As I sat with my family on a Saturday with virtually nothing to do… well nothing crucial, I couldn’t help but feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest! I was failing! I had a successful business, loving spouse, healthy kids and freedom with my commitments and yet here I was… in a cold sweat feeling like nothing I had done was good enough.
It all started when I was probably 4 years old. I was the oldest of 3 girls and by nature’s design, the pseudo-mom. I grew up with a stay at home dad and a mom who held down the fort. I would often take care of my 2yo sister, helping her get on the squeaky horse potty training seat and even wiping her butt!
I learned early on how to be the leader, the caretaker and the strong one. With the exception of about 6mos after having my second son, I have not one instance of really relying on another person to support me. I have supported myself fully since the age of 18 and spent most of my adult life creating the life which I wanted to live.
I will say that I had done that part well! So why was I feeling like it wasn’t enough? I felt genuine gratitude! Truth is, it wasn’t my family, business or any pieces of my life that were lacking… it was me. For as long as I could remember, I had strove for perfection in odd ways. Cleaning every nook and cranny of my house and being somewhat minimalistic in an attempt to achieve the perfect feeling home. I was relentless with my body, working to (but never fully achieving) my “perfect” physique. I had a flexible business which had allowed me to never put my kids in daycare and I actually found my work FUN! Yes! I look forward to Mondays!
So again…. why was I here feeling like everything is getting only 50% (at best!) of me?
I built a lot of what I had out of fear. Because I grew up low income, watching the stress that it put on my family, I would obsess over living as simplistically as possible. I was never much of a “things” person. Financial gain never appealed to me in that way. I was afraid of suffering in the ways that my parents had. If I didn’t have enough money to provide me safety, then I would create my “safety” by not needing much money at all. When one of my businesses became successful, I struggled with taking breaks. Believing that the ongoing momentum would halt if I rested and I would again, not be “safe.”
Because I was so overweight majority of my childhood and teenage years, I was afraid of going back to that place. Being made fun of or feeling blatantly insecure. Obsessing over my workout schedule and eating habits would surely take care of that!
Since my mother had to be the sole supporter of our family, often going to school while working a minimum wage job, she was gone a lot. I would stare out the window singing a special song that my father had made up for me, waiting for her bus to arrive (we didn’t own a car until I was 12). Not having my mom around was very hard for me as a kid and I swore that I’d find a way to work and be home with my kids so that they could feel the SAFETY that I hadn’t felt.
So here I was, full speed ahead, covering all of my bases! So why didn’t I feel safe? Why couldn’t I rest and live in the moment?
I must add that I had struggled with this conflict for as long as I could remember. Sometimes when we can’t find the answers that we are looking for, it just means that we need to keep digging. The answer almost always exists within you. Not the external influences or factors that we often assign blame to. YOU!
So…my discontentment was me. ALL me:( Oddly enough, this wasn’t a terrible realization. It actually gave me hope that maybe there is something that I could do to remedy this! Now, where to start?
Well as usual, I pulled out my notebook. I am a total nerd about pen and paper. Always have been. Always will be. So I decided to divide my awake hours (assuming I prioritize 8 hours of restful sleep each night), which left me 16 active hours each day.
I started with my work hours. I added up how many hours were necessary to devote to work and I strategically scheduled them out. This can be really hard when you work online! I then committed to working ONLY in those active hours. Seeing as how I am a powerhouse when it comes to work and my business, I can easily tip the time scales with work lessening the quality time and energy left for the other areas of my life. I have discovered the “quality over quantity” aspect of what I do. Since I only work within my work window, I HUSTLE. Like move mountains, make shit happen HUSTLE!
The next piece was “obligations.” This included grocery shopping, cooking cleaning (helps to live a little minimally…. just sayin;) and things that just need to get done.
I then mapped out “creative time.” This may be reading, crafting, drawing, innovating, wood working etc. I believe that every individual has a need to create!
Next came “self care.” This one was NOT easy. Ironically, this piece of the pie was my most difficult and at that point, everything suddenly made sense. I wasn’t nurturing myself. Aside from my ridged, high intensity workouts, I made little to no time to rest my head, my body or soothe. I preached about the importance of yoga and meditation and yet couldn’t even remember the last time I had partaken in these things! Time to change that!
Lastly was “family time.” I knew that this piece of my pie should be the biggest because it is the most important to me. Part of my anxiety was rooted from guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t being the mom or wife that I wanted to be and truthfully, I wasn’t. My pie was NOT what I wanted it to be. It did not reflect the balance and priorities which I desired for my life.
Seeing all of this on paper allowed me to take responsibility for where I was at and it also allowed me the opportunity to change. I was able to set days and times for work, devote most of each weekend and certain hours at night, completely to my family and schedule time for myself, albeit not a ton but hey! I’m a business owner, wife and mom!
I learned that while we will never be perfect at everything, or anything for that matter, we can be balanced. Balance is just about as perfect as this life gets. While I still struggle sometimes with putting my phone (work) down in the evening or following through with my new meditation schedule, I have definitely changed.
My life is perfectly imperfect and I intend to keep it that way.
For those who want to know, my pie chart broke down as follows:
Self Care: 6%
Creative Time: 6%
Family Time: 52%