Saturday, May 3, 2014

April afterthoughts...

I just had the most amazing month of April in...well...let's just say, a decade. It has taken me a long, long, time to make my peace with April, since the month is crazy violent (every effn' YEAR!) and also marks some pretty unhappy anniversaries in my own life. I made up my mind months ago that this year was going to be different. I was not going to wallow in self-pity and I was only going to keep the barest minimum of the news on my radar. I was going to stay busy and actively work on making some changes within myself and within our family dynamic. I was also going to go med free (no antidepressant) and see how it felt.

Colin started the month off with a bang by breaking his leg. Diversion tactic! Good one, bud... you got my back! ;)

All these years, as tons of good things have come my way - a marriage, three babies, the new lifestyle of homeschooling, friends and so forth... it's been good - but it's been too much change all at once. I have been fighting for breath, operating in survival mode for years, and it has taken its mental and physical toll. I spent a good amount of last year taking care of some of the physical things. But the mental part - whoa that is tough. I created a life over the past several years that keeps me very busy. Busy means less time for emotional investment or risk of getting hurt. I'm involved. I'm connected. Just...not with my kids or friends, and not on the level with Dean that I long to be. I'm too involved in a couple of groups that no longer make sense in my life. They, at one time, served the purpose of making me feel like I was I mattered.. that I was needed. At the time that was important to me, because for whatever reason, a divorce and job loss erased those feelings for me, and I struggled like hell to gain them back. I needed a group of adults to tell me - yes, you matter, we need you here, your input is important, we like you... But when it comes down to it, it does me no lasting good to have validation come from the outside - it needs to come from the inside. In the search for that outside validation, a lot of hurt has come my way. I depended on friends to give that secure feeling of 'belonging', but the whole friendship 'thing' has been fraught with difficulty. I have my own issue with an unwillingness to put forth a lot of effort because I am so scared of rejection, and so, after all these years...friends have paired off, formed their own groups and do their own things, and my only connection seems to be very superficial at this point. A lot of intense, sad feelings here that, for the meantime, need to stay stuffed down and out of the way. Ouch...right? Okay - this is not the tone this missive was supposed to take - this month was a month of triumph for me!

So, I recently decided that it was time to get rid of what wasn't working, wasting my time, bringing me down, giving my anxiety, stressing me out, and taking time from my family. That meant just about everything. I stepped down from our homeschool board - my term ends this month. I stepped down from girl scouts. We end our 'year' this month. It is all part of a master plan I am calling, "Reclaiming Your Life. Transitioning from Survival Mode to Thrive Mode", and I am feeling pretty darn empowered right now.

Quitting scouts and the board was hard, but I feel like I absolutely suck in any type of leadership position because I consistently attack my duties with my type-A intensity, and I take criticism too personally. I may be organized and all that, but when I completely lose my shit whenever someone attacks me for doing my job or for the way I am doing it, I feel like my time and effort were totally disrespected. I don't like how it feels to be depended on and judged by other adults. (children are another matter). There is this disconnect that happens - the parents no longer see you as a person. You are now this entity that must answer emails asap, fix the mistakes that the parents made in paperwork, run the errands for supplies and whatnot, help somebody catch up when they miss a meeting, do the training, do the scheduling, plan the meetings, field trips... I feel like I cease to be a person who has feelings and a life of my own. It is even worse when the parents are also your friends. That makes this disconnect even more bizarre and unsettling. I have spent a lot of time this past month reflecting on this very subject. I know that my decision has already made one mom a little angry. She is a friend, yet I get the impression that my quitting has let her down in a big way. "If you quit, then who will lead? SusieQ really loves scouts!" You know? Not once, in three years, did a mom step forward with the offer to share the load. It had to be asked for, and it was given with considerable reluctance. It is my profound wish, that as parents, we recognize that our time is equally valuable among all of us, and that in making an entity like scouting or a large homeschool support group be a successful and rewarding experience, parents need to work in partnership rather than an 'us vs. them' thing.

I read a book this past month that really lined it all out for me what I needed to do. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, by Crystal Paine was an eye-opener. I filled up entire pages in a notebook of the things that weren't working, the direction in which my goals have shifted, where I need growth and change, and then pick just a few of them to begin working on. If you overwhelm yourself, it won't happen, you'll fail, and then you are in a worse spot than where you started from. The biggest message in the book is how to break it all down into something that is manageable, so that one elusive day - you own your time, instead of being a slave to it. I took this information and blended it with what Alejandra presents on quarterly goals on her website/YouTube channel. Alejandra is my new hero. I may not be as much of a perfectionist as she is (and perfectionism is not a bad thing - we Type A's understand each other's needs, whether it be color-coding, sorting or alphabetizing), but what she says makes absolute sense. I set about creating my own chart - (below). The heart of the message is zeroing in on a particular goal, and then break it down further - into smaller steps, and create a timeline for yourself in which you want this to happen. And then keep the goal sheet where you can see it - EVERY DAY. Remind yourself of what you want happening in your life. Rinse and repeat.

So I've got my goals set, and now I am in major purge mode. My next book that I am currently working on is Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, by Julie Morgenstern. She presents a slightly altered approach by really analyzing the array of 'stuff' in your life - material things, your schedule, your habits. Every one of these areas could use pruning, but where do you start? I already dove headlong into pruning my schedule before I even cracked this book, but now I see how I can improve upon the work I've already done. It does require a lot of reflection. Take for instance, your schedule. When you look at it, you need to really pick it apart and rank the meaningfulness of each and every thing you do. Obviously the stuff that ends up at the bottom of the list - the stuff you really resent having to do (no - going to the dentist does not apply here...) is an obvious starting point. The board meeting that you attend once a month that really does not inspire you, the weekly bowling night with buddies that you've grown apart from.. you need to separate the obligation you feel from the activity and look at it from a whole new perspective. If you dropped this activity and reclaimed that time, what could you do with it? (Hint: look at your goal sheet with a new eye) Give yourself a focal point, a direction you want to head, and shed the things in your life that are contrary to that goal and preventing you from getting there.

Heavy, heavy stuff - but so rewarding!!!!

So that is what I spent my April doing. I want to slow down and enjoy this wonderful life I have - the card deck has dealt me some whoppers over the years, but I have survived. And now I want to thrive.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

So glad to see you are prioritizing yourself and your family more! :)