Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Toss, Restore, Organize Yourself

I recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In her book she devised a methodical plan to enhance the quality of her already very fortunate life after realizing that she isn't as happy and grateful as she could be.

Since I lost my mom 6 months ago, it's been difficult to be grateful. It's been hard to not envy those accomplishing great things around me. It's been hard to find energy and a reason to do anything that doesn't provide instant gratification. And we all know the plight of instant gratification... it never pays off in the long run and it usually hurts you or someone around you. Many recent attempts at getting my mind, routine, and household back in order have failed.

Something shifted in me when I was surrounded by my friends and family in my own backyard on Mother's Day this year. My new miserable self was washed out by the hand of those who love me. They brought gifts, their kids, wine, plants, food, and lots of love. This is what they chose to do on Mother's day. Still, I was plagued by negative feelings throughout the day. At first I felt unworthy of their generosity. Then I felt guilty that I hadn't done anything for the mothers in my life. Then I began to compare myself to them and allow myself to feel like a horrible person. Finally it occurred to me that all of the love and energy that they put forth would be wasted if I couldn't accept it. How self-centered and ungrateful of me! When I woke up the next day I was absolutely disgusted at myself and I refused to continue to lick the boots of self pity and self loathing.

Ready to move forward, I decided to create a happiness project of my own because it uses a chart to track progress. Under normal circumstances I might consider this all some formulaic scheme used to capitalize on depressed people trying to find an easy fix. But the way I see it right now is as one more tool to help pull me out of the weeds because after all, my mom died and passivity is making the situation worse. Ok, so maybe the whole charting thing seems a little paint-by-numberish, but that's exactly why I thought it might be good for me. Stress causes my thoughts to dissolve into a hazy abyss of nothingness, never to be retrieved. Any good ideas or motivation quickly disperses like a recent dream that can't be recounted. I'm pretty overwhelmed and confused a lot of the time. My friends and family often catch me staring off into Nowhereland instead of listening. I've always been this way, but especially recently. I could use some serious structure in my life right now. For someone as dizzy and scattered as myself, the only thing harder than following a regimen is creating one. So I'm basically using a pre-made one. A t.v. dinner life plan if you will. One thing that has always created some clarity in my brain is writing my thoughts down, making lists, and sketching out ideas. I've kept a journal since I could write. Wowee, the thoughts of a 6 year old are way more intelligent and pure than the twisted thoughts of a 15 year old, at least in my case. It's always hard to read them without cringing but I find bits of good advice for my future self in them too. Journaling almost felt like an addiction at times but I am glad I wrote it all down. Something I realized this year is that lessons learned in the past aren't necessarily lessons we'll remember. I am often impressed by my old self. But journalling stopped when I had kids. Every entry I've attempted since they were born is incomplete. I'd run off to deal with something and never make it back. And that is why I quit trying to keep up with my blog.

Back to the project! Every month you focus on an area of your life that needs improvement. I followed Gretchen Rubin's lead and went for ENERGY first! This consists of creating more physical and mental energy, and being more productive. Every day I will...
  • toss, restore, and organize
  • exercise better
  • tackle a nagging task
  • act with more energy (even when it seems to be gone)
  • and go to bed early
This is the perfect time to resurrect my blog, something that I've been wanting to do for a while. This way I can keep track of my journey and have a little more accountability, but also document all of the things in my life that I have to be so grateful for and get my journaling fix. I'm hoping that my blog will encourage me to be more creative and reconnected with communities that I relate to. I am really excited about blogging right now and have a lot of ideas. (I better write them down.) The most important thing I am trying to remember is what Mom would tell me to do right now. What would she want for me? the boys? my marriage? This journey is for you too Mom.
I love you and miss you so much and I know that you want peace, love, and happiness for me. I'm using you as a model because you already showed me how to become everything I have ever wanted to be. -Cam Cam