Self-care set point

Hello everyone! I apologize for my hiatus. Adulting invaded my writing space.  I started the decluttering method by Marie Kondo. I only keep things which “spark joy.” I’m down to my dog, chocolate, and coffee maker.. Just kidding . . . I have quite a way to go. I’m also brushing up on my Spanish. ¿Como estas?

Two months ago my boyfriend and I started renovating a badly neglected 1959 ranch. We deemed it the “rescue house.” Like a rescue dog, it suffered neglect, had goofy quirks and a ton of potential. It also reeked of cat urine! In true Californian hippy dippy fashion I named and spoke to it. I assured her that we would love her back to life. We just needed her patience and trust. I gave her a good saging and hoped to God the neighbors didn’t think we were potheads.

Holy moly was she beat up! First,I prepped walls for painting. I swear one room had over 500 nail holes. When filling hole 100 I declared, “What the F**k!” A few minutes later my lovely boyfriend yelled, “What the hell!” He informed me the previous owner attached a fan to the ceiling via caulk.

During my initial visits to the house, I left feeling tense, overwhelmed,and guilty that I did not stay longer to help. I noticed myself waking up cranky on the weekends, particularly the ones in which I committed to other social engagements. I just wanted to walk my doggie by the bay, go on dates again with my boyfriend, eat scones from my favorite cafe and curl up on my couch with a book. Instead I ran around like a crazy woman. Breakfast conversations with my boyfriend shifted from meaningful topics such as social justice to how quickly porcelain tile would become the equivalent of shag carpet. Initially a great, trendy idea but later a decorator’s disaster.

One morning I chastised the French press for not accommodating the amount of water I poured into it. My boyfriend calmly walked into the kitchen, “You ok?.” I paused, checked in with myself and realized the answer was, “no.” For weeks I had functioned outside of my setpoint, that delicate balance between doing and being needed to be a semi-sane person in this overstimulating world.

I made a conscious choice to move back to a place of homeostasis.I began saying “no” more often. I stopped feeling compelled to answer emails and texts immediately. I declined social invitations which would cause more stress than joy. I limited my  house renovation time to a few hours a week. I carved out more time to walk by the bay, read, and cuddle with Frankie, who is currently cone-bound due to a hot spot. My boyfriend and I went on a date!

I encourage you to check yourself. Are you attending to your set point? What do you need to let go? What do you need to take on? Do you need a scone?

Take care my friends.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

frankie-cone

Not My Problem: A Mantra for Those Who Take on Too Much

 

Popcorn
Popcorn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I received an exasperating email from a dear friend. She volunteered to help with her children’s school popcorn fundraiser. Her initial commitment involved collecting and counting money but quickly evolved to managing every aspect of this endeavor. She repeatedly reached out to other parents for assistance, including the PTA president. . .Crickets. . .Instead she received phone calls and email inquiries about when and where to pick up the popcorn. She felt tempted to reply, “go pop your own f’ing popcorn. I’m done!” Knowing my friend, she likely replied with something kinder after she concocted a revenge fantasy of pelting apathetic parents with popcorn.

Several years ago I received a lucrative contract to help an agency complete assessments which had spent several months piling up in a file cabinet. When I pulled the drawer open, I noticed some were already out of compliance and others would soon follow. I quickly realized I could not dig this agency out of the hole it created. I instantly felt anxious and worried. I contacted my supervisor who replied, “Amelia, this is not your problem. Go to work on time. Work hard while you’re there and leave on time. The fact that they need additional staff will quickly rise to the top. If you try to save them, they won’t take the needed steps to address their problem.”

I’ve carried this sage advice into subsequent work environments. Transferring it into my personal relationships poses a tougher challenge. I think women are particularly susceptible to rescuing others. Maybe it goes back to deep evolutionary wiring telling us if a tribe member is struggling the tribe will die! Regardless, the tribe will not perish if we do not assume others’ problems. I try to enlist people in my life to remind me of this fact. For example, I called my sweet sister a few weeks ago and before I even recounted my dilemma, I told her, “I need you to remind me this is NOT my problem. . .I can’t save everyone. I’m not Jesus.” To each compassionate, yet irrational point I made, she lovingly replied, “not your problem.”

Where in your life do you need to remind yourself, “Not my problem”? If you run around placing oxygen masks on everyone else, and pass out because you forgot to put on yours, THEN you have a problem!

Imperfectly,

Amelia

A Vulnerability Lesson . . .Right in the . . .

Like many recovering perfectionists, I pride myself on being productive and doing things independently. I enjoy being the “helper” not the “helpee” . . . Well, the universe lovingly sent me a lesson to smooth out this jagged growing edge. I had a fabulous start to my spring break vacation. I connected with my dear friend from graduate school and my mom. I very much enjoyed my visitors, but also looked forward to five days of me time. Time for ME, ME, ME – yoga, bike riding, writing, reading, and closet-cleaning. I would finally catch up with life until tonsillitis caught up with me. . .

Following a negative strep test, my primary care physician (PCP) informed me there was nothing he could do for me. He sent me home, told me to rest, gargle with salt water, and drink Theraflu. Forty-eight hours later ambulating and swallowing became herculean efforts. Sadly, my tonsils resembled something from Aliens – red, pus-filled, sacs which invaded the space I once called my throat. I sent the wonderful man in my life (WMIML), a dramatic text, “Something is really wrong, I feel worse. I need help. Come.” Fortunately, he came and convinced me to go to urgent care. I greatly appreciated his concern and patience as I attempted to pull myself together. This scene falls far from my best self. Fortunately, WMIML’s compassion eclipsed my pitiful pageantry.

WMIML: Where is your sweater?

Me: (Tears falling) I don’t know.

WMIML: Is it hanging over there on your coat rack?

Me: Uh-huh.

WMIML: (Kindly brings it over to me and helps me put it on). How about some shoes?

Me: It’s too cold to wear shorts out. I need to find some pants (snotty nose blow).

WMIML: (Picks up the pair I’ve been wearing the past two days off the floor.) How about these?

Me: They stink. I need clean pants.

WMIML: Ok. Where do you keep them?

Me: Over there. (I pitifully point to a dresser drawer).

WMIML: (Pulls out a pair of jeans). How about these?

Me: Ok. Thank you (sniff, sniff). I can’t even find myself a pair of pants. I’m a mess.

WMIML: Yes, that’s why we need to get you to urgent care. Go put them on and let’s go.

Fortunately, the wait was short, and the compassionate physician complimented my coming in promptly. He gave me antibiotics and pain medication on the spot. WMIML drove me home, helped me into bed, and kindly took my sweet doggie out for a potty break. Ahh, back to the land of the living until . . .

I finished the 10 day course of antibiotics and the tonsillitis migrated from the right tonsil to the left. I felt demoralized as I trudged back to my PCP. Now, I was on antibiotics round two. No improvement after several days. WMIML returns to drive me to urgent care. I have not washed my hair in four days and given my malaise the idea of dreadlocks sounds somewhat appealing. I throw on a t-shirt, jeans and manage to corral my oily locks into a hair clip.

PCP: Given you haven’t improved and it’s been three weeks we should try a steroid. It’s like a “miracle” you should start feeling better right away.

Me: I want a miracle. Give me the miracle. Would it be inappropriate to hug you?

PCP: The miracle will involve a shot in your bottom.

Me: I don’t care. I want the miracle.

The nurse comes in and promptly administers the miracle. She mentions it “will burn.” What she failed to declare is that it will feel like a wasp stung you on the ass and reduce your stride to a pitiful limp. I texted WMIML that I received a steroid shot and swiftly hobbled out of the exam room. He politely tried to stifle his laughter to no avail. I was a sight, and I knew it. We climbed onto the elevator with another woman, and his snicker broke into full blown hilarity. I joined him because the only alternative was crying and rubbing my derrière in front of a stranger. She just smiled and commented, “we all have those kind of days.” I nodded in agreement.

After I tried to inconspicuously massage my bottom while waiting on my prescriptions in the pharmacy, I limped through the parking garage while WMIML tried to remember where we parked. The song This Sex is on Fire by the Kings of Leon echoed in my head. Except the word “ass” replaced “sex.” I hummed while I hobbled until the burning overcame my entire backside. I halted and yelled to WMIML, “time out!” He ran over, placed my arm over his shoulder and helped me stagger to the car. I felt guilty for monopolizing what could have been his enjoyable weekend. We had a trip planned for stargazing in the desert. I kept running through scenarios of how I could repay him. However, an African safari or a seat on the Virgin Galactic space shuttle to Mars was slightly out of my budget. I opted for an Amazon gift card.

Why do we find it challenging to be vulnerable and soak in the compassion of others? I know if the tables were turned I would have gladly cared for WMIML. I probably earned a B- during this vulnerability lesson and more will likely come. In the meantime, I’m going to go wash my hair. I wish all of you well and challenge you to embrace a smidge of vulnerability this week.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog had no problem with my oily locks.

My splendidly imperfect dog had no problem with my oily locks.