The Reality of Life

As I think ahead to some changes I would like to make in my life, I acknowledge the fact that I need to make space for these changes to happen. Asking yourself to add more and more to your life without taking something away is a recipe for burnout. I know that is the cause of some of the issues I have at work. Everyday more new things are added and nothing is taken away. Trying to keep up with the contacts, the projects, the routine and the new taxes your brain. This is true for your home life as well. 

My husband and I are not big social people. We see a friend or two each month. We rarely seek out engagements, and therefore don’t really have to say “no” too often to other people, though we do when the invitation just doesn’t seem to fit right. However, there is another type of “no” we need to do better at, and that is saying “no” to ourselves, our ideas, our “want to do’s”.

For the month of July, I said “no” to myself during my “No New Ideas” month. It was amazing. The ability to just automatically turn away from new ideas was at times a relief. It even got to the point where I didn’t have to think about it, I just quit thinking of new ideas. August started and I let myself wander down that path of new ideas again. Quickly I started seeing the sinkholes I was stepping into and stopped. Through this process, I am trying to find a happy medium between all or nothing. Writing ideas down seems to help. I don’t lose them, I can mull over them, and after awhile look back and decide if they are still a good idea or not.

 

Summer in Wisconsin is fleeting, a mere three months on the calendar, the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when hopefully the weather cooperates. We only had one camping trip planned this summer, but somehow, the months of July and August filled themselves up with all of our “want to do’s”. Biking, kayaking, an outdoor concert, trips to our land, hiking (although that was put off until cooler weather returns), reading a book outside and the like. Researching improvements for our land, like an outdoor shower, and then building it also took much time, though the end result will be worth it.

While I don’t regret any moment of doing all of this, it does get taxing. We have been away from home four of the last four weekends. Fortunately, our children are older and it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Additionally, the weekends away really gave me a physical and mental break from my job as they were all spent outside. However, this has had me running around during the week, after work, when I am exhausted and wanting to do something else, which brings me back to the topic of creating space. But it’s not space in my schedule, it is a different kind of space.

This kind of space is mental space that I need to create with my attitude. I have too many negative thoughts floating around surrounding the topic of the reality of life. These thoughts are really heavy. They literally put a physical weight on me that I feel I am carrying around. A great example of these negative thoughts goes like the following; however, I am not going to put the blame anywhere but on me.

The story goes somewhat in this order: Scrolling through Instagram, I see all the pretty, the fun, the relaxing and calm. I see the adventures, the hikes, the beautiful nature scenes and the wonderful views. Then I look at what I am doing and it falls short. Now, take social media out of the picture completely and I still have these thoughts because (fill in the blank… but for now summer is fleeting) and there is so much I want do, expect I should be able to do, and wish I could do.

Whenever that happens, I get annoyed at what my life is, or more specifically, what I have to do in my life. Such as go to work each day, make food for my family, clean the house, run errands, do the dishes, wash clothes etc. This annoyance moves into resentment. A black cloud hangs over my head as I rush through these parts of my day so that I can do the pretty, the fun, the adventure, the best things.

Last weekend I came to a realization while folding laundry. Why am I rushing through 95% of my day, feeling resentful that I have to do all this? What if I started trying to enjoy these parts of life? Could I be more content? This contentment would bring space to my head; it would remove the negative feelings that weigh me down.

The reality of life is certainly not going to go away. I look back at the thousands of meals I have cooked, and how I always tried to rush through them. Could I possibly learn to enjoy cooking? I definitely enjoy eating real food, and that takes time to cook. Could I learn to be present in the moment of doing chores and see them as something positive? I do really like a clean house. See, I can accept that I like the result, I just feel the process gets in the way of life. But you know what? It is life! 


Notice how this picture is in jarring contrast to the other two? That is how I feel about it too. I tend to squeeze chores in between everything else. This causes stress, and then of course I don’t like doing them. If I gave myself time to do these chores, accepted them as part of life, I might learn to like them. As I mentioned, I like the end result. I just look at the process for each as a nuisance. Changing my outlook might help change how I feel when doing them creating that space.

Another aggravation in my life is running errands. I put a very strict goal on how many times a week I can go to the store - once. Ha! That never happens. We inevitably run out of something, or something breaks etc etc. We have done a great job this past year at not adding things to our house, but our level of consumables is more than I want. So every time we go to the store, I get mad. But I still go. And I haven't taken any steps to reduce our consumables. Therefore, I am once again creating my own stress and filling that mental space with weight.

Additionally, I view my time after work as time that should be all mine. After all, I just spent 10 hours between my commute and work. I expect that time of my day to be me-time not chore-time. Unfortunately, when you have a family, a lot happens after work. Even if you don’t have a family, there are still a lot of things that happen after work. Want to go to the gym or yoga? Need to stop at the store for groceries before making dinner? Throwing in a load of laundry that then needs to be folded? Well, that takes time and at the end of a busy day, you just don’t have the physical strength and mental alertness to add in too much.

In general, I view all of the above as items that encroach upon my time to have a life. Instead, they are part of life. Learning to enjoy them may help me feel like I have a good life, like I am doing the things I want to do. Learning to enjoy them may also help me want less of other things. Feeling my time is full of meaningful activities may help me feel like I have enough. Additionally, I have found that when I am more relaxed with what I am doing, I have also found pockets of time that become available where I can do those extra things. 


The process starts with deciding what is important and then what steps are needed to get the end result. Then learn to enjoy those steps or at least not resent them. For example, if I want to eat healthy food, first I need to plan out meals for the week - 3 a day. Then I have to go to the grocery store, sometimes more than once a week, to buy food. Finally, I need to take time to make it. If I rush through everything, or see it as an annoyance, then I am upset and stressed throughout the entire process. Similarly, if I love coming home to a relatively clean house, I need to spend time cleaning. Slowing down and enjoying both processes can greatly improve my mental health and enjoyment of life. That elusive peace I look for can seep in.

For me, the first step is recognizing what is causing the problem, and the cause is my mindset. My mindset towards what life really is, the reality of life, is the key towards realizing I am doing what I want to be doing. Life is made up of a lot little pieces, including chores and errands, not just the fun and the exciting. Changing my mindset will not be easy, and I’ve got lots to practice. The key here was understanding my stress and frustration in the first place.

Comments

  1. Sounds like some big thoughts are happening for you.

    There is so much noise from the outside isn't there. I have definitely had to take breaks from channels when they become more pressure rather than inspiration.

    Hmm chores...yes we all have them. Do you get help? I've been reading some good quotes lately from women who dance with wolves:

    “I've seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write... and you know it's a funny thing about housecleaning... it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she "should" be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
    ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves.

    Not only for writing but for life I reckon. It is completely acceptable to want a bit of time for yourself, necessary actually. As is feelig all the feelings. The feeling when recognised help you to clear a path forwards.

    I too find it easier to stick with one thing at a time which I think you found with your no ideas experiment and yep I reckon starting at the beginning is a good place to start.

    Mindset is the holy grail.

    F xx



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    1. Hi Fran,

      Good thoughts as always :) I do have some husband help and I have mastered the art of keeping a house looking good without cleaning nooks and crannies, or barely even dusting lol! It's really the evening meals and weekend chores that get me. The last few weeks I have gotten better at taking time to make evening meals and remember my purpose - healthy eating. The weekend chores need better packaging - do one, do something fun etc. That will be a work in progress!

      Lisa

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