Monday, November 21, 2011

Drowning in Dreams

I recently watched an inspirational video on success.  It was quite fascinating! 

A young man wanted to be successful, so he went to see a Guru.

“Why have you come to me?” asked the Guru.

“I want to be at the same level as you,” said the young man.

“Very well,” said the Guru.  “Meet me on the beach tomorrow morning at 4 a.m.”

The young man arrived at the beach at 4 a.m.  The Guru told him to walk out into the water. 

The young man walked into the water up to his knees.

“Further,” said the Guru.

The young man walked in up to his waste.

“Further,” said the Guru.

The young man walked in up to his shoulders.

“Further,” said the Guru.

The young man hesitated.  A few more steps and the water would be over his head.

“Do you want to be as the same level as me?” asked the Guru.

The young man nodded. 

“Then you must go further.”

The young man took a few more steps.  When the water was over his head, the Guru held him under. 

The young man started kicking and thrashing and trying to get his head up out of the water, but the Guru held him down.

When the young man thought he could not hold his breath any longer, the Guru suddenly let him go and lifted him up so that he could breathe again.

The young man was furious.  “You could have killed me!” he shouted at the Guru.

The Guru smiled.  “Do you want to be at the same level as me?  Do you want to succeed?”

“Of course I do!” said the young man.

“When you want to succeed as much as you just wanted to breathe, you will be successful.”

The analogy between breath and desire struck a chord with me.  I have all sorts of dreams.  But how badly do I want them? 

It’s easy to imagine how hard I would fight for breath if I had to.  How hard am I willing to fight to fulfill my dreams?

The short answer is:  Not very.

Otherwise I would already be a successful author, a successful knitwear designer, I wouldn’t have a mortgage, I’d be driving a brand new car, I’d have seen Stonehenge and the Maritimes in person and I’d weigh 120 lbs.  The fact is that I’m drowning in dreams, seemingly content not to breathe in the success of having achieved them. 


Now, it’s not like I’ve never achieved anything in my life.  This whole breath and success thing has caused me to reflect on some of the successes that I have inhaled.  I have managed to raise three pretty incredible daughters.  I have a great job.  I have the house that I’ve wanted for years and years.  I have some great friends that are very supportive.  I built a 40’ labyrinth in my back yard.  I am a certified Yoga instructor.  I have published several knitting patterns and they are selling.  

I am currently redecorating my guest room.  For the last week I’ve been scraping badly painted wall paper off the walls, preparing to prepare them for a fresh coat of paint.  I am also working on a mural for my living room.  It’s going to be so cool!  I am working on some new knitting patterns, too.  While none of these are likely to make me rich, they are certainly giving me a deep sense of satisfaction and achievement.  I actually breathed a bit easier yesterday when I stepped back and saw all the wall paper that was not on my walls any more.   Of course, realizing how much Pollyfilla and sand paper I’m going to need felt like being pulled back under, but that’s the point, isn’t it?  If I want my guest room to be the beautiful vision I have for it, I’m going to have to keep kicking upward, wanting to breathe that in. 

So here’s to the future breath of successfully completing my guest room and my mural (more on that in  coming weeks). 




Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Worst of the Best of Times

I’ve been so remiss in my blogging.  Things just are not conducive to sitting down and making it happen.  Or I just don’t have much to say.  That could be it.  Life is not going exactly according to plan here lately and an element of frustration has crept into and invaded the wave of optimism that I have been riding for the past six months or so.  Or I’ve been hijacked by hormones...

Which is more likely the case.

My brain cuts out on me on a regular basis.  Goes completely blank.  At the worst of times, too.  Like when I’m introducing someone I know well to someone I don’t know well and can’t remember either of their names. 

Emotions, unsolicited and unprovoked, rise out of nowhere.  0 to bitch in 2.5 seconds – or less!  For no reason.  One minute I’m perfectly calm and happy; the next minute I’m bawling like a baby over nothing. 

The panic attacks have returned.  That’s always fun.  Haven’t had a full-blown panic attack in a long time.  Suddenly they are a feature in meetings, at the grocery store, while driving... 

Hot flashes keep me awake.  Weird dreams wake me up when I do manage to fall asleep.  The other night I was on a murderous rampage, killing people with a dull and rusty pocket knife. 

I’m restless and listless at the same time.  I can’t focus.  I start a project and without warning I can’t figure out what I’m doing.  Or why I’m doing it. 

I forget things.  Like cooking.  Not only do I forget pots on the stove, I forget that I’ve started making something and then go into the kitchen only to be surprised that it’s already bubbling away on the stove. 

I forget where I’m going when I’m driving.  I’ll head out to do errands and suddenly have no idea where I’m supposed to be going. 

If I don’t write it down, it’s very likely not going to happen.  Meetings, errands, appointments...  If I forget my Blackberry or my calendar, I’m hooped. 

And I forget my phone and my calendar with alarming frequency.  And I lose my keys.  I have always habitually kept my keys in my purse or my coat pocket.  I never lay them down on a counter or my desk.  They are either in my purse or in my pocket.  Always!  Except lately.  The other day I was running around in a panic looking for my keys so I could go to work, only to discover them in my hand after tearing my purse and work bag apart and searching through four different coats. 

I feel like I’m going completely crazy.  One minute I’m irritated and pacing and mumbling under my breath.  The next minute, I’m mixing cookie dough and humming happily.  The next minute I’m downstairs throwing a load of laundry into the washer, thinking I should make cookies.  Half way back up the stairs I’ll decide to work on a new knitting pattern that has just popped into my head.  But first a snack, so I’ll veer into the kitchen.  Oh, yes, I’m making cookies.  I’ll put a pan of cookies into the oven and then return t my knitting pattern.  What was it again?  Well, maybe I should dust.  The idea might come back to me.  Oh, there’s a message for me on Facebook.  I’ll check that.    Did I start the washer?  Back downstairs I’ll go.  What am I doing down here?  Can’t remember.  Half way up the stairs the knitting pattern pops back into my head.  I start to repeat it out loud so I won’t forget again.  I intend to go straight to my knitting book and write it down.  Ding, ding, ding!  What’s that?  Oh, yes the cookies!  I take the cookies out of the oven, put the next pan in and notice the vacuum is out of the closet.  When did I take the vacuum out?  Might as well push that around for a while.  I start the vacuum and two minutes into it I remember the knitting pattern idea.  I stop vacuuming and  go write the idea down in my book.  Crap!  I forgot to set the timer for the cookies.  How long have they been in the oven?   I set the timer for half the time called for in the recipe.  What the heck is the vacuum doing over there?  Oh, yeah...  okay, I’ll finish that.  While I’m vacuuming, an idea for a knitting pattern pops into  my head.  I repeat it out loud so I won’t forget it.  Over the roar of the vacuum, I hear a dinging sound.  Oh, yeah!  Cookies.  I deal with the cookies.  A little voice reminds me that the laundry needs to go into the dryer.  Downstairs I go.  I manage to remember my purpose in going to the basement and while I’m moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer I think to myself that I need to clean up the laundry room.  It’s terribly dusty.  I head back upstairs to get the vacuum.  It’s not in the closet.  Where the hell is the vacuum?  Oh, right.  I unplug it and wrap the cord up and empty the bin and put it back in the closet, laundry room forgotten.  My Blackberry chimes from the other room letting me know that I have an e-mail.  I head off to check it.  I see my knitting book on the table in the living room and I stop to put it away.  Look at that!  What a great idea for a sock pattern!  When did I write that down? 

And on and on my day goes.  Punctuated with emotional outbursts and anxiety attacks, this bizarre way of functioning is a parody of my normally organized and efficient life. 

Work is just as bad.  Meetings – if I remember them – are horrific gatherings in which I have become the object of deep concern.  I lose my train of thought and start babbling incoherently, so I’ve learned to take notes (ugh!)  and keep my mouth shut unless I have written down what I want to say.  Even then it may not make a lot of sense.  The usual distractions that I face in the course of a typical work day have become crippling asides that lead me to forget people on hold and have staff members wondering what I’ve been smoking!   I second guess myself all the time.  It isn’t uncommon for me to have to make quick decisions and I do.  Then I start fearing that I made the wrong decision and either end up wasting staff time or crumbling into a snivelling pile of self-doubt   and tears.  It’s embarrassing!

After years of wishing and waiting and hoping for “the change” to happen, I’m thinking that maybe it isn’t all it’s been cracked up to be.  I’ve talked to lots of women who have been happy to regale me with their own stories.  Like the birth stories we all pass on to new mothers-to-be, menopause stories range from hilarious to scary.  I have tended to focus on the funny, pleasant, it-was-no-big-deal stories and push the Oh-God-I’m-glad-that’s-over stories into the deepest recesses of my psyche after stamping them “drama queen” exaggerations and sealing those mental files with super glue! 

I’m thinking now that it might have served me better to pay a little closer attention to the weirdness.  I might have been a little better prepared for it.   Not sure that it’s possible to be totally prepared, but reality is proving to be not quite as wonderful as the fantasy has been all these years. 

Last week, for instance, I decided to change the sheets on my bed.  I stripped the bed and remade it with clean sheets.  I then hauled the dirty sheets downstairs and put them in the washer.  I puttered around for a while, tidying up the house, composing a to-do list, checking in on Facebook and generally not accomplishing much at all.  At some point I ‘remembered’ that I needed to change the sheets on my bed and went into my room where I stripped the bed again.  While I was pulling the sheets off the bed, I thought to myself:  Gee, these sheets smell nice.  I wondered briefly what sort of chemicals I’d been exposing my body to that would keep the sheets smelling so nice after two weeks on the bed. 

I then went to the linen closet to retrieve a clean set of sheets.  I only have two sets for my bed, so it should have been no surprise to discover that there were none in the closet.  Confusion immediately set in.  Did I put them in the bathroom closet with the towels last time I did laundry?  Nope.  Did I leave them in the dryer?  Not possible; I’d done laundry since last changing the sheets.  Where the hell were my sheets? 

I rechecked the linen closet.  I rechecked the towel closet.  I checked my clothes closet.  I even checked the drawer in the kitchen where the dish cloths and tea towels are kept.  Not there either.  While I wracked my brain and searched high and low for the missing sheets, I found myself starting to panic.  My chest tightened, by breathing became rapid, my heart began to pound and my mind began to imagine that someone had broken into my house and stolen my sheets!  Not only was I going to die, but some creep had stolen my sheets! 

Then it dawned on me.  The sheets were in the washer.  I had already changed them. 

Thankful that no one had been around to witness this drama, I put the clean sheets back on the bed.  I’d calmed back down by then and even managed to have a bit of a giggle over it at my own expense.   But it’s things like this that I seem to face on a dreadfully regular basis, particularly in the last few weeks.  To comfort myself, I have adopted the notion that years of craziness are being condensed into a few short months and that this will all pass very soon.  Life will become normal again and I will return to my relaxed (relatively, anyway), efficient, organized old self with the good memory and fearless decision-making skills.  While I may be delusional about it, this viewpoint helps me feel better.  And unless or until I am proven wrong, it’s the story I’m sticking to for now. 

In the mean time, if I forget your name or burst into tears or appear to have no idea what you or I am talking about, please forgive me. 

Now I’m going to find something purple to wear and see if I can remember what I was doing before I sat down to write this – hopefully coherent – missive.