Look for the Lulls

I discovered something about myself during this lockdown. I discovered that I can practice after 4pm.

I’m a morning person. I’m fresh in the morning, I feel smart in the morning, and I like to exercise and practice and get my creative work done before the day gets away from me.

But.

This should be no surprise. Sometimes the world gets in the way of that perfect daily structure, and sometimes, like now, the world STAYS in the way. We’re home all the time and SO is our spouse and SO ARE the kids and so there’s lunch to fix and e-learning to supervise and a dog to walk and and a riot in the Capitol to watch in horror, and suddenly it’s dinner time and where did the day go?

Especially early on, when all of this was new, I found myself frequently overwhelmed and unable to find my way into any sort of deep work. I’m a creative person, and I need to be accomplishing things to feel good about myself.

(Secret truth – this phenomenon has nothing to do with the 2020/21 chaos – the world will ALWAYS put barriers in front of your perfect plans.)

But here’s what I’ve discovered. Two things, really. If I have just a few hours in the morning, I can pretty reliably get two of my important three done. I can exercise, practice, or write. And if I allow myself to think about my creative work over the course of a WEEK, rather than insisting that EVERYTHING must happen EVERY DAY, I find that I like myself more. I can forgive myself for not practicing today, if I believe that I’ll still find time to get it in later this week, AND I wrote a good blog post.

And – this is crucial – I also discovered that in the late afternoon everyone’s energy drops. My family begins to congregate around the TV and settle into NOT needing me for anything. And my energy drops too, BUT. If I give myself 10 minutes to sit and veg, and then STAND UP and go back to my studio? I can have a good time practicing. Or I can do a little writing. Or I can take the dog for a long walk. There’s a lull in the day that I can HONOR and also USE.

And I really don’t think I’d ever considered doing real work during that late afternoon slump before, but I LOVE it. There’s a good 30-90 minutes in there before dinner has to happen, and no one bothers me because they’re droopy, and they don’t even mind that I’m getting my creative itch scratched.

4:00 is not my BEST time of the day, but it’s been feeling like a BONUS period to me lately. And who doesn’t want a BONUS?

Maybe your family has a different crash schedule. Maybe it’s not 4:00 but 10am that could be your magic bonus period. But I bet if you watch for the lulls in the action, the moments in the cycle that feel slower for everyone? And then allowed yourself to be a little slower than your best but still lean into the magic?

Look for the Lulls.

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