Ah, that thief of time…stealing hours from my CBAP prep

I’ve written before on procrastination.  It’s still a challenge. When I wrote my most recent post I had it all planned out: I would journal each night in my lovely “Keep Calm and Write On” journal a friend gave me for Christmas. Then I’d post regularly each Sunday. Maybe I’d slip a random cat picture in on Saturdays. (“That’s Caturday” says Pickles.) Then both the reality of my new exercise schedule (6:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. Saturday), and my inherent sloth kept that from happening. So here we are. On Thursday, writing a post I meant to publish last Sunday.

It’s also making hash of my study schedule for the Certified Business Analysis Practitioner exam. Actually, I should reword that – I’m allowing distractions to make a hash of my schedule. “Procrastination” isn’t something that happens to me – I’m doing it. And I’m doing it to avoid dealing with the dry-as-dirt text of the review manual I must cover. I’ve never read anything so boring. I’ve taken economics and accounting classes in college that had more pep and dramatic interest. It amazes me that the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) could wick the life out of my job and drain it of all interest. My day-to-day job – helping to build or add on to web sites for a large company – is fascinating. You’d never know that if all you knew of business analysis was this Business Analysis Book of Knowledge and the review text. After a month I am still on chapter five of a nine-chapter book.

So here’s the plan to conquer procrastination and get this over with: Get up a little earlier on Mondays and Wednesdays, head to work early, and study for one hour before starting work. Tuesday nights – study from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday nights – study from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays – do at least one hour of catch-up review.

Will I do it? I can’t let this drag on forever. Readers, keep me honest and cheer me on!

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On friendship

It’s been a long time since I posted, but now’s the time to start again. I’m going to take the pressure off myself by posting only once a week – and maybe only once every two weeks. Another time I’ll explain the long gap in posts. Today is about friendship.

Tomorrow my friend Jill moves to Alabama to be closer to her family – especially her 70-something father. Jill and I have known each other since 1999, the year I moved back to Columbia. 15 years! We celebrated our 40th birthdays together with a trip to New York City. Every year for the past eight years we’ve been going to the S.C. Book Festival together, coming home laden down with new books. She is one of my oldest friends and I’m going to miss her terribly. I’ve already planned my first road trip to Alabama on the first weekend of April.

Ever since she told me she was leaving, I’ve thought long and hard about friendship – how so many of my friends have left my life, how my shyness prevents me from opening up and making friends quickly and deeply. I have so many acquaintances … and I’d like to turn them into real friends. Then I start to think, how can I show them love? How can I be a friend to them? (The best way to have a friend: be one, or so I’ve heard.) Over the years numbers of dear ones have moved away, like my friend Karen who’s now in New York with her kids. It’s been almost 8 years since I’ve seen her, but I still remember her fondly and we send each other Christmas cards. And there’s Grace, the military wife in Virginia. Now she’s one who learned to make friends quickly. I need to ask her for tips. Thank God she loves to post on Facebook and keep us all up to date. That’s the only way I know what’s going on with her and her crew.

As I look over it, I don’t think I’m too harsh in thinking I’m to blame for letting so many friendships either wither or fade for lack of care. How can I fix it? By cherishing the ones I still have and mainly by listening better. So often I find myself listening at the start of a conversation, then drifting off to think of something else. The writer Russell T. Davies once said that conversation, real conversation, isn’t so much one person taking, and the other person listening, as it is one person talking – and the other person waiting to talk. Ouch. If I listened better – I’d know so much more about the friends I have – so many more details, and be so much more a part of their lives.

But, thank God, there are new friends to make, and new friendships to deepen. In the last year I’ve started to get to know Janie, a fellow member of my Toastmasters club. She’s such a fascinating individual – and a worthy friend to have and cherish.

In our language, we speak of cultivating friendship. That makes me think of gardening. Just as it’s now time to plan for the spring planting, it’s time to get to work on friendships, to cut away the vines and dig up weeds, clear away dead pine straw and till the earth. It’s time to bring forth something beautiful.