Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Starting today...

Starting today, I make no resolutions, no promises, and no excuses.

I've read somewhere that life is what happens while you're making other plans. I believe it. Just last night while I was trying to make some travel decisions, looking at various websites, I had an epiphany: I was spending fruitless hours looking at the Internet, trying to decide where to go and when, and yet I was missing what was going on right in front of my eyes.

The mockingbirds singing outside my door.

The rain clouds gathering in the evening sky.

The NCIS marathon on USA.

In times of vague depression laced with hopelessness and seasoned with despair, I'm learning to stop my thoughts and just look around. I look and see the color of the carpet, the dust in the corner, the glass I left on the coffee table yesterday, the cat curled into a ball with her belly showing and her tail twitching. I feel the coolness of the air from the vent, hear the clicking of the slightly unbalanced ceiling fan, smell faint smoke from a neighbor's barbecue grill, feel the carpet under my feet and the saggy couch under my seat.

In other words, I take note of what's in front of me at the moment. I have food, I'm relatively healthy, I'm safe, I'm protected from the elements. I've even paid the bills I must in order to maintain my residence and its utilities despite being unemployed. I have friends who love me and relatives nearby if I need them. My kittehs do a good job of keeping me company. God shows me every day that He loves me.

I guess one might call this a "gratitude list." Yes, I am truly grateful both for what I have, as well as for what I don't have or has been taken away.

It's easy for me to fall into self-criticism when I realize it's been over two months since I was laid off, but in all this time I haven't accomplished nearly what I set out to do. I default to considering my time wasted and myself worthless. But what it is, really, is fear.

I'm so afraid of failing that I don't really try.

I also read somewhere that we call ourselves "lazy" only because it's more socially acceptable to say, "I was too lazy to do that," rather than, "I was too scared to do that."

Thing is, I know both from my reading and from my own experience, it truly is better to try and fail than to not try. I'll spare you any list of developments and inventions which were products of myriad failures before success- you can Google those if you want. History is chock-full of examples.

I believe my bottom-line issue is, how do I define success?

Two months ago, I would have defined success as a perfectly clean and organized apartment, a novel well on its way to perfect completion, and a perfect job in hand. By the standard of perfection, I most certainly have failed, and failed spectacularly.

Now, starting today, I will define success as progress. In twelve-step parlance, I seek progress rather than perfection. And, I'm proud to say, I have made progress. I have read a few books. I am spending fewer hours on the computer and I play almost no internet games. I'm keeping my dishes cleaned and my sink empty, for the most part. More of the groceries I buy are being prepared and consumed or frozen, rather than wasted by neglect. I'm exercising more and eating fewer carbs. I keep an active social calendar and experience less social anxiety.

I still procrastinate (the past few weeks since my last blog entry is but one example). I still have to step over and around things in the apartment. I still leave the cat boxes a little too long between scoopings. I need to do more writing on my book and more practicing for my singing ensemble.

But I am less susceptible to my inner judge-jury-executioner who enjoys telling me I'm a failure. Though the parasitic brain alien is still with me, I manage to keep it in its cage and calm.I suppose there is no cure for low self-worth, but I believe it's manageable with proper self-care.

No resolutions. No promises. No excuses.

No fear.

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