Since starting back with teaching this fall, and the kids in two new schools, I’ve had to get used to a few new schedules. I teach at the high school every day in the mornings and then also Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Temple University. After 4pm I like to block off for kid-stuff – shuttling them around and generally being with them. Sometimes I have that time for myself if the kids are busy, but generally my days are pretty scheduled.
I start each day around 5:30 with a run or a yoga session, so I’m in bed by 10:30 at the latest.
Here’s the interesting part: my writing efficiency has improved markedly.
Last year I used to regularly have three or four hours at a stretch in which I could write some fiction or other things. Those long blocks of uninterrupted time are a thing of the past. Now, if I find myself with a spare ninety minutes, I feel grateful. And whereas in the past I would fritter away half the spare time on email, or facebook or some useless game, I can now be productive for almost all of those gifted ninety minutes. My thought process is that I can never tell when I’ll get that time again – I had better use it while I have it.
Am I working hard? Absolutely. But I’m happier than I’ve been in quite a while, and I also feel so much more productive in almost every area of my life than I used to when I didn’t work outside the home.
Please don’t get me wrong: working is not the be-all and end-all for every woman out there, and I have my share of crappy days, but it really is good for me – the whole thing is improving my outlook on life.
And now, if you’ll pardon me, I have to go make the most of my evening time – a small girl on my couch would like a snuggle. I’m almost never to busy for that request.
This week has been about the choices I’ve made and continue to make in my life. Writing is not necessarily a choice for me; it’s who I am more than what I do. The choice for me regarding my writing is how much time I devote to it and how much of my life it takes over.
There are other choices to be made however. Picture this: I am writing now at 9:53am. It the past 90 minutes, I have been to the grocery store, put together dinner in the slow cooker, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, and done a little cleaning. In a few minutes, when I finish here, I’m headed for a walk. I will do two errands and visit with a friend this afternoon. At some point I will write more. Most days I write instead of visiting with the friend. Since I have kids, afternoons after 4pm are generally dedicated to them. Sometimes I write again after they are in bed. These are all choices I make on how to spend my day.
What’s my point here? I choose to write. I organize my life so I have the flexibility to write – working on my novel when I can and also writing articles for various publications. In the meantime, I take very good care of my family and the people I love. That’s what gives me real pleasure. Knowing I’ve given my kids a nutritious dinner or having a clean house makes me no less a strong, feminist woman than if I had gone out and toiled in the salt mines all day. Someday I hope my writing will bear fruit and I will have more books to my credit. That too, takes hard work and dedication.
For now, though, I’m going to celebrate my choices. I have the ability and energy to be a writer and a wife, and a mother – plus the myriad other roles I undertake. I even have the gift of time to reflect on these choices.
These are the things that give meaning to my life right now. The greatest thing about choices is that they are not set in stone; they can change as I grow and change. What a stroke of luck.