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A Picture of My Down Time

January 12, 2013

If you’re reading this, perhaps  you’ve forgiven me for my last post, which was a bit of a downer.  Clearly I need to find a way to fit more down time into my life.  That is, if I want my loved ones to actually like me.  At the end of my life, I don’t want my epitaph to read “Here lies a helpful, dependable GROUCH.”

Down time is important. Fun is important. Laughter is an absolute necessity.  I have to remind myself of these things daily.

Down time for me doesn’t necessarily mean zoning out in a hot bubble bath. Honestly, I’d probably just fall asleep and drown.

Most of my time is spent doing the things that take care of someone else’s needs.  It is, after all, the very nature of motherhood.

Activities that recharge my battery are usually things that I enjoy doing, but are low on the priority list simply because they aren’t required of me by someone else.  Reading is one of those things. I have an enormous collection of books awaiting me.

I’ve recently committed to read and post reviews for the books written by my friend, Pamela Hutchins.  Two birds, one stone.  I get some down time; she gets reviews, which help in the sales department. The bonus is I don’t feel guilty about the down time.  I’m achieving a higher purpose (or so I tell myself) by supporting an indie-published author and friend.

Despite my good intentions, I ran behind schedule on the book reviews. Shocking, I know.  It might be easier to keep up if Pamela churned out one book at a time. But, being the overachiever that she is, publishing just one wasn’t enough.  I can’t believe she didn’t take my hectic life into account. Some people are so self-centered!

Kidding. I love Pamela. I admire Pamela. I often refer to her as “Perfect Pam”.  I’m kidding and serious when I do. It’s a pretty close fit. The woman is crazy impressive.

Pamela donned the published-author hat by publishing four books at the same time. I bought them all, read two of them right off the bat, and posted reviews.  Then life got busy and the other two books gathered dust waiting for me. Before long, I got an email from Pamela about her soon-to-be-released debut novel.  I was among the privileged few that she invited to pre-read and review it.

(Side note: Reviews are very important, especially for new authors, and double that for indie-published authors. Pamela explains that better than I can.  Click here to read why reviews are important. If you’re an author or know one, click here to read about how to get reviews.)

I managed to get her novel, Saving Grace, read and reviewed by the deadline (barely).  With a fresh resolve to get her other books reviewed, I jumped back in the game with enthusiasm late one night. It helped that I had also received a group message from Pamela requesting reviews for Puppalicious and Beyond to meet Amazon’s requirements for Kindle promotions.  I dusted off my copy of Puppalicious and Beyond and snuggled up in my comfy bed to read.

Reading was a challenge from the first page.  It’s a rare thing when I’m able to finish any task without interruptions, and this would be no exception.  But I persevered, and I prevailed.  The same night, in fact. That’s somethin’!

This is how it went:

9:45 pm:   Just as I settle in, my 15-year old son, Christopher, comes into my room asking to use my laptop to print business cards for my other son. (Apparently I’m the only one who has figured out how to connect to the wireless printer.)  I nod toward my laptop and try to keep reading. I end up spending twenty minutes helping them with printer alignment issues.  Irritated by this interruption, I remind myself I want to be a  joyful, supportive mom.  While I try to keep the irritation from showing, I wonder when the last time anyone asked if I needed help with anything was.  I resist the urge to complain when they use up three ink cartridges.

10:10 pm:  I settle in again with my book.  Two minutes into reading, a friend texts me asking about my Grandma, who had recently gone into hospice. Thankfully it doesn’t launch into the usual 30-minute text session. Back to reading.

10:16 pm: Text from my husband. I respond briefly.

10:26 pm: I make it to Chapter 2 as I get another text from my husband asking for a long-distance movie date. (We rent the same movie, start at the same time and watch “together.”) I answer that I’ve already seen the movie he wants to watch, but I need to read this book anyway, so go ahead without me.

10:32 pm: All the coffee I’ve ingested trying to morph into Super Woman is now trying to push its way out my bladder, so I take a potty break.

10:34 pm: I stretch my tired muscles, then return to reading position.

10:41 pm: My phone alerts me that I have a new Facebook message.  I resist the urge to read it, but with great trepidation. What if it’s IMPORTANT?!

10:45 pm: Christopher enters my personal space to show me the finished business cards. I make obligatory supportive comments and return to reading, after explaining why I need some alone time now. That sounds better than “Leave me alone.”

10:51 pm: Christopher comes into my room singing. He never sings quietly. I shoot him a look. He stops singing, but comes closer to read the title of my book.

 “What’s that about?”

“I can’t answer that ‘til you let me read it.”

He turns to leave, but stops to pester Layla, my beloved boxer, who is sleeping at my feet.  She makes disgruntled growling noises, which makes Christopher laugh and pester more. I ask him to make me a cup of coffee. Again, two birds, one stone. I get some caffeine and he gets out of my room.

He heads for the bedroom door talking in his “BIG RUSSIAN LADY” voice. He’s silly like that. I have to admit I laughed, and not out of obligation. The boy is genuinely funny.

By this time I am writing down the interruptions with this blog post already in mind. I’ve also informed Christopher of my intentions. When I pick up my pen, he panics at the thought of me writing what “BIG RUSSIAN LADY” had to say. He makes me promise not to repeat it, although I really want to.  What he said isn’t bad, he just wouldn’t have said it if he thought I’d turn it into public reading material.

10:54 pm:  Back to reading at Chapter 3.

10:56 pm:  Christopher comes back into my room with coffee, and unimportant chit-chat.  I thank him for the coffee while giving him the look. He leaves the room.

11:12 pm:  I’ve made it to Chapter 5. Progress! I get a text message from Christopher asking me if I want a chocolate Biti Pie. (He figured out a long time ago the easiest way to get junk food is to tempt me with what I like.) I tell him no.

11:23 pm: Another text message from Christopher trying to get me on board for junk food. I ignore it.

11:46 pm: Christopher comes into my room to bug me. {Can a 15-year old still have separation anxiety?} He leaves when I pick up my pen.

11:48 pm:  I hear the ding of yet another text message. I don’t even look to see who it’s from.

11:50 pm:  Repeat of 11:48 pm.

11:52 pm: My phone alerts me that I have another new Facebook message.  This time I cave and pick up my phone to read it.  It’s a response in Pamela’s group message requesting reviews for Puppalicious and Beyond.  Someone else has posted their review of Puppalicious. Yay for Pamela!  Boo for me. Knowing that other readers have already posted their reviews makes me feel like I’m racing the clock. TICK…TICK…TICK… I try to ignore the devil on my shoulder whispering, “The last one to post a review is a LOSER!”

12:08 am: I lose a minute or two clearing the tears blurring my eyes.  No spoiler alert here, but more than one chapter in this book moves me to tears.

12:09 am: I ignore a text from Christopher.

12:13 am: I ignore another text from Christopher.

12:15 am: Christopher enters my room. I pretend he didn’t.

12:16 am: I get another Facebook message. I resist the urge to read it.

12:25 am: I get another text. I don’t even look.

12:32 am:  I get a follow-up text from Christopher about the previously ignored texts.

12:34 am:  I get a text from the same friend who texted me earlier about my Grandma. I respond briefly.

12:35 am:  I get an ALL CAPS text from Christopher.  I decide to live on the edge and ignore it.

12:52 am: I’ve enjoyed 17 minutes of uninterrupted reading, although by this time I’ve still received and ignored two more text messages.   Christopher comes into my room talking about nothing important.  I ask for more coffee.  The muscles between my shoulder blades begin to knot and cramp. I ignore them.

1:15 am: Just when I think not a creature is stirring, I get a text from Christopher asking if I want to watch a movie.  I decline and suggest he go to bed.

1:18 am: Christopher texts me again about the movie. My response is stronger than the previous suggestion.

Not long after this last interruption I finally finish Puppalicious and Beyond. I lay on my bed enjoying the satisfaction of reading an entire book.  Too tired to write a review, I decide to call it a night and write the review after I’ve had some sleep. Surely I won’t be the last one if I get up early. 

You’d probably agree it’s a good thing I don’t have to make a living reading books or writing reviews.  We’d  have to lower our standard of living significantly. I do enjoy reading, though.  I’ve set many goals for this year, which include more reading and more down time.  The bonus: Two birds, one stone. I better start looking for a pretty big stone, though.

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  1. Girl…you are a DIZZY STIR 🙂
    You make me laugh, and you done good getting through the book with all’a that going on.
    Thanks for reviewing my books. I promise to publish them only one at a time now.

  2. Kensi Kempf permalink

    Hahahahaha I was thinking as I was reading this how it was basically Topher bugging you the whole time, laughed my butt off when I got to the part about separation anxiety!

    • Well, I didn’t include how many times Layla pawed at me to rub her tummy because the whole thing was already too long. 🙂

  3. Trey McFarland permalink

    I agree with Kensi! This made me laugh! I really enjoy reading what you have to write!!

  4. Thanks, Trey! Wanna volunteer to be my guaranteed comment-leaver? 🙂

  5. Separation anxiety…I think I have to agree with all that! Your whole family can read this & laugh because we can visualize the entire scenario! Hilarious!! Keep writing!!

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