Learning to say Yes to No
The year is about to draw to a close, and instead of being excited about our upcoming holiday home to South Africa, all I can think about are the millions of things I haven't done or still need to do.
You see I have a serious problem. My problem is with the word 'No'. It doesn't exist in my vocabulary, it has no place in my life and I am suffering because of it.
It's not just because I have a problem saying no to people. I also have a problem saying no to myself. I AM ALWAYS BUSY. You used to be able to find me curled up on a couch somewhere, a cup of tea in one hand, a huge science fiction book in the other. My mom used to call me lazy. Farmboy even used the 'L' word on more than one occasion.
But not now.
Now I barely have time to go to the loo. And I'm only now beginning to realise that I am pretty much stressed most of the time and I have no idea how to deal with it.
BUT I like being busy. I feel productive in my busyness. I feel like I am living my life to the full and making the most of each and every second of this precious like God has given to me. Or so I thought. In fact, what I am really doing is accomplishing a great deal of unimportant things without leaving room for the terribly important things, like hugs from my husband in the morning. Kisses and loves from my puppy when he wakes up. Spontaneous tea dates with friends.
I feel like I have failed myself if I don't tick off 20 things on my to do list every day, and of course it's bonus points for ticking off the extra things that get added to that same list on that same day. And even after Farmboy and I had a very serious discussion about unbusying our lives last week, we (or should I say I) have got another jam-packed schedule for the next couple of days.
Here is a little peek into a normal weekend for us in the Hutton household:
16h30 Finish work.
17h00 Take dog to the Vet to be neutered. This is the only day this can be done because vet goes away on conference for the following week and we are leaving pup with friends for 3 weeks while we are in South Africa for holidays. As pup has started 'having fun' with various pieces of furniture and human legs, we'd rather not risk any unfortunate accidents of pup running off in search of a lady friend for said friends while we are away (this is most probably just me being terribly paranoid but better safe than sorry, right?).
18h00 head to friends house for girls night.
23h30 walk home (it takes all will power not to pick up discarded mattress from the pavement for use as spare bed when friends come and stay...it's snowing heavily but this does little to dissuade me that I NEED to pick up this mattress). Phone husband who tells me I have lost my marbles. Walk past mattress SLOWLY, twice trying to physically lift it myself, in the snow, at midnight. Realise it's impossible, walk the rest of the way home plotting how to convince husband to help me get it in the morning.
5am up and showered (no time for tea or breakfast) as we are headed to Costco, a mega warehouse mecca a supposed 2 hour drive from our small town.
7am It's still snowing heavily. Recently operated on dog is carried into the car (with his Cone of Shame) as we can't leave him at home. Realized late last night this was probably not the wisest of ideas, but it's too late to find someone to look after him for the day.
07h30 Try to break into our car as it has frozen shut from the cold and snow. Wipers are frozen solid, doors are frozen closed.
8am Manage to get car open. Pick up friend and head out for our journey to Costco.
9am Take the wrong turn (I was distracted by trying to photograph the heavy snow falling all around us). Have to take a detour. We are all hungry, dog needs to wee and we are having to pull off on the side of the highway every 15 minutes to pour water onto the windows to defrost them as wiper fluid has frozen. Still snowing heavily.
12h30 finally arrive at destination. What should have taken us under 2 hours took us 4 and a half instead. Dog is high on pain meds, humans are all grumpy and hungry. And now we have to attempt to locate 5 items in a massive warehouse filled with people and big trolleys. No worries, right? Also are late for meeting up with friends who are due to leave the country soon. Have only 2 hours with them as have just remembered the vet told us he needs to check on dogs stitches and will only be in the vet's office until 16h00. Considering it took us 4.5 hours to get here, we have yet to meet our friends or do the shopping that can only be done here at Costco, I sigh and realise we won't make it back in time. Have bought an extra 2 hours of time. Small relief.
13h00 Husband walks dog around 4th floor of parking lot as there is no way to reach the grassy park behind the building now that we have parked the car. Poor pup is high on pain meds and not really sure what's going on.
13h30 - 14h30 Quick lunch with friends. I am at this time feeling very anxious to see if Costco even has the most important thing we came all the way here for. Grain Free dog food (Pups food has been out of stock all month) and we have to stock up for our trip away. I officially sound like a deranged 'dog woman'.
15h00 Am terribly rude and rush saying goodbye to friends so I can race around the store to locate dog food. Only one kind in stock, no choice but to buy it (along with a whole trolley load of stuff we don't really need). Get to the till and realise our card has expired, hold up entire queue of people to draw cash to pay for items and new card. Argue with husband, make friend feel awkward and am leave Costco feeling grumpy and angry at the world.
15h30 Get back to puppy who has forgotten how to hold in his liquids due to his little op and who proceeds to wee all over the back seat of the car. Perfect timing. Race off to a park nearby for him to run around.
16h00 Start the long journey home. Only get lost twice while trying to follow tiny iPhone GPS screen. Get home in 3 hours.
19h00 - 21h00 Decide it's a good time to start wrapping orders from my stationery store. Try and convince hubby to help me with filming my first Youtuube video in the morning.
6am up and cleaning the house. Find a million things that need cleaning and sorting out.
9am continue to convince husband to help with video. It's not working. Take dog outside for a quick walk. Mattress is still there. Even covered in snow it looks like a good idea to 'liberate it'. Realize I can't hold the dog and carry it home, give up on mattress...for now.
10am Start wrapping Christmas presents for family. Get distracted by washing bedding and mopping the floor. Husband isn't home to badger about the video. He has gone out to relax at the computer gaming center. Start laying out items in my 'studio' for the filming of my video. Realise I don't have the most vital element needed for the DIY. Leave everything and continue mopping the floor.
12h30 Have 5 things happening at once (video set up, Christmas presents, floor mopping, bedding needing to be hung up, dog needing to go outside) and realize I haven't eaten yet. Make tea...that will do.
13h00 Husband returns, bearing gifts (the missing item needed for my DIY video) and he is all ready and willing to help me with Youtube video. Make him a quick snack and get ready for filming.
13h30 - 16h00 Wrap up filming. Try and convince super star husband to start editing video right away. He starts and gives up after 30 minutes (understandably, he is tired). I give up and head to my computer to try editing it myself.
18h00 Try and convince husband to help with filming a second video. He resists. I cannot understand why he WON'T help me and proceed to attempt it myself. Fail miserably. Run a bath, realize bathroom is 'filthy' and start cleaning and scrubbing. Forget about bath and nearly flood the house.
20h00 Freak out when realizing I haven't placed order for an international item for a particular person's Christmas present and order it in a hurry online. Finally remember my now freezing cold bath, and have to run it again. Get distracted by instagramming the Christmas Tree and nearly flood the house, again.
21h30 Collapse into bed.
That's pretty much how our weekends are and only an indication of 2 out of 7 days. We also teach night classes from 6 - 8pm three times a week and try to 'live' in the few hours we have spare in between. This isn't healthy. It's not good for us and I have no idea where or how to stop. I am a very organised person, and it's not a case of not being on top of things that need doing, it's a case of needing to stop adding extra things to an already jam packed day. But I have no idea how to turn my brain off and stop it from feeling the NEED to be busy and do things all day. The days when I have been forced to stay in bed by Farmboy have been soooo hard for me. I don't feel at all rested after them (probably because I sneak my computer into the room and start blogging and planning all kinds of photoshoots that I just HAVE to do). I don't know how to destress as I have always thought that accomplishing things on my To Do list was a kind of de-stress activity. Clearly not.
I wanted to post the above to see If I am the only one driving myself to an early breakdown, or whether there are kindred souls out there with tips for managing stress. I sleep really well (probably because I exhaust myself every day) and I don't have anxiety attacks or any other of the typical symptoms of stress or burnout. And I don't even have children yet, and thinking about our lives now, I am frightened at the thought of little ones being added to the mix. A dog has been stressful enough!
And so with another terribly busy few days coming up I have a few hours to myself at school with no lessons, and so I thought I'd try to google 'How to be less Stressed'. A whole bunch of nonsense popped up, but in and amoungst the white noise I found these tips by Becoming Minimalist:
1. Realize that being busy is a choice. It is a decision we make. We are never forced into a lifestyle of busyness. The first, and most important, step to becoming less busy is to simply realize that our schedules are determined by us. We do have a choice in the matter. We don’t have to live busy lives.
2. Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy.
3. Appreciate and schedule rest. One of the reasons many of us keep busy schedules is we fail to recognize the value of rest. But rest is beneficial to our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Set aside one day per week for rest and family. Intentionally schedule it on your calendar. Then, guard it at all costs.
4. Revisit your priorities. Become more intentional with your priorities and pursuits in life. Determine again what are the most significant contributions you can offer this world. And schedule your time around those first. Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities.
5. Own fewer possessions. The things we own take up far more time and mental energy than we realize. They need to be cleaned, organized, and maintained. And the more we own, the more time is required. Own less stuff. And find more time because of it.
6. Cultivate space in your daily routine. Take time for lunch. Find space in your morning to sit quietly before starting your day. Invest in solitude, meditation, or yoga. Find opportunity for breaks at work in between projects. Begin right away cultivating little moments of space and margin in your otherwise busy day.
7. Find freedom in the word, “no.” Seneca wrote, “Everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is preoccupied with many things.” Recognize the inherent value in the word “no.” Learning to say “no” to less important commitments opens your life to pursue the most important.
Busy does not need to define you. Unbusy is possible. It’s okay to be happy with a calm life.
So now I need to see if I can actually internalize the above, and to really take to heart what Farmboy has been telling me this whole year. And so, my one resolution for the New Year is to do less. To stop and smell the roses, and to (at least try!) to just be in the moment and enjoy it, instead of thinking ahead to the next hundred things I feel I HAVE to get done in order for my day to be complete.
Do you have any tips for dealing with stress, the need to be in control or the need to be busy?