As I type this, I am sipping a glass of wine in hopes that my pent up restless energy will calm itself enough to allow me to sleep through the night. There is far too much on my mind right now. The past two weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of activity. I have been so busy that I lost track of my days. I just hoped someone would tap me on the shoulder to let me know when Friday arrived so I would not accidentally show up to work on the weekend. You may recall from previous posts that spontaneity and I are not friends. In my book of life, surprises are overrated. Predictability is far undervalued. I don't like when unexpected things pop up in my day or unexpected guests pop in for a visit. I prefer being prepared and knowing ahead of time exactly what is expected of me. When things don't flow according to schedule I am not a happy camper.
That is probably why I am feeling so off balance right now. Glancing at my calendar for the upcoming month, I realized I have something planned or something due for nearly everyday in the coming weeks. Whether the events are social or professional, being too busy gets me flustered and anxious. Blame it on my overly organized to-do-list-making personality, but a full plate spells trouble for me. I hate having a tight schedule of overlapping activities where I am unable to give my full attention to any one thing. Any of those packed events could go awry, bleeding drama into the next event and causing a blow up of the whole schedule in general.
Is that enough paranoid whining for you? There is plenty more where that came from but I will try to hold back a little. Although my schedule has been full, all the deadlines are slowly being met and loose ends are tying themselves up neatly. That does not mean I will walk away from the overly loaded couple of weeks feeling I accomplished anything. Instead it will leave me feeling unsettled, slightly empty and generally off. Why, you may ask? Well, because even though I will have taken care of other people's needs and demands I risk failing to carve out time for myself. As selfish as it may sound, I no longer take my "me" time for granted. It is at the very top of my to-do list. As a full time working mom, it so easy to forget my needs and dive head first into the demands of marriage and motherhood without a plan. Don't get me wrong. Dedication to my family and home are my top priorities, but keeping myself centered and balanced is where I start my priorities. Sometimes sneaking away for a quick 3-mile neighborhood run is the only time of the day I am completely alone and lost in my own thoughts.
Years ago during my single woman/child-free years, I could spent several self indulgent hours a day doing exactly whatever the hell I wanted to do whenever I felt like doing it. That goes for the times when doing "it" was absolutely nothing at all. Back then the word nap was still in my vocabulary and I used it (and did it) quite often. These days when I try to sneak to the bedroom for a quick nap, the male forces of the house swarm around me wondering if I have fallen ill. My husband and I often joke about our life before the kids invaded. He loves to ask me, "Do you remember what life was like B.T.B. (before the boys)?". My answer is always the same. Yeah, I do remember it, but I don't miss it. It is probably because of them and their flare and their noisy presence that I can fully appreciate the precious hours I spend away from them. No one questions me when I declare the need to unplug and escape to the streets for a quickie date with some asphalt therapy.
Since my schedule was so tight and tense these last couple of weeks, I had to perform some running workouts that would release those feelings and leave the anxious energy behind somewhere out there on the roads. I chose to do speed intervals, which I normally try to avoid like the plague unless there is an extreme need. Usually I avoid speed work for two big reasons. The first excuse is because it is HARD! The other reason is because it takes too much brain activity. When I go for a run, I want to zone out and not think or feel anything other than freedom and the fresh outdoors. Speed work forces you to be present and aware of your body and all its functions as if it were a machine tuning it parts. Speed work makes you think about what you are doing during every moment of the workout. It has nothing in common with a leisurely fun run. It crowds your brain with thoughts of foot turnovers, breathing, and gait. It makes you feel discomfort where you normally feel at ease. It makes you compete with yourself in areas where you previously thought you needed no improvement. It also makes you so consumed with your workout that you no longer worry about the crap of a packed schedule waiting for you when the sweat session concludes.
Maybe that is the beauty of doing speed work, no matter how ugly it feels. It feels so uncomfortable and hurts so bad that the other "stuff" you are struggling with begins to diminish in comparison if only for a few short fleeting moments. This speed work distraction worked for me this week simply because I needed the physical beat down to help me mentally toughen up for even more schedule demands that had yet to come. I needed the time to fight against my usual habit of avoiding the hard workouts and all the other tough stuff that I want to avoid until absolutely necessary. This served as a practice dry run in preparing myself for the seemingly endless deadlines I still needed to meet. It helped me focus on the finish line when what I really wanted to do was run away and hide until the whole race was over.
I often wonder if the most skilled hardened athletes have moments like this as well when they want to avoid the tough workouts and just take it easy a for a little while. Surely they do. However, what makes those athletes true champions is the ability to go through the hard stuff and come out on the other side a little stronger than they were before. If the same is true for regular old average folks like me, then I look forward to whatever transformation is waiting for me on the other side. Will I be stronger, wiser or just too damn tired to notice the difference? Let's hope for the former and not the latter, because there is still lots more "me" time I need to add to my schedule before this tough stuff gets the best of me.