Damned near ‘whelmed: In which I am not overwhelmed.

April 5, 2014 in North America, Travelogue, United States


My Uncle Dick has a saying: “I’m not overwhelmed, I’m just damned near whelmed!”

The first time I heard him say it was when he had two preschool aged children who he was home with full time. Having been there, in spades, in the not so distant past, I remembered, and I chuckled.

There are seasons that feel that way. Times when no matter how fast we juggle there are more balls to keep in the air than we can get hands under.

In spite of the fact that we have four kids, two careers, and travel for a living, we do try not to live, full time, in that space. Most of the time our life is relatively quiet. There is space between breaths. We have always structured for down time, and for play, and for rest. We have never glorified busy. It’s just not “our thing.”

Nonetheless, here we are. If you’ve been wondering why the blog has been a little quiet for the last few weeks, it’s because we’re damned near whelmed, and we will be for about three more weeks. Why, you ask? Well, it’s never one thing, is it?

I could tell you about:

  • The older teens’ driving lessons that are taking 4-6 hours three days a week
  • Added to the existing schedule of music and gym lessons two days a week
  • Tony’s increased work schedule towards a particular goal
  • Or how I’ve taken on the Managing Editor position over at Vagabonding
  • Added to weekly commitments of time to local projects with friends
  • School planning with the kids for next year
  • Trip planning for four separate journeys beginning in May as we scatter out
  • Training for an 800 kilometer walk
  • The learning curve on photo and video capture/editing for a new project
  • Of course there are a couple of secret irons in the fire as well

At the end of the day, none of that matters. It’s what I’m busy with, but it’s not why I’m busy. I’m busy because, for this season, I’ve chosen to be. Emotionally, I’m not enjoying it. I’m feeling unsettled in my soul because my routines are interrupted and I’m stretching in twenty new directions. Mentally, it’s invigorating, because it’s forcing creativity and commitment to the things that matter most, while causing me to reevaluate what to keep in my life and what I can let go.

As for the “damned near ‘whelmed” part, well, that’s the point at which I seem to do my best work. The point at which I can’t imagine how I’ll fit in one more thing seems to be the catalyst for action like little else. It might not be my favourite place to be, but it’s a very productive one.

We’ve chosen to be in America this winter specifically for this period of busy-ness. Getting half the kids drivers licensed is not a small task and we knew it would take over family life for a time. Digging in hard with colleagues and work contracts is a good thing. It’s the thing that affords our free-wheeling lifestyle. It’s foundational to the plans we’re laying for “next” in our lives. It feels good to have so much work that we can’t get it all done. That translates to tangible dreams, a roof over head, and the burrowing deep into the next generation of our family legacy. And the busy-ness that comes with co-ordinating four trips instead of one for this coming summer is the explosion of all of the dreams we’ve been watering in our children; it’s an amazing thing to watch them take a leap and fly.

I suppose the thing that I’m learning this month, with our 9 p.m. dinners, long days on the road, worked embroidered at the fringes of a day and breath caught between cups of tea purchased in takeaway cups at a drive thru window, is to embrace the seasons of life. I couldn’t live this way all the time, but I can manage it for five weeks. I wouldn’t want to make a habit of our individual plates spinning in different directions as a family, but the ends ,of goals met and dreams accomplished, justifies the means of a collective hard push.

What about you? What’s life teaching you this month?