Do you ever feel like your life is just rushing like a river, sweeping you and everything in it along in its current? I do. Sometimes "life" feels more like a verb than a noun. Like it's something happening to me, rather than something I'm fully participating in.
A Treadmill Life
You know the weeks: the ones where you rush from one evening meeting or activity to another, fielding phone calls from people who "need your help," and feeling guilty if you even consider saying no to making brownies for the fundraiser, helping clean the church, babysitting for your friend whose husband is dealing with a pretty serious health issue and on and on.
Sometimes though, it's not even the out of the ordinary things, but regular old life. Bill paying and grocery shopping, errand running and trying to keep up with dishes and laundry and vacuuming and your kid's school paperwork (I'm convinced that public schools in the U.S. are responsible for deforestation in half of the world at least). There are dentist appointments to schedule and dinners to cook and ... and at the end of the day you feel like you've lost a game of Whac-a-Mole rather than enjoy any part of your day. In fact, you can't really remember what you did today.
That's how life has been feeling for me for a while now. I could blame it on my newish full-time job which I started last fall, but honestly, it's been an issue for much longer.
A Potential Solution
This may sound counter intuitive, but after I was inspired by the Slow Your Home Podcast with Rhonda Hetzel, things have started to change ... for the better.
What did I do that's helped change things? I've been paring down, to start. I made a list of things that I love doing (upcycling/art, being in nature, writing on this blog, spending time with my family and "home caring") and things that I don't or which I enjoy but feel overwhelmed trying to fit in right now (starting a new side gig, selling more of my mystery novels at different venues, selling vintage items at a local shop, volunteering).
Just putting those things down on paper was really eye-opening. It helped me to see concretely which were "yeses" and which were "nos."
Next, I started to consciously slow myself down. How? This is going to sound doubly counter intuitive, but I started making more things from scratch around the house, (bread, dishwasher detergent, more homemade foods), and created a little frugality/savings challenge for myself. (I can't wait to share the results with you soon!)
Something Amazing Happened
With all these new/different activities taking up my time, wouldn't I end up more stressed? Strangely, no. The more I did things that mattered to me, that are authentic to my life, the happier I feel.
Let me give you an example. This past Sunday morning, I had about an hour to myself (a rare occurrence in my household!). What should I do? Lately, I've been using this time for planning my week and looking over my schedule. But the sky was brilliant blue and I was really excited about trying out this homemade dishwasher detergent recipe (yes, I'm dorky like that) in the Little House Living book.
I've also been on a biking kick (inspired by Mr. Money Moustache) so I decided to ride my bike to the grocery store, about two miles away. Though it was colder out than I thought, the experience was exhilerating. It felt so good to get to the store under my own power. It was amazing to tuck my purchase into my backpack and breeze back out the door.
While there, I also scored a bunch of recycled plastic grocery bags (I'd looked when I got groceries the week before but the bin was empty) which we use for trash bag liners and kitty litter deposits. Double score! I left the store feeling content. The sun was warm, the breeze was chilly, I was doing something healthy for my body and the planet at the same time. I paused as I walked to my bike and realized that I felt so content and happy and peaceful inside because I was doing something that was authentic and meaningful to me.
Now, I'm not saying the riding your bike to the store for a certain product or ingredient will be fulfilling (though it might be). For you, the activity might be very different. But whatever you love and feel passionate about, see if by adding it to your life--even when you feel overwhelmed and even when you can't imagine adding a single other thing in--you also feel better/calmer and more present.
The trick though, is first taking a look at what your priorities are and deciding what doesn't fall into the list, and letting that thing go. It doesn't mean it's forever, just for now.
What do you think? Are you willing to try this out for a week or more and see what happens? If so, please share in the comments section.