Christina attempts to pause for a few minutes and ignore the giant basil behind her. Photo by Christina.

Choosing Between so Many Good Things: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Should I do something with the basil that is going to seed or should I try to get some time on the paddle board before it gets too cold?

Should I spend time getting the kids to do more math or should I try to deal with that ragweed that has been taunting me for weeks?

Should I go to the bonfire song circle or go to sleep early to let my body recover from too much weeding?

Welcome to Fall Overwhelm. It’s kind of like Spring Overwhelm or Summer Overwhelm except with more tomatoes and less humidity.

Christina here, writing about the kind of problem that is great to have.

One funny change that I experienced when I moved to this little corner of Missouri is having to choose among things that I love.  Before, I spent a lot of time doing things that I “had to do.” For me that was stuff like grading student work, commuting to work, and washing dishes. And when I did have some free time, I would usually be too tired to do more than just watch some TV and go to bed.

And now, I have the blessing and the curse of choosing among things that I truly love. I mean, there are always dishes, but there is also a lot more time that I’m not working to make mortgage payments or driving an hour to work every day, which means time to work in the garden, help out a friend, work on a committee, or do a science project with my kids.

But still, I can’t do it all! Hence, the Overwhelm.  

Since moving to Dancing Rabbit five years ago, I have continued to learn more about my own personality—my strengths and weaknesses, the ways that I make my own life better and worse.  Generally, these lessons are learned the way that lessons always are, the painful way. I make a mistake or have a regret and then I realize, ah, there’s a lesson here.

And one main lesson that I have learned is that I want to do too much.  

“Yeah, I’d love to start a new committee so that we can figure out a radical new way of following our agreements!”  

“Ooh, potluck is tonight!  I want to make something special!  Maybe I’ll harvest some nettles…”  

“You need someone to help you with your work party?  I’m in!”  

“Want me to lead a workshop for the Ecovillage Weekend?  I’d love to!”

And then I feel frustrated when I can’t do all these things because I truly enjoy them all.

Recently, in another conversation about personality types, I was talking with a friend about how we seem to have more introverts here than in the wider community. Her theory was that there are actually more people who identify as introverts because they just can’t go to everything. Saying no to great opportunities is a strange new phenomenon for sure, but there is no one who goes to it all (even though I usually try).

Sometimes I have to focus on the thing that is most urgent, sometimes it’s the thing that remains undone that is causing the most stress, and sometimes it’s the thing that is most important.  But figuring out which item on my long list to choose is not always easy. Still, I know that it is a wonderful problem to have, and even when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed by all the options, I am so grateful to have them.

And for me, the biggest growth edge, the thing that I most need to work on, is pausing and resting from time to time. There is a famous Zen saying: “You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” I freely admit that my (approximately 12 minute) daily meditation practice is the first thing to go when I am feeling busy… but maybe I’ll start it back up again as soon as I’m done freezing basil.

Anyway, I never cease to be amused by how many new challenges I can find since moving here, which of course means more opportunities for learning and growth!

Christina Lovdal Gil is a whirlwind, for sure. But we like her that way! You can see her early in the morning doing yoga in the Casa, or in the evening at our weekly community potlucks. Her energy for organizing social events is part of what weaves our village together.