One of my responsibilities at my church is scheduling the middle school students who help out in the children’s ministry each week. I do this a month at a time, creating a schedule and sending requests and reminders. I’ve found that’s easier than remembering to do it every single week, and for the most part I’m pretty organized about getting this done.
But last week I got all the way to Saturday before realizing that I hadn’t scheduled anyone for the next day because it was the first Sunday of a new month. I had to scramble and beg favors to find kids to fill all our positions, all because I really thought it was still February.
I realize February is a short month, you guys, but I really have no idea where those 29 days went!
Well, I do know. My entire month of February got lost in The Fog.
I’m not talking about some magical mist like in Once Upon a Time. No, I’m talking about the post-book-launch brain fog that rolled in fast and furious the second I finished my last guest post and sent my last planned tweet about the book. It covered up my plans to continue promoting the book, it hid my motivation to begin my next book proposal, and it made my desire to do anything other than sleep and read fluffy books completely disappear.
February got lost in The Fog this year – and with it, my mind and my memory, my productivity and my sanity, and eventually even my good health. I ended the month with a double whammy of brain fog plus medicine head as I fought a weird virus that gave the gifts of both respiratory and intestinal trouble. It’s no wonder I was caught off guard by the arrival of March!
This whole foggy problem caught me off guard, too. I really wasn’t expecting it at all! I mean, sure, I knew I’d be tired by the time I made it through my book launch. Three months of intense promotion — especially over the holidays — would take a toll on anyone. But I really believed it would be a matter of taking a long nap on a Sunday afternoon and then hopping back out of bed the next Monday to start the next season of my life.
Um, no. Not so much.
The last several weeks are a blur of half-finished lists, tears, naps, library books and fast food. Sure, I made some decisions and accomplished some tasks. I kept my children alive and went on a date with my husband. I started potty training my toddler and filed my taxes and talked to our real estate agent about putting our house back on the market. Things got done and the world kept turning, but my head and my heart barely kept up. And some days they didn’t keep up at all.
Have you ever felt like that?
Like you just can’t get enough rest to think clearly?
Like you can’t for the life of you figure out what to do next?
When simple chores overwhelm you and big decisions feel impossibly complicated?
It’s The Fog. And it is not reserved for first-time (or any-time) authors after launching a book. Not in the least! The Fog can strike anytime life gets to be too much.
You might have felt it after graduation or after having a baby, when you finished that big project at work or finally wrapped up the school fundraiser, in the days following a funeral or a move or divorce or a vacation. Anything that requires an unusual amount of brain power and heart can result in a period of time where our tired brains and hearts call in sick for a few days, when we simply need to take a break and recover for a bit.
The good news is that The Fog won’t last forever.
I’ve realized that my recovery phase has been longer and more intense than I anticipated because I’m not just catching my breath from a few months of hard work. Really, the last two years of my life have been largely consumed by having and raising a baby and writing and promoting a book. By the time we reached January of this year, I was running on fumes.
So I’ve spent some time filling up my tank, feeding my soul, or doing whatever metaphor you want to use for giving myself a break. I’ve rested, I’ve recuperated, and now I’m finally beginning to feel like myself again.
[Side note: It’s really hard for me not to break out into song at this point. I’ve got everything from, “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff to “Coming Out of the Dark” by Gloria Estefan running through my head. But I’ll restrain myself. At least I’ll try.]
Now that The Fog is finally beginning to lift and I am finding some internal balance again, I’m learning that — as excited as I am to be capable of rational thought and reasonable goals and complete sentences — I still have a few things I should keep in mind.
And since I know I’m not alone in experiencing the confusion and frustration of The Fog — and then the cautious anticipation of The Fog’s departure, I thought I’d share what I’m learning with you.
3 Things to Remember When the Fog Begins to Lift
1. Give yourself grace. If you’ve just come through a foggy season, don’t look back on those days with disappointment. Don’t beat yourself up for needing a break, for taking a deep breath, for falling apart. If you ignored emails and text messages, if you let the dishes or the laundry (or both) pile up, if you missed deadlines or parties or church, even if you dropped off the face of the earth for a while, it’s okay. You needed that time away. We all need a break at some point. You did what you had to do, and it’s okay.
2. Take some time to regroup. Remember the routines you had before the baby or the book or the party or the project? Before life got so intense and way before you crashed? Yeah, that schedule or those strategies kept your life running fairly smoothly — but they might not work now. No matter what disrupted your life, things are different now. So before you dive back into “Normal Life” again, take some time to evaluate.
Figure out what still works and what doesn’t. Think about what’s most important now and what needs to take a back seat to those priorities. Don’t sign up for All The Things just because you have time now and don’t assume you can handle the same load you could before. Life is different, and so are you. That’s okay. This is what people are talking about when they say we have to find a “new normal.” What’s your new normal? This is the time you get to answer that question.
3. Appreciate all the seasons. Sometimes I’m guilty of wishing away entire seasons of my life. Not even because they’re bad but because I work so hard to psych myself up that I focus way too much on, “You can make it to this deadline. Just make it to January 15 and it will all be okay. Only three more weeks and then you can rest.” Pep talks are good, but sometimes they mean I miss out on the amazing stuff happening right in front of my face today.
This next season? The one where you find your new normal and embrace the new you? It’s going to be awesome. But no matter what led you to this place, no matter what happened before The Fog settled in, no matter what it was that disrupted your life and your heart, beauty and blessings were there, too. Don’t miss them and don’t forget them. And then be on the lookout for all the incredible things happening today and coming up tomorrow.
If you’ve been in a fog and are finally beginning to feel it lift, you’re not alone. And if you’re still in that fog and can’t quite see what’s beyond it, you’re not alone. And if you are pushing forward, afraid to look down, afraid to stop, determined to get through this thing, you are also not alone. I have been in each of these places, and I’m learning that I can survive them all AND find the good in all of them — and I believe you can, too.
Have you ever gotten lost in The Fog for a while? What did you do afterwards?
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Hi. I’m still in the fog of several life blows, but at least I’m starting to recognize that it’s Ok and it will pass. Thank you for sharing this! Always good to know you’re not alone in this world.
I am foggin’ it up. And not in a sexy way.
I got a concussion in a car accident last August, but it wasn’t diagnosed for 5 weeks, during which I mostly pretended I wasn’t in The Fog and tried to do all the things I’d normally do plus some unusual challenges, and it seemed to be going okay except for the increased frequency of screaming meltdowns, but actually each of those meltdowns was increasing the brain damage. It wasn’t until October that I finally agreed to take some time completely off work (had been working half-time for a while before that) and although that was rejuvenating, it was too late for it to refresh me as completely as I think it would have if I’d set down my pride and taken better care of myself earlier. Big lesson learned.
And all of that came after I prayed for replenishment and got a lot worse before I got better. I still think about Elijah under the broom tree on a regular basis; I still have a lot to learn!
You have a great point about appreciating the season. Looking back at various times in The Fog, I am surprised by how many clear memories I have of experiences during those times when I wasn’t managing well, I was somewhat aware of it, and it looks even worse in hindsight, yet I did manage to enjoy some things. On my bulletin board is a photo of my daughter on the playground during my medical leave last fall; on that day I remember that I felt frantically spaced-out and my head and back hurt, yet the sunshine was gorgeous, the breeze was just right, Lydia was obviously having a fantastic day and was just astonishingly cute and charming, and I took a lot of great photos (I made prints of this one for Christmas gifts, and people asked me who took it! The lighting and focus are so perfect, it doesn’t look like the snapshot it is), and I felt grateful for the opportunity to enjoy all this instead of being indoors at work!
I appreciate the reminder to give myself grace.