Not only do I have a ton of ideas — I care too much. I attach too much. I obsess too much. In this respect, I am always awesomely awake, aware, in tune with the big wide world (just not so much with myself and my world.)
I remember sitting in high school literature class, supposed to write an essay, and all I cared about was ending world hunger.
Naturally, when I became a journalist, I cared about poverty and every other issue that popped up day after day. I loved and cherished and wanted to solve all of them. I wrote about them and shed light on them, giving voice to the voiceless. But, at night, I obsessed about solving the problems of others.
I have always been a big thinker and problem solver. I am an idea machine — often for the problems in my own community and the rest of the country. When I can, I share them — and that happens often in the job I have.
But mostly I just obsess over them, mull over them, let them churn in my mind while doing everyday chores and routines.
As I wrote before, I just wish that I could stop generating ideas long enough to actually send one of my big ideas into the world. Instead, I keep getting caught up in new issues, staying attached only long enough to do little good.
Probably the most life-changing book for me has been “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Nearly every chapter — organized by months — leaves me feeling at peace, with a newfound hope and a love for what is next to come in my life and for what already is in my life.
This past weekend, while reading October entries, I read her take on burnout.
She writes, “Often we think that burnout is something that just happens to other women — to workaholics and perfectionists. But careaholics are also at risk — women who care deeply about their children, work, relationships, parents, siblings, friends, communities, issues.”
Wow. A careaholic. Someone who cares too much for, among many things –community and issues.
I’d never heard of the term before but the second I read it, it resonated with me wholeheartedly. That’s me! That defines everything about me.
Of course, I’d already recognized this about myself. I knew it and had already started taking charge of that part of my brain that gets too absorbed — too attached — to issues plaguing our country and world.
There is good and bad with anything, but particularly about caring too deeply for many, many issues that are important to us. The good is that we’re dreamers, that we have creative ideas and we’re willing to step up and speak up.
The bad is that we get so wrapped up in the details, in the dramas of it, that we don’t do too much to help. We spin the problem a million ways but we don’t ever get around to actually solving the problem.
So how does a careaholic stop being a non-productive concerned citizen? That’s the million dollar question that I’ve been trying to answer lately. It’s not enough to just stop caring. That wouldn’t help the world at all. And, we careaholics want nothing more than to help the world! Oh yes it’s true!
Here’s what I’m DOING ABOUT IT:
Meditation. It helps not only to detach but also to see the bigger picture and what matters seems to always fall to the forefront. Done often enough, what’s most important just becomes what we need to focus on for the day or the hour.
Essays. It occured to me recently that if I am so passionate about these issues, I must write about them. Writing helps me process and it’s the one gift that I have to offer, to keep giving a voice to the voiceless.
Pick just one a year. I’m choosing one topic to tackle for 2012 and stay awake to it. I will have my word of the year, my theme of the year and my pet project of the year. All year that is my one issue and while I may long to get my arms wrapped around another pet project, I will not. I. will. not!
Short term goals. This one kind of goes with the previous in that I plan to focus on achievable goals rather than bigger ones. In other words, I will donate my time at a food kitchenfor a day rather trying to create a non-profit that will end hunger once and for all. : )
Morning pages: As always, morning pages provide me with the mind dump that is necessary in order to move on and do good things in life. If something is bothering me — an issue or problem — I write it all out and then just forget it (unless it’s important). I often solve many problems in those morning pages. Oh, and I just love 750words.
How about you? Are you a careaholic? If so, what do you care about and how do you plan to put your deep concerns into action in 2012?