Shifting Focus

 

 

Self. 

It’s a tiny, loaded, powerful word.

For people whose natural inclination is to take care of others, using time and energy to care for themselves can be upsetting. Depending on the person, it varies from slightly uncomfortable to downright distressing.

When faced with the idea, there may be a freak-out: “What?! Myself? How will…? What can…? I can’t do that!”

You can. You really can.

Here’s a thing I’ve realized.

If you have a tendency to focus on others, it’s difficult to shift that focus. It may seem unlikely to happen. Impossible even. When you begin focusing on your Self, you’ll find a thought popping up often (the persistent little bugger):

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else!”

Wrong.

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of everyone else!”

That’s it, my friends.

 

Take that in. Accept it. Embrace it.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

You can’t do it all.

Don’t be that person. The harried, stressed, wreck who tries to help everyone and tries to do everything to the detriment of his or her Self, family, health, relationships…whatever.

Yes, this means you have to make decisions. When will you agree? When will you decline? Choose wisely. And ditch the guilt. (It can be done. I have faith in you.)

 

A lot has happened since I chose ‘Self” as my One Word for 2018. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. All of it eye-opening. Take care of yourselves, gentle readers.

 

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My One Word for 2018 #OneWord2018

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Well, I did a bang up job last year with my One Word for 2017: Accept. I didn’t. I raged, raged against the…everything. It was brutal choosing a focus for the year and I faltered. Failed. Time to move on.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I don’t do ‘resolutions’. However, I do believe (previous failure aside) a focus for the year is an excellent idea.

This is how I figured 2017 would work out. It did not. But, still, props for trying:

Choosing ONE word for the entire year? Not easy. I finally narrowed it down to three:

Present

Engage

Accept

I want to be more present in my life and I realized that, if I fully engage, I can be. And to engage, I need to accept some things. (This is how I worked it out, anyway.)

Therefore, my one word this year is:

Accept

 

I’m going to try again.

I’ve really had a time of it, this year, choosing a word. I even thought of cheating and picking two (or three). But, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right. So I’ll work it out again.

I like the words I narrowed it down to:

Present

Mindful

 

I had passing thoughts of choosing something like Assertiveness, Determination, or Focus but they didn’t feel quite right. It’s just that I’ve been yammering on this past year about standing my ground, choosing me, sticking up for myself, keeping on target, saying “NO”, etc. so these seemed good, too.

It’s all about me, right? Sure. Why not? I went into this weird line of hyphenated “self” stuff:

Self-Esteem

Self-Motivation

Self-Care

Self-Awareness

Self-Kindness

Self… Er…

Self… Um…

Self-Centered

Self…ish

 

Crap. Never mind.

But I do need something “self”-like.

So, when continuing to narrow down my choice, I decided it must include me.

 

I’m sick of being stressed-out and overwhelmed, of not doing what I love, of doing things I’d really rather not be doing. I’m sick of ALL OF THE THINGS!

 

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

Forget it! I’m done. Or, at least, my OneWord is done. And here it is:

Self

This is my favorite definition from Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary:

 

self

combining form: to, with, for, or toward oneself

 

See? I’ll be kind to, gentle with, caring for, considerate toward…myself. Brilliant.

By choosing Self, I’ll be incorporating all sorts of other wonderful words I’ve been thinking of here: Awareness, Mindful, Focus, Kindness… How can I have Self in front of me and actively abuse or dismiss it? I cannot. It would be awkward. And weird. And mean.

As I said last year, this is not going to be easy. I’ve got to change my whole mindset to get to the point where Self is what I focus on first. I’m up for the challenge though.

I’m taking my Self out of here, wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping you all can find a perfect OneWord for 2018. ❤

 

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2018.

 

There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here (Oh, and a #CoverReveal)

 

Been talking a lot about joy. Making changes, both on and offline, and living the most joy-filled life I can. (Trying, at least.)

There’s been some dancing in the rain, eating of chocolate, drinking of wine, deleting of emails…

Also, a social media makeover, hugging trees, letting go of lists, listening to AC/DC, saying “NO” to things, and “YES!” to others.

What I’ve noticed very recently is that I’m starting to slip. I’m swamped, drowning, stressed…

So I’m going to revisit my list of things that are important (my health, my family, self care…) and things that are not, then adjust my life and time accordingly. Which means I may or may not be blogging regularly. I have a lot going on. I will not blog when it overwhelms my already-overwhelming life. But I will blog when it brings me joy.

You know what else brings me joy? Writing. I’m currently (happily) working on my novel (due out 2018) and have finished my second collection of flash fiction due out this fall. Cover completed. Formatting now. 🙂

 

 

Thank you, gentle readers, for your continued encouragement and support. Whether it’s been on social media, behind the scenes, or on this blog where you’ve read, liked, commented, and created the amazing atmosphere I love here at Lemon Shark.

On the Edge of a Raindrop will be available Fall 2017.  🙂

 

Thanks, again, to the lovely Rachael Ritchey for designing my cover.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

 

 

Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

Truer words were never spoken.

Or perhaps they were. Regardless, these are up there in the top ten of How to Live Your Life.

Eleanor goes on to say that “you’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Hot damn! She’s right.

You can never please everyone. Let me just go ahead and say that again. You can never. Please. Everyone.

Stop trying.

I’m speaking to myself, of course, as I often always do on this blog but I believe these words fiercely.

I know I’m a good person so why don’t I just do what I feel in my heart to be right?

Worrying what others might think or how they may perceive what I do (or don’t do) is a terrible way to live. How people choose to see me is not in my control. (And really not my problem. Unless I make it my problem. Which we’ve just established it’s not.)

The bottom line here is that, yes, you’ll be damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So…

Do what you want. Dammit.

ThoughtBubble

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Have a lovely week, gentle readers!

 

Excuse Me While I Get My Sh*t Together

 

 

Last week I discussed the awesome TEDx talk by Sarah Knight called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.

This past week, I’ve started a list. Note the word “started”…there is much more where this came from. (No, it’s not a ‘To Do’ list.)

It’s a budget of sorts. In other words, I’ve decided what I do and do not give a f*ck about.

And here is what I discovered:

 

Things I Give a F*ck About

(Things I need to give more time / energy / attention to)

  • My health
  • My family’s health
  • Spending time with my family
  • Getting “me” time
  • Self care
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Eating
  • Sleeping

Sound selfish? Good. It should. 🙂

 

Things I Do Not Give a F*ck About

(Things I need to give less time / energy / attention to)

  • What people think of me
  • TV shows I’m supposed to be watching because they are popular
  • People who don’t hear the word “no”
  • (Most) sports
  • Celebrities’ haircuts, dresses, shoes, handbags, relationships, pets…
  • Demands on my time and/or energy
  • Expectations about what I “should” be doing
  • Number of followers on [insert social media platform here]
  • Stats on my blog
  • What my neighbor thinks of my lawn

 

Now.

I have to stop giving a f*ck about these things in the form of time, energy, or money.

I have to stop stressing about these things.

I have to say NO to these things.

WITHOUT GUILT.

Some will be as easy as getting up, grabbing a marker, and crossing them off. *cough* Celebrities, sports, TV, blog stats… I already seriously don’t care about these things.

Others will be a difficult process of undoing who I am and recreating myself in the image of “What brings me joy.”

 

Now.

The real work begins.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

I’m going to take a bit to digest this information and attempt to free up some time and energy for the things I really want to do. The things that are important to me. The things that bring me joy.

I will probably be posting on here because this little Lemon Shark does bring me joy but I will not become obsessed with and/or stressed about what others think I should be doing. So… I’ll post when I want about what I want. 🙂

 

ICYMI, here’s the talk:

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
TEDx Talk by Sarah Knight

 

And here are the books:

 


Link: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

how to stop spending time you don’t have
with people you don’t like
doing things you don’t want to do

 

Link: Get Your Sh*t Together

how to stop worrying about what you should do
so you can finish what you need to do
and start doing what you want to do

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

 

 

I just saw this TEDx talk by Sarah Knight: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

Most of you have probably seen this or at least heard of it since it’s absurdly popular.

Knight is an internationally bestselling author and this TEDx talk has been viewed millions of times. But I live under a rock of responsibilities and obligations so I missed it.

As it turns out, that is fun and ironic because I needed to hear this woman tell me (yes, she was talking to me) how I can fix my current situation.

Some of the things she talks about are similar to what we stressed-out, unhappy people have heard before but it’s presented in Knight’s own, special way. Meaning…lots of swears. Kidding. (No, I’m not. But it is intelligent, insightful, and practical, too.) She has A PLAN. A simple one that, even in the midst of misery and overwhelm, we can manage:

1. Figure out what you don’t care about.

Are you ready for the mind-blowing next step???

2. Stop caring about it.

SAY NO to those things and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY for saying it. Free up time and energy to do things that bring you joy.

JOY! 🙂

 

I’m getting both her books. Now.

That’s the power Knight wields. (That was fun.)

Have a beautiful week, gentle readers. One full of joy.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
TEDx Talk by Sarah Knight

 

 

 

Check out Knight’s books… (And just look at those subtitles! Don’t you want to do those things?!)

Link: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

how to stop spending time you don’t have
with people you don’t like
doing things you don’t want to do

 

Link: Get Your Sh*t Together

how to stop worrying about what you should do
so you can finish what you need to do
and start doing what you want to do

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

 

 

 

 

Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

We Are Living in a Distractible World and I Am a Distractible Girl

 

 

I just looked up a book about how to focus in a distracted world and I couldn’t make it through the description because I got distracted.

I wish this was me trying to be funny or something but, alas, that just happened. Seriously.

I’m not sure if this means I desperately need the book or it would be a bad fit because the author can’t hold the attention of his target audience long enough to buy his book.

In my defense, it’s a fairly lengthy description.

And I’m not always that easily distracted but… Ooh! Shiny!

When there is a lot going on (there is) and stuff keeps piling up on top my head (it does), I get overwhelmed then become easily distracted.

This got me thinking, as these things do, and now I’ve completely lost it and am in some deep philosophical discussion with myself about metaphysics and if the phone is actually ringing and if I’m even real.

So that’s the deal with my life right now. How are you?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

How do you focus with all the distractions out there? By the way, should any of you lovely readers like to check the book out, the link is up there and it’s called Deep Work. I (obviously) haven’t read it but Sacha Black recommends it. 🙂

 

 

Are You Dealing With Stress or Burnout? What’s the Difference?

 

 

I believe everyone has a certain amount of stress in his or her life. It could be a lot or a little. It could be brushed away or completely take us down. But it’s there. For everyone.

I found this amazing two-part series about stress and burnout. What is the difference? Why is it important to know the difference? What can you do about them?

It’s a must-read.

Whether you’re stressed/burned out or not, it’s a fascinating look at these two conditions. It’s eye-opening and informative. Really. Check it out, bookmark it, both, whatever…but do visit these pieces by Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s blog:

 

 

ETA: I just found two posts on Sally Cronin’s blog about stress. I had to add these. They deal with similar issues in a very different way, focusing on health. Symptoms of acute vs chronic stress, how to manage stress with diet (vitamins, minerals, foods), and much more. Please check these out.

 

The link between stress and your heart

Strategies and foods to relieve stress

 

 

photo: Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

 

My Candle Burns at Both Ends

 

 

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

I could dissect this poem, line by line, pondering its possible meanings with regard to Edna’s life and writing. But this is not a lit class, it’s a blog. So I won’t. Also, I don’t want to.

It’s here today because the words are speaking to me and I need to share them.

Right now, I choose to see this poem as a reminder.

To a person who is working too much, overwhelmed and exhausting herself, who knows she cannot keep this up much longer, who addresses those who support her as well as those who do not. In the end, regardless of this knowledge, she cannot help but say how lovely it all is.

I feel these words deeply.

Watch as I go down in flames and see how beautiful the fire is.

How goddamn beautiful.

Life is difficult and stressful and a strange beauty emerges in those moments. If we look. And when we find it, we need to share it. Shout it out to friends and foes.

There is beauty in the moments of madness.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Are you going through a difficult time? Have you taken on too much? Could you use a break? I’ve got nothing. Sorry. No tips. No fix. Just support, solidarity, and a little bit of poetry.