I’m the reason GPS was invented. I’m also the reason disclaimers are written, but that’s for another day. As a young driver, I found myself lost more times than I care to admit. Back then, GPS did not exist so my options were to unfold a paper map knowing I would never get that sucker folded back to its original form or to phone a friend. At some point, I must have exhausted the latter because my friends quit answering their phone.
To this day, the running joke is that I can’t find my way out of a paper bag. I don’t disagree as I’m convinced I was absent the day God handed out the navigation gene. I don’t do well with directions to head northwest for six miles. Instead, tell me to drive until I see a Shell station. Landmarks are my friend. When I lived in Puerto Rico for a few years, GPS existed but didn’t work out there. The lovely lady with the English accent told me more than once to turn left… into the ocean! I’m embarrassed to admit, I often returned home and started over when I got lost.
My mom must have had that sixth sense only Cuban mothers have about my lack of direction. When I was a kid she always bid me farewell with the same phrase.
“Acuerdate de ir derechito sin distracciones.”
Translation: “Remember to go straight there. No distractions.”
My friends and I would laugh as we walked away zigzagging up the street, and I’d yell back at my mom,
She would shake her head and repeat once more.
“Derechito sin distracciones.”
It took me a few years and lot of maturing to realize she meant it not only in the physical sense of walking straight to the school dance and straight home after the dance. She wasn’t just warning me not to stop at the pizza place after a football game or to accept a ride home rather than walking. Her advice encompassed so much more, and through the years those words have served me well.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. – Dr. Seuss
Distractions are defined as something that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. I’ve let things keep me from my goal in the past, and my mom’s advice has resurfaced time and time again as I’ve found the will to swat each distraction aside, and keep forging ahead. Some days I’m better at it than others.
I start each day with specific writing goals, and try to adhere to them. Understandably, there are certain daily responsibilities that aren’t optional such as dropping off two kids at two different schools at two different times. A few weeks ago, I scheduled forty-five minutes to one hour at the gym after the last child is dropped off at school. I’ve made the workout a part of my routine because I’ve scheduled it, as in I’ve written it in my calendar as a standing appointment. However, once I’m home from 11:00am until 2:30pm when the multiple kids, multiple school pickups begin, my plan is always to spend that time writing.
My plan and my reality don’t often mesh. Therein lies the problem. I often allow my good intentions to be derailed by laundry that needs to be done, dinner that needs to be cooked, groceries that need to be purchased, social media that needs my attention, or dogs who need petting, just to name a few. And, my mom’s advice plays on endless loop, on a daily basis, as I set myself up for failure every single day.
“Straight there. No distractions.”
Today, I’ve decided to schedule absolutely every minute of my day, every day of the week, in order to avoid distractions. I’m going to turn my phone off, find an app to block social media on my computer during certain times, dedicate certain days to laundry (whether it all gets done or not) and one day a week to grocery shopping. Perhaps, if it’s on my calendar it will actually happen. At the very least, I have a plan going forward. I’ve found direction, a clear and set path to my goals. Not bad for someone who can’t find their way out of a paper bag, huh mom?