I am at a breaking point. I find myself at the end of a long (who knows how long this time) stretch of biting off more than I can chew and now I am simply spent. Emotionally and physically spent. I have this pattern of piling things on and piling things on, convinced that I can tackle an infinite number of projects and relationships simultaneously. I am the world’s greatest multi-tasker, after all. The cycle always starts innocently enough, but with each perfectly executed task my confidence grows and grows until I lose sight of myself and my most basic needs…sleep, exercise, food, emotional stability. Instead my need to be challenged and be creative becomes an addiction and before I know it, I’m at O’Hare airport’s security checkpoint being asked to place my purse inside of my suitcase so as not to exceed the 2-carry on limit. It is at this point that I don’t know whether I should punch her right in her asshole face or find the closest bathroom stall so I can have a much needed emotional meltdown. What goddamn difference does it make if I have an extra carry on when it’s going under my seat? Truly, I ask you, what difference does it make???
The good news is I had the smarts to open up my laptop and write this post instead of jabbing the woman. The good ole cry will still happen, though I’m saving it for my two hour drive home from DIA. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, I love to cry. In this case I actually look forward to it, puffy red face and all. I have about a million more feelings than any man (and a lot of women) I know, so for them I can compare it to what it’s like when you are either really sick or really hungover and the best thing you can do is sweat it out in a steam room. Crying is the cure for a feelings hangover. It gets rid of the nasty emotional toxins that are clouding up my otherwise powerful, rational brain. It’s not a sign of weakness, but just my mind’s natural way of cleaning house and making room for fresher, brighter and happier thoughts once more. This all being said, it’s a pretty shitty cycle to repeat over. and over. and over again. So how do I stop it from starting up again?
Right at the start of 2016 I read a blog by Mark Manson, who some of you may recognize as the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck,” (Google it, I’m too tired to figure out how the hell to insert a hyperlink right now) one of the most brilliant pieces of writing I’ve ever experienced. This time his topic was the inevitable futility of New Year’s goals and resolutions. He basically says they’re all shit and what we should really be focusing on if we want a path to betterment is creating better habits, not on setting ourselves up for utter failure and disappointment through a series of singularly defined accomplishments (or lack thereof). He then goes on to list off what he perceives as the top habits to cultivate for anyone looking to be better at life – not surprisingly they are things like exercising, meditating, reading, writing, cooking. He also believes in the power of the 30-day challenge. You’ll recall I am already a 30-day expert what with my Iphone detox last year. I also did 30 days of yoga last June, though I never did get around to writing about that experience. (Side note: I am incredibly overdue for a tribute to yoga and all that it has done for my quality of life. Stay tuned for that one soon.) Clearly, Mark Manson and I are geniuses of a like mind. So since I read his latest musings about habit development, I’ve been thinking about how I can apply his theory to my own life. What habits would I see the most benefit from and where do I begin? Reaching the tragic end of my self-inflicted cycle of doom today may very well present the very opportunity I have been looking for. The pattern I am trying to end is actually the result of compounded bad habits, though, and what I’ve read about trying to kick any bad habit is that it sometimes helps to replace bad habits with good habits (i.e. replacing happy hour bad decisions with CrossFit workouts). It’s not to say I don’t already have some good ones. Yoga is my mainstay and I am relatively conscious about what I put into my body, vacations and girls weekends notwithstanding. What I need to identify are some simple changes or habits that can help prevent these manic, emotional downward spirals from ever growing legs. I am increasingly anxious about work-related matters and to be perfectly honest, I need to be doing more with my career. But you can only have so much energy to spread across all areas of your life and despite having my best year ever in sales last year, I still put energy into things that are so much less important. Like cleaning. The older I get, the more and more OCD I become about cleaning. To the point where I own 3 Shark uprights, a Roomba and a Dyson handheld. My vacuum collection is nearly as impressive as my handbag collection at this point. It’s utter madness. My obsession with keeping every inch of our house (the one I share with 3 people and 2 dogs) is really unhealthy and it takes away from the time I spend with my family. It drives Sean absolutely nuts because watching me clean makes him feel unnecessarily guilty and it takes my attention away from him and the kids. So I’ve decided to try something really scary. I’m going to give myself one night a week to clean and that’s all. Beyond normal kitchen clean up, that’s all I get. No obsessing about the crumbs inside the heat vents or the grease that managed to get inside the panes of glass of the oven door (yes, I had Sean unhinge and take apart all twelve parts of our oven door the other week so I could get it off). One night, that’s it. Plus the twice monthly professional cleans. I would give up my handbags for those in a New York minute.
My hope is that freeing up not just the time, but the head space I have been giving to order and perfection in my home will allow me to put back some quality effort into my career and quality time toward my husband. A 30-day challenge is coming in February where the hubs is concerned, and maybe he’ll let me write about it. His mom reads this blog, though, so I’m guessing no. As a lot of us know, marriage is hard, even when you’ve been blessed with a really incredible partner who looks like Tom Cruise if Tom Cruise were cool enough to grow facial hair. Keeping things interesting doesn’t come naturally like it did when we were 27 and partying all the time (and yet somehow were never tired). It’s so cliche, but oh so true: a partnership is work and I need to do a better job of working the partnership if you get what I mean. We will be reaching our 7-year wedding anniversary next month and I want to honor that milestone appropriately…and maybe just a little bit inappropriately.
These are just, well, things I’ve been ruminating on and only time will tell how successful I am, but I recently heard a quote in one of my yoga classes that I can’t get out of my head. Saying it to myself brings me peace and encouragement in equal measure:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”