About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Accepting that I can't do everything

... is not something I'm very good at. I was brought up to believe that I can do anything and this self-confidence is a gift for which I am very grateful to my parents. However, it's all to easy to go from anything to everything and I have a bad case of volunteeritis. When asked, and quite often even when not asked, I'm all too inclined to think, Yes, I could do that, and before I know it I've committed myself to yet another thing. This is even more of a problem now I don't have a full time job, so I tend to think I have a lot of time to spare.

So it is that I'm on the (proposed) village hall committee, I run book club and philosophy group, organize and promote live music events, and have a part time job. I also volunteered to help with the local school gardening club, but never quite made it there. This on top of growing our veg, cooking from scratch, foraging, making and mending where I can, and bigger projects that currently include replacing the conservatory roof and making solar panels. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that once again I have that familiar feeling of not being able to keep up with my own life.

A few recent conversations have shed some light on this. My sister and her family came to stay last week and chatting to my brother in law, I found him quite sympathetic to the over-commitment problem as he has the same tendency himself (with a full time job and two small children!) He commented that one contributing factor is having the attitude that you shouldn't complain about how other people are doing something if you're not willing to step up to the mark and do the job yourself. This is certainly something I agree with, and I can see times when, I could do that better, has played a part in my volunteering. My sister, less sympathetically, said, Well, you could do it all, with better time management. The most irritating thing about this comment is that it's true. It's an annoying habit my sister has - being right.

The third comment was made a couple of days later by my neighbour, who's known me for less than three years. We were talking about being argumentative, and I said that I no longer feel the need to react whenever someone says something I disagree with. He replied that I'm noticeably less abrasive than I was when he first knew me. Really? I've mellowed noticeably in such a short time? That's interesting.

On my recent excursion into my old life, I found the whole trip much more difficult than it would have been a few years ago. There was no time when travelling to Spain on my own would have been easy, but this time I felt I was having to make a big effort to wind myself up to a doing state of mind. I don't know whether that makes sense, but what I'm talking about is essentially stress levels. I used to operate at a higher level of tension all the time. This enabled me to get more done, and to manage difficult things, but also made me sharper and more abrasive in conversation. I believe I'm healthier and happier these days, too, and I'm sure being more relaxed is part of that.

So yes, my sister's right, I could fit more into my life if I really wanted to. The cost would be to wind myself up to operate at a higher stress level all the time, as I used to. When I look at it that way, I think that cost is too high. It's not so much that I can't do everything, the truth is that I don't want to.


  1. Oh man, can I relate to this post! When I look back on the life that I used to lead I'm absolutely amazed. How on earth did I do it? The schedule I used to keep, the constant pressure to "be productive" and "achieve"... it sorta exhausts me just thinking about it.

    The truth is that I was very good at "winding myself up" in order to face what was before me. The problem with that is that when you live that way you always feel "wound up!"

    But the more I've slowed down, the more I realize that being "wound up" served a purpose in my life other than just helping me to get things done. It prevented me from having to really deal with myself. I guess it was my way of running away from things that I didn't want to feel.

    Anyhow, I am so very grateful that I don't have to live that way anymore because, in the words of one of my yoga teachers "We're called human beings, not human doings!"

    1. I'm not sure whether I was trying to avoid dealing with myself, or just got caught up in the conventional way of living. Either way, I've noticed that I have a lot more time for reflection these days - hence this sort of blog post - which I feel is definitely good for me.

  2. Well, she says with only a hint of sarcasm, in my somewhat jaded opinion, avoiding dealing with one's self, and "the conventional way of living" are pretty much one in the same. In other words, I think it's a societal illness as opposed to a personal one.


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