BBi-2013, Week 15: Recognize Rhythms of Life
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…
Ebbs and flows.
Back and forth.
In and out.
Up and down.
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.
I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and understanding the ebbs and flows of yourself —
Thanks, Steph. Yes…naps are good.
You are on the right track with taking care of yourself. Balance, prioritizing, taking time to refresh at the well. Thanks for sharing the rhythm of life and the hope for better days.
I really dislike those times I’ve descended into a funk. I feel like every bit of energy has been sucked out of me. I am especially irritated by it, as I write extensively at my blog, Too Darn Happy, about finding joy right where you are. . .
Oh my goodness, I totally get what you said about the blog thing! I feel the same way about my blog and the whole balance theme. Like I need to have all these great tips and insights in how to keep it all together. Kinda hard when all you want to do is nap.
So, again…I went with it, and blogged about napping. 🙂
Sometimes getting all the stuff done steals moments you can never get back.
Today, I went to the gym. And instead if meeting with a friend or going shopping or whatever was on my to do list I went home. Had lunch. And put in a load of laundry…..
Then I sat on the couch and watched Rio and drank coffee and snuggled with the cutest 3 year old ever – well at least since 2009-10 when Noah was 3. Then we spent 20 minutes playing with a balloon. Most days I would consider this 2.5 hours wasted. Today, I know better. Ryan will be 4 in 38 days. And I will never have a 3 year old to snuggle and watch movies with again. So it was time well spent.
I don’t think you’re in a funk. I think you are at rest. And hopefully, you can let your expectations of yourself fall for just a moment so you can be a peace too.
Praying for you. That you will enjoy the down time. So that you can be refreshed for the ‘up’ time when it comes around again.
Kelly, sounds like you had a GREAT day. Yes, you are wise to embrace those little 3 year old snuggles. Yesterday for the first time since Elliana started kindergarten, I had a sinking feeling inside that I missed having a little one to tote around with me during the day.
And regarding the funk–yeah, it really IS a funk. Actually, I thought I was pregnant (as if you couldn’t tell from the post) and then I really thought I was sick. It was a complete lack of energy that lasted way too long. I wasn’t sad or irritable–just fatigued and unfocused.
But I’m feeling more energetic today (though I did take a nap!). Oh, who knows. I’m going with it.
I don’t need a trip to Target but I think we all get to these points in time. Sometimes I am like you and pump out a boat load of work in a short period of time and I am like wow. Other times the only way to get the urgent done is make myself do 5 minutes. I also realize a lot of the time I think I am wasting actually sometimes is time well spent as ideas get turned over and over and things get worked out in my head before my hands are willing to give them a try. Sometimes I just need time away to realize I do care and want to do things well. I wish I could “produce at a high level all the time” but I know I can not and I have realized that is ok as long as I don’t ignore the urgent.
All great points, Mark. When I was suffering from major depression but hadn’t yet gone for help, I found myself slipping further and further into ignoring the urgent. Things started piling up and I was double-booking or forgetting appointments. It was terrible.
So, yeah, ignoring the urgent is a bad sign, I think.
Oh, I so relate to the ebbs and flows. Mine are exacerbated by health issues, so I’ve been forced to somewhat “go with” the down times. I’m trying to learn to make the most of those times. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your blog!
Hi Jen! Welcome. I’m interested to know how you make the most of those down times. I could learn from you. 🙂