Ever feel spread too thin?

I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and realized that I do a lot of different professional, volunteer and personal activities. Then, I had an epiphany. I almost never feel overwhelemed or spread too thin.  Seriously.

Don’t you hear folks say things everyday like,”I just don’t have enough time in the day to get things done.”  When you ask a friend how they are doing they exclaim (often with a huge sigh), ” Busy. Overwhelmed. I need a vacation!”

Why don’t I feel the same way? Isn’t my list of duties and activities as long as anyone else’s?

  • I Blog daily( at least this month)
  • I build and manage several websites a month.
  • Up until recently I taught cooking classes to preteens once a week.
  • Menawa and Brigid, my two cats,  need love, feeding and attention.
  • My 20yr. old son, who lives on his own, still  needs my love and energy.
  • I live with my partner(the testosterone filled one) and maintain a relationship.
  • Running my own business calls for working 6-10 hours a day, plus at least a couple of hours on the days I choose to take off.
  • I work on non profit strategy.
  • I write grants.
  • I have volunteer commitments to 3 non profits.
  • I cook dinner 6 out of 7 days a week from scratch.
  • I find the time to do copious tenant’s rights research and act on it.
  • etc…etc…etc…

Why don’t I feel overwhelmed?

Glad you asked, because I have a theory.  Shortly after I realized I don’t feel like I am spread too thin, I thought back to a time that I DID feel that way. My son was 5. I was going to college full time (until 1pm), working part time as youth coordinator at a health center (2-6PM) and then working as a personal care attendant evenings (7-9PM). That was tough. There wasn’t even enough of me left to spread on a piece of melba toast!

Although I did that for two years, it was not until I got involved as a Co-chair of the African American Cultural group on campus that some of the stress was released. What? How did more responsibility releave your stress? Because, it fullfilled my spirit.

So, what are you trying to say here?

Many years ago I made a conscious decision that I would not say yes to any volunteer or paid job that did not feed my soul. Since I was blessed to find my “calling” in my early twenties, non profit work, that has been easier for me to do than it may be for some. But, now that I have left the 9 to 5 world and hope to make it on my own, I have been able to pull together a multi-faceted consulting business and volunteer life that has little drag on me.

From me to you, here are a few of my key strategies for having enough of me to spread on the whole loaf and a bunch left over.

  • Each and every website I build is for a person, cause or organization that I care about.
  • Each volunteer gig I take on is for a cause that sits in the core of who I am.
  • Before I say “yes” to any activity I take conscious note of whether it serves my core ethics and purpose.
  • Every few months I take inventory of all of the things I am involved in and gently let go of the ones that do not serve me. They are usually the same activities that I procrastinate on.
  • My spiritual path is one that is not “in your face” but sits at the center of who I am, how I treat people, what I put in my body, and how I make decisions. It informs my every waking moment on a cellular level. I hope your’s does too.
  • Look for the blessings in everyday events.  If I had a penny for every time a random little kid smiled at me or a butterfly brushed near my face, I would be rich!

The effect of these “keys” is that when a real crisis occurs I can stay calm and look at it from a distance. When a new challenge is presented I have space to bring it into the fold and learn and grow. Close friends tell me they don’t understand how I seem so calm in a storm. This is how.

Bottom line: If we fill our lives with stuff to do without looking at whether that stuff reflects who we are and how we wish to be, we risk losing ourselves.  Once these strategies are put into practice they become a part of you and you won’t even realize you are doing them. My wish is that each of you reading this can take inventory of the “stuff” you do and whittle it down to just DOING YOU!


18 Comments on More than Enough You to Cover the Whole Loaf

  1. I have to agree here Tatyanna, I have found a big difference in my world since I try to make a conscious effort to only do projects reflecting more who I am inside.

  2. Jan Udlock says:

    I wish I’d learned this at an earlier age. Nicely put.

  3. mark says:

    This sounds like ‘follow your bliss’ which is generally speaking sage advice. Sure cuts down on stress…

  4. Julie says:

    I’m with Jan…I so wish I had learned this when I was younger too. Would have saved me a ton of grief…and probably wrinkles too.

  5. Tatyanna,

    Hello fellow monkey, I am also a monkey baby, 1968. I would feel stressed doing half the things that you do, congrats to you. I have learned over the last year or so to really reduce my stress level and I am glad that I did. I just decided that if I can do something about things, do it and if I can’t, let it go. So far so good.

    Happy blogging,

    • 🙂 *monkey salute* EEK!EEK!

      Don’t mind me… *whistles*

      Anyway, the only reason I can do what I do is it is all stuff I love and all suits who I am deep down. I am right and left brained evenly which also helps.

      Focusing on not “sweating the small stuff” and the things we can control is a magic pill.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I think staying true to your core values is critical for feeling happy and mitigating stress. I’d also add that I think that having a sense of empowerment over your situation and some real autonomy and control makes the world of difference.

    Right now, I’m far less frazzled and overwhelmed than when I had small babies in the house even though I’ve got multiple schools, school runs, my business and their activities to manage and have to do a whole lot more than I did? I think the difference is that during those baby years I had so very little control over what my day would be like and I found that enormously stressful and wearying.

    • Hi Tracy,

      I agree. Self determination, empowerment and the ability to be in control of one’s own choices helps a great deal.

      When I actually get around to writing the curriculum, I will teach those three things to women is self esteem workshops. 🙂

  7. I completely agree. I’ve had to learn the hard way not to commit to things just because someone asks me too. I burn out like a short fuse and am no good to anyone. I’m learning the word, “no” and liking it. Its opening up valuable time and energy into things that really matter to me.

    • Melissa,

      That’s great to hear! There is a subtle art to saying “no” without using that particular N word. When I figure out how to bottle it, I’ll tell ya’. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Taylor says:

    Nicely put, Tatyanna. I agree 100%. 🙂

  9. Tara says:

    I really enjoyed this post. It’s easy to get over-committed to activities that aren’t fulfilling us in any way.

    • Hi Tara. Glad you enjoyed it. I have realized, even happened today, that every time I am doing work for a person I care about, I also get a blessing in return. Makes me a very happy monkey.

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