After eleven inspiring days at Hamline, I arrive home and am faced with two things - normal life and due dates for packets of work to my advisor. These two things are, of course, in direct conflict. As much as I would love to settle down with a huge pile of books and my notebooks and focus on reading, study and writing for the next few months, I have a job to go to, necessary things to do like tax returns and bills to pay, and people who need or want my attention (and cats who do as well, but are easily diverted by food, which only works sometimes for humans!).
It was a common topic of discussion at Hamline, especially among the new students who were there for the first time. How on earth do you find the time for study when you get home? Especially if there are things in your life that loom like huge, gaping mouths, ready to suck you in and use up all your time and energy? Despite two terrific lectures about the writer's life during the residency, this is a battle that every writer has to fight, on their own.
But when others asked me, "How did you cope in your first semester?", I had to stop and think for a few moments. How did I cope? And what I realised was it came down to one thing - I put my heart work first. When it came to making a To Do list, study and writing for my Hamline packets went at the top. When it came to my diary, I looked at where I could make time for my heart work. When it came to social stuff, time on Facebook, TV - I chose my heart work first. That didn't mean I became a recluse! But once I made that firm decision and stuck to it, it became easier and easier to focus.
Funnily enough, not much else suffered. OK, I couldn't tell you more than a couple of TV shows I watched (hardly any loss), and probably people didn't get much from me in the way of emails and phone calls (sorry), and I did less unpaid overtime at work (gee, sad about that). But once I put the heart work first, everything else fell into line behind. Where it belonged. So often we think that the curveballs life keeps throwing at us are undodgeable, but I'm learning to simply catch them, deal with them, put them where they belong (a lot less stress that way, too) and get back to my heart work.