Adventures in Adulting: In Search of Balance

It’s time for one of those non-craft related posts.

I’ve never been great at balancing my work life and home life, especially since a very large percentage of my work life happens in a small room in my house.  Life tends to be a little heavy on the work and chores, what doesn’t happen during the week bleeds into the weekends and I don’t really get a break unless something gets neglected.  Knitting has even taken a bit of a trip to the back burner.  It still happens, but only because I consider it the keystone to my personal mental health plan.  All work and no knitting makes Candy a dull girl. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, crafting keeps me sane. It’s been the greatest form of stress relief and meditation I’ve experienced and I usually end up with something nifty at the end of a project.

Long story short, last week sucked, and it triggered a lot of anger, anxiety, and defeat. Those are the big three of things I don’t deal with well.

F0356D11-7D09-4773-AFAC-57B2BFB06B6COver the weekend,  I pretty much shut down on the couch with a ball of yarn and a complicated lace/cable/beaded pattern (one so complicated that I had no option but to focus entirely on my hands, no brain function left to think of anything else) I declared – I can’t keep doing this to myself.

Everyone has their own struggles with finding balance, and everyone has different feelings about it, but as a single woman, that has the tendency to work very long hours some weeks, I have no option but to do it all on my own.  No, do not take that as any sort of hint that I’m dipping my toe back into the dating pool.  I have no interest (or time) to start looking for a relationship just because I need help with the house and yard work.  Seriously, I do know people that dip in and out of the dating pool just for those purposes. I’m not a fan. Digression over.

So what’s a girl to do?

Schedule, prioritize, have some damned self-control.

When I feel burned out, I get lazy.  I’ll hit a drive through or nuke a frozen something-or-another for meals.  I’ll mow at the yard instead of really doing the job that it deserves – but at the same time it’s been 90+ degrees with what feels like 90+% humidity in the evenings after I get off work, most Georgians aren’t keeping up with those conditions.  Laundry stacks higher and deeper.  It may be getting washed but it isn’t getting put away.  I think I’ve been rotating the same three pairs of paints, and week’s worth of shirts and underwear for a couple of months.  Bottom line: I’m in a rut and I gotta fix it.

So what’s on the agenda?

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Shrimp Corn Chowder – Instant Pot For the Win!

I’ve got to start cooking real food again.  I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’ve been lying to myself thinking I’m saving time by hitting up the drive through, or nuking something in the microwave.  Realistically, it’s a 30-45 minute round trip to pick something up and bring it home.  In that same amount of time, or very close to it, I can actually cook real food and eat it as a hot meal, instead of the lukewarm, often soggy crap that comes in the door in a paper bag. We won’t discuss all the other things that are wrong with take out.  I’ve started hunting down crockpot and Instant Pot recipes to add to the arsenal of an already expansive list of the tried and true meals.  If the meal pretty much can cook itself, that’s more time I can use to wrap up my work day, or complete some other house chore.  I’m also not going to hide the fact that the near constant news of someone tampering with food, restaurants notifying diners that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A, or someone neglecting some part of their job triggering recalls has bothered more more lately than it has in the past.

I’m experimenting with the 1-minute rule.  The short version of that idea, if it will only take a minute or two do complete, just complete the task when you see it.  Dishwasher needs unloaded when you pass by, just do it.  Trash needs to go out, just do it.  Toilet bowl needs cleaned, just do it.  On and on.

I actually need to schedule time to complete certain tasks during the week and adjust my work schedule around those needs, not the other way around, especially when work is busy.  I can work all day, but I can’t mow the grass in the dark or when it is at its absolute hottest and muggiest out.  I may actually melt.   I am fortunate that I do have enough flexibility with my schedule that I can step away for short amounts of time to handle tasks as long as key people know I’m stepping away. I don’t think anyone will be upset with an email saying hey, I’m taking an early lunch and I’ll be back in an hour and a half once or twice a week.

I need to schedule time to keep this blog and all the other little things that fall under the Coffee and Wool umbrella alive.  I’ve recently announced I’m willing to take on Saturday individual lessons again. I have a list of informative posts and reviews to write. I have patterns that I need to proofread and have people test. Other than the occasional post and my evening and weekend knitting, a lot of those aspirations just sit in the corner collecting dust.

Weekends are the prize.  I need to push myself enough that 5pm Friday through 8am Monday are my hours to do with what I want without feeling obligated to complete something – with the exception of teaching a lesson or two here or there.  I need to be able to get the social interaction I need, I don’t require much being introverty, crash into the couch and binge watch an entire season of a series, or load up the dog and hike the woods for hours without feeling like I’m ignoring responsibilities. Unplugged Sundays may evolve into unplugged weekends too.

There’s a bit more rambling here than I intended but there are times you just need to see thoughts in words, and put them out there.

Have any of you worked a similar plan to get back in order? Feel free to share any tips, successes, failures, or recipes.

 

Weekends Unplugged

I hit a little bit of a breaking point yesterday.  Unfortunately, when I get stuck in a weather cycle that includes days of rain and thunderstorms I’ll inevitably develop a migraine and end up way more agitated over the smallest things than any human should be.  That was yesterday for me.  I skipped out on an event I had full intentions of going to, told everyone I was turning off my phone and hiding out until Monday.

I’m at the house, still in my PJs fresh from a long nap, uninterrupted by a house filled with bleeps and bloops. I spent the morning knitting and watching a couple of movies, dived into a book for a while, you know, the stuff introverty type people enjoy when they’ve finally hit their wall.

Silence is never an option in our lives, but it’s almost jarring when you notice just how often some bit of technology is making sounds and demanding your attention so often.

As much as I love technology’s ability to keep us all connected there are times I wish it wasn’t so simple.  There are days that a text message notification makes me want to throw my phone across the room.  It’s usually someone just typing the word “hi” as an opener to pry into the rest of my day, and at times that feels so intrusive it will make me angry. Then god forbid you don’t reply fast enough, there are people that insist on continuing the intrusion again by either texting again or calling with ‘is everything okay you didn’t answer?’ causing further annoyance.  It’s probably just a quirky introvert issue, but it’s still an issue.  It also is likely a failure on my part to place boundaries on the repeat offenders.  I felt it a little sad that I had to announce on a certain social media page that I need a quiet day, and even then, that isn’t fully respected by some.  I’ve picked up my phone twice today to see a handful of messages from people that obviously didn’t see or willfully ignored my request for a quiet day, and a few that were legitimately passing along info that I needed for the week that knew I wouldn’t be responding.

So yes, I’m bitching a bit, so on to other things.

An unplugged weekend may turn into a permanent affair.  When I see that usage stats notification come through on my phone, my skin crawls and I feel utterly disappointed with myself.  Despite feeling like I don’t waste a great deal of time dicking around on my phone, the actual numbers say otherwise.  I waste 15-20 hours a week on a tiny screen that does nothing to improve my life.  I should be wasting that time reading, crafting, sleeping (poking at a screen until the wee hours happens more than I like), learning something new, actually going out and doing something, on and on and on.  I’ve also been struggling with feeling like the weekends are stolen by chores and errands.  Maybe reclaiming some of those 15-20 hours a week and actually taking care of things would give me the weekends back.

rs_560x415-150107143918-1024.Oregon-Trail-Game-MS-Dos.jl.010715I’m feeling a little nostalgic of my early adulthood years. I’m an Xennial, the Oregon Trail generation, that odd little age group that doesn’t quite fit Gen X or the Millennials. In fact, being called a millennial at times feels like an insult.  I remember the dark ages before the internet and before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket. At 18 there was access to the internet, cell phones were finally getting to pocket sized, texting was an option for those of us that didn’t feel the need to get drawn into a phone conversation, and those were brief (T9 was a bitch), and social media wouldn’t begin to become a factor in our lives until 2003.  I’m not going to lie, there’s been a few times today when I’ve fought the urge to check the social media networks to see what’s going on.  It’s not a secret that I’ve felt social media holds too much real estate in our minds, and I’ve struggled with the idea of disconnecting from it entirely.  I haven’t because I feel like there is actually risk that I would lose contact with people I care about because they are so entrenched, that contacting others outside FB, twitter, instagram and the myriad of others is no longer on their radar.

So if I feel forced to participate I can at least have better control of it.  I’m going to experiment for a bit, beginning Friday nights after I get in for the evening I’ll log out of the whole mess until Monday morning.  But that all comes down to one thing, do I have the self control to keep it up, or am I too sucked into this mess to do it on a routine basis. This is were it all wraps up today.  I’m going to go cook a nice dinner, and go back to the book I’m reading.  What do you guys think? Am I alone in feeling this way, or is this a problem for you too?

 

 

Stitching for Sanity

Knitting is good for you. No, really, it is I swear! There’s science proving it.

And there we go, end of this post….

Okay, maybe not, I should probably elaborate a bit more. This is one of the more serious posts I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and it felt like time to get it done.

If you belong to any online knitting group you’ve seen the shared posts with a few bullet points with the benefits to knitting complied from a few recent studies. Even though these posts seem to be limited specifically to knitting, my gut hunch that the benefits spread across multiple crafting genres that require fine movement and concentration, like crochet, cross stitch, embroidery, on and on and on. These benefits have been listed as …

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced depression and anxiety
  • Slowed onset of dementia
  • Distraction from chronic pain
  • Increased sense of wellbeing
  • Reduced loneliness and isolation

Great, right?!?

This is where things get a little more personal. I’ve had my own battle with general anxiety disorder and moderate depression issues since my late high school – early college years, and being a mere 20 years ago, in southern West Virginia, we still didn’t really talk about mental health issues that much. The family doc would occasionally prescribe something to help me sleep or I would be on and off a low dose anti-depressant now and then but little was done beyond that. Almost nothing beyond a script was mentioned, no therapy, no mention of ways to manage stress, just pop a pill, get some sleep, and all will be fine. I even had a doctor tell me once that I would grow out of it, that these issues were normal for most people my age. Instead, it has intensified over the years, but I still manage at a level that leaves me able to do my job, and interact with friends and family on a regular basis with little notice that I may or may not be struggling at times. Is there a day every once in a while where I need to get away from work and people and just breathe? Absolutely. Do I still take medication? Yep. Have I learned to recognize I’m struggling and act accordingly? Yes, with time and maturity. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of us paddling in this same boat. I truly believe that our constant connection to others and the world through technology, social networking and the media we are more anxious and stressed than ever. We’ve made it hard to “unplug” and have the quiet time we need to manage ourselves and our own wellbeing.

Since my own issues began, the world has gotten a little better about addressing mental health issues, but we are still coming up dramatically short on effectively helping those that have them. I’ve seen the medical community fail close friends and even family, time and time again by insisting on medicating them into oblivion with little to no therapy, or education on tools that could help one manage more efficiently with the help of medication, others have coped well with the help of medical intervention. Then there is a fair share of people that thought they could self-medicate through legal or illegal means and do a better job than modern medicine. It’s a multi-faceted debate on mental health treatment and this could be a very long conversation on its own but let’s move on.

I’ve been a crocheter since I was a little kid, and started knitting in my 20s, and would just work on a project here and there to battle boredom or simply because I enjoyed it. I didn’t realize these hobbies could be a therapeutic tool for myself until after the sudden death of my brother in 2014. It was then that I began knitting on an almost daily basis because it helped me clear my mind, and work through the grieving process. Time has helped heal that wound to the extent that it can be, but even with the recent loss of others or at times of high stress, my now casual (because I truly enjoy it) knitting will evolve back into a form of therapy, usually done in the evening to help process the day and how I feel about it. I find myself more stressed at times when I’m too busy to sit down with yarn and needles. For me, yarn work has been as effective if not more so than medication for coping with anxiety, stress, and depression, it’s just a part of how I stay “sane”. It’s an outlet that has the benefit of a finished product at the end. However, it is not the only means of managing my own issues, I still see my doctor on a regular basis to determine medication needs.

Now that all said…this is my experience with knitting as a form of self therapy. Even if all you can do is knit garter stitch or crochet granny squares one after another these acts have value. Am I saying jump off your prescribed treatment by your medical professional, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Crafting is a compliment to your treatment plan whatever that may be.

If you feel like you’ve been struggling with anxiety, depression, or any issue that could be impacting your own wellbeing, I can not more strongly recommend trying a fiber craft as a form of self-therapy, but first, see a medical professional, and then find your local yarn store.