Depleted & Alive, Uprooted & At Home

I knew that moving to another city and state would be a lot of work... But. This. This is intense. And long. It's been weeks of anticipating the change (packing, purging, house hunting, house showing, interstate commuting for James and solo parenting for me), weeks of change (signing a new lease, living out of boxes, living without any boxes, saying good bye and hello), and now weeks probably months of processing the change (unpacking, organizing, living around boxes, building a new infrastructure [think--school, gym, insurance, doctor, bank, car mechanic, internet, babysitter, ballet, gymnastics, library, friends ET CETERA]). Please, friends, do not take your infrastructure for granted. Creating a new one from scratch has given me so much appreciation for everything I left behind. It's like chipping away at a block of ice with a toothpick. Except I want it all to be done with as soon as possible, set up and settled in. (Just typing this makes me click over to research something or call someone...)

But it took years and many recommendations and serendipitous connections to build the old infrastructure in an area where I'd lived for pretty much my whole life. These things take time. Time and patience. And since patience is part of my struggle in this body in this life, I've become somewhat consumed by setting up my new life. Getting it over with and moving along.

Unfortunately, shortcuts aren't always better and "breaks" aren't always healthy. I still don't know if it's normal and acceptable to neglect parts of me when life overwhelms, or if it's a sign that my priorities are mixed up and turned around, that I'm lazy or undedicated or taking unimportant things too seriously at the expense of important things. Earlier this month I wrote a bucket list for savoring October. Now when I see it, especially #10, I scoff at my former self. It seems I do a lot of this on my blog. I write from my stream of consciousness, I publish, and then things change. But this outdated snapshot of my thoughts remains on the internet for anyone to see and know and judge. I avoid going through the archives, but when I do, I usually cringe with contempt for my former self. I am self-conscious and self-critical but somehow recognizing my flaws makes them easier to bear.

I've felt incredibly depleted by the past couple of weeks and by everything still undone. The boxes still in the hall, the pictures still in the boxes, the walls still unpainted, the dishes still in the sink, the laundry still in the basket. The classes I have yet to find, the doctor I have yet to meet, the strangers I have yet to befriend.

This afternoon marks the first time in weeks I've sat down at my computer to write, sitting with the discomfort of being unsettled rather than seeking to sweep it away. I stumbled through the preceding paragraphs, seeking to make sense of this current upheaval and the resulting breed of writer's block. There's just so much to do and not enough time to do it and two little girls who grow up a little more every time I turn around.

But I am also alive and enlivened and excited to start every day. I love exploring and getting to know San Francisco which I find warm and welcoming and winsome. I realize more and more that I am a true city girl. I feel at home in my new home, in my element amongst such activity and energy. Even without an established social network, I feel part of something. I am part of something simply by existing here. Perhaps the potential that I sense in San Francisco, the myriad of opportunities and experiences available, is the reason I am overly eager to get the logistics out of the way so I can focus on making friends and art and a life in the context of these sharp hills and valleys.

Onward.

Are you patient? Any tips on building a new infrastructure or recommendations specific to San Francisco? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Are you doing what you love today?

Have you found something that makes you so clearly happy that you wonder how you ever survived without it? Things like family, sports, creative outlets, maybe your home or community or even a great job.

But then life gets in the way and you stop running or painting or staying ahead at work or paying much attention to your spouse or kids. Something of this variety happens to all of us now and then because we are human. A distracted breed. We are interesting and beautiful because of our mutability.

It's not our fault. We have so much to experience. Too much. So many ends to tie up. Too many. (At least it often feels this way!) Billions of unique balls of human energy are firing through the atmosphere at every given moment, getting tangled in one another, inspiring and maddening and exciting and teaching one another.

Every time I drive on the highway these days, I'm struck by my fellow humans, all of us in our respective cars, these hunks of mineral protecting us from one another so that we can fulfill our individualized agendas. Perhaps our life purposes. We have places to go. Down highways and across skies and up mountains. We are smart. We lead complex lives, rich and sumptuous with love for one another and for life itself.

This is all good and well. Until we start dropping ends because we've picked up too many. And we feel like we're in a horror movie because our heads are spinning. We can see in every direction, all of the possible paths. Some call them parallel universes. And because there are many different directions to take, we get confused. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes.

It's easy to lose the way. The way is completely subjective, after all. What you love will be different than what your mother or father or brother or sister or partner or best friend or enemy loves.

In this day and age, distractions are as abundant as opportunities. We have to stay mindful of our daily activities. Are we staying true to our heart's desire?

I'm interested in this idea of focus. Focusing on what you love most and not letting superfluous distractions steal too much of your most finite resource. Time.

Why is it that we often have to force ourselves to do things that we love such as exercising, writing, even socializing? My cousin loves salsa dancing as much as anyone can love salsa dancing. But as a mother of two battling Lyme Disease and chronic pain, she rarely gets the opportunity to go out and dance. She's been out of the salsa scene for so long that she's hardly looking forward to attending the annual conference in San Francisco next month. This was something she used to anticipate for months prior and savor for months afterwards. And I'm sure that once she gets to that conference and onto the dance floor, she will enter the flow, that state of being from which artistic expression arises.

It's about momentum. When we get into the habit of doing what we love every day or every other day or every week, that's when we know I could never survive without this. So why do we try?

Are you doing what you love today?

Please tell me what it is YOU love in the comments or send me an email lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you! 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The difference between burnout and resistance

After yesterday's post about resistance, Wendy asked some questions that got me thinking:

Here's the question I've been struggling with though - how do you know the difference between burn out because you've been doing too much for too long and resistance? I think there is a difference, but I think the first can very easily turn into the second without you noticing as you begin to recover. How do you know when it's time to kick yourself in the can again?

Using this blog as an example, sometimes I neglect it because life gets in the way and generally I don't feel bad about this. This is not a for-profit blog. I need breaks. Breaks are human.

But I've seen it happen again and again, when I take a break I lose momentum. I turn inwards and I forget how to hit Publish.

If I'm writing in my journal instead, I tell myself it's all the same.

If I'm working on a novel, I tell myself my time is better spent.

If my kids are out of school, I tell myself I don't have time.

Time seems to be the #1 reason resistance has given me.

But time is a man-made construct, we can manipulate it however we want.

Maybe the trick is spending less much on each blog post. Blogging, for me, is less like a craft and more like a hobby, a ritual, even a memory bank. Spending too much time on pointless tweaks and self-sensoring leads to burnout and then resistance.

Still, I do think breaks are good and often very much needed. Like I said, when you pick up again you may be further along than where you left off.

Here's another example: I was working on a novel and I had 91k words when I stopped writing. This was months ago, January or February. I got stuck and then I had another baby. But then the other day, without warning, the ending came to me. I wasn't thinking about the story, I had no plans to continue it. I had all but scrapped those 91k words. Was it resistance that kept me from excavating this story, or was it burnout?

Maybe burnout lurks when we're spending too much time editing and not enough time creating. Maybe burnout arrives when we're forcing ourselves to finish something that's not working. Maybe burnout happens for a reason.

But there's no good reason behind resistance. There's nothing behind resistance but fear.

I knew I had to come back to blogging because I felt resistance towards it. Like I posted yesterday on Facebook, Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art: "Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too." Blogging is fun for me. I'm a thinker and a writer and I enjoy thinking and writing and discoursing about personal growth and the human experience. I lead a rich life of motherhood and mindfulness and I feel compelled to revel in these experiences, and remember them and share them. Maybe by examining my own mind, body and spirit, I can inspire other people to do the same.

It's a blurry line between taking a break and succumbing to resistance, but in general, I think breaks are short and resistance is long. Breaks feel deserved. Like the couch after a long day or a protein shake after a tough work out. Resistance feels heavy. Like clutter or debt or a grudge. Burnout happens because we've been at it, resistance keeps us from going at it.

Resistance comes when I take "it"/life/myself too seriously. Expectations erase joy, and in turn, creativity.

Has your burnout become resistance? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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