I prepared this post before I saw the news. I wrestled with whether to go ahead and run it as scheduled, or just let it rest a day or two. I decided to post it. But before I do, I just want to say to the people in Oklahoma devastated by tornadoes, looking for missing loved ones, especially children: I have no words. I am so, very, very sorry. I cried with you today.
Wow. Thank you to everyone who offered your generous support when I vomited my funk all over you last week.
(It sounds like you sent me money. I did not receive money, but money would have been so great.)
Not just the way you encouraged me in the comments, but many of you also e-mailed me and spoke to me in person, and assured me you loved me even in my funk. You just have no idea how much that helped.
I really do feel better. Lighter. Centered.
Which brings me to my next funk:
Apparently, in addition to the blog funk, it appears I also have a focus funk. Or maybe it’s a productivity funk.
Or maybe it’s stress or a virus.
Perhaps a hint of depression. Or PMS. Or pregnancy.
Just kidding. I’m NOT pregnant! Not even a hint.
Or maybe it’s just allergies (that’s my husband’s diagnosis for everything).
Whatever it is, I find myself lacking the energy or focus or interest to complete anything that must be completed (Think exercise. Think laundry. Think writing. Think scheduling the painter-guy. Think registering the kids for summer camp. Think switching out winter clothes for summer clothes in the kids’ closets. It’s 90 degrees outside and my 6-year-old is wearing sweaters and knit leggings).
I just look at it all with dread.
And walk away.
Last week, I wanted to nap a lot.
What I needed to do was return some phone calls. Go through the paper pile. Grocery shop.
Most days, though, napping won over the paper pile.
Through it all, I’m learning something about life: Much the same way life is seasonal, it is also rhythmic. There are ebbs and flows, like the incoming and outgoing tide. Similar to seasons, but shorter in duration. Less predictable. Ever-changing. Harder to recognize. Sometimes they come and go and we hardly notice.
Definition of Rhythm: an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech
You know what I like best about that definition? The “ordered” part. In our productivity-driven society, it’s difficult to conceive that maybe the “weak elements” of life are just as “ordered” as the “strong elements.”
Unless it’s a planned vacation (once annually) or bedtime (even that produces guilt in most people), we should bring our A-Game, every day, always. No time to waste. Right?
We love beach vacations. And one of my favorite things in the whole world is walking (or running—depending on how I feel) on the beach in the morning. I seriously look forward to it all year long. I like to get up before everyone else, drink a cup of coffee on the balcony of our condominium, and breathe in the salty air. Then I lace up my running shoes and head out alone for an hour or two of exercise. And blessed clarity.
There’s a bit of an art to walk/running on the beach. Ideally, it’s best to walk during low tide. As the water recedes, the beach widens and the sand is flat and hard—perfect for exercise.
Problem is, the tide doesn’t always cooperate with my coffee schedule. The tide comes in a different time every day. So, if I don’t adjust my schedule (or my expectations!) according to the tide chart, I find myself trudging through the deep, soft sand to avoid the incoming surf.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried running in deep, soft sand, but it’s awkward. And difficult. And a little painful. It involves staring at your feet, trying not to turn an ankle. Trying not to step on sunbathers and sandcastles and children building sandcastles. It means more focus on your feet than on the breathtaking ocean licking your running shoes.
You walk like you had a little too much Kahlua in that morning coffee.
It’s like that with rhythms of life, too. Some days—like every one last week—I battle to do the simplest of daily chores. I stare at the calendar and try to decipher whose lunch I need to pack, and it feels like algebra to me. (If algebra is easy for you, scratch that analogy). Everything requiring mental or physical exertion feels like I’m trudging through soft sand—way harder than it would be during low tide. Difficult to cover ground with any speed or grace. Trying not to hurt myself.
So, that’s where I’ve been. I say it’s been a week, but it’s probably been more like two or three. Doesn’t really matter, because this is how I’m handling it:
I’m going with it.
I’m not fighting it. I’m not cursing it. I’m not questioning it. (OK, I’m questioning it a little). But I’m embracing it while I’m also questioning it.
I’m reading more. I’m taking a few naps. I’m sitting quietly on the deck and watching the sunrise. And also the sunset. I’m walking instead of running. Yoga instead of weights.
I’m meeting my friend for breakfast instead of diving into another house project. And I’m lingering over breakfast instead of rushing off to Target or Kroger or home. I’m cooking simple meals and taking my time cleaning up. I’m looking over my never-ending to-do list and choosing only the most urgent thing. And then I’m taking all day to do the urgent thing, if I need to.
Some things are falling through the cracks, and I’m not freaking out about it.
Basically, I’m behaving like a retiree.
…an ordered and recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements…
Yes, I know, sometimes you just need to tackle the thing you dread, command your booty to move and tell yourself no. I get that. For crying out loud, if you are out of groceries and no one has clean underwear, then please don’t take a nap. Get some food and wash some clothes, even if it’s hard and even if it takes all day to get it done.
But now is not the time to worry about it. Not very much, anyway. Don’t beat yourself up because you’ve logged a few unproductive days on your calendar. It’s not that big of a deal.
I guess I’ve lived long enough to know that soon enough the “weak element” eventually retreats and the “strong element” rushes back in.
A burst of energy. A hyper focus. A crystal clarity.
When it does, I wipe out a ridiculous amount of work in a very short time. And it is awesome. But until then…
I’m recognizing the rhythm of my life and going with it.
*Note: Sometimes a “funk” and “lack of focus” can also mean clinical depression (or pregnancy). Friday, I’ll be sharing with you several questions I ask myself when I’m in a funk to determine the underlying cause of my funk and whether or not I should be alarmed.
If you think you may be depressed, please don’t wait until Friday. Pick up the phone and call your doctor today. You don’t want to mess with depression.
If you think you may be pregnant, go to Target and buy a $5 pregnancy test to put your mind at ease. And if you are pregnant, I suppose congratulations are in order.