Productivity, Planning, and Cold Cars

I love my car. It’s awesome, but has been in my driveway getting fixed slowly for what seems like forever. I drove it out this weekend and remembered why I love it. My car is old and very cranky. The last guy that owned it unhooked the choke from the carburetor for some reason, so my car also very much hates the cold. I’ve tried to get it started the last two mornings so I could get the kids to school early for extra curricular things, but it just wouldn’t warm enough to keep running. I also remember why it makes me crazy. My car seems like it might be a metaphor for something.

The weekend was good! I met with my best friend Sally to talk about projects for the upcoming year. It’s become a tradition for us to get together in early January to talk about what was good the previous year and plan for the coming one. I’m really excited about what she has in the works. She’s amazing and clever and is taking some really great steps towards professional and personal growth. This is the first year in a long time that I don’t have any real professional projects in the pipeline as I focus on my personal life and figuring out where to go from where I am.

I’m up to day eleven on these little illustrated status updates. They seem like what I need to be doing right now, so I’m going to keep on doing them for awhile longer.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

4-This is my coach. He gets so excited for my successes
I never thought of myself as a sports dad. Or a sports anything, for that matter. I was excited for Abby (Rattleskate) when she joined the local junior roller derby league. We’d watched the movie, we’d read the graphic novel, it looked fun and interesting. She could be active and learn some new things, and I’d have a couple of hours a week to draw in my sketchbook or read just like at gymnastics.

Then I took her out to learn to skate, and realized that I could teach her better on skates of my own…then I fell in love. 

Roller derby kind of took over a huge part of my life. It filled this void left from feeling like the craft community let me down. It became really hard to enjoy what I was doing because every piece, every show, every event HAD to be a success. Skating was joy. Is joy. Teaching Abby to skate, and then teaching other kids to skate…I can celebrate every small gain with them and for them. We see it all happen in real time. And it’s kind of amazing.

5-This is my friend, he makes daily lists
I used to keep track of everything in my head. I have a pretty good memory, and honestly usually don’t forget much of what needs to get done. I started writing lists regularly a couple of years ago because I was regularly getting overwhelmed.

My lists aren’t about remembering. They’re about focusing on what’s important. More of a daily road map, so I can see the whole picture. To remind myself that the day is possible.

6-This is my best friend, he always says everything will turn out fine. He hasn’t been wrong yet.
Things just suck sometimes. We can’t control what the world does. We can’t control what the people that we’re close to do. We can’t control a lot of things.

But we can control how we react to them. 

Life is like a bicycle. To stay balanced you gotta keep moving forward.
-Albert Einstein

Laying down and letting it wash over us isn’t how we make sure things turn out. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be unsure. But we still have to keep moving forward.

7-This is my son and he is patient
This is probably the oldest of my internalized stories. I lived in Littleton Colorado until I was eight. I loved building models, and the basement was clean and quiet. I’d go downstairs and work while mom did the laundry or just because I wanted to work on it. 

I remember working on the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, an awesome plane, and my mom stopping to watch me for a minute before saying “You’re so patient” and telling me that I was doing a good job.

It’s important to be careful about what we say to each other. Things that may not be a big deal to us can have a real and lasting effect on others.

8-This is my Dad. He reminds me to think true thoughts
Sometimes the girls have trouble sleeping or come out of their rooms feeling anxious and scared. Big thoughts and feelings are hard. Especially when you’re alone in the dark at night.

The idea of thinking true thoughts. Of reminding myself what is real came from the movie “Young Sherlock Holmes”. Young Holmes and Watson are poisoned with a hallucinogenic drug causing them to go mad with fear. They take control of them selves by reminding themselves of what is real.

For us, it’s a little quieter and cuddlier, but the fear and anxiety are still real. We start with deep breaths, from the belly, then go into a sort of litany, beginning with obvious truths.

My Name is Jeffrey Johnson
I live in Saint Charles, MO
I have two daughters
I am Safe.
I am Loved.

if we know what we’re scared about, we say true statements about that.

I am seen
I am trustworthy
I am not being abandoned
This is not my fault

then we start over. We also talk about focusing on our bodies. On our breathing. On relaxing ourselves and taking control of the things we can control, and letting the rest go. Mindfulness stuff really isn’t about “fixing” anything, it’s about learning to separate out what’s important to us and focusing on that first.  

9-This is me. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’ll ever be alright.
It’s important for me to recognize that some thoughts come only from me. That they’re still valid feelings, but not exactly true.

Recognize those thoughts for what they are, and let them sleep.

10-This is my best friend, he’s kind of a genius.
My friends sometimes give me more credit than I think I deserve. I appreciate how we all lift each other up though, and encourage each others strengths while shoring up the things that we’re less capable of. 

I hope you all had a good week! I’m going to call the recruiters at Creative Circle now to talk about how I can make my job search more productive, then get some work done before tackling the rest of my weekly goal list. Until next week, take care and be good!
Your friend,

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