My year of less is more: Living at 80%

After reflecting on the year that was, I've realised that I was running life at 100%.  On paper it all fitted.  I could logistically keep it going.  Sure it was juggle but it was possible and mostly achievable.  If we had a smooth week, I felt that it was totally doable.  It was pretty rare to feel like that though.

The schedule was just so packed that there was no flex.  No flex for just the ordinary extras like a concert.  No flex for thinking about anyone else much other than ourselves.  No flex to remember to  ask other people how their lives are going. No flex for cooking a meal for a sick friend.  It was hard enough to cook a meal for our own family.  No flex for having people over spontaneously for a meal (hey, they couldn't have even come for breakfast there was so much on).

I've been thinking a lot about older women I've admired over the years.  My favourites are the ones who I always felt were happy to see to me.  They weren't in a rush to finish our conversation.  They weren't often seen to be 'doing' lots,  but they always had a sense of peace and contentment with their place in the world.  One of the women I was friends with had suffered with chronic fatigue so had learnt what her boundaries were.  She lived at 80% because if she went past that, her health would fall apart.

Four years ago when my youngest child started preschool, I wrote a piece on my blog which responded to the constant question 'So what are you DOING?  The expectation was that I'd be bored so what was I going to do to fill in all the (apparent) free time I now had.  But in reality I just felt so tired after years of intensive parenting.  I think it was then that I started to begin the journey of accepting that doing measurable, formal stuff wasn't always the bees knees.  It wasn't the way to measure my contribution to this world.

I'm going through some of those thoughts again now as I think carefully about how to use my time.  I don't want to be careless or lazy with my time, but wise and thoughtful about the best use of my energy.   Through crashing and burning too many times over the past few years, I'm hoping that I'm gradually becoming more like those older women I've admired over the years.  More confident in my boundaries and limitations but less likely to collapse as often.

I'd hope that even though I'm perhaps 'doing' less by living at 80% capacity, it's leaving me room to be flexible, more thoughtful and more energetic about the needs of others in my life.


Sarah S said…
1 Timothy 5:9,10 is my model of what I want to be known for when I'm 60: faithful to my husband, well known for my good deeds such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and being devoted to all kinds of good deeds.

I like this as a model as it gives me something very concrete to be putting into practice. Recently a friend, who does these things, was regretting the fact that she didn't have a "job" and a title that identified what she does. I gave her the title "godly woman".

Well done for taking concrete steps to continue to become the older, godly woman that you admire (and are!).
Rachael said…
I've never forgotten what you said about having a cup of tea and staring at the wall... it struck a chord. I hope you get well acquainted with your favourite wall this year.
Jenny said…
I was having a very pleasant gaze out the window this morning! Thanks Sarah-you've summed up nicely what I was trying to say.

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