Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Lesson

I have been struggling. I know I'm not alone. Living in a pandemic, with persistant social injustices, increasing environmental injustices, and a sudden lack of agreement on what TRUTH even is-- is... stressful. 

And like many I'm sure, my struggles have been layered. 

  • Tensions amongst those you live with who suddenly fill new roles for you, and expect you to fill new roles for them. 
  • Feeling like the world is spiraling out of control
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Constantly changing routines make it hard to keep habits
  • Things being cancelled or moved to an online platform that is confusing or not fulfilling

I'm going to get pretty personal here (something I default to but have lately been working hard to limit). 

I've tried a few things...
-busying myself to the point where procrastination isn't an option
-(re)subscribing to online therapy

For months I looked forward to the New Year, as if I expected the ball to drop and the bricks to lift off my shoulders. But here we are, 10 days in and as the last week passed by, I became more and more aware that the same habits were at play, and thus more frustrated at myself, and less productive, and then repeat. 

As I have done for the last several months, I looked forward to the weekend. I had a relaxing Friday night that I felt I didn't deserve (because of not checking off to-do list boxes during the week), and I committed to doing ALL the things I couldn't muster the motivation to do during the hours that someone might hold me accountable, during the freedom of the weekend. Particularly this one BIG project that I have had MONTHS to work on, but have only barely tapped into. For this big project, which was created from an idea that *I* pitched to a company across the pond that knew nothing about me, we have been meeting every other week to check in. Two weeks ago my world was turned on its head so I cancelled that meeting in anticipation that I would finally do the work in the coming weeks. 

So, Saturday morning I awoke and drove to meet my boss for my first ever cross country skiing experience! It was horrifying but awesome to try something new! I reaffirmed that I am not good with hills and that my boss is an excellent teacher. Then I went home to start my project. But instead I got distracted with doing the dishes, cooking dinner, feeding the chickens, and walking the dogs. Oh, and cleaning my room so that I could focus on my big project. 

So this morning I woke up and made coffee, and walked the dog, ready for my big day of projecting. Then I made breakfast. And then I did some research on what new coat I should buy. And then I dove into this book I've been wanting to read for months, but finally got the motivation to. 

And this book- Trauma Stewardship- that was recently championed by the principal at the school I work with... had some incredible insight into my struggles. The procrastination, the adding to-dos to the list that weren't necessary, the feelings- like I have the world on my shoulders and I must do everything always or the world will collapse, species will go extinct, the rainforest will get cut down, children wont go outside, and god forbid, my dogs wont get a walk. All of these are normal reactions given my history, my beliefs, my experiences, and the fact that we're in a pandemic. 

Now, since I had a big project to work on-- I didn't get to the next chapter about how to overcome those behaviors. But I did clean the chicken coop, take the dogs out to play (and clean up their play area), organize some things in my journal that I had been thinking about for days, sign up for a webinar about water in my state, take a survey about outdoor education, send cute pictures of my dogs to my mom, watch videos of my friends' kids play in the snow, take a shower, make an awesome egg salad sandwich, brew sun tea, wash dishes, grade all submitted assignments, send an email I've been planning for two months, do 5 pullups and chin ups, and watch a TedTalk about a business mogel in Babalyon and another about procrastination that wasn't as insightful as I had hoped. 

So all in all- it wasn't a bad Sunday. As I was cleaning the bathroom before coming to my room to settle into my project-doing headspace, I remembered in college when I asked my English teacher to assign me a fake essay so I would clean my bathroom-- because even then I realized that there's nothing like a deadline to accomplish anything else. So, for the record, I sat down at 9:00pm and opened my computer to send an email explaining that I couldn't make our normal time because I had neglected to inform them that I'm now teaching a class at that time (and deeply hoping that this would allow me to get another day, another week? to take advantage of all my clean rooms and get something done.). But when I opened the last email sent in 2020, it said, "no hurry. Let us know when you have something to share." And just like that, my deadline vanished (well, postponed). And just like that, instead of feeling this immense guilt for the one thing I didn't do, I feel sort of accomplished for all the things I did do. 
And just like that, I'm motivated to take the energy I was expecting to spend in the next few hours making something rushed look like it was well thought out, and instead
-Write this blog
- Reflect on today in my journal, and plan out my week (with imaginary deadlines?)
- Email my boss my plan for the week to hold myself accountable
-Get on to the next chapter about how to change my behaviors

For the last few years I have been hoping to write in my blog more regularly. This seems like a silly thing to write about, but here it is. The best thing that happened to me today (aside from my deadline vanishing) was reading about the rut I'm stuck in and realizing that I'm not the only one. So if sharing this makes you feel less alone, it's worth it. 

Now, close this window, get off facebook, and write your own blog. I expect to read it in 24 hours ;)

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