Have you ever felt, at the end of a long, exhausting, and non-stop day that you accomplished nothing? Like you never stopped moving but have nothing to show for it? No sense of accomplishment? No warm and fuzzy ‘I’m such a great parent’ aura? No fat paycheck? Nothing but frazzled hair, brain, and body?
I’m embarrassed to admit, that until recently, I didn’t know that there were people who didn’t end every day feeling that way. Say what? I can end the day feeling happy, accomplished, energized, and only somewhat frazzled-haired? Tell me more.
After examining the pattern of my days I noticed that I rarely finished anything in one go, even diaper changes. Yes, unfinished diaper changes get messy. I would start a project, task, workout, meal, or bathroom visit, and would quickly be interrupted by a lovely baby, phone call, remembrance of another “more important” task, or something of that nature, and would shift gears, leaving the last activity half completed, and leaving half my mind with that activity, while moving on to the next. Starting to get a whiff of why I always ended my days be-frazzled?
Even though we think we can effectively multi-task, and do two million and five things at once, our mind can really only focus on one thing at a time. So, if the mind is thinking about the directions to the doctor’s office, and the hands are working to wipe poop off a wiggling child’s everything, something has got to give.
One thing my mind was able to hold on to, regardless of what it might be thinking, was guilt. I felt guilty for the task I had left behind, I felt guilty for not being completely present for the task I was currently doing, and I felt guilt for feeling guilty. A fraction of my guilt stemmed from mistakenly labeling myself as a ‘P’ word (a procrastinator.)
During further examination of my patterns, I realized that I was not actually a ‘P’ word, but a ‘W’ word, (a waffler.) I was easily swayed by what others thought I should be doing, and couldn’t make up my own mind regarding what was actually important for me; and because I’m the mother of a small child, I also had to consider what was important for him.
Solution? Okey dokey; I decided that I needed to start putting my phone on silent, saying ‘no’ when necessary, and forgiving myself for putting off tasks when it was in the name of spending time with my kiddo. In addition to those action steps, I also needed some metaphysical solutions in there, which came in the form of being present. Really really really being present in each activity I was partaking in. If I was writing, I was writing. If I needed to stop writing and shake the sillies out with my son, I was no longer thinking about writing, I was shaking my sillies out. When my son then occupied himself with something else, I could then shift my focus back to writing, because that was the main task of importance I had identified for the day, besides chillin’ with my mini homie of course. Guess what happened at the end of those days? I felt fulfilled! I felt accomplished! I had put aside phone calls, laundry, and other important tasks that I would get to tomorrow (on their set day,) but today I wrote, and played with my run-ddler (a toddler that runs.) Sticking to the tasks that I had identified as important was so empowering, it helped me remember that I am indeed the master of my own universe, regardless of how badly I occasionally want to pass on that responsibility to someone else.
If you, like myself, have grown tired of un-bedazzled frazzled days, try out these action steps, sprinkled with some metaphysical:
–Be Present. In whatever activity you’re engaged in, practice being present, being completely mindful of what you’re doing. I say ‘practice’ because this does not come easily (at least not for me!) it takes conscious intention to make mindfulness and being present a subconscious natural part of your experiences, every last one of them. When you’re in this activity, leave the other one behind; write it down on your special list if you need to, but leave it behind, you’ll come back to it, it will get done, but this is what you’re doing, right now.
–Forgive yourself. If you occasionally find yourself having to start-stop-stop-start something important, that’s okay. You’re not weak, uncommitted, or lazy, you’re human. As long as you can recommit and refocus yourself when the time is right, you’re doing great. It’s never a bad time to tickle your kiddo, kiss your partner, or hug your mom; the laundry can wait.
–Listen. Listen to yourself, your child, the person on the phone, the breeze in the trees, the persistent woodpecker sculpting your yard, listen. I’ve recently learned to listen and it’s been quite wonderful, less pressure on me to come up with something interesting to say, and more connection and respect with the speaker (or sound maker) whom I’m listening to. It’s near impossible to not be present when you’re actively listening, take a load off and listen.
-Give Thanks. Appropriately, I’m writing this on Thanksgiving! What a perfect day to marinate on the value of giving thanks to and for everything and everyone, yes everything and everyone. Even the perceived muck that we inevitably deal with, usually on a regular basis, has a purpose (and not just the purpose of pissing us off.) Time spent honestly reflecting on past “mucky experiences” usually reveals a valuable lesson, or subsequent amazing outcome from the seemingly mucky muck. Add gratitude to your present moments, say thank you for the poop in your baby diapers, if they weren’t pooing, you’d have problems. Give thanks for the missed job opportunity, a better one is coming. Give thanks for the espresso maker that exploded coffee grounds all over your kitchen (ceiling included,) your kitchen will never be cleaner after the one hour clean up. True story. Adding active thankfulness to your tool belt of conscious turned subconscious daily states of being, you will notice a shift from worry, to being, well happy, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Happy Thanks-for-everything-and-everyone Day!