Category Archives: in progress

willful, wanna, willing

black and white photo, close up of  top half of a woman's face. Light complexion with curling bangs and a small bun.
disobedient bangs

I am a hair and shoes person. Before I was tuned in to how problematic it can be to offer unsolicited comments about a person’s appearance, I was generous with compliments (yeah that is an ugh sentence but I am not going to try to fix it otherwise I’ll just get stuck). On the bus, “sharp hair cut!” at the store, “love those shoes!”

figured hair and shoes are less fraught. OK this is not what I was intending to write about. I do want to do a hair and shoe piece but not tonight

I wanted to write about the well worn topic of behavior, self regulation, discipline, whatever we are calling the whole “do the thing you said you were going to do” skill. And I thought to use my new bangs as a symbol of defiance. Just a little hook. Here I am 30 minutes in to writing (including farting around with a photo) and again I’m stuck on the tarmac and my thoughts are already fading into a dot in the sky.

failing to board the plane is appropriate to the topic of self regulation I guess. does that even make sense? am I supposed to be passenger or pilot?

I’m vexed that I so frequently retreat to this comfy meta self aware digressive mode of writing.

It’s fake productivity. Avoidance. Splashing around in the shallow end.

OK so what was on my mind earlier?

DBT therapy uses willfulness and willingness to frame our approach to behavior. Willful is on the negative side, where we are obstinate, rigid, resistant, etc. I call it my inner 3 year old. Willingness is well, self explanatory. Even if you are a hot mess, you can still choose to be open, flexible. Halfway smiling. Not toxic positivity. Just not doubling down on negativity.

(This is a gross simplification which is why I get all fretful about writing.)

The point is that I wonder where “wanna” fits it.

The toddler stomps. I don’t wanna behave and *you* can’t make me!

The adult stomps. I wanna behave so why can’t *I * make me?

I don’t want to be willful. I wanna be willing. I guess that’s what all the skills are for, sly ways to move us into willingness.

But so much of my willfulness is due to lack of urgency and immediacy. I have two speeds, sloth and super hero. I need to save embers from the fires I put out to keep me warm and limber for the less dramatic days.

This is apparently a classic ADHD trait. Insert recognition that many most all folks drag their feet sometimes (hence my imposter syndrome). However, there are degrees of severity and whether it’s due to adhd or something else, *egads * I have a serious Jekyll Hyde situation when it comes to productivity.

I have written versions of this so many times. So frustrating.

87% glum

Gonna give myself permission to be brief because I just spent time editing what I wrote yesterday and I can barely keep my eyes open. If I was going to spend time properly writing, I would talk about the dreaded 87% mark,   ie where I tend to get stuck.

I’ve been wanting to share this project with more folks but I won’t do it until I have alt text for photos, have fixed the categories, etc. Stuff I should have been doing with each post from the beginning.

added 4/25

It’s related to perfectionism, paralysis, hyperfocus, scope creep, haste, transitions, insecurity… the familiar stew that fuels my work? the creaseworn map that directs my movements throughout a day?

When I take on a project, I inevitably make it more complicated than it needs to be, especially given real or created barriers to execution. I start to falter or fall behind. Guilt and overwhelm take over, sharpening an edge of doubt?  slowing mometum like ankle weights?

Then the snowballing follows but I guess it’s the opposite of snowballing which evokes movement and force. Maybe more like a dam  that thickens  as distractions are less able to flow through. Ugh these metaphors.

I am remembering making a photo album for a dear  friend’s  wedding. Not ready by the big day. Technically have a year, right? And this way I could include pics from the wedding. First anniversary passed. Embarrassment took over. Then it was time for a baby shower and a reunion. I buckled in, probably stayed up all night before the flight. Had to be worthy of the delay. But there were gaps. I had wanted to do more. A gift delivered with apologies.

Of course it was well received with befuddlement about how heavily it had weighed on my consciousness.

I have so many examples of that creative process.


Had a successful rabbit hole visit earlier today. Was trying to clean up how I categorize these posts and could not figure out how to do batch edits. Although I am not a tech whiz, I can be tenacious about finding short cuts. If I think there’s a better way to do something, someone else has probably already solved the problem. After exhausting the right click options (kind of like looking under the sofa cushions), throwing key words at the search bar (because I don’t know how to describe what I am looking for), I hop around reddit and user forums until I discover a solution or that I am not alone in wishing for one. When a solution requires going deeper under the hood than I am comfortable with, I back away carefully and decide maybe my “problem” isn’t so bad.

Sometimes these searches exceed their original purpose (because ooo that article looks interesting) and derail me from the original task.

Today’s research detour didn’t shake my focus but egads my struggle with the task of organizing my writing is pretty much the story of my life. So much overlap! What about parallelism? Gah, I don’t like that phrasing. I get so easily tangled before leaving the gate, like my shoes are tied together.

I wasn’t even planning on devoting a long paragraph to tech sleuthing.

I know that being a lateral?, digressive?, nuanced? meta? indecisive? thinker has benefits too but blargh I am a little demoralized right now and need to transition to another project that’s much more important than how to categorize this blog post. So. . . I guess that’s it for today.

screen shot showing a section of this blog's organizational hierarchy

sharks and magnets

closeup of a hand, light complexion, with sparkling blue nails, against a blue background.

So I’m thinking about what I wrote re habits and other types of choices I make day to day (not everything falls into the habit category). I guess it all boils down to change which is what I keep writing about, circling around it like a shark. Hmmm maybe not a shark because that implies I’m about to sink my teeth into all these juicy goals. Maybe I am more like a magnet pointing in the wrong direction. Pushing my goals away. If I could just turn around, align the poles, would they stick?

I started writing this last night because I try to “get ahead” when I can or the muse hits and I am glad I did because today was something else and I almost forgot to write.

So. My fraught magnetic field might still be off, but I am going to salute 1) getting started on something before it’s “due” (even though we’re only talking a 24 hour window) 2) coming up for air long enough to remember to keep this streak going and 3) being OK with not writing more than this. But since I am logged on, maybe I will revise some more old posts.

Also, kind of random, but it’s been interesting to compare writing via my keyboard/PC/big screen and my phone. Most of these posts were drafted on my phone and, well, I have a lot of profound (but nuanced, of course) thoughts about that related to education, writing, and, apparently, manicures.

Right now I am at my computer and finding my nails to be a bit of an impediment. Although I am terrible at phone typing, I guess it’s a finger pad kind of situation where the nails are horizontal ie not much of a factor. Keyboarding is more of an eagle diving, talons first attack. And these talons are not good at catching prey.

Oh well. Like this writing project, indulging in nail bling is giving me some cheer during some challenging times.

And oops, I guess I ended up writing a bit more so I am calling it a night and not revising anything else.

functional fitness

no where near to being done but that’s OK

Accidentally did two HIIT workouts today. Or maybe just HIT. Chasing trains was high intensity, but spacing the sprints a few hours apart doesn’t really count as interval training.

Definitions of physical health are varied, personal, and situational (want to be mindful about ableism). The bus test is one of mine. If I can run after a bus, maintaining balance (if not dignity) as my bulky purse bounces around, I figure I’m doing OK, at least in a functional sense.

Being corporeal… OK there are so many words and ideas and questions fireworking and I can’t grab them. Easier to chase a train than a thought.

Back to today. There are two entrances to the Logan Square subway stop, both about a mile from our house. About is an important word. My transit math is granular, maybe because I tend to cut things close.

The Spaulding entrance is close to Kimball, which is great when we take the bus. However, it deposits us at the far end of the platform, about half? a quarter? of a block away from where the train actually stops. It’s kind of a fake out.

At the main entrance on Kedzie, if you feel the tunnel tremors while swiping the fare card, you can breathe a sigh of relief. At Spaulding, it means channeling your inner Jackie Joyner-Kersee and hoping noone is moving slowly on the stairs in front of you.

Lately, I have been taking my child to a day long program downtown. I usually come home between drop off and pick up. I’m enjoying being out and about, but the commute takes a big chunk of the day-45 to 60 minutes door to door, 4 times.

blah blah blah where I want to get with this… all the little variables and decisions. We are about a mile away from the logan square and California stations. The fastest and most pleasant way to get on the downtown bound train is to bike to California. Although the distance is about the same, , the stop is after LS, effectively adding two minutes to the window of opportunity to grab the train. The distance from street to platform is also shorter. but, the train is more crowded by the time it gets to California so if getting a seat is important then Logan Square is better.

taking the bus to Spaulding might be a little faster than biking but that advantage disappears when the next bus is in 15 minutes….

blargh I need to break from this. should make a visual.


late night bedside view of snow falling

2am wide awake again, not by choice.

I’ve always been a night owl, but rarely struggle to sleep once I decide to turn in, Lately, I’m having a lot of U turns. Head hits pillow. Eyes get heavy. So cozy and then bam! Yanked into blinding alertness. Like a tense rabbit who just caught wolf scent. Have two all nighters under my belt since mid February.  I’m a little concerned that’s where I’m headed now.

I rather enjoy staying up all night and am not usually worse for wear the next day. Last week I used the time to study algebra to be a resource for my kid. Took some major effort to figure out factoring radicals. I was totally dialed in and having a grand time.

Grounding techniques sometimes help. I’ll count backwards or run through the alphabet (cities, colors, food, authors, architectural features). Focusing on the sound of the hard slapping rain helped me doze off after tossing and turning at midnight. About an hour later, I must have heard a fox’s footstep and I’ve been wide eyed since. Rain flipped to snow. Listening flipped to seeing and now I’m just leaning in to the insomnia by writing. Maybe I will bore myself to sleep. This is about as interesting as retelling a dream.

Normally I would have simply left the room by now. Sleep experts say it’s best not to keep tossing and turning. Go to another room, read a book, snack on kiwis and bananas until you’re ready to try again. But if I get up, I am at high risk of staying up, esp if I pick up that algebra textbook.

I also don’t want to wake up my kid who shares my owl tendencies and is quick to notice do as I say not as I do situations.

(after drafting this and completing a crossward I did fall asleep by 3am)

Fire Drill

My plans for the day, such as they were, were upended. Or rather jostled. My teen stayed home from school which really shouldn’t derail me seeing as I only have a very part time wisp of a job and they know how to feed themself. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t take a lot to suck me back onto the couch. (I am becoming quite good at Quordle though.)

Lack of productivity is one of my deepest and roilingest wellsprings of shame. (OK now I’m trying to resist the distraction of wondering what a wellspring actually is and also whether it makes sense to put deep and roiling together given the whole still waters run deep thing but oceans are deep and get whipped up so… Ugh. Whatever. This is why I never finish any writing.)

But I don’t want to let writing frustration suck me into the whole shame self recrimination failure vortex.

Today I just want to focus on the importance of fire drills. My mental health was in a tailspin last year. In July I got connected to an amazing Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) through Advocate Christ Hospital. I was initially a little worried about the virtual format (I was so over teaching via Zoom) but it ended up being perfect for many reasons which I hope to write about later.

The providers frequently reminded us to practice skills and revisit insights even when we are not in crisis-hence the comparison to fire drills. Sounds obvious when I write it out but maybe I would not have needed the IOP if I had done a better job holding on to what I’ve learned through years of therapy, including a similar partial hospitalization program in 2018.

Today I was able to dodge the shame self recrimination failure vortex because I remember what I learned last summer.

( 3/4 update: and I gave myself permission to post this even though I wasn’t “done” because I ended up spending the evening wrangling with Verizon. I can always pick up this thread another day.)