Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Monday, November 29, 2010

Done for the Week: Groping My Way Through the Tunnel

As I look over the list below, it appears to have been a busy week. And yet I found more time to sit outside in the sun, which was important, since the waning light is having an impact on me and on my housemate children, who share my predisposition to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  

As I struggled with depression--mine, and theirs--here's what I got done:
Done for the Week:  Nov. 22-28
  1.  Continued off-season race training; ran twice, biked twice
  2. Finished Great House, by Nicole Krauss  
  3. Began reading The Zen Path Through Depression, by Philip Martin, and Undoing Perpetual Stress:  The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety, and 21st Century Illness, by Richard O'Connor
  4. Continued support of transitioning not-for-profit organization--continuing to taper off
  5. Worked my two part-time jobs
  6. Published 5 blog posts
  7.  Meditated 3 times
  8.  Wrote 7 Gratitude Journal entries
  9. Wrote 5 Morning Pages
  10. Spent 2 hours working on my novel
  11. Attended rally to save high-speed rail and jobs in my state
  12. Attended city award presentation for friends and colleagues
  13. Participated in several frustrating transcontinental skype calls with absent spouse
  14. Attended 1 yoga class, on Thanksgiving Day, for which I was very thankful
  15. Walked my dog three times, once with each son
  16. Fed and walked my daughter's dog during her two-day out of state trip
  17. Watched our two favorite basketball teams play 2  games, with son 
  18. Travelled to my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner 
  19. Spent time outside, reading and writing, some part of six days
  20.  Ordered and received new microwave, to replace old crumbling one
  21. Cleaned kitchen counters in celebration
  22. Survived first week with absent spouse
  23. Cleaned bathroom vanity counter
  24.  Straightened and vacuumed living room
  25. Did laundry
  26. Paid mortgage my husband left the country without paying
  27. Shopped for and cooked Thanksgiving soup with my sons
  28. Took one of my depressed sons and my depressed self out to dinner, which cheered us both 
  29. Watched funny movie with my son

The regular reader will notice the absence of green highlighting from the list above.  This is because last week was an experiment in "focuslessness."  As I had hoped, the lack of structured goals seems to have contributed to a bit more relaxed state, given the already busy and nonroutine holiday week.  For the immediate future, I plan to return to using a focus goal, but to quell the tendency to splinter that focus by having multiple and secondary offshoots--which kind of defeats the purpose, yes?

In my view, the most important achievement of this previous week, in red text, was exercising four times.  Because my mood is becoming problematic, and interacts in a distressing feedback loop with those of my depression-prone offspring, it is crucial that I do what I can to keep from sliding into the depths.  In the past year, as in other difficult times in my life, I have found that exercise can be counted on to provide significant, albeit temporary relief from stress and distress.  

One of the books I am currently reading--Richard O'Connor's Undoing Perpetual Stress-- recounts in readable form what brain research demonstrates about the damage modern life is doing to our limbic system, in particular.  In later chapters, O'Connor addresses the issue of what we can do to restore our emotional resilience.  Of course, I skipped ahead to learn that the two cornerstones of his recommended approach are exercise and meditation.  He advises a half hour of each daily.  

As my done lists reveal, I am not there yet.  I'm not sure how realistic it is to set aside the requisite hour per day (even with O'Connor's reluctant allowance that we might relax this standard slightly, by taking a day off on the weekend).  So I am thinking more of a ramping strategy, maintaining my current exercise level while trying harder to make/find/take time for meditating.  For the coming week, my singular focus goal is to meditate daily.

And in the meantime, I will try to keep on keepin' on, to continue putting one foot in front of the other, and all that aphoristic jazz--until the light returns.

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