The title of this post is not click bait my friend. I did indeed participate in rescuing a chicken over the weekend, and the process revealed an important blind spot in my own self-care: my resistance to reaching out for help for me. Here’s how it all went down.
Last week, while walking my dog, I spotted a chicken a little further down the sidewalk, pecking away like it was nobody’s business. This being Florida, random wild life strolling down the street is not unusual: iguanas, possums, several varieties of cranes. However, a chicken I have never seen, so it stood out as odd. I figured it had escaped its coop, probably located at the house of which it was immediately in front, and left it be.
All week I was looking forward to a lazy day extravaganza on Saturday. We were expecting a tropical storm to blow through, and as I wrote about previously, there’s nothing like a good rain storm to help me get fully cozy and let go of responsibilities.
Unfortunately, my lazy day didn’t go at all as planned.
First of all, I woke up on Saturday and it wasn’t raining. Such a bummer! As is often the case in West Palm Beach, I woke up to the sun blaring through my windows. This was upsetting.
Might seem like an odd question, yet it’s so important! There was a day last week where I just couldn’t hold it together. Brain fog was intense, so concentrating for more than five minutes at a time was out of the question. I felt extremely sensitive and my eyes were randomly filling with tears for no apparent reason, and at inopportune moments. Essentially I was a barely functional wreck of a human.
In such a state, one might jump to the conclusion that something seriously emotionally tragic or profoundly stressful is causing them to shut down. One might even start examining one’s life and searching for all the reasons why they’re falling apart at the seams. One might even procure a list of evidence to indicate that life is simply unbearable in that moment. And doing so would likely make one feel much much worse!
There is a beautiful rain and thunderstorm happening right now, and I want to enjoy it. When this happens in the middle of the work day, I want to immediately go crawl under the covers with a good book. Now it’s the evening, the moment is here, so off I go, under my blanket with a book. Ooh, I’ll make a cup of tea too.
Here’s a video of the rain so you can enjoy it with me. Make sure your sound is on. There’s a gorgeous crack of thunder at about the 30 second mark.
A couple weeks ago I introduced the book Deep Work and my inspiration to greatly limit the amount of time spent each day on Instagram, on a quest to eliminate mindless, unsatisfying, time wasting scrolling. I’m happy to report that after just a few days of not checking IG during the workday, the unconscious habit to do so left me. The temptation was there, but it was not accompanied by a desire.
One of the coolest side effects of removing the unconscious time on IG from my day-to-day, as well as several other strategies from the book such as turning off Slack during deep work time and only checking email twice per day, is having much more energy at the end of the workday. Energy is something I struggle with, and has been a struggle ever since I was a teenager and anemia set it. I’m no longer anemic, but my desire to accomplish has never matched my energy level. There is so much I want to do in any given day, and my body and mind seem incapable of accommodating it all, especially when work is particularly intense.
A couple weeks ago, after a particularly taxing week at work, I picked up a new book on the weekend, and it sucked me in. I couldn’t put it down and there was a voice in my head nagging at me, telling me I had to clean my apartment and take care of… who knows? Take care of things. I chose to respond to that voice with a simple statement, “I give myself permission to spend this entire day reading.” And that’s pretty much what I did. It was glorious.
I had a small win yesterday that felt like a big victory in the moment. If you don’t have any issues around codependence and maintaining healthy personal boundaries, this will not sound like a win at all. It will sound perfectly commonplace. However, if saying no, or feeling guilty for letting someone down, are challenges you’re familiar with, then you’ll understand the significance.
It was a tough day, starting with some draining moments of miscommunication at work, and topped off with a particularly emotional therapy session, digging into the nitty gritty of hurt and resentment. By the end of that session, I was feeling raw, and spent.
In emotionally charged moments, there can be a strong urge to react immediately, let the anger/frustration/stress out and be done with it. Of course it never turns out that way. If we let loose with anger and frustration in the heat of the moment, most of the time it makes the situation worse or blows the triggering issue way out of proportion.
I’ve noticed the same with overwhelm. Sometimes during the workday, when my to-do list is already quite ambitious, and as the day progresses the pings keep adding up, the calls for my attention or intervention are piling on, my brain starts to explode. Or perhaps implode is more accurate? In any case, the feeling of overwhelm sets in and I’m momentarily frozen in my seat, slightly panic stricken, and I think the only way out is to address every single issue at the exact same time which means clicking around madly and getting absolutely nothing accomplished.
Thankfully, I’ve come to learn a much more advantageous approach which initially may sound counterproductive, yet consistently proves to be the solution.
Normally I prefer to share an idea with you that’s tried, tested, and true. However, this week, I’m sharing with you at the beginning of a journey. Actually, that’s not accurate. This is not the beginning of a journey. It feels more like the beginning of a shift I’ve wanted to experience for some time now.
It’s a shift out of distraction and toward greater meaning.
For some time now, I’ve struggled with my relationship to my phone. I’m addicted to it, and this makes me unhappy. The addiction shows up as mindless checking of messages all throughout the day, plus random meaningless scrolling through instagram, even if that’s not why I initially reached for my phone. Can you relate?
This post is for my fellow overachievers – those of you that attempt to master every aspect of your day and your life, and feel unsuccessful if any element is not A+. Yep, I’m talking to you.
I have a new mantra for you: Let yourself off the hook.
I know very well that when you hold yourself to impossibly high standards, letting yourself off the hook is a hugely challenging ask. And I also know how good it feels when you get in the habit of doing it.