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Andrea Anderson Polk’s Blog

Clinically Practiced, Biblically Informed

  • Writer's pictureAndrea Anderson Polk

A Day Date With My Husband + Balancing Priorities

Updated: Jul 12


Two people holding hands

Everything for me these days is about energy. What things drain me and what things excite me. This helps me get out of my overthinking mind when making decisions big and small. It helps me set boundaries. It helps me not people-please. It helps protect my peace.

These two questions help me make decisions right now around my energy:

What are my nonnegotiable priorities?

Where do I want to invest my time?

My most valuable investments are my priorities. My nonnegotiable priorities are my marriage, my self-care, and my psychotherapy practice. These things bring me the most joy and peace. So, I prioritize them. I invest time in them. I save my energy for them. Which requires saying no to other things and having boundaries.

Protecting my priorities allows me to make confident choices about certain opportunities and friendships outside of my nonnegotiables. Such as speaking for a women’s retreat. Feeling inspired to write and create content (like this post). Getting together with a close friend for lunch or a zoom happy hour. I say yes only when my energy around these things is excitement-filled and inspiration-driven. That way, I am making deliberate decisions without compromising my peace because they aren’t draining, obligatory, or guilt-ridden.

Protecting my priorities also requires flexibility and trusting the energy when it shifts between my nonnegotiable priorities: my marriage, my self-care, and my psychotherapy practice. I might be investing time in one of those, but my energy becomes depleted, or my joy is missing. I’ve learned to pause and pay attention. And then make a shift.

For example:

My husband had a routine doctor's appointment yesterday and I could intuit he wanted my company but didn't ask because he knew yesterday was my day off from therapy clients. Which means it's my sacred space and I had Andrea-type plans for the day which included self-care and writing. As I considered the decision to stay or go, I felt a sinking feeling in my chest. I realized how sad I would feel seeing him leave and missing an opportunity to be together. My energy was low, and I lost the joy of my plans for the day.

The idea of being with him gave me excited energy and the thought of being alone doing my thing felt empty (even though that was my plan). I made the decision to go with him to his appointment and then have a fun day date.

The doctor ended up being two hours late and I caught myself growing internally frustrated. Tempted to believe the day was ruined. Our date was delayed, and I wondered if we would even have time to go out at all. I caught myself anxiously feeling like this decision was a waste of time. I thought about what I could be accomplishing work wise. Checking items off my to-do-list. Or resting quietly at home instead of a sterile doctor’s office in the most uncomfortable chair ever. How I’m not out enjoying a fun date with Dan.

I saw Dan’s face as he was watching me think. More like spiral. I could sense he felt guilty and stressed about how inconvenient the situation was and how disappointed I looked. We sat there quietly for a few minutes. The excited energy we shared at the beginning of the day became tense.

Then, it hit me. I realized my heart needed to connect with my husband. To really talk. To have fun. We have a blast just being together. Why should the doctor’s office be any different?

I shifted my energy and went over to sit on his lap. Gave him the type of kiss that made the nurse blush who passed by the office. The nurse who later profusely apologized and explained the doctor was late due to an emergency. I looked Dan in the eyes and said, I love you. I started telling him about my week. It was one of our favorite conversations.

His lap was much more comfortable than that chair.

Afterwards we went out to a restaurant, got the perfect outdoor table, and made memories.

As we were driving home, I noticed a woman running in our neighborhood and found myself experiencing a tinge of mini regret that I missed my run because the weather was so nice, and I had been sitting all day. I quickly started to doubt my decision to be with my husband. I thought of all the other things I didn't do that I had planned. And the space to rest that I really needed which I didn't get either. I got into anxiety- stress about what I missed. Within seconds, the joy of the day went right out the window. Welcome to how my brain works. But I can identify this pattern, so I released it just as quickly as it came in.

The reality is that my marriage is my top priority and so I consider it a wise investment. When an unexpected opportunity arose to have a day date with my husband, I had energy around it. What drained my energy was thinking about how it would interfere with my plans and self-care that were also a priority that day. It was my energy that told me what I truly needed. I needed to connect with Dan. I was excited for a day date.

I tucked away yesterday’s revelation in my heart. Giving myself permission to be flexible about breaking my own rules about nonnegotiable priorities. Trusting my energy shifts to help me make a last-minute decision because it’s life-giving. Listening to my intuition. Chasing my happiness feelings.

The point of this story, when you know what your priorities are and you make decisions to invest your time there, it makes it easier to say no to other things. To not people-please. To be confident in your boundaries. It also helps you not waste so much energy anxiously overthinking everything. Notice what things feel important, exciting, and inspiring. Then release the rest. You can't do it all. Not all the time.

Up until this day date with Dan, I think somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, the belief that I can do it all, or maybe should do it all, or at least do more, was still lingering and slowly stealing my peace. This is because the “all” in “do it all” are all things I love. Things I’m super passionate about. Desires of my heart. Things I know I’m good at. I felt like I was falling behind or wasting my talents by not actively pursuing all of them.

I must constantly remind myself that everything always works out for me. That God’s timing is perfect. That I am exactly where I’m meant to be. That things happen suddenly after I wholeheartedly surrender them.

The other thing that steals my joy and peace is falsely believing that daily realties like mundane tasks, like household chores, are preventing me from doing what I love. It's like I’m avoiding the reality of the things I’m doing because of all the things I’m not doing that I think I should be doing. This was a breakthrough aha moment for me.

I recently spent time with a close friend and fellow therapist. We sat in her living room and as I was sharing my day-date-Dan story and my aha moment - she eagerly sat up and said – “I do the same thing!” She elaborated, for example, if I have doctor’s appointments and errands that last until noon, I think my day starts after that. It’s like I’m already behind on the things I want to do. Like the errands and doctor appointments are not real things. It’s as if the time spent doing them doesn’t count.

Doesn’t count. Not real things.

She nailed it.

It’s so damn validating for my experiences to deeply resonate with people and help them put a name to their stuckness. I not only feel validated, but their words reinforce and solidify my own new-found freedom.

Back to household chores. For example, it’s as if doing laundry and taking the time to hang up my husband’s shirts to dry does not count as a real thing in my day. Dan has dozens and dozens of golf shirts, and they all need to be hung and buttoned a certain way. Rather than being annoyed and thinking about all the other “important” things I could be doing. Instead, I make a mindset change and shift my perspective to - what a tremendous gift to be married to this rare and special man that I prayed about for years. A consuming can’t live without each other love.

Yes, he can do his own laundry, but he loves when I do it for him and I consider it a worthy investment. My marriage is a nonnegotiable priority remember. Intimacy is about the little things, you know?

All to say, the hanging of the golf shirts counts. It is a real thing. It is not wasted time. It’s not taking away from what I love. In fact, the more I accept the daily mundane realities of my life and do them with a grateful heart, the more it allows me to surrender my passions and ambitions back to God. And guess what happens?

My deepest heart’s desires become a reality. A reality that aligns perfectly with my nonnegotiable priorities. With hair-raising accuracy. There is no sacrifice. There is no anxiety. There is no fear of missing out. There is no comparison. There is no self-doubt. There is no stress. There is no regret. Now that is what peace feels like.

Here’s another example:

As I mentioned earlier, my self-care is a nonnegotiable priority. Part of my self-care includes eating healthy. Therefore, I must tell myself that the mundane task of making meals counts. Let me clarify, I do not cook. It’s not my thing. You’ll never find me spending hours in my kitchen excited about trying out new recipes.

I’m a vegetarian (well, a quasi-vegan because although I don’t eat eggs or dairy - I do use eggs in my chocolate chip zucchini muffins and feta crumbles on my salads). Oh, and I absolutely loooovvveee to munch on cheesy chips. I’m a huge snacker. My brother, who’s ingredient obsessed, introduced me to this brand, Siete. They have the BEST cheesy snack ever called “Queso Puff.” And the puffs are dairy free. Ha! They are delicious and made with all natural good-for-you ingredients. Genius.

If you take anything away from this post, you must try Siete snacks. I can eat an entire bag in one sitting. Consider this your warning: can be habit forming.

Wow, Andrea. Holy tangent.

Anyway, back to mundane life realities like meal planning that I think don’t count. That interfere with what I love to be doing instead. My meals are simple, but it still takes time every day to make something fresh and healthy. I intellectually know that my self-care routine of making meals, daily exercise, and lifting weights are essential. Yet, I still must remind myself…

This. Is. A. Real. Thing.

I believe keeping my body healthy and fit (and fashionable) is a nonnegotiable priority. It’s not always convenient. It does mean I can’t do other things I want during that allotted time. But they are worthy investments of my time. They do make me happy, and they give me energy.

Same principle applies to my psychotherapy career, which is a nonnegotiable priority. Working for myself is another nonnegotiable. I’m not only providing therapy to clients, but I’m also a business owner. This requires a hefty dose of business acumen and adds myriad responsibilities to my daily life. I must set aside hours a week managing the business side of my work. Staying up to date with researching new therapeutic techniques and best practices. Operating the finances. Securing office space. Complying with state and federal laws. Assembling the right forms and keeping track of therapy notes. Attending continuing education seminars on ethics, management, and supervision. Creating website content. Networking with other therapists and providing referrals. Being responsible for new client inquiries, intake consultations, and scheduling. Etc. etc.

The point is not to bore you with the details. I had to make a list in my journal of all the above to remind myself:

The business responsibilities count as real things. Writing them down made it real for me. It’s a big investment of my time. I’m like oh yeah this consumes hours of my week. Duh! The exercise gave me confidence to say no to other things because my practice comes first. The clients and the business.

There are weeks or even seasons when my nonnegotiable priorities take a strong shift. From hidden seasons of not writing at all to being so inspired I’m obsessed and can’t stop writing. From frequently connecting with my girlfriends to long periods of not talking and when we do, it’s like we were never apart. From not accepting new clients and maintaining my current caseload to having a waitlist. From spending most of my non-work time with Dan to spending more time alone with myself. From feverishly reading a stack of psychology books and using an embarrassing number of sticky notes, colored pens, and highlighters to reading strictly fiction novels. I quite literally go with the flow. The excited, inspired energy flow.

Rather than getting envious of others or believing I’m missing out or being all judgy-wudgy with myself that I can’t do it all – I’m grateful that I created the life I want. I’m making it count.

Final example:

We received a notification from our home security system that one of the alarm panels was malfunctioning. After being on hold with the company for forty-five minutes they provided a six-hour window for a technician to arrive later in the week. He came. He didn’t resolve the issue. I had to call again the next day. Wait on hold for an hour. Reschedule another six-hour window. Maybe lost my temper and used a few choice curse words.

Love this for me.

I can’t schedule clients during that six-hour timeframe which is basically the entire day. Instead of thinking that day is a “waste” that doesn’t count – I change my mindset to how grateful I am to have an alarm system in my dream home in my dream neighborhood. And it is a nice change to sit in my cozy office chair with no makeup and sweatpants doing other things I love. Like writing this post to you.

Sounds obvious, maybe even weird, but I realized that these things (doctor appointments with my husband, hanging up golf shirts, making meals, business owner responsibilities, and maintaining a household) take time and they add up. They count as real things. And accepting those things will make a way for my greatest heart’s desires.

What are those things for you?

I hope you find the courage to protect your peace by identifying your nonnegotiable priorities.

I hope you chase your happiness energy and be open to making last minute decisions that aren’t what you originally planned, but what you need.

I hope you confidently say no to what makes you feel empty and say no to who drains you.

I hope you find joy in the mundane realities and truly make them count.

P.S. I also have a sweet tooth. So in addition to the huge blessing I gave you in introducing you to Siete cheesy snacks (which btw they also have delicious Mexican Wedding Cookies) – I want to tell you about Simple Mills which is another healthy brand that contains all natural ingredients. They have the best Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Oh, and their Farmhouse Cheddar crackers – so yummy. You’re welcome.

P.S.S. It took an identity crisis and unraveling to confidently identify my three nonnegotiable priorities. And why my entire life is set up to protect my peace. Why I’m rejoicing in the me that is me. Why I’m having fun on this Planet Earth ride. Why I am happy deep in my bones. Why I have many pinch- me moments. I’ve been able to live this way because I wholeheartedly figured out who I am and what I want. More to come on the two years of intense, inner work it took to get here. I say this because you may have wasted some energy. Your priorities may be out of whack. You may have missed some moments you never get back. But it doesn’t matter. You’re realizing now.

Thanks for being here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified, registered clinical supervisor, and certified professional coach. She has a private practice in Northern Virginia with nearly 20 years of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey.

She is driven by a deep calling to help ambitious women of faith experience healing and breakthrough so they can live each day with peace and purpose. 

Andrea believes healing happens through relationship. The wounds that occur in a relationship must be healed in a relationship. Andrea invites you into a life-altering relationship.


Work with Andrea one-one- by contacting her here.

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Andrea has spent her career studying the human experience and has developed a fascinating analogy that compares cuckoo birds, nature’s master manipulator and imposter, to situations and relationships that leave us feeling drained, confused, lost, and empty. Her new book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, helps us fend off the cuckoos, the unhealthy relationships, toxic thinking, and self-sabotaging behaviors in our life that never truly satisfy the deep longings of our souls and the desires of our hearts. 

Andrea’s clinically proven, innovative method helps us recover the lost pieces of ourselves, discover meaning in suffering, and transform our pain into purpose by teaching us to uncover the truth of who we are and who God is so we can be healed and live free. 

Purchase the book Andrea’s clients call “a life-changing breakthrough” for yourself and the people you care about today.

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READY TO TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK?

 

If you….

Feel internal pressure to do all things well. 

Tend to neglect your needs to please others and search for validation.

Continually attract toxic or one-sided relationships leaving you drained. 

Want to build a life that is unashamedly true to who you are and what you want.

 

Then…this is the time to reclaim your JOY, ENERGY, AND TIME so you can live each day with peace and purpose!

 

Curious to know how?

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