Thoughtful to a Fault
This week I met with a professional organizer to help me with my home office. I specifically wanted to figure out why I could never have any time to move forward with my blog. Jan, the professional organizer, nailed the time drainer culprit. In her words, "You're thoughtful to a fault." The first time she said this I brushed it off thinking that I misunderstood her. But as the appointment continued she gave specific examples of how my "thought process" zaps time from my daily schedule. It became crystal clear that she was not messing around and I guess that's why she gets paid the big bucks. I kept waiting for her to tell me that the only way for my business to move forward was to stop giving out thoughtful pinches. Thankfully that was never her intention. Her plan to help me move forward will actually help me be more thoughtful and I'm excited to start the new year off trying all of her solutions.
It got me thinking...can one be over-thoughtful? Can people really be thoughtful to a fault?
Perfect example: my mother. For months I have been trying to figure out the best way to communicate to her that she needs to enjoy her life and let these golden years be carefree. When I was getting ready to see relatives at my cousin's wedding in Atlanta this past December, I said to my mom, "I can't wait for everyone to ask how you are doing when I see them. When they ask I'm going to say, 'Oh my mom? She lives like she's in prison.'" The look on her face was complete shock. I proceeded to give examples of the things she does since she has been living with us. 1. She sleeps fully clothed in the clothes she wears all day because she doesn't want to have to waste water and effort on washing her pajamas. 2. When she sleeps, she sleeps on one side of the bed for two weeks and then the other side of the bed for the other two weeks in order to save washing sheets more than once a month. 3. She wears the same clothes three days in a row before she puts them in the laundry basket. 4. She never lets us throw away leftovers and even if she is not a fan of the food (I recently found out she doesn't like quiche) she will force herself to eat it. 5. She will not call people unless it's their birthday or something really important is going on. She feels that everyone is busy and doesn't want to bother them. These are just a few examples of how my mom lives. In modern times. Not during the Great Depression. This is 2018 - long distance calls are covered on the cell plan.
I had an aha moment when the organizer brought my thoughtfulness to my attention. The epiphany shifted my feelings that my mom was being self-deprecating to actually being thoughtful to a fault. I had to admit that although I don't live anything like my mom, I'm basically doing the same thing. Everything comes BEFORE my blog. The guilt of taking care of the household weighed too heavy over wanting to do more with the blog. My household came first which meant only if there was extra time would the blog be worthy of my attention. However, in the end, everyone in my family only gets the half ass Barb instead of the fully engaged Barb. THIS REALIZATION IS NOT NEW, PEOPLE! This whole concept is why Barnes & Noble's has a loaded Self-Help section. It is the exact reason why the caregiver in every family is often the first one seriously compromised. Whether that means they themselves become sick, gain a ton of weight, they don't get to be the successful business person they dreamed of (cough, It's a Wonderful Life, cough) and more. Bottom line is, I paid someone to tell me that I can be thoughtful but first I must be wise.
Somehow I need to convey to my mom that she is not the care giver anymore. She is the care receiver. And even though I have stepped into the caregiver role for my mother on my own free will, I am the caregiver for my daughter whether I want to be or not. So it is my "job" (goal) to show both of them how I can care for my family while caring for myself first. Every caregiver struggles with this. We all have the "place-the-oxygen-mask-on-yourself-before-placing-it-on-your-children" situations that we face every single day. The awareness of what it takes to find the perfect balance of thoughtfulness is priceless so hiring the professional organizer was money well spent. Putting my goals first over my household is not going to be easy but I also have to remember that I'm not putting them first every minute of the day. Only blocks of time. Then I go right back to being a caregiver. Just to share: I have now chosen to ignore the pinging sound of my cell phone alerting me of incoming texts three times (which is really six times because it pings twice for each text if it is not attended right away) in just a matter of 45 minutes. Can I still reply back to texts after I write the blog? Yes! Will the person who texted me 45 minutes ago be crushed that they had to wait to hear back from me? Big chance they won't be crushed. I'm not being unthoughtful or selfish. Whomever texted me knows that I'm not a brain surgeon on call so they're not holding their breath for a reply. Training my brain to un-think that everyone else comes before what I want to accomplish is TOUGH.
It all goes back to the premise of this blog and why I choose to write about thoughtfulness every week. We show thoughtfulness in many different ways. The blog serves as a reminder that either confirms what we are already doing or sometimes it serves as the wake up call that we need to think about others (mostly in fun ways). Should I use my platform to caution readers about being careful not to be thoughtful to a fault? Nah, then we wouldn't need all those self-help books at B&N.