So my life is somewhat chaotic. Three young children, a husband, an overweight puppy, two cats, one of which hates me, a job, a position on the PTA Board and two Girl Scout Troops keep me on my toes. All of he demands placed on me and the ones I place on myself were really starting to make me lose my mind. I seriously had one foot placed on the ground and one stepping into the funny farm. Something needed to change and quick. As 2017 was approaching I really started thinking about my life. I am 44 years old. So if I live to be 80 my life is more than half over already. The second anniversary of my mom's death was also looming and I wasn't in a particularly good place. I really started to do some soul searching on what kind of life I wanted to have in my second act...
For the past 17 years I have been working in healthcare. As a Child Life Specialist I have a clinical role, however, it is a position that is not a billable service. Meaning that the hospital can not charge the patient or the insurance company for the services I provide. That translates into 17 years worth of proving the "value added" by Child Life Services. Then it hit me. Am I leading my life in a "value added" way? Am I doing things for everyone else, adding value to their lives and not considering the value added to or taken away from my life? About 6 months ago I decided to live my life in a new way. I decided to live it for me...not for the way I wanted people to think about me. So now I know this whole new Zen way of thinking may be confusing, so let me give some examples of how I am living my "value added" life;
Saying NO more--I love to help out. If there is a committee I join it. If there is a project that needs attention I jump in and help. That was the old me. The new me now takes time to see if the benefits of the project justify time away from my family. Will there actually be value added to me, my children, my marriage, my community or my work? If not, the answer is simple. I say no. Now, please note that if I have said no to any invitation you may have extended, don't read too much into it. Sometimes I really am just too busy.
Saying YES more-- This is new one for me too. I have always been a people pleaser and since having children my life has pretty much revolved around them, and as a general rule it should. However, in the 9 plus years I have been a mom I have kind of lost myself a bit. I decided that in order to be the best Mom possible to my girls I have to take care of my needs too. I have started to take back my life in small ways. My family likes me with longer hair. I like it short. My last hair cut I have gone shorter than I have in a while. Were they thrilled, no. But I like it. I love Anderson Cooper. He is coming to town for a show. It is expensive and the money might be better spent on groceries or a car payment, but I said yes to Anderson. I am going to go and see the Silver Fox and not give it a second thought. I will probably even go out to dinner before the show. Oh, speaking of dinner. I made what I wanted last night! No taco dinner for the umpteenth time. I made Oriecietta pasta with San Marzano tomatoes and burrata cheese and guess what? They ate it! Side note-if you have never tried burrata you need to. It is a game changer. If Emily asks me to play animals for the thousandth time, instead of saying "sure, I will play after Dr. Phil" I play with her. I have re-adopted the whole play-chores-play mantra from my friend Dawn G. Somehow the past year I have gotten away from being the "present" parent I am in my head. Here's a big one. I said yes to going away to a conference! I have been away for a night here and there since I had my kiddos, but not for an extended period. For some reason I always just deleted conference emails or threw the flyers away. This time I just went for it. I went to Florida, by myself for 5 days. My first thought was I had to leave a 20 page manuscript detailing everything that needed to be done while I was gone. In the end I decided Chuck is more than capable and I wasn't going to insult him with a set of instructions. I had a great time at the conference. I learned a ton, relaxed and even read a book! Everything went smoothly at home and Chuck not only kept everything on track he even managed to find time to clean out and organize our kitchen cabinets something I have been saying I was going to do for about a year now! I came home refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose. The getaway could not have come at a better time. I needed this break more than I had realized.
At the conference one of the presenters was talking about mindfulness. She said something that really stuck with me. When she is faced with adversity or when something goes wrong she will say to herself, "something about this is perfect....I just don't know what it is yet". Meaning that things might not have gone as planned, but it is not the end of the world. There is always something to be learned from every experience. I am going to try and adopt that as my new mantra. To that end one of the things I have been working on is;
Not sweating the small stuff--Working in pediatrics I am constantly reminded of how quickly life can change and I am pretty good about appreciating life and making the most of it. That being said, I am not perfect and I do have times when I get bogged down in the minutia. I like to keep the house clean. Not museum clean, but organized. Sometimes I would let that get the best of me and I would spend more time cleaning than focused on more important things. Like Elsa, I have let that go. Now I know there was an article floating around Facebook a few months back about vacuum lines. How if you have perfect vacuum lines in your carpet you are not actively engaged in your life. I agree to a point, but I think you can have vacuum lines and still have appreciation for the small stuff. My vacuum lines may be a bit zig-zagged these days but I don't regret the extra time I am spending with my kiddos. To that point though, I am not spending any more time worrying about the state of their room. If they want a messy room have at it. I am no longer spending every day cleaning it for them. I will keep the rest of the house in relative order but I am just shutting their door from now on. I have stopped yelling. Ask my kids, I could be a yeller. It might feel good in the moment, but in the long run it is ineffective. My kids respond better to me since I have cut out the yelling. When I get frustrated I say to myself and even out loud sometimes, "oh what are you being 3?" or whatever the age said child is. My friend Sherri taught me this technique years ago and I have gotten away from it. It really works...it gives you a minute to stop and realize yes, they may be annoying and yes they may be frustrating but they are only children developmentally doing what they should. Mary Alice, our dog, is still a puppy. She is not chewing stuff up like she was in the beginning but she does have her moments. Not gonna get all bent out of shape. One of my kiddos colored her own hair while I was at work. Does it look crappy? Yes. Did I get upset? Nope. It is only hair. It will grow out. Another one of my kiddos refuses to poop on the potty. Am I stressed? Nope, I just slap a diaper on her butt at about 11 a.m. everyday and all is right with the world. My 3rd child spends all of her time up on the top bunk bed. It is a disaster up there. I could make a stink about it everyday, but I don't. Instead I am letting her build a good basis for when she will inevitably show up on an episode of Hoarders. I have put on a lot of weight. Am I happy about it? No. Am I beating myself up over it? No. Am I working on it? Trying to. Plus, remember what happened the last time I lost weight? I got pregnant with Emily. I just keep reminding myself I am doing my part to curb the world's over population program. What is the saying? Think Globally, Act Locally. You are welcome world! While I was going through the security check at the airport the other day my jeans ripped. Not just a cute little stylish hole near the pocket. Nope...a huge rip right in the ass cheeks. I had nothing to cover it with. Did I get upset? No. Did I pay a fortune for a "Tampa" Sweatshirt to cover it up? No. I just walked through the airport with my ass and new 'Hanes Her Way' flapping in the breeze.
Does this shift in the way I look at life mean I am a better person? Probably not. Am I going to tick people off because for the first time in 44 years I am going to truly speak my mind and put myself first? Probably. But those people that get upset by me probably are not 'value added' to my life in the first place.
Full disclosure; While in the middle of writing this blog a situation presented itself that made me, how should I put this? Go absolutely Bat-Shit Crazy!!! There were a lot of "for f*ck's sakes", a lot of "crazy-ass bitch" and a whole lot of "people suck" 's thrown around. So apparently I am not as evolved as I had thought. But I am trying....oooommmmm, oooommmm, oooommmm....