I woke up to a seemingly endless loop of this song playing in my head on Friday morning.

Why would Windmills of Your Mind be bobbing around in my head at 5.30am on a random Friday? Worst than that, why would it lurck at the edge of my consciousness all day: an annoying, self-inflicted earworm that simply wouldn’t go away?

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel / Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel / Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon / Like a carousel that’s turning running rings around the moon / Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face / And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space / Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

The lyrics popped up odd times all day. The circle in a spiral just kept on turning and by home time it was driving me nuts!

Then it occurred to me that it might just be a calling card. Could it be that my subconscious was trying to get my attention and have a chat? I’ve been ignoring her for a while now, so she perhaps she’d taken the initiative and inflicted an earworm on me to get my attention?

Once I’d considered that, I then also had to consider what she might be trying to tell me. My best guess was that she thinks I need to take a breath and step back slightly from the fever pitch of activities I’ve inflicted on myself over the past few months. It’s a pretty reasonable guess, actually, as she and I both know my tendency to get crazy-busy to the point of burn out. Juggling three jobs plus volunteering and home life has been a bit of a challenge over the past month. The pace has eased somewhat now, but probably not quite enough.

Some years ago I took part in a programme called Smart Busy to try to teach myself how to take that step back. Jane Genovese, a grad student at Murdoch University, was working on a PhD thesis focusing on creating healthy and effective mental and physical habits. Her programme involved six 2-hour workshops, covering topics such as mindful living, taking back your time, what really matters in life, keeping track of expenditure, de-cluttering, healthy eating and planning for the future.

It was surprisingly useful to most participants. It made us all reassess what we were doing and why – and to then make the necessary mental shift to be smart-busy instead of crazy-busy.

And it worked. For a while anyway.

But it turns out that maintaining (new) good habits is a whole lot trickier than conceptualising them. Unless one is mindful, priorities can get muddied. This leads to stress and fatigue undermining even the best of intentions and luring one back to that ever-spinning reel. In no time at all you’re just plain busy. Too busy ticking things off mental checklists to have fun, to spend time with people who matter, to eat properly or get enough sleep.

It can be tricky to figure out that we’re on that track. Sometimes persistent ill health is the red flag that makes us pay attention, sometimes a friend brings it to our attention… and sometimes our subconscious sends us a really annoying earworm to deliver the message!

So, thanks, subconscious-me – I’m paying attention. I have a plan (and no, it’s not just another check-list!) and will follow through on it, starting with this blogpost. Writing down some goals is a baseline, as is keeping them realistic and achievable. So here we go:

  • Accept that there need to be trade-offs to achieve better outcomes and offload some tasks. First up is getting a cleaner in to help out at home.
  • Friends and loved ones matter more than anything, so it’s essential to nurture and maintain those bonds. To do this I need to  commit to taking the time to not be too busy for the people I care about.
  • I’m a writer, even though I seem to forget that when I get crazy-busy. So it’s back to writing something – anything – every day, simply for my own pleasure.
  • My alter ego is a kitchen goddess wannabe, but she’s taken the back seat for quite a while now. It’s time to let her have her way in the kitchen at least once a week to create some magic that will encourage me to eat better. Our Tasmania food tour next month will get her on track.
  • The dogs drive me nuts, but I love them dearly and need to remember that.  I have a pup asleep on my feet as type this – so that’s a good start.

I’ll stop there for now, although I could add a whole lot more. Five items are achievable for a first pass, as long as I remain mindful of my goal. Simply put, it’s to avoid another earworm – and to enjoy life a whole lot more 🙂

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