Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Choices and Excuses

Daughter and I were having a discussion over Christmas break.  It all pertained to her less-than-stellar showing for her first semester and my 'No Excuses' commitment for 2012.  She asked me "When does something stop being a reason and start being an excuse?"

Basically, where do you draw the line?

Yesterday I took the Kid back to school.  We left at 7am and I got home around 3pm.  Three hours up, three hours back with lunch in between.  (And some hefting of her things from the parking lot to her dorm room on the 7th floor - thank goodness for elevators.)  As I've bitched about before, the whole trip wipes me out.  I felt pretty good at 1pm, driving down the road listening to various better  radio stations the city offers.  By 2:30, I was feeling like dog doo.  About ten minutes out of town, my leg started cramping.  So yeah, once I got inside the house, I became one with the couch.

My back hurt.  My legs hurt.  Even my stomach hurt from being in one position for most of three hours.  I didn't even eat dinner - I was so dragged out.

And as I lay there, watching whatever crap was on the toob*, I went back to that discussion with the kid.  Cripped up on the couch?  Is that a reason to not write or was that an excuse?  Where was the line?

This morning the whole thing is still on my mind.  Could I have written last night?  Hell, I sat here for at least a half hour answering emails and checking blogs.  And therein lies the answer to that particular instance.  If I felt good enough to be at the computer doing other things, then I sure as hell felt good enough to sit here and write.  Sure, it might not have been more than a few hundred words, but it would've been better than the zero I put on paper yesterday.

I think the line has to be evaluated on a case by case basis (which was basically the answer I gave Kidlet).  The hard part is making yourself do the evaluation and then acting on the result you come up with.  I knew last night that I could've been writing.  I chose not to and I used my own body as an excuse instead of just saying 'It's been a long day and I choose not to write', I told myself 'I hurt, so I can't write today.'

Choosing not to write is one thing and it can be totally acceptable.  Making up excuses is a whole nother thing and I'm not going to tolerate it. If I let myself get away with it today, it'll just lead to other excuses and other excuses, until I'm right back where I was when I started. 

I never said this whole 'No Excuse' thing was going to be easy.  It takes work not to tell myself I have reasons for my laziness instead of just accepting that I was being lazy.  And now today?  I have work to do.  And I choose not to make excuses if that work doesn't get done.

*toob = my new word for the TV.  Basically a smushing together of boob tube.


  1. You're right--it's about whether you made a choice or not. Sometimes there is no choice, and that's a reason. And sometimes excuses are really good ones that should be considered... It's a tricky balance!

  2. Excellent post, B.E. - and I agree with Faith, it's a tricky balance!

    I think the big lesson is that you came away with one! And you started the morning off on the right foot (as opposed to the left one, which would have continued to be mired in the muck of excuses - I firmly believe excuses can compound upon one another, one leads to another, then another and then another - a dominoe effect).

    My problem - I see the lesson, I understand the lesson, but I don't internalize the lesson and then I'm back at the start line in a couple of days.

    BTW - if I haven't said it before, I love your "No Excuses" outlook for 2012!!

  3. True true. My rule of thumb for life is a little is better than nothing at all. Se even when I feel wiped out or just don't WANT to do something, I'll do a little just to have done SOMETHING. And then call it quits and do what I want.

    I hope you're feeling better today!

  4. Great points! I usually set hard goals for the week, but softer mini-goals each day, so then if I have a day where my brain is mush, I can slack off, knowing that I'll have to make it up later in the week. Generally this works... I would have totally not written after driving that long either.

  5. Ack! I am the Supreme Goddess of Rationalization, so there is really no need for a distinction between 'reason' and 'excuse'. Just in case you need an excuse. or a reason.

  6. Only we know when we're doing the best we can, and when we're making excuses. Funny part is, though, is I still feel like crap either way if I don't get something done like I meant to. Sigh.

  7. Uh oh, her first semester doesnt sound like it went too well =|

    I do agree that you cant let yourself get away with stuff, but sometimes I think you need to cut yourself some slack. Take, for instance, the day you described. That was physically and emotionally draining on you. While you could click around on the computer, that doesnt necessairly mean you were emotionally well enough to dive back into your writing. Writing takes a lot out of us emotionally, and if you're already drained and tired, that could lead to a burnout very quickly =)

    Good post!