Have you heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Darn by Sarah Knight? (I have substituted “darn” for the F word, which is on my forbidden-word list.) This book has been on the best-seller list for some time so, however light and trite it might be, people are devouring it. It’s a parody of that famous book on how tidying up your sock drawer will unclutter your mind and your life, which J. will confirm I have not read.
Knight’s book is about setting priorities in a way that allows us to spend time with the people we like and to do the things we want to do. Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? Give up the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy so you can focus on the things that do. Ditch all you do out of obligation if it doesn’t bring you pleasure.
As a light and trite reader, I like this message. How many times this past week have I found myself doing what I felt I should rather than what I wanted to do? Okay, maybe not all that often; I don’t work after all. I think I’m fairly good–some might say rigid–at setting boundaries in general, except when it comes to my well-being.
Case in point: Did you know that yesterday was National Philanthropy Day? I was too busy volunteering to notice. But I must have known subliminally because I committed to four volunteer assignments this week. What was I thinking?
I am finding that volunteering is much more fun than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I cannot get enough of it. At Canadian Blood Services, I dole out soup and cookies liberally to donors and thank them for the good they do. After three hours meeting other people’s needs, I’m spent. As a dear friend reminded me recently, it takes considerably more energy to be on than to sit on my couch all day. As I revel in the novelty of volunteering, I’ve somehow forgotten that I have leukemia.
Not only is this week hairy, I overbooked myself with extra shifts throughout November. Add in that recent mouth infection and my feeling under the weather, and it’s no wonder I’ve hit the wall this week. Note to self: I still have cancer.
Yesterday I told Shelley, the lovely volunteer coordinator at CBS, that I’d recently remembered I’m cancerous and I’d have to bow out of the extra shifts I’d committed to. I assured her I was in it for the long haul but I’ve learned I can only manage one shift per week. I set my illness-induced boundary with myself and then I shared it with her. And she was nothing but supportive and accommodating, as expected.
Work-life balance was never a forté; how is volunteering-life balance any different? I feel less tired already after my chat with Shelley yesterday.
Now that I’ve sorted out CBS, PALS starts up later this week. Jelly and I will love it, I’m sure, yet I expect it too will be exhausting. My compassionate boundary setting may not be done yet. Jelly won’t suffer the same stresses, however. She can be lovable for hours on end if need be.