I am not proud of my reaction that occurred when I heard a loud “splash” as I was getting out of the bathtub. See, I had had one of those days. I was over scheduled, overwhelmed, and not in a good mood. I remember that it was just a day, in the middle of a super busy, frantic season, that left me feeling irritated, annoyed and frustrated. I decided to treat myself to a nice, warm bath to relax and try to end the day well. I got out of the bathtub and had forgotten that I left my phone on the counter, under my towel. Well, I think you know where this is going….that “splash”! My iPhone fell to the bottom of the tub and there it lay as I just remember thinking, “I can’t take one more thing.” I remember saying some words that I wouldn’t want my grandmother to hear and picking up the phone and throwing it out of the tub in a not so nice way. I was DONE!
My sweet hubby (who has told me 51, 478,932, 394 times not to take my phone in the bathroom) came and got my phone and immediately put it in rice. I calmed down and crawled into bed realizing this isn’t a real problem in life, just an inconvenience. My hubby had an old flip phone from our dating days that he never got rid of. He gave it to me to use while I was waiting to see if my phone’s rice bath was going to be life saving. We noticed there were some voicemails on there from over a decade ago and thought it would be fun to listen to them. Well, this is where my life was changed!
A message to Anthony from me had been saved on there from 2007. It was a long message thanking him for helping me while I was overwhelmed, over scheduled and frustrated. I was saying to him that I wouldn’t do that again and that I appreciated him helping me (read: bailing me out while I probably didn’t have a great attitude) while I was drowning in to-do’s and commitments. It spoke to me! I looked at him and it was like time stood still. I realized that I have been wanting balance in my life for so long! I realized that I had a bad habit of scheduling too many things and trying to do everything, too much, all time time!
I reflected and I remembered and I regretted some things. I realized right that moment was time to not just say I wanted to change, but to change. This happened in the middle of December. I finished out some commitments and vowed to start January differently.
I had to ask myself some hard questions about why my schedule had gotten so out of control. I had to look inside and see what was driving me. I learned some important facts. See, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to say no to anything. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. (Long story, but some of what was driving me was the fact that I had missed out on so much when I was sick years ago and I hated that. I didn’t want to ever miss anything because I felt I had missed so much.) I didn’t want to regret anything. But, by doing this I was overwhelmed and over scheduled and wasn’t enjoying my life to the fullest. Interestingly, I was doing this because I wanted to enjoy my life. I wanted to help others. I wanted to live life without regrets, But, listening to my own voice saying how overwhelmed I was in 2007 and realizing it was as if I was describing my current reality was just too much.
So, here I was trying to help others and do what I thought was “right” but I ended up exhausted, not enjoying my life and not reaching my goals. Also, I wasn’t super present with my loved ones because I wasn’t my best self. I was cutting things short, coming in late, trying to get one more thing done on the list. In essence, I was spinning my wheels on my real goals because I was so busy!
I started by writing down goals for 2018. Things that were really important to me like health, family, marriage, being present and intentional, building my photography business. I thought about what I wanted life to feel like and be like. I also remembered what a sweet, wise friend had told me during one of my meltdowns: “You control your calendar. You dictate your schedule. You can say no”! I ordered the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. I dug out my goal planning workbook I had received form some dear friends “PowerSheets” by Lara Casey. I thought about my book “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst that I had been too busy to finish. I allowed myself to sit, reflect, feel and dream. I also left my job at the end of the year to pursue what I love, photography.
I am 3 weeks into January and can say that although I am not where I want to be, (do we ever arrive?) I am so not where I was. I am learning to say no to “good” things to allow time for the great things that are most important. I am learning to not over schedule. I am also letting go of perfectionism (can I get an Amen?). I have many things I want to do and the old me wouldn’t sleep until everything on my to-do list was done, but the new me is choosing grace. I am having grace with myself like I do for others. I am working on setting realistic expectations for not just me, but others. I am practicing gratitude. I am letting go of comparison. I am learning to be more flexible. I am working on setting healthy boundaries. I am learning to forgive myself when I miss it and accept myself for who I am. I am not rushing through things, but learning to be present and enjoy them.
My word for the year is “intentional” and that is keeping me grounded and focused when life comes rushing in with its demands. I am really enjoying spending time with people without feeling anxious about the endless to-do list. I am feeling better in my relationships now that my expectations are filled with grace. I am enjoying the calm that my body has needed for so long. I am saying yes to spontaneous, lovely times that I have time for because I am not over scheduling. I am thankful for the moments of quiet that bring stillness to my soul.
I wish I could say all of this was easy. But, what I can say is it is worth it. I am worth it. YOU are worth it. If a recovering perfectionistic, people-pleaser can improve, anyone can.
Here are some practical strategies that have helped me:
- Setting aside time to be quiet.
- Doing things I enjoy just because.
- Thinking about my goals before I commit to things. Asking myself “does this fit in with what I want my life to be like this year?” If I say yes to this, will I have to sacrifice something that I don’t want to?”
- Thinking about the day ahead at night. What do I want it to look like?
- Trying to be present and grounded in even the very small, everyday things like meal prepping or working in the yard, or laundry.
What are some ways that help you be present in your life? I would love to hear what you are working on in your life. Wishing you an amazing 2018 full of joy and peace!