Don’t Let Real Life Get Derailed.

black and white picture of woman and child crossing railroad tracksOn Wednesdays I look forward to listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, the podcast that she does with her sister Liz Craft. I know I’ve mentioned this program many times and will continue to do so as long as they keep putting it out, because so many of the ideas ring true to me.

So this week Gretchen gave herself a demerit for getting so involved in a particular task (in her case, doing the edits for her new book) that she neglected her other work and fell way behind. (Her description of this issue starts at minute 37:00.) This type of thing has certainly happened to me. I get involved in some big project and just don’t want to do anything else. The housework suffers. I don’t get out on my walk. I fail to get the grocery shopping done and we end up eating out or getting takeout. (Yes, I do sometimes say to my husband and son, “I’m leaving dinner up to you guys.” That’s fine. On the whole, though, things run more smoothly around here if I’m at least nominally in charge of meal planning.)

It’s not so much that it’s wrong to immerse yourself in a passion as that you need to make provision for the normal processes of life. If, for example, I were to do the cliched act of retreating to a cabin in the mountains to write, I’d need to take care of what needs to be done at home while I’m gone. I can’t ignore my responsibilities.

So right now my husband and I are in the middle of switching over my website to a new platform. I wish we’d done this much sooner, but there it is. I talked myself out of it about a year ago, which means that now there’s an extra year’s worth of material that has to be shifted. My current platform was great as a starter, but I’ve realized more and more that there are features I want on this site that just aren’t available with what I have.

One feature I’ve wanted for quite some time is a recipe card plugin for my Intentional Hospitality blog. When I first started writing about cooking for special occasions I just typed the recipes as part of the regular text. Gradually I realized that I should be following the same format for each recipe, and then gradually after that I realized that there were such things as recipe-card plugins, little preset codes that made the recipes standardized and, more important, search-engine friendly. I did find one such item that worked with my platform, but it had several drawbacks and in the end I decided not to use it. Now Jim has set up my new site and I’m ready to plunge in and re-format all my recipes. I’m excited about starting that blog up again and emphasizing low-sugar eating. I just want to sit here in my bathrobe all day and do this one thing. It sounds really boring, but it’s not. I worked on a recipe last night and found the experience to be completely addicting; I told Jim,”Tomorrow I’m just going to chain myself to the computer all day.”

But you know what? I can’t do that. If I do, I’ll finish the day feeling drained and unhappy. I’ll probably end up snacking a lot because I won’t want to stop and eat properly. The bed will stay unmade. The bathroom counter will be a mess. I’ll be a mess.

So I need to stick to the rules I set down earlier, one of which is that I can’t sit down to write after breakfast until I’ve done the dailies and gotten showered and dressed. It seems weird to say that sometimes you have to hold yourself back from working in order to do other work, but that’s the way it works. (Sorry.) So . . . I’d better finish up this post, eat breakfast, and get on with life. My reward? To get to do what I really want to do.

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