I’ve learned over the years that I have pretty strict requirements for the amount of rest, downtime, and self-care I need in order to maintain my mental, emotional, and physical health. Compared to most people, this is fairly narrow range of tolerance for extra doing, decreased sleep, or missed routines.
This week has been extra hectic and stressful just because of the confluence of too many things all at once. I’ve been packing too much into my days, staying up too late at night, and skipping my morning pages some mornings to squeeze in a little extra rest. Missing my morning pages has left me feeling off-kilter during the day, which adds to the stress, and the lack of downtime and sleep has worn me down.
I’m tired tonight. Really tired. It’s been gradually building all week, and it’s been an interesting process to observe.
I’ve been taking such good care of myself lately, that it’s been startling to see the difference in the person I am when I’m rested and am practicing self-care and the person I am when I’m exhausted and worn out. For many years, I thought this exhausted version of me was all that existed. Now I know better.
I am still adjusting to a new schedule now that I am working full-time again. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting up early, which is an amazing thing for me. I’m not a morning person by nature. I’ve tried all kinds of tactics for many years to find ways to help myself get up earlier in the morning, and it’s never worked for more than a couple of days. By prioritizing my writing time for first thing in the morning, I have now managed to get up early (2.5 hours earlier than I am used to) for a full four weeks!
I am incredibly proud of myself for the commitment that I am showing to my writing life. I am also unbelievably tired because I am not doing a very good job at going to bed much earlier than I used to despite my new wake-up time. Obviously, my bedtime needs to shift to an earlier hour very soon if I want to continue to be able to keep this up.
However, I am learning to appreciate the importance of sleep in a whole new way from going through this time of relative sleep deprivation. I am acutely aware of how much my lack of sleep is affecting my moods, my thought patterns, my motivation, and how my body feels.
My job has moved from 20 hours a week to full-time, starting this week. While I have worked full-time for most of my adult life and most other people I know do the same, I’ve never worked full-time while also trying to work on my own business, take care of a house and yard with this high of a maintenance requirement, and tried to maintain a rigorous level of self-care. It’s proving to be a challenge to keep it all going.
This adjustment is even more challenging for me at the moment because there is so much ambiguity about the job itself. I’m in a new environment in a brand new area with my boss mostly gone, and I’m trying hard to be productive and useful without any clue of what’s happening. This means that there’s very little to do, which gives me way to much time to be bored and to over-think. That’s never a good thing. Being bored exhausts me much faster than being busy does!
“Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all life’s greatest tests alone.” ~Agnes Macphail
From my very earliest memories, I have craved connection with other people. I have always dreamed of being part of a community or network of people who would give me the sense that there was somewhere I belonged. In particular, I have searched high and low to find a few people who could be that core group of “chosen family” that I could rely on through thick and thin. I have desperately longed for someone with whom to intimately share my life.
“Write something amazing this weekend. If not, do something amazing. Life is short. Live your story.” ~Larry Brooks
My weekend has already begun with a whirlwind. Today has been a day filled with many experiences that run the gamut from fun to uncomfortable to exciting to grief (my own and others) to inspiring to reassuring. I’ve been running nonstop from the time I got up this morning, and I’ve just arrived home for the night a little before midnight.
I’ve had the chance to witness much in me and in others that has yanked at my emotions and made me really think deeply about motivations, relationships, and self-awareness (or lack thereof).
The weight of a straw is small—so small that it’s hard to imagine that it could ever do any damage. But if you pile enough straws together, the weight adds up. It adds until one day the addition of just one more straw is all it takes to break the camel’s back.
Life is like that too. Things that would be minor annoyances or frustrations in normal times can be lethal when they hit on top of an already enormous pile. We’ve all seen people who “over react” in some way to some situation and wondered what their problem was, when really the situation we observed was only the final straw that broke through their control, and the reaction we see is more to the whole pile of other straws that we didn’t see than to the one we did.
“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break.” ~William Shakespeare
I have encountered so much loss over the last year, and it still keeps coming. There are the big, external griefs like divorce, and there are the seemingly smaller, internal griefs like the closing door I encountered last Sunday that re-define some part of who I am. And then there are the hidden griefs that cannot be shared and cannot be spoken aloud because of promises and secrets that restrain my lips from speaking of them. Those are often all the more painful for their hiddenness because I must conduct myself as if they don’t exist and must hide all signs of grief from all who might help or support me.
“To be authentic means expressing who I am on the inside to the utmost, without calculating the risks involved.” ~Efrat Shani
Despite the fact that authenticity is becoming an increasingly important value to me, I still find myself approaching it cautiously. I reveal my true self selectively to people whom I know will be supportive. I am still feeling entirely too fragile to take the risk of exposing my faltering steps toward authenticity to the harsh and critical voices of others. My limited courage has its hands full with my own internal voices of criticism and negativity; to take on those voices from outside is more than I can bear.