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What's the Problem?

I’m having a panic attack because I have committed myself to doing too many things and now there is no room to breathe. No room to relax and enjoy the warmish, muggy breeze that is lazily drifting across my porch because my head is so full of what I should do that I haven’t made room to enjoy what I am doing.

This is a problem.

Part of my problem is commitment. I take commitment very seriously. When I commit to doing something, I can’t leave myself alone until I get it done. This is sometimes a great quality. It has allowed me to write a YA novel, a MG novel, an early chapter book and 3 other picture books in the last 2 years. My ability to commit myself to getting something done definitely works in my favour. At least until it doesn’t.

When too many commitments collide in my brain, instead of moving forward, I tend to move exactly nowhere. I sit, trying to force the air in and out of my lungs, wondering if my body actually remembers how to breathe on its own. Wondering how to get myself to stop ‘trying to breathe’ so that I can just breathe.

In short, nowhere is where I feel I am going on days like today.

Days where I realize that I am over committed and instead of being able to move forward with a clear goal, I am lost in all the things that I should be doing.

I should be revising my YA novel.

I should be writing a query level for my early chapter book and two of my picture books.

I should be writing out specific goals for the Mastermind course I am taking.

I should be updating my website.

I should be reading my classmate’s sample chapters and commenting on them.

I should be writing my blog.

Oh wait! I am writing my blog. That should be a positive, right? Unfortunately when I reach this point of feeling overwhelmed, my mind seems repellent to the positive. Instead it is a steady stream of: why bother? It’s summer, no one is reading it anyway. What do I actually have to say that matters? No one cares about my blog…

I’m sure I don’t need to illustrate this process further, I’m sure you have a similar voice in your head explaining to you all of the reasons that you suck. I’m sure you have days like this. Don’t you?

It feels all bad, but then, there is the worst part. The worst part is that I can see the cycle that I have gotten myself into. I am watching myself run headlong into a painful and self-defeating monologue, and yet I sit on the sidelines and watch, shrugging at the negative barrage of my own thoughts. Unwilling or unable to raise my voice to defend myself, feeling the weight of my own anxiety growing heavier and heavier in my chest.

There are just too many problems.

Part of the problem is Folk Fest. Wait. That is a very strange sentence because I’m saying that my favourite thing to do is now something that I have made into a problem. Folk Fest is a fabulous explosion of music and community, it is a time of connection and rejuvenation. It is something that I long for, wait for, look forward to, and now I’ve turned it into a problem.

OK, so that’s the problem? I’m the problem?

Clearly I need some kind of intervention. Maybe this is blog therapy? I’m not sure, what I am sure of is that when I read over this blog so far it feels heavy and defeated and that is also a problem.

It’s amazing how easy it is to find problems. Amazing how negativity is like an avalanche. I guess it is time to dig myself out. Time to step out of my head and into my body and use some of my own damn advice.

The first advice I would give myself is to slow the fuck down.

Then I would order myself at least one big dose of perspective.

The reality that I know well and that I can just barely see through the haze of my own self-induced angst, is that I am a really lucky person. Creating problems out of all the things I enjoy in life is not a habit that I want to invest a lot of energy in. It is time to check back in with the bank of self-awareness and do some energy reinvestment. I should be investing in what I want to grow, and I definitely don’t want to grow anymore anxiety.

The things I want to grow in my life are laughter, contentment and love. I want to grow a space to breathe and to enjoy the opportunities that present themselves.

I think it is time to reevaluate my commitments and be sure that they align with what actually matters in my life. If I succeed in reaching all of my writing goals but make myself miserable and anxious in the process it isn’t worth it.

Instead I will commit myself to being grateful, to growing space to be present in and to enjoy my life and my family. If I want to lead the common sense revolution, I should probably remind myself that turning my life’s opportunities into problems just isn’t common sense.

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