On Breaking the Rules

mykonos stairs
On Breaking the Rules
(and Some Happiness on Day 2)

Yesterday I broke one of my own writing rules.

I always told my students, both in class and when they came to me whining or even crying, never to write while they were tired.

There is no sense in it.  Writing is thinking.  It takes energy, focus.  It draws on everything you know and were ever taught.  It even draws on all the questions you have or will ever have.

It’s a mistake to write while you’re tired.  If you do, you will spend a lot more time trying to articulate what you want to say.  You will get angry and frustrated; you won’t enjoy it…and writing should always be enjoyable.  At least that is the goal.

Not to mention the mistakes you will make.

If you want to embarrass yourself, write when you are tired. Even if you save face, you’re likely to get mad at yourself for doing it.  The only benefit to it is that you have written.  But sometimes all that yields is bad writing.  Fortunately, I had lessons for my students on what to do with bad writing, too.

Most people cannot write effectively when they are sleepy or muddled, and yet I did that yesterday.  I did it because of this 31 Day Writing Challenge, which has already taught me to be intimidated by it.

So, today I’m writing first.  I’m getting it out of the way (did I just say that?) (haha, it doesn’t take long for an opportunity to feel like a task)!  I am going to re-calibrate.

The amazing thing is that even though I broke my own rule yesterday, I also achieved my number one goal for this challenge, at least the blogging part of it.  I OVERCAME MY OWN FATIGUE.

I DID THAT.  ON DAY ONE.  Day one of the challenge, and I put into practice a technique that I had only hoped to achieve.  I stayed busy the entire day.

And I didn’t die!

I think this proves that I am a LOT wiser than I ever imagined.  Or, a lot stupider.  Ha!

You see, my premise is that it is possible that the lingering effects of my physical fatigue from my head injury have become rote.  That the behaviors of all my long days of healing somewhere along the line became habituated.  That I do not need to rest, so much as I think I need to.

I’m trying to break this habit.  I’m wondering if we don’t become identified with a thing (in this instance, fatigue), and that thing then informs our actions.  I know that as a mom, I think like what I believe a mom should be.  As a wife, I behave like a wife — I like to tell my husband that I don’t even know how to flirt, so he better not leave me.  I sharpen the skills that matter, and don’t pay a lot of attention to the ones that don’t.

Do you do this, too?

Yesterday was such a big day for me.  It was the launch of this challenge, which I have never before attempted.  And it was just a regular day.  Except it was more like a regular day from my old life, than a regular day from me current life.

That is incredible.  When something like this occurs, it’s a metaphoric closing of the briefcase.  We can turn out the lights and go home.  Class dismissed.   We have accomplished what we set out to do.


So, while I am mad at myself for blogging last night at midnight after a long day with no rest at all, I am also very proud and rather astonished.  It’s like I gave myself the suggestion, and it was done.

Can you imagine the changes we could make in our lives if we were always this successful?

How did this happen?  I must have been ready.  But I didn’t feel ready.  And it was such a whirlwind, I am still feeling tired…

Does it matter what I did with my day; did that influence my success?  I suppose it did.  I did not get my walk in.  Lately, walking has been my priority–but it always seems to wipe me out.  All exercise does.  I thought I would die on Labor Day when we took a 35 mile bike ride.  It took me days to recover from that. It doesn’t matter if I walk one mile or ride my bike 35, I always get fatigued.  That wasn’t my pre-injury habit; my pre-injury habit was to keep going until the day was done.

Yesterday, I did not get any physical exercise, but I kept going until I finished my first official 31 Days blogpost.  I went shopping with my husband for the first new table and chairs I’ve gotten since 1985.  It took HOURS at the furniture store.  Hours to select, hours of listening to the saleswoman drone on.  I was amused by how she would always say how great something was, but never include the cost.   Despite my pointing that out to her (we brain injury survivors can be a bit unmonitored), she kept doing it, even when she knew the price without looking it up.  I wondered if that was just her or some faulty sales training.

When we finally escaped the furniture store, samples in hand, I remembered that I had promised to call an elderly friend early in the week, and that it was now already Thursday.  I telephoned her as my husband drove.  Naturally she needed my help.  The weather has changed and she was freezing, with her thermostat still set to air conditioning.  I hadn’t planned on a visit with her, but alas, I couldn’t let the poor woman freeze, and made time.

First, however, we had to stop at my father’s to switch his regular-sized bed frame to the low-profile bed frame we had just picked up from the furniture store with the chatty saleswoman.

That took longer than hoped.  My dad kept getting in the middle of the furniture shifting.  He’s 84, overweight, and no longer exactly agile.  “DAD, sit down,” I kept saying.  I kept seeing tragedies.  I was relieved when we finally got the job done and no one had gotten hurt.  My father was happy with the three inch height adjustment.  Success!  Falls averted.

Then it was time for my haircut.  I never do three appointments in a row these days; especially not three so intensive, time-consuming, stressful ones.

Just before I went into the salon, I turned on the car radio and heard the news of the Oregon school shooting.  That threw off my whole day, as I used to teach in a similar environment and have a lot of trauma connected to school violence.  I was never really okay once I heard this news, and I am still feeling unsettled about it even as I write…

On the rest of yesterday’s occurrences:

You know us women with our haircuts. I had some anxiety about getting one.  I have hair I could write novels on.  Anyway, we got through it, and the stylist was very pleased with her artistry.  I admit that I looked 20 years younger when she finished, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the styling.  That was okay, though, because I usually never am.  I am a bit more plain than the sort of girl my hair belongs on.  I never know how to carry myself with confidence with a fancy, show-stopping hairdo.

Then it was time to check on my elderly friend.  I figured out her thermostat, then she wanted me to sit down.  I thought I could spare 20 minutes, but I was there well over an hour.  She needed to talk, and the conversation turned to her end of life planning.  We had a lot to say about it, even though she kept repeating the same stories and asked me seven times what city my daughter lives in.  It was apparent that it was high time she did some thinking about this.  I was proud of myself for how much I knew about end of life planning–I didn’t even realize I knew as much as I do–and all the examples I was able to give her, mostly from experience with my own parents.

When I finally got to leave, she seemed motivated and changed, maybe even hopeful.  She kept telling me that she used to be able to travel unattended–but I told her she used to be able to dance, too.  I made her face the hard realities that what is ahead is cause enough for her to do the planning now, and I even mentioned while she is still lucid.  Similar to talking with my students, it was easier than talking to my own children.  I could talk straight with her, when I am not equally as effective at having the same conversation with my own father.

When I returned home, my dear sweet husband was just waking up from a nap.  Wait.  He took my nap–the nap I never got!  Believe it or not, he said he was too sleepy to fix dinner.  I didn’t expect that, but neither one of us had eaten since breakfast.  SO I FIXED DINNER.

WHO was this super girl I had morphed into in just one day?

Then my daughter called.  She talks more than the furniture saleswoman.  “Honey, give me your update, quick.  I need to blog!”  We both laughed.  She always laughs at my writing urgency.  After all, she sees me as her mom; she just can’t make the leap into serious blogging woman that I am.

My daughter’s updates are never uneventful.  It’s a good thing she calls me daily.  I could never take a full summary.  Last evening it was the fundraiser she attended with 200 people and the co-worker that came to her office and closed the door.  In her mother’s fashion, she drew out the story…what was happening; why did she close the door?  She said it was an employee wanting to secure permission to help another employee’s boyfriend stage an engagement proposal at their office.  It was all interesting and rather exciting, but I still had to get some writing done.

So, you have to forgive me for yesterday’s post, which I wrote while exhausted.

Please do celebrate along with me, though, the change accomplished that is the focus of this challenge.  I broke free from fatigue!

On Day 1.

Here are some photographs from today’s proposal, which happened this morning at my daughter’s offices. She said the boy brought his mother along.  In the video link that follows the photos, you can hear the mother calling the young woman her “new daughter-in-law.”

You know I love that.


proposal acceptance


engagement proposal video

Day 2, #write31days

© debra valentino, all rights reserved

4 thoughts on “On Breaking the Rules

  1. Great post! Today I wrote my post in the late afternoon. I realized that I need to do it earlier in the day. I do my best work in the morning when it comes to writing.

    • That was my plan, but I already got sidetracked this morning. Today’s post has formatting problems I cannot clear! Thank you so much for stopping by Stumbler!

Please share your thoughts.