I’m a planner. Always have been. I generally fit everything into little mental compartments of: this needs to be done, this can wait, this I must think about, this is way overdue.You should see my office, I track my to do’s in three ways: a whiteboard, an electronic calendar and an old fashioned paper agenda. All three list the exact same tasks, but help me focus in different ways.
Before children I was very good with my mental checklists, mostly because things fell easily and quickly into the this is done compartment. It satisfied me to work toward complete. In many ways, it still does. I am the kind of person who needs to identify a course of action, plan it, stick to it, and check it off when complete. To me, that’s progress. Since I had children my mental lists have gone awry. This is partly because of the constant exhaustion. I can’t think beyond the immediate, so planning has taken a back seat. But also because I’m less focused on the tasks themselves. I’m learning to let a lot of things go.
My diminishing need to track progress is true, in all but one place. I’ve tackled project finding me with my usual organized determination. When I first wrote about my journey earlier this year, I did so knowing that committing to it in words would force me to see it through. I said I would examine my life inside out and that’s what I’ve been doing, both here, and in several other ways. My promise served not only as commitment to examine myself, but also as a starting point from which to measure my progress.
I’m not ready to do any measuring, this was never meant to be a journey with an end date. It was meant to be the catalyst for a new way of thinking and living my life so that I could feel more fulfilled and content. And I am more content than I have been in a very long time. But that contentment isn’t absolute. I still have bad days, personal challenges and demons to slay. Some I have shared here, some I will share as I continue to write. When I share something here it feels like a step forward, but also a step back. Each time I uncover a part of myself I also uncover a sea of new questions and considerations. It comes from the thinking and writing, but it also comes from the perspectives of those who choose to share and offer guidance through comments.
My writing is providing me with a process, a process that I can count on. A process that I can control. It’s setting down thoughts and making them real. Sometimes our thoughts take over, they control us. I know this well. The things going on in our heads can be difficult to articulate out loud. Writing is the perfect in-between. It feels like neutral ground. It feels like a safe place.
Even this post, which seems so random and without real purpose is allowing me to tick off something in my mind. I’m recording progress. The writing makes my thoughts real. It assigns importance and value in a way that I didn’t know how to before.
If you are a regular reader you may have noticed that I try to come back to project finding me in some way each week. I do this to give life to this important journey regularly. It keeps me on track and moving forward. My writing is keeping me honest and focused.
My new found joy is precarious. Of this I am certain. Someone recently told me that will never face the cliff the same as I once did again, because this new part of me cannot be undone. I might slip and struggle, but have only to remind myself what I have learned.
I want to believe it, but I’m not so easily convinced. I’m skeptical because my progress has been so quick. And while I want to be a glass half full kind of person, I still remember the way I felt, the memories are fresh and keep me on my toes. I think this is a good thing. It’s the reason I’m writing this post. I’m categorizing for future reference. I’m laying down for posterity each and every step I take so that I don’t forget.
So here I am. Creating a few new mental compartments, acknowledging the plan of action, showing progress. It’s the rational side of my brain keeping me in check. And that’s okay. My emotional side has been strong lately, I need to give my rational side a little room to flex every once in a while too.
Image: ‘Analog‘ via a Creative Commons license.