Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Season of Shifting Gears

If you’re like me you’re probably working double time these days in all areas of your life and perhaps not seeing the results you expected. Is that happening to you? It’s certainly happening to me. I’ve fallen into the valley of diminishing returns and now must build a staircase and climb out.

This week I forced myself to look at my day-to-day and even hour-to-hour habits to see where I can plug a few energy leaks.

Exhibit A: I eat sensibly and work out often, yet yesterday a friend whom I’ve not seen at the gym in two years leaned close and whispered, “are you pregnant again?” This guy is a good observer with the keen eyes of an ex-cop and yet he did the stupid thing, he asked a woman if she was pregnant… I had to admit something painful. Two years ago I was pregnant, the baby made it almost five months but I lost it. I’m an older mom and I know that was my last baby. The same weekend I was miscarrying, my mother-in-law, whom I loved dearly, called to say she was terminally ill (she died five-weeks later). I was on autopilot after that for many months.

For some reason the weight I gained just won’t leave because I’m hanging on to it. It really didn’t bother me, in fact it was a comfort but I clearly saw through my friend’s eyes that I needed to let the emotional weight go regardless of what happens to my real weight. I had my revenge. I dragged my friend into his first yoga class and was gratified to see him sweating so hard his hair stuck to his scalp. That will teach him to ask a chubby woman if she’s pregnant…

Exhibit B: There’s a harsh irony in this next point. This week at my husband’s request and for the first time, I actually logged the hours I spent reading and answering emails on the loops, writing blogs or visiting other blogs and commenting. Guess what? I logged 15+ hours, and last week was a “light” week. I often spend more time on this stuff. 15 hours is a part time job. I realized that at the slow rate I work those 15 hours would be better-spent writing or giving a few quality hours back to my family.

Exhibit C: Last Thursday I attended a special Autumnal Equinox yoga class that began with a breathing mediation on our inner fire and mentally stoking that fire to a roaring blaze. The instructor then asked us to toss anything into the fire that we couldn’t bear to carry any longer. What followed was a killer-hard extremely physical class that left everyone drenched with sweat and a few people in (cathartic) tears. Holding a few of the more difficult poses with my limbs trembling, the instructor would walk past and say, “If I asked you to stay in this position all day what would you give up?”

It was a great question to ask. What was weighing me down? The first thing that popped into my head was “Emotional scar tissue”. I had to let it go. The second thing was “Unrealistic expectations”. Believe it or not that one was more difficult to let go because unrealistic expectations are so strongly connected to hopes, fantasies and goals, which are all wonderful things except for the “unrealistic” part…  Surprisingly, real responsibilities felt featherlight because I knew they were necessary. It was only the unnecessary burdens that caused drag.

This week has left me with a new manifesto to stop wasting my limited energy and time and find ways to reclaim a little progress in my life and push forward. These are challenging times and it’s a safe bet they aren’t close to being finished with us. I can sense another big wave of adjustments on the near horizon.

In this season of harvest, unburdening and shifting gears, I dare you to be honest and comment about a draining or unnecessary thing you are willing to let go of.



  1. Yiiii, Kat. I don't know what to say. I understand that the time we spend on a computer, regardless of what we're doing, is a part time job. Some of the time is necessary, but it's so hard to figure out how much is too much.
    You're okay - you have so many fans and friends, men and women who are in your corner.

  2. Thank you Julia, I'm concentrating on fine tuning my approach to things. Just like everyone else I want better results for all my hard work and I need to work-out the little glitches that trip me up.
    XXOO Kat

  3. Oh, Kat, so sorry for your loss. Big hugs, and I'm cheering from the sidelines! (But don't disappear entirely, okay? We'd miss you!)

  4. I'm very sorry for your double loss. I, too, am an older mother and I completely understand the loss. Your post has made take a look at myself, too. After this week, I'm going to be giving up somethings that I just don't have time for anymore and are very time consuming. I've made a commitment to NaNoWriMo for November and that is what my focus is on right now.

    Thank you for your beautiful post and good luck. Just don't be a stranger.

  5. Dearest Kat
    this is such an incredible post. I had not idea you had suffered such loss and I am so sorry. But on the other hand I admire the HELL out of you for your successes and even more so for taking on your weaknesses, eyeballing them through a hot sweaty yoga class and kicking them to the curb. I too have had an amazingly fast moving and emotional year on many levels. One thing I let myself stop doing was my tough yoga class. "No time" was my excuse. then I realized that I also spend way too much time stroking the egos of others via the huge amount of hours I spend commenting and chatting on social networks.
    I thank you for your inspiration on so many levels, Kat. You made me believe I could write that damn novel (that still languishes but I still feel positive about it) and now you re-inspired me to pick up my mat, water and towel and do that one thing for myself I miss like a phantom limb: the pure ecstasy of letting for for 90 minutes and healing my body and mind through yoga.
    Love you girlfriend...reach out anytime.

  6. Kat - Such an emotional post, you have me in tears. It's nice to take time and re-evaluate our lives. Reassess what's working and what's not. Time is so fleeting, there is nothing worse than feeling like we've wasted it.

    At the end of the day I take a little time to remember a special moment that made me happy. Then when the week, the month, the year is over and I feel like it all flashed by too quickly, I can honestly say "but I know I enjoyed myself".

  7. Your post hits all of us. I had to consider how to cram 30 hours of "stuff" in a 24-hour day every day. I've come to terms with my book production every year...and realize I'll never write one a month! Juggling family (always comes first), writing, social networking, isn't easy.
    Do what works best for you and your responsibilities and goals.

  8. OMG! Ladies you made me cry--which isn't as easy as you might think! lol
    Thank you Cindy, you have such a big heart and I know its raw today from the loss of your sweet friend Grendel.
    Thank you Harley, this is the time to look at this stuff. Nano is so demanding. Start plotting in a notebook now and add key scenes and details you want to use, but will be too exhausted to recall by mid- November. Best wishes to you, 2k a day, touche!
    Liz, I wish to god we could be together at the same yoga class and then share a beer afterward-okay half a beer for me... I loved the novel you wrote and you must continue to have faith that it is good because it truly is! You're amazing, please stoke your own ego today.
    Thank you Nina, you're so right, we all have less useable time than we think and we must find the joy in it.
    Thank you Marianne, I agree a book a month would be insane for me and also a colossal waste of everyone's time... I think this world needs more quality. Let's bring only our best to the sharing table.
    Ah.. I feel better. Thank you everyone!
    XXOO Kat

  9. Thanks for such a honest and touching post, Kat--I've been doing some self-assessing lately too, trying to figure out what to pare down and figuring out why I'm not more productive when all I seem to do is work. Your post is a good reminder that we all have LIVES besides our writing, and sometimes the lives have to be felt and lived before we can move on with the rest. Hang in there.

  10. Hi Suzanne! I'm with you, I write everyday and I still can't keep up. I will say you have had a lot of great recent releases with your New Orleans stories so you are getting traction.
    We're the only ones who can live our lives.
    XXOO Kat

  11. Very heartfelt and to the point, Kat. You have a lot of supporters and you will do what is best for you.


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