Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Up all night

One of the ways I cope with stress is by singing to myself. It is a self-soothing mechanism. As I type the title to this post, the first in nearly three weeks, I find myself singing the Boomtown Rats song by the same title. As I start this, it is 1:54 AM and I've tried going to sleep once already tonight. I am too keyed up to sleep, unable to quiet what practitioners of Buddhist mediation call the "monkey mind."
  • "Will I be able to pull off staff orientation for my summer interns next Tuesday?"
  • "Will I be able to get the Mayor and the Police Chief to sign off on the Memorandum of Understanding to accompany the $6 million proposal I'm coordinating?"
  • "How am I going to explain that I didn't use the poster presentation the admin team in my office prepared for two days because I am not going to that conference tomorrow morning?"
  • "When will I make it to the bank to get cash for the week?"
  • "Will I remember to make an appointment to get my eyes checked, teeth cleaned, and hair done before I leave for Paris?"
  • "How am I going to get everything done that needs to be done at work before I leave for Paris?"
It has been more than a month of non-stop stress and pressure in the workplace. I used to laugh. Now, I am pining for quiet in my work life. I crave long stretches of time to ride my bike. I crave time to cook and eat healthfully. I crave the space to take care of the package that is my body, and the soul this body encases. I don't know how to do this and manage the pressure I feel - and experience - in my job. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, that the pressure will let up after next Friday, but I feel myself starting to crack.

I don't like this feeling, this ride down the slippery slope.

To be certain, I am privileged. I am worrying about going to Paris. I am not worrying about putting food on the table. But, worry is worry. As I count my blessings and try to stay grounded in what I know is right and good (listening, being honest, loving, kind and strong) there is a brief pause in the stress. And then it overtakes me again. This is what feels so difficult, as the stress is so much more powerful than the blessings.

When life calms down, the goal will be to find strategies for developing power in the blessings, so they can keep the stress in check. Maybe now I can get some sleep?

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