Will you just tell me what my passion is, please?

Three years ago this month, I was planning to quit my field sales job and begin looking for my “passion” and my “dream job.”  I have always enjoyed sales, but something was missing in my life and I wasn’t “blissfully happy.”  Of course, what happened instead was quite life-changing, has been documented in this blog.  And in the midst of taking care of Jack, and divorcing LK, I have been too busy to actually work on finding my passion.

Our society is very concerned with finding your passion, or bliss and working at the job that was meant for you, and makes your life full.  So, what happens if you haven’t found it?  Well, you are miserable and stuck in a job you hate and wondering why, oh why, can’t you figure out what your passion is?  It’s a lonely and sad place to be.  Especially when you see all the beautiful people on television living their own personal dreams.

I have been trying to figure out my passion for so long that it’s become comical at this point.  And the sad thing is that I may have finally realized that my passion is to love and raise children, but since I married a man who didn’t want children, I have just the one, and now I don’t have the option to stay home with him.  In any case, the search continues.

While I was in therapy, I frequently asked my therapist what the hell my passion was.  I figured that she was listening to me for an hour a week, and had great insights, surely if she was paying attention, she knew what it was?  But either she didn’t know, or she wasn’t telling.  I would have to do that hard work on my own.

So then, I asked a friend, who is a business coach, and while she was able to tell me what she saw me get excited about, it wasn’t an actual declaration of what my passion was, and there was no path for my future to be had.  But she did give me a list of questions to work through that would cause me to consider what it was that made me happy or fulfilled or excited.  And as I have been working through them, I am realizing that I don’t know what makes me feel that way.  Except for caring for Jack.  And as good as I am at that role, there is no one offering to pay me for it.  Yet.

I did consider a nursing career while I was in the trenches of the hospital and caring for Jack while he was very sick.  I decided that I only really wanted to care for Jack, and although I would love to take care of other babies, the pain of losing any (which does happen, as I came to find out while at Children’s Healthcare) was more than my tender heart could bear.

So I am going to return to the quest to find my passion for a while.  I am going to really “sit with myself and feel my emotions” and reflect and question and consider what may help me find the path to my passion.  I do realize that my passion may actually be Jack, and not some job or career that will allow me to support him.  So, perhaps a paying job that does not fulfill all my dreams, and even makes me less than blissful, is still in the cards.  But maybe I will find some passion that I can convert into an income.  I am very hopeful.

As with all of my projects, I began my research with Google.  If you Google “how do I find my passion” you will get over 62 million results (in under .13 seconds) with a myriad of techniques and exercises to help you find said passion.  I am going to try three in the next few days:

1:  Self Reflective questions that ask what in my life has been exciting, when have I felt fulfilled, when I felt trapped or unhappy, etc.

2:  A Dream Board:  This is a collage that includes pictures and words that I respond to in some way, or represent the way I want my life to look, or feel, or be like at some point.   I am instructed to flip through magazines and cut out any picture or word that I am drawn to, even if I don’t understand it at the time.  I am getting less and less “engineer-y” and more and more “artsy fartsy” lately and the old me would have scoffed at this “go with your feelings” nonsense, but I am really looking forward to this one.

3:  A Core Values List:  This is something that I did when I went through a Franklin Covey course and really helped me focus my abilities and goals in my sales job.  I am hopeful that if I complete this exercise while considering my personal life, it will be similarly successful.

So, there you have it.  The quest for my passion has begun.  You’ll notice that “find a man” is not on the list as yet.  I am getting closer to being ready to try to date again, but I’m not there yet.  I don’t think I have the energy to find someone and make sure he’s feeling good about himself and feels loved until I’ve done the same for myself.  I am going to find my passion, and then if a man fits into the plan, I’ll look for him at that time.  For now, it’s about me and Jack and our future.

And I’m really hope my passion involves living at a beach house…

Passionately yours,

Maggie

A New Year Deserves a New Post

Well, Happy New Year!!!  I haven’t written in almost five months, and I’m sorry.  I hope that some of you are still out there!

I wanted, so many times, to write a blog post about what was happening in our lives, but kept worrying that I was exposing too much, or putting our future at risk.  For example, if I were to write about all of the things that were going on in the divorce negotiations, would I anger LK, resulting in a court battle and losing assets that Jack would need.  Many of the things that happened were so ridiculous, that I jotted them down in case I’m ever asked to write a movie about how stupidly people behave during divorces.  So I sat back and kept my story to myself for a while.  And now, the settlement has been made, the papers signed and filed, and we will be divorced by the end of the month.  There was a lot of give and take, and in the end, as much as can be said, Jack won.  He gets all the time and assets both of his parents can afford, and a great shot at a cooperative co-parenting experience.

Overall, we have had a good five months.  Jack did suffer a febrile seizure which was terrifying and required a 911 call and an ER visit, but everything resolved well and he has had no repeat episodes.  He has been an absolute star at school (my words, not the teachers) and loves to get ready for “skuul” every morning to go see his friends.  Jack did bite another child, and when I was told at pick up, I was horrified, but sure that he had been framed.  Unfortunately, the teacher told me he was still clamped down on the other childs arm as she tried to separate them.  So, I’m sure Jack was provoked somehow, but we have been working on the “catch and release” technique anyway.  Since that day, he has had no “aggressive acts” at school, thank goodness!  He brings home lots of beautiful art work that I hang all over the house in “mini art galleries” that Jack seems really proud of.  He’s very talented!

As far as I am concerned, things are going very well.  I have a cordial relationship with LK and his girlfriend, although they both piss me off.  LK for obvious reasons, and Her for being so stupid.  I say that in the grand scheme of “don’t get involved with a married man who has abandoned his child, that you have to talk into having a relationship with his son, and think that he is actually the one who was meant for you, because he is actually a selfish egomaniac who will not change his character and marry and impregnate you in 5 years.”  But she’ll have to be my age to realize that, I guess.  Or maybe he will change and she will “fix” him, which would be best for Jack.  Either way, I don’t care.  LK is her problem now and I am in a surprisingly wonderful place.  However, I think that if all women on Earth would unite and agree not to “be with” men who are married, or have abandoned their children, there would be far fewer men who cheat or leave their families.  If they didn’t have other outlets, one would presume, they would have to behave like adults and actually work on relationships.  But that is my pipe dream for a better world, full of better people.

I am essentially underemployed right now.  I have no idea what I want to do for a job, and no prospects.  And I’m not really all that worried about it.  This is such new territory for me that had I not been through the massive life changes I have in the past three years, I would be worried that I was losing my mind.  The only reason that I am considering a full-time, “former life” type job with lots of hours and lots of money, is that those kinds of jobs also come with lots of really good health insurance, for Jack.  But I LK is providing the insurance now, and if he loses that insurance, we can use COBRA to buy the same coverage for a while.  And I have money saved for that.  So I  can wait for the perfect opportunity for Jack and I to come along.  And so I am.

At least, I’m trying.  I frequently slip back into my old mindset of “money equals security” and now there is a new one, “single mothers who are able to support their children well, should.”  But to provide Jack with more financial advantage than emotional advantage might result in a man who would value money over family, or his own child.  So I relent and stop berating myself.  And I get on the floor with Jack and read one more book, or pretend to eat the delicious dinner he has “cooked” in the fireplace.  And it is so much more fun and rewarding than any job I’ve ever had, or could ever get.

So that’s a quick catch up on our lives. Except for my newest project:  I am training for a half marathon!  My resolution last January was to run a 5k, and I did it before the weather even warmed up.  While enduring the divorce negotiations I began to create a “Bucket List” of things I want to do before I die.  Running a marathon was on it.  But I am starting with a half marathon, and while I was worried, I have come to love running.  I sleep better at night, I have fewer negative or depressing thoughts and I’m even working on the body that will soon re-enter the dating pool.  Well, not too soon.  More about that in a later post.  For now, the running is awesome, and just for me.  I’m a happier Mama, and that’s my goal right now.  I’ll post about the running progress soon, but in the meantime, I’d recommend a 5k resolution to everyone reading this.  It’s an easy distance, that can be walked, by most people, in under an hour.  Let me know if you try one this year!

New Year, New Me!
Maggie

Projects Update: Closets and Faucets

I hope you all are having a great week.  Atlanta was blessed with beautiful, mild weather today and Jack went to his first day of preschool.  What a great milestone for him, and for me!  When I dropped him off I expected at least a little bit of a fuss, but he just went right in and never looked back.  Clearly, he will have a love for school just like I did! 

When I picked him up, there were two children asleep, one crying his eyes out and Jack was playing with a toy telephone that another child was trying to take from him.   He just looked at the boy, held on tightly and waited him out.  Jack retained possession of the toy and when he noticed me he didn’t run right to me, but just kept playing.  Fortunately for me, the crying child needed a hug so I got to sweep him up and love on him until Jack was ready to leave.  The teacher told me that Jack was the only child who hadn’t cried that day and I felt blessed to have such a happy, confident child.  In spite of his rough start and all my overprotectiveness!

So, finally an update on the projects I’ve been working on!  With the help of my father and his friend, we replaced all the faucets in the bathrooms.  I have lived with the ugly bronze ones that were here when we moved in for a decade.  I didn’t want to spend money fixing something that wasn’t broken, but when they began to refuse to yield water, one by one, I was able to give myself permission to go buy new ones.  And I found gorgeous brushed nickle ones for less than $50 each!  It was a small change that makes me happy everytime I look at them. 

Below is a photo of the old faucet, which was the same in all four sinks.  All four were removed before I remembered to take a picture, but I believe the ugliness is still obvious:

And below is the new faucet.  This one is in the powder room and as Daddy pointed out, it matches the mirror that I bought for that bathroom over six years ago. 

I love the new faucets!  I will keep squirrelling a little money away each week until I can afford the next bathroom fix-up: new lighting!!  Each bathroom has, wait for it, ugly brass light fixtures that I really don’t like.  I’ll let you know when I get that done, hopefully before Christmas!

The next project that I want to catch you up on is the closet build out that I started in the guest room.  I absolutely love the result!!  I am still planning to add drawers in the future, but the three drawers cost as much as the whole organizer, so they will be acquired as I save for them.  For now, the shelves are working just fine.  This photo is of the closet organizer empty:

And here is the closet filled with my sewing machine, some extra blankets and pillows, luggage and off season clothes:

I am very happy with the end result and have been in there to just look at it several times since it was finished.  Clearing out the clutter is great, and creating a beautiful, functional storage space is absolutely wonderful.  When your whole world seems hectic and out of control, it’s just nice to have a corner of your home whipped into shape.  Is there anything more relaxing?

So is there anything you can do in your own home to make a corner of your world more relaxed and peaceful?  Let me know if you start a project of your own in search of happiness!

Enjoying my home and life,

Maggie

 

When meeting your husbands girlfriend…

it is important to remember that, like wild animals, they are probably more afraid of you than you are of them. 

Since yesterdays phone call, when the “big meet and greet” was scheduled, I have tried to figure out what the hell I was feeling.  Not mad or jealous.  I no longer love LK.  Not anger or rage.  I can’t see any way in which that helps me to heal or be a good mother or person.  So, what was it?  Confusion?  Sure.  Anxiety?  A little.  Fortunately, today I had a previously scheduled appointment with my therapist.

I asked her if it was that I “didn’t care” and whether I was putting Jack’s safety at risk in order to allow LK access to Jack, which I think is such an important part of Jack’s life.  She reminded me that if the deal was that Jack could be with his father, but they would be riding motorcycles around I-285, then I would certainly not allow it.  This is a meeting with someone who may be a good influence on Jack, another person to love him, someone to help keep him safe.  And my goal in life is to raise Jack to be healthy and happy, make sure that every person available to love him is allowed to do so.  She reminded me that it was okay to let others do that, even if I was the best at it.

I was okay most of the day, and for the most part, the reactions from friends and family were that I was handling it well, being impartial until I had all the facts, and taking the high road in working towards a Jack-centered solution.  Unfortunately, a few people have to add things like “well, I knew it, he must have been seeing her before he even left you” and “no way would I allow them around Jack!  You have to put a stop to this!”  I don’t see how any of these things are helpful, but because I am such a beacon of calm and “high road taking awesomeness” I didn’t let it affect me.  I am finding that many people enjoy drama, and reality television, and want to see me angry because it is entertaining, not because it will accomplish anything.  I was going into this meeting hopeful that she would be a good person and that I wouldn’t have to prevent a relationship with Jack.  Optimism and hope are all that got me through the first few months when Jack was so sick and fragile.  How could that not be the best option here?

She was beautiful.  Dammit!  Ten years younger than me.  Dammit!!  And mature, thoughtful and extremely considerate of the situation and what I have been through in the past two years.  I utilized my corporate recruiting and negotiating skills in the most important discussion of my life and I left feeling good that, for this trip at least, I was comfortable with Jack being in their care.  I asked open ended questions; What do you know of our situation?  What is your understanding of Jack’s condition?  What experience do you have with children?  Are you willing to take CPR and first aid classes?  Are you clear on the early warning signs of heart failure?  What are your plans with LK?  Do you understand LK’s obligations, financially and personally, to Jack?  Are you okay with those?

She wasn’t clear on the early warning signs of heart failure, but was very interested to learn them and said she wanted to be taught as much as I thought was necessary to care for Jack.  She did know many of the signs of distress and knew an alarmingly large amount of the truth regarding how LK had left and how he had abandoned Jack in the beginning.  I was pleased to find that he hadn’t sugar coated (lied) the story.

They stayed for nearly two hours, and the three of us talked, but I also sent LK out so that she and I could talk alone.  Without divulging them here, I learned many, many things that gave me the information that I needed to feel okay about the situation.  She even said that the trip was for LK and Jack and that if I wasn’t on board, she was planning to fly home tomorrow.  Very admirable.  I don’t think that anyone every truly feels “okay” about meeting their husbands girlfriend, but again, I am approaching this as meeting a new team member on the “Love and Care for Jack” team.

So, in the end, I got a good first impression and told them that I thought it would be okay for them to travel with Jack this weekend.  But I made it clear that this would be an ongoing conversation and that if at any time my feelings changed, I would let them know and unless I was again satisfied that Jack’s best interests were at the forefront, that this arrangement would be halted. 

I am feeling pretty good about myself.  I am forgiving, though it will take a very long time to forget, and I know that letting go of the anger is better for my heart, and certainly my soul.  What do you know, I found some of that “soul spackle” that I was looking for last week.

I will spend tomorrow planning my weekend of luxury and relaxation.  And I will be sure to schedule a few calls to Baby J.   Which she suggested and encouraged.  She even texted her number to me after they left just in case I have trouble reaching LK’s phone.  I think I like her more than LK.

Breathing deeply and keeping calm,

Maggie

Sappy, Life-Affirming Metaphors Ahead…

I did not get the closet build out finished last week and I am totally okay with that.  Because what I did get done is prepare the closet for it’s new role as my favorite closet in the house.  Below is the before photo of the closet with the single, builder grade wire shelf.  The closet is not living up to its potential at all…

Now, brace yourself for the aforementioned sappy, life-affirming metaphor.  I don’t know if it was the fatigue, or the paint fumes, but I began to really identify with this closet during the past week.  Like the closet, I haven’t been living up to my potential in quite a while.  But only as a woman, and person.  As a mother and protector of Jack, I am an unmatched and rousing success.  As Maggie, I have left a few things untended.

As I removed the wire shelf, the anchors and screws that had supported it clung to the wall like a dog to a bone, and like I have been to my past.  Once finally and violently removed, the holes left in the drywall were gaping and dramatic.  I couldn’t believe the size and design of the anchors.  How could this much engineering be required for a lone wire shelf?  But the ugly shelf was expected to hold perhaps a hundred pounds of clothes and the drywall foundation would never be strong enough. 

Anyway, I guess my marriage was like the anchors and screws.  Over engineered to hold up an ugly and dysfunctional relationship that, no matter how many beautiful clothes, or trips, jewelry or other “things” were hung on it, would never be pretty, and certainly never strong enough to support us.  It, we, looked great on paper.  Everyone said so.  I thought so.  But in practice, the design was flawed and the life we built fell apart.  So, moving forward, I patched and sanded the voids left in the wall and painted them a lovely shade of creamy off-white.

Isn’t it a beautiful clean slate?  I am still looking for the spackle and sand paper and paint that will transform my soul into a clean slate, but in the meantime, I find that hard work and sweat are a great help. 

Below, I have included a photo of the lower half of the tower that will be in the center of the closet, to give you some perspective.  It is about two feet wide and the closet is about seven or eight feet wide.  The bedroom is kind of small, so I am going to install drawers in the tower so that a dresser isn’t necessary in the room.

The next step involves a level, a drill and a saw, and although I am quite comfortable with a firearm, these tools scare me.  So I am waiting on help to arrive this weekend.  If all goes well, the closet will be finished by this time next week and I will have a wonderfully fresh, clean new place to look at and be inspired by moving forward.

We can all thank HGTV and the DIY network for the metaphors and disproportionate importance placed on home improvement this week.

Happy home improving!
Maggie

 

Jack already thinks I’m perfect…

Last week found me taking a small slide backwards from my quest for happiness, but overall was good.  Jack’s sitter had gone on vacation and I while I was able to find a sitter for a few hours, I spent much of my week in the house with Jack.  As a childless career woman, I remember thinking that women who were stay at home mothers were crazy, and that there was no way I could ever handle that much domesticity.  Then I had Jack, and my mind spun a post-partum tale of home bound bliss that said I wanted to be with him every second of every day.  And then the pregnancy hormones wore off and I needed some “Maggie time” so badly it felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I love being with Jack, but realized last week that I have spent every single day for the past 22 months as a mother, with no real break.  When Jack was born and went to the Children’t Hospital, there was a period when he was in ICU care that I couldn’t spend the nights with him, but I was there all day.  Then they put him in a step-down room and I spent 24 hours a day in the room with him.  Since returning home, the only three nights I have been away from him have been the nights LK has kept him.  This has left me no time to go on a trip or take any real time for myself to relax of regroup.

So in the coming weeks, I am going to try very hard to find a way to take a few nights to go to the beach, or even a hotel with a pool and a spa.  A friend with complete freedom to travel at any time pointed out that I sounded “trapped” in my last post, and although I don’t want to admit that, because then I sound like a bad mother, I have felt trapped.  I want to go to a beach resort, or a European city and just take care of me for a few days.  I have a lead on a great sitter for Jack and so now it’s just getting the timing and logistics hammered out.  I hope to be writing about my mini-vacation soon…

As for last week, I didn’t have a sitter for as many hours as ususal, so I didn’t get to work that much, and I was exhausted every night.  I did read a few things, although I didn’t get a whole book read.  One interesting thing that I read was a short story from the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by Rachel Naomi Remen.  She is a psychiatrist/therapist and in this essay called “Beyond Perfection” she describes her youth, and her struggle to gain approval from her father.  He was never impressed with her 98 on a test, and instead asked what happened to the other two points, crushing her spirit and ensuring that she would study relentlessly for every future test she ever had.  She points out that the term “unconditional love” is superfluous because love is, by definition, unconditional.  What we are looking for is love, but what we actually seek is approval, and since we do that with accomplishments or efforts outside of giving love, we compromise our happiness by seeking perfection.  She eventually marries a man who, after she spends an inordinate amount of time studying for a driving test on which she earns a perfect score, asks her why on earth she’d want to do that.  He asked why she traded the lunch in the park and the visit to the museum for a few more points on a test that she could have just “passed” and had the same result:  a license.  She realizes that by studying so much the past week, she missed out on living and enjoying life, and the approval for the perfect score didn’t come, and it didn’t reallly matter.

I wish it were easier to just stop trying to be perfect.  I’m not perfect, and I know no one is, but each time I fail to do something, I feel badly and unworthy.  And yet, no one else seems to care.  I know that my friends and family don’t care if I show up in a slightly wrinkled shirt, or if Jack is wearing a bib with a stain on it, but I really wish that everything were “perfect.”  I don’t know what perfect is, but I know that I’m not there yet.  Last week, I accepted every single invitation for a meal or meeting, even though I was tired, and would have rather slept, or do laundry or otherwise get something accomplished.  And as it turns out, I had a great time out with friends.  I have far better memories of laughing with “Grant’s Mama” talking about raising sons, and with my friend “T” talking about finding time to exercise and take care of ourselves, and on the phone with so many others.  And not one person asked me why my eyebrows hadn’t been tweezed lately, and no one asked if I had cleaned my toilets that week or ironed my shirts for tomorrow.  They just enjoyed me, and I them.

So, for this week, I have one project that I want to accomplish, and several goals for relaxation and enjoyment.  First of all, I am going to finish building out the closet in the guest room.  I will post pictures soon, but I am pulling out the wire shelf that the builder put in and building out a wooden closet organizer.  I have wanted to do this since we bought the house, but here I am 11 years later, and just getting it done.  But I’m done feeling bad about it.  I’ll get it done when I get it done, and hopefully that will be this week.  If not, then next week, or the next.  Also, I am going to find a painter to paint the library and living room, both of which were painted when we moved in.  I have hated the color since it dried, but since LK refused to repaint a freshly painted room, I have lived with it.  Actually, I have scowled at it every morning for 11 years wishing that it didn’t remind me of the past 11 years that I’ve had to look at it.  I know it may cost several hundred dollars, but the price will be well worth the boost in morale, especially if it frees me from that morning scowl.  And as an added bonus, if I can work it out, I am going to get a massage.  And maybe go to a movie.  Ok, now I’m getting a little crazy.  Too much me time.  Right?  No?  Ok, I’ll do it!!

Peacefully yours,

Maggie

Harder than it looks…

It turns out that going a whole week without watching television is much harder than one very disciplined blogger might have imagined.  As you may remember, I was planning to turn the tv off last week and see how much more I got done.  And on Monday I was like a woman possessed, getting things done like my life depended on it.  Tuesday was much the same, but by Wednesday, the bloom was off the rose and I caught a few Sex and the City episodes while Jack napped.  Thursday wasn’t much better and Friday would have been a complete failure if I hadn’t scheduled a day of appointments and a trip to my hometown. 

So, where to go from here?  In the past, I might have just concluded that watching tv is what I want to do (refusing to admit my “failure”), so I’m going to do it.  But it’s not.  I did get a lot done last week and I felt better watching less of the “idiot box.”  I was able to get out and see people and do more.  So this week I am going to continue my efforts towards no tv, and just shoot for less tv.  I have pretty well cut morning tv out, giving me an extra hour to play with Jack, or eat breakfast, or start laundry.  But the evenings are still very difficult.  I am lonely after Jack goes to bed and so I turn to the comfort of the friends I’ve made on the sitcoms I love so much.  I am going to look for a book to read this week and substitute that for the tv family I’ve made.

This week will also be a big test of my self control.  Tomorrow Jack has an appointment with his pediatrician and his father is “scheduled to appear.”  I shouldn’t say it like that, I’m sure he’ll be there.  He’s actually been trying very hard with Jack lately and this weekend, he kept Jack at his apartment.  I dropped him off so that I could check things out and was, quite honestly, stunned at the home he had created within the walls of his bachelor pad.  He had a beautiful crib with sweet blue sailboat themed bedding.  He had tiny clothes for Jack to wear and toys and food that were all age and stage appropriate.  And he had photos of Jack on the refrigerator and on the wall.  In frames.   And while it took my breath away to see pictures of my son on the walls of a person who has essentially become a stranger to me, I had to admit that he was making an honest effort. 

At least I hope it’s an honest effort.  I remember the day I told him I was pregnant and the following six months, during which he wanted nothing to do with the baby.  And I remember the eight months after Jack was born when his father continued his devotion to his job, and yet failed to attend even a single doctors appointment.  I even asked him at one point to take a CPR class so that he could come keep Jack while I slept during the exhausting first months home when I was waking every three hours to pump milk, and feed and medicate Jack.  I remember that he said “no” and that he just didn’t think he could be involved. 

It’s hard to trust this man and I don’t yet believe that his commitment to Jack is real, or will continue.  Especially if Jack gets sick again, which he almost certainly will.  He will need another heart surgery before adulthood, it’s not a maybe.  And will his father show up and help me change the bandages and give the medication and monitor the heart rate?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  But I know, for sure, that I don’t want to be the reason that he isn’t.  I waste a lot of time worrying about tomorrow, but the thing I worry the most about is having to tell Jack, someday, that his father isn’t coming to see him as planned.  But if that is because told him that he couldn’t come and I wanted to protect him, then I will be the real cause of his pain, and I don’t want to be the reason for any further pain in Jack’s life.  He’s had enough for a lifetime. 

For now, I am making every effort to allow Jack and his father visitation each time it is requested.  And while we are apart I fret and worry about how Jack is doing and whether this will continue, and whether I should have that margarita because what it I’m called on to go retrieve Jack because his father changed his mind.  And then I stop.  And I have the margarita.  And I try to enjoy my alone time, because his father has had almost two years of “him time” and now it’s my turn. 

Being a good mother is harder than it looks.  So much harder…

Maggie

Back in the saddle again…

In my last post I mentioned that there were several things on my plate that were causing me stress, and that I had begun to cut myself some slack so that I could just live a little.  You’ll be happy to know that the good parts have continued!  I have been less focused on laundry, the divorce and responsibilites and more focused on happily living each day.  Yesterday I even went to the movie theatre.  All by myself!  And I loved it!  I saw Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.  I loved the movie, and I had a big bag of buttered popcorn and a huge coke.  I won’t even let myself think of the hundreds (thousands?!?!) of calories that I consumed, because it doesn’t matter.  Everything in moderation, I always say.  Or at least I’m starting to say.

As I said in the last post, my houseguests have moved out.  They were here for only about six weeks, and while it was different, I really enjoyed having them here.  I had some help with Jack, and with chores, but also, I had someone to talk to in the evenings when I get so lonely.  I knew it was temporary, and when my friend told me she had found a full time job and an apartment I swallowed my dissappointment at losing them and celebrated her victory.  After all her struggles, going through a divorce, becoming a single mother, moving twice, and now beginning to win back her independence, I was thrilled to see her realize some meaningful success.

So they are gone and I have my office back.  Which is a great thing because I have found out that I do not keep up with my writing if the laptop is in my bedroom.  Tonight I am sitting at my desk in my newly reclaimed office, which I am redecorating.  I will post pictures soon.

For this weeks project, I have decided to attempt to limit my television time and use that time to do other things I would enjoy more.  We have all read that excessive television viewing is linked to obesity and bad health, but I have a theory that it is also related to my sadness and depression.  My theory is basically this:  I am tired at night, so I watch tv.  This means that I don’t get chores or projects done around the house.  Therefore when I wake up the next morning, I find undone laundry or dishes, or go another day without finishing that quilt I’ve been working on for 6 years.  This causes me to feel depressed and overwhelmed (and like a failure) so I am tired and sad.  That causes me to want to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch tv.  And thus, the cycle begins again.  This doesn’t even take into account the lost opportunities to socialize with other people, or play with Jack and teach him something new, instead of watching yet another hour of “must see tv”.

So, I am breaking the cycle.  At least for this week and then we’ll see how it goes.  But today has been great, so far.  I am allowing some tv time, but it’s only to allow myself to maintain a link to the outside world.  I had it on a news show this morning while I was preparing Jack’s breakfast, then this evening, I watched the news again.  It was a total of about 90 minutes of tv news, and honestly, if I can cut that down tomorrow, I will.  I got far more information listening to the talk radio station while I was at work.  So what did I get done today?  Well…….

* Changed the sheets on my bed.  This is a actually a big deal, because it’s a big-ass california king bed we bought for my 6’7” ex-husband who didn’t take the monstrosity when he left.  I count this ridiculously time consuming, and exhausting activity as cardio, so I was able to skip my workout today.  I am considering alternating which side of the bed I sleep on so that I can stretch this chore out another week.

* Worked four hours at my part time job.

* Cooked, divided and froze homemade baby food for Jack including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, crowder peas and a baby version of chicken chili.  I prepared enough to feed him for two weeks, and have no tupperware left in the cabinets.

* Washed dishes.   All of them.  There isn’t a dirty dish in the whole house.  Even the dog bowls got washed today.

* Transferred all my information to a new day planner.  I love doing this!  Is that weird?  Nah!  It’s awesome!  New planner day!!!

* Mounted the baby monitor.  My child is 15 months old and I have only today mounted the monitor above his bed.  Prior to today, it was rigged up via the wire to hang over the closet door next to his crib.  It worked fine, but I rarely went into his closet because I would have to disturb the wire hanging system.  Today I found a dozen outfits in the closets that I had forgotten he even had.

* Listened to the Salsa-music station and danced with Jack for an hour.  What a joyful noise it is to hear your child laugh and squeal when you dance him around the living room!  When I get tired and put him down for a few minutes he bounces around and dances on his own!  He and I are going to have a great time this week!

* Took a guitar lesson!  This was so exciting and could be a project all in itself.  I took lessons “the summer before everything changed” and really enjoyed it.  I became quite good at performing the collected works of Miss Phoebe Buffett, from Friends, especially “Smelly Cat.”  But in the turmoil of the past two years, I let this activity fall to the side.  Well, I am on the search for happiness, dammit!!  And I know that music makes me happy, so I am back at it.  Tonight, I played and sang “You Are My Sunshine” for Sweet Baby J, and he loved it.  See?  I’m happier already…

So, if you’re game, join me in this weeks challenge and turn your own television off.  For a few hours, for a day, for the rest of the week.  Whatever you want to try.  And then come back and post a comment and let me know what you got done.  And if you hated it and turned the tv right back on, that’s cool, let me know that, too!  Find happiness where you can.  For me, maybe it’s in a house where the television isn’t on all day.  I’ll let you know….

Have a good week!

Maggie

Project 2: Complete

I managed, with some help from family, friends and prayer, to get both bedrooms cleaned and ready for my guests.  The office now has a bed in it, and both are made and comfy for a welcoming stay.  My houseguests arrived this afternoon, following a multi-day road trip to get here, and M.A.’s sweet son said “I can’t believe we’re finally back in Fayetteville!”   Such a sweetheart.  We’re all happy he’s back, too!

What I realized this week was that the true project wasn’t simply getting the rooms ready for them, although it needed to be done, and was quite a lot of work.  No, the true project was getting myself ready to share my house with other people.  I knew that my persnikity-ness was a barrier to happiness in my life.  I like things quiet, and I like to do things a certain way, and I like my schedule.  But someone can have things in their home exactly as they want them, and still be completely isolated and lonely and unhappy in their life.  I wouldn’t say that I have been “completely unhappy” but I have certainly been isolated and lonely. 

This past week, I was really getting ready to open myself up to living with other people again and engage in relationships with people in very close quarters.  What I realized was that I had a lot of fear of rejection and abandonment.  I know where it comes from, but couldn’t explain to myself why I felt those fears in this situation.  Now I understand that I don’t want to be overbearing or rigid in my interactions with my houseguests just so that I can keep things the way I want them.  I want so badly not to offend them and force them to feel unwelcomed, or uncomfortable and feel like they can’t live here.  I don’t like things in my life the way they are, and that’s why I’m attempting this whole project.

So in short, the rooms were transformed this past week, and I made progress in my own transformation.  The rooms in my brain and heart are also being rearranged and the long held beliefs about how things “should be” are being swept out.  I feel very good about this new, on-going project and have high hopes for a great summer with our guests.

Best,

Maggie

Project 2: House Guests

Next week, I will have some house guests moving in.  In the past, I would never have invited people to move in with me.  I am uptight and I like things in a certain place, and if I see a mess, I know that I made it, so there’s no one to be mad at.  But next week my friend, “M.A.” and her son are moving in.  M.A.’s husband left her the same week that mine left me, and we grieved together and supported each other.  And through a series of circumstances, she and her son find themselves in need of temporary housing.  And as luck would have it, I have a little bit of extra space.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared about this.  Will I be able to live with a friend?  and her son?!?!  But her son is so sweet, and he’s very sweet to Jack.  And M.A. is as clean and concientious as I am.  I think that we will be able to talk things out and establish boundaries and be pretty successful.  At least I hope so.  I anticipate that we will help each other out with child care and cooking, and still have fun hanging out and enjoying a movie, or a glass of wine once in a while.

So as for my project, I have to get the two bedrooms that they will be using in order.  Since I’ve been using the closets for storage, that means lots of clearing out and getting rid of clutter.  I used to hold on to everything, but the changes in my life have changed me.  I no longer want things, I want experiences, and relationships.  And I need to clear out these things in order to have the relationship with M.A. and her son that I want.

Below is the guest room that her son will use.  I currently use this as a “laundry annex” where I lay the dry clothes until I fold them and put them away.  I sometimes take a while…

And here is the closet he will use.  It is currently full of baby stuff, old arts and crafts projects, and over 100 Barbie dolls.  Yes, that is a problem.  I am seeing someone about that little addiction.  I did give away about 100 last Christmas.  That was a start, right?!?

And here is the office, which I have used as a dumping ground.  This will take the most work.  Where am I going to put all that stuff?!?!  First is the office as you walk in the door…

And this is the other side of the room, where the bed will go…

Here is the closet she will use.  It is outfitted as a supply closet from my home office salesrep days.  I need to make it more clothing closet appropriate. 

So there it is.  Another big project.  I don’t know that I’ll get it all done in one week, but my first priority is her sons room.  He’s had enough upheaval in his life lately, and I want him to feel safe and welcome when he gets here.  These people are not boarders in my home.  They are my friends, living with me, in my home.  And I want them to feel as welcome as I’d hope someone would make me feel if I needed a little help. 

I think this may help me as much as it helps them.  I want to be less strict about my environment.  I don’t want Jack to be saddled with the restrictions that I’ve put on myself regarding boundaries and quiet.  I’m comfortable being alone.  I read and do projects (obviously) but who likes being lonely?  I don’t, and this way, I’ll have some company.  And the house is big enough that when any of us wants privacy, we can have it.  I think it’ll be good…

Hoping for the best!
Maggie