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Kicking the 'stressing out' habit

July 1st, 2006 · 7 Comments

Sometimes, it can seem as if there is just TOO MUCH to do.  That there are simply not enough hours in the day, and that you need to let anything that isnt super urgent and important slide until you have time to do it. 

JuggleAnd even though you let those ‘less urgent’ things go, you still seem to have way too much on your plate, and every time you stop to think or to speak with someone else, you remember another thing or three that must be done today and add them to your list.

You feel like a juggler who is juggling way too many balls in the air.

I love this quote about this:

life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name
them work, family, health, friends, and spirit — and you’re keeping all of
these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you
drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health,
friends and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be
irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never
be the same.

- Brian Dyson CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises from 1959 – 1994

These past few weeks, I have been feeling like a very bad juggler in a third-rate circus, hardly managing to keep the balls in the air at all, and lunging after some of them just-in-time to stop them smashing to the ground.  Only to turn around and realise another one is just about to hit the floor.  Agghh…

My heatlh has suffered.  My fitness has suffered even more (actually some of that had to do with the ankle I sprained a few weeks ago, which stopped my gym workouts temporarily while it healed).  My business has suffered a little too – Sanctuary will be late for July because I simply had to let that ball bounce for a couple of days.

And you should see the state of my desk!!

It is all a sign of the chaos in my mind.  Yes I have been really busy working.  Yes, it is school holidays so there are additional demands from the kids (and the usual doctor and dentist type checkups to take them to).  Yes, my husband has been working on a major, major project so he has been working ridiculous hours.  And yes, in the midst of this we have been considering dog ownership.  I must be certifiable.

And to top it all off, the fridge has been emitting some very nasty smells the last two days.

And so my cure for my disorganised mind is quite simple.

It’s Saturday.  I attacked my refrigerator this morning.  There are clear, clean shelves now.  I even dug into the nether regions of my freezer and chucked anything that had been in there since the turn of the century (and stuff that just looked like it had).  I have reduced the pile of washing in the laundry to nothing!!  I am taking a week off work next week – that ball WILL bounce – and so is hubby, and we are going to spend the week with the kids while they are on holidays.  We may get some paving done around our new shed, but if we dont get to it, no-one is going to stress too much.

I am knitting a throw rug, and joined a three-week craft class on Wednesday nights with my mother, and my mother-in-law (cute, huh?).

Now, none of this will get the work done.  But what it does is clear my head, clear my to-do list some, and allow me space to breathe.  As I wrote about recently here, I have a tendency to over-think things.  To analyse them to death.  So, the knitting and the crazy patchwork, and the fridge cleaning and the decluttering (that will be a big one this week) and the organising (my study, in particular) will all help to clear the junk out of my head, and create some room for what is truly important and life affirming to me.

David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, talks about Mind Like Water.  I love this concept, even though I have been forgetting about it lately.  To quote from Chapter 1:

It’s a condition of working, doing and being in which the mind is clear and constructive things are happening.  It’s a state that is accessible by everyone, and one that is increasingly needed to deal effectively with the compexity of life in the twenty-first century.  More and more it will be a required condition for high-performance professionals who wish to maintain balance and a consistent positive output in their work.

As I move through my week, spending valuable time with my dear family and clearing out the old to make way for the new, I will have notebook and pencil ready to record all those things that occur to me – to-do’s, shopping lists, ideas amd inspirations (and possible names for dogs;) so that they are out of my head and I dont have to worry about them any more because I know they are safely recorded for when I can get to them.

I am curious – is your mind like water, or are you finding yourself, like me, with such a whirlwind of thoughts in your head that you cannot concentrate on anything?

Tags: Wonder Woman

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Leah Maclean // Jul 3, 2006 at 11:10 am

    Ah Karen …. I so relate to what you are speaking about ;o) But the mind like water priciple pre-supposes a very particular body of water. Cool, calm, still. But water isn’t always like that.

    Some times water can be dangerous and difficult. It can be a whirlpool, a tidal wave or even frozen over. It can be a safe harbour or a king swell. Or it can be a meditation pond.

    There are times to harness water’s power, times to float in its inky blackness and times to let it flow around you.

  • 2 Chris // Jul 3, 2006 at 11:54 am

    You Go Girl!
    Having spent the last 8 weeks SLOWLY trying to recover not just from major surgery but also the accumulated stresses and exhaustion of the last 12 months, I can’t urge you strongly enough to go look after you.
    Maybe if i’d done that over the last 12 months, i might not have needed the surgery!!

  • 3 Karen Wallace // Jul 3, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for your comments girls!

    After having the theme of Me Time in Sanctuary for June, I was very attuned to taking time out for me, and have been making sure I did take some time each day for some pleasurable activity.

    But what I found was that to quieten my mind from the constant whirlwind (yes, it’s all in my mind) I needed some strategies to ensure I was able to dump stuff out of my mind, to relax and to concentrate more.

    Leah – I agree with you that water can be dangerous and difficult. But what I see the Mind Like Water principle to be all about is the water (mind) responding in a totally appropriate manner when a pebble is tossed in. And then returning to calm once the predictables ripples have occured. It is about not overreacting or underreacting.

    Lately my mind was doing a little too much of creating a whirlwind from each breath of air – when it should have been gently swaying in the breeze.

  • 4 Emmer // Jul 20, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    I’m about to start a new “ceremonial” exercise each morning that is suppose to clear your mind and allow you to have a moment of peace and togetherness with your “Self” before you start each day. You’re suppose to wake up and light a small candle. The idea is to just stare at the flickering flame for five minutes and concentrate on your breathing. You’re suppose to clear you mind and just “be.” I’m told it’s a good way to start you day without the chaos you tend to want to bring with you. I’m all into getting out of my head for a moment so I can gain a bit of calm. Great post Karen.
    Toodles, Maryanne

  • 5 Rosa Say // Jul 27, 2006 at 1:29 am

    Aloha Karen,
    Your post is one I think most working women can all relate to.

    I smiled at your refrigerator episode, for as much as we may revolt against the stereotyping, we do share those times where a good cleaning of something housewifery feels very stress lifting and liberating!

  • 6 The Success Coach // Jul 30, 2006 at 1:48 am

    Looking over current posts, it’s easy to see why our columnist selected to include you in her blog review “Paving a Pathway Of Success Through The Blogosphere” which we recently published.

    As you have an opportunity perhaps you’ll come by for a look. We wish you continued success.

    Roy Fox
    For Your Success

  • 7 Angela // Jul 31, 2006 at 11:21 am

    I have been experiencing the stress from the ball juggling you speak of and I am desperately trying to keep all of my balls in the air. Ironically, the one that I am most afraid to let drop is the one that is the most resilient — work. Sounds like I need to get my priorities in order.

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