It’s Sunday afternoon and Monday is trying to make eye contact with me. I’ve tried to stay present through the weekend and now my husband’s mumblings about the workload lurking in the week ahead have my mind trying to fog up. I consider just closing my eyes and calling it an early night or sifting through any potential reason, realistic or not, to completely spiral. But wait maybe there’s a third option. A list! That’s it. A list will clear up this impending fog but what type of list holds the fog fan? The dumper? Bullet points? The run-on sentence list? Nope, this one will be written with intent to find choices I can make as Best Katie throughout the week.
“What will make me feel accomplished this week?” Is scrawled across the top of the page in a journal entitled Puttin’ the Pro in Procrastination. Just the question itself feels like I remembered how to put my low beams on in the fog. Okay. Okay. I can see a little better now. Different versions of this question have cleared my vision before. What would help my future self? How can I make myself feel proud today? What do I need?
My guess is that this line of questioning, in a round about way, stems from the elusive pursuit of balance. Something that has been a topic of conversation since I was a young mom filling my plate too full at a pot luck so I could feed the kiddies off my one plate instead of trying to carry all four. Both literally and figuratively the weight of parenting, work, friendships, school, wife-ing felt like too much casserole on one flimsy plate. Surely, if I signed up as room mom I would feel like my time spent away from my kids would magically balance out. If I went to Haiti right after graduation my time investing in myself would click into perfect balance with time I spent investing in others. The posts about my loving husband would balance out the holes in our communication that led to counseling. If I could jusssssst steady this plate everyone EVERYWHERE would be okay.
Turns out none of those things created balance. They were all just different forms of posturing. Probably because pursuing balance never had me asking the right questions and always left me unsteady. It was/is like running in the fog holding everybody’s plate while shouting into the dark, “Am I doing this right?” Can y’all see me going fast enough, careful enough, open enough, happy enough? Do I look perfect enough? See me balancing? NO?! I can’t see it either.
Self reflection, endless failed attempts at perfectionism, feeling anxious and scouring for the teeny tiny things to fill me up have sorted out that balance can’t really be my end goal. It’s not sustainable. Knowing myself better, allowing my perspectives to shift as I learn about me and pinpointing ways I can wholly show up in my life have led me to much better questions with much more sustainable answers. Pinpointing if I have a choice in a matter, being in charge of how I care for and show up for myself and deciding how I want to engage with the world around me have all pushed me past balance and into living. Reminding myself often that I don’t have to be perfect, there is time to get it right, I’m not stuck, has created a space for me to move forward even in the fog with less guilt when I can’t see clearly.
Thinking of what I want, how I want to feel, what I want a relationship to be like then working backwards has proven to be the quickest way for me to find clarity. When my family is fighting, I remind myself this isn’t the end, I don’t have to get this perfect, we have time to sort this out. Which gives me space to ask the better questions. What needs to be done to make our family arguments more effective or less frequent? When a relationship needs tending and a hard conversation is on the horizon, I focus on how I want the relationship to be after the conversation then ask myself how I can show up genuinely and then do my part to make that happen. When it’s Sunday and the week feels loomy and I really want to get through it with minimal casualties I ask myself what I can do that will make me feel good when I get home on Friday? The answers are usually- drink your water, don’t allow yourself to shrink, make eye contact with the people you love, don’t get distracted by the fog and maybe make a list with the right kind of questions to help you switch to the low beams.