Is it just me, or are options overwhelming?  I’m glad we have options in this life, but too many of them make me turn into a fluffy-brained snail.

This becomes really evident at the grocery store when I am trying to buy some cheese or something.  There are so many kinds, so many brands, so many options.  I feel like crying, I feel like yelling at somebody to help me, and I feel incompetent.  In short, I feel overwhelmed.

So I’ve been on a quest to pare down my options.  There are two mothers I think about a lot: Ma Ingalls and Abraham’s wife Sarah.  I’m not sure why them, except that they represent eras to me– a time when life was much harder and much more simple.  It was kind of fragile and wild too, like the earth swallowing people and then special breakfast appearing on the ground.  I think of Ma Ingalls’ era quite romantically, I’m afraid.  Reading Little House on the Prairie, I’m always reminding myself how very hard survival was back then but my heart just longs to live in such a simple time.

I thought about these two women a lot when I was assessing the options I could remove from my life.  I felt silly, because well, it seems like such a first world problem– to have too many options that you have to work hard to get rid of some.  I think these women woke up every day and simply did what needed to be done in order to keep their families alive.  That was their option.

I, on the other hand, get up in the morning and have 25 breakfast options and that’s not even counting the coffee options: French press, pour over, latte, cappuccino, cream, creamer, sugar (raw, refined, brown, white, organic, or full of GMOs).  You know what I mean?  It’s crazy.

Here I take a moment to list some of the things I did to reduce my daily, dizzying options.

  1. Only buy food that’s on sale.  I go online to see the weekly ad, and plan my meals around that.  If butter is on sale, I stock up.  Even if butter isn’t on sale, I buy it because I can break the rules for butter.  I just sounded like the Pioneer Woman, didn’t I?
  2. Have a weekly meal outline, then plan specific menus around that.
    Por ejemplo, Monday night we eat pasta.
    Tuesday: meat, potatoes and a vegetable
    Wednesday: rice and beans/curry (I add chicken and subtract tofu)
    Thursday: soup when it’s cold, salad when it’s warm (add spicy chicken to the salad for sure)
    Friday: hopefully seafood and not leftovers
    Saturday: pizza (most of the time it’s DiGiorno because I believe in a day of rest)
    Sunday: waffles
  3. Have a morning routine.  I wrote about that in excruciating detail a couple months ago.  Trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds and it’s well worth the beginning effort, in case you’re thinking of implementing your own morning routine.  I hereby give you creative license to be yourself and design a routine you really love.  🙂  The morning routine cuts out all the options of what to do when I wake up.  Even if there are some demanding chores staring me down, I have my morning routine and that is what we do.  Save the chores!  (for chore time)
  4. Buy second-hand clothes only in April and October.  Hj doesn’t adhere to the second-hand rule, because it’s rather difficult for a Dutchman to find used clothing in the USA.  I  have no room to store clothes and I am not very sentimental, so I consign all my kids clothes and use that money to buy for the next season.  In between, I don’t even have to think about clothes.
  5. Go zero waste!  This is more of a “long obedience in the same direction”; not an overnight change.  I have always loved being resourceful and creatively making do, so this one is fun for me, as well as great for limiting options.  When I decided to buy no new plastic, it cut down about 86% of my options in the store.  Very freeing, I tell you.
  6. Ask God for a word and then stick to it.  This has been enormously helpful to me recently.  In YWAM we talk about the seven spheres of society and how the kingdom of God impacts each of these.  I asked God which sphere I am to focus on right now and He gave me a clear answer.  Now when I am asked to do things outside of that sphere, I immediately say no.  I don’t even pray about it, no matter how tempting it is.  It’s not an option.  Last year, my word was to be a wife first and then a mother, and that is pretty much all God allowed me to do.  It was great– I loved it so much.  You would think it might be restrictive but actually, I grew.  This year, I can be a wife, a mother and help run a school and I don’t feel overwhelmed.  I’m suspicious I was enlarged, like on a Xerox.
  7. Be yourself– cut out comparison.  “We have great capacity to be ourselves, but a very small capacity to be someone else.”  I developed this very profound quote; how do you like it?  It is really hard to try to be someone else, but it is 100 times harder to be 100 other people.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful moms nowadays that I see on Instagram, but I have one option– to be just like Joy Fousert and that’s it.  I believe it is the nature of God to just be yourself (the great I AM), but if you’re used to people pleasing, this can be a little icky at first.

And that!  Is how I stay under-whelmed instead of over-whelmed.

10 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. Joy. I don’t even know what to say, except, 👌. This both challenged and encouraged, and stirred up some kindred spirit comradery. I totally get this. All of it. Thanx for the meal ideas! Perfect timing for me! I’m on a full steam quest as of late to simplify and stream line my life. Not just things, everything. I’ve been hitting a bunch of bumps on the road, but this encouraged me again. Thanx! *fist bump* (And btw, have you noticed what a curse Pinterest is to this?!)

    • Ah, Minna. ❤️ So lovely to hear! Funny you mention Pinterest cause I’ve just recently started using it, at the suggestion of our mutual cousin Gloria. It has helped me define my style and give me words to stick to when I’m shopping for clothes, or beautifying my home. But yes, just browsing Pinterest puts me in a bad mood. I pray you find deep rest and rejoice in the shape of your life.

      • Pinterest has proved to be the most confusing combination of blessing and curse in my life! I love it like no other social media, and I find it by far the most easily addicting of social medias (although I’m actually extremely unsocial on it and make every one of my boards private cuz I’m stuck up like that) but while it has been extremely helpful and inspiring, to say the least, it has flooded my life with more options than my tiny brain can handle. A simple project, can quickly become obsessive and over complicated and drenched with options. Where I used to be decisive and know what I like, pinterest has actually confused me and made me indecisive, more than helped me sometimes. That said, I still love it. Sitting down with a coffee and “doing pinterest” is my style of Me Time. Lol. I’ve often, often, mentally rehearsed a quote from one of your blog posts awhile ago (on white space) where you used the phrase, “Pinterest, oh mind numbing busyness!” 🙂 Right on, girl.

  2. I like your post very much. Glad you feel free to buy butter. And the meal plan sounds so restful. Occasionally we do a week of rice and beans to curb a tendency to complaint about food, and I am surprised at how it simplifies life. (A little extreme; Some options are nice. ) I want to time travel to Ma Ingall’s house with the option of coming back quickly if the Indians attack. All that to say, I enjoyed this post. Carry on. Be who you were created to be. It’s much more interesting that way than frantically imitating others.

    • A week of rice and beans is impressive! I ended up with two kids who eat almost anything, so that might be a way to start them complaining about food. 😊

  3. Thanks for the meal ideas! I’ve actually been combing through my life lately on a quest to simplify things. Having school age kids definitely adds a whole new dynamic to living simply. (I even turned down a fun weekend at a homeschool conference because I knew seeing that many options would leave me feeling totally overwhelmed and inadequate.) I have to add though that when you pray about it, God is really faithful to guide you because I’m convinced He doesn’t want us to live overwhelmed and he wants us to be free to say yes to the right things.

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