Deadlines and New Digs


July 12, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

July is a busy month for a grant writer

My Kanban Board at the end of June

My Kanban Board at the end of June

Actually every month is a busy month. If you do not have a lot of specific deadlines, you are doing prospect research, updating boilerplate with new service statistics, and cranking out proposals that have “anytime” deadlines. Competing deadlines come fast and thick around the end of March and first half of April, the end of June and the first half of July, the end of September and the first half of October.

This year, because I work at a multiservice organization, I have three United Way proposals for three separate programs due on the same day. Thursday, to be precise. If you know anything about nonprofit social services here in the U.S., the role United Way plays in funding them, and the detailed response required, you know what kind of an adrenaline push this is going to take.

What complicates deadlines in July are vacations.

The folk from whom you need data or feedback who are on them. The one you are trying to take yourself. I can’t write these proposals without significant input from the people who are actually doing the work – also busy people, who certainly deserve vacations – and each proposal has to go through several chains of review. As of Friday I have one that is almost ready, one that is barely started, and one I have yet to see.

So pardon me if I miss retweeting your post this week.

August vacations don’t seem to come up against deadlines quite so often. Given a choice, that’s when I’d take mine. But my family reunion is always at the end of July. This year my dad is having eye surgery two days afterwards. My sister Whitney, who lives twenty minutes from my parents, is delighted that I can help out with my mom for a few days while my dad is recuperating.

What complicates this July even further is my impending move.

Though I AM trying to pare down...

Though I AM trying to pare down…

I have lived with my friend Katherine for a little over three years now. She has been a gracious port in a storm, but I need more space.

I told myself that when I had a full time job again – that was eight months ago, but who’s counting? – I would get my own apartment. But when Katherine took a bike trip to Chile for six weeks in January and February and offered me a month’s free rent to house sit, I thought, who wants to move in a Minnesota winter? In March and early April I was visiting my parents.

In May I finally began looking for new digs. Then my car began to die.

My mighty mighty 1993 Toyota Tercel – the car I learned to drive stick shift on in the Lakewood Cemetery, at the ripe old age of Never You Mind. There had been warnings – the control arm that rusted out; the stick shift that got stuck between first and second gear; the stalling in stop-start traffic that no amount of manual dexterity could prevent. When I could no longer keep the engine running at red lights, I took the car in.

The news was not good. Nor was it conclusive. My garage told me they’d need to drain and replace the fluid in the master and slave cylinders, and only after that would they know if the clutch needed to be replaced. And there were other issues. In all, $2400 worth, not including the clutch.

“You can buy another car for that,” my son said.

He was right. In the end I found a really good deal on a 2000 Toyota Corolla that spent most of its life in California and has only 83,000 miles on it. But good deal or no, it ate up half my savings.

Last year a friend offered me a larger place to live.

I declined her offer then because I knew I wanted my own home again.

Illustration from one of my favorite picture books as a child, Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House.

From Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. (I don’t really need that big a yard.)

And yet when the realities of what I could afford became clear, every apartment I looked at did not feel as much like home as Mare’s home did. So I approached her again. The rent was still reasonable, and the offer was still open.

There I will have two rooms, a bedroom and a study; the downstairs bathroom; a lovely yard and garden; a friend who likes old movies as much as I do (something I shared with Katherine as well) and two Very Important Cats. I will also have enough space to get rid of my storage unit – though my hope is that there will be a lot that can be streamlined and condensed, once I see what is actually there. And I can replenish my savings.

It is a relief to no longer be searching for an apartment. But July remains a busy month. This complicates blogging.

I have one new piece I would like to publish in July, a reworking of a story about my family reunion I told the story originally in January at WordSprout’s Speakin’ Easy. After that I need a break. I have a much lighter series of posts planned for August, one that will involve more “audience participation” in the comments. I’ll explain the concept in my last July post.

I have a strong desire to be working farther ahead: to have, if not an actual blog calendar, at least some material frontloaded a month in advance, to give me more play and flexibility in my schedule. I am also still taking a class on Mindfulness and Creativity – though I have been a poor online participant – and I would like to have more time to work the material.

Deadlines are great motivators.

But my work life is already driven by deadline adrenaline. I want something better for my creative life.

How about you?

From Jack Does Good, the lovely blog of  visual artist Jacklynn Pham

From Jack Does Good, the lovely blog of visual artist Jacklynn Pham


21 thoughts on “Deadlines and New Digs

  1. jan says:

    I’ve had a hard time keeping up with deadlines this summer as well – we had to move my mom into live with us which was a hugh transition. Best of luck with the move! (and the deadlines…)


  2. i’m working on setting some deadlines for myself. i don’t typically like to rush a post if it’s not ready but some are way over due. plus the blog’s turning a year old in august and that milestone feels like a built-in deadline anyway, which makes setting a few more seem fitting.

    p.s. i’m glad i stopped by today/tonight paula. our posts are eerily similar, both mention vacations and touch on the busyness of our lives, though we do so in our own very special ways. always a treat.


  3. Judith Post says:

    I hope you survive this month and you’re still sane:) That many things piling up all at once would drive me to the big bottle of wine…or maybe the box. Good luck!


  4. Hmmm, I’m in the search, find, and move journey myself just now. Glad to read yours, glad to know I’m not alone, and grateful for your take on all this change. Blessings!

    Oh! And where did you find that absolutely terrific photo?


  5. TanGental says:

    Good luck with all that Paula. Hope you get some space to write/blog amongst the inevitable upheavals. I used to crave deadlines as I am about as good a self starter as your old car but nowadays the hit of a deadline sends my stomach into acid overdrive. They say some stress is good for you… just as well because I’ve yet to find a place without stress!


    • They do say that, don’t they Geoff? I think “they” are therapists who charge by the hour. ;-) Though I’m told deadlines are particularly good for perfectionists who can’t finish anything because it’s not yet good enough or complete. A category I get perilously close to at times.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Norah says:

    Good luck with the deadlines and the move, and everything else in between. :)


  7. Pierced Wonderings says:

    We moved in mid-June & I feel like I’m just now starting to get my my legs under me again…with 2 weeks of summer left. I’m ready for time to relax & take everything in but it feels like there’s no opportunity to get off the roller coaster. *sigh*

    Here’s to hoping for smooth transitions & plenty of time to accomplish goals.


    • Gee. Up here we think there’s six weeks of summer left. I do remember, though, from my Nashville days, how early school starts in the South. Do you teach, Jennifer? At any rate, smooth transitions and all the time we need; that is my wish for both of us.


  8. […] I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently visiting family in New […]


  9. Ariel Bernstein says:

    Congrats on the move, Paula & I hope everything went well with your 3(!) deadlines! Sounds like you deserve a very relaxing fall as your summer was packed :)


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