July 2009 Archives

Stress – Meltdown and Meditation

I recently came back from a trip to Oregon where I accompanied my boyfriend to a train meet. We camped in a travel trailer and I manned a booth selling prints of his train photos. We were there for a little over a week and I read two entire books (over 600 pages each) while I was there. It really felt nice to just be away and not think about the stresses of work or home at all (except that near the end I did get a call from work - well several calls in one day - from the person I’m training because she needed my help). I was able to check my personal email and Facebook from my cell, which was nice because that kept me more in touch with friends that I am when I am working.

I left on a Friday and got back a week from the following Monday. We got back very late, so Tuesday was the first real day back. It was spent just trying to catch up from being gone, and handling another phone call from work. I had originally scheduled my vacation to take the entire week off because Friday was a holiday, and simply taking an extra two days would give me a two week vacation. I debated going into work on Wed & Thurs since I didn’t have anything in particular going on at home and I knew that July would be a stressful month at work for me, so having an extra two “freebie” days at work to get caught up and some stuff done would be beneficial for the following week at work. However, I just couldn’t make myself go into work on Wed. The gal I’m training only works Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, so I knew I wouldn’t be getting a call from her on Wed, so on this extra day off, I wouldn’t have to think about work at all.

Wednesday was absolutely wonderful. I woke up to a cuddly boyfriend, went shopping for groceries, came home and had a shake with a banana, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries for breakfast, played with the kitties, got some stuff done on the computer, had a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with avocado for lunch, strawberries for snack, mailed out 4 birthday cards, 1 anniversary card, and 2 photo CDs, had a friend over to watch some episodes of Lost, made dinner for the two of us – extra lean beef with okra and corn as a stew and zucchini and squash on the side, plus a salad with mixed greens, dill, carrots, tomatoes, raisins, cashews, and walnuts, did some more stuff on the computer, and went to bed.

I felt so relaxed all day and content. I even enjoyed cooking (and cleaning up the kitchen afterward) because I had time. The birthday cards were a big deal because I used to be known for mailing out birthday cards (and anniversary cards). They would bring happiness and make people feel special, and I enjoyed that. Unfortunately, I haven’t mailed out birthday cards in several years, and that has really depressed me. So doing it again has great significance. I also ate healthy the entire day. For once, I felt confident that I was getting the appropriate amount of fruits and vegetables. (While at work, I grab whatever’s handy because I’m so hungry.)

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking I would go into work the next day, but I was so grateful I had taken Wednesday off, that I really didn’t want it to end. I wanted to take Thursday off too. Because it was a “freebie” day and I wasn’t expected in, I decided to take my time in the morning – it didn’t matter if I was late coming in and either worked only a part day or stayed late to make up the hours. So I laid in bed with the kitties, while hitting snooze on my alarm for a couple hours. Then I finally got out of bed and took my time getting ready and enjoying lazing around with the cats. For the first time in a very long time, I felt happy to be waking up. (For a long time, I’ve hated waking up because that means I have to face my day, so there’s no happiness about it.) I remember a particular moment sitting on the couch with one of my cats and feeling absolutely happy and rejuvenated. I saw some gardeners working on the lawn across the street and vaguely wondered if my gardeners were coming to trim the trees that day. I pictured not going into work, and being around for the tree trimming, then lazily cleaning the house. I really didn’t want to go into work.

However, I knew that the girl I’m training would be calling me again since it was Thursday and she really did need my help. Also, it would be nice to get caught up on all the email and finish some things that were due early in the week so that I could come into work on Monday and have it be just like any other Monday, rather than a frenzied Monday plus catching up after being gone for two weeks. Also, I knew I had three more days off after the one day work week, so it shouldn’t mess with my mood too much.

I went into work feeling great. Everyone was surprised to see me, which actually surprised me since the girl I’m training had called me two days during my vacation and I told her that I would be coming in. People made comments that I shouldn’t have come in; should have just enjoyed the rest of my vacation. But I was happy and waved it off like it wasn’t a big deal because I had the next three days off. My boss wasn’t there, so that was nice in the sense that I wouldn’t be given any additional tasks beyond what I was already planning on working on. I spent nearly the entire day until 4:30 training. Then the girl I’m training left for the day, but I came in late, so I stayed longer to complete the tasks I wanted to complete and to catch up on all the email. This took HOURS. I pushed myself to stay until it was done because otherwise there wouldn’t have been a point in me coming in if I still had to “catch up” on Monday. I got home exhausted and pulled into my driveway to find that the gardeners had trimmed my trees, although more like “hacked” my trees. I was worried, but wouldn’t be able to see anything more until daylight the next day. I got on the computer for a little bit trying to wind down, then went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning (Friday), that happy feeling I had had the day before was gone. I took a shower, got dressed, and looked at my trees. Sure enough, the gardener had cut way more than I had requested, and I was quite upset. I had already been feeling like I made a mistake by going into work on Thursday because it messed up with the flow I had going. It was so ideal to have so many days off of work after already having a week-long vacation going somewhere else. I had a perfect thing going, and I tasted it – the happiness of just being, enjoying a day of being domestic and healthy and motivated to get to the cleaning and organizing that I so need to do. Then I ruined it by going into work. Sure I’ll feel the benefit of it next week (I better anyway), but was it worth it? Then the tree trimming horror visually cemented that I made the wrong decision. If I had stayed home, I would have been there and could have made sure it was done right, or at least better than it was. I had already had some misgivings about the tree trimming, and there’s more to the story of why it upset me so, but there’s no need to get into that because it will just bring back my frustration and I’m trying very hard to just let it go.

I’m doing better today, but yesterday I couldn’t let it go. My guilt and agony over making the wrong decision by going into work and disrupting the perfect flow that I was so lucky to have and won’t have any opportunity like that again for quite some time, was paralyzing me. I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t enjoy my day. I couldn’t do the cleaning and organizing in my house that so desperately needs to be done because I couldn’t find the motivation. The only thing I could think to do to take my mind of it was to invite my friend over to watch some more episodes of Lost, but I couldn’t get a hold of her all day. I did get a hold of a friend who lives an hour away, and I was going to go to her house to pick her up and then go shopping while she was waiting on her truck in the shop. But then I found my boyfriend (I had been trying to get a hold of him all day too) and decided to go to lunch with him instead since it was closer to home and if I felt better, then maybe I could actually get some stuff done at home. He gave me some advice and tried listen and help, but it honestly didn’t make me feel better.

I got home from lunch exhausted from my mental anguish and took a nap with one of my cats on the couch. Every time I started to drift back away, I tried to force myself to go back to sleep because I didn’t want to wake up. I was unhappy and didn’t have anything I wanted to do, so being awake just made me feel worse. Finally, my body wouldn’t let me go back to sleep, so I was forced to wake up. It felt awful. I couldn’t shake the feeling. I had something perfect and I ruined it. There was nothing I felt like doing, although much that needed to be done. The next day I had plans for the 4th of July, so I couldn’t really count on catching up on Saturday what I didn’t get done on Friday. This made me feel worse. I don’t consider Sunday a full day either because I would have to go to bed early in order to wake up fully rested for work on Monday (I normally stay up until midnight, if not later, on days that I don’t have to work the next day). So I really needed Friday to be productive. But because I went to work on Thursday, my flow of motivation was gone and had to be restarted. I could have had several continuous days of motivation and actually accomplished all that I need to accomplish, but again, I ruined that ideal situation by going into work.

Since it looked like I wasn’t getting anything done on Friday anyway, I found myself wishing I had hung out with my friend even though she lives an hour away and it would have taken up time that could have been spent productive at home, except that I wasn’t being productive at home anyway, so not being here wouldn’t have mattered. I did finally start to do some stuff and was moderately being productive, but then dinner interrupted that and the motivation left again.

After I got back from dinner with my boyfriend, I was tired, but didn’t want to go to bed just yet, so I finished reading a book that a friend had bought me a year or two back after seeing how unhappy I was with life – Take Your Time: How to Find Patience, Peace & Meaning by Eknath Easwaran. I had read some here and there since I got it, then got up to the last chapter during the drive back from Oregon. Last night I finished the last chapter and appendices. The appendices talk about meditation and related skills.

I consider myself Agnostic, which basically means I believe in the possibility of God, or higher being, or whatever, but I don’t know what exactly to believe. Bits and pieces ring true to me and others don’t. The type of mediation and other calming, spiritual skills recommended in this book deal with reading scriptures of all religions and writings by and about the world’s great spiritual figures. This appeals to me because it’s not tying me to any one thing. It’s recommending exposure to and knowledge/inspiration from all religions.

Something about my life has to change. I’ve been unhappy for quite some time. Yesterday, I essentially had a meltdown, primarily from seeing the stark contrast of being perfectly happy and content in that one moment Thursday morning sitting on the couch with one of my cats on my lap and looking out the window (plus the feeling of rejuvenation surrounding that moment the day before and all that morning) to not wanting to wake up from a nap because I have nothing to look forward to in my day.

I don’t foresee myself becoming religious because I just can’t see myself tie my beliefs to any one structured system, but I do think that spirituality is a good goal. I don’t have anything about my life that I would really consider spiritual. So many times you hear about mental, physical, and spiritual well being. I’ve worked on both the mental and physical at various points throughout my life, but never the spiritual. The book I read recommends taking 15 minutes of each day reading spiritual works (in addition to meditation). So it will take some time, but 15 minutes a day isn’t a lot to start off with. I ordered a copy of The Children’s Illustrated Bible because I had one when I was a kid, but I never read it and even traded it with a friend in 7th grade for a hair design book (so silly of me). I figure this is a good way for me to be exposed to the stories and ideas of the bible in a way that will interest me (the recommendations on Amazon for it are great, and say that it’s good for adults too). I’ve also put in a request at the library for The Tao of Physics. It’s a book that I had once borrowed from an old roommate. I didn’t get to read it much, but I liked the very little that I read, plus Eastern religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) have always fascinated me since I first learned about them as a teenager.

Anyhow, I’m hoping this desire won’t fade like so many great ideas and plans I’ve had, that get cast aside for the sake of accomplishing the obligations of daily life and work. Perhaps this is why I feel so compelled to write this all out, which has taken several hours out of my day, even though I had wanted to try to be productive today in between my various holiday plans. Maybe this is productive in its own way in a mental/spiritual sense. I also sent an email to a friend in Sacramento last night (before I lost my nerve) to invite her to go to a one-day meditation retreat in November in her area. She and her partner are people I consider spiritual, but not religious, from the few words we’ve exchanged on the subject. That’s what I’m currently looking to attain. She replied back this morning and is very in favor of it, which is helping to keep me on this path and not let it stray and fall away. If not for her reply, I may not have even taken the time to write and post this. I’m glad I had the courage to send it.

November 2011

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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