It’s been a rough week for me. I have a lot on my mind: my brain is overworked. Also, tired. You might laugh and wonder what’s different from any other week, but in fact my brain has two types of operation:
1. “Obsessive, never-slowing-down, juggle juggle juggle” or…NORMAL.
2. “HIGHLY obsessive, no-idea-what-slow-even-means, can’t-shut-off, juggle juggle juggle juggle”, or…NORMAL ON STEROIDS, otherwise known as Overdrive.
“Normal”, or MY normal is totally manageable for me; it’s actually how I thrive, how I get things done. Overdrive comes with emotional side effects and occasionally, a little bit of anxiety. That one’s a little more difficult.
To add insult to injury, it just WON’T STOP SNOWING. The Chicago area has had about fifty-eight inches (not an exaggeration: that is a real number) of snow so far this winter. Last year up to this point, we had about seven inches. No joke.
I am a Chicago native and winter has never bothered me; it’s just a part of living here. In the past I haven’t even minded shoveling, and even though my guys don’t enjoy shoveling (especially Jim, who would rather be south of the equator during the winter months) our family has always gladly shared the duties pretty evenly.
This year, both boys are away in Wisconsin at school and work and Jim is dealing with a shoulder injury so it’s all me, all the time when it snows. Mostly, it’s okay. After nearly sixty inches on the ground, I still truly don’t mind shoveling very much. That said, if I could go more than four days without doing it, I’d be ever so grateful to Mother Nature. I’m completely over the snow and the gray skies and the lack of sun and the icy roads and the windows being closed and bundling up just to go get the mail. It’s affecting me this year more than ever.
2014 will be known as the winter that broke me.
Today my brain woke me up at 3:00 a.m. and I tried to fight the whirring that was going on up in there so I could go back to sleep, but was unsuccessful. Finally at 4:30 I got up to shovel the five inches of snow that fell overnight because I figured I could buy myself another hour later in the day for either a nap or some other activity. And yes, I know that’s a weird way to think.
What waited for me outside, besides the stupid snow, was some much-needed peace. I was the only person outside on my street. The snow was still coming down (*shaking fist at sky*), and after I grabbed the shovel from its place in the garage I put on some music by one of my favorite artists from the 80’s, Paul Young.
“Love of the Common People” and other favorites created just the right soundtrack for my solitary shoveling session, and as I methodically pushed the snow to one side of the driveway before picking it up and tossing it on top of the almost-as-tall-as-me pile, I actually smiled a little bit.
For that peaceful hour while I was completely alone out there in the cold I tried to focus on the beauty of winter, my music, and the neighborhood quiet that surrounded me. It didn’t shift me out of Overdrive completely, but the mental vacation—even a wintry one—made me feel a little lighter.
In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that, when I finished the job and noticed that another half inch had fallen in the meantime, I happily went back over the driveway, pushing my shovel through the snow in neat rows. And when I was done with that and it was still coming down enough that for me to make footprints on the way back to the house, I just shook my head and smiled. It’s so odd that the season has affected me so deeply this year, yet it took being out in it to get away from it. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either.