Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cleaning Lady

When I'm stressed or depressed I easily get derailed from the regular maintenance that a home requires and the resulting clutter adds to the level of stress. It is one of those vicious cycles that I easily get drawn into. Whenever I try to make an effort to pull myself out of it by attempting to accomplish one task I instead see the thousand other things that need to get done in order to achieve perfection. I think those other tasks seem worse. I think: "perhaps I should do that other task now instead of this one that I've already started, and for which I've moved all of the furniture in the living room." I think: "catastrophe is imminent." I get paralyzed by such self-defeating thoughts and usually there are tears.

This almost happened yesterday. Two days ago we had the couch and area rug steam cleaned by a professional. (Despite being "clean" the couch looks disgusting. Never buy an oatmeal-coloured couch, particularly if you wear jeans or drink red wine, or are human.) The rug was hanging to dry over the fire-escape and this I saw as a great opportunity to wash the rug underlay and the living room floor. Fast forward to the part where I have moved one half of the living room into the other and you will see me sitting on the window sill fuming over the fact that the windows are translucent at best and the tracks that the panes run on are filthy and no vacuum attachment is small enough to fit in there. This is a job for soap, water, an old toothbrush and some elbow-grease. I almost ended up in a tearful heap on the bed. I'm happy to say that the living room smells of Murphy's Oil soap - a comforting aroma. Despite this small victory and feeling of accomplishment, I still needed a nap in the early evening to calm my frayed nerves.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Dip and a Dead End


I quit my job recently; my official last day was August 27th. True to form I still had stuff to accomplish on my own time on the weekend. I was, however, never so light feeling on my way to the office as I was on Saturday the 28th; I knew it was over. I walked down residential streets and admired other people's gardens and the way the trees dappled the sunlight on the ground, but I digress.

I had a plan, at least it was the line I gave everyone: "I'm going to just take two weeks to empty my brain, maybe work on an alpaca farm, and then get to work figuring out what is next and start looking for a job." Funny thing about plans... Instead, I've spent the last two weeks with a constant low-grade to slightly more pronounced sense of guilt. I'm not doing enough, not knitting enough, not relaxing enough (yes, I know), not exercising enough, not cleaning the apartment enough, not cooking delicious meals enough. When I went up north to visit my parents, to help them out, I ended up being stressed the entire time about the state of their health. Not much helping went on. There was only one afternoon at the beach. So much for my fortnight of stress free end-of-summer fun.

I've been having stressful dreams, many work related, and a couple of nights I've woken up in the middle of the night. Last night was one such night. So, I got up just shy of 4 am and re-read "The Dip: A little book that teaches you when to quit (and When to Stick)" by Seth Godin.
I had bought the book at Swipe and read it about 3 years ago. Reading it again has given me insight into, or a way of visualizing, the reasons why I had to hand in my resignation letter on August 4th which, by the way, was not easy. Even though I knew I had to do it, I had butterflies in my stomach (or whole body actually - I was shaking) as I typed the letter. But, I marched into into the Head of Production's office and dropped off the envelope. There was no going back. It was such a neat, and scary, feeling to take the course of your life into your own hands in such an irrevocable and definite way. It felt pretty good - it felt like being alive.

So, Godin posits that there are two curves that can describe almost any situation where you are trying to achieve a goal. First, there is "the dip" where the initial learning curve is fun and quick, but then there is the dip where everything gets hard and you have to lean into it to get to the other side where the curve goes up and up towards success - where you are #1. The second curve is "the cul-de-sac," or dead end. The curve looks like the dip initially, but there is no up and up to #1 kind of success. In the cul-de-sac things don't improve.

I think that these two curves both can describe the position that I was in. I was a production manager in television and if I stayed in that position things were not going to change or improve; it was a dead end (for me - no judgements on others). In fact, most other production managing gigs would likely have ever dwindling budgets and schedules to manage. On the other hand, if I wanted to climb the ladder in tv, maybe become a producer and then an executive, then I would have been in the dip. I would have pushed through because the reward at the other end was worth it. The thing is, I knew I didn't want it. I don't love the end product enough, and that is important to me.


I highly recommend Seth Godin's book:

The store where I bought the book is one of my favourites in Toronto: