I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my plate. Figuratively, I mean. How big is my plate, how much stuff is on it, am I filling it too full, or failing to maximize its area? My life is in need of a minor re-org, as I’ve been feeling swamped but also unproductive, and unable to take on anything new, or even successfully maintain the relationships and activities that I already hold dear. So, I’m taking inventory…what’s on my plate, can any of it be pushed aside and fed to the dog, and what do I want/need to make room for?
Work is…work. My job obviously consumes more hours than anything else; I am a full-time architect and have accepted the time commitments and responsibilities associated with that. The best I can do is minimize night and weekend work, which I’m usually able to do, although duty still calls more often than I’d like for it to. Exercise is another one of those necessary time-consumers – I’ll call those evening runs at the gym ‘eating my broccoli’. As much as I detest that treadmill, with it’s countdown clock that seems to run at about one-third of the speed of normal time, missing my work-outs puts me in a physical and emotional funk, so I just gotta suck it up and make sure they happen. Kind of like housework – I’ve just gotta do it, and as much as I hate tackling those piles of dirty laundry or that sink full of dishes, I sure am glad I made the effort once it’s done.
Then there’s the stuff on the ‘want more of it’ list, like my creative outlets – taking pictures and blogging and art-making. I get so much satisfaction from an afternoon spent drawing in my sketchbook or putting together a good blog post, but these are some of the first things to get pinched when I’m running low on time or energy. And even when I do pretty well about keeping up with things (setting goals like my weekly sketching exercise have helped a lot), I am still left wishing there was time for more. Maybe it will always be that way, and I should just be thankful for my creative thirst. Then again, thirst can be irritating, exhausting, unsettling. Not sure if/how/when to quench it. And there’s Shane, my most favorite person in the world, who I’m always wishing I could spend more time with. If I were to assign him a place on my plate, he would be my double chocolate fudge brownie, served with a scoop of perfect vanilla gelato (if you know how much I like dessert, you will understand what a compliment this is). All in all, we do a pretty good job of being aware when there’s a lack of quality time, and making sure that we set aside an evening or a weekend to reconnect when we get off-track. It just feels unfortunate that the disconnect has to happen in the first place. I have several friendships that would also benefit from a bigger time investment – I want to have the kind of schedule that allows for mid-week Happy Hour meet-ups, or Saturday afternoon outings to the cafe. Workin’ on it. Other ‘want-more’ activities include cooking, traveling, reading, participating in neighborhood events, sewing, being more involved in our church, gardening, and staying closer in touch with family. Phew!
I want a tapas-style life – lots of little plates of varied and balanced flavors. I don’t want to let work be that giant serving of heavy Pasta Alfredo that doesn’t leave room for anything else. And I don’t want to-do’s like exercise and housework to keep me from enjoying my dessert or that after-dinner glass of wine. So…what to do? I’m realizing that there’s not a lot (or anything) that I’m willing or able to push off my plate at the moment. But I could make better use of the limited hours that exist in a day. I’m going to give morning work-outs a go, to free up my evenings for other things. And I’m going to scale back on the TV time-wasting – there’s nothing wrong with indulging in some quality veg-out time as needed, but I watched 8 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy when Shane was out of town a couple of weekends ago. That was quite possibly not the best use of an open Saturday afternoon (damn you, MacDreamy!). So, here’s to hoping that few small steps can make a big difference. And to promising that there will always, always be room for brownies.
(Random aside: I made my (ok, Martha’s) mint fudge brownies today, and they are quite possibly the best thing ever. Worth every single gooey calorie…)