The Failure of My Lofty Summer Goals

Do you ever have lofty goals at particular times of the year?  I imagine for a lot of us, those times are January, the beginning of the summer, and when summer ends.  

So here we are, just a few weeks until school starts, and I’m hanging my head for missing the mark on some of the goals I’ve set.  

An intention I always set at key points in the year is to spend more time in creativity.  Something I do every morning is spend about an hour journaling while enjoying my first coffee of the day. The old “Artist’s Way” Morning Pages habit has never left me, though the free-associative quality it’s supposed to take is something I have a lot of resistance to.  

Where I fail is writing on a larger scale.  Like blogging or publishing.  Or even writing something just for myself.  A memoir has been in my craw for the last decade and I dip in and out of it every once in awhile. Sometimes at long bursts with lots of output and other times, it sits untouched for months.  

The challenge of writing isn’t always a time management problem.  Though that could feel particularly impossible sometimes.  Some aspects of my work can be unpredictable and having a child and a spouse and a house and cat and a car that’s been in the garage almost every week of this summer have an influence on what happens when.  Do I get to the gym today?  Is it going to be Chipotle or a piece of chicken in the oven?  Do I have time after I play that wedding or funeral to get to Target before I go on to play Saturday evening Mass?  

My life is not a heck of a lot different than most people’s in terms of feeling that we’re just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.  There’s also the negotiation of which one of us is addressing which ingredient of stuff stuck on the wall.  

I’m sure I could rein in the time management sometimes, even when the unpredictable happens.  Could I go into my office and type for a while as something cooks in the oven?  Could I put my phone down or stop scrolling in bed at night?    While I won’t share it, my screen time monitor proves that I have some hours in the day that could be better used.  

The holes in my productivity have a whole layer beyond time:  the chaos of my inner world.  Again, not much different from most people.  Creepy-crawly gremlins in my unconscious play dirty tricks on my creativity.  Clogging up the works.  Reminding me that I’m sort of lame.  Throwing up barriers of all sorts.  I like to take on the gremlins sometimes.  Pull up a chair and get to know them.  And politely tell them to leave me alone for a while.  

These less-than-lovable gremlins often have guilt written all over them.  Along with a healthy portion of you-suck on the side.  

Guilt as in “who do you think you are”?  Don’t you know – this is my inner world addressing me with the voices of people in my life, past and present – there are people who don’t have the luxury to sit down and scribble in a journal all day?  Don’t you know some people actually have to work for a living?  Don’t you know of all the pain and hardship in the world ?  Don’t you know you really don’t have anything valuable to say?  Don’t you know you should be spending more time with your child?  Don’t you have to cook and clean for your husband?  Hahaha.  I had to write that because it’s so laughable that I would ever be with anyone who had that expectation of me.  If you’ve seen my house, you’ll know it’s a joke that anyone would ever be with me for my cleaning acumen.  This could take on a whole other tangent of what’s considered “woman’s work” – a phrase that nauseates me just writing it – but that’s for another day.

I find myself sometimes on the receiving end of “must be nice” when I have a day like today. This day has been one where I’ve basically said, “not today” to some of the things on my to-do list, went to the gym, took myself out to lunch, and have spent the last few hours writing – both this blog post and other stuff, too.  I’m grateful for the occasional flexibility I have in my life, but I’ve also made sacrifices to create it.  In addition, I think it’s important to unplug a bit when I get wacky so I can continue to care for my clients in the way they should be cared for.

Sometimes the guilt chokes me inside like a creepy cartoon vine that winds its way through the world leaving destruction at every pass.  I get clogged up and often just pick up the phone and mindlessly scroll or stuff my face or do something else destructive.  The cruel trick of these little phones and my issues feeding my face is that even those things don’t feel great in the moment.

The clogging up causes me to have tons of ideas swirling around and then never getting them out.  I’ve had some fun writing ideas this summer and aspire to complete a couple of them.  They include stories about my husband’s beard (see – I knew that would pique your curiosity!), my milestone birthday this summer, how irritated I am by signs about being kind or being a good human all the time, and how it felt like to walk around my elementary school for the first time in over 35 years.  There are a few weeks left of summer and we have a vacation coming up so maybe I can finish something I’ve started.

Meh.  Maybe the world is not missing these stories.  And I partially care.  It’s fun to share the blog posts and get a little emoji in return or funny comments.  But creativity for me has always felt like something I’m busting to just put out there.  Not always for what I might get in return.  

That busting out also has a seedy underbelly for me.  It’s like the oh-crap-people-see-me-now feeling.  Even though that’s what we as humans sometimes desire.  We want to be truly seen in ways that maybe we weren’t seen by the important figures in our lives.  But I admit that sometimes I fear that if I were truly seen for what is really going on in the cobwebby sections of my nutty mind, I’d be shamed, humiliated, rejected, mocked.  Which I’m intimately familiar with since childhood.

So here’s me putting it out there that even though so many of us are always putting our best stuff out on social media, myself included, it’s not a complete representation of what’s going on in our lives.  The icky feelings rise up and get in the way.  

Until the joyful feelings return again.  

They always will.  

Even when it doesn’t feel that way. 

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