As I was thinking yesterday about the many things I try to fit in my day and the ever growing list of pastimes I try to juggle, I was reminded of my eighth grade year when my parents made me choose between continuing my dance lessons or taking Spanish class at the high school. Even though the choice was easy (a good dancer I am not), I remember thinking that it was unfair. I was interested in both, so why couldn't I do both? That was the first (but certainly not the last) time I got the "you can't do everything" spiel. I attempted to prove my parents wrong as I got old enough to make the kinds of decisions that would allow me to do so, taking an obscene number of college-level classes my junior and senior years in high school while attempting to participate in numerous extra-curricular activities. I survived it, but it wasn't pretty. I was burning the candle at both ends, as my mother loved to remind me, and as an adult looking back, I can see the toll it took on me both physically (eating Taco Bell at 10:00 at night after drama rehearsal only to fall asleep in your books a few hours later does not make for the healthiest regimen) and emotionally (I think my flare for the dramatic had less to do with me being in drama and more with me being tired and stressed all the time). But I didn't stop and learn my lesson then. No, I continued the frantic behavior through college and well into my career. Only now (we won't count how many years after high school that is), am I starting to learn a new set of ABCs: attitude, balance, and choice.
It's bad enough trying to do everything; it's even worse trying to be perfect at everything you're trying to do. When I make the decision to take on a big load, I know now that I have to shift my attitude. For instance, this month I'm participating in three scrapbooking endeavors - two classes at Big Picture Scrapbooking and one Layout a Day challenge. When I'm taking just one class, I can expect myself to keep up with the assignments and fully engage on the message boards. Similarly, if all I'm doing is the LOAD challenge that month, I can expect to make 30 good layouts. But if I want to have it all, I have to change my attitude and accept the fact that I can't comment on every discussion board, nor is every layout I make going to be perfect. If my expectations aren't realistic, I'm setting myself up for disappointment and possibly even a dislike for otherwise enjoyable activities.
Some people are content to have one hobby; I wish I was one of them, but I'm not (all the blame for that one goes to my "renaissance man" dad). As is evident by my all-over-the-place blog, I like to spend my time doing a myriad of things. Admittedly, some things I try for a time and am content not to adopt on a lifelong basis. But as I get older, I find more and more that I like - and want - to do. Though it took me decades, I finally get what Mom told me all those years ago. I might be able to do it all, but definitely not at the same time. So I have to find a balance. I can no longer scrapbook every minute between dinner and bedtime every day if I also hope to crank out another chapter. In fact, that's one of the reasons I'm no longer trying to blog everyday right now: I decided to focus this month on scrapbooking because all of these fun things are happening in that world right now, and I'll turn my focus back to blogging when that calms down. In order to achieve balance, I have to be willing (there's that attitude thing again) to make choices.
I realized yesterday, that I was really missing my piano playing (when I say piano, I mean keyboard, and when I say playing, I mean tinkering). But I also had a blog post brewing. And I wanted to create a layout for the day because I had skipped Sunday (which I was okay with thanks to an attitude adjustment). (And I might have also wanted to watch The Bachelor... don't judge.) So I made a choice. I spent the hour I would have blogged playing the piano, and I made a quick, not-so-great (but I was okay with that, too) digital layout while watching The Bachelor. My attitude and choice achieved balance. And in turn, the balance affected my attitude, making me super happy that I progressed in learning a new song.
So what if it took me more than a decade to learn? Now I know my ABCs...