Declutter Your Life – Relationships3

Most of us can’t do it all. We have to decide.

I remember well the poem I wrote when I was middle-aged. (Whatever that is. Isn't 60 the new 40? Which at 81 makes me the new 61? I…don’t…think…so.)

At any rate, I was a very busy woman back then with my own four teenagers and my 60+ piano students. I had to reconsider my life-long notion that I could indeed do everything and have it all.

Each segment of my life – my husband, my children, my piano students, my parents, my friends, my church – wanted me to cut down on the other segments and give more time to them. In a fit of despair one day, I wrote:

On Being All Things to All People

Many words are written
that I will never read
Many items go on sale
that I will never need

Many notes are playing
that I will never hear
Many hearts are giving
a love I need not share

And many paths there be
to which I may incline
yet somehow a choice I make
and to that choice resign

Here at last in middle years
I know my limitation
and inherent in that truth
I find emancipation

After my diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome at age 58 and breast cancer at 59, I found even more need to choose when and how I will/can do things. I searched for courage, clarity, and compassion for myself.

Judgment Call

I am willing to spend a day teaching children
but I am not willing to track investments.
It was one thing when I had
all the time in the world.
It is another thing now.

I am willing to listen to another’s pain
but I am not willing to chit-chat over lunch.
It was one thing when
any subject interest me.
It is another thing now.

I am willing to walk two miles in the woods
but I am not willing to hunt for a bargain.
It was one thing when I had
all the strength in the world.
It is another thing now.

I am grateful to discover the difference
between things that matter to me —
and things that do not.

(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, © 1993, 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

And now, I still try to remember and live up to these two poems. It goes better some days than others.

So —

What/who could you give up to make your life more manageable?

Where will you find the strength to say No?

And how is your courage supply today?


thewritehelp2 13-03-2012, 18:44

Thanks for sharing. I love these poems. I find that I have to “pick my battles”… the older I get, the more I know myself and want to be true to me 🙂

Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) 13-03-2012, 19:32

Another great “food for thought” post (from my favorite poet) – this is something that I, as many women do, struggle with a lot – but your post today has given me pause for thought about priortising things more in my life.

Weekly Round-Up « Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer 16-03-2012, 09:41

[…] and her  ”champions”. More on decluttering our lives and wonderful poetry from Lois Hjelmstad and decluttering or rather downsizing is on the agenda at Jan’s blog too (also take time to […]

hjelmstd 16-03-2012, 22:02

Thanks, Dianne and Marie.

I wish I could walk the talk better!

Jan Hasak 19-03-2012, 03:26

We both tackled the same subject–decluttering–in our blog posts this week. We must jointly feel the need to write about pitching what we don’t need. I am currently giving up photo albums to make my life more manageable. It takes two hours to go through each album sorting, scanning, organizing and labeling. Daily I’m finding the courage to say “no” to volunteer opportunities and to infomercials or As-Seen-on-TV products that would overcrowd my shelves were I to purchase them. Love your poems. I’ve got my own poem collection in “The Pebble Path: Returning home from a forest of shadows.” It’s so cathartic to write these gems. XOX Jan

hjelmstd 21-03-2012, 18:44

Sounds as if you are making great process in decluttering. And I’ll have to check out The Pebble Path.


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