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The "All" of It All

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
The “All” of It All

It’s 5:00 am and I am once again trying to “do it all,” whatever that means. I’m trying to be prepared for a third week of work travel in a row. I’m trying to contribute to the many Parent Teacher Organization opportunities during this ultra important Teacher Appreciation Week. (Have you appreciated the educators in your life yet? Educators that are reading this: You. Truly. Rock. Go out and spoil yourself on something today—you’ve earned it in spades!) I’m trying to make sure that not just the formal PTO requests are met but that we are also appreciating my son’s pre-school teachers and my daughter’s bus driver and my SISTER who is a librarian and assistant kindergarten teacher. (We appreciate you, Chels!) and my many wonderful co-workers.  I’m trying to keep up with the house, which is laughable. Two weekends in a row of yard work have left the floors and surfaces smeared with dirt that I am too tired to mop up.   I really should have kept a picture of that one day it was clean. Bags from a trip to the store three days ago have been forgotten on the floor. Bags from my last week of travel are yet unpacked, making packing for this week's travel difficult.   I’m trying to prepare for the weekend ahead, which contains a beautiful explosion of celebrations—not just Mother’s Day but also my son’s third birthday, my mom’s birthday, and a myriad of wedding anniversaries to boot. (Happy Anniversary, Mom and Jack, Chels and Elisha, and Kep and Pop!) I’m trying to keep up with this week’s laundry even though last week’s laundry is still not put away. I’m trying to tackle my inbox, which is teetering dangerously close to neglect. And is that a scratch in my throat? I’m trying to be mindful of checking in on my friends who so desperately need checking in on during extraordinarily difficult times. I’m trying to figure out how to fix the stinkin’ TV when it’s bedtime and the kids just HAVE to watch their usual bedtime shows and the satellite goes out. I’m trying to fit a shower in. I’m trying to follow up with the insurance, drop off the casserole for the neighbors with the new baby, finish the overdue report, fix the broken bike, tend to my sort-of-sick daughter, get situated for next week’s fourth-week-in-a-row-of-travel, and do my nails which are ragged and mulch-stained.

I’m trying. But as I’ve written about many times before, trying to do it all is not only treacherous, it’s impossible. There will never be a time when I stand proudly on top of my mountain of “all” and declare it conquered. Instead I will continue to look at up at that mountain from a place that feels far, far away—so far away that I have to strain my neck to see the top—and I will gulp in nervous anticipation of how to proceed.

At least I hope I do.

For as I look at the current “all” before me, all I can really think is this: how blessed am I?   How blessed to be able to have to deal with all of those things, and more? How delightful to be given so much to tackle? How rich, how full, how beautiful this chaotic and messy life?

As the wonderful poet Mary Oliver says, “it is a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.”

So, to my list and beyond, I say: Here I come! I’m climbing up that mountain, one “all” at a time. I’ll do some of it well and some of it sort-of-okay and some of it terribly. But I will keep at it, every day. I will show up, arms wide open, gloriously trying. And, in the end, I think that’s good enough for me. Because right now, at 5:00 am, the spring birds are in full symphony to awaken the day.  I have a huge mug of steaming coffee next to me.  The house is quiet save the creaks and groans of the walls and floors that contain so much beautiful chaos. My sort-of-sick daughter and my oh-then-I-must-be-sick-too son are curled up together in my bed, probably with at least one foot or hand squarely in my wonderful husband’s face. And all I can think to say is thank you.

How can you embrace the “all” in your all?  


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.   Find all her previous blog posts at www.tlpnyc.com/author/erika



Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.