Treading water. It’s fall, so I’m not talking about the fun kind, in the coolness of the pool splashing around with my kids. Treading water is how I usually describe my life when I’m just managing to keep things afloat. Kids are alive, fed, doing homework and making it to sports practices. Similarly, my husband and I are sustaining life, exercising, working, crossing off the to do list, and connecting with friends. But there are times when the schedule goes on mass overload and all things converge around the same time. It happens, and as I’ve discussed in previous posts, sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to drop a ball in our juggling act, ask for help, stay present, and let it be. Often it’s easier said than done. What I want to call attention to now, is not so much the actions we can take during these chaotic times, but to draw our focus on the words we use to describe what is going on, how we see things, and the feelings we allow to surface.
To illustrate my point, let me show you a picture of my basement. Yes, this is the very same basement that was organized beautifully just weeks ago. Wasn’t I writing about it in my blog? Didn’t Susie resurface? Well, in just a few weeks time it turned into this. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that my freelance work spiked, Karl cleaned out her room in preparation for painters to come and chucked (literally) most of her items she doesn’t want anymore down here. The painters ghosted me after I told them I wasn’t satisfied so furniture and items were still spewed around the house, and I had to prepare for Luke’s Confirmation day and gathering. Mom also dropped off the Dickens Christmas village that my Dad is passing down to me, hence the two huge bags. I know I am not the only one to experience this and I know I am not alone when I say that anxiety levels can soar when this chaos and overload happens.
And anxiety is exactly what ensued. I’ll say it again though you all know, I have a very difficult time being calm and focused when my surroundings are disorganized, yet there was absolutely nothing I could do to alleviate the mess outside of staying awake into the wee hours of morning to clean it up. In my 20’s, not problem. In my mid-forties (Yes! I have approximately three more months until I have to say I’m in my late 40’s) not such a do-able task. So what did I do? I just kept telling myself that I was treading water, and encouraging myself to stay afloat. I’ll get through it. Then I read an article that talked about being “in the flow.” While the topic was somewhat different, this resonated with me and my current situation. You see, I was letting the overload, the chaos and the to do list get to me. I didn’t see how I was going to get everything done, because on top of all those other things, I still had to get the house clean and start on my autumn leaves, the task of raking usually being something I love. My joy was slowly being sapped out, and compounding the situation was the fact that I was letting my favorite season slip right through my fingers. I had to get happy and present, bask in the colors and weather or it would be gone before I knew it! Kick up the anxiety some more why don’t you? But this article about being in flow helped me to see that I just can’t change it right now. There is nothing I can do to make this situation improve until a later time. WHY THE HELL AM I WASTING MY TIME WORRYING ABOUT IT? Go with it. Flow with it. Let it be what it is and don’t stress over it. I know I will eventually have the time to get my surroundings to a place that makes my heart sing and because I have a solid foundation, it won’t take a crazy long time. What happened was that my thoughts were creating my feelings, which were generating my reality. I needed a better reality so I had to start with my thoughts. I changed my mantra from treading water to being in the flow. Words and thoughts matter.
With my focus switched, I looked to the colors around me, my family and friends, being in each moment and allowing things to just be. I didn’t get Karlie’s room done before the Confirmation, but the downstairs looked fantastic, especially with all my fall decorations. This past weekend Paul managed to rake leaves while I finished up Karl’s room, tidied the house and got the food shopping done. The basement still looks like poop. I was able to put away three items yesterday and at least that made me feel good. But I’m happy for this experience because it once again emphasized that (A) A solid foundation will yield a quicker process when I do have time to organize and more importantly (B) Railing against what actually “is” when I don’t have the power to induce change does nothing to promote joy or make the situation better. Choose words and thoughts wisely, accept what cannot be changed, and roll with it! It’s a much happier place being in the flow than wasting all that energy treading!