For the most part, I’m fairly disciplined with respect to my writing. It’s my day job; I show up at the same time five mornings a week and I write. I got into the habit when my kids were young and I’ve kept it up. If I’m on deadline, that writing often spills into the afternoons. If I’m not on deadline and providing I’ve already written a decent number of pages, then I’ll sometimes switch gears in the afternoon and do an editing job or research, respond to emails, or deal with any current business issues.

Not deviating and staying consistent with my routine keeps me productive and on track, and that makes me happy. Lately, however, my routine has been torpedoed.

If I’m being completely honest, things began going south in January, when we moved. At first it was the upheaval of relocating to a different town: unpacking, getting my office set up, all of that. Then I realized I was missing my morning gym workout, something I routinely did (and had done for decades) before sitting down to write. Cycling or running was out of the question; the weather wasn’t conducive. Since we’re not living in the community we intend to settle in permanently, I needed an affordable short-term workout location. It took me another week of checking out nearby facilities before I figured out which one would work best for me.

I was poised to sign a short-term contract – and excited about finally getting back into a regular routine – when my father fell and ended up in hospital. He lives half way across the country, by himself, with no family nearby. Someone had to be there for him and I was it. My one week there turned into two, and I returned home with the full responsibility of his affairs, both medical and personal.

He’s still in hospital, still working towards some kind of recovery, and facing an uncertain future. That’s his reality and it’s not a pleasant one. My reality, aside from the personal heartbreak of witnessing his decline (and that’s no small thing), is that there’s a two-hour time difference between the west coast and Manitoba. That means when my phone starts ringing at 8 am, it’s already 10 o’clock there and the middle of the morning. Calls to doctors or social workers don’t happen on my timetable; they happen on theirs. Water pipes don’t freeze at a time that’s convenient; they freeze when they freeze (which is usually overnight, only to be discovered first thing in the morning).

My priorities have shifted in an unexpected and unwelcome way.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a great blog post this week about priorities.

The timing of her post was serendipitous for me. She talks about how there are times when we all have to give up something on our priorities list. She stresses the importance of acceptance in the face of doing that.

My mornings are not always my own right now, and no amount of wishing or discipline will change that. I don’t like it but I’m learning to accept it. Afternoons, never my freshest time, are quieter. So, I’m writing then. Wish me luck.

4 thoughts on “Workarounds

  1. A timely post. Unexpected events happen for sure throughout a writer’s life. My sister was gravely ill in the fall but had family support close by. She lives in Ontario. It was suggested that I wait until she was stronger before I flew to meet with her.

    The first six weeks of her hospital stay were very emotional for me. But finally when we could talk with each other over the phone I felt better. She was in the hospital for eleven weeks.

    While I was traveling and away in the winter – we spoke every day. Now my plan is to visit her in May.

    Whew! Her sudden emergency surgeries threw me into overload mode. Like you, I work best in the a.m. However everything that made up my routine was thrown out the window.

    Hopefully, your dad will become stronger. Best wishes for his recovery.

    1. I’m glad to hear your sister is improving, Jodie. Eleven weeks is a long time to be hospitalized. Dad is up to five and he’s unlikely to be released any time soon. It is hard, even when you’re not there. Emergencies can throw you into overload mode. That’s exactly it. For me at least, and for you too by the sound of it. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  2. I remember when I was caring for my mother full time. I learned to take even 15 minutes and make it work for me, doing something creative and stimulating – specifically learning to play the piano – 15 minutes at a time.
    We cope, don’t we.

    Good luck, Laura.

    1. Yes, Marjorie, we cope; we just have to. Your idea of 15 minute breaks is a good one. Thanks for your good wishes!

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