Work in Progress

A little over a year ago, I had lost my job of 12 years, leaving me feeling powerless, directionless and anxious. I was stunned. After a reasonable spell of self-pity, self-doubt and self-abuse involving laying on the couch in my pj’s crying and watching Magnum PI re-runs for days on end, I decided to take the time that was given me to make some changes. I had been wishing to get off the treadmill, wishing to have more time for myself and my family and to put my energy toward work that felt truly meaningful. Here was my chance. I was determined not to waste the opportunity to shift the way I was living. And like all projects that I head, I went at it with gusto.

Make a list:

  1. Design a new career that draws on your passions and natural abilities. It will be wonderful. BE immediately, insanely successful at this thing.
  2. Get healthy: lose 60 pounds, master yoga, run 5K and for god’s sake quit eating stuff.
  3. Organize the house and all occupants therein.
  4. Be happy.
  5. Visualize all of this and make it happen.

Break list down into actionable goals with timeline and boxes for check marks so that you can monitor your progress and feel the success. Ignore the fact that you are feeling worse and keep at it, this is your time to flourish!! Post some positive affirmations all over the place to convince yourself that you are wonderful.

Ok, so I have anxiety, now. Panic attacks, a little social anxiety. How am I going to fix this?? Um, Meditation, exercise, give up caffeine, take yoga and relax, come on relax. Why isn’t this working!!?? I’m doing everything on my list. I’ve read articles, books and blogs. I should be healthy by now. I should be happy by now. Why isn’t everything perfect, like I said?? I have the Kate Spade ‘You are so beautiful’ wallpaper on my phone!

Yesterday, in the middle of one of those really important conversations with my best buddy, I worked it all out. I was feeling unsatisfied with my personal redesign because I had overworked it, over planned it, made it so specific that the chances for unexpected joy or success in a form different to my visualized dream were lost to me. In my focus on my list, I lost the magic and the heart of what I wanted. I was too focused on my goals.

And this morning, I am meditating, sitting still, concentrating on my breath and thinking about cranberry sauce and Christmas presents. ‘Thinking, thinking, thinking’ I say to myself in an attempt to return to quiet and then… ‘What shall I write for this week’s blog post?’ just as the bell dings to signal the end of the meditation, I giggle and think, ‘thank god that’s over, I’ve got stuff to check off my list’.

It’s All Too Much

I had a lot of conversations this past week on the theme of feeling overwhelmed, or at least enough to make me pay attention. I continue to feel swept away by food choices, out of my element as I restructure my relationship with eating. And this is a big deal, Food and I go back a long way. We have been companions, side by side, through thick and thin- well, not so much thin but, you get where I am coming from. I have eaten for reasons other than physical hunger. Food is pissed at me for leaving and I am sometimes sad and second guessing the intention. I refer you to the Pizza Rolls post. And admit that I ate some very tasty sweet orange marmalade toast thingys to the point of feeling ill Monday afternoon. So yah, this change is gradual and wading through what to eat to FEEL GOOD has felt, at times, overwhelming.

I have noticed that this feeling of ‘it’s all too much’ comes along with a good dose of self-pity, powerlessness and lack. Interesting. It’s too much because I’m not/there’s not/it’s not enough. There is not enough time. There is not enough money. You don’t do your share. I can’t handle this. It doesn’t matter what I am overwhelmed with: chores, bills, day planner, meetings, groceries, kids. The source of the distress comes from lack, comes from scarcity, it is fear…again. I talked about fear in last week’s post, Looking For Helpers. The response to which was overwhelming in a good way. I had so many offers of support in my effort, pledges for donations too! Thank you for those comments. In that post, I referenced Pressfield’s The Art of War and his idea that resistance and fear are part of the process of change for the good. I think it bears repeating. Forward movement is met with resistance. Remember this, it helps. And this too:

  1. Segmenting: Take whatever it is that is TOO MUCH and break it down into sections. And then, tackle a section. Writing the whole book feels like too much but, a chapter is doable.
  2. Time limits: I used to get really bent out of shape about housework. I would rage clean, muttering, am I the only one around here who knows how to clean the fill in the blank. A good friend of mine suggested I try limiting the time I spent on the chore. So, I would say, “I am going to get as much done as I can in 30 minutes.” And then walk away, move on to the next thing, like having fun. I find this especially good for those never-ending chores. There is always going to be more laundry.
  3. Gratitude: Just take a few minutes to write a list of everything that brings you joy, peace, ease and wellness. We have amazing resources to tap into all around us. Sometimes we need reminding.
  4. Prioritize: Order your lists, and I know you have lists for your lists, put them in order of importance. If item #1 doesn’t get done I’m going to die and so on. Oh and  make item #1 about self-care, put your own oxygen mask on first. I’m still working on this one, myself. I structure my ‘To Do’ list a little differently these days. It is more about how I want to feel and less about what I must get done. I’m productive as all hell most days but, the one thing I let slip in priority is my excercise. #1 on my list is Move Your Body.
  5. Acknowledge it Sucks: Sometimes just allowing myself to feel the weight of what I have to accomplish or wade through is enough to allow me to face it and begin, taking the first step is often the hardest. It totally blows that you have to do X, Y and Z. But, you have what it takes and see #3 and #6.
  6. Call on your Helpers: The folks that you are your best with- The A Team. You know who they are and they will be there to help you with perspective, help you clean your refrigerator, pick up your kids, if you ask. And if you can’t think of anyone to call on put Look For Helpers at the top of your list. We all need help.