Press the Start Button and Go!

I procrastinate. A lot. This is no big secret. I think everyone knows this by now. The bigger mystery is “why?” and “what am I waiting for?” When it comes to things I hate or are at least uncomfortable with, there’s not much mystery there. But what about things I enjoy, things I’m excited about, things I want to do? Why in the world would I put off things that make me happy and clearly improve my life?

I have a number of books on art and writing that I’ve been reading or planning on reading. I love writing fiction and poetry (and blog posts, obviously) and I want to get better at writing. Now, I know that you don’t really get better except by doing it again and again and again, and yet, I find myself thinking, “I need to read these books before I do any serious writing.” (Bonus question: what the hell is “serious” writing? Please answer in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet.) I’ve also found Chuck Wendig’s blog posts on writing to be incredibly inspiring, although as inspired as I get, I still find myself thinking, “I need to read all of his posts and commit them to memory before I really dig into writing my own stuff.”

To better get a handle on my anxiety, depression, and ADD, I have various self-help and therapy books, as well as books specifically on meditation and attentiveness. I also have a number of websites I read for self-help and therapy. (I talked about some of these in an earlier blog post.) In my second consultation session with Ellie Di, we talked about me trying things for 30 days, to see if I could develop them into habits or see if they just weren’t for me. We decided trying 30 days of meditation would be a good start for me, for a number of reasons. Well, I haven’t actually begun the 30 days yet. I got it into my head that I needed to read up more on good meditation techniques before actually starting.

Stop. Wait. Think.

There are often good reasons to study up on something before you dive in. If you’re going to be running a marathon, you want to make sure you know the best ways to stretch, the best running techniques, the best breathing, and…well, whatever it is marathon runners need to know. (My lifestyle is best described as “Hobbit-like,” so long-distance running doesn’t play much of a factor.) But with writing and meditation? What are the dangers there? That I’ll sprain my imagination? I’ll calm myself down too much?

Long, long ago, when I was a wee lad, one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a cartoonist. My parents signed me up for art classes. I read books on drawing and cartooning. Now, my parents didn’t get me lessons and buy me books simply because I declared, “I want to be a cartoonist!” They did it because I was already drawing and wanted to get better.

I didn’t think about it. I just started doing it.

How did I forget that? At what point did it become so important for me to read about things before even starting? I mean, I know I’m anxious and self-conscious, but seriously, what the fuck is that all about?

And the funny thing is, I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think one of the reasons there are so many books on self-help, so many how-to books on art and writing and crafting, so many books on how to get up in the morning with a fucking smile on your face is because so many people think they have to know all the right things, have all the right tools, allocate the right amounts of time, get the conditions to be just right before taking one step forward. I don’t know why we think that. I don’t know what the fuck that’s all about. But I know we’re all wrong.

The first thing you have to do is start. Don’t wait, don’t think about it, just start.

The second thing you have to do is don’t stop. Don’t second guess yourself, just keep going.

And along the way, you can read, study, take lessons, get feedback. But you’re not going to get any better unless you start and don’t stop. And you’re never going to be ready to start as long as you keep worrying that you need to be ready to start.

(All the times I say “you” here, I’m really talking to me. Well, and people like me. We.)

Are you ready? No? Too fucking bad. Get set. GO!

Reflections and Echoes

After a couple of great consultation sessions with Ellie Di (who rocks the block, in case you didn’t know), a couple of important things have crystallized for me.

1) I’m much more comfortable talking about personal issues with women than I am men. My general physician is a woman, and I’m perfectly comfortable talking to her about all kinds of medical issues, including ones related to my man parts. I wouldn’t be as comfortable talking to a male physician, even when it involved my man parts. I’m also much more receptive to advice given to me by women than I am to advice given to me by men. There are a number of reasons for this, but it really just boils down to: I’ve never really felt all that comfortable with men, and although there are some men I’m very close to, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about my health, my emotions, my sex life, etc. But I’m completely comfortable talking about that stuff with women, even women I don’t know all that well.

2) When it comes to dealing with mental and emotional issues and making changes in my life, I’m much more receptive to enthusiastic, energetic people who deliver good-natured kicks to the ass than I am to calm, reflective people who give gentle, moderate advice. It’s one of the reasons why Ray Bradbury has always been so important to me: his essays and stories were always enthusiastic kicks in the ass to LIVE. It’s why I love blog posts by Chuck Wendig and Johnny B. Truant. What I need in a therapist/life coach/mentor is the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, except inspirational and good-humored, rather than abusive. I need to be pushed and pulled, inspired and excited.

As it happens, the therapist I’ve been seeing is male. He’s gentle and soft-spoken, and his advice to me is often to slow down and not rush into things. He’s been very helpful, but I often find myself hesitant to make new appointments with him and not always excited to go to sessions with him. In sessions, I often feel uncomfortable bringing certain topics up. I believe I’ve hit on why this is, and it’s clearly something I need to address.

Regular Americans

You know, Barack Obama may not be my first choice for president (I’m really more of a Green Party guy, but I can’t imagine seeing a Green Party president any time soon), but at least when he talks about “regular Americans,” it’s clear he’s talking about the 99% of us who aren’t kajillionaires. He’s talking about men and women as equals. He’s talking about liberals, moderates, conservatives, two-parent families and single-parent families, people who are straight, people who are gay and lesbian, people who are bi, people who are transgender, Caucasians and People of Color, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists, and so on. Just as it’s clear that when Romney, Ryan and other GOP politicians talk about “real Americans,” they’re not being nearly that inclusive. To them, people who aren’t completely heterosexual, people who aren’t Judeo-Christian, people who aren’t Caucasian, people who are politically and socially liberal, people on welfare–those people are The Other. I could never vote for a political party as exclusionary and exclusive as the Republican Party.

New Moon on Monday

It’s been a month since I started my new position as an Information Specialist (great title, right?), a month to get used to this change and settle in to a new routine. I’m very happy to report that I don’t just like my new job, I love it. The staff at the branch have really welcomed me and made me feel at home. The general vibe at the branch is laid back and cheerful. Everyone helps everyone else out, so that I’m sometimes performing adult reference, sometimes teen or children’s reference, sometimes circulation–and that’s often in the same day. I get a lot of face-time with patrons, but I’m also encouraged to take breaks when I need them and work away from the public when I need time to myself. I usually sit at the information desk, but I’m also encouraged to get up and walk around as much as I need to, which is good for my ADD brain. The branch manager met with me yesterday to check in with me and see how I’m getting along. I’m very open with her about my ADD, anxiety and depression. We talked about my various duties and agreed that it’s important I don’t get bored, but it’s better to err on the side of me being bored every so often than overwhelm me with too much to do. I have a difficult time saying no to things, partly because I want to make people happy and partly because I have very little sense of when I’m overextending myself, so it’s really good that she recognizes a need to keep me from taking too much on. She also encourages my strengths, which I get to use much more than I did in Web Content.

At the same time, I’ve noticed that the front page of our library website, which was my responsibility when I was in Web Content, is looking much, much better now. The promotional images are very engaging and dynamic, and content changes frequently throughout the week. It’s clear that web content was just not the right thing for me to be doing, and while I recognize I made positive contributions to the Web Content Team, I think they’re doing much better work without me. That further confirms I made the right move. It makes me very happy indeed.

A year ago, I wrote about how I was losing my interest in libraries. After a month working public service full-time, I’m rediscovering why I loved working in libraries in the first place. It’s a lovely feeling.

Tumbledown

Autumn is my favorite season. I’ve been looking forward to this time of year…well, all summer. As the temperatures dropped and the leaves began to change color, I could feel excitement, enthusiasm, and energy building inside of me. As I type this, I’m sitting at the desk in our office at home, the window in front of me open, the best weather I can imagine drifting in.

So it’s particularly frustrating that I’ve suddenly been hit by a wave of depression. Since Tuesday, I’ve wanted nothing more than to hide from the world, curl into a ball, and cry about…nothing. I’ve been getting persistent headaches. The things that usually make me happy aren’t making me that happy. I feel sad, bored, frustrated, useless.

I’m doing my best to take it easy on myself, not push myself too hard to “suck it up and deal.” My new work position involves a lot of moving around and interacting with people, which definitely helps. And I keep reminding myself that (and this is important for everyone to remember, so I’m making this big and bold) DEPRESSION LIES. I might feel like I suck and that nothing I do is worth doing, but I’m also consciously aware that this isn’t true.

If anyone else out there is dealing with something similar right now, remember that this is temporary. It sucks, but it doesn’t last. And you’re not alone. We’re all in this together.