Alone but not lonely (until I am)

Photo by Mo Riza

Photo by Mo Riza

Willy came home from a night class on Monday – the first class he’s taken since the winter semester 2012 (a year ago). It was 10:00PM when he got in. He came over to me and looked a bit sad and said something like:

“You’ve been here all night alone!”

“Yes,” I didn’t get where he was going with this

“And you did this almost every night last year.”

“Yes.”

“You just sat around all alone,” he said, and then after a beat added, “No, actually, that’s not true. You got things done while I was gone at school.”

A light when on in my head. “Yes I did, didn’t I?”

And that, folks, was when I realized the difference between last year and everything I got accomplished versus this year. The presence of my husband verses  him not being around as much.

I’ve been thinking about this all week (while procrastinating writing this post). Whenever I’m all alone in the house, I’m motivated to do things. Whenever there’s someone around, that motivation dies. The mornings when Willy isn’t around when I wake up (which is rare), I get up, have a shower, read my Bible, and have  a full morning. When he’s away or there are other people around, I’m a bum. I don’t always read my Bible ( I do always shower) but… it’s just different.

This is my guess as to why: I’m an extrovert, who sometimes cherishes my alone time but when there’s too much, I go stir-crazy. At first when I was getting used to Willy being away at school, I watched all the movies I wanted to that he didn’t. I was like a kid in a candy store. But that got old fast and I realized I was quickly going to rot my brain and waste my life. I was also getting stir-crazy so that’s when I got productive. But when people are around, it messes with me. I feel like I need to be chatting with them, engaging with them. I have a hard time ignoring my husband when he’s around. Like when I’m reading my Bible, it feels private and personal (despite the fact that I often end up telling him about what I’m reading thinking after… see where this gets confusing?) and so I feel a bit abashed to know people are seeing me doing it.

This past Friday, a bunch of friends were going skating. I decided to stay back because I get sore feet when I skate and can’t stay out as long as others, making me a kill-joy. I wanted to do something social, but I asked a few friends and they were all busy. So, I was left alone, which I wasn’t particularly excited about.

But I remembered I hadn’t baked in a while and so I did that. I ended up really enjoying my evening alone!

So I think the lesson here is that I need to institute some time where I’m actually entirely alone, without anyone around — even my dearest loved one. It wont be Monday nights when Willy’s in class, because I’m taking a class, too.

What do the “winter blues” feel like for me?

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left forgotten and unpublished. This was originally dated Nov 12 2012.

It occurred to me this week that I’ve talked about feeling the “winter blues” and I make casually reference in conversations with my friends to feeling “emo” (emotional) sometimes, but I’ve never really explained to anyone what I mean when I say that. Sure, it’s clear enough to get the point across: I don’t feel totally emotionally healthy that day, but what do I feel?*

I’m a person who has always been pretty introspective and in touch with my emotions. I’ve always been able to put a name to what I feel and how I’m doing. I’m also pretty aware of my physical health as well. I’ve never really had to explain to people what certain things feel like. I never felt the need. I know what’s what in my own life and I manage it accordingly.

It never occurred to me that being more specific about what it feels like might be helpful for others to interpret what’s going on in their lives.

This week a few different people mentioned that they have felt lonely recently. That piqued my interest. Partially because I’m saddened by the idea that my friends feel lonely, but mostly because my winter blues feels like loneliness. Why don’t you just say you’re lonely, Jess? Why do you say you have the winter blues? Because I know I’m not actually lonely.

Here’s the other clue. It feels like sadness of the heart. When I have a combination of loneliness and heart-sadness I call this “emo.” This usually happens in  fall up until the end of December, as I’ve already mentioned. In December I’m rarely actually lonely. I’m out with friends celebrating Christmas parties, or with family for actual Christmas. But I rarely have the energy or desire to do things like go cross-country skiing with my family during those holidays and I feel sad and lonely even with them thereThat’s why I say I’m not actually lonely. I’m with people who love me and I love and care for them in return. I don’t feel isolated when I’m with them. But my brain and my heart say something different.

Call it what you may. It only happens from the months of September to December and there’s a remedy for it as I talked about in my post I LOVE LAMP!

If you find you’re feeling a little bit sad and a little bit lonely, consider if you’re exercising and taking Vitamin D, and as always make sure you’re not isolating yourself from your friends and family. You don’t want to make a self-fulfilling prophecy for loneliness.

*I don’t know what it feels like for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional and my advice is based on what has worked for me in the past based on how I feel and what I know to be true about my life and situation.

Manage your day-to-day

manage-your-day-to-dayLast month I read Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by assorted authors. Each chapter was an essay written by productivity/life-hacking experts like Leo Babauta, Seth Godin, Scott Belsky etc.. It was a great read considering it had helpful, distilled, ideas by great leaders in this area, all for only $4 on Kindle.

The book itself is meant to help creatives harness their energy to get their work done. Writers, designers, speakers etc sometimes have a hard time getting to the “real work” because they’re too busy responding to emails or putting out fires set by other people. Here are a few of the quotes that really stuck out to me:

Gretchen Rubin On Writing

“Because I write every day, no one day’s work seems particularly important.”
“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”

Seth Godin on Honing your creative practice

“Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it.”

“The reason you might be having trouble with your practice in the long run—if you were capable of building a practice in the short run—is nearly always because you are afraid.”

“These people sabotage themselves because the alternative is to put themselves into the world as someone who knows what they are doing.”

Tony Schwartz on Building Renewal into your workday

“What’s changed is that between digital technology and rising complexity, there’s more information and more requests coming at us, faster and more relentlessly than ever.”

“Sleep is more important than food.”

And my favourite:

“Waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train.”

-Leigh Michaels

These essays reminded me of what I already know and have said many times: you have to fight to prioritize the important stuff, even if it’s your job to do that stuff. I particularly appreciated the sections on writing. They were a good reminder, that “real” writers don’t wait for inspiration to hit, they have to show up every day to “work” too, even if it is their make-shift kitchen table office. Great food for thought.

I recommend it if you’re trying to figure out how to manage your physical energy, time or creative energy. It’s a steal at $4.03!

Mistakes in Overthinking Productivity

Now that the long weekend is over and you may be trying to get back into the groove of things after some time off, here are some great tips from TimeManagementNinja: 7 Mistakes You’re Making By Overthinking Your Productivity.

  1. Having Too Many Tools
  2. Waiting for the Perfect Time
  3. Overplanning
  4. Thinking There is Only One Way
  5. Creating Too Complex of a System
  6. Not Making Decisions
  7. Not Starting

Read the rest of the article on his blog to see the details.

“Keep Your Goals To Yourself”

“What are your goals for your summer?” a group of us were asked with regards to this summer. A coworker replied, “I’m not telling,” and shared this video. I wanted to share it with you for the sake of discussion.

While I see where he’s coming from (research and science do have sway, that’s for sure), I’m naive enough to believe that I’ve averted this problem by sharing extensively about the journey of getting to my goals. I can see how this is probably true for a lot of people, though.

What did you think? I’d love to hear if you agree, mostly agree, disagree and why. Share in the comments.

The Energy Project

energy-audit

I found this quiz on the weekend that I wanted to share with you. It’s called the Energy Audit. It asks a series of questions about your performance at work, how you feel at work, whether you are doing the things you want to do etc and then ranks you out of 100% on being physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally energized. I scored 40%, lowest on the mental energy score which I would tend to agree with. I received an email in my inbox highlighting the problematic statements I affirmed, which helps me to hone in on what to improve. None of them surprise me, I knew they were bad as soon as I clicked them:

  • I often eat lunch at my desk, if I eat lunch at all.
  • I frequently find myself feeling irritable, impatient or anxious at work, especially when demand is high.
  • I have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time and I am easily distracted during the day, especially by email.
  • I spend much of my time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with longer-term value and leverage.
  • I rarely have any time when my mind is quiet and free of thoughts.
  • My decisions at work are often more influenced by external demands than by a strong, clear sense of my own purpose.

I have to admit, if I had done this test this time last year, the scores would have been a whole lot different. Since then, and since the inception of this blog, I have made a lot more positive changes.

To take the Energy Audit yourself by clicking here. Don’t forget to come back and share in the comments your score with some ideas on how you can improve!

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