeit in separate rooms or buildings, which meant I was expected to return yesterday. Needless to say this was a shock and even though my manager urged me to let him know if I was comfortable or not, I said I was because I really wasn’t sure. The more I thought about it the worse I felt. It was too last minute. I hadn’t prepared for five full days a week and now I was being thrown back in with little to no warning.

By lunchtime I thought I’d calmed down but I wound up breaking down into tears, barely comparing myself to go back to my computer. It was public transport that really worried me. Parking is too expensive where I work so I get the tram and I was convinced it’d be jam-packed with people refusing to wear masks or social distance.

As always, it wasn’t as bad as I predicted. While barely anyone on the tram wore a mask they kept a relatively comfortable distance from me and I got in quicker than usual. As for the office itself, it took me some time to get my desk back to the way it was and I couldn’t help but feel lonely in a room all to myself. We had to stagger our lunches so there wouldn’t be more than three people in the kitchen so I only got to chat with one person briefly.

I’m working from home tomorrow so I can attend my last writing class without skipping dinner but then it’s full steam ahead for a new normal I have to try and get used to.

Do it anyway

My last writing class keeps getting pushed back and as a result I’ve lost motivation to write. It got to a point that I was actually afraid to write, don’t ask me why. Maybe I was afraid what I’d end up writing would be crap or worse that I couldn’t write at all.

Two of my favourite authors don’t believe in Writer’s Block. Their reasoning is that you wouldn’t get Doctor’s Block or Engineer’s Block, etc. But that’s spoken by people who can work as writers full time. I truly believe Writer’s Block is real with no foolproof cure. Different remedies work for different people or, God forbid, not at all. I found my motivation for writing faltered when I started working full-time five years ago, suddenly I hadn’t as much time as I used to.

I don’t think I’ve fully figured out what my remedy for Writer’s Block is but I decided to re-read a book I found very useful: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love). She believes ideas come to whoever is willing to commit to bringing it to life. For example, an idea she had for a story fell by the wayside and was picked up by another author that she became friends with. She believes you need to open yourself up to creativity and treat it like a love affair. That’s where the Writing Date comes in. She advises you to steal some time each day like you would if you were having an affair with someone – fifteen minutes minimum – and indulge in your creativity whatever it may be.

So last night I finally set my timer for fifteen minutes and took out my notebook. And I wrote a good piece that can be adapted for my story that I didn’t foresee beforehand. I laughed at how afraid I was doing that and I’m looking forward to today’s date.

Do you ever get creatively blocked? If so, what is your remedy?

Intermission

I can’t say how good it feels to have a week off work. I haven’t had a proper week off since Christmas so I think I’m overdue this rest. Well, my version of rest is being productive but also giving myself time to relax. In fact one of my to-do tasks today is pampering my feet because they badly need it. I also want to make time to write and read.

My last writing class is on Thursday and we’ve to produce a 5,000 maximum piece from our stories, but I wasn’t given a clear instruction on what exactly to produce except to develop a certain character and bring out more of the city the story takes place in. I’ve written about 2,500 words so far but I don’t know if I can stretch it any further than that without waffling. But I guess I won’t know if I don’t try. I’ve been focusing on the ending recently and I think I have a good ending in mind, I just need to motivate myself to write it!

As for reading, my writing teacher recommended classics for me to read, or what he refers to as “great writing”, so I decided to read The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. It’s not an easy read and I find it goes off on tangents about stuff that isn’t relevant to the story. Sure it’s great writing but does anyone actually write like that anymore? Next on my reading list are: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Stoner by John Williams and I hope to God they’re easier reads! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read classics and loved them but unfortunately I can’t love them all.

Beautiful letdown

I got angry last night after my third letdown this week (by strangers, I should add). I’ve already mentioned my writing partner letting me down by now acknowledging my writing piece. She’s since apologised and the whole class agreed to push our last class from tonight to next Thursday because only two of us have actually written anything.

My second letdown was a landscaper I’d sought out for a quote for my back garden. He called me straight away and we agreed for him to come out on Tuesday evening. He texted me quite last minute and cancelled, asking if he could come yesterday instead. Then he asked later if he can come on Friday. I’m going to seek other quotes regardless but I don’t have much faith in this guy.

Lastly, I’ve been waiting for three packages that are presents for a birthday that was last week and Father’s Day – also last week. I had them delivered to a company called Parcel Motel that brings them to lockers to be collected rather than bring it straight to your house. It’s handy for ordering from the UK. One of my packages has been there for two weeks which is very unusual even with their backlog. Because their system was down, instead of going to a locker, I received a text yesterday advising me to go to a van between a certain time to collect my packages. So after work last night I drove out to this van and according to their notes they were supposed to have two (one missing), but they couldn’t find them! They looked through their boxes for ages but nothing. I was so angry. More angry than I’ve been in a while. It could be a lot of factors, such as the fact that they’re late presents and I had a wasted journey.

I spoke to a really nice lady today in Customer Service who said she’ll help me find the package that’s been there for two weeks but assured me not to worry about the other two because it’s likely they were just forgotten. But as helpful as she’s been, I doubt I’ll be using Parcel Motel again any time soon.

Rod for your own back

This weekend just gone on has been super stressful. I honestly don’t believe I stopped from the time I woke up on Saturday morning until yesterday evening. Between food shopping, visiting family and friends for birthdays and Father’s Day, and my new IKEA desk arrived so a lot of time was spent putting that together.

It’s only looking back that I realise I couldn’t make time for little things like my knee exercises, my German study, even reading. I thought I was getting back into playing Animal Crossing on my Switch but that didn’t happen this weekend.

I didn’t write either because we’re on a break from our writing class and we were divided into pairs to submit our work to each other for feedback. I sent mine to my partner on Thursday and I foolishly waited until yesterday evening to receive feedback. She didn’t send me anything of her’s or even acknowledge my email. It makes me glad this Thursday is our last class. But I got some writing done last night which I’m happy with. My plan is, once my writing class is over and I don’t have weekly deadlines, I’m going to set aside two slots a week to write and make 15 minutes a day for a writing date (anyone who’s read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert will know what I mean). Basically just taking a short amount of time to write whatever.

They say it takes 21 to 30 days to solidify a new habit and I’m on day 25 of yoga so I’m hoping to start on this new writing habit as soon as my class finishes on Thursday.

Two steps closer

I’ll be returning to work properly the week of the 6th July. Not full-time but instead I’ll be working Thursdays and Fridays. Everyone seems a little apprehensive but I’m actually looking forward to it. Sure, nothing will change now that we have strict rules to follow in order to keep social distancing.

What I need to consider ahead of my return is my commute. I usually drive to the tram stop and get the tram from there but if that’s restricting access, how many trams will have to pass me by until I can fit on one? Surely a lot more people will be going back to work too so I don’t know how it’s going to work. I’ve warned my boss that it could make me late depending on how it operates. I just hope I don’t have to leave ridiculously early to get a tram because I’m getting up early enough as it is.

At least it’s just two days a week, right?

Pyjama Yoga

There was a good r/AskReddit thread on Reddit the other day asking: What’s the one part of your hobby that you hate doing? It got me thinking about yoga, which I’m proud to say I’m on a 18-day streak with! I do it first thing in the morning and what used to hinder my motivation was rolling out the mat and changing into workout clothes. I don’t tend to spend long in my pyjamas but I do like to lounge in them for a little while.

Once I started doing the 30-day yoga programme with Adriene I found the motivation to put my mat down each morning but I still haven’t found the motivation to change into yoga clothes so I’ve been doing yoga in my pyjamas for over a month now. I don’t believe it makes any real difference and maybe someday I’ll find the motivation to change in the morning, but for now I’ll stick to my pyjama yoga!

What about you? Is there a particular part of your hobby you don’t like?

Pomodoro

I know I’ve written about this before but I can’t remember if I dedicated an entire entry to it. Basically pomodoro is a technique whereby you take a five minute break every twenty-five minutes while working. After a couple of hours it allows for a fifteen minute break and of course I shut it off at lunchtime. I swore I’d use it more once I returned to working from home.

Yesterday was my first day returning to my actual job and both my manager and my mam advised me to take it easy – I guess they know what I’m like. I hate feeling left behind and so much has changed in terms of operations while I was on redeployment. I had over 100 emails and I was determined to do as much as I could, not just to catch up but to keep myself busy. One of the more painful memories of pre-redeployment was having nothing to do. Needless to say I was kept busy the entire day right up until 5.30pm. And my reward? A migraine and sore limbs.

I went to bed early and woke up this morning feeling even worse. Thankfully no vomiting. I took painkillers and it wore off before work though the caffeine made me jittery and not even having a banana helped. Despite having a sinking feeling in my stomach the entire morning, I was determined not to repeat yesterday’s mistakes. I activated my pomodoro app at 9.00am and every twenty-five minutes I took off my glasses, had some water and got up to stretch my limbs, sometimes crashing on my bed or walking around or playing with/petting Oreo. I still feel as though I’m in an entirely new job but physically I’m great! No migraine and never once did my back or limbs hurt because I never let myself sit for too long. It’s a small achievement but it works and I’ll keep it up.

Humble bee

I received praise last week for three separate accomplishments/actions last week and, as always, it wasn’t easy for me to accept them. I can’t even say I have accepted them. The first was on Wednesday when my manager received two emails from the organisation I was redeployed to, praising my work there. The first thought into my head was that the people who wrote these emails barely saw me throughout the five weeks so how can I believe them? I did receive similar praise from the people I did work directly with, which again was a struggle but I hope I did some good.

The second was on Thursday when the fundraiser from an animal charity I volunteer for texted me to tell me he was being made redundant. He didn’t seem angry about it and proceeded to thank me for all I’ve done to help the charity. Cue negative voice telling me I barely helped out these past couple of years, but rather than fight the compliment, I felt awful for him. I hope he can find a new job soon.

And finally, the third compliment I received was something I was aiming for for weeks: my writing. I submitted another chapter to my writing class for Thursday evening’s lesson and I focused on the feedback given, doing my best to use all five senses when I’m describing stuff (a common pitfall in my writing) and my teacher was delighted with me. He had one or two nitpicks but overall he said he was no longer concerned about my writing (whatever that means!). We don’t have to submit anything for next week but we do have to think about where we want to our stories to go now that we’ve submitted sections of it for critique. I’m convinced it was a fluke and that I can’t recreate whatever I did right and I haven’t written anything since that class.

Why can’t I just accept when I’ve done good? Why do I have to tear it apart so much that it becomes worthless? I’ve been working hard to receive positive feedback on my writing and now that I have it, I don’t want to believe it. Does anyone else struggle with this?

Nighttime inspiration

I always seem to get my best ideas at night and yet I don’t take the time to write them down. I’m struggling in my writing course trying to follow the feedback I get about certain weak points in my story. Last night I couldn’t sleep and I thought of a great way to start this week’s writing assignment but convinced myself that by the time I grabbed a pen and notebook it’d be gone, so I just hoped I’d remember it. I remember bits of it but I think writing it down would’ve helped a lot.

Working on it today was another struggle so I went for a walk, now I’m afraid to make another attempt because I keep thinking of what the course tutor will have to say about it. There’s only two more weeks and I can’t help but think a different course would’ve been better such as developing my writing skills as opposed to aiming for writing a book. Small steps and all.

Apologies, I’m rambling. I haven’t updated in a week because my motivation has been up and down. And so much is happening in the world right now, it seemed a little selfish to update with my own problems.

I hope everyone is safe and well in there trying times.