I was supposed to be sitting down to write a piece as part of the blog tour on Parenting and Creativity. My piece was going to be about coming to terms with the anger of discovering the feminist line of “women can have it all” that had been pushed on me in the 80s and 90s had turned out to be a complete and total lie. I’d spent 18 months or more being angry about it and then having to work through it. And I had lots to say on the topic. Instead, something parenting related happened to me that completely paralysed all creativity. For so far, a month.
I had a pregnancy related complication – nothing so rare that they didn’t know how to pick it up or what to do with it, and there are very safe treatments and tests. And I’m okay now (on maintenance and being monitored and managed) and the baby is fine. But it was quite the experience to live through. It turns out, it’s not very reassuring to have your GP call you after hours, send you to the ED and call ahead so that when you arrive, they triage you straight through and you already have 2 nurses setting up an ECG for you in the bed you are about to live in. I feel like you can judge how serious things are by how nice to the nurses are to you and they were all super nice to me the whole time I was there.
But bottom line is that what I had was life threatening and shit got really really real. You know when life suddenly tunnel visions and everything else is just a blur and you suddenly know exactly what is important in life, and to you, and therefore that everything else just isn’t? Yeah that. I was in that space for I guess about 48 hours and I learned a lot of things about myself. And about life. And even though, by the time I went home I was fine and everything was okay and had the best possible outcome, it was really hard to get my brain to change out of that gear and go back to Life. And you know, all the stupid little decisions like what carpark to choose and which milk to buy.
I also experienced some anxiety issues whilst in hospital. I discovered THE WORST place to be in a hospital is in the overnight observations ward called Medical Assessment. Especially if you’re a germophobe. Also, they don’t cope well with pregnant women who aren’t there for hyperemesis gravidarum aka they forgot to feed me for very long stretches of time. The lovely nurses did smuggle me out all kinds of tiny packets of biscuits and cakes. And once, whilst waiting for a nuclear dye scan, I got a airplane snack pack-like meal.
So, by the time I got home, my brain had been beaten about a fair bit. It felt like it had glitched into a hung screen or like it was buffering before it could stream again or something. It felt broken. I lost the ability to read fiction, to edit or proof, to slush read!, and even to sew or knit. And I couldn’t handle much TV above a cooking show. Normally my response would be to dive into a Gilmore Girls rewatch but I couldn’t face the speed of their dialogue and also the whole drama of that overarching plot.
Oddly though, I suddenly had great capacity for paperwork and book keeping. So weird. I think possibly because that kind of work doesn’t require any creativity and I suddenly had this new focus of being able to be ruthless and decisive about things. I was able to tackle two overladen and spilling all over the place in trays and just steadily work through it all piece by piece. I actually found myself using the GTD process of collecting, collating and processing the way it’s supposed to be applied. I still don’t know how someone who is starting from scratch can seriously get their whole life into GTD in just 3 days. I’ve been at it for 3 or 4 weeks now and I’m only just almost on top of it. But I’ve been suddenly able to pick up a piece of paper, ask myself what it is, decide if I can just bin it, actually delegate it if not, or do it if it would take less than 2 mins. And my onset of ruthless decisiveness has helped me just make calls on things. Like, say, if I no longer have the ability to answer a question (like, I didn’t record crucial information so couldn’t move it forward without knowing that), then I’m not suddenly going to have this information if I leave it in my in tray (leaving it there for 2 years hasn’t helped) and it’s likely to not even be relevant anymore. So I did this thing where I just filed it and moved on with my life. OMG. So liberating. And in so doing, I’ve managed to almost completely sort out all my paperwork, finances and royalty reports. Jobs that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than do instead of anything else that is creative, normally.
And in being ruthless and decisive, I’ve managed to learn how to delegate. So much so that I want to get even better at delegating. Sometimes, it’s just admitting to yourself that you’re procrastinating on actioning something because you have feelings related to that – an email you have to write or a question or favour you have to ask. I’m really lucky to have an awesome and enthusiastic team of peeps at TPP – I wouldn’t have been able to get through a lot of what’s been going on this year if I hadn’t been able to rely on them for help getting things done. And it turns out, it’s not a negative to admit the ships too big to be run by just one person these days. When you suddenly take ill, it’s actually really useful to not be the only person with access to the email accounts and other admin things as well as not being the only person who knows what’s going on. Up til now it’s been both scary to let other people see the warts and all and also, I’ve not wanted to ask people to do boring jobs. And all that does is slow you down and sabotage the potential. As you can see, I’ve really jumped on board with this delegation thing – because it also turns out, it’s easier to write someone else’s scary email for them when you don’t have the feels. I knew this, having been other people’s admin person before. I guess I just felt bad asking other people to do things for me that I was personally capable of doing (if I actually had 48 hours in every day).
So suddenly things are moving forward at TPP in several directions at once. It would normally feel scary but doesn’t because I completely trust the team. And this being immersed in the whole paperwork thing enabled me to do some things like set in place spreadsheets for calculating complex problems for ongoing bookwork upkeep rather than reinventing the wheel each time. Something I might have been doing until now, ahem.
I am now just slowly feeling like my brain is unlocking from its screen freeze. I’ve managed to get back to some editing. I’m almost completely on top of all intrays and inboxes. I’ve not yet got back to crafting or reading yet but I think in the next couple of weeks that will happen. I’m very keen to maintain some GTD processes though. In preparing for a newborn’s arrival in about 4 months, I’d like to have as much as I can be on just ticking on over processes. I definitely learned with my first one that writing things down and preparing as much as you can when you have the time available in order to be able to pick up and action a small thing later in a small window of opportunity, you can kinda stay on top of things. If you can not sweat the small stuff!