by Pari

Have you ever had times in your life when you feel like you need to hit the button and stop? I’m not talking about a pause here; I’m talking about letting the machine go cold.

Even before my vacation with the kids two weeks ago, I had an incredible urge to disengage from everything that wasn’t outright essential so that I could unbusy/undistract myself enough to really
look into my frenzied activity
to assess its causes
weigh its benefits
cut through the confusion
and reboot.

Last year at this time, my world flipped so completely the dizziness made me sick. Though I continue to live with tremendous upheaval, the quality of that movement, that unpredictability, doesn’t so much seem an oppression now as an opportunity.

After a year of hell, I’m feeling grounded.

And yet everything is up for examination.

I’m asking large life questions and yearning to answer them mindfully, heartfully, rather than relying on habits, assumptions or have-tos. In essence, I’m forcing the rules I live by — those that don’t impact family, health and economic survival — onto a high shelf.

After two years of writing daily, I’ve stopped that practice to ask: Am I a writer anymore? Do I want this creative identity that has brought such joy, anguish, satisfaction and self-doubt?

Do I need to be a member of professional and religious organizations? Do they enrich my life?
Do I need to answer every phone call, email, or even turn on my home computer? Are these activities bringing something meaningful into my life?
Is Facebook necessary to my sense of wellbeing and connectedness?

If I want to explore new options, why am I clinging onto old ones?
If I want to dance, why am I not dancing?

I don’t have answers to the questions yet, but I’m determined to listen carefully enough  to see if those answers exist.

I have two questions for you today:

  1. Have you ever experienced a similar reboot?
  2. How, if you work full time and have full-time obligations, have you managed to effectively do it?


17 thoughts on “Rebooting

  1. Anonymous Author

    It's like you read my mind. I've been in a very similar space myself recently. The pressure to connect and promote and be available all the time for everyone is exhausting, and it drains time from the people I really want to be available for (family, close friends).

    It feels like writing has become more of a juggling act than a creative one, and I, too, am reassessing what that means.

    I'm afraid to use my name here, because as a published author when so many who want to be aren't, I don't want to look like I'm whining.

    Best of luck to you in your reboot!

  2. billie hinton

    Definitely thinking along these lines myself, Pari. I have done reboots before at earlier life stages – we don't have TV, I rarely use the telephone, and I do take internet hiatuses a few times a year. But even so, I feel like in some ways the entire "online" thing has filled up far too much time and energy. It's hard, b/c so much good communication of various kinds occurs here – but otoh, I also feel the weight and distraction of it.

    I keep wanting to ditch Facebook altogether. Some days I wonder about the internet itself – and imagined having it set up so that it only comes on for an hour a week, when I could check email and do online ordering, book business, and then be done with it.

    I hope your reboot does all you want it to do for you. I so relate to the idea of rethinking every single thing and deciding – does this work for me?

  3. Pari Noskin

    Dear Anonymous,
    I understand your concerns about kevetching. I thought long and hard before writing this blog. The fact is, I'm not complaining or whining (though some may perceive it that way); I simply want to take the time to really assess what's working at this point in my life and what isn't.

    If you want to continue the conversations personally — and I'd like to — please email me at my web email address. From there I'll give you my personal email.

  4. Pari Noskin

    One of the things I so appreciate in you is your ability to articulate difficult concepts with such clarity. You also bring a nice balance in perspective.

    Re: Online communication
    I really love it. Without the internet, I'd be so isolated as a person and as a professional writer. So I doubt I'll ditch it — FB, email, etc — in my personal time (my prof. time is consumed with it). However, I want to find a better mix so that I don't feel obligated or pressured for something that I want to bring my happiness.

    This reboot is so different. I don't have endless hours in a day to contemplate. The result is that I'm becoming very protective of my non-work/non-family time. And, with the fact that my children are with their father every other week, I do have the potential for some very productive heart/soul work.

  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Pari, I relate, too. Actually, I'm not sure I know of ANYONE who's not going through this right now, but I feel like the last three years of my life have been one long reboot.

    But I never really stopped cold, and that's maybe what I should have done. I admire the hell out of people who just pick up and do something entirely else, like Our Louise.

    Absolutely useless to chide myself for surviving, though. I'm finally coming out of that tunnel, and it feels good.

  6. David Corbett

    Dear Pari:

    Having read your thoughts along these lines for a while now, I get the sense you're trying to give yourself permission. I think Alex makes a very valid point, we never really stop, and sometimes rebooting takes place in motion, while all the rest continues to happen. You look back after a time and realize how much you changed.

    Since you can't stop entirely, I'd say: Give yourself permission to strip away absolutely everything except what, right now, feels absolutely essential. Over time, as you find you miss something, slip it back into your life.

    I can hear you saying loud and clear, I can't handle all this, and don't want to. Take charge of your wants, your life. Cut away the unnecessary. You're caught between being scared and being overwhelmed. When in doubt, trust the fear, and face it.

    Love you. Feel better.

  7. Darla

    Pari, seems you have the answers for this moment: "I do have the potential for some very productive heart/soul work" … trust in what you are feeling and sensing. Blessed Be and (((BIGHUG)))

  8. lil Gluckstern

    Sometimes, I think we go through a huge upheaval and desperately try to maintain without giving the experience its due, so to speak. I think eventually, the world stops for a while, and w get to pare down our lives to what really matters. This happened for me. I was ill for a while, and I think my body was saying "stop." Then things happen, and things changed. I am trying to learn what matters from that experience. And sometimes, I just take a day off. I hope you will be at peace with yourself soon. Actually, I hope that for me, too:)

  9. Pari Noskin

    I'm so glad you're coming out of the tunnel.
    I don't know how I'm going to make the reboot work, but I look forward to the process.

    I'm so sorry to give the impression that I'm suffering here. I'm not. It's actually a pretty cool opportunity that I want to explore. I'm not scared at all or even particularly overwhelmed. I just want to be able to really hear what's going on inside without the massive distraction of my "normal" daily life and rules.

    Thank you. I really hope I don't sound upset; I'm not at all.

    I don't want to get sick! That's why I'm working to pay attention right now <g>.
    But I truly don't want to give the impression of being out of sorts. Again, I'm not. I WAS last year at this time, but now the ride is part of my daily existence and I don't let the upheaval get to me too much.
    However, I do really really really want to assess what matters to me and what is merely busyness for the sake of being busy.

  10. Lisa Alber

    Hi Pari,

    I'm going through a reboot right now–2012, year of the reboot! I've totally changed my day-job so that now I have more structure, financial stability, and health benefits at long last. I was afraid that I'd lose whatever fiction energy I had left…but, strangely, I'm finding that I'm re-energized, and my optimism is returning. I don't know why this is except that perhaps one change in one area of our lives can inspired beneficial changes in other areas.

    How to reboot with full-time obligations? For me: one life aspect at a time. I think our intentions count for a lot, so one step in the reboot direction will lead to the next will lead to the next…

    I read a book called THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin. I recommend it. She did her work in stages, over a year…

    Anyhoo, I like seeing your growth process her at Murderati. Thanks for sharing it!

  11. Pari Noskin

    Thank you so much for the advice. I'll look for that book.

    Thanks also for the encouragement; I hope my journey is useful to others . . .

  12. PD Martin

    Hi Pari. Yes, I think Alex is right in saying lots of us are going through this at the moment. I'm lucky that my family life is fulfilling and stable, but I definitely can identify with questioning the writing process and online time and generally just being too busy and feeling like something's got to give. About a year ago, I seriously toyed with the idea of stopping writing and going back to University to study medicine – an early career aspiration of mine. But then I realised I'd have even LESS money and it would add to my financial woes in the short to medium term – plus I know one too many doctors turned authors! Must be something in that, huh?

    As for the online stuff. It's so much worse now that I"m doing the ebook thing. I feel like I have to be more active, more visible. And the last two weeks in particular, I find it's really been getting in the way of writing time. So I think I need to strip that back. It can be all-consuming.

    Good luck with your reboot. It sounds like you're doing the right things – working out what is essential and getting rid of what's not.


  13. KDJames

    Pari, I've written and deleted several comments to this. Mostly because I'm not as brave and forthcoming as you are. Yes, I've gone through this kind of reboot. You know that. But I've also been through a different kind of reboot in the past couple months and I'm still sort of staggering from it, weakling that I am. All I can say is that the first one made me look at my life in personal terms of what mattered to me (and my children). This second one has made me examine things on a bigger scale. And it's not so much deciding what matters to me as it is evaluating how and why I matter at all in the great scheme of things. Not sure that makes sense. Not sure I want it to.

    I don't mean to sound all dire here. I'm fine. In fact, I'm better than I've ever been. More determined. Some changes are immediate and rending, generating a previously unimagined focus and drive and urgency. This latest change in my life has been that kind of unruly beast. But I think some changes, like yours, let you take things a bit more slowly. You have time to adjust and re-think and adopt new routines. So take the time. Think it through. Decide what matters to you. Be grateful for the gift of deliberate reflective examination. It doesn't always happen that way.

  14. Reine

    Hi Pari,

    I have followed your thoughts and feelings on change for a long time now. You do a terrific job of facing your feelings. You also do a terrific job of facing your thoughts. Getting the two together is tough, but that's what it takes to resolve a crisis of intellect and creativity.

    What helps me move through these times is to find the specific thing – the one thing at that point in time – that can pull me away and out of the moment. It's always there. It's not always easy to see. But is always lurking and skulking beneath the surface.You do not need to be any of your labels. You need to do what your labels empower you to do – those things you crave. Whatever they are, they knit together to recreate your theme.

    I've done a lot of different things, often not for long, but one has always led to the next. All are connected. If you look at the different things I've done, you might be inclined to disbelieve that I have done them all. Seen alone, as chunks, they don't make sense. They look impossible as a whole. As a string they make perfect sense, because I let my theme rebuild my life. When I had a seizure and drove my patrol car into the side of the police station, I had to find something else to do with my life. I had to let go of that. There was no choice.

    My despair in that time was over loss of label, something we tend to equate with identity – a mistake. In counseling and psychotherapy (a career I started to pursue after police work) you often hear the statement that a career is identity-giving. This is usually stated as a given, that loss of a job causes identity loss. It is something to help someone recover from and find a new one, a new label. It was our job to help people transition over the lifespan during those necessary periods of change. That is a destructive way to look at change, because it treats life as a series of unrelated shifts caused by interfering circumstance.

    All our activities have themes. There was a theme in police work that would carry me along in another profession, and another, and another, and another.

    What's your theme?

  15. Pari Noskin

    I think that many of us examine our choices often. Right now everything looks interesting. The reboot is essential though because I don't feel like I'm coming from a point of self-knowledge as much as reaction or those insidious shoulds. So, I'm stopping. And I'm feeling better. I don't think that I'll strip writing from my life or some of the other activities, but for now the break is offering breathing space I didn't even realize I needed so much.

    I always appreciate your perspective. The examination and place you're in right now sounds incredibly profound. I hope the determination and urgency derived from whatever it is offers you just as profound joy and satisfaction at some point in the near future.

    I am grateful that I am the kind of person who even wants to stop and reboot. Perhaps that sounds egotistical . . . it's not meant to be. I'm not reflecting on others' desires. I'm just grateful to feel the need myself and to give myself the permission to do it now rather than regretting it later.

    What a beautiful, beautiful comment. Thank you. I think you've actually given me a framework that might offer some possibility — my life theme. Like you, I've done many things. My identity — as I've written here before — was really tied up for a long time in "wife" and "homemaker" (though I hate cleaning house <g>) and almost as long as I can remember it's also been tied up in "writer" and "PR pro."

    But those identities don't make the theme, they just inform it . . . if, as you suggest, someone stops to look at/for it.

    I'm going to hold onto that idea and see where it takes me. Thank you, once more, for your insightfulness and your willingness to share it with me, us.

  16. Kathleen George

    I think of nuns, monks, away from everything and reflecting. It's very appealing. Most of us need much more of that. How to get it is the problem. No phone, no emai–it's scary. But could be effective.

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