This past Wednesday I took Mr. Simplicity, a former client and dear friend, to the top of Mt. Tam. He was gobsmacked. The marine layer was thick over the ocean, obscuring Stinson Beach, spilling across the Marin Headlands into the bay. The Sutro Tower poked it’s arms through the white fluff giving us the only marker that the city of San Francisco was just over there.
While driving to the summit (not something I am used to doing…I felt a little guilty about not sweating it to the top), with Mr. Simplicity following behind me, several thoughts flew through my brain: the view!, oh, yea, the sun is bursting through, sweet – he might get to see the city, I have to remember to ask him about procrastination, maybe I can squeeze in a hike before I have to head home, clams at the Sand Dollar…maybe I’ll watch the sunset at the beach.
Those thoughts disappeared when we got to the parking lot near the summit and began our brief climb to the top. Mr. Simplicity was awed by the scene that lay at our feet as we sat on rocks at 2,572 feet above sea level. He snapped photos and took a 360° time lapse video of nature’s motions. I was a proud mama.
Isn’t she gorgeous? This is what fuels me. Being on the top of a peak, no matter the elevation, nothing beats it.
Mr. Simplicity is not a small-talker. Our conversations tend to chip away at life’s big questions. So it wasn’t surprising to me that we dove right in to discussing the challenges that life presents to us, the desire we both have for adventure, quests, and bold living, both physically and spiritually, and how our relationships with others support or stymie those desires.
I focused my attention on the marine layer. A vast atmospheric sea of matte white that stretched to the western horizon, disorienting if you’re seeing it for the first time. Given that Mt. Tam is under 3,000 feet, it’s an unexpected sensation to be ‘above the clouds’. The massive cloud moved with such determination, only to be swiftly undone by the hills of Marin; coming in thick, only to melt away like cotton candy in the mouth of the bay. It seemed to never make any progress, but I noticed how valiantly it continued to try.
(Much like how I feel right now. Before my Mom gets on a plane to come be with her little morsel, I want to state for the record: I’m okay. Raw, yes. Full of tears, yes. But okay still.)
Mr. Simplicity came west for a conference. He coupled that with a trip to see his daughter in Los Angeles, drive up the coast, and then visit his Uncle and me in the bay area. As we lounged on boulders we chatted about his drive north, the Hearst Castle (I am so swimming in that pool), the need to pull over every other breath to take a picture of nature being nature – all proud and worthy of respect, adulation. We spoke about my love affair with Northern California, how people relish the outdoors, how the food seems to still be alive at first bite, the seemingly endless amount of open space in the north bay, and the joy I experience seeing the boys romp and catch lizards and get all earthy and dirty.
Then he said,
I’m looking forward to this conference. A colleague of mine turned me on to this guy Jeffery Combs. I was hooked after hearing his seminar on procrastination.
My head swiveled like a barn owl smelling dinner at close range, from the bay scene I was taking in to Mr. Simplicity sitting behind me on his own Tam stool in one second flat. I smiled at him. A knowing smile he’s seen from me before. Simp, I said, (he has another nickname that sounds way better but in the interest of anonymity…you get it), you have got to be kidding me. Did you just say that? I told him about my ricocheting thoughts on the way up the mountain. How I knew I needed to discuss procrastination with him. How the need to come to understand the root of my tendency to procrastinate was making itself known. In a loud and large way. And not a moment too soon, for I was beginning to realize it was more than just not wanting to tackle divorce paperwork.
Some thing is clamoring for attention inside of me. I have been preparing for this moment since the winter. The self-excavation, the climb of Whitney and the swim of the bay and all the training that led to those successful endeavors were in preparation for a game-changer. Said game-changer is in my gut caught in the glue of procrastination. A word I’ve spoken more of in the last 5 days than at any time in my life.
Since my encounter with Mr. Simplicity I have been pondering hard. So hard it hurts. I’m still in a place where I’m together one second and crying the next, but I’m making progress. The tears are not in vain. I’m grateful he was here to kick off what I will call The Implosion. Of all the people I know, he was the perfect fit.
The excavation I’ve been doing has stripped off the metal, pulled down the walls and cleared away the shattered glass. The implosion is the final blast to my building, taking it down to its foundation. Exposing the structure, sound or otherwise, beneath. That implosion began Wednesday night. When the dust cleared this morning, I peered into the gutted hole, and over there in the corner, covered in glue, sat my self-worth.
The self-worth I had worked so hard to build in my late twenties and early thirties (unfinished business?) was stuck to a wall, depleted quietly over the years. And here I thought a file system and a weekly calender would clear up this funk, this battle with procrastination. Not gonna cut it.
My self-worth got kicked in the teeth by The Genius. And I’m mad as hell about it.
(Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.)
While I haven’t felt this raw in a long time, I’m stoked in a ‘this still sucks’ kind of way. After painstaking debris removal, I have stumbled upon what very well may be my holy grail. The key to sustained happiness, success and clarity.
As for how I’m going to tackle this? I don’t have a long range plan yet, and I feel it’s best I start in the moment. That means no more laying down, shutting down, standing down. That whole creepy scene with The Genius bringing the Happy Dance Chick into my house would be handled a lot differently were it to have happened tomorrow.
But beyond those measures, which are all important aspects of the rebuilding plan, I have to get to the heart of my self-worth. What’s it made of? How is harmed? How is it best cared for? What do I rebuild it? How do I make amends? I want to grab that little schmuzzie and love it up.
When I came into this world my self-worth was as perky and healthy as my bum. What happened? And how do I make sure that it never happens again? And can we figure this stuff out kinda quickly?
Man, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Good thing I’m all in for the long haul.
I once read, somewhere, that women are like wells. We fill and we deplete, most of what we lose in our well is given or taken by others to meet their needs. That each give or take depletes us until we are dry. That’s when we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom, and then we fill ourselves back up. We replenish our well.
This resignated with me. We fill ourselves back up. We are just that self sufficient in our making. Nature designed us to be able to take care of ourselves, even while we take so much care of others. She knows our strength, and I feel like she’s making me prove it to myself every time I pick myself up off the bottom of the well.
I can’t help but think that the kick ass being that leaps to her feet and says she’s not gonna take this lying down is my self worth. Reminding me I’m worth the fight, the love, and the respect. And whenever I do something that makes me feel all golden and glittery, I dump that bucket of goodness back into my well as a sign of gratitude.
Thank you for these words. Golden and glittery…that’s my visual for this week. I have been taken care of others and pushing me aside as of late. Taking care of myself includes doing the things I don’t relish. And standing up for myself when it comes to The Genius. Being compassionate is one thing, being a doormat is another.
Where’s my bucket…
I grew up with a procrastinating mother and married a procrastinating man. I have done a lot of observing and have come up with the following: People procrastinate because doing the thing at hand causes anxiety. That anxiety is uncomfortable so they push to to “manana” which means “not today”. This calms their anxiety. They can carry a large volume of un-done to-do items on their back – they are very strong that way. I am the opposite – not doing things make me anxious. So do the thing to get it over with, to fix my anxiety. I cannot carry a burden of un-done things on my back.
Once you have procrastinated on doing something for a while, the task becomes really big, too big for ANYONE to want to do, so that explains why the continued procrastination – it’s that simple – no one would want to do it.
My simplistic view on procrastination – it’s an anxiety “disorder” if you want to give it a name.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m left pondering, What’s behind the anxiety? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of judgment? Not worthy of achievement? Not worthy of doing that which is supportive, respectful to oneself?
I’ve got my excavation kit out…I’m going in! Look out below!
Ah! You just mentioned my very favourite quote. Thank you for the reminder that our power lies within, not with others.
Sorry to hear you are feeling down now and again, but gosh…doesn’t it feel good to feel “awake” again? Kind of like not being in the Matrix anymore
We’ll all get through this together.
Absolutely! I will remind myself of that so that I don’t label this time as awful or painful. It’s a matter of days in a life of days and days and days. I’m not giving any more days away. Feeling feisty…must channel this in a positive way.
Thank you so much for being here and for taking the time to comment. I am so grateful to being moving forth in the best company.
What a great post. You really bring the beauty of Marin to life and it reminds those of us who live in it’s beauty to be always grateful. It certainly is helping you on your journey.
Now…for the picking up and dusting off part…because you deserve it:
Anxiety is an intolerance to uncertainty. And the anxiety visitor is in your world. And it may be confusing you to think you are procrastinating – but you’re not. The trick to taking on anxiety (and taking it down!) is to move into the discomfort of it, in fact, say to yourself: bring it on! Dig down deep to that incredibly strong woman you built over the past year and bring her out; she climbed Whitney, she hikes difficult hikes tirelessly, she writes forociously, she has built an incredible community of caring readers…bring her out and move in to the discomfort of what’s next (read: divorce papers?) because that is a slam dunk at this point for you. No doubt you are uncertain about what’s next, we all often are, but we believe in you and you CAN handle it. Take care of this and move forward into the space of the great world that await you.
Thank you so much! I am grateful that I do it justice. You know how enamored I am of this area.
Now, to your beautiful and inspiring words of support. You’ve made me realize the importance of trusting the woman I have become. If I don’t trust myself and believe in myself, how will I nourish my self-worth?
Thank you, A. I’m grateful you are here. You’ve given me much to ponder. And you remind me to celebrate. My two favorite things to do.
You are all in for the long haul and we are all here with you and in that journey for that haul! All the kittens traveling together;0 A big wild herd of cats. ;0 Sometimes it feels like we (ok, I) are clawing our way through the grass, other times we are rolled out in the sun..soaking it up, flexing our paws.
Although I am the person who would rather push the fast forward button on the painful parts of my life and skip to the good parts….What I think is kind of cool about what you wrote is that maybe this year of strengthening yourself – your physical self and your emotional self, was to prepare you for the inward journey you described. Meaning, you’ve gained so much strength, insights, and the like ..those can support you are look into the procrastination/anxiety/other label.
Peeling away the layers…..
Hugs to you,
“…maybe this year of strengthening yourself – your physical self and your emotional self, was to prepare you for the inward journey you described.” While I would have preferred to receive my cap and gown on the one year anniversary of the Pocket Call, it appears that was only the first semester. Which makes sense. Because it’s not about him. It’s not about the Pocket Call. It’s about my journey to lay myself bare, love all the parts of me that make me whole, take the time and care to understand the parts of me that keep me from reaching my true potential.
Sometimes my mind wants to know where I’m going to be a year from now and sometimes I want to skip a whole bunch of steps on my journey, but I need to stay right here. I need these experiences to provide opportunities for growth so I can become the woman I know I am capable of becoming. Shortcuts only mean harder work ahead. I’d rather get to it now and reap the rewards later.
I better keep reminding myself of that often!
Such good hugs. Thanks for being here.
FORGOT- got this awesome fortune cookie – If you want to add value to your life, take care of every moment.
That spoke to me. I’ve been so down, paralyzed by fear and what ifs lately…even imagining being alone when my youngest daughter leaves for college. Oh, how old is she? She just turned 3…. Yeah, and I am already “catastrophizing” 15 years out.
Trying to take care of every moment,
Great fortune! Words of wisdom…thank you for sharing them. I really needed to read those today.
By the time your daughter is ready for college she’ll probably be taking her classes on her .0001 ounce iPad while she charges her jet pack.
Cleo, thank you for writing about the whole gamut of thoughts feelings that one has during divorce. The SF Chronicle ran that article about you and your blog exactly one month after my marriage ended in the blink of an eye. It was as if someone tossed me a life preserver while I was flailing around in the ocean. It is difficult to express how much this blog has helped me to get through and, sometimes, flourish during this shattering experience.
I too have been “procrastinating” regarding completing my divorce papers even though I think that I will feel so much better when it is over. I don’t know why I can’t just sit down and do it. Maybe because, even with all of the life experiences that this 53-year-old has had, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
Again, thank you. Bless you.
I am so grateful you found HGM and that you took the time to comment and let me know you’re there. I’m taking those blessings and cloning them!
I am trying to get through this divorce with grace, to meet the challenge of remaining open-hearted and full of optimism. It is so hard at times, like today when I watched the garage get emptied into a truck and the boys beg to go with Daddy to his new home. The new and shiny, while I am the ordinary, the one that is always here. I have to say, that is proving to be more difficult than any paperwork I have to complete.
With each challenge, each raw moment in time, I remind myself that life will get better and that I am worthy of happiness. We both are.
Thank you for being here, T. And for your kind words. Stay close…
I continue to love your blog and draw inspiration from your journey. This post made me think of the following quote . . .
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
You are doing a beautiful job of living in the questions. Keep it up and trust that the Universe will reveal the answers in its own perfect way and its own perfect time.
I am so grateful you took the time to share this quote with me, with us. Your timing is impeccable. These words are so needed, so perfect for me right now. And perfect for my post tonight. Thank you for your words of support. More will follow in tonight’s post.
You, m’lady, are a goddess. Thank you so much for being here and for thinking of me. You’ve touched my heart in a significant way.
You have caught up to the exactly same spot I’m in now.
The place in the fork of the road of destiny. (know it sounds so elodramatic, but I am not the one making the rules, and well the Universal Godess likes drama sometimes)
This is the moment when we have to have the courage to leap in to the unknown, trusting our inner selves that we can do it, that it will guide us to the fulfillment, happiness and unconditional love we so desire to give and receive. And that we are capable and have the infinite gift to be able to not only survive, but thrive in abundance. I believe that the main obstacle is our own doubt, fear of failure which is where our ego protects us (imprisons us) with procrastination. Anyway that’s my thought on this, I can’t wait to read about your experiences in this battle. What a great way to illuminate the possibilities to others facing similar fears and struggles
…..just follow the yellow brick road…..CDM
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing your thoughts on this part of my journey. Your suggestion that my own doubts can be a significant barrier to the achievement of my dreams is spot on. I’m reminded of a song by a beautiful man I had the pleasure of knowing before he left the blue marble entirely too soon, in my opinion: Doubt by Josh Clayton Felt. Some words:
Doubt could do me in, could do me
Doubt could do me in, could leave me out
Could do me in, could be my end
Could do me in, again
http://www.joshclayton.com A beautiful spirit, a beautiful man, a gifted songwriter, and a magical voice. He guides me still.
Thank you for being here. I will be writing my way through this process and am eternally grateful for the support I receive from you and all the kittens as I get to the heart of that which holds me back.