I’ve decided to let 2012 be the year of reclaiming control over my own life, and this is how it’s taking shape….
I’m going to be brave and post a VERY rough, skeletal rehearsal take of “Victory Speech”, slated to be the title track of our upcoming album, which will be the third record we’ve made together. Hopefully before long we’ll have a more complete and polished version of this piece in the not-too-distant future by when I will be further along in this transformational effort!
My life seems to have traditionally been overrun with lists. To-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists, set lists, etc. Since I did Ariel Hyatt’s blogging challenge last year (and won second place in that nationwide contest!!), a new list has been added: a daily list of “little victories”, or things that I was successful in accomplishing every day, however big or small. This also includes things that happen as a result of earlier successes. For example: what today is on the little victory list as “finally got artwork, etc., to printers to make business cards” could turn into getting a call a year later from someone who picked up our card at a show and now wants to hire us to play at their wedding. I typically keep my list up on my computer screen and populate it as I go about my day, and have noted that it is a good thing to be able to have it to refer back to at the end of a really shitty day and see that I had indeed been successful at something. Here’s an example:
did a.m. chant
did chakra exercise
did a little a.m. practicing (instrument)
worked on embassy project
worked on elements for hard copy press kits
Chi got called for an audition for a commercial (answered prayer!)
did more laundry
replaced blender drive coupling
took out trash
reinstalled G drive and got it running again
reviewed still photos with new drummer for website
did am chant
did chakra exercise
did a little am practicing
Chi got the audition/was selected! (answered prayer!)
got the pizzas done within a reasonable amount of time
I have recently added a spiritual practice to the beginning of each day, and as I succeed in ratcheting up the time I go to bed and the time I wake up to allow more time for preparation before I begin my day, I plan on adding a ritual of reviewing my to-do list and selecting a specific array of tasks to accomplish each day, which will ideally move off the to-do list and onto the list of little victories at the end of each day. That reminds me that I need to revisit and update the list of goals I wrote out as part of an exercise during the above-mentioned blogging contest and post it in my home office where I can see it each day.
Another critically important ritual I am currently in the process of programming into my morning routine is personal practice time. The time change in early November provided a unique opportunity to wake up at essentially the same time but have it be one hour earlier, making it far less overwhelming of a prospect to roll back my daily timeline by two hours in order to allow a worthwhile amount of time to get my own needs met before I’m at the mercy of everyone else’s demands. The next thing to be re-integrated is physical exercise.
So why has it taken me until now to establish a daily routine that by any reasonable account ought to be a lifelong matter of general principle for anyone in my profession? Well, to make a very long story short, I have had a long and unfortunate history of letting myself be taken hostage by other people and their agenda for me, instead of actively taking control of my own life and managing it in a way that makes sense for me, and especially over the past dozen years or so I’ve been having to make do with utterly inadequate conditions and do without getting my basic needs met at all, while being desperately short of any quality downtime or rest — i.e., being forced into a basic M.O. that is totally wrong and inappropriate for me — so trying to cram another time consuming thing I have to do into the front end of my day has taken a back seat to simply trying to survive my life.
I also was recently introduced to the concept that when we are not looking forward to what the next day will bring, or worse still, even dreading it, the natural response is to put it off as long as possible, which typically manifests as staying up very late at night doing nothing in particular (what always happens in my case once I reach the point where I am too exhausted and/or drunk to do any more actual work, but for whatever reason do not think to extricate myself from the inertia and go to bed) simply to postpone the inevitable: that the next time I open my eyes, I will be faced with another 18 hours or so of utterly uninspiring bullshit drudge work to have to slog through, compounded by having to come home most evenings and deal with an abusive, drug-addicted mental case after putting in my eight hours on the Boredom Treadmill.
So, now that I am aware of this, I can fix it! That entails a formidable challenge in restructuring the evenings when Chi is home (I pray fervently every day for him to get called for acting jobs that last well into the evening!), and wrenching myself free from his mindless, drug-addicted M.O. of doing appetizers with wine as soon as I get home from the day job (which completely sucks away any energy I might still have left after work, leaving me in a very debilitated, groggy state in which it is impossible for me to produce any quality output during the only time I really have available to do so, which is intensely frustrating), followed by our daily Panache rehearsal (for which I have heretofore had no regular opportunity to adequately prepare), then I have to make a big dinner that I cannot serve until Chi has finished getting high and getting drunk and doing his own practicing, often coming into the kitchen to harass and pester me while I’m trying to cook, usually resulting in a big fight that ruins dinner and totally stresses me out and sucks even more of my energy into that tiresome and toxic black hole, and then having to eat the big, heavy meal at 11:00 at night or thereabouts, leaving me painfully stuffed and unable to get a decent night’s sleep, and then after that he usually insists on delaying me even further from getting to bed, which subjects me to an even more miserable time of it the next day, and that goes on and on day in and day out.
Conversely, when he is gone in the evenings, I am free to come home from work, feed the cats, make/eat a quick, simple dinner (only one!), quickly and efficiently deal with household chores, avoid alcohol, and use my available time and energy constructively, while enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. If he is gone until late enough, then I can usually also get to bed at a reasonable time, virtually assuring better conditions for the next day, or at least the parts of it that I can control. This also makes it considerably easier to find the motivation and energy to slog through the endless administrative/ marketing/ promotional drudge work for our musical project in the evenings. Since he has been working fairly regularly as an actor for the past year and continuing into the present one, that has given me some time and opportunity to gradually whittle down the enormous backlog of stuff on my ever- nauseating to-do list while reducing the constant and distressing sense of total overwhelm.