Friday, March 25, 2011

Taking a Breath

See these two? My husband Mike and my daughter Amanda. Two of the most well organized, well ordered human beings on the planet. They thrive on order and I live in a constant state of chaos. How did we all end up together? I assume that God put them with me to keep me from spiraling out of control. What was in it from them? The strengthening of their patience muscles?

I have been working hard. Probably a little too hard. I am weary. When you're driving home and it's still daylight, and you walk through your back door before 6pm and your thought is, "This is how normal people live," it might be a sign that something's out of whack. Ya think???

I don't know when this affliction hit me. I worked for nearly 17 years in the same company and pretty much the entire time I was able to live like the normals. I maintained some semblance of order in my home. I worked Monday through Friday, pretty much 9 to 5 and only worked extra hours on rare occasions. There were the occasional projects, the infrequent business travel and the moments with impending deadlines. But, they were the exception. Now they are the rule. Why? And why, pray tell, do I create messes, literal messes, everywhere I go?

My husband playfully accuses me of "forgetting" to come home from work. I have never actively sought promotions...I've never been a "climber". I've never been obsessed with being "the" best, but, with being my best. Still, I've too often allowed myself to be talked into taking on more responsibility than I say I want. In doing so, I don't have time for the things in my life that I say are most important. What is that?

I often quote the old adage, "a good man knows his limitations," as my reason for not wanting to move higher up the ladder in my profession. I know what I'm good at and I know my failings. But, for the good of the teams I've been associated with, I've agreed, more than once, to take on responsibilities that have driven me to my knees. Is that the point? I don't know. I just know I'm tired and that I want to balance this teeter-totter out.

I have long struggled with balance. I work so long and so hard that I am too tired to go to the gym, or leave too late to get to a class. I end up eating on the run more often than not and then, eating what is expedient vs what is healthy and might take some preparation. I am looking at my dresser right now and it is covered with paperwork needing to be filed, magazines and books waiting to be read and bills waiting to be paid. There are clothes waiting to be hung up, shoes on the floor and a pile of laundry waiting to be taken downstairs to be washed. A state of disarray. It's a wonder Mike doesn't completely lose his mind. UGH.

I wrestle with order and balance and consistency and it's getting on my last nerve. Why is it that I cannot leave work on time? Why is it that some people create order and others create chaos? Don't get me wrong, I am able to get things done. Lots of them. I love my work. I love my family. I have a happy home. I am active in my church and I have more friends than I deserve or have time to keep up with. But, it is all in the context of my always fighting the chaos and longing for the order that others seem to come by so effortlessly. Is this the "Tyranny of the Urgent" lived out?... A life where all the urgent things get done and as a result, many of the truly important ones do not? Am I so wrapped up in the pressing issues of the day that I am missing what has lasting value?

As I've been focusing on spending money more wisely the last few months, I've flexed the muscles of self-discipline and have grown in the area of self-control as it pertains to spending. At my small group last week, someone noted that when we grow in self-control in one area, it generally will spill over into others as well. I can only hope. Sometimes I fear I am genetically wired to be a mess. My mother has many of the same struggles and has never been able to gain control over them. It makes me want to set a match to the stuff and start fresh!

Making the problem more obvious, my coworker never leaves at the end of the day without her desk being completely clear. Mine looks like a cyclone came through. At home, my husband is a creature of habit and never leaves anything out of place. My daughter and one of my sisters are both so organized that I've suggested they become professional organizers. I'm not sure how I missed that boat, and I really want to be on it.

Perhaps as I've chosen to be mindful about my spending, and accountable to my readers, I can obtain a greater measure of control in this this area, too. I've read all the books, all the hot tips. And like diets, they all work, when you work them. It's that consistency thing where I lose it. Maybe you've got some wisdom to share. . Maybe you can share ways you've fought these same demons and overcome. I am teetering on the edge of despair and could use some hope. Do you have some to share?

1 comment:

  1. I learned during nine years of a stressful demanding too job that I was rested for my clients and a mess by the time my family got me. Many managers stayed over, worked Saturday's ...not me. If it didn't get done in my work day it would be there tomorrow. I made the most of every minute at work to get the job done above and beyond. That meant sometimes eating at my desk when others gathered in the kitchen or went out to eat.
    My boss used to tell me..."don't let this job become your life. Do it to the best of your ability, collect your check every two weeks, period."
    We have so much of Dad in us, that is how he worked, too hard and too many hours, he Knew no other way. I would have rather had him home with us than basically seeing him at dinner. He did it for us, no doubt.....but given a choice I think he would have changed a few things if he had a do over :-)
    Love you....and your organized pantry :-)