feeling fine

I’m Fine. Are You Fine? We’re Fine.

Captains log. Day 35 in Quarantine. Things are fine.

This week was Spring Beak for the kids. It was supposed to be spring break for me, too, and we were going to do lots of fun things… but my end of year calendar got “recalibrated.” It’s fine.

We have figured out how to split the day so that it’s irritating for all of us, but doesn’t impede anyone’s ability to not get fired. So that’s fine, too.

We’ve taken to eating the same six “kid approved” things every day. Somehow I’ve still said “Eat your breakfast/lunch/dinner” at least 100 times yesterday… and for the past 34 days… which means I’ve said it 3500 times since we came inside. But we aren’t hungry and the supply chain is strong so we aren’t likely to be… so that’s fine.

It’s all fine.

No, really, it’s truly fine. Fine, fine, fine.

Two things to watch out for as we enter “The Grind”

For many of us (though, by no means for all of us) new normal has settled in and after that first sigh of relief (“At least things aren’t changing every 2 minutes!”), it’s begun to chafe. Slowly, and collectively, we are coming to terms with the idea that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Though we are not sure whether this is a half a marathon or a full marathon or an ultramarathon, it just seems clear that this is no longer the 400 meter sprint.

So we slow down, settle in, and manage the fatigue.

As we do that, we begin to whitewash all the feelings away. I’m not disappointed, I’m fine. I’m not tired, I’m fine. I’m not frustrated, I’m fine. Do you feel how reading that squeezes the vitality out of this email? It does the same thing with your life.

Don’t forget that we can be fine AND disappointed. Fine and frustrated. Fine and tired.

Do you feel how that loosens things up? The color come back in. We connect with each other’s experiences again. Jokes are funnier and there’s something to talk about.

Watch out for the whitewashing of feelings, it is not a good strategy. Instead, see if you can manage the fatigue by allowing the feelings to “flow and go.”

Life needs contours

The second thing to watch out for is when life loses its contours. The ups and downs, the beginnings and ends, the thises and the thats.

We’ve shrunk our lives considerably. We are doing fewer things with fewer people and it’s easy to feel like we’ve begun to live in the 2020, internet-fueled equivalent of the movie Groundhog Day. When this feeling emerges, it’s time for a delightful project.*

A delightful project is one that, all by itself, creates a contour in your life. We are looking for something that:

  • Changes over time
  • Doesn’t take much grit or resilience- a delightful project is not about IMPROVEMENT it’s about DELIGHT.
  • Connects to the basic simplicity of life

Great examples include:

  • Plant a seed in dirt and watch it grow. We did this 2 weeks ago and it’s been one of the best things ever. You wouldn’t believe how quickly green beans grow! They are giants, I tell you!
how to manage chronic fatigue

  • Write a short story (maybe following the heros journey?) that takes a few days to get right or draw a slightly more complex picture that you can watch unfold by your own hand. I recreated a scene from “Where the Wild Things Are” the other day and it delighted me, even though it was very imperfect. (Those leaves at the top are NEVER ENDING).
  • Go outside and find a tree or bush that’s about to burst. Take one picture a day from the same angle for a week and watch it unfold. We inherited a rhododendron bush that was in sad shape. I took two hours and cleaned it out the other day and so I’m taking pictures of it healing itself in real-time. It’s the best thing ever.
  • Make bread. Simple bread is really easy, has 4 ingredients and can be deliciously baked in a regular oven. Plus it’s a science experiment that you get to eat! And even if you mess it up, bread still tastes good. I like this recipe.
  • If you feel resourced enough, pick out some new sheets for your bed or a new color for a wall or a new picture in a frame for your living room. Don’t overcomplicate it and turn it into a long-term home improvement project (unless you want to), just bring something into your life that will delight you. I’m on the lookout for new bowls. We’ve broken like 6 bowls since quarantine began and it’s time to replace them. I’m delighted by the whole thing.

The world isn’t going to provide you with much contour right now, but it’s less complicated than you think to create it for yourself. Especially during Spring. Especially with Amazon. Especially when you choose it.

Let me know what you come up with! I’ll be here ready to hear all about it.

Happy weekend!

*PS- A delightful project is a project that delights YOU. Not someone else. If YOU want your basement to be clean, and it will delight you to see it, then by all means clean it. But if you would prefer to plant a flower or learn all the lyrics to a song from Shrek the Musical, do THAT instead.

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About the Author Amanda

Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.

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