Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Too Little Time

I have a problem, and it's related to the number of hours in a day.

See, I've convinced myself that I don't have to wait until I'm thin to do the things I want to do. Unfortunately, now I have to choose between what I want to do, and what I can possibly cram into 24 hours.

What's triggered this is that the horse I lease has been sent away for a year to be leased elsewhere. It makes sense for the owner of course; I don't lease during the winter so she's out that money, plus I've been hinting that I might not be able to afford it next summer. I told her that if she found a more reliable leaser for Sunshine that she should take it. And she has.
She's reccomended a draft horse at another barn that I could lease over the winter, since the barn actually has an indoor arena.

As a single person I was used to filling every hour of every day with various "projects" that rotated on a regular basis. I'm struggling somewhat with my change in circumstances as part of a couple, where I have to either choose projects we're both interested in, or give up some of our scanty time together.

Looking realistically at my schedule I can see that after work, sleep, necessary chores (laundry, meal prep, cleaning), friendships, family and relationship time, I can only reasonably count on two evenings a week and the very occasional weekend for the projects that used to take up every evening and half my weekends.

Something has to give. Here's the immediate list of things that I would really regret losing. It doesn't even go into the "wouldn't it be nice" or "When I have free time" backups.

I love to ride, but to keep my conditioning for it I'd have to devote both free evenings each week to riding, leaving only the occasional weekend day for other projects.

I also want to catch up on sewing, and the machine has been gathering dust in a corner for most of the summer. I have a braided rug, a halter dress and a necktie skirt dancing in my brain and making my fingers itch.

I want to get a move on home improvement. Our bathroom floor has been bare wood since June, waiting for time to finish it. We want to be able to sell the house next year sometime, so that's a deadline, but it needs a LOT of work to be listable. The $100 a month lease payment on a horse would go a long way in paint and tile and the two nights a week would let me make actual progress on the big projects.

I want to landscape, and really only have the next month to get everything trimmed, moved, mulched, etc. There's a new cat run to build for Mad Sweeny. There's the potential of a patio to raise the house value.

I want to read, and my list is getting ridiculously long.

I want to spend more time with my friends, who I've been neglecting in the crunch to fit fifty hours into 24. I've completely abandoned most of my online friends and relationships for the same reason.

I want to volunteer. I never made it to a Habitat build this summer. I never got around to volunteering at the animal shelter. I've neglected the event I volunteered to promote this year. I wanted to help the local Watershed Council build community rain gardens, but ran out of time.

I want to write, but I know from experience that I work better in blocks of time than I do grabbing an hour here and there. I finished the first draft of a novel a year ago and haven't touched it since.

I want to save money against paying off debts, or going back to school, or leaving my job to follow JD to grad school, or losing my job to district consolidations. Living cheaply takes a LOT of time. You pay for the convenience of quick prep foods and ready made clothes.

I want to take ballroom dance classes, but they're held on the only night each week our friends can all get together.

I want to take swimming or yoga sessions at the community college, but that would shave two hours out of every day; either to attend after work or to get to sleep early enough to attend before work.

Work takes 10 hours a day with commute. I absolutely and without negotiation need 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night to stay sane and physically well.

That's the gist of it. I'm used to having to limit my projects and dreams because of money. I used to limit them because of weight. Now I not only need to limit them strictly based on time, but I have to figure out exactly what I want badly enough to give up all or most of the rest. Giving up riding would probably cause some tears, but I have to honestly face whether I love it enough to give up everything else I want to do.

It goes beyond that, however, to my own definition of myself. I am an active, busy person involved in everything. I was. Now I have to choose, because my priority outside of work is now another person instead of a project. A relationship can't be tossed in a drawer and pulled out when I have time for it.

Perhaps I just need to let go of scarcity thinking. I have this idea that if I don't jump on finding another horse to lease right now, I'll never be able to ride again. After all, how often can I count on someone having a saddle-trained draft horse for lease and being willing to lease to someone my weight? I'm at a point in my life where I could head in any one of a dozen directions based entirely on my choices. I'm haunted by the idea of someday regretting those choices.

When I was a kid, I said I wanted to be able to look back on my deathbed and not be able to say "I wish I'd done..."

But I also know that not choosing is a choice in itself, and the one I'd probably regret most of all.


Intransigentia said...

Hell yeah!

No horse in my life because I haven't been able to afford it since I was the age that my parents were funding everything, but a new kitten, a fridgeful of fresh-picked basil and tomatoes to put up for the winter, concerts to rehearse for, a relationship to tend, a buttload of sewing dreams, a reading pile as tall as I am.... Choosing is, in a way, about loss, because choosing to pursue one thing enough to do it well means renunciation of the opportunity to pursue something else.

I'd definitely rather be choosing based on the number of hours in a day rather than putting off the choice until I lose weight. FA is the second-best thing I ever learned (feminism being the first).

Alix said...

JoGeek... we all have similar wants, desires and needs. Time is a robber of all our dreams, but we can steal back what we can.

I admire the ambitious desires of your time. Me? I'm more in retirement mode. Do what I want when I want. Yesterday I cleaned the master bath with such a vengeance that we're all afraid to actually go in there. But you know what I mean.

Time has a way of evening itself out. We do what must be done and dream of the rest. Sometimes the "rest" happens in spite of ourselves.

You will accomplish all you set out to do. Just remember to relish in every moment of doing, otherwise the effort is lost.

Happy to see you again, my friend. Love and warm wishes to you in this most splendid season of autumn.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhh, welcome to my life.

This is one of the reasons that women (I can't speak for men) look back longingly to their single days. Having a partner takes up a lot of time and energy. For the right person, it is worth it. Just to find out if this is the right person, it is worth it.

I've had to put many things on hold because I chose to go back to school (my early retirement plan).

Home owning take a lot of time and money too. The good news is it is all to your own benefit (rather than the landlord).

One strategy I use is to make mega use of my workday. I get there early - so I can check personal e-mail, respond, etc.; I do homework on my lunch hour; and I stay 1/2 hour late to do some personal stuff too.

We are fortunate enough to be able to afford housecleaning every 2 weeks, so that is a big help. Otherwise, I recommend trying the Flylady method for organizing and getting the most bang out of your household chore time.

I have made no time for exercise, and I am suffering for it. It's my own fault - I spend too much time reading and farting around on the computer (don't really watch that much TV, and part of what we watch are college courses from the Teaching Company). The time is there, I just need to shove something else to the side.

I wish you luck and let me know if you come up with any inspirations!

Tante Terri