One Ball Juggler

A statement I made in my last blog Competent Confidence has been bothering me since I published it. “…I’ve learned in the post apocalypse, I can’t handle more than one challenge on my plate at one time.” There was a time when I was actively involved in church, working more than full time, volunteering for The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation, and chaired and coordinated the Wish Children’s Holiday party for several years. Not to mention writing with abandon. I was an avid Franklin Day Planner enthusiast, which is how I kept my life straight….mostly. I hoped the plasticity of my life would come back to me over time but it hasn’t. I’m not really expecting my life to spring back to my pre-caregiver days because 1) A lot of the frenzied activity I participated in was to prove to myself and other people I was a good person and 2) I’m older and a little wiser now.

I want to write. I want to re-engage in the world. I want to get my “gig” going to supplement my income to help me reach my financial goals. I keep having false starts on all of it. I am proud of the fact my website is up, pamelagartner.com, but I’ve not gone any further on that. I want to write everyday either my current novels, my journal or my blogs. So far, blogging here is the only consistent writing I’ve been doing and honestly, this is just opening a vein and letting it flow. To be a single, self-employed writer, by necessity, you have to be able to keep two balls in the air at one time. When you have your body breaking down and betraying you, you need to work-out, plan meals and eat right. (ball three) To be a member of any sub-set of the whole of society you have to be willing to go out, engage in activities, make friends and be a part of it all. (ball four) I am blessed with a truck-load of friends and family so, maybe a cadre of acquaintances and new experiences will be sufficient. However, I still need to do the basics for that.

My writing has always been the most important thing to me since I was eleven. I’ve always wanted to be a published author. I used to write (pen and paper) every chance I got. I used to carry a 5 subject notebook around with my school books and I wrote instead of taking notes in class or studying in the library. Later, I carried 5.5″x8.5″ paper in my Franklin to write when I was bored in meetings or on a long lunch. I loved the freedom. I’ve gotten so keyboard-bound the idea of handwriting now seems laborious and a waste of time so I’ve abandoned the practice. My imagination and desire to write has come back to me now the stressors in life are receding, and like a petulant child, the muse wants my undivided attention…NOW! This unrelenting presence in my head makes me frustrated with everything I do because I’m not writing. I try not to let my projects distract me while I work because I can’t stop in the middle of a blood draw or accessioning someone into the system to write down an idea, line of dialogue, or plot twist before it’s gone. This makes it doubly hard for when I get home because it takes time to get the muse to answer your calls when you’ve ignored her all day.

As I’ve been writing this I realize I’m expecting too much of myself, again. It’ll be five years this December since the apocalypse happened. When that life consuming, ginormous snow-ball of a task was finally taken out of the juggling rotation and I started to rebuild my life I expected things to spring back to what was my normal. It hasn’t. At times in the past half-decade I was gifted with time to re-write my last novel twice during the 18 weeks of convalescence of breaking my foot and then the three months of pandemic confinement. It was the only ball I had to keep in the air. During those times I was living my authentic self, and I LOVED IT.

My broken brain has conflated the idea I did all the writing while working full-time; successfully keeping both balls in the air, and berating me for not doing it now. I need to be happy I am able to keep the working-full-time-ball in the air without losing it. Putting pressure on me to get all the balls up in the air again and gracefully moving in artistic patterns and mesmerizing circles is only going to distract me from the one ball I have successfully flying now. Juggling is all about timing and stamina. As much as I need it, as much as the little demanding muse wants it, the timing just isn’t right for more than one ball until I am stronger to handle a second. Dangit.