Monday, August 19, 2013

Managing Life: 5 Bare Essentials

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I'm just barely squeaking by right now.  The things that usually make my world go round are simply not happening: My laundry has not been folded.  I have a pile of dishes in the sink.  For dinner, I scrounged in my fridge and had to settle on eating avocado wrapped in a tortilla.  My personal email is overflowing.  And worst of all, there is right now a mosquito hovering near that's causing me to type this post from under a blanket, despite my apartment's 80 degree temperature.  Life feels undone.

It's been like this for a while -- actually since May, when I wrote about how swamped I was.  It hasn't let up. There have been two time-intensive work projects and four out-of-town weddings since.  There's been marathon training, and there has been... well, not a lot left over.  It's been the kind of busy that even made vacationing stressful ("BE IN THE MOMENT, ABBY!  You only have two more days before you're back to work so just BE IN THE MOMENT!").

But I'm not complaining (I think).  I've just gone into barely-keep-my-head-above-water mode, and stayed there longer than usual.  And what does "barely-above-water" mean for a person who relishes things like... a clean house, folded laundry, a stocked refrigerator, and the time to cook most meals at home?  

It means cutting it down to the bare essentials.  It means doing the things that, when done, make me feel like I have just enough control over my life to keep from going totally nuts and bursting into tears.  Everyone is different, and for me these are mostly morning things.  There's something about my morning that determines whether life is manageable. 

Getting by on dealing with just these essentials can't last forever, but when they're taken care of, life is okay... at least for today.
  1. Clean underwear.  There's nothing more desperate than being without.
  2. Breakfast food.  Having to buy lunch or dinner when my pantry is empty can be annoying, but I really go off the deep end when there's nothing to eat for breakfast.  With enough going on in the morning, adding the stress of picking up breakfast is too much to bear.  If there's nothing else in my pantry, I make sure to at least have a banana or my routine granola.
  3. Cash for parking, and gas.  There's nothing worse than realizing I have to pay through the nose for a lot that accepts credit cards, or that I'm out of gas.  
  4. Up-to-date budget.  I love it, and I want you to love it, too.  I update my budget every day for about 10 minutes, and I feel really secure knowing where I stand.
  5. Watered plants.  This is a weird one, I know.  But my plants are the first thing I see when I step out the door every morning, and the first thing I see when I come home.  And unlike a messy room, it's not okay to wait on taking care of them -- they'll just die.  And you know what dead, crackly plants feel like?  A giant finger wag.  And that's the kind of thing that may just send me over the edge when I'm already feeling swamped.
I'm waiting for the day when I can fold my laundry (it's been so patiently waiting!).  When I have the energy to respond to non-work emails.  When I get to try a new recipe, even if it means a couple of hours in the kitchen. When I can write a blog post without cutting into sleep.  But until that long, relaxing day comes, I'll be here, making sure, at the very least, I have underwear.

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