Family, Fresh Start

My Anxiety Fish

About six weeks ago I was given custody of my grandson’s Betta while he and and his mother went to Texas to visit her family. I have worried and fretted over this fish for the past 42 days, bought him special water, kept a room extra warm for him, read up on why he might not be eating, talked to him at meal times, left detailed notes about his care when I left town… It was crazy. I was crazy.

My grandson’s parents assured me he wouldn’t be traumatized if his fish died, but I was obsessed with making sure this fish survived his time in my care.

Now this is particularly silly because we also have one of their dogs, a beloved and totally lovable Labrador Retriever who, to my knowledge, didn’t come from Labrador and doesn’t retrieve. He would be very much missed if anything happened to him, but I didn’t worry about him except in the normal way one worries about a dog in their care.

My husband calls the Betta -my anxiety fish, and I think he means that I am going to fret over this fish until he is returned to his own home, thankfully tomorrow. But I think it’s something deeper. With my life so full of things to cause worry, it’s easier to concentrate on the anxiety fish. Sick, elderly dad? Eighty-year-old uncle with pneumonia? Failed business and financial ruin? These things I can handle. But this fish…

Last night I dreamed that instead of the one fish I have been caring for, it turned out that there were three, and two of them were getting really hungry. As I was looking for their food, I kept finding tanks and tanks full of fish that I was supposed to be taking care of, each needing different food, and some of them were supposed to be fed to the others. One was supposed to be fed linen glitter, whatever that is, but I could only find regular glitter… It went on and on and on.

I think my mind has fixated on to this fish as a way of not getting overwhelmed by everything else. I can still do what I need to do, but I’m not focusing on the things I can’t do anything about.

Do you have an anxiety fish?


Clean Start

How Big Is Your Elephant?

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

When the going gets tough, the tough get real. Or something like that. I’m not all that tough, but I feel like I’m up to my elbows in alligators and I’m not ready to give up yet.  My previous post was an emotional purge, an apology for supposing I might have anything useful to say, and perhaps a sample of a low mark on a bipolar roller coaster. (My husband says that sometimes I’m hard to be around; I tell him sometimes I’m hard to be. For better or worse, Mister.) 

So, I’ve been “dealing with” this problem of how to get my life back on track for some time now. 

I have been listening to books and podcasts like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and The Clutterbug Podcast (which I love!), and motivational books like Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (also great), and anything else that might be helpful. 

I’ve been trying out different planners: apps, binders with cute stickers, printables. (Ugh, by the way.)

I’ve been researching alternative points of sale, running numbers to evaluate sales channels, researching suppliers, and looking for other ways to make the business work. 

In other words, I’ve throwing a lot of darts. In most cases, I’m working backwards, finding a shiny a solution and trying to make it fit one of my problems… 

Sometimes my brains just fizzes and I accomplish nothing, not because I’m not doing anything, but because I’m doing too many things. Well, starting too many things. I don’t finish much. (I told you, I’m hard to be.)

Then, I read a blog post today by Allie from HeyMom,NowWhat that I found really helpful. Of course I’d heard it before, but it was a good reminder. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Allie was concerned about getting prepared for Christmas. I could only wish for such a palatable pachyderm, so tiny, tasty, and tender. Alas, that one is Allie’s (and I wish her well!) But the principle applies, and I decided to put it to use. The first bite was a big one, and it took me a full day of contemplation. You might say I had to chew it over a bit. Here is what I came up with.

PROBLEMS

  • Too much stuff
    • can’t find things,
    • can’t enjoy home
  • Too much debt
  • Business 
    • too much time managing inventory
    • too unfocused
    • too many competitors
    • not really enjoying it
  • Prefer to work from home

SOLUTIONS

  • Sell some stuff to:
    • pay some debt
    • have a less cluttered home.
  • Business
    • Immediately reduce number of sales channels by 2 or 3
    • Discount/auction non-core products for quick sale
    • Re-evaluate finances, environment, and happiness in June.

How big is your elephant? Do you need to write a term paper or plan a wedding? Start a business? Buy a house? Get the dishes done? Get dressed? (I get it. Some days are hard like that.) Remember, you can always ask for help. ❤

 

Clean Start

“Metaphormorphosis”

I’m dying. I am dying and I do not want to leave a house full of bric-a-brac and a bunch of paperwork for my family. I do not want to leave three rooms full of fabric and yarn and beads for them to try to make sense of.  Or a bunch of albums and tubs and boxes full of unmarked photographs and truckload of family-flavored guilt. I want them to say good-bye, bury me, and get on with life without dragging me and all my stuff along with them for the next 30 years.  

Since I know some of my readers know and care about me, let me assure you I have no specific information that I should expect to die soon. But I lost my biological father and my aunt when I was six, and my mom passed at 47. I have an unhealthy obsession with early death and have been expecting it any day for some time now.

I walked into my sewing room with my husband one day last week and he made a sound of… something. Shock, maybe. I couldn’t look at him I was so ashamed.

“I know.  This room is a metaphor for my life.”
“No kidding,” he said, backing out carefully. We haven’t spoken of it since.

 And this blog is the “metaphormorphosis” of my life. The symbol and means of navigating a life transformation. I made that up, of course, and it’s likely flawed but I’m going with it.

Back to the sewing room. The space is unusable. Things are piled all over the place, it would take me a full day to clear off the work spaces if I wanted to sew in there, and another day to organize any projects. Totes stacked upon totes in front of book cases and on a chair. You can’t see the top of the ironing board.

As I said, it looks a lot like my life. I don’t think I have enough time left on this earth to get it all sorted out, and sometimes I get a little panicky, afraid I’m going to leave a big old mess for someone else to clean up.


Photo by Ye Fung Tchen on Unsplash

Not that panicking is the answer. Anxiety and depression are probably about 40% of the reason my life is such a shambles right now, and the resulting indecision is the biggest obstacle to me doing anything about it. They rob me of energy and focus and resolve and memory and drive. And self respect. 

So, back to this mess of mine, my so-called life. It’s a disaster. I tagged this blog as a lifestyle blog, but really as kind of a joke. It should be a lifestyle-less blog. I am 49 years old and overweight and I hurt all over. I dress like a homeless person, eat like a college student, drive a car most teenagers would be ashamed of, and my credit is in the toilet. My business is failing and I will probably be bankrupt soon. I love my husband dearly, and I think he likes me well enough, but we understand each other about as well as two people on their third date rather than an old couple who’ve raised three kids and will celebrate 30 years of marriage soon.

I am the way am because personal and business choices I have made, and because of some things that were beyond my control. I accept that. 

As I looked at that room and at my life, something occurred to me. Now, when I am at my lowest and really have nothing to lose, I can reinvent myself.  Not thinner and sleeker and richer. But simpler, more helpful, more present, with less stuff. More time to read, a sewing room in which I can sew, projects that are finished, gifts that are delivered. A reasonable work week.

I’m going to spend the next several months transforming my retail business, if not totally winding it down. I will make that decision in the coming months. I’m definitely going to scale it back. It doesn’t make me happy, I’m not good at it, and it doesn’t fit in with my role a caregiver right now. 

Metaphormorphosis. Having reached a point of ultimate vulnerability and paradoxically ultimate potential, I am going to see what I can make of myself. I will share my journey as much as I am able, and invite you to read along and join in if you wish. 

Don’t mind the tears.