Ever have those times you wonder how it will all get done?
I'm feeling that way right now. Big time.
This feeling usually hits particularly hard in May, when it seems there's SO much to do -- and not enough time to do it.
When my kids were little, the spring and early summer activities seemed to converge on the family calendar all at once. As the kiddos scrambled around as I launched a writing career, I juggled things most precariously in May:
What's the baseball schedule?
When's the ballet recital?
Do the end of school year celebrations need planning?
Think it's time to clean up the backyard?
Does the dog's flea and tick medicine need to be refilled?
Have we nailed down all of the summer plans?
Does anyone know where we put flip flops last season?
Did we ever get the beach passes before the prices went up?
Where are the mother's day cards? Didn't I buy them last week?
While this list was edited through rose-colored specs, there were so many other tasks to manage -- of the dull, drab and dreary variety. Still, it was, indeed, a charmed life.
I know this.
Back then, I trained so much of my energy and focus on things outside myself, plus I had the good fortune to work on my own writing career. I found joy in all those activities above, and felt needed and accomplished managing those day-to-day tasks. They all kept me connected to others, and helped to make me who I was. These days, more than ever, I miss those "chaotic" times.
Now, my kids are older, and my circumstances have changed. Compared to the tasks on those old to-do lists, my list today looks so much different:
•Independently manage bills, house, future.
•Research and write my first biography.
•Consider additional career options before me. Accept a corporate offer? Maintain my freelancing career? Restart my former business?
•Decide which expenses need attention now, which ones are worth saving up for, which ones are the need-to-haves, which ones are the someday-soons, and which ones will never be.
•Build in and protect time to connect and have FUN.
There's no question: I've gone through a seismic shift during the past 3 years. I shuttered the writing business I'd founded -- and a position as a weekly columnist -- to focus on matters far more important. I have not a single regret about any of this, and I'm now in the process of rediscovering -- and resetting -- my anchor, one that's far stronger than I previously believed. Learning this has been one of so many silver linings.
The optimist in me sees this new phase as a blessing.
And yet, a part of me is still adjusting to the waves, washing over from new and unfamiliar directions.
This is not to say I am a puddle of tears (at least, not yet), though there is an occasional undercurrent of (dare I say?) panic in my belly as I navigate and manage everything on my list.
There's no realistic way to tackle everything, yet I struggle to weed and prioritize what has to be done now. And really, what's that about?
I confess I want to accomplish everything I set out to do, and I sometimes feel sad -- and absolutely frustrated -- when faced with the reality that I simply cannot. Is this a cultural thing I swim upstream against? Did I see too many commercials growing up, about women bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan?
For example...what if I want to continue freelancing? What if I prefer to work from home? That's technically not "bringing home the bacon", is it? That's more like "having the bacon delivered", and some even see it as "ordering in". Is this type of "bacon" considered less valuable than the bacon earned from a traditional job, one where I'd dress up, go into the office, then collapse at the end of the day in a bath? Is freelancing seen less as "earning the bacon" and more as "accepting bacon bits"? Is working from home considered "turkey bacon"? If so, why do so many of us dream of gobbling that shit up?
What I'm doing -- seeking balance -- isn't brain surgery or rocket science. What I'm doing -- turning over a new leaf -- happens to people every day. We're all starting new chapters, putting pens to blank pages, finding opportunities, fresh starts, awakenings, beginnings.
And as I work with my new and revised to-do list, paring it down and mapping it out, I will remember how those days-gone-by kept me deeply fulfilled when I followed my heart and stayed connected to others. While my kids these days may not need me as much, I must remember to listen to my own needs:
1. I need to live in this moment.
2. I need to live a meaningful life.
3. I need a simpler existence, if possible.
4. I need to express my feelings through writing.
5. I need to write about things that move me deeply.
6. I need to share my hopes and dreams with loved ones.
7. I need to live authentically, without fear of judgement.
8. I need to focus on work that enhances lives -- my own included.
9. I need to feel I am working toward something beyond myself, helping others in some way.
10. I need to make sense of the juggle we all try to maintain, and to relate to others, helping them feel less alone.
Does any of this even make sense? Or am I just totally talking turkey?
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