One of my biggest faults in life and in poker is lack of focus. Like many other women, I always have a zillion things going through my head all at once. I forever balance family and crazy sports/dancing schedules, work, poker and writing, as well as social and civic responsibilities. Somewhere in there I even manage to keep the house clean to a manageable level. I am forever the go-to person for organizing parties and events. To be honest, I love it. I am definitely a stress junkie.
There are many ways in which my "addiction" helps me in life. I can multitask like you wouldn't believe. I can think about and do more at one time than most people can do or think about all day. I never really thought of it as a weakness until the last few months; all the ideas and scenarios in my head are starting to keep me up at night. My energy seems to drain when I step back and think of all that needs to be accomplished, all that I need to do in any given day.
At the poker table I find I'm unable to focus on the game; my mind wanders to all that I still have left to do, leaving me feeling guilty for sitting at the computer or, heaven forbid, going to a live game.
Years ago I picked up one of those self-help books about becoming successful in life and in business. I don't even remember the circumstances that surrounded why I bought it. I read a lot but self-help books have never been my genre of choice. Anyway, one of the book's tips to personal success is to do away with petty annoyances. They drain you of energy and take away your focus. At the time I ignored the advice. I had plenty of energy and had no problem with completing tasks... on time. And yet, I've become very lax in the deadline department and my focus on projects in and out of poker has become a bit out of my control.
I am a big fan of Liz Lieu. One of her strengths — and one of the things I admire the most about her — is her ability to keep business, poker and the fun side of her life completely separate and her ability to focus completely on the task at hand. I don't think I will be able to ever do that completely but there is definitely room for improvement. When I first approached her about the subject she said it is something she just does. She does not have time to deal with things later so if she sees a problem she deals with it now. Thinking about this conversation brought me to think about myself and brought me back to that book, which was either given away or long buried in a box somewhere.
That book suggested that I make a list of things that are just plain annoying. A coat that no longer fits that should be given away or taken to the Salvation Army; replacing the hooks in my kitchen is next, among a list of 89 other things that need some sort of attention. Then there is the biggie… my closet. I have just put stuff in that closet since the day we moved in and only had the courage to actually look at some of the stuff once in the last two years. That closet is definitely an energy drainer. It is now to the point where we have to push real hard on the door just to make it shut all the way. Every time I walk past that closet I think about cleaning it out. I just never actually do it. Until today. I am cleaning out the closet. What is in there I apparently no longer need or I would have looked for it well before today.
The rest of my list will be worked on little by little until there are fewer demands on my time and focus. I say fewer because in my house, like so many others, "no demands" is not only unheard of, but impossible. They will always be there, and in ways I thank God that they are. No worries and no change would be just plain boring. But I can limit my stress and improve in other areas by focusing on what needs to be done at the moment and leaving my thoughts clear to work, play poker and even sleep without small petty annoyances weighing on my mind.
So what does that have to do with women in poker? More than you might think. More than poker players, we are women and our personal lives have a way of creeping into our poker lives to steal the glory of winning and succeeding. There are so many of us that have multitudes of distractions. We all have little things that weigh on our minds like that closet. The closet itself is just that, a closet. On its face it holds no character, no grasp on me or my lifestyle. But it represents more — it represents letting go of old habits and moving forward. It represents the end of drains on energy and on focus.