Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Priorities, And Giving Up When You Have To

Filing our story from Chili's in Sioux City, Iowa
(Note: I wrote this post on the plane to Omaha yesterday. Publishing it from Sioux City right now.)

I blinked, and it’s the middle of December.
I swear it was August yesterday.  Why am I wearing a big fat coat right now?

I have a bad habit: I overdo it.
I thought I had learned a lesson about this during our first year of marriage, when I lost 30 pounds without trying (that I, of course, later found) and much of the hair in the front of my head.

But, apparently not.
At least now, though, I can tell the signs my body gives me that I am getting overly stressed.

I work a more than full time job.
I commute at least an hour to and from work each way.
I am a caregiver to my husband, which can take up between 2-4 hours a day.
I started a volunteer project helping Wounded Warriors and their families at Walter Reed, which is quickly snowballing into something bigger than I can handle alone.
I like to have a clean house.
I like to make home cooked meals.
I like to shop at 2-3 different stores each week to save money.
I like to have a clean car.
We have two dogs, one of which really should be bathed every other day.
I am covering a Presidential campaign that has been going on for about a year, but is REALLY getting ready to heat up, for real, for the next 10 months.
I like to clip coupons to save money.
I like to stay in contact with my family.
I don’t like to miss ANYTHING.  Be it a story, a Facebook post, a Tweet or an Instagram picture. I admit, I am an information addict.
I like to spend quiet time alone reading my Bible and devotionals.
I like to make homemade Christmas presents.
I like to buy Christmas presents, and wrap them.

I don’t like to work out, but I do feel guilty about not doing it.
I like to keep this blog updated.
I don’t like to drive my husband back and forth to Baltimore for wheelchair repairs, but I need to, at some point.

I feel overwhelmed just reading over my little list here.

Last week, I couldn’t sleep worth a you know what.
I was waking up grumpy and with headaches.
My hands started breaking out.
Monday, I woke up so stressed I pretty much wanted to cry.
I felt like the to do list was towering over me, and the calendar was crowding my sunlight like an eclipse. So, I stayed home.  Worked from home. Got some stuff done for the show.  I made a huge list of things I wanted to do at home, having to do with Christmas gifts and the post office and making this and that and cleaning this or that.  Wanting everything to be perfect for when my sister arrives the day after I get home from this trip to Iowa.

Then, I did something revolutionary.  I scratched a bunch of stuff off, without doing it. 
Go ahead, shriek.  I did.  This is not me.
 But I have to cut the fat.
I can’t do all of this stuff.
Why do I do this to myself all the time?
 Set these crazy, impossible goals that are either not humanly possible, or simply not worth it.

So here is the list of things I am not doing:
-Bathing the dogs (Michael is making them appointments at Petsmart)
-Clipping coupons (this should say I am not feeling guilty for not clipping coupons, because honestly, it’s been a few months since I’ve clipped or printed anything)
-Cleaning my car. I’ll wipe the inside down before my mom gets here.  It’s not that bad anyway.
-Cooking for the Wounded Warriors this weekend. I can’t do it this week. There is no time. My sister is bringing oodles of cookies we will take those, and I have some supplies a co-worker donated, so I’ll drop those off on Sunday. But, sorry guys. No meals this week.
-Painting the ceiling in my dining room.  I know, there’s been marks on the ceiling since we replaced the lighting fixture this Summer. Sorry, Mom. I wanted it to be perfect for you when you came to visit, but it’s not going to be perfect.
-Making bread.  This year, Michael’s grandparents and aunts and uncles are getting cookies and magic bars in their Christmas packages.  No homemade bread. I didn’t have time this year to mix, knead, wait for  bread to rise, bake, etc.
-Homemade Apple Butter, not happening. I have some “spiced apple sauce” for my neighbors, if y’all are interested. You’ll have to refrigerate it, FYI.
-Working out. (this is another one that I’m really just dropping the feeling guilty part for, because I haven’t worked out since that hotel in Vegas the day before my birthday, in October)
-On that, I’m giving up the idea of ever celebrating my birthday.  Michael and I keep meaning to do it, but there’s just no time. And soon, it will be 2012. Oh well. I can celebrate next year, right? Oh, wait, my birthday will be two weeks before Election Day. Maybe 2013 we can go out to dinner like 3 times.
-I wanted to wrap our Christmas presents all super pretty with ribbons and little ornaments and all that jazz. I bought the stuff. But, it didn’t happen. Have fun opening the taped edges. Sorry, that’s all I have.

Don’t I sound so defeated? It’s dumb, isn’t it? I mean who cares about smudges on the ceiling of the dining room or if there’s a snowflake on your Christmas present, right?  Who cares if we have no homemade bread for a few months or if I spend $15.00 more a week because I’m not driving all across town with coupons, shopping at like 4 different stores for groceries and household supplies, right?

Because the things I cannot and will not compromise on just won’t give.  And they shouldn’t. That’s the whole idea of priorities, right?  I mean, my husband has to go to the bathroom and be bathed.  The pets have to be taken care of, the house has to be at least moderately clean, I have to work, pay bills, and travel for work, and to see family for Christmas. And they have to come see us, too!

All of this is an apology, really, for not making homemade Apple Butter.
For having dirt in the corner floor boards of my kitchen.
For being overweight.
For having grown out roots.
For not being perfect.

But, our life, health and well being is fine.
I’m good with God.
And I’m giving back to my country.

I have a lot to be thankful for.
I try to remind myself that I am “blessed, not stressed.”
But if I’m honest with you, I’m both.
Aren’t we all?

There you go.
My unedited thoughts on priorities and giving up, when you have to.
Major shout out to my husband who had my back today in mailing a package to my brother, and making arrangements for the pups!


cindy said...

My Dear Amazing Daughter...You do more in a day than most people do in a week...before you go to work...Please don't sweat the small stuff...

Joyce Smith said...

Your life is amazing and so are you and Michael.
Love from your great aunt Joyce

Anonymous said...

I like what your mom said. We all have lists of things that we need to do, things that we want to do, things that we should do, and things that others want us to do, but we just do what we CAN do and what the Lord leads us to do. I think it is outside of God's will for us to allow ourselves to get so stressed and overloaded that our hair falls out. Have a relaxing Christmas, Dana! :) -Sheri

Tracy said...

OK I'm tired and I thought I had a lot to do! Well I am crossing random things off my list that don't matter...okay well I am going to make a new list! The put this off until 2012 list! Yeay! Done! You know that those crossed off things will end up back on that list at some point because, let's be for real, you will stress out because you crossed them off the list! Now you might forget them so I think you should start a put this off til 2012 list! It's all the rage this December! I love you and I can't wait to see you. I am going to laugh with you and enjoy being in your presence because you are the best sister ever!
P.S. I have dirt in my corners and my dogs need to be bathed as well. :)

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

Good for you, Dana!!! Cutting unnecessary stuff is so wise.

Kristen Maddux said...

As the daughter of a pastor (in ministry, burn out can be the name of the game), I learned from him early how to know your limits and not feel badly about saying "no". It's so healthy.
But then, of course, there's the stuff we really, really WANT to do and just...can't. That's the harder stuff to say "no" to. But it's just as healthy and good. I've found that after I pray about it, and then do *only* the stuff I'm confident God's called me to, life is so much easier and fulfilling.

LaDonna Ritter said...

My precious daughter-in-law, we ALL love YOU! You are ONE very talented individual who can do just about anything, but who can choose what to do, what to delegate, and what to forget. God doesn't expect you to do it all, and neither should anyone else.

I love YOU!

Diane Moody said...

FREEDOM! Atta girl, Dana. Give yourself a well-deserved Christmas present and cut yourself even MORE slack. You'll be glad you did!

BB. said...

Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.