Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thy Plate Overfloweth

I love food. When I go to a restaurant I suffer from “the paradox of choice” (go ahead, Google it) because I usually want half the items on the menu (Why do I take my Girlfriend out to eat? I want to sample her food). This is why buffets are a godsend to me. Idon’t have to choose. I can have it all. I load up with a little bit of everything and return to my seat with a plate overflowing with calorie-laden goodness. Unfortunately, despite being full,I’m rarely as satisfied as I would be if I ate a tasty single-item meal. Why aren’t I satisfied? I ate everything I wanted, but Ididn’t take the time to enjoy each item before beginning the next.

I’ve been slacking horribly on both my blog writing and pre-professional writing (sounds better than “amateur”). I guess not so much slacking. Slacking would be me having free time and choosing to do nothing instead of writing. I’ve just been busy because I’d over-filled my plate.

Just like the way I approach buffets, I tend to fill my life up with a lot of activity. I have many interests and I juggle multiple things simultaneously. Instead of enjoying the peace and relief when one project is finished, I seek out one, or two, more things to fill that space. While this keeps me busy, it also expends very finite financial, physical, and mental resources, leaving little room for the unexpected and creates stress.

I recently resumed college classes. I was considering retiring from the Air Force and took a Transition Assistance class, whichwas supposed to prepare me for life after the military. The primary thing I got out of it was that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was, so one of my first priorities was being better prepared, and finishing my Communications degree was high on that list. 
Eagar to get started, I signed up for two online classes at the University of Maryland University College (“The FightingRedundants”!!) not thinking about the time I needed to dedicate to them. Anyone who has taken an on-line course knows they are fast paced due to most being on a compressed schedule. I was deployed the last time I took online courses. I figured it was easy then, so I could do it now. Thing is, when you’re deployed, there are very little distractions. No family, your food is provided, and entertainment is at a minimum.

This time I was not deployed, learning a new job, family, plus a pretty full social life. I found myself using a lot of my remaining free time (that I used to devote to personal writing) to all my assignmentsmost of which involved a lot of writing. The real endurance test was last week when both courses had their final projects due, and I had to do an investigative report for work. Yes, I was writing, which is something I truly enjoy doing (even when it’s work), but it’s not as satisfying in random bits instead of a single project.

Doing these courses was like having a second job, and my mistake was trying to keep doing everything else I wanted to. Sure, it all worked out in the end. I finished my two classes and managed to do everything else I wanted, but the quality of it all suffered.  Just because there is room on the plate, it doesn’t have to be filled with more food.

I’m trying to not fill my plate so full anymore. I’m taking two classes again this semester, but I’m not doing them at the same time (one of the benefits of online classes is there are usually multiple class sessions per semester). I’m trimming my social calendar and getting the kids more involved. I’m also working on organizational skills so I can make better use of my time.

I’m also learning I need to keep some empty spaces on the plate. One of the best things my Girlfriend is teaching me (inadvertently at times…) is that it’s okay to just do nothing. I’m one of those that sits down and immediately thinks of all the productive things I could/should be doing instead of sitting down. I used to hate naps because of the time they wasted. Now I nap, and I love it. The other day I was just lying on my bed staring at the ceiling, blissfully doing nothing.

There are many things you could draw from this post: Life moves pretty fast. Stop and smell the roses. Buffets are awesome. I prefer to empathize that life should be quality over quantity. You can get a whole lot of little things accomplished, or a few big things. More often than not, it’s the big accomplishments that are far more satisfying.