A Day in the Life/Wednesday Edition

So, in an effort to avoid the continuing drama out there in the big world, I’m going to share “a week in my life”…an exciting moment by moment chronicle of my simple life.  (The exciting reference was sarcasm by the way).  I’m going to focus on the part of the world where I have a tiny bit of control over what’s happening.  Sometimes the whole world is just to much to deal with for my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

Wednesday is a paid work day for me…at least the morning portion.  I shop with my sister to purchase food and necessities for a home for the mentally handicapped.  Up at 7:00 a.m. which is early for me, and out the door by 7:30 to go pick up the van and my sister and head out.  We start out at Wal-Mart and then head over to HEB to finish up.  The list is usually about the same each week and we’ve got a good routine going. Just normal stuff; meat/protein, lots and lots of produce and veggies, a few treats and other fixings. Usually two carts at Wal-Mart and four at HEB.  We shop both stores in an effort to get the best deals and keep expenses down.  We fill up the van and after stopping by Sonic for our usual, we head back to drop off the groceries.

While I’ve been out, my youngest daughter is expected to tidy up her room and start on school.  She has a reading list to work on and we use a couple of resources on the computer that she can work on while I’m gone.

When I get home about noon-time, we fix something for lunch and then relax for a bit. Yesterday was my husband’s day off and that can change up the afternoon a bit.

As I was eating lunch and catching up on my email and facebook, I saw a posting from a friend who volunteers at the Regional Animal Shelter.  She posted a picture of a nine year old Basset hound named Speedy.  I know what you might be thinking.  Believe me, I was thinking the same thing…there is no way in hell that I need another dog.  Especially not an old Basset hound.  But…I was also thinking “a nine year old Basset hound sure doesn’t need to be in “doggie jail” because his owner decided that he couldn’t afford him anymore and that he was too much trouble .  I told myself that someone else would surely adopt him.  He would be fine.  And then I told myself that I needed to go get that dog.  My youngest agreed after seeing his picture. My husband looked at me and picked up the car keys…I sure did marry a good man.

Off we went.  We agreed to just meet “Speedy” and see how it went.  Once we got there, it turns out that Speedy has a golf-ball sized tumor just under his tail that needs to be evaluated so we have him on a “medical foster”. That means they cover his medical expenses until the situation is resolved and then we can adopt him if we wish.

He is a sweetheart.  Totally Basset.  The world is his to explore and he will walk all day long on a leash.  He has instantly bonded and adopted  my youngest daughter.  He walked into her room, jumped up on her bed and settled in for a nap. Well, first thing he did was find the food dish, of course.  Youngest really wants a cat, but has decided that he’s a pretty good substitute since a cat can’t happen.  Second daughter’s fiance is deathly allergic to cats.

Unfortunately, Barret the dog, or B-dog as we’ve started calling him, is not taking too well to to the new addition yet.  Last night was spent taking the dog’s for a walk together in a non-threatening environment and periodically bringing Speedy out of the bedroom to see Barret in the living room.  Barret had to stay on the leash during these visits and pretty much acted as if Speedy was unwelcome (in a violently aggressive, teeth-gnashing, lunging, and terrifyingly vocal sort of way).  It wasn’t looking good.  Speedy spent the night in his room.  Barret spent the night in ours.  No blood was shed.

The day’s “plan” got derailed by my impulsive decision.  The laundry load-of-the-day didn’t get done.  The dishes didn’t get caught up.  I un-decluttered the one item out of the box – a worn-out sheet that is now being used as bedding for the new dog.

Nothing further got done on the yard.  The homeowner’s association is okay with the progress that we have made, but I have lots of ideas for projects that I want to work on now.  The work that we’ve gotten done has inspired me to keep on going.

Very little actual “school” got done unless you count visiting the animal shelter and seeing what that is like.  Youngest daughter had never been and now has a better idea about what happens to unwanted animals and pets and the very real struggle to deal with an impossible situation.  We talked about responsibility, ethics, solutions, and the possibility of volunteering.  We also discussed self-care, being responsible for ourselves and working out how to build strong boundaries to protect ourselves when dealing with the world.

There is so much that needs to be done to make the world a better place.  I often get overwhelmed and wonder if anything that I do is enough.

Looking back on Wednesday, I am okay with the day.

I lived into the needs of the day.

I didn’t save the world.

My house isn’t spotless.  Everything on the school to-do list didn’t get checked off.  I didn’t declutter anything.  I didn’t make progress on the extensive home improvement projects.   The laundry isn’t done.  We had cereal for dinner.  All potentially failures if I choose to look at it that way…

However, the residents at Hope House had what they needed to be cared for properly. A dog had a warm bed and a lot of attention instead of a concrete floor for the night.  I walked over ten thousand steps for the third day in row.  Everybody in the house had clean clothes to put on this morning and there was still cereal for breakfast.

We all made it through the day healthily and happily.  Our needs were met.  We hung out together and had some fun.  We cleaned up some dog poop.  We watched some T.V.  We cleaned up a little more dog poop.  We met a new neighbor on one of our walks.  The dog pooped outside.

We did no harm and did a little bit of good.

I’m learning to be okay with that.

I want to fix the world.  I want to stop injustice, and right wrongs, and heal the world.  I want everything and everyone to be happy and have what they need.  I want people to stop being mean to each other.  That’s all part of my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

It’s a little unrealistic.

I am learning to find balance and live with imperfection.

…start with me and work out from there…doing no harm and being kind

 

 

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.

Embracing Imperfection

You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success – none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.   – Ram Dass

I am embracing imperfection today.  Doing what needs to be done, but not more.

Friends are coming over.  Sweep up the big stuff off the floor.  Don’t mop.  Pile the dirty dishes by the sink.  Don’t wash them. Take-out fried chicken is just fine.  Every meal doesn’t have to be homemade.

Outside finishing the chicken coop.  Hoping the rain holds off for just a little while longer.  Friends and family.

Allowing myself to actually slow down, then stop and really feel the contentment.  The happiness.  Is this what joy feels like?

For too long I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by the minutiae of everyday life…and missed the joy.  Always seeking perfection and the approval and validation that will accompany it.  Striving for that which only I can provide for myself.

Change is slow, but good.  And today is an accomplishment for me.