Busy weekend, quiet morning

toolsI had a busy weekend, doing a lot of work around the house while my spouse was out of town. Lots of lifting and moving and hammering and drilling and lugging things around. And in the end, I’ve finished some of the biggest items on my to-do list — which were also the ones that I couldn’t seem to do for months and months.

And it’s all good.

I’m really foggy today. I was really foggy yesterday. I’ve been feeling really “draggy” and dull, lately, and it’s not fun. But I keep to my schedule and I keep doing the right thing(s) for myself, and it all seems to work out okay. I haven’t been getting to bed at a decent hour, lately, so that’s probably a determining factor.

But at least I’m functional on average. And I can rally to get a bunch of stuff done when the opportunity arises.

Now it’s quiet. The sun is shining, and the kids have all gone to school. Time to get ready for work and see what the day has to offer.

This week, my goal is to get myself back on track with my sleeping. I see the neuro one last time this week, to see about possible neuropathy in my feet and legs. I’m guessing there’s none, but I’m going to follow through with it. Then I will probably just drop the whole neuro thing and look into having my ears checked.

And possibly my eyes.

Or whatever.

The day awaits… onward.

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Less scary when it all gets broken down into pieces

Get it out of my head onto paper – it gets easier from there

So, last night I was at my very end. I’d had a long and very tiring week, and my spouse has been out of commission with their back out. They don’t take good care of themself, and they spend most of their day sitting around or lying down. I don’t see how anyone can even function on the lack of exercise they get. It’s like watching them disintegrate before my very eyes.

I work really hard to keep myself in good working order. I fall behind, of course, since I’m human. And there have been long stretches of time when I did not get the kind of exercise I needed. But I’ve never allowed myself to just “go to pot” like they have.

I don’t see how they can even live with themself.

But that’s them, not me. And that’s the toll that mental illness takes — unaddressed, untreated mental illness. Their dysfunction is so profound, they cannot even see how non-functional they are. Their answer to it all, is hiding their dysfunction from others, so they can continue to live that way. I know why that is — I know (pretty much) what they went through as a young kid that made them this way. Their father was a World War II vet, and the things it did to him, screwed up their whole family — all the kids, and beyond. One of the grandkids was a convicted felon before the age of 16, and the offense was pretty horrifying. That’s what can happen, when dysfunction is allowed to fester, everyone is in denial, and you hide your issues from everyone.

The fallout from WWII that I’ve lived with for the last 25 years, is one of the big reasons that I am a major supporter of veterans. I don’t do nearly as much writing directly about vets here, as I should. My hope is that I can write things that will help vets in a way that reaches them / you as people. I’m not a vet, and I wasn’t raised in a military family, and I don’t want to take liberties, writing about that kind of world that I don’t know, myself. I want to be respectful. But maybe I need to do more writing specifically for vets. It’s unconscionable to me, how my country sends folks off to fight for us, then abandons them when they come home.

Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. What I started out saying, was that last night, I was done. I had a long week, and my spouse was needing a lot of attention and help. It was one thing after another, and I was so wiped out, I had to just go to bed early, which I did.

Last night, the weekend seemed like too much for me to handle. I have a number of things I need to take care of – some that are left over from last weekend. I had a number of time-consuming things to take care of, which ate up a lot of my spare time, and then I ran out of steam. So, this weekend I’m filling in the blanks.And last night, it seemed like way too much for me to handle. It was just overwhelming, the variety of things I had to get done.

This morning, though, I spent some time writing everything down in my notebook, and breaking it out to see what I would do.. and when. As it turns out, there is not so terribly much to do. And it will even leave me time to do some things I have been wanting to do, but didn’t think I could, last night.

Turns out, I can do them. If I stick to my plan today, I can get a lot of things done, so I can do the one thing I really want to do in the morning.

I just have to get it all down on paper. Get it out of my head. My head gets spinning, and then I get confused and tired and more confused and more tired. And then everything looks like hell.

That was how it was in my head, last night – not a fun place to be. I just wanted to blow up. Or throw up. Or both. But I kept it together and was just very quiet, all evening. I was really working at keeping myself from going off the deep end, and I drew the line, when my spouse urged me to eat something sugary and stay up later, watching t.v.

That’s about the last thing I needed. So I declined. And I got about 9 hours of sleep, which is exactly what I needed.

So, lesson learned. Again.

Tonight, after I mow my lawn, I think I’ll watch some martial arts movies. That will put the icing on the cake of what’s starting out as a beautiful day.

Finding that balance

Gotta climb it — but where to start?

So, this is interesting. I had two full days to get a lot done, but that backfired on me. I got almost nothing done that I intended to, including a couple of Very Important Tasks that I need to have completed by next weekend, which will set the stage for how things turn out in the coming months. I had planned to spend a lot of time on them over the weekend, and really dig in. I was really looking forward to it, too. But as it turned out, I ended up spending most of Saturday doing errands for the house and sleeping… and I spent most of the day yesterday helping my spouse get ready for their upcoming business trip, as well as going to see a double-feature movie with some friends last night.

It’s good that I took time for myself, got some rest, and saw friends. I don’t do enough of that, as it is. But the things I needed to do, were things I really needed to do, and they didn’t happen. That’s not good.

A combination of things got me in trouble.

  • First, looking back, I was way too optimistic about how much time I would have over the weekend. Seriously, I needed to rest. A lot. I push myself so hard during my weeks, it’s quite unrealistic of me to think I’ll keep up that pace during the weekend.
  • Second, I gave myself way too much time to do the different things I was planning. I tend to think that having a long stretch of uninterrupted time is going to help me focus in and get the job done. But in fact, having a big block of time overwhelms me, and then I end up doing a million other things — big and small — because I think, “I have enough time to do the important things later. I just need to warm myself up.” The thing about “warming myself up” is that I tend to wear myself out, in the process.
  • Third, I had too long a list of things to do. And the things on the list were too big, to begin with. I didn’t just pick a few pieces of those critical things I needed to get done and focus on them. I put the whole honkin’ beasts on the list. It was like being a near-sighted rock climber who’s looking at a massive wall of rock with no visible foot- or hand-holds. There was no way I was going anywhere.
  • Fourth, I am incredibly nervous about this next stage of my projects, and I just got freaked out… and ran away.
  • Fifth, I isolated. I didn’t communicate with anyone on my project(s). I just kind of disappeared. I just couldn’t deal, so I didn’t.

Looking back, I’m very disappointed with myself. I did some healthy things right this weekend — and to be honest I really felt great. But I also floundered around a bit, and I’m coming out of the whole experience feeling like I’ve failed. Fact of the matter is, I did get good rest over the weekend, and I did take good care of myself in a non-work way. But I didn’t live up to my promise(s) to myself, and that really bothers me.

The problem wasn’t what happened – it was what I expected to happen. It’s what I promised myself — that I could not deliver. I bit off too much, and then just spit it all out and (metaphorically) went fishing. What else could I do? I had set myself up to fail, even before I began.

I think that rather than setting myself up for failure, one weekend after another, I need to have a better plan. I need my Saturdays and Sundays to catch up with myself and my home and my marriage — I need my weekends OFF. That way, I can rest and rejuvenate and get myself back to where I want to be on Monday. There are ample hours in the week to take care of the things I need to do — and the one project-related thing I did right over the weekend, was to reschedule some of my work for the next three days, when I’m flying solo and I have the house to myself and am not distracted by domestic demands.

I also need to be more realistic about what I’ll want to do on my weekends. Yes, I can tell myself I’m going to do this or that, but when push comes to shove, my heart often isn’t in it. By Fridays, I am pretty wiped out, to tell the truth, and my reasoning abilities are starting to lag behind how I am on Mondays. I have a bad habit of loading up on all kinds of planning on Thursdays and Fridays, which blocks out my weekend and fills it up with “must-do’s” as though I have no life at all. It’s a pattern that I need to get out of. And now that I’m aware of it, I can do just that.

So, what’s next?

  • List out the critical things I need to do this coming week, break them down into little pieces, and then take them just One At A Time.
  • If I find myself going beyond my allotted time, I need to stop myself and take a break. I instinctively push myself time and again, because I am getting tired and I don’t realize it. The break that I take can be rest, or it can be doing something else. But I need to break the momentum.
  • I also need to be easy on myself and realize the good that I did for myself this weekend. Life happens. I needed to sleep, and also to be social. I need a well-rounded life, not a constant grind. And that’s what I had this weekend. Not bad, really. Not bad at all.
  • Last — and not least — I need to get out of my head and just get on with things. Too much time on my hands opens my mind to all sorts of distractions, and when I get thinking about things too much, then I end up stuck in my head, which is never good.

And now the week is waiting, along with everything I’m setting out to do.

Onward.

Spending time on the things that matter most

Time flies – Use it well

It’s turning out to be a beautiful day. I got to bed early last night — around 10 — and I was up at 5:30, after lying in bed resting (and observing my head getting going) for about half an hour. I’m working on getting myself out of bed whenever I am awake (or my head is awake) and not just lying there. I did try to focus on my breathing and just relax, which was fine, but my head was up and ready to go… so up I got, too.

Then I had some breakfast — not the kind of big breakfast I had been building up to over the past months… somehow my portions were getting a little bigger each week, and I was starting to drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning, instead of one. Yesterday, when I cut back and just had a small cuppa joe and an apple, I actually felt really great all morning — started to get a little antsy around lunchtime, and then was increasingly on edge by the end of the day (pro’lly as much due to running out of steam as being hungry). So, I went with the minimalist approach and kept to a strict 3/4 cup of granola, some rice milk, and a cup of coffee that was not splashing over the brim.

I’ve got two whole days ahead of me — praise be. And I got a whole lot done yesterday. I know, because I sat down with my list after I had my breakfast and looked over the whole slew of things I wrote down that I had to do. Sure enough, I accomplished everything that had to be done — and then some. I exercised… I picked up my package from the post office (alas, it was not the exact item I thought I had purchased, which is actually fine, because now I know what to look out for)… I went to the bank to deposit a check… I went online and moved some money around to cover bills I have had to pay which have not been drawn against my account just yet… I checked on the due date for a very important expense I have coming up in another month or so… I bought a new window fan to replace the one that died in the bathroom… I tended to my lawn and took in the barrel of weeds that I filled up last weekend, and then forgot about so it was standing beside the front porch for the past three days, getting all funky in the hot, wet weather… and then I took my nap. And in between all these things, I also did some research for one of my projects, pricing items at hardware stores and learning my way around towns that are near where I live, but I normally don’t spend much time in.

Not bad for a day’s work. By the end of the day, I was done. Baked at 9:30 p.m., which felt pretty great — except that my spouse was keen on me staying up with them till 2 a.m. watching movies, which is about the last thing I needed. After a testy conversation about how much I need sleep and how I’m not really interested in staying up till 2 a.m. because I really need to keep on a regular sleep schedule, I managed to extricate myself from the living room and crawl into bed for a good night’s rest. I was concerned that I might be too sore to fall asleep, but I had no trouble with that. I did wake up before 5 in a sweat with shooting pains in my lower back and legs (all that bending and standing work on the lawn does a number on me), but when I focused on breathing and relaxing, it subsided, so that was good.

Nothing like starting the day with shooting pains… as much as I wanted to just get up when I woke up, at least this way, I started the day without too much anguish.

And then I had my breakfast… a small-scale, nutritious start that tasted all the better because I went without, yesterday. My 22-hour fasting experience (I had my last food at 10 p.m. the night before, and I ate at 8 p.m. last night) was pretty enlightening, making me quite aware of how much agitation is lurking at the edges of my attention. People I was mad at, situations, circumstances, details that got under my skin… Any number of things were hanging out, waiting to jump into view to get me going. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of really great things that came to mind to get me going.

I’m sure it’s just bad habits of thought, because I’ve trained myself over years to generate energy by getting pissed off over bad things. I haven’t trained myself (yet) to generate energy by getting excited over good things. So my go-to default for getting my energy going is to find something to get pissed off at, and then think about that till I’m revved up and rarin’ to go.

Not so hot. Is that really how I want to spend my life and time and energy — being pissed off and upset about things? That’s the thought that came to mind yesterday as I was driving around, feeling miffed about this or that or the other thing. I have a three day weekend, and I’m going to spend it dwelling on sh*t? Silly.

So, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday adjusting my attitude and repeating “Hormesis” to myself — which is the principle of using large doses of stressors for short periods of time to build up immunity to them. Things like cold, hunger, fatigue — all these (among others) are things that you can use hormesis to overcome, and when I thought “Hormesis” at times when my patience was starting to wear thin, it calmed me down, because it reminded me why I was doing this — to train myself to just deal. It also reminded me that the stressors I was experiencing at that moment were fleeting and temporary. I would be eating within hours. I was in training. I could take a chill pill, already.

And that worked.

The other thing that worked, was sticking to my list. I’ve been reading about the usefulness of everyday rituals in making certain activities automatic, so you can focus your attention on other more important things. Rituals and automatic activities free up your mind to focus on the finer points of things, rather than the gross logistics of everyday life. I have found this to be very true for myself. Having a morning ritual of rising at a certain time, stretching, brushing my teeth, washing my face and hands in cold water, and making breakfast in a specific order, frees up my mind by not having to think through every single next step I need to take. I don’t have to figure out what’s next. I don’t have to figure anything out. I can let my mind wake up at its own pace, while my body goes about the work of getting started.

Lists do the same thing for me. When I was really struggling with my everyday life, several years ago, and I wasn’t able to start my days without some sort of meltdown or freak-out, I took to making step-by-step lists for myself each and every morning. I had everything planned right down to the amount of time I spent on each thing. Some people acted like I was crazy to be doing that, and they insisted that I didn’t need that “crutch”, but it helped me immensely. It helped me to regulate the details of my morning, and it freed up my brain to relax because I knew exactly what was going to come next.

All I had to do was follow instructions. Easy-peasy. And it helped.

Now I have rituals in the morning rather than lists, but those rituals came out of the list.

Either way, they allow me to focus my time and attention on things that are more complex — and more fulfilling — than the drudgery of “what’s next”.

And that’s a good thing.

Today, I have more items on my to-do list. I have emails I need to read and respond to. I have things I’ve been needing to do, and haven’t gotten to because I’ve been so busy this past week. Some of them are more fun than others, and I need to arrange them so that I have some good rewards after I take care of the less fun things. Some of them are downright nerve-wracking, because they involve some complex thinking and I’m concerned I will screw them up.

Then again, I do have 2 days left in the weekend, so I can take care of some of this tomorrow.

That takes the pressure off. It makes things easier to start, when I take the pressure off.

Speaking of getting started, I guess I’ll get on with my day. I’m up early, so I actually have time for a walk before I start all this. Excellent idea — off I go…

Onward.