I missed Ash Wednesday. I was busy doing my thing and simply forgot. Luckily the Lenten season lasts for a good long while — especially if I give up something that hurts or is bad habit that I’d prefer keep. Candy, chocolate, coffee, red wine, etc., for instance, are some of my favorite “sins” and I can find all sorts of justifications to keep them, and I do.
There is only so much time in a day, however. If I were a single woman, or single mom with one child — not five (Okay — one is in college, but she does occupy my mind and concerns), but the point is time is a premium commodity around here. Time is so easily taken away on errands, chores, kitty litter cleanings, vacuuming, laundry, homework, colds and sniffles, necessary naps, phone calls, 24-hour news channels, talk radio and Facebook creeping.
I have noticed that when I truly focus, I am able to accomplish much in a day. Big projects take one day. (I know my logic does not translate here well, but for example, if I need to complete cleaning the garage — that takes one day. If I need to finish yard work, it takes one day. If I must prepare for taxes, etc. — it takes one day. If I am writing a script or producing a short film, the work takes one day. Now of course, it takes much longer than that — but if I look at it as months from me, I will never get it done. However, as long as I work very hard, focused on one thing — to accomplish much of it — takes one whole day. Then the next day, and the next and so on. I choose to look at it as only One Day.) If I stuck to this plan, I think I might be amazed at what I accomplish.
My problem is that I am easily distracted. Seldom am I allowed to focus on just one thing, per day. Multitasking has become a job requirement for most of us. Often, other people’s problems or concerns out rate my own. Off I go in that direction, promising myself that I will return to my work, A.S.A. P.
“As soon as possible” usually means the next morning. The next morning begins with a ritual I didn’t intend: Four alarms going off at different times — all but the last, I ignore. For example for years now, I’ve decided that I will rise and write at 4 a.m. For some time, I was able to do it. Then, I don’t know what happened — it became harder. Probably after I didn’t win a contest with my script and then started a new one is when it became harder. Regardless, the second alarm goes off at 4: 30 a.m. I, of course, ignore it. I can find that alarm from across the room and hidden underneath pillows and books to turn it off. My eye glasses for which to see — well, not so easily. The third alarm goes off at five. After failing to heed and obey the first two alarms, ignoring the third seems obligatory and expected. I eventually rise at six I get up, not because of a set alarm, but because my big dog is hungry, shaking his collar noisily to wake me. Mind you, he never does it at four, or four-thirty or five. He knows better.
I am always looking for rituals that will cure my various forms of failure. Failures as a parent, as a writer, as a filmmaker, as a decent neighbor, as a good human being, as a virtual wife (No, I can’t explain that one here — just let it be). I am forever making lists of the certain hours I will take to accomplish certain tasks. I change my diet with the intention of eliminating 10 pounds or to cure something with my skin or hair. I come up with new creative bookkeeping and budgets — always very extreme, always too rigid and always impossible for me to maintain.
My alarm technique alone has conditioned me to believe failure is inevitable. Similarly, the budgets, the 10 page New Years Resolutions, the restrictive diets — all have helped condition me into thinking — I just don’t have the chops, the will, or the stamina. Yet, on some gut level, I know this is not true. I refuse to believe it is true. I have bad habits to break — good habits to create, is all.
How do I undo my bad habit of predetermined failure? I suppose by proving to myself that I am wrong. As usual, I have a stack of projects and goals — all which must be completed. Where to begin?
Lent. Lent suddenly appears as a little gift from God to refocus my energies. So I missed the ashes on the forehead — I still have roughly five weeks to get my act together.
The areas where I’ve wasted most of my time is by watching other people’s reality instead of working on my own. So henceforth — No television, or talk radio. No cheating by watching shows, news, etc., on the internet. And what about Social Networking? Okay, banning that too. Except for Twitter. Twitter is quick. Ten minute time limit. Listening to music and watching movies is allowed and is mandatory. Five weeks. Lots to be done. Go.