When you get so overwhelmed that you do more harm than good and either spend your time snapping at people, staring out the window wishing you were somewhere else, or doing your work poorly because you can’t bring yourself to care – it’s time to take a break. (A)
I have a very bad habit of filling all of my time with as many projects and people as possible. In my quest to be productive, this way of doing things can get quite a few mediocre projects done, but I have come to realize over the years that quality may suffer. I want to help everyone and I want to be involved in as many creative endeavors as possible, so I say yes to as many people as I can. However, sometimes I end up frazzled and forgetful.
I am not the kind of person who can stay idle very long, because it makes me extremely anxious to not do anything. Here is a journal entry from November 2007 that explains how I feel sometimes…
A Hurricane Formed by a Butterfly’s Wings
Current mood: restless
The more time that goes by since I decided that upheaval was a truer path than filing my teeth down, the more I see how chaos has been both my friend and the bane of my existence; which is how it should be. Disorder, conundrum, repeating patterns, beauty in Mandelbrot sets, disjointed, ending up in strange situations and places and yet more patterns and random pieces of the spectrum that add up to light to shine out the dark corners.
I read about this condition today (of course now I can’t remember how to spell it) that is a psychological state of such unrest that one must pace anxiously and then pacing becomes painful and one must sit down and then is so unquiet that one must jump up and pace again and back ad infinitum. It can be a side effect of anti-psychotic drugs. I have felt like this sometimes and sometimes it is as if I cannot contain the energy and must pace to siphon some off. It can be a very productive state if channeled correctly or if left unchecked can lead to a panic attack. Which is strange, because I think that most of those who know me see me as a mostly quiet, calm person, except on stage where I can let the monkey out of the cage.
Sometimes I wish for a more quiet existence, but then it feels as if I am being muffled under a hot blanket and melting into a pool of wax. Or just waxing philosophical? Curious, this turn of events…
Yesterday, I accidentally stood up a friend who really needed to talk. He doesn’t have a car or a cell phone and he walked to a coffee shop near my house for my convenience. Where was I? On the other side of town, running errands. I had set a reminder on my phone, but for whatever reason, it never went off. This was forgetfulness and too many irons in the fire on my part – I never stand people up on purpose – and he was very forgiving about it. Nonetheless, I feel that this was an extremely bad lapse on my part. Unfortunately, this is not the first time something like this has happened because I was trying to do too many things at once and attempting to make too many people happy.When I come to a point like this – I realize it’s time to take a day off.
I also realize that I have not been doing the best I can at my day job lately because I am thinking of all of the other things that I want/ need to do. I am still effective, but no where near the excellence I strive for. So, I need to take a step back to see the forest, not just the trees, and where I am in it and where I am trying to go. I also need to realize that while I want to be helpful, sometimes I just can’t. And also that my efforts to help people (not my friend mentioned above,) may do them more harm than good because sometimes they need to figure out things for themselves. Now we all need help sometimes, and that is what friends are for, but it is often when I am forced to take action on my own behalf that I learn the most.
I realize that sometimes, you really, REALLY need to take a day off and you can’t, due to circumstances (single parent with kids, big project with a tight deadline, a job that requires you work the hours you are given or you lose it, etc.) But even in that case, sometimes you need to at least take a couple of hours off. And THIS is when friends really come in handy – to watch the kids for a few hours or work a shift for you or help you with your project so it gets done sooner…
So I think I am going to take a day off soon and sit at home. I will play music and chase my cat around the house and maybe even just lie on the couch for awhile and stare at the ceiling. Then I will go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and think about what is really important to me and what lesser priorities I can let go. And the next day? I will go back to work smiling and refreshed with an updated plan of action and the ability to pick up the slack so someone else can take a much needed day off. I will be newly focused on the creative endeavors that matter the most and be ready for ACTION! Sounds like a plan!