Monday, June 30, 2008

taking it easy

So, I mentioned in my last post about how everyone and their mom (literally, everyone and their mom; I'm not just saying that as a figure of speech) is telling me to take it easy these days.

Here's my confession: I have no clue what "taking it easy" should look like.

Sure, I'm only working 20 hours a week. That's a start. But even when I'm at work, everyone -- including my boss -- is telling me to take it easy. It's a simple thing to say...but it's a hard thing to do. I don't want to neglect my work duties in the name of "taking it easy" but I don't want to overdo it, either. I'm not sure how to find that balance.

And that lack of balance is bleeding over into every area of my life, really: housework, caring for Elanor, etc, etc, etc.

I'm not really sure how to take it easy. I've always been a go-go-go kind of person. I struggle to let go of things like my floors being filthy (which they are) and the bathroom being a mess (which it is) and dirty dishes piling in the sink (which they aren't, only because I spent 30 minutes doing them last night -- probably not in line with "taking it easy") and laundry -- both clean and dirty -- piling up (which it is; our bedroom and Elanor's room both look like the closet and dressers exploded).

I know, I know -- in the grand scheme of life it doesn't matter if my floors are dirty or if the bathroom is clean or if the dishes are done or if the clothes are put away. I know. I am here, I am alive, that is what matters.

But what if I feel better, less anxious, less stressed, more able to relax if all of those things are done?

It doesn't seem fair to put this burden onto Brett or his sister Rachel when they don't care about those things as much as I do. So then I feel obligated to do them myself because I'm the one who cares if they're done or not. And then afterward I feel guilty, because clearly I'm not "taking it easy" if I'm cleaning the bathroom or doing all the dishes or doing the five loads of laundry that need to be done.


If I were still working full-time, I'd just say we'd hire a cleaning service and be happy with that compromise, but now that I'm working part-time, we're on an austerity budget for the foreseeable future, so that's out of the question.

Do any of you have any ideas? Do I just need to unclench and let it go if my floors are dirty or the bathroom needs a good scrub or the dishes are undone or our clothes are piled everywhere? Or do I need to humble myself and ask for help with this stuff, from Brett and Rachel and even from other friends?

What should taking it easy look like? And how can I get over my guilt at not doing what I feel like I should be doing, whether at home with regard to Elanor or Brett or the house, and also at work?

I don't expect anyone to have the answers to my questions, but if you have any ideas or insight, I'd appreciate hearing them.


Kristin said...

Hey Kathleen, I think that you've been through something very traumatic, and your body needs to heal. Taking it easy to me means doing less than normal, and asking for help within reason. I think when you are down loved ones will jump to help.

Kris said...

I agree with Kristin. Do you have a relative who loves to clean? My sister-in-law loves to clean so I'd ask her to help out where I thought Adam would just stink and I'd wish I'd done the job myself. Maybe give Brett one thing to do in a week... ie get all the clothes put away this week, clean the tub next week?

Molly said...

Knowing you Leen, you know your body better than anyone I have ever met.
I think you need to listen to it, and your brain is part of your body, and if things not being clean is giving you axiety and causing more stress for you then you need to clean, within reason, i will add.
i know that your family and friends will jump at helping you with anything you need, and if having clean floors is something you need to help yourself heal, they'll do it.
but i also think that you could do some, just to make yourself feel better. maybe not 5 loads of laundry!!!
just try to put what is bothering you the most first, and work down the list.
things will get easier, trust in that....
all my love and thoughts sent to you
oh and PLEASE PLEASE squeeze that little girl for me!!!! (she looks like Amy to me!!!!)

Kathryn said...

Dearest Kathleen,

I'm sure that knowing what to let go and what to do is remarkably difficult, and you come by that dilemma honestly as your beloved momma has that same difficulty at times.

Nevertheless, it's been less than 2months since you came so close to dying. I'm thinking that it won't take you forever to get back to your normal "go-go-go" mode, but for now, perhaps you can redefine what you "should" do. Perhaps you need a "pre-cardiomyopathy" view, a "recover from cardiomyopathy" view, and soon, a "post-cardiomyopathy" view. No one in the known universe would feel like you were shirking your responsibilities at all if you were doing nothing but part-time work and caring for Elanor.

In addition, since Brett and Rachael are living in your home, I don't think there is anything unfair about asking for their assistance, guilt-free. Perhaps when you ask for their assistance you could preface your request with something like "I know this won't last forever, but for now I need your help with ... ." Or perhaps the three of you could have an informal sort of "family" meeting where you share with them the same thing you shared in your blog. Maybe if the three of you came up with a solution together you'd feel better about it and wouldn't feel like you were not living up to your, or their, expectations.

Hang in there sweet pea, perhaps God is trying to help you redefine your expectations of yourself and your family??? Just a thought.

Love & hugs,
Kathryn :-)

Rachel said...

I guarantee your friends and family want to help and don't know how. I even bet the people from your church would lend a hand.

Katy said...

Hey Lady. I have been thinking about you! I also have a hard time relinquishing control to anybody else. But you absolutely have to watch out for your health here. I have a hard time asking anyone to do anything, so I love those types who just know what to do in a situation like that. Maybe you could talk to your husband and he could put a bug in some relatives' ears, so someone could come over and without even asking go start a load of clothes or wash up the dishes in the sink. Hang in there.

Jamila said...


It's understandable that you're having difficulty letting go of things that are meaningful to you, but you've got to, just for right now. YES, ask Brett or your SIL to clean - they won't be doing it because they care about it being clean, but because they'll be indirectly taking care of you by doing it. ASK for help - I'm sure people at your church would be happy to step in with cleaning and cooking. Prioritize what you NEED to do - for example, we love you but we'd understand if you need to let the blogging/board posting/emailing go for a litle while.

akeeyu said...

Well, I guess it depends on where your doctors weigh in on this discussion. If they're also saying "Take it easy, and back away from that jumbo jug of Tide, madam," then I would say you have to let it go.

You HAVE to.

Yes, I know. The crumbs! The dustbunnies! The laundry! I know. I did the whole bedrest and recovery thing, and what I learned is that sometimes, you just have to say "Hmmm, what a lovely day to be alive," and not "I wonder if I could do another load of laundry without seriously compromising my health?"

Instead of asking for help in person, you could always send email around to friends and family saying "These are the areas we need help with: laundry, dishes, errand X, mopping, errand Y. Please feel free to give us a call if you can offer assistance." People tend to come through in surprising ways.

sandra said...

my suggestion is similar to akeeyu's. often people offer their help but are not sure what they can do. having specific jobs is helpful. perhaps you could make a list and have individuals sign up for a task.

good luck!

Jenny said...

Looks like these gals have so stellar advice. It is imperative to allow a full recovery. But I understand the psychological end of looking around at chaos... It's a mind-battle. Maybe you can play mind games with yourself, and pretend that pile of dishes is a pile of gold.

I'm thinking I may not be so helpful afterall... just wanted to check in. I sure hope you are able to find some solutions to help :)