Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Do Everything (Kind Of)

When do you sleep? Seriously! Between working, writing, running, spending time with your boyfriend, doing yoga, and cooking, how do you make time for it all?
 You are involved in so many things (running, vegan cooking, literary readings, writing, yoga, etc.). Where do you get so much energy?
Those comments come from my survey, which many of you so kindly filled out a few weeks ago. I was surprised and flattered to see that two people asked nearly identical questions, and then I felt a little like a fraud. On the blog, it may seem like I do a million things every week. In real life, I often feel like I'm doing a million things. And the truth is - I am! But, before you envy the speed at which I live my life and the length of my to-do lists, I need to make a confession.

It's not always easy. It's not always fun. And the list I don't publish on my blog is the one of things I still haven't done.

Let's take the last few months as an example. Since September, I have been: training for the Houston Marathon and running about 25 miles a week; organizing and preparing applications to ten MFA programs, which included studying for and taking the GRE; taking a graduate fiction workshop at the university where I work (for fun!); working 40 hours a week; taking care of two dogs, one of whom is a hyper-active, headstrong, 85 pound puppy; maintaining my twice-a-week yoga practice; blogging fairly regularly; hosting bi-monthly literary readings; eating well enough and mostly at home; and spending quality time with my partner.

I can see why y'all think I don't sleep.

How do I fit all this in? Well, besides coffee, I have a supportive and understanding partner who is willing to walk the dogs on those mornings when I need to write, study or run. I live in a small town, so getting out of work at 5 and to the yoga studio by 5:30 isn't a problem. I don't have kids, which is a HUGE time saver, and most of my friends are new mothers, which means my social life has slowed down. I get up at 5:00 almost every day, just for a few extra hours. I write most blog posts ahead of time, when I have time, and then post them as the week wears on. And I am an expert at packing my weekends to the brim with activities - long runs, social gatherings, household errands, and taking most of the photos you see on the blog.

I also make a lot of sacrifices. Because I definitely overloaded myself this semester (ambition strikes again!) I've put a lot of things on the back burner. I hardly ever call my mother (sorry mom!). I owe three close friends birthday packages (one of my specialties). Cross training is a lost cause. I haven't finished a book in two months. We hardly ever eat dinner before 8pm. I still need to clean and return a dress I borrowed in September. Writing and submitting work is put on hold until these applications are done. I've been trying to organize my closet for the last three months. Don't even think about looking at my kitchen sink. And, most concerning, I have no idea how to relax. I'm constantly thinking about what I need to do next, and my plotting and planning has reached such heights that Nathan feels stressed just being around me. Living in the moment? What's that?

The thing about being busy and having a million goals is that you become addicted to them. While my to-do list causes stress, the thought of not having anything to do scares me even more. I love life, I love being active and taking advantage of every opportunity available, and if I feel like I'm missing out on something I become agitated and cranky. Then again, what's the point of creating an awesome, adventure-filled life if you don't give yourself time to enjoy it?

How about you? Are a zen, live-in-the-moment kind of person? Or do you cram as much into every day as you can? And is there a way to find a balance between the two? If you have any secrets, I'd love to hear them!