Guest Blog: Do Less. It’s That Simple (…and that complicated)
With Christmas season fully upon us, I thought this guest post by Joanne Cook could not come at a better time! Especially at this time of year it’s very easy to get hooked into all the “shoulds” and obligations that we feel are necessary.
And although I do acknowledge that Christmas time is no doubt busier than most times of the year, there are still ways to learn how to slow down, relax, and enjoy being in the moment with the ones we love – all it takes is a bit of awareness!
So, on that note, enjoy my guest blog by Joanne Cook:
Do less. It’s that simple (and that complicated)
After my second son was born (a little over a year ago) I was trapped in the “poor me” pity party for awhile. I would complain how I never had time for myself. My husband would ask about my day and I would practically berate him, listing off how I did the laundry, the dishes, made dinner, cleaned the bathrooms, hosted friends, registered the kids for classes, entertained the children and the million other things I deemed important.
Looking back now I know that in order to fulfill my self-worth, to ensure my ego was happy, I needed to make certain everyone knew just how hard I worked; how much I had contributed to the family. But I realized quickly that I was never satisfied. It was a perpetual cycle of never-ending tasks. Not only would the house never be in perfect form, I knew in my heart that it didn’t really matter.
All the time I spent cleaning and organizing and who-knows-what, was time away from my children. And that was the real reason I was a stay-at-home mom in the first place. To spend time with them. See what they are thinking. Get to know them. Not clean toilets!
I was just feeling overwhelmed, under appreciated, grumpy, resentful and simply worn out.
During the pity party stage, by “coincidence” I went to see an aura reader/psychic. A friend had set up a session for me and I was so excited to see what she had to say.
The first thing that popped out of her mouth was “Your energy is really scattered.”
Oh really? That surprises me. You mean between being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a chef, a housekeeper, an event planner, a play-date maker and a generally functioning member of society, my energy isn’t completely centered and focused?
With my energy so outta control, I asked her what I could do about it. Throughout the 2-1/2 hour session, she repeated it again and again. “Do less”.
I don’t know if it was the permission given or if I was just in a place in my life where I was ready to hear that – really hear that – but those simple words resonated with me. Do less. So simple, yet so complicated.
Do less? I already didn’t get dressed most days!
The very next day, I put that into practice. I just stopped obsessing over essentially unimportant things (dust bunnies, where the hell that smell was coming from, the finger prints on the mirrors) and I started living.
More importantly, and this was huge for me, I started making decisions based on what I REALLY wanted to do. Before deciding anything, I asked myself if what I was choosing was really serving me and my family. Or was I feeling pressured to do something? Was I feeling that familiar “well, if I don’t say yes, what will others say”. Or “if I don’t get this done now, then tomorrow I’ll have A, B, C, D and E to do and I can’t breath even thinking about it all.” So I started then and there (and still to this day) make decisions based on my heart and what really does serve me best.
As my good friend Trish says “you need to take this ‘should’ and shove it!” When I am making a decision, I ask myself am I basing it on what I “should do” or what I really want to do.
Yes, sometimes we need to change poopy diapers. And sometimes we need to mop up the latest science experiment. And sometimes we need to file taxes and talk about finances. It comes with the territory.
But in our everyday life, we can choose to say (gasp) no! We can decline invitations. We can skip the vacuuming and choose to play a board game with our children. We can ignore the phone and email and texts. We can stop generating all the busyness and craziness that I have come to realize, we really do create ourselves (a lot of the time).
The housework will get done. The groceries will get bought. The invite to the next party will come. The hands of time, however, will not stop. Our children will not be babies forever. Our souls will not stop requiring nurturing. Our lives will continue to march forward and its up to us to decide how to fill it. Plain and simple. We are in control of our own lives. Scary? Yes. Liberating? You betcha!
So just do yourself a favor and DO LESS. Consciously think about what you want to do. If, in that moment, you want to sit on the couch and watch Seinfeld re-runs, hunker on down and hang with Kramer. If you want to go to the neighbors for coffee, pack up the kids and head on out. If you want to build a fort and play the damsel in distress, throw on the princess heels and act your heart out.
Just do it with authenticity and be true to yourself; honoring what you really want in the moment. And forget about those damn dust bunnies. They’ll be there tomorrow!