January 2, 2011

Just don't know what to do with myself...

A buddy recently mentioned that she misses my blog.  While that was gratifying to hear, I couldn't help but cringe a bit.  I haven't written much lately because it feels that my focus has narrowed to the point that only two things revolve through my head anymore and I feel like the blog is full of them.  One of those things gives me quite a high, providing excitement and joy in equal measure.  The other has been dragging me down, somehow making me both restless and lethargic at the same time.  Lately, though, the restlessness has been increasing and there is where hope lies. 

In casting about for solutions, I've been looking carefully at the lives of friends and acquaintances.  What I see is inspiring, though at the same time occasionally incites a frustrated envy--

One friend who's worked from home for the last several years recently had a change of position that required her to begin the daily slog into an office downtown.  Rather than finding this to be a drudge, though, she's become re-energized by re-entry into the world and the change has radiated through her to affect other aspects of her life.  

Another friend who not too long ago shared my lethargy expressed that state beautifully...

Where did it go?
Can someone help me find my motivation?
I left it here somewhere.
My ambition, my desire, my inclination?
I just had it in my hand,
And put it down here,
It's not where I stand,
It's not next to my beer.
I want to complete a project I start,
I want to complete a thought,
I want to do these things with all my heart,
But cannot.
Where oh where can my motivation be,
Oh where oh where can it be?
I can't see or know, or remember where I last saw it.
I can't dream or imagine or think where I hauled it.
If you see my drive, my thirst, my appetite,
Please send it right back over!
Tell it I miss it,
Tell it I'll be better,
Tell it I'm nothing with out it!
-- Tisha Christenson-Dillon

Last summer, she began forcing herself off the 'net and outside into her garden.  More recently, she found a job putting to use a natural talent and seems not only motivated but wonderfully happy.  Other friends have moved to new states, even new countries, to begin new chapters of their lives and the energy involved in such moves leaves me staggered.  Where do they find it?  Mine's apparently hiding with my motivation.

A fellow blogger over at The Gardener's Cottage wrote yesterday about her New Year's resolution to have more fun.  Considering what she's shared with me about the challenges she's faced the last few years, it sounds like the best prescription any doctor could give to her.  But it made me realize that my own problem has possibly been too much fun--  My single lifestyle allows me the freedom to spend my time off as I please, but have I been making productive use of that time?  The things I do for fun are beginning to feel stale and suddenly seem to have a narcotizing effect rather than an energizing one.  

The one activity that still seems to do me some good is getting out into the woods.  This winter's been abundantly cold and grey and that's apparently kept a lot of people off the trails.  Solitude on its own can be as much a trap as a pleasure, but throw in a good endorphin rush and it clears the mind while recharging the spirit.  And Nature provides its own examples of motivation--  Yesterday's hike through a nearby conservation park brought me to a well-maintained beaver dam.  The destruction wreaked on trees in the area indicated that the dam's builders haven't yet settled down into a hibernatory state and have been living up to the cliché of "busy as a beaver".  

On top of all this, I recently decided I'd had enough of the Comcast monopoly and gave up cable television.  I had no idea this would be such a challenge.  I didn't think that I watched much television, but apparently I had grown used to having it on in the background and being able to sit down and watch for a few minutes in between other activities.  It was filler.  Without it, I find I don't know what to do with myself.  I'm almost in a panic, trying to think of things I can occupy myself with at those moments when the intarwebs have run dry and I feel like being still.  Sure, I could read a book, but I find I need something that engages me visually as well as mentally.  

To that end, I'm in search of a new hobby or project, even two or three.  Thing is, there are potentially too many options.  I've begun making lists to consider the myriad options, but can't seem to settle on anything--

-  I could take up something like knitting that would engage both hands and eyes, but what the heck would I do with the product of my labors?  I can only wear so many sweaters, and my family's moved to Florida so I could hardly send them scarves.

-  Several years ago I got into making walking sticks.  Started out one day by picking up an interestingly shaped branch, taking it home and sanding it down, varnishing it, and wrapping it with colored thread to create a handhold.  Ended up making several for myself and people I knew who appreciated such things, adding such decorative elements as feathers and beads.  One for a friend was even personalized with a small pouch of totem items.  But I ran out of people to give them to and, as with knitting, I can't just end up with an apartment full of these things.  If I began again, perhaps I could figure out some way to sell them...?

  -  Photography's been a hobby for a long time, but I've never really gotten serious about it.  Should this be the year that I sink money into a decent SLR instead of just running around with my little point'n'shoot?  Should I learn Photoshop and actually try do something with my photos?  Sell 'em, enter 'em in contests...? 

-  Writing, like photography, is something I've long considered trying to do more with.  But the (in)frequency of posts here at the blog shows just how disciplined I've been about that.  Would it be worth making the effort to become more focused, find things to write about, do it more frequently?  Perhaps, but part of the impetus behind this whole idea is to get out from behind the computer monitor and away from the desk.   

-  Music's been one of my drugs of choice for as long as I can remember, but the closest I come to practicing it myself is bellowing along with the stereo in the car.  Perhaps it's time to find out whether I've actually got any musical sensibilities of my own.  I've considered a few times the idea of taking voice lessons, but have lately been wondering how difficult it might be to learn to play guitar.  

-  And there are, of course, dozens of classes I could take for personal enrichment:  Psychology, literature, philosophy... Hell, maybe I could even find a physics class for the mathematics-challenged.  Again, though, the number of choices has me paralyzed. 

I need help, folks.  Give me some input, ideas, advice, a kick in the ass.  I'm on the verge of a crisis, in a muddle and will take any help I can get to climb out of it.  Don't leave me in this state.

As for that other thing that gives me such a joyous high, it also provides many apropos accompaniments to my babblings...


the gardeners cottage said...

hi tam,

you are such a wonderful writer. i think you may discount that. your thoughts are so clear and so well presented. have you considered submitting your writing to magazines or on-line magazines?

thanks for the mention and my resolution to have fun will be a HUGE challenge for me. i can so relate to your feelings of immobilization. i will be home from my ski trip soona and then the real challenge to have fun and let go will begin. i suppose my idea of fun is to be outside in nature so that is where i will start.

my suggestion would be to just start something, anything to get the momentum going. that's my plan at least.

happy new year to you!


KaliDurga said...

Hi Janet,
I have thought of that, but haven't really looked into how to go about it. Though that leads back to the issue I have with discipline-- writing for a specific source would require setting a topic and hammering the words out whether I feel inspired or not. It's something to consider, and the mental exercise would certainly be good for me.

Fun is something that we all have to define for ourselves. To me, it's pretty much anything that puts a smile on my face or elicits at least a chuckle. Follow your smiles, Janet, and enjoy the process of finding what's fun for you :) (Hmmm, maybe I should be writing greeting cards ;) )

And a happy new year to you, too!


Angelina S. said...

Hi Tam!

I've missed your posts too! I enjoy your writing and you usually bring up a point or two that gets me thinking.

As you know, I'm busy unpacking and getting ready for the NYC trip, so I can't comment as fully as I would like to right now. I do however, want to offer a suggestion for something to do. You mentioned that you knit, but can only have so many knitted items for yourself & that your family doesn't really need them. Have you considered knitting hats/scarves/gloves for the homeless or baby blankets for a NICU unit? There are so many people in need and I'm sure you could find an organization with which to align yourself. Knitting for Peace is a fantastic book with some great patterns and charity options. I don't knit myself, but I do have the Quilting for Peace book that is along the same lines and I found it to be very inspirational and motivating. One of my goals this year is to make blankets and quilts for people in need. I haven't decided exactly what organization to focus my energies on yet, but I have decided that whatever I make will have to be young boy/teen appropriate. It really is so much more difficult to find quilts and things for boys in general and that age bracket particularly. There's a huge need there so that's something you might consider as well.

Best wishes, my friend. I hope your motivation and inspiration find you again soon.

Peace, Love & Happiness,


KaliDurga said...

Awww, thanks, Angie (and Janet, I should have thanked you, also) :)

Actually, I don't knit. It's something that just popped into my head as I was writing this because I saw someone doing it on the subway the other day. And a friend knits and has talked about how much she enjoys it. And someone else made a recommendation similar to yours, so it sounds as if there are many more worthwhile options than I'd have imagined for something like this. Which makes the idea even more appealing. So, it's a definite possibility.

Much peace, love, and happiness to you, as well. Good luck with the unpacking!


Angelina S. said...

Thanks, dear! The unpacking is going, I'll say that. Slow and steady, right?? haha

I would love to learn to knit and/or crochet. Is there a independently owned yarn store near you? Those are usually the best places for classes and community, I've found. Quilt stores usually offer classes as well, if that's something you're interested in.

Honestly, making things have been so rewarding for me. I started off with embroidery & then moved to quilting, and the whole process is therapeutic. It's challenging and interesting and fun. Plus, people usually love it when you give them something you've made.

I have had a lot of people come in the store and buy up fleece remnants to make scarves for the homeless shelter. It's seriously the easiest thing ever, & usually pretty cheap too. You just trim the pieces to the same width & cut fringe on the short ends and you're done. You can also make fleece blankets in a similar way, & there are a few options for fancying the blankets up. I know some ladies like to sew 2 layers together and do a crocheted border around the edge. There are also lots of really simple sewing projects that you could do, so if that's something you end up looking at let me know. I can definitely help you learn how to do stuff & point you toward some organizations that could use simple blankets & things like that.