On Slowing Down to Enjoy Life

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu

Before I was pregnant, I prided myself on being busy. I’m cringing as I write this because oh my goodness, I was a fool.

Busyness must equal happiness, right? It must mean I’m getting things done, doing great things and just chasing after my dreams like a rockstar, right?

I was certain the overwhelm was just because I was ambitious. And that was a good thing so this was obviously how life was meant to be.

Then I was pregnant.

And then I really kicked it into high gear.

I have to prepare for the baby.

I have to get all of these work projects done.

I have to eat all of the right foods.

I have to finish all of these house projects.

I have to make sure I learn 3748 new things about babies.

The list goes on. And on. And on. And on.

But I could do it, right? That was the dream. To have so many wonderful things going on that you are just so blessed and fulfilled and life was just near perfection.

And then it got even more “fulfilling” when Lily came.

I still have to prepare for the baby.

I still have to get all of these work projects done.

I still have to eat all of the right foods.

I still have to finish all of these house projects.

I now have to make sure I learn 7359 new things about babies.

Oh and I have to figure out how to be more than a mom.

I have to work hard to avoid getting PPD.

I have to figure out how this body that just popped a baby out is going to function.

I have to do whatever else it is that makes me feel like the mom that has it all.

And I have about even less time to accomplish all of that. Or even think about doing my hair. Or wearing clothes without thinking “can I easily breastfeed in this?” Or even think about painting my toenails. (Those bad boys have been painted a whopping one time since this pretty peanut came into this world 7 months ago, by the way.)

Somewhere after month 5 when I realized baby led weaning as something else to add to my list of things I need to figure out with limited brain function, it hit me.

This isn’t what life is about.

This is not at all what life is about. The busy, the overwhelm. None of it is good. None of it means I’m doing squat with my life. None of it means a damn thing other than I’m super skilled at not prioritizing, taking too much on, and psyching myself out.

Except I didn’t know what to do about it. Sure, I knew what I was doing wasn’t good… but what was the alternative? This is what I knew for years.

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out what else I could be doing though. (Before I fool you though – I still don’t have my life together. I just finally figured out what I needed to do and I want to share it with people that might need this insight, too.)

The simple answer?

S L O W  D O W N.

The actual, this might help you answer?

Focus on what your brain is bringing to the situation. For me, my brain brought a lot of baggage. The should dos, need to bes, always must dos, have tos, etc. The expectations were longer than my eye could see. And it brought me down. Waaaaay down.

And I needed (still do) to remedy that. I needed to adjust my way of thinking instead of just adding another task (or ten) for every one I cross off. So I started training my brain with questions for everything I was doing, committing to, or considering.

  • Do I really have to/need to/want to do this?
  • Am I doing this because I feel like I should be doing it?
  • Is this really a top priority for me?
  • How is this benefiting my big picture goals?
  • Is this really as big of a deal as I am making it out to be? Or am I just amplifying it?
  • Have I already taken on too much to commit to this?
  • What would I do today if I could do anything I wanted to?
  • Would I benefit from saying no to this opportunity more than saying yes?

Slow down and really analyze everything you’ve got on your plate. I’ve started to do this more and more and I realized how much of a headache I am creating for myself. Taking on too much, trying to do more in a day than I have time for, doing things that I feel I should be doing even though they aren’t really making me happy. It’s crazy how much damage I am doing to myself!

And here’s a quick story of when I “relapsed” into my old thinking. This past weekend was a rough one for us. Lily is teething, Nathan and I have been trying a new schedule that had some kinks in it and we had two major problems with work. Things that weren’t our fault, but they got the best of us. We argued, I felt like I had a zillion+1 things to do on my list, Lily needed more attention than usual because of her teeth and all I wanted to do was sleep the weekend away. I even told Nathan last night that I didn’t want to get out of bed tomorrow (for the second day in a row now).

If I would have just paused for a moment and thought things through, this weekend could have been SO much different.

I would have realized I didn’t need to deal with either of the problems until Monday.

We wouldn’t have fought – at least not nearly as much.

I would have done something super fun both days.

I wouldn’t have felt so disappointed in myself.

I would have been better capable of meeting Lily’s needs.

And I would have realized that my inability to just sit and think for 5 minutes was making every single thing a way bigger deal than it needed to be.

So simple. And so much better for everyone here. But I just didn’t do it. I didn’t think about it until, well, now. When I decided to write this insanely long post on it. I’m kicking myself for not fixing the situation sooner, but I’m hopeful that it’s a reminder for the future.

I’m a work in progress. But I don’t need to go from this to perfection overnight. There is no need to hurry. Nature does miraculous, crazy and wild things without the rush. So why can’t we?