Tuesday, October 04, 2016

so, about this summer...

Hello there.

Been awhile, hasn’t it? I hadn’t intended a summer hiatus for this website or my newsletter—or worse, permanent hiatus, as sometimes happens—but summer was a hectic season, filled with peaks and valleys.

During the first half of summer, I suffered what may politely be called a paralytic case of existential angst. I felt I was rolling towards breakdown, which I suspect was evident to others. My self-confidence went on summer vacation, leaving the rational sphere of my brain scrambling. Mix in burnout and fatigue (tired Jamie doesn’t function well), and you’ve got a bundle of neuroses. I questioned everything: my ability to produce work on par with peers; the overwhelming perfectionist impulses; the skill needed to keep money flowing (the joy of perpetual freelancer anxiety!); wondering if anyone cared about what I was writing.

Then toss in growing disenchantment with humanity in the wake of racial strife, political shitshows south of the border, and the general lack of respect shown while navigating Toronto’s streets. Every time I hopped onto social media, I wearied of rants, smugness, snark, and an inability to suggest constructive solutions to remedy situations

(I just realized that this may come off as a rant. Sorry.)

Having sunk to near-catatonia which scared my partner-in-crime, changes were needed.

First, I slashed my social media feeds. I didn’t go cold turkey, since social media is a fantastic promotional tool and I genuinely enjoy discovering new information or what is new with friends. But there was a lot of noise. Exit politics-heavy feeds, especially those dealing with blow-by-blow minutiae. By the time I finished curating my Twitter account, I had a nice roll call of historical feeds, community-building organizations, and thoughtful folks. For Facebook, it involved selective muting.

Second, I vowed to take better care of myself. Rest is vital. It’s critical to know when to recharge, when to turn down projects with potentially adverse health effects, and when to ignore the perfectionist impulses. The turning point was a cottage break in Muskoka. On the drive up, I was in full-on angst mode, then locked myself away in my bunkhouse to catch up on long-overdue reading. Took some solo drives through cottage country. By the time I returned to Toronto, I felt my old self returning. Further trips to a family reunion in western New York and a week in my hometown aided the restorative process. A project I work on annually came along at the right time, with the right material and theme to lift my spirits.

It’s still a work in a progress, and there are hiccups. But overall, I feel like I’m back in fighting shape, head brimming with ideas and exciting projects I hope to announce soon. Even enduring a major kitchen reno for over a month has been a minor irritant compared to the tortures my mind devised earlier this summer. I thank everyone for their support over this period, especially my partner-in-crime Louisa, who has grounded me when it’s been needed most.

Who knows, maybe I'll slip in time for some fun (or not-so-fun, depending on the topic) historical stuff on this website...

This post was adapted from my newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.