Full Plate

When I left teaching just over a year ago, one of the main reasons I did it was to regain some balance.  I was at work by 7:30 every morning, and it wasn’t unusual to leave twelve or even fourteen hours later.  I had little time to fit in the other things I wanted to do, and time to just do nothing was rare, if it even existed at all.

So I waved good-bye to the classroom and hello to new opportunities.  I had these lofty visions of all the things I’d do with my new-found free time: cook delicious dinners, go to bed early, spend time with Goose and my friends, train for Steelhead, volunteer, take naps, and most of all… have plenty of time to sit around and do nothing.

Goose recently pointed out that I don’t really seem to have any more free time than I did a year ago.  After looking at my schedule and thinking about it a bit, I have to admit that he’s right.  Still, I do find myself happier and more relaxed.  I get stressed occasionally, but don’t we all?

It turns out that instead of looking at my empty plate and thinking, Ahhhh… relaxation, I thought, OMG, yay!  Free time!  What can I fill it with?

I know, it makes no sense, right?  I took a busy schedule and replaced it with a different-but-still-busy schedule, and I feel more relaxed.  How?

I think there are a few reasons.

  • I say, “No,” more often.  Yes, my plate is pretty full all the time, but I know what my limits are.  If I’m at capacity, I don’t make room for anything that isn’t super important.  And if I do squeeze something in, often I remove something less important from my schedule.  It is difficult at times, but I do my best.
  • I eat better.  I get home (or at least stop at home) for dinner and we cook at home as much as possible.  Stopping to sit and eat something healthy while I enjoy Goose’s company gives me a minute to collect myself and unwind.
  • I genuinely love all the things I’m doing.
  • I am doing a lot of different things!  This isn’t for everyone, but I have a wide variety of interests and love doing different things.  It makes me feel more balanced, whole, and happy.
  • I employ small, time-saving tricks, like laying out my clothes and packing my workout clothes the night before.
  • I look at my calendar the night before and plan out the next day’s schedule.  If I have a plan for how I’m going to fit in all the things I want to do, I feel prepared and relaxed.  They’re much easier to fit in that way!
  • Endorphins.  With Steelhead on the horizon, workouts are a huge priority, and not something I shove to the back burner.  The endorphins make me happy and energized.

I guess the key, for me, is to fill my plate with just enough of the things I love… and then stuff my face.

(This picture always cracks me up.  After we did the obligatory cutting the cake photo op at our wedding, Goose was going to let the delicious cake go to waste!  This was not acceptable to me, so I picked up the plate and fork and chowed down, while everyone else waited for us to go back to our seats.)



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