A look through my journal reveals that I’ve been working through the same stuff…over and over…which feels kinda crappy, I’m not going to lie. Get back on the horse, get back to your path, get back on track, get back, get back, get back…I feel like I’m on a mental Loop-de-Loop.
According to the Internet (because you know I had to look it up, and I know you are dying to know) a Loop-de-Loop is, among other things, a type of roller coaster/physics problem, a cartoon character (Loopy de Loop), and a song by Ween featured on a SpongeBob episode.
My Loop-de-Loopy metaphor I see as a series of loops on a page, like when you practiced cursive writing (so sad this practice is on the decline). I see a long line consisting of low straight parts and big loops, over and over, and the loops may or may not be the same height (depending on the day, week, month, year…small loops closer to “on track,” big loopy loops, way off course).
The Bother List
- Get Shit Together
- Work on Art
- Write Blog Post
Number one on my To Do List this weekend could be read a couple ways, but it’s really Get My Shit Together, mostly my Mental Shit.
Lately the inside of my head has taken on the look and feel of that corner in the bedroom where the clean clothes and dirty clothes are piling up all together in one small mountain of fabric. The only way to tell the difference between clean and dirty is to inspect each piece visually for stains (no red wine here!) and then with your nose (eesh, that’s not wearable). And if it’s too wrinkly to wear it’s considered dirty.
There is that critical tipping point though, where the pile is just too big, and you just say f*ck it and throw them all in the dirty clothes basket (apologies for all the profanity. It’s been that kind of week.)For about a week I’ve had a sticky note on my desk that reads “mind dump.” Every once in awhile, one just needs a mind dump, what I call creating my Bother List. I have been ignoring this sticky note directive because it’s going to be a chore.
I’m going to write down every single thing that is “bothering” me, tiny and big, all the flotsam and jetsam floating around in that roiling ocean of thoughts: things to do, things to buy, things to clean, art ideas, blog ideas, things I should be doing on my website and with social media (that I’m not), people to email, people that are annoying/angering/frustrating me (past and present), people that are inspiring me, big picture tasks, huge life goals, little every day tasks…
Everything out of my head and written down.
(I realize that if I had been using my planner properly, this whole endeavor might be avoided, or at least not such a big deal, but Get Back to Using Your Planner is one of the things going onto The Bother List).
I then take The Bother List and divide into:
- Things I Have No Control Over
- Things I Can Do Something About
The first list gets ripped up and mentally “let go” (or at least that’s the goal…that work ends up going on list #2).
List number two becomes The Big List and then divided up into manageable sub-lists. Sounds laborious, and it is, but it’s as satisfying as spring cleaning (and not physically painful).
Spiraling Into Control
My looping metaphor brought up the memory of Spirograph. Anyone else remember having a Spirograph set as a kid?
If you don’t know what one is, you would take one plastic thingy and hold it with one hand on a piece of paper, put one of the round design making thingies next to it, put a colored pen in a hole that’s on the round thingy, and then with your other hand holding the pen, you move the round thingy around the other stationary thingy (there are cogs on the edges of the pieces, like gears) all the while keeping your pen on the paper. Designs would be created on the paper like magic (if you have no idea what a Spirograph is, I’m confident that the picture I just created in your mind is lacking…so go ahead and look it up).
With great care and patience the designs would turn out beautiful. But if you didn’t pay attention, didn’t focus, the little cogs at the edges of the plastic thingies would slip, and your perfect drawing would be ruined. Or, if you kept at the same template for too long, you would repeat the design over and over, adding too much ink to the paper and eventually creating little ruts, and then the ruts turned into holes in the paper.
Catch my drift? Life is like a Loop-de-Loop and a Spirograph (take that Forrest Gump).
Work Hard, Fall Down, Get Up, Repeat
There really is no way around it. If I want to be physically stronger, have more stamina, I have to up the ante in my workouts. If I want to feel my best and be healthful, I need to stop eating crap food and drinking too much wine. If I want to be the best artist I can be, continue to grow and get better, I need to be diligent, unremiting, in carving out time to work at it.
I can talk and write about it all I want, but really, stop “trying” and start really doing (I know, I’ve said similar before, hence the Loop-de-Loop metaphor. I did a search on my own blog for the word “trying”…… so sad, but a relief that every single post didn’t come up).
When I was in the process of quitting smoking, I was having a discussion with somebody and heard myself say this:
“God, I’m just trying SO HARD, you know?”
After making this (in hindsight quite self-pitying) statement, I had a thought.
“Am I trying hard?”
Like, I’m certainly thinking about it a lot. I’m guilting myself a considerable portion of the day. I’m embroiling myself in the drama a lot.
Sure, I’m putting a significant amount of effort into talking about how difficult it is, self-flagellation, whining, reading endless articles on the Internet, and sundried other ignoble pursuits, but am I putting a comparable amount of effort into not putting a cigarette into my mouth and setting fire to the end?
On observation, it would appear that I wasn’t. I wasn’t trying very hard at all.
So. I’m getting The Bother List done, going to stop “embroiling myself in the drama a lot,” get back on the horse, continue on my track, stop talking and start doing, and maybe the loops on my never ending Loop-de-Loop will begin to get smaller and happen further apart.
I can’t make any promises. But I’m going to try really hard.