Making changes

So I’ve known for a while that I’ve wanted to change some things about the overall shape of my life. I was fried too much of the time. I was accomplishing a lot but never felt at ease or rested. I had pulled back some from 2011’s two speeds of “dead run” and “asleep,” but I still wasn’t feeling like I could ever get out from under a “must-do list” longer than my lifespan.

The first helpful thing I did was to phrase this in terms of things I wanted – not just things I was running away from. I don’t think I ever wrote this down (though maybe it’s in a journal or on a scrap of paper somewhere), but it was along the lines of:

  • Reclaim my time from the obligations of my job, and the obligations I’ve imposed upon myself
  • Feel tranquility around me and within myself
  • Re-find and occupy my center, so I can move deliberately when I choose to do so

These things were, by and large, things I wanted to feel, not things I wanted to do.  Though I did want to feel like doing certain things, too:

  • Feel like cooking is a pleasure and a conscious act of nourishment, not just “preventing hunger”
  • Feel like I can do things because I want to do them – “leisure activities” instead of “work” (including work at home)
  • Feel like engaging with other people, not just hiding from them because interacting takes so much energy
  • Feel like exercising – not forcing myself, but actually wanting to do it

And there were some things I wanted: this house, fittings for the house, and now gardens and fruit trees. (Can you believe I went an entire year when the idea of putting plants in the ground didn’t excite me? Or even felt like “just another duty”? Yeah, I was that wiped out.) Even just admitting that I wanted things and that it’s ok for me to want things was kind of a leap.

So…I feel like I’ve done a lot of this stuff. I’m “over the hump” at work, and each subsequent hump will be smaller than the ones before. We bought and settled into the house, and over break I was able to draw a line around “enough” in terms of what the house needs to be functional and “done” for now. And then we also finished those things – the smoke detectors, the superfluous but very pretty heat register covers, etc.

Now I’m past the vacation, and going back to work. And the interesting thing is how I am watching myself heading right back to my accustomed way of doing things. Those customs don’t actually fit anymore.  I no longer have to spend disproportionate amounts of my energy at work – but I have to remember how to move more slowly, and with less dire urgency.  As that energy has returned, just coming home, making dinner, and reading all evening doesn’t feel like enough to be doing each night. Before, it was fine, because each evening, I was also trying to replenish my depleted stores of rest and energy. But now, I can tell I’ve got some energy left, and some inclination to use it for…something.  That’s a big change.

And that’s the topic for another post.



  1. deendeens said,

    January 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    OMG we’re so much alike. It was like I could have written that post myself. I, too, had to step way way back from Transition because, like everything, I made it a job instead of a pleasure. And figuring out how to interact socially without it being depleting is …a challenge. Good for you, sister, taking back your life!!!

    • Emily said,

      January 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

      re: jobs vs. pleasure: People often ask or assume I’d really prefer to leave my current job and take one in a field closer to my heart – something to do with local food, for example. The thing is – it’s often easier to be effective when you’re not emotionally tied to the subject matter. And it’s honestly a relief to be able to go home at 5pm and leave work at the office. I can’t do that with core issues and I think it could be a huge mistake to make my avocation my vocation, as well. I can’t do the same thing all day, every day. I need to focus on different things or I’ll go nuts. I think if I took a job in local food, I’d also need to take up kayaking or music or something completely different just for balance!

  2. ahautevoixdotcom said,

    January 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Those are all such good thoughts! Thinking in terms of what you want to feel is such a good idea, that’s a good self-reminder for me, too.
    They say that your brain can’t hear the negative part of a phrase such as “don’t be anxious, don’t freak out”, and instead incorporates the anxiety. It’s a shift to say, “things are ok, breathe.”
    I totally hear what you are saying, too, about drawing a line around things, because of /course/ there’s an infinite number of things that could be done, and the trick is to get to and remain in the place where you have the energy & /want/ to do some of them, joyfully, instead of feeling weighted by the burden of all that hasn’t been done /yet/.

    • Emily said,

      January 18, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Yeah, and “don’t freak out” is useless, because you are feeling this stuff, and you’ve got to do something with those feelings. If you’re not going to freak out, what ARE you going to do?

      It’s amazing how distractable we are. If the only thing to focus on is something negative, like fear or pain, it’s almost impossible to pay attention to anything else. But if you wave a shiny in front of us, we can often focus on that long enough to get out of the black hole of whatever’s dragging us down.

      • January 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm

        Yes! That’s that energy discussion we were having earlier. One of the things that most helps me when I start to feel blah is to remember I can move energy, from something that doesn’t help me to something else that will.
        (Also that tiredness can feel like sadness, but it /isn’t/ necessarily!)

      • ahautevoixdotcom said,

        January 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm

        (which is also not to say that there haven’t been plenty of times where, as Pam Houston writes, I ‘couldn’t have seen my way out of a paper bag’ … and then some.)

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