Hard to believe we’ve reached the end of January already! This month has been a very busy month for me. I’ve worked hard to take on a more minimalistic lifestyle and mindset and feel much calmer than I did a few months ago. Because a few months ago, I felt anything but calm.
Now, brace yourself. This post is a bit long…
Nearing the end of 2016, I could feel a bit of dark funk creeping up on me, so getting a hold of my life and giving it a proper shakedown was definitely in order. My way of heading it off before it gained a solid foothold. For you Lord of the Rings fans, picture Gandalf shouting, ‘You shall not pass!’
Once upon a time, many decades ago, I suffered from a serious depression that lasted about four years. As I like to say, I spent a year tumbling into it, two years wallowing in it, and another year and a bit clawing my way back out of it. As horrible an experience as that was, it taught me a ton, mostly to recognize when it was coming and how to take evasive action. Mostly this occurs when I’ve overloaded myself with things to do, taken on too many responsibilities without leaving time for myself, for the things that bring me joy. I’ve given myself to other people and other things and forgotten to even that out by refilling my well. In essence, the well was dry and I was running on fumes. To make things worse, with even the fumes running out, I foolishly thought — if I can just push past it…
Because, yeah. That always works. *insert eye roll here*
I always feel there are two halves of myself (and maybe everyone feels this way, I should take a poll…). There’s the half that is go-go-go, let’s do this, let’s do that, I wanna do it all!! This side is filled with energy and possibility and dreams and positivity. Then there is the other half. The saner, more stable half that tempers the other side with reality. The side that says, there’s only 24 hours in a day, kiddo and guess what? You’re only one person. Simmer down and let’s ease back a bit.
Unfortunately, Ms. Go-Go is the louder half. That drunk guy at the party that gets all the laughs until he takes a header into the coffee table then wakes up the next morning with one helluva headache. Ms. Sane is the one that stands at the end of the bed shaking her head with a knowing sigh while holding out a bottle of Advil and glass of water, suggesting that perhaps next time, Ms. Go-Go might want to listen to a little reason before breaking the neighbours coffee table in half with a face plant.
The older I get, the better I’ve become at listening to Ms. Sane when she starts whispering in my ear. But last year I ignored her. Until by November, I could hear the whispers growing louder (she may have also kicked me a time or three – she’s nice and all, but she’s no pushover). My writing / publishing schedule had been grinding on for three years straight without a break in addition to my day job. I had volunteered for positions I probably shouldn’t have. There were family obligations. The busyness of the holidays coming up. Fifty was looming. The house was a disaster and it felt as if the walls were closing in on me. I hadn’t had a proper, get away vacation with JB in far too long. I was officially burned out. The face plant into the coffee table was coming and Ms. Sane was strongly suggesting that we were, in her words, getting too damn old for this shit.
Instinctually, I went into survivor mode. My subconscious, fully aware of what was happening, stepped in without the conscious self being fully up to speed on what was going on. (Probably a good thing – the conscious self is Ms. Go-Go’s best ally). I found myself limiting what I was willing to do. I changed my writing schedule so that once I finished the current book, my schedule was free to write whatever I pleased without any view to a deadline. I guarded my personal time a bit more religiously, gravitating toward those things that re-filled the well, that brought joy and, even more importantly, a much needed calm from the frenzy in my brain. I did some yoga. I breathed deeply of the fresh air whenever possible. I hugged my dog (I hugged my dog a lot – great therapy, that). I carved out more time with my husband. I spent more time with my sister because laughter really is the best medicine and she’s an expert in the field. I stopped trying to twist myself into a pretzel by doing everything and being everywhere I wanted to be or other people wanted me to be. It meant disappointing some. In the end, by pulling back, I lost a long-time friendship. A casualty of the war I, at the time, wasn’t fully cognoscente was being waged. But by mid-December, I clued in something was wrong and then January before the truth hit full force. I was in a blue funk. Had been for a little while. But thankfully, the evasive action has helped and I’m slowly edging back on track.
And now, with February looming, calm is slowly being restored. I still have to finish the book I’m writing under deadline, but that deadline comes in early March. I took January off from a couple of other obligations and carved out time for myself, couple time, quiet time. I purged the house, my closets and pretty much everything else I could get my hands on. I’ve thrown myself back into things I love doing and wait-listed a few others I’d like to try. My husband and I booked our trip to do a bike tour of Slovenia, Austria and Italy.
So, my promise to myself for 2017 is to let Ms. Sane drive the bus while Ms. Go-Go provides the fuel. It seems a better system than letting Ms. Go-Go drive like a maniac while Ms. Sane madly chases after the bus trying to catch up. Because really, I’m getting too damn old for that shit.