So I’ve been doing a ridiculous amount of work lately on my complicated tangle of beliefs, experiences and patterns around Time.*
The feeling of “never enough”, the need for more, the lack of trust that this whole issue is going to get easier.
*Not capitalizing to be pretentious or anything! Just trying to draw attention to what a symbolic/thematic big deal it is for me right now.
There was that especially wacky meditation where I found a clock walled up inside of me (which then exploded, because a walled up clock isn’t trippy enough).
There was the session with Carolyn where we planted the idea that I’m allowed to have time for myself during the workday, which grew into my email sabbatical.
Then my hurting, unable-to-work arms spoke to me very clearly and said the following:
“You need your business to be a business. The kind that can run when you’re not there every second. Which it already can and you know it.
Enough treating it like it’s actually just another full-time job. Because we’re not getting better until you cut it out with the workaholism. So there.”
And I couldn’t even argue with them, because they were right.
So in addition to my own magic bag of tricks and techniques, I’ve also been getting coaching from Cairene. And more help from Carolyn and some wacky clearing-out-of-old-gunk from Hiro.
And learning even more about how I interact with time, how I think about it and how I treat it.
Hi, you must be my “I’m not allowed to have free time” block.
In my last Carolyn session we were talking about changes I could make to my schedule, and she asked what I would do if I had free time?
The concept — in fact, just the combination of those two words into one united phrase — felt so foreign to me, so bizarre, that I couldn’t even really wrap my head around it.
Issues. I have some.
So I was (gently) poking around in my head, trying to figure out where this was coming from, and I found a couple of different fears to spend time with.
Fear #1: My fear of being a slacker.
Otherwise known as my fear of spending five years in a row doing nothing but staring at the wall and picking lint out of my belly button. Otherwise known as my fear of repeating the better part of my twenties.
Me: Whoah. Interesting. Okay, you’re totally allowed to be afraid of this if that’s what you’re feeling.
Fear: Uh-huh. I know.
Me: Um, can I just remind you though that we weren’t actually slacking off? We were just, you know, paralyzed by some seriously crippling perfectionism that kept us from even thinking about trying anything. Well, that and exhausted from working until 7 a.m. at the bar.
Fear: Whatever. Maybe. What’s important is that I need to keep that from ever happening again.
Me: Man, you are always trying to protect me. And I manage to forget that every single time.
Fear #2: My fear of abandoning my mission.
Me: Okay, that was almost creepy how fast that one went away. Hello, new fear. What’s your story?
New fear: I know you don’t like being a workaholic, but you just need to deal. Because you’re on a mission from god, much like in the Blues Brothers, only about a gazillion times more important. We can’t have you messing around here.
Me: Wow. I see we haven’t met yet. You’re pretty intense. Authoritative much?
New fear: You have to get your act together.
(Sound of me thinking ….)
Me: Let me see if I can reassure you a bit. I have enormous respect and love for my mission. I’m not going to abandon my mission.
You know what though? There isn’t going to be a mission if I get burnt out and lose my passion. And I can’t even do my mission effectively if what I end up modeling for people is self abuse instead of kindness.
The best way to protect the mission is by keeping me healthy and sane and well rested. The more time I take for myself, the higher quality my time is that I give to others.
(Sound of my fear thinking ….)
New fear: I see you’re pretty good at this authoritative thing too.
Me: So we’re cool? No way. Wow. Was that about a hundred times easier than last time or what? I’m astounded.
In which I receive some free time and don’t know what to do with it.
So that was last week.
Since then, I did some work with Jen Hofmann on creating a Non-Cheesy Healing Calendar for me, with a few experimental chunks of “free time” built in, and have gotten considerably more comfortable with the idea… at least in theory.
Then the other day I went to the one yoga class where I don’t need to use my arms, and it was canceled.
Bam! Instant free time.
No fear this time… but some internal dialogue:
Ooh! Free time! It’s happening! Ohmygosh!
I know! I could go sit in a café and write… oh wait, I can’t write because of my arms.
But I could sit on a bench or on the grass and write… no, I can’t actually.
Okay. There really isn’t anything I want to do that doesn’t involve writing in some form. in fact, writing is how I process things. It’s how I interact with things. It’s how I self-medicate. It’s how I sort out my thoughts and feelings.
And I really just need to be able to mourn that loss.
So I went for a walk.
And then I went and did some yoga at home.
And there was time for me. And it was actually uh … kind of freeing. So there!
Or at least, you know, close enough.
Paralyzed by your mission. I get that. I sooo get that. So much so that I can’t believe I’m admitting it in public like this. Well, the kind of public that is writing a comment on the site of an internet-famous duck (and yogi).
I’m working so hard to control my fears that on those very random times when “free time” comes to fruition, I just stand there confused. And tired. You go for a walk; I’d want a nap.
If I had free time.
Thanks. Seriously. Thanks.
christys last blog post..The Fallacy of Time
Yoga that doesn’t require the use of arms- perplexing, but awesome that you’ve found such a class! I hope you give yourself permission to fully enjoy any further free time that comes your way 🙂
carmas last blog post..The (Disturbing) Evolution of Kelly Pickler
OK, I know it’s a trick of the language, but… FREE time? What if you’d paid twelve dollars for it?
That sounds kind of flippant, I know, but I mean it, too. I know one of my issues is definitely around spending time productively. Time is my most precious resource, my most valued commodity. Far more so than money. So much so that even when I was signed off work sick with chronic fatigue, I immediately started planning what I could do with all that time; all the things I could catch up on! If I’d gone to a class that was cancelled, I’d be really cheesed off – that travelling time, gone! My neat little time-plan, damaged! And yet I suffer from massive paralysis when faced with a large chunk of time, too. How odd – I don’t want to use my ‘free’ stuff.
Seriously, I don’t know what it would take for me to spend an afternoon in a hammock with a good book these days, but I’d like to find out.
Alisons last blog post..38) Handy for planning that square-foot garden
Uh-oh. This post is bringing some stuff closer to the surface that I am scared of. (puts it in big box with a huge padlock)
Thanks for sharing this process, I love it when you write about this kind of thing.
Oh dear. I may have to deal with this now… damn.
Emma Newmans last blog post..Neutering my narrator
One of my more recent dreams involves time, either what time to go to sleep and get up or what time to work, I’m not sure yet and I’m not freaking out about knowing.
Yet had that same dream said, Free Time: from – until, I too would be completely paralyzed. Dang my head even hurt when I typed that, so I just bet the idea of Free Time is going to come up soon.
I like that your healing makes my healing be wanted even more. No seriously I mean that. I really, really do.
I have a hard time with free time myself. I always want to be productive and I have a hard time thinking that things one would do in one’s free time are productive. When I try to relax, my mind races and I think of a million productive things I could be doing. What’s helped me overcome this (slightly) is rethinking the word productive. Is it productive to hang out with friends? Yes. Is it productive to meditate? Yes. Is it productive to take a long walk with my dog? Yes. Rethinking just one word — productive — has really helped me enjoy my free time more.
Positively Presents last blog post..stop slackin’ & get crackin’
Wow. Many thoughts to ponder, many many of your words in this post were very close to home.
Hi! I’ve been reading for just a week or two, and honestly…
I’ve got a question. And it’s driving me nuts.
What happened to your arms? Did you lose them in some sort of accidental arm mangling event? Are they still in fact, connected to your body? Can you not lift them? Is it like, you broke them both?
Because your blog is seriously entertaining, and I really think I”m gonna go crazy if everytime you mention your arms I end up wondering if they exist anymore. Or wondering if perhaps they have some injury. And then I spend an hour making up really goofy ways that your arms could be in fact attatched but not useful. You know, like if they were made out of cotton.
So, if you don’t mind clarifying…
Wow!! See… I have been paralyzed for years, unable to move because I have been afraid to fall/fail or not be perfect. Its just that… I never realized it, I never realized that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way, and that the feeling of being small, insignificant, unlovable, and unworthy were my Fear’s way of keeping me from trying too hard in case i failed…
This has been such a good set of posts. I have started to work on talking to my Fears and inner dialogs…
Not to sound like just a “fan girl” but I am glad that I am not the only person in the world that has these fears and stuckednesses. I’m sure everyone says that, but seeing that other people are vulnerable and HUMAN too makes it just that much EASIER to be a fully realized and connected human being.
Pams last blog post..Ever Wonder…
Chilling. It’s amazing how the universe speaks to us (in your case, through your freakin’ arms) and makes us slow down and get a clue.
Thanks for sharing.
Mark Smiths last blog post..What’s The Highest And Best Use Of Your Time?
Ouch, Havi, yes, the Free Time Conundrum. Want it desperately until you have it, then go nuts over what to **do** with it.
I think Positively Present has a great solution–redefining the word “productive.” I’ve been trying (with various degrees of success) to do this myself, and I’ve gotten to the point where, on a good day, I can at least watch the play of my own mind with detached amusement. Progress, yes?
I also try to remember the old story of the goose who lays the golden eggs. If you stop feeding and taking care of the goose, you’re not going to get any more of those lovely eggs.
Good for you and your spontaneous walk-taking!
zing! zap! sha-zam! 🙂
and the frosting on my grits:
There really isn’t anything I want to do that doesn’t involve writing in some form. in fact, writing is how I process things. It’s how I interact with things. It’s how I self-medicate. It’s how I sort out my thoughts and feelings.
All I have is stories. Stories that this made me think of.
1) There was a UK comedy back in the early 90s called Drop the Dead Donkey. One character had some medical thing and was told by his doctor to relax. He says “I’m going to be the best damned relaxer in the world.” I think this is a danger for those with perfectionist tendencies. Warning.
2) A couple of years ago when I had a “real job”, one of my colleagues had been on holiday. I asked her how it went. She says “I didn’t read as many books as I’d planned.” I tried to explain how you don’t need to have goals for a holiday but I’m not sure she got it.
You are not alone. But I like Alison’s riff on thinking about “free time” like you thought about “free stuff” yesterday.
JoVEs last blog post..The politics of research funding
. . . where I found a clock walled up inside of me (which then exploded, because a walled up clock isn’t trippy enough).
(Sound of my fear thinking ….)
Are these two sounds the same? Just wondering if you did this on purpose or if yoursubself did it on purpose.
Dave Thurstons last blog post..0. PixTip(s)
Free time? I have absolutely no idea what that is. It just made me stop and think and realise I don’t delineate between “work” time and “free” time. It’s all free.
Although I do remember a similar message coming from having RSI years ago. It’s amazing what we discover when we go inwards.
I’m so glad you’ve had all these healing experiences. Even very annoying things can have benefits!
Joely Blacks last blog post..The wall, and being a divided self
My good friend, coach, and business partner’s last newsletter was all about doing nothing. It’s on his website at http://www.therememberingroom.com/archives/articles/2009-04-07_joy_doing_nothing.html
How many ways can you find to do nothing? And isn’t it fascinating how much panic the mere thought induces?
Fun stuff! (Speaking as a reformed must-do-everything, every-minute-must-be-productive person.)
Grace Judsons last blog post..The joys of an alternate reality
@Christy – Oh, I wanted to take a nap, too. I pretty much only went for the walk since I was already outside and it was sunny – in Portland!
@Carma – I can do standing poses and restorative poses, and any stretches that take place while sitting down and don’t use my arms… it kind of works. 🙂
@Alison and Positively Present – Good! I’m glad you caught my clue about free (money) and free (time). They are definitely connected in all sorts of ways.
Ironically, I don’t have trouble taking time to meditate or for yoga or for friends, it’s more the “not going to do anything” time that intimidates me…
@Joyce **blows kiss**
@MissNibbles – Oh, sorry. I definitely have arms. Still attached! Just some severe repetitive stress kind of stuff that doesn’t allow me to write or type – so I have to dictate everything to one of my wonderful assistants or a machine (Stu).
With luck and rest, they will be better at some point.
@Pam – That’s beautiful and inspiring – yay!
@JoVE – both of those stories are hilarious, and I will definitely be using them. Fabulous.
It’s funny, but I really don’t have this issue — and yet I constantly read these blog posts (well, okay, I’ve started skipping some of them) that address how to make yourself take free time, etc. I have the exact opposite problem — I’m often pretty demotivated, or my motivation only lasts a day or two before I find myself playing Facebook games all day and going, “when did it get to be five?”
And yet, I can see the same sort of fears at the root — while doing Nothing is really awesome sometimes, if you’re doing it too much it’s because you’re afraid that doing something will lead to failing at something. And by you I mean me. Which I am leaving because of how interesting it was that I had to distance that fear with language.
So, my real point is — thank you for making me think about my fears and issues, even when they’re not the same as yours.
Amy Crooks last blog post..What doing chores taught me about doing work
Redefining “productive” speaks to me. I have been able to allow myself to have a certain amount of “me time” by seeing meditation, exercise, that sort of thing as “productive”. I’m still a little iffy about “sitting in the easy chair reading or knitting” as productive, but it’s coming!
I think I’ve said “thank you” to you in every comment, Havi! So … thank you! Again.
Anna-Lizas last blog post..Pollyanna Says Don’t Open the Door
Thanks, Havi, for sharing what you are going through and how you are working with it: it’s very helpful. I hope I’ll soon be able to translate some of those insights into my work with my own stucknesses.
Oh, your mention of a yoga class where you don’t need to use your arms reminded me of an idea I’ve had yesterday, and made me realise I could ask what you thought about it. You see, I’m on a forced break from Shiva Nata (ugh, sucky!) because of some sort of problem with my ribcage which forces me to avoid movements that open it up until it’s fully healed (god knows when). So the Shiva Nata arm movements are pretty much out. But yesterday, I thought I could maintain my practice with just the legs, doing the arms in my mind. What do you think? Good/bad idea?
Nice rumination. The world opens up when we can give up the moment-to-moment angst.
Kaushiks last blog post..The Second Obstacle – The Search
Thank you for modeling how to connect with and collaborate with our fears. It is soooo amazing. I am trying to incorporate this into my processing, but it is not very easy, so I appreciate you even more so for sharing!!! 🙂
I liked that you pointed out the grief part you are experiencing. That makes so much sense, but I am sorry for you. Thanks again!
Oh, yes, I recently tried my Shiva Nata Dvd (which isn’t exactly new). Wow, it is interesting to say the least. I was surprised at how calming it was for me. Good stuff..
Oh Havi. I love you, I really do. I just mainlined the Procrastination Dissolve-O-Matic in like an hour and I’m so going to go back to it and read it more carefully and do all the exercises later. The thing that really made me stop and stare (and tell my housemate!) was the one line: “You’re okay. Seriously.” I now have that as a sticky note on my computer.
(I’m not broken? You mean it?)
I think you are amazing. For sharing all this stuff about your life, and for being the most awesome helper-mouse in the world, and for… being you. It’s a very hard thing to be oneself totally and completely, and you do it.
And that’s enough rabid gushy fangirling from me.
♥ to you.
randomlings last blog post..Havi, the bad stuff, the good stuff, and perfect harmony.
I have the same problem. I feel guilty whenever I’m not being productive. It’s the main reason I don’t like TV much. I always feel like I should be doing something else.
Trying to take time for a daily walk helps though. But then, if I don’t have my daily walk, I feel guilty about not having my daily walk.
Glad I’m not the only one with these kinds of issues, lol.
Naomi Niless last blog post..Crowdsourcing and Spec Work â€“ My Thoughts
You namechecked the Blues Brothers!
(Oh, yeah, the other stuff was great too… yada yada yada You know I adore you and wanna buy you your favorite non-alcoholic sugar free beverage at some point, but it’s the small things that make me happy. I’m just a simple man.)
Big bear hugs…
I worked myself into the breakdown from hell about eleven or so years ago, and it has taken all this time to recover properly, or as close to properly as makes little difference. What I learned, in the days when I couldn’t leave the house, was that it’s okay to sit with a kitten on your lap and *feel*. It’s okay to sit in the garden and look. Or not. That these things are essential to the artistic process, just as the making of the art is. That they are as useful a meditation as writing, or painting. It makes me sad, but grateful, that I had to get as ill as I was to learn these things. Being is just as important as doing; probably more so.
marion barnetts last blog post..Overspill…
Hahahahah nice post!
Hannahs last blog post..In the absence of new posts…
@Josiane – if you’re not doing arms in Shiva Nata you can either a. focus on the legs and/or the square sequences, b. focus on learning the mathematical number sequences or c. LISTEN to the numbers, which is also a really powerful way to launch a meditation.
Or some combination of the three. When your upper body heals, you can go back to the arms with new understandings. 🙂
@marion – I hear you. Big, amazing lesson, uncomfortable and miserable way to get it. I completely agree with you about the essential quality of not doing.
@Gilbert (who I will always think of as @CrazyOnYou) – you are such a sweetheart!
Thanks for answering my question! I’m gonna try this right now!
I particularly loved this passage.
“You know what though? There isn’t going to be a mission if I get burnt out and lose my passion. And I can’t even do my mission effectively if what I end up modeling for people is self abuse instead of kindness.
The best way to protect the mission is by keeping me healthy and sane and well rested. The more time I take for myself, the higher quality my time is that I give to others.”
That seems like the true-est thing ever to me – if we don’t take care of ourselves by keeping ourselves sane, rested and healthy – then we’ve got nothing to give to others, whether as a parent, professional,or friend.
I’m having my own little arm tussle here. Yesterday, while pulling out the brisket for dinner on Friday when Zach comes home, the gravy spilled on my arm. I have some #degree burns on my right inner forearm and can’t do much of anything.
There are several good things about this as it lends instant perspective to whatever I was doing that I thought was so critical for me to do in a big hurry:
1. Can’t clean the house as had a shot of Demerol last night and pain pills today.
2. Have no energy for much of anything which means I’m getting some sleep that I’ve needed for a whle.
3. Instantly lowers the standards of Passoverwhelm – I’m inviting everyone to the stove for dinner instead of putting on the dog with my finest china.
4. I am so fortunate that it was the inner right forearm and that it didn’t hit any of the joints i.e. the wrist or crook of the elbow, so I can bend my arm. I never knew how important that was to be able to bend my arm til this happened.
Wish I could have learned this without the burns which may require a skin graft – but, oh well – that’s over now.
Tomorrow, we have a seder here and I have to be at the burn specialist at 5PM when I’ve called dinner for 5:30PM – and guess what?! I’m going.
Why? Because before I can do for others, I’ve am consciously chooosing to be good to my arm and have someone who knows what they’re doing take a look at it. I choose to make myself available whenever it is convenient for them and that’s the only time they can meet.
Thank you Havi. You made it very easy to see what’s really important here.
“paralyzed by some seriously crippling perfectionism that kept us from even thinking about trying anything”
Oh my GOD, Havi, this is me, me, meeeeeee. Sweet cracker sandwich! Thanks for putting those words together that way :).
Hilarys last blog post..Richard Simmons