For most of my life – well, the parts that I can remember anyway – I’ve been a procrastinating workaholic-perfectionist, with a touch... oh, okay, a massive dose of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Terrific combination, right?
In high school, I often went to bed way too late, due to some paper or project. In college, I studied until sunrise way too many times. And, now, at the ripe old age of thirty-two, my sleeping habits have begun to resemble those of a vampire. I wish that I could say it’s because I party all night long – or that I am, in fact, a vampire – but, no, it’s usually work that keeps me up past a normal bedtime.
Fact-checking a travel guide, maintaining my blogs or perusing others’ websites, editing my novel, catching up with emails – you name it, I spend most of the day doing it. And everything suffers because of it: my marriage, my familial relationships, my chores, even my health (both physical and mental).
I realize that mental disorders like depression and OCD run in both sides of my family, but that’s no excuse for having a one-track mind. I’m a grown woman, for Pete's sake, and it’s my responsibility to find some balance in my life.
Just after college, I thought I had. At the time, I had a job that I didn’t take home with me; I got sleep on a regular basis; I’d met a cool guy (who later became my husband); I was writing travel articles on the side; I belonged to a Unitarian Universalist church (where I served as secretary of the board); and I was even making time for hobbies. In particular, I was earning free guitar lessons at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music in exchange for serving as a volunteer during their frequent concerts.
Eventually, however, Dan and I hit the road in a little RV – and despite the fact that I was a freelance writer and should have had more free time on my hands, I soon discovered that my life had lost its balance. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t trade my experiences for all the sleep in the world. But, without structure (imposed upon me by others), I finally recognized my shortcomings in the time management department.
Now, nine years after leaving Chicago, I’m once again struggling to find some balance in my life. I have a wonderful husband, an amazing kitty, a terrific family, and the freedom to organize my schedule on my own terms. But, despite my myriad interests (from photography to baking) and a strong desire to have more fun with my husband, what typically happens is that the workaholic beast within takes over every second of the day. Last summer, for instance, I was working around the clock on a rewrite of the Moon Michigan guidebook, and all else – my exercise routine, time with the hubby, even work for our two film festivals – seemed to fall by the wayside.
Although it could take me years to figure out my inner workings, I know that one solution for my lack of balance would be to reform my sleeping habits and create a day-to-day schedule for all my varied activities – from yoga to work to chores to fun. Another solution, of course, would be to ignore my perfectionist streak and spend less time going over and over everything I write (which might be easier said than done). A third solution would be to make more time for my hobbies – like, for instance, playing my poor old guitar again.
I know that it would help to have some lessons. After all, I’m often more productive when someone (say, a teacher) is forcing me to practice and demonstrate some improvement. But, alas, the Old Town School of Folk Music is no longer accessible – just one of the many reasons I miss living in the Windy City. So, I’m on my own.
Luckily, though, I still have my old songbook from my Old Town days, and not long ago, I finally mastered all five verses of “Amazing Grace.” And while my practices have been sporadic this summer – due to overworking as well as distracting family visits – at least I’m on the road to recovery.
Why, just last night, I went to bed at 10 p.m. – an unusual occurrence for me. I was so excited to embrace so-called normal sleeping habits that I inadvertently rose at 3 a.m. – unable to go back to sleep. Refusing to feel discouraged, I did my morning chores, ate some breakfast, and went outside to watch the sunrise over foggy Big Bear Lake. And now, here I am, posting early to my blog. Who knows? Maybe I’ve turned a corner.
In just a little while, I’m going to do my yoga routine, and maybe, just maybe, despite the fact that some friends are coming for dinner and my mother is flying from Louisiana tomorrow (which means, of course, that the house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom), I’ll find at least a half-hour to strum my guitar. It’s about time, too – I’ve had a Willie Nelson guitar songbook for well over a decade, and it’s high time that I learned to play a song or two. I should at least master "On the Road Again" - you know, in honor of our nomadic lifestyle. Won't Willie be proud of me then?
8 hours ago