Sometimes we just need to step out of our grooves.
Yes, step away from the well-worn rut of what we normally do. Step outside of ourselves and take a good look in. Check our fuel tanks. Check our batteries. And, seize the opportunity to course-correct and edit what doesn’t bring us joy—or at least understand where we’re leaking away energy.
I’m glad I took this “me time” to relax and invite some rather important personal epiphanies to show up. And show up they did!
There’s a Tasmanian devil in my head.
I guess you can say I found out that I’m a bit “possessed,” but not in the Linda Blair, Exorcist, kind of way. Let’s just say I’ve been caught up in out-control thinking and have been placing my identity in that “entity.”
When I was a kid I loved Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny was my favorite, followed closely by Sylvester the Cat, and then the Tasmanian Devil. I loved watching him spin frenetically, stopping only momentarily to catch his breath with his tongue hanging out and panting. I even tried to emulate his movements and would laugh myself silly.
During my badly-needed hiatus, when I didn’t have projects continually piling on top of one another, I had the opportunity to observe my brain at work. I’d been so lost in busyness that I didn’t realize that I’d been unleashing a monster made of a tangled mess of thoughts and then called it “me.” The Tasmanian Devil came to mind (I love metaphors) and I said “That’s it! That’s my out-of-control mind.” It was almost comical. The good news is that I laughed at myself (I guess I could have cried). And, guess what? The more I just sat back and said “Knock yourself out. I’ll just observe,” the more my brain settled down. I guess an out-of-control brain fuels itself on engagement and depends on my being unconscious to its shenanigans.
Then I realized a few important things: 1. I am NOT that mass of thoughts (a case of mistaken identity). 2. Overactive thinking has been exhausting me. 3. Silence and emptiness can start righting the ship.
I’ve been overextending myself. Time to ruthlessly edit.
Don’t give me wrong, I love having my fingers in as many pies as possible. But, some of those “pies” haven’t been bringing me joy and paying me back in ways that are essential to mental, emotional, physical health. Gone are the days trying to do everything and, related to the Tasmanian Devil comments above, trying to over-manage and over think the process. Burnout, here I come.
I’m good at a lot of things. Relaxing isn’t one of them. At least, not up to this point in my life. I’ve chided myself when I haven’t been always on the move, always achieving or accomplishing something. I call myself “lazy” when I downshift. I keep telling myself that I have to MAKE life happen, and the evidence is a constant internal energetic state (above my solar plexus and in my chest) of pushing myself forward. As I observe this I realize it’s not a good feeling. So why have I put my faith in it? Maybe, instead, I can learn to recognize these physical sensations as a warning light on my engine and a reminder to pull off the road, breath, and let life happen.
So, this means I’m going to be saying “no” to more things. This means being less of a diehard people pleaser.
A shift in ItalyWise.com is in the wind.
This a downstream realization from the two previous personal epiphanies, especially since I’ve been devoting so much of my energies and time to the blog and its content.
When I came back from my hiatus and began looking at the comments that had been piling up, I paid close attention to the aspects of having a blog that aren’t feeling good. What are those things, you might be asking? Well, if you’re ready for unflinching honesty, proceed ahead.
My objective, in creating ItalyWise, was to “pay it forward” for people contemplating a similar path. I also wanted to share my experiences and my journey of transformation that comes with embarking upon such a huge life change. After all, it’s not just a change of geographical location. For me, it has been a tectonic-plate-shifting mental and emotional change.
ItalyWise isn’t a commercial site. I don’t have advertisers and I don’t sell stuff. So, when I come across comments, posted to my blog posts, that are cleverly worded (at great length) to dress me down because I have chosen to share my experience in a light-hearted, humorous way on a subject they deem to be sacrosanct, I just punt such comments to the trash. A good, information-sharing dialog…well, I’m all for it and I’ll gladly post them. But, someone who writes to initiate an online sparring match is something I’m just not going to do. I don’t write, purporting my experience to be universal nor do I insist other people’s experiences match my own.
Most of you are probably laughing and saying “Well, when you choose to have a blog, you invited the trolls.” The harsh reality in the online and social world. Yep. But, I can choose how I respond.
Feeling like a drive-up window.
I get my fair share of folks doing quick drive-bys, asking for some logistical advice and urging me to get back to them prontissimo, which I usually do, and then POOF, they’re gone. No follow up, no thank you, nada. I know people are used to considering the internet as free, open-source content. But, I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore to be the equivalent of a manned information booth at a busy airport. I need to reclaim some of that energy and apply it to other things.
I’m backing away from topics about logistics and bureaucracy and, instead, let the existing archived topics thrive on the back and forth comment sharing so my followers and learn from each other’s experiences. I have more energy, and get more joy, from blog posts about my Italy experience as told through my photography and paintings.
Paring back on social media.
A year’s hiatus from Facebook helped me to see this. Even though I’m back on FB, the long vacation taught me just how much I was looking for validation in social media. I’ll maintain a minimal presence on Facebook and focus my energies on Instagram, which fits with my love of photography anyway. Still, I’ve realized felt too compelled to post daily and then I find myself checking too frequently, looking for validation in numbers of followers and like. That doesn’t feel healthy.
Give energy to the things that make my heart sing!
I guess you can say that I’m doing a Marie Kondo to my life. This is the most important outcome of these personal epiphanies. Life isn’t a fixed state. No, it’s a river. We’re constantly getting feedback when we step outside of our daily selves, take a hard look at where we are, see if like how we’re feeling, and identify the things weighing us down. We have a chance every day to change course and then see what such a change produces. We’re always testing the waters, aren’t we?