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« The 25-Hour Day | Clutter-less Gifts »
Sunday
May302010

Family, Friends, Nature & Clutter

Life’s emergencies can cut through the mind clutter and help you refocus on what is important. This spring has been particularly full with long, overflowing lists of things to do, events to attend or plan, projects to wrap up, people to care for, new ventures to start and transitions to be made. These extras were mixed with the normal everyday things like doing laundry, paying bills, working and sleeping. Let’s face it. There are only so many hours in the day. There are days when you just crave more hours.

For me, when I am overloaded in this way, it’s not so much my physical environment that gets cluttered, but it’s my mind that gets full and jumbled. In the same way that your overflowing closet or desk piled with papers might cause stress, lately for me it’s the “to do” clutter in my head that has been challenging. I’ve tried a variety of techniques to declutter my mind. They’ve included making mini lists with easy items such as “get dressed” and “go to bank.”  I’ve used my family and friends as sounding boards to sort the thoughts out loud. I’ve delegated certain things to others, when possible. Yet, even with doing these things, my mind stayed cluttered. It feels like no matter how much I do, it will never be enough. The word overwhelmed describes this well.

And then life threw me a curve ball. My dad ended up in the hospital. Everything just stopped. All of a sudden, those million items took a back seat to being there for my mom and dad. It’s not that the “list” disappeared, but it helped me to prioritize what was most important. My family comes first. I’ve always known this, but the emergency helped to quiet all those other things that have been vying for my attention.

After an intense 24 hours, I went back home to see my husband and daughters. We packed-up some sandwiches and ate by the river. We then walked along the beautiful path, enjoying the sun, the scenery and each other’s company. This was followed by a trip to our local ice cream shop, The Blue Pig. I felt completely renewed and recharged by being outside and with my family.

Eventually, I got ready for bed and picked up a book I recently purchased, Anna Quindlen’s Being Perfect, which had been on my “Books to Read List” for quite a while. It’s a small, intimate book. While I was too tired to read all of it last night, I read enough to know that it was probably the best book I could have picked up at that moment. The words jumped off the page in the loudest, clearest way saying, “Give up being perfect! Be kinder to yourself and just let yourself be.” In my book, The Other Side of Organized, the subtitle is Finding Balance Between Chaos and Perfection. And so it goes. We only hear the message when we’re ready to hear it.

At one point in the emergency room, my dad apologized to me for “screwing up my day.” I let him know that while I wished he wasn’t in the hospital, his emergency had sorted out my day. Then I thanked him for helping me to clear all that clutter in my head. There’s nothing like being in the emergency room to refocus you on what is most important- being there for the people you love, the blessings in your life and letting go of perfection. Being human is good enough.

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Reader Comments (4)

For any future emergencies, I hope to always remember your profound words of wisdom:
"At one point in the emergency room, my dad apologized to me for “screwing up my day.” I let him know that while I wished he wasn’t in the hospital, his emergency had sorted out my day."
Such insight! Wow!

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacy Lytwyn Maxwell

Thank you, Stacy for reminding me to remember. My dad passed away this March. Now more than ever, perspective about what's really important is even more poignant.

May 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I think this post is one I'm going to come back to over and over again as I'm going through some care taking challenges myself (caring for aging parents)

A nice walk, in the sun, in the company of people you love, followed by ice cream sounds perfect to me.

Lovely post Linda. Thank you.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

Geralin- Come back any time, my friend. Your parents are so lucky to have you as their daughter, and that you are able to care for them. I'm so glad that the walk, being with other loved ones and ice cream sounded good to you. I'm sure you'l find other things that help restore and de-stress too. Making sure to take care of you, especially during these years is essential.

Extra hugs to you.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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