Friday, June 01, 2012

Focusing on priorities

My favorite lesson from Laura Vanderkam's excellent 168 Hours was reframing "I don't have time for xyz" as "xyz is not a priority for me".  Sounds so simple, but it's brilliant.  If you are reasonably careful with your time, you will absolutely make time for the important things.

This is why I've been able to continue being crafty in some form or another even after T was born.  I know it'll be harder with Baby X' in the mix too, but something else will fall by the wayside and I will likely make time to be crafty, because it feeds my soul.

In the past few weeks I've made some hard decisions.  After posting my quandary about my Etsy shop, I decided to stop accepting custom orders even though business was good.  I realized it was stressing me out more than making me happy, and also realized I could be happy making non-custom pieces and posting them for sale on my schedule, instead of someone else's.  So I don't have to stop doing metal work or jewelry making entirely, but I can control my schedule a lot better this way.

Another practice that helped me crystallize what's important is doing "Morning Pages" from The Artist's Way.  I'll write more about this later with an official review next week, but the short version is that once a day I handwrite a couple of pages in a journal - stream of consciousness, to clear my mind.  This has some surprising results - I got a bunch of new ideas for things I could make for my shop and gave me the peace to stop doing custom orders.  It also gives me a short list of crafty and house projects I want to focus on for the next few days.  

One thing I love about being pregnant is the constant reminder that I am solely (for now) responsible for another human's well-being and the best way to care for her is to care for myself.  (Did I mention BabyX' is a girl?)  This makes it easy for me to be a lot more assertive about what I need. 

And one thing I definitely don't need now is emotional stress or drama.  A few weeks ago I blogged about some uncertainty with my job.  After talking it over with some trusted coworkers, I reframed my priorities.  While I need interesting work, even more than that, I want to keep my part-time schedule.  So I put the brakes on my frantic job search and just waited for a bit to see what would happen on my current team. 

As it turns out, I got some new responsibilities that are rocking my world, and I didn't have to go through the gauntlet of interviews or the awkward conversations around "hey, I'm pregnant and due in October *and* I also work part-time".  So life is good and I'm learning to live with a little ambiguity which is another good skill to have.

On the drama front, I received an email from someone I haven't spoken to in 15 years after a messy situation.  It was more complex than just "hey, how's it going, been a long time" and I agonized over what to do with it. Conventional wisdom would say it's been long enough, be the bigger person and accept the olive branch.  I could envision long email chains with friendly banter about current lives, raising kids, work, blah blah blah. 

When I first saw that email in my Inbox, I got a visceral gut feeling that was NOT good.  It was exactly the feeling you get when you're a kid and just about to get yelled at for something.  I was physically shaking when I saw it.  That surprised me.  When I thought more about exchanging email, being "friends", Facebooking and whatnot, it just made me tired.  I didn't want that.  I knew every email would feel like an obligation to be cheerful and witty, ask friendly questions, and pretend to care.

You know what?  I don't care.  I wish this person well but I don't want continued involvement.  I definitely don't want to rehash and analyze what happened 15 years ago.  I've worked out a lot of stuff since then and have NO desire to revisit it.

But I've got that ridiculous sensitivity about conflict.  I can't just let things go.  It didn't feel "nice" to drop this email into the bit bucket.  So I replied, tersely, and then gave myself permission to let it go.  It's weird how that worked for me.  Not responding to email #1 was bugging the heck out of me, until I did.  But choosing not to respond again to the reply?  It feels right.  I'm over it.

And that's how I know I've chosen the right priorities for myself.  This is why I revel in being a grownup who can make her own choices, and try to remember when dealing with BabyT to choose my battles very carefully.  I don't want her to feel like childhood is a long series of things you do to keep other people happy.  It's not a good way to raise an adult, because it's really hard to let go of that "programming".

It's still a work in progress...


  1. Yay, you! :)

    And when you say you won't be taking custom orders anymore, you don't me me, right? :) Kidding! I have an idea for a necklace, though. Maybe you can make some *non* custom version that I can buy.

    I like the *idea* of those "mommy" necklaces with the kids names on charms or something like that, but they're a little too obvious, too cloying for my taste. Maybe you could come up with something for that market - My first thought was that the charms could be small vertical rectangles of varying height and room for just one symbol or letter. Tiny circles could work, too. Or even a mix of shapes... Just thinking out loud over here.

  2. that's "mean me" of course... (oof!)

    1. For you, yes! You think about what you'd like and I can too. I like the idea of tiny circles with just a letter or even better, a symbol (assuming I have symbols that would work for you...)

  3. :)

    Re: the email thing, something like that happened to me a few years back. I also replied briefly and politely and ignored future responses. It seemed to be the right thing to do because at some point I went from enjoying being around interesting people with drama in their lives to just not wanting to deal with that anymore. (Heck, I can't even handle dramatic novels during the school year!) She keeps digging me up and putting me on her mailing list for the stuff she sells, but that's what spam filters are for.

    And I really enjoy not being on facebook. Very easy to avoid fb drama if one doesn't have an account. :)

    1. I like Facebook for keeping in touch with actual friends, but I now definitely steer clear of political discussions or other things that piss me off. So I have a happy, friendly, (boring?) Facebook experience.

      For now I get more out of it than it bugs me. Though I will say the month I stopped using it, I felt like I had a LOT of extra time, so maybe that should inform my actions...


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