Several weeks ago, I wrote about events that were changing my world too fast for me to keep up. My sense of humor was at half-power, my perspective was tired. Worse than anything – anything - I felt uninspired.
That's fine, that's life. Life isn't about removing stressors as much as going where they can't find you for a while.
For me, it's my loft where I write. Proof of my life is everywhere, from the crafty things my kids made for me as small children, to my first published article that my husband had framed. In the loft, I write to soft instrumentals and can see and feel the changes in the sunlight throughout the day.
When my stretch of stress began, I decided that this would be a good time to make a list of all the things I haven't accomplished and, you know, just do all of them right now.
My big busy-ness would force my big issues into smaller spaces. Woe-be-gone!
I made a calendar of twenty-five objectives (including "write novel"), put all my plans on a wipe board with dates and placed it where I would see it every day.
And every day I did that. I looked at it and thought of how I would feel two or three months from now, when all those goals had checkmarks next to them.
I made my writing a shield.
My writing didn't want to be a shield. It wanted to be the proof of my life, which is balanced, satisfying, promising, lopsided, frustrating, and precarious right now.
One morning last month, the thought of even going to the loft made me anxious. I dreaded the feeling of having nothing to say, nothing to care about, nothing to share.
One morning soon after that one, surfing a sudden, surprising wave of nostalgia and social energy, I sent a group text to a small clutch of women I've known for a long time but have been wanting to know better, also for a long time. I suggested we get together for a simple dinner and catch up. It wasn't like me. I've always been more of a one friend at a time person.
But not this day.
We met last week. There were stories, there was laughter, there was intelligent discussion. We shared big plans and great memories. We talked about ridiculous things that have happened to us in the past and learned more about who we are today. Mostly, we made plans to meet again next month, a thing that feels to me like a puzzle piece that's been hiding under the rug.
If you are in that spot of impending change, when you are moving too fast toward the next thing to say a proper goodbye to the old thing, or you're realizing you have two choices which are to grow or stay the same, or you are realizing that pals really mean a lot to you and you think you need more of them,
Here are some things that might help you along
Don't give up on new ideas too soon. Give them a fair chance to unfold because before things feel completely right, they can feel like mistakes.
You can't solve anything while you're in a panic over solving everything. Calm down. Leave your loft for a while. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing on my mind? Go there.
Even things you love can be stressful – work, kids, spouses, friends. Don't overreact. Words you've said will be louder in your head when you're not upset anymore.
When change is forced on you and you're overwhelmed, take regular breaks to do something mindless and productive. Clean out a drawer. Return that sweater. Wash and vacuum your car. Get rid of the cloudy tupperware things in the back of the refrigerator. Easy stuff.
Stay in motion - drive or walk or bike – while you think about what you want to do.
Compare what you need to be happy to what you're doing. Where you're short, pick a thing and plan it. Look forward to it. Do it.
Think of the people who have the greatest potential to wrest your attention away from yourself, who will make you laugh, who will force you to consider the bright side of things, and then, even if it's hard, make plans to see them, or talk to them, or text them, or all of those things.
Be their shield, and let them be yours.