Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Test Driving My Time Theory

I’ve been in absentia. Tucked away writing my next book, a part guide and part manifesto on how to create the time for your life. If I said that left little space for me to write much of anything else, that might seem a bit hypocritical to the premise of my book. But it’s not. It’s called triage, a tool I use in assessing what needs to be at the top of my to-do list. My newsletter has not been there, nor this blog, until now.

In a case of what can only be life imitating art, or is it art imitating life, I have been thrown curve balls in the last week or so that challenge the very core of what the book is all about. And so I found myself in the last days before this book hits Amazon, forced to test drive to the extreme what happens when the really big curve balls hit. I had to listen to my own advice on managing, organizing and creating the time for everything I both wanted and had to do.

This is where I was last week.

It Takes An Egg Timer: A Guide To Creating The Time For Your Life has been written and edited and is with my very brilliant interior book designer, Jamie Kerry. The cover is under construction with the extraordinarily talented cover designer, Wendy Bass. My official release date of May 15, auspicious in that it happens to be my brother’s birthday is two full weeks away. More than enough time to read through, yet again and again this short, inspirational, motivational, informative, and at times entertaining guide/manifesto in that way authors do as they strive for perfection.

I am walking rather proud. This is after all my second self-published work. And I am feeling pretty good how ahead of schedule I am this time and consequently much less nervous. Well maybe. I don’t think I will ever not be on the edge before a new book is birthed into the world. But confident enough that I was able to relax and enjoy a four-day weekend spent in a Robert McKee Story Seminar from 9A-7P every day.

And then the calls started. From my mother. My 89 year-old, fiercely independent mother who still lives alone, an hour and forty-five minutes south on the New Jersey Turnpike, and yes, on occasion still drives to the grocery store. Her leg is bothering her, but this time it is not just the osteoarthritis and absence of all cartilage. This time she says she can barely walk and the pain is excruciating until I suggest she call 911. Then the pain subsides.

My brother goes to her apartment. Things settle for a bit. He leaves. In between I am trying to concentrate long enough to read as well as prepare for all that marketing and outreach that goes into a book release. Yes, I use my trusty egg timer in sixty-minute windows just as I suggest in my book. It is the only hope I have of getting anything done. The ticking sound really does calm me. 

I clear my schedule and on Wednesday take Exit 6 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to find my mother crawled in a ball in her bed. She is in too much pain to walk. She has not been drinking enough water because she is too afraid she will not be able to get herself to the bathroom. She wears her medical alert necklace, the one she has never been afraid to push to get help. Until now.

I don’t ask, I tell her I am taking her to the ER. Except I can’t get her out of bed to get dressed. We’re going to need the rescue squad but not, she informs me before I help her dress and she puts on some lipstick. To some this might seem like a good sign. To me, it is just my mother’s vanity, her elixir to staying young.

I mask my worry in crisis management.  I’m good at that.  All those years of working in a corporate office and having to draw on my testosterone reserve while squashing my feminine energy to survive come in handy at moments like this. I compartmentalize the excitement for my book. My attention and my time are nowhere else but with her.

At Abington Memorial Hospital they start running tests, drawing blood and ordering x-rays. A team of doctors and nurses in what might be the nicest ER I have ever been to, attend to her. There is some sort of infection in her blood that they need to get to the source of. It was good, we are told, that she got here when she did.

I sit in the chair next to her, and she looks frail. Once standing at five–five and three quarters she has shrunk to five-two. I want to burst into tears but I save them for later.  Seeing me cry will only make her more afraid.  At this moment she needs my strength.

I worry that maybe this is it. That maybe this infection has taken hold of her and we are at the end.  Her time. But could it be? Just two weeks from my brother’s and the book’s birthday? A book on how we have more time than we think we do? Why do beginnings always have to be so inextricably connected to endings?  It’s all too much to think about. So I force myself not to. Not until the results are all back and we know what we are dealing with. I close my eyes and concentrate on the movement of my breath. I am so grateful that breathing and meditation are no longer foreign concepts to me.

I watch her fall asleep. She is tired. A combination of meds and all this attention and excitement. I see a tiny opening here. A few moments for me to be there for me. And I seize it.

I find the PDF in my iPad and I open my new book. It is dedicated to her, my mother and her ever-faithful egg timer, the one she showed me how to use. I read and I can’t help but smile.  I ground in my own words, transported to the original egg timer in the kitchen I grew up in. My worry shifts to profound gratitude for this woman I have been lucky enough to call my mother for all these years. She will like this book. Like that she and the egg timer were the original sources of inspiration. I know she will stay at least long enough to celebrate its grand entrance to the world.

I am right. I love it when I am right. By the next day the infection is under control. The swelling has subsided. A therapist is helping her walk.  A few days in the hospital and she is home, this time with a walker as her personal assistant as well as the help of visiting nurses. And of course,  an advance PDF copy of my new book.

I know her strength and her will. I have after all inherited that.

She is not ready to go. Not just yet. Not before a party. For her son and this book. Neither of which would have been possible without her.

It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life will be available on Amazon, in print and Kindle on May 15. If you wish to be added to my mailing list for updates, please click here.


Colette Martin said...

Ohhhh I am soooo excited for you! Look at you, two books in one year! You go girl!

Unknown said...

Thank you Colette! I am excited for your release as well! A big year for us both!!

rebrivved said...

When we met last August at Blogher, you were just about to publish your first book. How fantastic that you now have a second!
Like you, I recently left my ad agency job to go freelance. I'm happy to say I'm halfway through my first book, a memoir of my adventures as an Air Force brat. I'm calling it "80 Stories" because I hope to deliver 80 chapters by mid July in time to give it to my father at his 80th birthday celebration.
I look forward to hearing about your upcoming book and birthday celebration and hope your mother is able to attend and to savor every moment.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful idea for a book! I look forward to hearing more about it.
The new book comes out next Tuesday :)