Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out of balance

I've always been a busy person. It's part of my personality - as an ESTJ I am a "joiner" and thrive on interacting with and belonging to different groups (more about personality types on another day!). So, of course, that translates into being just a bit busy.

When I was in high school, I was in numerous clubs. National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Spanish Club, Key Club, Forensics, and the high school swim team plus a year-round swim team. And it wasn't enough to just show up for the attendance check - I was an officer in several and on volunteer committees for others. In my last two years I also held down several jobs and had a serious boyfriend (my nowadays-husband). I rarely partied and was a classic example of How To Keep Your Kids Out Of Trouble. If they're so busy they can barely sleep or get homework done, they're probably not out boozing and having sex. At least, I wasn't.

In college it was much of the same. Any one of my extracurriculars would have been (and was) enough for most people. Not for me! I had a few jobs (my record was 7 one summer), NCAA swim team, a cappella group, and was elected to the Honor Council all four years. Maybe not as impressive as my high school activity resume, but you do have to fit drinking in there somewhere! My senior year, I was selected to speak to a large group of high school seniors and their parents about college. My assigned topic? Balance.

The irony was not lost on me. The best way to achieve balance? Do less. Pick one or two activities and stick with them. Plan and schedule your classes and homework to spread out your workload. Too bad I could never follow my own advice. I regularly had (non-medical and probably minor) nervous breakdowns that consisted of lots of crying and wringing of hands. After I graduated and made it into the "real world," all of that changed.

At first, I had four hours of commuting every day and was planning a wedding. So those few months were a blur I'd rather not remember. But then, it was done. I was married. I'd moved closer to work. For the first time I could ever remember, I had free time.

I won't go over the particulars, but I did find some ways to amuse myself, including re-discovering internet message boards and TV.

But fast-forward a few years, and I find myself almost back to where I was in my youth. Overwhelmed, out-of-balance, and on the verge of a breakdown. I could blame it all on my new job. As wonderful as it is (what with normal co-workers), it's a longer day. I've also lost my telecommute day, and am beginning to despair that I will not get it back.

But I know it's me too. I'm trying to do too much again, and I'm lacking the proper perspective to cut back. I'm fairly entrenched in two different groups that meet monthly - during the 3rd week of course. And I'm trying to get into others. I'm back singing with my church group. I'm still working part-time on other people's websites. I'm still doing cloth diapers, though my diapers are starting to show the signs that I can really only wash them once a week.

And then there's all the mommy chores. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and meal planning. Paying the bills and setting our budget. Washing the baby's clothes and sometimes washing my own. Nursing - though not as often anymore. Arranging appointments and play dates. Trying to see my non-mommy friends so they don't think I've gone to the Dark Side (which I have, but I'm trying to strike that balance again).

And now, if I follow my "life plan," I will be trying to get pregnant next month. Is it too much? Will this really push me off the deep end? Last time around the first trimester was awful. I'm pretty sure I was depressed, at the very least I know I was incredibly apathetic. That won't work with a toddler underfoot.

Am I being selfish by wanting a big family? I know a lot of people think that way. I tend to disagree, but my own life has me wondering lately. I'm clearly out of balance. I'm not sure how to get realigned. Maybe pregnancy will do that for me. Maybe next week, or next month, I'll have an epiphany and get things in order. Or maybe, I'll make a slow descent into crazy-town and everything will fall apart.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why I love lists

  1. They keep me organized. Who doesn't love organization? Except when you have lists of lists. Watch out for that.
  2. Crossing items off gives me a sense of accomplishment. Which is why it's terrible that my to-do list for work today has nothing crossed off, and I've been here for 6.5 hours already.
  3. They're useful in all situations - for work projects, grocery shopping, Christmas, errands, weekend activities, books to read, and blogging.
  4. Everyone else knows I've got my shit together. Boss - "What are you working on today?" Me - "I've got a list!" Husband - "What's for dinner?" Me - "I've got a list!" Friend - "Are we going out this weekend?" Me - "I've got a list!"
  5. Once a list has been created, I can turn my brain off. This is especially useful on Friday afternoons at work. I don't need to think about what I need to do, I just need to look at the list.
  6. You can dress them up. My current "To-Do" list has different color pen and highlighter on it. Because some things are more important than others, but that doesn't mean I remembered to write the most important things first. Or second. Or at all.
  7. Superlatives rule. Some lists (unlike this rambling, unordered one) are all about Top 10, Top 5, Top 1000. They tell you the best vacation spots, top beaches, best recipes, hottest nightclubs, cheapest stores, ugliest prom dresses. Without lists, how would any of this information come to light?
  8. They come in all shapes and sizes. Like I mentioned in #7, you can have pretty much any "Top [insert number here]" list. And people will read it, regardless of how ridiculously long. You can also get them in print, on a post-it note, in a magazine, or on a website. I've even seen billboards with lists.
  9. They make a great crutch/scapegoat. If I forget something at the store, that's OK - I'll blame it on the list. Maybe I forgot it, or maybe I just missed an item. Doesn't matter, I can't be held to blame for a missing/faulty/hard-to-read list. And if I'm out without a list, well then obviously I won't be able to function until I find some paper and a pen and make a list. Until then, I wander aimlessly asking, "What do I need? Where am I? What year is it?"
  10. They're fun! Ok, maybe this is just me. But when it comes to re-prioritizing my life, re-balancing, and re-directing my energies - list making is key. I've made three lists today, and already I feel better. Try it for yourself!