It’s time for a reset.
2021 has been–well, a whirlwind. The long, choking oppression of the pandemic is lifting, and we’re busier than ever: soccer, baseball, color guard, 4H, scouts, marching band, concerts (hallelujah!), even church choir. Committee meetings. Oh, and there was that minor detail of a book release this spring. Pitching, promotion, recording podcasts, writing guest blogs and Q&As.
I sent my next novel to my literary agents shortly after launch. For a while after that, I stayed busy online, responding to commenters and well-wishers sending pictures of books from all over the country (”A Song for the Road in the wild!”). Having lovely conversations with friends I haven’t talked with in years.
I came up for air a couple weeks after book launch and realized that after an endless 2020, 2021 was nearly half over. !?!?!?!?!?!?! Two spots in my landscaping beds never got planted. I never treated for moles, and last summer’s crabgrass pulling seems less productive with mole tunnels all over the place.
I recognized that I needed some long bike rides and a couple hours at my Breakfast Cafe by the Missouri River–but by then, we were in a pattern of all-day downpours, and weird school schedules that prevented me from getting out for Introvert Recharge time. I intended to take one week off work–two, if I was feeling it–post-book-madness, and I had a long list of projects I intended to do in it. Would you like to know how many I accomplished? Yup. Not a one.
Even before school was out, I was starting to feel like I couldn’t breathe. The entire week between regular school and summer school was booked solid with appointments. Nine appointments in five days, people. N.I.N.E. Not counting baseball games! Now, some of those were play dates/social, some were medical, some were mental-health related, and every one was both necessary and productive. Nonetheless, that sense of slowly suffocating grew all week. There were kid conflicts. There were external conflicts. Big ones.
It didn’t help that midweek, we discovered a major–and I mean major–problem that I won’t go into except to say it involved too much screen time without limits. I went from feeling suffocated to thinking, “I hate my life! Hate, hate hate! Why does everything have to be SO HARD?”
That was the turning point. I looked in the proverbial mirror and went, “Dude. You released a book LESS THAN A MONTH AGO. You’ve finally achieved this thing you have literally been working toward for FIFTEEN YEARS, and this is how you’re feeling? Something is very wrong here.”
That was the moment at which I realized everything had to change.
I am in the midst of a reset right now. Thankfully, summer school started, and so I carved out Tuesday for a bike ride and Wednesday for a “sit” out in the country. As I sat being still in the presence of God and reflecting, I recognized that part of my negativity came from burnout after pushing hard on multiple fronts for so long, and that part of it was because I’d gotten out of balance, and part was because I am successful when I have lists to fill and goals to achieve, and at the moment I’m engulfed in haphazard scrabbling at disorganization.
We’re currently developing a whole new structure for our family life. Will my kids like it or hate it? We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m working on finding a counselor, which I’ve long known I needed to do but kept procrastinating. It’s time now. It’s a hard thing, reopening after over a year of anxiety for the health of a child. Longtime readers know that my daughter nearly died of a respiratory virus when she was six weeks old. So as you might imagine, the last year has been hell. My daughter is now vaccinated, and I’ve been able to relax (cautiously) more quickly than I had feared I might. Still, when you struggle with anxiety, it’s not like you can just flip a switch and be back to normal. You can’t just turn off those reactions. So: counseling.
Meanwhile, over at Intentional Catholic, I’m starting a new focus on gratitude, to work a different angle.
And I spent my Monday morning by the river writing a long list of things to do, to start getting organized again. On that list was a blog post about resetting.
I feel better already.
This is Mary Ann Coatney, formerly from Newman Center, now at Moberly St. Pius. I thoroughly enjoyed A Song for the Road! Was it autobiographical? Some time I’d love to ask you more questions about parts of it…Thank you for a great novel.
Hi, Mary Ann! Not particularly autobiographical, thankfully–but it would be fun to chat!