While talking with my bloggy bestie Shannon recently about how I always feel like I’m stressed out and that I have a never-ending to do list, she suggested that I eliminate some things. You know… cutting down the list, letting some things go, dropping some “hobbies.” After more than one conversation like this, I’ve finally decided that she’s right (yes, Shannon, you know-it-all, you!). Joshua has said similar things… namely, that I need to put my health before everything else and make it a priority. He’s right, too (mark this date down, Mr. Right! Mrs. Always Right is about to give in!). Taking the time out of my day to workout and eat well needs to be non-negotiable in my list of things “to do,” and after feeling overwhelmed and overly stressed for a couple of years now (mostly all with things I take on myself and add to my plate), it’s time to make some serious— mostly permanent— changes in my life. It all comes down to priorities, and what I’m willing to give and take in my schedule, relationships, and hobbies. So after a session of soul-searching and listing everything out that takes up time, needs to get done, stresses me out, or makes me happy, this is what I’ve come up with.
My health has seriously plummeted in the past five or so years. I’ve gradually been gaining weight, and it’s taken a major toll on my self-esteem and relationships. I’m tired all the time, I have headaches way too frequently, and eating out (restaurants, take-out, fast food, the works) is more a part of my lifestyle than I’d like to admit. Exercising has been more of an afterthought, after I “get these things done” or do this or do that. And since I’m being honest with myself, it’s been at the bottom of my “list” for far too long.
This is definitely going to be the biggest change I’m making in my life. I’m putting my health first. It should have been this way all along, but I must’ve either been better at managing stress or had less on my plate (in every aspect of the phrase) during my teenage years/early twenties, because I never used to have health issues. So before I say yes to dinner with a friend, or plopping down on the couch for my favorite TV show, or organizing my office before other things need to get done… I’m going to exercise. I’m going to eat better. I’m going to schedule working out into my planner and actually stick to it. I’m going to meal plan, grocery shop once a week, prepare my meals ahead of time, and eat in as much as possible.
I finally went to the doctor for a physical and blood work. Without going into all the details, I explained how I’ve been feeling and my concerns. My blood work revealed some downright scary things. I have hypothyroid, protein deficiency, a low white blood cell count, low metabolism and levels of Vitamin B6, and “scary low” levels of Vitamin D (in my doctor’s words).<
That’s it. If that doesn’t cause me to make a serious lifestyle change, I don’t know what will! We’re not in Kansas anymore, baby! It’s time to get real. Health, before everything else.
As much as I might want to put work at the bottom of my list, it’s obviously up there in terms of priorities. Do I need to work? Probably. Do I want to work? Yes, absolutely. I’ve always had big dreams and lots of ambition, but I feel like I’ve been somewhat stagnant with my career goals of late. Do I love what I do every day at my job? No, not really. Do I want to be good at it? Heck yes! I also love to spend money (it’s something I’m way too good at), and to spend it I have to make it! It gives me pride and fulfillment to excel at my job and to provide for my family, even if it’s just Joshua, Lady and I so far. Furthermore, I dream of someday owning my own business. Not the half-assed wedding invitation freelance work I do now, but a serious, legitimate, kick-ass business. I have so many ideas and so many goals, and I can’t keep putting it on the backburner. The time is NOW. Real life, real time. This is important to me, and in the words of Nike, I have to just do it.
It may seem odd that relationships, including that with my husband, is number three on my list. I have ALWAYS said “I put family first. Family and friends come before EVERYTHING.” But you know what? Unless I’m taking care of the first two things, I’m kind of miserable to be around. My weight makes me tired, depressed, and unhappy. I’m embarrassed to even admit this, but sometimes… I say no to seeing people I haven’t seen in awhile, or taking longer trips with my friends because I don’t want them to see me like this. I’m also not able to be my best self if I’m not on top of my game at work and with my finances. I need to be good at my job to support myself and my family, and if I choose to hang out with friends or talk on the phone over working on my business ideas or completing a nagging project at the office… I’m not at my best. I’m not happy. I NEED that sense of self-fulfillment to be able to give and receive love. My husband knows this. My best friends know this. That’s just it.
With that said, I do put relationships above other things because my relationships with the people I care about are important to me. My marriage is the most important, and my husband and I have had our ups and downs in the past two years. We both have our share of things to work on, but one of the biggest things I need to make more of an effort with is putting in the work. Even though I did meet my Prince Charming, life isn’t a fairytale, and neither is marriage. It really does take work, and when I avoid that, or set unrealistic expectations, or don’t speak my husband’s love language… my marriage suffers, and so do I. It isn’t fair to either of us. So marriage is priority 3.1 for me.
Then, 3.2, family and friends. I love chatting with my best friends weekly to check in, see how they’re doing, vent, and share stories. I love planning trips and get-togethers to see each other. The relationships I have with my best friends are stress-free, rejuvenating, and uplifting. The relationships I have with my family are little more complicated, mostly because my parents (and aunts, and uncles) are all going through (or coming out of) the dreaded D-word: divorce. My mom will always be my best friend, and I will always be a daddy’s girl… but finding the balance of staying out of the middle in the family drama has been difficult for me. And that’s the most I’ll say about that. It’s something I need to be cautious of and work on.
Lastly, 3.3, social media. I keep in touch with my real-life friends online, and I also have lots of relationships with friends I’ve never even met before. I guess that’s just what happens when the internet is an integral part of your life for as long as it has been in mine. There are some people I’ve been friends with for over 10 years, but I’ve never met them in person. I want to make sure I stay on top of the relationships that matter, stay in touch with the people I don’t talk to every day, and keep up on the important things in people’s lives via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I’m a Social Media Strategist for a living, after all! It’s where all my peeps are at, yo! (Yes, I just said that. Omg.)
4. Home Life.
This one is a biggie for me. I have found, through trial and error, that I’m most happy (and function best) when my house is clean and organized. The thing is, I’m a messy person by nature, so this doesn’t come easy to me. I leave my jackets on the backs of chairs (drives my husband crazy), stacks of magazines all over the house, piles of clothes and shoes on my bedroom floor… you get the picture. I’m a packrat, but I don’t want to be! I want to be a minimalist. I love-love-LOVE organizing. It gives me a natural high. I love when the house is spotless and squeaky clean. Being messy by nature means that it takes work for my house and home to be neat! So housekeeping is a definite MUST on my list of priorities. Also included in my “home life” priority list to keep me happy and on my game are laundry, finances & budgeting, and couponing. These are all important aspects of home life that enhance our overall quality of life, and I have to make them a priority.
I’m hoping that by moving couponing up from the “if I have time” priority category (or lack thereof), it will force me to make time to do it. Ha— we shall see.
5. Everything Else.
This unfortunately meant that I had to move Project Life quite far down my list, instead of dropping everything to scrapbook because it was my “stress reliever.” Because you know what? Being overweight is stressful. Having a messy house is stressful. Not loving what I do for work everyday is stressful. If I take care of these things first, I will have even more time for my scrapping projects, and everything else will fall into place.
Those other things I love to do, but never have time for? I have to learn to stop stressing about making time for them. With this list of priorities, I’ll just know that I can’t and won’t make time for them until the top of my list is in check. This includes: reading, sewing, painting, playing piano, photography, knitting, and the biggest time sucker for me— watching TV. So let me break that down…
Right now, I read blogs the most, on a daily basis. I read magazines whenever I find the time (once a week at best), and I read books, like— never. I have so many books on my “to read” list (and several “in progress” at once) so I’d love to make more time to read. I love reading. I probably have one too many magazine subscriptions too, so once they run out I will cut back (working on minimalizing!) and not renew.
I probably haven’t sewn in over a year, but I’m dying to break out my machine and make a quilt. You know… one of these days.
I last played my piano a few weeks ago, but I really can’t play it anymore until it’s tuned. And since we’re moving in a few months… piano playing will just have to be put on hold until after the move when I get it tuned.
Photography is such a favorite hobby of mine, but right now, I just don’t have the time to go out and shoot for fun. My iPhone has been my camera of choice for over a year now, so I will just have go with that and put photography on hold for awhile until I catch up on everything else in my life.
Knitting is kind of a joke, since I still don’t get it. But I am DETERMINED to pick this up eventually! I have the yarn, I have the needles, I have the books, I just need the time. I’d like to multitask and knit while Joshua is driving on the frequent road trips we take, or when I’m indulging in my worst habit/hobby/whatever-the-hell-I-should-call-it…
Watching TV. Sigh. I live for Monday nights full of dates and rose ceremonies, and Sundays with my favorite British royals and servants, and Thursdays at the hospital with my good pals Mere, McDreamy, and Seattle Grace. I love Games that involve Thrones, Projects on the Runways, Vampires that either write in Diaries or drink synthetic Blood, Wives of Army service members, planning Revenges, and walkers that are Dead. #knowwhatimsayin?
And what about blogging? Well, I’ve clearly been MIA for quite awhile, so blogging just gradually fell to the bottom of the list. Right now, it’s in the “everything else” priority category. We’ll see if that one changes in time as well! Tonight, it felt good to blog.
One line at a time.<