I was thinking today what a beautiful time of year this is. Don’t you think so? But it seems that because Pesach is around the corner, it’s easy to forget what a special time it is. It’s so easy to focus on all the cleaning, endless lists of details, with a resulting feeling of time pressure. That’s really a shame because it’s nice when everyone feels positive anticipation regarding Pesach instead of dread about all that has to be done. As I’ve said already, it helps me to make a schedule that is relaxed. But even a relaxed schedule can be a source of pressure if you feel you’re not keeping up with what you want to do.
Yesterday I became aware that though my basement was cleaned for Pesach, it needed to be re-organized in order to look as though it had been cleaned. My kids are great cleaners, but I’m the organizer. And if I want it done, I have to do it myself or be there to direct them where to put what. I can’t really expect them to intuit what I want put where – if all the games are on the shelf, they don’t care if all the same size boxes are stacked on top of one another or if they’re haphazardly stacked with small and larger boxes mixed up. Anyway – my plan for today was to start the main floor, and the basement is very clearly not the main floor! I had about five minutes where I was deciding if I should feel bothered that it wasn’t done and go ahead with my schedule or just let go of my expectation for the day and make the basement more orderly. I find when I’m feeling pressure, the best thing to do is go slower. When I go faster, it makes me feel more tense or pressured, but slowing down my external activity allows my mind to slow down and think productively.
So I chose to start doing whatever I could, and to do it as long as I felt I could. It was so relaxing, once I let go of accepting having a different plan for the day. I enjoy putting things in order and knowing that things are all in their place. Since most of the kids were busy with various activities outside of the house, there were only four kids home with me, and I put the youngest in for a nap because he wasn’t enhancing my sense of inner quiet. (A young child in nonstop motion who climbs into and pulls out everything all day long can do that, you know!) I can’t say there’s much I did today that needed to be done for Pesach – I’m the first to say that you have to differentiate between spring cleaning and Pesach cleaning – but I found it productive and enjoyable. It could have gone faster but I was enjoying the mellow pace, and actually, I’m not physically at the point in pregnancy where I can go very fast and not pay the price.
It may be counter intuitive to slow down when you have more to do than you feel you can do, but I’ve always found it helpful to me. Somehow, everything that needs to get done, gets done. Maybe not everything you want to have done happens, but everything that needs to get done, does. Going slower when everything inside of you is going into overdrive allows you to re-center yourself and refocus on what is most important. I tend to do things quickly and I know from first hand experience that it’s not hard to shift from productively busy to frenetic and stressed if you aren’t careful. Deliberate action really helps me to be deliberate in my thinking. And it’s that inner calm that helps me keep in mind what my goal for Pesach is. That goal isn’t a sparkling house, though it’s a nice thing to have and I like when that happens, too! My true goal is for all of us to enjoy this time of year, to look forward to Pesach, and to have time for spiritual preparation as well as physical preparation. I like to go into the seder well rested and calm, and I want everyone in my family to feel that, too. That can’t happen if I get caught up in obsessing over all that needs to be done, and how much faster or better someone else is doing it.
So the next time you start to feel anxious or pressured, try this. Take a deep breath (or three), and then slow down.