Tag Archives: motiviation

Feeling Overwhelmed? Yeah, It Happens

So you may have wondered–or maybe not–why haven’t  I written a blog post in over a month?

I was wondering the same thing.

First, I ruled out causes and excuses. I haven’t been any busier during the past several weeks than usual. In fact if anything, now that business at the marina has slowed down to a mere trickle, I’ve actually had more free time than I had during the summer months.

I briefly considered attributing my creative inertia to writer’s block, but that just sounded so lame,  and in fact was not true. I have thought about lots of things I could write about, as life certainly provides a never-ending stream of raw material. Nope, I haven’t felt blocked at all.

And it’s not like I don’t crack open my notebook or laptop at least several times a day. I certainly found time to scroll through Facebook, read my email, play Words with Friends, look up articles and blog posts on all sorts of topics, print off Betty Crocker and Pillsbury recipes, troll YouTube and frequent Netflix–anything to avoid going to Google docs, the tool I now use for my writing. I just couldn’t get my brain to get my fingers to go there.

I haven’t been ill either. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty good. A little tired sometimes, but I chalk that up to the change of seasons and the shrinking hours of daylight. Certainly I had enough energy to put in at least a few minutes a day at the keyboard. I just didn’t.

Then I started tuning into that nonstop chatter in my head. You know, that mental cacophony I wrote about a couple of months ago that so many of us live with. And here’s what’s been going on there…

Need to balance my checkbook haven’t cleaned the upstairs bathroom in weeks really should be exercising every day my house is a mess why don’t I make time to meditate in the morning I really should get rid of those clothes I never wear but what if I lose 30 pounds and can wear them again the property taxes are due this month gotta stop putting off filling out my healthcare proxy and living will speaking of wills I don’t have one yet I’m tired of all the clutter in my house but don’t know where to start getting low on toilet paper have to get up earlier for a work meeting tomorrow really need to clean out the refrigerator make sure I get my bills paid on time my house is a mess and I need to balance my checkbook man the upstairs bathroom really needs cleaning…

In other words, I had succumbed to a full-blown, paralytic state of overwhelm. Small wonder all I wanted to do was play, watch music videos, read, and sleep. Writing a blog post just seemed like one more thing to add to my overflowing, never-ending to do list.

Once I realized what the problem was,  I suddenly felt so much better. I hadn’t morphed into a lazy slug after all, or had begun to “feel my age”; I’d simply been like a deer in the headlights, trapped and mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of things clamoring for my attention and demanding action, most of which I found completely uninspiring.

Oh, I could do things I absolutely had to do. Laundry. Getting myself to work each day and actually getting work done once I got there. Putting gas in the car. Grocery shopping. But the house remained messy, I didn’t exercise or meditate, my checkbook remained unbalanced…and I didn’t write one single, solitary word for my blog.

Overwhelm had literally sucked the life out of me.

And really, who doesn’t get overwhelmed at least once in awhile these days? We are continuously bombarded with incoming data that floods our senses, and it comes at us from all directions. From television to social media, from billboards to email, from phone calls to text and instant messages, we are besieged by messaging in ways and at a frequency no other generation before us has had to deal with. And most of us don’t know when or how to turn that barrage off. We bring our work home and our home lives to work.

Plus, we’ve held onto many of the traditions and obligations we inherited from previous generations. Remembering birthdays and observing holidays. Celebrating some of the milestones in each other’s lives, and mourning others. Spring cleaning and fall raking.

Not to mention trying to carve out time for family and friends, setting up doctor and dentist visits, getting the car inspected (by the way, it’s due for an oil change) and maybe, just maybe, grabbing some sleep every night.

So sure, a lot of us surrender to it all sometimes. We just don’t have enough energy left to raise the white flag.

As with so many things, simply recognizing the source of my lethargy turned out to be the first step in treating it. Not that the same treatment works every time, though. You just have to pick something and go with it.

I decided to pick something simple and mindless to disperse this most recent bout of inertia. I began to dust the furniture in my dining room…then in my living room…then I mopped the kitchen floor…

I sorted through a pile of mail like a postal worker on steroids. I shelved books like a hopped up librarian, bagged up some old clothes for the Rescue Mission, and cleared what my mother used to call Irish lace from a few ceiling corners.

And then–totally invigorated–I sat down at my keyboard and began to write.

It’s physics, pure and simple. A body in motion stays in motion.

Have I gotten to everything on my overwhelm list? Good heavens, no. First of all, that list never ends anyway. It’s like plucking gray hairs–get one task accomplished and five more spring up in its place

But my house looks a little cleaner, I feel a tad more accomplished, and I’m writing again. So yay.

My point here, now that I’m actually blogging again, is that we need to cut ourselves some slack during those times when our energy levels run low. The onslaught of things we could, should, want and have to do can understandably overpower even the most hardy of souls. When we can’t get to all of them or don’t know where to start, it’s not that we’re weak. Or lazy. Or making excuses.

We’re human. And even when we think we’re not, we’re actually doing the best we can.

I have other remedies for the sluggishness that accompanies having too much to do, think about and remember, besides picking up a Swiffer and going to town on end tables and TV screens. But most of those prescriptions do involve some sort of physical activity. I’d be open to other anti-overwhelm suggestions if you have any you’d like to share.

In the meantime, I plan to keep the duster handy.

Writer, serial blogger and small business marketing consultant Mary Anne Hahn believes that there’s a reason old dreams don’t want to die. They want you to pursue them…make them real. They are what you are here to do. Mary Anne resides in Syracuse, New York and maintains websites at http://writesuccess.com , http://thewordgenie.com andhttp://boomerswhomeanbusiness.com .

Inspirational Kool-Aid


There’s been a battle waging inside me for decades that I think some of you might recognize in yourselves: the battle between what I was raised to believe and what I want to believe.

Ever since I first stumbled upon Richard Bach’s strange little parable, Illusions, over 30 years ago, I became a “shelf”-help fan. From topics that included creative visualization, NLP, EFT and others, and authors from Jack Canfield to Zig Ziglar and numerous others alphabetically in between, I’ve spent countless learning about concepts, tips and techniques for creating an amazing life. A life on purpose. A life that matters.

I’ve consumed volumes of books and recordings about the habits, practices and mindsets of the truly successful beings who walk among us–or rather, who drive really, really nice cars and have never come anywhere near most of us. I’ve created vision boards, kept gratitude journals, and written goal cards that I’ve carried with me. I collect inspirational quotes to this day, and continue to line my bookcase with tomes that have purpose, passion, abundance, focus and success in their titles.

Yeah, you could call me a self-help junkie.

Today, I attended my umpteenth motivational seminar, this time bringing along my youngest nephew Eric. For less than the cost of a dinner out, at Applebee’s no less, he and I spent eight hours listening to one speaker after another tell incredible stories and shower the audience with golden nuggets of wisdom, hope, humor and inspiration.

The line up included Bob Harrison, Dave Martin, Omar Periu, Keith Johnson and Willey Jolley. Our own Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim gave a talk. And while unable to appear in person, Les Brown ended the program via video.

Many of the concepts from today’s program–and even some of the stories the speakers told–I had heard before. What I loved about today was watching my young nephew listen to what the speakers had to say, nod in agreement and furiously take notes. Although he had already begun to study and follow success stories from his own generation, I could see that some of the people from mine, or not much younger than me, were having an impact on him.

And yet as I looked at Eric I still felt the conflict: was I helping or hurting him by opening up this gateway to all things possible, when I had yet to achieve anything close to success myself?

Was I urging him to follow a provocative but fruitless path, to drink the Kool-Aid of prosperity and triumph that only a few people seem to ever attain?

Or was I encouraging him to look at life in a way that, outside of my books and tapes, no one had ever told me was possible when I was his age?

A treasure chest or a Pandora’s box?

Now mind you, not one of the speakers indicated that his or her road had been easy. In fact, far from it. Most of them had stories that included poverty, abandonment, public humiliation, failure and other huge obstacles that stood between where they were and where they wanted to be.

In fact, come to think of it, most of them had childhoods or faced hurdles far more difficult than any that I had personally experienced.

And yet they persevered. They became successful. And more than that, they went on to careers in helping others do the same.

No one there today pitched a high priced program. In fact, most of them didn’t pitch any products or programs at all. And the ones who did had offerings that ranged from $59 to $99 for three-day seminars that even included free software and/or follow up coaching–and one of those speakers gives all the seminar money raised to the American Diabetes Association.

It was certainly a far cry from some of the offers I’d heard at other seminars where I had paid much more to attend, only to be pitched $5,000 upsells, $10,000 one day retreats or $100,000 mastermind memberships.

No, today was totally refreshing. It cost me $20 for two tickets, $5 for parking and $99 to sponsor my nephew in a program that I hope he can benefit from.

Plus I got to hear a lot of good stuff. Stuff that I can still put to good use.

And I got to see the look of determination and possibility on the face of a young man. That in itself was priceless.

It’s so hard to stay focused on the big dream when everyone around you is playing it safe. But, as I’ve written about previously, how much would we all have lost if everyone had always played it safe? It’s the dreamers and doers who have made the most profound impacts on our lives and on the world as a whole.

What Eric does with his experience today is entirely up to him. Me, I came home and tweaked a plan of my own I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and made it more defined.  Because what I do with my experience today is entirely up to me as well.

If ingesting positive messaging is indeed drinking the Kool-Aid, well, it’s delicious and refreshing–and it certainly helps to offset the bitter, terrible sadness that we see in the news day in and day out. That said, you can make mine a double.

The world needs all the Kool-Aid it can get.


Writing Into Thin Air

images (2)  A significant part of my day job involves sending updates to our customer service area regarding new, events and customer mailings that may generate phone calls, changes in or reminders of department procedures, and initiatives taking place in other departments within our organization that might impact their jobs.

At first, the service staff said they were getting too many email communications, so we changed the format to two “daily news” email messages each day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, each containing a few updates.

But then they said they couldn’t easily go back and reference specific email messages, so I pitched the idea of creating a customer service blog to our department’s VP. She happily gave the green light and, for over a year now, I have been posting daily updates there, sprinkled with photos of staff celebrations and the occasional contributions from department management. I then send daily morning and afternoon digest emails to alert the staff of the latest posts.

Despite of all this, and the fact that the customer service employees know they should be reading these, I still receive fairly regular questions from them asking for the status of something I just wrote about within the last day or so. Or I get asked to remind the staff about an issue I very recently already reminded them about. And yes, the blog has a search box. And I also use tags and categories to guide them to whatever kind of information they’re looking for.

It sometimes makes me feel like I write these messages, send them, and poof!  They vanish into thin air, unread.

I guess all writing can feel like that sometimes, too, right?  You brainstorm topics or stories, write, rewrite, edit, proofread. You send queries to agents and editors, or you post to your own blog, and…nothing.  No comments.  No feedback. It can feel like you’re writing into thin air.

But of course, that’s not true.  I think about all of the articles, posts and books I’ve read over the years where it never even occurred to me to reach out to the author, thank him or her, or share my reaction to their work. Writers just don’t often get the kind of immediate and tangible reactions from their audiences that other professions do. That doesn’t at all mean we’re not appreciated.

Once published, your words remain out there indefinitely, unless you  choose to remove or change them.  They are there for anyone who happens to search for a topic you’ve written about, receives a link to your blog from a friend, finds your article in a magazine or your book on Amazon.

And once the words are published, they are there for you to revisit as well, to recycle or repurpose into another blog post, article or book chapter.  You can link back to them in your newer posts.  Add to them. Build upon them. Share them again with prospective readers who may have missed them the first few times around.

At my day job, I know there are customer service employees who do read and appreciate the daily updates I send to them.  Every once in a while, one of them even lets me know with a heartfelt thank you email, or a question or comment about a particular post.

No, our words don’t vanish once we send them out into the world. Every word we write, every post or page we publish, is then forever available for someone to discover, learn from, enjoy and maybe even share. And for us to build upon.

Instead they become a very part of the air, the content that fills the internet, libraries, bookstores and magazine racks, those places where people go to look for our work.

We’re appreciated more than we’ll ever know. And you know what? That’s okay.