One thing I hate about church is sermons, and one thing I hate about sermons is cheesy ones where some crap happens and after a long, roundabout story the priest or pastor or whoever somehow ties it back to church attendance or being a better person or something, usually in a really lame manner that doesn’t actually tie in. It’s forced. It feels forced. It doesn’t fit – so you must acquit! (Sorry, I watched that OJ Simpson miniseries thing on TV. It was pretty good, too!)
I was making the bed this morning and I wondered why I do it.
Habit? Hardly. It’s not like I couldn’t skip it and feel just fine.
Or could I?
Who makes the bed at your house?
If you live alone, maybe nobody. When I was a single and living in West Palm Beach, I rarely made the bed of my apartment.
Until… I realized a nice girl might come visit and she might appreciate the bed being made. Yep, that was my sole motivation. (Surprised? Don’t be. (A) This is me we’re talking about, and (B) I was a bachelor. The possibility of a pretty girl’s approval can get a single guy to do a lot of stuff.) Even the thought of a girl coming over was incentive to make the bed. One day, I happened to visit the apartment of my then-co worker Colette and happened to notice from the living room that she had made her bed, when it occurred to me that (A) she was single and (B) she wasn’t expecting company. We stopped by for something on our way to happy hour.
But it made an impression. Girls probably appreciate a made bed. (And vacuumed floors and other stuff but one thing at a time.) Colette would find it a surprise to see herself mentioned here. We’re still friends, though.
Also, I traveled a lot back then. A LOT. We were in hotels for weeks at a time, Monday through Thursday nights, driving home for the weekend before heading out bright and early Monday morning to do it again. That would go on for a few weeks, then we’d draw an assignment close to home for a month, then back on the road for a month or two.
The thing about hotels is, unless you ask them NOT to come in and make the bed, they do. Every day.
It’s nice to go to sleep at the end of a long day and feel clean sheets in a made up bed.
That, as I noted, was my semi-nomadic lifestyle for years. Lots of hotels. Lots of made beds. And I decided that coming home Friday after a long week, it would be nice to sleep in a clean, made up bed at my apartment. Which, if I didn’t do it Monday before I left, didn’t happen. So I started doing it.
And I was right. It did feel nice to come home Friday to a made up bed. (I’ll spare you the details as to whether any nice girls found it more enticing or not; consider once the girl is seeing whether your bed is made or not, you’ve probably already impressed her enough.)
Now, these days, I don’t travel much. And the number of new girls coming in to see my made or unmade bed has dwindled substantially since I got married.
Even thought I get up before my wife, I make the bed. I mean, after she gets out of it. She wakes up a few hours after me and comes down and makes coffee and helps get our daughter ready for school, and then her day of phone meetings starts. My day of writing commenced hours before, so I’m ready for a break. I go upstairs and make the bed, shave, get dressed, etc. (That stuff would wake her at 4am, so I wait.)
And even though she got up last, I make the bed.
It only takes a few minutes. Literally, maybe three? And I think I do a good job…
And even though it only takes a few minutes, I wonder why she doesn’t do it. Like, ever. But I also wonder why she thinks a shoe fairy makes sure her sneakers get back in the closet. (I actually don’t have to wonder what happens if I stop putting the shoes back in the closet. They pile up downstairs under a sofa table.
When I finally caved in, there were about 20 pairs of shoes there, maybe more.
To be fair, some were my daughter’s, but still.)
Okay, but she doesn’t make the bed. To be perfectly honest, I think it’s a bit of a pain to put a bunch of pillows on a bed and then take them off later, too. I do. But I like how it looks and I like how it feels to get in there at night when the bed’s been made. So I do it. That’s the difference. She doesn’t like those things enough to offset the PITA-ness (Pain IN The Ass-ness) of making the bed and putting on the pillows.
And she’s not alone.
As you will recall, I worked in the pest control business for many years. The security alarm biz, too. Both of those require going into lots and lots of people’s houses every day, so I had zillions of bedrooms I got to see. (Pest control inspections require you to look at every room in the house, and security alarms often are putting a key pad in the master bedroom.)
I’d say bed makers are in the minority. It’s close to 50-50, but if I am inspecting your house at 8am, you get a pass for an unmade bed. I mean, you gotta be fair; not everyone gets up early to start their day. At 3pm, though, if that bed is unmade, you aren’t making it. And if you aren’t sick, that’s your habit. Unmade.
I don’t judge.
Okay, a little.
Why are you letting people see your unmade bed? It’s not like I didn’t have an appointment!
Anyway, that’s just the deal. There are bedmakers and not-bedmakers, just like there are people who put away their shoes and non shoe putter awayers.
My six year old daughter, for the record, does not make her bed and I don’t do it, either. Doing it together would take three hours and a lot of screaming so we just don’t go there. Every two weeks when the cleaners come, they make her bed. That’s good enough for me.
Now, HOW does this all tie in to writing???
Well, who said it does?
Maybe it’s just a rant.
Maybe it was on my mind because I just made the bed and was a little steamed and needed to vent. It’s my blog. I can do that if I want.
As you might guess, it does tie.
And it’s not a stretch like mediocre preacher sermon that says walking in the rain is like buying raffle tickets for the Spring Fling or whatever they were for. I’m not buying them. I’m not! I did the daddy-daughter dance, the cookies, the chocolate bars, teacher appreciation day, all the field trips and even the aquarium visit. I’m not buying raffle tickets!
(My wife will buy them.)
And the aquarium was fun, I have to admit. I might have been texting a lot during it but I enjoyed seeing the fish with the kids. And the texting.
Okay, where was I?
Oh, bed making.
It all comes down to habits.
We are what we practice to be.
I do certain writing things every day, and that is what makes me prolific. I will write a long reply to Jenny’s blog post (it just posted) and I’ll do that for Allison’s, too. During the week, I’ll hit a few others. I’ll tweet a hundred times about stuff. I’ll write a few long posts and several short ones here on the blog. I’ll keep working on editing my book(s) and help my darling friends edit theirs. I’ll do it all because most of it is habits and these habits work.
What I do all the time is what I have found works – for me.
Bed making doesn’t work for my wife. She’s a pretty damned productive person in her own way. Amazingly unorganized from my vantage point, but it works for her – and that’s the key. My way works for me. Hers works for her. BOTH of us have gone to President’s Circle with our companies multiple times each. So we both are/have been doing something right.
If you aren’t getting your words out, if you aren’t publishing (hey, I’ll help you. That’s what we do here on the blog), and if you aren’t seeing the writing progress you want, then a change is needed. You may not have a sneaker fairy. You may be the stack under the sofa table.
Be honest and see what’s what.
There may be reasons.
There may simply be excuses.
Not gonna judge.
Okay, a little.
If you want to be doing more and you don’t make the changes to accomplish your goals, then DON’T complain about it. Change or stop crying. You control it.
I had a crazy mean boss (a.k.a., the Witch – and although I never referred to her that way ever to anyone, she would immediately know who I meant if she read this. Hopefully she has died of a slow painful cancer by now). She was awful to work for. But she was a workaholic and wanted success. I wanted that, too, but I also wanted a family life, and I needed time to run. Back then I was doing 5 miles a day. That can take a little time. The only part of my day I controlled was what time I woke up, and since our work started at 8am (I had to be there at 7:30 and it was an hour commute, so I got up at six, but…) I liked running in the afternoons and evening after work. With the crazy schedule the witch implemented, I was working all sorts of hours, weekends, evenings, you name it. So I wasn’t running. Which was bad. I needed to run to vent the stress the witch was creating, aside from running to keep me healthy.
What did I do?
I got up at 5am and ran.
I hated it.
I told people I loved it. I told them I saw deer (and snakes, too) and was alone on the road with my thoughts, got to see sunrises and morning dew, rabbits, friends and neighbors, whatever.
I HATED IT.
Running sucks in general but running at 5am is freaking insane.
But I did what I had to do. These days, I write. I’m lucky to do it all day every day. But I have other time demands. I still run (not 5 miles; that’s crazy stuff. What was I thinking?) and I take my kid to school. I do field trips cos I love her and her little friends. Kindergarten is a special time. She still wants me around. That will change soon enough and I’ll have all the time I want then, so…
I usually run in the afternoons, like I prefer.
When do I write?
I like to get up at 4 or 5 to do it.
Eek! Eek! Eek!
And this time I’m not lying when I say
I love doing that.
It’s like Christmas morning, getting up and writing every day. I don’t check email first. I don’t make coffee (I don’t drink coffee). I don’t look at Facebook. I don’t turn on a radio or TV because my office is under my daughter’s bedroom and a long time ago I learned that making noises woke her up, and a woke up kid = me not writing anymore for a few hours. Because distractions. Breakfast. Spongebob. Occasional cuddling on the couch eating a Pop Tart and watching Spongebob. (Hey, I’m human.)
But my habits work for me. They probably wouldn’t work for you.
But if you aren’t getting it done, a change is needed. The easiest change? Look at what time you start your day now, and what you do that first hour now.
Then, keep doing it.
But get up an hour earlier first. Don’t check email or whatever; do that an hour later when you normally would. Facebook will still be there. The funny cat video will be just as awesome an hour later. But you’ll have an hour of writing under your belt.
And that night when your head hits your pillow, you’ll be a little more satisfied.
You’ll be a little more of a writer.
Closer to your dream becoming a reality.
That’s a thing you can do. Yes, you can. Trust me, you’ll adapt quickly when that first week ends and you finished stuff that had been piling up.
Dreams become reality when you put in the effort.
Screw making the bed.