The Thoughts That Keep Me Awake

It’s one in the morning; I should be sleeping.

I am not.

Instead I’m sitting here sipping a giant mug of hot sleepytime tea, hoping it doesn’t further aggravate the indigestion and acid reflux that has plagued me all evening. I wonder how in the world I ended up with indigestion. I digress..

My thoughts often keep me awake at night, making it difficult to fall asleep until I’ve gotten up and jotted them down in a to do list. The pretty, clean, tidy To Do list I made before bed sits here on the arm of the chair, mocking me. It didn’t work tonight, did it?

Tonight, words whirl on spin cycle in my head, ready to be plucked out and hung out to dry. Tonight, thoughts beckon to be pieced together in coherent sentences. Tonight, I can’t stop thinking about… failure.

I hate to fail. If I don’t think I’m going to be able to succeed at something, I’m likely not to try. Sometimes, even if I’m getting a task done, if I’m not getting it done the way I want it done, I get frustrated and actually bring about the failure that I despise so much. I am the QUEEN of unfinished tasks and so you would not know it, my strong detest of failure. But you cannot see the weight, the burden I bear from these unfinished tasks, the way they gnaw at the back of my mind. There are too many things to be done, I cannot get them all done, I cannot get them all done THE WAY I WANT THEM DONE.

And I think that’s the key, really.

Most of the time, it’s better to do the job right. But I think sometimes,.. it’s better to get the job DONE whether it’s perfect or not. Don’t you think? Especially if the other option is not getting it done at all.

I know all this vagueness is a bit.. vague. I have an example, I can show you what I mean.

One of the things I wanted to get done this month was my home management binder. Which I used regularly for almost a year, but haven’t used in a couple of years. I needed to update the pages to be able to use it again, and I spent the first week of January working on the files on my computer. Tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, printing, printing, printing.

And then…

I opened the home management binder.

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And I looked inside.

And there were COMPLETELY different sheets, in page protectors, that I had written by hand when the printer was out, that I had forgotten about, that looked nothing like the ones I had before, or the ones I held in my hand.

And they were better.

And my mouth hung open. And I stared. And I thought of all the time and paper. And I couldn’t decide which one I liked better – the old way?

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Or the new way? And so I tucked the new pages in the binder, closed it, and put it down.
For a week I didn’t even open it. Not only was I not using it, I wasn’t working on it so I could use it.

I know, I know. I know what you’re thinking.. Did it really matter? What’s the difference? You’ll just have to trust me that they were very different approaches to how I would tackle my day. And they both have merit. And if it helps any, I think I’ve settled it and moved on. But I still need to type up or write up something and just start using the darn thing. I’m the kind of person that does really well with checklists and tasksheets. And if I have reusable lists that’s even better because I don’t have to spend the time writing or thinking about it each day (or each night before bed as the case may be.) So we’re back at the “Just do something even if it’s not ‘perfect'” part.

Just do it.

But as you see, sometimes when I hit a bump in the road, get confused, am not sure what to do, or it gets too hard.. I just kinda put it down. For a while. Maybe a looong while. Maybe even long enough to forget about it.

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And then I end up with this running list of things in my head that I never did finish, that I still want to finish or maybe even NEED to finish. “Some day.”

And these are the things that keep me awake at night.

“I didn’t complete any of my goals for January.”
“I’m not keeping up with the housework the way I want to.”
“I’m not school started each day as early I want/need to.”
“I’m not getting enough sleep at night.”
“I’m still not using the home management binder.”
“I haven’t fully fleshed out a better chore system.”
“I’m behind on my bible reading.”
“I haven’t been finding time to write.”
“I never finished reading that book.”
“I’m not counting my calories.”
“I’m not going to the gym.”

I never, I haven’t, I didn’t. Fail, fail, fail.

But I’m here now, to point out to myself (and you) all the things I DID do this month.

I did get school started back up at the beginning of January.
I did keep it going through sickness, allergies, and cold days with frozen water pipes (or just frozen toes.)
I did establish a GOOD, earlier, successful bedtime routine for the kids.
I did re-establish bedtime stories as a part of that routine.
I did re-establish a routine of praying with/over my kids at bedtime.
I did reorganize and revitalize our workboxes for school.
I did add more language arts studies to our lessons.
I did lesson plan all of January at the beginning of the month.
I AM still reading my bible even if I’m grossly behind the Bible in 90 Days group.
I did establish a new habit I call “20 minute clean-up” which is working well with the kids.

And there’s more. There are a lot of things I haven’t done, plenty I still need to do. But there are a lot of really good things I have done this month. Some of the others, I guess I just need to get them done and stop worrying about the details. Some of them can wait until next month. Some of them I just need to make time for and do them right.

And if I still fail? Isn’t it through failure that we learn how to do it better? If I make a chore chart and it doesn’t work, then I’ll know what NOT to do. If I set a new bedtime for myself and it just isn’t right – well, I’ll know what time NOT to go to sleep. If I overplan and my brain fries and I end up failing at everything I planned.. I’ve learned I need to break things up a bit, yeah?

Perhaps taking on the Bible in 90 Days with the particular 3 goals I picked for January (in addition to getting back into the school habit and trying to get back in a good daily routine) was just a bit more than I could chew all at once. I failed to really create these habits during January, and so I’ll have to learn from it and try again next month. Perhaps for the month of February, I need to swap one or two of those goals out while I’m still working on B90Days. I’m not giving up on that. I’m not going to fail it. I will see it through.

And now that I have reached the end of my troublesome thoughts and the bottom of my tea mug.. my eyes finally feel heavy with sleep. I can finally lay my head upon my pillow, resting up for all the potential successes and failures of tomorrow. Sweet dreams..

Photo credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Peter Kaminski

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January 26, 2011 8:32 am

Amber, we are SO much alike! Yesterday, I was caught in a web of to-do’s that seemed so insurmountable I didn’t even try. I needed to fold the laundry…but first, I had to clear off the coffee table. I had to clear off the coffee table…but first, I had to straighten the rest of the living room. I had to straighten the rest of the living room…but first I had to vacuum the dining room. And so my thoughts went, over and over, and I ended up accomplishing very little. *sigh* But what DID we do? We worked on reading.… Read more »

January 26, 2011 10:56 am

Thanks, Jeni! It’s nice to know I’m not alone. =)

January 26, 2011 12:31 pm

No, Amber, you’re not alone! I’m right there with you. I started reorganizing our office/computer desk. A necessity, since not only was it a mess, the hutch for the computer desk broke – as in wood breaking into multiple pieces broke. And, man, we had a TON of stuff on there! I started two weeks ago and it’s not finished yet. I have piles of laundry to wash, a messy kitchen (no matter how much time I spend in there, it’s never clean enough), and a little boy who is craving attention that I can’t give him because I’m busy… Read more »

January 26, 2011 1:11 pm

Thank you, Rachel. We definitely relate to each other on this. When talking about a specific task or a specific room, I find it best just start on the left side and work my way to the right. No organized thinking, no pulling out all the like items first, or anything of that sort, just moving across in a straight line picking things up, putting them away, and keeping it moving to the right until I get to the end. Sometimes it’s too messy for me to think straight so I don’t think I just do. Maybe it takes a… Read more »

January 26, 2011 1:12 pm

I am right there with you! I totally get what you are saying and have so many of these same thoughts daily. And what is hardest for me to remember is to not try to do it all on my own. Because most likely, when I feel this way, its because I’m trying to do it in my own strength. Just Monday, I tried so hard to get they day going well, and it was slow, and it didn’t go how I wanted it. So I went to the Lord in prayer. I said, “Lord, I have messed this day… Read more »

January 26, 2011 2:17 pm

Thank you for pointing this out! I wanting to say something about it at the end, about trying to do it on my own and screwing it all up, but I couldn’t get it out into words. Your testimony from this week is so much better because it shows how faithful God is when we turn to Him! You’re always so wise with your words. =)

January 28, 2011 11:16 pm

It took me a little bit longer than I intended, but I TOLD YOU I’d come read your post! 😉

I hear you girl, I totally hear you because I’m the same way. I try, and I fail, and I push things aside because I feel overwhelmed by the thought that I might fail, and because I just get overwhelmed period, or whatever…and…yeah…I hear you.

But here’s what I’m trying to tell myself, again and again and again: The only true failure, is in not trying at all…

So, I’m going to go with that. 😉


3 in 30 ~ Final Check-in for January » A Classic Housewife in a Modern World
January 29, 2011 1:16 am

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