Three things per day and a special outfit


Many years ago, in an uncharacteristic bit of self-indulgence prompted by a stranger's warning that if I didn't, I'd be in serious hot water down the line, I started going in for regular shiatsu bodywork therapy.

Many amazing things happened over the course of the several years we worked together. Crazy stuff like sudden photographic images of the past floating up in front of my eyes, a ton of aches and pains vanquished forever, and crying, lots and lots of crying.

Out of all the amazingness, though, two things have stuck with me.

The first is the almost shocking way that my practitioner, who was pretty much a spinning top like me in her civilian hours, became a loving, radiant center of calm as soon as she slipped into her shiatsu duds. It was incomprehensible to me that such a shift could take place so quickly and so dramatically, but every week, without fail, and for a while, I was going every week, there it was.

The second is her calendar. In her off-hours, my shiatsu lady was, like myself, a working actor. Which is to say she had a lot of places to be on any given day, most days, since that's the way things were back then, both in the business and in our category. In 1998 or '99, it wasn't unusual for me to go out on five calls per day, most days of the week; Molly's schedule was a little lighter, since I worked more commercially and she more theatrically, but still: it was a lot of activity.

My calendar back then (pre-iPhone, pre-Palm) was a fatty, six-ring DayTimer-type thing. I kept it to Filofax size for a while, but eventually gave in an bought a big, three-ring, half-sheet binder size. Horrifically ugly, but I needed the space.

Hers was a tiny, TINY, pocket-sized, week-at-a-glance style. By "pocket-sized", I mean a daintily-proportioned pocket, at that: I believe most years, her calendars were giveaways from banks or insurance companies; I know one year, I passed along one I'd gotten.

One day, I asked Molly how she could get all the stuff she needed to do into that little space.

Molly: "I only do three things per day."

Me: "?"

Molly: "I found I could fit about three things in any given day, so I have a calendar that only fits three things in a given day."

Me: "?"

Molly (smiling): "See you next week."

To be fair and balanced (ha!), I know for a fact that at times, my Yoda-in-a-Gi by day was often a white tornado at night, going on marathon unscheduled housecleaning or data entry or file organization tears. She also did a whole lot of non-scheduled stuff of a puttery nature during daylight hours, in her civilian gear. And since her non-Yoda work was acting, occasionally she'd fill up that teeny-tiny space with 3+ auditions, and then some other items. But the scheduled stuff included things like "dance class," which she loved and wanted to keep a priority, and other things of this nature.

In other words, she had kind of a handle on it. And given that, as Voltaire said (and Gretchen and I like to paraphrase), "Perfect is the enemy of the good," a handle is a beautiful thing.

I've been toying with ideas on building or co-opting a better handle. There seems to be huge power in an actual, written-down list of stuff on a piece of paper for me, so much so that I resent its effectiveness when I actually do it, but I do it nonetheless. Me stopping was me willfully throwing aside the Franklin-Covey weekly calendar I purchased, and the reasoning went something like "I didn't quit my job and its so-called security to turn myself into the boss I hated."

What if I could be a good boss, though? What if the part of me that understands we're trying to get Big Stuff Accomplished could listen patiently to the the small, wadded-up furball of fury, fear and sorrow and then gently but firmly lay down the law? As Emma commented in a recent thread, "we need gentleness from ourselves as often as we need the drill sergeant." Which reminded me of a discussion Elizabeth Gilbert had with her small, wadded-up furball of fury, fear and sorrow when she was trying to meditate, which made me think that maybe I was onto something. (It also made me grudgingly admit that I needed to put "take another crack at this meditation thing" back on the to-do list. Oh, well.)

I did a test conversation the other night, while in the car, running an errand. Sugar cravings hit me hard, and as any good SCD-er knows, sugar is enemy #1. It's also hell on fitting into one's pants properly, so I have double the reason to avoid it, and yet there was that 7-11, one e-z right turn away, and my Monkey Brain screaming for M&Ms. (Monkey Brain is pure class, I tell you.) So Monkey Brain and I had a little confab, we both got to state our cases, and finally agreed that as an experiment, we'd hold off for now, but if Monkey Brain still wanted sugar at the end of the week, he could have an entire package of Peeps. (See? Pure class.)

I think this is a step in the right direction. I think if I can combine List of a Reasonable Length, three things sounds like a good start, with some discussion and bargaining to keep Monkey Brain satisfied and The Resistor at bay, I might have a shot at nailing some of these opportunities that have been floated out to me in recent weeks.

Of course, as a former actor who totally gets the magical power of costumes (scroll through the photos on this page if you don't believe me), I'm also thinking "special outfit." Gi? 1980s power suit and tie? Or just FlyLady's recommended "dress to shoes"?

Now taking suggestions for the costume of the peacefully productive...


Image by Argenberg via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.