Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Battle of the Lazy

Here is an interesting human conundrum that so many people are going through now that ski season has come to a screeching halt: everyone thinks they are lazy.

My friend Kurt thinks he is lazy. Never mind that he'll do four laps up some 3500 vertical before noon and then go ride his bike to Yoga class. He can't get his paperwork done.

I think I am lazy. Never mind that I'll plow through a pile of paperwork, run a ton of errands and clean my house, I'm lazy.

I've been getting a bunch of emails from people with post ski season let down, and I think its especially difficult this year, with everyone gearing up and up and up to the tryouts, and then having this intense tryout situation be the last day of the season, its like running 100 miles an hour into a brick wall.

So this is kind of a two fold discussion: first of all, lets address the laziness.

There is this terrific quote: Nothing is ever so difficult as when it is done reluctantly.

And this is certainly true. I watched it tonight while Ethan was trying to write his book report. I saw myself do it when I stood, staring, at the epic pile of clean laundry that needs to be put away. I watched my sister stare at the pile of tax paperwork she needs to do, and go work on something else instead.

We all have fear of tackling the big thing. We can all justify putting it off for one more day, one afternoon. Sometimes, I think this can actually be a healthy choice. Another friend of mine is incapable of play until she has crossed everything off her list. And guess what? Something gets added to the list every day, so there isn't a whole lot of play that happens.

Here's another good quote: What we do with our days is what we do with our lives.

So I guess we are searching, once again, for balance.

I think that post ski season, first, we all need to be a little loving to ourselves. We all worked really hard this year! Everyone was fit and strong, everyone was dedicated to exams and tryouts. Everyone went through an emotional ringer that was totally exhausting.

I think two weeks of decompression are in order here! What does that mean for you? Two weeks on the couch watching South Park? Two weeks with some moderate exercise and a lot of family time? Two weeks of solitude after a social season?

Give yourself a break for a bit. Its okay to decompress and be "lazy".

HOWEVER, as we are searching for balance, I'd suggest dipping your toe into the pool of accomplishment once a day, just to test the waters and see how you are feeling.

You'll have up days and down days, days in which the decisions you are making in your life will make sense, and days in which you will feel a bit lost.

Today was a mixed bag for me, I inexplicably slept until noon. This is not something I do! Bodhi was watching Power Rangers on YouTube on my computer, and I fell back to sleep, thinking I'd get a 15 minute nap. Three hours later, I woke up.

Now, I expect this, and am okay with it, if I've been busting my butt for weeks and need to recharge, or "catch up" on sleep. But random massive amounts of sleep after I've been sitting around on my butt for two weeks, hmm, that made me upset. I woke up thinking of myself as "lazy". I was angry, and cranky at myself for wasting time, not accomplishing stuff, and setting myself up to sleep late tomorrow as well.

Because of this negative criticism of myself, I set myself up to have a crappy, unproductive day. And my bad attitude rubbed off on Bodhi, as well, who picked up on my negative energy and whined, cried and moved like an anchor through molasses all day long.

How, then, to look for balance? How do I not fall down this hole?

First, I think, is forgiveness. Tolerance and forgiveness. Perhaps, my body needed to sleep, and I was unaware of it. Perhaps, I had plenty of sleep, but today, I just slept more for no reason. Do you need to solve the root problem in order to let it go? I don't think so. For whatever reason, I slept late.

When I give my performance talk, I talk a lot about things you can control and things you can't control. Can I control the fact that I slept late? No. It already happened. Can I control what I do about that going forward? You bet! I can let it inform the rest of my day, or I can look for some love in my heart and some patience for myself, let the past go and look for something positive in the next moment of my day.

This is a huge challenge sometimes, as we love to hold on to negative feelings. For some reason, humans are incredibly adept at criticism.

I have a little progression that I use to 1. Stop myself from unproductive negative criticism, 2. Get in a positive frame of mind, and 3. tackle the day in a way that salvages what is left, either in productivity, or, if that's not possible, at least in mood.

First, I think of something that Liat, my sister told me, that she learned in treatment: "This is not a catastrophe. The sinking of the Titanic was a catastrophe."

Right. Put it in perspective. Whatever. You screwed up, something didn't go how you wanted it. Let it go. Find forgiveness in your heart, and lets move on.

Second. Find your bliss. Right now. Something I do with my coaching clients is have them "Be Here Now" doing a 5 senses meditation. It takes as long, or as short as you like, and it can put you in your body right now.

Cycle through your senses:

I see. But what do you truly see? I see the grey of the snow on the hills as it slowly fades down to gree, I see the electric green of the new buds on the trees, the darker green of the pine needles. I see my hands in front of me, they are dry, brown, and I see the veins in them.

I smell. Smell is a huge memory trigger. Smell can ground you to your intimate relationship with life faster than any other sense. I smell the pizza that Tom cooked earlier. I smell the overripe mango sitting next to me, the campfire smell still on my sweatshirt. If I opened the door, I'd smell wet pavement and cut grass.

I taste. I taste the Fat Tire I am drinking! The taste is bitter and smooth at the same time, and feels different around my tongue. When you are out on snow, you can open your mouth and taste the mountain air, it tastes differently depending on where you are in the world. The air at Big Sky tastes differently than the air at Bridger Bowl.

I hear. I hear the music I am listening to, Govinda, a hypno trance Indian music, and behind that, I hear my kids talking in the bathtub, the sound of the water, I hear the fan in the other room, and the sound of the rain on the window. I hear the cat meowing.

I feel. I feel (and I am talking only about physical sensations right now, not emotional feelings. This is a taking stock of the present moment, being truly present, not analyzing how we are in this moment, just being in this moment.) I feel tense in my face, which I am now relaxing. I felt a knitted brow, which I just allowed to open, and suddenly, my face feels light. Go down your body taking stock.

Suddenly, I am here, I am present. Now, I can make a choice. Tune back into the critical voice that wants to beat me up for all the ways in which I feel I failed myself today, or make a choice to move forward into positivity. I don't know about you, but I'd rather get another shot at a great day.

If tuning into your body made you present, but isn't what brings you bliss, ask yourself over the next few weeks to find things that fill you with a sense of well being. You need things that are almost instant, things that take ten minutes, things that take an hour, and things that take all day.

My instant one is the sensation of the weather on my skin, all alone. So I take a moment and go outside, around the corner from my family, and feel the sunshine on my face. Or the rain. And I breathe in the air, and I feel myself filling up. Sometimes, depending on how tough the day is, this isn't enough for bliss, and I move on to my ten minute one. A chapter of a book in peace. Finding peace in a house full of boys can be challenging. Sometimes its hugging my boys and building a Lego ship with them for a few minutes. It depends on the day.

After I feel like I've touched something positive, I always feel more grounded, and less like things are or could be hopeless. The downward spiral has been checked. Now, I look at my choices: I can tackle the things I am "Supposed" to do, or I can do something that refills my emotional vessel. When we do things that disappoint us, it also depletes us.

I usually choose to do something short and constructive, so I feel like I can cross it off my list. Checking my email and responding to short questions is something I can do relatively quickly, and it makes me feel like I am on the ball. Email for others is a time trap, so make choices based on you and how you usually respond. Can you go online and pay two bills? Can you do your dishes? Ask yourself for a half hour of productivity.

Then, take your win! You got something done. OH, here is the critic again: yes, lots of people get stuff done. Yes, lots of people always have their dishes done and their laundry put away and their taxes paid. But we aren't talking about lots of people, we are talking about you doing something for you that was challenging. Say thanks, and say good job.

Now, you've gotten started. You have a choice: continue on the productivity path, or give yourself an hour or two of refill time: a hike, a run, a bike, playtime with kids, a book in the hammock... whatever it is that counterbalances the 'mistake" of the morning, and helps you feel that you are moving forward.

We all suffer from inertia. You can choose to literally get the ball rolling and then follow the path. Once you've started, its SOOO much easier to keep going! To keep laying in bed, to keep watching tv, to keep cleaning, to keep at the paperwork, to keep hiking up that steep hill...

Be patient with yourself. It takes practice to find balance. It will take a lifetime of practice. Ask yourself if the harsh criticism of the fact that you've gained weight (Wow, I got 18 emails after I posted that from other people who also have gained between 5 and 15 pounds after ski season ended!) is going to help solve the problem. Probably not. Getting proactive in a manageable way is at least moving in the right direction!

Here's a quick PS on this one... Lots of times, when we have a monumental task, like cleaning a house we've been ignoring or unpacking after being on the road forever, or handling bills and taxes, we think: First, I have to clean my house or workspace, then I have to get organized. Then, I have to tackle this entire thing all at once.

I think very few people have the 14 hours straight that they need to get all orgainzed and on the ball before they can tackle a big task. It is easier to work in a clean environment, that's true. But if your issue is that you have something that you need to do, and you can't seem to NOT procrastinate while you are heading towards it, give yourself a break. Just work the task at hand for a managable amount of time. Chances are that once you are in it, you'll be able to keep going. Chances are that you can focus if you ask yourself to, even if your workspace is a bit messier than you'd like.

If its truly a catastrophe, take your paperwork to the coffee shop, and get'er dun!

So right now, I choose to let go of my excessive sleep, take wins for getting some errands done, even though I didn't tackle the big thing I needed to do, drink my beer, and go snuggle my kids. I have tomorrow. And the day after that. And those days will be good, and productive. And I look forward to them!

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