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Today I will

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Part of my healing journey and my mental health care is trying to stay focused on the future and being productive. It is very easy to get caught up in memories and cry fests. (Just ask my dogs, they have been very attuned to my moods and are excellent at surrounding me when I need extra snuggles.)

And to do that I have started my “Today I will” lists. I got this idea from a Tik Toker who is struggling on her own career path and with anxiety and she talks about how seemingly innocuous routines have helped her keep her anxiety in check. While anxiety is not one of my own challenges, losing focus and then becoming unproductive certainly is.

As a result, I am working on creating small routines throughout the day to break up the time I have in my head if you know what I mean. Here’s what I’ve got so far…

Wake up

I use our Home app to have lights come on in the house before the sun. Starting my day before the sun up is a psychological win for me. By the time the sun is up, I am showered, dressed, have greeted the dogs and am ready to start my day. But even more than this, I have begun setting a water bottle (glass that I fill every night) and my vitamins by my bed. I researched the best times to take some of my supplements and what to take them with and I have about 4 that should be taken 30 minutes to 2 hours before you eat. So I sit up, take my supplements, stretch because I’m old and my back hurts, and send my gratitude prayers up before I pad to the bathroom to brush my teeth and shower.

(And this has gotten so much easier since I programmed our thermostat so the heat goes from 62 degrees to 68 degrees about 15 minutes before my lights come on. I wake up to light and warmth. Win!)

By the time, I’m showered, the dogs who sleep in crates are ready to see me. And by that, I mean, they are making noises which are annoying enough to hurry me up to care for them.

On my way

Before I greet the crated dogs, I ask Siri to turn on the lights in my office, stop by to put in my hearing aids, turn on my computer, and complete my I WILL list. Right now this is just a post it note I stick to my computer screen. This is the KEY to my day.

I tune out the whines of the dogs. Shut off my music if I’m playing any. And I sift through my mind for priorities for the day.

These are not work tasks, those all live in my calendar or project management tool. They are not personal/household chores that also live in my project management tool. But they are growth minded, mental health minded. And sometimes, when I get caught up in the emotions swirling, I just need that push to get back in the right mindset. Having these daily goals that put me back on track has made a huge difference.

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Throughout the day, if I get caught up and going down a rabbit hole that is not productive or is self defeating, I re-focus by completing or at least working on one of these items. These typically get me back to work either personally or professionally. And by the end of the day, I have accomplished something outside of work and chores.

Closing out the day

I go to bed early. I am old. And it’s cold. And I like it that way. My kids think I’m crazy.

But the reality is that I am often here alone. I don’t have to cook for anyone very often. And I’m not a TV watcher. So once I am wrapped with work and the dogs are to bed (ie crated ones in their “boxes”), I take my night time supplements and head to my room to get cozy. For the last few months, I have watched Tik Toks til I turned off my light. But that routine has gotten old and is not very productive. Not to mention, these past couple of weeks, I cannot stand to see the relationship related videos and quotes, they just hurt too much.

So I’m switching it up. Instead of entertaining myself with video, I am now reading an Amazon Prime available book on my phone. This keeps me from running up library fines or even having to go to the library anymore. My night time reading is for pleasure rather than work. And I’m finding that I am not up near as long with a book as I was watching videos.

The financial side

Now I know many long time BAD readers are going to say, what does this have to do with getting out of debt. A lot really! The old me would set the world on fire, ie going on a spending spree when my emotions got the best of me. A comfort mechanism. The new one, is 100 focused on becoming debt free, financially free. (If you clicked on my blog link in my last post, you might have seen the domain name is I want more free – that is my goal.)

Creating this micro routines keeps me focused, keeps my mental health stable, and keeps me making good decisions.

At this point, it can only get better. I am believing that and holding on to that.

I need to figure out who I am when someone else is not the priority.

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Wow, this year has been a doozy! Personal loss, professional loss. And now we are at the end of it and I am ready to say good bye!

As a result of all the loss, I have been so tempted to just throw in the towel and completely blow up my life several times. Sell the house, live in my car. Quit work and just do odd jobs. Just leave, everything and anything behind. I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

Let me give you just a summary of the context that has driven me to this desperation.

The Summary of 2022

Coming into this year, I thought it was going to be a banner year. I had a wonderful job that I loved that paid me well and a stellar work ‘family.’ A fiance with whom I was planning forever. And all 5 of the kids were stable and living life. My mom’s health continued to go down hill, but she was still my mom in a lot of ways.

And here we are at the end of the year…

  • My wonderful job turned into 6 months of turmoil ending with a “mutual” separation that left my confidence SHOT like never before. And I recognized that my identity was completely tied to my work. Not the way that it is supposed to be, and I am still really struggling with this.
  • My new contract to hire job, became just a contract job, which I am grateful for, but I really want the stability and benefits of a full time role again. The job hunt is on. Although I’m grateful to have stable full time work, it’s just a hard place to be on top of everything else.
  • My 5 year old relationship, 1 year engagement, ended with a single text message one week after we took our engagement photos and decided on a wedding date. And that text was sent overnight on the night that my uncle passed away. (No contact since and I am still reeling!)
  • My beloved uncle passed away. The one who has played such a big part in our lives over the last decade, my youngest daughter’s “best friend”, the one I sat with at Thanksgiving and listened to his tales with my fiance by my side. Yes, the one who helped me get my car, who let us live with him during our transitionary time between living in Virginia and Georgia. We were eating Thanksgiving one day and just a few short days later, I got a call from my dad that he had passed away. (I am writing this the day after the funeral, so I am RAW!)

Princess and Uncle Frank at Thanksgiving

  • My mom was put on hospice at the end of the summer. She no longer speaks or can care for herself in any way. Now it’s just a waiting game and it is so hard to watch. (I recognize that it is far harder for my siblings and dad who are her primary caretakers, but the daily updates and pictures just tear me up.)

And these are just the “highlights” or rather low lights of my year. I am just torn down.

The Results

I cannot even put into words all the emotions I am feeling. They overwhelm me, drown me. It’s not even stay in bed and cry reactions anymore. It’s more of a burn it all to the ground reaction. Does that make sense? The anger, the betrayal, the sadness, and the loss – they all combine to a swirling pit of (I can’t even find the word for it.)

Obviously, I have had time to sit and process some of this and some of it is very, very new. And I’m clinging to the few things I feel like I have some control over, which frankly, does not feel like much. But you know me, even in the midst of all this, at my very core, I am a planner, a list maker. I can’t just do nothing.

How I’m processing

This is what I’ve got right now, this is how I’m coping.

  1. As far as my personal relationship failure goes, I am following the sage advice of no contact for 30 days. I blocked him on all channels. Do you know how hard that is? Someone I have connected with multiple times a day for 5 years is suddenly gone. It’s like losing a limb, an integral part of myself.
  2. I am giving myself permission to feel whatever I feel, there is no right or wrong way to feel with all of this going on. Smiling and laughing is okay, crying and screaming is okay. And asking for hugs continuously is okay. My kids, especially Gymnast, have been so supportive through all of this. I really have raised great kids. Pat on the back to me.
  3. Spend time with myself – no distractions, no tv, no technology, just let my mind wander and answer any and all questions as best as I can that come to mind. There’s a Tik Toker I watch who gave me this idea. She takes herself on a date every weekend. I don’t want to do that, because I don’t want to spend my money that way. But I love the concept so I modified it to meet my needs.
  4. Get out of the house. This is hard. I am an introvert to the extreme. Really, the only time I go out of the house is with the kids, but they are all mostly gone or about to be gone. I have to establish a life outside of them, and right now connecting with others is very important for my mental health. This is really hard for me. But this weekend, Princess was home for the funeral and we went to the VFW line dancing night with live music. No, neither of us dances. But I love live music and it’s dark and everyone is old, no offense, so it’s something I can do myself to just be out sometimes.
  5. Ask yourself the hard questions:
    1. Who am I? If I’m not mom, who am I? If I’m not supporting others, who am I? What is my purpose?
    2. What is next? I am months away from being an empty nester. All my “plans” blew up with my relationship. Work?
    3. What do I truly enjoy doing – both personally and professionally? I have spent so long being everything to anyone as a jill of all trades. It’s not serving anyone anymore, especially me.
    4. Is this reality? Or something that is a response to an emotional trigger?

That’s what I’ve got right now.

Shuttering my business for the time being.

The Plan

These are in no particular order or priority. Just my list…

  • I have decided to give myself a break. For 16 years, I have been a consultant, it’s just a whole part of my…my identity as mentioned before. I even continued that while working full time jobs for the last 2 years. I am exhausted. And I am not doing anyone any good any more – neither me or my clients. After I wrap a few straggling projects, I am shuttering it down for a while. Time to re-imagine what this looks like or if it is time to let it go. The experts say not to make big decisions for 6 months after the losses I have suffered. I can’t imagine I will go 6 months, but I am giving myself the time.
  • I want a “real” job. I want something I can leave at the end of the day and the weekends. I want paid time off. I want holidays. I want bereavement pay. I want a team I can cheer on. I want to focus my energy on one “job.” Therefore, the job search is a priority. I can’t keep settling.
  • I am going to give myself a gift. For YEARS, I have waited for a man to recognize my value, to shower me with love, to freaking celebrate my birthday! That may never happen. So I’m going to stop waiting. And I’m going to start celebrating me. I told the kids, I am going to start celebrating my own birthday. I don’t know what that is going to look like, but it’s going to happen (maybe next year.)
  • I am going to travel. My three year plan with my ex-fiance was to hunker down for 3 years, get our financial life tied up in a pretty bow, and then travel for a while…I’m not getting younger. And there is so much I want to see and do. I’m not going to wait anymore, I am not going to wait for my “person” to show up. What’s crazy is that the day I was chatting about this with Gymnast, their old sitter announced she was starting a travel agency. I’ve already contacted her to start planning some “just me” trips this next year.
  • I am going to read books. I have a slew of mostly business related, some relational and some personal development books, I have been collecting for the last 4ish years. 2023 is the year I’m going going to read them. Every day, I’m giving myself some time. If you would like to read along with me, let me know and I can certainly post what I am reading and my thoughts on it occasionally.
  • One thing I have determined from my “hard questions” above is that I LOVE to write. Like love. I love making people feel or think about things differently. I love sharing different perspectives. And I don’t know if I love it enough to make it a career move, but it’s definitely been cathartic. So when I’ve asked content developers that I’ve worked with how they think I should proceed with this, their response is “just write.” So that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to do it real and raw and ignore my shame, my pride, my hesitations of sharing too much. I’m just going to write and put it all out there. You can follow my personal ramblings HERE. There will be no affiliate links, no sales, just personal epithets and really whatever comes to mind.

In the end, it’s time to put me first. My kids are almost all gone (update on Gymnast coming soon,) and I’ve spent way too much time waiting on a man. It’s time to just do me, my mom role is fading to the background now, and that’s disconcerting. I need to figure out who I am when someone else is not the priority.

What do you think? Have anymore suggestions for my “healing” journey?

 

 

 

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