From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi

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Overwhelm, Guilt and the Perfectionist

to-do-list-390x259As I have mentioned recently, I have a lot going on in my life.  My best friend who does not have any immediate family is battling colon cancer, I am interviewing for and preparing for a new role at work, I care for my mother and elderly aunt with health issues, I volunteer and lead my regular life.  On Tuesday most of these things came to a head for me.

I was returning from my friends oncologist appointment with her, my mother was on the phone crying because her eye surgery was being pushed back two days and she has been waiting for over a month for her physician to send a referral.  For some reason my usually on top of it staff decided Tuesday was a great day to have a complete meltdown.  My 18-year-old cat spent the morning vomiting and hiding behind the bed.  None of these are good signs in an 18 year old cat.  My other cat Pablo had to go off his hyper thyroid meds on Monday to prepare for his I131 treatment in October.  To say I was feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement.

For all those perfectionists or recovering perfectionists, you know overwhelm has a close companion, guilt.  As my mother cried and told me her surgeries would now be on the two next consecutive Fridays I had only one thought: we coach run club on Friday.  I would now have to bail on my husband and leave him to coach the kids alone.

Fortunately I have a great partner and as son as I got home he could see that I was at the end of my rope.  I immediately started apologizing that I would not be able to be at run club.  Only later when I got some much-needed perspective did I realize I don’t need to apologize.  The truth is on the life priority list mom’s eye surgery I obviously a priority.  My not so perfectionist husband realized this right away.  I also had a fleeting thought maybe that is also why he does not get as overwhelmed.

It is not that some people don’t ever face multiple competing priorities and stressors, I you don’t have the added pressure that you must rise to meet every obligation without fail, flaw or assistance you add a level of overwhelm that makes difficulties more difficult.  I have been trying to improve this.  So to combat my mounting overwhelm I looked at my schedule.  My mother’s appointment was Friday afternoon.  Normally I would have gone in to work at 6:30 AM worked until I needed to pick her up.  This time I put in for sick leave for the whole day.  I spent the morning ding my errands I had been neglecting, scheduling my doctor’s appointments for routine care, cleaning my filthy house that was a constant reminder that I was falling apart.  Picked up my cats meds and basically slowed down for a bit.  I can tell you that as we sat at the eye doctor waiting for an additional 2 hours I was content and able to assure my mother.  If I had not found some personal breathing room and acceptance of my less than perfect performance it would have been a far more painful day for both of us.

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Morning Routines


One of the hot self-help trends is morning routines.  As a regimented and very disciplined person I am of course a fan of routine.  So naturally this is something near and dear to my heart. Recently, I have really tried to be present during my morning routine and throughout the day to check in on the impact it has.  I will say right now is a fairly stressful time for me personally.  I care for my elderly mother and aunt, I am supporting my best friend through her battle with cancer, and I am in transition to a new leadership position at work.  Taking time to evaluate my morning routine seemed like a smart move.

What is my morning routine?  First, I will say I am a woman so it starts early.  No offense guys, but the women reading this know what I am talking about.  I want to carve out a part of the day just for me without negatively impacting those in my life who depend upon me.  For me that is the folks I mentioned above, plus my husband, my cats and my fellow volunteers at the cat shelter.  Our only kids have fur and 4 feet.  So during the week my day begins at 4 AM.  I get up and first thing I feed my cats their breakfast.  Since all of our cats eat a raw diet and they are all geriatric I sit with them so I can evaluate how each is eating and keep on top of any potential health problems before they get out of hand.  It takes about 15 minutes to dish out food feed each cat and for the last cat, Lena, to finish her breakfast.  Lena also has a morning routine and it includes a leisurely meal. She will not be rushed by her impatient and piggy siblings.

After the cats eat I administer morning meds to those who take them and I prep the ingredients for my smoothie that I eat for breakfast.  It is always some combo of fruit, greens, and nut butter or seeds and water I put the prepped smoothie in the fridge.  I add ice before I mix it in my nutribullet.  After that I put on the running clothes I have laid out the night before, take my vitamins and some water and head out for a couple of miles listening to my podcasts.  There is nothing quite like the quiet of a 4:30 AM run.  After my run I come in and head down to the finished basement.  I clean the cat litter that lives down there.  The others were cleaned while they ate.  After that I do 3 Vinyasa Flow Series into Downward Dog (Cat in my case).  Nothing alters your perspective for the day like starting it upside down.  After that I light the candle in my meditation area and I sit for my meditation using my Insight Timer. By that time it is 5:30 AM.  My 90 minutes of me time has come to an end. I wake my husband and jump in the shower.

After the shower I have really shortened my getting ready regimen.  Part was  I came to realize I don’t need much make-up or fancy hair care.  Part was streamlining my wardrobe.  Keeping only clothes I love.  I also select and hang up in my bathroom, my clothes the night before.  Mascara and blush, a little mousse through my curly hair and I am good to go.  I make the bed,  add ice to my prepped smoothie glass, turn on my Nutribullet, get my cup of black coffee, and 20 oz. of water.  I ask Alexa to play my flash briefing that starts with a positivity piece and then unbiased NPR news, and a word of the day and today’s weatehr and my schedule for the day.  I then read from my Kindle, whatever book I am currently reading, finish my breakfast, do the dishes, brush my teeth and hubby and I leave the house together as long as school is in session.

What have I noticed?  In the past if I had this much going on I would feel constantly stressed.  I would also feel like doing everything was a burden and an unfair expectation.  Creating a little space everyday to start in a calm healthy way has helped me to change my perspective. I find that though a lot is going on, I feel privileged to be in a position to help.  I treasure the alone time in my morning routine but that allows me to also appreciate the quiet time with my husband and cats too.  It is like a mini-vacation or reset everyday.  Maybe getting up at 4:00 AM sounds like torture. I am sure if I did not also go to bed by 9:00 PM it would feel like that to me too.  Since I have set some priorities and morning rituals it makes everyday easier especially the tough ones.