The Importance of Giving Space

I just completed Day 5 of my write everyday challenge. Here is a quick overview of my experience and early thoughts.

The Exercise

For 30 minutes (a hard 30 minutes, not a moment less, not a moment more) I free-wrote. For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, freewriting gives the writer space to just write. Sometimes, the exercise involves a topic or point of inspiration, but the most important element is to write for the entire duration of the time allocated to the activity.

At first, I intended to free-write every morning. And I did. For the first morning. After that, it fell to the late evening one night and I haven’t been able to get it done in the morning since.

I choose not to share this anyone I knew personally. Not my boyfriend, not my coworkers and definitely not on Facebook. Why? Because I didn’t know if I could do it. Lately (and what I mean is the last two year), I’ve really struggled with time management. If I couldn’t allocate time to write, would I want to write at all?

While I contemplated the exercise for the last month, I decided to commit after I was selected to facilitate a workshop at a writing conference. While I do write sporadically, I did not have any sense of commitment to it. The purpose of this exercise was to provide a sense of structure without being formulaic. Thirty minutes (and I cannot stress that it was a true 30 minute session) was enough time for me to just write.

The Lesson

Freewriting is a great exercise in and of itself. It is an excellent way to get your fingers moving over the keyboard or pen across paper.

For me, the lesson was the importance of giving myself space to write. I allowed myself one- 30 minute session every day. I allocated time in my busy schedule to write.

Now, this may seem simple. Obviously, I should have seen it from the beginning, but I have become a work-as-fast-as-you-can-because-it-was-due-yesterday kind of person. When I am busy, it is easy for me to fall into the I-just-want-to-move-on-to-the-next-thing mentality.

This exercise forced me to stop and write.

I started to think about other times where I have allowed myself space to do something. Sometimes, space means letting the toddler’s bedtime ritual unfold even if it’s nearly 9:30 p.m. Sometimes, it means giving us permission to be late to an event because getting there on time is just not going to happen. Sometimes, space means that during a rainy afternoon, I am not going to fret about homework, but that I will be present as I read books to the toddler and play with blocks.

In busy lives, it is important to give ourselves space to be present in our lives.

 

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New Parent Syndrome

There is an understanding within the general public that once you have a child, every concern, worry or overreaction is excused with a simple phrase, “It’s okay. She’s a new parent.”

New Parent Syndrome: The irrational sensation that now everything becomes a hazard, every sniffle is a reason to call the doctor and no one can care for your child like you can.

I think it is a very common feeling in the world of parenthood. I recently read an article about how parents are putting more and more pressure on themselves to be the best. Every birthday party needs to be Pinterest-ready, and every toddler needs to be reading, writing and thinking bigger thoughts than what snack they want to eat.

In our struggle to be the best, we struggle to just be.

Lessons from My Daughter: The Honesty of Baby Speak

My little girl turned three months old today.

She is smiling and laughing and cooing at everything and everyone. (I was especially pleased when I brought her into the office and she smiled at my boss. Brownie Points! )

Her babbles, grunts and coos are filled with more emotion than I ever thought possible. She delights in our “conversations” as she tells me her story. And, of course her laughs are full of genuine happiness.

And just as she is discovering happiness and delight, she is also discovering frustration. Her eyes are now beginning to form tears that pool in her big blue eyes. Her mouth pouts in the most heartbreakingly comical way. Her cries, now much louder, are becoming more dynamic in tone and pitch.

Perhaps I can credit my fascination with her developing personality as a symptom of new parenthood, and I will admit that I often image the conversations we will have in the not too distant further.However, tonight I found myself amazed by the genuineness, the authenticity of her young self. She wears her emotions for all to see and she is not afraid to let anyone see her frustrations in not wanting to fall asleep or her happiness of a new smiling.

In my own life, I have often remained very guarded as I weigh the repercussions of honesty. The intimacy of anger, the fear of happiness, the awkwardness of frustration keeps me from sharing those soft personal emotions.

It is with her that I share the goofiness of love and laughter. It is because of her that I am more comfortable with those awkward emotions. Her innocence has taught me to be more honest.

Imagine if we all gave in to baby speak?

The Twelve Ways that Christmas Scares Me

Okay. J.C’s celebrated birthday doesn’t actually scare me. It’s just a day, right? As an introvert, the holidays are especially draining. Add a new baby into the mix, and the winter holiday seasons becomes the most stressful time of the year.

1. Winter Dealing: In New England, it is a fact that you will have to drive everywhere. It is also a fact that you are expected to drive in all types of horrible weather. Now, many of wear our badges of snowstorm driving with pride, but navigating snow-covered roads with a baby in the car adds a whole other level of stress.

2. Holiday Music Listening: This is left over from my years in retail. Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy some instrumental renditions of traditional tunes, but I’m pretty sure that anyone who has ever worked in retail gets a little tired of “Wonderful Christmastime.”

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These are decoration that I put up last year.

3. Lifetime Holiday Specials Watching: Alright, I’ve fallen victim to watching quite a few Lifetime Holiday Specials. No one’s holiday ends up like that.

4. Holiday Decorating: To be honest, I did not decorate this year. Why? I have a not-quite two-month old and a cat who nibbles on everything and I have classwork and job searching. If I did put up decorations, they would probably stay up until I spring clean.

5. Food Shopping: I live near two grocery stores. Both are competitively priced, but one does usually end up being lower then the other. Because I made the mistake of waiting until Christmas Eve to get groceries, I went to the more expensive store in order to maintain my sanity and avoid the hordes of last minute shoppers at the other store.

6. Gift Buying: This is my least favorite part of Christmas. I never know what to buy people, not to mention the crowds of holiday shoppers at every mall, department store, Target, etc.

7. Present Opening: This goes hand-in-hand with Gift Buying. Not a fan of the fake thank you.

8. Holiday Crafting: I love when people post Pinterest Fails because I am one of those people. I’ve had a few successes, but it usually comes down to my own craftiness and it never looks as good as the image.

9. Facebook Posting: I read something somewhere about how Facebook encourages a distorted view of reality and perfection because we only post what we want our “friends” to see. I think the holidays further this distortion. No one’s family is that perfect.

10. Holiday Baking: How many different types of cookies are there? Two. The yummy, perfectly sweet treats that make you forget you are on a diet and the ones you buy at the store. Now, do you have hours to commit to baking those wonderful holiday treats or will a batch from the bakery at the grocery store suffice?

11. Holiday Cooking: How many hours did we agonize over what to serve for our holiday dinners? Too many!

12. Family Gathering: Bring out the Festivus Pole for the annual “Airing of Grievances”!

Happy Holidays from My Life as a New England Townie!