123 // Already Exhausted

I woke up already exhausted by the day ahead. After the alarm sounded, the most I could manage was a few steps toward getting ready for work before I was back in bed. I’d lost control of my body. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I couldn’t convince my feet forward, and the longer I lay there, the harder it got to change course. After a while, I was forced to accept that I just couldn’t do it. I stayed home.

I’ll admit I probably could have toughed it out, but I saw no benefit in doing so. I’ve come to a point in my life where I know that forcing myself through a bad day there is no way around won’t make anything better, least of all me.

If it had just been mental or emotional fatigue, I could have talked myself through it like I have been doing for a while, but maybe because I had been pushing myself too often already, my body stepped in and forced me to take a break.

I hate the term “mental health day”, though some might call what I did exactly that. I have noticed I’m not the only one who finds it hard to find the want on occasion, but what I see is people taking these “mental health days” and coming back as burned out and bad-tempered as they were before.

It’s rare that one day is enough of a break to relieve enough stress to change your perspective or renew your motivation and unless you spend it doing something that actually helps you’ll come back to your day-to-day feeling worse.

What helps is reflecting on what led to these feelings. When I thought about it I realized I’d been neglecting my mental health lately. My body had been trying to tell me in a kind and whispered way and I didn’t pay attention, so now it’s screaming.

This is why I have been so tired. This is why the tension in my neck has been giving me migraines. This is why my stomach has been hurting. This is why my mind feels scattered and full of fog. I’m stressed out. I am overwhelmed. I am anxious and quite probably depressed. I hear you. I hear you!

So I started today by sleeping. Sleep is the best way to heal your body fast and when I felt better in my body, I felt around in my mind for what I need to get back to myself today.

I spent the afternoon doing things I wanted to do and not feeling at all bad for not doing all the things I should be doing. I spent time on my blog. I wrote in my journals and notebooks. I listened to all the podcasts I have been saving for later. I talked to my sister. I made a lot of tea and the season’s first batch of cold brew coffee.

Then I thought about what I will need to feel less stressed and more fulfilled going forward.

What’s made the burnout so hard to see is that on the surface of my life, I really am happy overall. I’m married to the love of my life. I do good work that pays well. I even have a side job that speaks to my passions. I have friends that I enjoy spending time with and family that make me feel good about the life I have built for myself. What more could I need?

The problem is a lot of what I have in life leaves me with very little time for doing things that are just for me. I love my job, but it’s for someone else. I love my side hustle, but it’s also work I do for someone else. I love my wife, but marriage is rife with compromises. I love my friends and family, but the social expectations take a lot out of me.

When do I belong only to myself? When am I free? What do I do that is just for fun, or for nothing else other than it makes me feel good?

I don’t know how to fix it yet, but I do know what the problem is and that is a critical step toward a solution. I feel better already and knowing that it isn’t what I already have in life that is the problem, but something else entirely that I am missing makes it easier to return to my life of obligations and blessings both.

Suddenly, I’m hopeful and excited about tomorrow again.


221 // On Edge

There is nothing to do and nowhere to be today. Nothing anyone is asking of me and nothing I can ask of myself. I have hours to fill however I choose. I’d love it if it weren’t for this restless energy in me. I’d love it if I had the focus, the motivation to choose, to settle on a path and course of action. Instead, I don’t want to anything but scroll and sleep.

After typing that I decided that even if I only did one thing today that felt like progress, that was for me, then I would be happy. So, I did two. I did the dishes. Then I changed the blade in my X-Acto knife and got to cutting up magazine pages for future collages and poems. I forget how soothing that is sometimes. I forget how nice it is to put on music and flip through pages destroying and remixing people, places, and words.

After some time in my own bubble, I was able to emerge reset and refocused. I’m up and moving about the house marking completed task after completed task. The day flew by faster than I realized while I was in it and next week is already looming large in front of me. Looking ahead at all I have to do and knowing that it’ll be an exhausting, demoralizing uphill battle the whole way is leaving me with an awful tightness in my chest.

While meditating tonight, during the part where I’m guided to “check-in with the body and acknowledge my emotional state” I noticed I feel both fatigued and full of all this worry. I’ve been wondering if perhaps I do carry more stress and anxiety than I realize. I’ve been wondering if this is why I can’t seem to get my symptoms under control, why I’m so tired, so on edge?

The Hard Work of being Lazy via The School of Life

“The point of ‘doing nothing’ is to clean up our inner lives. There is so much that happens to us every day, so many excitements, regrets, suggestions and emotions that we should—if we are living consciously—spend at least an hour a day processing events. Most of us manage—at best—a few minutes—and thereby let the marrow of life escape us. We do so not because we are forgetful or bad, but because our societies protect us from our responsibilities to ourselves through their cult of activity. We are granted every excuse not to undertake the truly difficult labour of leading more conscious, more searching and more intensely felt lives.

The next time we feel extremely lazy, we should imagine that perhaps a deep part of us is preparing to give birth to a big thought. As with a pregnancy, there is no point hurrying the process. We need to lie still and let the idea gestate—sure that it may one day prove its worth. We may need to risk being accused of gross laziness in order one day to put in motion projects and initiatives we can feel proud of. ”

I’m struggling to send an email, just one email. I’ve written it and rewritten. I’ve had it proofread by two different people and then rewrote it again.

It’s hard to explain what you do to other people, and harder still to explain it to your bosses. They decide if what you do is right, or enough, or worth paying a person to do at all. It’s hard to meet expectation that weren’t spelled out explicitly and it’s hard to know what people want when they never told you they wanted anything.

I’m probably way over thinking this.

210 // All Out of Sorts

Today was rough. Work has been rough since my return last week. I’m burned out on doing what I am good at but not what I love. I’m burned out on expectations and admiration. I burned out on being looked to and longing to work alone on what really thrills and fulfills me.

I went home early and had to nap after staying up so late last night. That may have been part of the reason today was so rough. I had a headache. I miss my wife. I’m worried about the coming year. I’m hot and hungry. I’m all out of sorts and I just want to be left alone to get back right but course, I have a busy schedule the whole week ahead and, of course, it’s up to me to make sure it all goes according to plan.

I’m trying to remember that I’m not stuck here and that this rut is only temporary.

181 // Self-Care Sunday

I can hear the fireworks going off around the neighborhood again. I guess it’s that time of year. I haven’t been sleeping well lately and between the sudden summer heat and the nightly displays of patriotism, I’m sure I won’t sleep well again until August…

I’ve decided not to go into work tomorrow since we have the walkthrough and it’s easier to stay home than to rush home for the dog beforehand. I want to stay up late since I know I don’t have to get up early but I’m trying to be mindful of what my body needs and to practice self-care while my stress levels are so high. I’m leading by example and by need. The stress is affecting our health and it would be a shame to end up in the ER or to rack up any medical bills before the big day.

So, it’s back to basics. We’re going to bed on time, drinking lots of water, meditating, and going for walks. We’re eating meals, eliminating snacks, and getting away from the T.V. more. We’re holding each other accountable to prevent procrastination and guilt. We’re looking out for each other, being patient with ourselves, and accepting what is out of our control.

130 // Stress, Terror, Exhaustion

The stress is getting to be too much. Were nearly two months out now and I’m still not even sure what we are doing or what we should be doing next. I’m designing menu cards and ceremony signs and she’s putting together centerpieces but it feels like we should be doing something else, something more.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to head to the first tailor on my list for suit alterations but to be honest I don’t want to go. My anxiety is through the roof! I’m scared of being turned away. I’m scared that the suit can’t be fitted or that no matter what they do I will still look bad in it. I’m afraid of the price too. I’m fucking terrified to end up back at square one again.

To top it off things keep changing too. Sometimes it’s what we can’t do, sometimes its something we realize we have to do, and other times it’s realizing finally what it is we want to do. Staying on the same page is difficult, and the patience we show for one another, though exhausting, is only further proof we belong together.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

092 // Grateful for the Frustration

The week was going well until I was informed it would inevitably end on a hectic note. A new class of employees is starting and my team and I are needed to train and test them. It’s a bigger class than we’ve had in a while and that means more hours must be given up for the task. Hours I would normally spend reading or writing.

It’s hard to plan my weeks, make progress on projects, or reach goals when my schedule keeps changing so much, but maybe that’s life. Maybe I’m lucky to have any semblance of a routine to impact in the first place. I suppose there are people whose day-to-day is more chaos than calm every day. I wonder how they cope?

But, once again what frustrates me also serves to remind me how lucky I am, how far I have come, and how much I have to be grateful for.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren