Why Change Sucks

Change sucks. We all know it. It’s why there are entire books , seminars, and courses in change management.

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Humans are resistant to change, and there are reasons why. I won’t go into the historical reasons why, but here in the modern day, we like knowing what to do. We like being right. We like figuring things out once and them going smoothly.

We don’t look discord. We don’t like screwing up. We don’t like failure. All of those things are significantly easier to do when you’re making changes.

My family has been going through a lot of change lately.

  • My husband started a new job last December, and it wasn’t a choice. They were re-organizing, his position was eliminated, but he fortunately was able to find a similar position in a different part of the company. Still, it’s a lot of change.
    • New bosses who aren’t as good at communicating (I keep trying to tell him that’s the norm, but he’s still skeptical).
    • A different set of expectations.
    • A lot of other new people in his new group
    • A series of people out on FMLA have made the transition even harder. Hopefully, in the next few months, things will calm down and he can learn what his new job really is.

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  • My daughter started kindergarten. You’d think that would be no big deal, but I have found the difference between private daycare and public kindergarten striking. Communication is much different.
    • At daycare, I had a daily two minute informal conversation with the teachers and always knew what was going on.
    • Now, I’m not even allowed near the classroom for security issues. I get it, but it’s still hard.
    • Things like billing, which was previously direct-pulled from my bank account, isn’t possible in public schools. I have to remember to get cash for some things AND remember to go to their online portal for a slew of others. There are no low balance messages to let me know I need to replenish my daughter’s lunch money.

 

Yeah, we’re figuring it out, but it’s still a change. A big one.

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I’m also still dealing with some medical issues, and that’s never any fun.

Balancing all of this and writing has been hard. Very hard. But I refuse to give up this time. I have put off writing so many times in my life to focus on things like my career, grad school, and kids that I’m now mammogram age. I don’t have time to put it off any longer. So yeah, that’s a change, too.

Never-Give-Up

And I can tell you, during grad school, I read my fair share of change management books. I even dusted off a few lately, but they’re about as useful to me now as they were then.

 

Do you have any tips and pointers? Any way that you’ve successfully dealt with change? Or did you just soldier through it?

 

Stress and Creativity

I came across some interesting articles recently about the effect of stress on creativity.

This one, from the American Psychological association, pertains more to grad students, but many of us who work full time and try to fit in writing, family, and whatever else we do have a similar stress load. Even if you don’t, there could be other equally stressing factors.

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Most days feel about like this, but I don’t look so graceful or poised.

 

One from Forbes talking about the effect on creativity and competitiveness at work.

There are quite a few more as it appears this is an area of study, many of which are scientific enough that I have to get out my Six Sigma stuff to understand the statistical analysis.

But this brings me to my point: the scientific community knows that stress kills creativity. While the brain is expending resources on the lower order functions in a fight or flight response to keep us alive, it’s not giving much of anything to higher order functions like creativity.

Makes sense. Your brain doesn’t really differentiate from the stress caused by a lion attack and the stress caused by an impractical deadline at work. So your brain is going to “save” you from the “lion”.

I have been on this fight or flight roller-coaster since early May.

At that time, we learned DD2 was developmentally delayed, and we’ve had to spend a lot of time and money to figure out why and then start her treatment. As part of her treatment, I learned quickly that the medical profession in my area expects you to either be a stay-at-home mom or miss lots of work as there’s no such thing as early morning, night, or weekend appointments. Not even Friday appointments in the summer, as it turns out.

We then got to experience first-hand the joys of insurance denying everything, even things they had told us previously they would cover. Lots of stress fighting them and mostly losing.

About 3 days after my daughter was diagnosed, I was asked to start a massive cost-benefit analysis of shutting down a plant that has been around since 1946. Had to be done completely in secret. So lots of sneaking around and asking weird questions with made-up reasons. The analysis confirmed what the executives expected, the announcement was made, and now I face the constant daily stress of working through the plant closure and reporting out on it.

So, yeah, no wonder my creativity dried up in May and hasn’t really returned.

I need to find a better way to deal with the stress than I have been, but I’ve yet to figure it out.

 

 

 

3 Things I have Learned About Time Management

So, I was a bit frustrated on Wednesday after reading a post blaming writers for not making time for writing.

I have learned a lot about time management since I started writing with 2 kids, a husband, and a full time job. Here are a few of them in hopes they help you, too.

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Know Your Attention Span

More time does not mean more writing gets done. At least, not for me. It might mean I poke around on the internet more. It might mean I check e-mail or tidy my desk. For me, I have found that 45 minutes to an hour is about as long as I can productively write at a stretch. During that time, it’s ideal for me to put on a little music to focus. And to remember that if the baby fusses, DH has her for this period of time. I don’t need to go poking my nose in.

Focus. Write. Edit. Revise. Whatever I’m going to do, do it.

 

Use Dead Time

Dead time for me is during my commute, while I’m folding laundry, putting away dishes, etc. I try to think about characters, motivations, plot, etc.  Amazing how many little scribbles on sticky notes during this time have helped get through a block.

The time I spend on a walk may convert to this once I work through the pain from breaking my foot.

Best time I’ve ever had for creativity was taking walks outside. Got me some exercise, too. But the slow healing and large hills in my neighborhood has made that difficult since my fall.

 

Minimize Distractions

Whatever yours may be. As my writing desk is in the middle of the living room since the baby got my office, my writing time has to be after my oldest child has gone to bed. Her kissing my leg, as cute as it is, is not conducive to writing.

I can’t write while she watches her episode of TV before bed, either. Even children’s television programming tends to be too distracting for me. TV, in general, is just something I can’t ignore. No matter how bad it is, no matter how much I may want to, I can’t look away.

I’m not much for social media (still need to get a twitter account and a Facebook account), so that isn’t a distraction for me. I know for many it is, and I have heard of writers purposely getting a computer for writing that doesn’t connect to the internet just so they can stay focused.

Kids

This is a bit of a tangent from trying to chronicle my writing journey, but I realized, it’s as much a part of the journey as rough drafts, revisions, and the submission process.

Balancing writing with kids.

DH and I were “older” when we had kids, and we’d already been married seven years when our first child was born. DH had agreed to be the primary care giver as my day job is more demanding. And many of you are laughing at this.

DH does an amazing job with our two little ones. It’s just biology that’s against us. When they were very little and needed to be nursed, that was mom. When they get hurt or sick or injured, they want mom. When they want to play, however, they are daddy’s angels.

With all the illnesses we’ve been up against lately, they have needed a lot of mommy time. A part of me is frustrated, and a part of me melts when they want to climb into my lap and cuddle.

After we had our first child, I stumbled across a bunch of research showing that childless people are happier. As there are no guarantees that children will support you in your old age, and given how insanely expensive children are (read a mortgage payment a month per child for daycare), the study recommended socking that money away and using that to pay for your care in your later years.

At the time, I was mortified. What had we done? Would this precious little bundle really cause us that much trauma? Of course I was high on new mommy hormones when I thought of her as precious. She taught me the error of my ways as she howled, not cried but howled, every time I put her down. Wouldn’t tolerate a baby sling or Bjorn, either. I learned to do everything, and I mean everything, one handed so she was always in my arms.

So the answer is more complex for me than the research indicates. Some of the happiest moments, angriest moments, and proudest moments have come because of the kids.

It’s more like a roller coaster than the steady state happy we were at before kids. The baby babbles happily in the background as I write this, making me smile even now. That smile will morph into endless frustration tonight when she refuses to sleep and thinks 2 am is playtime when we have to be up for work in a few hours.

My writing journey includes them with it. Sometimes detouring me or slowing down my progress, but never maliciously. Never on purpose. They are little and need a lot of me right now, and I am trying to keep that in perspective. Trying to remember all the people that have told me how much you’re going to miss it when they’re not this little.

I wonder if those people’s kids had them up at 2 am every night.