I saw this sentence at the end of an about me page on a blog I found recently and I love it. When the world is constantly should-ing us, it can be difficult to have this kind of confidence. Many of us try to follow our gut, but then our mother, or mother-in-law, or friend, or father, sister, co-worker or neighbor decides that they should tell us what they think we should do or should have done, and then we start doubting ourselves.
I’m not saying that I don’t value other people’s opinions, but I think that often we get so inundated with information and other people’s (unsolicited) opinions that we forget that there is a voice inside us that is really our intuition trying to guide us to what is best for us-for our family- based on our wants, needs and beliefs.
We are each unique individuals with our own hopes and dreams. Just because someone else doesn’t agree with our decision doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right one for us.
I’m 38 years old and am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. That isn’t to say that I am not happy, but just that (as I have mentioned before) I’m trying to find my purpose. Maybe if I hadn’t listened to someone else tell me what I should major in, or where I should work, or any number of other things, I might have listened to the voice inside me that knows my hearts desire and could have guided me towards a fulfilling career.
So now I’m trying to listen more to the voice inside and not be so concerned with what everyone else thinks about my choices.
I am not pierced, tattooed or unwed, but I am totally unconcerned with what you think.
I’m not sure you can really call it a vacation when every morning there are two lunches to pack for camp, swim suits, towels and snack money to put in back packs, scooters and helmets to bring on Tuesday, field trip t-shirts to wear on Thursday, blanket and stuffed animal to pack and two different drop-offs and pick-ups to make. But in between the drop-offs and pick-ups I am very very fortunate to get to be alone. I love the solitude and quiet more than I can probably explain. But perhaps knowing that I have 4, 6 and 8 year old boys at home (and a very chatty husband) might help you understand why.
In general, I am very good at managing my time. I make sure not to over-commit myself and I typically leave enough space in my schedule for life to happen. But over the years I think I lost track of myself having been distracted by trying keep my head above water, being the mom of three boys so close in age, managing our house, budget and schedule. This summer I decided to make a real effort to stop, be still, and listen to the voice inside me and see what it had to say.
At the beginning of the summer I committed to meditating several times a week. I can easily get distracted by my thoughts during meditation, but I often find that once I get past the mental to-do list that keeps popping into my head, other things come up that are extremely valuable. Sometimes solutions to problems and sometimes ideas come into my mind and I just know that I need to act on them.
One of the first things that came up during meditation was that I gained clarity about what I wanted my writing to be. Specifically, to be more about me and less about what I do. I’ve been the in the trenches of sleep deprivation, diapers and toddlerhood for 8 years now and I’m just about out of it. I love the time I get to spend with my boys and I love being their mother, but for all our sakes, I need to figure out who I am and who I want to be, outside of being a mom. As Mary Pipher put it in her book Reviving Ophelia, “to be who I truly am,” “to be who I can become,” “to be the subject of my own life, not just the object of others’ lives.”
So, during the summer, I started going to the gym again after only sporadically going for the last six months. I also started a new workout plan that I find to be so much more manageable that I almost look forward to it! I started a new eating plan that has given me a lot more energy. I started reading a lot more, and I even picked up my (self-taught) French lessons again.
As I use writing to help me make my way on this journey to become the subject of my own life, I don’t exactly know what I’ll be posting. I just plan to write more in general, so if all I have to write about one day is how I started making my own laundry detergent then that’s what I’ll write about. But, I’m hoping that by writing more, I’ll find more to write about than meal planning and parenting. I’m hoping that writing will help me to find my purpose.
I’m taking the summer off. The schools do it, television shows do it, and I’m going to do it too. I’m going to sit in the sun and breath in the fresh air. I’m going to watch my boys run around and read as much as I possibly can. I hope to be inspired in every way possible and at the end of the summer I hope to have written a lot more personal posts and taken a lot of fantastic photos.
See you in the fall.
I can hear my 80-year-old self. I mean I don’t hear her voice but I can hear her. I can feel her.
Apparently, since I am in my late 30’s I am supposed to feel like I am getting old. And while the boobs aren’t as perky as they once were and I have a few stretch marks and (gasp) a few grey hairs, I just don’t feel like I am getting old. Older, of course, but not old.
I sat next to a woman at a wedding reception recently who was probably in her seventies. We started talking about all sorts of things and at one point she said, “How old are you? Twenty-seven?” I laughed and told her how sweet she was to think I was that young and informed her that I was thirty-seven. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Sweetheart, when you are my age, there is no difference between twenty-seven and thirty-seven.” I realized how stupid I must have sounded.
I have fond memories of all the stages in my life, but I don’t wish to re-live any of them. Each year of my life has literally been better than the last so I truly look forward to what each new year brings. That isn’t to say that I haven’t experienced loss, sadness or disappointment, but when I look back at the whole of each year, I only see how life has gotten better and better.
I can hear my 80-year old self. I imagine being her and looking back on where I am now and seeing how young and full of life I will remember myself being at this time. I can imagine her thinking back to when I am in my 40’s, 50’s and even in my 60’s and I can imagine how young those ages will still look to her from her 80 year old body. I hear her telling me not to be so stupid as to be unhappy with how my body looks now. I hear her telling me that I am young and beautiful and that I should appreciate the body I have today, because when I am 80 I will remember it fondly. She tells me that I will be angry with myself later if I waste a moment of today hating my body or my face or my weight. Through her I can see that at 57 I will still be young. Through her I understand that it is the ultimate waste of time to sit here at 37 and think that I am old when even in 20 years my 80-year-old self will still remember me as being so young.
So, I believe her when she tells me that I am not old at 37, and that I will not be old at 47 or even 57. She seems like she knows what she is talking about.
When I sat down to write this post I had every intention of writing some sort of narrative of how I successfully manage my time. In the past this was true the majority of the time, but with the addition of this blog to my daily to do list, I find myself needing to take another look at how I am using my own time and make some changes. I don’t enjoy being completely frazzled at the end of every day. So, I guess this is more about me sitting down to evaluate how I’m spending my time and figure out what changes to make so my life gets back to feeling more manageable.
Here are the things I know about myself that inform most of the decisions I make in how to manage my time.
- Generally, I don’t work well under pressure. I can do it from time to time with no problem, but if it becomes a regular thing, I start feeling the stress.
- I need a good nights sleep (7-9 hours) almost every night to be a functional, happy, pleasant person. So this means I need to be able to get all my work done before 9pm and light’s off around 10:00pm if I’m going to be up by 7:00am to get the kids going.
- I need me time. Time at the gym. Lunch or coffee with a friend. Something that is purely for taking care of myself. They don’t tell you to put on your own oxygen mask BEFORE helping anyone else with theirs for nothing.
If any of these things are missing from my life for very long, it isn’t a pretty picture. Just ask my husband.
So, when budgeting my time I always have these things in mind. I really like Stephen Covey’s books and a couple of the things he talks about inform my decisions in managing my own schedule and our family schedule.
- Begin with the end in mind. To me, the end or goal is: feeling good, being present in all that I do and feeling like I’ve got things relatively under control most of the time. Meaning, I haven’t over scheduled myself and am not spending my days running around trying to get it all done only to wake up the next day and run around like crazy trying to get it all done again.
- Sharpen the saw. I might start out sawing wood with a sharp saw, but eventually it will get dull. If I keep sawing wood with that dull saw I am not going to be as effective or efficient as I would be if I would just stop and take the time to sharpen my saw.
- First things first. After taking care of myself my next priority is taking care of my marriage. To make sure my husband and I stay connected I don’t run errands in the evenings or on the weekends unless I have to. After 9:00pm is time when we have a chance to talk and catch up on the day or on the weekends we might put in a movie. The weekend is family time. We have boy date, spend time with friends and family or do little projects around the house.
During the week I have 4 days with all 3 children at school. I’m done with drop-off at 9am and need to pick up Trevino at 4:00pm to get home in time to meet Primo and Segundo getting off the bus. So that means 4 days a week I have about 7 hours alone which totals to about 28 hours.
During this time I need to accomplish the following:
- 2 trips to the grocery store: approximately 4 hours (drive to and from, shop, put groceries away)
- 2 trips to the gym: (approximately 4 hours)
- 1 lunch or coffee with a friend. (2 hours)
- Any appointments for myself (doctor, chiropractor, haircut. blood donation)
- Writing and blog posting (approximately 10 hours a week)
- Photo sessions, classes and private lessons that aren’t scheduled in the evenings
The first three things on that list total up to 10 hours, plus the blog is another 10 which leaves me 8 hours to get everything else done. It sounds like a lot, , somehow it isn’t always enough. I think this is where I get tripped up.
My schedule is changing all the time so there isn’t a set routine that I can stick to. If the kids have a snow day, are sick or are off for some reason then I have less time that week to get certain things done. If I’ve done a session then that will be additional hours during the following week or two that I need to edit that session, get it uploaded to my website and communicate with my client. In December a lot of time was taken up preparing for Christmas. Right now I have birthdays coming up for two of the boys.
There are some things that I can do when the kids are home. I do laundry every other day. This works better for me than doing laundry for one entire day and then having a mountain of laundry to put away. I can also do the monthly menu planning and write out the grocery list when the kids are home along with some other little things like checking mvelopes.com to see what new transactions came through. And then there are some things that fall somewhere in the middle. I can do them when the kids are home, but they take so much longer and they take my time and attention away from the kids. I don’t need to sit down and play with them all the time or even pay attention to them every second. But, I also don’t want them to feel like whatever is on my computer is more important than them.
So I have to figure out where I am wasting my time. When we moved 15 months ago we went from cable and Tivo having just an antenna. This cut out a great deal of TV watching. I would still watch certain shows on my laptop, but eventually cut out more than half of them and now have only 3 shows that I watch every week. I’ll admit to having gone through a bejeweled phase, , can now say that I only play it on my itouch occasionally when waiting at the doctors office or something like that. I’ve unsubscribe to almost every single email that comes from one company or another. I’ve canceled most of my magazine subscriptions except the few I really enjoy.
I still need to do some thinking on this, but I see my real issues being:
- I am easily distracted
- I often do the things that are neither urgent nor important just because they are easy to do and get checked off my list. But at the end of the day I often run out of time to do the important things and they sit on my to-do list for yet another day
- I over estimate the amount of time it will take to get things done. This works both for and against me. It works for me in that it helps me not to over schedule myself because I always imagine that things will take more time than they really do. It works against me in that it causes anxiety in me about getting it all done. It usually turns out that I have plenty of time so this anxiety is mostly unnecessary and unpleasant.
So, if identifying the problem is half the battle (so “they” say) then I must be halfway to solving my problem, right? I’ve got some ideas about how to change some of my bad habits. I’ll post an update in a few weeks to let you know what’s working and what’s not. Wish me luck!