worry wart

I had a ninety-minute full-body massage on Saturday. It was wonderful, but it took me a little while to fully relax. Until that happened (probably around the forty-five minute mark…) my mind wandered.

I thought about the lunch and drinks I’d have with my friend after the massage. I thought about the hair cut I had scheduled for the following day. I thought about my next date with a guy I’d met recently. I thought about an ex-friend who’d betrayed me. I thought about my novel in progress. I thought about the new Facebook ad I’d created for an existing book.

And then it occurred to me that with almost all of these thoughts came worry, stress, and fear. What if the menu didn’t have anything I could eat on my restricted diet? What if things didn’t go well with the guy? What if my new book wasn’t good? Why weren’t more readers buying my existing books? For as long as it took me to finally grasp mindfulness and give into the pleasurable pressure of the massage, I was as tense as senators at a U.S. congressional meeting.

Fear and worry have always been my Achilles heel. For the most part, I muddle through, but other times, it’s a small itch I scratch until it becomes a festering sore. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Occasionally, it affects how I communicate with others, and causes me to do or not do things I regret later. Over the last week, I’ve been attacked by worry from more angles than I can handle. My stomach has been in constant knots and it’s making it hard to enjoy myself in the moment.

Before he passed away, my friend Alan hated when I’d get this way, and he’d talk me off the ledge. I have another friend who is pretty awesome at it too, but the truth is, no one can “heal” me except myself. When I mentally talk myself down, it helps temporarily, but then I forget what I said to myself.

As an experiment, I decided to talk myself down in writing so I could read it again as needed. I wrote down each issue currently worrying me followed by a list of arguments against it—why I was being irrational. I also wrote down the worst-case-scenario—if what I worried about came to fruition, what was the worst thing that would happen as a result? (This helped me put it into perspective) Finally, I jotted down a logical thought process for handling it in the moment—if this happens, don’t forget about this, that, and the other thing. I found it really helped for at least one fear I was stressing over!

Everyone has different ways of dealing with their demons. I’m a constant work-in-progress. For other worry warts out there, care to share your tricks?

Advertisements

Calgon anyone?

I really shouldn’t be writing a blog right now because I’m feeling incredibly stressed out and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, one of the (many) things that is causing me stress is the fact that I haven’t posted a blog in a while and so here I am.

Besides my mother, I doubt anyone has been stalking my website awaiting a fresh post, but I feel it is part of my job as a writer to maintain a current blog. And for the most part, I enjoy blogging! What I don’t enjoy is when my day job as a trademark paralegal gets so busy that it becomes necessary to work overtime to keep on top of it and that’s where I am right now.

Please do not get me wrong, I feel incredibly blessed to have a solid career and a stable job as a paralegal. I live in a very expensive city and while I work hard, I also play hard and my paycheck needs to stretch beyond my rent and monthly expenses to allow me to a maintain my lifestyle. I certainly do not make enough money writing to quit. (I also enjoy my day job, although not nearly as much as I enjoy writing.) But right now, when my second novel is in the last stages of pre-publication and there is so much preparation involved, is not the time for my work responsibilities to soar. Right now, all I can focus on are the following steps that either need or should be taken before Planet of the Flakes is published, for instance, meeting my editing deadline (of Friday); working with a designer on my cover (the cover artist I initially wanted is not taking on new assignments); writing my acknowledgments (first draft completed, thank God for small favors); reaching out to other authors/bloggers to read the manuscript and provide pre-publication reviews and blurbs; updating some of the contents on my website. I tip my hat to all of you self-published authors who opt to do this all on your own as I looked at the outline of tasks created for the publication of Planet of the Flakes and know that there is so much more involved that, thank goodness, falls into the hands of someone else.

On top of pre-publication stress, I agreed to judge a writing contest for the Chick Lit chapter of Romance Writers of America of which I am a member and, of course, I conveniently received all four entries last night and have only until early August to read and critique them. I really enjoyed judging the entries last year and the year before which is why I volunteered again, but the timing isn’t great. And to make matters worse, I am being trained on a new database for the next two days at work which means I won’t have time to actually do any of the work that is in my to-do pile until Thursday at the earliest and by Thursday, I am sure new work will be added to the pile.

The next few weekends are already completely booked between a friend’s upcoming wedding festivities, my oldest sister coming into town with my youngest niece and my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding in Michigan. All of these things are fun and I’m not complaining but OMG, my head is spinning and all I want to do is crawl under my covers and cry.

I confess that there are things I could probably do to make more time in my day. For instance, I could go to sleep later and work on my writing stuff late into the night, however, I get up early every morning to either go running or to the gym and that would not be possible with five hours of sleep. Some might say I should sacrifice the gym, but those who know me the best are aware that I am a much more productive person (not to mention nicer) when my exercise routine is not jeopardized. I suppose I could decline all social invitations after work to write, but it’s not as if I go out every night of the week anyway and giving up all time with my friends would put my sanity and cheery disposition in danger. Finally, it probably wouldn’t kill me to miss The Bachelorette but I am just too afraid to take that risk 🙂

Interesting, when I started writing this blog, I was feeling quite sorry for myself and out of control. In reading back my last paragraph however, I realize that I do have some control. No, I cannot control how demanding my clients or the attorneys for whom I work will be on a given day and I cannot snap my fingers and accomplish all of the things I need to do, but how I spend what free time I have is a result of choices that I make and if I really needed to get something done, I could make the time to do it.

This doesn’t mean I am through complaining but for now, I am leaving my pity party and finishing my work so I can go home and watch The Bachelorette.

Cheers 🙂