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Embracing this season*

June 23, 2019
AUTHOR: Emilie
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*Or trying really, really hard to.

I’ve accepted that there is nothing I can do better than lean into the season of live I’m in right now.

This season includes:

  • having a husband who is deployed (again)
  • a really big work project with a very ambitious July deadline that I am (mostly) alone responsible for
  • a ticking clock reminding me that my 2019 ornament needs to get to the stitcher by the end of July if I want to have it for Christmas
  • a very long to do list that I am a bit overwhelmed by and I am very behind on
  • planning fatigue mixed with the interest in getting back into a planning routine
  • the ambitions to:
    • contribute to more open source (or just regularly)
    • publish more blog posts
    • take the GMAT/GRE
    • take math classes in the fall
    • study and test for my CrossFit L1
    • finish reading the Starting Strength book
    • take the woodshop class that will be occurring at the local makerspace
    • remove every tracker from this website + all the affiliate links
  • the requirement to be really okay with all of this even though it’s a lot; at the very least, the requirement to present that I am okay with all of this because I don’t get to share the burden with my husband and “this is what I signed up for”

I think that might be it.

When I thought about what this summer would look like knowing that C would be gone for all of it, I started with this reality. Before I figured out what I was going to do or how I was going to do it- how I was going to most efficiently use this time apart- I needed to figure out what the demands, self-imposed or not, on me were.

The hardest part here is that I feel like I am starting from behind. You see, my life is, in many ways, a well-oiled machine. At least I try to keep it that way. I usually stay afloat, at least. But going on vacation, try as I might to get ahead, can completely ruin my systems.

When we came back from vacation, I worked really, really hard to catch up. For the most part, I did. I caught up on all email and most tasks in Todoist. A not insignificant amount of me “getting ahead” before was just punting things to when I came back, so catching up and moving forward on this week’s stuff was pretty impossible.

I’m writing this as I’m on a plane around the world to speak at KubeCon Shanghai, which is an amazing opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for, but being away from my home for a week just as I’m trying to come up for air doesn’t help me feel any less like I’m drowning in the backlog.

Being abroad also means that there are all the things on my task list I can’t even think about doing- mailing out the rest of the knives to get sharpened, meeting with the advisor about those math classes I want to take, sleeping in my own bed and getting a good night’s sleep. I don’t know how else to describe what this makes me feel other than anxiety. The reality is I can’t make any progress and I need to just let go of them, since stressing about these tasks won’t make it better, but instead they hang over me like a black cloud I can’t shake.

But… I’m trying really hard to. If I spend the next few (many) months, letting this black cloud hang over me, it will stay there. It will stay there as long as I let it.

Writing this list out isn’t going to make me less ambitious, get all the things done on my list, or help me prioritize. Those things take time, deep time, hard thinking, and real, real work.

What I can do right now is make a decision to let the cloud go. This certainly won’t be easy, but I think it’s important. I think there are two things that need to happen in order for me to actually do this:

  1. I need to be present- I need to savor what I’m doing right now and not be worried about the (growing) task list. The list is going to be there whether or not I let it eat at me, and letting it eat at me doesn’t help.
  2. I need to do one thing at a time- Similar to being present, I need to start a thing and finish it. Whether it’s a piece of this big project at work, a blog post I’m writing, or something else, I need to say “For the next 20 minutes, I am only going to work on this thing” and then stick to it.

I’m away from home for a week, which is never a great time for me to try to change habits but this is where life has me, so it’s where I’m going to be.

(Photo: Simpler times- honeymooning in Bora Bora earlier this month)

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