How Fast Can You Twirl?

When time is less, and life is more…

I am not one to lament, sing torch songs, or cry in my beer when I am standing in the middle of Grand Central Station of my own manic life. I am not that kind of girl. I hunker down—under the goose down duvet—and live off quintessential supplies required to weather the dark, dramatic times. To survive I will have at least one romantic novel. A story of a buxom redhead and a strapping lad who frequently rips the stays from her bustier before throwing her down on the sweet smelling grass in the Highlands.  In between trysts, the lad will battle the nasty British Officer who also wants the sultry maiden.

Also included in my hide-away-from-the-world-kit, is a new journal and a package of multi-colored Sharpies for jotting down my feelings in the appropriate color. There is at least one box each of Chamomile and mint teas, for sipping and soothing my weary soul during the mornings and late afternoons, while evenings is reserved for something stronger and hails from the vines in Napa Valley. I am not an emotional eater so chocolate is not a requirement, but there will be an assortment of exotic cheeses that promise to add depth and dimension to my thighs.

In short, the first sign of trouble in River City, I scurry to town, gather my supplies, and run like a fox being chased by a pack of red cheeked, white haired, slightly manic men atop expensive horses, back home to slip my skin and hide under the plush feathers of the goose until whatever is passing overhead is gone. The key to surviving is to stay out of the line of fire. While I don’t know all the answers or how to win at the game of life, I am solider in the trenches and know a thing or two about how to survive a battle, even if it’s only fighting the speed at which the hands of time swirl around the dial. Time—or the lack of it—happens to be my latest trial, there is more on the Brenda list of DO NOW OR WITHER, than there is time in my days and nights to complete.  There is time available between the magical hours of 2 and 3 AM.  However, I am hording this hour for nocturnal festivities like slumber, dreaming, hibernation, soul surfacing, and total body power down.

(Annotation: Sleep is said to be overrated, but I am rather pleasant, almost charming, some even tell me I am witty and smell good when I’ve savored the hours between midnight and sunrise for sleep. It’s a rumor but lets not spread it, we wouldn’t want others to know I have a good side.)

Lately, as in last two months, I’ve been a victim of hit and run time bandits. Like a woman dressed to the nines in designer labels carrying a Gucci bag and matching wallet with unlimited credit on all of her platinum cards (me with my list of to-dos), foolishly walking through the center of Down and Out Central (me breezing through life oblivious to the warning signs).  The woman minding her own business is knocked down only to see her assailants running away with her precious possessions.   After, she stands on the street corner dressed only in yesterday’s newsprint and disbelief (me sitting atop my bed in my threadbare awareness).

Where is the time I so carefully allocated to all my tasks? Why is Chapter 16—the final chapter of my novel—not edited?  Why isn’t a blog post-posted? Why isn’t the short story I started, finished? Why is it when I have grand plans I can’t catch a break?

Of course, when I am firing on all four pistons I keep a steady eye on the horizon watching for signs of those sneaky little time snatchers and life upseters, but my head has been in the clouds and preoccupied with matters of the heart, thus the signs flitted by unnoticed. It wasn’t until I was sitting in the airport yesterday morning–waiting to catch my flight home after an exhausting business trip—did I see the fading sparkle of a time bandit’s afterglow did I realize I was behind on my life and a victim of a hit and run.

So here I am signing my torch song and looking for love in the all the wrong places.  I didn’t resort to sobbing in my beer. Rather I inhaled a deep, long luxurious breath, held it to the count of ten, released it at the same pace, and resorted and de-cluttered my list. I counted my tender mercies, rejoiced over an email from an Editor at The Sun Magazine, wrote a post, and moved forward with Chapter 16. As for those pesky time bandits,well, I have opted for a new fashion accessory-a slingshot.

How do you cope when you dance as fast as you can and your life twirls on by?

Where I go when I am looking for live in all the wrong places…


42 thoughts on “How Fast Can You Twirl?

  1. Sometimes it does feel like we just can't keep up. No matter how much time I have, it's never enough. Time goes by too quickly and it stresses me out sometimes. Yet when I'm waiting for something, the opposite is true. It's not fair. But I'm glad you got a good email and that you are making progress with your book.

    • I know, Kelly, it can be maddening. The day job gets in my way, but until fame and fortune find me here in my bedroom, off to work I go. I am shooting to be done by the end of this week with the book. Watch for an email!

  2. Astra

    I love/hate how you describe your frustration with the time bandit as a battle! And “do now or wither” ?? Ouch. This post resonates very well with me. When life is pelting me I find something or someone occasionally sends a lifeboat (or at least a life jacket!). As I grow older, I’ve learned to recognize those lifelines and take hold!

    The breathing and sleeping part you’ve managed to maintain as part of your existence are also good strategies 😉

    As above, good for you in the progress you’re making to fame and fortune!

    • From your lips, Astra, to the writing demigods! I think of fortune as just enough plus a bit extra so I can stop the day job and focus more on my writing. Fame… hmm, not sure what that means, but if it comes with a villa on Barcelona and Latin nights, well. I have declared December 'No Stress Dec', and putting all the nonsense aside. Holidays are too manic anyway. (good idea about the someone or thing, for me it is truly a book that takes me away).

  3. monicastangledweb

    I'm having the same trouble right now. Plus throw in the holidays and all the invitations to parties that take you away from writing. And for me, my daughter returns from college this week so I'll want to spend time with her. It's hard keeping up, writing for my blog, for the Huff Po (which I haven't been able to do since before Thanksgiving!) while also trying to work on a book proposal. It's tough, tough, tough. Does it help to say, I feel your pain? I need a break. Sigh.

    • Monica-you schedule sounds a little like mine. My girl is coming home from school as well. Can't wait for that.. I am hoping to start on m book proposal by the end of the month. I don't have to post for HP, but it sounds like something you enjoy doing so I'm sure you heart will find it's way back to there soon. And yes, any support (when your looking for love in the all wrong places, like on a blog post) is a good. Many thanks!

  4. I think the time bandit element comes in – and I have to admit, I am their bitch – because we don't budget in time for all the other "stuff" that comes up. Last night a girlfriend came over, and we were *only* going to chat until 6:30… 8;30 came and went, and I don't regret a moment of it. I think I'll spend 2-3 hours on holiday cards – I spent five times as much time on 'em.

    Trying to learn to have patience with myself, to savor the moment (and since you're not eating that chocolate, I'll be happy to help you out there), and not put too much pressure on myself to be supercalifragilistic going ALL THE TIME. Because I can't, I get motion-sick when I twirl too fast.

    • Bev Darling, I wouldn't regret anytime spent with friends either ( so long as they weren't whimpering or crying in their beer, opps that was me). I've stopped sending out Christmas Cards, and send a New Year Letter instead. It was surprising wonderfully refreshing and took all that pre holiday pressure off. We have bars for Cadbury Fruit and Nut imported from the UK in our house, I must send some to you. I have a loose plan for the week. lets see how it goes.

  5. Val

    Right now I have the same feeling going on. I feel like I need to catch back up. I feel like life is moving too fast and I need it to slow down for me. At this moment in my life Im seriously trying to regroup. I stare at my unfinished novel and I hear the story unfolding in my head but I can't write it down. I realize that Im overwhelmed and I need to just take a deep breath….just let it out, focus and then write what I hear. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Val – Long time, hope you are doing well. I don't have the secret on managing the volume of noise, but on the novel I can suggest a little trick that helped me.. write one page at a time. Don't think of it beyond the page. I was where you are a couple months back when I started changing the tense of my novel. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't breathe. Now I am so keen to finish but living the double life of wife, mother, super woman, can sometime get in my way. Hang in there, woman, you'll find your pace.

  6. Do you think it has to do with the weather or the season? Because I'm more apt to feel thins way in the fall/winter than the spring/summer. My comfort foods vary but my choice of beverages is consistently fruity. For some reason these days, classic movies on the DVR are more likely to lull me than novels. The more I soul search, the bigger the to-do list becomes. ;p Lovely writing as always, Brenda. Get that time bandit right between the eyes!

    • Adriene- You might have something there, I think it has to do with the short days, less sunlight. I has to be psychological. I hadn't noticed a change in my food habits, other than trying to seal my mouth shut so I don't over indulge. I kind of like hitting the wall now and again because it means I have to slow down and hide under my duvet. Words never seem enough when someone enjoys my writing, so from my writer's heart to yours… gracias!

  7. This is a great post and I hope you're feeling recovered from whatever the time bandits threw at you.

    Personally, I fall back on my children. Not literally – they squirm too much – but when things are just getting too much, I spend time with my children. We go to the park, we draw together or we simply dance to a random CD. It reminds me that the good times are here, not at some unknown future point.

    • Fi- So true how our children are sometimes the answers to the zany schedules. I have recovered, thanks kindly for asking and for stopping by.

  8. June O'Hara

    I hate when I lose all control over where my time goes. I get cranky. I complain. I feel deprived. I'm not proud, but it's true. I also pay for it when I don't get enough sleep or rest. I used to get frustrated with myself over my limitations, but I've come a long way with it.

    You captured so much, and so perfectly. Your writing is beautiful and your words help me no end. I think the demands of writing seriously are incredible, and sometimes impossible. It's not an easy way to live. And yet, we wouldn't have it any other way.


    • June-I never thought of you as the cranky type (kidding). I can still become frustrated with myself for no possessing magical abilities and time shifters, but life is like that, it's about limitations. My heart flutters at you praises. Yeah, ain't that a kick in the head.

  9. Tell me more about the rejoicing over an email from The Sun Magazine editor. An acceptance letter? Oh please tell me more!

    Me? I don’t cope with fast speeds at all. Life always slow dances with me. I take my cues from Life, a gentleman if ever there was one. No hurry, no worry. Just be. That’s me.

    • Yes, Miss Debra a little ditty is seeing the light in yonder Sun. I spent a huge chunk of my former life in investment banking and learned under duress to cope at high speeds.

  10. I'd love to slow dance more, too. Actually, I am learning to do that, and hopefully will still get to do the tasks I've set out to do each day. (By the way, have you heard of Fiona Robyn and her small biz 'Writing Our Way Home,' Brenda? There are courses and workshops to slow us down to pay attention to details. I'll be attending their River of Stones workshop in January. Wonder if you'll be interested? =) )

    Oh, and 'Do or Wither' reminds me of a Korean kid I used to tutor, who told me his dad told him to 'Study or Die.' I used to take things very hard, too. I hope I'm learning to let things flow easier. We're so used to being very harsh on ourselves, I've realized.

    • Oh Claudine, there is horrible about the boy. For me it's all lights, camera, and drama. I have a flair for the dramatic. I have not hear of Fiona, but will take a look. We're hard on ourselves because we set little deadlines for ourselves and get caught up in our life. Not such a bad thing, but conflict is created. While writing the post I decided to worry about what I don't get to and focus on what I can do.

  11. If only we could escape to the calm tranquility of the goose-feather comforter and a cup of peppermint tea. How sweet that would be, but only in a dream. The time bandit is ever waiting to snatch anything left unattended. The holidays are less than 3 weeks away and I'm beginning to freak with family all over the globe, and not enough time to plan, let alone do. And congratulations on your little ditty to Sun!

    • Nancy – I've declared December a NO STRESS zone, join me in starting a revolution. And many many thanks. Sometimes we writers need a little lift, that was mine.

  12. Dear Brenda,
    Love that song :))

    Slow down. Take a breath. Inhale. Exhale.

    Place one foot in front of the other…That's all.

    …& try to enjoy the journey along the way…. Luv to You. Xx

  13. I, like you, savor the hunker down time…and find my best hours are long after dark but before the sunrise. Maybe one blessing of getting older is getting better at working on less sleep…it's the only way I seem to get everything done. And there's still a huge pile of laundry waiting to be ironed!

    • MW-I don't do as well without sleep. I am productive until I fall over. I just realized that is how I operate, buzz, buzz, buzz, crash until the next day. A confession: I don't iron, unless forced too. We are in the age of big dryers and bounce fabric sheets. You are free from the iron, woman.

  14. writingfeemail

    Definitely spinning and spinning right now. There are so many things that have to be done, so many that I'd like to get done and others that nobody but me expects to be done. A friend once referrred to me as 'a fart in a whirlwind'. Guess that's twirling pretty fast. Have a great holiday season if you can!

    • Renee- That is too funny (the fart comment) It's no stress December for me. I am not going to fret about things this month, but I do like the odd twirl, if only for fun.

  15. I do hope you are feeling better about those pesky time bandits. I think we are collectively feeling spent right now. Just too much going on and the down feathers seem to call more and more. . That being said, this is a beautiful post with exquisite prose. I hope you received a wonderful letter from The Sun. I got a rejection on Saturday. Just adding it to the pile. Love reading your blog, Brenda. Whatever you are going through, may the load lighten.

    • Annie, always fine after I write away what is bugging me. Yes, good news, from the Sun. I have more rejections than the other, but I keep trying even thought I about die when I am rejected. Every now and again I strike gold. It's a hard knock life, as Annie sang. The writing passion is a tough love.

  16. leahsinger

    I can SO relate to this post as I've been feeling I just have no more time left to do what's needed. It's frustrating. I try to give up some sleep time but then I'm exhausted the next day. I'm so behind on my blog reading (as you can tell I'm reading this now). I just wish I could catch up. Maybe it's the holiday time of year.

  17. Leah- no stress December… take it one day at a time. After my realization, followed by the OMG and momentary panic, I figured I could fret and whimper OR i could leave all this negative energy on the side of the road. I have my moments, but so far so good. I am only focusing on my writing and the family, anything else is secondary. Hang tight, girl, and all I can say is sleep is critical, without you'll wear yourself down.

  18. Brenda, those time bandits are fiends! Thanks to them, we’re burning the candle at both ends and drinking copious amounts of java to stay awake. No need to mention that the diuretic effect of coffee is making us spend time in the loo, thereby defeating the purpose. For me, it’s not just the season. This is a year round affliction. And I’m afraid that if we don’t slow down, our health is going to be affected. Seriously hermana, I don’t believe in resolutions but maybe this year we should think about taking a bit more care of ourselves. Everyone else has to take a number and get in line! :)

    • Well, Bella, I might be ahead of you on putting on the breaks, but only by a week. I decided as I was writing the post I was done with applying pressure on myself. I have four things on my todo list now.. and I keeping it short from here on out. I am at the top of the list, because I don't take care of me FIRST nothing else gets done. Join me.

  19. Those time bandit fiends chase me regularly, too. This fall I reached my limit and for the rest of the year have decided to let them run ahead without me. I'll just sit here on the curb and catch my breath. Hence, my own spotty blog posting action for the past month.

    • Julie – It's best to take the time to reflect on one's own priorities before jumping into the middle of manic-ness ( my thoughts anyway). Somehow, we always manage to sort through everything in due course. Breathe deeply and remember what matters the most will float to the top of your list without you having to dig for it.

  20. Oh my gosh, Brenda – you must have read a page right out of my journal. I was just lamenting my weary endeavor to capture time last night as I stayed awake long past the time I should be sleeping – and then finally surrendering to the bed being unable to sleep for all the notions of the elusive remnants of time slipping right out of my reach. There’s never enough, is there?

    • No, Glenda, there is not. I have learned a lesson (that I don’t always follow) which is to step away from writing at least 30 minutes before I want to go to bed. This really helps me quiet my mind. I don’t always follow my own rule, like last night. I was fiddling my my blog post, then reading other’s and commenting right up the minute I went to bed. Bad. I am still processing and sleep takes a while to come. Also, for time or lack of it, I only focus on a couple of to-do’s every week. Yes, life demands my attention, but before giving way to something I consider the necessity of it. Nine times out of ten I can live an extra day with dust bunnies under my bed.

Comments are closed.