Prioritizing one’s passions

This is the stack of books sitting by my bed. Actually, some are nestled safely in my night stand, while others feel my foot falls every morning as I lumber into the waiting dark. I’m currently immersed in all of them, in some way or another. Obviously I don’t read them all every day. Sometimes I don’t read one for weeks, or months, but they all house a place keeper and I return to each of them regularly.

This stack really epitomizes my life right now. I feel pulled in a hundred directions; I’m always thinking of a million different things. I have about two hours of time to use as I see fit every day and literally dozens of things to do. Some I need to do, some I want to do, some can be avoided, others are absolute necessities. At the end of the day, when I have that one precious hour to dedicate to myself, how should I spend it?

Do immerse myself in Spanish, strengthening my skills so I can more effectively pass the language on to my daughter? Do I fine-tune my copyediting abilities so I can better contribute at the magazine where I volunteer? Do I read about how to write a better children’s book or work on the book I have in my head? Do I indulge my OCD driven, anxiety riddled pre-TTC self, creating a plan to follow before we try again, granting myself some semblance of control when I know I have none? Do I learn how to better nurture my relationship, or just spend some one-one-one time with my attention starved partner? Do I fill my mom-toolbox with strategies for dealing with my increasingly defiant daughter-turned-tantrum-prone toddler? Or do I just enjoy the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy (I’m reading it in Spanish) so that when that one 7th grader in my class asks me, for the umteenth time, if I’ve gotten to “the part with Prim,” I can finally say YES! YES I HAVE! AND IT WAS AWESOME! Or do I write a blog post? Or do I simply veg out in front of the TV?

I have so little time and so many things I want to do with it. I’m starting to wonder if doing everything a little bit is better than abandoning some projects for the time being and returning to them later, when I can afford them the proper attention. Can I really pay adequate attention to this space and work on my book? Can I make teaching Isa Spanish a priority and put in the hours strengthening my relationship? If it’s not possible to do both, how do I decide between them?

Obviously some passions trump others. My partner should always come first, and I have recently been reminded of this in the saddest of ways. But the idea of being forced to abandon my goal of raising Isa to be bilingual, or being truly bilingual myself, devastates me. Just as the idea of leaving this space uninhabited, even if only for a few weeks, carves a great hole in my chest.

This past week, working on my book, has been wonderful. I finally figured out a way to make it work. And while a critique today took some of the wind out of my sails, it also grounded me in ways that I appreciate.

Last week, when I said my farewells and started publishing old posts, I was hoping to have one page ready to share at the end of the month. Now I already have that and I have every intention of completely at two more. Last month I never would have thought that possible, but now I’m sure it is. And that feels amazing.

At the same time, finishing that one page required an immense amount of work. I’ve been glued to my computer for the past week, barely looking up to make eye contact with my partner, let alone giving him the attention deserves, the attention I want to give him. I know he supports this project, just as I have supported many of his in our years together, but it’s still hard.

So what is a girl to do, when she’s lucky enough to have so many passions in her life? How does she prioritize when they all feel so pertinent? Truly, if you have any suggestions, I’d love to know.

5 responses

  1. My stack of books look exactly like that (okay, not exactly-exactly, but with a similar range in subjects). I struggle with this all the time. I wish I knew how to put all of my energy into one thing, but I can never seem to do that, even if the passion is there for it. So I’m looking forward to the suggestions as well. Sorry I couldn’t give you any.

    (I’m curious about the critique though? … )

  2. I’m a very single-minded person and multitask very poorly. This month I am putting my all into two things, my family and my blog and it’s been pretty good. I think you are a tremendously productive person who accomplishes more in a day than most do in a week.

  3. I think it’s possible to multitask (as I’m doing right now!), but some things won’t turn out as well as others. I think, like your children’s book, it depends on your immediate goals. Get those out of the way first. Then prepare for the long term. ??

    Or: start with the immediate, and when you get bored, take a break by doing some other work for the long term.

  4. I’m sorry, I don’t have many useful suggestions for you because my brain works so differently from yours. I can’t handle having a million things going on in my life at once. For me, life is always about stripping away the unnecessary so I can focus on the things that I want and need to focus on. When I get too busy or pulled in too many directions, I shut down and accomplish and experience nothing. In that vain, I can suggest considering each passion individually. How would it feel to put that thing in a drawer, for use at some later time? Would you be truly devastated without it, or would it free up some aspect of yourself in a way that enriches everything else you care about?

  5. Not for a second do I claim to have the answer here…struggling with a lot of the same stuff. I’m trying to work on my marriage, work, self, motherhood…but the more I focus on one, the more I neglect the others. I guess I’ll say that 1) if its a choice between DOING something and reading about how to do it, JUST DO IT (i.e. spend time with hubby instead of reading about marriage; I think it’ll be more satisying) and 2) maybe schedule one-on-one time with your partner instead of just trying to fit it in? not “date night” per se…you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything fancy, just set aside an evening or an hour to focus on him.

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