Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How are you these days?  Let me guess:  You're too busy, kind of exhausted, and not exactly sure how you're going to make it to next week. 

You are in good company, friends.

We're all so darn busy.  I don't know anyone who isn't busy at least almost all the time.  Even the people who have every excuse not to be busy seem to magically fill their days with obligations and expectations that inordinately can not be met by the average human.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Is there some gold medal at the end of it that I'm unaware of?  And if there was, is it worth it?

While I, too, am a zombie running on inspiration and caffeine, I'm also a huge fan of "boundaries" and trying my best to walk the fence of efficiency and sanity.  That's a hard line to tow, and it's rarely accomplished without falling off the fence entirely at times, only to climb back up with a few scrapes and bruises.

I like to be busy.  I thrive when I'm surrounded by goals and support; having something that I can keep my eye on and lean on at the same time.  But, as much as a risk taker as I am, I also tend to overcommit myself or stretch my efforts too thin before I figure out it's too late.  As I learn and grow in my boundary-setting, however, I'm beginning to understand that it's really never too late to establish limits for myself.  Breaking and establishing limits is a huge part of growing up, after all, and it doesn't stop just because you have two kids and a mortgage.

Busy is different for different people.  My kind of busy includes being a wife, mother of two, full-time grad student, freelance writer, and part-time worker at the mall, as well as soon-to-be taking on some internship hours for my degree requirements.  Yes, my plate is full.  And, your plate is probably equally as full, just taken up by more or less of other people/activities/obligations that you've set in motion.  Somehow, we're all doing something to fill our time, and we're all ending up tired, yet passionate enough to keep going.

When I first took on my part-time job at the mall (working at Pottery Barn Kids) it started as a seasonal, Christmas job.  I thought it would only last a few months, and I was just as surprised as anyone when they asked if I would consider staying on and I accepted while minimizing my commitment to just a couple shifts a week.  At first, I thought What in the world am I doing? thinking I was, yet again, doomed to my habit of overcommitting and going to have to back out within weeks.  But, that hasn't been the case, and I can tell you exactly why.

Keeping my little part-time gig has brought more relief to my schedule than burden.  I'll be honest, it's a lovely place to work.  The people are kind and considerate for the most part, the place is cute and clean, and while I'm hardly making any extra money there, it's just enough to ease my mind a bit when my kid's sneakers all of a sudden don't fit overnight!  (Life doesn't stop for growth spurts!)

But, what really has kept this in my hectic schedule is that the hours I work there have forced me to deliberately allow myself a mental break from life's normal chaos and greater obligations.  When I'm there, I simply can not check my iPhone, listen to my daughter's whining, do household chores, catch up on homework, or distract myself with some ridiculous thing online that I probably don't have time for anyway.  I have some very simple, straightforward tasks to busy myself with for the night (be kind to customers, help organize/scan merchandise, take out the trash, etc) that don't require much brain power.  As silly as it sounds, working at the mall is almost as close as it gets for me to having a night off.
Even Garfield gets it.

I have had to turn down other things because my schedule was full.  I have had to miss out on some opportunities or get-togethers because I've carved out this time in my schedule to do X-Y-Z.  But, I have also gained some new perspectives on how and why I do the things I do.  I am a big believer in "you do what you want to do" and the truth is, right now it is healthier for me to have this part-time job than not!  If you find yourself with a schedule full of things you'd rather not be doing, it may be time to ask yourself why in the world they are important to you?

I'm not sure how we're all supposed to juggle everything.  For each person who looks at another and wonders "How do they do it?" probably ten more are looking at them and thinking the same thing.  We're not meant to live someone else's life or juggle their to-do list for them.  I am taking life one day at a time, just like everyone else, and curious how the hours will pan out from week to week.  Time can feel like a giant puzzle when you are trying to grasp all that it has to offer.

Be busy.  Be productive.  But, don't forget to carve out some time for yourself to mindlessly incorporate something that can allow you some freedom from your busy-ness.  Don't get me wrong, I also require plenty of down time to completely shutdown and submerge myself into something purely relaxing (like, watching reruns of Modern Family or "reading" the latest Oprah magazine).

But, whatever it looks like for you, I can guarantee that the rest of your busy life will thank you when you allow yourself limited time to limit yourself.

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