Anna Maria Locke

fighting overwhelm, and filling your cup


Last night my friend Kathleen reminded me that it's only been six weeks since I left my full time job. It was a small but extremely impactful wake-up call because I feel like I've been doing this entrepreneur thing FOR SO LONG but in reality I'm just beginning! I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and I need to accept and embrace that newness instead of fighting it and letting it stress me out. The past six weeks have been a complete and utter whirlwind and I feel like I am just now barely starting to get my feet on the ground. Yes, things are going really well so far, but I still fight a daily battle with fear/doubt/anxiety and am overwhelmed by all the things I want to do and "need" to do to establish both my Etsy shop and my health and fitness consulting business. 

I am somewhat of a perfectionist and overachiever, and so I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to be successful...even though i am still trying to define what "success" actually means to me. I am filling my brain with all sorts of motivating and empowering podcasts and books that tell me to "dare greatly," "lean into joy," "live with intention," "YOU are enough." I know all these things are true but it is so hard to find that balance of self-confidence, motivation, drive, and satisfaction in my small daily achievements. It's hard not to get bogged down in the day to day, and to extract myself from my bubble to look back at how far I've come, how much I have right now in this very moment, and how much time I have stretching out in the future in which to accomplish everything I want. 

On top of figuring out my new life as a legit small business owner, I've been involved with three weddings in the past five weeks for my closest friends and sister in law. Talk about emotional overload! I'm trying to be everything to everyone. Be an amazing friend and bridal party member, support and mentor my coaches and team and my clients, market my shop, promote my fitness groups, keep a steady stream of content pouring into my social media accounts, establish a regular blogging schedule (ha. haha), feel "professional" now that my life is my job, stay on top of my own workouts and nutrition, take care of Ben, remember to call my family on a semi-regular basis, stay organized, track expenses, clean the house, sew new scarves, and on and on and on. It's hard for me to mentally unplug and relax because my brain is constantly churning through my next big idea or to-do list. Needless to say this is not the way to live, and I'm trying really hard to establish a routine including work/life boundaries (ha, again). It is slowly starting to happen, I think? I'll let you know in a couple weeks.

Last Thursday I listened to a mini podcast by one of my favorite entrepreneurs and bloggers, Jess Lively, on what to do when you feel overwhelmed. Hello, perfect timing! My main takeaways were to stop thinking about EVERYTHING that needs to happen, and focus on the very next small action step. Action action action. Another and even more important takeaway is that you can't give yourself to others if your own cup isn't full. You need to take care of yourself first. As an introvert in a people-oriented network-based career now, this was something I needed to hear so badly.

So I spent the weekend getting back out into the world, re-focusing on my true priorities (family, friends, faith), and taking time to breathe and fill my Anna Cup. It was amazing, and I can't say that I am completely refreshed and ready to take on the world because I'm still fighting the urge of "I need to catch up on work I didn't do during the days I didn't do work," but I'm learning how to disconnect and take control of my time. 

Friday morning I met my dad, sister, and brother downtown to visit the Dutch consulate and apply for dual citizenship. Taking the L downtown and immersing myself in the frantic busy crush of people headed off to work was exhilarating because I was physically among the crowd, but I didn't have to share that sense of stress and rush that permeates the Loop on a regular weekday morning. I caught up with my brother who I almost never get to see, we all got our photos taken, had coffee, wandered the city a little bit, filled out 29483294 reams of paperwork, and then finished with celebratory lunch and beers. After the rest of the family hit the road back to central Illinois I decided to take a detour on my own way home and stop by the zoo for the first time since my last day six weeks ago. 

As soon as I walked on grounds I felt this immediate sense of calm. Lincoln Park is truly my happy place here in Chicago, and I need to keep cultivating the relationships I've created there, and remember that it is still a huge part of my life. I'm moving on but the people and places that matter most are still right here with me.

On Saturday Ben and I headed out to the burbs to visit the Morton Arboretum. I hadn't been back there either since my last day of work, which was over one and a half YEARS ago. Unacceptable! The Arb is probably my most favorite happy place in all of northern Illinois. In the forests and prairie, I am at home and at peace. 

And I will follow this man down any path life throws in our way.

For so long I've had to use weekends as time to catch up on everything I wasn't able to accomplish during the actual work week, that I have this ingrained habit of treating Sundays as MEGA PRODUCTIVE days in which I need to tackle hundreds of items on the to do list in order to stay afloat. Lots of anxiety and self imposed pressure.

New Reality: I actually have all week to tackle the list...and need to start using Sundays how they were designed to be. A day of rest and renewal. Focus on the present.

Whenever we're in town, Ben and I are making an effort to go to church on Sunday morning. Even though it's tempting to sleep in and waste the morning relaxing and reading, I know that I need to do this because faith is on my top priorities list. Wouldn't you know, the whole service last Sunday revolved around Psalm 23, which I've always thought of as a Pslam to comfort us in times of struggle or darkness. But now I have a greater appreciation of the verses, because they are also a reminder to stop and give glory to God in all the times when life feels overwhelming, even and especially if the overwhelm stems from opportunity and blessings. We need to stop and recognize what we have IN THIS MOMENT. Especially when we have so much. Instead of letting the scarcity mentality of our society and culture affect our motivation (I need more! On to the next! Never enough time! Busybusybusy! More money more happiness!), we need to reflect on what we have been given. The grass might look greener, but that is merely an illusion.

My cup overflows.