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  • Writer's pictureAlice Wyatt

Do what? Now?

Procrastination. Why? Fear? Laziness? An informative social media post proclaiming a new study linking procrastination to ADD frequently appears under my scrolling right thumb. Attention Deficit Disorder - IS THIS YOU? It screams at me. I hover for a millisecond, think, "NOPE!" and scroll on. 

Professional insight as to the WHY of things is helpful, of course. An excellent doctor spent three months poring over charts, blood work, and my meticulously kept food diary only to inform me that my self-diagnosis of stomach cancer was premature. I was just really (REALLY) stressed. Good to know. My therapist certainly helps by asking, "Why do you believe ____ ?" as often as it takes to reveal unhealthy thought patterns. And, of course, wise parents spend years telling young children that stoves are hot, cats scratch, and too much candy makes one sick. 

 Procrastination has been a character flaw for as long as I can remember. My childhood guppies can attest to this. The unfortunate fish lived in a tank where the water grew green slime before I finally carried the whole thing downstairs for cleaning. SO annoying! SO many other more important things to do. It only took 15 minutes—such little effort for sparkling water, shiny rocks, and happy fish. The effort-to-reward ratio was high but insufficient to remove me from the poor/terrible pet owner rating. So, why not click "Attention Deficit Disorder - IS THIS YOU?!" What could it hurt?

I don't want excuses for dead guppies, a messy house, unopened emails, or not meeting writing goals. Maybe I have ADD or a lazy streak; I certainly fear rejection. Does that matter in the end? A thing is done, or it isn't. The result is 100% up to me. 

My writing desk is framed by a large window looking out onto a front garden filled with pomegranate bushes, a sprawling mesquite tree, and prickly pear cacti in riotous bloom. Tucked in the right corner is a love note from Michael, a fox sticker, and a list of lessons I learned while on my 16,154-mile marriage hiatus: 1. One day at a time. 2. Hold all things, including people, lightly. 3. Baby steps. 4. I can only control myself. 5. Be as honest as possible, then release others to make the best choices for them. 6. I am more than I ever thought I could be. 7. I am loved deeply by many. 8. Fear does not define me. 9. Who I am is up to me. 

The last one should be a no-brainer. Too often, I believed my happiness was in the hands of others. What a terrible, no good, very bad way to live your life! If something happened, overwhelming holiday plans or something didn't happen, time to relax and read, I found someone to blame. By marriage year 30, Michael, my favorite target, was drowning in a sea of blame. 

Thank goodness, despite its terrible sadness, I lived on my own for a while. IT WAS ON ME when I was hangry, too hot, bored, wasting time on ungrateful people, or ran my bank account into the red. It's a mix of emotions that's both dreadful and exciting. It was as freeing as it was terrifying. I cling to that scary freedom, sometimes with bloody fingernails. My destiny is mine alone. Who am I? What do I want to accomplish? What legacy marks my time on Earth? Do I plant a tree or scatter wildflowers? Leave a tangle of weeds for someone else to deal with? 

Right now, I have a filthy guppy tank - not submitting my work for publication. Whenever I hit SAVE on one more piece of writing, tucking it away for my eyes only, my proverbial fish tank gets dirtier. Notebooks and a computer filled with unpublished writing would be fine if my goal was personal growth through writing, but it isn't. I want to be a published author.

Today is the last day for a prestigious Frontier Poetry contest. The prize is $5,000 and publication. My chance of being chosen is ZERO to the one-millionth power, but that matters not. A rejection letter will be a significant victory because it will mean I did the work to put myself out there. I will clutch it to my chest, dance around the room, and then slide it into an, until now empty, Rejection Slips binder. My metaphorical fish tanks will be clean, and I will have won a war against procrastination. 

P.S. While writing this little essay, I got up to: make coffee, kiss Michael, get some kombucha, put up a load of laundry, go outside to pet the cat (x3), take videos of baby skunks in my flower bed, post the videos to social media, use the bathroom (x2), find a fan, and took a selfie for a writing blog (this took 10 minutes, my double chins kept appearing). 

P.P.S. Baby Steps - Lesson #3 (: 

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