Taking the full measure of life

To Be Honest

October 21st, 2009 · 13 Comments

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For a couple of days, I’ve been spending a couple of minutes here and there searching on Flickr for a Creative Commons-licensed photo of someone barely keeping her head above water.  But I haven’t found any, so instead you get a self-portrait I took today that isn’t nearly as interesting, perhaps, but illustrates what I’ve spent a lot of time doing:  contemplating. What do I want from life? How do I design my life around what is important and fulfilling? What keeps me from going for some of what matters most to me? How do I get around or go through those barriers?

I’ve also kept busy with a variety of other activities. They say the first quarter/semester of grad school will kick your butt, and they aren’t lying; I’m amazed by my classmates who are managing to hold down full-time jobs and get all the work done.  I’ve been sick with what may have been H1N1; I’m still coughing a bit, still tired, a month later.  (This can happen.) I’m helping my husband get through the last few weeks before his Ph.D. defense; that means I’m the primary cook and cleaner and errand runner, and I will be for the next month.  I’m flying to Seattle for about one week a month for my graduate program.  I’m worn out pretty regularly.

And I’m not writing enough.  Not here, not for money, not anywhere.  I keep thinking of posts I want to write at inconvenient times, and then I never make the time. In fact, I’m not doing enough of a lot of what matters to me.  After the great cooking class I taught in August, I have thought about scheduling another one and have written some notes, but I haven’t made it happen yet.  (If you want to be on my email list about future cooking classes, shoot me an email at sally dot parrott at gmail dot com).  I had planned to apply for a small part-time job managing a farmer’s market here in Atlanta (would have loved it! would have been great at it!), but I never had the spare time to get everything together for it.  I could have forced time for it, but I didn’t, and I don’t quite understand the inertia that kept me from it.  I also haven’t exercised as much as I would have liked in the past six months—partly because summer in Georgia makes me lethargic, and partly because I went from a kickball knee injury into more exercise for two weeks into H1N1-ish illness.  I am, at least, climbing out of that; I started back running yesterday, and I am working on a consistent yoga practice. When I do it, exercise makes me feel better in a whole range of ways (not to mention allows me to stay at a healthy size).

How much am I just busy? How much am I just recovering? How much am I being too hard on myself? How much am I avoiding what would make me more fulfilled? You can see why my mind goes and goes.

So I’m in a strange sort of place in life right now: I am free to schedule my days according to my own wishes, yet I seem to be having difficulty fitting in what I want to do.  But I also don’t feel like my time is always well-ordered. At times, I waste time, especially when I’m lonely or tired (which is more common than usual right now). I feel like I need a life coach to help me create some order from these whirls of positive activity and dysfunction and to help me figure out where I am heading.  But I can’t (truly) figure out how to eek out the money for that right now on top of other things.  In the last few months, I have felt a bit stuck. And just thinking about feeling stuck makes me feel more tired.

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hannah Handpainted // Oct 21, 2009 at 2:34 pm


    Sally, I am so sorry about your stress/stuckness. I would say, ‘I feel the same way’ but that always annoys me when people do that to me, so I won’t talk about that.

    It’s totally understandable considering everything that is going on with you and I have no doubt you will sort it out. If you need to vent to me, feel free and I promise not to try to give advice or judge.


  • 2 Cheryl // Oct 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Sally–I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I stopped working full time and had to then juggle a few part time jobs and self care. Sometimes treading water is, in and of itself, an accomplishment, and it sounds like you’ve been managing a lot!
    sending some virtual chicken soup your way.

  • 3 quinn // Oct 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I think fatigue casts a slight gloominess or out-of-focus effect over everything in our lives, outward and inward, but we can’t recognize that fatigue is coloring our perspective until we’re no longer tired. It comes and – fortunately – it goes. I have to remind myself not to try to think my way out of exhaustion, and allow myself to rest more even when my jitterbugging brain is saying, “Must figure this out/make new plan/do more more more!”

  • 4 Nikki // Oct 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I’m so sorry. I was going to say something about self-care, but you know that stuff already. We love you and miss you.

  • 5 Shirley // Oct 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Oh, I’ve been there! And have experienced it to some degree again this Fall. You are very self-aware, which is good. Keep dreaming/wondering, be where your feet are as much as possible, enjoy the fun moments when they happen and know that you won’t be stuck forever. Everything changes, always.

  • 6 Bee // Oct 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Sally, hugs and positive energy to you. I wish I could make everything better and yet I know that this is all part of the journey and just from reading your blog I am confident you will work it out and get to the other side and be stronger and more fulfilled and happier. I know that hearing that can also be irritating and yet I know you will take it the way that I mean it and take what you need from it such as it is….meanwhile – I was just happy to see your blog/site with new input! Bee

  • 7 Kristen // Oct 22, 2009 at 6:30 am

    man oh man, do I hear you on this one. sometimes I feel like life is speeding by and I’m standing on the corner with my thumb out, waiting to be picked up.

  • 8 Molly Hoyne // Oct 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    This sounds like spam, I know, but it’s so not!!

    I’m in Seattle & do training /coaching for 20 & early 30 something women about living authentic, joyful lives. You sound like you’re on such an amazing path (soul sista’!) right now- would love to find a way to help.

    Give me a shout if you want to talk, Sally!


  • 9 Ricki // Oct 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    You sound just like I did when I was in graduate school, Sally. For some reason, that brought out all kinds of doubt and uncertainty. I wish I could say it was all gone now, but these things tend to resurface at key points in our lives; sometimes I still struggle with the exact same questions. The good news is you will get through it. . . every time. Hope you find more energy soon!

  • 10 Margaret // Oct 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    One of the things that is hard be me in this going back to school process (I started back in Sept, part time) is figuring out how much time to spend on school and when to say I’m done. Right now there is no balance in my life (unless work-school balance counts). And it is exhausting. Much that is important to me is slipping. So like so many others, I feel you on these concerns. It’s balance. And energy to do what is overall good for me (like exercising and cooking and time with friends and Brett), when all I want to do when I’m not directly working or schooling is sleep. ARGGGH. I’m hopeful that this first quarter of grad school will kick my butt, but ultimately I will figure out how to take care of myself and get a degree. I hope the same for you as well. Education without total sacrifice. With love, marg

  • 11 Jes // Oct 24, 2009 at 9:10 am

    The first semester of grad school is a kicker–I’m going through that right now. But just think, we’re almost at the end! I’m terribly sad that I missed out on your cooking class–just moved away from Atlanta in August–but it must have been wonderful. ((hugs)) for the coming weeks–you can do it!

  • 12 doc manette // Oct 26, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Wow, I loved what Ricki wrote – hang in there.

    Thank you for such an insightful post. You wrote exactly what I am going through (though not grad school) . . . facing a full day of promise and free schedule, yet not finding time to do anything of value!

    My daughter had the flu last week and I have canceled some after-school activities for the next two weeks to help her recover – speedy recovery to you.

  • 13 Amanda // Nov 4, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Hadn’t checked here in a while. I knew intuitively that you were struggling, just from being around you lately. And somewhere below the surface I thought that you and Marg might have some school issues, because those have been my issues for the last three years. On the one hand, I resent the fact that I haven’t had much of a LIFE these last three years, but on the other, I’d do it all over again anyway. But I am on the downhill slope with only a month left, and I don’t know how to tell either of you how to deal with the sometimes bleak prospect of life and school. I guess the best advice I have is hunker down and don’t look up till you’re almost done. It’s how I got through college and through grad school. If I’d had the money, I would NOT have worked full time while doing it–my GPA in grad school is a 3.0, and in undergrad it was a 3.8, and I am CERTAIN that the drastic change was due to being pulled in too many directions, and due to the fact that when push came to shove, work HAD to trump school. (Fortunately that didn’t happen VERY often, but it did happen, and more than I’d have liked for it to).

    So yeah. I don’t know how to tell either of you to make it any better, especially Margaret because she’s working full time. I will keep my fingers crossed for both of you. Hugs to you both.

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