An experiment: allowing space to breathe

I’m happy to say that I have finally convinced myself that I’ve done enough… for now.  I certainly didn’t believe it 20 years ago, or 10, or even 5.  1 year ago I was running hard, full of commitments that kept me busy and engaged and feeling purposeful.  I was sometimes worn out but mostly content with striving toward helping more, doing more, cleaning more, bettering myself more, justifying my existence more.

I know I’ll always do good things every day for the people around me and in general, and I accept that that’s enough for now.  I am doing my best every day and I feel happy enough with my “track record” to slow down and sit a few laps out.

It feels absolutely glorious to stop being that person too.  I’m plum tuckered out. I know I didn’t have to attend every meeting, but I did. Now I’m skipping a few.  And the world is not ending. I know! I’m shocked too!

Other parents are leading the Brownie meetings.  Someone else is sending out the Sisterhood communications.  I resigned from a couple of boards and feel great about it.  Just because something is offered to you doesn’t mean taking it is the right thing for you.  There was one committee that met from 7-9pm every 6 weeks. I would get a babysitter to go for the first hour only.  After some very awkward small talk (which I find to almost always be a waste of time), the meeting would begin around 7:45. Staying 15 minutes, trying to make some sort of intelligent comment to justify my relevance, worrying about how I was going to make my exit and not call attention to myself, etc, all the while getting texts from the babysitter about whether they can have this or that snack… ridiculous. Why spend money to feel such stress? It sure felt great to send that email!

Planning and scheduling and email conversations and event planning all take a lot of mental capacity and time. It is amazing how many times I’d be holding 3 things in mind at once, making to do lists and reminders, rushing here to there and trying to squeeze it all in.  It’s fun to be involved, up on all the current events and NYT opinion pages, to be engaged in meaningful things with like-minded people.  But it is also nice to let that all fall away and simply to focus on internal happiness and contentment.

Rest. Relaxation. Breathing. All just as important as doing 12 things at once.

It’s strange that this is a hard thing to do. Well, for me.  It seems to take inner strength to be ok with slowing the treadmill way down.  Or maybe inner confidence that this is the right path for now.

It can be a challenge for me to savor this time and still keep my mental state positive.  I have to watch for when daydreams start to turn into critical thoughts; rest turns into wallowing; lack of being around people turns into “woe is me… I have no friends” self-talk.  I suspect that is part of the reason I kept myself so busy.  That’s when it’s time to call a friend, go for a walk, get some perspective.

What am I filling my time with? Lots of good things.  Nature walks, great books (and yummy Somerset magazines again), cat naps, writing, and lots of art.  Lunch and coffee with kindred spirits is the best perk so far.  I also love that I can give Sweet Girl my undivided attention, my best, most patient self.  I am still shaping my perfect life, trying to balance my days, discover new things, and go gently with myself.

How do you find the few things that mean the most to you? I’m interested in listening.

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2 Responses to An experiment: allowing space to breathe

  1. Donna says:

    Naomi, I am so relieved to read this. Though I tend to keep myself very busy, too, I have always been completely exhausted just reading about all of the things you do and all of the activities in which you participate. Considering all that you have been through in recent months, I think it is about time that you took a break! And I find, too, that being able to give my kids my undivided attention (which I still don’t manage to do as often as I like) has an immediate positive impact on them and on me. I’m so happy that you’ll be taking some time for yourself.

  2. Naomi says:

    So far, I’ve been able to keep it up. Something came up on Facebook yesterday from one year ago that was about me joining another board. Being spread so thin was very difficult and I’m only now realizing it. I’m enjoying having reserves of energy for myself and definitely for my family. I see a huge difference.

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