Peace in Obsessive Thoughts

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

This week I started up a conversation with a stranger in the hopes of learning something new. I didn’t want to talk with this person, per se, but money had been paid to learn at this seminar, so I thought to ask a question or two. I still have my father’s “get my money’s worth” mentality every now and again. (Thanks, Dad.)

I asked my questions and in no time, a longer conversation had begun. No surprises there, if you know me and my subconscious desire to keep conversations going, for no apparent reason. Chatty Cathy? Never heard of her.

A few minutes in, this person said something to me that, upon later reflection, I could NOT get out of my head.

Enter: obsessive behavior #413, thinking and rethinking and then thinking some more.

I’ve been dubbed a person who overthinks things before. But I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I kept replaying this particular conversation in my mind.

“Am I meant to learn something here?” I asked myself.

“Is this triggering something I need to pay attention to?”

“Why would I get reactive to this random thought shared by a stranger?”

“Why is this having such an effect on me?”

I played out the answers to these questions, journaling and considering which seemed to fit best. And what I came up with is this:

Obsessive behaviors, no matter what they are, are sometimes simply excuses to distract ourselves.

Most of the time, I distract myself with online shopping or tidying the house. Those things were pretty much taken care of this week, so I gave myself a different distraction.

The answer to all my “whys” becamse this: “It doesn’t matter. It only matters that I stop the actual process of obsessing so I can take care of that other thing I keep procrastinating about.

And what do I keep procrastinating?

This week I had to prepare for a presentation and I DID NOT want to do it. So, I gave myself the excuse to think about this other thing all day, talking with Hubs about it, talking with my mom about it, talking with anyone who would listen, all under the guise that I was under enough emotional duress that I could not POSSIBLY work on my presentation.

Well, when I finally called a bird a bird and recognized this pattern in my thinking, that thing that stranger said to me stopped playing on repeat. I heard the phrase in truth, honored its truth, and let it go.

So, what did the guy say to me?

“Kim, I’m sensing a little analysis paralysis. I’ve suffered from that, too.”

A stranger noticed my obsessive thinking and called it out. And it bothered me because it was true.

As soon as I heard it for exactly what it was, I shut up the voice in my head and moved on. I got to work. I started to have fun again. And fun always brings me peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace In A List

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This time of year there is lots to do in our family. There are multiple weekends to plan ahead for, gifts to purchase, events to attend, parties to host, and small traditions to continue with the kids. It’s easy to get overwhelmed merely by glancing at our December calendar page, which hangs on the pantry wall.

When I need to rein myself in, I like to make lists. I like order and organization. I like to prioritize and check things off.

But this year, I’m committed to remaining peaceful; to not let myself grow frazzled or stressed. So I’m trying something different.

This year, I made a list of the fun, awesome things I actually wanted to accomplish this month. Instead of allowing this season to be dictated to me, I sat down and wrote what I envisioned.

Instead of crafting and organizing multiple lists, I started with one list. My list. The list that really spoke to my heart.

Here are a few of the things that made my list this year:

  • Make time every other day for yoga (even if only 15 minutes (Yoga-Go is helping with this!))
  • Share time with our family in our home
  • Cut and decorate a real tree (the tradition continues, thanks to Bernard’s Tree Farm)
  • Make it to Longwood Gardens for the Christmas displays
  • Sit in a chair for five minutes if anything at all makes me stressed (so long as I keep it chill, this one is already checked off my list!)

This sounds like a simple, maybe even stupid little list. But it’s mine. And it’s the priority. A few things for the family, a few things for me, and nothing that needs to be compromised.

In making a list and finding peace in the process, I realized something even bigger. The real peace isn’t in the list itself. Peace lives in saying “No, thank you” to the items that don’t make the list. That’s what I really need to breathe peace into. The idea that I can decline, prioritize, and shift what I have told myself NEEDS to happen every Christmas.

This is not to say that other things aren’t important. It’s merely to say that I can’t do it all. And that is ok. It’s more than ok. It makes me feel free to know I’m not capable of every single thing. Some moments are just for joy. For breathing. For slowing down. And living. And enjoying the moment.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

I’m aiming for less of what’s in the video below…..but I laughed out loud, anyway. Enjoy! Thanks, SNL!

Peace in Puttering

Photo by Ann Nekr on

Today is Black Friday and I am not one to shop on such a day. I am in my thirties and long lines/eager mobs of people scare me. Even though things feel pretty cordial here in Pennsylvania, I still don’t make it out to the Philadelphia Premium Outlets or King of Prussia Mall.

I shop on Amazon or at Target, like the rest of my generation (arguably, of course, I’m partly making a joke here). But I do take “Expect more, pay less” to a whole new level, I’m sure.

Today I had it on my mind to take care of errands and small jobs around the house. I have a garden project that needs my attention. I have laundry and cleaning and cooking to take care of for more Thanksgiving dinners this weekend.

Instead, I chose to putter.

Now, I should mention that I come from a long generational line of “Doers.” We wake up, we make lists, and we do stuff. Much stuff. Very meaningful stuff (insert sarcastic giggle).

But, not today. I made zero plans and allowed myself to walk around the house and take care of ridiculously infinitesimal nonsense.

Today I decided to do whatever struck my fancy. I committed to nothing, in search of peace, destined for an amazing afternoon.

  • I vacuumed the shoe rack in the pantry
  • I changed out a succulent in my little planter for the kitchen
  • I watered a lot of plants (I’m not as cool as Hilton Carter yet, but I’m trying)
  • I cleaned a baby toilet seat cover I hope to pass on for someone else’s use (your welcome, unknowing family member!) (Add to that: I probably didn’t clean it well enough the first time and will give it another go, but hey, I’m saving you about $40 with my Lysol can!)
  • I made rice noodles and slurped them up ridiculously slowly, enjoying each savory bite because I didn’t want to rush the meal and found myself completely satisfied sitting in the kitchen staring at the kids’ Artwork Wall for well over thirty minutes
  • I read 1/2 of Deep Trouble (about 50 pages?), a Goosebumps book my kids wanted to read (Spoiler Alert: it is about mermaids, which LM1 found VERY DISAPPOINTING)
  • I folded paper boats with LM2 because he wanted us to have a “Creation Contest” and then see whose boat floated best (Spoiler Alert: the five-year-old won)

All of this is to say that puttering is peaceful. So long as I tell myself that some days are meant for simple nothingness, it’s all good. I don’t need to produce something every single day. Some days are just about. being.

What did you do today? Share the peace!

Want to make a paper boat? We learned how from this video! LM2 called it “Easy Schmeezy)