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Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
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Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Do you ever find, especially during these hectic holiday months, that you have bitten off more than you can chew??  If so, what do you do?  Continue to keep chomping away until it becomes a manageable amount to swallow?  Or do you just spit it out and simply leave the table??

This weekend all my well-intentioned plans of a calm, relaxed December went out the window.  Panic set in.  All of a sudden I was buried in a never-ending To-Do list.  Unexpected gifts I now had to buy and ship off.  A stack of Christmas cards still waiting to be signed and mailed.  A big family tree project for my son’s 2nd grade class that required my help in gathering up all the info and now seemed to be taking on a life all of its own.  2 grandparent gifts that were FAR from done. It felt like it was all way too much.  Somehow this was not the way I envisioned it. 

The clock on the wall said it was after 1am Saturday night (er – Sunday morning) and I was STILL working away, grumbling under my breath.  Do people even appreciate all this extra effort, I wondered?  They will never know all the (many) hours put into this, how hard I am working to make it “just right” for them (well, as “right” as it can be at one o’clock in the morning – your standards definitely slip a bit the later – or earlier – it gets!)

That is when I wondered, should I just stop, call game over, cut my losses and move on?  What is the tipping point when what you are doing no longer matters anymore – and isn’t worth all the stress and headaches it is causing you?  So all the cards don’t get set out – is that really the end of the world?  Do people really care if they hear from us this holiday season?  And certainly there are many easier gifts to give our folks than the ones we are painfully making –  other ones that are less time consuming and less expensive.  Do we really need to keep putting in all these hours on trying to make this particular idea just right??

I had THOUGHT I had examined all that needed to be done this year so carefully.  I THOUGHT I had weeded out the things that just caused me stress and weren’t as important as the others.  But yet, here I sit, barely keeping my head above water, frantically trying to get it all done.  What is wrong with this picture??

Does life ever get this crazy for you?  What do you do when it does? 

What is particularly unhelpful is my stubborn streak.  I don’t want to quit.  I want to get it all done – every last little bit of it.  I want all the cards out.  I want the gifts to be perfect.  I want to get all the right info together for my son’s project.  No half-ass effort here.  Basically I care.  But can you care too much?  Can you be too vested in getting your tasks done?  Are they really worth all the stress and agony?  What price is too high?

Years ago when my husband and I were dating, he brought me home one Christmas to meet his parents.  After over a year of dating I was finally meeting his folks; I wanted to make a good impression.  What I didn’t know was that he had told them that he had decided to propose to me!  It was a much bigger trip than I thought!

He had told me his mom was into Native American stuff, so I researched Native American symbols, found a really cool one and decided to make a mosaic bowl for her with that symbol in a pattern at the bottom.  Why I got this bee in my bonnet, I don’t know, but this was what I wanted to give them for a gift.  I cut each square of glass myself.  It took forever.  My fingers were bloody. I was working late into the night, trying to get it done before we flew back east.  I had trouble with the grout, the sides started to slip – I was ready to pull my hair out (or throw the bowl out the window) all the while racing to beat the clock.  My husband and his brother had to come over to my apartment one night to talk me and my half-finished bowl off the ledge – poor guys hardly knew what they were in for!  When they joked that bowl was made with my blood, sweat and tears, they were not kidding in the least! 

I stayed up until all hours of the night that week frantically trying to finish (on top of everything else I had going on).  Despite all the stress, the bowl turned out great.  But the nights of little sleep and the massive stress I had been under caught up with me.   Christmas Eve I had a tickle in my throat; by the time I woke up Christmas morning, I was sick sick sick.  High temperature, killer sore throat – even had to pay a visit to the local hospital ER that night.  I spent Christmas Day (and a few days after that) sick in bed – in a strange house, filled with people I didn’t know very well.  So much for making a good impression. 

That experience taught me about paying too high a price for trying to get it all done and wanting things to be just right.  Never again, I swore.  Yet these last few nights, feeling the adrenaline pump through my veins as I tried to mange the stress while getting things done, make me wonder if I am heading down that same path once again?

Thankfully, I think (hope) this time I am nipping it in the bud.  The stress is starting to ease up a bit.  I got a lot done yesterday and that helps a lot.  Things are starting to feel more manageable, more in control.  Last night I was even able to sit on the couch, with the Christmas music playing in the background, finishing up on our holiday cards.  Ah, now that is the way (in my perfect little world) it should be.

I hope this past weekend was my blip – my moment of crazy chaos – and now it is smooth sailing the rest of the way through the month.  Well…until I start planning my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus and worrying about what to make and what to serve.  (Seriously, does it ever end??)

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3 Responses to “Biting Off More Than You Can Chew”

  1. callieandbatido Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    So true Zen Mama. I too find myself trying to find the balance between the happy chaos of the season and outright insanity. I heard a talk recently where the speaker was talking about “preperation” and how much of our lives is spent in preperation. It has really hit home for me this Christmas season. Virtually the whole two months of November and December are spent in preperation.

    So, even at this late date, I am trying to slow down and enjoy the days of preperation. At least a little bit each day. And crossing a few things off my list always helps.

  2. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    You’re so right – it feels like it is ALL about the preparation. Almost like planning a big wedding, then poof – it’s all over in a few hours.

    There has GOT to be more mindfulness along the way….how does that expression go? It’s about the journey, not the destination.

    I really need to remember to work at being IN THE MOMENT, so AS we are baking cookies or WHILE I am writing out Christmas cards, I am enjoying myself. I think/know I will get more out of this wonderful season that way (and much less stress as well)!

  3. Cathleen Says:
    August 6th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my quoneitss are answered!

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