After reading two excellent blog posts about the ways that we find out that we're overextended (Jeannine wrote this blog post on busyness and borders and the trouble that freelancers have with saying no and Kelli wrote this blog post on crashing her van which was both a metaphorical and real life call to slow down) , I've been thinking about the distant early warning signs that tell us that we're getting too busy.
In the last few weeks, what signs have I had that I might be getting a bit overextended?
--The week I went to lunch 3 times in one week. There was likely also a happy hour or two. What explains such extravagance? After all, I had brought my lunch. But I wanted to be with work friends, to digest the news and non-news that came out of big meetings.
--More than that, I wanted some kind of comfort that I traditionally seek in restaurants. Some people seek that comfort in alcohol or the arms of lovers or in yoga or harder work-outs. Some people get together with friends and no food is involved: they watch a movie or they break out their instruments or they write a movie script. I want someone to cook for me and to clean up afterwards, and if I pay for that, then I don't feel the guilt I would feel if I was at home with loved ones doing all of that with me not helping.
--I've also been fighting off a cold. So far, it's fairly minor, but it's a reminder that I'm not at peak form. Happily, I'm not so worn out that the microbes can take over. But it's a little ping in the early warning system, a little ping saying, "Hey, you're not immortal!"
--My feelings of irritability are also a sign. Often I can drive in a serene state: I know the driver that wants to cut me off, and I slow down to allow for an easier merge. But lately, I've been growling more. Never a good sign.
--As recently gone theologian Marcus Borg says, "When I stand in a supermarket checkout line and all the people I see look kind of ugly, I know that my heart is closed" (The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith page 154). We are called to have soft, open hearts. Often, I do. When I feel more snarly about my fellow humans, it's a different kind of ping that's alerting me to my overstretched state.
--Yesterday I got a different kind of ping, as my computer system at work kept asking for a password and when I typed it in, asking me for it again. I called the Corporate IT folks, and it was an easy problem to fix. Still, it reduced me to tears. An easy to fix IT problem should not make me weep in my office.
--I haven't been as diligent about paying attention to my writing, and I need to step up my efforts to send my writing into the world.
--Actually, that above statement isn't true. I've been paying attention to the writing that pays. I've been good at being in contact with the editor at Living Lutheran who likes my writing: I've been pitching ideas, and she's been accepting them, and I've been writing them.
--As with online teaching, it's good to have alternate sources of income, and those activities (writing for Living Lutheran and teaching) do fill a void, and not just a monetary one. But they also require time, and in the last few weeks, time has felt like an increasingly absent resource.
--Some day, I expect to be a little old lady, left all alone when my friends die earlier than expected. Like my grandmother, I will have huge vistas of uninterrupted time, and I will look back on 2015 and wonder why I complained about all the activities which filled my day.
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