January: A case of the vulnerable, wandering mind

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I can even be pensive at the MET.

The last few days I have hit my usual January straps. Much like the way I still get surprised when I get my period even though I KNOW it’s coming, it’s more of a huh, oh that’s right, I’ve been a little like that, huh January, the past few days. January is always like this for me. It can come later in the month usually, more towards school when all the holidays are well and truly over and the very last bit of the relaxing time is over and routine beckons. Actually, come to think of it, it came at the end of our big holiday when we were in Singapore too, maybe it’s just post holiday blues. In any case I’ve written about it before in 2013, in 2011 and 2010.

My friend Hannah hit the nail on the head when she commented on my Facebook page yesterday “My word for January is ‘vulnerable’ – I can’t even really explain it I just feel stripped back and exposed and delicate and not quite myself. Not sure if that resonates with anyone else but there it is!”

Vulnerable. YES.

That’s it! Exactly the feeling that I get. You get through a whole year of kids and work and deadlines and routines and bills and juggling and relationships and LIFE and then there you are, back at the start again. A whole year ahead of you filled with so many what ifs. A whole year filled with stuff that could go wrong. A whole year of finance to get through, children and routines to juggle. Another year passed with STILL not knowing what we want to do, or if we have reached our potential. It’s like that first day of a new job where everything can just seem SO overwhelming. We need a few more weeks under our belt before we can get our confidence up and think “I CAN do this.”

We can do this.

I went down to the beach yesterday afternoon with the kids to clear the cobwebs and shake that anxious feeling (man does anxiety suck when it comes to me, literally sucking the confidence from me replacing sureness with questions and what ifs). The sun was shining and it was time to STOP IT BETH. Daisy dug the hole for the umbrella for me, I got my old lady chair out, got those kids into the water and sat back to watch and just BE. Except I can rarely just BE in this state. The mind wanders, usually to places of question and unknowns and places that I can make up ALL kind of things for. I could see the wander, and tried to stop myself from doing it. I’m here, at the beach, in the sunshine, watching my kids play in the ocean. It’s 2.30pm in the afternoon, we can get an ice cream afterwards and then for dinner I can make spag bol and oh remember when you weren’t going to cook the same old stuff all the time, why do we fall back into the comfortable old routines which reminds me that I need to go running or walking at least because I don’t want to put on too much weight this pregnancy and oh yes, I have an ob appointment next week and I wonder how much weight I would have put on and I wonder how long it will take me to lose the baby weight when it comes and oh SHIT BABY. BABY!

See?

See what my wandering mind can do all in the space of about 23 seconds? Those wanders taking me away from the moment of what should have been happiness. I suppose that’s what Buddhists talk about with mindfulness. Beach, 2.30pm, sunshine, ocean, kids.

I got my phone out and actually googled “stay in the moment happiness”. First thing that came up was this:

I then spent 10 minutes watching this video on my phone (probably much to the dismay of the Nanna beside me who was soaking in the afternoon rays and didn’t want to listen to some Yank talk at a TedX conference). Long story short, Matt created an app called Track my Happiness that sent out pings to people throughout the day asking for how happy they were just before the ping came through, what they were doing and if their mind was wandering at the time. Over 600,000 reports came back from a whole lot of people from a whole range of backgrounds and the results showed: lost in the moment, happier. Wandering mind, not as happy.

Huh.

I know earlier this week I wrote about my new mantra when the baby comes. It can wait, it can wait, it can wait. The mess, the unwashed dishes, the stuff on the floor, the girls hair that needs brushing, the garden that needs weeding, the washing pile that grows.

It can wait.

I have a new mantra for January. Or for whenever that mind starts to wander. Come back to the moment you are in. Tuesday afternoon, 2.30pm, sunshine, ocean, kids.

Thursday afternoon in April, late sunshine, nice cushion, cool air outside. HOME.

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Even if it’s a shitty Thursday morning with fights and tears and lunch boxes and uniforms. Or a deadline that’s looming with a baby that can’t be put down. Or an unexpected bill or problem in a relationship. Try and be in it there and then. Don’t go down that path of what if and unknowns because there’s nothing anxiety likes more than dark thoughts and planting seeds of doubt.

We can do this.
We will do this.
Piss off January.

Do you get a case of the January Schmanuarys? Isn’t it nice to know you’re not alone isn’t it?
Do you have a wandering mind?
Got any tips for staying in the moment?

Comments

  1. Oh Beth, yep. Feeling anxious sucks but mindfulness works. It really does. I just need to recommit because it feels so good when I do it. We can do this xxx

  2. Wow I can’t believe this! So many fab bloggers talking about EXACTLY what is going through my mind! Fear and courage, vulnerability and mindfulness are all topics I am working on at the moment. I have discovered recently that if I allow the vulnerability, really feel it and be in the moment with it, the fear starts to fade and things become clearer. Recently, I have found more courage than I EVER thought I could have and that has been so empowering. Yay for vulnerability and mindfulness, for without it I might not have discovered how courageous I could be 🙂

    Thanks for this post Beth, I know I’ve said it before but it really is nice to know we’re not alone in all of this.

    P.S. If you’re interested in reading more about vulnerability, Brené Brown has written some great stuff and she has done a couple of terrific Ted Talks xoxo

  3. Yep January has its ice cold fist tightly wrapped around my chest. *sigh*

    Life is this big crazy Christmas rush throughout December and then January hits you with all the bills, with a big emotional bag of shit. Leaves you tired and vulnerable. New Year’s Eve makes you reflect too much on your faults and then you are left with the anxiety of not being able to better yourself and ‘do it all’ in the new year.

    Bring on February I say.

  4. You’ve put into words what I’ve been thinking since getting back from holidays, Beth. Can I do this? What if I don’t make the right decisions? What if? What if? What if?

    Here’s to less self talk, and more doing, in the here and now xx

  5. a good post beth!
    my mind wandereth everywhere and I paint it out of me! … it’s my sanity … my creativity!
    I think when all of the festivities are over and the busyness dies down many people don’t know how to have time out or quiet time! … OM!
    yoga is good! meditation is good!
    “THE POWER OF NOW” by EKHART TOLLE certainly teaches one to be here NOW!
    … lowering stress! … that milo looks good! … have a good day! love m:)X

  6. Have you seen this app: http://smilingmind.com.au/

    It is excellent. For ages 7 up to adult. Great little programs that help with mindfulness.

  7. My mind is a gypsy, always up & going instead of staying put.
    When I start getting anxious or worried about things that are ridiculous I use tap therapy ( Google it). Some say it’s bullshit but it works for me. x

  8. Hi lovely lady
    I find that when I’m stuck in my head, it’s definitely because I’m either reliving the past or worried about the future – neither of which I can control.
    To get back to what’s happening now, I like to either take a few long deep breaths, get outside (change of scenery is so therapeutic for me!), purge my thoughts in a journal or turn up the volume on some good tunes. Dance it out! 🙂 There’s nothing like a good groove to bring you back to (and enjoy) the moment.

  9. This resonates so much with me. Have you heard of Hands Free Mama. You should check out her blog about being in the moment.

  10. THAT CUSHION.

    From where?

  11. Such a timely post for me. I started the new year with a slump, mostly because last year felt so huge and I felt like I was finally making progress and then, all of a sudden, we’re back to day 1. I’m going to try and quiet my mind, and just be in the moment – no matter where I am or what I’m doing. One moment at a time!

  12. Warning the following may distress…

    13 years ago on a Friday evening the unthinkable and unimaginable happened to my husband on his way home from work. After alighting from the train he and four other commuters made their way to the pedestrian crossing. The five commuters who traveled this well worn path like trams on a tram track day after day approached the crossing area and proceeded to cross. Five commuters whose minds overflowed with plans for their upcoming evening and weekend. My husband was feeling anxious. There had been a most ugly incident at access pickup a fortnight prior – praying that there would be no repeat that evening. Five commuters all weary from their work week and running on auto pilot as so often many of us do. The train did not toot that day as it normally would to signal its departure. The first two commuters crossed safely, the last two were spared because the third commuter (my husband) was hit by the moving train that day. I was told the trains impact hurtled my husband high into the air like a limp rag doll. He landed with a horrific thud some distance away on the road.

    My husband remembers…

    On a pearl-lit Friday afternoon, pale light shimmered for a weekend full of sighs. I was hit by a train. Around me I remember the lack of noise, rushing wind, words of warning wrapping in a slow-motion pre-burn, conscious dreaming. There was a moment of clarity, a look behind when the thunderous yellow steel with noiseless wheels first whispered to my right ear. A sudden bracing of the flesh, acceleration and then impact.

    I remember sitting up reassuring myself I still breathed, wanting to be home at that very moment, wanting only to reassure that I still breathed for her, always for her.

    Others fussed and drifted in and out of eyesight as time stretched and wandered. Beside me the train stood still, sleeping quietly on the darkening rails. Wheels ached to roll.

    Ambulances, hospital, xrays, sutures, needles, whispers of luck and survival. And then I found her again. In the midst of fluorescent lights, doctors whispers and clipboards, other patients with other tales to tell, I found her again. And when I found her I knew I could never be lost.

    Our love survives on that never ending train.

    ~*Heartpoet*~ (aka my husband)

    The gentleman who would have been next in line to cross over scurried quickly to my home. He found me on my front veranda watering my pot plants whilst eagerly awaiting the sound of my honey’s whistling as he made his way up our street and home to my heart. Instead I was met with a shocked looking stranger up my drive. A man in his mid sixties with shrunken shoulders who suddenly and breathlessly burst forth with…”Your partner has been hit by a train…he is in and out of consciousness…he is bleeding all over the road…the ambulance is coming…I don’t think he is going to live…he is muttering that he loves you and is begging us to take him home to you and Brenton (my son).” The stranger (obviously in shock) then did a quick about face and took off up my street faster than the fake ferret doing laps at a greyhound track. As my brain struggled to process this horrendous news I felt an overwhelming almost out of body experience and clung to the veranda rail for support.

    I have never heard of anyone being struck by a train that was not either killed outright or was left with severe life changing injuries. Not only did my husband live to tell the tale he also managed to come away from it with only a mild concussion, scrapes, cuts, bruising and a fractured shoulder. Not surprisingly he was treated for PTSD directly following.

    After the dust settled and the healing began (outside and inside for my husband, inside for me) My husband (whose mind would wander ahead a little like yourself Beth) came away from this incident with one hell of a life lesson and that was to always ‘be’ in each moment of his day. We also both took from this incident that his time here on earth was obviously not up, that he was meant to stick around as he had more to do in this life time.

    A favorite quote – “Slow down, calm down. don’t worry, don’t hurry. Trust the process.”

    Just Be

    Hugs

    Kim
    x

    • What an amazing story Kim! Goodness ME! Thank you SO much for sharing…certainly brings it all home. I am SO glad that he was OK. Amazing!

  13. Gosh I really needed to read this today. Just can’t seem to get out of my funk. I have half started a project that I don’t want to complete but don’t want to let the client down but I know I can’t do it justice, especially as have children underfoot 24/7 at the moment. I just need to be in the moment. So much easier said than done though.

  14. It never used to feel like this for me but this year January can bite me. All of the things I was looking forward to at the end of the year are done. Awesome daughter turned 18, Christmas happened, dear friends came to visit. Now I have that “nothing nice will ever happen again” feeling. Also aforementioned daughter returned home from a month of overseas travel to Finland, Sweden, and Germany. She is full of wonderful stories and I am beside myself with happiness that she’s home but also a teensy bit jealous (I know soooo wrong) because I have never left Australia 🙁

  15. Your posts almost always resonate with me Beth and then every now and then one reaches into my heart and pulls out EXACTLY what I’m feeling and thinking. Like this one.

    I’ve never thought about it as January-itis but that’s exactly what it is. Thinking – ‘shit!’ .. the holiday bit is done. Back to trying to juggle work and kids and family and home and relationships and everything and I’m not ready. I’m not ready! I’m still/already tired.

    Mindfulness – yes. Did an intro to buddhism a few years ago. Great. Did a mindfulness course. Even better. But am I good at it? Not much. But it works when I remember to try.

    What works for me to is be mindful of sound around me. When I feel like I’m spiralling into an anxious rabbit hole I try to close my eyes and focus on ALL the sounds around. Even the annoying ones. And I listen. Focus and breathe. Even just for 15 seconds. Helps.

    Still SO excited about your babee.

  16. I agree about mindfulness.
    I have a few apps that I really like…Smiling Mind and Buddihfy…that have really quick guided meditations that you can do to stop your mind from traveling a million miles a minute.
    Otherwise I find a few deep breaths and a reminder to myself that I will never live this moment again generally help…so if the moment is crap, I know it will pass and if it is great, I better soak it up.

  17. “We need a few more weeks under our belt before we can get our confidence up and think “I CAN do this.”

    Yes. Nailed it. That’s exactly how I feel! I don’t normally feel it this strongly, but 2015 has started with this weird ‘not quite there’ feeling. Can we get some kind of extra month between December and January so we have time to get our stuff together?
    I’ve been reflecting a lot on what happiness means to me lately and I think learning to stay in the moment is a big one. I’m sh*t at it (a fellow anxious lady) but I’m slowly working on it!

  18. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Great post Beth yes January is one of those months…..just try and be in the moment it will all be ok xx

  19. Just back from spending day at hospital medical assessment unit with my Ma who wasn’t admitted this time thankfully Grateful for that. That beach looks blissful. Anxiety is a bitch that is in our family but has less grip on me than others. I imagine you would be at your most vulnerable when pregnant? Peace and love to you 🙂

  20. I think we are all feeling vulnerable at the moment because of what is happening in the world. I’ve been feeling very blue lately because of it all.
    I started meditating again and it really helps, 15 min each morning.
    Find a method that suits you and its amazing the difference it makes.
    Peace and love man xx

  21. You know what this is about, you have had two babies before and your a hell of a lot more documented than I will ever be! This is “…its all good!” And yep are things going to go south sometimes in a big way.

    But that’s kids, babies and family.

  22. Yeh January isn’t usually my favourite month but luckily this one is OK so far. Chin up & don’t let it get you down. Enjoy some baby planning time while relaxing on the beach! Start making lists! Best wishes.

  23. Hi Beth
    You sum it up Januaryitis so well.

    I think it is a combination of left ofter last year fatigue combined with the sense of hopefulness and promise that a new year brings overlaid at the same time with that groundhog day feeling of “here we go again” that makes January a bit overwhelming sometimes.

    I like “it can wait” very much. My other motto to live by is something my lovely Nana used to say which is “this too shall pass”. I used to repeat it endlessly mantra style at 4 am in the morning as I walked the floor with crying baby twins and waited for a new day to dawn (again). And guess what she was right – it did pass and those babies are now 16 and just came back from a month in France on a school immersion exchange. Some days seem to crawl by and many go way too fast. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, be kind and cut yourself some slack and muddle along – I think that is all most of us manage most days and it only took me 44 years to work out that is perfectly fine with me. Hoping you have a peaceful and joyous day. x

  24. Gosh I love it when you write posts like this one. You just seem to be able to tap into how many of us feel but can’t always express it. Wandering mind I do have. I’m always amazed when I can ‘watch it’ and see where it goes off to and then I need a lasso to bring it on home. No wonder we all feel so tired at times, this not easy.

    Just a very simple tip for bringing that wild beast back into the moment, it’s called FSH. Feel, See or Smell or both, Hear. For some reason I refer to it as ‘fishing’ as when you say out loud the only thing missing is the ‘ing’.

    Anyway you can do this anywhere for any length of time. Even if you’re just sitting on the couch watching tv and you find yourself drifting into murky territory. Feel is not the emotional feel it’s the feel my feet on the floor, my bottom on the couch, the material on my legs actually what your body can feel. Then you move to what you see or if you have your eyes closed what you smell or if you’re totally there then both. Then move to what you can hear and name it in your head. Before you know it you are right in the thick of that moment and around you go again if you like. It’s simple and a good one to snap you out of the constant crappy thought processes that tie you in a knot at times.

    Happy FSHing Beth and thanks for being so honest with us all
    Mel xx

  25. Love this post, Beth. So many people feeling the same! I read a blog post recently where someone described January as December’s hangover, and it is a little bit like that, right? In the meantime, I’m trying to exercise heaps as it really helps calm my mind. And maybe I’ll work off all that Christmas ham at the same time 🙂

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