I have reached my limit before. In many ways, at many different times in my life, I've hit that point where it was very clear to me that whatever my limit was, I had found it. I am confident it's not the best way to handle it, but it takes that point of explosion before I am able to finally hand over the controls. This time, the limit reached was in regards to too many things. Obligations, commitments, chores, tasks, work, hobbies, all of it. It has been a frequent pattern of mine. I say yes, I plan more, I underestimate the amount of rest I need, and it all goes great until it doesn't.
The past few weeks have brought some changes. Work has gotten busier and later, time has decreased, stress has gone up, balls have been dropped. Never in my life have I just completely forgotten plans that had been made. I might confuse dates, times, need to look at the calendar a few extra times, cancel on short notice, but never just forgotten. Until I did. That was the limit this time around. A kick-to-the-gut announcement that this just can't continue. So I started making changes. Things that I wouldn't even consider discontinuing a few days prior were suddenly the things that had to go.
I heard a story a few weeks ago about an Olympic athlete and the after-training recovery he endures. Rather than ice packs or ice baths to soothe muscles and joints, he goes into some kind of cryofreeze chamber. For 30 seconds, it gets so cold that the body abandons all hope for the limbs and pulls all the blood flow into the core. When he comes out of the chamber, the blood that rushes back into the limbs has gone through a filtering process that has removed much of the lactic acid that causes soreness and swelling, etc. I think it sounds absolutely crazy, but I like the metaphor that it creates. I am going through my own similar process. My limbs are important to my body, just like many of these to-do's are important to who I am. But in a crisis, those to-do's need to be abandoned to take care of my core for a while. And when I'm ready to start reaching out and getting back into some of those things, the energy I am able to put into them is increased ten-fold.
I am getting a lot of positive reinforcement that I am doing the right thing. Have you ever had that experience where you hear something you've never heard before, and then all of the sudden it keeps coming up? Ever since I decided to start pruning things, I've read blogs, seen pictures, heard stories, had discussions, all about exactly this topic. And every decision I make to reduce the list makes me feel a little bit better. I know I am doing the right thing, as much as I wish I didn't have to let some of these things go.
One of the blogs I read makes the amazing point that sometimes you have to get rid of some of the extraneous good things to make room to really enjoy the important good things. That is a great explanation for myself of what I am trying to do. I have been blessed more than I can ever understand with so many things. Everything I am pulling back from is important to me somehow; I don't want to let it go. But if I can't truly be in the present and enjoying any one thing because I am focused on trying to juggle 50 things, then there doesn't seem to be much point in doing any of them.
I am on the right track and feeling better. The long-term challenge will be maintaining a lower level of stuff so that I can go through smaller cycles of building and pruning instead of hitting the wall and sliding downward. I'm not ready for that challenge yet. For now I just have to focus on enjoying the important good things...
....and saying goodbye to some others.