Thoughtful Thursday: Feeling Stuck

by Sara on July 6, 2011

Feeling Stuck

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck. It’s like I’m caught in a waiting pattern. I can’t go back and don’t know how to move forward. I don’t like not knowing what I’m supposed to do next.

My efforts at forcing this decision have met with absolute failure. It seems I’m meant to wait and see what’s next.

While doing some cleanup work at my site, I came across this post, The Value of Waiting, and it hit home for me! I wrote it in July, 2007, probably at a time when I was stuck:~)

It serves as a good reminder that we all  have times of waiting; times we’re in-between places, but we usually find out way to our next destination. Evidently, I did in 2007!

I decided to share this edited version with you. Perhaps, if you’re feeling stuck or uncertain about where you’re going next, it will help you, like it helped me.

The Value of Waiting

I’m not good at waiting. I’m either eager to be on my way or ready to arrive. The time in between is usually spent impatiently.

A trip to an airport, however, taught me a lesson about waiting. I had agreed to pick up some friends, but their plane was delayed about an hour. I had fifty-million things to get done and waiting was not one of them! But I couldn’t leave my friends without a ride and so, I had no choice but to sit and wait.

Thinking this would be a quick stop and go; I hadn’t brought anything with me to keep me busy and didn’t want to buy a book or magazine. Instead, I tapped my foot anxiously on the floor totally absorbed in my own annoyance. But airports are busy places and gradually, I started to look around.

As this was an international airport, it was full of people from all over the world. At a bench nearby, a couple spoke rapidly in an Asian dialect. An Indian woman dressed in a beautifully decorated Sari gracefully walked by. Two children, holding their mother’s hands, chatted noisily n Spanish. All around me was a collage of different languages, colors, sizes and shapes.

I became so absorbed in the hustle and bustle of the airport, it took me a moment to hear the announcement that my friends’ plane had arrived. As I stood at the arrival gate, it hit me I had thoroughly enjoyed my wait.

I realized there are always times when my life journey will stop and I have to wait for it to start up again. You know what I’m talking about; those “in between” times in life when you’re not sure how long the wait will be or even what’s next on the journey. They make me anxious and I usually try to push my way through them.

Waiting at the airport, however, showed me I have choices about facing these “in between” times of waiting. I can experience these times with anxiety, impatience or even anger or simply enjoy the wait. I can also use them as an opportunity to take a deep breath, appreciate where I’ve been, and rest until my journey begins again. And it will begin again. It always does.

“Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off.”  Author Unknown

What about you?

Has there been a time when you were forced to “wait” in your life? Care to share?

How do you handle the moments when you’re forced to “wait” whether it’s a real wait, like in a traffic jam, or a metaphoric “wait” in your life? Are you the calm type who goes with the flow or impatient, like me?

How do your own writings help YOU when you’re struggling with something in your life?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Hilary July 7, 2011 at 2:32 am

Hi Sara .. I’ve been like you .. but recently I have so much going on and just need a little space out … I was in the supermarket – not a busy one .. and I could have gone self-service, but don’t know how it works .. and thought ok I’ll stand and wait for a minute or two .. I was very happy in my own world (ecstatic at the few moments of complete nothingness) .. only to be ‘rudely’ interrupted by a helpful assistant .. wouldn’t I like to use the self-service and be quicker (usually everyone’s demand in life) ..

She was bemused by my recalcitrance …. in wishing to move .. I did and then enlightened her! I got out quicker .. but my brief moment of peace and brain rest was gone …

Going to the doctor or dentist – I do neither often .. is like a very brief holiday – time out .. space away!!

I was impatient .. but I need to add a little drive back into my life .. it’s there I just don’t channel it enough .. and I probably could do things more quickly and urgently and perhaps in the process get stressed, but then I worry I’m not doing everything I need to do in the circumstances surrounding me .. I’ve held my sanity and my health throughout this time and that’s important ..

That’s life!! Cheers and feeling stuck or overwhelm .. do a few things the easy ones and life will open out again .. enjoy the summer .. take your paints out .. Hilary
Hilary´s last blog post ..Artists who loved the countryside … where history entwines them with fingerprints, self-publication and Higgs Boson

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

@ Hilary — I’ve always wondered how you managed, yet you do:~) I understand what you’re saying about finding the moments and how it’s difficult to do. You do so much.

You’re the sanest person I know and you are strong! But even the strong have to rest. My wish for you is that could find more “Hilary Time” and I don’t mean blogging. I’m thinking more of 15 or 20 minutes for a quiet sit or a long walk outside, without any demands in your head:~)

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Kelvin Kao July 7, 2011 at 3:28 am

When I first saw the title “feeling stuck”, the first that came to my mind was “can you be stuck in a good place and not want to get out of it, ever?” Hm, I wonder. But of course, stuck has the connotation that you don’t really want to be there.

In general, I am fairly patient. And I do notice things around me (some of which amusing). I took bus regularly for a few years and I got used to constantly checking my surroundings. Earlier tonight I was hanging out with a friend that I haven’t seen for a while in Hollywood. His surgically repaired knee got tired so we just sat down in front of a church and talked. While we talked, I picked up on and pointed out quite a few things that he didn’t notice, such as how many people were making U turns in this block, how many people were driving recklessly, and what radio station that the church was playing. So, I don’t tend to get bored when I am waiting.

As for life, yeah, you can indeed get a little stuck sometimes. What I find helpful is to start researching how to get out of that situation. Even if it didn’t help directly, it might still give you some insight on how you are looking at it.
Kelvin Kao´s last blog post ..Les Miserables – Opening Night

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

@ Kelvin — That’s an interesting perspective!!! That’s funny that you mention the bus. My older daughter used to take the bus all the time in London. I always wondered why she this, rather than the Tube. Then we visited and traveled with her by bus. You’re right. I started noticing things I hadn’t paid attention to, even on the Tube. I was aware of the different languages, the changes in the “look” of the communities and how history flows through London. You gave a good example of how regular travel can be relaxing. Where I live, buses are seldom used. There isn’t one that reaches my neighborhood and so, most travel is by car. It’s not quite as relaxing as a bus and perhaps that’s wise if I’m the driver:~)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this subject. I also like the idea of researching ways out:~)

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Fireblossom July 7, 2011 at 5:21 am

I’m like Hilary, I hate those automatic checkers. I want to chatter with a human checker for a few moments!

I am kind of a Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to being patient. If I am in work mode, I can’t stand delays; I find it very hard to be patient. But away from work, I am perfectly happy to take things at however slow a pace they want to come at.
Fireblossom´s last blog post ..Succor From Saint Fireblossom

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

@ Shay — I’m the opposite regarding the checkers. I use automatic whenever possible, but then I’m not fond of shopping. I think it’s understandable that when in work mode, patience isn’t around. At the point, I imagine you’re ready to get to it!! But it also good that you can find times to move at slower pace and let things just happen. I think one thing we struggle with in the States is the idea that we MUST work ALL the time…it’s like a mantra, “Be productive, be productive…”

The times I escape this feeling is when I sit outside. I know I’ve talked about ad nauseam, but it what works for me. I just have to remember to do it. I’ve started taking my lunches outside and that’s helping.

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Alien Ghost July 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

Hi Sara,

Funny that your post comes for me at a moment when it seems to be the opposite situation, and calling for the opposite actions.

I consider myself a very impatience person, yet have a clear concept that some things take years, or even decades to accomplish (There are more long term plans than we realize).

When in a waiting situation I can easily spend the time watching the people around, which always give so much to learn, analyze and enjoy.

Raul
Alien Ghost´s last blog post ..Caged Bird

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

@ Raul — So, that’s a good thing…meaning you aren’t feeling stuck? All the better!!! I realize this time will pass, but I can’t help but wish I speed things up a bit.

I agree with you about watching people when waiting. Obviously, this works for me when I tune into it. A good example is what I said to Kelvin about riding a bus. I found that a good time to relax and enjoy the ride:~)

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Lynn July 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

I’ve had to learn supreme patience about sitting in traffic in the city of Atlanta. Sometimes I reflect how lucky I am to have a cellphone to call people and that there is no end to the music I can listen to when that happens though.

But I feel stuck in another way – I really need to find other employment and nothing has jelled. There are so many directions I could go in (staying in Atlanta, moving to north Florida or south Georgia, or a place I haven’t even thought of yet.)
Lynn´s last blog post ..Back road, good home and order (redux)

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

@ Lynn — Having driven in Atlanta, you aren’t kidding!!! Making new decisions is always stressful, but I suppose we can look at them in a different way. It’s like the story Ginny wrote at my site about the The Witness Protection Program, where a woman has a chance to start over and sees it in a positive way…how she can change her life. Not easy to do, but a good idea.

Are you thinking about staying in the field or do you want to make a really different decision. Regarding moving, let me know if you do decide on North Florida. It would fun to get to meet you…I hope that doesn’t scare you off:~)

Seriously, good luck with your “opportunity.” I know you’ll be great at whatever you decide to do and if I can help in any way, let me know:~)

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Lynn July 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

That is quite a thought – being in the witness protection program and starting over.

I would most likely move to Monticello, Florida, where my sister lives or Thomasville, Georgia – just to stay in Georgia. But that is a monumental thought – moving to another town. If I do – I would certainly want to meet you, Sara.
Lynn´s last blog post ..A song about loving cats, no harmony and find

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Sara July 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

@ Lynn — If you moved to either Monticello or Thomasville, I could actually say “hi” to you in person, but you are right that’s big move from where you are now. Still both are lovely towns:~)

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Keith Davis July 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Hi Sara
“Has there been a time when you were forced to “wait” in your life?”

With the world economy in such a state, many of our lives are in a holding pattern.

Job insecurity makes it difficult to plan for the future and has made us more cautious.

It feels just like your “in between times” rather than real life, but it can’t go on forever.

Thanks for a thoughtful post Sara and thanks for your comment on easyP.

Keith
Keith Davis´s last blog post ..The Coolest Voice on the Internet

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

@ Keith — I really enjoyed the video by Randy Cantrell!!! I could listen to his voice forever:~)

I agree about times being tough. My son-in-law is in that in-between position, but he’s the type that always lands on his feet, even if he has to create the landing spot! Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back soon. My lesson is to learn to find ways to be more comfortable while waiting in the “in-between” times. I’m still working on this:~)

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Linda July 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

A post to make us take a look at ourselves. I am not a patient person. Waiting often frustrates or irritates me. It’s not that my time is more valuable. The waiting, in some cases, is a lack of control, and not that I need to control others, but that I feel out of control of my situation. Interestingly my Mother was the most patient person I’ve known, yet I am very impatient.
Linda´s last blog post ..Breakfast at the Wienery

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

@ Linda — You make an excellent point when you talk “control.” It is true that feeling a lack of control over our lives creates tension. We do want to know what the next step is!!! I can’t say I have a handle on letting go of my own need to control things, but I know that I’d probably happier if I could…something to work on:~)

I’m enjoying your pictures and your stories about your vacation! I like the zoo buses. I think they were worth it:~)

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Jean Sampson July 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Hi Sara—-well, I think I am the queen of waiting. I waited 20 years for the art center where I teach and have my studio to accept me (in all fairness, I didn’t try but 3 times to get in because I had other things to do). I waited (and freted) for a year for a running injury to heal—-but during that time, when I was forced to slow down. I began writing poetry. Right now I have a pulled muscle in my leg which I will have to let rest for several weeks (at least). At first, I was really upset, but now I see that it is another opportunity to slow down and go inside a little more. Would I rather it hadn’t happened?–Sure! But, since it is what it is, I am going to try to find the good stuff in it.
Love you!

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

@ Jean — LOL I love how you show that sometimes difficult waits can provide gifts of their own. You are smart to recognize this. I am sorry, however, about the leg and hope it will improve quickly, but do write back and tell me what you discover or end up doing in the meantime…will it be writing a short story or trying a new type of art or just enjoying quiet time in the summer.

Thanks for sharing this, wise woman:~)

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Valerie July 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

Sometimes it feels like life is just one big “wait.” I’m really trying to learn to enjoy the journey, or the process, and not get so focused on the final destination.

I remember as a kid, sometimes if we were out shopping, my mom would have us just sit and “people watch.” Now I know she was taking a much needed break from helping 3 girls find the right clothes, or shoes, or whatever we were shopping for, but it was always fun to sit and observe the goings on around us.

Now I see waiting can be a time of meditation and inspiration!

Great post Sara!!

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Sara July 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

@ Valerie — Your mom taught a good lesson. Learning to wait and using the time for meditation and inspiration is so important. The creative brain works better when we let slow down a bit. I notice this as many of my creative ideas come after sleep or taking a nap. When I slow down and don’t “push the river,” my creativity can flow.

Thanks for stopping and sharing your thoughts on this subject. I loved your story for The Red Dress Club. I haven’t written for TRDC lately because I’ve taking an online Fiction class. It’s been good, but a lot of work:~)

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suzen July 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Hi Sara! Oh little lady in waiting……a seed is germinating and the flower is yet to be revealed. I think this is a necessary part of the creative process. Enjoy it – be present and if necessary, do nothing but BE. Look how you enjoyed the wait at the airport once you got into the present moment! You aren’t stuck except in your head. Been there myself – and while it feel icky thinking about it, just don’t think and just be present. You don’t want to miss something spectacular in the ordinary!
hugs
suZen
suzen´s last blog post ..Hormones—Not Just for Women!

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Sara July 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

@ Suzen — I do appreciate your kind and encouraging words:~) I agree and know there’s a reason for going “fallow” every once in awhile. It’s to gain energy in order to move on to the next challenge. Then again, some of what I’m feeling might be due to SUMMER. It’s HOT where I live. Fortunately, the afternoon storms are returning, which cool things off, but make me sleepy.

Thanks for your comment, Susan:~)

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Ginny July 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Hi Sara,
When I was young I was so good at waiting or sitting quietly. I could read for hours and the world could be swirling around me and I remained calm and absorbed in my book. Now when I am older, I don’t want to miss out on a thing and I want total control of everything that is happening. It is a much harder way to live and I am trying very hard to get back to who I used to be. I find that yoga and simple breathing helps me. I have also found that by reflecting on Friday about the things that I have enjoyed each week I am able to keep things in perspective. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes it is hard to see where we are going next but as you and I both know things always change. We just have to be patient as well as open to all of the opportunities that are available to us.
Thank you so much for refering to my story today. It meant the world to me.
Ginny´s last blog post ..Wishcasting Wednesday "What do you wish to make progress on?"

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Sara July 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

@ Ginny — I agree with all that you said. I do keep a “thankful moment” journal, but have been lax with it lately. I am working at being more patient.

Thanks for your encouraging words!

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Liz July 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

For me, waiting is rather difficult to do. Whether it’s sitting around waiting for class or merely waiting on my health to finally restore itself. I currently feel like I’m never going to get better. Writing it out is helping, but I feel as though I cannot share what I am writing during this time with anyone simply because it’s so depressing, and for that reason I could possibly be submitted into a rehabilitation center for depression and the fear of me trying to commit suicide. But I’m no longer suicidal, even though I used to be – and this was a secret, but my mom did fear that I was “gothic” simply because I enjoyed (and still do) writing such a form of poetry and stories that seems “demonic”, as she calls it, and for that she will not read anything I write relating to that, because I know she won’t understand.

I’m trying my best for this tide to be over, and for my skills and talents to progress into something I can make a living off of, because I would love to be able to use what I can do for good. But I know it takes a lot of time and patience, and that I have to deal with hurtful words to get there, even if it means that I am going to be depressed.

“History repeats itself.” That is what I have said to myself my entire life, and I am waiting for something to change.
Liz´s last blog post ..No.

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Sara July 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

@ Liz — Having experienced times of depression, I know writing can be very healing. It’s like you’re pouring out the discontent on a written page or the fake page in your computer so you can let it flow away. When I write about something that gets me down, I always feel better after putting it into words. Have you ever tried writing a letter to yourself? First, you write one letter about how you’re feeling, including everything and then, you write a response to that letter…taking the role of the perfect person to give you advice, which of course is YOU:~)

I’m getting to the point of being officially “old.” The good side of this, is that I can look back at situations I thought I’d never get through and see that I did get through them:~) Sometimes, they even helped me to grow. I believe we get our life lessons for a reason; they’re meant to teach us something, even if they are painful at the time. That’s why suicide is so sad to me, especially when someone is young. They don’t get the chance to look back and see the beauty of the lesson they were meant to learn.

I have this old poetry book, “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle.” It has a poem by Dorothy Parker called Resume, which I’ve always loved. When times are a bit dark, it’s the poem that always makes me smile. Check out it sometime.

In the meantime, keep writing and something will change. It always does.

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Belinda July 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Hi Sara,
I might be the most impatient person I know. I absolutely hate waiting; I often have a book and devices with me that will keep me from having nothing to do. As for being/feeling stuck, I feel I’m always suffering from it in some form or another. I generally have several things going on and inevitably, one or more areas will feel like they’re not moving along.
However, I’m all for breaks and vacations. I guess my attitude changes when I know I’m choosing to slow down rather than having no choice about something that’s in my way.

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Sara July 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm

@ Belinda — That’s an interesting approach to being stuck, learning to live with it because you need to have different balls in the air. I suppose we pick our “devils.” For you, it sounds like not being actively engaged in different things feels worse than the feeling of being stuck. Then again, maybe that’s because you have the confidence to know you will eventually get unstuck. In addition, where one activity might be stuck; you can switch to one that’s moving forwards, kind of like a train jumper. I kind of like that attitude:~)

I should try this sometime. I usually over-focus on one thing and forget that they’re others I can work on. Thanks for good advice!

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