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Managing My Plate

One thing I’m trying to do better this year is two-fold. I’m trying to control how much I put on my plate–but I’m also watching the size of my plate.

I don’t want to get into the red zone as in the picture above. Actually, I think it’s too late. I’m in the red-zone, eating on a little saucer, and wondering why there’s no room for anything else.

See, what I didn’t realize for a long time is that the size of your plate can change over time. When you’re going through stressful situations, a health issue, family trouble, etc. the size of your plate can actually decrease. Suddenly all the things you can normally handle and do without second thought keep slipping off the sides, no matter how hard you try to hold on.

It’s like plopping a huge spoon of Granny’s heavy mashed potatoes (she makes them with sour cream and butter) in the middle of the Thanksgiving plate, and all the stuffing, gravy, and green bean casserole drips off the side and stains the tablecloth. A travesty all around!

For me, that’s when something ridiculously minor would send me into a tailspin. Something I could normally take onto my plate without issue was suddenly too much. Everything starts falling apart.

So how do you move from the red plate to the bigger ones?

Some things are completely out of our control. You can’t change a health situation and make it magically better. You can’t resolve family issues overnight. But there are other self-care things you can do to make sure at least the plate doesn’t keep shrinking – or to take some of the tasks off the smaller plate with grace and knowledge that you’re doing the absolute smartest thing to take care of yourself.

For me, that means I’m super behind with NaNoWriMo. This week has been rough. I had TWO after-hour Evil Day Job support issues that affected my three-day weekend. Nothing messes me up like a 2-3 AM work call. Stress PLUS loss of sleep! I had a hard time getting back to sleep, and then I overslept, so I felt like I was behind all weekend. Though I still didn’t feel rested.

Maybe that’s not a big deal for most people, but I typically run all week on 5 hours of sleep each night. I rely on the weekends to catch up. So when I lost my weekend sleep, I started out this week run down. Weepy for no reason. Mentally exhausted.

So much for my grand plans for writing like crazy this week until I leave on another trip next week.

But, again, there’s nothing I can do about that now. I can’t control when a work issue arises. But I can control my mind frame this week and take steps to ensure my plate size doesn’t slip down another notch, or too much starts falling off the sides.

For one thing, I kept saying over and over, “I’m so tired. UGH.” Which of course made me feel even more tired. Every time I caught myself saying that, I changed it to “I’m getting the rest I need.”

Now saying that is a start – but I also have to follow up on that with smart action. Am I getting the rest I need? Not if I’m staying up until 11PM-12AM trying to write when I’m already mentally worn out. Rather than fight to stay awake, I’ve been going to bed 10-10:30 PM. That means I’m only getting a little writing done, but I have to let my sleep catch up a bit or I’m going to get so worn down that I’ll be sick. I’m traveling next week to Houston for RAM (Romance Author Mastermind) and I don’t want to come back with nasty con-crud that goes into something worse because I didn’t take care of myself.

So, fewer words than I’d hoped, but hopefully nothing else is going to fall off my plate and make a mess. It’s not the end of the world to be behind on NaNoWriMo or even to not “win” the 50,000 words. It’s not a YOU LOSE situation. I’d rather keep a steady pace and survive to write next month and next year than win NaNo and suddenly find myself blocked and unable to write for months because I’m burned out.

If you’re behind on NaNoWriMo, you’re not alone! Let’s keep plodding together.

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