So those of you who know me well (and one person in particular and you know who you are!) might nod your head when I mention “Frantic Franny.” You see, Franny is the part of me that comes out when I:
- Don’t get enough sleep
- Get overwhelmed with a jam-packed calendar
- Have too much “noise” going on around me at the same time (television, podcasts, people talking, dogs barking… you get the picture.)
- Don’t practice self-care (aka meditate, have some quiet time in my day, watch my “intake” in terms of nutrition, social media, the news, etc.)
I used to beat myself up for being sensitive and eventually letting Franny loose but I’ve come to a place where I have given up trying to fight with the parts of me that are here to stay. Instead, I have learned to be proactive in managing my schedule, environment, and self-care so she can chill out and take the backseat.
Now, let me tell you about Franny’s older and wiser sister. So much more fun talking about this lady. Her name is “Elegant Evelyn” and when she takes the wheel, life is MUCH easier and oh so lovely.
She’s actually inspired by my Grandmother’s best friend who I spent a lot of time with growing up. Going out to lunch…parties at her home… seeing her out and about in town. She had this special flare to anything she touched. Her style, her decorating, her clothes, her presence. She inspired me so much that I simply had to create an alter ego with her lovely attributes to help me through the stressful times when Franny was in charge!
So can I talk a bit about my Monday this week? Oh boy. It was a perfect opportunity for Frantic Franny to push Evelyn right out of the way and run the show.
I was scheduled to take two friends to medical appointments this week for procedures as they wouldn’t be able to drive home. Ann on Monday and Betsy on Tuesday (all names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved in my life who are the mercy of me putting them in my blog! Haha! You know who you are.
Anyway, as I always do on Sundays, I quickly reviewed my week. “Looks good.” I thought. That evening I received text messages from both friends confirming pick up times etc. “Yes, I’ll see you then.” I quickly (note the quick part) responded.
So I hit the hay and woke up up every two hours. Couldn’t sleep. The traffic outside my window coupled with this slightly nagging feeling equivalent to that dream when you show up to take the test and you realize you never went to class… yes, that was the feeling.
Feeling proud of myself, though, I hop out of bed at 6 am to meditate, make my hot lemon water with honey, and take my neighbor’s dog out. Ironically, she too was off to take a friend to a procedure and had to leave at 4 am.
“I’ve totally got this,” I said as I moved through my morning responsibilities with ease. I dropped Ann off at the hospital… ran to grocery store… got cupcakes for nephew as it was his birthday… dropped them off at his dorm… ran back to condo because the neighbor’s dog refused to go poo poo earlier that morning… dog goes poo poo… feeling very accomplished….
Until I read the text on my phone.
“Meg. I am outside waiting and will keep an eye out for you.”
I frantically look at the time and it’s 10 am. MY TUESDAY PROCEDURE FRIEND IS OUTSIDE HER PLACE WAITING FOR THE PROMISED RIDE TO THE HOSPITAL.
Let’s just say as I was navigating the dog, my purse, my phone, and trying to say hello patiently to every person in my building who passed me by…. Frantic Franny was beginning to peak out.
“What the heck! She must have the day wrong. This is her mistake.” I thought as my fingers frantically started to text Betsy back.
Elegant Evelyn, fortunately, stepped in whispering in my ear, “Darling, just pick up the phone and call her, don’t you think?”
“Betsy! OMG, I think you gave me the wrong date.”
“No.. I didn’t.” She replies.
And back and forth we went until finally, I recommended she call an Uber as there was no way I would make it in time… besides, I had to pick up Ann in 45 minutes!
Long story short, Betsy decided to take her car with a text saying “and I’ll need your help picking it up tomorrow from the hospital.” Gulp. I think she was upset with me. Ummm yeah! Who wouldn’t be?!
As I scrolled through the text string from her over the past few week’s I was secretly praying she gave me the wrong date… but alas, no luck. How could I have not seen MONDAY more than once in the text message?? For some reason, I had put down Tuesday and my brain didn’t register as I QUICKLY read her reminder texts.
So here’s the deal. I had a choice in that moment. I could react from the Frantic Franny part of me… OR I could choose to step into Elegant Evelyn.
Easier said than done.
But I decided to try something new this time and resist the urge to start beating myself up, saying “I’m sorry” a thousand times, driving like a madwoman to pick Betsy up or blaming the dog who didn’t go poo poo on the first round that morning… because I really like that dog …and her owner…who is probably reading or listening to this.
Instead, I apologized once… ok, twice. Then, I did the best I could which was to change my schedule for the afternoon in order to pick her up. Finally, I told her I would absolutely take her the next day to retrieve her car. Oh, and I bought her lunch after the procedure on our way home… never underestimate the power of Arby’s after a friend hasn’t eaten in two days J
But it got me thinking how different I approached this. I’ll be honest, I felt horrible. All these thoughts raced through my mind of Betsy feeling unimportant, undervalued, and invisible… but then I caught myself in the downward spiral and asked a very important question someone once taught me to ask when falling off the tracks…
“What was my intention?”
My intention certainly was not to blow her off. My intention was to take time out of my workday to support her. Yes, I messed up with the schedule…. But my intention came from a good and loving place.
So as Elegant Evelyn so often does, she asked me “What was the learning in all of this? How can we minimize future situations such as this one?”
And that is what I’d love to share with you all today… straight from the lips of Evelyn:
It’s amazing how doing the laundry or washing the dishes can actually become enjoyable when you slow the process down. Notice how the bubbles and warm clothes feel against your skin, listen to the water, watch the laundry soap as you pour it in. This sounded crazy to me years ago when I took an 8-week mindfulness course but I have to tell you it was life-changing. I forget the power of being present a lot… and it’s always a treat to remember and come back to this one tool I feel is the starting point to any kind of joy.
What are areas of your life you are rushing towards? Will gaining a few seconds to your destination make up for the havoc you might create on the highway? Would paying attention to what your colleague or partner is saying avoid future conflict or miscommunication?
Slowing down not only allows us to actually live our lives awake, it affects the people in our lives as well in a very positive way.
DO ONE THING AT A TIME
This goes along with the first one because let’s face it…if you slow down it’s much easier to do one thing at a time. To take this a step further, it means doing things slowly but finishing them before starting the next one.
My niece is living with me while she attends nursing school. I said to her this morning, “Oh! The new Louise Penny novel is out! We have to get it.”
Her response? “Well, I am reading The Gold Finch and once I am finished with that one, then I will move on to Louise’s book.”“Oh, right. Of course!” I respond reminding myself not to let her see all the unfinished books on my iPad J
Take my Monday, for example. If I had been solely focused on Betsy’s text rather than talking to someone or doing the laundry or listening to a podcast while responding… the crisis never would have happened.
Try being methodical this week and finish what you start. You might find you get to the same destination but the journey is so much sweeter.
GIVE YOURSELF SPACE IN YOUR CALENDAR
Are you always the one overwhelmed and late to events or meetings? You aren’t a bad person or a flake… you just need some space.
Creating space in your calendar gives you breathing room. Imagine how nice your day will flow when you don’t stack one thing after another with minutes to spare?
This is one tip I have been practicing and it’s done wonders for my anxiety level during the day. I used to look at my schedule in my calendar for the week and think, “this is fine!” … until that specific day actually was happening and then I would ask myself, “What was I thinking?!”
Having space to breathe in your day creates a life where you feel more at ease and you’re able to experience much more freedom. Play with it this week by resisting the urge to say “yes” to everything and thus squeezing things into your day. If you struggle with saying no, I recommend two things:
- When asked to do something, immediately say you have to check your calendar.
- If the space is open but it’s not a clean desire, simply say you are committed. Are you lying? NO! You are committed to something else… time with yourself.
So there you go. While I’m sure you, like me, would love to channel your Elegant Evelyn 100% of the time, but it’s just not feasible. As human beings, we have so many parts within us. I think the key is to learn to get to them know them well, let them be heard, and in the end decide who gets to drive.
Evelyn.. and Franny