Remembering what supports us

I felt really bruised this morning. A combination of bad dreams, snippets of memories that caught me off guard, the pressure of all I have to get done and just the general heaviness of grey January weather. It tooks me ages to get myself together. I had a to do list that wasn’t going to do itself but my mind was all over the place. Working at home is really great until you hit a day like this — unfocussed, over-emotional, racing heart, can’t settle, and no one is there to tell you to pull yourself together and just get on with it. No colleagues to moan to, no clients to put on a facade for. Just boring old me.

So I pulled on some going-outside clothes (as opposed to my usual working-from-home clothes which look remarkably like about-to-go-to-bed clothes), grabbed my notebooks and pens and forcibly shoved myself out into the world. It’s a ten-minute walk to my favourite cafe and I walked fast, the cold air trying to get inside my coat. There weren’t many people about and even the cafe was quiet. And that was perfect for me. I took over a table, spread out my tools and ordered a decaf mocha.

Somewhere between my first sip and leaving the cafe an hour later, I found my calm. With no internet (or laptop, for that matter) I was forced to do my brainstorming on paper. And as it always does, my energy shifted and brought some new clarity with it. You would have thought, after all these years of self-employment in one form or another, I would remember the tricks that get me back in the game. Going for a walk outside is the most obvious and basic, yet it’s the one I find so hard to do. “I don’t have time” falls from my lips as i stare into my monitor, hoping the words will arrange themselves. I don’t have kids to collect from school, or even a dog to walk, so I have no pressing reason to get up from my desk. Yet this one small activity — and a mocha in a cafe is hardly torture, is it? Sometimes i want to slap myself — made everything better. I let go of the bad dreams. The memories receded back into their hidely hole and grey sky didn’t look so bad once I was standing under it.

And the best thing? I managed to work through a block I’d had in the structure of my new course, and realised that it needs to be SIX weeks and not five. :)

Restart. Reset. Reboot. Works like a charm.


32 responses
  1. Kristin Offiler

    I can relate! Last week and early this week I’ve been feeling the same restless inability to focus. I love working from home, but there are days I wish I had a colleague who would prod me to work. I pack up and head to my favorite cafe on days like this, too. Usually they’re bustling (I always feel the need to go around lunchtime), but the voices turn to white noise and I slip into the zone that eluded me at home.

    Thank you for your words, Susannah– I love your blog!

  2. Helen Watson-Jones

    Good for you! Hard to drag yourself out of that kind of start to the day. Onwards and upwards :)

  3. Fiona

    So glad you’ve found your rhythm again. I find that step outside so hard too. And I hear you on the quiet places, the world can be so busy, can’t it? That’s why I love home so much. Thinking of you.

  4. Melanie Tinken

    A good and notable reminder.

  5. Brook

    You hit the nail on the head. I do the same thing and unfortunately, I have realized the hard way that when I try to force it. Whether writing or graphic design I end up having to do it over again anyway. So it’s always better to take a break…sometimes mine even involves a kickboxing bag. Whatever works right?

    BTW – TOTALLY signing up for the Blogging from the Heart course…can’t wait!

  6. Vicki

    Oh yes, working from home can be so tough, it’s so good to remember that sometimes getting away from the ‘workplace’ is actually a more productive use of time. X

  7. Deborah Jackson

    Loved reading your post Susannah, and I’m pleased to hear you are feeling better after your reboot. Sometimes we just a need a different energy around us to work its magic – for you it was the walk and the time spent in the cafe… ..there is alot of mileage in the expression “some fresh air will do you wonders!” or “let the fresh air blow the cobwebs away”. I have dogs, so I get out everyday for a walk on the beach. I get to chat with other dog walkers, feel the breeze, hear the seagulls. Sometimes I just get to stand and stare at the sun sparkling on the sea and get lost in a moment. Its great for putting the bounce back in the bungee :)

  8. Sweet Life Farm

    Thank you for this, Susannah. I’ve had the same morning, here across the pond, on my wee little farm…bad dreams, fears, pressures of Jan. deadlines. Needed to hear this and remember how a hike or drive to the nearest town for a latte helps me reconnect (and gets me out of my working-from-home/going-to-bed clothes :) Just like that…the sun pops out! Smiles!

  9. Amanda Chea

    Thank you for these words. I have just recently stumbled across your blog and I’m so grateful I did.

    On another note, I just received my confirmation for Squam by the Sea. I will be in one of your classes and am thrilled I will be meeting and learning from you!

  10. Kathryn

    I walk around the yard when I’m unfocused, it helps to move away and come back. of course you’re right, it can be hard to remember that taking a break is the best thing when you need to get stuff done. :)

  11. ali

    I love this post & all you share. Thank you.

  12. victoria weiss

    its hard some days, I totally get it. I have 2 year old, dog, husband, and almost full time illustrator,artist & muralist. My mainstream of income has been design related. Though somedays, after dropping my screaming daughter off at daycare, in the morning, I drive around in circles, trust me, I have everything organized of what I need to do, but sometimes I sit in my car, and want to take a vacation..I’ve been heading to my local bookstore to journal without a computer, and tomorrow, I’m going to go without my iphone..Your photos and life are beautiful, keep on rocking it! ;-)

  13. Tara

    Having just come back from a cafe, brainstorming on plain white paper, and restructuring a course myself, I am *so* with you!!

  14. susannah

    Yay Amanda! Look forward to seeing you in October!

  15. Marianne

    Me too.
    Me too.

  16. Diana Foster

    Thanks for sharing with us. Love coming to visit!

  17. Angela

    I’m stuck at home so much, that you would have to tie me up and lock me in the basement to keep me from running out the door, when I have the opportunity to go to the bookstore and sit in their cafe for a while. :) On the other hand, I find it hard to go for a walk through the woods, when they’re right there behind my home, no drive necessary.

    I meant to respond to your email and kind offer in December. I will find it soon and respond – I was too depressed at the time, horrible things going on + depression, and it wasn’t possible to take you up on it at the time.

  18. Victoria

    I had the same problem yesterday. It must be the time of year and the grey weather that causes a kind of malaise. I went for a walk and ended up in my favourite indie bookstore. I wandered around, dipping into books not to buy anything but just to be inspired and refreshed.

  19. Allie

    You nailed it. Thank you for sharing a lovely reminder.
    I really love your every day snap shots. You capture “the ordinary” beautifully.

  20. Courtney Kirkland

    As a work-at-home mom, I would kill for a little bit of free time to get out and do my brainstorming. A mocha in a coffee shop? Yes please! Glad you found some motivation!

  21. Sabine

    Thank you! Exactly what I needed today, knowing that I wasn’t alone feeling like that. :)

  22. Cristina

    Thank you for having shared your story, Susannah! It really helps me!

  23. Gerri

    What a reminder…I’m having one of those days today myself…Thank you. ;)

  24. Jill

    I’m glad you got unstuck, and happy to know “we’ll” have an extra week with you in the class (can’t wait to sign up!). I have the great fortune of having two, working breed dogs (one is staring at me right now, expecting the afternoon walk a.s.a.p.) that get walked twice a day, a minimum of five miles total, no matter the weather (except that one day it was -19 and that other day when there were three feet of snow on the ground). Dogs really are the perfect companion for a writer.

  25. Anne Jutras

    A nice walk can help get your ideas in place, glad to hear you’re feeling better. And I’m thrilled to learn that you add one more week to e-course Blogging from the Heart, I’ll be in for sure!

    Oh, and I want to tell you how nice your photos of the coffee cup or (food plates) are, it’s so appealing.

    Take care, Anne xx

  26. Stephinie

    And the course looks amazing!! My mom gifted me with one of your courses in March….. my birthday was last week but she told me to choose one… perhaps now I WILL do them both at the same time since I unable to make a decision! :) Hope your weekend is super lovely.

  27. Rosie Grey

    I’m not self-employed but I know the feeling, too. I can so relate to what you’re saying! Have a wonderful weekend, Susannah!

  28. danielle

    hm. i don’t normally work from home, but i have been a bit more lately. I so can relate to the sometimes i just wake up… like this, feeling. That don’t want to talk about it, but hurting. Usually after having a nightmare, which I’m embarassed to say I have not outgrown. Sometimes our minds are a terrible hurdle, yet our biggest gifts as well.

  29. Anna

    Love this post! It’s so honest and I think everyone can relate to it working from home or not! I love taking walks with my dogs, they are the best walking companion, and nothing clears the mind than a good walk in the open air!

  30. Annelise

    That was my day today. Snowstorm kept me in & my head is still a mess. Not a stitch of work done. I am thankful though, that I am not the only one who has days like this. Thanks.

  31. Michele Fischer

    I can relate! I have been working from home for about 8 years and you really can get lost in your own head a lot. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Camilla

    I can really relate. Sometimes, all I really need is a walk but it is so hard to put on those boots and just walk.

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