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Nov 28, 2014
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Spring Cleaning

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As I sit here chewing on a peep and watching hockey with the family, I’m reminded that it’s perfectly okay to take a minute for myself.

Columns, Homepage Sub, Keri English  •  Apr 01, 2013

As I sit here chewing on a peep and watching hockey with the family, I’m reminded that it’s perfectly okay to take a minute for myself. Stopping to acknowledge what’s truly important is what it’s all about. As spring has finally sprung in New York, I nabbed some daffodils and tulips to bring to our relatives. Sitting down to an Easter feast, we traded stories and savored dishes crafted with love. Since this past week was spring break for my students, I am for once, caught up on grading and did not think about work all day.

These are the days that I’m grateful for. Leisurely breakfast beside a crisp stack of news in print; lazing in pajamas and blessed with an alarm free rising and coffee laden chat with my love. Time to contemplate and reflect is something that I will never neglect. I will never forget to claim this time because the results of that… are quite awful.

I spent the past couple years working so much and I got absorbed into having a routine, and I didn’t bother to vary it. The thing is: I love to teach, but not when my schedule is overflowing with so many classes and so many projects, committees and meetings and conferences oh my. It’s then that I lose myself. When I lose myself, I lose the ability to focus, the desire to create and even my passion for writing tends to dim—not something that happens easily. When it does happen I wonder how it came to this and how to make it stop.

Sound familiar? If you have a passion and a day job, I’m guessing you know what I mean.

So how do we avoid getting into this tacky spot? It would seem that the universe takes our plans and stirs them, boils them and creates a stew that we need to strain, separate and sometimes even puree to get it down. However, this season I am seeing things in a new light. I have strengthened my resolve and will not be overwhelmed by the plans of others. In fact, I have no choice really. We are expecting a baby in the summer, and health comes first. That said it’s refreshing to be forced in a way to think positively and stop sweating the small stuff.

Rather than think about logistics of commuting or timeframes in traffic, I now get to decide that lunch is more important for the baby than cramming in five extra papers graded in a break between classes. Rather than slog through essays till two a.m. I get to sleep and if they wait one more day to get feedback, so be it. When it seems that my writing time has fallen by the wayside, I get to say “Hey, this is soon to be my passion and my day job and it’s not up for negotiation.”

Damn it feels good to own it.

Hoping to get a solid draft of my book into as many proofreading hands as possible by summer, I look forward with purpose. As I clean out my closets this spring, it’s the daffodils and tulips and newspapers and incoming onesies that drive me to create. As I rearrange furniture and plan a welcome for the little one, I see a lot of paths that I’d closed off for so long being reopened and the busy subway train life that I was leading has left the station for good.

Sure I’m keeping the day job for a short while longer, but when your energy is focused on things that you love, the world looks different and the horizon is clear. Settling in to watch some Sunday evening TV, I can’t help but relish the idea of Game of Thrones and cookies. No one eye on TV as I scramble to prep for the morning. No more letting monotony rule my days. Zero time for unwanted extras. Plenty of time for baby and I to get to know each other. Excitement abounds, keyboard pounds and the future looks brighter every day.

I hope this helps you find it in your heart to follow what you want and do what you love. If I hadn’t gone 180 and consciously made these choices… I don’t think I’d have anything nice to say this week. Follow your path. Do what you know you need to be doing. It seems finding happiness is just this easy.

 

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Keri English
Keri English is a native New Yorker with a penchant for pages both written and downloaded. Now a writer, editor and professor, Keri has also explored a bevy of mini career paths that have provided a wealth of literary ammo for the short story collection she is working on. Some of her favorite things include the scent of paper pages opened after a siesta on cedar shelves, blue Bic pens and black and white composition books. Keri's work has appeared in anthologies, newsletters, The Huffington Post, Indie Reader, Jezebel.com, USAToday.com, In the Powder Room and she blogs at kerialifeinwords.blogspot.com. Follow Keri on Twitter @WriteLoud