First, although I stand behind my aforementioned faith and optimism, March, April and half of May rattled the heck out of me. I was teaching community college pastry arts classes full-time, SAT prep classes on the weekends and trying to achieve grand daily word count goals so I could finish my book on time. I almost lost my faith, my optimism and my marbles too.
I always think if I can just make the perfect list, the perfect schedule, if I’m a good girl and I do everything perfectly - then I can get everything done. You know what? When in doubt, examine your premise. Some plans aren’t reasonable.
I dearly love my projects. All of them. I know for a fact I seek a certain level of crazy-busy because when I finish one thing, I start something else, even though I’m still in the middle of four or five other things. I planned to do a little bit of work on each project every day until everything was done. It was a shock to discover that creating a five-week, four-team, thirteen-person production schedule for my first class required my full attention. I began to panic. If I couldn’t multi-task, I couldn’t succeed. What about my second class, a higher level pastry class than I had ever taught? What about the edits on Scrumptious that I was expecting any day? What about finishing my book? My wheels began to spin. My gears ground to a halt and then… the mother of all head colds turned my brain to fudge.
Absolute, total meltdown.
My husband got down on the floor with me, where I lay gibbering and snotting, and said these magic words: just do one thing at a time.
Not my usual MO, but I didn’t have a choice. My plan wasn’t working.
I focused on the project with the closest deadline, and ignored everything else. Bit by bit, class by class, I made progress. As time passed and I got more done, the panic dissipated. The anxiety that had paralyzed me eased up considerably. I wish I could say it went away, but I haven’t finished the book yet. And when I do finish the (damn) book, there will be another one, soooooo… I’ll have to remember what I’ve learned.
Anybody other than me shaking their head and thinking Yeah, like that’s gonna happen? Because I think that’s what I learned. Apparently, I run full-tilt until I hit a wall, fall down and watch the birdies sing. This spring, my husband suggested I get up and jog parallel to the wall instead. Changing my approach was the difference between success and what felt like certain failure, but it doesn’t come easily to me. I’ll probably hit the wall again. There will likely be gibbering and snot. I’ll find myself on the floor, eye to eye with my husband, who will again say: just do one thing at a time.
The really beautiful thing I learned this spring? I can do it! One thing at a time works, too. Hello, Plan B!