What? Your ducks aren’t in a row? Mine either.
I thought being retired would mean less worry.
I was wrong.
For one thing, I’m older now and everyone and everything else is older, too — from friends and family to furniture and appliances. If it doesn’t need replacing or repair, it certainly needs maintenance! And, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Life — retired or not — is like juggling balls, or spinning plates, or herding cats. It’s up to us to make sure we don’t have so many things going on that we can’t stop and take care of something when it happens.
(Are you old enough to remember Remember Eric Brenn spinning plates on The Ed Sullivan Show? This YouTube video will refresh your memory!)Life is like juggling balls, or spinning plates, or herding cats. We all have trouble keeping our ducks in a row. You are not alone! Click To Tweet
What kind of ducks?
Whatever your metaphor of choice, here are some things most of us have to juggle, or spin, or herd, in order to feel like our ducks are in a row:
- Bills paid?
- Money coming in?
- Laundry situation under control?
- Kids and pets fed and healthy?
- Emails, voice mails, and other messages replied to sufficiently?
- Home, yard, and auto maintained?
- Personal health issues managed?
- All family and friends being attended to at some level?
- Birthdays being remembered?
- All paid subscriptions being used effectively?
- Will drawn up?
- Outfit ready for tomorrow?
- Passport renewed?
- Vaccines up to date?
- Photos organized?
- House functional and comfortable, if not guest-worthy?
- Work getting done?
- Educational goals being met?
- Personal growth happening?
Isn’t it just a matter of time management?
There are any number of ways to manage your time. Or, to manage your tasks within the same 24 hours we all have each day. (Make lists, prioritize, schedule, do/delegate/dump, ask for help if you need it, etc.)
What I’m thinking about today, though, is how we can manage our expectations of ourselves, and give ourselves a break in the face of overwhelming task lists and responsibilities.
It’s normal to have a few stray ducks!
You can be prepared for every eventuality you can think of, and then something happens that you did not expect. No matter how prepared you think you are:
- On occasion, the ducks (or cats) WILL become unruly, and shenanigans WILL ensue.
- A ball WILL drop and a plate WILL occasionally shatter into a million pieces.
- The branch WILL break, and you’ll need to trust your own wings.
Hopefully it will be one of the less important balls or plates that suffers.
Then we need to regroup:
- Clear Mental Clutter
- Get Back on Track
- Don’t forget to Always believe in yourself (and have a backup plan)
- And Think of your Future Self as a Dear Friend
Ideally we will only be juggling/herding as much as we can manage, most of the time.
And it’s OK to remove a few ducks from the lineup to make things easier!
You and your ducks are not alone
I’m not here today to tell you which ducks are most important and what your rows should look like.
I just want you (and me) to know and remember that it’s NORMAL.
You are not the only one. You are not alone.
More perspective, from others:
Keep in mind, particularly when surfing social media:
Don’t compare your blooper reel to someone else’s highlight reel.
I don’t think most people — your friends, that is — on social media are being fake and trying to make themselves look good. And it’s certainly not that they don’t have problems! I think it’s more that — when things are going wrong — they get a little preoccupied with their herding and juggling and are not sure what to say about their situations that won’t just generate a ton of unhelpful (but caring) advice. OK, maybe I’m speaking for myself, but I’m probably not the only one. And then when one plate breaks and you (OK, I) have regrouped and started spinning another one, there may seem to be no point in mentioning the broken one in a public forum because things are fine again. For the moment.
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
(Yes, I included this quote in my last blog post too, but I really don’t think it can be overstated, do you?)
Did you drop a ball or lose a duck?
Are you OK now?
What will you do differently next time?
Are you still beating yourself up about it?
Does it help to know you aren’t alone?
What advice can you share with us in the comments below?
- Hazel Thornton is an author, genealogist, and retired home and office organizer.
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- Go With the Flow! The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook
- Feel free to link directly to this post! Click here to ask about other uses.
- Copyright 2014-2023 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond