Today, as I do each week, I sat down to focus on my “52 lists project” journal. Cody & Scott were gone for a few hours to a birthday party, Lydia was asleep, and Evy (though still playing & chattering away) was happy in his crib. I decided to give myself a little “oasis” in the middle of this long weekend, poured myself a glass of white wine, and sat down to get cozy with my journals.
The last couple of weeks my “52 lists project” journal hasn’t revealed anything enlightening for me, so I felt a bit skeptical about opening it today. I’m happy to report that I was mistaken this time! This list was all about your favorite quotes, and I though “how fun!!” But, wait a minute…what were my favorite quotes? I listen to a lot of podcasts, love my audiobooks, and read printed books whenever I can…but QUOTES? Other than one from Maya Angelou, which reads “You are only free when you realize that you belong no place-you belong every place-no place at all. The price is high, the reward is great.”, I could think of nothing else….at first.
Then I thought to myself, “why don’t I just google some things similar to that?” And boom, up came a mass of quotes that resonated deeply with me. One from Ghandi, Dr Seuss, more from Maya Angelou (love her teachings so much!), Eleanor Roosevelt, and finally one from Ralph Waldo Emerson that touched the very core of my being: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”. It was as if Emerson himself were speaking directly to my soul.
At 32 years young, I am finally giving some focus and energy in to being my authentic self, which is why Emersons’ quote jumped out and grabbed me. Only, in my case, I don’t so much feel it has been the “world” that has been pressuring me in to being someone else, but ME who has been pressuring ME in to being who I mistakenly thought that I “should” be.
Well, no more.
No more “shoulds”
No more “try”
No more “want”
No more “can’t”
From now on, for me, there is only “will/will not”, or better yet “must/must not”. All the rest is too exhausting (and life is exhausting enough as it is, why would I add to it in such a negative, self-sabotaging manner?!)
I would love to have more interests, a varied array of hobbies. I would love to say that I go cliff-jumping for fun in summertime (because we have lots of cliffs and lakes which to do so here!), that I have begun skiing in winter, or that I have taken up painting, or golfing, or something else that sounds fun & intriguing like those things do. But that’s just not me. Me, if I have free time, I actually like to do the same things that I did when I was young. I love to snuggle in and get lost in a great book. I love to watch horror movies (poor Scott, he does not love that genre, at all, ha!!). And, I love to write (bet you could have guessed that one huh? 😉 ) I bought this beautiful adult coloring book with a pack of high-quality pencil crayons (what does it take to be classified as a “high-quality” pencil crayon anyways? I always giggle at that…) and had every intention of using it….but I bought it 2 years and 2 months ago. That’s right!! And it has done nothing but collect dust in my closet. Every time I open my closet doors, I think “I should really sit down and start that one of these days…” Why? Because other people find this to be relaxing? Well, other people are not me. No more “shoulds”. Another key take-away from Gretchen Rubin is that just because other people find something fun, doesn’t mean that I do. BE LACEY. I am removed the shackles, and gave away that coloring book & pencil crayon set today. I spread some joy, and now instead of “shoulding” all over myself (those who love “sex & the city” will get my reference!), I can focus on the pastimes that I truly enjoy. This is not to say that I will never try something new, I absolutely will! But when I just need some downtime before bed, time to refuel, I can take comfort in & rely on these old faithfuls!
I recently came across the concept of “decision fatigue”. The best way I picture it is this: we each have a limited capacity to make choices each day, a “decision tank” so to speak. A bit of fuel is used up with each choice we have to make, whether it is big or small (cream in our coffee or not? Do we make ourselves workout that day? Which method might be best to help Evrett with his development? Etc). The tank eventually empties, we run on fumes…until we stall….out. I have felt the ramifications of this thousands of times in my life, but had just never realized that it was a real thing. And with the amount of life-altering events, both good and bad, that have occurred since the end of 2016 until now, I need all of the decision-making power that I can harness!! So, I began narrowing down the amount of choices demanded of me on a regular basis. How? I’ll tell you…: First, I price-compared and automated deliveries for our staple items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, paper towel, etc.) that won’t go bad or go to waste. I made out a daily routine that I can depend on. I made it a pact with myself to see my closest friends once a month, on the same set-date, so that we all have a higher chance of being able to attend amongst our many responsibilities in life. (Because how often do us mothers of young children spontaneously go out for a night-on-the-town with her people? Not. Very. Often.) I got down to a standard close to minimalism in our house (so that I am not constantly picking up useless things, the type that no one really cares about, before I can even begin to vacuum or dust!) so that we have the things that are useful to us, and the things that genuinely enrich our family life, but no extra clutter to bog us down. I ordered lovely file box folders, complete with hanging files, for each of the kids and our kitchen, so that when anything comes home in their bags or arrives in the mail, it has a slot to be filed in to, but doesn’t add to visual clutter in the midst of our kitchen area. This way, when papers or keepsakes from school/daycare arrive, I do not feel any overwhelm by figuring out where to put them or what to do with them, they have their pre-destined places and it requires zero time or effort (and I get a thrill out of putting things in their proper places, I can admit that!). I put my phone on “do not disturb” after 9 PM EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. (another automated thing) So that I adhere to my habit of reading in peace, and meditating before bed. I don’t need to decide whether or not to look at a text notification, because that notification doesn’t even come through. Our meals for the week are pre-planned out, and written on a magnetized black board on the fridge, because I am soooo painfully far from being a natural chef, and the idea of planning suppers on the fly every day is anxiety-provoking for me. We have family game night every Sunday after supper, this way we can all depend on some time to be goofy and laugh together, no decisions about when to “fit it in”. I’m sure there’s so much more than this….but you get the gist.
My mind is freed up by those automated things, by my routines. I can use my remaining mind power to make the bigger, important decisions (such as: will music help Evrett learn more? Or how about physical play involving gross motor skills? Which signs should we incorporate today? Do I think it’s likely that Lydia doesn’t need her reflux medication any more? Does she possibly still have a dairy sensitivity? Is Cody feeling loved and acknowledged enough, with his brother needing such unique things, and a baby sister as well? Etc etc etc) without feeling overwhelm set in as often.
These things may seem overly restrictive to some, and for those people, they may actually BE too restrictive!! There is no one size fits all. But for ME, these things keep my anxiety levels low, allow me to function at my best, and take liberties when they will bring me the most enjoyment. Most of all, it keeps me, and our household, running smoothly.
We may not feel happy every moment of every day, but we are certainly happy every day. And me being true to ME, simplifying what I can, and focusing on the things that truly matter to US (not others), allows me to be my best self. For the sake of my babies, my husband, friends, family, and most of all, MYSELF.