Hello, Fall! Hello, New Me!
For some, the average evening feels like an extension of the work day – hurry home, make a meal, do dishes, fold clothes. There are never enough hours in the day, and the to-do list remains incomplete.
For others, when the final moment of work comes, they shut it down and walk away. Their time is their own with few other worries as there are others in their life to take on the tedious tasks of existing. There is never a shortage of engaging things to do; hobbies are rich and varied.
For me, I’ve been living the first. I work ten hours at my job each day and carry home more – professional work, mind- numbing paper work, exhausting emotional baggage. I then spend two hours or more on the tedious bits for a family of five. By the time I can think about bed, I don’t care about anything but sleep because in a few short hours, it starts again. Weekends are predictable with one day set for groceries/ house/ laundry, and the other set for small chores and more paper work. There is no me time.
How and when things changed for me isn’t entirely clear. I think it happened when health forced me to sit still and others to notice that ‘things’ weren’t getting done. I began delegating, but more importantly, others in my life began doing.
I knew – for a very long time before that moment – that the pattern was unsustainable and unhealthy. I just couldn’t find the time or energy to see a solution. Several intelligent people said the answer was ‘just stop doing ___’ and let it go. When everything you do is tied to the basics of living (or it feels like it), you can’t just stop. Food must be purchased, prepared, and eaten. Clothes must be washed and sorted. Daily dirt must be removed. No, the issue was deeper. I was the only one who felt responsible for these things.
The answer? Give up the mindset that if no one else does it, I must. At work, I said no. I made procedural changes that limited the menial work while automation reduced my role in the handling of it. At home, I wrote down what others could/ should be able to do. Critically, I then did not do it when there was no follow through. There are times when the are no clean forks or underwear. There are times when socks are a bit scruffy from the missed floor sweeping. Heaven knows there’s a dining table under the pile … somewhere. However, others live here and can do a share.
At those same times when someone else hasn’t done their part, I make myself take an hour for things for me… like Fall on the Water, the picture above. I read something for fun. I walk. I garden. I stitch. Anything but pick up their pieces. It’s tough to undo the dependence I created by my desire to take care of everyone and everything. But I’m working on it.
When critical mass hits, others will have to step up. I’ll work along side anyone, but I’m done doing it alone. I refuse to miss my life, my family, and my innermost self. I’m working on living . . . Not the superhuman effort and not the super- slacker, but a me that’s balanced in between.
Hello, Me. It’s going to get better. Hang in there. Enjoy the Fall colors.