Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

What Day is It?

Calendar

I find myself, more and more, having no idea what day of the week it is. I have to stop and think about it, sometimes for several moments. “What was I doing yesterday?” “Was Downton Abbey on TV last night?” These are the clues I follow to locate myself on the calendar.

In my old job I used to get confused about what month it was. My work, then and now, involves planning for events that are many months in the future. I remember often having to correct myself when I would write at date as “June 17” when it was actually “February 17”. I still do that, but now it’s gotten even more complicated because I can’t seem to remember whether today is Tuesday or Wednesday or Friday. It’s gotten beyond the amusing phase to the downright annoying. I’m afraid it will get to the inconvenient, when I start showing up for things on the wrong day. “You’re telling me that my doctor’s appointment that it took me three months to get is tomorrow and not today, when I have rearranged two meetings so I could come today? And I re-arranged them for this time tomorrow? Really?” It hasn’t come to that, but I’m waiting.

I wonder what’s gotten into me. I think it may be the hormones – I’ve been warned about “Menopause Brain.” It’s very early days for me, but my symptoms (if that is indeed what they are) seem to manifest themselves in an overwhelming desire to disengage with the days of the week.

To be fair, I’ve always had to work at keeping track of what day it is. For a certain period of my life when I was living alone and working in an office, I had a fool-proof method. Every morning I would get up, go get my coffee, and bring it back to my bedroom to drink while I was getting dressed. Inevitably I would leave my empty coffee cup on my dresser, which at first felt unsanitary until I noticed that I was using the coffee cup count to tell me what day it was. One coffee cup – it was Tuesday! I would wake up every morning and groggily inspect the number of mugs so I would know what lay ahead. Four mugs meant only one day to go until the weekend! On Saturdays I’d clear them all away in preparation for the new week. Don’t judge – it worked for me.

Now I just seem to walk around in a constant state of confusion about what day it is. I had almost convinced myself that today was Wednesday (it is Tuesday), and that I had missed my regular blog post day – again. I work from home, and most days are pretty much the same, unless I have a meeting outside the house or something. Even that won’t necessarily tell me what day we’re on unless I put it on my calendar, and even then, I catch myself staring blankly at the little squares with numbers in them thinking “Wait – tomorrow is Thursday? I thought today was Tuesday!”

Today is Tuesday, right?
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photo credit: Menonite calendar via photopin (license)

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Peaks and Valleys

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.com

Lately I’ve become distressed about the impact that relatively minor physical discomfort and mood swings seem to have on my ability to get shit done. I’ve been telling myself that when I used to get up and go to work in an office every day I didn’t have to fight through periods of extreme apathy like I sometimes now experience, and a headache would rarely cause me to miss a day of work. Of course, I’m older now, and I believe I’m in the beginning stages of what is delicately referred to as “the change”, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. However, I’m worried that I am in danger of giving in to my lazier nature, which I absolutely cannot afford to do. What happened to that girl I think I remember, the one who would drag herself out of bed no matter what?

Yes, I did push through headaches and shoulder stiffness and sinus congestion and all that other stuff. I did force myself to get dressed and drive to the office and sit at my desk when I would have rather been pretty much anywhere else. Yes, I did that – we all do that because we have to. When I compare my recollection of what it was like to have to go into an office each day whether I felt in top form or not to how I react now when I’m not feeling my best, it seems like I’m ever so quick to take an aspirin and go back to bed, just because I can. Is that a bad thing? Shouldn’t I just make myself get up and go downstairs and fire up the laptop and get on with it?

Or am I remembering it all wrong?

One interesting facet of working from home is that you have an opportunity to really get to know your body’s rhythms. There are days I wake up and I feel ready to leap tall buildings. I approach my tasks with relish and I seem to get everything on my list done, and more. Then there are days when I can’t focus for five minutes on anything; my thoughts rush from one thing to another, and I start tasks only to quit and pick up something else that I also don’t finish. Then there are days when I just don’t feel well in my body. I’m tired, and things are sort of achy. I hate those days. I try to push through them, but I find that the quality of my work is lessened, and I make mistakes that I would never make on a good day. I’ve learned not to push too hard, and that looking like an idiot in front of a client isn’t worth losing an hour or so of my day to a nap.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I had these same sorts of days when I went into an office. I definitely remember days where I felt as busy as a bee but I didn’t seem to get anything accomplished; I just buzzed from one thing to another in rapid succession. I remember days of my brain being so foggy that I would look for things to do that didn’t require much thought, thereby minimizing the the chances of making an embarrassing mistake. I remember days of feeling ill, but since having a nap wasn’t an option, I’d just suffer through and be totally unproductive all day. At least now I can go lay down for an hour; often I come back feeling refreshed and am able to attack my to-do list with new energy.

So, maybe it’s not that I used to have some superpower that allowed me to push through the down days, maybe I’m just better at acknowledging them and reacting appropriately. Sure, there are lots of times when I have conference calls or deadlines that force me to keep engaged when I’d much rather watch TV or take a nap. But I’ve come to accept that my work day doesn’t just happen between 8 and 5; I can, and do, work very odd hours. In addition, when I’m done with my work for the day I’m done; I don’t have a boss who wanders around trying to catch me goofing off. I still sometimes have that mindset, that I’m required to sit at my desk for a certain number of hours, being available in an instant in the event somebody wants something from me. The wonderful truth is that I don’t have to do that. If my head hurts, I can take a pill and go lay down until it passes. If I can’t focus on a particular task, I can put it to the side and do something my reduced attention span will allow. If I’m on fire, I can work ten hours straight without a break. It’s up to me to choose how to respond to the context of each day as it happens – to go with the flow of the highs and the lows.

What a gift.
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photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

 

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Give it a Rest

Joey Sleeping

When I worked as a stage manager one of the things I did was to help actors memorize their lines. Mostly I threatened them with bodily harm if they weren’t off book by tech week, and that usually did the trick (I’m only half kidding). But through working with actors I learned a lot about how people learn, and absorb information, and make connections with words and ideas. I discovered that there was one surefire way to help someone struggling to come up with the right words at the right time: put down the script and walk away. Go to a movie. Read a book. Go to dinner with your best friend. Sleep on it. Do anything to take your mind completely off of the words you’re desperately trying to memorize. Give your brain a rest. If you do that, it’s amazing what happens – in a few hours and with no strain the lines will appear in your mind (well, usually anyway).

This working from home thing is a constant struggle for me in some ways. Mostly I get paralyzed when I don’t have a grip on what needs to be done in what order, because working for myself gives me more choices about what I do and when than I’ve ever had before. This is a good thing when I need to go to the grocery store, or do some laundry, or help my husband with his computer in the middle of the day. It’s bad when I’m trying to do things that aren’t necessarily connected to a deadline; I tend to put things off if I don’t feel that they are pressing. So those things start to pile up, and I begin the downward spiral of inactivity breeding guilt, which results in more procrastination, until all forward motion comes to a screeching halt.

That’s when I need to get the hell out of Dodge.

I know that walking away from my laptop is sometimes the most effective thing I can do to get me going again. Sometimes I get to actually go out of town. Sometimes I can find other ways to distract myself, but it’s hard to do when I know the thing is just sitting here, making me feel guilty for not checking my email every five minutes. It’s a vicious cycle.

But I did get a break this weekend (my sister and I went to visit my mother for Mother’s Day), and I’ve come back re-focused and ready to go. I’ve gotten more done in the last two days than I managed to accomplish all of last week (at least that’s what it feels like). And the marketing initiative for the event planning business that I’ve been toying with finally became clear, and I’ve actually written some things down.

Other stuff happened, too. I got a message last week from a long-lost connection, a friend really, looking to touch base. We had an amazing conversation, and when I got off the phone I felt like I could leap tall buildings again. When I get un-stuck it seems as if the energy I lost all comes back to me bearing gifts.

Y’all don’t know this, but this is my 50th blog post. I am very proud to have hit this milestone; when I started the blog I thought it would be a miracle if I managed to post anything at all after the first few. But here we are. I might post 50 more. I just need to make sure I walk away every now and then.

 

 

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