Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy's Gift

I haven't been at work for 4 days.  Torrential rains.  Flooding.  Falling trees.  Power outages.  Hurricane Sandy walloped the East coast.

Thankfully I watched most of it on TV from the warm comfort of my living room.  I can't say I've ever been so grateful to have a storm rage around me and leave me nothing more than a little wet.

With Ray taking over the menu prep, my load has lightened.  Versus feeling a weight grow day after day on my shoulders, I started making progress.  The road was long, but I felt I could walk it again.  That hopefulness was something I hadn't felt in a long time.  What a beautiful feeling!

As Sandy closed down the East Coast for the past two days, I relaxed.  Work allowed employees to take off time to made up over the next few months - no precious leave needed.  A windfall of time fed the hopefulness and the result was gloriously relaxing.

For the first time in months, I had unplanned time.  Time to use however I saw fit.  Time to gain a foothold in the chaos.  All the things I could plan to do...

The first of which was to sleep in Monday morning.  I slept.  And slept.  And slept.  Until 8:30 am!!!  Many might think this a insignificant feat.  But those people are not the parents of toddler morning birds.  I was so happy to sleep.

Upon waking Monday morning, I considered listing all the things I wanted to get done.  I could build a nice long list and check things off one by one.  It would be so satisfying.  But that isn't what I did.  I didn't plan at all.  I just lived in my space.  As a task popped up, I worked on it.  Or I didn't.  I dedicated myself to no task taking more than an hour.  ROWE - Results Only Work Environment.  I could have to go back to my real job at any moment.  All that mattered was the state I left behind.  Start nothing that can't be completed.

My first urge was to prepare for the hurricane.  A little shopping.  Extra water in the fridge.  Candles out.  Matches located.  Laundry dried.  Portable electronics charged.  Bigger electronics shutdown.  Children bathed.  Sweaters donned.

Feeling as in control of my fate as I could in the middle of a hurricane I began to search my house for the other items which were bothering me.

Boxes of recently acquired hand-me-downs - organized into sortable stacks.
My girls' puzzles and board games - organized onto a repurposed shleving unit in the closet.
Piles of thoroughly loved bath toys - sorted and separated into keep and toss.
Stack of dropped items inside the kitchen door - escorted to their respective homes.
Mountain of craft supplies supporting past projects - organized back into the craft boxes.

Monday became Tuesday and I kept gliding through the house.  Puttering.  Finding an object out of place, returning it to its home.  We moved some furniture.  Divested of more unsold items from our yard sale.  Planned to ridding our house of more things kept past their usefulness.

Tomorrow I return to work.  I can't say that I'm done, but I don't ever really want to be done.  I just want to feel at peace in my own space.  For the first time in quite a long time, I think I've achieved that.  Now I just have to work on keeping the peace.  :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When something's got to give

This fall has been full of lessons for me.  Lessons about maintaining my health.  Lessons on making time for relaxation.  Lessons concerning how fast my children are growing.  The latest lesson I have yet to conquer is how to recognize, and subsequently respect, my own limits.

But I'm trying.

My baby sister got married this weekend.  The day after her wedding Bean turned 4.  Two weeks from now MY baby Inchie turns 2.  Given the craziness of the month, I combined their birthday celebrations into one happy party.  I took that as proof that I was finally getting the hang of not overextending myself.  Maybe I was learning my lesson.

Regrettably one less party didn't seem to lessen the load.  At we entered into wedding weekend, I felt out of control.  Work had been accomplished that week through force of will.  There was nothing organic or sustaining about the energy used.  I have a plaque in my office which reads "You will because you can."  It's meant to be empowering I think, but I've started reading it as a warning.  I can do a lot of things but maybe I shouldn't do them all at once.

I wasn't keeping up.  My head was full of unfinished tasks.  So I made a list.  Better out than in.
  • Make Dinner
  • Set tomorrow's clothes
  • Pack Lunches
  • Pack Snack (M,W)
  • Prep Dinner for tomorrow
  • Fold laundry and Put away clean clothes
  • Gather up dirty clothes and Swap loads
  • Sort mail
  • Wipe off table
  • Pick up living room
  • Pack gym bag for the morning
I showed the list to my husband.  He didn't like the list.  He said I had too many things on it and I was going to discourage myself.  He was right.  That list is too long.  But someone has to do the work.  I tried following the list each day  for a week and I made little progress.

I still wasn't accounting for all the things I need to do on a weekly basis.  They weren't on the list.  And I grew more and more discouraged and frustrated.   My head filled back up again and I pretty much threw in the towel.  I selected our clothes for the weekend from the dirty piles in my laundry room and washed them all at once.  They came out of the dryer, into the suitcase and we departed for the wedding.  I do not like living that way.  Whatever feeling exists beyond overwhelmed is where I was at.  And it started to show.

After numerous heated exchanges, I finally got to the heart of the matter with my husband.  I needed to divest of something.  Ignoring the list to start with we decided that my primary household responsibilities were Finances, Scheduling, Food and Clothing.  My husband took care of  Dishes, Trash, House Upkeep and Yard Work.

Strangely enough, my husband was extremely hesitant to take over any of my responsibilities.  My trend is to control everything to meet my expectations.  It keeps life stable.  It also keeps me very very busy; I'm learning - too busy.  Trying to take a task from me is possibly like trying to cook a nice meal for a gourmet chef.  It's just not fair.

But it was necessary.  As of this week, Food is no longer mainly my responsibility.  I still cook dinner in the evening because I'm the first one home.  My husband is in charge of menu planning, grocery shopping, packing lunches and nightly dinner prep.  I cook what he tells me to cook and make requests.

I haven't driven him to quit yet.  I hope I don't.  When we finally agreed on what our new delineation of duties was I felt like I could breathe for the first time in weeks.  When I turned the cleaning of my house over to professionals, it took me about 3 months to stop being stressed about it.  Hopefully I learned my lessons during that divesting.

We are three days in.