Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Too Much?

Is it “too much” if you love it all?

I have many interests and passions. And I pursue them all. And I often find myself overwhelmed by the many pots I have my fingers in. I am married and a mother of a young child; I teach belly dance classes with a brand new studio space opening next week; I lead a belly dance troupe that rehearses regularly and performs monthly; I am a student of shamanic studies in a distance learning program called Anima; I am also an applicant to become an apprentice of this same place; I love to sew; I keep a journal; I draw and paint; I bake my own bread; I love to garden and raise my own food; I take workshops to become a better belly dancer and teacher; I love to travel (though haven’t done much of that recently); I cook to relax; I savor and cherish my alone time; I am a tree hugging-dirt worshipper who must spend time outside each day; and I have a “real” job that is for a good cause that is not quite full time, more than part-time, to help pay for it all (though it is of course more “in my way” of doing all of the above if I were to tell the truth – and I try to make it a point of telling the truth).

Whew. Oh, and I try to sleep every once in a while too.

So what’s a girl to do?

I could make clever and highly unrealistic new years’ resolutions about doing less, but aside from the job for a good cause (mainly because it requires working on some else’s schedule rather than my own), I wouldn’t eliminate anything that I do.

What I do instead, is try to slow down. I don’t try to do it all each day. I am not always successful at this mind you. For example today, on my lunch hour, I drove to 6 different places to accomplish twice as many things that were on my list and still didn’t get them all done ~ okay, perfect example of how not to slow down! But even in my madness to do it all, I realize that most of what I choose to accomplish in a day is set up and determined by me. I take care of myself first. And there are not many role models for this. Especially for women. But it makes the world of difference in my attitude, in how I feel about each of the moments that make up my life. I am the creator of my life. I can determine how busy I will be. There is freedom and power in choosing how to spend each moment of my life, savoring each moment because it is filled doing something I love.

But wait you say, what about family obligations? Paying bills? Cleaning the bathroom? Who does all of those tedious tasks that weren’t mentioned above? I still have those in my life. But even those things, I have learned to make more interesting and enjoyable. One, by choosing when and where and how to do them. For example, spending time with my family for the holidays ~ family time can be onerous of course ~ so I suggested we go away somewhere fun instead of doing the same old thing, and we ended up at the coast and in lieu of gifts spent our money on a beach house and good food, with many walks and a fabulous show of winter storms over the ocean to enjoy instead. Another example, when I pay bills I do it the old fashioned way (no automatic computer payments for me), I sit down with my checkbook, a beautiful pen, outside on my deck, with incense lit, a glass of wine, and music playing. It’s a ritual rather than a duty.

And, yes, I still get overwhelmed. But what I have found that really works best, is staying present. Being fully engaged in each act, each chore, each errand that I’m doing at that moment. Rather than thinking about the next four things on my list (and trust me, I am a list queen!), if I can focus instead on the one right in front of me, I am able to enjoy it, do it right, and savor it, and know that I don’t have to worry about what comes next, it will get its own turn at being the center of my attention. And, the greatest reward of all, in staying present, is that I am often shown some small detail, given a precious insight, or led on a new path of discovery that would have been a blur, if noticed at all, had I been looking ahead to the next thing. Today, in my mad lunch rush, I was waiting at a red light, and found myself thinking about my next stop (the post office if you must know, wondering if they would have anything besides flag stamps), when I reeled myself back in, looked out the passenger window, and saw a hawk land on a branch in a tree right at eye level! What a beautiful gift! So though staying present takes conscious effort, it is so worth it!

Finally, did I mention that I don’t have a TV? (Here comes the preachy part!) I choose to be fully engaged in MY life, not some actor’s, or worse these days, someone else’s life on a reality show. No! Take your TV to your nearest recycling center. Don’t even donate it, just get rid of it! Get outside, find some art supplies, turn on some good music, cook a good meal, heck, buy a drum! Do something that you have always been afraid to do! Go for it!!! Time to create our lives, fill them with the passion and creativity. Get busy, but please, be busy doing what you love!! (End of preachy part.)

I haven’t really solved the dilemma of having too many things that fill my time, but at least I am content in knowing that I love my life, each and every crazy, busy, blessed moment of it!


  1. I really enjoyed this post, which I found through Kiva's blog. Turns out we are neighbors too, you & I :-)

    Happy to have found you, Amber

  2. Yes indeed, thank you for sharing this. The healthy natural state is not a plodding pace, but a balance of restful conscious savoring and wild purposeful doing. Yes, life and purpose fully lived. The alternative is something less.

    -Jesse Wolf Hardin