Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seeking Moderation in All Things

You may already realize that during my eighteen months in the novitiate I swung between being scrupulous about making culpa for my faults and ignoring the practice completely. The truth is that I’ve never been a truly moderate person.
            I was seven years old in 1943 when Oklahoma took center stage on Broadway. Daily the radio aired its rousing song “All or Nothing.” I quickly memorized the lyrics and belted them out to the chickens on the farm where we’d moved the previous year.
            That song became a life force within me. I’d have all or nothing. I’d do all or nothing. I’d throw myself into life all the way or not at all.
            I soon discovered the perils of being immoderate. I was seven then; I’m seventy-five now. Throughout those intervening years, catapulting myself into every new adventure often proved tiring. You’d think I’d have learned by now how to pace myself.
            Yet still I struggle.
            Witness blogging.
            I began to blog in late May. Then in late July I discovered the joy of reading the blogs others posted. Once again—all or nothing. With great anticipation I daily read one blog after another and commented—at length—on all of them. One hour in July. Two in August. By October, three hours a day. Then one hour or more spent responding to the comments on my own blog.
            Soon each day was a race to write my own postings, respond to comments, read the blogs of others, and comment on them. I needed to fit all that around the medical therapy I’d been during since mid-April. It took nearly three hours out of my day three times a week.

Noah, Elisa, Laz, and I in our home in Stillwater.
Besides that, I was also trying to fit into the day the activities that give me abiding pleasure: doing my morning pages as described in The Artist’s Way; completing exercises for brain training by branching my dendrites; walking; reading mysteries; moving within the peace of Tai Chi Chih; completing a novel about first-century Palestine; enjoying the antics of the three cats with whom I live; meditating; cooking; going on an occasional outing with friends; reading, editing, and copyediting manuscripts for clients.
            Yet blogs entranced me. Some made me laugh; others made me think; all of them introduced me to new friends. Soon, blogging began to cunningly nudge aside the other activities I longed to do each day.
            By mid-October I became desperate for space. I’d been working since late August on an editing project to earn discretionary money to supplement my social security. The week leading up to October 22 was crunch time.
            About mid-month, I also began to experience worrisome side effects from the therapy. Moreover, I was trying to learn how to publish a Kindle e-book and how to become an Amazon bookseller so that I might sell the 670 copies I have of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story.
            Something had to give.
            So I took a two-week hiatus from the world of blogging. During the first week, I completed the project I’d been working on for the Minnesota client. During the second week I saw four movies—The Adjustment Bureau, Contagion, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Ides of March. I read. I slept. I meditated.
            Friends who have known me for decades say that I wouldn’t recognize Moderate if I saw her in a police lineup. The whole idea of being moderate eludes me. When will I meet her and say, “Oh, I know you. You’re the one who keeps me from jumping off into space”?
            That’s the problem you see. I think that jumping off into space is an adventure. Being immoderate has so often been fun.
            But the stress of it may have exacerbated my Meniere’s. Moreover, being immoderate often riddles my mind with indecision.
            What to do? What to do?
            For now, I’ve decided to have a life. What that will mean for blogging is that I’m going to give my reading and commenting just one and a half hours a day. No more.
            That’s moderate.
            Isn’t it?


  1. Oh how I can relate. I recently made the decision to try to spend less time on the computer and more time in my real life.

    I may have mentioned that I lived for awhile on the top floor of an old Victorian house in
    Stillwater. I love river towns and that's a very nice one.

    I must say, I'm so happy to see you back here, whenever and however.

  2. What you have described in reference to blogging is almost identical to what most of us experience, I think. It certainly panned out very much like this in my case. I, too, am an all-or-nothing person and I leap gleefully into one exciting adventure after another. I will be gardening this week. It's all-consuming! Next week, I might rediscover cooking/baking. Once again, that's what I will do almost to the exclusion of everything else. And so my pattern continues! I therefore understand well what you have described here. I, too, find it essential now to take breaks from blogging. I honestly think most of us need to adopt this more moderate approach, because it can really become almost addictive. I applaud the new limitations you have imposed upon yourself!

    And now, I just HAVE to say how thrilling it was to see you BACK! We all missed you, but understand COMPLETELY that living your life must take precedence.

  3. You poor dear.... I do so understand. I have grown to love my bloggy friends as much as if we had been neighbors all our lives. I want to read about their lives and comment but I've had to cut waaaay back. I post on no definite schedule and I now realize I can't keep up with every post of my friends. I've had to limit my time online too and many days I don't even go online.

    Nice picture of you and your cats. I didn't realize that I'm only 6 years older than you. Practically the same vintage.
    Good for you and your decision.
    Love and Peace

  4. Dear dee,

    I am glad that you are well and, hopefully, well-adjusted.

    Right this very week I too have decided that blogging is going to have to take a back seat. Because I find it easy to write, I'll probably still do that, although not quite as regularly as up to now.

    Real writing is going to have to take up more of my time because I have decided to turn the many pieces of memoir I have already written into a book. The work needs fleshing out, rewriting, editing,etc. etc.

    I've been driving myself mad, writing posts and replying to 40-50-60- comments; I can't do it any more.

    Blogging is special, i will certainly not give up on it, but there will have to be less of it for a while.

    Be happy, whatever you do.

  5. Dear Dee--WELCOME BACK!!

    I, too, am an all or nothing person. That's the main reason I don't have my own blog. It takes me between 1 & 2 hours to read & comment on the blogs I follow & that's enough. As you know from Melynda's post today, I HAVE jumped off into space!

    TRY to ease up a bit, but please don't stop blogging. I would miss you too much!

  6. Such a great idea. :) I'm so glad to read this post though. I missed you!

    I love your cats--so cute--and their names are awesome lol


  7. How funny it is Dee that so many of us relate so well to what you are saying here. It's probably more healthy to take time away from our blog world more often. I know I've been trying to round out my life this last week, and am taking off for Norman and OKC for a couple of weeks, perhaps three and don't think I'll take my laptop and will work on talking "live".

    You look great with the cats, and I'm glad you're back.
    You know, one thing I'm seriously considering is not responding to my comments except for the ones where people have an email. We'll see about that. :)

  8. I've met people(one at a food pantry where I volunteer )who've been fired for too many "sick" days...they weren't sick(well, maybe they were, depending on how you define it), but addicted to their computers & their online lives.

    You, on the other hand, seem to know fairly soon when you have to adjust...smart.

  9. I have to admit that I missed you. I might be sitting on the bus thinking about something unrelated when a thought about you would insert itself into my brain. "I wonder how she's doing. I miss her."

    But I also have faith that you will catch a mysterious vibe that someone is thinking about you and appreciating the fact that we share the same planet. It's enough, it really is. :-)

  10. Oh my gosh, I know what you mean. At first blogging was taking me an hour, two or three times a week. I really looked forward to sitting down and writing something that may be amusing to others. Now it is taking over more and more of my time. Don't get me wrong, I love it and in awe of people who write daily and even sometimes twice a day. I have met many new friends and look forward to reading about their lives and interests. However, like you, Miss All or Nothing, I started feeling stressed out about it and sometimes felt like I had to meet a deadline to come up with new ideas. My hands and eyesight are also not as good as they once were and I felt great embarrassment and anxiety when I started finding typo errrors in my published posts. I decided to take a break in July and think about where I would go from there. So now, I get on Blogger every day for an hour and check on my blogging buddies. I write a post when I want and when I get anxious, I walk away.

    Blogging is addictive though, so I am still on a journey to find a happy medium.

  11. My dear, I'm glad you're back. I understand completely you quest for balance. Many hugs.

  12. So wonderful to read your comment on my post today Dee, and to know you are back! Yet, I also relate as everyone else to what you wrote about here. Are all bloggers all or nothing people . . . or does it just seem that way?

    I am ashamed to admit that the first thing I do when I get home is to check my blog comments, then the reader list to see what wonders others have written that I've been missing!!!

    We should all be more in tune to real life, I guess, but I also have enjoyed my new blogging friends so much.

    I love the photo of you and the cats!

    Love and hugs to you!

  13. Funny how many of us can relate! I started out where I didn't spend much time at all on blogging and it has grown over the last couple years. I'm another one of those people who jumps in with both feet. I can't always comment on every blog post of every person's blog I follow. I cut way back on my own blogging so that I could read and comment and respond to comments on my blog without taking up most of my limited day--LOL! This month I am blogging and doing art every day, so I definitely won't be able to get to everybody's blogs every day, that's for sure. It's only a month, but I know it is going to change things just because of time constraints.

    I have seen many people go on breaks from the blogging world altogether for weeks or even the summer or over the holidays or for a month--whatever. I think it's a smart thing to do once in a while. Whenever blogland becomes a drudgery or feels like the stone around your neck...well, then it is time to change things.

    I've always had such a very small blog. So it was easy to respond to each comment and I thoroughly enjoy the conversations that are always going on in my comment section--LOL! But I've also always known that if I got too many followers to comment back to that I might have to stop that practice. Well, that just makes me sad to think of it. I've wondered how I would deal with it. Not responding would feel like losing contact! So, I normally prefer to blog less and respond to comments--so far. ;)

    I see that some people respond to my comments on their blog by coming and responding in a comment on my blog. Some people never respond...or ever comment in other people's blogs. I guess you have to find out what feels right for you...and adjust as necessary.

    I have missed you, I won't lie. But I trusted that you were taking care of you and that you'd be back at some point. I would truly miss you if you never blogged again, tho!! So, I don't care if you blog once a week or once a month! But take care of you first and foremost. :):)

    Sorry this is so long, but I have been wondering about this myself.

  14. People like us don't get moderate sweet lady! haha We just do what we do. If you need to cut back then by all means cut back. I'm feeling the strain myself sometimes as life seems to take over. No worries. We all love you whether you comment or respond. I say take a little less time to respond to each person. No one will get offended. Love ya bunches and hope all is well with you!

  15. I completely understand the tendency to be immoderate. My pendulum swings wildly as well. I have learned that one way to help myself is to stop multitasking. I feel so much more relaxed when I am totally focusing on one thing at a time and not feeling guilty about the other 87 I'm not doing simultaneously. It also allows me to get an accurate picture of just how much time I am spending on certain things and find balance by creating boundaries.

    If it sounds "simple," it's not. A constant vigilance is the only thing that keeps me somewhat sane. Good luck with your endeavor to moderate, but don't beat yourself up about it.

    Love and light.

  16. From the other comments, I can tell I am not alone in my obsession. I have had to limit the number of blogs I can check on any given day. I desire to spend more time writing.
    Moderation? What does that mean, anyway??

  17. I'm glad you were able to give yourself a break, and that you are back and "slightly" moderating yourself down to 1.5 hours a day. There have been days when I could just write and write and read and read and comment and comment...and I wanted nothing else to have to do....now that I've been cutting back a little (mostly due to being busy at work and remodeling at home), I too am trying to find that happy medium.

    I think you're headed in the right direction.

    Good for you!

  18. "Friends who have known me for decades say that I wouldn’t recognize Moderate if I saw her in a police lineup."

    You are a passionate, creative person, who also possesses the wisdom to know when to say when.

    I applaud you in doing what feels healthy for you and not a minute more.

  19. I love the honesty...and I relate to the questioning! I love your friends' comments that you wouldn't know moderate if you met her in a police lineup. That is a wonderfully funny, but probably very apt statement. So this is my first introduction to your blog and what I've learned is that you lead a very rich life. Take care of yourself, and follow your energies. You sound quite balanced to me! Peace, Debra

  20. Well I dare say you are living a very active creative life. I get the spending time with blogging and I too have done too many hours at one point. luckily the friends we make are understanding and will just be there. That's the best part!

  21. Oh, Dee! I can so relate to this. You are not alone in the all or nothing (and nothing is not an option) parade. I laughed out loud at parts of this, and applaud your new definition of moderation. I hope you let us know how it works for you. :-)

  22. Dee, as you can see, I also have not been keeping up with blogs. I also had to cut back in order to do other things that were pressing in around me. I applaud your ability to know when enough is enough. Take care.

  23. I loved this post. It brought back so many memories of us being immoderate together in Minnesota and all the discussions we used to have about it. I still write my Morning Pages, too, and in them I'm constantly "adjusting the Plan"—adding, subtracting, limiting the activities of my day, setting goals and restrictions that may or may not be realistic. I may not have become any more moderate either, but I think I recognize it sooner than I used to and aim for gray instead of black or white.

    Blogging became the same fascinating addiction for me, too. I had so much to say and found so many wonderful friends. It's a process, I think, for those of us with broken Moderation meters to lose ourselves in blogging and then find balance. As this post is several months old, I'm hoping you've found that perfect spot.