It's 7:44 a.m., which at home is usually when I've already eaten breakfast, drank one cup of coffee and commotion is happening in my home. This morning, after a week where I was pretty much knocked out by a cold, moving and thinking extremely slowly, not leaving the house and not even craving a drop of coffee, I'm recovered and awoke at my friend's house in Richmond. The curtains are pulled so I actually was surprised at the time; I would have guessed a few hours earlier. The room is lit only by a string of colored lights hung on the wall, the only noise what I think is the humidifier she kindly left for me.
I can't emphasize enough how glorious it felt to let myself sleep as long as I wanted, to have traveled on two airplanes (I took one from Newark to Boston, then one from Boston to Richmond, because JetBlue has some amazingly cheap fares on from BOS to RVA), and to be able to take a big breath through my nose. That is my gratitude for the day, as I embark on nine days of travel and events and what, if I think too hard about it, feels like chaos. I haven't even turned the lights on yet because the dark and quiet feel cozy and welcoming.
In my bedroom at home, the sun starts to creep in pretty early, and I appreciate that since it makes the room seem bigger and brighter. Lately I've taken to sitting on the floor in our hallway upstairs to edit pieces, absorbing the sun via our skylight. Some would say that's ridiculous given that I have an office to use, but I like to mix it up. Most weekdays will find me working in an array of spots in our home, because I need the motion after I get restless.
But sometimes what I need is, literally, to rest. That's what I needed this week, when I gave my mind a break. Even though it went against all my instincts, I forced myself not to start any new pieces, but to catch up on old ones until I felt fully capable of tackling anything new. So often, way too often, I get sucked into my to do list immediately upon waking up. I will emerge from sleep in a near panic, or even a full on panic, worried that I am "behind" on urgent tasks. It's an unsettling way to live that I'm trying to curb, because it's just not feasible in the long term, or even, really, the short term.
I am working on working smarter and saner. On being more present in my personal life and relationship. On putting all of myself into my writing and editing and teaching when I'm doing it, but then letting it go and coming back to it refreshed. It's challenging, both because I worry about money, and because so much of my writing work stems from my life. That doesn't always mean I'm cribbing from my foibles and actions, but that those inform the ideas I pitch, whether it's an element of pop culture I'm interested in or something I do that troubles or intrigues me that I want to flesh out on the page. So yes, I'm a work in progress, forever. I'm also the kind of person who often needs big signs to lead the way, and this week, my cold was that sign. It's already changed my approach to 2015; I once had grand plans for all kinds of events, and now I'm pulling back from those and focusing on a smaller number of total events that will have more of a positive impact but won't leave me utterly drained of energy and excitement. I worry sometimes that I will burn out, especially in a month like this last one. I don't think I will if I figure out the best practices for me, and am willing to change course when the ones I was trying stop working.
And now, I'm off to finish a column before I head to Fountain Bookstore to sign books (Richmond folks, I'll be there from 12:30-2:30 and if you can't make it, I'll be leaving them with autographed copies of my titles). There are few places I love more than bookstores!