This is me. This is my ego on stat crack.

It’s Monday and time to tell you about how I unplugged during the weekend.

On the whole, I did a decent job of closing my week on Friday. I identified those must-dos that would allow me to relax (or so I thought…).

Saturday was good.

Saturday I slept in (minor miracle living with a dog who is in touch with his circadian rhythms and has been waking us up before 6am these days). We had a lovely morning walk while Max (said early riser) swam at a favorite river beach.

We then turned around and headed for the hills to our favorite u-pick blueberry patch. Except it’s under new ownership and not u-pick anymore. Gone are the days of filling your coffee can – provided, with a jute rope strap to sling over your shoulder while you picked – and paying your $5/bucket on the honor system. But the new guy was selling flats at a crazy great price, so we came away with a winter’s worth for the freezer anyway and headed further up the hill for a hike up Larch Mountain where the air was refreshingly cool and the view spectacular, though a bit hazy.

All of us now thoroughly exercised, we headed back home for lunch and napping on my husband’s part and web surfing on my part.

That was when the trouble started. I couldn’t not check. Twitter. Blog. Classrooms. Forums. I had to know. Just in case.

But there wasn’t anything happening, so I turned to browsing hotel possibilities for Jen’s October retreat. That was more fun. And much more in the spirit of unplugging. But still vaguely unsatisfying.

Eventually I put the stupid laptop away, made myself a big ol’ summery salad for dinner and watched a movie before calling it a night.

The second day of unplugging usually goes better than the first. It seems to take me a while to disengage. And I’m often better about honoring Sunday as sabbath. Sunday is not a day that screams chores and errands, you know? It says leisurely brunch while reading newspaper, followed by puttering, following by napping.

And I did do my best to honor my puttering sabbath. It started early (thanks to Max and to sweetheart with crack of dawn cycling gig). But that was okay. I still enjoyed my leisurely breakfast while perusing newspaper.

But that only lasted until 8am.

What next, Cairene? What do you want? What do you need?

> I should clean the house.

Is that what you want? Will that be restorative?

> Um. I don’t know. Maybe I should work in the garden while it’s still cool.

That often makes you feel good. Is that what you want?

> I don’t know! I don’t know what I want!
> Wait, yes I do. I just want to stop feeling anxious. I want to not feel stressed about my biz, but it seems like the only way to not feel stressed is to work, yet that is wearing me out. There is so much in my head I feel like I can’t even remember how to play, like there isn’t
space for it to emerge.

Oh honey. Maybe it’s best not to fight it. Why don’t you go write all this down? Get it all on paper where it can hold still long enough for you to see it.

> Okay. Yeah. I’ll do that.

So I did. And of course I learned a thing or two from my brain dump.

I need to do a more complete job of closing my week. No loose ends. And the weekend needs guidelines. And it needs more ritual. I need to be reminded.

I’ve just come off two very cool events and have been told a number of times that I’m a rock star. Which is an awesome thing to hear (blushing, thank you), but my ego got a little addicted. It liked hearing that a lot. So it checked and checked and checked the buzz and the stats looking for more and more validation – which kept me from a) finishing stuff so I could fully enjoy my time off, and b) actually engaging with people.

And then I realized for the umteenth time how inconsistently I do engage with people and if I were just more consistent about it, my ego’s fragile eggs wouldn’t be all in one basket.

And my ego is fragile. It is terribly worried I’m not doing enough of everything to keep the validation coming in (and in my ego’s mind validation = money). And I am terribly worried about trying to do too much.

So we spent the day in negotiations. Planner Girl donned her super planning cape and began to answer my ego’s questions about when.

First, we had a little freak-out about how much there is to do. About how the time-out I envisioned for August was not likely to materialize. We sat with all we had said yes to for a bit until we realized it was mostly about marketing. Marketing systems to be specific and my desire for automagicness.

> Yes, there will always be more to do, but it would be easier to relax if I could coast from time to time instead of always pedaling so hard in the wrong gear.

Then we tidied. We gathered up all the loose bits of paper with scribbled insights and put those gems where we could find them again. That felt better. There’s certainly no shortage of ideas.

Then we tackled finalizing the 2009-2010 teaching schedule so we could figure out the 2009-2010 marketing schedule. (Yes, I plan that far ahead. I’ve learned I have to.)

We kept at it all day. I sat at my desk and worked through it from dawn until dusk until I had a plan I could live with, until it was one I liked and felt confident about what it was telling me to do. Until all that stuff ricocheting around in my head had a place to belong. Until I quieted my inner junkie. Until I got my mental space back.

I like to think of business systems as being like the systems of our bodies – respiration, circulation and so forth. And I’ve been thinking about when things are out of place in our bodies, when tissue is growing where it’s not supposed to, how we call that cancer. It’s an imperfect metaphor, if for no other reason than it’s disproportionately scary.

But I do think that what needs doing in your business must have a place to belong. When it’s all in disarray and so dominant you can think of nothing else (let alone honor your sabbath), that’s a sign of illness.

Yes, I worked yesterday. I did not unplug. But I did engage in a certain kind of healing.

• • • • •

For three Friday’s in August, we’ll be practicing unplugging together. You’re welcome to join in. Registration closes July 31.

• • • • •


3 Responses to “This is me. This is my ego on stat crack.”

  1. 1 Denise dS July 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Ego, avoidance, botched resolutions…and a happy ending. Wow! Thanks for breaking it down so cleanly, and for the inspiration to get on track with one’s own particular version of these battles. Feeling a little more inspired to tackle the pile of paperwork…..

    • 2 Cairene July 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

      Woohoo! honored to be an inspiration to you.

      If I might channel Jen Hofmann for a moment? Would it help to bring more compassion and less “tackle” to the paperwork?

      xo C

  1. 1 Ritual as Reminder « How THW Gets In Gear Trackback on July 28, 2009 at 6:11 am

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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