Ben Norris

Can’t get in

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This update shares a vacation win, a vacation struggle, and a new sharing practice.

These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.

Something good

Last week, I told our three oldest kids to Disneyland. The week before, my wife took children #4, #5, and #6, along with my mother to help out with the toddler. Child #7, our newly turned 3-year-old stayed home both weeks.

To parents of large families, I have to say that this was the easiest form of vacationing we have done yet. 10/10. Highly recommended. Would do again.

In my update last week, I talked about an experience I had during the trip with my daughter in which I learned about perspective and trajectory: #98: Walks on the beach.

Walks on the beach

This week, I wanted to share some more aspects of the trip and the effect my OCD had on everything. I have long struggled with taking time off and being rigid around that time. If I am gone from work, I want to be completely separated from work. No thinking about it, no checking on it, no talking about it.

And while a certain amount of that is healthy, my challenge is always finding the balance and avoiding the pathological excess to which I am prone. This is especially important now that I am independent and working with clients, as I have written about before.

Open for business

So one of the major victories of my vacation last week was actually doing a little bit of work while I was there. It wasn’t much, and to most people, it would have seemed trivial. But the fact that I was able to be mentally flexible enough to take time out from my vacation to get it done was a great win for me.

Something hard

One of the biggest ways in which OCD showed up for me during the trip was right at the beginning. Disneyland now requires you to purchase tickets, and also to make reservations for the park which you will attend. I had everything set properly for my wife and the younger kids, and they had no problems. I had also started a couple times to finalize our situation. We had to move things because we had originally booked for the previous week, but then found out that my oldest daughter had tickets (from us for her birthday!) to the Ben Platt concert. In the end, it turned out that I had never made reservations for our group.

Of course, the way I found this out was by waiting in line at Disneyland for a while, and then finally getting up to the entrance and having the worker tell me that we couldn’t get in to the park. We had to step out of line and search my email for the confirmation that I was sure had come. When I finally admitted defeat, the worker informed me that I had to make reservations to get in.

Thankfully, Disneyland was available that same day, and we were able to enter the park after all.

We had planned to attend Disneyland, California Adventure, back to Disneyland, take a beach day, and then drive back home to Utah. But that was not to be. While the Tuesday was available for Disneyland, and we could get in immediately, it was not available at all the rest of the week. Neither park was available the next day, and only California Adventure was available the next two days. So Wednesday became our beach day, and we book California Adventure for two days.

Problem solved.

Except I was totally thrown. Change is hard for me. Pathologically hard. Having my plans upended like that was a serious blow to start the week. I was reeling in shock.

I apologized to the kids, enough that they started to comfort me and assure me that they were fine with the changes. Then the guilt set in that I was putting this on them and make them take care of me, their father, instead of being able to sit with their own disappointment.

It took me a little while to recover enough that we could start moving again. I practiced some box breathing until I could clear my head and think again.

That was a great reminder to me of what Jocko often mentions about getting out of your head and into your body. I shared a few clips from one of his latest podcast episodes on the subject earlier this week.

Something else

I’ve started sharing links to podcast episodes that I’ve finished on my microblog: Yes, it’s a little OCD. It’s also been fun.

There are many times when I have wanted to go back to an episode that I have listened to before, but I can’t find it. My hope is to try and record a short thought about the episode after I listen to it, but at the least, I’m enjoying recording which episodes I’ve finished.

We’ll see how long that lasts. 😆

Wrap up

I hope this finds you well. Life is hard right now for so many of us. We all need to take the time and space that are required to recover regularly, or we will have nothing left to give.

Whether we are getting stuck trying to enter an amusement park, or just confronting our daily challenges, an extra dose of compassion will always help.

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