Monday, February 25, 2013

Confessions of a Scatterbrain

I have way too many interests.

I love to craft. I can quilt, sew (as long as it's not clothing!), paper cut, quill, do origami, make jewelry, and have interests in fabric dying, clay sculpting and clay beads.

I love cooking and baking. Anything from cream soups to bread, cookies to pies- if it's comfort food, I love making it.

I love writing. I can write short stories, books, novels (sort of), funny poetry, spoof songs, and have notes to write cookbooks, craft books and children's stories. I especially love using the cadence from poems and songs to make my own original funny versions- usually for friends and family at parties.

And this is just the 'off the top of my head' list.

I didn't even include my interests in public speaking (aka: talking to groups of people without wetting myself), stand-up comedy (same thing as above, only with jokes), and trying to save the planet by growing herbs in my garden. 

Scatterbrain is a word that suits me- but not just in the sense of the original definition. Yes I can be a little ditsy (just a little), but I also have too many things to focus on that I like to do- which is everything.

So how do I organize all this stuff into a cohesive lifestyle that is clutter and stress free? The answer is very simple.

I don't.

In fact, I can't. And I'll tell you why.

The moment I set pen to paper and try to plan anything specific (like make 'these' kind of beads, or write 'this' particular story), it becomes boring. So boring that I never want to start that project. Ever. I get things done much easier if I don't plan the specifics and keep an open floor plan in the house of my mind, if you will.

There is no 'do this recipe' or 'do that craft'. It's more like 'You need to write.' 'You need to craft something.' You need to bake something.' - Let's use the 'bake something' scenario as an example.

If I schedule 'bake rye bread' I will never make it. There will always be something else to do that's more interesting than baking rye bread- even if it's painting the house. But if I write down 'Bake', that frees my creative mind and allows me to make something awesome- even if I decide in the end to bake rye bread!

Choices can be made depending on how I feel. I could bake something savory. I could bake something sweet. I could do anything from cookies to quiche and it won't matter- because when the time comes to bake, I can bake anything I want because I haven't predetermined my mood. When I write down 'bake' on my weekly calendar I can be thinking cookies, but when the day comes to do the baking, I might make English muffins instead- there is freedom in not planning every minute of my life.

Don't get me wrong- Planning is good. If I have to bake something specific for an occasion, I do it. But if I don't have to, leaving my options open makes life more fun!

One day my life might be more organized, neater, and a lot less stressful. But I will never schedule my creativity, because it will pack it's bags and leave me the second I do! And who else is going to help me complete all these projects?

I am a scatterbrain. It can be exhausting, but it's also really, really fun- Especially if you get a bunch of us together for a brainstorming session!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Forgetting The Details

It's seems like such a little thing, doesn't it? You forget one little detail, and life blows up in your face.

Okay, not all the time, but you get the idea. Sometimes it's figurative, sometimes it's literal.

For instance, I never did share the details about my husband's accident. That's figurative. The world won't end, and our lives will go on as usual. But how the accident happened- well, that was literal. And it took me this long to realize I never shared this trial and the blessings that followed with you.

Oddly enough this happened on 9/11 last year. My husband, during weeks of working long hours at work, home, and church, went to work that morning tired but purposeful. While mixing the chemicals, he was distracted by a co-worker asking a question, and he forgot one little detail.

He didn't look down.

All he had to do was look down to see the steam rising from the bucket of hot water. The bucket he wasn't supposed to pour in the caustic soda. The cold water bucket was sitting a few feet away. But his brain didn't register that, and he dumped the chemicals into the wrong bucket.

A simple forgotten detail. but one that would change his life and those around him.

Caustic soda, when hitting cold water, raises the temperature to the boiling point instantly. But pour it into a bucket of hot water, and it vulcanizes- in other words, it explodes like a volcano, up and out.

All over my husband. Almost.

We know God was there that day because the bucket my husband was holding diverted the chemicals from spattering over his face and chest. Instead most of it hit the bucket, then his belly, thighs and forearms. The rest hit the twelve-foot ceiling and sprayed onto his head.

If it had hit his throat or his face, he would have died within seconds. His glasses helped to protect his eyes for the most part, but he couldn't keep it from dripping from his forehead into his eyes.

A few months before this, they tested a batch of this mixture in a glass jar and dipped in a raw chicken leg. The meat was gone within a minute. My husband knew exactly what to do.

Within the first few seconds, he was ripping off his clothing as his co-workers got the hose to soak him down. Water effectively neutralizes it, but you need a lot of it in this case, because the clothing, if not remove quickly, would melt onto him. 

The only thing he kept on were his tidy whities- and that second layer of clothing was the only thing that protected him from being in a worse situation. Who knew our moms were right all these years?

He was taken to a unit of a hospital known for it's burn treatments. The diagnosis? Third degree chemical burns on thirty-five percent of his body.

Eighteen days in the hospital. Two sets of seven skin grafts. Staples, bandages, therapy and burn creams. All because he was too mentally exhausted to think of looking down. One forgotten detail, and two years estimated recovery.

What blessings that came out of this? The love people gave us in our time of trial. The fact we were still able to buy our first home, because the company worked with us so the mortgage would go through. The unexpected healing of one of his eyes, which now has almost normal vision. And now when he's too tired, him and his co-workers notice the signs and he sits down to rest. 

Now I have a request, my dear readers. I would ask you to do the same. Don't exhaust yourself- it isn't worth the consequences. Yes, most times the little forgotten details are minor. But you never know when that one little thing can become a life-changing event. It just not worth the risk!

As for my husband? He's recovering nicely, and remains his same cheerful self. His connection to God is much stronger than it was, and his face lights up when he shares his story with others. God has truly blessed us!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Muse Abuse

Everyone has a muse. That little person in your head that gives you ideas for anything in the universe. Some people haven't found theirs yet- some encounter them on a whim while doing work or the laundry. you can't entice them most times either- they hardly ever show up when you want them to!

I think mine came from the 1930's mob era- she doesn't just show up, she brings friends and whops me upside the head with so many ideas at once I can't write fast enough to get them all down! In fact when I do forget one, she whops me again so I can only half-remember what it was, spurring on another list of ideas!

I think if I didn't sleep, I'd be hyper-kinetic. I still might be- just the kind that sleeps a lot.

Here is the problem:

I type with two fingers, about forty words a minute. I hand-write less than that. I think at about three hundred miles an hour (give or take a million) so you can see by the math my fingers just can't catch up with my brain. 

There's also another down-side to all this prolific idea conjuration- because my brain is busy with all this, my memory stinks like last-weeks garbage.

Maybe that's why my muse abuses me. I don't type or write fast enough to get everything down, so she has to keep hitting me to get my memory started. But all she does is jar the idea part of my brain, and it starts pumping out ideas again, making me fill out dozens of 3 x 5 cards each time. When the ideas shut off, I know she had to go get some rest because her arms got too tired.

My muse has taught me a few tricks to help me though, so it isn't all bad.

I've learned to write legibly in the dark. That way when she whops me in the middle of the night, I don't have to turn the light on or get out of bed. And most of the time I understand what I wrote on the morning, including the stuff I scribbled out and wrote underneath it in small print.

I've learned to keep paper on me and around me at all times, and have at least three pens handy. Yes- even in the bathroom and basement. I don't know why I just don't carry a caddy or apron like waitresses do for their order pads. It might make life easier!

Get the basic idea down, do details later. Too many times I've tried to flesh out the story only to be whopped again by my muse. Apparently she has more ideas to bestow, and I need to hurry up.

Write ideas first, do chores later. Self explanatory, and this one happens to be my favorite! Of course when I'm done writing, I have a lot of little papers and cards to sort, so it forms another little niche on my chore list. Sigh.

Sometimes, if the ideas just aren't working for me, I call a writer friend and ask them if they need help. The muse is satisfied (because I can talk a blue streak), and I use my idea-producing mind in grand-slam brainstorming sessions. I get to socialize and help someone out of a writing rut. Then, and only then, does she leave me be for a little while- usually until lunchtime.

She also doesn't bother me when I'm writing. By the time I'm ready to type, the ideas are already formed (for the most part) and she doesn't mind sitting around eating some cookies until I need her for something. It's only when I stop writing for a few days she starts reaching for her whopping stick.

Do you suffer from muse abuse, or does your muse come and go as she pleases? Or is she a relative of my muse with a whopping stick of her own?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Brain and Body Burnout!

Lots to do, lots to do! And there never seems to be enough hours in the day! It's not so much about 'finding the time' any longer, but 'How can I do everything I need to do in the time given me'?

Life is like those lyrics in Lion King- there's more to do than can ever be done- so why are we constantly trying to do it all?

It's like watching someone watering a creek, or dusting a dirt path- are those tasks really necessary? And what creeks have we been watering lately?

These are the questions you ask yourself when your brain begins to smoke, and your body is burned out. I could cure a ham with the brain-smoke I've been emitting lately! And my body is more shot that the chassis in the show Overhaulin'. I can just see the crew looking me over and saying..'Yup, this body is definitely sprung.'

It's times like these I have to force myself to relax and re-think what I'm doing, before something dreadful happens- like I give my kids permission to go hold up a bank without realizing it.

Sometimes life knocks us over like a ram on a roller coaster- were so involved in 'getting things done' that we forget that we need to shut down once in a while to keep running right. Either that or we ignore the engine light on our souls and wind up leaking oil at an inopportune time. 

And I know I've leaked oil when I shouldn't have. Haven't you?

I know I have too many irons in the fire. I also know I have a choice- either take an iron or three out, or spend less time tending to them so I can recharge and focus. For me, the latter is the better choice, but maybe your life is different and you can remove a few irons. This isn't a 'my way or the highway' kind of thing, it's more like a 'freedom of choice before you explode' kind of thing. The kind of thing that will allow you to rest, and maybe keep you from going on a ranting spree! Not that I would ever know about that.

There will always be lots to do- it will never end. But your sanity, focus and energy will end if you don't step back and take a breath. Remember, breathing is a good thing- especially when you're near chocolate!