Second chances and throwing a tomato at procrastination

This year I started some new year’s resolution-ish things. Things that I had tried before but failed to stick with. It seems like this year things are sticking the second time around. Perhaps it is as my teacher one said, “Do your yoga practice, maybe all the other things will fall into place.” Maybe so. Daily yoga practice has been the first habit to fall into place. I have stopped counting the days because I have not missed a day of home yoga practice since November 17th last year. Still early days, but it is cemented into my day. This is not the first time that I tried to do a daily home practice, but the first time it has stuck.

Secondly, I bought the book, “Throw out 50 things” a few years ago. It has been sitting for that long on my bedside table. I got to 2 things the first time I tried this. This year, I have made it to ten things so far and I chip away at it 15 minutes a day, most days. Do not fear, throw out does not mean into the trash. It just means get it out of the house whether for donation or recycling or in my case regroovenating some of it into new and groovy creations.

For example, I got rid of wire coat hangers and ugly coat hangers. I decided to cover some of them in fabric. I considered braiding some fabric around the hangers. I still may try this, but it seems like it would take a long time. And of course, the dry cleaner would take back the rest. I don’t have too many of hangers to begin with. This could be a bit of procraftination in action. Excess T-shirts were on my throw out list too, so these may appear as scarves and skirts in the near future. I haven’t made it to my craft room yet. I’ve only worked on the bedroom so far.


I have been known to procrastinate. Procrastination in small amounts, no problem. Last month, one of my procrastinating sessions lead me to rediscover another tool and technique to combat procrastination. The pomodoro technique, named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer that is set for 25 minutes to do what you are supposed to be doing and then reset for a 5 minute break to follow. I learned in a TEDx talk by Barbara Oakley on learning how to learn that procrastination can become like an addiction because the real pain associated with thoughts of doing the dreaded task goes away when we turn our attention elsewhere. With the pomodoro technique, you work in focused mode with a timer for 25 minutes on task. Once you get going on that dreaded task, in a matter of minutes, the dread goes away this way too. Then you allow 5 minutes for the diffuse mode of the brain to do something fun.

In the talk, Barbara describes two modes of the brain. The diffuse mode of the brain is used for problem solving and engaging with new information. The focused mode of the brain is good for practice, recall and familiar thoughts. She tells the story of two very productive and creative people in two very different fields who used the diffuse mode to their advantage. Both Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali would rest and relax in the middle of the day, with heavy keys  in his hand in the case of Salvador Dali, and a handful of ball bearings in the case of Thomas Edison. They would just fall asleep and be awakened by the clatter of falling metal objects from their hands. Then they would get up and use all the new insights that they had as they were falling asleep and go off to the studio or workshop and get to work. No wonder yoga supports a creative life.

Another habit I have picked up is morning pages from Julia Cameron’s work on creativity. It’s three pages of stream of consciousness writing in long hand if possible. I’ve been doing them for over 28 days now. I have done them in the past for short periods of time. I think I’m just going to keep doing them for now. Especially since I have started a 30 day online writing course with Andrea Balt and Tyler Knott Gregson. It’s funny sometimes my morning pages seem to turn into working on writing prompts and when I set myself to work on writing prompts, it is interspersed with morning page like writing. I have had times when I get on my yoga mat and it’s as if my mind is doing morning pages purge. And of course sitting down to write, I sometimes draw a blank. But these things pass. Clearly I need time to do all these things. So far in the beginning of the writing course, I seemed to have already spontaneously done many of the writing prompts a few months ago working through things in correspondence with my teacher and personal journaling. It’s an interesting validation of my experience and process. Just a few things that resonate so far:

  • this quote of the day: “Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
    Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
  • the prompt to make up and define a word. I had refined my definition of regroovenating just before getting to this prompt. Regroovenate – 1. to start with what you have and release the groovyness (through crafts, creativity, cooking, yoga, etc). 2. to release old stale grooves to be replaced by fresh lively ones on the way to releasing intrinsic groovyness. Here stale grooves could be the way we move and hold our body, our stories that don’t serve us, all of the above and it all changes together.
  • This poem, #1045 of the typewriter series, by one of the facillitators, Tyler, which to me sounds  just like an illustration of regroovenating

I think it’s all working because I know why I am doing what I am doing. I am allowing for relatively good and relatively bad outcomes. Sometimes I still get cranky and impatient, and I have a perfect place for that in morning pages. I am using a timer. I know each new day is a second chance. Yes, I would say there is some regroovenating going on in the patterns of my life. I keep on wanting to add more, like walking and hooping and doing more pages from the book of mess, by Keri Smith. Maybe that one will get a second chance too.

My copy of MESS drying out after being unearthed a couple of years ago and sadly abandoned.


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