Forget me not…unless

I haven’t posted in a long time. Haven’t had the motivation, or the inspiration, to write, and that’s OK. Life stuff goes on — work, house, garden. Repeat. Weeks go slow; weekends fly by. There’s never enough time to do what we need to do, let alone what we want to do.

We have, however, made some exciting (for us) progress in the last few months, including completing our 3-year sunroom project and redoing the last (worst) bedroom to turn it into an office for Mike and an occasional guestroom. They’re both great transformations and useful spaces — I’ll post pictures one of these days. Of course, lots of other projects are still ongoing, and it truly does get old. We marked 8 years in the house in May — 8 years at hard labor is a long time, and while I can see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still frustratingly small.

But this isn’t about that. What’s bothering me lately is my inability to focus on work the way I used to. I’ve made some mistakes the past few days on a particular project, and it’s just not like me. Catching inconsistencies, keeping track of a lot of details, grasping the problem and running with the solution — that’s pretty much what I do or, at least, what I’ve always done. So failing at that is both embarrassing and worrisome. I know I’m not enthused about work these days (is it retirement day yet?), but I should still be able to do the work.

Today it hit me that maybe I can blame the lack of concentration and general ennui on middle-age brain or collapsing hormones or, God forbid, the coming of “the change.”

As depressing at that thought is, at least it’s a temporary thing. A transition to get through, instead of the new normal. Your mind and body do eventually stabilize, right?

Or is this the beginning of the end, signalling that I’m losing my ability to do good work? That the last 25+ years was a good run, but it’s all downhill from here (and not in a good way — funny how “all downhill from here” can be positive or negative, depending on the context). That other people will now be gently correcting my mistakes, rather than the other way around. That the next 20 years of my work might just be a little shoddy.

Ouch. (Or as we say in the ’Burgh, “ahch.”)

I accepted it when my brain wasn’t as johnny-on-the-spot as it used to be. When I couldn’t answer the Jeopardy questions fast enough (or at all). When the right word didn’t leap onto the page, but had to be pulled from the depths after some painful mental gyrations or roundabout online searches. But this I don’t want to accept. Being good at my job has always been an essential part of who I am. I’m not ready for it to be who I was — not ready to say good-bye to me. 

Unless that lottery thing comes through, of course. Then it’s bye-bye Ms. Anal-Retentive-Writer-Editor-Proofreader and hello Ms. Woman-Who-Hires-People-To-Finish-Her-House. Maybe the key is just finding something else to be good at?


Take your work seriously, but never yourself.
~ Margot Fonteyn


  1. Anonymous said,

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Yes, it could be age and/or menopause and if the latter yes it gets worse and I don’t know if it stabilizes exactly. (Still waiting to see on that.) But. You will ALWAYS be good at what you do. That is yours to keep. And you won’t suddenly get “bad” at it. Everybody makes mistakes; the room for error as a proofreader (especially an anal-retentive one who’s been doing it long enough to let a little meh/life is short creep in;) is excruciatingly narrow. imo, you’ve been busy, lots on the mind, brain pulled in too many directions . . . It’s hard to focus on punctuation when there are flowers coming up in the garden. “Lighten up, Francis.” You’ll be fine.

  2. Anonymous said,

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:51 am

    p.s. “Lighten up, Francis.” said with affection and humor. Hoping that did not read as harsh. 🙂

  3. Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

    p.p.s. Why is it calling me “Anonymous”? This is Beth, haha

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I thought it might be you, Bethy. And harsh — not at all? Lighten up, Francis. 🙂

  5. bobritzema said,

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I just turned 65 and, in my estimation (a flawed yardstick, to be sure) the things I have expertise in I do about as well as ever. I think the differences are that I don’t do as well at things that are outside of my main areas of focus, and I don’t have the stamina that I used to have. Hopefully you’ll have lots of years yet of doing good work, though perhaps not as much of it.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Thank you, Bob! I guess you never really think “the aging thing” will affect you, especially when you don’t feel that old! (By the way, I admire you for moving to help take care of your parents.)

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