Friday, February 19, 2010

focus, or lack thereof

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I lacked focus. It felt like I was a kid with ADHD. I would start something, get frustrated or bored, and go find something else. The job was tough, none of the tasks were easy. I started and gave up on no fewer than a half-dozen jobs during the day. My head was in a million places, none of them terribly work-related, and it was just awful to be in my own brain and body.

Some of it felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I read something in a book about the work habits of different kinds of personality types as determined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I am an ENTP. Big ideas, grand schemes, good at getting people fired up and ready to go, but easy to frustrate when it comes to the mundane bits of a project. Easily frustrated when things don't go 100 percent smoothly.

Oh. That's me. In spades.

It was tough. It was tough to know that stuff and to feel it happening and to have no clear idea how to work around it. Am I doomed to always start things and not finish them? God, but I hope not. But it seems to be a trend in my life, as I look around me at my half-rearranged house, my half-finished projects in the basement or yard.

I did the right thing and called my sponsor to talk. She gave me some good, tangible ideas on how to focus my thoughts and how to compartmentalize some of my life. That was really helpful.

I chatted online with another friend who is an expert in the Meyers-Briggs stuff, and she reassured me that ENTPs get frustrated and unfocused when we get overtired and a little overwhelmed. Ooooohhhhh. That helps too.

So this morning I have a list of things I need to bring to the job site and am working on creating a punch list of things that need to be done while I am there. I am working to focus my thoughts on things I can DO, as opposed to things that I can just think about and fret over, but make no real progress. Those I must let go for now. Poof! Into the air.

I wish it was that easy. But I am making progress on it. I awoke feeling pretty refreshed. Mostly.

I had an anxiety dream early this morning. Classic thing: I came into a classroom as the instructor was handing back exams. I had missed the exam. Completely blown it off. Hadn't been to class in ages. Was sort of surprised to see how many people I knew who were in the class. Lots of people I knew from other places. My peers. I was ashamed. Ashamed for blowing it off. Ashamed for forgetting that there was an exam. Embarrassed that I had failed and that people knew it. Ashamed that the professor looked at me and said "now what's your name again?" Oh, it was awful. As we went over the exam, there was a lot of it that I knew. I probably could have passed it if I had been there. If I had known that there was an exam. But I didn't know, because I hadn't been to class and nobody told me, and why should they, it was my job to attend and all, and it was my own damned fault for fucking up.

It was a grim few minutes in the dark before I realized that I had been dreaming and that the situation, however real it felt, was just an illusion. I know that it makes perfect sense for me to be having anxiety dreams. I am in transition from one part of my life to another.

It seems like everything jolted loose back in January when I ended my relationship with Laura. Spiritual development began in earnest. I got a call to ministry. A job landed in my lap. I joined my church. Got appointed to a committee, started doing some organizing at church, got word that there might be a job in political organizing that would work for me (funding is the current sticking point), went to the fetish fair flea market again this year - as a single person - got some new jewelry and made some new friends.

It feels like my life is suddenly full to bursting with opportunities and activities. It is a strange feeling to know that I am going to have to draw some lines and limit how much of the world I can participate in at the moment. There is only so much of me and so many hours in a day. I think a list of things I am presently committed to is also a good idea. That way I can get a look at the demands on my resources and figure out what can stay and what must wait for another time.

For now, I am easing into this day. The sun has just peaked over the trees at the edge of the field. The sky is blue and cloudless, and the wind has stopped, at least for a little while. The cat thinks I should pet him (constantly) and breakfast and work beckon. The sun is back-lighting the branches of the scrubby little tangle of I'm-not-sure-what at the edge of the stream, making each twig glow in the light. The frost is melting as the sun hits it, making the branches shiny and sparkly in the light.

Even the snow is sparkly this morning. This is old snow, dead, melted, almost gone snow. Snow with long-distorted paw prints in it, snow with dead leaves and bits of bark and dust and dirt sticking out of it. But the sun is hitting it this morning at just the right angle to make it sparkle. It looks like a lunar surface, all pock-marked and jagged like a beach at the end of a long day of footprints back and forth, but it has little sparkles of diamonds in each curve and wrinkle.

The big yellow Tom cat from the feral colony is gingerly making his way across the brook. Apparently the snow is not as firm as I had imagined. It must be at that weird squishy-granular stage from the way he is walking. Oh dear. It is a very undignified thing indeed for a cat to keep poking through the snow crust and getting his paws wet. He does not like it at all, I can tell from the expression on his face and the slant of his whiskers and ears. There! He has reached the eddy at the corner of the house where there is bare ground. A respite! And he is out of my sight now, around the corner. So not only does he have more freedom to walk with dignity, he has no audience to remind him of just how undignified he recently was... poor Tom.

Kitten is on the dog's shelf now, making noises like he'd prefer to be on my desk in the window for his morning worship, but mom is there with the evil computer. I wouldn't mind him being here, but he won't jump up while I am near. I do not understand why, but I understand that it is his habit. So I will go now. It is a good day. My worship this morning is not completely done, but I think I will carry it with me through the day. Perhaps it will help to keep me focused.

This I pray, in all of the names of the divine. Blessed be. Amen.


Middle Aged Woman said...

What if you pick up kitten and place him in the sunny spot? Wouldn't it be nice to worship together?

judyhill39 said...

Right after my divorce I bought an old house in NJ that had been remodeled by its previous owner (who had moved to Maine!). After a couple of weeks we realized that not one job had been totally finished, one little thing in each case had been left undone (a small piece of molding left unstained, a nail that wasn't countersunk). I decided that as long as the job wasn't totally finished, no one could judge it. The owner could always say it is a work in progress. I have no idea if that was true or not, but it made me recognize that I sometimes did the same thing. Perhaps this is the ailment of a perfectionist.

Ghost Rider said...

A list of your current commitments sounds like a great idea. Hopefully, you'll still get to do everything you want to do without losing the quality that you want to achieve. I see some accuracies in Meyers-Briggs, but I just can't bring myself to truly adopt the idea. I'd be interested to read more though, if you know the title of what you read. After some stubborness on my part when my job made us type, I'm an INTJ.

Anonymous said...

I think the trick to life is figuring out how to be content within one's self- accept one's shortcomings with a sense of humor- appreciate and take pride in our strengths- and occasionally give ourselves a good kick in the hindquarters when required.

To accomplish all of that means to also let go of those things that trip us up, including guilt and/or shame.

Our lives are fluid, with unforeseen events and other folks changing the paths ahead of us. We set goals for ourselves with the best of intentions, then "life happens" and we watch our carefully laid-out plans get cluttered, set aside temporarily or out-and-out discarded- and we feel discouraged that we haven't finished a project or accomplished our original goal.

When in reality, quite often we have accomplished MORE. We just don't see or acknowledge that.

That's not to say we shouldn't be focused, but maybe that it's okay that the focus is adjusted from time to time. The scope widens to see and include more than we originally saw.

BUT- "making a list" does help tighten the focus back up and make goals more accessible.

Anonymous said...

And all of that boils down to: you're a busy and good woman trying to do an awful lot for an awful lot of people. Don't give yourself a hard time for that... you are one of the most decent people I know.

But there's nothing wrong with trimming down on the to-do list! ;)

Apropos of nothing, the word verification is "ingyrla"- what a great introspective word!

padi said...

i have ADD and staying organized always help me, so a list sounds like good advice. what did your MA friend tell you about your choice of a seminary? hope it was good news.
p.s. do you remember this old poem by robert frost? you recent posts reminded me of it:
the way a crow / shook down on me
/ the dust of snow / from a hemlock tree / has given my heart / a change of mood / and saved some part / of a day i had rued.