The Magic of the Deadline

“The difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline”        Unknown

img_1606

When I was teaching middle school science my life was run by daily, weekly, and academic calendar deadlines.  When I walked into my classroom door every morning I had to be ready or suffer some really awful consequences.  (Students can smell when you are unprepared).

I longed for retirement when deadlines no longer ran my life.  Finally,  I could concentrate on my art and the other things I had left simmering on the back burner.  It didn’t take me too long to realize that unless I imposed my own deadlines upon myself, my dreams would still languish on the back burner.  As unpleasant as they can be, deadlines can provide a sense of structure and accomplishment- that is if one sticks to them.  Otherwise, count on suffering a hit to your self-esteem.

bieszczady-1002402_1920It’s been a learning process. One thing I’ve realized is to have a series of deadlines mapped out.  Otherwise, when you finish one there is a sense of disorientation that can set in.  Paying for guitar lessons and showing up weekly has definitely insured progress.  My writing and visual arts practices have been trickier.

I usually get one blog post out every week and try to work on either a poem, essay or journal entry every day before I get out of bed.  Recently I joined a neighborhood writing group that meets monthly so I need something for that.  Then I go online to find publications soliciting for entries and mark my calendar with the deadline.  I have had 3 pieces published in the last 2 years with that strategy.

Artwise I just made a huge (tight) deadline applying for a juried membership in Print Arts NW, the regional printmakers association.  It was a lot of work but success!  I was accepted this week and now can put work in their holiday show.

My continuing challenge is structuring my home studio time with deadlines to be more productive.  Having a flow chart posted with milestones has worked before and I’m going to try that again.  Stay tuned…..

 

alien-1295498

Deadline

Dead Line

Sprawled flat in your path

Like giant road kill

Small, undetectable from a distance

Looming larger and larger

Until its great heaving, behemoth body

Brings you to your knees begging

For mercy between pathetic sobs

And muttered excuses

All the while knowing full well

Relief will only come

When you shut up and scale the smelly beast

Head down, focused

Heaving with all you’ve got

Step by step

Leaving all your whining behind

blocking your ears from the siren sounds

Of your favorite distractions

Eventually, you make it

Drinking in the expansive view from the top

Wondering why you made such a fuss in the first place

Until scanning the horizon

You notice a small lump

Blocking your path in the distance

adventure-1867970_1920

 

 

 

 

 

Persist

IMG_0647
“Face to face With the Second Step” by Richard Stein

I have these two well-worn images tacked up on the way to my studio to remind myself not to get discouraged. Walk away, regroup, keep going one step at a time. They are also applicable to life in general……

 

IMG_0645

Image courtesy Austin Kleon

Throwing Stuff Overboard

hook-111316_1920CHECKLIST

High School

CHECK

college

CHECK

work

CHECK

marriage,  divorce,  marriage, child, divorce

CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK

Grad school, career

CHECK, CHECK

Child leaves home

CHECK

Retirement

CHECK

?

REALITY CHECK!

Continue reading “Throwing Stuff Overboard”

Thinking “Inside a Box”

cell-1496385_1920Gas molecules will fly all over the place unless held in a container.  That’s what I’m like .  Unless I am contained in a structure, I am all over the map.  As a result, I can feel inefficient and anxious. Ironically it appears that in order for me to “think outside the box”, I need to be in one

For most, they have a structure imposed by a job, school, and/or family responsibilities.  That used to be me but 2 years ago I retired from teaching and now it’s up to me to create my own structure.  In other words, I get to be my own parent.  Scary.chest-2648225_1920

I make several kinds of visual art, play music, sing in a choir, and write, plus take care of an aging farmhouse on rural property.  I’m doing a little of this and a little of that.  As a result, my work is all over the place with no real sense of focus & accomplishment. I am “showing up” but irregularly without a clear set of goals. So after bumbling around for a while in this new found frontier of freedom, I realize that in order to function effectively I need to create my own “box” for myself to save me from chaos.

IMG_1647Recently I sent for books on the subject. Currently, I am reading ,  Goal Setting for People Who Hate to Set  Goals.”   This small book by Keith Ellis is helping me prioritize & set measurable goals step by step.  Today I am going to sit down, write out my goals and create a visual flowchart to follow.  For me, unless I write things down and have a visual posted in a place where I see it consistently, all will be a wash.

Some successes thus far: I have started to get up an hour earlier.  That helps a lot.   I also for some months now have been following a modified version of the house cleaning and organization system on flylady.net.  My house is way more in order and clean than ever before by just following her simple systematic approach.   I function much better in a clean, orderly environment.

If you have any tricks to stay focused and organized, I would love to know!

idea-2123972_1920

Mistakes Happen

Why is it we learn so much when things don’t go as planned?  I ponder this again after not thinking things through and doing my homework before entering the art show I participated in last weekend.

Mistakes happen

Errors of judgment

Unpleasant results

Usually expensive

Literally & figuratively

Missed – takes

Such

Learning opportunities

In this university of life

This education is exhausting

But apparently required

To reach one’s true destination

toons-n-tunes-the-shout-heard-round-world-628929