One of my husband’s oldest friends is getting married in May. This week saw the lads all jetting off for his stag in Lanzorote. We are still struggling to get Annie’s seizures under control and I decided to take the time off work, so that she wouldn’t be left home alone for too long. We have a busy couple of months ahead, with three weddings, a hen party, some renovations in the house and our own summer holiday all happening at once.
Seeing as I was going to be off work for three days, it seemed like as good a time as any to get some “stuff” done. We were getting new carpet fitted so being here for the fitters early Wednesday morning was the first thing on the agenda. Alas, it wasn’t the only thing. There was so much to be achieved, in fact, that I decided to make a list. The problem was, every time I ticked one item off the list, I added at least two more. It was becoming a little overwhelming. I joked to my friend that I had enough on the list to fill three weeks, never mind three days!
No sooner had the carpet guys left, then I was on to the next thing. Getting my badly overdue hair done. With the crazy weather we have been having the last few weeks, it’s like everything is having to happen out of sequence (this does nothing for my inner control freak.) When I got home from the salon, I had to deal with the mess the carpet fitters had left. Two huge bags of off cuts were waiting in the hall for me to deal with. They were never going to fit in the wheelie bins, and I knew if I stashed them somewhere for the “time being” that they would still be there the next time we get carpet! A trip to the dump was the only thing for it.
Now, a sane person would have just thrown the two bags in the car and made her way to the landfill. But not me, oh no! I decided to go to the shed to see what else was in there that could do with being dumped. Our shed was packed to the rafters with crap, which we had put there for the time being, throughout the decade we have lived here. So, I began to load up my car with empty bottles, broken blinds, Styrofoam from every appliance we have ever owned, or so it seemed. It was only at the point when I was trying to stuff an arm chair into my already full Fiesta, that I started to think perhaps this was ill advised!
It struck me that the armchair into the Fiesta debacle was sort of an apt analogy. Our 21st Century lives are incredibly full. We balance demanding careers, family, running a home, our health and fitness etc., etc. However, instead of standing back and congratulating ourselves for achieving so much and managing to keep all the plates spinning, we constantly ask ourselves “what else can I fit in?” How can I do more? How can I be more “effective?”
We never seem to be satisfied, and social and main stream media don’t help. Any time you log on, someone is extolling the virtues of the next thing we should all be doing. This week it could be journalling, next week it might be meditation. Practicing gratitude and colouring in were the big ticket items last year, along with finding fun new ways to use coconut oil and tumeric! It’s so easy to get caught up with it all. It’s easy to feel like if you haven’t been up since 5am to do a sun salutation and drink a green smoothie that you are somehow failing.
We even wear devices to track and monitor our sleep. Both the quantity and quality can be measured. Anyone who knows me can tell you I love my bed. All my life I have been told I can sleep for Ireland. So, imagine my surprise when at age 36 my FitBit tells me I am doing a crappy job! I rarely get more than an hour of deep sleep a night. Surely this can’t be enough? How can I get more? How can I do it better? Rationally I know worrying about this is ridiculous. Sure, I can TRY to control how much sleep I get, but the quality of that sleep is a little more complicated. But my distress around this poor metric really underlined our obsession with personal effectiveness.
Are we taking it all too far? Have we forgotten how to just be in the moment? Do we even know how it feels to be relaxed anymore? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good list as much as the next girl. I have dozens of notebooks (some of them are too pretty to actually write in, but that’s another story.) I believe in setting goals and strategically, methodically doing the work required to achieve them. However, I am increasingly aware of how important it is to have some time to just chill! Your day off shouldn’t feel like harder work than a day at the office. We are so addicted to being busy, that we are afraid to admit we take our foot off the gas, even for a moment.
As human beings our time, energy and inclination are all finite resources. The irony is that I took this time off work so I could be with my puppy, but on Wednesday evening I was so exhausted that I found myself being impatient with her. The people, and puppies, in our lives deserve the best of us, not whatever is left over when we get to the end of our list. Personal effectiveness is, of course, important, but even dynamos need a day off. Be well xxx