September is usually one of my favorite months. It feels like a new year and a fresh start. I love the crisp fall air and shopping for back to school supplies. I take great pleasure in refilling my tea supply, breaking out the crock pot, and sorting through all the sweaters I stored away last winter.
But this year feels different.
I did a lot this summer. I took Postpartum Support Toronto to the next level. I completed three summer courses. I took the family on a trip to Disney. I submitted a paper on postpartum resiliency for publication. I was accepted as a speaker for the Warrior Mom Conference. I made all the material for my first online program. I maxed out my client load. And I did it all with interruptions from my 11-year-old who was home with me this summer.
I wish I could look back on the summer and give myself a metaphorical high five for all that hard work, but I am left with a low-grade feeling of dissatisfaction because I didn’t get everything done that I had planned to. I keep thinking about all the days I slept in or watched back to back episodes of The Get Down instead of following up with clients or doing an extra edit on a piece of writing.
The counselor in me says that it’s normal to slow down. That I did my best and that is enough – that I am enough. I want to tell myself that it’s not a race and it’s okay to push back the self-imposed deadlines I missed (on that note, now might be a good time to tell you that the launch of the e-book has been delayed). Yet this kind of self-talk isn’t resonating right now.
Because really, I don’t want to slow down. And when I look at my calendar over the year, slowing down isn’t really an option. Instead, I am grieving the limitations of my body and energy levels and I long to tap into the excitement and enthusiasm that normally comes with back-to-school feelings.
Thankfully I’m still going. I may no longer be running in this life-marathon, but I haven’t quit. I’m kind of walking slowly towards the finish line while double fisting coffee. I’m not going anywhere quickly, but that’s fine because I don’t need to come in first – I just want to finish.
Do you feel like you are just kinda limping along too? Then I invite you to join me in letting go of endless striving for the moment and do the bare basics for a bit. I call this strategy just maintain and it’s a movement for those of us who are weary, with no rest in sight, and need to keep going just a little while longer.
It’s easy to do – just follow these six simple steps.
Count it down: This slow and steady pace is not my preferred way to live. I thrive in creatively rich spaces filled with action and energy. What makes it possible to get through a plodding and heavily routinized pace it is that I know that it will end. I need to make it to the end of April, but you may have days, weeks or months to get through. Pick a date where you can reassess what comes next. You may then find that you need to spend more time just maintaining. Or you could decide that your next move is rest and recovery. You may even feel ready to go all-out with your next big goal.
Celebrate: Notice all the little things that go your way. Sometimes I am so forward facing I lose site of all the accomplishments I’ve gained or valuable lessons I’ve learned. So over the next eight months I am going to keep a ‘win list’ that I can reflect on to ground myself on tough days.
Embrace good enough: Perfectionism is the antithesis of productivity for me. Right now I’m giving myself permission to be okay with just being okay.
Rally your people: I’ve prepared my friends and family for what they can expect from me in the next year and asked for their help. I’m not going to be able to respond quickly. I’m not going to be able to volunteer to bring snacks to children’s events. And I told the kids I’m going to have to pass off more household responsibilities to them (and I have zero intention of ever doing those chores again).
Feel all the feelings: Some days I feel like I am kicking ass, and other days I feel overwhelmed and lonely. Rather than forcing positivity, I’m making the space for all the feelings that come up and not being afraid when they do. Because I know I can cope. And I know they will pass.
Find the fun where you can: The biggest challenge for me is how boring I find this kind of pace. Being at home this much is really tough for me. To get through it, I’ve built in fun mini-vacations so I have things to look forward to. I am also going to actively look for fun moments as they are happening… such as snuggling during family movie night or that feeling I get when my partner makes me laugh until wine comes out my nose.
So friends, if you also are worn down but you can’t stop just yet, let’s support each other as we just maintain for a little while.
In the end, we’ll get where we are going.
Or maybe somewhere even better.
Olivia Scobie, M.A., ACC, CPCC, MSP