Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You say I'm cranky like it's a bad thing

I've been in an odd mood for the past couple of months. Cranky, restless, anxious, twitchy, annoyed all the time, cranky--oh, I said cranky twice. Usually, I get like this for maybe a day or two at the most, and then I wake up feeling like myself again, which is clear, focused, even, energized, and motivated. But this crankyness has saturated my being for a while.

So last weekend I was sitting on the porch (I know, I know, it's really a balcony), and I realized I was in that mood yet again. My second thought was that I had several options to resolve my cranky mood: start writing on a book based on my intern seminars, do some yoga, clean the kitchen, scrub the toilet.... And I realized that I didn't feel like doing any of those. I felt cranky, but I didn't feel like fixing the mood. I was inconsolable, and it appeared that I wanted to stay that way.

And then a calm came over me.

Yogic philosophy refers to a concept called "sitting with the discomfort." Western medical philosophy, whether physical or mental/emotional philosophy, tends to triage, diagnose, and treat any discomfort immediately. However, Eastern medical philosophy isn't afraid to examine the discomfort to see if it's really treatable, or if it even should be treated. Western psychology, says my pal and barstool therapist Vinnie, learned from Eastern thought the day it quit immediately prescribing happy pills for every American who was "a little down." Not everyone is clinically depressed; some people are just a little sad, or are still mourning a great loss, or they need to use their sadness to reassess their lives.

Along those lines, as I sat there on my porch, I realized that I was antsy and anxious and cranky because I wasn't very fulfilled at work. We hadn't had a major project for me to work on in over 13 months, so I'd been working on smaller things that didn't fully challenge me, and now I'm really slow. I'm even helping Veronica rewrite some of our marketing materials, since I have the time and am a good writer, plus it needs to be done. The office can't afford to pay an outside person to do the writing and editing, but I'm already here. This little revelation made me realize that, while I usually fix my problems myself, this was just one problem I wasn't going to be able to fix. No amount of yoga or writing or whatever would make the cranky feeling go away.

"So what do you want to do?" Vinnie asked me on his barstool, watching the security personnel scuttle back and forth in the hotel bar lobby, preparing for the DNC.

I paused and thought a second. "Y'know, I'm embarassed to say this," I admitted, "but I just wanna sit on the balcony and read the Crate and Barrel catalog."

Vinnie chuckled at me. "Pixie, there's nothing wrong with indulging in some mindless comfort activities and behaviors," he said. "It's okay. You've been stressed and anxious, and it's okay to take a break from your go-go-go personality and way of life. You have to refill your well a little."

So this week has been and will be a relaxed, enjoyable week. Morning workouts are for fun, not feel-the-burn. Reading is for fun. Hell, last night I had dinner with Dame Judith, who treated me to some wonderful wine and food and even a sinfully fantastic dessert. I haven't been this calm in a while. It's a big shift for me, not packing "useful" activity into every waking moment. But I think it's a good lesson for me to learn. I've earned the time off.


ms. kitty said...

Vinnie sure knows what he's talking about, Pixie. I hope you can really indulge in some destressing stuff.

Willderness Gina said...

You're not the Lone Ranger. It seems to be a pattern that's developed with me every Autum. You can correct mah speling... Course I'm still experiencing a sad left from loosing Teddy. I cried when I read Miss Kitty's post on her. I'm not doing anything strenuous assisted by the almost constant rain (Thank You Gods!). When Seebeno comes home again that will change. We've got trees to cut for this winter. Spend $300 on a chain saw to save $300 buying wood or using LP. I guess it makes sence.

BaxtersMum said...