Making Headway

I’ll tell you a little secret that will stun you: I used to be on top of things. Yeah, I know, right? Me? Organized? Hard to believe.

But it’s true. For years there, my to-do list wasn’t so long as to overwhelm me to the point of near paralysis. I was actually efficient. Stuff got done. All my trains ran on time.

I don’t know when I started losing my grip and slowly sliding toward the whirlpool of utter chaos, but here I am. It seems as though staying organized is like treading water. You can’t ever slack off, even for a minute, or you start to sink. And once you start sinking, it’s a lot harder to get your head above water again.

One trick I’ve had to learn over and over and over again is not to give chaos the recognition it craves. Once you’ve done that, it engulfs you. It’s just too much. You become convinced that you’re never going to see your way clear.

No. The trick is to focus on one thing. Just one little thing. Do that. Feel that sense of accomplishment? That’s your superpower. The more you feel that, the more you’re able to do. A friend of mine calls this keeping your eye on the shovel. The shovel. Not the great steaming pile of… stuff that needs shoveling. And before you know it, the mound is a manageable size.

I’ve been really sick for about a month, so I’ve been feeling more paralyzed by inactivity than normal, but the other day I finally got done one thing that I had been putting off for months, and man, was that ever a fantastic feeling! And that gave me the strength to do something else. And I really feel a lot better now.

There’s still a ton of stuff to do. There always will be. But I feel like I’m coping again.

I just have to remember that just as you should never look down when you’re afraid of heights, you should also never look chaos in the eye. He does not have your best interests at heart.

chaos

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The Starfish Position

There are going to be days, dear reader, when all the Häagen-Dazs in the world cannot make you feel better. Days when bad hair sounds like a step up. Days when your very soul feels like one giant stubbed toe. Complete with fungus.

Sometimes the shit hits you full in the face before it even gets to the fan. And more often than not, it’s someone else’s shit. (Ewww.)

When everything feels out of control, when you’re headed straight for that iceberg, when you can’t see any way to avoid complete and utter destruction, it’s okay to say, “I give up.” At least for a little while.

Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to lie on your bed in the starfish position and just let the world take care of itself. Rest. Recharge. Lean into that feeling of being overwhelmed, and give yourself a break until you’re feeling “whelmed” again.

You don’t always have to be on point. You might be surprised to see that the world continues to spin without your input. There’s nothing wrong with gluing yourself to its surface and letting it do the work for a change.

Embrace your inner starfish. Breathe. It’ll be okay.

(And a shout out to Lee for inspiring this post when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed!)

Royal Starfish

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Whelmed

Two of my pet peeves are the words “irregardless” and “orientate”. Why people don’t find the words “regardless” and “orient” sufficient is beyond me. Irregardless wasn’t even considered an official word until quite recently. Then, to my dismay, it slowly started creeping into dictionaries one by one. (Probably because the keepers of dictionaries were getting tired of arguing about it.)

So you can use these words, and you’ll be right. But why? Why make things more complicated, more syllabic, than they have to be? Life is too short, people. Less is more.

I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the foolishness of it all, and then the word “overwhelmed” slapped me right across the face. In order to be overwhelmed, you must first be capable of being whelmed, right? So I looked it up.

whelm

verb

archaic literary

past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed

  1. engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).

“a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm”

Okay, so whelm is considered archaic. But why? WHY??? If it means engulf, submerge or bury, if you’re overwhelmed, you’re even more engulfed, more submerged or more buried. How is that even possible?

WHAT IS THE POINT??? Gaaaaaaaah!

I’m feeling whelmed.

whelmed

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Part of Me Sleeps

This will come as no big surprise, but a very large part of me likes to avoid conflict, stress, and confrontation. Decades ago, I decided that the most effective way to not deal with the slings and arrows of life was to sleep. I absolutely love to sleep. My spirit animal is probably one of those fainting goats.

I wish there were some sort of internal switch that I could flick on and off so I could just check out when I’m overwhelmed. Kind of a Sleeping Beauty effect without having to rely on some evil witch to knock me out or some handsome fool to kiss me awake again. But then I’d probably sleep my life away. Heaven knows that I wouldn’t deem housework or errands to be adequate incentive to rise.

Even when I’m alert and functioning, in times of high anxiety I feel as if there’s a part of me that is sleeping. She wants to be left alone. She doesn’t have the slightest desire to engage. She curls up. She dreams. I’m amazed I wasn’t a thumb-sucker as a child.

Here lately I’ve been feeling the urge to wake that part of me up. I want her to come to the party. I want her to live life. She’s not happy about this. She doesn’t like change. But it’s time to grow up and face the world, and experience it.

I sense there are many adjustments I’m going to have to make in order to become fully conscious. I doubt it’s going to be easy. I’m definitely a work in progress. Wish me luck.

Sleeping beauty

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First Things First

I take pride in having my sh*t together, but if I’m honest, I haven’t really had it together in quite some time. I’m not quite sure when I lost all sense of organization, but it was, oh…decades ago? Because of that, when the occasional crisis happens, as they do, I tend to feel extremely overwhelmed.

So when my niece’s husband broke his neck and I started a GoFundMe Campaign for him, for about a week there I was bouncing around like a pinball. A lot of things got neglected. Oh, the dogs were fed, and so was I, and I remembered to put on clean undies, but pretty much everything else fell by the wayside.

I wasn’t returning phone calls or responding to e-mails, which made me feel guilty. I HATE it when people do that to me, after all. And I had to wash the same load of laundry three times because I’d keep forgetting to take it out of the washer and by the time I remembered, the clothes did not smell at all good. My already piss-poor diet got even pissier and poorer.

And the deadline for publishing my anthology is rapidly approaching. And my bills need to be paid. And I have promises to keep, and miles to go… yadda yadda.

I now understand why squirrels will freeze in the middle of the road when a car is bearing down on them. There are so many things that need doing at that moment that you just don’t know where to begin.

But then a friend reminded me: first things first. Rather than try to look at and do everything at once, sometimes you have to focus on one thing at a time. What is most mission-critical?

That’s easy. Family. Always. Every single time. So I focused on the fundraiser, and let the laundry worry about itself. And lo and behold, the world kept revolving around the sun.

ThingOne

Procrastination

This will be my 575th blog entry. I haven’t missed a day since I started this project back in December of 2012. It astounds me that I’ve been able to come up with this many points to ponder, but I have loved every minute of it. Because of this blog, my writing has improved and I’ve become much more observant. I’ve also made new friends and have become much more comfortable with who I am. It turns out I actually kind of like me. Go figure.

It really amazes me that I’ve kept this up for so long, though, because I’ve never tackled anything this ambitious before. I could never be bothered. College? Yeah, I always graduated with honors, but that wasn’t really a challenge for me. Education is just something I’m good at. If I could get paid for learning, I’d be a millionaire. This, on the other hand, takes effort, but I adore it. That’s why I never procrastinate when it comes to this blog. If anything, I often put it ahead of other things that I should be doing. That’s what I’m doing right now.

I’m supposed to be packing my apartment for my upcoming move, but I’m so overwhelmed I feel paralyzed. I don’t know where to start. Basically, I don’t wanna. That’s what procrastination is, if you think about it. It’s an internal temper tantrum that you’re throwing because you don’t want to do something that you have to do. Think about it. You never put off doing the fun stuff.

Even though I know that in these situations I always feel much better if I get it over with, that still doesn’t seem to motivate me to get off the couch. I’ll do it tomorrow. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

Since I know my ability to procrastinate so well, I try really hard not to have more than three unfinished projects lying around at any given time. Before I add something to the to-do list, and thus add to my stress level, I try to get rid of something else. But packing is the mother of all list generators, so I’m a bit of a wreck right now. Having more than three things hanging over my head is making me anxious.

If you are limiting yourself to only three projects a day, I highly recommend that you make one of the three a nap. So off I go, to tick that nasty little chore off my list. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Honestly, you should be impressed. It’s not easy to sleep when you’ve got so much on your mind. But I’m willing to accept the challenge. I’m a go-getter.

4-10-procrastination-2

Keep Your Eye on the Shovel

I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone who knows me that I’ve been feeling extremely overwhelmed of late. To the point where I’ve practically been paralyzed, and am only one day ahead on this blog, which adds to my stress and… well, it has a snowball effect for sure.

I think a great deal of my problem is that I tend to be someone who looks at the big picture. You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, I am so focused on the forest that the individual trees tend to get neglected.

A friend of mine likes to say, “Keep your eye on the shovel.” Meaning, if you have an enormous mound of sh** to shift in your life, if you look up at the mound you’ll freak out because it just seems like an impossible task. So you keep your eye on the shovel. One shovel at a time, and before you know it, you look up and realize you’ve cut that mound down to a manageable size.

So my homework, against all logic and instinct, is to narrow my focus, cut down on my peripheral vision, and take things one step at a time. Therein lies sanity.

shovel