I vowed to get some of my to-do list done today and not fritter it away by binge-watching a new show. Here’s how it starts: I plan to savor one episode to relax as I eat my breakfast, half of a gluten-free bagel with fat-free cream cheese, a few ounces of smoked salmon, and a thin slice of onion along with a steaming hot cup of coffee.
Three hours later, the other half of the bagel is long gone, I have gulped down not one, but two cups of coffee with the third cup almost gone. I scratch my head and wonder where I got off track.
Honestly, it’s not only the streaming shows that I lose time to. I can spend hours tinkering in my yard and not making a dent in the leaves, or the weeds in the garden, or raking the fallen branches close to the driveway.
I can labor at my desk for an entire afternoon, organizing and lining up my bills, mail, and correspondence, placing them in piles, adding notes about what needs to be done, and yet not responding or being able to move them into the completed pile.
Over the last week, as the weather changed drastically, so did my frustration with my closet filled with turtlenecks, fleece-lined pants, and wool socks. Is it possible that just three weeks ago I was shoveling snow? I was dreading digging out my summer clothes.
Now that I am older and wiser and have done the major lifting of keeping what I love in front of me and letting go of the rest, I still have to prune. Some items are only meant to be worn for a season or two, or aren’t made to last, the fabric pulls or shrinks. Other items, although I love them, need to be retired due to a stain, too many holes (already patched up), the fabric thinning, or it just doesn’t fit right anymore.
Not fitting right is at the center of this juggernaut for me. Items I want to fit on my body or in my lifestyle, but they never seem to work out. And the biggest obstacle of all is that 15 pounds, which is a tad underestimating.
There are reasons for this weight gain post-Covid, post-winter, post-breakup. Pulling out my summer clothes, that show more of my body, I have to be honest about how my body has changed. And that makes me want to not eat the other half of the bagel in one sitting.
Now, I have awareness of the pattern, and I know vowing to change and wanting the change is not enough. I must take action to make it so.
So, instead of eating my breakfast in front of the TV, the first change I executed was switching to a different space. I sat in the kitchen and had my breakfast and coffee there.
When done, I charged into my bedroom and started the process of swapping out my closet. This necessitated carrying the spring and summer clothes from my storage closet into my bedroom. That was the second change, not delaying; doing the work when it needs to get done.
I emptied bags of light-colored tops, swimsuits, skorts, and linen pants, and refolded fleece leggings and sweaters back into the bags till their season comes around again. Looking at my winter garments, inspecting every item, and discarding what needs to go, I listened to the news.
Record rain caused massive flooding in Florida, a rouge National Guard agent leaked classified documents, protestors in France raging against increasing the national retirement age, and the continued fallout in Ukraine.
I started to feel guilty that my biggest problem is lying to myself about the 15-plus pounds I gained and trying to hide it from myself and others. The more I thought about it, the more I beat myself up about gaining those pounds, thinking about those pounds, and not thinking about others. I was stuck in only thinking about my situation and my 15 pounds.
Listening to the news snapped me back to reality. What others are facing may be way worse, or in some cases may be better, such as lugging around 30 pounds or only carrying 5 pounds. My job is to learn to honor their journey and my own and not compare and despair.
This is critical here. If I compare myself to someone who has more problems, and heavier burdens, I tend to feel better about my own. When someone has less than me, I feel worse about my own. The key word here is “own.”
Own what is yours and take steps to address it. For me this morning it was only eating half the bagel and accepting those 15 pounds.
How did I change my actions? By changing my mindset. I honored others’ burdens but carried my own first. Here are the steps I took to change direction:
I play it ahead in my mind and think it all the way through, such as four hours later, when I haven’t accomplished anything but have eaten the whole bagel, what will I be saying to myself? Will I still be beating myself up? (Probably). How different will I feel if I use the time wisely and do something else?
If you have ever used a hula hoop, you know it does not have a large circumference. And if you are like me, it takes a lot of effort to keep it moving. Actually, I could never hula hoop; my body just doesn’t move like that. Some do it seamlessly but not me. If I bump into yours or step into it, we both go down. The hula hoop is just a visual, and I need a visual.
Overused and over-popularized for a reason, if you don’t attend to your needs, you are not able – or your capacity diminishes – to take care of others. It is so much easier for me to reach out and help you with your situation, problems, and crisis than it is to attend to my own and make sure my house is in order.
In the short run, if I want to help you and the world in general, I have to make sure I am fully functioning and attentive first.
Drawer by drawer, paper by paper, beloved household item by item, the more you clean and prune, the easier it is to clean and prune. Don’t wait for a disaster to get moving, such as when your basement is flooded, you have to run out and can’t find the right clothes or you have to leave town to find what you need.
Working at it gradually, even 10 dedicated minutes at a time, makes a difference in the long run. Use your time wisely; you can’t make more of it or get it back.
Here’s a professional hint: What you are disposing of, toss it right in the garbage or recycling pile and bring it to the curb, or in my case, drive directly (“do not pass go”) to the transfer station immediately or it may find its way back into your closet.
Make very few exceptions and think, “If I wanted to feel good, would I reach for this item?” If the answer is “No,” it goes into the discard pile. Don’t second-guess your intuition.
Honor all the truths. Take small steps that make a huge difference over time. Chip away at those big issues by spending some time on yourself and then time with others. Take action to let go of your 15 pounds and slowly and steadily the situation will change.
Do you use your time wisely or do you tend to procrastinate? What was the last project you tackled and how did you manage it? How often do you find time to work on yourself and what progress have you made to date? What encompasses your 15 pounds?
Tags Downsizing Your Life