I have started to write many times the past couple weeks, but I just can’t seem to finish a blog post.
First, I was going to write about how my precious, anxious little boy is handling First Grade, but then I asked if he was okay with that. He said he didn’t want me to write about his issues without his permission, because, well, it was sort of private.
Then I was going to write about how my six-year-old expresses his emotions and sets boundaries better than I do, but then, well, I just really didn’t know where to go with it. It always ended up being about someone else instead of me.
Then, I was going to write about the first time I “cooked” for my husband and how inadequate I still feel in that department. I put “cooked” in quotes, because it really is a stretch to call what I did 17 years ago cooking. I put some chicken in a pot of boiling water, cardboard backing still attached, with absolutely no plan as to what to do next. We ended up ordering pizza. I have come a long way since then, but I still feel like I need a “Meal Planning for Dummies” book much of the time. But as I started to write about it, it stalled out because the direction the post was taking was too familiar.
I could see myself writing the same words I’ve written 100 times before – that it’s okay not to be perfect, that it’s okay not to be great at things other women are good at, that no matter what, we are all beautiful children of God. Of course, that’s all true, but it just seemed stale. And while I’m okay with the underlying message in every single blog post being the same – that we are all loved beyond measure and that it all comes down to God and Jesus – I’m not okay with just repeating the same words over and over. I know from personal experience how “churchy” language can lose its meaning when it’s overused. Above all, I feel called to be real when I write.
So here’s what’s real for me right now. I am overwhelmed. I really shouldn’t even be writing this blog post right now. There is so much going on at work; I can’t seem to get on top of it all. I’m even travelling to England for my job! I’m excited about the trip, but I’m also scared. This is the first time I’ve traveled for work in years. I normally work in my pajamas with no makeup on. What if I am a total failure on this trip? Even scarier, what if I’m a success? What if this is the first of many trips I am expected to take? Remember, boundaries are not my forte. I could see God setting me up with an “opportunity for growth” here – what a great way to learn to set boundaries right?
Then, there’s everything else, like being a mom and a wife and a daughter and a sister and a friend and a neighbor and a Sunday School teacher and a home owner and … the list goes on and on. Sometimes I just want to curl up under the covers and watch a couple Lifetime movies. Last night, I actually did curl up under the covers and watch a couple Lifetime movies. (Thank God I took the boiling chicken incident as a sign that I had found the man for me and my husband continues to say “yes, let’s order pizza” when I have little meltdowns.)
The truth is, I hate admitting that I get stressed and overwhelmed like this, because I don’t want to come across as an ungrateful brat. I mean, how can I ever complain about anything when I have such an amazing life. So many people would give everything to have what I have – two healthy and wonderful children, a great job, a fantastic family, incomparable friends, a beautiful home, the opportunity to teach Sunday School … the list goes on and on. I haven’t even mentioned my dog. I have SO much love in my life! My cup overflows, and yet, there are times, I can hardly even stand to be in the present moment, because I am so stressed and overwhelmed.
I could probably look back at ten of my previous blog posts and copy over the last couple paragraphs to end this post with a neat little bow. I’m sure things I’ve written before would apply here beautifully – how we are all “perfectly imperfect,” how it all comes down to irrational fear and that fear is tackled best by praying, writing or talking with a friend. All of those things are true. But here are some other, not quite as neatly packaged things that have been helping me lately:
- Mantras – I say something like what is below over and over again in my head.
I trust God with everything, I trust God with everything.
Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just do.
Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done.
- Really, Really, Really Detailed Lists and Schedules – This week, I seriously could only get focused and get anything done when I took the time to actually plot out in five-minute intervals what I was going to do.
- 10:05-10:10 – Send email to so and so about topic A.
- 10:10-10:15 – Schedule meeting about topic B.
- “Next Right Thing” Sticky Notes – I’ve heard for a while now that when you are stressed or overwhelmed, you should just do the “next right thing,” and I love this idea. However, sometimes, there are just SO many “next right things.” When I feel paralyzed by all the choices, I will write a few options down on sticky notes and then randomly pick one. Right now, no joke, I have the following sticky notes on my desk:
A few months ago, I was at a talk with Elizabeth Gilbert where she said if you can’t finish something, give yourself permission to do a bad job at it. This has helped me SO much. I now say things to myself all the time like “You have permission to just do a terrible job at dinner tonight” or “I want you to go ahead and send this email even if it’s just awful.” When my perfectionist tendencies kick in (in other words, always), this is the only way I can actually get anything done. Including this blog post.