Too Much Day, Not Enough Me

My family just recently had a day where we bit off a little more than we could chew. I had multiple events, and both kids had school plus activities (of course, not at the same time or location). Now, it had always looked like it would be a busy one, but then things started to go sideways – a miscommunication with someone about the time of a meeting, a last-minute work obligation that meant my husband was out all day and into the evening so couldn’t help with getting kids places, an activity that ran long coupled with being down to one parent which meant racing from one activity to another with the kids eating a snack in the car. You can probably fill in the cascading details of the “too busy day,” which could either be a children’s story or a Stephen King thriller, depending on the direction you choose to go with it. It was not pretty.

Why am I telling you this? Because even organized, efficient, planful people have days like this. Not too often, but it does happen. It’s called “life.” And, if I am honest, it takes me a couple of days to bounce back from the stress of it all. What amazes me if how often clients describe days like this as their typical experience. Perhaps some people really do thrive on the adrenaline of racing from commitment to commitment, of life in constant motion. But most people I know, and clients I work with, wish it were different.

Why? Because this constant rushing is draining. It makes it hard to focus and really talk to each other. It overtaxes your brain so you forget things and create more stress for yourself. It makes us all snappish and short-tempered with those we love. It makes it extremely difficult to navigate daily life, making the ongoing decisions that build a solid home and family.

For me, these days are unusual. I ride them out and try to keep my cool. Afterwards, I reflect on what I could do differently next time, how I could plan more effectively, or if it signals a larger problem like general overscheduling. But usually, a slight course correction, a glass of wine, and a good night’s rest is all I need to get back on track. If this has become your new normal, or if these days simply happen more often than you would like, stay tuned. I will use the next three blog posts to address ways in which you can cut down on the frequency and disruption of the “too busy day” In your life.

Let Go of the Things, Keep the Memories

I was recently asked how to let go of sentimental things, such as belongings left to us from our parents. When we have things from people who have passed away or are no longer in our lives it can be so hard to let them go. We see these material objects as a way of staying connected to that person.  Before I launch into some practical tips, let me pause for just a moment to talk about some mental preparation.

First of all, this is tough. It’s important to acknowledge that. Say out loud to yourself, “This is hard work.” You may have been beating yourself up, or others might have offered you negative feedback, for not completing this process of letting go already. Hearing negative messages, whether from yourself or from other people, will undermine your motivation and creativity. Begin with a new, positive message to yourself, such as, “This is hard but I have done hard things before. I can do this, even if it takes time.”

Second of all, consider what the person who has passed away would want for you. Chances are they do not want you to feel burdened or overwhelmed by their possessions. Create a wish from them to you, something like, “I hope you can save a few special things of mine so you can smile or cry or remember me whenever you look at them. Let the other things go so you have room for new experiences and people to enter your life. This is my wish for you.” Write it down, post it somewhere where you can see it, and reread it frequently.

Now let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of going through the items. Having helped numerous clients with this process, I have three key suggestions. Use one, all, or whatever bits and pieces resonate with you.

  1. Share: Letting go is easier when we use our abundance to help others. Donate things to charities or organizations that have meaning to you or to your loved one. Battered women’s shelters need clothing and toys, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore needs furniture and home goods, animal rescue groups often have thrift shops, etc. If you have items with monetary value, sell them and donate the proceeds to a charity near to your heart. Now you aren’t throwing things out or getting rid of things. Instead, you are letting these belongings move on to others in need.
  2. Honor: Set up a beautiful corner of your home to display carefully chosen treasures that you have saved. Take the time to make it really special. Keep the area relatively small so that you have to be selective about what to keep. If you feel the desire, take photos of the items that won’t be staying. Put the photos in a memory book and write a short note about the significance of each thing. Now you have the photos and memories forever, and the physical object can move on.
  3. Talk: Enlist support for this process. You may have a good friend who can sit with you and listen as you go through everything. You might prefer to hire a professional organizer to offer a listening ear, along with motivation, focus, and problem-solving techniques. If doing this alone has been derailing you, reach out to someone to support you.

It may take some time for you to complete this process, but that’s ok. Small steps add up. I hope these ideas will help you stay positive and motivated.

For additional tips please check out my tips page or my current list of book suggestions for additional ideas, or contact me directly to discuss your unique situation and how I can help.  Thank you.