Last night, having seen #2 daughter off and answered email, I went to bed with a book.

One of the Stephanie Plum books, actually. Stephanie Plum is the heroine of a series of books by Janet Evanovich. She is a likable klutz of a woman. She lives in squalor and chaos, eats mostly doughnuts and pizza, never exercises, and doesn’t appear to take care of her skin or her teeth.

She also is inclined to blow up cars and irritate dangerous criminals, so she is many ways not a good role model.

In this book, she is staying in the home of Ranger, an ongoing character in the series. Ranger is highly disciplined. His house is always tidy in a luxurious and elegant though minimalist way, he works out religiously, and he always eats right. His kitchen is stocked with unsweetened granola, water packed tuna, and fresh produce. His sheets are ironed.

Now, they are both fictional characters, not to mention being bounty hunters and stuff like that, but the juxtaposition of the two reminded me about my efforts to conduct a normal life.

It’s actually been going pretty well. #2 daughter and I have been meeting by phone on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for a nice brisk walk. The past two Mondays I’ve gotten to the gym after class.

I’m having proper meals sometimes.  Not always, admittedly. Last night, #2 daughter and I noticed that it took less than half an hour to get from noticing that we needed to make dinner, to actually having a proper healthy dinner on the table. It only takes half an hour to go for enough of a walk to get the blood moving, and just slightly longer to stop by the gym on the way home from class.

I’m lucky enough to enjoy walking, and to like vegetables and whole grains.

Last night I made a point of doing the whole getting ready for bed thing, including proper toothbrushing and flossing, my skin care regimen, and a hand treatment. That also takes less than half an hour.

Half an hour is also long enough to do GTD processing and filing, to make the bed and tidy up the living room, or to clean the kitchen thoroughly. It’s the amount of time you should spend reading every night if you want to finish a book or two a week.

So putting a couple of hours a day into it should make it possible for me to take proper care of myself and keep my house tidy enough to feel more like Ranger than like Stephanie.

I went to all my rehearsals last week, spent some time being social with people, and took some weekend time off. I did some knitting on #2 son’s sweater, read a novel, got some fresh air, and did a little light shopping. I got my hair cut and took an interest in the lives of my friends and family members.

The Stephanie Plum books don’t indicate whether Ranger leads a balanced life with sufficient contact with nature, culture, and society or not. It is unclear whether he has hobbies and interests outside of bounty hunting. On the other hand, he kills people, so I think I might need to look to some other role model for parts of my plan of leading a normal life. I think that having experiences away from the computer has to be part of a normal life, and I did manage that this week.

True, I am horribly behind. However, since I keep accepting new work, my stock/flow diagram shows that I will always be horribly behind.

So I might as well  try to have a normal life anyway.

Over our working lunch yesterday (in the Greek restaurant near the campus, where the food is good though the serving person appeared to hate us on sight, never a good thing in a waitress), #2 daughter and I cautiously concluded that if we just made decisions with our end goal clearly in mind, and did our best, we’d probably reach our business goal.

It may be that if I routinely make decisions about non-business things with a goal of reclaiming a normal healthy life in mind, I might also succeed at that.

Oh — speaking of normal life, it’s Pantry and Closet Week at the HGP. Clean and organize your pantry and closets, buy batteries, order your Thanksgiving turkey, plan for any special needs among holiday visitors (rent a crib if you have infants coming, for example — I have a local client who does that, so let me know if you need a referral), and continue with the gift buying and making, freezer cooking and baking, and adding extra nonperishables to the holiday and charity boxes. This is also the week to begin addressing Christmas cards. file them alphabetically and add notes as you think of them. Get the family picture you took copied so you can add a photo to the card if you’re going to do that.

Six weeks from today it’ll be the Feast of St. Nicholas, so don’t think that it’s too early.