I came downstairs earlier than I have been, fixed a cup of coffee and shot the closed, silent laptop a frustrated glance. Not this morning. After several long days of struggles and frustration, I needed my mornings back. With a cup of steaming coffee, I went about filling in my morning pages, doing a little Artist Way study work and wrote and published my first “Lazy Farmer” blog article. Then I unpacked three of the six boxes I brought in from the garage days ago.
When I finally sat down to work on the project, it was much later in the day. Yet, my mind was settled and the work came easily. I was able to do in a couple of hours what I had been struggling with for several days. I had another revelation, one more little piece of the puzzle that that makes me who I am. I thought back to the struggles so many years ago.
It must be my manic side that causes me to dive into projects like I do. Historically, I would get so wrapped up in projects (think mad scientist) that all else fell to the wayside. The house and office space crumpled into cluttered messes and important things never seemed to get done. I used to read books this way too. Life went on without me while I read or worked.
The big problem with that method is that I was ever so consciously aware that things were spinning out of control around me and all that growing clutter spilled into my mind. I had feelings like “I have to clean my house (play with my horses, go for a walk, take care of this or that, or whatever), but how can I do that when I have to do this (usually a business project tied to income)?” The stresses would increase and I’d start a downward spiral where I would spin my wheels at the important project with a lessening intensity of productivity. At it’s worse point, deadlines would be missed and those so-called important projects would suffer right along with the rest of my life.
Along with a cluttered desk, house and messy car, all the things that I loved were put on hold. Quality time with the family, playing music, doing art, taking walks, horseback riding, hiking and any of the myriad of outdoors things I enjoyed, took a back burner to the project, whatever project it was. Eventually it would get done, the client would always be very happy, and, I would get paid. If I had time before the next one, I would declutter, straighten things up, take my life back a bit. But often, my head would be full of those things I should be doing to get that next project. The cycle went on and on. It was exhausting, haphazard and unhealthy.
Here and there as I worked on self development, listened to books, and attended seminars, I picked up techniques that I was able to hang on to and use. They were little changes in habits, the way I did things, and the way I processed things. I learned about me and what made me tick. More importantly, I learned what stopped me in my tracks. But there is always so much more to learn, so much more tweaking we need to do to get past ourselves.
Things got better. My house and car stayed cleaner and neater, and my life became infinitely more organized. My kids got lots more quality time—they are important. I learned more and life continued to improve. But, I find, that even now, I still struggle somewhat when a project or outside demand shows up.
I currently have a long list of articles to write and research to do, a farm website to update, a garage/workshop to clean, purge and setup (leftover work from moving), and a farm to keep. Those are things I want to do. But now I have a dreaded client project. A pretty small one. I say “dreaded” not because I don’t want to do it, this certainly is a client I would dearly love to establish a relationship with–a dream client as it were. You know, important.
Not only is income on the line, but possibly a future in an area that I have a huge passion for and is part of my personal mission. So, what’s the problem?
Well, I dove in—as usual. There were some unexpected complications that in the past would have had me cowering under my desk (figuratively, of course). But I tackled them and pushed on. I gave myself a pat on the back. Proof that I’ve overcome at least some part of myself. But there was something eerily familiar with the pattern I was quickly sinking into. I starting skipping my sacred morning/me time as I jumped right in to the project. I worked all day. I put everything else on hold. I could feel the struggle with the technical side of this seemingly simple job. I worked like this for three days. The toll was weighing heavy on me and already impacting the project, and the house!
Funny how I operated like this for years, but now I cannot last days or even hours without my internal alarms going off. I knew that something had to give.
Yet, even as I told my computer it would have to wait this morning, an inner voice said “No! You can’t work on this now. You must get the job done!” I don’t know who that is exactly, but I don’t like her. I seem to have a couple of voices in my head which probably puts me in line with a whole list of crazy people. One tries to tell me what I cannot do. Another voice offers inspiration, hope and most importantly tells that first one to “Shut up!”
So, on this particular day, I listened to the second voice and took care of me. I kept my morning sacred. I took care of things around me. And, I wrote. I have so much I want to write that it seems to have bottle-necked in me which causes it’s own series of log jams. When I finally got down to the work, I was unjammed and everything flowed so easily. It was such a productive day. So, I learned one more tidbit about my manic self—to let it flow. Whatever it is. Today it was writing and organizing. Because, if I don’t let it out, everything gets stuck behind it. I also realized how essential it is to keep my morning “me” time. It’s important. Very, very, very important.
What is your it? How do you giver yourself the time you need to find and heal yourself?