Striking Balance

Catching some early morning sun in my yard.
Catching some early morning sun in my yard.

My life is a lot like a see saw.  It seems I’m either suspended, feet dangling in the air or I’m planted flat on the ground with the wind knocked out of me.

I’m not sure, but I think right now I’m on the ground.  It’s not all that painful, though… the long days of working with insurance forms has dulled my senses 🙂

Over the last several weeks, we’ve also been thinning out some of the overgrown vegetation in our yard.  Whenever I went outside, I saw with a critical, what-needs-to-be-done eye.  Today, I stepped away from the computer so I could take in something besides a white screen and black words.  Rather than focusing on the areas we haven’t gotten around to cleaning up, my eyes settled on the part of the yard that looks good.

I felt peace.  I felt satisfaction- the payoff of hours of hard work. (The photo above is before our trimming.  I didn’t bring a camera with me today.)  It’s interesting how I was comfortable amid the incomplete in my yard, but the amount of work left beyond looming deadlines at my day job evokes opposite emotions.

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can find similar balance with the day job by taking a moment to acknowledge how much I’ve done rather than pouring all of my attention into what I have left to do.  The balance may be short-lived, but I’d welcome even the briefest break!


Stop And Smell The (Faux) Pine Trees

Look deep into the lights...relax...

This time of year takes a conscious effort so I don’t fall into the “hustle and bustle” of the holidays.  Of course, the hustle is just the marketing ads that promote “must-have” deals that we’ll be sorry if we don’t buy, and the bustle is shoppers getting cranky at crowds who left their manners at home.

Shopping aside, there are dozens of other “to do” items that I have scrawled out on scrap pieces of paper littering the top of my desk.  I flipped through two magazines on Tuesday just to get them off my list – and my desk.  I scanned the list for any other easy ones to scratch off.  After I drew lines through ‘pay bills’ and ‘check kids’ homework’, I glanced at the first item on the list that I had been avoiding:  ‘Christmas cards.’

Tempted to skip it again, in favor of something a little less time-consuming, I wondered when writing to friends and family became a task to procrastinate, like scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming floors.  Sure, it takes some effort to write the name and address and affix the stamps and mailing label after I write a short message on the card, but it’s not an arduous or miserable task by any means.

I think it’s the handwriting part that gets me.  My writing is not the prettiest in the world, but I just can’t bring myself to type a family update letter.  It seems so impersonal.  We get a few of them every year, and I do read them, but I don’t feel any warmth or connection because I know the letters weren’t written just for me – they were for a broad audience.

I wrote eight cards on Tuesday night, and two on Wednesday – each time enjoying a cup of hot tea as I wrote.  Breaking up the writing helps the legibility and seeing my quick progress takes away the stress I fabricated about not having started them.  The lemon and apple cinnamon herbal teas I sipped at each sitting were gifts for my taste buds and made it a pleasure rather than a chore.

Speaking of gifts, Sammy and Lizzy sure do enjoy their early Christmas gift.  (It’s not actually for them, but they’ve claimed it as their own…we’ve already had one ornament casualty.)

Even as I receive cards in the mail from people who have it more together than me, I am not flustered.  I know by Monday, my cards will be in the mail, hand written, with a family picture.  Since we have not seen many of them for a year or more, at least they will know what we look like!

What creates stress for you?  What do you do to avoid holiday stress?  Do you still mail Christmas cards?