“It is not enough just to wish well; we must also do well.” Saint Ambrose
Like people in all walks of life, I am often stretched thin by requests. From my spouse and children, from my choir and professional colleagues, from community and art organizations I support; I am often overwhelmed. No one thinks twice about asking me to do something because I always come through; always. I try to honor those requests and even if I am not able, I try.
It’s gotten a bit too much for me, in addition to my professional obligations and family obligations, to do as much as in years past. Why? I recently realized I do almost nothing I want to do or that brings me joy. When things are a joy, we do them happily, easily and quickly. When things are a burden, they are a chore and drag out. I have requests which take precedence over things that bring me pleasure but I come through, despite the toll. In the last few weeks, my plate has been so full of chores and obligations I have reached my limit. And am extremely tired. I have decided to cull my obligations.
I am not alone in culling obligations. Jaqueline* began cutting out those time wasters a few years ago. In fact, her story inspired me to take a look at my own life.
A few years ago, Jaqueline’s daughter asked her to help with her Troop’s annual Girl Scout Cookie Drive. But she didn’t actually ask at first because she was crying. Why was she crying? She wanted her Mom to help but KNEW she would not be able to because she is so busy. Now Jaqueline is a former Girl Scout herself and loves the Cookie Drive and couldn’t imagine why her daughter would think that; except she really IS busy.
Her fairly large church job and community chorus directorship require she attend many rehearsals of course but also many, many, MANY committee meetings. And most of those committee meetings she did not need to attend but did so to keep aware of things pertaining to her choral groups. So she tried to figure out how she could help her daughter’s troop by cutting out things she could cut out for six weeks. After explaining her situation to her supervising clergy and the chorus board, she realized she needed to attend only ONE MEETING during those six weeks. They emailed the minutes of the other meetings she did not attend. It was fine.
After the Cookie Drive was over, Jaqueline started to go back to her old ways. But she soon discovered something; she didn’t need to attend most of those meetings. Jaqueline sat in meeting after meeting and began to look at things with fresh eyes. It was a nice idea to show her church job and her community chorus she wanted to be involved and aware of what was happening. But she didn’t NEED to be involved with the theme of the fund raiser or to help get bids for a new roof for the church. Her Epiphany, if you will, came after a two hours discussion of gift baskets for a silent auction while her youngest had a bad cold and a fever. Again, she spoke with her supervising clergy and the chorus board and was supported in her decision to cut back on her meeting attendance. Both groups assured her, if she was really needed at a particular meeting she wasn’t scheduled to attend, she would be alerted. In the past three years, there have been two extra meetings she needed to attend.
Jaqueline tells me since she’s cut out extra meetings, she feels physically better. She occasionally volunteers for her children’s elementary school and scouting activities of her own choosing. And also has more energy for her church job and community chorus. It’s been Win-Win for all concerned; her family as well as her jobs. Jaqueline realized she CAN’T do it all without taking a toll on her own person.
All of us are busy, with sometimes unnecessary BUSYNESS. We can’t imagine we could get more things accomplished if we cut out extra things we’ve been led to believe are important, but aren’t. With more energy and more time to re-charge, we CAN get more accomplished if we cut out things that waste our time. I am taking a page from Jaqueline this month; I already feel less stressed!