Like many of my fellow YAOTLers, I rarely take breaks. And sadly, when I do take breaks, I feel sorta guilty. I don't know why this is. Well, maybe I do.
I have NO TIME to take a break. This month, which happens to be the month that my first book Thin Space is released, has been crazy. My to-do list is ridiculously long and never completely checked off.
But here's the thing: I don't want to be a person whose life revolves around checking items off a list.
My first book is out! This is a dream come true, 20+ years in the making, and I want to enjoy it, or at the very least BE in the present moment and not be ticking away in the back of my head all the things I've still got left to do.
So, the other day I was walking my dog (I walk my dog, a sweet, hyper, brilliant doggie named Zooey, at least three times a day) and I was ruminating over this post--ie. How was I going to write about taking breaks when I haven't taken a break in months? --when it hit me that walking my dog three times a day IS my way of taking breaks.
Confession: I did NOT want to get a dog.
It was my daughter's idea, and last year around this time she was slowly wearing my husband and me down with her campaign to go to the pound and adopt a puppy. The trouble was I didn't like dogs. Actually, I was scared of them. When I was a kid, a dog bit me on the mouth and I still have the scar. I relayed this gruesome story to my daughter and pointed out, too, that dogs take a lot of work. And who are we kidding here? I am the one who is going to have to take care of it. Also, dogs smell.
We went to the pound to pick out a dog.
I was the one who found Zooey. Or rather, she is the one who found me. (Cue: dramatic, romantic music) I cannot explain it. Our eyes locked upon each other's, and Zooey cocked her head to the side and wrinkled up her forehead. And that was that.
It turns out that she is the perfect writer's dog.
Every day we begin with a walk. Rain or shine or snow. Then it's back home and time for work. My work involves parking myself on the couch in the living room (which has become my office since we got Zooey) and firing up my laptop. Zooey's work consists of curling up on the back of the couch and snoozing adorably. Every so often she
After several hours of our respective work, Zooey leaps up from her perch like someone has set her on fire and licks my ear. Which means it is time for walk number two.
Before I got a dog I did not take frequent mini breaks. I rarely got dressed. Some days I did not leave my house. My exercise was yoga (which I miss doing) but I have discovered that there is a zen-like, meditative quality to dog walking too.
I write blog posts in my head and work through plot holes.
I'm in tune with the seasons and little goings on in the neighborhood. For Sale signs going up. Houses being remodeled and landscaped. A bunch of a balloons tied to a mailbox welcoming a baby.
I meet new people (and their dogs). Zooey tries to
I ruminate over big philosophical questions: Why do some dog owners not pick up their dog's %*^*$ poop? And: Why must Zooey seek out all of these %*^(*% left-behind treasures?
For those twenty minutes, I exist in the here and now, no book deals or writing angst or ridiculously long to-do lists, just my hand clenched around Zooey's leash, eyes scanning the street (in case Zooey should notice a squirrel and jerk my arm out of the socket in her quest to
And then Zooey and I return home to our spots on the couch, both of us recharged and geared up to continue our work for the day.