Not long ago, I realized I repeat myself. Again and again and again. The same phrase.
Lest you think I’ve developed a tic, let me explain.
Mid-summer last year, I faced some medical challenges. Despite the distress, I still had to maintain my home, my family, my connections, and — most time-consuming of all — my freelance job (you don’t work, you don’t get paid). I began noticing I’d accomplish each task, each assignment, each day by telling myself, “I just need to get through this, then I’ll…” whatever the next task, work related or not, might be.
“Let me just get through this one article, then I’ll think about this weekend’s gathering.”
“Let me just get through this family BBQ, then I’ll cram on writing that post.”
“Let me just get through my daughter’s birthday, then I’ll consider how the hell to tackle my overgrown garden.”
I knew things were getting bad when my continual plea to family members who dared ask a favor or offer an invitation for what should be a great time became a whiny wail through grit teeth, “Please… just let me get through this before I consider anything else!”
Things got even worse when I whined and wailed to myself, “Let me just get through Thanksgiving, then I’ll figure out how to manage getting through Christmas.”
I don’t want to just get through each task, each day. Most of all, I don’t want to just get through my life — which is what’s happening by pushing myself to get through each moment. What’s the quote, the one about “the moments that make up a life?” I’ve been just surviving, just getting through those moments… and my life. Life is too incredible to just get through it.
No more. I’m stopping that nonsense. There’s much to be said about focusing on one thing at a time, managing tasks, as Anne Lamott suggests, “bird by bird.” And, yes, we should all live life one day at a time. But when I’m continually just (grudgingly) getting through one day at a time, it’s time to stop the madness.
Here are three ways I plan to stop just getting through:
No. 1: I shall institute the “hell yeah or no” principle.
A couple years ago I attended a conference and one session focused on finding balance. The bright, beautiful, and busy-busy-busy Danielle Smith of www.ExtraordinaryMommy.com told the room full of women writers and bloggers that we need to say no more often. That whole “say no to the good to make room for the great” kind of thing. What I loved about Danielle’s advice was her suggestion that when considering taking on more work, more responsibility, more anything, if your gut feeling isn’t “hell, yeah!” then the answer should be no. I’m clearing my plate by more closely considering when my gut is saying “hell, yeah!” and, more importantly, when it’s not.
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No. 2: I shall actively seek something to savor.
Not everything in life can be a “hell, yeah!” no matter how hard I try, though. So for those activities, assignments, chores and extended family obligations that do require a fair amount of just getting through, I plan to find at least one thing to savor. Perhaps it’s a magical turn of phrase I managed to eke out for an article I needed to write more for money versus pleasure. Or the unexpected kind words from a typically combative relative. Or even just the scent of my beloved husband when I’m doing the freakin’ laundry. Pleasant activities and events are easy to savor. For the unpleasant and obligatory, I’ll actively seek at least one smidgen that’s worth savoring.
No. 3: I shall add to my plate.
Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? It’s not… when the additions are things I love. By adding something I truly love to each and every day — be it uninterrupted reading time, a chat with my grandsons, a perfectly brewed cup of coffee (extra bold and black), time to practice piano, spooning with my hubby, or walking with my dogs — I will feel more at ease. Less rushed. Less inclined to just get through everything else, just get through the day.
By eliminating a few things, adding a few more, and savoring a little something all the way through, my goal going forward — for each activity, each moment, each day — is to not get through.
More accurately, to not just get through.
Lisa is a Colorado-based freelance writer. She publishes the Grandma's Briefs website, where she shares bits on life's second act and strives to smash the outdated "grandma" stereotype. Lisa has been married to the same man forever; together they have three adult daughters, one son-in-law and three adorable grandsons — children of the middle daughter and her husband. Lisa is easy to find online as she's known as GrandmasBriefs wherever she goes: Twitter (@grandmasbriefs), Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere.