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A Reminder For Structure And For Being Open To Changing Directions

Today I feel like a C on an otherwise brilliant report card, like a first detention. The vehicle of my day took a hard left in the middle of an afternoon joyride, and I’ve been trying to pull it out of the swamp it’s become mired in.

Photo by  beasty .  on  Unsplash

Photo by beasty . on Unsplash

I’m not very intentional about planning my weekends that work for my mind and body. A typical weekend looks like me sleeping in, sitting around for the first half of the day, panicking and trying to work for a few hours, going to the latest available yoga class and then dinner and watching movies and TV for the rest of the evening.

To say this type of weekend is unhealthy for me is an understatement. I’ve known it for a while, but usually by the end of the week I’m ready to stop thinking about anything and just go on autopilot for a few days.

Yesterday was the picture of pallid perfection as far as my standard Saturday goes, but I had some time-sensitive work to do today (and my husband was out), so my day was already feeling disrupted. The good news is that I got plenty of work done and avoided feeling too much like I hadn’t done enough. The bad news?

I started to head out to yoga for the 5:45 class. But muddled work-minded Emily forgot that the last class on Saturdays and Sundays starts at 5:30, and I had already missed the start of class. In less than a minute, my grand plans for a good sweat session after a rigorous work day were completely foiled, and my evening derailed from there.

So what do you do when your plans are a nonstarter?

Well, in my case, you sit scrolling through Instagram for a half an hour and zone out as Hello, Darkness My Old Friend plays on loop in your mind. I curled myself up into a tiny ball and sat with my back to the wall in our tiny hallway, trying to find funny memes to bring me a smile.

After I realized that I had spent over half of what would have been my yoga class just sitting in the darkening hallway, I finally pulled myself off the floor. If only you could have seen me—it was pretty dismal.

The rest of the evening has been a struggle to get back up to that productive feeling I had earlier today, because I haven’t known what to do with myself. But I did find something that helped:

I switched gears completely.

I had puttered around with some cleaning earlier in the day, but after my mind had melted like bad cheese on bad bread, I decided to dive into some deep cleaning that’s been on my mind.

I didn’t push myself to get back to work or to write or to dive right into a home yoga practice, and instead just started slowly scouring strange things in my apartment. I vacuumed under the couch (and all the upholstery that’s gathered bunny fur along the bottom edges). I took apart our living room box fan and scrubbed the blades clear of dust and fur, I vacuumed the air filter and the intake for our air conditioner. I vacuumed the blades of our ceiling fan and the only thing keeping me from taking apart our other box fan was a lack of the proper Philip’s head screwdriver.

I lit candles everywhere and diffused essential oils in the bedroom. I threw every knickknack that didn’t have a proper home into a box (that box now lives on my dining table and I’ll maybe get to it tomorrow).

I found a rug that I love on Amazon, and threw a handful of shower curtains into my shopping cart to show Victor when he got home. I actually threw quite a few things into our Amazon shopping cart without buying them—it just felt nice to feel like I had a little control.

I still didn’t have any structure in my evening, but I worked my way through, going from one action to another without any forethought or expectation. Basically I just cleaned the first things that I saw. I’m thrilled to say that the infamous pile of unsorted things in my room has disappeared thanks to today’s hard shift in my mood. I basically worked to use my unfocused mind and lack of structure to my advantage, instead of fighting against it.

Not quite a perfect ten

I’ve been feeling so well lately that this felt like a few aggrieved steps backwards, but I’m working on remembering how much I’ve appreciated the past week or two of feeling like a normal person for the first time in many moons.

Since I've been feeling a bit more levelheaded, I was also able to contemplate creating a shorthand way of telling my husband what to expect when he comes home to me in this bummer of a state.

I wonder if it would be helpful to have a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is fine and 10 is a full blown meltdown. I figured today was about a 5 or 6 on the sad/anxious scale, and that number made me feel better too. I don’t have to act like I’m perfectly fine, but I can also allow myself the grace of nuance. Plus, a 5 or 6 is manageable. The only answer to a 10 is putting myself to bed, and I’m fortunate to have only had a couple of those this year.

I think we could all use a little allowance for nuance in our lives—we can be functional at a 5 without ignoring ourselves. We don't have to be at a 9 or 10 to give ourselves proper attention. It’s a little tiny check in.

After a full evening of shifting my rusty gears, I feel myself slowly floating back down into a 3 or 4, and I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep to dispel the lingering blues.

Just another manic Monday

I’m wrapping up this Sunday evening with lead-heavy eyelids and a half-clean apartment, and I know that I’ll face many of these same challenges tomorrow. Because Mondays, my work from home days, are a wild card. And it’s usually a rough wild card.

After doing some quiet yoga, I’m going to snuggle up in my bed with a huge mug of Sleepytime tea and my planner and set a few goals for tomorrow. A handful of expectations help keep this girl in check, and I’m getting better about setting reasonable ones for myself. I just have to set them beforehand, because flying by the seat of my pants usually ends up with my pants not leaving my desk chair.

(I stepped outside to take the trash out tonight, just as the sun was setting, and those 60 seconds were my only contact with the outside world today. Tomorrow I’ll set an easy goal of leaving the house for yoga and for one other small adventure—even if it’s to the grocery store or just a walk around the block, I know that will help me stay grounded.)

I hope you get a chance to do something that grounds you tomorrow, something that makes you feel accomplished and satisfied. I can’t wish enough grace for you, and for any day you’re anything but a 1 on that scale, I hope you listen to yourself and love yourself thoroughly.

I’m always a work in progress, and I’m glad that I’m back in working condition after today’s derailment. Sweet, sweet dreams my majestic friends.

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