Friday, March 8, 2013

Living out confusions.

I was really in need of some inspiration and a bit of motivation this week and I remembered having seen this quote hand lettered by Lisa Congdon last year as part of her 365 Days of Hand Lettering. You can find it as a print, here. It was perfect and felt like someone holding on to steady and reassure me. It's always hard to get yourself back on track after a significant life change and it has felt like a particularly long journey from last August to here.

I had decided at the beginning of this year that a goal I wanted to work on was to be more focused. My mind is usually going at a gallop so I'm trying to free myself from distractions as much as possible otherwise I get completely overwhelmed and end up doing none of what I had planned (a great example being that I had planned to write a post about focus back in January when the resolution was actually made). I'm sure some of you are familiar with this? Coming up on a good seven weeks without steady work for either Richard and I, I have been feeling unmoored and dizzy with thoughts of what we should do next, what plans we needed to make to help us get out of debt, how one life plan would impact other goals we also wanted to pursue and it is making me crazy. Often a result of this type of thinking for me is self doubt (hello, impostor syndrome) and frustration which is so counterproductive but so hard to climb out of, also.

Being financially vulnerable is a scary thing. Our poor credit card has taken a beating lately, and trying to figure out how to balance getting out of debt but also make the most out of the opportunity we have at the moment to live with family, have less costs, have a large workspace and allocate a really good chunk of our time to build a business with a view to being self employed - well, I'm not always sure how to do it. But, while this feeling of floating without direction has made being focused incredibly hard, I'm coming to realise how important it is. Life is confusing and there are no real right or wrong answers about how to live it, so freaking out and living with a constant 20 or so tabs open in my browser is not going to help make those confusions any clearer. However, living with some kind of intention and presence, I think, will.

I listened to a really great podcast today from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge. I came across it via Erin from Cotton & Flax on Twitter and it couldn't have come at a better time. She talks about the idea of being present, specifically in relation to small business but her advice would be good for anyone feeling overwhelmed. It was so refreshing to hear that I am not the only person to feel the way I do. Of course, this is often the case but man it feels good to be validated.

I have a feeling that things are going to start flowing better and that my heart and mind may be tamed a little so that they race just a bit more slowly. I've surprised myself with welcoming the idea of routine, both one that I have set for myself when working from home and the one I'll have from going back to regular part time work hours (in a job that is going to be meaningful - yay!). The idea of routine and planning always felt annoying to me, that it wouldn't leave room to be creative and spontaneous, but the reality is I haven't been doing those things either because I'm so all over the place. There is so much to do and experience in the world, so many ideas! And by not trying to do it all the once I worry I'll miss out* and I know I really do forget things if I don't do them straight away. But really, that just means that other stuff gets pushed to side and I'm back where I started.

Anyway, I feel armed with strategies to help myself be more focused. The routine mentioned above, scheduling time for something completely different from work, watching a movie/going for a long drive/cooking/being in nature without other distractions or the need to constantly document what I'm doing so that I can just soak up the inspiration or pleasure, focusing on one task at a time and using reminders to keep track of what else pops up that I could be doing - and doing them later.

Most of all though, I'm going to try and be a little less hard on myself. Life is tough and it is ok to feel tired, overwhelmed and to freak out. It's normal to not be back to your old self straight away after losing someone you loved. It's completely fine to sometimes not have an answer and not know what to do. You don't have to fix it straight away. It's ok to cry and try to catch your breathe before you move on to the next thing. And when you do, that's all you have to do. Just one thing at a time. I say this as much to you as a reminder to myself. The confusions will become clear.

How about you? How do you keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed and stressed? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one.

A couple links from or about smart ladies to celebrate International Women's Day:

- Why I Write, Joan Didion. I love this woman.
- The new documentary about The Source Family is coming out soon, and looks fantastic. Cults, hippies, psychedelic rock and health food. It was produced by one of the wives of leader Father Yod, Isis Aquarian.
- I haven't had the time to make this ingenius recipe from Laura yet but caramel pretzel ice cream is all I've been able to think about since reading it a week or so ago. It is pretty much my ideal flavour combination!

*The cruel joke of this is that I am also a introverted homebody who loves nothing more than pottering about the house, reading or watching movies with Richard. So, a bit of internal conflict there.
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