When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do.
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through.
-"Move Along," The All-American Rejects
The hardest part of getting out of a funk is changing the way I think. It's so easy to keep becoming more and more pessimistic with every little thing that goes wrong. For me, I let things build. I keep pushing things farther below the surface until the pressure builds and everything explodes. When that happens, I take some time to regroup, and then I keep moving.
It's not that I keep moving because I don't want to face things. It's because I all too easily get stuck analyzing life, and then I think myself into a hole I can't get out of. Plus, it's not as though I have the luxury of locking myself away for a few weeks to think. There are plenty of things in my life that take daily maintenance. Some of those things are enjoyable, some are not, but all are important.
My strategy for coping the last few weeks has been to slowly change momentum. I've put the brakes on the pity party, and I'm starting to move back in a positive direction. This is obvious in all aspects of what I am doing--and it hasn't been easy. The first step is naming the problem. For me, this means accepting that things aren't going the way I want, and I have the major responsibility for that. Take my recent backsliding into emotional eating. That's on me. I could've chosen to cope other ways. But I recognized it was a pattern I didn't want to accelerate. I stopped self-medicating with food, and I am slowly working to undo the damage that's been done. Sudden stops and starts just make things worse for me. I know that I can't change things in a day, and I'm willing to give it some time.
In the same way, I'm trying to salvage my deer-stricken garden. I replanted some fast growers, like beans and peas, and I'm cultivating what I have left. I also put up a 4 ft tall plastic fence. That helps. We are going to get a real fence in the next month or two, but that isn't a result of the deer incident (believe it or not). It's something that we've been pricing and saving for over the last year-plus. We finally found a contractor that we trust, that came in under the number we're willing to spend, and who has a payment plan that will work with our budget. We have to get the survey done first, but the fence will be in by the end of the summer. It's mostly to keep tabs on children and dogs (keeping ours in and the neighbors' out). It will hopefully help with next year's garden as well--an added perk.
I'm trying to strike a better balance too. Work will always be there, and I've had a very busy few months with that. I have been better about trying to enjoy what time I get outside of the lab. Most of that time is spent feeding/chasing/bathing a toddler. Although I know I get several hours a night and two days every weekend that are technically "free," very little of that time is spent doing things that are relaxing.
I've been balancing that by trying to make time to see people. We took Sophie down to one of my high school friend's house to play. A friend from work and I have been trying to hit garage sales, and I had a nice lunch with another friend from work last week. We went to the local Home Days festival. We've been spending a lot of time visiting family. It give us a chance to be social with other people (and maybe get a few extra pairs of hands to help with Sophie). It really makes the weekends fly by. A lot of the house to-do list has gone undone (it's been weeks since I primed the spare bedroom, and I still haven't painted it yet). But I think it keeps us saner.
Overall I'd say I'm in a much better place than I was a few weeks ago. I really appreciate all the notes from people who touched base to say they were thinking of me. I don't want to just wash over what I was feeling a few weeks ago--I really was having a tough time. But I do want to say that I only get to that low spot on very rare occasions. I really am happier much more often than I am bummed. The stress is a constant, but how I deal with it depends a lot on what is on my plate at the time.
Life will continue to be very busy in the near future. I will try to find time to post more often. I'll also try not to just post when I need to vent. I actually resisted the urge just the other day, which may be a story for a later time :) I'm just going to keep trying to be aware of my mindset and keep the momentum moving in a positive direction.