Monday, March 19, 2007


I tend to take on too much. I mean, don't we all? To be honest, this "too much" that I take on is not only in the category of service to organizations outside of my home. There are many optional things that I decide are necessary (see Nov. 1, 06 post). We have too large a house, which can become impossible to keep entirely clean. I also am a procrastinator, which, though I am not convinced is a bad thing, certainly adds some urgency to my tasks at hand. If you are ever privileged to hear one of my kids pray, you will likely hear a request for help in "getting done the things we need." That, I know, comes from my example. I frequently find myself overwhelmed with life.

So in an attempt to alleviate some of the effects of this stress, I make lists. I often start the list with something I have done already that day, like "take a shower." That way when the list is completed, I can cross off an item straight away and feel that I'm on a roll. The more I have to do, the more routine tasks I add in minute detail. "Brush teeth, get dressed, make beds, finish laundry, pick up kids, feed dog, make dinner, check mail." This is a manifestation of my motto: "Nothing motivates me to loose weight like weight loss." In other words, nothing will motivate me to be productive quite like getting things done, even if those things are somewhat invented.

There becomes a point, however, when I am so overwhelmed that I neglect to make a list. I simply set out on my own, trying to get things accomplished. I then would appear to an onlooker to have ADD, bouncing from one thing, one room to another, frantically starting on one thing, remembering something else, and never quite finishing any of it. I am in over my head to absolute distraction. If this goes on for too long I become paralyzed.

I used to think that pulling Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility off of the shelf and spending a couple of days in Regency England rather than millennial Southern California was horrible of me. Late dinners, husband and kids repeatedly put off. Sometimes even headaches. No list worked on, let alone completed. It was an escape. My little security blanket to pull out when the going got too tough. And the tough are supposed to just get going, right?

Last month, however, my acupuncturist pointed out to me that reading for a day or two or even a week was a pretty benign way to escape. I must have looked puzzled because she started rattling off more destructive vices like drugs and alcohol. I hadn't thought of that. I felt a little better about myself, even a little tougher.

As for today, I am stressed. There is a lot not only to do right now, but to juggle in the upcoming weeks. Time to make myself a good list. Maybe even one of my weekly lists on a piece of lined paper. (Please don't suggest a planner. I've tried several times. They just don't work for me.)

x shower
x empty dishwasher
x post on blog . . .