Monday, December 5, 2011

On Keeping It All Together

There are days (natch, weeks) where a few ideas roll around in my head before ever making their way onto these pages. Some of them (like the boys view of Atlanta series) logistically take longer than others to go from idea to post (the men were quite rapid in their replies, mind you - it was just me reading through them that took longer than I had planned!), and others sit and grow quietly until I have a few minutes to jot them down in full form.

This one is one of the latter, and how ironically perfect, too, because this post is all about keeping things together. In your life. In your home. At your job. With your friends and family. And goodness gracious, there isn't better proof of all of this than a delayed blog post. Because that, my friends, is one of the things that has been taking the back seat while I otherwise "keep it all together." :)

Last week, I was shocked and honored to have a coworker comment that she wants to know how I always seem to be on top of things and make it all seem so effortless. Ha. When I got home that night, I mentioned this to the man, and his first response was "they obviously don't get to see THIS side of you" -- aka amidst doing laundry and dishes at the same time while vacuuming, Christmas decorating, cooking dinner and working out all waited next in line. The sweatpants and t-shirt me, balancing my blog along with the volunteering, social outings with friends and things at home, all within the few waking hours I have each day when I am not at work. Add to that a nice helping of OCD (those magazines need to be straightened up ASAP...) and that Katherine? She is a bit of a mess. 

Side note: You moms out there, especially the ones with full-time jobs, I don't know how you do it. You are amazing.

That said, every lady wants to give off the appearance of having it all together while out in public or in contact with others on the phone or email. No one else needs to know the sheer volume of stuff going on in your life, because we all have that, and honestly, listening to people complain is boring after the initial vent session. This is probably one of the first things I try to remember. Whether I am working with a team at work or catching up with friends, I try not to complain. I brought a lot of this on myself, so why should I vocalize things that I am 100% responsible for? Plus, how lame is it to talk about all these other things that are stressing you out, making that person you are hanging out with feel badly for wanting to spend time with you while you are obviously too busy?

My PR Girls crowd is a great one for dishing about life's challenges, but they also keep things fun and
stress-free. I schedule in time especially to see them, and say no to other things to make it work. 

The other thing I have gotten really good at is saying no. Sure, I want to go out to that new restaurant with the girls, or make a play date with some friends at the bar, but there are times where I just can not do it. That balancing act I do all week long? It only works because I cut out the superfluous stuff and maintain realistic expectations for what I can get done. We order pizza or Chinese takeout some nights because we don't have the time to cook a meal and also get some chores done. I skip a workout here and there because I need to catch up on sleep from a late evening, and I say no to friends for a late night of parties because I am trying to fit that workout back in the next morning. And when I say no, I have learned to stop feeling bad about it. Guilt about missing some event isn't going to help you knock out that work assignment in time, nor will it help you get into the gym. I consult my Blackberry calendar, consider the options, and respond there and then. Say no, and move on.

The last thing I try and do to maintain some semblance of "togetherness" is my own outward appearance. This may sound vain, but I promise it is not. I don't leave the house looking like a mess. Ever. I may skip the makeup on a weekend morning, but I have done something with my hair (even if it's a hat). I may skip the shower in the AM if I am running late for work, but I make sure to put on a nice outfit. Taking pride in one's appearance can make all the difference. It's about giving others the sense that you are in charge of your life and don't mess around, and you feeling that way yourself as a direct result. I challenge you to put on a pair of heels and not feel like you could take on any CEO meeting!

I try and leave the house in the mornings dressed for unexpected events. That way, even a last-minute
trip to the Gardens with my brother can be photo-worthy!

In the end, I don't think anyone out there has it "all together." We all have our commitments and things that bother, challenge and inspire us, and I think the key is finding what works for you to make it all work. 

Share your tips! How do you keep it all together?

Here are some other tips of mine ...

* Keep your Blackberry/iPhone/planner on you whenever you are out. It makes confirming plans with friends or that next hair appointment so much easier, and it's one less thing to have to remember to do later.

* Pick out your outfit at night before you go to bed, or think about it during your morning shower. Rushing out the door is no reason to be dressed totally blah.

* Keep a running list of things you need from the grocery store tacked to the inside of your pantry or on your fridge, and reference it each week while making your grocery list. That way, you won't forget again that you needed to pick up mustard or olive oil.

* Need some "me" time? Plan ahead and schedule it in. Wake up early on a weekend to catch the TiVo episode of the Kardashians before the day starts, or take a coffee break with a book mid-day. Even 10-15 minutes of "me" time is good for your soul!

* Smile. Just do it. It always looks (and feels) better than a furrowed brow or frown!



Lisa said...

I couldn't agree more. I have a hard time saying no, and I always feel pretty frazzled but I keep it to myself and outwardly keep it cool - like you said, no one likes a complainer. My #1 rule is that if it stresses me out I don't do it unless absolutely necessary. And if it doesn't stress me out, then have at it :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Lisa! I think your idea of keeping it low-stress is a great rule of thumb to live by. Thanks for sharing it!!