A Blank Slate Life

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Are you a planner, a goal setter, a diary filler?

Or are you a floater, a free agent, a take-each-day-as-it-comes-er?

Is one better than the other?

As last year began, I was commencing my first rowing regatta season, training for my first half marathon, planning a trip to New York and about to begin rehearsals for a Shakespeare play. And then the year got really busy.

This year began and in my diary was…. nothing.

The regatta season was something I watched others participate in.

My fitness training entailed walking from the couch to the kitchen for another cup of tea.

There were definitely no holidays on the horizon.

And although Shakespeare beckoned once again, he had no place for me this year.

It felt weird.

And….wrong.

But as I sat with it (on the couch with a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate and a period drama on television), I began to see its attractions.

No commitments. No expectations (mine or from others).

I decided a Blank Slate Life would be an interesting experiment.

Blank slate

Within weeks I was tested.

I was invited to join an instrumental and singing group of which I had been a part in the past and one that I had attempted to rejoin at the end of last year until a clothing moth intervened and put me in hospital instead. (It’s hard to play the banjo with six broken ribs.)

I ummed and I ahhed.

And I caved. Besides, I really wanted to go and a Blank Slate Life is not about doing nothing but doing things a bit more spontaneously. And it was only a five week commitment.

Then, on the day I was to attend the first group session, our city was hit by floods and instead of plucking banjo strings that night, I was plucking items out of the flooded rooms of a relative’s home.

Maybe it was a sign.

But then more temptation came in the form of William Shakespeare and his Midsummer Night’s Dream. Seems there was a role for me after all.

How do you say no?

And this week, my spontaneous, relief teaching, I Wonder If They’ll Call Today worklife turned into a Three Days A Week in the One Classroom for the Whole Term setpiece.

Maybe I’m just not meant to live a Blank Slate Life.

Would you, could you do it?

If you already do, can I have your secret?

 

 

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77 thoughts on “A Blank Slate Life

  1. That’s tragic, Heather. If things had worked out a little more fortunately, you could definitely have made a name for yourself as, say, the first banjo-playing Hamlet.

    I don’t have a blank slate life, but I do have a blank social diary. Unfortunately, it mostly just stays blank. The one for 2014 was so empty, I’m now using it as a notebook for blog post ideas.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I will suggest banjo playing Hamlet for next year.

      I have diaries like that but in my case it’s usually because I forget to use it and try and hold everything in my head. I think that’s what I found attractive about a Blank Slate Life – having a Blank Slate Brain.

      Like

  2. With me it seems to be all or nothing, in an endless cycle. I loathe structure and commitment, but faced with a blank slate I get tetchy and start filling my days with commitments (many of which I later regret). I’m going to attribute (er, blame) my yoyo state on being mainly an introvert. I want to be alone, but I also want to be part of things, but only on my terms, because I’m a control freak too. Ooh. Glad I don’t have to put this stuff on a CV.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, I hear you, Su. Believe me, I hear you. When I realised I had nothing set to aim for this year, I almost freaked out. But now I’m also freaking out about this work commitment and other things I’ve committed to on top of that. Yep, we can’t win.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Those are quite a few signs along the way. Going from active to not so active. All that time in front of you. I feel you. Last year I invested in a diary and did daily goals – what I wanted to achieve each day and I ticked off most things on my list each day. It could be things like writing a bit of my book, doing some reading, and longer term goals such as finishing the first draft of my book. This year, thankfully for me is a bit of the same.

    The teaching gig sounds like it will keep you busy. Maybe it will turn into five days.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been wishing often these days that there were more hours in them, or that I had a 3 or 4 day weekend (getting paid the same for my job) or that somehow I would find the time to read a book within a normal time frame. And I wonder how I am so busy without a husband or kids or grand kids or a house to take care of. I laugh at the photo of the blank calendar, because I don’t remember the last time that happened. I’m simply not wired to sit on the couch, unless illness strikes or my favorite TV show is on. We may both look at that blank calendar and think that would be awesome to have that down time, but let’s face it…that’s not you, nor is it me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few years ago, I decided I had to clear my calendar to concentrate on the kids and what they needed. I pulled out of everything. I wanted to do it for a year. I lasted 6 months. πŸ™‚

      Having stared down a blank calendar for a little while there, I can tell you, it’s a scary sight.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Life runs in interesting cycles and even though you think that calendar is blank it’s so often an illusion – Dr Who probably has a quote for thatπŸ˜„. Sounds like all your choices are ones you want to make given your physical restrictions – sounds good!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess that’s one more thing you’ve tried…. πŸ˜‰ As you said, there is a big difference between being spontaneous and being lazy. You might have to block out some time periods, but that doesn’t mean you have to have everything planned to the last nano-second. I think of my training for a 10 K last year – I ran when I felt like it and didn’t keep track. yes, in my head I knew I was better or worse than were I thought i would be. And then I see your planning sheets – of course that was for a much, much longer run…. Still, that running schedule would have been difficult for me to keep. Anyway, we all find what works best for us, don’t we? Have fun with your banjo and Shakespeare. Actually, that sounds like a good title, “Fun With a Banjo and Shakespeare”. I wonder if it’s been used?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Heather. Only you could come up with an entertaining post about doing nothing πŸ™‚ No matter how much you try, your *nothing* will be more than many people’s *something*.

    As MJ said, some people – like you – just aren’t wired for *nothing*. You will somehow magically weave something out of it. How do I know? – it’s in your blog name πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I think I’m a planner. I’m not very spontaneous, although I leave enough room to strike out and do new things now and then. Sometimes it’s nice to leave a little blank space so you can figure out what you like and what you don’t like! Or to see what pops up. Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Since the kids moved out and the husband retired and the pets all died – I’m a blank slate person. I love it. Most of my interests are solitary pursuits. A lifetime of being a stay at home mom and volunteer chair person (for everything many working parents don’t have time for) has taught me how to be self motivated. To me, the blank slate is a ticket to freedom and creativity.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I don’t have a dairy and also never keep a diary. I love picking up discarded shopping lists left in the trolley. Some people are so meticulous. I am no,t and take things as they come. I do try and steer things in a positive way but, as the wind blows so will I. So far so good! And I am ‘Almost There.’

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t keep a diary, but I do have a calender and a white board in the kitchen to remind me of appointments and birthdays. And bin days. Otherwise I’d forget. Other than that things just happen. This last year has been a bit like being pregnant – 9 months waiting to move and not being able to settle to anything until that happens. So, I hope there will be more interesting items written on the white board / calender, but I’m not really a very sociable person so I can’t see me doing Shakespeare (or a half marathon come to that). I quite like Margie’s blank slate approach. (You must be feeling MUCH better – thank goodness!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, I am mostly mended. (I only notice that it’s not quite there when I try and do things like play the banjo for an hour or try and move the piano….)

      I have a calendar to coordinate everyone’s commitments. But I have to put appointments and things like that in my diary on my phone with a reminder alarm, otherwise I forget even if it is on the calendar. I use the Task List app for the same thing. Reminds me to take my iron tablets twice a week, pay the kids’ pocket money at the start of the month, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmmm, I think I am a combo gal. I certainly have a number of things planned on my calendar but I am also known to be a spontaneous friend, the one you can call at the last minute & propose a little road trip or unexpected excursion of some sort. Yup, combo gal, that’s meπŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I definitely try and keep my days open on the calendar and somehow I manage to fall into bed each night exhausted and wondering for that split second before my head hits the pillow how it is that a person with nothing planned can go through so much in a day’s time. These days, I’m all about trying to calm things down and keep them there…..I enjoy the easier days and I like picking and choosing as my mood dictates. Still, I can’t see you with a blank calendar…..you have far too many things to pull you in and keep your attention…..for you, I think, it’s not a matter of busy or not busy, but instead, what will she be busy with and for how long will she be busy with it? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that was what was good about being incapacitated – even if I wanted to, I couldn’t fill my days with things. I actually had to sit in my chair and not do much. It was a little bit liberating. Of course, as soon as I gained recovery, I felt guilty for doing nothing for so long. Sigh. And you (and others) are right. I’m not really cut out for a nothing life. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I like an organized life and like you last year was absolutely jammed. So many great things and so exhausted. This year I am trying to find a better balance and a broader range of activities. Wish me luck. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      • So far so good. Still busy but have made some changes. I am only writing one post a week rather than 2 as a start. After doing that for a month my views went up 25%. Go figure. πŸ™‚
        With the arrival of our Grandbaby in May I think that will also keep me from over committing in other areas. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I do live a “blank slate life” and honestly, I’ve been trying for most of my adult life to change that. You know, become a proper adult with set out life plan, goals and hopefully achievements sooner or later. And for some reason I just can’t. No matter what I do I end up having nothing on my schedule I couldn’t change last minute. It’s like my life is floating in the wind going wherever it will take me. I’m like the Last Unicorns Butterfly or Aura Dione’s Sophie. A dreamer one could say. Without the dreaming in my case…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can’t say I’ve ever had a life plan (as you can tell from the theme of my blog). I think that’s okay. As long as you’re moving forward (or even sideways as I often do). I pick goals at random intervals which are usually either things I want to try (rowing) or some sort of challenge I want to see if I can achieve (half marathon). Seems you’re still finding things to do so that’s good. Beats sitting at home in front of the television. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  16. I think we are all just trying to find ourselves. I know my problem is I will decide I want to do more and come up with 5 different things to do. Too hard to focus and all 5 don’t get accomplished. I am the same way with dieting. I want to lose weight so I look into a bunch of ways how instead of sticking with one plan. We have good days and bad, but at least we have days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that sounds like me! Never been good at one thing at a time or of sticking with something long enough to get any good at it. Some people are lucky and find their life’s passion early on but I think most of us stumble from one thing to another looking for whatever it is we really want to be doing. Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Six ribs, and she’s teaching, and scheduling two series of performance commitments. Plus, somewhere, children exist.

    I loved my Daytimer–remember those?–and it was jam-packed. Work mtgs & deadlines, business trips, kids’ doctor appts & school project shopping lists, kids’ Tae-Kwon Do or softball or Scouts or playdates, planned weekend excursions and Sunday School lessons…

    One day, I realized the Daytimer and wristwatch that were helping me keep everything straight were also creating that everything, as my Overscheduling Enablers. Together, they formed a constant source of subconscious stress.

    I got rid of ’em. Happier me.

    But now, with enforced idleness (from the rules of the U.S. disability system as much or more than my disabilities) and with social isolation (part fallout from being so long with an emotional abuser, and part related to restrictions of my autocide + Aspie’s + total obnoxiousness; e.g. I don’t usually go out evenings, I can’t stand with others in lines or chatting on a sidewalk or at parties due to spine damage, my favorite topic is me–little things ), I am considering buying a Daytimer equivalent. (Phone calendars, easy as they are, just don’t do the trick for me.) Somehow, when you own a physical schedule to fill, you find a way to fill it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • After two weeks of teaching (and, frankly, wrangling) six little darlings, I have discovered that the ribs might not have healed as completely as I thought. It’s only at a ‘discomfort’ level so I’m not worried about it but it was a salient reminder that these things really take time.

      I agree about the underlying stress a busy schedule generates. It’s what attracts me to attempting to keep mine a bit more blank than I usually do. So much less to coordinate and worry about.

      We still have a physical calendar on the wall for everybody’s commitments. I need to see them in one place. But what I like about a personal electronic calendar is that I can set it up to remind me of things in sufficient time to be prepared for them. It helps to remove some of the stresses.

      I think you should buy a Daytimer equivalent that is quirky and attractive and just asking to be filled. πŸ˜€ Maybe buy a fancy pen for writing in it too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are amazing, MoSY. I don’t know if your ribs are that quickly healed due to the great shape you were/are in from all your activities, or you just have that “Oh, this isn’t so bad” attitude so common in non-quitters. To have only a discomfort level this soon, with six ribs? My two hurt for a couple of years, although I chose to ignore them. It was often a source of surprise to me how long their pain lasted. Every time I picked up the boys, one on each hip…erg.

        Hey! Come to think of it, once they got too big for me to swing them both up like that, the pain went aw– Shoot.
        πŸ™„

        My phone’s beeps and boops became so frequent my subconscious quickly learned to ignore them. With your life, I am surprised the same didn’t happen the first couple of days you got it.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m pretty stingy with my “slate.” I like it blank and I’m really good at saying “no” (of course I actually say “No, thank you” cause that’s how Mom raised me πŸ˜‰)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rather hilariously, after writing this post, I didn’t make it back to WordPress for over a week because my calendar turned decidedly un-blank. πŸ˜€

      I’d like a bit more blank in my life but like you, I couldn’t take too much of it at one time.

      Like

  19. your writing is a delight to read…. I myself have blank slates for myself and I quite like them since I can hardly find time to commit to anything I want to do, my job eats up more then 10 hours of my day >.< rest I am sick so there's no rest but when I find some time and my health is good I enjoy doing things πŸ™‚

    I am so glad to have stumbled upon your blog, it's a delight…. am I repeating myself? aaah, it's worth it..

    Have fun super girl πŸ™‚ I love your logo too.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I believe it is good to combine the planner with ther take-the-day-as-it-comes-person. So you can enjoy a littlebit, but also lean back in the evening and be proud on what you have done. At least that’s what I am trying πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I can never stick to a plan, I always end up doing nothing from the things i’ve planned so instead I do whatever comes to my mind whenever I feel like it without a pre-planing because you never know what is going to happen and it feels sad when you have many plans and you achieve nothing.
    You can have a long term goals and try to achieve them one by one whenever you get the chance and without planning how.

    Liked by 1 person

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