“Days Off” Are Days Off Your Life

The assertion, “I’ve earned a day off,” destroys dreams. I don’t exaggerate.

At different times in my life, I’ve managed to get myself onto a good personal schedule. My current schedule looks like this (you can breeze over it, no hard feelings!):

  • Wake at 2:30 a.m.
  • Let the dogs out, make coffee
  • Morning Pages (inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way)
  • Cook and eat a light breakfast (a banana, two strips of bacon, 1/3 cup of egg whites)
  • Meditate (3 to 5 minutes using the Headspace app)
  • Creative writing
  • Exercise (30 minutes)
  • Walk (listen to an inspiring or motivational audiobook, currently Grit by Angela Duckworth) (30 minutes)
  • Say hi to my wife and baby (they’re usually up by then, about 6:30 a.m.)
  • Fire up my laptop and get to work on volunteer stuff (I volunteer with the Young Marines)
  • Babysit my daughter (wife leaves to work about 8:30 a.m.)
  • Baby’s first nap about 10:30 a.m. (I meditate for 15 minutes, then work on my blog)
  • Baby’s up, we play, I do dishes
  • I take baby somewhere (grocery shopping, the park, etc.)
  • Baby’s second nap about 3:30 p.m. (I continue blogging)
  • Baby’s up, we play
  • I cook dinner
  • Wife is home (about 5:30 p.m.)
  • We eat dinner together at the dinner table, talk about our day
  • I get ready for bed and lie down by 6 p.m. (earlier if possible)
20180517 Me and Baby
Successful Daddy-Baby grocery shopping trip! (Easy ladies, I’m taken.)

I’ve been on that schedule (with minor adjustments) for more than two weeks now. It is awesome! My wife is so understanding. Although we spend less time together overall, the time we spend is of higher quality. We chat about our day and we play with our baby together.

Some mornings, though, I wake up tired. At 2:30 a.m., it’s particularly tempting to think, “I’ll just push the alarm out one hour…maybe two.” What would it affect? I don’t have to clock in. I just should be up (around 8 a.m.) to watch the baby when my wife leaves for work. But all that other stuff…writing, exercising, volunteering? I can skip that. I’m tired.

I’ve earned a day off.

Those fateful words have ended many previous, excellent schedules I’ve put in place in the past. Schedules that have produced a happier, healthier “me” in which I learn, grow as a person, and, well, shrink as a person, too, as those unwanted pounds have melted away (I once went from 250 to 180 lbs on such a schedule…as of now, I’m back up to 240 lbs).

After seeing years of my life dwindle away, wondering what could have been had I just stuck to that schedule, I’m fed up. I’ve done great things, but I could have done much—much—more.

Now, every morning, when I’m tired, I remind myself:

I’ve earned a day on.

I remind myself that I’ve worked hard in past days, and weeks, and (soon) months to earn this new day to be awesome again.

Sure, sick days are useful. Vacation days are important. Just use them wisely: as needed for sick days, or by planning vacation in advance, including what you’ll do (or not do) on those days.

Don’t look forward to days off. Every day should be a day on.

Advertisements

A Resolution to Express Clear Judgment

Posted on my Facebook page, Jan. 8th, 2015:

Hmm. Okay, new, albeit late, resolution: If I have something to say–like voicing disgust for the Charlie Hebdo murders and the religion that makes them possible–I’ll write a blog post about it. That is, instead of quoting other people, or making half-assed, wannabe intellectual FB posts, I’ll actually do what the people I’m quoting do: meaningfully and thoroughly add to the discussion, rather than serve it to others in chopped-up bits of other people’s intellect and creativity. I see myself doing it…and I see YOU doing it…and you know what? It’s kind of stupid. Time to be smarter. From now on, if I quote something regarding a major issue, it’ll be an addendum to an opinion I’ve already written.

Rejected!

In any book on writing you pick up, you’re likely to find a passage where the author says something like, “You’re going to receive a ton of rejections in your career, especially at first. Don’t worry. Keep writing.” I’m glad I’ve read the dozens of passages like this so that I could be ready for this first (inevitable) rejection.

It was a form rejection email from Slice Literary MagazineAccording to Duotrope.com, Slice has a 1.9% acceptance rate. So for every 100 manuscripts submitted, about 2 are accepted, and it appears that there are many submissions. Slice rejected my short story, “Coffee in the Afternoon.” Of course, I felt a pang of “aw shucks” when I saw it, but I was by no means crushed or downhearted. Hell, I expected it! It was a shot at the moon and I don’t regret it. “Coffee in the Afternoon,” by the way, is still under consideration at 4 other magazines, and is only one of three stories I’ve submitted to nearly 10 magazines. So, all in all, I’m happy with this first rejection: it means I’ve finally got on the road with my writing career.

I’ll submit another story to Slice in the future. They look like an excellent magazine and I’d be proud to see a story of mine among their pages. In the meantime, I have two first drafts–“Earth House” and “Cease Fire!”–to edit. I also have solid ideas for two new short stories, “Magic Words” and “The Green F-250.” Additionally, I also have two solid novella ideas, one of which is half-finished (Clay Man). That’s not mentioning the novella I’ve already completed, The Woman Alone, which is available electronically and in print. What’s the lesson here? Writers don’t sulk over rejection slips. Writers keep writing, keep submitting. My favorite novel, The Fountainhead, was rejected by 11 major publishers. It’s now one of America’s greatest novels.

Mine’s next. 😉

Fellow writers, keep writing!