Approaching Fall

It’s hard to imagine that fall is (sort of) just around the corner. With 100+ degree days beating down upon me, the idea that school and other commitments might soon be back in gear kind of makes me twitch. I just started relaxing! I’m just now enjoying the mental vacation that a little bit of time off has afforded me. A combination of my new chemical balance, along with some mental rehab has let me truly relax for the first time in ages. While I haven’t gotten all of the little things done I’ve wanted to do (my bassoon reed profiler sits unloved and unadjusted), the steps forward I’ve made in mental health more than make up for any perceived misses.

It’s days like this one where I start pulling up different calendars and realize that the future is bearing down upon me. I’ve got about a week and a month before the first day of school, with various other commitments between now and then. I think it’s time to take stock in what I’ve got to do in the next few weeks, and see if I can’t transfer some of the successes of the summer into a good head start for the coming year.

The biggest risk I have is collapsing back into old patterns – endless lists, fear, shame, and hiding. The worst thing that can happen isn’t trial and failure; it’s not doing anything at all.

Part of the Getting Things Done philosophy (which I’ve tried to put into place a million times, but always fall just short) is a weekly review. Basically, at the same time each week, you go through your lists, check off things that you’ve done, add new projects, change goals, etc. I’ve been lax about doing this (mainly because I’m afraid of looking at my lists). You know the kind of people that don’t open bank statements for months because they’re afraid of what might be inside of them? That’s how I am with lists. I don’t want to look at them, because there may be something on there that’s hard to do, or overdue, or scary.

I’m basically a list chicken.

Much to the chagrin of the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council, President Obama said that we need to, collectively, eat our peas. Looking at my lists and keeping up with the is the equivalent of eating my peas. I don’t want to do it, but it’s good for me. Unfortunately, you can’t cover a list with cheese to make it taste better.

I’ve been watching a lot of Obsessedand Hoarders lately, thanks to Netflix deciding that it’s what I’d like to see based on my love of Star Trek and Christopher Nolan movies. While I’m not a hoarder, OCD cleaner, or anything of the like, something I’ve noticed as a common thread is facing anxiety. I have anxiety about making lists and doing work. The solution (from a cognitive behavioral standpoint) is exposure.

Sitting in front of my laptop with Word open and no TV on for 30 minutes. Pulling out a legal pad and writing 3 things on a list. Embracing the anxiety and not doing everything in my power to avoid it is something to achieve.

The balance between goal setting and self-flagellation is a tough one for me. I’m so down on myself all the time that setting goals just gives me an excuse to beat on myself when I don’t meet them. The simple solution, I guess, is to just do what’s on my list.

If only my brain would let me do that.

I’ve got a meeting with a friend of mine to go over weekly academic/writing goals. I’ve got my Lovely Wife to check the rest of it. I have an external support system, and more importantly, I’ve got an internal support system that’s starting to take root. I’m not the same person I was last summer, when I fell apart every week.

Time to get some writing done, some reeds made, and get myself in a good starting position for the fall. Even though I have over a month left, my brain wants to make me believe that that’s no time at all. I hope I can just override my brain this one time.

Story of my life.

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