Stumbling

While stumbling through life, I occasionally discover treasure.  Such was the case as I wrote my last blog post.  I titled it “Not Helpful”.  While writing the post, those words kept popping up…”Helpful” and “Not Helpful”.

Over the last couple of days I have found myself repeating those words in my head as a reaction to situations.  And those words have been most helpful.

It’s helping to identify actions, behaviors, and worries as beneficial or not.  That goes a long way in eliminating stress and achieving a small measure of peace.

 

 

For example, I was planning on picking back up on my decluttering project.  The house has slowly gotten a bit fuller and I’ve realized that decluttering is going to be an ongoing effort for me.  An untidy house with piles of stuff and lost objects is stressful.  Not helpful.

I got an email about joining a decluttering challenge about two weeks ago.  It sounded like it would be helpful and fun.  Each day there would be an assignment to work on, and there was a facebook page to join and chat on.  That sounds good…right?

Yesterday, I got my morning email from the group and failed to open it.  Why?  Because I had not yet opened email number 1….or two….or… You get the idea.  I had not logged onto the facebook page and introduced myself.   I sighed heavily as  I looked around my house and at the long list of emails. I  started berating myself for yet another thing that I hadn’t kept up with or done.

That kind of thinking is not helpful.

I don’t need more perceived failures and recrimination.

The group was supposed to assist me in achieving my goals.  It was supposed to be helpful.

It was not.

I unsubscribed to the group and started setting up my studio…still undone from the move quite a while back.  But, I’m working on it and have filled a trash bag and a giveaway bag during the process.

You can barely walk in there and there is still a ways to go, but it’s a small win for today.

Letting go of what’s not working, or what’s not helpful is difficult.  Sometimes it just feels like quitting or failing.

I have to keep reminding myself of what the goal is…of the direction I am trying to go…

In this case, the goal was not to successfully complete the decluttering challenge.

My goal was to simplify by decluttering unnecessary items and find peace.

Two very different destinations.

Confusing the two was just a “not helpful” part of the journey.

Now that I have checked my map (clarified my actual goal), I can once again start moving in the right direction.  There will, undoubtedly be more detours.  In fact, this was a challenging day filled with road blocks…

…but I had figured out where I was going and that was helpful.

Some Days…

Some days the world is a sunny place – regardless of the weather or the circumstances or the realities of existence.

Some days it rains – whether water actually falls from the sky or not.

On the sunny days, anything seems possible.  I can handle it all.  Bring it on world….taking care of a household, teaching an art class, figuring out Latin homework, relearning division, waving good-bye as my kids go out into the scary, bad world alone, training a spastic, brain-damaged dog to be sociable, working two other part-time jobs, being there for my sister as she recovers from surgery, laughing off the 20 pounds I’ve put back on over the summer and being a patient and supportive listener.

And then there’s the morning I wake up, and from the very start of the day, it’s all too much.  The smallest thing triggers tears and the urge to crawl back into bed with the covers pulled over my head.  Everything seems to be moving too fast and I’m moving too slow.  I’d give anything for a “pause” button so that I could gain my footing.

When anyone speaks to me, I hear disappointment in their voice.  Their awareness that I’m just not up to the task.  That I’m falling short.

It’s not really their voice I’m hearing though, is it?  It’s my inner voice.  I’m disappointed in myself.  Yesterday, I could handle this.  Today, not so much.

What’s the difference in yesterday and today? Good question.  My anxiety disorder? Depression?  A good night’s sleep?  I’ve got nothing in the way of an answer.

I’ve been told that I’m my own harshest critic.  That’s probably true.  Being kind to a stranger is pretty easy for me.  Cutting myself some slack is much more challenging.

Maybe that needs to go on the list of things to do.  Learn to be nicer to myself.  Be kinder and more understanding that some days are harder than others.  Tell myself that I’m doing the best I can and to take a deep breath.  But not today.  I’m not adding anything more to today’s to-do list.  I’m done with today.

I’m going to go wrap up in a blanket and listen to the rain fall.

P.S.  Just one more thing.  Tomorrow, when you hear that little voice whispering that you messed up, that you haven’t done enough,  that there’s too much to-do…when you feel overwhelmed…hear these words…

I think you’re doing okay.  That you are doing the best that you can.  And it’s enough.  The world is a better place with you in it.  And the sun will come back out.

 

 

 

 

 

If I’m Not Writing…

You can bet that if I’m not writing, I’m not feeling so great.   And that is indeed the case right now.

Someone posted a list of some symptoms of anxiety on facebook.  Here’s the paraphrased version:

  • unpredictable bouts of rage and irritability
  • Nit-pickiness (obsessive behavior)
  • hypersensitivity to disarray, chaos or any sort of change
  • fast-talking, stuttering, stumbling over words

That’s not all, but these really hit home…

I went and did some more research on anxiety.  There’s a difference between knowing something and knowing something.  You can have the information and understand it’s content in an intellectual sense

OR

you can get “hit upside the head” with an experience put into words and have an aha moment.  That’s what happened for me.

I have an anxiety disorder.  I’ve known that.  I take medication for that.  Probably not enough.  I’ve argued with my doctor about my dosage.

I don’t want to have an anxiety disorder.

I don’t want to be a weak individual who can’t handle whatever life throws at me.  I want to be capable and strong.  I want to have great coping skills and walk through life serenely without struggle or the need for rest.  And sometimes I do deal well with stuff.

But, sometimes I don’t.  I have some work to do.  I have an actual medical condition.  I need to learn how to deal with it.  I need to recognize when it’s happening and take care of myself.  I need to take a time-out sometimes.  I need to continue my decluttering and organizing efforts in order to minimize the chaos in my home.  I need to quit being so stubborn and recognize that sometimes I can’t keep up the pace that I’ve set for myself.  I need to cut myself some slack.

Sometimes I just get to the point where my whole body feels like it’s “humming”.  The thoughts in my head are swirling so fast that it’s hard to just get ahold of one.  I quit writing becasue the words don’t flow easily.  I have to grab each one and place it on the page.  I worry that it’s not done well enough.  I don’t want to write poorly and put it out there in the world.  The insecurity starts and a vicious cycle is born.

This applies to everything in my life…writing, art, cleaning, everything.  It’s hard to do something, so I don’t do anything because I can’t deal with the struggle and the “imperfection”.  The less I do, the harder it becomes to start.  Soon I surrounded by a really big, undone mess of a life that is overwhelming…and I feel inadequate and a failure.

I visualize it as dropping out of an airplance holding onto a parachute by a thousand separate strings.  The strings become tangled and one by one they are breaking and I am losing my grip on them.  As I let go the parachute is catching more and more air until I fear that it will actually be totally ripped from my grasp – and I will fall…

We’ll see if I actually post this.  I’m feeling indecisive about it right now.  Do I want to share this much with people I know and see often or people I don’t even know?  Do I want to announce publicly that I can’t seem to get my life together.  That I’m so flawed that I can’t cope.  That sometimes I just sit and cry because it all seems so hard.  That I hate myself for the times my house is just a giant mess and it’s not welcoming.  That I’ve yelled at my family when I really just wanted to yell at myself for my failures.  That I’m crying right now.

I am going to post this.  I’m going to take this risk…because I’m not the only one.  There are others out there who are dealing with anxiety.  Who feel alone.

You are not alone.  And you are strong.  Only a strong person could deal with this disorder and get up every morning and keep going forward – imperfectly maybe, but we keep trying.

This world can be hard – there is plenty to be anxious about – even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder.  Sometimes there is a totally valid reason to be anxious.  Sometimes I don’t need any reason at all.

“This too shall pass”.  Tomorrow or the next day (or the next) will be a better day.  I believe that.  And, even with the problems I’m dealing with right now, today’s not so bad.

If You’re Not Paying Attention

 

What happens if you’re not paying attention?  Good question.  It may actually be more than a question…more like an actual lifestyle issue that needs attention.  We may be talking about my problem with addressing and paying attention to more than one area of my life at a time.

By now, you may be asking a question of your own.  What is she talking about  – or trying to talk about.

Remember my health “crisis” last October?  Emergency surgery, intestinal obstructions, the imminence of death.  What I didn’t share was that a month later I had some out-of-whack lab results that indicated pre-diabetes.

My focus was fully on my health.  I started exercising.  Walking about 3 miles a day.  Dropped most carbs from my diet.  Only whole grains.  LOTS of veggies and some fruit.  Dropped almost 40 pounds.  Felt fantastic!

And then…

because I felt so great, I started getting lots done around the house.  I decluttered and then organized.  I ripped up carpet and made plans for all the little (and big) stuff that needed to be done around here.

And then…

because the house was looking better, I had the opportunity and peace of mind to go on a creative binge.  Lots of art-making.

And then…

you guessed it – somewhere along the line, I forgot (conveniently) about taking care of myself.  I quit paying attention.  One missed day of exercise became two.  Eventually it wasn’t a habit at all.  I’ll just have one slice of pizza with my salad turned into pizza with no salad at all.   And so on…

And the house?  Well, it only stays decluttered and organized when you actually pay attention to it every day.  Otherwise, you wake up one morning and you’re right back where you started.

So, keeping in mind that I’m having an anxiety attack right here, right now…let’s establish this as a judgment free zone.

I started this blog with a promise to myself that I will always be open and honest.  I may not be telling you everything, but what I am sharing is the absolute truth.

I struggle with keeping my life together and sometimes I feel like such a failure.  I start to believe that I must be the only one in this same struggle.

But, I know that isn’t true.  Others are seeking to find balance also.

If you struggle with not “having it all together”, here’s some encouragement for you.  You are not alone.  We’re in this together!

So, here’s the “before” photos…some yesterday and some this morning.

the pantry...
the pantry…
the fridge...
the fridge…
the kitchen...Sigh.
the kitchen…Sigh.
IMAG0504
the blank canvas…
the unworn shoes and only 3257 steps on the fitbit...
the unworn shoes and only 3257 steps on the fitbit…
dinner last night (there were two cookies also, but I can't take a photo of them because I ate them)...
dinner last night (there were two cookies also, but I can’t take a photo of them because I ate them)…

I’m going to work towards improvement, but not perfection.  There can be room in my life for health, home, family and art.

There can be celebrations for small successes.

There can be forgiveness for failures.

I can try to pay attention.