Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Left Brain: "Just Tell Me What To Do, Please!"

I've spent most of the past two days fretting. Tying myself in knots and tangles in the most unproductive way, I have, quite frankly, been feeling miserable. Miserable as in trapped - for no apparent reason. Nothing has dramatically changed from a week ago when I was quite happy and pleasantly productive, so I could not determine what exactly was causing my malaise. Yes, here in the north woods, it is still dark at 7:30 a.m. and yes, it has been overcast and gray for days now, but that just didn't seem like enough to cause me, a generally optimistic and upbeat soul, to wallow so deeply in my pit of seemingly self created despair.

Today, I got curious. I started to look at this misery from an objective viewpoint and after turning it this way and that to see all sides of it, I figured it out. No deadlines. The difference between last week - happy - and this week - miserable - is the absence of deadlines. I have no meetings to prepare for, no emails of any pressing importance to draft, no birthday cards to artistically create, no nothing. Of course, I have lots that I could be doing to meet future deadlines: there are paper mache bowl orders to fill before Christmas, two birthdays in November, and handouts to edit for a series of workshops I am presenting in the Spring, but none of them are demanding my immediate attention.

This used to happen to me as an attorney. I would finish a brief and wander around my office for three days checking email and feeling like a complete fraud because I felt incapacitated to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. I always attributed this post-project time period to mental exhaustion, but now I am seeing it in a whole new light. Deadlines. It turns out that those pesky time sensitive proverbial "lines in the sand" that I have dreaded my entire life are actually a necessary boundary that allows my left brain to focus on an identifiable, concrete goal. Left untethered by such a boundary, my thinking, analytical left brain quite literally turns on itself in sheer boredom like a border collie without a job. Simply fascinating.

I am looking forward to testing this new hypothesis in the coming week and, fingers crossed,returning to my cheerful, productive self.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Just Answer the Question, Please!

As an attorney, I have been trained to ask questions, demand that others answer those questions and do all that I can not to answer a single question directed my way. No longer practicing law, I have carried this conditioning with me and continue to practice NOT answering questions. This morning, I realized what a huge disservice I have done to myself in practicing such evasion. This morning's interaction:

Husband: "What do you want for breakfast?"
Me: "I don't know, it's your birthday weekend, what do you want?"

Now, this may seem sweet, at first glance. He should have whatever he wants on his birthday, right? Yes, and no. Yes, because he deserves some pampering on his birthday. No, because evading the question made me feel small and powerless. When given the opportunity to express my desire, I chose to hide my truth instead. As a result, my "answer", instead of being sweet and selfless, served no one. It robbed me of the opportunity to be and feel heard and it robbed him of the opportunity to consider another possibility that my answer may have presented.

After this exchange, I realized that I no longer want to live this way. I want to be seen and heard in this world in every way. I now see that his choice and mine can coexist, such that we both have the opportunity to be heard and feel satisfied with the outcome. My goal for this coming week is to practice what I have told countless witnesses in preparing for trial: listen to the question and answer the question.