confession tuesday: i know the secret to inbox zero

I confess that I really do know the secret (for me). And it’s decidedly simple:

1. Sign up for the most well-designed to do list ever: Teux Deux. Get the iPhone app while you’re at it. 

2. Marvel at the beauty of dragging and dropping your to do list items and prioritizing your life with a swipe of your precious little fingertip. 

3. Discover that you keep most emails in your inbox because you have to *do* something with them… inevitably you are always two or three steps away from simply replying, which in turn (somehow) equates to always being 385 emails away from inbox zero.

4. Start adding those reply steps/projects to Teux Deux and booting them out of your inbox. If a client sends you content for a brochure you’re writing, it does not belong in your inbox. It’s an asset that can be found later. (This is the trick: thinking of your inbox as a magical library where people submit new stories and content every single day.)

5. Archive the associated email. (Assuming you’ve already discovered the power of Gmail.)

6. Watch your inbox count dwindle. And thanks to Teux Deux’s ability to effortlessly add and shift line items around, you will brainhack your way to email activity that is a tool for *making stuff happen* instead of creating more emails. Suddenly you’ll manage your responses and email activity based on your actual capacity and the actual priority of the project. The “just power through” emailpalooza lunch break disappears.

7. When an item on Teux Deux does relate to an email, search your Gmail archives, find related email (like looking up the resource you need in a library), and as the cool kids say, “Git er done.” 

And that, my friends, is how I’ve been at inbox zero for almost a week.

dear tuesday

Today I confess that I think it is silly that this whole “be honest on Tuesday” thing is called “true confession Tuesday” when “Truthful Tuesday” is a much nicer alliteration. 

I confess that I missed last week’s confession. I was busy with new and interesting things, like my new nephew and becoming an aunt and discovering what babies look like when they are in the 10th percentile for weight and the 75th percentile for length. (They look like adorable giraffes with the turtle-like capabilities of craning their necks and grimacing, for the record. Oh, and with long canoe paddles for feet.)

I confess that there was disappointment last week. I did not get into Hedgebrook, the first residency I’ve ever applied for. I told myself that you are not supposed to be accepted to the first residency you ever apply for, but that did not stop me from visualizing again and again that Hedgebrook would be my miraculous, nature-laden sanctuary in 2012. 

I confess that I visualize a lot. Every day before I wake up, I visualize the process of starting my day. I visualize the work I will do that day. I visualize the things that will make me happy, the ways I will keep myself centered in what really energizes me. I do not always stay true to what I visualize, but I begin the day with intent, and that’s what matters.

I confess that I am writing this just before I head out to a happy hour… and I don’t like being rushed. But I wanted to write something today, and I feel like after all the energy I’ve given just between yesterday and today, and that energy that I’m about to give, I might have very little left by the time the day settles down and says, “Oh, here’s some time to write.”

I confess that I feel so much more to say but am cutting myself off now, before Carl catches me running late. (Because I confess, on his behalf, that he is perpetually aware of matters related to time and promptness.)

confession tuesday: breakfast, workshop anxiety & the importance of being alone

I confess that the only foods I ate today were breakfast foods. Toast and jam for breakfast-breakfast. Cereal for lunch-breakfast. Pancakes and bacon for dinner-breakfast. I didn’t plan it that way, but it’s the way I would have it every day if I could. 

I confess that I am only talking about what I ate earlier because I am avoiding the anxiety of what I am about to do. Tonight I am participating in an online workshop with the Chicago School of Poetics, which recently launched and is offering a sample workshop for people who want to give it a try. I am one-part anxious because I haven’t done a workshop in awhile. I am another part anxious because I hate the telephone, and to me, participating in an online workshop with my webcam is something like talking on the telephone while also naked. I am another part anxious because I already attempted an online workshop with Stanford, dropped what I consider a chunk of change to do it, and didn’t really have the best experience… apparently the majority of other people who could afford it were retired doctors who thought they would try their hand at “lyrical” this and “lyrical” that. Not that you can’t start writing poetry at any age. But when most of the workshop participants come from a similar economic background, a similar age group, and a similar place of understanding, it’s hard to develop the kind of healthy friction that pushes everyone’s work forward.

Not that I expect a sampler session to put me at ease with all of this. I am not sure what I expect, really. 

I confess that I have felt in a funk the past couple days. Not a bad or depressed or don’t-know-what’s-happening funk. More of a “I’d be happier if I was just alone” funk. Like I need to squirrel myself away and write and think and process. I like living in my own mind. I confess that I may indulge in that too much. My showers go a bit longer than they have to. My eyes always hang out the window if I’m in the passenger seat. I bristle at people trying to figure that out. Or assuming something’s wrong. When it’s just that I need some space. I think I am trying to find my center of gravity. I’m repositioning.

I confess that the last paragraph fell with a heavier thud than what I really intended. Why is it such a bad thing to talk about the need to be alone? Solitude, even isolation, have a bad reputation. Some people consider it heroic that I enjoy going to restaurants by myself. Have you ever enjoyed your French toast without the interruptions of nodding to the breaths of your friends’ conversation and without the need to swallow a little too hard and too early in order to reply? If you’ve never eaten your French toast that way, then you’ve never really enjoyed it. 

I confess that that last nod to breakfast was intentional. Perhaps I will have dessert-breakfast next. Before the webcam awkwardness.

confession tuesday, in which i consider becoming an aunt (and other unexpected confessions)

We meet again, Tuesday. Although today you feel like a Wednesday or Thursday, because you have been a rather energetic day, like a culmination of activity before the week lets go. 

I confess that I just stopped what I was doing to turn on some jazz. Jazz is my new favorite thing. I told Carl the other night that nothing screams D.I.N.K. like jazz and a glass of wine in front of the fireplace by 7 pm on a weeknight. 

Although tonight it’s not wine. It’s hot chocolate. Yum.

This week could be a very exciting week, and a portion of my brain has been devoted to that possible excitement all yesterday and today. This is the week that I could become an aunt. I confess that the arrival of every text message, the ring of every phone call, is accompanied by that lurching feeling in my stomach, the big question of, “Is it now? Is he here?”

I confess that watching my younger brother and his wife start a family is going to be one of the most special things and one of the most difficult to anticipate personally. I confess that I had in more recent history imagined that, as the oldest, I’d be the first to have kids; it’s probably the only time I’ve ever felt the traditional tug of “being oldest means going first.” Falling in love with Carl amplified it. Love has a way of magnifying even the smallest desire to raise kids, in my experience. Even when you’re someone who was never totally convinced that having kids was part of her life’s purpose, like me. 

But after a couple years of venturing down that road, I come to a place where there are no more answers about kids for me and Carl, and my brother is going first. Parts of this are stories for another day… something I’m still working through, figuring out how to bring the language to it. 

But the part that is happening now is that my brother is starting his family. And as I write this, I confess that I realize that this actually makes a lot of sense. He never wavered on his purpose in life. Family, having his own family, is part of his fabric. He was the third grader who announced he would not go to college — he wanted to get to work. He has an old-fashioned work ethic, kind of an old soul. He was the teenager who talked passionately about having a wife, a home, a family. He has always had a quiet, steady faith. I have in turns admired and then envied his quiet clarity. 

I don’t mean to say he “deserves” it more and is therefore having kids first. It’s just part of his journey, a part he always seemed meant to start at a young age. I confess that this is what makes me so excited for him… to see him realize something that he talked about so tenderly as we grew up. It’s also bittersweet, realizing that it’s happening at a point in my journey when I’m asking what family means to me and how it will be expressed in my own life.

I confess that somewhere along a sentence or freewheeling paragraph, this post took a turn I did not intend. But it went where it needed to go. It’s my first tiny step towards articulating a big part of myself that I have yet to process more openly… a part of myself that will inevitably bleed into my writing, a part that really has to, I think. So there you go. A totally unexpected Tuesday confession.

confession tuesday: the whole self -- in a snuggie

Another Tuesday. Wow. 

I confess that I am wearing a snuggie right now. An Eight West snuggie. It was procured for me through methods I cannot divulge. I love it. In part because it’s Eight West, West Michigan’s very own version of Hoda and Kathie Lee, and well — just watch this clip for a taste of the awesome. Segway tours — so intense. So West.

And I especially love it because at first I thought it was just your average throw blanket. But as I unfurled it, the group of women around me screamed, “Oh my God — it has arms!” 

Speaking of which, I spent the weekend with the most amazing group of women. Women who give me faith in women. Women who create space for me to be myself. I confess that I said lots of ridiculous things. I was in turns silly and serious. I sang more than I talked. I confess that I swore and sassed liberally when it involved playing cards. But not once did I look over my shoulder to reconsider what I had said or retrace my steps. I sank into my whole self. How rare it is to find one friend who will do that with you, let alone six of them. 

I confess that I seem to misunderstand 99% of women. But the 1% I do understand seem to have been made from the same fabric, a remnant of the same whole. It’s as if I’m finding the like strings and pulling myself together.

I confess that I am still processing all the conversations we had about social change, family, and business ideas. We theorized about language. One friend and I discussed the unique role of poetry in getting to truth and uncovering the essence of belief in and identity with a particular idea, principle, or thing. I confess to wanting to do something meaningful with these ideas but keep reminding myself of the joy in just acknowledging them, too.

And finally I confess that I was getting myself all ramped up for an open mic night tonight that was eventually cancelled. Maybe next time… 

true confession tuesday (my first)

After reading other Tuesday confessions for quite awhile now, I’ve decided to try it out myself. Let me first confess that the worst promise I make to myself is that lack of a good structure (like confessing something every Tuesday) is the only thing keeping me from writing more freely and more frequently. I confess to believing that structure will be enough to overcome the lack of permission I give myself to be honest, to just write what needs to be written. 

And a meta confession of sorts: I confess that the act of confessing is appealing because 1) I am a former practicing Catholic and therefore have experience with confessions and 2) my lack of self-permission to simply write provides a lot of fodder for Catholic guilt, which never goes away no matter how far removed a person is from Catholic practice.

I confess that I am already enjoying this. 

This weekend I returned from our two-week trip to California. I confess to being jealous of the literary activity in San Francisco and to buying a half dozen books of poetry and to wondering to Carl many times how a slice of such community might be created in West Michigan. I confess to coming home more for the cheap housing than for the culture. If I am being truly honest (which I am, under penalty of said Catholic guilt), I do know that the only way to see that kind of activity here is to start creating it. I confess that I started thinking about a zine again, because I realized that from middle school through college I was involved in publishing something. It dominated my free time. It was the thing that made me very energized, even if no one read it. And since college, I haven’t done anything like that. I am not sure why. 

I confess that yesterday I received a rejection letter from the first literary magazine I had submitted to in years. It felt good, actually. Because it was a sign that I am releasing things again, that the process has started. Now I need to go get more rejection letters. Hopefully some acceptances, too. But more of a paper trail, for better or worse, to affirm that I really am trying. 

And finally, I confess that we went grocery shopping tonight and I sang along to the awful Sheryl Crow song because I enjoy singing to Carl in the grocery store and making things uncomfortable when strangers walk by. I think it’s ridiculous that people walk around in imaginary boxes of silence. Tonight Carl joined in with me. And that was probably the most favorite part of my day.

And now I suppose I should go say the Hail Mary 10 times?