I have a tendency to over-focus. I become hyperaware of this one thing, this singular project in front of me, and I get tunnel vision. Nothing outside my narrow field exists. Time shrinks to a bright point of light, like the kitten chasing the red dot. Needless to say, this is terribly useful. Sometimes.
When I need to finish a project, my ability to shut out the world and dwell in the zone of completion, that’s great. When I am struggling with it, and I stay in there too long, that’s when I have instructed my First Reader to poke me with a stick or something and remind me that Food is a Thing. Also, Showers. If I could switch this on and off at will, I’d be… well, I don’t know what I would be because the reality is that after forty years of trying, I can’t always trigger it when I need it.
Most of the time, I struggle to focus and stay focused. I lose track of everything. I keep lists, and lists of my lists. I can’t even focus the lists to one list! I keep a list on an app on my phone, but I routinely forget this exists. I have finally figured out how to trigger notifications. That helps. I remembered to change the furnace filter this weekend, because I got a little popup. Paper lists work better for me, if I don’t lose them. And routines are better for me than wide-open days where I feel like I can relax. Which means, of course, that I am often afraid to relax, for fear of forgetting something. I’m working on that.
Why am I talking about chasing the red dot like a cat who can’t help herself? Well, I figure with this, as with so many other things, I’m hardly unique. If I can learn my lessons, and having felt the pain of failures, pass on my successes to someone else? That’s making it a little less painful. At least it was worth something, yes? Also, I find that writing things down brings them into focus better than simply thinking about it inchoately. Formulating something coherent to share with others, without too much of the mental shorthand I’d use if it were meant only for my eyes, crystallizes the concept at least in part. Rereading later, I often find that I can better understand myself.
I can’t always just flip that focus switch. What helps, I’ve found, is persistently trying to do it. As I am doing with the blog writing this last week, and will continue to do. I moved my laptop from my usual writing desk, somewhere I can sit and not be distracted by other things that need doing. I am making the time to sit down for the specified purpose of ‘blog writing’ and I am giving myself permission to be long, and rambling, and not worry about a tightly plotted insightful essay or in-depth research paper. Just write.
For the last year, more or less, I have been making art at my lunchtimes. It has been a very successful venture. Most of the art for The Cute Moose was created on my lunch breaks, with my iPad and the Procreate app. on the weekend I struggle for the art, even though I can in theory spend more hours on it than I can on a working weekday. The difference, I’m fairly certain, is that I have set a nice little routine and habit up for the lunchtime art. It makes me happy on several levels, not just that I am creating art (although as I say when asked, that’s my san roll for the day. Art gives me happy brain chemicals almost every time I do it), but that I have something to retreat into during my lunch hour. When I was able to go sit in my car and take off the mask, it wasn’t bad (and I could create with traditional media like pens and watercolors) but it’s cold and I’m stuck in the breakroom with masking required unless you are taking a bite. It’s dreadful, and art gives me a little escape.
I’m attempting to pick up my dropped habits. November and December were lost causes, when I was mostly too sick to care, dealing with asthma aggravated by the daily masking. Now, I’m working slowly on picking them back up. Like the blogging. In aid of that, I’m setting myself up to daily words again, after two months of mostly not. And the blog has been slipping longer than that. But it was bothering me, losing touch, and with the trainwreck of the social medias this year? I need to be here, nattering a bit, and then getting to chat in comments with some of my favorite people.
heck, if you’ll put up with this blog, I like you already, even if we never meet in person!
And my blog-writing-timer just beeped. On to the next routine… look! red dot!
(header image is Indy, our neighbor’s cat)