Calling the end to 2020 on New Years Eve at 5 pm when I finished with my last client for the year!
Now that we are 3 days into 2021 after a year like none other in most of our lifetimes, the last thing any of us probably want is to consider a “slow down”. We are all collectively ready for this year to propel us past a pandemic, protests, the craziest election cycle ever and anything else reminiscent of 2020.
I fully intended to truly slow down the last few weeks of 2020 because I have been moving at mach speed for the past several months trying to ramp up my home organizing and move management business, It’s Just Stuff, more than I have ever before. I’m compiling a great team of helpers, working on launching a website and formulating a more aggressive marketing strategy so, suffice it to say, I’m a busy woman.
Then again, I am, as most people will attest to, always a busy woman. And when you add on a little stress (ok fine, more than a little), I pretty much sprint through my days and when I do finally lay my head down at midnight-ish, my brain is still moving at 100 miles per hour. Hours later, I am still thinking through ever single possible thing that I either need to do or think might go wrong and, therefore, obsess over how to make sure it doesn’t…as if I have any control over everything that could possibly happen on any given day??? Thanks 2020 for making sure that lesson has been so deeply ingrained I feel like sometimes I will never get the proverbial remote control for my life back.
More importantly, I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to truly slow myself down because I keep finding myself putting out far too many little and rather big figurative fires.
But when a literal fire starts in your oven at 10 pm because you had a hair appointment at 6 pm that turned into a 3+ hour event…
…and you haven’t been sleeping well
…and you are so pressed for time
…but you still want to do something really nice for some people on Christmas Day
…it really is time to not just slow down but to actually shut down and take some time off.
It sounds like a very easy solution to a challenging problem most entrepreneurs and small business owners would love to implement on a regular basis. Instead, we tend to bulldoze our way through the trials and tribulations we face and keep on keeping on.
Truth be told the literal fire I set in my oven on 12/23 at 9:58 pm to be exact was partially my fault…I shouldn’t have allowed my 6 pm hair appointment to linger for 3 hours. I brought my stylist dinner and we spent the first 90 minutes just hanging out, eating, talking, laughing…you know normal stuff but at a distance of 6 feet or more from each other in an otherwise empty salon.
On my way home from the appointment I was thinking about my schedule for the following day and it suddenly dawned on me that I actually wouldn’t have time to make about a dozen coffee cakes when I got home from my client that afternoon for a quick wardrobe change and then off to share a very mellow Christmas Eve with one of the very few people in my pandemic pod. I mean, I am pretty efficient in a kitchen but baking, cleaning up and putting together the shrink wrapped care packages (yes, I own a shrink wrap gun and still have many of the shrink wrap bags I used for gift baskets and trays when I had a baking business several years ago) was not something even I could accomplish in less than 2 hours. But I was bound and determined to get up at the crack of OMG on Christmas Day to run around Boulder Valley like one of Santa’s elves so several clients and a few friends would get a little Christmas morning special delivery.
Instead, when I got home from my hair appointment I began moving around my kitchen in rapid fire (no pun intended) motion gathering and measuring ingredients for a Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe I have made at least a bazillion times, one that my mother made probably just as many times. I can do this in my sleep…well, if I ever actually slept which brings me to my overall point of this little rambing.
I normally average about 4 hours of sleep.
Not looking for any sympathy or a badge of honor. It is just the story of my sleepless life. And I’ve tried everything through the years.
Nothing works so I stopped fighting it long ago.
But if I am going through a particularly busy/stressful time all bets are off and I can go several days without even dozing for 20 minutes.
So I know better…don’t try to do anything involving exact measurements and electrical appliances after dark when going through an extended period of severe insomnia. And given the fact that it is dark by 5 pm right now, that is many precious productivity hours I lose.
That said, I obviously let the inner voice that pushes me through lots of challenging times saying “You’ve got this”.
Well, if what I wanted was a literal baking bomb exploding all over my oven, then yes, I got that!
I also got fire.
Yep, that noxious smell of burning sugar and butter that apparently flowed like lava over the top of several mini loaf pans, down the sides and onto the oven’s electrical coils creating the type of “carmelization” no baker ever wants to see or smell…especially at 11 pm.
I still have no idea what happened but my guess is that I got distracted for about 5 seconds while measuring the baking soda and/or baking powder for the recipe and doubled one, the other or both.
The nuclear explosion that followed and the chaos that ensued was both comical and frightening. I mean, I can laugh about it a little now, but in the moment I admit, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to put this literal fire out.
I have a fire extinguisher…or at least I thought I had one. But it wasn’t where I could have sworn I put it when I moved into my current apartment a few months ago. And with time not particularly on my side, I didn’t dare go to the garage to see if I may have inadvertently put it in there.
Side note: The fire extinguisher was actually inside the very cabinet that I had house all of my baking pans. Clearly my eyes and memory did not focus on that fact.
Adrenaline took over and I grabbed the mixing bowl still with some batter remnants clinging to the sides sitting on the counter between the oven and sink, filled it with some water, tossed it over the flames and quickly shut the oven door so the incredible steam wouldn’t filter into the rest of the apartment like a giant cloud of smoke. The smoke detector had already been going off for about 30 seconds and I can only imagine how my neighbors felt about the annoying sound emanating from my apartment. Then again, I have never seen or heard my neighbors so maybe I don’t actually have any?
Fortunately the flames were contained without any need to call the fire department and there was no actual fire damage, but my disaster recovery and cleanup was still insane. That said, I will admit I would have enjoyed a little fireman eye candy. Hey, pandemics and dating, in my opinion, do not mix…and <cover your ears kids> Mama B still has needs…just saying!
This isn’t my first kitchen fire and unless I really do learn from my past it may not be my last.
Almost two weeks since that fire and I am still not sleeping very much and while I am definitely able to function at a very high level for my clients, I am operating more or less on auto pilot.
And, no, I am not proud of that fact.
Nor am I proud of the fact that my friends that I do see properly socially distancing have been commenting about not only how tired I look, but also how scattered I seem to be as well as worried about how much weight I have lost and how can I break this cycle, a cycle I have gone through many times in my life thanks to migraines which generally are what triggers them.
Three weeks ago I woke up with a migraine 2 days in a row and that was enough to start the downward spiral I’ve been experiencing. At the time I assumed it was because of some funky weather we had with some pretty drastic changes in the barometric pressure in a very short period of time, a very common reason for my migraines, but as I was sitting at my computer on New Year’s Day trying to focus on some tasks at hand that needed to get done, I realized this current cycle may have started with schizophrenic weather conditions, but also about how much I am working and, more importantly, who I am working with recently.
So many of my clients are in crisis these days and I am apparently taking the weight of their worlds on my shoulders. In the past few months I have helped someone who was a victim of domestic abuse, another who had a daughter who is bipolar with violent tendencies and yet another who suffers from severe PTSD. Therefore, it really pains me to admit that I once again have allowed myself to be a “fixer”, a role I promised myself I wouldn’t take on ever again after going through a divorce 5 years ago and trying so hard to help “fix” my ex-husband’s son who had schizoaffective disorder and was the ultimate cause of our marriage ending.
I think the vast majority of my clients realize they not only get my expertise when being hired for any type of home organizing project, but also my compassion to help guide them through the emotional process of decluttering and “letting go”. So I do, in fact, act as a “fixer” of sorts in my chosen profession.
Now that is something I am really proud of…but at what cost?
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not giving up.
I just need to reassess how I manage my engagement with certain clients. I still want to be that professional organizer that can, as I often say, “help the organizing helpless” and am more than willing to hold their hand figuratively speaking. But I want and need to remind myself that as much as I think I am capable of handling a lot their internal clutter to be able to conquer their external clutter, once again, I am not a therapist, social worker or psychiatrist and, must acknowledge when the tasks at hand need, well, another hand…or professionally trained mental health professional head as the case may be.
Will this force me to slow down?
I’m committed to making it happen, however, I must also do a much better job at recognizing when I need more than just an extra set of hands and actually need to just shut down even when there is still so much stuff I think I need to get done before closing my eyes at night.
With that in mind, I am shutting down just before 6:30 pm MT on a Sunday after spending a few hours early this morning finishing the purge of two storage units for a client and then the rest of the day “adulting”…i.e. grocery shopping, weekly meal prep, laundry, responding to emails and other messages from days ago, etc.
I could spend 6 more hours in front of my computer, but honestly, who is going to know other than me what I should have done in that time? If my website doesn’t launch til next month, my new logo design contest goes through 3 more rounds on Crowdspring or I cannot pull together enough content for my social media coordinator to use, who is going to care other than me?
No one is anxiously awaiting anything I need or want to do other than, yep, me. Therefore, I am here to say on this, the third day of January, 2021…
I am not going to make myself sick over my own self-imposed deadlines.
I am going to establish better boundaries with myself and my clients.
I am never going to cook or bake when I am exhausted…unless I really do want a visit from my local fire department for the entertainment value. 🤣
That’s my official New Year’s 2021 resolution story…and I am sticking to it!
Happy New Year and here’s to making it a very different one from the previous year!
P.S. I did manage to salvage some of the coffee cakes and “repurpose” them into bread pudding with a dark cherry sauce, packaged them with a few holiday mugs and some hot chocolate and deliver them to several people on Christmas morning so all was not completely lost.