Category Archives: #plenty #toomuch

I Run and I Write

Sometimes I will come to my desk and open my laptop, ready to write, and the words just flow. Other times, I will look at my screen and nothing will happen. When that happens, I often go out for a walk or a run. Something about the concussive effects of my feet coming into contact with the earth seems to jar loose ideas that are tucked up in the cobwebs of my mind.

To wit:

When the builders built our little houses on this street, they naturally planted trees to adorn the yards. Considering that the houses were built in the late 1950’s, the trees have had a good long time to grow, whereas the houses have stayed the same size. As I walked today, I noticed the trees in my neighbors’ front yards. Some are nice, but we are not the only ones who have a mostly clear front yard.

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NOT OUR HOUSE, NOT OUR TREE

Can trees be clutter?

Since we moved into this home 17 years ago yesterday, we have had at least 8 trees taken down. A couple were damaged by lightning or wind, one was threatening to damage the driveway with its roots, and others just seemed to dwarf the house and I wanted some space.

The summer sun pours down on us now, without the break which used to come from the shade of those towering trees. Sometimes I miss the trees, and wonder why I was so anxious to remove them. Maybe it was just a function of having so much on my plate, with thinking I had to be all things to all people for several years, homeschooling, answering the questions of my bright, inquisitive children, keeping the home fires burning, as it were.

We have also planted three trees since we moved in, so we have a net loss of five trees. Really six, when you include the neighbor’s oak tree which dropped a branch right on top of the first Good Egg (Previa). The neighbors were not required to pay for the damage to the car because “Act of God,” but at least they took the tree down so no more of our vehicles would get smooshed by their tree.

Most of the trees we had were deciduous, so the raking job was unbelievable. The evergreens we had threatened wires, sprouted sap, and covered a lot of space. In general, there were too many trees here. But now that they have been gone for many years, and my plate has settled down if only slightly, and my brain has mended itself and I realize it’s not up to me to solve the problems of the entire world, I can imagine that a few more well-placed, carefully chosen trees would be a nice addition here.

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Our tulip tree. We’ve had her since she was a baby seed.

Years ago, a tulip tree seed burrowed down into our backyard and grew. And grew. And grew. And now, we have this beautiful tree. And this encourages me to plant more, but I want the benefits of the tree without having to wait for it to grow! This tree is no more than 12 years old, and it grew from a seed.

And in the spirit of this meandering post, here is a poem by Ilan Shamir. Advice from a Tree:

 

Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

 

This Post Could be Called "What to Do When Overwhelmed"

image from apple.developer.com

The internet is a dripping, sopping sponge, absolutely saturated with how-to posts of every race, creed, and culture; of every hue, stripe, and color; of every language, viewpoint, and persuasion. These posts are well-written, clever, practical, logical, researched, and compelling.

Ironically, how-to posts proliferate even when the problem is “overwhelm.” They’re right there, offering their numbered lists, bullet points, and step-by-step guidance.

Today I am overwhelmed by the number of projects started but not finished, the sheer volume of stuff I have to care for and about, and the ongoing tasks that never feel complete.

A quick google of “how to deal with feeling overwhelmed” yields the following tips out of the 14,200,000 results offered. Overwhelm comes from

  • high expectations, 
  • taking on too much, 
  • putting pressure on self, 
  • being a perfectionist, 
  • needing too much control, 
  • and being an overachiever. 

In just one article, here are eight ways to overcome the feeling:

  • step away from the overwhelm; 
  • move, go for a walk, go get a coffee, 
  • go sit in another chair; 
  • answer the question what is the most important thing; 
  • write things down and don’t worry about margins, spelling or orderliness; 
  • give up control; 
  • ask for help; 
  • create boundaries; 
  • turn off the tv and computer; and 
  • make yourself a nice bedtime ritual.

Another article suggests these strategies:

  • accept the feeling of overwhelm, 
  • change or reframe overwhelm inducing thoughts, 
  • change your multitasking mindset; 
  • focus on right now, 
  • take a deep breath, and 
  • take action.

But sometimes, being in a place of overwhelm comes from persistent habits of incompletion, procrastination, fear of making decisions, unending interruptions, depression, and “too much” being just as objective as it is subjective. Maybe these ubiquitous lists are really just taking up more  space, becoming something else I choose to pay attention to, and aren’t even close to being the solution for me.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, to be honest. Life seems more and more complicated to me all the time, despite my not having to go outside our home to a job, despite three of my five children being adults who live elsewhere, despite years of simplifying and decluttering. This perception is what clues me in that this issue may be more deeply seated than going to sit in a different chair or creating a bedtime ritual.

Thankfully, I do have what I need to figure this out. It may be in the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back type format, and for sure it is going to be ongoing, for there are many steps that need to be taken. Probably the first step today, right now, is this blog. Taking the time to put down on “paper” these thoughts. Finding the space in my day, persisting through the interruptions and the external sensory stimulation. Allowing the natural incomplete status of many of the things I am responsible for. Letting go of the need to control so much. Being willing to just take whatever the next step is.