“Overwhelmed” Is Not the New Normal

Lately I’ve been wandering through various food, family, and homeschooling Facebook and blog sites, and the word “overwhelmed,” is showing up entirely too much. Like this:

Seaside Story inspirational original oil painting of mother and child on ocean beach reading book by Steve Henderson licensed wall art home decor at Framed Canvas Art, iCanvas, Great Big Canvas, Amazon.com, Art.com, and Allposters.com

There are few activities more enjoyable and fulfilling than reading to a child. Seaside Story, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed wall art home decor at Great Big Canvas, Framed Canvas Art, iCanvas, AllPosters.com, Art.com, and Amazon.com

“I am homeschooling a five-year-old and I have a toddler and a new baby. The curriculum takes 4 hours a day, and I feel overwhelmed.”

“I’m trying to feed my family more healthfully, after years of eating take-out, and I feel overwhelmed  by how much time it takes and how much it costs.”

“I just went back to work full time, and I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the laundry, food preparation, and shopping.”

Maybe it’s just distance or age (which I hope is as much associated with wisdom as it is crow’s feet), but I look at the first woman and think,

“The child is 5. Are you trying to do too much?”

And the second, “Eating healthfully is a lifestyle, and you don’t adopt it overnight.”

And the third, “Nobody else in the house knows how to cook?”

To all three readers I want to say, “Slow down. Breathe. You’re pushing yourself too hard — and probably trying to live by somebody else’s standards.”

Phonograph Days inspirational original oil painting of 1940s nostalgia woman listening to record player in Victorian home by Steve Henderson

Time for rest, reflection, and relaxation is as necessary as eating and breathing. Phonograph Days, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

The word “overwhelmed,” is a symptom of a problem, a statement of powerful obviousness with which I’m sure all of these women would agree. What they may not realize is that they are not the problem. The goals that they are setting for themselves are.

Too often, when we try new things — like homeschooling or healthy eating — we rely upon the expertise of others, but some of these others have been doing for years what we’re just starting, and they’ve got their own way of doing it.

And no matter how long we wind up doing what we’re just starting, we may never do it another person’s way. For instance, when my oldest was five (and the second was 2, and I was pregnant with the third), we homeschooled by sitting on the couch and reading books. It was fun; the two-year-old wasn’t ostracized; my lower back got a rest; we all learned various facts about the white rhinoceros and the Indian elephant; and most importantly, I wasn’t overwhelmed to the point that I wanted to give the whole thing up.

Eating more healthfully is a continuous process for our family that began 20 years ago, and every day we do something a little different, to the point that the bean soup with Gjetost cheese we had for lunch today would have been an unimaginable aberration 20 years ago. At the same point, two weeks ago I bought and enjoyed a cream-filled doughnut. I have forgiven myself; I hope that others can.

Eating healthfully is a lifestyle that, actually, involves more than just food. Afternoon Tea, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, licensed wall art home decor at Great Big Canvas, iCanvas, AllPosters, Art.com, Amazon, and Framed Canvas Art.

Eating healthfully is a lifestyle that, actually, involves more than just food. Afternoon Tea, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, licensed wall art home decor at Great Big Canvas, iCanvas, AllPosters, Art.com, Amazon, and Framed Canvas Art.

Wherever you are in your goals and life changes, be there, and not in the middle of somebody else’s experience. Recognize that you learn a little bit more each day, and you add one day’s experience to the next, so that when enough time goes by, you will have made, and internalized, some significant changes. If you meet someone new to the whole thing, be kind, and share your experiences gently, not as if they are paradigms for the rest of the world to follow.

The only hard and fast rule about doing new things in your life and doing them well is this:

When you feel overwhelmed, something’s wrong, and it’s time to step back and figure out just what it is. Overwhelmed is not the new normal.

All of the artwork in my articles is by Steve Henderson and is available as originals and licensed wall art home decor.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, children, Christian, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Education, Encouragement, Family, finances, Food, frugal living, Growth, home, homeschooling, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Personal, Random, success, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Overwhelmed” Is Not the New Normal

  1. You are so right. Overwhelmed is not the new normal – the new normal is not taking corrective action. I need to thank you for this. I am in the process of not being over-whelmed right now and it is overwhelming at times 🙂

  2. oldswimmer says:

    Thanks for this, Carolyn. You speak truth…it rings true.

  3. Good advice! I have slowly become a vegan, animal rights advocate, human rights activist, environmental activist, and a reasonably successful artist. I have a grown son who turned out fabulous (despite unfounded nightmares about him becoming otherwise!), and a wonderful second marriage. Our lifestyle is two acres on a mountain slope in a forested valley (so far from my original city digs), gardening to supplement our eating, raising three rescued dogs, only buying what we need and never from dubious sources if possible…it all takes time. One step at a time I made changes over a period of about 25 years. I am hoping we can eventually get right off the grid, but time will tell:-) Trying to do it all, all at once would have made me crazy! And now people are even beginning to seek out my remote art studio and buying right out of the place! Never thought that would happen, but it has. I am blessed.

    • What a wonderful story, Karen — and I can imagine your step by step process — which continues to this day, because you sound like you are always learning, always moving, always striving to create and grow. Sometimes, it’s fun to think back to what we were 25 years ago (other than younger, I mean) and see the progress that has been made. Step by step, day by day — what journeys we take!

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