Saturday, February 20, 2010

{managing stress}

For quite some time now I've been juggling
waaaay too many balls.

It started with moving to a new city, in a new state... Setting up a new home, starting a new job, remembering which bus route to take home... Then I needed to get my Gussy business going again {I had accidentally taken a month off because our 2-week trip to Minneapolis turned into hey mom and dad, we're moving to Minneapolis}.

Then Christmas came and went, slapping me hard in the face how much I miss my family.
Then Blissdom came and went, then my grandma passed away last week.

Then, then, then.

Since August, I've been adding to my plate, never once taking something off in exchange for something new.
I've always loved to multi-task, to organize, to coordinate.

About 2 months ago I started forgetting things, silly little things that I normally wouldn't forget. Actually, it's very easy for me to remember a handful of things. Zack has always commented how crazy it is that I can remember the most random of things :)

This forgetfulness was my first sign that I was doing too much. Yes, my body has given me warning signs here and there, but I figured that was normal for working 70 hours/week.

70 hours?

Yes :(

I am building a business, I'm going to be tired,
I thought...

There's so much that I'm feeling and it's weighing so heavily on my heart {in more ways than one} and I can hardly take it anymore. I need to make some serious changes.

I absolutely must. slow. down, because yesterday I met with a co-worker for our weekly update and all of this spilled out, a little unintentionally, but she shared some great tips for me to try.

It made me realize that I've been doing so many things wrong for way too long.

Like working myself to near exhaustion most days of the week.
Like not saying out loud that I've got too much on my plate {aside from thinking about it all day long...}
Like trying to do this all on my own {instead of praying or talking about it more}.

When you keep things to yourself I feel like it's way easy to blow them out of proportion and worry about them way more than need be.

At least that's how it's been for me.

The pressure to work a day job, build this sewing business, be a wife {cook, clean, organize things, etc.}, plus visit with the few friends I have in town, keep up with our family in Michigan -- not to mention relax and take time for myself -- was burning me out.

Zack offers to help with so many things, he's got such an amazing, gracious heart, but... there's just too much on my {our} plate.

It seems like we're expected to multi-task every waking second. And you know what? I'm sick of it. I don't want to. I want to read my friend's blogs, meet friends for coffee, go to work, sew, spend time with my husband -- and I don't want to be expected to do five things at once. I don't! I feel like yes, we need to constantly be learning new things and challenge ourselves. But no, I'm not going to be available 24/7. I'm not going to check my email 100 times a day. I'm going to "leave work" when my sewing work is done more often than I have done in the past.

Seems like most of this stress is because I am an emotional person. You talk to me, share your heart, and I will feel what you are expressing. I care about the people in my life so it's easy for me to carry their pain.

I've carried months of emotional and professional "baggage" that I feel myself slouching from all the weight.

And I'm only 5'4" -- c'mon, this Gussy girl needs to extend vertically, not the other way ;)

This makes me stop and think: Is this how Christ felt? Carrying the weight of others pain -- all the time?

It's really become more like anxiety for me, feeling like I have SOMUCH to accomplish and only thismuch time to get it all done.

Some days I feel like it's just too much. Like I can't continue to carry this weight for another hour. I need to talk these feelings out, realize that these burdens need to be brought to the feet of Christ. And then I need to leave them there and walk away.

I feel like I've worked too much these last few months, yet at the same time I feel like I never get enough done with Gussy. Sewing is so exciting for me that I don't ever want to stop being Gussy. There's always more that I want to do, that needs to be done, that could be done... New ideas, find new fabric designs, new blogs, new post topics...

If Gussy is going to grow any more, I've got to let God show me how that's going to happen. I can only do sew much.

{This is a good time to say, It's not my problem, and let God take care of it.}

I've been too busy these last few months that I haven't taken enough care of myself. My life is too scheduled. There isn't any free time because any potential free time I find myself knee-deep in fabric and my sewing machine...

I don't give myself "Maggie time", just Gussy time.

Yesterday, I realized I need to force myself to sit on the couch. To take a nap. To breath some fresh air. I go from building to building and never take my eyes off the path from A to B. All of this commotion is causing me stress, anxiety, and just an overall dissatisfaction because I don't have any down time. And I don't want to feel this way because this is how God wants me to feel.

My friend at work suggested I get up early and take some time for myself. That "scheduling" time for myself will allow me to relax. How many times have I heard this, and when I am going to put it into practice?!

Umm, last night.

Last night Zack and I went out with some friends after work. That is step #1 {be more spontaneous}.

Here are some more steps I'm going to take so I can take better care of myself:

Learn to say no!
  • I'm important and my emotional health must come first
  • stretching myself too thin will only make things worse in the end {hello, isn't that the heart of this post?!}
  • date nights with Zack are precious; continue to find time for these 1-2x/week

Turn off email alerts {computer and iPhone}
  • I did this a few weeks ago on my home computer and it's been the most beneficial decision because I can focus more of my energy on my current project. Less noise = less distraction
  • having a cell phone doesn't mean I'm available 24/7 {and I mean this in the most kindest way, specifically with emails}
  • life is about living whole-heartily. How can I do that if I'm available to everyone/thing all the time??

Stop multi-tasking
  • I need to protect my self {my sanity, my brain, my body}
  • work harder at only doing ONLY 2-3 things at a time {for example: cooking dinner, talking to Zack, drinking some wine}
  • give more of my attention and creative spirit to each individual project/book/conversation, etc.

Take time for myself
  • get up early and read a devotional. Think about what I want to accomplish for the day and what types of fun memories I want to make.
  • "schedule" time to relax on the couch, outside, etc.
  • allow my mind to unwind so I can offer a clear, attentive mind to my projects when it's time to work

Slow down with the sewing
  • if this business is meant to be, it will be
  • try to be more realistic with what I can accomplish with the time I have to sew
  • stop. freaking. out. if I can't get it all done on time

So what do you think?


Click Clack Mom said...

Oh sweetie!!!! I wish I could give you a HUGE hug right now. You have so much on your plate and these are growing pains. Your relationships, business, work, creativity--they are all growing at the same time. Surely you are thinking, I can just stay up a little later, wake up a little bit earlier--but there will always be more.

I have found that I am at my personal best when I don't multi-task. It's a highly overrated skill in my opinion. The ability to do a few things WELL is really important. There is an awesome post on home/life balance on the Boston Mamas website that says you have to be willing to "lose" some opportunities in the short run to create the kind of balance that will sustain you.

You are so right, turn this over to God and don't fear what might happen if you slow down. My guess is that you will be able to spot the best/most lucrative opportunities.

You will continue to be in my prayers. Keep us posted on your progress.

gina said...

Maybe God is telling you to trust in Gussy. Maybe you will be able to let go of your other job soon and Gussy will be your full time baby. Could you support yourself if you wwere sewing 9-5 M-F?

Sunshinemeg said...

Great post, Guss. I think it is so easy to get caught up in all the things "you should do." But the kicker is that most of those things can wait. The little moments like cuddling with your husband or a little afternoon nap are much more important. No, you can't do it all day 24/7, but you can some = )Glad you are figuring out what works for you. Happy weekend.

Melissa G. said...

Hi Maggie,

Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I think we can all relate to you. And i think it's great that you are making these changes. God has given you so many talents and blessings but you don't want to get too busy to enjoy them. =)

I have no doubt your Gussy business will succeed.

Remember what Psalm 127:1 says
“Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.”

lindsey said...

i think you're wise beyond your years. i nee to put many of these things into practice as well. there's only so much we can humanly do, right? and yet our expectations on ourselves is so much higher. enjoy your peach tea, relax, and enjoy your day!

50centlove said...

Good insight and well said. We all forget to lean on God. It's hard to hand over our lives, finances, relationships, businesses to Him. We have to surrender it all to Him for our lives to have balance.

Kimberly said...

Well, it's good you are thinking about these things now and not later when you have "crashed". I think you are doing too much. I know I don't know you, but I read your blog. Just because things are "Good" doesn't mean you are supposed to do them. You need to wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to show you which things are "Best" for you. A great thing to do in the morning is to ask God to show you what the most important things are for you to do that day. I think He will.

Learn to say "no". I'm finally learning to do that. It's liberating and brings peace to your life. I think people might even respect you more for it.

You must spend time with your Zack. Don't take that for granted.

Just some Saturday thoughts for you.

Raylene Nicole said...

I can completely relate to your situation right now! Not the working 70 hrs/wk but the overwhelming-ness of life! I feel like I've been in this stage of life for too long... I know the Lord has us in these stages for a reason... and I know in my heart that He wants me to be still and just be with Him, but my mind says I don't have time for that. SAD, I know, but SO true.

Thank you for being real. For sharing your thoughts and your solutions. I think I am going to take you up on the idea of getting up early to have time for me! That is where I lack the most. Scott (my husband) gets home a few hours before I get off, so it seems that I never get 'Raylene Time' between work/grad school/wifedom/church. Which are all amazing things and I wouldn't give up any of it... I just need about 3 hours added to each of my days. :)


Dedra said...

Girl... I don't think it is coincidence that you are focusing on this during Lent either. He's trying to draw you near to Himself while teaching you balance.

Wonderful, wonderful news. I love the pointers and am doing the same this weekend.. Catch up and chill..

He rocks and so do you...

Jessica @ Barefoot by the Sea said...

Let me know how it had me at "Learn to say no!" So easy to say but so hard to do! Good luck!!!

thegypsymama said...

Yes and Amen.

I know what it's like to get wrapped up in a new project that you just lurrrvvv. But I also know, like you said, if God means it to be, it will.

But I loved the reminder.

Blessings on you Gussy, in this Lenten season!


Shannon said...

Oh wow, this was written amazingly well and it shows how I feel in my heart. I feel soooo much of this. I don't have a full time out of the house job anymore but I have two toddlers born 1 year apart and one has delays. We are always at appointments, therapy, etc. and lately I feel so stressed and overwhelmed and I can't even speak right sometimes (like the wrong words come out) because there is too much in my head. Big hugs and prayers! I love what you are doing to make it better and am going to take some of your tips to heart!


Kathy said...

I think it is awesome that you have come to the realization that you don't have to be / can not be AVAILABLE 24/7. I think, well I know, we have talked about this many times from MY perspective; that yes, I have a cell phone but that does not mean I'm available 24/7. Just putting into practice this one step will relieve soooo (sew) much stress from your life.

Love you so much!

Mama Gus

Jessie and Kyle said...

So sweet of you to share this with makes you SO relateable to all of us readers! Thinking of you and praying for you.

twolittletots said...

way to go...i think you are going in the right direction and taking baby steps. I find that when I have so much on my plate I am not happy anymore. One of the reason I left my job to stay at home with the girls, is because I had too much on my plate...I still have a lot, but I know at the end of the day, if I am not happy then no one is happy in this house. I have really worked on not sewing every day the past few weeks and things are not getting done as fast, but I am happier doing them, which I think is worth it in the end.

Good Luck! I think you are doing a great job!

Jenny G said...

Girl, it seems like you took my thoughts right out of my brain and put it on paper (or blogger? lol). I have felt this way for so long. I am the first to sign up to do new things, and like you said, I never take something else off of my plate! I had a hard time for the longest wondering if I was supposed to do that much and if it was God sending these new things to me. I didn't know if I should say no or not! Then I read in my Bible in a devotional that we can't always say yes and do everything...we might be taking a spot doing something that someone else can do better! So that was my saving grace, what I needed to hear. This world is so caught up on multi-tasking and being self-sustaining constantly. It's easy to lose sight of how God really wants our lives to be structured! I said all that to say I feel the same way you do! Glad to know your feelings...helps me to see that nope, our lives really shouldn't be filled with busyness, and it's ok to do something about it! I'm also working on the getting up early and spending time in the word. Good luck to you!

ashlee said...

this is so good. I am in the same boat with you. Trying to balance home. kids. homeschooling. sewing church. ME! its so hard! Im printing these tips out for myself...thanks gussy!!

Becca said...

Oh girl I feel your pain -- you are fantastic and talented and I just know that God has great plans for you! :-) but I do the same thing -- saying NO is the hardest thing ever . . . But my aunt always tells me to remember that sometimes saying YES to what God has for us means saying NO to some things - even if they're good things!

Cindy said...

Maggie May, You said it all so very well. and I feel soooooooooo much of what your feeling too, you just have the incredible talent of getting it all out.I love the wisdom in your young mind and heart and I think we can all put it into practice to get better and better. I hope this works, I can't tell you how many times it hasn't gone thru.

Jennifer said...

Oh my goodness... you read my mind! I could have put my name in place of yours, changed sewing to art/painting and you have my story! I am always multi tasking even though it stresses me out in the end! I am going to take some of your advice. Thank you so much for sharing this... it is nice to know someone else understands how I feel!

Mum to the Little One said...

What a fabulous post! Just what I needed to hear.
I love the bullet points at the end...I'm writing them down and am going to try applying them...
Thanks for sharing your heart and for allowing God to use you in such a beautiful way! Praying for you...

Tracey said...

::Raising hand as an emotional person::

I have been adoring your sewing via other blogs, but this is the first time I have come over to visit and I AM SO GLAD I DID!!

kanishk said...

I can just stay up a little later, wake up a little bit earlier--but there will always be more.

Work from home India