Peer Voice Project

Intention begets Intention, or How to not be the Pinball, by Christina Carney


Have you ever played pinball? The old-school machines you’d find in the arcade? This is the image that keeps flashing in my mind as I prepare for a particularly busy September. I don’t want to be the pinball, bouncing from one thing to the other at a frantic pace. The question I’m asking myself is this: how can we be busy, but stay intentional? How can we attend to all the things and stay grounded and centered?

My first answer – and my usual response – is maintaining a solid practice. The beautiful thing about practice is that it can look like anything. Art and journaling have been the foundation for my practice for over a decade but I’ve also recently added yoga. For me, it’s important that my practice is fluid and matches whatever my needs are at the time. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t need a huge space, or copious amounts of time to have a practice. If all you have is 10 minutes a day, it’s enough and it can be done anywhere. Even if you can only get to it three or four days a week, I promise you, it will make a difference.

I struggle with anxiety and it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed when I’m extraordinarily busy. Besides having a solid practice, I find that having some basic organization goes a long way in keeping me grounded. Everything goes in my calendar, from simple tasks to building in down time. And lists, of course. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as checking off an item on my to-do list.

We’ve talked about self-care on this blog – it’s such a big topic – but whatever that looks like for you it hopefully includes some of the basics, like sleep and nurturing food. Self-care is often one of the first things to go when we get busy, but it’s also when we need it the most. It’s challenging to stay centered and grounded when you’re walking around in a fog, or your stomach is in knots. Our bodies will demand our attention if we ignore them and don’t attend to their needs.

Finally, this conversation isn’t complete unless we talk about support. Who are your go-to people? Where can you go to vent? To brainstorm? I struggle with asking for support: do you? I like to be able to do it all (!) and hate the idea of putting people out but I have found that most people are willing to pitch in, as long as I ask. I’ve also found that it’s helpful to ask ahead of time when possible.

I love being challenged. I love taking on big ideas and stretching myself. All this translates into a full, often busy life. It means there is stress and that I sometimes get overwhelmed. That’s ok. But what I don’t want is to get reactive and bounce around like that pinball. I don’t want to destroy myself, or my relationships in the process. Working to stay grounded and centered means I have a foundation to support me. It means I can be more intentional about how I move through the world and engage with it. As strange as it may sound, I have to be more intentional in my personal practices in order to be more intentional in the world. Intention begets intention.

“Work on purpose, Play on purpose, Rest on purpose.”

-Izey Victoria Odiase


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2 thoughts on “Intention begets Intention, or How to not be the Pinball, by Christina Carney”

  1. Great article, as always! I have a variety of ways of staying grounded and centered. One of those is reading poetry. When I am lucky, I write it! I box and few days a week and really dig the breathing and rhythm of the speed bag and heavy bags. Also learning combinations that keep my brain too busy to have my typical anxiety. My support certainly comes from the friends I met at the Peers In Recovery project I was fortunate enough to participate in. Dearer friends than they would surely be hard to find, but then again, they are irreplaceable!

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