Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off (Or How To Not Be “All-or-Nothing!”)

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

750 words. Sometimes more. Every day. For 110 days. 121,255 words. June 6 – Sept 23. And then, September 24th. 0 words. It feels silly that I was devastated over not writing a few words. And still, my mind is unchanged.

Saturday morning as I lay in bed, I tried to remember what I’d written the day before. Brain searching for the video of my fingers tapping on the keyboard, surrounded by Friday morning. The tape was empty. My heart pounding, I got up calmly, walked out to the living room and popped open my laptop.

Click. Wait. Click.

An empty green box from the day before. Stomach, sink.

And what could I do but put my fingers to the keyboard and work through the next 750 words?

This time, it was missing 750 words. In the past it’s been missing a day at the gym. Missing a healthy meal. Missing coming in under budget for the month. Missing a meditation. Missing, missing, missing. Which brings out my All-or-Nothing mentality. If I missed one, the pattern’s all messed up and I’ll have to start all over again. And if I have to start all over again, then it’s too hard and I just don’t have the energy for it. Black, white. Cut, dried. Fork, done.

But not Saturday morning. An epiphany. Not “start all over again.” Instead, “pick up right where I left off.”

nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start All over again.

~ Pick Yourself Up, from “The Swing” 1936 (Lyrics by Dorothy Fields)

It’s not like this is a brand new concept, like I’ve never heard this before. It’s not like it’s too difficult to understand, like I’ve never picked up right where I left off before. But something about Saturday morning and sitting there typing away made it all make sense. It was a calm, silent a-ha moment. I simply put one proverbial foot in front of the other and kept moving, typing, like I’d done a hundred and ten times before.

2 things.

1. In the grand scheme of goings on in the world, not writing a few words is hardly something to be devastated by. When there are cancers and car accidents and death and famine and war and poverty and abuse going on in the world, how can I be truly devastated about words not getting logged?

Oh, but who can be so politically correct all the time? We want to be upset about our lives, we want to have something to complain about, we want to feel the ups and downs and not feel guilty over our so called problems, even when we know others have it worse than us. Someone else will always have it worse, just like someone else will always have it better. If I use another’s woes or successes as inspiration, then great—I’m improving my being. If I use them for judgment against myself, then what good is that doing anyone?

The reality was that I was upset. I felt it. Then I moved on. And then I got over it. The thing is, you have to find what works for you, and then do it.

2. I’ve been through much worse in my own life than not writing some words or missing a work out or a healthy meal. So why is it that I have such a hard time with the little things in my life?

Wouldn’t it be great if that logic worked? Well, I’ve been through enough big things that I should know how to handle the little things. But the little things are never really just little things. The little things are always a pile of little things. One thing after another that we allow to build and build until one day we’re the camel with the broken back.

I realized on Saturday morning that my weekday morning routine had recently changed. The Wildcat’s been leaving for work later, which has been great for seeing her smiling face around the house longer, and terrible for me starting my day on time. See, I’ve been trying to cram the same amount of work into a shorter day, which makes for some good crazy-making.

I didn’t just miss a day of writing out of the blue. For 2 weeks prior, I’d been writing later and later in the day. A few times I remembered just before bedtime that I hadn’t written my words that day. I recall thinking that I’d better get my head on track before I devastated myself by missing a day. We only see the foreshadowing in hindsight, I think.

So this is my call to action. Change some things. Rearrange, adjust, tweak. Whatever words make me feel better. The experience made me realize how important those 750 words are to me every morning. Awareness. The awareness made me reflect on why it was important and what happened to lead up to missing that day. Mindfulness. And that mindfulness gives me the tools and the insight to make adjustments to my daily schedule to have a lasting impact on what’s important to me. Inspired Action.

Sometimes it amazes even me how these three things can be so powerful in creating exactly the life we want.

The experience this time for me was missing a few words on a Friday. What can you pick yourself up from, dust yourself off, and start all over again?

  • ohmigawsh. My jaw is dropped. LOVE this so much, Dian. I fell off the 750words bandwagon when I took Katherine to Smith College and keep trying to climb back on. I kept wanting to email you to find out your 750words page so I could follow you, I can not tell you all the rambling “all or nothing” monologuing I have been doing as of late. Wow. Love to you. And wow. SO IMPRESSED with your consistency and your okness with that inevitable (and I know odd feeling) day with 0 words.

    • The “0 words” was SO odd. Almost like I expected the world to actually stop spinning. Or maybe it just felt like it did. I was stunned, and stared at the page blankly until the thought came—”Hey get typing! You’re being timed, you know, you don’t want to throw off ALL of your stats, do you?!” I don’t think the okness came right away, but only as a result of looking back on it all.

      Saw that you wrote today =) yaHOOOOOzie!! Try going to http://750words.com/statistics?date=2010-09-26&page=27 … I’m about 2/3 of the way down, and you can click “Follow” =)

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