“Amy has pneumonia.” What!? My invincible sister-in-law, Amy, had pneumonia? I couldn’t believe it! I’d just seen her two days before and she seemed just fine. What happened was she’d finally tipped the scales from chronically doing too much to REALLY doing too much with no break.
Amy is the owner of a very successful preschool daycare program, and a dedicated wife and mother who almost always puts everyone’s needs before her own. Recently she’d not only been running her daycare, which requires anywhere from 60-80 hours of her time per week, and taking care of her home, family, and personal business, but within the last few months she’d developed plans to double the size of her daycare, gotten a loan, and searched out and worked with an architect and a contractor to renovate the space that would make expansion possible. That expansion also required that she and her husband move to a new home. She found a home, purchased it, and moved in. Because Amy has the organizer gene in her family, she also coordinated the move, did much of the moving of smaller items into the home, and did most of the unpacking and setting up the new house. Is it any wonder that Amy crashed?
Amy is a woman with high drive. There is no doubt about it. When I’d asked her how she’d been able to get so much accomplished in such a short period of time during our visit the weekend before she was diagnosed with pneumonia, she said, “I just keep going.” Her automatic response when there is a lot on her plate is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, making the next decision, taking the next action. And, she gets a lot done. But at what price?
When I spoke with her while she was recovering from pneumonia, and remarked that she’d seemed fine when I saw her, her response was, “I just kept feeling like something was off. And, I started feeling worse and worse, but I had no idea I was so sick.” Even then, she kept going. It wasn’t until her daughter said, “Mom, we’re going to the urgent care center,” that Amy had a clue that something was really wrong. Her drive to get things done, to do the responsible thing, had blocked her awareness that her body was sick and needed attention.
High drive is the trait associated with people who are successful in business and life, and is revered in our culture. But, as Amy’s story relays, it’s demands can block healthy awareness of your physical limits. It took something as serious as pneumonia to make Amy aware that she had to stop and realize what her drive was costing her.
If you recognize yourself in Amy’s story, which unfortunately I do, it’s time to pause and take stock of what your drive is costing you. Is it affecting your health, your mood, your relationships? Perhaps it’s time to take back control from the tyrant of high drive so you can not only avoid a nose dive into illness, but make space for more peaceful moments and pleasure in your life.
At the risk of putting a few of you off because of the religious reference, I offer you a lovely poem I found among my mother’s papers when I was clearing out her desk. It’s so interesting that these words were a comfort to my mother, that she too probably struggled with the never ending pull of things to do. Of course, she was a mother and that comes with the territory!
I hope you find these words give you permission to take your foot off the gas pedal and take time for more pauses, quiet and reflection. The best inspiration and guidance comes through in the quiet moments!
Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.
Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations–slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to sink my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values
that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
©1992 Creators Syndicate
How does a professional organizer define a banner day? It’s a day when two clients report that they experience immediate results from clutter clearing.
I ran into one client who frequents the same coffee shop I do, and her first words when she saw me were, “I got so much done!” This client has her home office set up in her dining room. Over time she had accumulated a ring of clutter around her. Normally I can’t get at much of that clutter because she is sitting in the middle of it, and moving any of it is quite anxiety provoking. On my last visit she was running late, so I was able to start work without her. I took the opportunity to clear out the area around her chair. When she arrived I had a pile of bags and papers to go through with her, and the area where she works felt so much lighter, so much better. In that session we were able to go through all those things that had been sitting stagnant for quite some time, moving things along for filing, action, trash and to give away. My client was thrilled about the progress!
When my client reported, “I got so much done!” I was pleased, but I wasn’t surprised. The clutter around her chair was a block to her productivity. Those things that had been stagnant so long held dead, negative energies. They made it impossible for her to clear that clutter on her own. Once that block of negative energy was removed and order restored, the area had a positive energy, one that made mental clarity possible, and she was able to do many difficult tasks that previously were difficult to accomplish when surrounded by negative energy.
That same day another client reported “I slept much better last night.” The previous day I’d helped her reclaim basic order in her bedroom that had become completely cluttered since her return from college. It’s no wonder that she’d some difficulty sleeping in that room! Everything is alive with energy and the energy talks to you all the time. When she tried to sleep in the midst of chaos, the energy of everything strewn about her was chattering at her all night long. There were just too many things talking to be able to have a restful night’s sleep. Our clutter clearing together had quieted all those conversations, and good sleep was possible.
Want to be more productive? Want better sleep? Clear some clutter! Every little bit helps! Quiet those negative energies and you too can experience immediate positive results.
Last weekend I was at Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Women’s College, the college where I earned a B.A. 36 years ago. I was there to speak at the annual reunion about using feng shui to clear clutter. It’s always a trip back in time for me when I return to Randy-Mac. I look back to the days when I walked this campus as an insecure young woman trying to figure out what really mattered and think, “Wow! I’ve come so far!”
One of the things I was able to do there was choose what I wanted to study. I chose to attend Randolph-Macon because at the time of my admission I had much more freedom to choose classes that interested me than at other colleges. In so doing I discovered a love for art history and was able to reconnect with my love of art. When I chose a class that I didn’t like and that it didn’t resonate with my interests, I was able to drop it and pick up another that was a better fit. That freedom was the starting point of a lifelong practice of choosing to expend my time and energy in studies, activities and work that feed me, that resonate with what I love and value. When I stay in alignment with what matters most to me, life is good.
What began here at Randolph-Macon Women’s College has led me to self-employment (something that was never on my radar when in college), to work that feeds my soul and makes a positive difference in my life and the lives of the people I touch through writing, clutter clearing and coaching, and to a way of living that keeps me curious and excited about the unfolding adventure of each day.
The freedom to choose in accordance with your interests, values, needs and passions is life giving and life enhancing. Are you using your freedom to choose what matters most? Are you happy with the life you are living? When you are happy with your life, clear about what matters to you and able to go for it, you are better equipped and are more likely to be motivated to make all areas of your space and life look and feel good–to keep out mental, physical and emotional clutter and eliminate blocks to happiness.
When I was growing up I was taught that the way to do life was to work from goal to goal, ever advancing yourself to make more money. I worked that way for about 37 years before I discovered that I was on the wrong path. Money doesn’t float my boat. Yes, it’s a necessity for survival in our world, but it’s a commodity, a tool, not an end in itself. How sad that we’ve come to define life success in terms of our net worth rather than our true contribution to humanity–the quality of our character and our efforts toward a greater good.
We value achievement and financial success over integrity, making a difference and loving behavior. How sad and limiting.
I’ve not been a financial “success.” I have been successful in many other ways, but not for success sake. I’ve been on a journey, guided to evolve from a clueless soul in need of love to a strong wise woman who can love and be loved, who walks through this world guided by the intention to be a loving source of energy in all encounters.
I have goals and accomplish many of them. But my goals are just steps on a path that is my life, my journey. I don’t figure everything out before taking action. I’ve learned that it’s more important to just take the next right step. When I do, what I need to know is revealed to me. By doing things that way I rarely stay hung up in indecision for long.
Don’t get me wrong. Life has not been a piece of cake for me. I’ve not wandered easily from step to step. But, even in those difficult moments of uncertainly when clarity seems impossible, if I wait and remain aware of all that is going on around me and in me, the answers come. Living life this way has made my life more of an interesting adventure than an arduous journey.
Would I like to generate more money from my business? You bet! Does my success as a human being depend on it? No way! As long as I am learning and growing and moving forward with a curious, loving attitude in everything I do, I am a success.