In my previous life I very well may have wielded the lasso of truth and been capable of withstanding magic and fire with my Amazonian strength, but in this life I am just a regular ole’ woman. I am strong, no doubt and I am pretty clever, but there is nothing wondrous about me. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that several times a day because at one time, I was Wonder Woman. My mom taught me to be resilient, to persevere, and to hold myself to the highest standard and for that I am thankful, but today I am just a woman trying to enjoy my life as best as I can.
Between my everyday, constant symptoms, work, my friends, and my family, my plate is overflowing and my heart is full. I am happy to be a loving wife vs. a rockstar wife who can cook and clean and organize a party like no one’s business. I am glad to have a few good friends that truly know and appreciate me for who I am vs. a bunch of busy friends who go on trips to fantastic places and have drinks at the bar every weekend. I am content on being an above average employee vs. the one who exceeds expectations in every aspect and leads the team. I am happy being Wonder Woman’s older, wiser, fatter sister.
Letting go of the old me wasn’t easy and it took me a while to even realize that I needed to do it. Maybe it was the physical toll that life was taking on my body or the fact that I was involved in so many things that I couldn’t keep track of them all. I found myself missing appointments and forgetting important deadlines. I was so stressed that I would cry on the commute home from work a few times a week just to get a little release. I eventually learned to just say no and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Life is definitely not easy but it’s much more manageable and enjoyable. In order to make sure that I’m not overextending myself or edging back into Wonder Woman territory, I use an approach that involves planning, prioritizing, and pacing myself.
I plan my life in series of weeks. It sounds ridiculous, but it works for me. I don’t stress out about things that are weeks or months away because that overwhelms me. I simply plan one week at a time. I add everything I need to do to my various calendars. I set reminders. I write myself notes. I try to visualize how the entire week will play out and what can be moved where in order to reduce the number of things I have going on at once. I determine which days are good for getting a little extra rest or even an early bed time and plan strenuous or stressful events the day after extra rest days. This is especially handy on weeks that I travel for work. I know that travel days are really long and taxing days so I make sure that I have an easy dinner option for the following day so I can get to bed early that night.
Planning also involves making sure that I have the provisions that I need for special events. If I’m heading to an outdoor event, I dress in light colored, breathable fabrics and bring my battery operated fan and/or cooling towels. I scope out shade or opportunities to cool off in the AC when it gets too hot. All of these things help to reduce the amount of stress that I feel while actually participating in life and allow me to relax and enjoy myself instead.
Planning my weekly schedule also involves prioritizing. Sometimes things don’t go according to schedule or my symptoms flare up and I have to readjust and prioritize. Do I really need to clean the kitchen floor today or will we live to see another day if it waits until next week? Do I really need to re-stain my deck this year or can it wait until next spring? Do we absolutely need groceries today or can I just stop at the gas station and pick up a gallon of milk to hold us over? Other times I’m forced to make a decision about which thing is more important to me. Do I accept dinner out with a friend after work or do I need to save that energy for writing a blog post about something that’s been on my mind for a while? When you can’t do everything, choose to do the things that either absolutely need to be done now or the things that matter to you the most.
Learning to pace myself is one of the hardest things I’ve probably ever had to teach myself. I’m not one to hold back or ease up on anything, especially if it’s something I enjoy doing. Example: I decided to build a new base for the cedar patio table top that I built last summer. I researched plans that I liked the best and seemed to work with the existing top, headed to the store, bought my lumber and supplies, loaded it up, hauled it home, and got to work. Eager to finish, I worked non-stop in the heat for a few hours…and then realized that I needed to stop and pace myself if I had any hope of finishing the project alive. I set up the umbrella, moved my workstation underneath it, and took frequent breaks inside. I worked for several more hours and was so close to finishing when my back started to ache and I knew it was quitting time. A few years ago I would have had no problem finishing that project in one Sunday afternoon but I have to recognize that my body isn’t as resilient as it used to be and to listen when it says it’s time for a break.
That particular project is still sitting 3/4 finished on my deck. Although I’m eager to finish it up, I know that I need to wait until the time is right so I don’t overextend myself. So what if I have several unfinished projects going on at one time? Life is not a race. Anyone who believes that it is, will be sorely disappointed when they look in the mirror one day as an old man or woman and realize that they wasted the best years of their life trying to get shit done. I refuse to make that mistake. I refuse to be Wonder Woman. For now I will just be me.