I have had a crazy year...tumultuous you could even say. Lots of changes hit me all at once along with the fun of being sick and recovering from surgery. I can't say that 2014 has been a real treat to me and my body...however as always I feel its made me grow and change in positive ways, even through all the pain.
As most of you know I turned 40 this year, saw my daughter graduate high school and head to college, and I have spent many months recovering from illness and surgery. Its been rough..I'm not going to lie to you and paint a pretty picture. I know people tell me all the time that I am an inspiration or that I have such a great attitude about the roadblocks I've hit in my life...while I thank you for the praise I can't say that's truthful all the time.
I am human, I have crappy days and moods and sometimes I put the "pity party" label on myself. Then of course I usually smack myself and shake it off if I can. But it does occur...I'm not some super human form of a woman...I'm just like everyone else doing the best I can in each day I've been blessed to be given.
For me its been a lot of self-reflection on who I am, what I want to do and what can I accomplish in this crazy world. Because for so long I've been "the wife" and "the mother".and "the crafter/blogger"...roles I would never change nor do I regret but roles I have gotten very comfortable in. And I'm a girl that likes comfort...I struggle with change...I love routines...the sameness of my days is comforting.
And I've had a lot of changes lately. With my kids leaving the nest (my son will be a senior in HS next year) I've been really questioning myself.
WHO AM I?
When you strip out the mom, wife, daughter, friend, crafter/blogger roles...who am I really? And I came upon the answer that I just wasn't sure anymore. I spent years focused on the mom and wife role and was comfortable with it. My husband works late hours and with the kids gone so much of the day now and soon to be for good, I was suddenly left with lots of time with just ME. Then in my 30's I found blogging and papercrafting and focused on that when I could or while the kids were at school. I've always had art in my life in some form...I'm creative and its always been a great outlet for my spare time. And for a few years I built my online classroom and traveled teaching art and made it my business and I loved it....until I didn't.
It hit me that I was filling my extra time with chores, and extreme to-do lists, stressed out craziness and pushing myself constantly to the point that I guess I just broke.
Yup, Suzanne broke late last year and I knew for my own health I had to make a huge change. Couple that with turning 40, my kids growing up and my fairweather health it was a HUGE WAKE UP CALL for this girl. And I spent a few months just miserable in pain, depressed in this fog that wouldn't lift. I had days upon days where I didn't get out of my pjs, could barely brush my teeth and was so physically and mentally exhausted I didn't care if I saw the next day..I really didn't. So I started taking all that "down-time" analyzing what was happening. I'm a big fan of psycho-analyzing myself...why do I do this, why do I say this, why, why, why? And it came down to one clear point for me:
WHO AM I and WHAT CAN I DO TO FIND MYSELF AGAIN & Be Happy?
And some may call it a mid-life crisis but it was so much more than that for me. For my entire life I have focused on being the best at anything and everything put in front of me. Seeking perfection at every step of life can drive a person mad...its an endless quest that you just may never achieve. And I've been the one that people go to for cheering up, for a laugh, for a good time....grab Suz and we'll have a good time...it'll all be good! She's the most positive person I know..if she is smiling then its all good....right?? RIGHT?
I've spent so much of my life mediating and trying to make everyone around me happy....but in that quest I lost how to really make myself happy. I literally had no clue who I was and how to be truly happy anymore...and it scared the living day lights out of me. So how do I find out the answers to those questions while still taking care of those around me...because stopping that wasn't an option for me at any point.
So I set two immediate goals to focus on:
(1) focused on planning a beautiful graduation party for my daughter & being present for all her senior moments...because I am very goal oriented and I knew that wasn't about to change.
(2) strip everything off of my to-do list except living and planning the party and enjoying each moment until we sent her off to college
And then along the way I slowly started breathing again....
I had lots of talks with my husband and thank god for him....he's been so supportive, I really can't say enough about how much he has helped me this year with just listening and reasoning. He's always been my rock but this year he really helped me through some tough things.
He said something to me that was so simple yet so profound and really resonated with me.
He told me to just take some time off...that just because the kids are leaving the house doesn't mean I have to fill in all that time with STUFF because that's what I thought I should do. Because that's what I THINK the world is expecting me to do. He told me to take the time to enjoy it and figure out what it is that I WANT to do with no deadline in place.
PHEW......lightening bolt moment right there folks.
I've been so afraid of losing the "mom" role at home that I was stressing myself out trying to figure out what I would do once they were gone. What would I do and be?
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves all the time for this quest to be BUSY...if every minute isn't filled with an activity to produce results we feel defeated. Not good enough...a loser...lazy...weak...all these toxic words.
I felt so "unaccomplished" many days if I didn't check off everything on my very long, never ending to-do list. If I didn't finish the laundry, cook a 4 course meal, run errands, reorganize a closet, mop the floors, go through 1000 emails, post 5 blog posts and make 10 projects in a day I felt defeated...like I was worthless. I didn't succeed in my day. Sounds crazy right? Sure it does...but that's how I've lived my life since I was 10 years old...perform, perform, perform, perfect everything and get results. I'm just surprised that my body and mind survived the craziness the past 30 years...I have not been very kind to myself and now I was paying for it.
So I started doing CRAZY things every day just to test the waters! Yup I did crazy stuff y'all!
I sat down to read a book in the middle of the day, I didn't fold my laundry the day it was washed, I called for takeout food for dinner, I didn't vacuum everyday, I didn't produce 10 projects, I ignored some emails, my to-do list got lost....and you know what?
My life didn't change for the worse...the world didn't stop revolving...no one really cared that I didn't do those things. At first I apologized to my family..."I'm sorry but I just don't have dinner ready tonight"..."I'm sorry but the laundry won't be done today"..."I'm sorry there is cat hair on the stairs". And my husband looked at me one night and asked me why I kept apologizing..no one was mad at me, everyone knew that I would probably get those things done at some point...NO ONE was punishing me except for myself.
I still was punishing myself.....
Again another light bulb moment! DING DING DING.....
I started reminding myself that no one that matters to me will punish ME for taking some time to be happy..to find things that make me happy...to just take time to breathe and enjoy.
And that's when everything started to change for me....right there in that moment I knew I could change and not make it a race to the happiness finish line. Its not a marathon for me to find ME or find what makes me happy...its all about the journey because its meant to be a journey throughout my life till the very end. I'm so used to rushing from one chore to the next, one thought to the next that I never really focused on each thing put in front of me.
So I'm still on a quest to find myself and to just be happy. So much unhappiness in this world and I was contributing to it unknowingly. NO MORE! So I still keep my house clean but I try not to apologize or stress because a few kitty-fur-balls are rolling on the floor or some dust is on my dining room table. If dinner isn't perfect and just consists of eggs and pancakes, well that's fun too. Instead of rushing through dinner prep I started listening to music and taking my time enjoying the act of cooking. If I want to go on a long walk and take photographs and then come back and read my book...I do it. I started listening to what my body AND mind needed. And some days I still rush around and yes I'm still stressed about certain things because that's just part of life...but I know that in the next moment or day I can attempt to quiet everything again.
Slow & steady is my mantra these days. Be present....breathe....relax...enjoy.
I'm exercising without stressing about it so much these days. I found that I enjoy working out because its time I can focus on myself...that time is spent of making my body healthy..that body has taken a beating and it needs this time and commitment. To learn that I'm not being selfish for taking that time...because if I'm relaxed and happy each day I am only making the day BETTER for those around me as well. Yoga has become more than a fun thing to try...its become a way of life for me at a moment in my life when I really needed it. Perhaps yoga won't be your outlet but for me its helped me really focus and be a little selfish. I meditate before yoga and I clear out the negative thoughts, I breathe, I check in with myself and work through the issues in a mindful manner.
I ignored by body and mental health for so long that I cannot expect it to all change over night...I have to relax and know that I can change one day at a time.
And I cleaned out the toxic things that were cluttering up my life the best I could....no more toxic people, no toxic activities whatever it may be, and no more toxic thoughts. Reading the news without becoming consumed with the bad news. Supporting friends and family without taking on their load completely. Loving my family with all my heart but not obliterating my soul while doing it. Getting rid of all the darn to-do lists and just getting done what gets done without any crazy expectations. Taking some time each day to focus on things that are important to me.
Most of all....just learning to be a friend to myself.
I'd lost my friend to the craziness of life and I have to say I'm really enjoying finding her again...I missed her.
Because she's important, she's really fun, she is stronger than she thought, she is loyal and loving, she is finding peace, she is enjoying both the bad & good moments, she is creative and she has learned how to breathe again.
She is ME.
And she continues to be a work in progress.....
And she continues to be a work in progress.....