I’m also sure this person didn’t come home from work yesterday to find an oak tree lying across their driveway that had to be manually cut up and pulled out of the way, because the gas chainsaw broke last fall, and the new electric chainsaw was useless because the power was out from the thunderstorm that knocked down the tree.
We won’t talk about the two freaked out parrots inside the house, the domino effect of events that caused her to go to bed late because the power didn’t come back on for two hours after she got home from work, or the fact that literally every person she interacted with was in a piss-ant mood this week. I sure am glad that I bought that Digorno pizza and hid it in the freezer at work for lunch today. It's one less thing to worry about, anyway.
My point is that life happens to all of us. Sometimes you escape reality, and sometimes reality tackles you and drags you down for the count. We all have those days. Some days, everything flows so smoothly that you accomplish more than you expect. You work all day, exceed your writing goals on your lunch break, get supper on and off the table in record time, finish housework in mere minutes, do a workout, and are crashed out in the recliner by 8:30, feeling triumphant. Other days, you do good to dash out of the door five minutes late, praying that the nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something is just paranoia and not a premonition of a mini-disaster you were trying to avert, when you see the traffic lined up on the Interstate on-ramp, at the same time that you realize that you left your lunch and water mug in the refrigerator at home.
We all have days that are run-on sentences of chaos.
I recently took the How to Make Stress Work for You course through The Great Courses, and found it extremely helpful for times like this. While meditation really isn’t my thing, it does help to take frequent breaks when the going gets rough to put things back into a realistic perspective. For example, when I pulled up to find that tree in the driveway yesterday, I’ll admit that my frustration levels spun into a level of pissed off that threatened to launch me into the Twilight Zone after a long, busy day at work. Instead of reacting, I sat in the car for a minute, enjoying the AC (because Mom already called me while I was sitting in traffic to let me know the power was out in our area) and reminding myself that these things happen when you live in the woods. And I’m darn lucky, because we’ve been here for nearly 12 years, and this is the first actual TREE that fell anywhere near the house or driveway. Every other storms has just littered the yard with branches. That’s not a bad track record. And at least it was the driveway and not on the house.
It's too bad about the tree. It was a pretty, mid-size oak tree. What a shame. But our hot, humid summers mean apocalyptic-type summertime storms, so there’s another one of those things.
Another thing I learned from that course is that it helps to plant stress relief measures throughout your day. You don’t always know when it’s going to hit the fan, so it helps to listen to that “inner voice” and to do this regularly. I know work is busy because it’s deadline month, so the pizza stashed in the freezer was no genius move for me. I knew I’d probably need a soul-healing by the time it hit 5:00 today. But it also helps to plan some things that will help to center you no matter what’s going on. Maybe it’s reading time, or watching a favorite TV show, or listening to music or a course. I’m enjoying the How to Write Best-Selling Fiction course while I get ready for work in the mornings. After prayer time, that’s getting my busy days off to a great start, because I love writing and this course teaches me how to do it better. There’s no substitute for starting the day right.
Yes, “those days” happen, but you can still take control of them. The way you do that is to do the best that you can do, and to realize that it’s enough. Some days, doing the bare minimum is victory. Don’t worry. You can make up for it when another “flow” hits that allows for more progress later. That’s just life: it ebbs and flows. So when it ebbs, the best thing to do is chill out, accept your best, and just get on with it. Sometimes, reality tackles you, despite your best efforts to escape it.
I didn’t get a short story done this week like I hoped. But I did finish one article, write this blog, and watch four The Great Courses lectures this week. It’s less progress than I usually make in a week, but that’s going to have to be good enough for me this week so I’ll be happy with it. The writing and reading will come back when the rest of life chills out. And yes, these times when it all goes haywire usually inspire even more fiction for future escapes from this crazy reality!
In closing, one habit I have is to be a blessing to my readers when the people in my reality aren't at my best. Keep your eyes open on Twitter and my Facebook Fan Page for more free days for The Earthside Trilogy and The Earthside Box Set coming up soon! Those free days will start next week. It's my way of thanking you for escaping reality with me - because goodness knows, we need it sometimes!
That’s all today. Have a happy Friday, and a wonderful weekend.
*Storm cloud photo courtesy of Morguefile.*