Sticking a fork in it, Mister Rogers-style

exhibit featuring mr rogers' sneakers While I've spent most of what I'm coming to call my "Sabbatical from Sabbatical" holed up alone, I have made occasional runs back into L.A. for various types of interpersonal reinforcements.

A Biznik meetup. Some Nei Kung lessons, to get a particularly complex bonus-extra move down pat, successfully, fingers crossed.

And, of course, for shrinkage. I've taken many hiatuses from shrinkage over the years, but I've found that the monthly tune-up version of ongoing shrinkage really works for me. Maybe if I can get my farkakte compass working 100%, I'll be able to forgo those; maybe finances will force my hand at some point, regardless. But for now, I compile a little GTD-style "@shrink" agenda, slot it full of stuff, then haul my ass in to get the crazy straightened, kind of like a Brazilian blowout for my psyche.

We're running up against a really trenchant issue now, or maybe it's a tangled web of stuff that presents as a trenchant issue: my workaholism. Nothing I haven't discussed here before, but I'm starting to look at it a little differently, a little more tactically. One huge step forward for me was declaring this very sabbatical (although not the Sabbatical from Sabbatical). Granted, I've been declaring it incrementally, two weeks in December became a quarter in early January, and I keep pushing the edges of it outward as much as I can.

Within those borders, though, I've been operating with mixed results. I'm happy with the amount of reading I'm doing now, both for fun and edification. I've gotten much better about spending time with friends (I think, maybe I should check with them.) I'm spending more time with food prep and on exercise, which keeps me from hurling myself at drive-thru windows most of the time (I confess, to you and the Specter of Wayne, to my enduring love of those goddamn Jack-in-the-Box, 2-for-99¢ tacos). I'm getting to bed earlier, so I'm getting more rest.

On the other hand, I seem to be having trouble finding the "off" switch for my days. Part of it is that I have not been good about earmarking an entire one per seven for rest, so I steal time during my weekdays, which pushes work into the weekends, which creates a vicious circle. The other part is that, and I cannot believe that I'm saying this at almost-50, I've never found the "off" switch for each individual day. From the time I called my time my own, I've just worked when work needed to get done. Justified or not (and believe me, most of it is NOT), when you work in advertising, you work, period.1 Once I escaped, I felt like I couldn't stop working, because I didn't have a foothold in anything else yet. This drove my ex-husband, The Chief Atheist, batshit-crazy, probably rightly. During most of our recreational time I was less a companion than I was an angry, grudging millstone. But it got me out of writing ads for money into acting in them for money, and helped me pick up all these mad, 21st-century skillz along the way.

Besides, a lot of the time, I'd goof off here and there during the day, then work away all night. I'd get my 12-hour day in, just at weird times. I can't do that anymore; these days, I feel the air coming out of the balloon at around 6:30 or 7, and there's no second wind forthcoming.

So I'm looking for hacks. Soliciting hacks! Or ideas, solutions, tricks, whatever you want to call them, as long as they've worked for you. They can be front-end hacks, i.e., things that I could do in the earlier part of the day, to ensure that I get my plate cleared off and feel okay stopping at a reasonable hour.

But I'm especially interested in "Mister Rogers" hacks: putting on play clothes at the end of the day to signal it's time to stop working. That kind of thing. They can be treats, I love treats!, but they should not be fatty, as I'm trying to reduce a bit, and they should not be alcohol. I already know how to use that as a shut-off valve.

What does one do to mark the end of the day? WWMRD, What would Mister Rogers do?

Or is that all made-up, PBS, fairy-tale stuff?

xxx c

1This has only gotten worse with time and the splintering media landscape, by the way. At least I could take time off when I was away on location, during production. These poor people now? Ugh.

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