The power of personal punting

betty ming liu Inspiration, Writing how-to's 12 Comments

Here’s the headline: I found a way to survive my first month as a full-time, 21st century journalist. Despite overwhelming exhaustion and personal chaos, punting is helping me to make progress.

Actually, I have no interest in Sunday’s Super Bowl game or the half-time ritual of watching the (hopefully) funny commercials that cost millions of dollars to make.

But this year, I’m using the hype as a personal reminder. Every time I hear anything about this upcoming event, I think to myself, “punt.”

Even a sports idiot like me can understand the American football concept of punting: it’s all about kicking the ball before it hits the ground.

My life, my work — can I keep them airborne? Or will I thud to earth in a big, sad splat?

On Jan. 1, I started a full-time job as an online reporter for Newsday. Very soon, we’ll be launching a news website to rock the Hudson Valley, which covers a very interesting lower stretch of New York State. To get ready, January became a mad month of reorganization. From week-to-week, this is what happened at work:

  • Week 1 — Two-hour daily commutes to Newsday’s Long Island newsroom.
  • Week 2 — Started calling/meeting Hudson Valley folks. More commuting.
  • Week 3 — Chasing sources; back to the old game of prying open shut doors.
  • Week 4 — Driving everywhere, interviewing everyone.

In focusing on work, my household routine fell apart. Cooking dinner — what’s that? I barely had time to walk the dog. Haven’t picked up a paint brush since December. And forget about hanging out with friends.

Thankfully, things are starting to settle down a bit. I’m making progress because I’ve realized:

  • I can’t do everything. So I shouldn’t be hard on myself.
  • I MUST be flexible. My daily to-do list now changes at a moment’s notice.
  • Sleep is the greatest drug on earth.
  • A good laugh can instantly help me refocus.
  • I can’t control the players in my life. (This covers editors, work sources, my daughter, our three cats and the dog.)
  • When things get insane, it helps to take the dog for a stroll or go for a quick swim at the gym or do 10 minutes of yoga.

That’s how I’m managing things. How about you? If you’ve got tips, we need to hear them.And if you’d like to read some related posts:

P.S. — For a fun place to watch the game, I highly recommend the Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar in White Plains, N.Y. It’s located in an old bank. (Click here to read my Yelp.com review of this restaurant.) The other night, I was there for a meetup sponsored by Westchester Web Presence. Let the games begin!

What a pretty restaurant. I really enjoyed taking this shot on my new iPhone. So easy to use.


Comments 12

  1. I just think you are an amazing, energy, optimistic person with a wealth of “inners” to give out to the world. Keep up the positive outlook and let everything else go. Life is too short to fret over the ‘minors’. I love your list of personal remedies. I will add: prayer & short journaling everyday. I write down 3 graces I either experienced, saw through a different lense or just plain goodness right in front of me.

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      Author

      diana, thank you so much. i should probably pray more. but i do journal. i do five daily affirmations. if you’d like to see the post about evolving into this process, here’s the link: https://bettymingliu.com/2011/07/how-to-live-the-life-you-want/

      but i totally agree with you — writing down the good stuff is so helpful in seeing life’s wonderful possibilities. thanks for reminding me of this because i ended my work week yesterday in a VERY CRABBY MOOD. in fact, i need to do my morning affirmations right now. :)

  2. Love your posts about your back-to-the-journalism-grind experience! It has been seven months for me at my own journalism gig and it took me some time before I didn’t feel exhausted all the time. Like you, I have no real interest in the Super Bowl but still plan to partake in the festivities because my sigo is a big football fan (and have you seen Madonna’s muscles? I still can’t get over how amazing she looks. She’s probably got a better arm than Eli Manning)

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      adriana, i think this are love-’em-or-hate-’em posts. glad you are enjoying them! i go from happy moments to being really grouchy. a lot of it depends on how the reporting process is going. hey — maybe i’ll watch half-time. just to see madonna. have fun watching the game with your honey! xo

  3. I like your tips for surviving your transition back to being a full time journalist. They are honest and speak to anyone trying something new.

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      thanks, leslie! the process i’m going through seems pretty typical — at least, based on conversations with friends from various professions. you’re absolutely right, this isn’t just a journalism thing.

  4. Congratulations on your new assignment. Good to hear that another major publisher has committed to reporting on what’s happening in the Hudson Valley.

    It was also great meeting you at Westchester Web Presence. Like you, the group’s goal is to help folks be better informed. In our case, of course, it’s about focusing on helping Westchester businesses and organizations better understand how to use online communications tools.

    I really look forward to the launch of Newsday’s new site — and your stories about Westchester.

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      Author

      Larry, thanks so much for hosting this event and sharing the link. It was so nice to actually attend a meetup nearby — instead of running down to the city. No parking hassle, no traffic! And, such good company. I really enjoyed schmoozing and soaking up Matt’s presentation. Will do my best to cover the region when we finally launch. :)

  5. Hosting a little superbowl gathering for my son and his buddies. But your blog? The tips I should have already used? That will be my kickoff. On to prioritizing. Touchdown!

  6. I also went back to work today and know exactly what’s it’s like. You can’t control everything, in fact there is very little you can control except you inner self. If punting works, that’s great.

    Here’s a few things I do to get through the day

    Focus on the present
    Do one task at a time
    Dream about the future when things get a little rowdy in the work place.
    Remain calm and almost in a meditative state and keep on reminding ones’self to do this.
    Just ignore the shit – I may be a doctor, but first I’m a human. If anyone else thinks otherwise then….

    Good luck Betty! Hope things work out!

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    Author

    skye! what fun for the little guys. prioritizing is a good thing — but you already do so much of that.

    thanks, chris. btw, nice list. helps me to visualize your physician’s life. i also need your reminder to do one thing at a time; multi-taking truly is the kiss of death.

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