Sunday, September 13, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons - A Reflection on Being Burned Out and Overwhelmed

Let me start this by saying that I have NO ANSWERS.  You won't likely find any solutions to your personal plight of burnout and the feeling of being overwhelmed from me.  But, what did you expect from a lady that has been desperately trying to keep up with a blog titled 'The Zoo Crew'?  I mean, really.

When my older seven were young and all living actively at home I would enter each summer with such hope and zeal.  My idea of summer was a slow paced few months filled with books lazily read on the porch, glasses of lemonade, trips to the beach, and occasional stops at the local ice cream shop.  Maybe a fun game of putt-putt golf.  Honestly, they rarely resembled anything of the sort.  So, as the years passed, and my hair took on a little more silver, I grew to lowering my expectations and ultimately doing away with any expectations at all.  A quote that I heard once, but I do not remember the source, has stuck with me for many a year now.

"Expectations are the surest path to disappointment."

Does this mean we should never have any expectations?  Well, of course not.  I'm not sure how much we'd accomplish in life without any expectations at all.  However, there is some real value in knowing when to have expectations and when to just let them go.  It's really quite freeing, and I would argue just the prescription for preserving what little sanity one may be managing to hold onto within the confines of this insanity we call living life.

Yes.  I said it.  Living life involves at least a little level of insanity.  (Sometimes a VERY LARGE level.)  Dealing with insanity in others as well as ourselves is a non-negotiable part of living life.   Nothing is ever as simply played out as an episode of Leave it to Beaver or Andy Griffith.  We face challenges  Some things we self-inflict, and others things are imposed upon us by those we come in contact with by whatever means.  Some challenges are monumental catastrophes while others are minor inconveniences.  Yet all things pull together, piling on top of each other, to create our own personal pack of burdens to weigh heavily on our backs.

Sometimes our packs are light, but other times our burdens seem to spill out the top.  There are so many things to manage and process in any given day, any given moment.  We all find our ways of coping and sifting through.  If I'm totally honest, I have to admit that I have been living with a bit of anxiety this summer.  There is just SO MUCH that I need to do.  Now, more than ever, I totally understand why someone would hire a house keeper, a cook, a gardener, a farm hand, and/or a nanny.

When I was younger it was easier to juggle everything, even with seven children.  The hubby and I have been through A LOT these past 19 years, and we're just plumb tuckered out.  Honestly, I know that we've been through tougher times.  Way tougher times.  Trust me.  I know.  I lived them.  Live and in living color with all the vivid realities and emotions involved.  We face life head on and we survive.  It's just what we do; how we roll.  Being able to face adversity boldly and with determination has to be the one thing we both have in common that rises above whatever else it is that binds us together.

Just because we know how to face and manage a life challenge doesn't mean that we welcome them with open arms.  There comes a time when you just desire life to serve you lemonade, not force you plant, harvest and squeeze your own.  Sometimes you just want your lemonade handed to you on a silver platter.

"Yes, please!"

Even though I wouldn't consider us to be old, we have learned over time to appreciate the moments that make up our life.  I am reminded of a time when I was happy, felt accomplished, by the crossing off of each day on the calendar.  Then, one day it dawned on me that the crossing off of a day on the calendar is not something to be so readily celebrated.  That big X on the calendar is a visible reminder of another 24 hours behind us that can never be recovered, a day closer to the end of our time on this constantly moving sphere propelling us through space and time.  Days gone by are created by present moments, and the only way we can truly capitalize on them is by being as completely present as humanly possible in each and every moment that consumes our life.

Trust me.  I am working on this.  Really.  I am.  Like everything it is a process though.  I don't believe that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  As long as our hearts are beating and our minds are working we CAN learn new ways of living.  We CAN become more present grandchildren, children, spouses, parents, fellow human beings.  There is SO MUCH to be gained by just being in the here and now.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying. 'What shall we eat?' 
or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
For the Gentiles seek after all these things,
and your Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
~ Matthew 6:31-34

It's not only the worries that can bog us down, but the intricacies of just living life; the personal demands we have on us.  Learning to set priorities and just let things go has helped me tremendously.  Does it bother me that my house NEVER (Literally never.  I am NOT exaggerating.) seems to be clean anymore?  Of course it doesn't


Is that more important than cuddling my five-year-old when his cup needs to be filled?  Absolutely not.  The dusting CAN wait.  

Is it more important than coloring with my four-year-old when she just needs some quality time with mama?  Absolutely, unequivocally not.  The sweeping CAN wait.  

Is it more important than watching a movie with my 10-year-old while the littles slumber in quiet time?  100% no way!  The dishes CAN wait.

Is it more important than being there for a friend in need?  Not on a bet.  The laundry CAN wait.  

No matter what, the cleaning will always be there... 

...and the state of my home will NEVER be more important than being there for those that are in my life and need my time.  For time is more valuable than any other commodity of value in my life.  I cannot honestly say that I have always fully understood the true value of my time.  

This year is bringing forth a stage in life that I've never experienced despite the fact that I've raised seven children to adulthood.  We have three young ones in three different grades in our homeschool.  We've done high school like this, but never early elementary, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit intimidated by this school year.  I've had two cram sessions of planning so far, and one more on the horizon.  I'm not so sure I'll be fully ready after my last cram session this week, but I will at least be well on my way.  All we can do is just dive in and see what works and what doesn't.  

I am thankful for my more laid back approach to life, the friends and family that encourage me along the way, and the freedom that we have to live and learn together as a family and community.  Although my life is basically nothing like I imagined it would be at this stage in the game I'd be hard pressed to see it any other way.  So, even though summer didn't serve me lemonade on a silver platter, fall is just around the corner in all its glorious splendor.  I have hope that my plans for the school year will be blessed and that my attitude in regard to expectations and mindful living will provide the flexibility we need to find peace in our days and joy in our moments.


...there's always hot cocoa!


annette @ a net in time said...

ah indeed.. there is ALWAYS hot cocoa (or in my case... and nice hot cup of bouillon). :)

One day at a time,
Live in the moment God has given us.
Not worrying on the time he has not yet given us.

Gena at said...

This was very encouraging! I like that expectations quote. I'm going to remember that.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...