Boundaries & Priorities

The other evening, I had a few moments to sit in a lawn chair in my back yard, soaking up the scenery & listening to the birds.  At one point, I looked down at the arm of my chair & saw a delicate little insect with an iridescent green body & transparent wings.  It stayed only a second & was gone.  If I hadn’t looked down at just that moment, I would have missed it entirely.

That’s when it suddenly dawned on me that it’s been a while since I just stopped & participated in nature fully.  I don’t mean glancing up at the sky as I run between my car & the grocery store nor do I mean staring out at the trees as I walk down the hall at work.  I mean sitting in stillness & silence IN nature…. feet on the earth, breeze on the face, & sun on the skin.

Participating.  Being present.

When the realization hit me that I’ve been too busy to connect, I took a cue from people who keep track of expenses so they can see where their money goes, and kept track of where my time goes.  I listed every group, committee, class, & work obligation.  I even listed my boyfriend, dogs, & housework.  I wanted to see it all in black & white.  Am I focusing on what I love or have I gotten distracted by other things?  The answer, I’m ashamed to say, is that I got distracted by other things.  And what’s worse, I make the little things the priority & pushed what mattered to the back burner.  Can anyone out there relate?  It was quite a wake-up call for me.

I admit it; I’m an overachiever.  I’m a woman who says “Yes” and “Sure, I’d love to” without thinking about the time commitment because I like to be helpful & do things I know I’m skilled to do.  We all want to make a difference & feel important.  Right?

But here’s the reality check– I can’t do anything well when I’m doing too much.  The amount of time I need to fulfill all my obligations is greater than the time I have in a given week.  And what’s worse, there is zero time for things like “fun” and “relaxation”.  I cannot do it all.  So it’s time to do 2 things…

Set priorities & establish boundaries.

I put the items on my list in order from most important to least important.  Then, I considered how to scale back.  For some things, it’s easy.  An on-line class ends at the end of the month & an art class ends in early June.  I just won’t take any more classes for a while.  For other things, it’s a little more difficult.  I have to resign from a couple of committees.  I hate to do that but I know that I cannot give my best when I’ve stretched myself so thinly.  Instead, I’ll give the few things that truly matter more of my energy & thereby, make a greater contribution than I am now.  I’m going to keep scaling back until I can take a deep breath & not feel like I’m wearing a corset!

Establishing boundaries may prove to be a bit more challenging for it means I have to look someone in the eye and say “No.  I’d love to help you but no.  I can’t fit anything else in my schedule at this time.”

Some people are masters at multi-tasking.  I’m not one of them.  I prefer focusing on one thing at a time & giving it my best.

Some people can run from one task to another, eating their dinner on their lap while they are driving.  I don’t want that to be my experience.  It’s too stressful.  Plus, I can only eat so many french fries & still fit into my jeans!

I want to have a quality life- balancing the giving & the receiving.  I want to support the causes I care about but I also want to support my own health & well-being.  I need time to watch the insects crawling on my lawn chair.

If it feels like you’re doing too much, YOU ARE.  

List your priorities.  

Start saying no.

There are countless takes on the phrase “Keep Calm & Carry On” but there is an alternative that I saw on a magnet… “Let go or be dragged.”   If it no longer serves your highest good, stop doing it.  Make space for what matters most.  Give as much as you want but remember you have to give to your Self, too.  It’s not selfish… it’s self-preservation.

 

 

 

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Insatiable Hunger for Books

My hunger for books is insatiable right now, perhaps it’s the lazy heat of summer.  For the last several days, I can’t get enough time to read.  Do you ever feel that way?  As I type this blog post, there is a beckoning stack of books on my nightstand, another stack calling to me from a bookcase in the living room, & an invisible stack piling up on my Kindle.  I won’t venture too deeply in the “paper book versus electronic book” debate but suffice it to say they both have merit.  My Kindle is light, easy to carry, & a great way to get any book at a moment’s notice.  Paper books will always hold a special place in my heart– the colorful shiny cover, the crisp pages just waiting for me to underline something or make a note in the margin, the smell of newness (or age), & the sound of each page as I fall deeper & deeper in the experience.  Fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter.  At different times, I need different books.

I plan to read all of these… except the dictionary & thesaurus 🙂

What I read depends on where I’m at with my life & how I’m feeling at any given moment.  For example, while I was immersed in my women’s workshop this past spring, I read such titles as Creating Mandalas by RA Johnson, Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by M Stone, & Wise Talk, Wild Women by G Mazer, works that fed my need to unite creativity & the divine feminine.  As I prepared for a spiritual retreat at the Omega Institute, I devoured Soul Retrieval by S. Ingerman & Shamanic Reiki by L Roberts.

A rich variety that helped me be a better workshop facilitator & more well-rounded spiritual woman.

Needing a break from non-fiction, I turned to The Tiger’s Wife by T Obreht (complex yet beautifully written) & Haunting of Maddy Clare by S St. James (suspenseful escapism).  Today, I’m savoring Tolstoy & the Purple Chair by N Sankovich.  She writes, “… all the great books I was reading- were about the complexity & entirety of the human experience.  About the things we wish to forget & those we want more & more of.  About how we react & how we wish we could react.  Books are experience, the words of authors providing the solace of love, the fulfillment of family, the torment of war, & the wisdom of memory.  Joy & tears, leisure & pain: everything came to me while I read in my purple chair.”

It’s not a purple chair but it’s a wonderful place to read on a summer afternoon.

Lazy Days of Summer

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!  I have a secret that needs to come out; despite being a total nature lover, I find summer is the most difficult season to love. There, I said it.  Every June I come up with dozens of ideas for outdoor projects, ignoring Mother Nature’s gentle reminder which I vaguely recognize from last June, “You might want to do your outdoor activities during the coolest parts of the day & rest when the sun is at its highest.”  When I continue to work in the yard, despite her warning, she gets parental by shrugging & saying, “Ok, I tried to warn you.  Now you have to learn the hard way.”  The reward for my stubbornness is exhaustion, icky sweat, & sunburn.  As I rub aloe across my red shoulders & down my red nose,  I humbly remember I need to work on Nature’s terms if I want to enjoy the summer.

Lawnchairs in the shade beckon as the temperature climbs.

It’s all about balance & learning from nature.  Birds, deer, & other wildlife are most active in the cooler parts of the day.  Intuitively, I know that & always have.   I now do my chores early in the morning.  Once the temperature rises, I read, meditate, sketch, or perform self-Reiki in the shade of my young maple tree.  Occasionally, I nap because that’s what summer is for!!  Just ask Paco, he knows 🙂

Paco, my Lhaso Apso, knows how to beat the heat.