We’ve reached the end of the month and the million dollar question is - Did I successfully slow down and say “no” in November?
The irony! I committed when I shouldn’t have. I volunteered when I should have kept my mouth shut. I piled too much into certain days – even weeks if I’m being honest.
But did I learn anything?
At the beginning of this month, I was frazzled and anxious and miserable. I felt overwhelmed by commitments and duties and unhappy no matter where I was or what I was doing. The good great news is I no longer feel like that.
I did make some changes. I outsourced household stuff that was stressing me out. I lined up help with work and was able to focus in on projects that are really important to me. More importantly, thanks to the wisdom and suggestions from Susan Sachs Lipman in Fed Up With Frenzy I was able to take some time to slow down, settle in, and soak up the joy that is my family.
What I realized more than anything is saying no will never be easy. There will never be a set of rules or a simple formula I can follow to know when I should say no and when I should step up. Deciding how to spend your time and energy is a moment-by-moment case-by-case gut check that never changes. It’s part of being an adult and it stinks.
However, I have learned some cues and indicators in my own life that mean I’m moving too fast and it’s time to slow the heck down.
I’m mean to my dog. I know it sounds crazy but Maggie is my little barometer. If I feel myself snapping at her or getting frustrated with her demands, it means I’m piling too much on. If I don’t have time to stop and pet my dog, then I’m doing too much. Period.
I’m not cooking. I am not the main cook in our family so it is possible for me to fix a couple of bowls of cereal, buy lunch, and avoid my kitchen for days on end. This is not a good thing. When I don’t have time to slow down and eat a warm meal with my kids, it’s time to re-evaluate.
I haven’t seen my friends. I have a group of women in my life (my sister wives – as they’re called on occasion) who are always there for a fun field trip, a park play date, or craft session. When I don’t see these women for a while, I know I’m spending too much time completing tasks and not enough time living life.
My knitting basket goes untouched. Knitting is what I do to unwind and relax. I love making gifts for special people in my life and I love to hear those needles click as I watch the latest episode of Parenthood or Parks and Recreation. When I’m using every spare minute (including that precious evening time) to keep my head above water, then it’s time to let some things sink to the bottom of the pool.
My desk looks like a bomb went off. My work area is also an excellent indication of how fast things are moving in my life. The higher the pile (and more random the assortment of items in said pile) the more likely it is that I’m moving too fast and it’s time to slow down.
I don’t think I expected one month to cure me. I don’t even think I can be cured. We live in a world that says what you can accomplish is the most important thing. Ignoring that inner voice that screams “Go! Do! Faster!” isn’t ever going to be easy for me, but I do think I’m getting better. There is too much to be missed by speeding through this life and too much to be enjoyed by slowing down.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland