Sometimes you’re merrily chugging along, thinking you have a plan, perhaps not entirely sure of your destination, when you hit a bump in the road.
I did this a couple of weeks ago.
It hit me quite unexpectedly and I ground to a halt. In fact, I temporarily took down this website and associated social media accounts, I felt so discombobulated. I had lost all sense of direction. I questioned everything I’d been doing up to that point. Was I wasting my time? Had I started down the wrong path? Was it all just a wild goose chase?
The self-doubt was oppressive.
I didn’t know where it was coming from or what had triggered it. Almost in an instant I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t think straight. I tried to make a plan for September and simply had no idea where to start.
Finally I had to give in. I decided to paint the downstairs loo instead! It looks lovely. A muted hot pink and a dove grey.
It’s only been in the past week that my head has begun to clear. A conversation with my friend, Andrea, helped enormously and was partly the catalyst for me taking small steps forward again.
I suspect I was simply trying to juggle too many things and ended up in meltdown. I was in denial at first as I’ve always been able to have lots of projects on the go. I was like the Duracell bunny. I just kept going.
There are, I think, a few factors at play.
The first, menopause, has been snapping at my heels. That’s a blog post all on its own. I’m hoping I’ve found a solution that is helping in this area.
Secondly, there are signs that some, seemingly, sure fire situations may be coming to an end. I see this as a positive and an indication that perhaps we need to change our strategy, and shift in new directions. The endings that we’re experiencing are, I believe, simply precursors to other new and more exciting opportunities. We just need to pivot and go with this flow.
Lastly, I don’t think I had any idea how exhausted I was.
I worked out that we’ve been running a three ring circus for almost three years. We geared up until we had reached the point where I was working full time, we were travelling at the weekend and some weekday evenings, I was managing Chris’ business, as well as trying to write and be a photographer. Plus the usual domestic stuff.
Apart from two days away between Christmas and New Year last year, we’ve not had a holiday.
I never see it at the time and it’s only after the event that I realise what’s been going on.
I’d been dragging my heels. Tasks that should take half an hour were taking half a day. The worst thing, though, was the getting started. I couldn’t get going. I dillied, I dallied. I procrastinated.
I’d started feeling a bit fed up. So, we talked about it and realised that, actually, we were both exhausted. Who knew?
I’m so used to plodding on that it was a bit of a revelation.
So, we’ve booked a few days away at the place where we stayed last Christmas and just making that plan perked us up straightaway. Chris is already thinking about spending time sitting by the fire listening to his iPod. We’re both contemplating the fantastic food and the place itself. I’m looking at maps planning out where I might take photographs.
I’ve never thought of myself as being prone to burnout but, undoubtedly, I’ve experienced it before.
There are a lot of articles out there about workplace burnout, fewer about burnout in general, but I liked this one. I can resonate with Rob, 53, from the Hague saying he longs ‘to do nothing but just be’, and I fit into the category of having taken on ‘more obligations, without thinking to let go of others’. I may have overcommitted myself!
Like Helen Redfern, I’d like to start planning my writing and creative activities for September but, already, the Calendar is full. Apart from three or four completely clear days, the whole of September is spoken for in one way or another. Altogether, I might be able to factor in some writing on eight days in September (if nothing else crops up), half of those days will have other distractions.
These last couple of years have been something of a roller coaster. Not in a bad way but in the sense that we kept on rolling, not knowing what was around the corner.
We’ve decided to plan next year better and to factor in our downtime upfront. We’re going to give ourselves some annual leave and shut up shop while we do.
It’s simple really but when you’re in the midst of it all, you just keep going until the Duracell batteries finally run out.
You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
What a great story.
I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
From the film Parenthood.