Friday, February 11, 2011

History is waiting to be written



I had a beautiful dream a few nights ago:
amazon.com was selling time in 5, 20, and 60 minute allotments. I loaded up my cart with precious time. My day was longer, I wasn’t rushed and all of my problems were solved. Then I woke up. Sigh...

I thrive on order. I don’t lose socks to the dryer. I don’t forget where my keys are. I can account for every penny in the bank account. I can’t imagine life without my Franklin Covey planner within my reach at all times. The result is that I have achieved every single thing I have ever set out to do. Every single thing. I have proven to myself over and over and over again that I can do anything I set my mind to. I don't say this to be boastful – I have failed many times. Rather, I mean that tenacity, careful planning, hard work, and single-minded focus has brought me a long way.

The other thing I thrive on is large, expansive chunks of time alone. I need it like I need air to breathe. Being an only child might account for this. I haven’t been alone in a very long time. Frankly, this is harder than I thought it would be. When Ada was a tiny infant and I was on maternity leave I clearly remember thinking, "Oh gosh! This is easy! I can't understand why people complain about not having time for themselves or how you can't find the time to shower." Now that I've been at it for a solid 20 months I'm ashamed of how na├»ve I was: trying to balance a career and a family is the hardest thing I have ever attempted.

Even though I can’t focus single-mindedly on anything lately, I thought I was doing reasonably well. Apparently getting most if not all of it done doesn't count unless you are able to make it appear effortless. The verdict is in, folks: I can't do it all. This truth has cast a vague sense of progressive fragmentation over the past few months. It seems to have been the tight and final swirls of circling the drain!


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I take comfort in one thing: I am not alone. Just a few days ago a girl I know wrote:

"i just feel like such a loser sometimes... there's so much i want to do but seriously just don't know how to do it all. i seriously don't get it. i don't get how some of you guys work, cook dinner, clean house, and take care of a baby. i'm not at all complaining that i'm overwhelmed or cant' handle my life bc i love my life; i simply WANT to be able to do more but just don't know how to make it all work."

There was a swell of support within the community - women agreeing, commiserating, offering suggestions, and denying that any of them have it all figured out whatsoever. The topic comes up again and again in conversations with my friends who have kids. These are smart ladies, motivated, capable, with great achievements under their belts. The common denominator is that we want to do more than we are doing and we want to do all of it better.


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I have more things to be thankful for than I have fingers and toes on which to count them. What’s not to be happy about? There is no crisis. There are no drastic life changes. I'm not waging a personal battle of epic proportions where I actively decide that happy will triumph over sad. Our family isn't facing a towering obstacle. No grand event is forcing a turning point. It’s more like a slow, slogging through the mud of an exhausting circumstance.

It had been suggested to me that I should try a more positive perspective on for size. You know, life is “under construction" or "a work in progress". While I appreciate the sentiment, at its core it seems dismissive. I feel like I’m in a codependent relationship with permissiveness that enables me to avoid dealing with the problem at hand. Since I set the mood, tone, and pace for my family I owe to all of us to get to the heart of the matter and work it out. The bottom line is that I need to find some balance, once and for all.


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Today I was writing something about how Tim and I met. I recounted it like, "we met on this day and married on that one and had Ada and the rest is history waiting to be written."

I re-read what I had just written and it kind of blew my mind. Now, I am the first to recognize that I am not exceptionally insightful or anything. I mean, I'm just a wife and a mom and a vet and a friend and a daughter etc. I started this blog just to write about my experience trying to get pregnant and then my experience of how a woman becomes a mother without totally losing herself. It lets me record my own history in an accountable way and tell people what we're doing in a way that I can't recreate anywhere else.  But then I just spouted this comment out and my thought pattern shifted immediately. This is the cornerstone of the coming year that I've been looking for. This is something to hang on to, to repeat as my mantra when I need to be my own cheerleader. Let's be honest, sometimes there ain't nobody but yourself saying, "you can do this!"


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In this house, there is an expectation that our lifestyle can and will change to something more controlled, something more peaceful when Tim is done with residency and fellowship. It comes up in conversation more often now - we might stay in San FranciscoIf that is true then I can't wait for another 18 months and a job switch for my husband in order to make my life be exactly what I envision it to be. I need to work with the life I have right now. Instead of waiting for my story to get juicy it makes more sense to enjoy the juiciness present right now! It's so simple, but so not the way I've been thinking about it deep down. 


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So what do you do when the approach that has always worked for you before doesn't fit your evolved life? You evolve your approach. Like I’ve done every year for the past 14 years,I’ve been working on my values, roles, goals and personal mission statement. In earnest I’ve been at it for 2 months now and I haven’t gotten anywhere. So I’m going to try something different: I’m doing my own happiness project. It is based on the personal account of Gretchen Rubin – if you haven’t read her book, The Happiness Project, please consider picking it up. I could relate to her in that I’m pretty happy but I think I could be doing more to appreciate all the treasures of my life and I’m not about to go live in an ashram in India for 4 months to get the job done.

I started in mid-January in semi-secret. I tried to read the whole book when we were in Florida. You’d think that with three other adults to watch the wee beastie that I could have blown through it from start to finish but since I’m my daughter’s favorite person in the whole wide world (Oh, the beautiful burden!) that isn’t how it worked out. Nevertheless, January was all about getting organized.  We’ve done a pretty good job at that. Starting with the kitchen cabinets and ending with a weekly state of the family union meeting between me and Tim. It’s been good and I think we’re all thriving under the new structure.

February has arrived and this month I am going to focus on vitality. I think these are good places to begin as the rest of the months will go more smoothly if I am organized and energized. So for this month I will:

Stay hydrated by drinking at least 36 oz of water daily
Make time to exercise 4 times a week
Get enough sleep
Eat right by keeping a food diary
Make an appointment for an overall physical exam
Act the way I want to feel

I’ll rate myself every day and at the end of the month I’ll make a note here of how well I kept my resolutions. I hope that as the months click by I will feel connected to the journey more so than the destination as we are headed in whatever direction we’re headed.  I'm off to be juicy!




1 Lovies:

Serendipite said...

I love your new goal! I am also trying to be better to myself, but more for a means to an end, if that makes any sense. I am inspired to pick up a copy of the happiness project, and I also read an article just this morning about another book called The Nine Rooms of Happiness which looked interesting. I can't wait to see your updates! xoxo