I didn't really take a rest per se, because whilst I didn't sit down and construct a blog post, I was working on a few new clients' work and feeling extremely stressed out over the last two weeks. Also, my bunny Binky passed away on the 24th of August, and while I haven't been publicly grieving, it did take a great toll on me. We went through so much with her, and she truly taught me to grow up, get my act together and be a real bunny mama to someone with special needs, to love someone who might seem different to other people, and to unconditionally be there for her when she needed me to be.
Even though of course, losing a pet cannot be equated to losing your own child, Diana's post on grieving really spoke to me. It was almost exactly how I felt, and sometimes, I felt condemned by even my own family that I did not love her enough, because I did not show enough sadness when she was gone.
What with the grieving, and insecurities on working with a new client, and generally not feeling up for it these two weeks, I was seriously thrown off. I took the convenient excuse of Özil's signing for Arsenal to really slip off the grid, working only a few hours a day, dealing with technical issues and whatnot with less haste than my usual workaholic self would have permitted. Honestly, during this time, I felt ashamed -- that I wasn't producing as much as I should have, or that I wasn't producing work that was as good. I am hard on myself, even more so when I am in this state. Oh, I struggled. A lot.
It was easy to put up a front, until you really can't take it anymore and let out all your fears (like your new potential client, who is awesome in every way, leaving you because your work was sub-par -- at least to yourself).
Oh lovely ladies (and gentlemen), tell me I'm not the only one who goes into such a state?
We are usually so hard on ourselves -- especially us ladies. We are so hard on ourselves being a wife, being an entrepreneur, being a creative. We are always challenging ourselves, always daring ourselves to be better, be stronger, that sometimes we just crumble and become weak. And it takes a long, long struggle to get there because we are so used to being in control. So used to learning and trying, with all our might, to be the best at everything we do. But all along forgetting... that "His power is made perfect in weakness." That "His grace is sufficient for me." (Corinthians 12:9)
So I take a step back. I reconsolidate. I eat chocolate in bed, under the covers. I whine. I workout like my life depended on it. I work my way feverishly through scriptures in the Bible. I find anything, anything to restore normalcy in my life because it is what I need to start working productively again.
Goodness gracious, does it have to be like this? It happens to the best of us. But we forget, we so forget, that the beauty is in this journey. The beauty is in the weakness. The beauty is in that we can feel. The beauty is in the mess.
Inadequacy. Weariness. Lacklustre. All these are terms we pile on ourselves. So what if we miss this client and she thinks my work is not good enough for her? Another one will come. So what if I think that I can do better all the time? I will have faith in my work now anyway.
But if you're anything like me, you need some concrete steps to get back on track. Yeah, I know you guys, the ones who are slightly a little Type-A, a little too organized to be used to this disorganization. While I acknowledge the beauty in the mess, I want to find order in the mess. I want some shining light from the end of the tunnel to guide me out.
1. Working out like there's no tomorrow. Or just, sweatin' a lil.
I cannot begin to tell you how much a good work out helps. I do it in the mornings, immediately after I wash up. Seriously. I stopped for four days after feeling like this... And finding excuses to not get up even more. And my energy dwindled, a lot. My mood was even worse, and I couldn't focus for the life of me on the work I was supposed to complete.
Then yesterday, I worked out again. But I gave myself baby steps... A smaller to-do list (which I eventually, still didn't complete, but I let it be). But y'know what? I opened Illustrator for the first time in those few days. And I sat my butt down and did some work. Not much work, but work nevertheless.
My mind can go completely blank and focused on my workout when I am exercising. And that temporal blankness? Bliss. Helps your brain get ready for the day. Helps you get geared up so good.
I usually do 2 x HIIT 7-minute workouts with weights, plus 7 exercises each day for a targeted area (Mon: legs, Tues: arms, Wed: abs etc...)
2. Bible Study. Or any kind of quiet meditation.
Hey, we all need something to lift us up, right? Whilst it is Bible study for me because of my faith, it can be anything for you. Quiet meditation over some inspirational verses that you love. For me, Bible study is one outlet to just pore over God's stories and let it wash over me, without having to over-think anything. And occasionally, getting awesome stuff out of it. New revelations. New inspiration. New motivation to move forward.
Taking time out to read something that's beneficial for you but totally (or quite far away lol) irrelevant or separate from your work stuff will really clear your head, help you restructure your thoughts, and generally stop feeling frustrated at yourself so much anymore.
3. Surrounding yourself with awesome people. ONLY.
Goodness gracious! I have been blessed with an awesome husband, and also a bunch of amazing clients, but more greatly, by a group of ladies at LoveBomb Biz Studio by Shenee Howard. These ladies are the most inspirational, helpful, motivating, STRONG women I have known so far and it has been such a blessing to be part of the group, and to be able to ask for advice, for support and so much more.
After my workout and Bible study and then coming to talk to these ladies or simply just read through the posts + replies, it is like a triple-awesome-jab. It got me geared up even more and ready to make some stuff happen. Despite feeling a little bleh still. It is impossible to surround yourself with awesome people and fill yourself with their great words and not feel compelled to get your act together and do something good.
A good community is priceless.
4. Be grateful. All the time. Especially during this time.
I find, however reluctantly, some inkling of gratefulness when I am feeling poopy. I recall to myself, slowly but firmly, that I am grateful for having this business. For having great clients who trust in me. For having God with me even if I do fail and let my clients down. For having a husband who's there for me in the good times and bad. For being blessed with the design skills and business skills that I have. For being alive. For having a wonderful second babygirl in Sunshine. For having my awesome work tools. For not having to worry about money a lot of the time, even as an entrepreneur. For being able to play CS and SimCity. For being loved by God and my hubby. For having the above-mentioned bunch of lovely ladies in my life. For having an awesome-powsome job. For being strong as a woman. For so many freaking things!!!
I pat myself on the back sometimes too. But I thank God for every little thing. For having time to even do nothing. For being able to write, even posting this blog post right here!
Oh it helps. It's the positive/negative thing again isn't it. Focusing on being grateful, instead of being bitter, will help you so, so much. Even just getting a piece of paper or opening a word processing document to just jot down mindlessly everything you're grateful for, and looking back at it again and again.
5. Disengage consistently. Ha!
One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur / biz owner is that you practically have no down-time if you really love your freaking business. A lot of the time you are still worrying about that project / work you submitted at 4pm. You are still mentally drafting that e-mail to that client at 8pm. You are still worrying about finances up at 2am. It is hard, y'all.
But when the going gets too tough, disengaging consistently for a few days (I know it's too much to ask us to disengage consistently everyday, though we should probably try) helps a lot. Sometimes I read Harry Potter whilst cooking dinner so that my mind doesn't wander to my business. Sometimes I watch Youtube in bed and just let myself drift off to sleep. Sometimes I sit away from my workstation, bring out my Bible and green marker and just pore over it. Anything that helps you disengage your brain from your business, even if it's only for a few hours.
I also take walks out to the most unexciting of places and take pictures of whatever I can find there. I watch The Office (US) for the third time. I mute my phone calls, turn off my e-mail notifications and just let my brain sit.
It is hard. To pry ourselves away from our live's works, from our passions, from our stress even (weird, aren't we?) and just let ourselves rest, guilt-free.
I can't even imagine what it'll be like if I had children. I salute every one of you, creative biz mamas.
But sometimes, rest takes us further along, doesn't it? Rest lets us learn that sometimes we are not in control, and we have to let our body recuperate in order to take charge again. It's okay to relinquish this control once in a while... To forget about work and just play a silly game or watch a silly video. We could all gain more from more of these little relaxation moments. After all, didn't we start out to have more time for our families and ourselves?
I hope everyone has had a better few weeks than I had. And I hope someone else who felt the same way as I did got something out of this post. :)
P.S.: Not one, but two freebie but goodies for September coming this week! Keep your eyes peeled + make sure you are subscribed to receive the FBG without fail!!