Cut Your Crap: Overstimulated.

 {125 Swimming Pools by Jenny Odell}

The other night, I came home from a late afternoon meeting and Scott suggested that we all go for a walk.  Together.  The five of us, including the two dogs, one of whom is still a puppy.  “You know…to maybe help all of us burn off some energy.”

Living with a toddler is a weird phenomenon.  They don’t…they CAN’T hide their feelings from you.  Which is kind of amazing, really.  Because in a strange way living with a creature that never hides their feelings is like a lesson in what feelings really are and how to deal with them.  When Delilah gets upset, she doesn’t hold back.  And when she’s over it (which is usually fairly quickly – statistically it takes an average of 90 seconds to fully experience an emotion once you let it in) she’s always game to talk out what just happened.

“Otie took my apple bear and I cried.  I better now.”  {She’s two – how much talking it out did you think there would be?}

When Dee is having a rough day, we sit down together and we watch The Feelings Show, a show created for children to start a dialogue about their feelings that I get more out of than I’d like to admit.  Somedays it’s just nice to hear that reassuring little voice telling us “Everyone in the whole wide world has feelings.”

I spend a lot of time alone.  I work alone.  I longed for the work-at-home life for so long – but I never realized how lonely it could be once I got here.  It’s isolating, and isolation isn’t good for me.  I have a very overactive imagination.  And it can go dark.  Really dark.  Which is a weird part of myself I was able to mostly sit on until I started spending so much time alone without anyone to distract me from my own brain.

And the internet doesn’t help much.  There’s too much to read, too much to learn, too much to see, too many people to “talk” to, and it can becomes a bit much sometimes because I forget that I don’t ACTUALLY HAVE to keep up with it all.  That sometimes it’s okay necessary to just shut down and be.

I read today (see – there I go, reading random shit on the internet when I have other stuff to do) that we as humans need to take time every day to be not-stimulated.  It makes sense if you’ve ever brought home a newborn.  They can get overstimulated by sharing eye contact for too long.  You’ve seen it happen, a calm baby starts to wimper and eventually scream when Grandma coos in their face for more than a minute.  Pass them off to one too many eager set of arms, and you’ve got a meltdown.  Overstimulation is constant for infants, and I’m realizing more and more that it’s constant for me too.  My to-do list becomes overwhelming at a glance.  I literally can not THINK if there’s a pile of mail on the dining room table, or blankets scattered over the couch.

So today, the crap I’m going to cut is in my mind.  (Sensing a pattern here lately?  Quality of life is making a comeback, yo.)  After 9 solid work days in a row I’m going to take a few minutes to be not stimulated.  To make some rice krispie squares and mexican hot chocolate before my kid gets up and just BE.

[Um, how effing cool is that image though?  It's by this artist I'm currently obsessed with named Jenny Odell who collages satellite imagery from google earth.  Check out her piece called Every Basketball Court in Manhattan.  It's rad.]

5 Responses to Cut Your Crap: Overstimulated.

  1. Nice. Post. Resonated deeply. xo

  2. LassoMoonLight says:

    Wow, was I meant to find you today on Twitter. Your post hits home in so many ways, I could just ramble on. I too am a mom working remotely, nearly every point you discussed struck a chord. I cannot wait to look through the rest of your blog.A while ago I started to attempt to meditate. My goal was three times a day for 15 minutes. Who knew that I couldn’t find 45 minutes for ME in the day? I am still working at it though!

  3. mamalonglegs78 says:

    I, too, struggle with overstimulation. I get all hella crazy stressed and busy during the semester, desperately waiting for the serenity of Winter Break… Then what do I do? Make to-do lists of my to-do lists – “I need to get done all that I don’t have time to get done when I’m busy!” Oy. Time to turn my brain off, too, and make some gingerbread men…

    xoxo J

  4. rindymae says:

    I just did a similar post in letter form, addressed to December. Funny, we’re all dealing with it, yet we all struggle to walk away from the to-do’s to “just be”. We encourage others to take a break, yet we feel guilty or stress over what we’re NOT doing if we try to heed our own advice. We all need giant, community, “just be” days scheduled on the calendar!

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Talk to me. Please. I'm almost always alone or with a toddler.