This past weekend I attended the most wonderful writing retreat in the Idaho mountains. This was something I've wanted to do for years, but always found a reason not to attend. Most of those reasons had to do with being a mom and not wanting to disappoint one kid or another. This time was no different - I missed closing night of my kids' musical at school (sold out!) and prom. PROM! That milestone event that, for me, means hundreds of photos and living vicariously through my gorgeous daughter wrapped in layers of tulle and sparkles. I was so torn. Both my high-school aged kids were attending the event but it was my daughter's senior year and it's really a once-in-a-lifetime event. How could I miss it?
But, with her blessing, I shucked off those mom duties for a weekend, booked my plane tickets, paid for the retreat, and surprised myself with the swiftness of my decision. No turning back now! I'll admit I briefly entertained the idea of bailing out- the pull to not miss a single minute of anything significant in my kids' lives was strong - but I boarded the plane early Friday morning, having packed at midnight the night before. I wasn't certain I had a complete outfit, enough clean underwear, or a toothbrush, but I tossed everything into a large duffel bag and stumbled sleepily into the crisp morning air for the 40-minute ride to the airport. Turns out I had remembered everything except my mascara so I rocked the natural look all weekend.
What followed was a weekend of hard work, tons of good, useful advice, and an action plan! In that short time, I gleaned some wonderful social media tips to keep my sphere engaged, explored ideas for how to make time for writing, took a hard look at my work/life balance, committed to writing an hour a day, and outlined my book. I also ate wonderfully delicious meals, consumed large quantities of adult beverages, soaked in the beauty around me, and met new friends. It was bliss. I was overwhelmed, slightly emotional, and motivated. Did I mention I slept in a beautifully-appointed room complete with a writing desk, my own bathroom and a stately eagle perched in a tree right outside my window? There was no shortage of inspiration.
And then it was Monday, back in Seattle.
I woke to my 6 a.m. alarm, dressed, packed my lunch, searched for something for breakfast (Ovaltine, celery and peanut butter....the pickings were slim), and commuted to my job. I ran an errand on my 30-minute lunch break, taught my after-school class, and waited with a student who's mom was late picking him up.
I headed straight for the grocery store with a reasonable list and coupons in hand. Then, I received a text from my daughter that informed me she was enjoying the sunny day taking a hike. When I mentioned I was going to the store, she texted me a list twice as long as the one I held in my hand. The shopping trip took two hours, and I performed a feat of shopping cart Jenga trying to keep everything balanced as I pushed my squeaky cart around the store. I arrived at the checkout with a jumbo-sized package of toilet paper and a clamshell carton of strawberries balanced precariously on top of five industrial-sized boxes of cereal. $257 later (even after $20 worth of coupons!), I loaded up seventy bajillion bags and finally, blessedly, headed home.
Lucky for me, when I arrived home, other family members were present to haul in the sustenance. I ran upstairs to go to the bathroom (I'd been holding it for two hours) and when I came back down, everyone had gone back to their regularly scheduled programming as the motherlode of groceries mocked me from the kitchen. I asked for some assistance putting everything away, to which one child replied "I'll just entertain you all while you work!" I began the arduous process of washing produce and preparing dinner, but not before I had to perform sanitization of the counters covered with crumbs, burnt macaroni, and errant Ramen noodles. Dirty dishes wobbled; a dubious mountain rising from the sink.
With help from my adult child, I prepared food - I won't call it a "meal" because it consisted of oriental chicken salad and regular chicken salad and nothing else. No side dishes, no vegetable. Just two chicken salad choices and whatever you could find to drink. I made myself a chicken salad sandwich, poured a caffeine-free Pepsi over crushed ice and inhaled it while checking my email. Then, I loaded the dishwasher, hand-washed the "too big" stuff and finally got a shower at 9:30 p.m. It was 9:45 when I started writing this and, I ask you, WHERE IS MY HOUR? If I stay up till 10:45, I'll be tired when my alarm goes off tomorrow. I have to be to work early. Yes, I'm writing, but it's not for my book. I simply ran out of time.
Never mind I had fanciful plans of doing a load of laundry and exercising tonight. Neither materialized. I'm exhausted and annoyed. I was grouchy toward my family tonight (eh, they deserved it. Do the dishes and mommy won't be so angry). The very day after I was so inspired and motivated, reality bit me, and its venom stings.
I just keep telling myself, "maybe tomorrow" but tomorrow is NOW. I've already tried to pawn the grocery shopping off on my husband (it works, sometimes), I've stopped making dinner every night, and I'm ignoring my social media in favor of blogging. Yet, here I am, the day after making a commitment to myself to put my passion first, and failing.
I'll try again tomorrow.........