Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: List

Refocusing

It seems that every so often–sometimes longer, sometimes shorter–I find it necessary to step back and refocus. People who don’t know me very well laugh when I give them my standard self-description: tall, blonde, and easily distracted. “Easily distracted?” they say, “You read huge books in one sitting!” As if that’s the pinnacle of focus and attention. Seriously, people, I read books in one sitting (or as close as I can get) because if I don’t, I’ll get distracted, put it down and more than likely forget I ever intended to finish it. And because it’s a convenient way to be distracted from other things I’m supposed to be doing.

Sometimes I’m conscious of allowing distractions to edge their way in, and other times I look up and realize I have no idea how I got so far off track.

So I’m refocusing. Matt’s out of town again this week on a nice long wilderness backpacking trip courtesy of Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, so I’ve got plenty of time and space to clear out the mental cobwebs.

Family: Happily, one of the aspects of my life that hasn’t slipped much lately. Goal is to maintain and deepen time/interaction with family.

Career: Two aspects of this, the writing and the day job. As the day job looks much different now than it did 6 weeks ago, and looks more and more likely to disappear sooner rather than later, I can dedicate more time to the writing. In the current job market, I’m leaning toward investing myself in writing rather than wasting time and energy trying to find a nonexistent position. Regardless, I need to set short and long-term goals for my writing, and I need to find someone to crack the whip and make me stick to them once I set them.

Finance: We spend more money than we ought. We have a peculiar financial situation, and it often results in a rather lax view toward budgeting and savings. I’m taking steps to adjust our mentality on that, beginning with trying out the MVelopes.com service.

Health and Wellbeing: I caught up on sleep last week, and it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve also gotten myself swimming semi-regularly at the apartment complex pool. I’m working on setting up a regular time to take Shiloh to the dog park, which gives us both exercise, and I’m really really (really) going to recommit to my WiiFit schedule.

Recreation: Much of this also falls under exercise, since much of our recreation is active, but I’m making sure I block out time for reading. We also got an XBOX 360 recently, and Fable 2 allows us to log into the same game together and kill bad guys. I’ve STILL got a big unfinished quilt that needs to be completed. And I do very much like meeting people for coffee.

Personal: I am learning about the care and keeping of cacti (turns out they do best in steady, diffused light, not direct sunlight, so Bob2 is back in the office) and I am contemplating installing a window-box-style herb garden on the porch railing, if I can be reasonably assured I won’t kill them all. My writing definitely counts in this category, too, for a variety of reasons.

Friendship: I generally operate with a bit more distance than some people in terms of friendships, so once I plug back into my “usual” sources of information and communication, there’s not much of a course correction that’s going to happen here. There are a few people, though, who I want to be better friends with, and I’ll be intentional about getting together with them.

Community: For all intents and purposes, the church congregation serves as our community. I’d love to get more connected in the neighborhood and the town eventually, but right now it’s just not possible. I’ll be keeping an eye out, though, and laying the foundation to move on that when the time is right. Meanwhile, maintaining relationships with people in the church, our small group, etc., are the standard.

Household: Goal is to do a general sweep of the house every night to tidy up – clean the kitchen, run the dishwasher if necessary, put the stuff that always lands on the dining room table away, corral the dog toys, find the remotes, etc. Once a week laundry and vacuum, and we’ll be cutting back drastically on eating out.

Spiritual: This one’s between me and God, but it’s definitely part of my consideration in refocusing and being deliberate about how I spend my time.

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I’m Not Taking My Laptop To Work Today

It provides too much distraction, as I think all of you know. Or maybe I should say, Facebook provides too much distraction. And chatting. Yes, it’s definitely a leave the laptop at home kind of day.

Remember those things I was going to check off my to-do list a few days ago? Well, as it turns out, I didn’t get everything checked off (hey, don’t look at me like that–it was a long list) so I’ll be finishing those things today, as much as I can. And I’ll do laundry tonight, since rumor has it my husband is perilously close to the Cliff of No Underwear. And, you know, I’ll take care of the toffee that’s been taking up the middle shelf of the fridge for the last week and a half. Okay, two weeks. Otherwise, I’ll be writing thank-you notes I should have sent two weeks ago and rewriting a newsletter article that I already wrote most of once and then managed to delete. Gotta love that.

And when I finish those things, I’ll be writing the book I’ve already finished once, but couldn’t resist tearing up so I could finish it again. Because I felt like it. And it will make the book better. A lot better. Just you wait.

Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins! Just! You! Wait!

Sorry, I had a Musical Moment there. It won’t happen again. At least, not in this post, because I’m stopping. . . now.

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Laying Battle Plans

After a very nice, relaxed visit, my parents are safely home in Ohio.

I used this afternoon to catch up with several things that have been shoved to the periphery of my attention lately, and did a fair job of catching them up – not entirely there yet, but it’s getting closer.

I am, yet again, behind on my reading journal. Drat it all.

Plan of action for tomorrow:

  1. Stay indoors. We’re in the middle of what is apparently a record heat wave, or so I heard someone say on the radio earlier. I think this is a length record not a high temps record, but I was only half paying attention, so I could be mixed up. At any rate, I’ll be indoors, which will facilitate:
  2. Turn the guest room back into an office. Yes, amazing as it may seem, I’d like to get the two rolling desk chairs out of my closet and back in the office where they belong. Call me crazy.
  3. Catch up on all the laundry – this includes clothing I put off washing this week and all the bedding and towels involved in entertaining guests. (Ha, yes, I entertain guests with my towels. You’ll have to be a guest to learn more.)
  4. Restock the pantry. Over the course of the week, I found that we’re almost out of flour and brown sugar, and we are entirely out of potatoes and semi-sweet chocolate chips. These things are unthinkable and might, in fact, signal a close brush with the apocalypse. Also, Matt is getting less and less indulgent about letting me live off of oatmeal, ramen, and chicken pot pies, so I’m thinking I’ll need to pick up a few more things to round out our diet.

And that, my friends, is the battle plan. Though we all know such plans only survive the first engagement with the enemy.

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Update on All Things

Deadline: Extended 2 days + flex time
Pages to write: 17
Books to read: 0
Book journals to write: 0
Days at the Day Job: 0
8-Page Synopsis: Done
Girls’ Night: Done
Trip to the Zoo: Done
Small Group Night: Done
Wax in Hair: Crisis Averted; Wax Removed

I got an extension on my deadline; two extra days to get my reading responses turned in, which I’ve just done, and the rest of my pages are due ASAP. I intend to have them done and sent in by the end of the week. Then for the rest of the month I’ll be concentrating on finishing the full rough draft.

I mailed off my contest entry today, so it’s all out of my hands. If I’m one of the category finalists, they’ll call me in mid-August; otherwise I’ll get my stuff back in the mail in the end of August sometime. Winners will be announced on September 13th, at the conference. Haven’t decided if I can take the time and money to actually go to that at this point. We shall see.

I’m feeling good about things.

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Progress Report

Here’s the updated list:

Deadline: 4.5 days
Books to read: 3 (I’m halfway done with two of them, though)
Book journals to write: 3
Pages to write: 23
8-Page Synopsis: Done
Days at the Day Job: 2
Girls’ Night: Done
Trip to the Zoo: Done

I woke up at 4am last night, wide awake with the words for a scene I figured out yesterday afternoon just running through my head. After 15 minutes of thinking I should go back to sleep, I was no less wakeful, so I came to the office and worked for an hour and a half. I think it’s good stuff. Great stuff, though I still have a bit of work to do before the scene is done.

Then I went back to bed and slept in a bit, which has thrown off my whole schedule. But it’s worth it to get that scene right. Today I’ll finish that scene and keep moving, ad tonight I’ll get back to focusing on finishing those required books.

So far, working standing up is going surprisingly well.

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The Panic Threshold

I have a unique ability to be completely relaxed in the face of overwhelming work loads–up to a point. I call that point the panic threshold. Depending on how close a deadline looms and how much I have to do before said deadline, the threshold can move. I’ve been wondering (in a rather relaxed, disinterested sort of way) when I’d cross the threshold this time around and, as it turns out, I feel it coming closer.

So here are the stats:

Deadline: 8 days
Books to read: 3
Book journals to write: 3
Pages to write: 30 (35 would be great, but I think that qualifies as a pipe dream at this point.)
8-Page Synopsis: 65% done
Days at the Day Job: 1-3, depending on if they hire someone to cover the extra days I’ve been working the last few weeks
Girls’ Nights Scheduled: 1
Trips to the Zoo: 1

On the up side, I know what I’m going to write for those 30 pages. On the down side, Matt’s on a youth retreat this weekend, which means I’ll be feeding myself. I see lots of Ramen and popcorn in the near future.

Also, I’d really like to sleep in tomorrow, but I think that would be a very bad decision. We shall see how it pans out.

I haven’t reached the panic threshold yet. I’ll let you know when I do.

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