It’s Been A While

Let’s just say December was one of those months that hit me from behind and spun me around. All I can say is I feel lucky that I was ahead of schedule when it hit.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) (you can read more in my blog post about it here) this is already a difficult time of year. It is a time that I have gotten better at anticipating my reactions and preparing for it. All of the extra tasks leading up to the season as well as the extra activities throughout the season can be extremely hard on an HSP in that we get overwhelmed and then drained fairly easily so we must manage our energy the best we can. Of course, it is challenging because a lot people don’t understand and can also be offended if you turn down invitations. They have to know it’s not them, it’s just the season. And with having a four year old I must put my energies towards her wellbeing first and foremost.

Having said that it doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the celebrations. I really, really do …I am just limited in how much activity I can cram into a day. I have learned that I have to say no or I will crash and then I won’t be able to do anything …at least not in good humour.

I try really hard to get presents done by the end of November. I also get the tree and decorations up by the end of November. This allows me to have more time when the activities start up in December. And this year I accomplished that. I was especially conscious of it this year with having started up my business as I knew it is a busy time for someone with a handcraft business.

But sometimes there are things beyond your control. I was on top of it but was sideswiped by life. So some of the extras didn’t get done. I had a couple of custom orders that I didn’t get photos of before they left my hands. (And they were good ones, too… If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean you are lucky enough …and …Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part). And, of course, my blog has suffered, too. I haven’t written much at all.

Now I am hoping to get back on track and even have a market coming up. More on that soon. Today I had a much needed painting day. There really is something soothing about  the creative process. It’s been a while and hope they will be more plentiful in the near future.

Moving and the HSP

I just realized I haven’t written in quite a while. We have been busy moving. Yes, the dreaded move. I seem to move a lot which I find funny because I am such a homebody. You would think I would want to stay in one place.

This time a lot of things happened in our old neighbourhood that added up and pretty much said “you must move from here”. Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) I really need to be in a positive environment and am easily affected by negative. Finally enough was enough and the decision was made. My husband wasn’t so thrilled with the idea but something bigger was forcing the issue. Something was pushing me to make this move happen sooner than later.

It was the first move where I didn’t have a grand plan other than it must be done and I had to rely on faith that it would all work out. And it did and even better than I could have hoped for. I feel a lot happier being by the ocean so I decided we would move to White Rock. Even better than that we ended up finding a place only two and a half blocks from the beach! And there is a built in shop in the garage for my husband, a yard for the girly and the dogs and a third bedroom for me and my reiki and crafts. It couldn’t get more perfect for us. It really brings to mind the quote from Joseph Campbell – “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

But as I was moving I was really aware of how difficult it really is for a HSP who is easily affected by overstimulation and chaos. And moving is really all about overstimulation and chaos. It starts with the extra tasks of trying to find a place to live. We rent so unless we wanted to pay double rent we needed to give notice even before most places are advertised. We weren’t lucky enough to find a place before giving notice so we spent the first half of September trying to find the perfect place (which we did) and the second half mad packing boxes.

Generally I need quiet time to offset the craziness of each day but during a move there often isn’t time for that. I am always excited when we are at least done with the old place because then at least the time crunch factor is off. It’s just a matter of living in chaos as the boxes get unpacked. There were a few days where I put the girly to bed and fell asleep myself and slept the entire night. Exhaustion had set in. You would think the extra sleep is a good thing and it is but if I do that too many times and don’t get my quiet time that takes a toll, too. I start to go a little squirrely with a little less of the tolerance and patience that I normally have.

With this move it has helped immensely that this is the kind of place that I walk into and my spirits are immediately lifted. We even have a peek-a-boo view (in between two houses) of the ocean from our living room window and it makes me feel so happy. This is only the third place I have lived in where I have felt that way when I walk in the front door. So this move, although crazy making in the process, is definitely a positive thing for this HSP. My husband likes it here, too and everything is seeming to fall in place for us. I have had work fall into my lap that I never expected and I found a little paint shop that has my style of refurbished furniture in it a couple of blocks away. I have already visited and they want to sell some of my signs. But more on that in another post.

HSP or Adrenal Fatigue? Sometimes I Can’t Tell.

With all the activity happening around here I have been feeling a little drained …somedays more and somedays less. After I had been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and food allergies by the naturopath I would often know that if I woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept it would mean that either I was overdoing things (adrenal fatigue) with not enough down time or I had eaten things that I was sensitive to. Usually with a quick review of my recent activities and meals I could figure it out. Regardless, it usually meant I needed to take it easy but more so if I was overdoing things.

Now, since I have figured out that I am also an HSP (highly sensitive person) I sometimes have a hard time knowing whether my adrenal glands are crapping out again or I am just having sensory overload because of the HSP part of my personality. I figure if it is the HSP part it will have a shorter term effect and if it is the adrenals it will have a longer term effect. So really, time will tell as the saying goes. Either way feeling drained for me is a red flag that means slow down and be extra diligent in food choices. In the old days before I knew better I used to just push through the fatigue. Now I know it can get a whole lot worse and take a whole lot longer to recover if I do that.

It is really frustrating to not be able to do things though, to not be able to get up off the couch, to feel like you have bones made out of cement. It is my fear of getting back to that place that forces me to make sure I take it easy when I need to as difficult as that is. It would far easier to be able to just get all the things I want done as fast as I want them done. I guess you could say I have been forced to learn how to say no. More importantly, I have learned to listen to my body and respect what it is trying to telling me.

Now the Craftiness is Taking Over

When I started this blog I had been trying for a very long time to get to making things and starting up an Etsy shop. It seemed like a lot of other things were getting in the way though. Now that I have been inspired and finally taken the plunge it seems like it has taken over everything.

Starting up an Etsy shop is very time consuming. First there is the learning curve in figuring out how the actual shop works and putting it together. And then there are the next steps of promoting it. So far I have written about my shop on my blog. I have set up a Twitter account but I need to do a lot more work on that because I only have two followers so far. I have set up a Pinterest account and have done a little work getting it going but, wow, that is going to take some time, too.  I think I have two followers on there, too. In the process I stumbled across setting up a Facebook page for my business so I did that, too. I figure these things will be quick but then I am suddenly uploading pictures and setting up profiles and it takes way longer than expected. Sometimes it is good that I don’t realize how much time something is going to take to begin with otherwise I might never get started.

I have done so much work so far and I am really enjoying myself. But the more I do just makes me realize the more I have to do! And I still need to find some time to do more creating. I am realizing that I am going to have to set up some kind of schedule for myself. This will help both me and my daughter as she adjusts to me spending time working. I find if I can give her some sort of expectations of how much time I need it goes a long way. It doesn’t work very well if I start working and only give her a vague idea of when I might be done. That usually means she will become needy very fast. Of course, I also have to balance out time with her, too. If she doesn’t get that then I might as well not even try to get anything done.

As well, the housework is suffering with all the time I am spending on the shops. It isn’t the end of the world but it does get to me if it goes too long. It is part of my Highly Sensitive Personality. I am affected negatively if my surroundings are too chaotic and then that affects my productivity. This is another reason why a schedule will help me balance things out. I am hoping that as the shops get underway I will only need to do maintenance on everything, the learning curve will decrease and my time requirements will be more easily measured.

I’m a HSP … Another A-HA moment.

Sometime in my mid-30’s I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment for the very first time. I found out I was an ISFJ (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) personality. It would be the first time I would fully understand that I was an introvert and what an introvert exactly was. The definition that stuck most with me was that introverts recharge or regain energy by having quiet, alone time and extroverts recharge or gain energy by being with people. And further that the introvert required three times the amount of alone time to the amount of people time they had. This made me realize that I really did need my down time to recharge and stay healthy. It also made me understand why I would sometimes feel so very drained if I had too much social interaction and not enough alone time to balance it out.

I really became fascinated by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and started to read a whole lot about not only ISFJ’s but all of the different personalities. It really put a lot of pieces in place as to why people were the way they are and why some people get along better than others. Reading about the ISFJ personality also put a lot of pieces in place as to why I was the way I was and how I shouldn’t try to fit myself into a role that went against those personality traits. It was the beginning of me learning to listen to my gut.

Then, a couple of years ago, when I was 40 my sister sent me a link on my Facebook page to a self test for something called an HSP, a Highly Sensitive Person. You can find the link here. I went through the questions on the self test and holy wow, I said yes to pretty much all of them to one degree or another. This was a huge puzzle piece to helping me cope with being me.

Reading about being an HSP suddenly made a lot of things clear. It is why I have to sometimes wear sunglasses in places like Walmart or Superstore where the lights are glaring bright and there is so much for the eyes to take in …both in product and people. It is why when I worked in an office I needed to turn off the fluorescent lights in my space and bring my own lamp in for more natural lighting. It is why when I had a job meeting people all day, every day I became drained. It is why I can shut down when the vacuum is turned on. It is also why I was wearing sunglasses when I gave birth to my daughter. (I was brought in by ambulance and as soon as we got to the hospital the overhead lights glared into my eyes and the sunglasses went on). It is why I can’t tolerate violent or horror movies. It is why I despise surround sound. The examples really just go on and on.

Being an HSP isn’t all bad. Because of it I am very detailed oriented and that has been a huge asset many, many times over. However, the down side is that because I take in so many details I get overstimulated easily which can cause me to shut down. I find I am especially sensitive when my adrenal fatigue is worse. I am also definitely more sensitive in the morning. It’s like I suddenly develop Spidey senses but not for the good.

Having a child as an HSP mother is also a challenge. I am really lucky to have a pretty great girl. She is caring, considerate and mostly well-behaved. However, it is still challenging when I have too many things going on in my head. For example, when getting ready to go somewhere I seem to almost always go into meltdown mode simply from trying to prepare from the to do list in my head and constantly being interrupted by my daughter and/or husband. And they aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s like my head will just suddenly short-circuit because I have too many things spinning around my head in a short amount of time with the pressure of the deadline of trying to get out the door.

These past couple of weeks when I have been setting up my husbands Etsy shop, starting my blog and attempting to work towards setting up my own Etsy shop bring back my HSP right smack in front of me. Each day I have faced challenges as I try to focus on something so I can complete the task (because having too many loose ends left hanging gets to me, too) while still being there for my daughter and my husband. My husband can understand “give me five minutes” … my daughter, not so much (really, what can you expect from a three year old?). And I have noticed that as I try to take more time she is starting to have meltdowns. This part is going to be a work in progress. I think we will have to set up a better schedule and better communication, too. Today she had a play date with my Mom (so cute, they adore each other and have loads of fun) so I was able to get a couple hours to myself to complete some tasks. It was a huge help. I think I may need to schedule more of those, too.

I have also noticed HSP qualities in my daughter. She seems to notice a lot of details. You can’t really get much past her. She also can’t bear loud noises. If my husband turns his saw on she runs into the house with her hands over her ears. The same happens when I turn on the blender or food processor. And she was covering her ears when my Mom had her foot bath on. I know young children can be sensitive to noise as it is so I will have to keep watch. At least if she is a Highly Sensitive Person I can help her understand what it means and how to cope. Just knowing what it means to be an HSP has helped me immensely. I can identify why my energy is draining and try to either avoid those situations that trigger it or prepare as best I can when I know they are going to happen. At least I know why it’s happening.