Monday, January 2, 2017

A tap on the glass

2017 might begin like 2016 did
but it will end differently
if I can get off track enough.

A while back, I waited at a doctor's office to be seen for something likely brought on by stress, because little goes wrong with me that doesn't start with stress.

There was an enormous fish tank in the corner with a prominently placed sign that read:

I love schedules. I love lists with little boxes next to a task. I love them so much, I've made my own weekly spreadsheet so that I can slide a finished task under the "Done" line. It's fun. 
They make me feel I've utilized my time and capacity the way I should. They make me feel productive and useful and satisfied that I've made the most of a day. They make me feel I won't be T-boned by a forgotten priority, and that I'm maintaining control over my life. 
They make me restless and preoccupied when I don't follow them. I half-listen to people while I'm wondering how to get back on track. I feel neglectful if a couple of weeks go by without posting something relevant on the blog. If a month has passed and I've not submitted to at least two good targets, I start to wonder what's wrong with me. 

I get stressed. 
Life has been tapping on my glass. Life has been asking why I'm editing an essay that I don't really like that much. Or why I've submitted a piece that needed to go in the drawer for another week. Or why I'm not amending my schedule to add short-story writing, or why I even say "I gave up fiction," when I still miss it like people miss old lovers who treated them like doo-doo. 
Life has been asking why I haven't purposely built in time for frivolous stuff like researching best recipes for homemade dog food, a thing I'm not doing because I have to, but want to. Or where to hang a painting that will make my office more inviting.  Life has been saying: Gestalt, Susan. Sum, not parts.
I expected to  produce a "Sixteen things worth mentioning" post to wrap up the blog like I did in 2014 and 2015. I expected to submit a marriage article at least once before the year ended. I expected to start the collection of observations that will comprise a book I'm thinking about. 
Life said, "Here, have a puppy. Her name is Abby." 
With Abby's help, I've separated from my normal schedule enough to scrutinize 2016 in terms of how satisfied I felt, over what I accomplished.  
2017 will be more about the painting, less about brush strokes. 
It will be a year of building, I've decided, and not just finishing. 
It will be a year of mindful creation, and not rushed completion. 
This will be a year of understanding that "unfinished" does not mean "late." 
I will work on believing that if I'm doing one thing, when I should be doing another, the one thing is probably more important. 
And this year, I will learn, even though I thought I was practicing it, that mindful living doesn't happen when you're engaged in one activity while thinking about the next one. 
It will not be easy, but I will start to look at my schedule as a suggestion, and not a collection of "have-to's." 
I expect this change in outlook will be difficult before it becomes satisfying. When I think of the happiest, most meaningful and truthful  things that have happened in my life, I can't say any of them came free.  
It's worth mentioning, however, that they all started with a tap on the glass. 

Happy New Year, to you all. Thank you for your visits and shares. And may your glass be tapped at the right times, to move you off track, when you need it most.



  1. We seem to be of like minds all the time. This is wonderful. Tap tap tap.

    1. Haha, so true, and a tap right back at you.

  2. Yes Susan, I like this, mindful living! I am pursuing some creative outlets because I like to do them. WHAT!! Like play time for kids.

    1. That's a great way to put that, I love being so into a creative project I lose track of time and even forget to eat. I'm grateful I have the outlet, and wish you luck with yours!

  3. Beautifully said, Susan. This seems a bit like curly-haired people wanting straight hair and vice versa. I am one who naturally lives like you aspire to be and I aspire to be more task-oriented to maximize my time better like you seem to have mastered. It's a balancing act for sure!

    1. It's so true, and not something that can ever be truly mastered, but to be mindful that balance is needed moves you toward it, I think.

  4. This is my favorite line: "mindful living doesn't happen when you're engaged in one activity while thinking about the next one." Nicely done. Tap tap tap. :-)

  5. Oh Susan, as a fellow list-maker, I can relate. I can't imagine life without a list, but you're inspiring me to have one (maybe two crazy days?) a week without one. Needed this post. Thank you.

  6. I love making lists, as I feel the same need to try and control my life. Often though, I find the list overwhelming, which leads to procrastinaction (I am loving this Freudian spelling mistake, so leaving it!!). The key, from both perspectives, is balance.