You don't have to do it all.
I needed the reminder today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year...
In fact I always need to be reminded that it's not selfish to take care of me.
Thing is though - bills must be paid, work has deadlines, washing won't do itself, there's no little elves going to come in at night while I'm asleep and make my meals or clean my house or change my sheets or scrub my showers.
I can't tell the sun to go away and ask winter to return so I can cool down and relieve my body of heat stress, and groceries don't magically arrive in my cupboards.
You more than likely understand what I'm saying, right?
Life doesn't stop so you can get out and take a break, even when you want to, even when you need to. Each day rolls along sure as the sun will rise.
That meter man out front is not going to skip past my house with a friendly, "Don't you worry Mrs Reynolds, I won't read your power meter this quarter so you just relax and don't expect a bill this time. This quarter's on us."
Oh but I wish he would.
Not because we can't pay it. We can, we always do. But because to pay bills you have to have an income, to have an income you have to work...and this is a formula for all of us.
When some of us get weary or overloaded with life people often say, "You don't have to do this, that or the other...step back and take time out for yourself." And honestly, that's a lovely sentiment. But it's not that easy.
Ask the mother who has a young family to look after and a husband who works two jobs, or the 60 yo woman who runs her own business as a sole trader and can't afford to retire for a long time, or the guy who will lose his job if he took time off, or the grandmother raising her orphan grandchild, or the overwhelmed wife caring for her husband with Alzheimer's, or... fill in the blank...
It feels like, to many of us, that there's no way to step back, step down, push aside, or find clear air because we're so 'in the thick of it' that everything is overwhelming, even something as basic as hanging up the washing, making a cup of tea or eating a sandwich.
And I think that's what wears down a lot of beautiful hearts.
I think being in the midst of responsibilities that never ease frays the emotions on every side.
When I sat down to plan this year I began with five clean white sheets of paper and I labelled them 'home', 'health', 'personal', 'spiritual', and 'business'. Under each one I wrote all the things I felt were important and I filled every one of those five pages.
My motive was to look carefully at each completed list and cross out the things which were unnecessary, time wasters or non-essential. But you know, I wasn't able to cross out as many as I'd hoped. I wasn't able to simplify as easily as I predicted. My cups were flowing over and I was holding more cups underneath to catch that overflow.
So I ask myself, how did life become this way?
One thing stands out.
I didn't plan it this way. In fact, I didn't plan at all.
In my mind if I could do something good, then I did it, even if I was already doing forty other good or needful things.
It's like a lot of crafters who have a long list of half finished projects. It's great when they begin, but then they start something else and then something else...and over time they have so many projects on the go that they don't even remember half of them. They just know they feel guilty and overwhelmed at all the projects they 'should' be finishing.
It's not that they can't do them. They can. But there's not enough hours in a day, days in a year or years in a lifetime to actually achieve it all.
Just like life.
You simply can't cram more into your life than you have life to live.
When we continuously take on one more new thing and one more thing and one more thing but we're not removing one old/unnecessary thing from our lives, we can end up building a tower of responsibilities which will sway back and forth, threatening to topple and crush us underneath.
And we don't know how to stop it falling because we're too exhausted, distracted or busy to remove the excess, and we more than likely won't ask for help in dismantling it.
Nobody lives without some form of stress or responsibility, but if you've got a Too Much Tower teetering over your life it's time to STOP now and start removing the things which should no longer be there.
You've got this one life on earth and if you wake each morning already wishing for the day to be over, then sweet one there's a few levels in that tower which need to come down.
My daughter Blossom realised she felt overwhelmed every day by a toddler who climbed on everything to pull down ornaments and any small thing that caught her eye. Blossom decided to pack away all the ornaments, candles, pictures, books and miscellaneous trinkets she wanted to keep, and to donate the rest to charity. She then requested that the family not gift her with any ornaments or small 'display' things for a few years.
This one problem she addressed and acted upon lifted an enormous stress from her life, and a bonus was less clutter, less dusting and a calmer atmosphere in her small cottage. Bloss even commented that though she would not call herself a minimalist she did think now that 'less is more' and would be looking for more ways to alleviate visual clutter and eliminate things which added unnecessary work.
My heartfelt goal as a homemaker is to live a gentle life and for that gentleness to flow through every aspect of my home and person. After filling in those five sheets of paper it became clear that I have a ways to go yet before I attain that end, but day by day I'll read through my lists and remove one more, and one more and one more...until what is left bears the impression of a life wisely lived, prayerfully balanced, lovingly planned, gentle and ordered.
I'm dismantling my Too Much Tower, will you?
The "Message to Self" pattern is my gift to you for the rest of January.
Stitch it, frame it, place it where you'll see it every day.
Remember, you don't have to do it all, and neither do I.