My focus is frozen


I’ll be honest – last week was tough.

If you live in central Canada, you know it’s been cold AF. And I don’t mean like put on an extra sweater to go outside cold. No. I mean wear a minimum of 18 layers of clothing, stuff yourself into your warmest winter coat, put two knitted hats on your head, wear boots that could make your feet sweat in less than 2 seconds if you wore them indoors, and you still run the risk of dying within minutes of stepping outside. Literally. The weather app on my phone sent me a warning that said life threatening cold. What?

It’s true. I have been living in life threatening temperatures. And I’ve not been handling it well.

I know what you’re thinking. You live in Canada, what do you expect? Well, not this. Never before during my time on this earth have I been told that the temperature outside is life threatening. Cold, yes. Extreme cold, sure. But life threatening? Never. It’s not something I ever imagined to be possible. Yet, here we are, on the other side of the most extreme cold snap in more than 40 years (maybe longer??) and all I can do is wish for winter to go away. Except we’ve only just begun February and winter is nowhere near ready to move on.

Oh, dear Mother Nature, you are one sick and twisted little bastard.

Murderous weather aside, I’ve also struggled to use my time in any way that can be deemed productive. In June I left the corporate world to start my own website design business (Oh, wait…do we have time for a shameless plug? Need a website or know someone who does? Check out my business website I have a couple of spots left this month and I’d love to discuss your design project with you!)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way I can get back to my point. I’ve been fortunate to work from home during this incessant polar vortex. Working from home in general has been a lifelong dream of mine. I mean, I am not a morning person. At all. I don’t like being forced to get up in the morning and put myself together to leave the house and go anywhere. I loathe being confined to working hours set by someone else. I abhor being told what I can and cannot do based on protocols or company guidelines that I may or may not agree with. I understand those things don’t drive everyone mad, but for me, it was complete torture.  

One of the best things about working from home during this homicidal-thought producing winter should be that I don’t have to leave the house every day. Except I still have a personal life, which forced me out into the kind of unimaginable temperatures even polar bears find offensive. Add to that extreme unpleasantness my family was home all last week due to time off work and school, and my weather-induced weakened state of mind wasn’t able to fight the distractions, which further pissed me off.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that distractions can be one of the hazards of working from home. I have a husband who works different shifts and is home half the week, a teenage daughter whose school schedule is somewhat of a mystery and who needs a ride to dance classes on the daily. Plus a dog who randomly barks at nothing out the window and a cat who loves to rearrange things in my office while I’m trying to work. Not surprisingly, none of this allows me as much focused work time as I’d like, but this past week seemed to be one of the worst for knocking me off-kilter.

I could lie and say I managed to keep it together, but I didn’t. I lost my cool on more than one occasion and my family repeatedly suffered through hearing me say, “I have so much work to do but I can’t get anything done with you here!”

In other words, your existence is messing with my focus and causing me to fail at everything.

Wow. Get me a fashion designer immediately because, surely, I’m going to receive the award for Most Asshole Mother/Wife of the Week, and I want to be ready with a killer outfit.

As I sat down to write this, after telling myself every day last week that I’d work on it and then not even putting together a sentence, I realized that maybe it’s not that I can’t focus when my family is buzzing around me. I have a beautiful office and can lock myself in it any time I need to really focus. But, instead of using it when chaos filled my home, I tried to work from my laptop in the basement where the family was set up with their constant TV watching and general existing. Shockingly, it didn’t help my productivity.

Now that the threat to my life outside has been downgraded from will-most-certainly-kill-you to simply very cold, I can think about this problem with a clear head. Is it really that having my family around all week caused me to not get any work done? Or is it that I’m doing a scary thing that has me anxious about failing and I’m back to my old self-sabotaging ways?

Shit. That’s it, isn’t it?

When I started my business, I thought I’d be able to figure it all out as I go. I know the why. I want to create websites for artists, makers, and creative business owners who want an amazing website but don’t have the time or energy to figure out how to DIY their website while simultaneously growing their own business. I know the what. I’m using my design skills to create stunning websites that break through the barriers of a standardized template to showcase my client’s work in a way that makes them stand out in a crowd. But I quickly realized that wasn’t enough. Knowing what I want to do and why I want to do it is great; but it doesn’t answer the important question of how?

So, I finally admitted I needed help and hired a business coach. And while I’m outwardly excited to see all the ways this is going to help my business, I’m inwardly a coward who fears failure and prefers to pretend it’s someone else’s fault if I don’t succeed. Well, if you read my blog post What’s in a Word?, you know my personal word this year is OWNERSHIP so I have to own up to my feelings. And what I’m feeling is overwhelmed.

The mind can be such a beast when we allow our emotions to overtake it. And my emotions have been holding the reigns these past few weeks. But that doesn’t mean I’m failing; it means I’m human.

It’s easy to blame others (Mother Nature – I’m looking at you), but that isn’t going to get me anywhere. As I sit here fighting my feelings of failure for allowing life to get in my way last week, I realize that how I get through this is up to me. I can either brush off the promises I’ve made or I can commit to the plan I’m creating with my business coach, even when I’m scared of failing and the weather has me feeling like an over-blended iced cappuccino.

Life is going to get messy. People, weather, and any number of other things will get in our way. But we have to keep plowing through the chaos. We owe it to ourselves to go all-in when it comes to our dreams. Because, the truth is, no one else will fight for our success as much as we will.