Coloring Outside the Lines

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately.

In a semi-conscious state in the middle of the night, I find myself thinking, “She’s gone.  I’m never going to see her again.”  I fall back asleep, but clearly, my psyche is working.

There’s Karl resigning from his position at an agency he believes so deeply in and the uncertainty of future finances.

There is selling, moving, and all the preparations involved.

There is getting Kai set up in a new school and all of the motherly concerns about all of that.

There is starting back at work in three weeks and wondering how to keep it all moving.

There are hormonal changes, the physical pains and weight gain of the last three years, and the understanding that if I don’t figure out a way to take care of me, nothing else will matter.

These thoughts cause distraction at best and paralysis and depression at worst.

When I get overwhelmed, I am trying to stop and consciously reframe.

And, I try to remember what my husband says, “How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

Rather than just pushing forward with the next thing on my “to do” list—and, it is a long list!—I am trying to stop and give myself time to address my feelings by writing, or taking a walk, or doing some stretching and breathing.  Physical exertion helps. (I need to find a way to continue this once I return to work!)

We have had much on our plates for the last few years, and I am exhausted.  I look around at my friends, and I know that many of us are. Mid-life is challenging.

Please don’t get me wrong. I recognize that I have much to be grateful for, and these are most definitely “1st World” problems. My basic needs are met.

So then it becomes about happiness. About what feeds my soul.

I feel like I run around giving the best of myself to everyone and everything else, and there is very little left over for my family or for myself.

I don’t want to just “get through” the day, to fall exhausted into bed, with little to look forward to but more of the same.

I don’t want to be so busy with the business of life—the obligations– that there is little time to enjoy this time that most of us openly say is “precious.”

I want more TIME.

Time to plan and cook a delicious, nutritious meal together rather than just rushing to put something on a plate to move on to the next task.

Time to go to play ball or swim before bath. Time to read and enjoy a book together.

Time to just be in the moment, without a million thoughts in my head about all the other stuff I have to get done.

I want to have enough time and energy left at the end of the day to enjoy my life. I don’t want to flop down at the end of the night and get lost in someone else’s story—on tv, or on Facebook or on the news—because I am spent. I want the time and energy to create my own story again.

Over the past few years, I watched my mother suffer a lower quality of life because of her inability to recognize the need for change. If she could have embraced rather than resisted her situation, I could have done so much more for her.

And, Karl and I repeatedly told each other that we wouldn’t make the same mistake. We would not just keep things as they are out of habit or fear.

I can return to teaching because it nourishes my soul, as long as I focus on what happens in my classroom.

I realize that the stress of worrying over my mother’s wellbeing is done, but it can take a year or two to get the business of her life wrapped up.  And, my mother left far more undone than most.

Karl will be able to manage all of the family projects that must be accomplished, and he will be able to go back to college full time.  He wants that degree, for himself and for Kai. And, he doesn’t have the emotional attachments to her stuff like I do.   He can do what I cannot.

We’ve been able to enroll Kai into a brand new charter school which means that he won’t have to try to fit in with already established groups.  And, another friend is putting her child in the same school; our boys have known each other for five years!  I am so thankful for that.

Einstein defined “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

My version…If I want something to change, I have to change something.

We are trying a different approach, re-evaluating and shifting our resources. We are consciously asking, “How can our time, energy, and money best be used to serve our family?”  It is a simple enough question, but not one most people ask regularly.  We do today what we did yesterday.  In that way, our past rather than our future sets our course.

In the past, I would have pushed through the anxiety I was feeling.  Today, I stopped and wrote.  Now, I will head to a meeting with an attorney, and I might need to push a couple of phone calls back to tomorrow because I took this time now.

But regardless, later this afternoon, Kai and I will meet up with Karl at a park or beach,  and we will play together.

I think I’m learning to color outside the lines again!

2 thoughts on “Coloring Outside the Lines

  1. The hardest part is behind you, which was to make the decision to change things up! Now its time to sit back and breathe. Full deep breaths to cleanse the anxiety away! You are so right about enjoying time! Childhood passes so quickly! Funny… I was teaching Teresa to drive today in PBCE and we drove by the ranch. I thought about your mom and you and our childhood and how unbelievable it was that I was teaching my baby to drive today! As we drove down the dirt road a bit, lo and behold, a blue jay flew in front of our path …. and I smiled! Enjoy every moment!

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