Today I gabbed with a good friend for an hour on the phone. Then I proceeded to accomplish absolutely nothing that would appear on anybody’s checklist for the rest of the day, including watching DWTS (don’t judge), executing a Jai Ho solo dance party in my bedroom, playing on FB and listening to music. It was kind of, well, a blast, actually. But then the sun began to descend, and a panicky anxiety started to rise. Suddenly I felt absolutely overwhelmed, lazy and out of control. On offense mode, I set the timer and raced around the house: dishes, make the bed, put clothes away, ready for the gym, make cookies and granola bars, clean bathroom–all in about an hour. I felt better, and, anxiety gone, reviewed the impetus for the Cleaning Typhoon: Fear. Umhmm–him again.
Was I really overwhelmed? No, not by any kind of sensical definition. It took me exactly an hour to feel “productive” (read: worthwhile) again (apparently I need to go back and re-read my blog post on Redefining Productivity STAT…geez). But I sure as heck felt overwhelmed. What was going on? I wanted to dissect.
Mainly, I’d allowed myself to enjoy activities I’ve categorized as, “superficial,” “lazy,” and “self-indulgent,” Good God. Call the cops. Somehow, I also transferred those judgements to myself and had to race around like a madwoman proving I wasn’t any of these things. Silly. This harsh self-judgement can descend at any time, even when I’m pretty organized and “on track,” and frequently does. A couple hours spent catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, for instance, might spin me into a bout of, “omg I’m wasting my life,” or letting my dirty clothes go way beyond laundry time can trigger that, “you’re so irresponsible” voice. Bitch, please. I thought I was past this…lol.
Let’s examine my brain: I spy with my little eye at least three unnecessary processes occurring here, and the sooner I can recognize them when they strike and wrangle them back in check, the better:
1. Thinking some things “count” as Living and others don’t. Wasting my life? C’mon! Life’s minutes are not tallied in “spent well” and “wasted” minutes. At least I don’t want to categorize them like that; becuz that’s dumb. Oh, and just false, according to me. All work and no play…lalala. Life is life–we need rest, we need play and we need work. We don’t need work, work and work. Without the play and the downtime, work quality takes a header anyway. And yeah, I’m passionate about what I do, and I spend a lot of time doing it. Even geniuses like MJ spend time goofing around. They do! Or did. Not to mention that I get some of my best ideas playing. But I’m not going to justify the obvious! Play is Important. Period.
2. Judgement: these meanie voices yelling in my head! I am just not irresponsible! That’s ridiculous. I support myself, pay my bills, try to remember people’s birthdays (bad at that tho), and keep the house fairly clean. We could all make a list: I eat well, shower (woo hoo!), go to the gym, and do a good job at my work. I raised an amazing son…..etc etc. I don’t think accomplishments make a person responsible or irresponsible necessarily, but it helps to remind myself that hells yes, I’ve been responsible! One of my dearest friends quipped at me once, after listening to me berate myself AGAIN for watching some show, “if you wanted to watch TV for the rest of your life you could do it and that still wouldn’t make you irresponsible. Who really cares?” Well, yeah. True. No one cares but me.
Oh yeah–and what if I’d been watching DWTS for “research” for an article, rehearsing dance moves for a class, responding to FB posts regarding my work, and making a play list for a friend’s wedding, instead of just relaxing and doing those exact same activities just because they were–FUN? Gasp! I wouldn’t have labeled them the way I did, and I wouldn’t have felt “out of control,” “lazy” and “self-indulgent” either. Interesting… Fun is just as important as any of the “work reasons,” and I know that. What do I also know? We are innately “worthwhile,” even when the dishes aren’t done. Word.
3. Thinking I’m so important. Exactly which economy is going to crash, who’s life will be ruined if I sit and watch Grey’s Anatomy all fricking day if I wanted to? Sure, people count on me for certain things, and I do them. But really? All of this intensity and judgement about having some down time–especially when all I’ve been writing about lately is Letting Go, Opening Up and Going with the Flow. Please.
I’m someone who tends be caught up in moments; almost any moment. It’s why I don’t like scary movies–I’m TOO there. And I like being this way. I get to really enjoy things. I also lose track of time and have to use a series of self-reminder coping mechanisms so that I actually get to meetings, go to the gym and eat. But I use them, and they work (calendar system, iPhone alarms, project reminder cards, strategically placed clocks in the house etc.). But I do recognize that I can get “lost” in what I’m doing, and I think I fear it, as well. What if I get caught up in watching tv and never ever work on my website again??? What if I forget what I’m doing and never ever clean the house?? I don’t think these thoughts rationally, but then hey, that’s what fears typically are–at least your everyday run-of-the-mill fears: catastrophic thoughts about things that are really pretty unlikely to happen. Yupyupyupyupyupyupyup uh huh, uh huh.
So I’m going to enjoy. I’m going to watch Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m not going to freak out. Nothing’s out of control, I’m not wasting my life and sheesh, I’m still acting responsibly. Lighten up, me. You too. LiveLove and BU