September 13, 2016

Pacing Yourself: Week Four

By now, I've had an empty nest for nearly a month and WHEW!  I am exhausted. There is a certain irony to the fact that now my time is my own and I have attempted to do everything I meant to do for the past 21 years in one month.

running ragged with tasks
How I envisioned my free time
Here is a short list of activities I've started:
  • Cleaning out all the toys and closets
  • Losing that weight that slowly crept onto my frame
  • Joining a gym
  • Writing the book I always wanted to write
  • Making a business plan to market and sell that book
  • Finishing up the plans for our vacation of a lifetime
  • Catching up with all my friends I haven't seen
  • Committing to new volunteer opportunities
  • Looking for a job and sending out over 20 cover letters and revamped resumes
  • Updating my blogs
  • Making doctor appointments for my milestone year of 50
  • Canning and freezing seasonal food
  • Substitute teaching
trying to multitask household chores
The reality, minus the cat and baby
Those are the new undertakings, not to mention that there still are the daily jobs that must be done to keep a household running, such as paying bills, cleaning, cooking, yard work and laundry. And frankly, I'd neglected a number of those as evidenced by (shhh, please don't tell my spouse) an overdue bill notice. Yikes!

I actually decided one day to mow our lawn completely by hand so I could combine my exercise with yard work. As I was mowing, I got to thinking, maybe that could be my job, killing three birds with one stone. A job, exercise and yard work. My brain was drawing up a business plan how to get lawn mowing clients as if I were a teenage kid, not a 50 year old empty nest mom. Scratch that moment of entrepreneurial spirit, especially when I nearly collapsed after I was done with the lawn.

Nobody can accuse me of wasting my free time, but I am completely inundated by a monster of my own doing. Years of a hectic schedule, juggling multiple commitments for a houseful of people has me thinking that is the best way to feel busy.

Instead, I feel overwhelmed and less productive. A 2014 study by the University of Sussex indicates a link between multitasking and lower grey matter density in the brain.

What I have realized is that I don't have to cram in everything I still want to do. I can do every single one of those items on my list, but not simultaneously.

I need to pace myself and focus on one mission at a time. Quality, not quantity is what will help me fill my time and feel purposeful. Reminding myself that every runner knows the best way to finish the race it to pace yourself instead of sprinting full speed ahead.

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