So the weather has shifted and all of a sudden we have like five hours less light here in Portland. Also, as many of you know, I started home(un)schooling my son 3-ish months ago. And while I still stand by the school choice, the reality is that now I have an eleven year old boy at home 24/7 while I am also running a business.
This is not a complaint, it’s just the facts.
The other facts are that he is an incredibly intense kid with some sensory stuff and extra emotional needs. And hold on to your heart so you aren’t shocked to death… I am all of these things too. Which makes us a hell of a pair.
Basically, we are a couple of clever, hilarious nightmares with decievingly sweet brown eyes and wack sensitivities for days.
So in large part, I’ve been feeling like a wreck. I am completely overwhelmed and disorganized and he is acting all spazzy because, you know, that thing where I have to take care of myself so I can take care of him. I’m like a dried up leaf trying to manage a helicopter. Yeah. That. And my self care is happening only at it’s most basic levels because I am not a fucking wizard, ok?
Making this drastic of a change in education choices is something like moving to a new city. When you move to a new city it can take a year or two of fumbling around lost before you figure out where to get your bras, how to navigate the freeways and who your friends are. It is the same-ish with leaving the school system. We have to find our support system somewhere else entirely and it will take time. We are doing all the things, but there is no getting around the time it will take.
So, in the interim, it’s requiring all of my effort just to do the most basic things like make sure the house isn’t gross and we have food to eat. Trying not to eat all of the tater tots.
Ok. I totally ate all the tator tots. WHO AM I TO HELP PEOPLE GET ALL HEALTHY WHEN I JUST ATE ALL THE TOTS? Wizard status totally pending now.
But here is the thing.
Sometimes you can do some of the things. Sometimes you can do more of the things. All of the times you are enough. [tweet]
Outsized expectations are toxic. They are worse than too many tater tots. [tweet]
Let me give you a quick example of outsized expectation toxicity: There are many great restaurants on the street that I live. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I don’t know why I chose these particular two restaurants to have a problem with, but… wait. yes I do. I chose them because, arbitrary! When I walk past these two places, I auto-engage in this elaborate fantasy about how these particular places are filled with people who are more stable, happy, perfect, marathon running, yoga practicing, solid parenting, PhD holding, multi-published, familial supporting, still having sex but totally loyal, health insured, tenured couples who will grow old together with kids who already have college education plans in place, than me.
I look in through the windows at the artful lighting, the interior green wall landscaping, the fire burning ovens and sparkling crystal wine glasses, Warby Parker spectacles and dental hygene… and hate fills my weary heart. “I despise solid parenting” and “yoga is stupid,” I think.
This has nothing at all to do with reality, it is all about outsized expectations, about me projecting some thing I’ve decided signifies security and lovability onto the world that I am being deprived of. And all that does is give me an opportunity to reafirm lack and seethe. It’s a total mind-scam.
Because truthfully, I don’t hate people. I’m a big fan of yoga and loving the kids in all of the ways. And I am fully aware that any of those people eating in those places could be one of my friends. Hell, I’ve eaten in both of those places.
I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.
Our outsized expectations keep us in failure, turn us into victims. And, I might add, assholes. [tweet]
We start thinking of the unatainable stuff we “should” be doing, while lamenting all the ways we “could” be attaining success if only X,Y and Z were cooperating. Ta da! Paralytic overwhelm and tater tots.
Overwhlem happens, sometimes because we create outsized expectations, and also because very real circumstances come up and cause stress. Often a combination of both. I only seethe outside of Portland eateries when I feel stressed and out of control in other ways.
But, thankfully, I have the option to catch myself and make a few adjustments before I actually start pounding on the glass at strangers who call the police and have me institutionalized. I can adjust my schedule to include more space and self care so I don’t feel so empty. I can adjust my acceptance level for the amount of difficulty life might be at this one, particular, temporary moment in time. It’s hard, but like I said earlier… just the facts of the situation.
And with a few adjustments, irrational hatred dissolves enough that I can go back to yay love. Or hope. Or if not all that all at once, at the very least, I can see the absurdity of what I’m doing and have a good laugh at me. Levity is powerful too.
Regular-expectation-reality is that I still have a super health coaching business no matter how many tater tots I eat. Helping my clients really isn’t about me. Yes, walking the talk is muy importante* but so is not being a robot.
Being is perfect is boring and uncool and not even a thing. [tweet]
Surviving in the real muddiness of life all lotus-like and shit. Now that is cool. [tweet]
And that’s pretty much what you are doing right this minute.
I see the way you are doing things anyway despite the fact that they are hard or scary. The way you don’t give up. The way you seek, you survive, know in your bones that you are brave, even when you manage to talk yourself out of that knowing. You still know.
And in the event that any of you are feeling all light deprived and overwhelmed by the realities of your life choices, or things you didn’t choose at all, here is a little list where I break down a few easy survival/thrival tips that you already know, but might need to remember that you know.
- Water – drink a lot of it. Stay hydrated so you can be flexible enough to fit into the container you are in now. Also, so you can go all Colorado River on that shit and carve yourself a new path if you need.
- Meditation – it doesn’t have to be hard and monkish. Just sit down and be still for 10 minutes a day. When you realize you are thinking thoughts, label them “thinking” and go back to sitting. Repeat until your timer goes off. You are strengthening the part of yourself that is capable of remembering that you are the owner of thoughts, rather than the thoughts themselves. That is a big deal. That is how seething becomes laughter instead of the psych ward.
- Gratitude – you know this is a thing. Do it. Tiny lists of things going right are helpful all of the time. Share them or don’t share them. Whatever. Just write them down because it works. I have been managing to do this, even though every time I do, coffee is the first – and sometimes only – thing that comes to mind for like five minutes. I am so grateful for coffee right now and I don’t care who knows it.
- Laugh – call your funny friends, use the internet or stand-up comedy to get this rolling. I just watched Aziz Ansari’s latest show, Buried Alive (streaming on Netflix) and I’m still laughing about it days later.
- Read something that reminds you that you are human, not broken. Right now I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s a really good thing to read when vulnerability threatens to crush your soul.
Also, you might just need some help. And that’s cool too. Perhaps we should be working together, because helping you be all lotus-y is my favorite. Also, I will make you laugh. Consultations are free. Just send me an email.
No matter what, I absolutely adore hearing from you. So email me or get into the blog comments and tell me how you survive overwhelm. Or tell me about your favorite stand-up routine or tater tot preparation or most irrationally outsized expectations of your good self.
You deserve all the love.
*This is approximately 86% of the Spanish I know!
image by Istra Pilipina