Growing up and living in New York means that life can sometimes become a little hectic. (understatement?)
The truth is that life is moving at an incredibly fast pace where no one will wait for you. There are so many things that we need to accomplish before its deadline and have so many things that need to be done now. I feel that we are always simultaneously either living in the past, “shoot! I forgot to wish my aunt a happy birthday yesterday,” or in the future, “gosh! I need to find time to call my aunt to wish her a happy belated birthday.” Rarely do we ever live in the present. And this is something that I have caught myself doing numerous times. Worrying about what we have to do, what we should have done, and what we will have to do all at once would drive anyone crazy and give them anxiety. But what if we can sit and plan and do some of those things later? What if we can learn how to control all the ‘crazy’ and make it ‘calm’, cutting ourselves some slack and giving ourselves some well-deserved peace of mind? I think we can. At least, I have. I’ve already done the first step; I’ve accepted what I really am: human. The second? Managing self expectations and taking the time to set them for the most important person out there: me.
For many years, I drove myself insane because I felt that I needed to be a robot. I felt that I didn’t need to ‘write things down’ or ‘plan’ anything; I believed I could handle it all without boggling myself down with a ‘game plan’. I believed that I had the memory of a thousand wise men who could offer you up a quote at the drop of a dime. But then, I found myself reading articles about the best Ginkgo Biloba out there to help boost my memory and doing Sudoku puzzles any chance I had to keep my brain engaged and ready for the future. And that was the problem. I never stopped. I kept going and going. I was not living in the present.
The mentality I lived with caused me to build a lot of anxiety over the years and make me stress out about everything. It eventually lead my body and mind rebel against me in the form of anxiety/panic attacks, because I felt like I could not handle the overwhelming amount of tasks I had to do. Who knew that having ‘pride’ would lead to the demise of my own happiness and health?
Enter the whiteboard.
Yes, it’s a little messy but let me tell you how this thing has helped change my life.
Before this little invention entered my home, I was constantly writing things down on post-it notes (which would get lost), add any kind of a reminder on to my phone’s ‘to-do’ list (that Siri would never remind me of), and send calendar invites to my husband for any dinner plans, doctor appointments, family gatherings, etc (that he sometimes claimed he never got). I was completely embracing technology but was becoming so dependent on it. I felt like my life was automated. But yet, I felt like I was so out of the loop. Honestly, this would just leave me feeling so overwhelmed and helpless. I started to become short tempered out of frustration and started blaming my husband for not being on top of things that I should have been on top of. So many arguments ensued. So.many. And this was definitely not a healthy way of living, physically nor mentally. So, one evening, my cousin and I went to The Container Store, started strolling down the aisles (yes, this is recreational) and saw the whiteboard staring at me. I have been playing with the idea of getting organized with it for a while, but was never brave enough to accept that I needed it, not to mention brave enough to convince my husband that we needed it (and I mean like actually convince, not whine-convince ;)).
So, I bought it, finally took the plastic off of it about a month ago and spoke to my husband about how this was going to help me and how it was going to help us (side note: living with another human puts a lot more stress on what you already have on your plate). So, I promised that once a week I would sit down and write out what is going on for the following week. Underneath it, one side would have ‘chores’ that needed to be done around the house (or in general) and the other side would hold ‘communication’ topics that we needed to discuss. Assignments were agreed upon together and if I wasn’t sure of something, he would help me figure it out (by the way, in a marriage, this is gold).
Yes, my whiteboard helps me make time to catch up, live in the present and plan my week. It allows for me to look at the next couple of days one by one and is hung somewhere where both me and my husband can easily see it. I don’t need to whip out my phone (hoping that it’s charged!) to get my week at a glance. It’s there, hanging on a wall by our kitchen, for us to always pass by and see. I am actually happy of the subliminal messaging it starts to become because it just yells out “you got this” and reassures me that I do, indeed, have this. And the best part of it all? My husband can go ahead and write any chores he wants and any topics he wants to talk about and I won’t.freak.out. So long we take the time to discuss and plan.
I know what to expect of my week. My expectations (and his expectations) are managed. Nothing is coming to me out of left-field and I feel such a huge weight off of my shoulders. Oh, and the next best part? I can erase it all at the end of the week and start with a new, clean canvas. It is very therapeutical.
What I want to say with all of this is that I am proud that I took a step back and realized what was causing me a lot of anguish throughout the week, heck, throughout the day: panic and uncertainty. I also realized that it’s OK for me to not think that I’m a robot. And I actually like it! I am enlightened by the fact that I am capable of taking my life by the reigns and being able to live in the present. I now have a piece of mind. Some things can be done later because they were planned as such. Being true to yourself takes a lot of bravery. But what you get out of it, MAN, it is truly enlightening. I am so happy I am finding myself. And living with much less anxiety.
I always make time for my whiteboard.