A couple of months ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. Incurable. Inoperable. It hit us HARD. All of a sudden, EVERYTHING felt like it was too much to handle. I felt stretched too thin to deal with all of my responsibilities.
I know that is a natural response to such news. But, in reality, when I am honest with myself, I was feeling stretched too thin even before Grandma's diagnosis. That's the cold hard truth… & I really don't like it.
What's so important?
I am a housewife & a stay-at-home mama. My grandma lives with us & I get to help with her appointments (though I am not her “caregiver”). I am a full-time online college student, a home-based business owner and a blog owner too. Then, to top it all off, I am also the finance coordinator for my MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group & I attend Bible Study Fellowship on a weekly basis.
On the surface, maybe that doesn't seem like enough to feel stretched too thin. MAYBE for a “normal” (whatever that is!), healthy, run-of-the-mill person, that is a reasonable load to carry. For me, it is not.
I am overwhelmed.
Keeping my house in order, engaging Eva Lee (my almost-three-year-old) in healthy ways, & being available for Grandma the way I want to is already a tall order. Then, factor in actually DOING my schoolwork (instead of paying for tuition & asking for “forgiveness” to go into the next term) & my anxiety starts to swirl. But, the icing on the cake is beating up on myself for not doing as well as I want to with my business, rarely getting to write or work on my blog, doing the bare minimum as a finance coordinator, & rarely ACTUALLY studying my bible lessons. Of course I feel stretched too thin! This is no way to get by.
Why is being stretched too thin a problem?
I want to actually DIVE INTO the activities in my life. THRIVE in life, not just survive it. I feel like I am barely staying afloat. It's just not enjoyable. It's unnecessary stress.
My word for this year is ENRICH. Isn't it fitting that I am realizing the need to push some things OFF my plate so I can be better & DO better at the things that are left? Feeling stretched too thin needs to be a thing of the past.
The problem is this: How do I choose what to shove aside???? I started with all of it for one reason or another because I WANTED to & got something GOOD out of it. I still do.
It's time to be BRUTALLY HONEST.
When I stop “pulling punches” & ask myself the really hard questions, I have to admit, there is a VERY CLEAR prioritization that needs to happen here. Maybe nothing has to completely go away… But there are a few things that need to be set aside for a while. *Cue the tears.*
What's the plan?
I started going back to school a few years ago. There have been several setbacks & such along the way, but I have been saying for YEARS that I really want to finally get my college degree. I don't know what has made me shove it aside so much for so long, but it's time I stop forgetting that it is supposed to be a priority.
That said, part of what affords me the time to be able to dedicate to my studies is the fact that my husband busts his ass at work so I don't have to. I get to be my daughter's caregiver & stay home with her. This also gives me the opportunity to be here for my grandmother.
PEOPLE will ALWAYS come first.
So, keeping this all in mind, as I talked this all out with myself, my daughter's needs, my grandmother's needs, & BASIC housekeeping need to come first. WHY? Because PEOPLE come first. The basic housekeeping, to me, is part of putting my husband first. Of the five love languages, his is acts of service, so I know making an effort in this department on a regular basis will go a LONG way for him. I need to prioritize this better.
Right up there, equally ranked, is my education. It needs to be a part of my weekday routines. It is part of my own ENRICHMENT. (Remember my word of the year?) I think letting this opportunity to earn my degree go down the drain will leave a negative mark on my soul. Dramatic? Yeah. Probably. But it is HONEST. So, there you have the foundation of my priorities. If can do nothing else, those are the things I really need to be focusing on.
I need to do better.
That said, while all of those things are good & noble & responsible & such, I need the thing that is MINE. My education? Sure. It feeds my soul. But it is also responsible & will eventually provide an income for our family. It is part of a long-term plan I have for our future. Things cannot be all business all the time. There needs to be a bit of balance.
I need to remember to embrace my chaos.
A huge part of MY chaos is my bipolar diagnosis. Recently, my psychologist has tacked on anxiety, post-traumatic stress, & a few other things that I don't remember the exact terminology for. Basically, I have some crap to sort out! Ha! My point is, I, like others, will have ups & downs. I need to learn to shift when I see those hills & valleys come. Part of that has always been this blog.
Writing is therapeutic.
Blogging needs to be something I do “just because” & not because I feel like I have to or because it is forced. I am so glad I am learning about different ways to make my blog more “professional” & how to monetize it down the road. It is amazing all the things you can do with a blog these days! BUT, I cannot lose sight of the WHOLE REASON I began in the first place: To have a place to work out my thoughts — a place to get out of my head & embrace my chaos.
If I am writing for my “right” reasons, it will become a lot easier to tuck into my day here & there. That is my theory. I will WANT to do it more. When I have a thought I want to get out, I will actually rise earlier. I will put down my phone & get off Facebook because I am inspired by something I saw & need to express it in my own words.
I need to let go of overthinking.
When it comes to writing, over-thinking needs to go away. I need to put it into my writing. But, also, this helps me prioritize the rest of the activities I have on my plate. My home business, my MOPS leadership positions, my participation in Bible Study Fellowship: Why am I overthinking them?
My home business is something I do because I enjoy it. I do make a small income, but I do not, at this time, NEED it to grow. There are other things that are a higher priority. We have established this. When it works into my routine, it will work in; when it doesn't, I need to stop forcing it. I will focus on the things I enjoy & let the rest go.
My MOPS leadership position is a commitment I have made. I will schedule a bit of time each week to touch on it, then I will quit stressing about it. At the end of the MOPS year, I can revisit if it is something I should continue to do next year. Until then, it is what it is.
Bible Study Fellowship, on the other hand? I feel called to do better. Maybe it will be inspiration for my writing. I want to enrich my relationship with God. Understanding His word better can only help in that. I will continue to work towards making quiet time with God part of my daily routine. And, either way, prayer is effective ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. I am committed to praying more often. God is always listening.
A shift is coming.
My Facebook community might not be quite as active. Confidence & Chaos might be a lot more active. I love Facebook, so I am not going anywhere… But my posts might be more on my personal profile or blog page to keep things simple. I am almost ashamed to say I actually considered archiving the Calculated Chaos Community for the sake of simplifying, but, again: PEOPLE FIRST. I love the people there too much to do that! That community needs to stay open, even if I am posting a lot more sporadically. Women need other women working toward the same things, lifting each other up, y'know?