Guilt Gremlins and Choices

In spite of the fact that my body gave way Friday evening to yet another raging cold, I had a splendiferous weekend. I don’t think I can ever have anything other than a splendiferous weekend when I’m celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, truth be told. I think it’s possibly my favorite holiday for one simple reason: no one else cares about it, so I never set expectations for my enjoyment of it on other people’s shoulders. It’s a light-hearted holiday from a culture with a deliciously dark sense of humor during which a sizable percentage of the world dons my favorite color. I also get to eat corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes with all their disgustingly marvelous condiments. Even with a cold, I can taste vinegar, horseradish, and mustard, so what’s not to love?

Admittedly, this St. Patrick’s Day celebration was one of the best ever because one of my dearest friends drove down from Portland to partake of our boiled dinner, spend the night, and attack Ikea after breakfast at the appropriately Irish-sounding Murph’s Place. Aside from enjoying a few nostalgic rounds of Scum (warning: Wikipedia favors the less polite name for the game) and a lot of Irish food, we spent a lot of time talking about balance and choice. And being grown-ups.

How do you balance being happy with your lifestyle now against having financial security in retirement? How do you balance responsibility against a desire to travel? How do you decide between being healthy (and, as a correlate, happier) and doing the best work you can do? How do you kick yourself in the butt to be healthier when neither dieting nor exercising does anything particularly good to your body chemistry? How do you find the energy to building and maintaining relationships when your work is draining you of everything you’ve got? How do you balance doing the best at the work you have with working towards making money from work you actually enjoy doing?

Whatever choices we make as adults, it seems like there’s always another opposing choice that has a lot to recommend it. Right now, for example, I’m choosing to write a blog post, but I could easily be either washing the dishes (good for our health and preventing pests from zoning in on us) or spending extra time on my lesson plans (good for my kids and, by extension, by company). Given the mental flu-fog I’m writing through, I should probably be taking a nap and not putting any prose out into the world at all, but at the moment, I’m feeling guilty for bailing on writing TNQDE posts last Thursday and Friday. Those I chose not to do because on Thursday I was making the house presentable for our house guest and on Friday because I had a really, really long meeting for work.

What we need, I think, is an algorithm for making the best possible choice at any given time. Here’s a question for all you “real” grown-ups out there: do you ever figure it out? Or do you really have to really with every single choice that comes your way as an individual problem? Don’t tell me you can do anything you want as long as you’re willing to take the consequences–I want a formula for calculating the weighted difference between possible consequences given that not all things are possible at the same time.

While you’re thinking about that, I think I’m going to choose to eat ice cream and watch Stargate (and maybe pick a little at some planning just to shush the guilt gremlins in my brain).

2 thoughts on “Guilt Gremlins and Choices

  1. Melissa, glad you had a good weekend with Sarah. Won’t it be great to be living closer??? Yeah, adulthood is like being in a candy store….a whole maze of choices. I think that, as long as choices aren’t mean-spirited, then they will all be ok.
    There is a great, older book out there called ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” I didn’t like the title so didn’t read it until I found it in a discount pile. It is by Steven Covey. He tells us to list our 4-5 highest priorities and then lays out a grid for making choices. Our priorities are considered ‘important’. And things that we have to attend to, like emergencies are considered ‘urgent’. We should spend the majority of our time in the quadrant of ‘important’/’not urgent’ The hardest part is settling on the handful of priorities…being sure to include self care and joyful/peaceful goals.
    As you can see, your posts always make me think about stuff. Love you lots and lots.


  2. You are asking a lot of questions which require a lot of choices and sounds like you are making life so complicated. It is much easier to live just one day at a time and do what is in front of your face. We never even thought about being secure in retirement until the kids were all our of collage and guess what? We are secure and we didn’t sweat about it. I use some of Covey’s ideas on a daily basis and it works. I do like his daily planner and have used it since 1994. It is an aide bit I am not chained to it. Relax, take a deep breath and love a lot and just enjoy life. Love you,


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