20 December 2011

You can do anything, but not everything

It's been a while since I wrote anything profound on my blog.  I used to do it all the time, and then I became busier and busier and in order to keep it active I simply started posting all the projects I had going on.  It wasn't long before I got really caught up in the "project-a-day" club and had to let that go as well.  Last Christmas I sat in this very same spot and thought about what things I might change in 2011 to make my life feel less chaotic, less "obligatory".  And I made one and only one New Years Resolution in order to help me accomplish that.  To learn to feel content.

2011 started much the same as 2010 ended... with lots of responsibilities I didn't really want or need, and lots of stressing and running around and generally being the person I thought everyone expected me to be.  Slowly but surely I began to let things go... little things... to give the more important things in my life room to breathe (and I continue to work on this).  More importantly, however, my mindset has begun to change regarding who I want to be, how I want to be remembered, and what I want out of life.

My own mother was a busy bee.  She was on the front lines of virtually every school fundraiser, church activity and neighborhood project.  She epitomized a woman who was "on the ball".  But inside she was a mess.  She created such an alluring image of herself and family that it became all that was important to her. And we, her family, had to keep up with that image - no questions asked.  So I recognize where this inbred tendency to keep a dozen plates spinning at all times comes from.  And I, like my mother, have thrived on the reputation of being that woman on the ball.  Its a good feeling, but not one that lasts, I'm afraid.

I wonder at what point this image became so revered.  We each take the best parts of others and compare them to our worst.  "I wish I was as fit as ________." "I wish I was as pretty as _______." "I wish I was as creative as _______." "I wish I had as much money as _______." "I wish my house was as clean as _______." "I wish I cooked as well as _______." "I wish I could save money as well as _______." "I wish I had as many friends as _______." "I wish I was a successful ________ like ________."  And we put them all together and VOILA! that is the ideal woman.  Furthermore we think this perfect multi-faceted woman we've conjured up in our minds is secure, and perfectly happy. When, truthfully, it's the woman who doesn't need to do it all and be it all to be happy that we should emulate.  I envy that woman, who is content to live a simple life, and is proud enough with the respect of her family and loved ones to not go looking elsewhere in order to feel validated.  Is that not what true happiness and self assurance looks like?

I'm not saying we don't need to pursue our own dreams or make ourselves a priority, but I think pure intentions and genuine fulfillment should drive our choices - whether they be to take good care of our body, our home, our family, etc.  I want to get to the point where each choice I make, as to how I spend my time and energy, is a choice I think through.  And a choice I am content with.  I 'm tired of trying to keep up with that alluring image of the perfect woman, above all else.  It drove my mother crazy - quite literally.  And crazy is the only outcome I can think of for someone who can't find contentment in the small things (which ironically, for someone of that mindset, are the most important things).

I have a long way to go towards becoming that woman.  I have lived a full life and experienced many wonderful things.  I want badly to have all those things active in my life, all at once!  But it's impossible.  The analogy of the seasons rings loud and clear for me as I try and determine what is best worth my time and energy at this time in my life:

To every things there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven

I think my zest for experiencing everything life has to offer is indeed a blessing, but also one that I (thankfully) have plenty of time to enjoy.


Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing that. I, like many women also feel like I have to keep up with all the women around me whom I admire. I like what you said about the goal should be to be happy with what we have and who we are. I have found myself in some people's houses who aren't as clean as others that I put on a pedestal but sometimes, it is the woman with the messy house who I look up to. She seems to be quite content to have a messier house but spend time with her children doing things she and they enjoy. Thank you for putting those thought down!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Love, Love, LOVE this post! [And I have missed your words of wisdom lately, though I do enjoy your project posts, too :)!!]

"More importantly, however, my mindset has begun to change regarding who I want to be, how I want to be remembered, and what I want out of life." Beautifully said!

Merry Christmas!

Lei said...

Lucy!!! I have missed you too! I need to come visit. :) Merry Christmas!

chris said...

Thank you for sharing this, Lei. Perfect timing. As we are knee deep in building our house...I am feeling stretched. I'm just glad I decided that balance is a fallacy. I just do the best I can, and try not to let the pendulum make too many big swings. :)

One Fish said...

Very nice post. I totally agree.

Walker family said...

Amen! You couldn't have expressed it better. ;) You are definitely one of the ladies whom "has it all together". ;)

Swimmingmom said...

Beautiful post Lei. Thanks for taking the time to articulate what so many women struggle with. I feel like I have learned a lot about myself this year. I recognize that my plate is only so big and I can't compare what I feel good about accomplishing to what someone else does. When I look at all the wonderful talents of others or all they are involved in, it is easy to get down on myself. However, I too do great and amazing things, but in my quiet way... and THAT is ok. I am learning to be deliberate in my choices too and make them count!

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