productivity

Restless

I’ve gotten into the idea of rest and what it means for us that rest is so absent from our society, what it means for me that I’m part of a discipline where rest is seen as optional, to be part of an educational pedagogy where resting is seen as frivolous and optional, where the impossible is endlessly demanded of me.

It seems that in a world that doesn’t know how to be still I am unable to rest.

My body needs rest, craves rest. Still it also doesn’t know what that feels like.

By going back to school I accepted that I was going to be pushed to the brink mentally and physically a lot of the time, that the hobbies that keep me going and time and space to meander that make me content would be gone. I don’t know why I am expected to give up so much of myself and my life by being at UBC.

I am a human. I need rest. We all do.

Today I was feeling tired. I’m not sure why. I am cutting back on coffee because various people who are involved in professions related to my well-being (including numerous doctors and two therapists) have suggested that I drink far too much of it and that perhaps that is linked to my anxiety and insomnia.

I don’t disagree so I am attempting to cut back.

It’s painful. I think it’s gonna take several attempts. The mornings are harder and slower.

I don’t miss the feeling of being buzzed from alcohol (I don’t drink these days). I’m already tired and out of it enough of the time. I don’t need substances to do that. I can get there all on my own. I do love the feeling of sharpness, focus and energy that coffee gives me.

Still, as someone who has never been able to sit still and has generally had trouble sleeping perhaps it’s a bit much. I feel like I’m vibrating.

This past year all my established wellness rituals died fast. In my SALA life coffee was a substitute for taking breaks and sleeping. When I couldn’t focus I drank coffee. When I was exhausted I drank coffee. When I was overwhelmed I drank coffee. When I needed to be on and wasn’t I drank coffee.

I wasn’t drinking coffee because I loved it but because I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Coffee is not a substitute for rest or wellbeing.

I know I need to be gentle with myself as I ride the rocky road of shaking that easy kick in the morning. I no longer have any caffeinated coffee at home and the mornings are much harder. I miss that feeling.

When I first got the suggestion that maybe I should think about cutting coffee I was resistant. I was raised on a steady diet of Gilmore Girls. I’ve already lost enough parts of myself recently I didn’t want to lose that too. I am the coffee girl, the one who drinks far more coffee than is reasonable.

But I am also the girl who is very logical and likes research and evidence based decision making so here we are. I will try and it will be rough.

The point I started with, my digressions have digressions, I felt like I couldn’t stay home all day even if I felt crappy. Granted I don’t want to live my life if I feel lousy, because feeling lousy is just a part of life. I couldn’t tell which thing my body wanted from me. Go out or stay home. It’s hard to tell.

I feel like every day I need to be useful and productive and do stuff. I finished two books today yet that doesn’t feel like much. I organized and cleaned.

Still it’s not enough.

The summer as much as it’s a time to rest is a really short window to do all the stuff I don’t have time for during the semester. I have all these ideas and interests and if I’m not making myself useful then it’s a waste right?

Sit down

Just sit down — or stand if you want to be ambitious like that — at your desk. That's it. That's as much as I usually force myself to do.

I don't have a grandiose theory of creativity. I have lots and lots of ideas. A whole cue card stack with projects to get to lingers nearby. Another pile is all of the things I've had ideas to draw. That doesn't even touch the lists. There are so many lists.

There are ideas and inspiration everywhere. I am a scavenger. 

I am also boring.

A lot of this is mundane. It's the same thing over and over again.

It's doing it until you get good.

Things I learned in fencing. Do it 200 times. Do it 200 more. Over and over again.

If you just sit down you'll find something useful to do. My hands, my brain they want something to do. It might not be the thing that desperately, urgently needs doing. Likely as a freelancer drifting about trying to make something of the time before me I don't have enough structure or deadlines for that anyways.

No there's just a lot of time and I need to find something to do with it.

So I sit and I know I'll find something to do.

It's written blog posts. Helped pick a new name for my photography store. Gotten me started on some photo editing.

It's unstructured and lose but it generally does the trick. If I sit here long enough something will happen. No promise it'll be good but it'll be something.

Time goes by

Growing up I loved the movie Practical Magic. It might be the magic, the storytelling prowess of Alice Hoffman, having a sister. Maybe it's the soundtrack.

I've listened to that soundtrack over and over and over again. It fits perfectly with the movie and goes great on its own.

My favourite songs are the two Stevie Knicks songs. They are beautiful and real.

Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Knicks were a part of my childhood. I was not named after the song Rhiannon, though I do love people who know it because they are familiar with my name. It is less fun when they sing it to me. That mostly just feels awkward.

There's a particular lyric in particular a song off that soundtrack that I've been thinking about lately. If I ever did believe goes a little something like this:

And the days go by
Doing nothing about them

I am feeling better generally. Mostly. Not always. There can be new fun unexpected things but mostly things are getting better.

I am trying to get back to normal. To routines. To being productive.

And I am getting stuff done. It just often feels like I'm not. Or that the things I'm getting aren't worthwhile or useful. That the days just go by and I have no idea what happened to them.

It's great working from home but it also feels unstructured and unmoored. Like I am always working but also getting nothing done. Just a long endless swath of time that I need to find something to do with.

The world cup doesn't help but I've felt this way a lot these past couple of years. My general goal is to do something, anything that is useful or productive. It helps if it's something that I really need to or ought to be working on but I will settle for whatever pops into my head and seems like it demands to be done. Clean out the cooler. Vacuum. Transfer all your old blog posts to this new website. Organize and sift through all the digital clutter that is making your head explode. Watch an hour and a half talk that is super inspiring and relates to stuff I am really interested in.

It is doing something. Over time there are things to show for it. Just not in a 9–5 structured kind of way.

I need to both try to be more efficient and focused as well as to let go of the anxiety and guilt about not doing enough.

The time will go by either way.