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Tag: Pieces of Me

Blogging Like Cleaning the Flat [en]

Blogging Like Cleaning the Flat [en]

[fr] Bloguer, c'est comme ranger l'appart avant de commencer à préparer ses examens ou se lancer dans un gros projet. C'est une chose "non-prioritaire" que je fais pour moi, qui me remet en mode "faire", et qui me déstresse (une chose de moins à faire qui me culpabiliserait).

Many years ago, I understood that a first step to getting “back on track” when I was feeling overwhelmed by a huge deadline or lots to do (exams when I was a student, for example) was to clean my flat. Then I could get to work.

That is still true for me nowadays. And there is something else: blogging.

If you look back to this month’s archives, you’ll see that the only posts I’ve written (aside from the few last ones) are short stories (that’s good, I’m working on my fiction writing skills) and a few updates about my broken site (less good, it’s still broken).

Nothing else, because I’m swamped with urgent things to do, and blogging is a “when I have time” thing. (I know, in my line of work, it shouldn’t.)

Both blogging and flat-cleaning are things that I should do but don’t get around to doing because there are many other things higher on my priority list. In a strange way, it makes it easier to do them: there is less pressure. Plus, they are just for me, not for somebody else. You don’t care if my flat is a mess or not. And as for writing, well, I’ve said time and time again that the main reason I blog is for myself.

So, cleaning the flat or writing a few posts like I’ve done today could seem like “not doing what’s important”, but it does chip away at the stuff nagging at the back of my brain, and gets me in “doing” mode. That means that all of a sudden, I find it much easier to do the umpteen things I’ve been stuck not doing, and I feel better. 🙂

Related: I’ve found that at times, making lists of what I’m not going to do (today, before a trip) helps a lot — rather than a long list of stuff I need to do. Specially when it’s impossible to do it all. “Won’t-do” lists FTW!

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Sometimes, I'm Awkward Around People [en]

Sometimes, I'm Awkward Around People [en]

[fr] Parfois, je suis un peu à côté de mes pompes avec les gens 🙂

Sometimes, I’m awkward around people. Sometimes it’s people I know, and sometimes it’s people I don’t know. It might be people I know too well online, and with whom I just don’t know how to <em>be</em> offline — often because they scare me more offline than on.

People scare me.

That’s the basic premise.

I’ve come a long way of course, and I’m not that scared any more — but still: every now and again, I’m awkward around people.

I learn to be comfortable around some people in no time, whereas with others, it takes longer. Putting things like that make it look like it has something to do with the other person. But it’s more about my reactions when faced with certain situations, certain personalities, or certain attitudes. The bug is on my side.

Sometimes, I’m awkward in the middle of a whole room of people I don’t know, or maybe don’t know well enough. I’m a rather sociable person, but at times, I just seem to lose all that and not have anything to say to anybody. It helps to have a friend. It makes me feel less like a butterfly pined inside a box. Or wallpaper, to say it less poetically.

Other times, I look and listen at myself in the middle of a group of people, and bite my tongue after hearing myself behave a bit too much like the unpopular teenager I was, who wanted so much to be “in” with the cool kids.

One day, I’ll figure out where the “off” switch is. The switch which lets me turn the awkwardness off. Or maybe it’s really an “on” switch, which just allows me to turn my normal self back on when I get lost.

In the meantime, I’m sometimes awkward around people.

So, when you find me cold, unapproachable, silly, quiet, clumsy — don’t take it personally. That’s just me being a bit awkward.

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A Week of FlyLady Inspiration [en]

A Week of FlyLady Inspiration [en]

[fr] Une semaine à faire 15 minutes de rangement par jour. Les petits pas fonctionnent pour moi! Mon hall d'entrée est rangé, et plein d'autres changements sont en route.

Last week-end, I wrote about the Wisdom of Incremental Change, or something like that. I’ve spent a week now on my FlyLady-ish programme, and am reporting now to the world so you can witness my progress.

Huge progress.

I feel like I have a new life. I feel like soon, I’ll actually be able to bake cookies (one of my fantasies, representing a stress-free life where one has enough time to do useless but pleasant things like baking cookies).

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • morning routine (includes making the bed and rincing the bathroom sink clean)
  • unclutter 15 minutes a day
  • evening routine (includes checking my calendar for the next day, planning train times, and major work activities)
  • clean sink, bathtub, two counters, mirror and toilet with detergent on Sunday
  • clean kitchen sink with detergent on Sunday
  • empty my GTD inbox 15 minutes a day
  • Sunday = bath day!
  • generally, keeping clean/uncluttered areas that way
  • going to bed at midnight (Cinderella technique)
  • set alarms for all regular things throughout the week, including mealtimes

Here are the things I’m thinking of slowly easing into my routines; not all at once, but next on the list:

  • set Roomba to work in a different room each day
  • go through projects, clients, and tasks 15 minutes a day
  • prepare stuff I need the night before (ie. judo bag, snacks)
  • set alarms for snacks between meals
  • do “weekly home blessing” (not right away though)
  • get an indoor bicycle for my bedroom and cycle 20 minutes a day on it
  • add stretching and other exercises to my morning and evening routines (gradually)

It’s interesting how cleaning/uncluttering is contagious: in addition to straightening out my hallway (photos below) I also emptied my big suitcase (it had been lying around since October with stuff still in it), but a few hooks up in the kitchen, and removed all the dead leaves from my plants (poor neglected plants).

Equally of note, I put my clean laundry away the very day I unhung it (it’s easier when the last load of clean laundry isn’t still lying around the room), cleared out my fridge before I went shopping, and threw out a few scary things that were in my freezer (like 2 or 3 year old chicken legs and fish).

Here’s a before and after pair of photos taken from my hallway; click on the photos to read notes:

next cluttered-up space in the zone Uncluttered hallway

I’ve also reorganised the entrance part of my hallway (again, click for notes):

Uncluttered and reorganized hallway

I realised that I have a lot of stuff in my flat which has no home. But I also have lots of spaces which are not home to any stuff. For example, those white shelves in my hallway where just layer upon layer of “things dumped here”. What are they going to be home to? As you can see in the notes, I’m trying to figure out what to put in them — but I’m sure it’s not final. I have cupboards and drawers which are just full of “stuff” that was dumped there at some point when I moved furniture around — I need to have a long hard think about what goes where at some point. (That’s an idea for a future blog post: a list of stuff that I’m keeping but I don’t know where to keep.)

A side-effect of this “more sleeping, more cleaning” regime is that I’m way less stressed (I feel like a big cloud has lifted off my life) and I’m taking time to do things, like eat and cook. I cooked my first chicken last night, and today made chicken salad, chicken soup, and cooked some minced meat that needed it. I think that for quite a few years, I’ve put a lot of energy trying to “escape from” my flat (well, my chaos) when I was in it. Now, I’m happy to be around. Happy to see that I’m taking control of things.

2009 is the year of taking control of my life again. I’ve been letting it happen to me for way too long. So here we go:

  • keeping track of my finances with buxfer — which has a great iPhone site btw, and allows updates from Twitter, so you can enter all your transactions on the road if needed
  • regaining control of my living space with FlyLady
  • keeping control of the “stuff” I want to do with a sprinkling of GTD (and having an office).

I’m going to love 2009!

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The Wisdom of Small Changes: Incrementally Reclaiming My Flat [en]

The Wisdom of Small Changes: Incrementally Reclaiming My Flat [en]

[fr] Reprendre contrôle de mon appartement, un petit pas à la fois. Chaque jour, ajouter un nouvel élément à garder sous contrôle. Aujourd'hui, c'est nettoyer la baignoire.

Aussi, diviser l'appartement en zones, et travailler chaque semaine sur une zone, 15 minutes par jour.

Inspiration: toute une longue histoire personnelle, et le site FlyLady.

I’m going to tell you about my plan to reclaim my living space, little by little, over the next weeks and months. However, you know me — I’m first going to get sidetracked a little ;-) and tell you how I got where I am, and how the plan was born.

I have lived in clutter my whole life. Both my parents were pretty active clutterers too, so I guess part of the reason is “in the genes” (we recently cleared out the family home to rent it — oh, boy). Other reasons include the fact that there are much more fun things to do in life than clean/tidy (though annoyingly, each time I actually start doing these things I really enjoy them), and my natural tendency to “not do things” rather than “do things”.

I love living in a reasonably tidy place. It makes me less stressed. It makes me less depressed. It makes me happy to spend my days in an environment which is under my control, rather than a sprawling monster of Things. How to tidy my flat and keep it tidy is something that is always on my mental to-do list.

I’ve lived in my flat since I came back from India, over eight years ago. It has been cleaned more or less from top to bottom a few times since I moved on (in 2007, for example — check the “myflat” tag to see more pictures of my living space and its transformations through the years). Over the years, I’ve become quite good at keeping clutter off the floor, but that’s about it. Clearly, I lack a process to keep My Stuff under control. I have lots of stuff.

The importance of having processes in life was driven home by my foray into the GTD (Getting Things Done) method. So far, I have not succeeded in implementing GTD completely (I particularly suck at weekly reviews, I think I haven’t ever managed to do one). I do, however, use quite a lot of elements from this method:

  • ensure I have a system in which I can capture all the stuff that’s on my mind
  • have an inbox (though I don’t empty it very often, but at least it keeps all the stuff to be dealt with in one place
  • think in terms of “next actions” and “projects”
  • know that when I’m procrastinating, either I have too much stuff sitting in my head, or my next action is not clearly defined
  • use an A-Z classification system, with printed labels on folders, for all my paperwork.

The idea of having a process is underlying in two previous “housecleaning” articles: Taming the Dirty Dishes, way back in 2002, and Keeping The Flat Clean: Living Space As User Interface, in 2003. But it’s not quite there yet, or expressed clearly.

Two years, ago, I had a groundbreaking conversation about my diet with my Doctor. I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle (even without smoking or drinking) and knew it, but I was so wracked with guilt and discouraged by the amount of changes I had to make to my life that I just didn’t do anything. He showed me how important it was to not disrupt my life and diet completely, but to make small easy changes like prepare a few leaves of lettuce while my pizza was warming in the oven, or cut up an apple before the meal so that I’d eat it for dessert.

A year ago, I officially rediscovered the importance of morning rituals. I’ve also come to accept that having some things under control is better than none, even if all the rest is going to the dogs. Last autumn, for example, I decided that even if my kitchen was a mess, I would at least keep the table clean and void of any clutter, so that I would have a nice place to eat.

Recently, I started cleaning my bathroom sink (almost) every morning. I don’t use soap or anything fancy, but I have a sponge I keep on the sink and I give it a quick wipe whenever I use it. Looking into a clean sink in the morning is clearly nicer than when it’s dirty.

Now that I’m in the habit of (#1) washing my bathroom sink (it doesn’t require any cognitive effort for me to do it, it’s just part of the things I do like brush my teeth or use my neti pot), I’ve started thinking about other small changes I could make. And I’ve already made some:

Last week-end, I decided that if I wanted to tackle this flat, I had to do it little by little. So, on Saturday a week ago, I did two things in that department: caught up with the kitchen dishes (they were running away again) and put the laundry away (I live out of the clean laundry basket). Oh yeah, and I got Roomba to work.

Cleaning my bathroom sink each morning has reminded me of FlyLady. I first heard about it when Florence Devouard mentioned it at Going Solo Lausanne. I didn’t really investigate it then, but filed it away somewhere under “system/community which starts with cleaning your sink, and then you add extra stuff to do each day”.

I looked it up this afternoon and spent a couple of hours reading through it. FlyLady is a system/community designed for stay-at-home moms, or “Sidetracked Home Executives“. It is e-mail based, and indeed, does start with getting you to shine your kitchen sink (read why) and get dressed to the shoes.

Are YOU living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) like Franny in the pink sweats? Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.

Step through the door and follow FlyLady as she weaves her way through housecleaning and organizing tips with homespun humor, daily musings about life and love, the Sidetracked Home Executives (SHE) system, and anything else that is on her mind.

The whole tone of the site is very caring and motherly, with a lot of educational redundancies and extremely detailed instructions. The system actually instructs you to stop and rest for 15 minutes doing something you like, or to only declutter for 15 minutes at a time. Some of it might make you cringe, or laugh a bit if you’re a computer geek, but I really think they’re onto something and it’s well worthwhile spending some time reading the various pages on the FlyLady website.

Obviously, I’m not a stay-at-home mum and I don’t own a house, so I’ll be taking a shot at my personal interpretation of the programme. Here are the ideas I like:

This “slow but steady” system reminds me a bit of dieting strategies. You’re better off with a diet that makes you lose weight slowly, and is in fact a lasting change to your lifestyle, than with a crash diet that makes you lose loads of weight but will see you put it all on again as soon as you stop.

Same with clutter: if you stop everything for three days to clean the house top to bottom, you haven’t in fact made any changes in the lifestyle that caused you to accumulate so much clutter in the first place. By changing things slowly, you’re actually making modifications to your lifestyle which will allow you to keep the clutter under control, rather than clean everything and end up knee-deep in clutter two months later.

As FlyLady says somewhere on her site (quoting from memory): “Your house didn’t get cluttered in a day, and it won’t become uncluttered in a day either!”

Browsing as I was writing this article has brought me over to SHE forums, a community which functions on “challenges” and peer support to deal with household tasks. Remember Website Pro Day and WoWiPAD? :-)

The FlyLady website method is actually based on a book, Sidetracked Home Executives(TM): From Pigpen to Paradise, and one of the co-authors has a site called The Brat Factor, which is all about taming your inner brat (there’s a CD and DVD involved, of course) — but it looks fun (that’s how you tame brats). Your inner brat is the part of you that procrastinates, leaves the dishes in the sink, doesn’t put the clean laundry away& know him/her?

So, I’m going to set my timer to do 15 minutes of decluttering in my hallway (zone 1, I’ll consider it’s already Feb. 1st). Each day, I’ll add a baby step to the ones I’m already doing. I’ll post each new baby step on my Digital Crumble.

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E-mail and Dirty Dishes [en]

E-mail and Dirty Dishes [en]

[fr] Cet article fait le tour de ma méthode pour gérer le flux d'e-mail qui assaillit quotidiennement ma boîte de réception ainsi que le flux de vaisselle sale qui remplit inexorablement l'évier. Deux choses qui a priori n'ont rien à voir, mais qui au fond peuvent faire l'objet du même processus.

I’m a rather disorganised person. I know it comes as a surprise to many of my readers, because my online presence is reasonably organised (in the highly disorganised digital space we live in) and also probably because my writing is, well, pretty structured or something.

I’m a reformed perfectionist (in some areas). I’m somebody who read A Perfect Mess with glee, because it validated a conclusion I’d reached myself over the years: find the sweet spot between too much mess and too much order.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post titled Keeping The Flat Clean: Living Space As User Interface, after I realised that usability principles and accessibility apply to living space too, not only to websites (nothing revolutionary for the world, but it was for me). This kind of thinking has never left me.

So, what does keeping one’s inbox empty and taming the dirty dishes have in common? It hit me the other day.

It’s about keeping some constantly filling “bucket” from overflowing. It’s about having a process to deal with what comes in on a regular basis, and seeing the bottom every now and again.

Over the last year or so, I haven’t been too bad with e-mail. Here are my seven tricks:

  1. turn off notifiers but check regularly
  2. reply immediately to “small stuff” that doesn’t require much brain power
  3. archive, archive, archive: stuff I’ve dealt with, as well as bacn (I create filters for bacn)
  4. stay on top of the “longer” stuff I need to reply to, at max a few days after getting it
  5. identify the stuff I “should” spend time replying to but for some reason I won’t, and deal with it accordingly instead of letting it rot in the inbox for six months before giving up
  6. if things go out of control, I still try to keep up with what’s incoming so it doesn’t get more out of control, and take stabs at archiving/processing the backlog (in that way, my inbox hovered around a stable 300-400 messages in it for most of last year)
  7. if things are too out of control, I don’t hesitate to do a radical “inbox to zero” (my way).

Result:

  • my inbox regularly goes down to zero (about once a week or so)
  • there are usually between a couple and a dozen e-mails in my inbox
  • people are happy because I’m responsive to their e-mails
  • I’m happy because I’m on top of my e-mail (“empty inbox” has a very interesting psychological effect).

Caveats?

  • I’m not regularly active on any mailing-lists, and filter them all out
  • my estimation is that approx 100 messages a day reach my inbox, bacn included
  • I have to “deal” with 30-40 message a day, probably, once you substract what has been filtered out.

So, what about the dishes? I’ve actually been really bad at keeping up with my dirty dishes over the last year (and cleaning in general, ack). A few weeks ago when I was sick, I decided to take control of my kitchen again, if only so that mess in the kitchen would not:

  • depress me
  • get in the way of preparing food and eating regularly.

So, I did the kitchen equivalent of “emptying the inbox to zero” to get a fresh start (warning: this goes a little beyond dishes). Taking inspiration on my inbox mastery, here’s what I did:

  • put all the clean dishes away (they tend to pile up on the draining board)
  • washed all the dirty dishes, and put them away a little later once they had dried
  • cleared the kitchen table of all the junk that was on it and cleaned it
  • did the same thing with one of the working surfaces and the stove

That was my “kitchen to zero” state. The process for keeping things that way is pretty basic:

  1. make sure I see the bottom of my sink regularly (every day if possible, in the evening so it’s clean in the morning — no rigid rule, but an objective I try to meet regularly)
  2. make sure the draining board is regularly empty
  3. near-to-zero tolerance for anything remaining on the kitchen table and working surface once I’m done eating/cooking

It’s been working well so far. Here’s what I think are the three keys that my systems for e-mail and washing dishes have in common:

  1. go for emptiness: seeing the bottom is important, psychologically
  2. flexible “keep the spirit” approach rather than rigid rule: keeps me from feeling “failure guilt” when I slip a bit, and provides living space (life does not fit in rigid rules)
  3. contingency plan for when I drop off: I know I’ll drop off at times, but I know how to get “back on track” when I do (GTD taught me that was vital)

I’m interested in hearing if you use similar methods, or different ones, and what you think of my “three keys” to a successful system. Does it work for you, or not?

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From Airport to Airport [en]

From Airport to Airport [en]

[fr] Me voici à nouveau dans un aéroport. Celui de Bruxelles, pour être précise. Je n'avais jamais mis les pieds à Bruxelles. Et là, après une visite éclair de 24 heures à peine, je peux mettre un drapeau dans la carte, mais je ne peux pas dire que j'aie vu grand chose de la ville.

Ainsi va ma vie de voyages, enviable et excitante vue depuis le monde stable du sédentaire, mais qui comporte son lot de frustrations. J'ai dû accepter il y a un peu plus d'une année que mon insistance à rajouter 3-4 jours à chaque voyage pour "visiter" générait une quantité de stress que je n'avais pas à m'imposer.

Oui, diront certains, quel gâchis d'avoir la chance de mettre pied dans toutes ces villes, mais de ne pas même prendre le temps de faire un peu de tourisme!

Le tourisme, ça nous relaxe et nous plaît précisément parce que l'on ne le fait pas tous les jours. Une ville étrangère, c'est exotique quand on en visite une ou deux par an. Quand elles s'empilent les unes sur les autres, eh bien, comme avec tout, la routine s'installe.

Mais si je me lamente un peu, ce n'est pas tant que ma vie me déplaît -- au contraire, je préfère mille fois mieux "trop voyager" que me lever avant 7h chaque matin -- mais plus en réaction à l'incompréhension un peu systématique (mais bien pardonnable) des personnes qui peinent à voir en quoi tous ces voyages peuvent bien être pénibles.

Alors, aéroport, aéroport. Encore une ville où j'ai mis les pieds sans l'avoir vue. Une journée de travail fatiguante mais sympa et efficace, avec un chouette projet. Retour tard à la maison. Je vais tenter de profiter un peu de mon week-end, toutefois!

Airports all look the same. Well, not quite the same, but similar. All the excitement of being in one has long since disappeared. They’ve become tame and familiar, just like the airplanes that buzz in and out of them.

Another plane, another airport, another city. This was my first time in Brussels. barely 24 hours on Belgium soil. I’m starting to get used to this kind of trip. In, business, out. A bit over a year ago, I realized that all this traveling was stressful (though it may sound glamourous to some) and that if I wanted to spare myself a little, I had to stop insisting on tacking along extra days to each travel opportunity to “visit”. So, in, business, out.

This is what my life looks like at times. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I had a very good day (nice people, good business, fun project), the trip was rather painless (plane coming here 30 minutes late, searched at security), and I’m not unhappy or particularly travel-weary. And I know that compared to others, the amount of traveling I do in a year is a week-end trip to the mountains.

I’m just taking a step back and looking at my life. I wonder what my past self of a few years back would say, had I known. I never imagined this for me. This wasn’t part of the plan — but that’s what I have, and to be honest, I’m quite happy with it. I’d rather travel a bit too much than have to get up before 7am every morning. As downsides of the job go, this isn’t too bad.

I think that what frustrates me is that people who don’t travel much for work tend to assume that my traveling is as exciting as their traveling. “Oh, how exciting, you travel all the time and get to visit all these foreign cities!” In truth, as anybody who travels “too much” knows, traveling is exciting precisely because you don’t do it often. Visiting a foreign city is a great adventure when you do it once or twice a year. When it’s your seventh or eighth in a row, you’re sick of visiting and don’t go out to walk around if you don’t feel like it.

So, here is my life of travel (and again, aware that I travel less than many).

Another airport, another city I’ve visited but haven’t seen. A fun but tiring day of work, and a late night home. I’ll try and have a bit of a week-end, though. :-)

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Rendre service et apprendre à dire non [fr]

Rendre service et apprendre à dire non [fr]

C’est une discussion d’hier soir qui m’inspire pour cet article.

Je ne sais pas ce qui est le cas pour vous, mais pour moi, apprendre à dire “non” m’a pris longtemps. Et comme par hasard, ma vie est remplie de gens qui ont un peu ce même problème.

Voici quelques-unes de mes réflexions et leçons de vie à ce sujet.

Rendre service, c’est une valeur dans notre société. C’est bien vu. Et c’est un pilier important de la vie en communauté. Le problème, c’est quand rendre service devient le “truc” que l’on a mis en place pour chercher à se faire aimer ou apprécier (c’est un peu bateau, mais en général ça tourne là autour). Peu de monde dira à un enfant “ne sois pas aussi gentil, ne rends pas autant service”. Je ne dis pas qu’il faudrait littéralement dire ça, et ça reste un peu simpliste, mais ce que j’essaie de dire c’est que c’est un comportement socialement acceptable que l’on peut donc impunément mettre en place à nos dépens.

A la base, je suis quelqu’un qui fait passer les autres avant moi. Je me porte assez spontanément volontaire, je rends service (je le propose même, je ne me contente pas d’accepter), je fais pour autrui. Il m’a fallu longtemps pour réaliser que je me piégeais ainsi: ces diverses choses que j’avais proposé de faire devenaient ensuite des gros rochers noirs dans ma hotte (bien trop lourde) de “choses à faire”.

Alors j’ai appris à reprendre en main mes réflexes: réfléchir avant de dire oui, bêtement. Tenter de me projeter dans l’avenir et de m’imaginer faire la chose au moment où je suis tentée de la proposer. Dire “très honnêtement, j’aurais vraiment envie d’accepter, mais j’ai tendance à prendre trop d’engagements, donc donne-moi deux jours pour te répondre.”

Je ne suis bien entendu pas complètement tirée d’affaire. Mais que de chemin!

Au fond (on le disait hier soir), il est bien plus respectueux de dire “non” et de ne pas faire une chose, que de dire “oui” et de ne pas la faire non plus. Et dans toute cette histoire, il ne faut pas oublier le respect qu’on se doit à soi-même!

On peut donner à autrui, de façon authentique et véritablement pour l’autre, qu’à partir du moment où on est libre de le faire. Libre d’accepter ou de refuser. Si notre “oui” est enchaîné à un désir profond, parfois inconscient, de se faire accepter, il ne vaut tripette.

Soyons lucides: cet enjeu sera toujours là. Mais on peut en être libre, ou esclave.

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Busy Busy Busy [en]

Busy Busy Busy [en]

[fr] Ma vie, cette course.

Two whole days is not enough. It’s the first day, and the last day, and nothing in between. Arrival and departure days do not count.

Next time I come up here, I’ll take a longer break.

I haven’t walked much — the weather isn’t really inviting, and my free access card which lets me use public transport freely in the area is not valid in November. December, hopefully, will be more exciting: some snow, maybe. I’ll be back just before Christmas.

I realised that I haven’t uploaded the photographs of my last trip here. To say the truth, I’ve been horribly busy. Way too horribly busy. At times it seems that I spend my months and years saying that: “I’m busy”. Busy, busy, busy. I always have tons of things to do, and if I don’t, I invent more. I long for a few weeks of leisurely time — India is great for that.

Money is an issue. As a freelancer, I can take time off whenever I want, as long as I can afford it. These days, I can’t say it’s really the case. On the other hand, maybe it’s worth examining how much paid work I actually accomplish each week over the month. It might help me get organised better.

It’s always the same problem: busy, busy, busy, I keep “working” but a lot of it is not directly earning me anything. And often this “work” is not very visible (read Suw’s great article on the nature of work in a knowledge economy), which leaves me with a sense of frustration at the end of it all.

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Chalet, lecture, écriture [fr]

Chalet, lecture, écriture [fr]

[en] A couple of days at the chalet, reading and writing.

Le chalet en novembre se traduit en volets fermés pour emprisonner la chaleur, en feux de cheminée et tas de feuilles mortes et d’aiguilles de mélèze dans le jardin. Moins d’excursions (il fait froid et gris et la carte “libre accès” n’est plus valable) et plus de lecture — et d’écriture.

J’ai fini “Sepulchre” (Kate Mosse). C’était peut-être l’heure tardive, mais le dernier quart de ce livre m’a fait pleurer toutes les larmes de mon corps. J’ai entamé “Voyage en Acratie” de Bernard Krummenacher, une surprise agréable. Très vite, je me suis laissée prendre par ce récit un peu décalé d’exploration de notre futur.

Hier soir, j’ai également pondu un certain nombre de ces fameuses histoires en cinquante mots. Quelques-unes en français. Je me rends compte en faisant l’exercice que si peindre une situation de départ ou une complication ne me pose que très peu de problème, c’est toujours la fameuse fin qui me résiste. Le dénouement. La destination. Où va l’histoire? Où va la vie? Quel est le but?

Reflet pour moi de ma difficulté à trouver du sens, une finalité, dans le monde autour de moi.

J’y travaille.

Lire le roman de Bernard (que je connais) renforce encore mon envie et ma détermination de moi aussi, un jour, écrire un livre de fiction. Construire une histoire. Habiller des personnages. Inventer des situations. Faire la scénariste, et aussi la peintre.

Alors je continue avec mes histoires de cinquante mots. C’est peu, mais c’est ça le but: l’exercice est court, on peut le répéter à l’envi.

Et bientôt, une kyrielle de fins débarquera dans ma tête. J’en saisirai une et je passerai à l’étape suivante. Plus ambitieuse.

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