Wednesday, October 22, 2014


A thought that I had the other day:

Planning helps me to stay sane, but I need to deviate from the plan at times in order to decompress.

I am a swirly mix of both the responsible and the free spirit. The oldest child syndrome, the hyper-people-awareness, the need for respect, all play into this responsible gene that I wouldn't be able to lose even if I tried. But then I also have this free-spirit, travel the world, take chances attitude that is often augmented by a desire to forge my own path. 

These things aren't always contradictory, but in recent years I've been marveling at how much of a planner I've become (I still love my bullet journal!), with a love of efficiency, organization and good manners. 'Is this me?' I found myself wondering.  

Where I am now, a mother, wife and a full-time office worker, and then part-time adventurer, writer, dreamer, crossfitter, house-manager, who also wants to be a good friend, sister and daughter, can sometimes be stuffed to the brim with to-dos. And while managing these roles and desires, I realized that being near militant about planning was of great aid to me because ...these were all things I WANTED to do. Planning allows me to get all these things in, while keeping the crazy parts of my brain tempered. 

But then there are also weeks like this week, where one of my personal side projects falls by the wayside because it has to. To make room for roasting those vegetables, to pack lunch for the family and get in a little extra time with Sloane because she seems like she needs it....and because I'm often struck by the heartbreak of her age being a fleeing time and I just want to enjoy her presence. There were times when this inability to make extra hours happen for a freelance job would frustrate me, and still, I lament the lack of time and wonder about what I could get done with more time, but that isn't the point, is it? Being a good planner also means frequently assessing what is most important, and being a wise person means managing my expectations and emotions regarding what gets done and what doesn't. 

A few nights ago, after putting Sloane to bed, I found myself in the 30 min window span of cooking tofu, chicken and peppers to pack lunch, having Ken show me how to use a power drill so that I can drill holes into wooden poles for a project I'm working on, trying to finish reading a chapter of a memoir, and baking cookies for a ladies meeting the next morning. I had a moment of pressing the pause button to consider, what am I doing here, is this my life, do I like it? And I was relieved to find that the answer is a resounding YES. There are days when I don't get things done, when Ken and I have exhausting arguments, when I want a time-out and not do anything. But that's ok, because every morning, I get another chance. I know this. And I'm living it to the fullest by being both responsible in the day-to-day tasks and dreaming up things in the in between.  I'm being challenged, I'm allowed to rest, I'm learning as I go. I work hard and I do love to play hard. This is my particular life, and I love it.

And that's what I'm trying to say here. I love my life because I am grateful for it. 
When anyone asks me how I balance everything, there are a lots practical things I can run through to share what works for me (and maybe I'll do more of that here in the future), but the attitudinal answer to that is I try to never, ever, take things for granted. 

I have plenty of things that could get me discouraged and I could just as easily list them here, but what works better for me is to employ a mental exercise, one that I probably mentioned on this blog here before:

I bring everything in my mind down to zero, ground level, blank slate.  And then I start building. A healthy, able body: amazing. The ability to run and train to get stronger: wow. My family: fantastic. A husband like Ken: awesome. A daughter like Sloane: mind-blowing. Friends who care: remarkable. A house to live in: marvelous. Having a job: wonderful. My church: incredible. 

And on and on. Down to the nitty gritty details. It's stunning, when I start to get into it. And there is no good that can come out of looking at other people's towers to see what's going on there. Comparison usually leads to pride or dissatisfaction in a way that really puts a damper on the genuine gratitude you feel about your own life. 

So here is how it boils down for me. You love your life when: 

1) you are amazed 
2) you are grateful 
3) you keep your eyes on your own paper


Not a necessary component, but what helps is having a toddler around who is constantly discovering the world anew. We went to the a harvest festival at a park last weekend where they had ... you guessed it, more farm animals! They had a pen with sheep, goats, donkey, pigs and the kids could walk in and walk right up to the animals to meet and pet them.

 Sloane's delight at this never ceases to amaze me.

We ran into Sloane's friends, Simone and Evelyn there bedorehand and while Ken and I were talking to their dad, Sloane and Simone went off to go sit down together and watch the ducks on the water. We turned around to find them like this. 

Hey, let's get out there this weekend and practice being amazed and grateful, shall we?

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