Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Time for a Change Around Here

Can I be real for a few minutes? Really real? Ever feel so overwhelmed you don't even know where to start?

[This will be a bit lengthy, so if you're in the mood please grab a nice cup of coffee and come on in to my virtual kitchen. All set?]

We all say that periodically, and the statement has become cliche. But I'm talking about the kind of sheer fear and desperation that is really paralyzing. That terrible feeling that things, important things where you won't get a do-over, are falling through the cracks while you're busy putting out the latest fire. The fact that your list of things to do only keeps growing, and you never seem to cross anything off as accomplished. The nights where you have to work late (again) and, in your mind's eye, see all the things you had planned to accomplish that evening sliding away (again). The birthdays and occasions dear to family and friends that you miss (again) or are woefully late for, so late that you're embarrassed to even bring it up by the time you get around to it 8 weeks later. And the worst part is, you know the date, and you had it on your calendar weeks ahead to buy a card, or you even HAVE a card in the huge pile-of-cards you keep for just such occasions...but you don't get around to it. (Did I mention you even have stamps on hand? No excuses left here.) The bigger things, like the stress of loved ones dealing with chronic illness that you can't control or really help with. Big decisions to be made there. The smaller things, like the years where you didn't even get Christmas cards out and, as a result, feel even more out of touch and disconnected. The times where you look around the house and don't even know where to begin, while in your head tumble visions of all the things you'd like to do, if you could just find time. The meals you could make if you had half a chance of getting home in time. The workouts you forcibly make time for, but the weight doesn't come off (probably because your stress level is sky-high). The coupons that you've collected that would save you money, if you'd had time in the last 8 weeks to go through them. The time you'd like to be able to relax and spend with friends and family and really feel "present" in the moment, instead of spending those moments mentally trying to get a grip on your schedule, your life, even your sanity. The constant stress (which shouldn't be stressful, but is) of trying (and failing) to get pregnant. The devastating irony of hearing about a friend's 18 year old who is pregnant, and doesn't want to be. And then the days where you just throw up your hands and want to go to bed and forget about it all.

That, my friends, is pretty much how life has gone around here for the last few months. I'm not throwing all that out there to ask for your sympathy. We all have the same sorts of challenges with our lives, priorities and time. Many of you deal with all these things and more, plus kids...My challenges are nothing unusual. But I'm tired of feeling like a victim of my own procrastination, which is a large part of my scheduling, timing and stress issues. So, I'm inviting you to come along with me as I get my act together, one step at a time. I'm committed to sharing with you guys how things are going, the victories and the challenges, and I hope you'll follow along with this little journey! I'm going to be making some changes (more life related and less blog related, but you'll get to see some of it here) and I want to share with you guys what works and what doesn't work for me, in case it will help someone else! Please feel free to share any ideas or suggestions you have, as well as what works for you. And let me know I'm not alone. Ready?

So first things first. For me, it all begins with Christ. He's the beginning, middle, and end of why I was put on this planet. When that fact doesn't take center stage in all areas of my life, everything else will, by definition, be out of balance. Like a wheel without a center, nothing will turn correctly if it's not centered and stabilized properly. So you're going to see that I will try to get back to basics in my faith, resting in His grace, trusting in His provision and control over my life and circumstances, and RELAXING into His care. Easier said than done, certainly. But He's promised that I am not meant to carry all this myself, and He will be there in each moment of my life. Thank you, Lord, that you don't leave us to carry things alone! Thank you that I can bring you my messes, and you don't yell at me, you just say "we'll work on this together."

Next, because my out-of-control schedule and procrastination is the root of many evils in my life, you're going to see my attempts to simplify things and focus on what really matters. Another cliche, but that's because it's a home truth. How much stress could we collectively get rid of if we'd just say no to the unimportant things, and yes to those that matter? I for one get that backwards a lot, and it's costing me. In my relationships (both friends and family). In my health (hard to lose weight with stress hormones I can practically feel constantly flowing through my body!) Along with simplifying is going to come...

Decluttering. We're going to get this house finished (several random projects lingering from the move...4 years ago. Go ahead, laugh! It's all I can do at this point!) We're gonna get it organized and cleaned up and get rid of all the things that make me feel guilty just looking at them. Unfinished projects, things I bought and don't use, time and money wasters, junk I've kept for years and don't really know why I still have. For me Flylady is a huge help in this area. She's already helped me, in the last five years or so, to make big steps in this area, but there are certain things I keep falling off the wagon with. Mail still piles up, paper clutter is everywhere, sticky notes are everywhere (though this is getting better with Evernote, something you'll hear more about soon!), half-read books are everywhere, recipes and coupons are everywhere. I'm tired of the chaos!! And lastly, I'm going to work on the e-clutter, which (ironically) multiplies faster than the other types of clutter, and somehow makes me feel even more out of control of things. I actually shudder when I see "you have 5,403 emails in your inbox." And "you have 3,452 unread items in Google Reader." Emails I want to respond to get lost in the 10 or so "special offers," spam and other junk that flows freely through my inbox each day. Posts I want to read and respond to slide away each day. And like most people, I've got several inboxes, one of life's little ironies (exactly how many ways do we need for people to reach us?) So please share anything that works for you, and I will do the same.

And while I'm on this subject, technology (which is supposed to help us, right? ;-) is getting more overwhelming by the day. Does anyone else feel assaulted, from about 7 different directions, by electronic correspondence that it seems we're expected to keep up with minute-by-minute? It's great to have all these ways of keeping in touch, and don't get me wrong. I love hearing from friends and family any time. But lately it seems that it's just out of control. Between work email, work phone calls and voicemail, cell phone calls, text messages, picture mail, home phone calls, facebook postings, facebook messages, facebook chat, twitter, and regular old email (plus friendly-fire 'spam' from companies I really do want to hear from, just not six of them each day...) Then of course there are our blogs to post to, friends' blogs to read, contests and giveaways that are fun to join in, and oh yeah I should read a couple news headlines at least once a day...I have a hunch I'm not the only one feeling this way. Or if I am, please lie to me, okay? ;-) LOL!

If you're still reading, you probably know just where I'm coming from! Thanks for hanging in there. So...all of this is just to say, I refuse to give up or give in. With God's help and a LOT of support and love from my family and friends, I plan to get my act together and get a better attitude.

Just as soon as I have breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day, I hear!

So please speak up, let me know I'm not alone and you still love me, LOL! I need affirmation and I want to hear what works for you guys.

Love and hugs!



Heather said...

Angela, my heart goes out to you. I know how much you want to be a mom, and how hard it is to wait on God's timing when you are just ready to do it RIGHT NOW.

I am praying for you in this endeavor to declutter, reorganize and simplify your life. I know you can do it!

Shelley said...

Hey there. I'm so sorry that you are stressed out. You are NOT alone. Let me affirm that for you. I do love you and am here if you need to vent. I know that your life is incredibly hectic and I always wondered how you kept a smile on your face with all that you have on your plate (cause me, I'd be running around like a raving lunatic)just sayin'.
I will remember you in my prayers today and if you happen to be getting rid of any good stuff, let me know ;-), JK. Try not to stress too much about stressing.

Jane In The Jungle said...

OK so you know I've got lots to say so I'll email ya later!

Love Ya,

Kimberly Flynn said...

I know where you're coming from. I got so tired of the clutter and junk around my apartment that moving out here turned into the biggest blessing. I sold/gave away everything I didn't need. And I mean EVERYTHING. It was so freeing to not have the burden of all of this "stuff" that did nothing but get in my way and stress me out visually. One fun thing I did was have a "Reverse Housewarming Party" where I invited over all my girlfriends and instead of bringing a gift they took something of mine I didn't want: clothes, shoes, housewares, etc. I had bags that they filled to the top! It was really fun for everyone (Daniel might want to leave the house for this one).

And the biggest thing to help me when I feel overwhelmed is to make a "gratitude list" and write down everything I am grateful for. It makes my problems seem much smaller and less important in the big picture when I can step back and realized that I am loved and cared for always. I have never gone without. My problems only live in my perspective and even though I'm out here far away from my loved ones in a tiny apartment and completely broke and unable to find a job for 6 months I feel more blessed and more cared for than any amount of outer success or accomplishment could ever provide.

I know this is the "little sister" talking but I love you and am here for you if you need anything. And no matter what God has a plan for you and even though you might not know where this piece fits into the puzzle right now I can assure you it is a vital part of a wonderful picture He has for your life.

Oh, and on a side note I'm starting a blog called "Dogs Wearing Coats" that will be nothing but pictures of dogs wearing coats.

Connordog said...

Hey, we are all there! Trust me! I *should* have done some crap around the house on Sat, but instead I took a nap. An NICE LONG NAP. Talk about procrastination!!!! I think that in my case the weather is a big factor. I would much rather curl up when it's cloudy than buckle down and work. That's just how it is. So I am going to UNPROCRASTINATE with you! We have new bedroom furniture coming in a couple of weeks and WE ARE GOING TO GET THE BEDROOM PAINTED before then. I swear it!

katherine said...

Hey Angela - hang in there! You are in my prayers.... One of the things that helps me most during stressful seasons is to make lists and write everything down. All the half-done projects, projects I want to start, chores that need to be done, even silly thing like clipping fingernails. Somehow the process of getting the items on paper helps me to acknowledge them even though I can't get to them, which makes me feel better. And writing them down also lessens my stress by capturing all those gazillion of thoughts/to-dos that bombard my brain. Then once everything is on a list (ususally a HUGE list), somehow that lifts the frustration and sense of being overwhelmed so that I actually can begin to do them one by one. (Or decide they don't need to be done. Or give away the half-done project I no longer want to do - I actually do that sometimes - bag the project and the supplies and put a tag on it that says what it is.) Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time. I'm hoping and praying you'll get a break from work soon.....................

Live.Love.Eat said...

ANGELA! You are NOT alone and I loved your honesty in this post. I am praying for you to start feeling less overwhelmed.

I will email you on the side but just a couple of pointers coming from a woman who works outside the home with 1 child and 2 dogs who make a messy house ~ learn to say no. One thing I do is not overextend myself. I space commitments out even on weekends.

The other thing ~ make a drawer in your kitchen just for recipes & mags you want to go through. LOL. I did this recently and I love it. Anytime I clip a recipe or print one it goes in the drawer.

Lastly, lighten up on yourself. You have something huge like trying to have a baby weighing on you. This is the most important thing but maybe the stress of that is exacerbating the other little things that just shouldn't get your stress level up.

Can't wait to hear your progress. Hugs and prayers your way!!!!

Michelle said...

Oh Angela, you are absolutely not alone. And you should know that - remember me being on leave because of many of these same issues? I do hope that you're feeling better right now and less stressed and happier - especially with work, since I think that's one of your biggest stressors right now. Fingers crossed for you - and hugs!

Angie's Spot said...

Wow, I am feeling horrible that I was so far behind in my blog reading that I missed this entry! I echo much of what others here have commented already and add that I love you so much and know exactly how frustrated you feel right now (in many of these areas!). I'm coming down there SOON and we need to go have lunch and go for a walk or do something to de-stress.

Until then, here's a piece of email management that I can offer you. As someone who has multiple email accounts also, I swear by Gmail. They have built in spam filters that funnel all of the crap into one folder that you can easily delete with 1 keystroke and not worry about missing friend emails. And on your reader, don't be afraid of the "Mark All as Read" button. None of us can possibly keep up with all of the blogs that we want to on a regular basis and I think most (close friends included) will understand if you don't read, much less comment, on every single entry. Let it go and don't feel bad about it.

Robin's Reports said...

I'm so far behind, it's been a month since you've written this and I'm just now getting to it!! Shame on me.
I totally feel your sense of being overwhelmed. Renee and I were talking about that yesterday. Seems like w/ the invention of FB, time disappears. It's a good way to keep up w/ family, but such a time waster when your house is out of order. Plus, we also mentioned all the e-mails it generates in your inbox. I tend to hold over 500 emails now. I simply can't seem to delete enough, fast enough.

Please feel free to call me anytime you need a friend. Do you still have my #? You're spot-on when you say that Christ is what will center you again.

Starting in May, I'm taking 6 wks off from regular life. I will become a total beach bum & homemaker at the same time. The only thing that will stay the same is church on Sun am. I need time to rejuvenate & refresh with myself, Christ and my family. (& not as a teacher either!)

Take care,

prashant said...

I am praying for you to start feeling less overwhelmed.
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