guilt

With the wind at your back

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Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

 

Do you ever have those days where you look at your to-do list and your whole being just yells no?

“#1: No….#2: Noooo….#3: That’s a no…#4: HELL NO….#5: Not today cuz no….”

I have those days, a LOT. I have days where I can barely do anything productive at all, and days where I have just enough energy to do the bare minimum, or days when certain categories seem fine but others not – so I’ll clean my entire house but won’t be able to look at the emails I have to reply to.

Some days I’m fine with this, with no guilt whatsoever. But most of the time I’ll have to wrestle with at least some guilt or frustration that I can’t just muster up the mojo to get all the things done. Especially when I have a few days like these in a row – I start to think “all this will never get done in time – I’ll never ever get to these gross things on my to-do list, ever”.

My first reaction is to try and force myself to do it. Sometimes a little bargaining works – “just do this one small thing AT LEAST – then you can at least say you did SOMETHING today”. But sometimes my desire to ignore my to-do list is like an elephant, and I’m trying to just pick up one leg and move it an inch forward with no luck.

Then my whole day is about this battle, and how I’m failing, and I’m such a lazy person, etc. etc.

But, around this time last year, I started making a big effort to cut out the guilt. And it’s been working out great. I still have to take a moment and talk myself through it, but I am so much better at letting things like this go now. I also trust more in a pattern I know that I have – where I can put things off for a long time, to a point where it seems like disaster is just around the corner, but then have one super productive day and wipe it all out in one sitting.

My sister and I have tried to remind each other of this cycle over the years – we’ll call the other person and we’ll be convinced that this is our life now and we’ll never get anything done ever again. The other will bring up how we always come through eventually with a super productive streak, and there is just no use in worrying. Thank god for sisters.

We’ve both gotten better at trusting this cycle, but we’ve never had a name for it. Then the other day Mary goes “I just have to wait for the wind to be at my back, yunno?”

It was the perfect way to describe it. Everyone is different, but I know that for us, we will just make ourselves miserable if we try to do things before we are ready. Of course we can meet deadlines and all that, but when it comes to that boring adulting stuff, or work stuff that doesn’t have a deadline but you want off your list, etc. – if we try to get all that done on a day where it feels like a battle, then we’re just wasting a day. Our bodies and minds are telling us it needs to rest, even if it seems to make no sense to us. Regardless of the reason, it’s best to (as my sister said) “just chill in the boat and have a margarita”. When the wind comes back, things will be SO much easier, and you’ll go so much farther with a lot less effort than if you tried to move yesterday.

And isn’t that just more efficient? I know that eventually I will have one of those days where I wake up just READY to kick some ass. And I always surprise myself on those days with how much I can get done and how many names I can take.

Today is not one of those days. But today, I’m trusting what my past has proved to me – that eventually I WILL make those doctor appointments, or write that blog post, or finally clean the shower… No use in trying to move mountains when it will just make me cranky.

Wanna have a margarita with me while I wait?

 

 

Summer of Chill 2016

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I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! It seems the blogosphere is determined to cut mine short by posting about shopping for fall already… Stahp it! I have summer weather until Halloween in California, let me live in denial that it will ever be over, just a little longer!

I have had a great summer so far. Nothing crazy, no elaborate travel plans or long getaways – just a mellow summer mostly at home. But this summer is different. I needed this summer to be something special. I have decided that this summer is….

Stephanie’s Summer of Chill, 2016.

Imagine that in lights on a marquee, announced by a guy with a moustache over a loudspeaker or something. Because that’s how baller it is.

I went into this summer needing a break. Just in general. Anthony finished his PhD in March, then graduated in June when we threw a big party, and it the midst of it all he was trying to find jobs. It was pretty stressful. Really stressful, actually. The months leading up to summer were just intense.

So intense things were happening, but also I had gotten into this intense productive mode where I was doing all this shit to like, become a put-together person. It was probably a coping thing – trying to make sure I crossed all my t’s and dotted all i’s so I could feel better about what felt to me like a pretty chaotic couple of months. Here are some examples:

  • I was tracking how many drinks I had, how I ate, how much I exercised, etc. – every day, using this app
  • I was feeling guilty for not blogging enough
  • I was posting things like this, and trying to find magic ways to get my shit together around the house
  • I was posting things like this, feeling like I needed to lose weight but also resenting that idea (and trying to laugh about it while I figured it out)
  • I was feeling guilty about not working out enough
  • I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t saving enough money, and that I was spending too much

So there was a lot that I felt like I needed to improve, or tackle, or manage, or advance about myself. And I had a day where I realized how insane my brain was getting – it would go round and round, trying to find something to fix, trying to find something wrong, so I could pounce on it and fix it. It was like this Pinterest mentality of hyper vigilance I had established over my life. I finally realized what a weirdo I was being – Why, Steph?! Fucking chill. out.

That’s when I decided – we are taking a break. A BREAK. From all of it. Here are all the things I decided to get rid of for the summer:

  • Guilt, about anything
  • Self-improvement projects
  • Exercise routines that aren’t fun
  • Tracking of anything not fun or that produces guilt (see above)
  • Negative thoughts about my body

And I just, let go. I focused on doing things that were fun. We made a summer bucket list (which I am shooting to post about soon, but if not, no guilt). I did more stuff outside after work. I didn’t think about how much beer I had that week, or if I was getting enough cardio. I stopped caring how clean my house was, or how my belly looked in that top.

I don’t know, my head was just in the right place to just stop fucking caring about that shit. And it worked.

Why just the summer, you may ask? Why isn’t this just your new life?

Well, telling myself that it was just for the summer to start was a way to really let go of the guilt completely, because things like finding ways to save money are things I will need to get around to eventually, but not necessarily now. So I thought, okay – I can really just forget about it for a while, and I’ll pick it up in the fall, if I want to. But the idea was, if I could just get in the right mindset, hopefully this will be the new state of things.

And it has been an amazing, stress-free summer. It really was so great, you guys. I just lived my life. Now it’s August, and I still have so many fun things I still want to do while the weather is still warm – but I am also learning to prioritize fun things all year round. I established great healthy habits while I was in my intense phase over the winter months, that have stuck throughout the summer, but without the guilt and fastidious tracking. And some new productive habits have just naturally emerged – Anthony and I have worked on cooking at home a lot more, which is saving us money and allowing us to eat healthier. I realized I didn’t have to have the intense attitude to make improvements like that – and, more importantly, guilt doesn’t have to be a part of it.

As I mentioned, the rest of the world is getting ready for fall, and work is starting to get busy again (work has been so slow for the summer, which helped a lot with the carefree attitude) – so I can feel some of the old ways creeping back in. I’m extra tired and stressed this week, so I have less energy to go do fun stuff after I get home – but I’ll adjust. I just need to keep the spirit of chill alive through fall, too.

What has helped center me back to that mindset is asking myself this question, that I kept thinking when our friend was visiting a few weeks back…

What would I do today if I were on vacation?

I love playing tourist in my own city, and just because I worked that day doesn’t mean I can’t take dinner up to the mission and have a picnic, or grab a beer at a new restaurant in town, or walk down to thrift shop after I get home. Sometimes I save all the fun for the weekend, and do all the boring stuff after work – working out, cleaning, catching up on shows. I realized I need more balance, so I don’t get so bummed when Monday rolls around. My life can happen in between Fridays! I need to get off the couch more and treat my life like one big summer vacation, work or no work.

 

I’m into it, guys. I’ll let you know if I can keep the spirit alive as we get closer to fall! What have you done to de-stress lately and enjoy summer?

 

 

 

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