Teaching an old dog new tricks?

I am writing this blog post with voice transcription software called Dragon Naturally Speaking by a company called Nuance. For some reason that I don’t entirely understand, staring at the screen and speaking into a microphone and seeing words appear on the screen seems to be short-circuiting my brain. So this is an experiment: can I talk and think at the same time? Previous data would suggest that I can, at least some of the time. One thing that’s happening is that I am spending a fair amount of time just staring at the screen. I think one reason for that is that I’m trying to avoid transcription errors by not speaking until I’m 100% sure of what I want to say. This means that I’m quasi-editing what I create before I express it. The physical act of typing seems to be more free flow, which lends itself to more unrestricted thinking and expression of that thought. So when I was trying to think about what happened today, I found that I was just staring at the screen and nothing was coming to me. Ultimately, I had to look away from the screen or close my eyes and then I was able to talk to myself about what I did today. Because speaking is faster than typing I’ve been able to produce greater quantity than if I were typing, but the quality appears to be suffering.

One of the things I did today was to start creating a daily schedule. My idea is to post it in the house, and make a reasonable attempt to follow it every day. I’ll also be able to get some support in this effort from our nanny, because she will be involved in making it happen in terms of what she does with kids and when. My goal is to complete a minimum of three cello practice sessions, three writing sessions, and three physical activity sessions in a week. Ideally, it will be more. But I think the most important thing to achieve right now is greater consistency. I have a tendency to try to do too much, and then when that fails to stop altogether. I think once that habits are established it will then be easier to gradually increase the amount of time that I give to each activity.

Another thing I did today, which contributed to a pretty long-lasting cheerful mood, was to put away one of four big stacks of music on the piano. I’m pretty sure that those four stacks were the result of my most recent attempt to completely organize my sheet music, once and for all. That effort, I think, was made either at the end of my pregnancy, or sometime this summer when the babies were very small. Those stacks have been taking up space, either on the floor or on top of the piano, for a very long time. It’s something that niggles that me every time I come into the studio, and so it was extremely satisfying to make some progress. I’m going to tackle one more stack each time I practice, and it won’t take me very long finish it all off. It’s funny how such a small thing can feel so good. After a lifetime of struggling with internal resistance to housecleaning, I have learned in the past several years how doing a chore of that sort can actually help me unstick myself and increase my overall productivity quite significantly.

The other really positive development today had to do with my relationship Hazel. After nap, I went downstairs with all three kids. I put the babies in a bouncy chair and our Nap Nanny (which I reacquired from our cat, who’s been sleeping in it – which is altogether understandable given that it’s very soft and is usually positioned right in front of the heat register under the china cabinet, a perfect spot for a kitty cat) and deliberately focused most of my attention on Hazel. We had a very nice lunch together, unhurried and with time for good conversation. We paid attention to the babies when we needed to, but our primary focus was on each other. After lunch, it was time to feed the babies again, but this time, instead of allowing nursing to shift my focus away from Hazel quite so much, I continued the conversation we began at lunch. This included a fair amount of silliness, and it was wonderful to hear Hazel giggling and to see her beautiful smile.

After that I had chiropractic appointment, the first for a while. The Pilates sessions have been paying off, and my chiropractor really noticed positive change. It’s so great to start feeling stronger again. I’m looking forward to my first postpartum gym session on Friday.

Then this evening, after I taught, I got to run an errand all by myself. It’s funny how it feels almost sinfully wonderful to leave the house by myself, carrying no bags or any kid related paraphernalia. And, when I got home, I got to have some incredibly delicious fettuccine with turkey bacon and spinach, made by Ted. I’m really glad he’s started cooking more; this way, not only do we have a more equitable division of the task, we have a more diversified menu, because Ted picks different recipes to try.

I am so grateful for my family.


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