Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I Can’t Do It All! (And My Words of the Year) by Patty Smith Hall

“I can bring home the bacon,
Fry it up in a pan,
And never, ever let him forget he’s a man,
Cause I’m a Wo---Man!”

This commercial was like a battle cry for the girls of my generation. For the first time in our lives, we were told that women could have it all, do it all. I remember as a teenager being excited at the thought. Growing up in an extended family where a girl was considered a failure if she didn’t secure a husband by the time she was twenty, it gave voice to my hope of attending college, having a career and making a difference in the world. Thank heavens, I was blessed with parents who believed I could do anything I put my mind to and encouraged me. Because of them and my husband, I’ve achieved some of those dreams.

Yet now, as I begin my fifty-ninth year, I’ve finally been hit in the head by a two-by-four. The commercial had it wrong. Nobody can have it all.

That two-by-four was a recent doctor’s visit for my annual physical. While all my tests and physical exam came back normal, the doctor had some concerns. The pain I have with a long-term back injury was up, and I stayed constantly tired. After further questioning, she came back with a startling diagnosis—I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Though I shared with her how much joy I found in my writing, she suggested I find something else that relaxes me and gives me joy. She also told me one more thing.

To give myself a break. She felt I was too hard on myself, expected too much from myself and that it had robbed me of joy.

This is extremely hard for me. I’m a type A personality, a first-born, a perfectionist. I don’t comprehend the word ‘stop.’ From the time I wake up in the morning to the moment my head hits the pillow at night, I go full blast, tackling a daily to-do list that’s as long as my arm. If there were more hours in the day, I’d fill them.

So, there are huge changes on the horizon in the new year for me. I’ve already started asking for help from my family and friends which is hard for me. I’m taking time out every night to indulge in reading more. I’m hitting the gym to lower my pain level. I’m making time for sacred rest, clinging to the knowledge that God values me whether I’m a success or failure.

Because I’m not supposed to do it all, and the truth is I don’t want to do it anymore. My worth is found in Christ, not whether I live up to my lofty expectations. With that in mind, I’m focusing on two words in the new year:

Breakthrough and Joy.

Do you ever find yourself trying to do too much? Do you expect too much from yourself? What is your word for the year?

The commercial had it wrong. Nobody can have it all. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is
to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

4 Women Bring Southern Charm to a Cowboy Town 
Crinoline Creek, Texas, 1868
A Cowboy of Her Own by Patty Smith Hall

Bookish southern belle Madalyn Turner knows what she wants—to be a cowboy and own a Texas ranch. But books are far different from real life and soon she realizes she needs help.


  1. You're going to have me singing that jingle all day! (Yipes! Did I just admit I remember it?)

    I'm pondering my word for 2020, but the one that keeps coming to mind is contentment...accepting whatever plan God has for my writing and finding peace and pleasure in it.

    1. Sorry about the tune! I know how irritating that can be! LOL!

      I always have trouble finding my word for the year but this year, these two just dropped into my lap. A God thing for sure!

  2. I think we are twinsies! In the first born, perfectionist, fill-all-the-hours in the day with an arm-long list way. I feel your exhaustion. I'm glad you are seeking ways to make some changes for your rest and help. Inspiring! I'm contemplating the word believe for next year. This year was treasure (not the earthly kind). Merry Christmas!

    1. I think there are a lot of us, thinking we should do everything when it's just not possible. It's not Biblical either (which is a hard pill to swallow when we're so busy doing God's work.)

      Merry Christmas!

  3. Patty, I think many of us believe our worth is tied to a product, or producing, instead of our worth being in who God says we are. His Beloved child. It's hard. I'm right there with you.

    1. I think a lot of women are right there with us--it's a lie that's robbed a lot of us of the joy God intended for us.

      Merry Christmas!

  4. Trying to do too much often causes us to miss the blessings God is providing. :-)

  5. Waving hand! Thank you for this timely reminder. Take care of yourself, Patty!

  6. Oh, my goodness! I can relate to so much of what you shared! I'm also a perfectionist who works hard to check everything off a daily to-do list! My husband keeps telling me that I work too much - I need to slow down and relax. I'm working on it! I'm learning to let some things go. Thanks for today's message!

  7. I'm at the same place for 2020. (and around the same age as you) My word is renewal...

  8. I'm a firstborn, recovering perfectionist, and I often expect too much from myself,too. I haven't decided my word for 2020 yet, but my word for last year was "rest."


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