Saturday, June 20, 2009

Accomplishing vs. Living

It's been a really good week for me in a lot of ways, and tough in others. Almost every morning, I'd wake up in a great mood: fresh spring air drifting through my bedroom window, birds singing, sunlight filtering in, and the cutest little girl in the world hugging me awake with "good morning, Mom! Let's get up!" Then as I walk into the hallway, our mini-dog comes bounding and wagging and smiling to see me, ever-so-happy I am up. I make my morning tea and relax into awakeness.

There's been a few moments of stress and feeling overwhelmed, such as when the contractor told me that my flooded bathroom would remain gutted for yet ANOTHER week before they even start working on it, or when I was missing my kiddos, or when I realized that my lawn-mowing teenager is gone for the summer, the grass is getting TALL and I better find a younger replacement pronto. I had days of eating healthy and days where I didn't put any planning into my meals and ended up ordering pizza. I got on the bike for 8 minutes one day before jumping off to get other pressing things done. I walked with the kids every day. I did a lot of things.

Every week, and often every day, I sit down in the evening and think about what I have done with my life. Did I get the things done I wanted to accomplish?

I have a planner. It's a non-traditional planner: a cutesy book of empty weeks to fill in, with lots of room for lists. My appointments are in there but I also have a habit of jotting down what I want to accomplish in each day, each week. Anything that I don't get done gets carried over to the next week. And sometimes the list can get really, really long and I have to buckle down and just work through the tasks for a day or two. I hate it when that happens.

When I do my planner, I start with appointments, add in household chores I need to do, then add necessary tasks... so a typical weekday might look like this:
Take kid to drum lessons and pick him up
Take other kid to soccer
3 Loads of laundry
Go shopping, drop of mail, pick up prescriptions, take kid for haircut
Pay bills

And then I start adding the "other stuff":
Caulk the sink
Take a walk
Plant flowers
Work on photo albums

At the end of a day, I look at what got crossed off, and I feel like I have ACCOMPLISHED something. Each task scratched off is an ACCOMPLISHMENT. And when I get them all done, I have ACCOMPLISHED my goal.

Or have I?

While all this stuff *has* to be done, what good is a life filled with ACCOMPLISHMENTS but devoid of joy, of life? I mean, yeah, I have to scrub the toilet. It ain't fun. But if my whole day... day after day after day... is filled with menial tasks and just working to get all the junk on the list done, is that really the life I want? Even if every day I get every single "action item" done and feel ACCOMPLISHED, am I truly living?

How many days have gone by where you worked and worked and yes, got things done but did *nothing* to bring real joy into your life? I think every Mom has done this on occasion... raced around all day doing chores and tasks, dragging the kids with her, and then after dinner and the kids are in bed you sit down and go, "What the heck happened? I didn't really interact with my kids AT ALL today. I don't think I played with them once." And then you feel kinda sad. Because your babies will grow up and be gone and you'll have missed it.

So I've started trying to be sure I actually *live* each day, in addition to accomplishing things. I might even let some things go on the "to do" list in order to sit down and draw with my daughter or play a game with my son. Maybe putting down the gardening gloves for 10 minutes so I can push my little girl on her swing is the *real* success. At the end of the day, it's nice to have the weeds pulled but it's even nicer to remember the laughter, smiles, and hugs of your children. Or the talk you had with your mother, or the laughs with your friend. Or even the half hour sitting alone, reading a book and sipping tea. Whatever fills you. Living.

But as I've tried to do this more, I've also noticed that the balance can swing too far the other way. If I get up and take my kids to the park every day, then come home and lay around on the couch watching movies and sipping tea, I may be *enjoying* life... I may be living, but by NOT *accomplishing* tasks I am not going to be happy. The LACK of accomplishment will begin to get in the way of the living. I mean, seriously, who wants to walk into a dirty kitchen every morning, then shower in a grimy bathroom and then walk through knee-high weeds to get out to the car each day? You HAVE to do some work. You can't just play, just enjoy every moment. You gotta crack down and work sometimes.

So there's a balance. Did I live this day? Did I embrace it and find happiness? And did I accomplish some important tasks as well?

All of this applies to losing weight, being fit, and having a healthy lifestyle. If your goals for the day include eating healthy, prepping healthy food, and exercising, and you actually DO all that, that's great! But did you live, too? Or did you just go through the motions trying to get to a weight goal that's far off in the distance? Are you missing out on living during the journey because you are trudging through the food and exercise in misery, with your eyes on that distant pinnacle of happiness that you are just SURE is waiting for you when you reach that Magic Number? Don't. It's not like that.

Live. Enjoy. Find a balance. I'm working on this. Some days this week I was like a cheetah going after a gazelle.... whizzing past my kids, racing for that goal. Other days I just dropped everything and played, breathed, lived. I'd like to fine tune my balance so that each day I DO accomplish the important things WHILE taking time to stop and smell the roses (literally. My daughter makes me STOP and SMELL the actual roses everywhere we go!)

I didn't lose weight so far this week, but I'm happy. I feel great right now! But I gotta realize that feeling great at a normal weight would be a lot "greater" than feeling great in the 230's. So the exercise needs to move up on the priority list, right up there with spending time with the kids. And the very best scenario is doing both at the same time! Walking, playing, getting out there moving together. Eating healthy together. LIVING and ACCOMPLISHING, in balance, together.

Have a great weekend! It is what you make it.


♥ Dee ♥ said...

Ah balance. It's really what we strive for, isn't it? I think for me that is the key to life, living, happiness and health.

Ria said...

Great post! Finding a balance between enjoying life at my current weight and making progress towards my goal weight is exactly what I've been struggling with for the past several months.

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Mandy said...

Boo at the previous poster!

I stumbled across your blog today and find you inspirational. Thank you for being honest and keeping it real. I look forward to reading & learning more from you!

Mary :: A Merry Life said...

This is a great post. We all strive for balance between getting the stuff that needs to be done and doing the things we truly enjoy. Its a hard thing to do soemtimes but if we aren' truly living lives we love then what is the point?

Carol said...

The interesting thing about balance is that, (in my life anyway), I've thought I struck balance, then at a later time, looked back and realized I was so unbalanced I couldn't believe I didn't see it. I think a lot of it has to do with our perspective. It's so much clearer when we're looking back at it . . .

Anonymous said...

Balance is SO hard to do. But it is better to constantly work towards it rather than give up, right! I think in the end we have to remember that there will ALWAYS be another item for the "to do" list but perhaps not always time to enjoy life. Bust your butt hard to get the menial stuff done so that we CAN enjoy some part of each day. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Lauren said...

I noticed that some of your "other stuff" like planting flowers, the album thing, could actually be construed as also part of the living. And maybe it would be fun to put some "living" goals on your list too and you can alternate which group you do something from. Just a thought

Anonymous said...

anyone who can take care of a family and stick to a program is a wizard in my book. i barely keep my plants alive! love your drive, and discipline!

anne h said...

Another great post. I don't know. These so-called little things, if left undone, could make life miserable. Like preventative maintenance.

Heather said...

I wish I could find that balance. it seems when one area of my life is going well, then the other suffers. work and a healthy lifestyle sometimes cancel each other out, and when they dont, then something else suffers. its definitely hard, but I think when you can find it, its always there and you can work with anything.

Anonymous said...

Mow your own grass and get some exercise at the same time!

BTW, I don't look at any of your list as "menial" tasks -- they are blessing your family! Take joy in them, and your attitude toward them changes.

Actual Scale said...

I struggle with balance every day.

Children, chores, food, is a giant loop that never ends but if I don't balance it then I feel like the washer when everything slides to one side...bang! bang! bang! only it is my head & not the spinner.

The balanced days are the best which makes me wonder why that isn't motivation enough to, pardon the cliche, just do it.

Thanks for the great post.

shaungirl22 said...

Enjoying TV too much is how I got to the weight I am. I need to find that balance too and I think I'm making progress! I know you'll get there too! A big reason I'm working on a healthy lifestyle is so I can have the energy (should I have kids) to keep up with them and enjoy them. But still be able to keep a clean house and eat well. I also miss my summer vacations at the lake and I want to actually enjoy those again!