black and white thinking

SQUIRREL! Are You Chasing Distractions?

On my search for balance in my life, I found that there are multiple areas out of balance, and it’s hard to know where to start. So I asked myself – WHAT IS ‘IN MY FACE’ THE MOST? What are those things in my life that are distracting me from the most important work I should be doing – finding balance?

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Just like the distractable dog, Dug, in the Disney-Pixar movie ‘UP’, I  often end up chasing squirrels.  Squirrels are distractions, or for me, anything that is moving or shiny, or seemingly more fun or interesting than the task at hand. (Or just not as boring.)  Please notice that I am not saying that I am just distracted by these things, I am actually chasing these distractions.

Let me explain: When I am distracted by something, it might look like this: I’m in the middle of a conversation and I get a phone call. I’m reading a book and the dog wants to go outside. I become distracted by those things.

The issue I am talking about is much bigger that just being distracted by something. I can deal with that in a matter of a few minutes. The real problems are the distractions that I’m chasing – that I purposely CHOOSE to run after. The squirrels that I’m chasing may be different from the ones you choose to chase. Those things that keep me from my goal for hours at a time.

Here are some questions that help me to determine the distractions in my life:

  1. What do I choose to do during my unproductive time, or my down time?
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects?
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project?
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’?
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time?

First let me say that just because you enjoy doing something on your ‘down time’, or as an escape, does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing. But I know myself. In my first post about my search for balance, I wrote about my tendency for all-or-nothing. For instance, some people might enjoy reading a book to relax during their down time. However, my natural tendency is to read a book from cover to cover, and ignore anything else I should be doing. Sometimes the ‘good’ things we chase are distracting us from the BEST things.

So as I look at the questions above, it’s really not a mystery. I think each of us knows what distractions we chase that may be causing some imbalance in our lives. But I’m going to go ahead and answer each of these questions – maybe I’ll learn something new.

  1. What do I choose to do during my ‘unproductive’ time, or my ‘down time’?  Watch tv, binge watch something on Netflix, read or post to Facebook, eat, sleep, go to happy hour with friends, go on internet rabbit chases into the wee hours of the night (searching or researching something that lasts for hours but goes nowhere), go on a blog reading spree
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects? see above
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project? see above
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’? see above, plus plan a trip or go to Disneyland
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time? all of the above

Okay, so no surprises – I didn’t identify anything new. I know that each of these areas are distracting me from healthy balance in my life, and I also know that many of these are out of balance in and of themselves. All of these activities are acceptable, especially in moderation. I don’t do moderation. At least not yet.

In honor of my new search for balance, I’m stopping here. I would love to stay up for hours and dissect each distraction, looking at the positive and negative aspects of each, and what would balance look like in each of these areas. Black-and-white thinking: pros and cons, good and bad labels, all-or-nothing. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to go to bed without making a table and categorizing each distraction.

(And dammit. I just remembered that I wanted to write about coherent breathing first. I wrote about distractions, and now I’ll be accountable to do something about them.)  Ah well, each in it’s place. Good night for now.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Thomas Merton

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Balance: What’s “IN YOUR FACE” the Most?

by Kristin Meador

I wish I could start out with a lovely list of “Ten Steps To Finding Balance in Your Life”. The all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking part of me would love this. But I know it’s going to be more messy than ten simple steps. So I’m going to write about my journey. You can follow along if you want, but I’m writing this for me, and my two or three friends that follow along. Anyone else is gravy.

Step 1. What is “in your face” the most?  Years ago, during my first round of personal counseling, I was dealing with a dysfunctional family, a past eating disorder, a history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, multiple miscarriages, having three babies in four years, my chaotic ADD life, and a broken marriage that we were struggling to repair. I told my counselor “I don’t even know where to begin!” So she asked me, “What’s ‘in your face’ the most? What seems to be a common theme? Which issue is causing you the most distress? Let’s deal with that one first.” As any honest, broken person knows, our lives are messy. Rarely is there just one issue that we are dealing with. Often the issues are interrelated and overlap, but if you think about it, there may be something that stands out. Let’s deal with that one first.

photo credit: Creative Commons by John Veldboom

photo credit: Creative Commons by John Veldboom

So that is where I will begin – What’s in my face the most? Having said all that, I honestly can’t say.

My thoughts are racing, my brain is overwhelmed.

There are not enough hours in a day. I feel like I’m always busy, but I never seem to accomplish anything substantial.

I am not eating healthy, I have gained back every pound I had lost and then some, and I am tired and sore and overweight and unhealthy. I’m restless in my life, and I know that I need a change, but I’m not sure what. I have unfinished projects and goals at work, but I am overwhelmed by every day tasks. I have so many things I want to do – remodel my house, travel, and write, to name just a few – but I can’t seem to start a project, let alone finish one.

I have broken relationships that are calling out to be healed and reconciled. I long to find a church family, or a spiritual community, in which I can grow and serve.

More than anything, I long for a peaceful, quiet place in my soul and spirit so I can sort all of this out. Hey guys – THAT IS WHAT IS IN MY FACE THE MOST. Those things in my life that are distracting me from the most important work I should be doing – finding balance. So there we have it – step one is complete.

Next post –

2. Squirrel! How to Stop Chasing Distractions

My Search For Balance

Including TTFN Facebook – by Kristin Meador

photo credit: Creative Commons - Ozan Hatipoglu

photo credit: Creative Commons – Ozan Hatipoglu

It’s time to step back and take a break again. It may be my ADD, or my history, or my dysfunction, or just my personality style (likely a bit of all of these), but as much as I hate to admit it, I am often and all-or-nothing, black-and-white type of girl. All my life, the concept of balance and the discipline that balance requires has eluded me.

When I really started exercising, I could not start slow. I started running and loved it so much that I would jog every single day, and ended up injuring my knee to the point that I can no longer run.

If I read a book, I can’t just read a chapter a day. I read the whole thing over a weekend. If I love a tv show, I don’t just watch an episode at a time – I binge watch a whole season in one weekend.

If I clean my house, I can’t just straighten it. I have to CLEAN each nook and cranny, every drawer, every corner. (And I usually will do it clockwise.)

I am the same with the issues in my life that plague me – my unhealthy eating habits, my lack of exercise, my disjointed time management, my broken relationships. I either need a strict plan of action, or I fail miserably. All or nothing, black and white.

Sometimes this serves me well, When I am passionate about an issue, a project, or a relationship, I am ALL IN. But it’s also exhausting, And it prohibits any semblence of normalcy in most areas. I would rather be going on a 6000 mile road trip – or sleeping all day. Everything in the middle seems too hard. Or stressful. Or boring.

I’m 50 now. I think it’s time to grow up a litte and get some of this figured out once and for all. So my search for balance is going to include another break from Facebook, for one thing, A few weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook, and although I missed everyone’s coming and goings, there was a sense of peace and freedom that was very surprising. I will probably write a few more posts this week, and then if you want to follow me in this process, you will have to find me here at This Beautiful Holy Mess. So where to start? Find out here.