The alarm goes off and I roll out of bed and stumble into the shower. I’m already thinking about an afternoon nap before I’ve even had my morning coffee. I just can’t seem to get enough sleep these days; even when I go to bed earlier. Even when I sleep well.
I head out the door and go through the motions. I go to work, I answer email, I sit through conference calls and meetings. I do lunch and coffee get togethers with folks from the community.
From the outside it probably looks as if I am being super productive. Shows go on for Uprising, posts get posted to the website, content rolls out for Queer Theology, events happen at the church. But inside I am struggling. I don’t feel creative. I don’t feel inspired. I just feel tired.
I’m not depressed. Not really. Or not seriously. I’m just feeling blah. Nothing attracts my focus. No idea feels like the right one to pursue.
I hate it when this happens. I know that part of is the normal result of finishing a big project (Twisted Deaths), the way I usually feel during spring, and probably some general burn out. Even though I know the reasons it doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t like moving through the world in a daze.
I want to feel connected and inspired and motivated. I want to be excited about my projects.
And yet it doesn’t always work like that. So I try to set small goals to at least keep myself moving forward: I go grocery shopping and cook dinner instead of eating out. I sit down and submit my play to one opportunity. I make sure to start planning the fall events for the church. I write, even if its just a couple of paragraphs.
And then I try to give myself a break if I can. No meetings for a couple of days. Nights where I don’t work. Days where I just get the minimum done and allow my mind to wander. I allow myself the joy of documentaries and books for fun. Of new tv shows. Of regular bedtimes.
And suddenly there are a few sparks. Not many. Not enough to see by, but at least something to let me know that wandering in the night isn’t going to last forever.
I hear a lot of folks these days feeling close to despair. I get it. I find myself hooked into various loops of reading the news and looking at social media for the latest atrocity (which includes churches behaving badly and people saying mean things and and and the list foes on). We don’t know what to do to break the cycle. To change the world.
I’m starting by trying to change my own patterns. Putting down the phone more often. Getting off social media. Not checking my email 100 times a day (I’m sure I won’t miss anything if I only check it 50 times). I’m saying no to opportunities that feel needlessly stressful or are poorly run (even if it means that some people will think I’m not playing nice). I need to get myself out of the panic and anxiety loops. Then I can figure out what’s next: what can I create that will be helpful instead of simply a reaction to whatever stress is newest? What can I do to add joy and beauty to the world? What can I do to add joy and beauty to my own life and the lives of the people I love? How can I care for my body and help other people to care for theirs?
What can I do to make things better for the people closest to me? Then extend that to my community? Then once I have good patterns going to those outside of my community?
Small things are okay. Small steps are okay. Taking mental breaks are okay.
I’m saying this more for myself than for anyone else, but if you find it helpful then that’s great! (Two books I’m reading now are really helping: “How to Break Up With Your Phone” by Catherine Price and “Bored and Brilliant” by Manoush Zomorodi. I might write more in the future about my phone but for now let me say that I am realizing I have some not great habits and I am trying to break them. For my creativity, yes, but also for my sanity.)
What are you finding helpful these days? What practices or habits are giving you life? Where are you finding joy?