Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting My Attention Span Back

Happy Monday!

First - I want to say congratulations and send much love to our own Jennifer from the splendiferous blog, A Well Styled Life, who has welcomed her first grandchild, a gorgeous boy named James.  If you want to read a post that will bring a tear to your eye, get yourself over to her blog ASAP so you can see the pictures!


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Funny that this post is about attention spans and I have already been diverted twice!!!

I have been thinking about this post for a long time.

When I left my job at the end of December for Christmas Holidays, I thought I would be going back on January 7th.  I never dreamt that I would end up taking a leave and ultimately leaving that job to pursue bigger dreams.

One of the hardest transitions I experienced was going from "doing" to "being".  I had been working 60-80 hours a weeks, scuttling from email to email, phone call to phone call, from one briefing note, report or presentation to the next.  When I would finally have some down time, I always felt jittery, as if there was always something to do, some project or thing that needed my attention.  I would pick up a book only to put it down 5 minutes later.  I would click on the web for an hour mindlessly or fall asleep in front of the TV.  I couldn't seem to pay attention anymore.  I was programmed to move quickly from one thing to the next.


So when I started my leave, I was at a bit of a loss.  First and foremost, I was tired and I slept a lot, which was a good thing as I had barely slept for the three or four months' prior.  I watched movies and stayed awake for them.  I saw friends again.  I did the spring cleaning that I didn't get to in 2011 and 2012.  And I made a concerted effort to come here daily and write, because I knew I wanted to write again as my next career and truthfully, I needed practise and discipline and this was one of the few places where I was mindful and present.  And you were all here and your stories and lives became a touchstone of inspiration and community.  So yes, I have never met Jennifer in real life or Tabs, but I am confident that when I do one day it will be like meeting long lost pals. 

Maybe your lives are different than mine, but I had been rushing and 'doing' for so long I had forgotten about just hanging out.  I hadn't read for pleasure, except intermittently, for a long time, because there was always reading for work that I was behind in reading that I deemed more important.  And I guess it was more important in many ways, because the stress of getting further behind often seemed unbearable. 

But I need to tell a truth: my lack of an attention span had started LONG before I was a CEO - I believe it started when I became a mother.  I just always put my children first, my house first, everything else first, and to such an extent that I never took any time for myself.  I didn't have hobbies anymore because well, how could you have a hobby when you worked full-time, wanted to be a good mother, felt you needed to keep your house at least moderately clean, and in my case, was dealing with family obligations and a sick mother. I often felt pulled in a million directions and that I was failing at all of them.  I don't regret those years, but I do regret always putting myself last.  I have been reading Dr, Brene Brown's The Gift of Imperfection (I am doing her ecourse on the gifts of imperfection and the book is required reading) and one of the critical findings of her academic research on vulnerability (Ger - she is a social worker - yay!) is that in order to truly love others you need to truly love yourself.  Now that is a WHOLE other blog post, which I may do at a later date, but it is critical to this post on attention span, because for many years I did not practise self-love and did not take the time I needed to become calm and centered.  And my natural tendency is to be easily distracted anyway..

Source

Of course, I am a work in progress, but every week gets better and better.  I am working hard at my next career, but not so hard that I don't take time for coffees, that I don't take time to read, that I don't take the time to exercise and at least once a day, I just sit and do nothing, sometimes meditating while doing it, sometimes just sitting and watching the leaves fall. 

I know that I have the luxury of doing this while I work from home.  At some point, I hope to be thrown back into the fray, doing readings at schools and libraries when my books are published, responding to letters, having a strong online presence about my work.  But as I wait to be discovered I am discovering myself and practicing slowing down and taking care - when I am a world famous authoress or doing the Wendy-Barry "Fix Your House Problem!" world tour (will I go to Long Island or Scotland first?) - I will need to continue that mindfulness and self-care.  I know that some of you reading this are suffering from the same issues and my one piece of advice is this: be kind and gentle with yourself and remember that even half an hour a day is do-able, although you may need to work up to that gradually.  Or maybe all you young mothers are better than I was and if you are, well: I salute you!

Besides my writing I have focused on reading (more on that tomorrow) and I think I will take up knitting again this winter (Knityarns - I will need you!), which I think is one of the best things for getting one's attention span back.  My friend G is painting now that she has retired - the time that painting or writing or any kind of creativity takes requires a good attention span and is, I think, a form of meditation - and G keeps looking younger and younger to me.  Of course, it could be all the motorcycle rides she and her husband are able to do now!

So anybody else suffer from attention span issues?  I would love to hear about them! 

Have a great Monday and stay safe out there!



33 comments:

  1. JUST A MINUTE True words Wenders. I crave the time for doing and being instead of meeting, answering, driving...Think we all have to find that thing or things that keeps us sane - whether it's the gym, training for something, reading for pure pleasure...Reading your posts there has been a change to your writing over the last six months. While part of your voice is colour and detail, its clear the magpie also has some swan.

    Must remember to stop and smell the flowers/ leaves/ bakery...today.

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    1. Well you have been working hard and I do think that balance is hard - even for inveterate self-lovers! Flowers and the bakery - hmmmm

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  2. Another resonating post! I feel exactly the same way, in fact this year my resolution was to cut multitasking and increase mindfulness. I'm getting better as I go along. I realize that household will not fall apart if I let go and devote more time for myself. It is also a little easier now with the kids growing older and they can now take on more responsibilities. I found I am actually a better person, wife, mother, co-worker if I find time to the things that matter to me.

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    1. Marie - good for you - you are so much smarter than I! I seem to learn all of my lessons the hard way - falling flat on my face, but I guess that is probably my inner diva!!!!

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  3. A birth and a 92nd birthday, let's hope no one kicked the bucket this weekend! You have so much drive in you, I'm your opposite and as to attention spans, my brain is mulch, I can barely get through a book these days.

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    1. well then don't read tomorrow's post - just pretend it's Wednesday and come back then, heehee!

      I do have a death - a friend of barry's past away this weekend, so there you have it!

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    2. That is sad, and sorry for B. Life is a bittersweet circle.

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    3. Oh you know as I was writing this I did think I bet I'm putting my foot right in it here. I bet Barry will feel it over the next few days, when a friend passes it always kicks off an introspective patch.

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    4. It was a shocking one - a fellow he worked with for many years who is in his mid sixties who dropped dead of a heart attack while running. SO sad! And no putting foot in it - we just found out!

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  4. Just to make sure, we are not talking about walking into a room and forgetting why the hell we came in there? Cuz I got a lot of that lately. Anyway, I find myself a bit frozen these days...I just can't commit to anything, even reading a book. My sis says I need to pick something (make a pillow) and force myself pack into action.

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    1. well I am going to discuss just that in tomorrow's post - how I got my mojo back!

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  5. This was really nice to read. I do often feel pulled in so many different directions and feel like I am not doing the best at any of them, as between full-time work, small children, family life, the house, etc. etc. etc. I have taken to multitasking reading while exercising, though I admit that sometimes my reading material is a gossip magazine ... seriously though, it is hard because I do so often feel guilty about taking even that 45 minutes, but I know I would be a total mess if I didn't. I really appreciate your very frank treatment of these things! Let me know when the W-B world tour descends on Germany!

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    1. I think mothers are especially susceptible to multi-tasking and guilt for taking time for ourselves. Plus I used to feel that every mother was doing better than I was (which I knew even then wasn't true) - so by all means - if you put yourself first, good things will come of it. Even if just add yourself to the list!

      I think we will stop in Germany for sure! ;-)

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  6. Morning Wendy - I look forward to tomorrow's post, Getting Your Mojo Back, I could do with some tips! I think (I hope!) that many of these problems with attention span and forgetfulness and mulch-brain are to do with menopause, so hopefully they will disappear once the hormones settle down. The more I read about menopause the more I realise just what a number it does on our bodies.

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    1. You are so right! I do sometimes feel like my IQ is dropping!!!

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  7. You do seem to have hit the ground running, writing a book and all, but I know it wasn't all like that. I've had days when the change in my schedule seems to have left a yawning hole, but something always moves in. I heard MLane answering someone's ? as to how I was doing--"she's really happy". This did make me happy.

    Mindfulness practice does help, even if it seems a waste of time to some. Even 10 minutes.

    I realize all my comments re:appliances were eaten. Shoot.

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    1. I hate it when blogger eats my comments - it happens to me at least once a day. sigh... And you are right -it has been a long slog and has had its ups and downs! I think that it takes practice to get over feeling scatter!

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  8. Oh how you make me smile...can't wait to see you on Wednesday. xox

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    1. I think we need a coffee club nickname!

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    2. LOL we'll pick one this week...

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  9. My attention span is much better when I am busy as opposed to when I have more free time on my hands. Structuring free time takes a lot of discipline. I'm overwhelmed by free time and don't know what to do first, to the point that I can be very unproductive flitting from task to task and never completing anything. When it is something that must be done, I focus and get it done. Free/unstructured time kind of annoys me lately!

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    1. That is so interesting and I think that is a good point - we are so used to being scheduled it is often discombobulating to have free time to fill up! I do much better with a plan!

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  10. Wendy, I feel like that already and the babies are not even here yet. Lately I find myself remembering that I made a cup of tea only to realize it has been steeping an hour and is now ice cold. I just drink it anyway, it's likely I will have many more cold cups of tea in my future. May as well get used to it.

    My condolences to you and Barry on the loss of his friend.

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    1. Thanks xoxo! You have all the excuses in the world - baby brain! But I think it is good to take the time and I know you will as I think you are really good at setting boundaries - I always admire that about you!

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  11. Thanks Wendy! The little fellow is magical. My attention spam is...Sometimes I think I must have ADHD. I know it's really just me trying to do too much and not stopping to smell the roses. Menopause has also kicked it up a notch. I read and loved Brene's book and I'm looking forward to the course. I meditate less than I should and when I knit my mind is whirling. I'm a perfectionist with a tendency towards insecurity. Quite the combo.
    The friendships I've made through blogging have been sincere and genuine. They often seem closer than my geographically convenient friends. And yes, we would be like old friends. I know it.
    Your writing has developed so wonderfully. You show, rather than tell and we feel your words. Bravo. You are going to be a great published author!!
    Looking forward to coming to your first book signing, my friend.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer - I am looking forward to your next chapter and all those babies!

      And I do think you are right about menopause - it sure does a number!!! I am about 50 pages into Brene's book and keep thinking "Oh jesus - how does she know me?"

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  12. Well, you got me here... And I am working on the whole lot... Loving myself, trying to not forget myself, forgiving myself, and finding my element, finding my true self...
    You will be successful Wendy and it is good it is happening now, because you have so much experience of life... It would not have had the same value or meaning 15 years ago...

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    1. STeph - I believe you are right although it might have been nice!! I guess it is true that we all take our own journey!

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  13. Love this post as I have a terrible attention span. I often tell myself I am looking at clothing online 1. to relax and take a break from work and 2. it stops me spending, but I think all that trawling through stuff makes me worse. Also If I sit down and read a book rather than just flicking through mags (even news magazines) I feel so much better about myself.

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    1. I hear you! It is difficult though, isn't it?

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  14. Oh Wendy what a beautiful post! Attention span... I have seen mine going and I fight it. I have to limit my time online, that helps, and going to bed early with a book is a great thing... also not feeling rushed in things, I do a better job if I take the time.
    But I have been there, these last two years with only two of the rascals at home has helped so much, I've been able to get my mindfulness back, I haven't been in complete panic mode as I was for many years with the rascals and my other caregiving duties...it takes a long time to go from panic to calm, you are doing awesome.

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  15. And oh gosh I'm sorry for Barry's friend.

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  16. Thanks Dani! Wait till tomorrow! You will laugh out loud at tomorrow's posts!

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Kindness is a virtue...