I’m all about how our thoughts are the only thing we can
control in life.
We have the ability to decide what meaning we’ll attribute to any given thing, which then dictates its impact on us – how we feel about and respond to it.
As I write this I’m facing my first ever Christmas alone. As in, completely alone. On an island. No children, no grandchildren, no Carver Boy, no siblings cousins nieces nephews.
And I gotta tell you, I’m FINE with that.
I plan to go fishing. And nap. And whatever else the fuck I feel like doing. I’m good with this because I choose to be.
I remember 13 years ago, going through court for parenting arrangements with my second ex-husband (aka “custody”), being told by my lawyer that I’d need to let my ex have the kids every second Christmas.
THAT MEANT EVERY SECOND CHRISTMAS ALONE. WITHOUT MY BABIES.
And I thought I would break.
I thought it was the end of the world.
I brought these babies into the world, and waking up to them on Christmas morning and seeing the joy on their faces as they opened presents and ate junk food for breakfast and just basked in the holiday bliss, felt like the meaning of life.
Surely I wouldn’t survive it.
Until, at some stage, probably with the help of a good psychologist, I chose to survive it.
I chose to remove the “meaning of life” bit of Christmas morning
as a mother, and pick another day to be our Christmas. And make that day
whatever I wanted it to be – particularly a sleep in, given that I had been
sleep-deprived for about 11 years at that stage.
I’d had an early meeting planned that fell through.
So instead, I mowed lawns for over an hour until I had blisters on my fingers that were threatening to pop.
I sat down on the couch for a well-deserved cold drink and
put on Netflix.
It was at that moment the little voice in my head started
saying, you should…
You should do some work.
You should be productive.
You should get off your ass.
You should do the dishes.
Cook. Clean windows. Drive to that place and do that thing.
You should go for a walk.
You should do those exercises the physio gave you.
What the actual fuck?
What is it that fills our heads with SHOULDs when we have the opportunity to rest, relax, recharge, have a break, take time out, practise some self-care, or just fucking STOP for a few hours if we want to?
I don’t know about you but there’s a voice in my head, OFTEN.
Shoulding all over me.
How do I deal?
So if I have the presence of mind, I go through a set of
Why should I?
And if I do?
And if I don’t?
And after I’ve had that conversation with myself, I tell
myself something like:
Why should I get off this couch and DO something?
Because you’re wasting time.
Who says I should get up off the couch? Well… No
one. Someone. THEM. Ummm, people.
And if I do get up off the couch and do
something? I’ll be tired. My hands will be more sore and maybe get worse. I
might find something enjoyable to do, but there’s nothing I HAVE to do right
And if I don’t get up off the couch and do
something? I’ll be relaxed and rested.
I’ll have an enjoyable afternoon. Because I’m on freaking holiday, and I
deserve a break. It’s perfectly ok to stay here on the couch. Plus there are no
people around, PLUS IDGAF what THEY think.
So, now that I’ve followed those thought processes through, I choose to stay on the couch.
It’s an informed decision.
And I choose to stay on the couch because it’s going to get me downtime, a nap, and a big finger to that little voice that keeps shoulding on me!
That’s loosely how it goes, maybe with some alterations depending on context and depending on the answers.
It’s entirely possible that conversation will end up in me realising there IS a reason that little voice is talking to me. There IS a valid reason I should do a particular thing. Either way, the conversation helps me figure it out.
And in the case of the mowed lawns and the blistered hands and the Netflix?
I’m pleased to report I wiled away the rest of that sunny day right there, on that couch, with an old woollen blanket. And there were naps involved. And tequila.
It’s a spectrum of boredom to intrigue to eye-rolling to sheer offense, wanting to track people down and do… I dunno. Something.
Today I got a spam email
offering me funeral insurance PLUS A BONUS GIFT.
A bonus gift? To go with my funeral? Clearly I’m not the target market for this particular offer. Or if I am, as a woman in my 40s, they must know something I don’t.
I probably don’t really get it
Spam cracks me up.
I admit I don’t completely understand what’s in it for the spammers – how the ROI works. I mean, how many My dearest in the Lords do you have to write to get someone to actually give you money?
I get the hey big boys spam.
I get the URGENT, we need your help to get our money and we’ll pay you for it spam.
I get the I’m a lawyer and some relative you couldn’t possibly have has died and left you millions spam.
I’ve even had the We’ve been recording you through your webcam and if you don’t pay us we’re releasing the footage spam. Yuck.
Or my most favourite recent trend – the spam emails that have Hello in the subject line, like some angsty Valley Girl looking down on me and all my life choices:
Do you not want your free
Did you not get my last
Who (from a non-English speaking country, I’m guessing) has decided that adding the word HELLO to the end of an email subject line was going to be helpful?
They’re not the worst though
But my most offensive spammers?
The ones who pretend they know
The ones who write their email
campaigns to look like a person email, and hide any branding etc, and make me
think there’s a possibility this is a person I’ve actually dealt with and
should reply to.
They say things like:
I’m just running out the door but I’ve been thinking about that
thing we talked about. Can you give me a quick call on 021 SPAMMER?
I was thinking about you after we met and I think we should talk
more. Click here and make an appointment for a call?
As a trainer I meet and connect with (as in, on a first-name basis) about 1000 people each year. There’s no way I can remember them all.
There’s always a chance someone could email me exactly like that, so it always makes me hesitate. I think that’s what pisses me off the most.
I’m sooooo about authenticity, I feel personally offended by someone trying to take advantage of that and I feel resentful for the time and energy I put into filtering them out.
And then there’s these ones
Here’s maybe my least favourite spam email:
Have you got time for a new high paying client this month? I’ve got
an enquiry that might be a good fit.
These are all from one particular woman, and I’m so tempted to name and shame her. I’ve “unsubscribed” from her list enough times to know she has no integrity, because the emails keep coming. I don’t know how I got on her list in the first place.
But then I think, ahh shit.
Lately, I’ve had some technical difficulties with my email lists and a few people have tried to unsubscribe and it didn’t work and they’ve been pretty unhappy about it.
This running a business
thing isn’t easy, you know.
But still. I’m not lying to people. Cos Donna, you DON’T have a high-paying
client for me. STOP LYING.
AND…I know I shouldn’t be so offended. I know I should build a bridge. I know it’s my choice to dwell on how irritating and distasteful this marketing approach is to me. In fact, it’s time for me to get over it.
PS: Donna Davenport from
Customer.com, STOP FUCKING EMAILING ME.
I used to feel guilty every time I thought or said any one of those statements. I thought they were lies.
The superwoman days
You see, I have these days every now and then that I call my superwoman days.
On those days, I get up ridiculously early, stay up ridiculously late, and accomplish a super-human amount of stuff. I go and go and go and push and push and push.
I produce, I meet milestones and deadlines and demands, all in between client meetings and calls, maybe travelling between cities, and all while wearing heels and makeup. And maybe cooking dinner and hugging a child or two.
Fuck. I’m tired even thinking about it.
Beware the lies we tell ourselves
But here’s where the lying comes in: Since I do have superwoman days, I saw those as me being my best, trying my hardest, and only those days.
Every other day I counted as me being less than. Less than my best. Less than trying my hardest.
So on difficult days, on days when I was feeling low or everything turned to shit, or all the cats didn’t get herded, or clients got let down or my feet were just too fucking sore for heels, and I tried to be kind to myself and say, I did the best I could, I didn’t believe it. I thought I could do better.
I mean, I can be superwoman! I have proof! And on this day I hadn’t. So I clearly hadn’t done my best.
Until I realised that my superwoman days were just that: SUPERHUMAN.
More than my best. They were anomalies. Exceptions to the norm. Really fucking impressive and exciting, but exceptions nevertheless.
I had to acknowledge that no one can be superwoman every day. That’s not my best! It’s BEYOND MY BEST.
What I do every other day, every day when I get up and am kind to people and get shit done, and get dressed or don’t, and work or don’t, and cry or don’t, that is me doing my best. That is me trying my hardest.
Because we all fucking do the best we can, every fucking day.
I’ve lived with depression officially for 15 years but in truth probably closer to 20.
I’m all good with that. It’s part of me. We manage. I know how it works and what to watch for and what to do about it.
And when I’m having a low day/week/time, everything feels like too much.
Everywhere I look, there are things. Things I need to do. That I feel like I can’t do.
It makes me want to cry, sleep, eat and or drink myself sick. None of which are helpful, but some of which I still do sometimes.
The POWER to do ONE THING!
When I have the presence of mind, what I tell myself is to pick one thing.
I’ll shower. That’s all I need to do. Or I’ll do the dishes. That’s all I need to do. Or I’ll pick up that thing off the floor that’s taunting me. Or I’ll drive to the supermarket and just get milk. Cos even though we really need a full grocery excursion, we can’t do without milk right now, so I’ll just get that. I don’t even need to put on a bra.
Because one thing almost always leads to one more thing. And before you know it, you’ve adulted for a time. And the day passes. And tomorrow’s a new day.
So even if you’re not depressed, what’s one thing you can accomplish today? One simple thing? One thing you’ll be able to look back on as you go to sleep and pat yourself on the back and say, go you, you did that thing?