Thursday, February 09, 2012

The One Where I Write About Dichotomies

Listening To: the soundtrack from the Jane Austen Book Club, arranged by Aaron Zigman (love listening to soundtracks when I'm writing)

Reading: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Lately I've been enjoying being home. Taking good care of my kids, my house, attending to my home life in a way that could be described as thorough. And it's been good, satisfying on a personal level. I love investing in my home-- meals, groceries, decorating, errands, volunteering at school.

It's rewarding in its own way. An end to my means.


It's not my only job and, lately, I've been aware that in all this homefront investment, I've been neglecting the writing that needs to be done. This reality kept creeping in, a long bony finger reaching out to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear in a menacing way, "You're not writing." Mostly I tried to ignore the sinister voice... but long bony fingers? They've got more of a reach than you might think.

This past weekend my husband and I talked through the stress that this dichotomy was causing.

di·chot·o·my   /daɪˈkɒtəmi/ Show Spelled[dahy-kot-uh-mee] Show IPA
noun, plural -mies.
1. division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
2. division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.
3. Botany . a mode of branching by constant forking, as in some stems, in veins of leaves, etc.
4. Astronomy . the phase of the moon or of an inferior planet when half of its disk is visible.

Yep, that word describes it-- being divided into two parts-- my writing and my home. Both must be attended to. Both bring me their own type of joy. Both are what I was created to do. And yet both seem to war with each other-- which is where the "mutually exclusive, opposed or contradictory" part of the definition comes into play.

So this weekend my husband and I talked it over, because he's who I go to whenever I'm feeling uncertain because he has this wonderful (and very male) ability to see past all the emotion and just go to the black and white facts of the matter. He helped me see that what I need to get back to is some good old-fashioned discipline. (Yeah, I hate that word too.) I'd let my home life swallow up my writing life in one greedy gulp. It felt good, easy, natural, so it was easy to feed.

Once I headed down that path, I couldn't quite see my way back out. Curt helped me to see (in the way that only an honest husband can) that I must put the brakes on, do a three point turn, and get back to the place where I could live life in both camps. Mutually exclusive, yes. But also possible to do both. With some discipline. (Yeah, that word again.)

So this week for me is about getting the discipline back. Discipline to TURN OFF THE DISTRACTIONS and write. Discipline to prioritize what needs doing first and actually do those things first. Discipline to do the things that can't be done with children in the house when the CHILDREN ARE NOT IN THE HOUSE. (I know this is basic, but bear with me.) Discipline to designate errands to one day only. Discipline to actually get on the treadmill and exercise instead of just gripe that I can't find the time anymore. And finally, discipline to get away from SO MUCH TV. I'd have time to read all the novels I need to read for She Reads if I'd just read instead of watch it at night. And really, what is another episode of Law and Order or Cold Case going to do for me?

My life has felt out of control because I haven't even tried to control it. And so that's what's on my mind right now-- developing a plan that gets both halves of my life back in balance.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle
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BethA said...

Love this post, Marybeth! My life is out of control and I haven't even tried to control it. Amen! That's me in a nutshell. I think it was Einstein who said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Well, it's official. I'm insane! Too much TV, too little exercise and too little household stuff. And I wonder why I don't lose weight and why things don't get done around the house.

Anonymous said...

You wrote what I've been feeling...and said it far more eloquently than I ever could have. My life, too, has felt out of control because I haven't even tried to control it. Work has demanded so much of my time, energy, and concentration lately. Home life and children's activities are overwhelming. At work, I think about what hasn't been done at home; at home, I worry about how I'll ever get it all done at work. I'm guilty of wasting time. I'm guilty of taking care of the easy things and neglecting the hard stuff. I'm guilty of feeling sorry for myself because I have so much to do and so many plates in the air. I can't possibly fix it all at once. I'm going to commit, with God's help, to make changes...a few small ones at a time...and to consistently do those things. No more healthy eating today only to eat junk for the next 2 days.

Thank you for making me think. God bless!

Shelly Burke said...


Did you read my mind? I've been struggling with the same dichotomy lately (great word and description!). I LOVE doing "home" things...and I LOVE doing writing, the newspaper, etc. But they are mutually exclusive! And both need plenty of my time and attention.

I find it way too easy to get distracted, especially when I'm on the computer...but that's where I need to do most of my work. TV is also very distracting to me. I have been forcing myself to finish one task before I check e-mail or Facebook, and finish tasks before I put more laundry in the wash, start supper, etc. I've been working on breaking the TV habit by turning the TV in my office to a music station or listening to the radio. I get my TV "fix" when I'm doing things like folding clothes or exercising.

It is definitely NOT easy! But I will continue to make small steps to using more wisely the time He has blessed me with.

Thank you for sharing! May God bless us all as we strive to set priorities and use our time wisely. And may we not be too hard on ourselves when we fail.