Dealing with uncertainty isn’t my strong suit. In fact, I’m a compulsive worrier so an ambiguous future tends to leave me feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I like stability, or at least knowing the general direction my life is headed in. For the last several months, though, I’ve been operating in complete tandem to that notion. And then yesterday, I finally just realized the chaos isn’t going away. It is what it is…until it isn’t anymore. So for now, I have to learn to deal with uncertainty the best way I know how.
1) Embrace the chaos
I’ve quickly realized my downward spiral of emotions is typically because of my temptation to dwell on my current situation and then to become obsessive about what the future holds. Living in a constant state of uncertainty the last couple of months means I’ve literally imagined every doomsday scenario imaginable. I wonder about the unknown, I set goals for where I want to be in the future, and then when I’m not sure I’ll get there all hell breaks loose. I blame myself. I obsess. I ask, “Why me?” And in the end I feel more helpless and anxious than ever before. When I asked my intuitive reader what I can change about myself to make my life richer, she promptly told me to stop over analyzing and obsessing about everything. Be present and enjoy the moment. Life never goes the way we planned for it to go anyways. Take comfort in the fact that when things get really shitty, it often opens up new doors and opportunities. Hard times – the uncertain times – are humbling experiences that test our willpower and certainly present challenges. BUT with every challenge also comes opportunity. So, embrace the chaos and uncertainty. I promise you something positive will come out of your situation, even if you don’t believe it right now. On that note, though…
2) Make peace with time
…opportunities don’t always present themselves in a nicely wrapped gift box and they don’t always come when we want them to. I realize that anxious feelings are temporary and fleeting, that every moment of panic comes to an end and that I’m still okay in the end – whether it works in my favor or not. I continue to remind myself to take deep breaths, that everything happens (or doesn’t happen) for a reason, and that my future goals aren’t a matter of “if” but when. It’s really hard not to be disheartened when things don’t go your way but you have to keep moving forward. I remind myself to be thankful for the little steps I’ve made along the way and for the opportunities that continue to present themselves, albeit in their own sweet time. Keep going, keep moving forward, and keep living (my third point!).
3) Don’t let limbo keep you from living your life
For the last two weeks, I’ve thrown a one-woman pity party. I really hadn’t done much of anything until a friend of mine drug me out of the house and took me on my first ever Fear Fest experience. And guess what? I had the greatest time. I decided amongst the zombies and scary creatures chasing me in the Forgotten Forest that instead of fretting about what may be ahead, I need to do something that makes me happy. Screaming bloody murder and nearly peeing my pants made me happy. And it made me laugh uncontrollably. So this week, amidst the uncertainty, I’ll still be living and doing all the things I love: cooking, reading, writing, playing with my dog, shaking my ass at Zumba, and doing downward dogs at hot yoga. Yes – uncertainty remains, but life goes on. And I have a really great life.
“I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are: grand and beautiful.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Hiking in the woods might be the perfect and ideal activity to clear the mind and gain a little bit of clarity, at least for me. Not only is it great aerobic exercise but it serves as a way to get rid of the excess energy stress often places on the mind. Considering my struggle with battling burn out all through the month of March, I chalked this weekend up to spending my time doing various outdoor activities and soaking up the sunshine. The perfect antidote as it turns out.
Since Saturday was opening day of the Columbia Farmer’s Market, Liz and I made plans to meet there and pick up some supplies for an afternoon BBQ before heading out to Shooting Star for a morning hike with Miley. While I prefer shopping local whenever I can, I wish the food was a bit more affordable. I had a really hard time paying $2.50 for ONE tomato. It was well worth it though; our afternoon BBQ of burgers, salad, and potatoes hit the spot. I even picked up how to make homemade dressing and healthy potato salad (use balsamic vinegar and eggs instead of mayo and mustard) from Liz.
Until the latter part of the hike, Shooting Star was practically vacant. Miley fished for rocks and Liz and I chatted about life. By the end of the hike, both of our spirits were lifted and I came to the realization that given the crazy ups and downs over the last couple of months, I finally feel like I’m back to myself and ready to take on the next chapter of life. Nice girls (and guys) may finish last, but we always come out on top in the end. I look at the people who have been there for me these past few months and they are all people who lift me up and allow me to be my true self (no matter how weird and dorky I may be). I’m no longer desperately trying to fit into someone else’s mold of who I should be and I have to say it feels good to shed that weight. I am happy and I think I’ve finally reached the mental clarity I’ve been yearning.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the motivation or will to write. Between travel, work, and mid-terms I’ve been depleted of any energy that requires me to use my brain if I don’t have to. In fact, I can sum up how I’ve felt over these past few weeks in two words: used up.
Knowing I need to take care of myself, I’ve been doing various activities to battle the burnout. I’ve made time for friends, hosted potluck dinners, worked out, and cooked. While my mood improved, it seemed to always be temporary and fleeting. I was starting to feel helpless and wanting to avoid a downward spiral I began doing some research. I came across this article on battling burnout and found it particularly intriguing to my situation.
What I found interesting about the article is that it relates burnout to the social and personal aspects of your life rather than just focusing on work. It breaks burnout into three dimensions: exhaustion, depersonalization, and inefficacy. While I don’t really feel disconnected, exhaustion and feelings of inefficacy – or reduced personal accomplishment – are certainly present. My biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks is that my to-do list is constantly growing. It doesn’t matter how much energy I exert in mind or body, I still don’t seem to have made a dent in what needs to be done. As soon as one thing gets crossed off, two more things get added to it and so on. I find it discouraging and in the end, I am less likely to even want to tackle what’s on my plate. So what does that mean for me? Well, I’ve become kind of snarky – a negative Nancy or complaining Connie as my friend tells me. And that’s definitely not okay with me.
Considering my third class ended this past Saturday, my school load will be a bit lighter which will help immensely (note to self: NEVER, ever take three classes again). Not having a weekend in the last two months dominated by school work has meant I haven’t had a lot of me time. So I spent this past weekend catching up on sleep and doing absolutely nothing. And it didn’t really help to be honest. Until I found an interesting passage in the New York Times which made me rethink my action plan: “Don’t assume you need calming down when you really need some revving up.” While I’ve been exhausted, treating that exhaustion with sleep all weekend just contributed to my feelings of helplessness. And the more unproductive I felt, the more I got in an emotional ditch. So once again, it all seems to be a balancing act….
Feeling overly ambitious, I decided to tackle the big bedroom transformation project Friday night. While there is still a lot I want to do with the room, I’m feeling accomplished that the paint job is finished and that I even had a chance to put my creative skills to the test in my efforts to transform one corner of the room. While I’m not going to show the room as it is now (I don’t want to ruin the surprise once it all comes together) I will share bits and pieces as things unfold.
So, first step: painting. Let me just say I loathe, loathe painting but when the mood strikes I can get things done. I ended up using the same color of paint that I used when transforming the guest bedroom – a Bonsai gray. It’s probably my favorite color of all time for its mere transformational power. My room has always felt overly cramped not just because of my big furniture but also because of the room color – a dark mustard yellow. I actually really liked the mustard yellow but since my primary goal with this project is to make my personal space feel more open, I wanted to go for something airy and bright. From the first coat of paint, I instantly felt the room opening up.
A small project I took on in addition to painting the room this weekend was a quick make-over of a mirror I’ve had for years. The silver and black went really well with the dark mustard yellow but it felt plain and boring against the light gray walls. Going for bright, cheerful accent colors to the gray backdrop I opted for a sunny yellow (which happens to go perfect with my other accent color, royal purple). This particular venture only took about 10 minutes, 1 hour of drying, and $3.22 in spray paint. A quick and cheap DIY project which turned out fantastic!
After a really hard couple of months, I wanted to take on a project that would serve to revitalize my sense of self. I want every inch of my bedroom to be something that inspires me, comforts me, or just brings a smile to my face in one way or another. Every time I walk by the room and see this bright sunny mirror hanging there, I smile. It brings joy to my personal space and I love that.
You’ll notice in the corner is a stack of books. Wanting to personalize this corner, I chose books that have changed my life or inspired me in some way. Among those is a travel guide to Guatemala (be adventurous); Eat, Pray, Love (be prepared for endless and riotous waves of transformation); and the Heart and the Fist (live a life of intention). There’s a few more in there, but they’re mostly placeholders till I can sift through my other books and add to the pile.
It’s turning out beautiful and I’m anxious to start in on the other projects. By the end of March, I don’t think I’m ever going to want to leave my room!
A new month means a new theme and this month it’s about celebrating singlehood. With it, singlehood brings freedom and independence and I plan on embracing both over the next coming weeks. We all know February brings ample opportunity for single ladies (and men) to get down about not having that special someone in their life but I don’t plan on being one of them. Rather, my focus for the month is to have a passionate love affair with myself. I firmly believe you can’t begin loving someone else until you take the time to heal and love yourself first. And that’s exactly what I intend on doing this month.
As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for February and how they relate to each over-arching desire.
Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.
- Read a new book. This month I am choosing to read a classic, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I chose this particular book mainly because it’s outside of my preferred genre of reading. I also chose it because when I was reading book reviews I came across one in particular that called the book, “…the quintessential story about the love of being in love,” and I was hooked.
- Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. All of my home improvement projects or home purchases usually go to the areas of the house where guests congregate like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and guest room. I hardly ever splurge on the one area that’s used solely by me: my bedroom. Taking a page from Liz’s month of self-love I want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life – I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m definitely looking forward to getting started on this project.
Give more love.
- Write Valentine’s Day cards. Who says Valentine’s Day is reserved for romantic escapades? I fully intend on celebrating and sharing the mad love I have for my close friends and family. I also intend to spoil myself because I love me too. Which leads me to my next point.
- Take a wellness day. Looking at my schedule for February, I already know I’m going to be susceptible to feelings of burn out which usually leads to me waking up on the wrong side of the bed at some point. I’m pretty good at recognizing the need to take some time to recharge when I’m stressed and I know I’ll need it this month. I have a trip planned to visit my good friend TJ at the end of the month so it’ll be a perfect opportunity to relax and recharge my positive attitude. I have no specific plans set other than to see where the wind takes me. And a gift certificate for a massage and pedicure.
- Praise singlehood. In the grand scheme of life, singlehood is short-lived. I am self-admittedly not an expert on relationships and have little experience in the serious relationship department as compared to others but I do remember thinking things like, “I wish I had the bed to myself!” or, “STOP SNORING!” among others. For the single ladies (and single men too) I think it’s easy to get sucked into a negative mindset in February. I mean love is literally being shoved down your throat around every corner and it goes on for 14 straight days. Sometimes, February just serves as a constant reminder that you don’t have what appears like everyone else is basking in the glory of. But you know what? Singlehood is pretty awesome too so in light of my positive attitude, I plan on writing a list of all the reasons I love being single.
- Go on one date a week. I am a busy hermit, there’s no way of getting around it. I was recently telling a colleague of mine a story and he stopped me mid-sentence and said in a I-feel-sorry-for-you tone, “You need to get out and date, Lindsay.” Although I’m pretty sure he was joking, I took it kind of hard (obviously so since I’m still talking about it three months later). So, it’s time to take matters into my own hands since I’m not finding anyone in my current social circles. At the last potluck dinner I hosted I asked my friends to set me up on blind dates with anyone they thought I might be remotely interested in – or even not interested in (I need to fill a quota here people, haha). I’ve got one lined up so far and another in the works. I’m actually kind of looking forward to them. Heck, maybe I’ll even give speed dating a try!
Live a balanced life.
- Reach out, forgive, purge, and let go. I am queen of harboring resentment towards people who intentionally hurt me, especially when they show no remorse or offer an apology. Forgiveness has never been my strong suit but I also realize that harboring those kinds of feelings just prolong stress and negativity in my life. Ultimately those kinds of feelings take a toll on my body and promote unhappiness. We don’t have control over the way people treat us, but we do have control over how we process the hurt and move on. I can’t say that I will actually reach out to those who have hurt me recently and in the past, but I do plan on going through old mementos and purging memories I haven’t been able to let go of. I want a clean slate and my intention in doing this project for the month is that it will reduce some stress and unhappiness I feel at times thereby promoting my overall health, especially in mind and spirit.
- When at home, wear my glasses. Another aspect of my health that I ignore are my eyes. I have horrible vision; without contacts or glasses, I can’t even see what I’m typing on the screen in front of me. My issue is I hate wearing glasses and as a result I take my contacts out maybe two or three times a month and only while I’m showering. My eyes never get a break and I often times suffer from dry, itchy eyes because of my lack of proper eye care. SO, I am going to attempt to wear my glasses more and make the effort when at home that the contacts go in the solution and the glasses go on the face.
Here’s to a happy, fulfilling February and of course to all my fellow single ladies out there. Put your hands up!
I’m an avid reader and fan of Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project. With my busy schedule the past couple of weeks, I hadn’t made much time for catching up on her posts or the posts of another blog I love to read, Scary Mommy (hilarious). So tonight, after my little run outside, I made some time to do just that. Reading Gretchen’s posts always remind me to stay the course and focus on enriching my life by doing things I enjoy. I have to admit that sometimes it feels like a chore always being conscious of that. Tonight, though, I stumbled across the exact inspiration and reminder I needed: don’t forget to treat yourself in the process.
In particular, one sentence in Gretchen’s post really struck a chord with me tonight. She said, “…it’s important to take time for treats…without them, we can start to feel resentful, depleted, and irritable.” I hate to say it, but this describes exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. Taking the time to treat myself to the things I love and enjoy will help to restore some of the balance and harmony I’m been ravenous for this past week.
For me, some of the things I absolutely love to treat myself to are hot baths, bath salts, candles, massages, pedicures and manicures, and to make it all better…drinking WINE while doing all of the above. So guess what I did tonight? I indulged in a hot bath complete with ZUM bath salts (my favorite) and did a home-made pedicure and manicure treatment. Thanks to my parents, one of my birthday presents this year was a gift certificate to a spa so tomorrow I plan on booking a massage. It’ll give me something to look forward to this week and I can’t wait. For the perfect end to a self-indulging night, I am now curling up with a book and a glass of wine. Life is good.
Filed under blogs, quotes, self