Thursday, December 01, 2005

How I'm Doing

Lately I've been writing a lot of posts about things that I'm thinking about, and some of my friends have been asking me to update them about how I'm doing.

The summary is that I'm doing great! A lot of things in my life have turned around for the better, lately. For the last year or so, until recently, I was struggling with the fact that for the first time I was only working as a freelance journalist. For the first time, I had no regular work gig, I wasn't taking or teaching classes anywhere, and I had no part-time job. So my days were just an endless stream of unstructured days in which I often had no reason to go outside or get dressed - and therefore didn't bother. I'd sit at home, trying to motivate myself to work, and often did not succeed. It was really depressing! I wanted to be freelancing, but the lifestyle that comes with that choice was not very healthy for me.

But two things in particular have come together to fix that situation right up! The first is that taking classes at Pardes has done wonders for me. I go there 5 mornings a week: twice just for one hour, and three times for about 5 hours. I get dressed, I get outside, I walk for 20 minutes there and back. I see people, I talk to them, I'm intellectually stimulated. I'm learning interesting things (Talmud tractate Bava Kamma Chapter 8, and all the books in "First Prophets"), improving my textual skills (particularly in Aramaic, which I've long wanted to improve), and making new friends. Pardes students also get to go on great trips, such as last weekend when we toured the archeological sites in Tzippori (in the lower Galilee; more about that later I hope) and then spent Shabbat in the neighboring village of Hoshaya. Every day when I come home from Pardes I feel happier, more energized, and more ready to get work done than before I left. Even though the classes take up much of my days, I'm getting more journalism work done in less time because my overall mood has improved. Getting sunlight and seeing people will do that!

The second thing is that I hired a "time management coach" named Hazel Brief. She's a social worker and "life coach" in Modiin who specializes in helping people with ADD manage their time. Now, I definitely do not have ADD, but obviously I needed help getting going and structuring my day. First she came to my house to see how I live, and then we spoke on the phone for an hour each week, discussing small changes I can make both to my daily schedule planning and to my attitudes that would help me get done most, if not all, of what I need to get done. And over the months, her tips have changed my life. I'm more productive, with less stress and anxiety. Thank you, Hazel! I wish I'd known you years ago!

All of this just came together, really, in the last couple of weeks. That is, before that, I was improving slowly in my productivity and mood, but still felt like I was "working on stuff." But I was just telling a friend the other day that in the last week or two, I finally finally feel not like "a freelancer who bums around at home," but like a normal and happy person. Of course there are still things I want to work on -- everyone has those -- but, thank God, I finally feel like this freelancing thing can really work for me, and that it doesn't mean giving up social and intellectual stimulation or my overall motivation and productivity.

Just to give you an idea of how great I've been feeling, the fact that I've had only one date since breaking up with R. hardly fazes me. It's OK. Dating does not have to be the biggest deal. Oh, my God, can you believe I just said that? Mashiach must be coming! Wait a second, was that a pig that just flew past my window?



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