Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cushion or Deficit?

Do you live with a cushion, or a deficit?

I am talking about time. Do you always give yourself a comfortable cushion of time to easily absorb the inevitable shocks, or are you forever running behind the clock?

I used to be one of those people who was always a bit early. I liked the ease that came with that. The space to transition gently from one activity to another. When I was a freshman in college we had "F" tests. Nearly every freshman had to take these tests, on the same day, at the same time,....... on a Friday morning, at 8 a.m. Masses of stressed out, sleep deprived freshman heading to take the test they crammed for all night. Talk about bad karma!

I learned to head out about 15 to 20 minutes early, as well as get to bed a bit early. I could walk to the test before the crowd, and just enjoy the morning. I was well rested. I had my pick of seats. I could give myself time to relax, and maybe even review a bit. Have everything I needed for the test out and ready.

It worked. And I continued into my adult life under the same plan.

But now,..... I find I am one of those people who is always running late. Or that I seldom have any slack built into the schedule to accommodate adjustments. Today my younger daughter missed the bus, for the second day in a row. Most days it is not a big deal. We can walk the dog together, and then I drive her to school, and she gets there in plenty of time. We get to spend a few extra minutes together. But today I had an early appointment with a local gallery. With traffic, I had to allow myself an hour. I had planned it out with no room for error. The error happened.

I debated cancelling the appointment, and rescheduling. I was trying to figure out every possible permutation of how I could cram everything in to the allotted time. It did not look doable.

I decided to persevere. I kept going ahead, as if I was going to be able to make it work, up until the point in time that I knew I had to be leaving. If I was not ready by then, I would call and reschedule. As I drilled holes in the last 6 cranes to make them into ornaments, I had my daughter open up boxes for the cranes, and put the inserts and fill into them. I could then just pop the cranes in the boxes, and close them up. Might as well make her do a bit of work in return for the ride to school! By the time we got to school, I was convinced that it would not work. I was going to have to reschedule. I came home and walked the dog. I got home and saw I was only ten minutes behind schedule....I could do this! I grabbed my work and headed out.

I left ten minutes later than planned, but was there right on spite of traffic! I had created stress for myself agonizing over how this could possibly work. It did work, and we had a quick but productive meeting. She loved the new Shibori work, as well as the pods. She even commented on how the cranes were looking even better than before. I forgot a ziplock bag with some pendants, and the box with pins, but I had more than enough work for her to see. Rushing out the door, feeling anxious about the time, caused the oversight.

I could have more easily accommodated the change in plans, and had everything I needed for the appointment, if I had fully prepared the day before.

I had begun to do that the night before. But I pooped out before I finished the job completely. So I was left drilling and stringing up cranes at the last minute, and leaving some work behind.

Since that appointment, I have begun to clean out the studio. And I now have a calendar set up on the computer with appointments, and reminders. I need the breathing space that order can create. I can easily find myself exploring an idea when I need to be preparing for a gallery visit or a show. I will have to learn to tame in this instinct. Having the discipline to do the "work" first, and then spend time exploring. The new and improved Judy? I wouldn't go that far. But I am recognizing that the lack of a system has cost me time and energy. I can't keep doing what I was doing, with any degree of comfort. A change is in order. A change to more order.

Organization comes more easily to some than others. Having lived on both ends of the spectrum, I have to say, sometimes it can be situational. Many artists are digging out of the chaos in their studios this time of year. The focus was on getting the work done, and dealing with the mess later. In my case, later is here. Let the cleaning begin!

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