337 – December 3
“I am definitely going to take a course on time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.”—Louis E. Boone
One of the benefits of our fast-moving, information-saturated, technology-enhanced lives today is the wide variety of choices we are offered. It’s wonderful to have the freedom to choose where we’ll live, what work we’ll do, what friends we’ll have. This is also a major cause of stress. We want to do everything, be everyone, live all our lifetimes in this one. There’s so much we could do—if only we had more time, more energy! Frantic to “live up to our potential,” we run through our lives like we’re trying to jump on a moving train. Then we’re scared we’ve chosen the wrong train, so we keep jumping on and off, changing trains at every station.
In my hunger for experience and fear of missing out on something, I always seemed to take on too much. As a high school senior, I was Pep Chairman, Secretary of Girls League, Worthy Advisor of Rainbow Girls, and the lead in the school play all at the same time. During one period in college, I performed in a semi-professional dance company, choreographed and appeared in a campus main stage production, and rehearsed a reader’s theater production from midnight until four A.M. because that was the only time I was available. Meanwhile I carried a full schedule of classes.
The over-commitment habit continued in my professional life as I juggled building a business with community service and holding board positions in organizations. It seemed I couldn’t join an organization without being president or vice-president, often holding board positions in more than one organization at the same time.
But as I hurried through my life, with no time for reflection or thought, once in a while I would meet a business owner who was calm. They would smile serenely and say they used to be like me. But after building their businesses, working constant eighty-hour weeks, they finally sold their businesses and became consultants, working out of their homes. I didn’t understand why on earth they would want to work at home. But every so often, I noticed these tranquil people at the corners of my life.
Then one day my frantic life began to fall apart, like a plate-twirling circus performer who put too many plates in the air at once only to see them all crash in pieces on the ground. The crash seemed awful at the time, but in actuality what a gift it was! As I sorted through the wreckage, I picked back up only the valuable pieces. I cleared space in my life for reflection, meditation, friendships, a slower pace of work. I simplified my life to contain only those things I most cherished. I became a consultant working out of my home.
Now, I take time to be happy and to know that I am. And I have no intention of living up to my potential.
You don’t have to, either. Just because you can doesn’t mean you must.
“I now claim and celebrate the abundance of my life!”
Ah, it makes me very nostalgic to look back on all the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met. But it also makes me tired! Wow, did I overdo it back-in-the-day. Of course, what I could do at 25 I would not attempt at 65. Not saying you can’t spin like a top if you want to, it’s just the older and wiser Chellie doesn’t want to.
A while back, a friend sent me a casting call for the new Oprah network – they were looking for outgoing people who wanted to have their own TV show and she thought that would be great for me. But I know what hard work that job is and how many hours it takes. Young Chellie would have adored it, but Wise Woman Chellie has a different agenda.
I wrote them a letter that began:
I treat money disorders – spending bulimia and income anorexia. I wear gold tennis shoes (only) and have gold sparkly nail polish and I am a Financial Stress Reduction® Coach.
But let’s get something straight right off – I don’t want to have my own show. So I’m a little out of the box already, eh? (Not Canadian, just like that expression).
I don’t want to BE Oprah – I want to be ON Oprah. Or any other show, like the new ones you are developing. Since the days when I was a professional musical comedy actress, I always preferred the comic lead to the romantic lead. I’d rather play Ado Annie than Laurie in Oklahoma because you don’t have to work as hard, you’re not onstage as much, and then when you do show up you are a bright spot and make everybody laugh. So give me the Ed MacMahon spot on somebody else’s show…
And you know what? I got an answer from them right back that said they were putting me on their list of experts for their shows.