Friday, January 12, 2018

Message to self...

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.



Diane Garton said...

Thank you thank you for your post this morning. You so often know what I am thinking in my heart when I read your posts but especially this morning, this one is for me. Being retired as I have been for several years now, I had always 'assumed' that this was 'us' time for me and my husband. I hadn't planned for my elderly parents, who have always been independent and strong people to turn our lives upside down. I love them dearly but with age they have become difficult to care for, to accept any help as it seems that in their minds it would render them 'helpless' and it pains me beyond measure that I have to watch them struggling and can only 'help' them on their terms. But this is a season in our lives just as others have their different seasons. Thank you for reminding me that I can actually make my own life as easy as possible. I can put measures in place to ensure a prayerfully balanced life is as gentle inside my home as I can make it, which will give me rest and enable me to be more balanced for the problems I face outside my home. Thank you Jenny, your ministry is more effective than you could ever know. God bless xx

Fee said...

Very very wise words Jen. Both of our towers are way too high. This past few weeks has been a big lesson in patience and deciding what is important and what's not. Once I'm mobile again lots will be changing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your message today, the reminder that perhaps all women need from time to time. As women we tend to look after so many things, the people in our lives, the chores of our homes & jobs. All of this usually comes before even considering if we have time to even breathe! It isn't always easy to find balance, to know what to keep doing or what to simply let go, it can all seem necessary. Somehow we have to carve out enough time to feed our souls or that To Much tower will crush us when it tumbles. I'll be giving this much thought: What parts of the Too Much Tower need/can be removed. I'm excited to think of the time that might be freed up, leaving more space for the life I really want, that Gentle Life in a happy home that welcomes and comforts us. I will be making a list of & planning time for the activities that truly feed my soul. This could just be the start of the best year ever! -Diane from Minnesota

Kay said...

Thank you so much for the pattern. I have just downloaded it.x

Little Penpen said...

Yes! this is exactly what so many of us need to hear! And I am one of those crafters that has way too many projects going while starting new ones! I blame the internet... there is so much pretty out there and I want to make one, too! LOL Your stitchery is darling! Thanks!

Dorene Elizabeth said...

Well said. Exactly what so many of us need to hear.

Allie-oops Designs said...

Too Much Tower - I love that! Reminds me of that Jenga game, and being afraid to move one piece for fear it will all come tumbling down. I've gotten pretty good at skipping things when I need a break - at saying "no more" today - but as for us all, it doesn't take much to upset the balance. Wise words indeed, my dear. I had to laugh, I did the same thing Blossom did, my house was very minimalist when the boys were small! The relief was immense.

Tammy said...

This message speaks directly to me Dear Jenny. My tower is so tall it leans most days. My house was like blossoms when I had the kids home and small. But not anymore. It is a disaster zone to me. I need inspiration and energy

Brenda said...

Hello Jenny; This message really touched home! Just yesterday, I began cleaning my fabric storage area and just in a few hours (half a day)it already looked so much better. Realizing that is because it all resides in the living room until I can figure out a better way. LOL. Seriously, it did make me take a big look at the whole house and I know I must make many changes. Your post was such an extra boost. The embroidery will be extra special hanging right beside me where I sew at the kitchen table! I wish you the best success as you begin this new year with this new goal! Thank you so much Jenny! Have a great day!

SandyMay said...

I and many of my friends need the gentle reminder from today's message. First I am going to embroider your message that you once again were so generous to share. Next I plan to simplify by tackling one item at a time that has languished in my backlog. Then room by room, I will remove the little gifts that clutter my life but which I no longer get pleasure from. Fingers crossed that my resolve holds. I'm not a blogger so, no need for a response, Jenny. Not all comments require one, and you can save some time. I like the new Reply option, though.

Createology said...

Thank you very much for “Message to Self” post and stitchery pattern. It is always difficult to realize and adhere to the idea that we do not have to do it all. I am finding it a wee bit easier to say no and back away from some things. I weigh my options and if something isn’t giving me great JOY...then I eliminate it with the right to reasses at another time. Blessings and Good Luck with your “Too Much Tower”...xo

Winifred said...

That's a lovely post, well all your posts are lovely Jenny.

I was exactly like Blossom with a toddler who managed to climb and break just about every ornament I had. For years I didn't have any so the house was minimalist, not by choice as I hate it.
I have a friend who told me that nobody on their deathbed ever says they should have done more housework. I might be the first but I don't worry anymore about having a pristine house. As long as the bathroom, loo & kitchen are clean I dont worry about a bit of dust, pristine clean windows or a pile of ironing. I spent years running myself ragged working full time & trying to keep on top of everything. Now I'm retired I don't worry about it so much. The most important things are health & family nothing else is as important.

Nancy said...

We can all too easily get "crushed" by the weight of our towers. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. When I find myself in this situation, it literally paralyzes me into inaction because I am too exhausted and too drained, not sure where or how to take my next step. Many obligations, albeit worthy ones, still can cause us to be overwhelmed and overburdened. Thank you Jenny for this wonderful reminder! And the beautiful stitchery! You are such a blessing!

Ondrea said...

We all feel overwhelmed at times especially when we are tired. Things need to be done but some things can wait and it is a matter of prioritising . Making lists is a great idea. I find that doing small things each day prevents some things from becomming bigger jobs. Eg I wipe down the bathroom shower and vanity every morning . By using natural body wash I find the shower does not get any soap scumb which makes cleaning much easier when I give it a thorough clean. I have learned not to be too fussy as I will only become ill and then nothing gets done at all. I do have manic moments when I have a big clean up though. You have such a lovely way of putting things into words that we can all identify with. Another beautiful post and stitchery.

Lori said...

Thank you, dear Jenny. You always post something so relevant to my life. You are a true kindred spirit!

Quiltsmiles said...

God bless you and yours Jenny. Your post is similar to what I’m trying to live or more so be this year. Every year I find myself slowing down and being more present with what I’m doing, people I’m visiting with and plans that need to be addressed and implemented. Your post spoke to my heart, thank you so much and Happy New Year to you and all your family. Blossom sounds quite wise with her solution, good for her!

Farm Quilter said...

Beautiful post, Jenny. God is certainly using you in a powerful way to reach so many women...and I thank God for you!

Águeda said...

Dear Jenny: Your words are always full of sweetness and truth. I want all of us to find our balance in life. Thanks for your words and your embroidery. God bless you.

Michelle said...

Thank you for this post it spoke to my heart, my 'Too Much Tower' is constantly been rising and falling I don't think I will ever be able to keep it at a managable size I guess it's just the ebb and flow of life. I am always struggling to find that balance and that in itself is sometimes seems too hard! There is a little comfort in knowing I am not the only one, I wish for everyone to have a little peace and find something they enjoy doing even for just a little while. Enjoy your weekend.

gail said...

Oh Jenny, spot on my friend. Thank you,thank you.what a blessing that we can realise why we feel as we do. It’s time for gentle change for me too. One step at a time. I really like your idea of writing out your lists and then crossing off the unnecessary.
Again thank you and blessings.

profumo di lavanda said...

Cara Jennifer, ho letto tutto con l'aiuto del traduttore che questa volta ha fatto un buon lavoro!
Quanta saggezza nelle tue parole, penso che tu abbia scritto quello che la maggior parte di noi a volte ha paura anche di pensare, l'esempio dell'artigiano che inizia mille lavori è così calzante che mi ci riconosco in pieno.
Come te anche io vorrei scrivere tutto quello che faccio su dei fogli e poi cancellare quello che non è così necessario, in modo da avere qualche piccolo ritaglio di tempo per pensare a me, ma non è possibile, la vita ti risucchia ogni energia vitale, le persone che mi vivono vicine, vogliono sempre più attenzione, delegando a me qualsiasi cosa che potrebbero tranquillamente fare loro...ed allora per il quieto vivere ecco che soccombo alla mia Torre, che con il tempo mi ha inghiottita.
In piccolissimi ritagli di tempo, inizio sempre dei lavori che mi piacciono (ricamare, cucire, cucinare..) ma che non finisco mai per mancanza di tempo.
Dopo un pò butto tutto nella spazzatura, perché un lavoro mai finito non serve a nulla e dopo un pò lo vedi come un fallimento...
un abbraccio