Thursday, October 30, 2014

Procrastination as Perfectionism

A wise person recently told me that procrastination is often just a symptom of perfectionism. As a lifelong procrastinator, who often bitterly attributed that characteristic to some kind of inherent laziness in myself, this was a whole new way of looking at myself.

I am a terrible procrastinator. It affects my work life, my ability to stay on top of housework, remembering kid activities and playdates, finding time to engage in my hobbies and interests, and most upsetting, my ability to intentionally live my true priorities. Its the real reason I don't blog as often as I'd like. Its why I often talk myself out of doing healthy things (exercising, avoiding junk food) and into unhealthy things (binge-watching Netflix, drinking too much wine).

I've always disliked this part of myself but have found it so hard to overcome. Probably because I was procrastinating! This part of my personality makes me feel sloppy, disorganized, immature, stressed out, and often like a failure.

So when I heard this piece of wisdom, I reflected on my own experience and yes, it does hold true. I spend a lot of time organizing myself by making lists and charts, schedules, routines and calendars and end up putting it all off because along comes a small bump in the road . I then tell myself that I'll start tomorrow. Tomorrow will be perfect. Of course, because life doesn't work that way, something pops up once again and I'm off the rails.

Nowhere has this been more evident for me than in my meditation practice. Most literature on meditation suggests doing it in the morning. I have visions of rising in peaceful silence at 5am and serenely meditating  while incense wafts in the air and my family sleeps.  In reality, I usually have at least one child  whose crawled into our bed over the course of the night sleeping on my head .  One or both of the kids probably woke me up, often multiple times, and usually just before my alarm is set to go off. Mornings are often cranky in our house and so there is no way on this green earth that I'm going to get 20 minutes to myself if either child is awake.  I could get up even earlier, but that's no guarantee because fairly frequently they decide to wake up at 4am for the day.

For the last six months, this has been a huge struggle for me. I really want to meditate early in the day, and ideally be able to enjoy a coffee in peace while doing some writing. But life is getting in the way and its just not happening. So rather than allowing myself the space to change the time of day that I meditate, I've just not been doing it at all or at the very least, doing it very infrequently. Not meditating, not connecting with that part of myself, really has a negative impact on my life. I need to prioritize it and make it happen, however imperfectly it may play out.

I've been reading an e-book by Leo Babauta which recommends making small changes each week throughout the year. The first change is adding a meditation practice, just a short one, whenever you can fit it in. This week, I've accepted that mornings are not working and I've been meditating in the evening after the kids are in bed, the house is quiet, and I can relax knowing no one is going to come into my room demanding a banana and Bubble Guppies. Its been lovely allowing myself this imperfect practice rather than demanding perfection or nothing at all.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A week for reflection

This past Wednesday I took the train into the city to see a new naturopath. I spent most of the right furiously refreshing Twitter as the horrific news of the day unfolded. I felt strangely vulnerable as I walked through the train station, unusually populated by uniformed police. And after my appointment, I felt a renewed sense of commitment to my family, myself and the values we are trying to live. I feel extremely blessed to be able to have such a fortunate life and to be so privileged as to spend some time making it even better.

My new naturopath is truly amazing and we made a collaborative plan that I'm sure will improve my overall health and ability to care for my family. Aside from some nutritional changes (so long, my dear coffee!), at the forefront of this plan is reducing stress which includes developing a more intentional waking and bedtime routine. And as I rode the train home, now filled with anxious faces and concerned whispers about the developing tragedy, I resolved to stop procrastinating and truly live my intentions. On this blog and in my life, I talk a good talk but I don't always walk the walk. I am an infuriatingly adept procrastinator and this often translates into endless lis-making and very little action.

I wrote down some intentions and some goals for living the life I want:
- a daily meditation practice, however short or interspersed
-a daily writing practice as well
- time spent doing things that nourish my body every single day, even on "rest" days
- nourshing my creative soul, recognizing my inherent artistic nature and cultivating that
- untethering myself from technology and looking people in the eye
- anytime I feel like procrastinating, asking myself "how about now?"
- practicing gratitude through journaling, every night before bed

Again, it is my immense privilege to be living a life that affords me the time and mental space to be able to contemplate and implement these changes. It is not lost on me that there are many who don't have this ability and during these challenging times, its even more important to live intentionally. I'll be lighting a candle tonight for those who've been wounded or lost this week in our capital city, as well as those who face struggles every single day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Random Updates

I've been jotting down notes in my notebook daily, but always seem to be distracted at the last minute from posting here. A bit of what we've been up too...

Debt repayment has come back on track after a very spendy summer. Its true what they say about debt fatigue creeping in when you carry debt for a long period of time, and Jay in particular has struggled with the strict budget and feeling limited.  Our overspending for three months has meant that our repayment schedule is behind. In order to be debt-free by the end of the year as planned, we'd have to bring our budget even lower and I fear we'd rebel against the constraint. Instead, we've decided to change our repayment tactics. Rather than have everything set to auto-pay, we are keeping a small auto-transfer on payday into our spending account to cover the basics (groceries, gas, weekend entertainment) and putting $1000 to the debt that day.  The remaining money in the account goes to bills of course, and we will discuss any extras that come up over the subsequent two weeks. The idea will be to spend very little on extras, but allow ourselves some leeway for things like my birthday dinner, a drink with friends, etc. What's left in that account the eve of next payday will also go to the debt.

Our garden was a total bust this year. I've heard that from many green-thumbed friends this season so I know its not just us, but our harvest was miniscule. We've learned many lessons over the three summers we've been in this house and we're planning on changing the layout and structure of the garden next year. I'll also be taking on more of the gardening responsibility not only because my part-time work schedule makes it sensible for me to do so, but also because I'm the primary meal-planner and cook.

I'm really trying to be intentional about my priorities. When I write about what's important to me, its very clear: I want to have time each day with my family, time to exercise, time to create, time to meditate, time to write and time to read. Too often, I end up binge-watching Netflix and/or mindlessly surfing the web (sometimes often at the same time, while drinking wine). Ensuring that my daily activities reflect my intentions is going to be at the front of my mind over the coming months. 

I'm running in a 5K race this weekend and somehow committed to running the half-marathon with friends at the same race next fall. I'm very excited for drinks and dinner with friends as well as some time in the city, a full nights sleep in a hotel and of course, the race!