How was your weekend?/Busy, but… we got to see a lot of family!
How was the holiday?/Busy, but…we did all the fun things available! Elves! Tree! Elves!
How has your week been?/Busy, but…I got so much done and no one died.
How has this month been?/Busy, but we’ve almost dug ourselves out of the hole. It’s cold down here.
How have the past few years been?/Busy but since I forgot my own name I get to make up a new one! It’s Warrior Vanessa the Mega Monster Flame Thrower!
What?/Nothing. Never mind.
How was your day?/Busy, but…fine.
The Monday after Thanksgiving someone at work asked me how my holiday weekend was. I’d just been off for an extended time, I felt burdened to answer, “great!” But in reality, it was…flying across the country and back in 24 hours, landing at a new destination where my family had already arrived, spending a high intensity day with family cooking and eating before throwing a surprise party for other family the next day, then coming home to host another gathering, then going back to work. That’s how it was. But I couldn’t say all that in the 2 second hallway exchange, so I got out, “It was busy, but…yeah.” I couldn’t just finish with my usual “fine” because it wasn’t really fine, it left me panting. And I’m trying to be more honest.
I have a friend in the “circle of trust” who was listing all the obligations she had this weekend when I casually asked how things looked for her and she finished it with, “I’m feeling so much anxiety and depression about trying to fit this all in. I just want rest.”
We’re trained to feel valuable according to how busy and productive we are. The more we accomplish, the more we must be amazing. Some of this is a good thing, it’s drive. Some of it is enormously over-rated and unnecessary hustle. If we never say no to anything and continue to add to our tasks without relieving some others, we can’t possibly accomplish it all well and we fail. Then we feel compelled to apologize as we strain and suffer under the weight of what we have to do. Our busy lives are making us sick. Stack, list, strain, fail, guilt, repeat.
How do we stop? How do we sit down? If that’s like leaning back, I’m leery. If it’s like monk meditation, I’m interested. Mostly because I envision there would be a robe and a haircut involved. When we have bills to pay and goals to achieve and kids to keep, how do we rest?
Perfectly timed, my super hero sister (powers include busting through walls, healing people with her brain laser, cake building and making me laugh all the time) and super hero brother-in-law (powers include putting the walls back together that my sister busts, calmly handling any obstacle in his way, and X-ray vision hidden by Clark Kent glasses) took the kids this weekend so we could just be home alone together and hide in our cave and let it all fall off.
We’re lucky to have that help. In addition to asking for assistance in caring for the current responsibilities I have, I’m also trying so hard to say no to new ones. I’m encouraging my people to do the same. It’s ok not to tackle everything, all the time. Much of it can wait or not happen at all. It’s shocking how many things on the to-do list can be demoted to a maybe-do or meh-do or don’t.
Remember the K.I.S.S method from learning to write in school? I think it stood for Keep It Sensational, Sister. Right? That’s right, in’t it?
Anyway. Simplify. Pare down. Chill out. Say no.
I’m trying. If you have any methods you’re using to reduce your load, please share. Unless it’s something like “abandon your family and move to the woods alone, living an isolated and naked existence growing root vegetables and wearing nothing but a rudimentary leaf-sewn loin cloth and an almighty epic long beard.”
Hahaha. It’s not a very productive fantasy that I’ve definitely never, ever had today ever.
I can’t do that. Right?