Identifying Obstacles

A promise I made to myself this year was to write more often. 
I struggle with time management, and find myself yearning for time to write. In the same way I yearn for time to exercise, time to meditate, time to spend with my teenage son, my elderly father, perhaps even my husband of 18 years. (We rarely see one another: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder…)

My job takes up the biggest chunk of my time.
I work 40+ hours a week; I commute 4 to 5 days a week to a small community based hospital in the beautiful gateway area to Oregon’s majestic Mt. Hood.

In my “off” hours, I tend to the needs of my 82 year old father who has been experiencing a rapid decline in his health this year.
I have one offspring: an amazing 16 year old son who is already staring to tour college campuses. He will be spending 2 months of the upcoming summer volunteering in a Spanish language immersion program, Amigos International.
I would like to spend as much time with my boy as I can this year… before I know it, he will be spreading his wings. Far, far away from Portland.

So, lacking the time and mental wherewithal to actually collect my thoughts and write, I have started making lists. Lists, and snippets. Lists, and snippets, on scraps of paper, which are then crammed into old journals and notebooks.

Sometimes, I will wake up in the wee hours of the night, and scrawl out a list, or even just a few words that I hope will jog my memory when I find them again.
If I am lucky, I will remember to go hunting for things when I do find a few open moments. And sometimes as I search, I come across old drawings or letters that fit in nicely with the current theme.
(Today’s theme involves obstacles, writing techniques, and: birds.)

This is a drawing that I made in my early twenties…. long before I met my love and life partner, Mr. Blitch. This is hilarious if you have met Blitch, because he is a long, tall, drink of water. And only very slightly goofy. And, he loves birds.

Here is an example of some Blitch clay art:

And here is an example of a late night list…

These are my thoughts: 
1) I didn’t clean the chicken coop this weekend 
2) I want to take tap dancing lessons 
3) I stink 
4) or maybe it’s the old Labrador lying next to me that stinks
5) my cat sometimes slobbers when she purrs
6) kitty spittle
7) I have a big long day ahead of me at work today
8) if I had just gotten up at 3, I could have finished the dishes from yesterday
9) I need to call my dad’s doctor and tell them that his BPs have been 200s over 90s sitting
And 100s over 60s standing
10) I forgot to buy cat food both times I went grocery shopping over the weekend
11) I need to try and get replacement birth control since I still can’t find the 2 month supply I misplaced
12) if I go back to sleep now, I can nap for 45 minutes before I have to actually get out of bed

In an effort to formalize and revitalize my writing efforts, I went out and picked up a copy of one of my *favorite* books on writing, by one of my *favorite* writers, Anne Lamott.
She offers advice on overcoming one’s personal obstacles to writing, and describes the importance (and practicality) of Short Assignments and Shitty First Drafts. She writes deliciously and pointedly about the common roadblock to writing of Perfectionism: 
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
In addition to the random notes and lists I have started, I have also attempted to identify my obstacles. Which, unsurprisingly, has resulted in the creation of another list:

* Fear
* Fatigue
* Time
* Perfectionism
* Distractions

Often, when thoughts do come to mind, they come in a rush that feels completely opposite of the mindful reflection that I so deeply crave.
My personal “Bird by Bird” tends to look more like a scene from a Hitchcock film.


And in closing, lest I lose it in a pile of papers somewhere, the next list of writing topics:

* Unwanted Pies
* Hoarding
* Love Languages
* Lady Justice (‘Gone but not Forgotten’)
* Selling grapefruit
* Letting Go vs. Letting Be



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