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Growth Spurt Management

Brussel sprout seedlings, by Librarianguish

I’m going through a growth spurt. It’s messy and unpleasant. I wobble without cease. My foundation keeps shifting.

Not that I’m knocking growth spurts. No, indeed. A hefty growth spurt, one that knocks the pins out from underneath to make way for a stronger platform to jump from, often does the heavy lifting required to get from here to the next level.

The nature of a growth spurt is that it’s a blip, a bell curve, a temporary push. We tolerate the upheaval to get to the down slope and the richer pastures beyond.

What’s needed are tools for getting through intact. Mini cease-and-desist moments inserted into the swirling maelstrom offer breathing room and calm, even if only briefly. Plus, they seem to add up, reducing the overall hyperventilation level to more sustainable doggy panting.

The core Growth Spurt Management tactic I use is an elbow-room list, a catalogue of things that make me disengage temporarily, even if only momentarily. I craft the list with brutal honesty, only listing things that really work for me, such as:

  1. Listen to monumentally cheesy English-lyric Latin dance songs (no, I won’t tell you who) on my MP3 player (audio privacy, in this case, is utterly crucial; the last thing I need during a growth spurt is to be made fun of).
  2. Talk to my mother, who’s a fathomless source of unconditional love. She really gets me.
  3. Meditate, however I can, even if I feel like I’m only trying, and even if only for seconds at a time.
  4. Write in my journal. Write as many pages as possible – there’s no such thing as too much, unless my writing hand flops over in fatigued surrender, which has been known to happen.
  5. Indulge in stories – novels, DVD movies – that take me far away.
  6. Watch the British TV series Sharpe, for a role model of courage, integrity, and growing through tough spots rather than trying to avoid them.
  7. Walk alone in nature, particularly along deserted country lanes where no one will notice if I stump along like Frankenstein and drool.
  8. Take photos of whatever the heck I want, even if I don’t remotely understand why I’m doing it.
  9. Lie on the bed with the door closed and focus on breathing through my heart.
  10. Write and post the articles I most need to read.

During frighteningly intense growth spurt phases, I carry my list around in a pocket during the day and hold it in my fist as I fall asleep at night.

Related reading: Pep Talk | Keel Over, Successfully Sensitive | Richard Sharpe

Flickr photo: Brussel sprout seedlings, by Librarianguish


  1. jo wrote:

    Oh Sweet Grace! Kudos on the Growth Spurt *and* the wisdom of your list and using your list.

    I’m going to make a list like that for myself *and* give myself permission to do the items listed on it.

    Thank you Grace!

    Monday, March 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  2. Ingrid wrote:

    Grace, this could not have come at a better time. Making this list and carrying it in my pocket is exactly what I need to do. Right now. Thank you!

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 2:35 am | Permalink
  3. Happy sprouting!

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  4. Jadyn wrote:

    This post was so timely for me, I can’t even tell you. I’ve grow through these grow spurts too, and then usually during &after through feeling burnt out. It’s nice to know I”m not the only one who devises strategies to get through grow spurts. It seems like growing should be good and fun, right? But it can be tiring too. I’m so glad to have found this website! Thanks for sharing your list, there are some suggestions that I will try out.
    Happy growing :)

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink
  5. I’m glad you’re here, too, Jadyn. Sprouters unite!

    (I see, too, that you’re a fellow Unraveller. I’m getting a lot from the class — different things than I’d expected to get, actually.)

    P.S. I’m an American-Canadian married to a German man. We could probably have some interesting conversations about cross-cultural marriages.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  6. I’m particularly in favor of #8!

    Thanks for using my photo here, and good luck with each and every growth spurt.

    I can report that the brussel sprouts are coming along nicely…


    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  7. Andrea Ballard wrote:

    I love the image of you falling asleep at night with your list clutched tightly in your fist. My daughter does that with a teeny tiny baby doll she has. When she is scared of monsters in the middle of the night (and, really, who isn’t?) I reming her to squeeze her baby tight and know she is not alone.

    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 6:50 am | Permalink
  8. It surprises me when I wake up still clutching the list. Yes, it’s a childlike, visceral sort of plan, to clutch something while falling asleep.

    That’s just good advice in general, Andrea: Squeeze your baby tight.

    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink