Overwhelm

Well, it finally happened, and it only took two and a half months. But for the first time since I went freelance I have got too busy working for myself and this weekend I found myself suffering from overwhelm.

The deadline for a big client is drawing closer and the work is increasing in panic, it was newsletter week last week for my fiction business, I’m leading church this Sunday, I’m trying to get a podcast off the ground and that means (gasp) inviting people for interviews, I know that next week a full day is taken up travelling to Launceston with Moz and while I’ve arranged that and I’m looking forward to it, Friday of this week came so quickly I didn’t even see it coming and having a four-day week for all the work next week is frankly quite scary. Not to mention all the wonderful events that I could attend (and possibly even should attend) like the People’s Library exhibition, my friend’s band gig, the Tamar Valley Writers Festival, and the author talks at my local library…

On Friday afternoon I was exhausted and I was worried. I decided that I’d have to work on the client job on the weekend. There was no way I could get everything done. The Sabbath, the rest I usually have once a week, it would just have to be put off.

On Saturday I woke up near tears.

I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t face anything. It was all too hard.

There is only one thing to do at this point. I needed a day off.

I needed to trust God that he’d take care of deadlines, that he’d look after the speed at which my businesses grows, that he had it all in hand.

And this overwhelm and tiredness wasn’t going to be solved by just any day off. There was no way I could go with a just-do-the-housework day off, or a lets-go-out-somewhere day off. I needed a real and total rest.

The weather was in my favour. It was blowing a gale and raining sideways. It was the perfect day for sitting in front of the fire and reading.

So that’s what I did. I made a fire, I found a library book about shepherding in the Yorkshire Dales that required very little emotional energy, and I sat. Later in the day as I felt better I read some of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard and thought deep and prayerful thoughts. Then I wrote some silly poetry exercises about what I wanted to eat, and what I could hear and see outside the window. Later I watched some TV. There was a little Facebook in all that too.

Late in the afternoon we had to head down to church to set up for Sunday but that meant that I got out of the house for a short walk and that in itself was good for me.

Soup and toast for dinner and a really mindless movie topped off the day.

I found I was much more able to face things Sunday morning. The list didn’t seem so big or difficult. My energy levels had increased. I could cope again.

I am learning to budget my time so I don’t get so overwhelmed in the first place. That’s obviously the place I want to be. But I’m also learning that when I am feeling overwhelmed, sometimes I need to chuck it all and sit for a while in faith that the world will keep turning without me.

I love a quote from The Messies Manual by Sandra Felton: ‘When I works, I works hard, and when I sits, I sits loose.’ Saturday was a day for sitting loose and now I am refreshed and able to work hard again.

I know you’ve heard this sermon from me before. I’ve written a book about it, for crying out loud. I wish I could learn it so deeply that I didn’t have to relearn every few months. But for now, I’m just letting you know, I’ve learned it again.

A day off is a necessary part of every week, no matter how busy I am. I hope you can also find this rhythm of rest and work in your own life.

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Moving out of my comfort zone

Cat and computer
Kat on lap and computer, that’s my comfort zone!

If I had my way I would live forever in my comfort zone. Even the name of it sounds good – comfort zone. Lovely pictures of feather beds, coffee, chocolate, and books come to mind.

However this is not where I find myself this week.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying to launch a business. I’ll call it launched when I actually have customers. Right now I have a website and an advertising campaign, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, and an email sent to colleagues.

This is so far out of my comfort zone it’s not funny. Every little step I take takes a decent load of energy. It’s all so scary. What if it goes wrong?

Well, what if it does?

And that’s the thing. I’m just trying to launch a small business. And the reason for that is that I want to work from home. If it doesn’t work, that’s ok, I will start looking for work again and take what comes my way.

If it all falls flat it will be a bit of an embarrassment. But I have until June to make this thing work. That’s a few months. I’ll be embarrassed then if it hasn’t worked, and rejoicing if it has.

The thing that gets me is that I am doing this to make my life better. If everything works according to plan I will be able to work from home, work on my writing, and make a little money to live off. Life will be excellent. I know, I know, life will still be full of ups and downs but I still think there will be benefits from doing this, I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.

So there will be benefits, but to get to those benefits I have to do this stretchy business of advertising, putting myself out there, being prepared to be rejected and scorned. I have to be thick skinned, audacious, pushy even.

I have to step out of my comfort zone.

Nothing good will happen if I stay in my little quiet space, comfortable, secure.

Atrophying.

I think that comfort zones are not static, they are dynamic. They are either growing, or shrinking. If I don’t want to stretch my comfort zone in this way, I need to stretch it in another way, because to do nothing is to start to shrink into myself. To lose the ability to do what I already do.

So I am choosing to stretch my comfort zone out into areas where at present it is anything but comfortable, in the hope of future benefit, and also just to keep growing. I want my life, my reach, to continually expand and grow. I want to use my talents, to take risks, and to leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Oh, and by the way, if you need an editor to look over a scientific manuscript for you, go to fixmyenglish.com.au and I’d be happy to help you out 🙂