Thursday, February 9, 2012

Attempting to Learn A New Skill

Pacing - A New Lifeskill that I must learn

I am trying to learn to pace myself.  That will new a new skill for me.  Perhaps, I've never really been good at pacing myself.  I've been thinking about what the ability to pace myself would look like to me.

  • Pacing myself would require that I am able to realistically accomplish what needs to be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.  I'm not sure that is even possible for me because I am a life long procrastinator who never started on a project or writing assignment in a timely manner.  Starting early on a project has never been my style.  I think I wrote every writing assignment I ever had at the last minute.  That meant I would stay up all night writing while I was in college.  It also meant I seldom had time for editing or re-writes. 
  • Pacing myself would mean I would have to plan ahead.  Unfortunately, I've never been real gifted in the area of planning either.  If you want proof of that, look at where I planted a lavender plant.  (This unlovely photo of a trimmed back lavender plant in winter was taken to remind myself that I must consider how big the plant will grow when planting next to a walkway.  This point was driven home to me after I planted a row of lavender next to the walkway and by autumn I could no longer find the stepping stones.  The lesson:  Plan ahead.  Consider how much things grow in a realistic way. Use a measuring tape if you must, but spacing must be considered when planting.

Lavender in winter
The next year, I had to take out the rock used as stepping stones 
and place them farther away from the plants.

New pathway next to the lavender

  • Pacing myself would mean that I must consider other factors when getting to an appointment on time.  I can't give myself the bare minimum of time to get somewhere.  Traffic might slow me down along the way if I don't give myself enough time to get to my destination.  I might get lost.  The list could go on and on.  Again, this is a life-long problem for me.  I'm one of those who runs in the door of an appointment at the last minute, or if I'm feeling especially time conscious, I might be a few minutes early, but this is somewhat rare.  Pacing myself is truly a skill I need to develop and practice.
  • Pacing myself is essential now that I seem to be doing better since my fall.  I can't just jump in and schedule a full day's worth of activities.  I can't do this because I will crash mentally and physically, and that will mean I will be worthless the next day.  Pacing myself is essential for my total healing.
If I had any doubt that the last statement were true, I learned it yesterday.  My day seemed like a normal day would be pre-fall.  
  1. I met a dear friend for coffee in the morning.  I actually drove the mile or two from home and felt quite thrilled to be able to do that.  I felt well, and I also felt grateful for the independence I was feeling.  Plus, I was really looking forward to some time with my friend from high school days.  We've only reconnected in the past year or so, yet we are so much on the same wave length, it felt good to just chat, and compare notes on life, retirement, and consulting after retirement.  The time flew by way too quickly.  It was great to be out and about again.
  2. For the past six months, I have been serving on a committee at the University where I used to work.  This committee is working on a project to get accreditation for the English language program that is a part of the International Program.  I was worried about being able to sit through yesterday's two hour meeting.  I didn't know how I would do in an academic setting which would involve thinking, reading, writing, and discussion.  I've been very unsure of my language skills since my head injury and have noticed some problems.  Thankfully, I was able to be a full participant.  I listened.  I took notes.  I asked pertinent questions.  I made suggestions that were well received and noted.  In other words, it seemed I held my own while I was there.  In fact, I was asked if I would consider working as a paid consultant on the project.  (I am considering the offer.  Would I pace myself if I took it?)
  3. My husband and I had an early dinner/business meeting with our high school reunion group.  We have been a part of this group for several years now.  The reunion that we planned was in 2010.  The reunion group keeps meeting because we love to get together, and we are working on a memorial for our former principal who was the first principal of the high school we attended.  We have commissioned a sculptural relief honoring him, and we are dedicating the relief and naming the commons area of the school after him.  The work on this all began prior to the reunion in 2010, and we are finally completing the project.  
When my husband reminded me of the dinner meeting, I gave out a big sigh.  I wanted to go, but I also wanted to put on my pajamas and sit quietly.  I probably should have done that.  A person who was realistic about being able to pace herself would have done that.  

I barely made it through dinner.  We had to leave early.  My head was splitting.  I could barely utter a cogent thought.  I had to close my eyes and not look at the oncoming lights from the cars from the road.  I came home and went to bed.

Today, I have done next to nothing.  Well, I did write this blog post.  I also went for a chiropractic adjustment.  That always helps.  I am suffering more from the whiplash effect of the fall these days than the trauma to the brain.  

As I rest, I remind myself that healing  involves learning how to pace oneself.  It means one might not be able to jump right back into a busy lifestyle.  It also means I must give myself permission to be gentle to myself and to be realistic when it comes to learning what I can and cannot do at this point in time.  

I am grateful, so very grateful, for my progress.  Now, I must not rush ahead of myself.


Olga said...

Well a new life skill...something positive out of that nasty fall.
I am not a procrastinator and never was. That doesn't mean I always pace myself, though.

Olga said...

Well a new life skill...something positive out of that nasty fall.
I am not a procrastinator and never was. That doesn't mean I always pace myself, though.

Linda Myers said...

I've had the same experience since I hurt my back last spring. I want to do as much as I can, but not expect myself to be back to my old pace until I'm healed - which could take another year.

Yesterday we walked all over Otovalo, Ecuador. Today we are reading quietly. That feels right.

Rita said...

Ahhh! I had to completely change the way I did anything when my body took over my life. I used to charge into my projects and go full speed till I dropped. But I recuperated quickly and ignored my body altogether back then, anyway. No more. My body had enough, I guess--LOL! Now I have had to learn to do things a little at a time, plan far ahead, be patient, expect my plans to be skills, indeed. But they have been good for me. Best of luck!! :):)

Mare said...

Sounds good to me...I must admit that I can be a huge procrastinator. That is why a week may go by without a blog post from me. I put it off until evening, and then I am so tired that I put it off to the next day.
I wish you great success and to quote Dr Phil, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."
I join your project in spirit and if I can get my act together, then I will join your 'pace yourself' iniative in reality. . TTFN

Arkansas Patti said...

You did wonderfully on the first two attempts. You just need to listen to your self. If self says jammies and stay home,do just that.
Hope you will soon not have to consider if you are doing too much or not. Keep healing and progressing.

rosaria said...

I smiled throughout this post, thinking of how we know what is best for us,yet...
It's o.k to feel lazy and laid back. It's mother nature's way to assure our strength returns.

Jeanie said...

Dear Sally, I'm glad to see you blogging again, which means you are beginning to feel better. I suspect we are rather alike in the pacing issue! I work very creatively under deadline but I know what can happen if something messes up that plan! And when I was ill recently, the pacing was a real issue.

So, my advice to you is TRY to listen to yourself and to others (I'm not always so good at either!) and take care. We want you well -- and I'm so glad you are on the way to that!

Jeanie said...

I certainly understand your desire to get fully back to your life before the fall, but it sounds like your body may be telling you to slow down a bit. All that you have written hear seems to say that you are listening. I expect that you will be successful in finding the right balance and the right pace.

Jackie said...

Sally - Great post! If this writing is an indication of your healing, I would say that you are doing wonderfully!
If you decide to accept the job as consultant, please, please do pace yourself. That is a good idea for anyone! :))
And, in my opinion, "Pace" is a 4-letter word. :))
It's something I have had trouble doing all of my life: pacing myself. I, too, write assignments, etc., at the last minute. But, life has a way of 'helping' us to learn to pace ourselves. Continue to take care of you. I do wish you the very very best as you continue your healing process. I send you warm hugs, Sally.

Linda Reeder said...

Yesterday I walked for many hours at the garden show. Today I've just been busy taking care of little things. Call it a change of pace, but my body seems to have paced itself!
Your body has sent you a message too. It's demanding that you pace yourself.

DJan said...

Something is going on with blogspot. I cannot respond except by emails. I am just wanting to tell you I am hoping things get better for you soon, Sally. Pace is definitely a four-letter word. Hugs to you...

Kay said...

Good gosh, Sally! You really overdid it, didn't you? And you drove too? Yes, you wrote this terrific post, but I can tell how much effort you put into this. You need to pace yourself a little slower. Please, please take care of yourself.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I think pacing oneself is often a great way to fully appreciate the way we live our lives. We can take a much-needed step back from reality for a moment and see what's going on around us; look at the little things that we would normally just walk past.

CJ x

Mage said...

Oh, what an important post this is for everyone at any age. Pacing for me is also knowing that I can finish a task later in the week instead of all at once, I can schedule only one thing a day now, and most importantly that it takes me 15 minutes to walk down to the truck and half an hour to get anywhere. LOL I bring a book and am always surprised when I am early.

You sound wonderful. :)

Chatty Crone said...

I am beginning to understand - I feel last Friday - missed the step - and now I am sore and being careful.


LC said...

I am so glad that you are thinking and writing about pacing yourself as part of your healing. I sympathize with your not wanting to miss that evening meeting. It was an important part of your pre-injury life.

Less than 2 weeks after my stroke, a couple that my husband and I met weekly at a local coffee shop came to the hospital rehab center and we adjourned to the hospital cafeteria for our weekly gabfest. I could barely sit up when we finally called it a night and hubby rolled my wheelchair back to my room. They would have understood if I had declined going or had told them to bring their coffee back to my room where I could just relax in bed.

But I, too, had yet to learn that my stroke definitely required that all aspects of "business as usual" had to be reexamined. Shepherding my strength for healing had to be a priority. With brain injuries, including stroke, the expenditure of mental and physical energy is unbelievably enormous.

Even though you aren't used to scheduling, you are going to need the option for plenty of downtime. I find that I have some difficulty with getting the information, details lined up in order to efficiently zip through tasks or planning my own activities.

Some days are more challenging than others. I am so thankful that I do not have work or volunteer commitments right now. I could not handle deadlines now although deadlines were a way of life prior to retirement. I, too, was a procrastinator with all the habits you mentioned.

Think long and hard about that consulting. If you accept it, be sure there is clarity about timelines and who is responsible for different parts and when. And have it understood that any pushing back due dates will push back the timeline on when your deliverables are due. Your most important job now is healing. Sorry this so long. I am so proud of you. I am praying for you daily.

Green Monkey said...

Yes, I am a firm believer that all of life's challenges have lessons and from those lessons comes growth and from that growth comes joy.

I so appreciate your need to pace yourself. I read on someone's blog (Em) that her word for the year is LOVE and that she will be practicing LOVE all year long. One of the things she wrote about was being patient and pleasant when the person in front of her in the checkout line was delayed for whatever reason.

Glad you are healing !

Deb Shucka said...

Powerful lessons to be learned here! I think the whole idea of pacing is important for all of us of a certain age, whether we're recovering from injury or not. It's interesting, isn't it, how you're being required to really focus on your own health and well-being right now. I hope you know how much you deserve everything kind (and paced) thing you do for yourself.

Rambling Woods said...

Pacing...I need to do that but am not good at it and I need to do it for my your blog...Michelle

Dee Ready said...

Dear Sally,
What an intriguing method of life change you've offered to us today. I've never thought of saying, "What will....look like if I ......" I'm wanting to move back to Minnesota at age 75 in an economic downturn. Now I think I can ask myself your question about what will my life look like there and perhaps that will help me make my decision. Thank you.

Also, I've dealt with physical problems for the past six years and we truly do have to learn how to pace ourselves afterward. For me, one of the big changes in my life was deciding to take a nap each day. That helps so.


Friko said...

Well, there you are, you know exactly what you should do and how you should it. The problem is listening to yourself.

You'll find you'll have to. There's nothing wrong with accepting ones limitations, in fact, it is the most sensible, and, in the long run, most beneficial route to take.

I'm a fine one for talking, by the way, I wish I would listen to myself!

Joanne said...

Oh those headaches are horrendous!I have always had trouble with pacing myself....always piling on the work and then running around in a state of panic. the only thing that works for me is making that to-do list and then alongside estimating how much each task will take. I add to the time frame for the ievitable things that go wrong.
Don't be so hard on yourself Sally, life's too short. Take it easy and let your body heal. I love Dee's suggestion...a nap is a great rejuvenator! Sending up a prayer for you!
Blessings, Joanne

Barb said...

Ah, yes - pacing. After my heart attack, I felt so diminished both physically and emotionally. Even when I started to feel "better," I had to place some restrictions on myself. Perhaps I've learned some valuable lessons through it all. I think you're learning them, too! Now, after two years, I have a full life again - BUT, I don't push myself as hard and I do give myself quiet time and try not to let myself get unduly stressed. Take care of yourself, Sally.

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Pacing and healing are interwoven. Patience is also very important. Humour too. Watch some funny movies if you eyes can stand that.