When there’s too much to do

One bite at a time-001

We’ve all heard the story: The Indian man is told to eat an elephant, and he says (incredulously, I’m sure), “HOW?” He is told, “One bite at a time.”

I’m finding that this is how I’m living my life. I’ve posted about my ambitious schedule for 2013, and I’m not exactly worried… But sometimes I do think I’m crazy (which would explain why I’m not worried!). And yet, I look at what I’ve accomplished in the last couple of weeks and I know that, one bite at a time, I’m tackling this sucker. Er, year. To-do list.

What I have to keep in mind is that, no matter what happens today, tomorrow is a fresh start. I have chronic migraines. Some days are better than others. Things have been better lately with some med changes over the last month, but this weekend wasn’t great. (It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great.) Also, my daughter was spending her last couple of days at home before returning to university for her last semester. I had a pretty heft to-do list:

  • Work on editing Ixeos, since I’d missed a day and a half  last week with an “I’ve been hit by a bus” virus.
  • Work for at least a couple of hours on freelancing stuff.
  • Work on our house, since we’re putting it on the market in April and we have an astonishing amount of stuff. (That’s the product of homeschooling and being self-employed and working from home!)
  • Get to the gym for 2 high-intensity workouts.

I did get to the gym, but I couldn’t do high-intensity without my head feeling like it was going to explode, so I did moderate-intensity and tried to keep my heart rate and blood pressure under “explosion” levels. I did nothing on the house, and no editing or work on the freelancing. What I did do is enjoy my son’s basketball game on Saturday with my husband (that started over an hour late, so it took 4 hours from my day instead of 2 1/2), spent time with my daughter, and did most of the week’s errands so I could free up more time later. And what I’m realizing is, that’s okay.

When you fall off the wagon in a diet, they tell you to just go on like nothing happened. I’m learning that, when I’m derailed by migraines or circumstances, I don’t have to fall into a slough of despond (a little Pilgrim’s Progress for you). I didn’t fail over the weekend. I did things that I wanted and needed to do, and, as importantly, what I could do in light of my headaches. And – wait for it – that’s enough.

Those two little words “that’s enough” are the hardest to swallow. Even if we’re not perfectionists, and I am most certainly not, we are much harder on ourselves than on others. If our spouse or one of our children was sick, we wouldn’t berate them for not getting everything done. We’d fluff their pillow and bring them hot tea. We’d hug them and love on them and tell them to rest and recover and not worry about a thing, that there’s plenty of time for catching up.

I never do that for myself, do you? When I’m sick or dealing with a migraine that might not incapacitate me but definitely makes my thinking and movement slow, I feel guilty. I turn over all the things I should be doing in my head, as if the world is going to fall off its axis at any moment because I’m sitting on the couch watching a *very quiet* episode of Castle. I am sure that my family is going to starve because I can’t cook a “proper” dinner. I squint at the computer, having turned down the brightness, with the idea that something creative or even sensical is going to come out of my squeezed brain. It’s ridiculous!

And then there’s what I like to call living. You know, hanging out with your family for no reason other than they’re your family and you love them and think they’re pretty great. Sitting around on uncomfortable bleachers talking to other parents while you wait for your kid’s game. Going out on a date with your spouse even though your to-do isn’t quite to-done. Sitting or walking outside on an unseasonably warm and sunny winter day just to enjoy the weather.

I believe that we’re here to live a life of significance and purpose, but I also believe we’re here to live. It’s really easy to say you’ll live later. Well, a childhood friend of mine lost his wife last week to a brain aneurism. She was 47, and they have some pretty young children. One minute she was fine, and the next minute she was on life support in the hospital while they arranged organ donations. Don’t spend so much time working and worrying that you miss out on living… You never know how much time you have, and you can’t get it back.



Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

7 responses to “When there’s too much to do

  1. wonderful, wonderful post. I could learn a lot from your “that’s enough” attitude, Jennings! Because you are EXACTLY right. 🙂 best of luck to you in 2013. Hope you are feeling better now!

  2. Rebecca W

    Time management is still a skill I need to acquire. I remember my parents scheduling an hour “getting lost time” when ever we traveled which became bonus time to spend with family and friends if we didn’t get stuck in traffic or horribly lost. A habit which has influenced how the whole family plans their time.

  3. cherilynne

    “Don’t spend so much time working and worrying that you miss out on living… You never know how much time you have, and you can’t get it back.” – Making this my anthem for 2013. Biggest challenge will be convincing my other half and not feeling guilty about it.

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