Unicycling Through the Jungle

Well it was bound to happen sometime–I’m missing a deadline.  Bummer.  It’s not that I don’t care, or that I didn’t see it coming, or that I planned poorly…  Well maybe there was a little poor planning, and also some procrastination.  But I definitely care, and I’ve been thinking about what to write for days!  I just could not pull it together in time, this time.  It feels disappointing, and a little shameful.  I set the expectation for myself and my readers that I would post on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of the month.  My goal was to write material well in advance and schedule it to publish at midnight each day, and that worked the first few months…

And life has gotten in the way.  I’ll spare you the boring details, but suffice it to say that tonight I find myself overwhelmed by the number and complexity of tasks before me.  It’s all stuff I signed up for, that I care deeply about, and that I honestly want to do.  But there are only so many hours in the day and I feel some tough choices coming on.  …Sometimes I think maybe I’ll just push through, like riding a unicycle through a jungle, balancing a Lazy Susan in each hand and one on my head, each spinning precariously with objects of various sizes and shapes.  “I got this,” I think to myself.   But something is bound to fly off and crash to the ground, right?  Maybe it’s something small and replaceable.  That’s okay, I can get another one later.  It’s  the bigger, more valuable things I need to keep an eye on.  How fast are the Susans spinning?  How are they tilted?  Is the porcelain vase too close to the edge?  How will I feel if it flies off and cracks, or shatters?  Will it have been worth pedaling crazily through the rainforest on a one-wheeled circus vehicle?

I think I need to slow down, take a break, set the spinning discs down for a bit.  I can inventory the various objects, and discern the necessary from the recreational, from the extraneous.  I should do this before I lose something precious and irreplaceable.  That I carry them all on Lazy Susans while operating a moving machine is a given–that is just how life feels as a physician, mom, teacher, wife, writer, daughter, speaker, and friend.  And that’s okay.  Balance is a dynamic state; I can keep moving.

Maybe I can also let go my perfectionist tendencies, and allow for some flaws in my designs.  I can pad the fragile items, maybe affix them to the spinning discs more securely.  If they still fall off, they are already protected, at least somewhat.  I can practice posture, upper body strength, and control, so I can stay upright even if I pedal more slowly, more aware of obstacles and able to see a path ahead of me, rather than mindlessly bushwhacking with restaurant furniture.

Tonight I had grand plans for writing eloquently and profoundly on acceptance, grace, tribe, and friendship.  That will have to wait.  I hope the unicycle analogy at least gave you a laugh.  I need to remind myself to lighten up sometimes.  Not everything needs to be profound.  I can forgive myself a late blog post here and there.  I still care, and the writing still matters.  Now, off to find some bubble wrap…

23 thoughts on “Unicycling Through the Jungle

  1. Dr. Cheng, After seeing how hard the doctors and nurses worked on my wife’s recent open heart surgery (she’s got two new valves now & is in rehab), I think the unicycle analogy is apt. And my respect for the medical profession is much greater than it was.

    Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or so the saying goes. If we strive for perfection, we will not make it in anything but limited ways. Focus on what you CAN do and let the rest go. You’re a better writer on your off days than most of us are on our on days, so please feel free to just relax and post when you’re able.

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  2. I’m having to constantly inventory where my time and energy is going. This last week was getting to be too much, but then I realized that nearly everything on my plate was something I’d put there. So like anything I don’t have room for, I put it in a proverbial storage container in the fridge. For later. Hopefully, you have a few things that you can do that with, to give yourself a little time and space to breathe.

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    • Thanks, Michelle, so nice to see you here! Storage containers are good, especially the clear kind. πŸ˜‰ I thought I posted another reply here, but I don’t see it… Anyway, I’ve learned that cooking too much makes for too many leftovers that nobody wants to eat after a while. So better to chunk down the meals, make enough for our needs now and maybe a little extra for good measure, so we have room to try new, exciting recipes more often! 😊

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  3. Mindfulness. Accept the here and now. Usually something beautiful will transpire when we decompress and make things simpler for a week or two and focus on what is most important- our health. Hard to do when we are bursting with ideas or thoughts but something happens in those first few days of rest. Those thoughts seem less pressing and the importance of breathing takes precedence. Just being in the moment. You wrote something and that matters. Thank you for posting on this topic. It is an important one.

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    • Thank you for visiting, and for your comment! You are right, almost immediately when we rest, the waves clear in the pool and we get clarity (reminds me of that scene in Kung Fu Panda…). Looking forward to more sharing! πŸ™‚

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  4. You are not alone. Your post was, as always, eloquent and thoughtful. In giving yourself permission to be human, you have done the same for the rest of us who are juggling – yes, I love your lazy Susan analogy – and doing our best on a daily basis to be all things to all people. Buy the big roll of bubble wrap… Better value for your dollar. πŸ˜’

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  5. Once again, you hit the nail on the head for many, if not all, of us. Keeping all the balls juggling in the air is exhausting yet rewarding. Taking the time to stop and reassess our priorities is important to do periodically. Thanks for the reminder.

    Love you!

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    • Thanks, Kathy! Exhausting and rewarding, no doubt! The longer I keep them up there the longer I want to keep going! And it definitely feels better to catch them all gracefully once in a while, feeling accomplished for the feat, rather than losing the rhythm and having them all crash on my head!!

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  6. It sure seems to me that you did not miss a deadline. You may not have posted what you originally intended to write about, but you wrote a great post and it was what needed to be said. How boring life would be if we always did exactly what we set out to do. Detours are often the best part of the trip. So, please don’t chastise yourself for what you didn’t do. I’d suggest indulging in some extreme self care–let all the balls and lazy susans drop just where they are and take a bubble bath … maybe read a book that has absolutely no purpose other than to entertain. Take good care of yourself, Catherine, you’re in this for the long-haul.

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  7. Yes. I love this post.
    I’ve been wondering when this balancing act would start to wobble. Not that I WISH for it, just that it seemed inevitable.
    The three-posts-a-month is an arbitrary deadline and can be modified. Less is not a failure, it’s just less. This is hard for a perfectionist to grasp. I get it.
    What I do WISH is that you’re able to hold yourself in compassion and create the space you need to choose and adjust, just as you would for a patient, or your tenant, or your child.
    We’ll be right here, waiting patiently.

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    • Thank you, Sandy Sue! You are so wise… I honestly thought 3 posts a month would be totally manageable, even setting the bar low! And I admit, I did start out with quite lofty standards for each post… My expectations are much more realistic now! Your support and patience are very much appreciated! πŸ™‚

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  8. Well now, I would say you made your deadline and as your “tribe” here in your like and comment section, we can all relate. I had chided myself for detouring off into flash fiction and other challenge type writing assignments (something I thought I would never do – the fiction part) and surprisingly, I have found that exercising my imagination in that way actually acts as a catalyst that allows me to write an occasional profound poem or essay…the non-fiction stuff I crave. Thank you once again for inspiring me, and by the looks of the comments here…many more! 😊

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  9. Pingback: A Dawdler’s Triumph | Healing Through Connection

  10. Your humility, and helplessness if I may add, reflect glowingly in your confessions on failure to squeeze time for many things on your schedule, Catherine. A doctor’s life is taxing in its compulsion to oscillate between society’s sickness and good health, life and death on a daily basis amidst which apportioning time for other activities may not always be possible. I too started blogging with a target of a post every ten days, but soon realised it was simply not practicable. At the same time, it may please be borne in mind that the life of a blog is through regular posts and one’s interaction with others in blogosphere; hence keep posting at least once every month..best wishes…Raj.

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    • Thank you, sir. I am learning that blogging has to fit into the rest of my life fluidly, not rigidly. Nice lesson for the rest of life, too. πŸ˜‰ Its so nice to know that others are do supportive and encouraging. 😊

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