Day 715: Drawing a Blank

A vacation day from work today, except it’s not, as I have to go into work this afternoon for a meeting. So a vacation… half-day? Except it’s not, as I have to bring the cat to the vet in 90 minutes. So a… day. 

This is going to be a bit of a quick one. Not much on my mind this morning except the vague plan to get some coffee and push into getting some things done between now and the vet, and then between that and going into work for the afternoon. Focusing on rebuilding the Tiniest Gallery, which is chugging away in the background, and then getting some volunteer work done — “retiring” actually requires a fair bit of prep. 

Day 712: Back back on track (track)

GOOD sleep last night — so up on time, exercise, doing this, took care of some holiday stuff. A good morning so far! And progress yesterday at detaching from the major volunteer gig. 

It’s hard handing things off, in a way — this is a genuine thing that happens called “founder’s syndrome,” where non-profits, charities, etc. get pulled into a sinkhole because somebody starts to feel like the organization — or a component — is theirs. They’ve put a lot of time and passion into it, and get super proprietary. It’s understandable, but detrimental. 

The anxiety over letting it go is healthy — it’s definitely something I feel strongly about and have put a lot into — but there comes a point where you have to trust the health of the organization, hand things off, and realize that you don’t own the thing, the community does. 

Day 711: Sleep Is Key!!!

We know this already! But now that I’m typing this (after another REALLY BAD SLEEP HAS DESTROYED ME) night, I realize that it’s not true.

STRESS IS KEY!!!

G_D volunteer stress kept me up all night, even though I’m doing things, productive things, to alleviate it. I should have been able to sleep, but my perverse dumb anxiety brain seizes opportunities to keep me awake. 

Dumb brain! 

So once again I’m in a bit of a scramble to the door, which is aggravating. I feel a bit cheated: I’m taking the positive steps and making the positive moves, but now I’m stressed about those steps, which seems like my brain is now just being a jerk for no real reason. 

Genuinely excited to get back on exercise tomorrow after a (hopefully) good night of sleep tonight. I’d be surprised if I’ve taken sleeping pills more than 20 times in the last 711 days, but I think tonight might be one of those times. 

Day 704: Stripping Down, Seeking Meaning

Busy brain night, but got a bit of exercise — not what I should have, but some — in this morning. Which is good.

I’m making definite moves to release the major volunteer task — which, thanks to this blog, I can say has been going on for about 500 days now — and, well, spend some more time on me. Frankly, the project was to create something, which has now been created, so sticking on it longer than necessary at this point is 50% helpful, but also 50% hubris and founder’s syndrome.

I need to trust that the people it was built for and the organization are sound, and move it forward from there in different ways — but also get out of the “drive the bus” mode and free myself up for new interests that I find some meaning in. It’s important, I think, not to just fill time with garbage, but to find stuff that I enjoy doing but also leaves me satisfied. Vegetable hobbies to go with the candy hobbies, as mentioned a while back.

I’ve really been struggling with food this week… stress, I guess, and maybe a bit of SAD in the mix with the changing seasons.

Day 703: Gotta find that mojo!

I was just texting my wife: my mojo ain’t back! Even after a vacation. Even after 72 hours of completely unplugging. Still ain’t found the mojo again.

Her recommendation, which I agree with: simplify, simplify, simplify. It’s time to set a firm date to stop my major volunteer gig — it’s been something I’ve been working on for about two years, and frankly I think it’s been a good job but needs to be handed off/back to the organization to grow or not.

I think the unplugging thing was… good. That was the most myself I’ve felt in a while, and I’ve gone a bit media-glutton since the break. There’s an equilibrium there that I should seek for sure.

So this is the to-do list: set a meeting to establish a retreat strategy from the major volunteer gig (this is something I’ve done before with the canoe club). Delete Netflix from my devices (done!). Get down to three podcasts a week. Put away devices when I get home for the evening and/or use with timed intent.

At work, get back in the good habit of planning my time more. Look at blocking out a work schedule that lets me focus on things at specific times.

I don’t know if this will get the mojo back wholly, but it’s a good start. I’m a candle-burner, but too many ends burning for too long is never good in the long term.

Day 650: Back to Cutting Back

Coming off a week of vacation — new mini-daybed is doing just fine, thank you for asking — and as always, am exiting with a certain sense of clarity about why I’m so stressed. Breaks are good.

I’m not feeling rested, but I am feeling removed, which is a good point to take stock from.

The priority, getting back to work on Monday, is going to be to rebalance my time and obligations, and start setting more reasonable expectations for what I can accomplish. Starting with myself — I set very high standards, and I need to manage those first.

Volunteer stuff is next — again, I’m taking on a lot of responsibility because I choose to, and that’s something that needs to be worked on. Accomplishing stuff is good! Burning out is bad.

Sunday, tomorrow: no particular plans. A good day for mapping out the next few months.

 

Day 640: Ambition Is My Deadliest Weapon, And Fatal-est Flaw

Short one today, largely because I’ve just spent 90 minutes cracking away at a volunteer project — the radio podcast thing. I sometimes ask myself why I’m doing this, but in the end, it’s because it’s good. It’s deeply satisfying from a “building something from nothing” perspective, I do enjoy the work itself, and, frankly, I’m ambitious.

“Be of good use” is the Cider House Rules aphorism that has stuck with me through the years (I’m beginning to think it’s not even that phrase, actually), and it’s a pretty constant driver. I’m ambitious in the sense that I want to leave a positive mark on the world. I want to know I’ve done things that have changed things. And in a modest way, this project is that.

I’m not always sure that much drive toward things that are, in all honesty, ancillary to my actual life are really healthy, though. There’s probably research on this, on volunteerism and happiness and balance, that I could look into. I’m just too busy with the volunteerism to do it! That’s your Catch-22 for today.

Day 565: Reboot Excitement; Volunteer Exit Strategies

I’m pretty happy with the solicitation for contributions to the New Idea I’ve had for this thing. It’s still in the evaluation phase — I need to see if the idea is feasible in terms of my time and energy — but it’s definitely showing a lot of promise.

Response has been gratifying too; friends coming out of the woodwork to toss a message my way and support the general concept. That’s been especially gratifying.

I’m still leery about time. I’ve done some paper work on figuring out how much time it might take to get this done properly, and the quick answer is “more than I’d like.” I’m still working with significant volunteer obligations, and putting about 8 hours or so a week into the podcast project for the radio station.

One thing I don’t have for my volunteer roles right now is an exit strategy. That seems like a good thing to focus on. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, but it’s an interesting question to  ask about volunteering — how do I stop? I think it’s easy to get stuck in something that is work without any kind of reward — even satisfaction — and stay in it because you feel obliged and guilty. I know this happens to me.

This week and next week, I’m going to focus on some exit strategies for my volunteer engagements. How do I go out feeling like I’ve done good work but I’m not leaving anyone in the lurch? How do you clear your metaphorical desk and close the symbolic door behind you without feeling guilty?

 

Day 501: On Track to 1000

All right! 500 episodes in, 500 days sober, 500 days with at least a mental commitment to exercise and better eating. Even if I haven’t fulfilled it all the time.

My wife, correctly, thinks I spend too much time on other people’s stuff. She’s right. So I haven’t really ever looped back and looked hard at data from the 500 days. I haven’t re-read these blog posts, except to look up specific things. I don’t spend much time going back over food logs or trackers.

If I did, I bet I’d see some interesting stuff. But there’s a lot of other things in the world that need doing, and I feel compelled to help people with those things. I find other people’s stuff more interesting than my stuff in a lot of ways.

I’m trying to scale back, though. I feel well set up for the next 500 days. Yes, I need to spend some time on this project and less on other projects for other people and groups; that’s something I’m slowly working toward.

For now, though, I feel good. Sobriety is rock solid, and I’m riding high on good food and exercise habits. Sleep’s even been okay. Gotta record this and spend some time with the foster, and then off to work.

Day 474: The Uses of Downtime

I feel like I’m on the journey back up from the Valley of Meh — fingers are crossed but I’m not trying to get overconfident.

As mentioned previously and often, I’m on a track where I’m knocking out a few pretty major volunteer things right now. One is pretty much done, the other is an ongoing project that’ll take me into the summer and possibly beyond.

It’s all good, and it’s nice to see thing moving in an arc that ends with me able to try some new things by, ideally, midsummer. Hard to guarantee these things for myself, obviously, but good to think that I might have those opportunities.

One of the benefits of a week or so of feeling run down is I’ve committed, with my wife, to getting out of town. Just for day trips here and there in the summer, but it’s a smart move and I’m glad I’m doing it. I think changes of scenery are good, and if we can’t afford the time or money for a “real” vacation, quick escapes are the next best thing.

I hope I’m pretty much through this cyclical bout of downtime, but it does have its uses. I’m really re-evaluating what I want and don’t want to do from a more honest place than I can when I’m feeling up. Looking at what you’ve committed to and what you really feel committed to is something that has to be done at an ebb, because when you’re in flow, everything just feels like it’s doable and great.