Category Archives: 2.7 Creating Time

9-to-5? Not So Scary

For the first time in 4 years, I’m back to a Monday to Friday work week. At my current placement, I have to do 30 hours a week any time during the week. And I have weekends off.

Yesterday and today have therefore seemed incredibly long! I did so much and yet felt like I had all the time in the world to do more. I thought I’d never be able to go back to a weekends off only type job, but I still do have a bit of flexibility. At least I’m not 9-to-5. Although many 9-to-5 jobs can be left, taking nothing home with you (even in thought).

That would give me whole evenings with nothing that I had to do.

After 3 years of running my own business, working all the time and 8 months of not working at all but feeling that I should be productive writing-wise, my perspective on 9-to-5 jobs has definitely changed.

I think I could do one, but I’m still certain it couldn’t be in an office. It would have to be a physical job of some sort, that’s for sure. I like what that type of job does for my body.

Someday Lessons:

  • When you have been away from something for a long time, you can gain a new appreciation for it.
  • If going back to something you’ve done before, remember to take the new things you’ve learned back with you, don’t just fall back into old habits.
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On the Road Again

I used to pride myself on not owning a car. I was a supporter of public transit and occasionally renting a car. Then I had to purchase one for work, but at least it was energy efficient.

And despite the occasional frustration (to me and to those who had to drive me places from time to time – thanks all!), I’ve functioned well here in France without a car for six months. I simply spent a lot of time sitting on trains and waiting for trains.

But now I have a car again (with insurance papers – they came to my address yesterday). And I’ve discovered my car is magic. It creates time. My last solo visit to the coast took three hours each way. At the time, I said that I didn’t have anything else to do, so I was content to take that time to travel.

Alexclio
Yesterday I took the car (whom I’ve named Fleur) out to the coast to see how it handles twisty roads and what it’s like on gas consumption. The trip only took an hour each way. Having a car has turned a whole-day excursion into an afternoon jaunt, thus creating four extra hours for me in my day. Magic!

The only downside to having a car again is the realization that there’s often a trade off between personal convenience and environmentalism. Owning a car means contributing to the greenhouse effect, but once the novelty of ownership wears off, I won’t be driving it much.

I’ve learned a lot about moderation since being here. As much as my life runs on an all or nothing principle, I have managed to balance out some things. Living a nomadic life requires a car, but once I’m at each farm, I will likely only take it out on weekends.

Someday Lessons:

  • Every convenience has its negative points. It’s all a matter of what works best for you.   
  • What can be a luxury in one place (owning a car in the city) can be a necessity someplace else (a car in the country).

Whirlwind Barcelona Boyfriends

Our first day in Barcelona, Cate and I ended up with dates. Mine was pre-arranged via the Internet; Cate’s was a random pickup at a club (with awesome 80s and 90s music!).

We then spent the weekend with our Whirlwind Barcelona Boyfriends (WBBs), together and separately.

There’s no better way to see a city than with someone who knows it well. Cate and I aren’t touristy types – we don’t go see things just because they’re there. We like to explore a city and make it our own. Having personal guides with motorcycles (being a motorcycle passenger rocks!) allowed us to pretend that we live there.

Ha! Listen to me be all detached about hanging out with two sexy Spanish men!

Cate had to make the most of the situation so she packed as much public kissing as she could into her time with her WBB. Me, not so much. I’m a writer, I analyse emotions and I consider reactions.

In other words, I’m a neurotic freak of Woody Allen proportions.

My way of getting the most from my WBB was to ask a million questions, create possible futures and weigh them against past realizations. I vocalized some of this to Cate, who yelled "STOP!!!" waving her arms at me Kermit the Frog style.

"Do you like him?" she asked.

Yes.

"Do you want to see him again?"

Yes.

"Okay. Done." As in no more questions needed.

Who cares that I still enjoy being single or that I live in France and speak no Spanish? It’s enough to know that I want to see him again.

So why then doesn’t the internal over-processing stop?

Someday Lessons:

  • The moment can’t be enjoyed if you’re busy creating the future.
  • Habit and personality can really get in the way of logical actions.

The Time Fairy

Once upon a time a man who did too much was cutting his manicured lawn, when he spied a dandelion, a bright yellow dandelion daring to stick several inches up above the grass.

He went into his tool shed for his dandelion removal tool. By the time he was back, the dandelion was gone.

No, it was over there. He’d just forgotten where it was.

He walked over to the dandelion and bent down to use the tool on it, when it moved. It wasn’t a dandelion. It was a thin little person with dandelion yellow hair.

"Come to join me?" the dandelion man asked.

"Join you?"

"Yes, I’m having a nice wander through the grass. It’s quite fun, sort of like wading through a flat green ocean. Look! I can even pretend I’m drowning."

The little dandelion man threw himself into the grass and waved his arms around for a moment. Then he jumped up.

"Your turn."

"I’m playing squash in half an hour, then I have to go into the office and catch up on some work for Monday. Then after that my wife and I are having people over for dinner."

"That sounds really boring. Wouldn’t you rather play in the grass? You’ve spent so much time on it."

"You wouldn’t understand. You’re only a dandelion man. I don’t have time to play in the grass."

The dandelion man pulled himself up to his full height (5.65 inches to be exact). "I am a Time Fairy, thank you very much." He then pulled out a blade of grass and proceeded to turn it into a belt, no a sash, no a cravat. Yes definitely a cravat.

"What does a Time Fairy do?" the man who did too much asked.

"We give people more time," the fairy replied, as if the answer was obvious.

"I could use more time!" the man said. "Give me some."

"You really want more time?"

"Oh yeah! I never enough time to really relax."

"Okay." The Fairy ruffled his dandelion yellow hair and said. "Done."

"Um, thanks!" he said the man who did too much.

The Time Fairy waved goodbye. The man went on with his day. When he got to work, his boss was waiting for him, to lay him off. "Cost cutting measures," he was told.

As he climbed into his car, stunned, the dandelion man was sitting on the dashboard.

"Now can we play in the grass?"

Someday Lessons:

  • Time is finite; you can’t create more of it.
  • If you don’t slow down, something else will make you.

Lunch Today:
Nachos

Brevity is Best

’nuff said…

Actually, as a fun diversion, WIRED recently posted an update to Hemingway’s 6-word short story "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." asking current authors to come up with their own 6-word stories. My favourite is Joss Whedon’s (no surprise there for those who know me).

Here’s the link: http://wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/sixwords.html

Enjoy!

Someday Lessons:

  1. Sometimes the simple solution is the answer.
  2. Edit your schedule like an author edits his work. Be rigorous.

Lunch Today:
Already said below – but posted this second one today as I’ll be away until Friday. Have a good three days!

Why I’m Here

I was a bit lost today.

I walked up hills and down hills, through forests, along narrow roads and on muddy paths. My legs and hips ached, but I was only just a little worried.

I was only worried because I might have ended up too far to walk home again, but after climbing a hill with a cell tower, I found Sauveterre again and got my bearings.

In the process, I discovered some beautiful off road walking paths, with arching trees, blue-green periwinkle and hidden little streams. Everything here is so lush. The maize harvest is underway, so bare brown fields contrast with the deep greens of meadows and forests. I took off my MP3 headphones several times just to listen to the sounds of birds, tractors and my own feet on the ground.

During all this, I had an epiphany. (Isn’t that a fun word? Ephiphany! I always think it sounds like an elephant sneezing politely). I realized why I’m here in France. It’s not to write. It’s not to “find myself.”

It’s to create time for myself.

Time for two or three hour walks, for daily shopping and leisurely meals, for naps and meeting new people. And yes for writing.

In Toronto, including all my work-related driving time, I worked on average sixty hours a week. And if I wasn’t working, I was thinking about all the things I should have been doing.

Today I thought about different ways I could ask for directions in French.

My Toronto life had drifted too far off course from my dream (working less and doing what I loved). I had to make a complete destination change. So I came to France to create the time I need to figure out that destination.

I made a drastic move but most people don’t. If you pay close attention to what your intuition is telling you (I ignored mine), you’ll know when you’re heading off course. Curt Rosengren calls it a “drift detector.” His blog post says it better than I could – take a look at it.

Of course, if your life is like mine was – where the sixty hours a week barely paid the bills, then perhaps a drastic change will also be necessary for you.

Someday Lessons:

  1. Time is finite – what are you filling it with?
  2. Create time for yourself for total relaxation (yes, that means without feelings of guilt).

Lunch Today:
(Actually I’m lying. It was dinner yesterday) Pear, Walnut & Roquefort Salad