Back in January, I posted that "joy" turned up as the word to inspire me for 2017. I vowed to remember to pause and experience joy in my day-to-day life, no matter how much chaos surrounds me.
So far, I'm failing miserably.
I fully recognize that it's pathetic. As I announced a month ago, I signed a publishing contract! The culmination of years of work and dreaming is in my grasp, and I still can't manage to be joyful?!
The problem is, I've never been one to rest on my laurels. It's a good thing, when it comes to getting stuff done. Not so good when it comes to appreciating the many blessings in my life. While I was thrilled about signing my contract, it also felt like reaching the next level of a video game, unlocking a whole new set of to-do lists. I'm trying to do more with author promotion, such as sending out a monthly e-newsletter and getting people to subscribe to it. I'm trying to do more to help promote other authors who have offered me their support and encouragement. I'm trying to push forward with writing my next manuscript so that readers who like my first book won't have to wait five years for the next one.
Basically, I'm trying to do too much, too soon. And it's stressing me out.
As shameful as it is to admit, here's what my anxiety-producing to-do list has looked like lately:
-Author promotion: how many social media posts should I be fitting into a day, and how concerned should I be if I'm not getting the response I want?
-Reading: I offered to beta-read or review so many author's books, how late can I afford to stay up every night to fit them all in?
-Writing: I'm too distracted to really feel like writing, but if I don't up my word count, what will I have to show for myself at the end of the week?
-Family: My kids keep bugging me to play with them, and I really should hang out with my husband at some point, but who has time for all that?
A few days ago, something finally snapped. I saw my to-do list in a new light, and realized just how far I'd let the crazy-train take me.
-Author promotion: I'm stressing out about promoting the book I've dreamed about publishing for so long? It doesn't even come out until 2018, I have plenty of time.
-Reading: I've always loved to read, and now I'm letting it bother me that I have too many amazing books in my to-read pile? Very few of them have deadlines attached, so I should just enjoy them as I have the time.
-Writing: I used to get so lost in my story that I wanted to write every spare moment. I need to quit worrying about when my second book will be published and get back to having fun with my writing.
-Family: Since when did my family become part of my to-do list?! My husband is my best friend, and I couldn't wait to be a mom. So many people out there are yearning for the kind of family life I have, and I'm completely taking it for granted.
In short, I need to chill out. To change my attitude and recognize that these are all things I get to do, not have to do (Elizabeth did an excellent post on this concept last October). Being a wife, mom, and author is living out my dream, and I'm in danger of missing it. If I can't appreciate these blessings now, then I never will. It's time to prioritize, remove self-imposed deadlines, and give myself some breathing space. It will all get done, it just doesn't have to be today.
Better late than never in finding joy, right? Let's just hope I can keep up this new perspective, at least most of the time :)
How about you? Hopefully you're not as far-gone as me, but do you sometimes let the blessings in your life become burdens? What strategies have you found to prevent everyday life from becoming stressful?
Thanks for reading!