Life got ahead of me

When I started this blog – I was totally committed to at least writing a post once a week.  I did pretty good for the first few months.  But then life got a head of me!  

I have always been a type A personality in that I am constantly doing something.  I can’t remember any time in my 50 years where I spent days doing nothing.  A day here, a day there, lounging in my pj’s in front of the TV sure, but for the most part I may complain I have so much to do – but I must love all the activity cause I am always taking on a new project!  But this year, I think I have truly reached my limit.  Or maybe it’s just there are other things I want to do- like write!  But I am coming to terms with the fact something has to go!
As I think of all my extracurricular activities, there are very few that don’t bring me joy.  That makes it very difficult in deciding what to walk away from.  Some activities are confidence boosters – doing things that I know I do well.  But most these days are activities that provide personal growth and exploring new facets of the real me.  If I focus only on those activities that I am learning, my self confidence may falter a bit.  Prime example is teaching.  Last week I had my semester observation.  It did not go as well as I would have liked: rescuing the class from silence when they are unsure of the question asked, moving too fast to the next subject matter, allowing one student to dominate the discussion.  All things I can see in my self and all constructive feedback for me to work on.  But what did I do upon hearing this feedback?  I sulked and wonder if I should continue teaching!  Thus I need to balance personal growth with sustaining confidence.  So then again, what do I walk away from?
Noting its been over 5 weeks since my last post, I know if I am committed to this, something has to give.  The question remains, what? I have been searching for the answer and there is nothing I want to walk away from – except my non extracurricular activity which consumes 40-60 hours of my week.  My paying job.  The one activity that allows me to do many of my other activities. It’s impossible right now to walk away from.  Yet here it is, Monday morning, and I am dreading going to the office.  Yet there was a time I enjoyed my job.  It’s been awhile, but it was there.  I felt challenged, yet confidant. The best of both worlds; having the ability to do a job well and feel good about it while also continuously learning from others around me.  It’s not that way anymore.  It’s routine.  It’s mundane.  And there is no higher purpose.  
So I am still searching for a decision on what activities to walk away from.  I can’t yet walk away from my real job even though it brings me little happiness these days.  And yet I can’t keep up with all my desired activities.  And yet I can’t continue to stretch myself so thin.  It is not fair to the groups and people I work with.  And it’s not fair to me to never have my day now and then to just sit in my pj’s all day.  If there is a simple solution out there for me – please – someone share!  But for now I will do what I do and hopefully find some guidance in my own thoughts when I finally slow down enough to hear them.  
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The right words, the right time.

Maybe one day my chidhood dream will also come true!

sara barnard

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a story about a girl.

I was thirteen at the time, and writing stories was what I did. And not just about girls. Planets that spoke to each other, mice who lived in the Underground, magic meerkats and friendly boats. Writing was my thing; it was beyond a hobby and more than just something I enjoyed. It was how I understood the world. Words had all the magic and possibility anyone could ever need. Put them in the right order, and you could create a world of your own. And maybe, if you got them just right, that world would be a place that would mean something to other people.

I’d written countless stories by the time I was thirteen – the first at age 6, in which the acknowledgements page listed all our family pets by name, including the guinea pigs – of varying length…

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Children and Parents – who defines who?

One of my son’s best friends got married last month. My son was a groomsmen with another good friend. These were the boys that I watched grow up. These were the boys that played football, video games and had bonfires in our woods. It seems just a few years ago I was wondering how many more nights I would have to be awake to ensure they were all safe. Now I rarely see them and I miss them!

When I became a mom, I was lucky, but I didn’t know it at the time. I moved just weeks after my son was born to Puerto Rico, where his dad had a great opportunity for his career. I wasn’t crazy about having to leave my own establishing career, as I had just recently been promoted. I struggled with my feelings of being a stay at home mom. But in hindsight, those years of being a stay at home mom were some of the best of my life!

Being home with them, I was given the gift of watching them grow. I was able to see them change and discover who they are. See them interact with each other and then with their playmates. One from the beginning wore his heart on his sleeve, the other, even now, keeps her feelings private and internalizes more.

When we moved back to the states and I went back to work, they were both their own person; my daughter being the outgoing one, making friends in our new neighborhood, and my son the shy one, holding back until he had time to know the other kids. Our neighborhood was filled with kids their age, so their were plenty of peers to add a spice here and there into their developing personalities. Their dad and I both had them join activities we enjoyed as kids. For my daughter it was dancing. For my son it was soccer. Too bad we only attended one dance recital and only one season of soccer. She preferred art and he preferred roller hockey and American football.

When I became a single divorced parent, I watched the hurt and the forever changes that took place in them. My son became angry and his temper grew. My daughter covered it up and only in recent years am I seeing the effects it inflicted on her outlook on life.

What I have found throughout the parenting journey, is that not only do we influence who our children become, they also redefine us. They are directed by the spirit we give them, Yet as parents, our lives are continuously changing by seeing our reflection, good and bad, in their daily behaviors. We see their potential, and make a mental note to ourselves when we should have done things differently. We see our weaknesses, because we so desperately want to erase that gene before it spreads into who they are. Yet who they are is a recipe that can not be duplicated. They are a mixture of the good and bad, our dreams and our nightmares. We want to save them the heartache from a friend, but without, they would not understand true friendship. We try and shelter them from disappointments that break their heart, but yet provides understanding of true happiness.

I find it so incredible to see a part of me in them, but yet they are uniquely different and their own individual person. In my daughter I see who I would like to be, the adventurer. Yet she is also who I am, stubborn and knowing all! My son has my temper, yet also has this contagious laugh if you get him in the right mood. A laugh I never had. Each of them is unique and clearly unlike anyone else in the world.

So now that they are both off on their own adventures, I miss them. Yet I am thrilled to watch them engage in the world. My parenting journey is not over yet for every human being continues to change throughout life. I can’t wait to see how their lives continue to shape me into a better mom and a better person.

Let it go…

I am having trouble writing today. After almost a full two weeks off, it is back to the grind. In the first full week of the year, I traveled to Florida, visiting both Orlando and the eastern coastline, as well as driving down to Virginia for some sorority leadership training. My year has been busy but good! Even got asked to teach again this spring, making me very happy.

I can’t complain. At 50 I have done a lot with my life. My career is on track, a little late in blossoming compared to some of my previous cohorts, but I am at a level where I know how to succeed and I am beginning my slow transition out of corporate life into higher education. On the personal side, I am actively involved in my sorority, have just enough friends to feel fulfilled, my kids are doing well from my perspective, and I get to travel with the perfect travel partner often, having gone to Michigan and Maine last year and planning trips to Guatamala and Disney World this year. I have worked hard to get where I am. Put in my time. Managed through a hurtful divorce. Muddled through being a single parent. Went broke with the money pit but now enjoy the home we created. Life has thrown me many a curve ball, yet somehow I kept on swinging and now am running the bases.

Why have I been able pick myself and others struggle with far smaller problems? Or do their problems just seem smaller to me? What makes me such a fighter and others seem to settle or rely on drugs or alcohol to escape their issues? Is it inherent or is this a learned trait? And if learned, where did I learn it and how can I teach it?

Someone very close to me is struggling right now. I want to help, to support them. I want to make them well, but I don’t know how. I keep wondering what causes an individual to be depressed to the point of wasting days. Of having dreams and goals, but being unable to do anything to move toward them. To be so afraid I guess of life, that they use weed and alcohol to escape. Is what they are going through any worse than the pain of betrayal and divorce? Is moving toward their ambitions any harder than parenting 2 kids alone?

At 50 I realize there are those like me and there are those who are not like me. Compassion and understanding, without judgement is not easy, but it is what we must do when helping others. Type A personalities, like me, may find it difficult to relate and understand. But we,  or for now, I, must learn to empathize even when it seems foreign to us. I must learn not to judge. To accept that each individual is doing the best they can, at this moment in time.

So it is what I am doing these days. Taking deep breaths. Maintaining a calming presence. And being  supportive. It isn’t easy for me. I see myself daily wanting to be Cher in Moonstruck saying “Snap out of it!” But saying it doesn’t make it so. Instead I will ask provoking questions. Allow them to process their thoughts. Create a supportive environment. By doing this we allow them to let go of whatever is stopping them. But by doing this we too must let go of what we think they should or should not be doing. So on this cold “Frozen” day, we both sang “Let it go!”

My New Year’s Resolution in One Word

Time hasn’t changed much regarding New Year’s resolutions. They are as old as the Babylonians. Yes, really they are! Back then the most common resolution was to get out of debt. Others were to return borrowed items or to do something that would win favors with the gods. Starting a new year and wanting to improve ourselves seems as old as time. Yet so many resolutions go by the wayside before January 31st comes along.

I have always been one to make resolutions, yet like many of you, I rarely keep it going. By the next New Year’s Eve, I can’t even remember what my resolution was from 365 days ago. Luckily for Time Hop, I was reminded of my resolution from two years ago: Enjoy life while I can, try something new every month, laugh every day and keep family and friends close at heart. I posted this as a repeat resolution for 2015 early on New Year’s Day. Soon after that though, I read a friend’s Facebook post about choosing a one word for the year to live by. It should be a word that may have many different meanings throughout the year, but being one word, one should be able to remember it. Then, of course, I Googled it. Lo and behold an entire website devoted to one word – http://oneword365.com/, and another one, http://myoneword.org/. There are also a few blogs writing about it. The concept makes sense. How can you forget one word? Could focusing on one word make a difference?

I am not convinced I will do any better with one word, but I am going to give it a try for 2015. But now how do I pick One Word? Looking at my resolution from two years ago, which are still things I want to reinforce in my life, I find the words present and engaged coming to mind. Present, because I want to be present, meaning fully engaged with each day and enjoying it. I want to be engaged in whatever I am doing; not planning for whatever is next. Trying something new every month isn’t easy if you are not engaged to make the time and do it. Laugh every day comes from being present in the moment and listening for the joy that surrounds us every day in some way; and what better way to keep friends and family close to heart then to be present when they are near and truly engaged with their presence.

So which word will be my word of 2015? I have chosen engaged. I can be present, yet choose to not engage. This wouldn’t come close to what I’m trying accomplish. I can engage in practicing more patience. I can engage fully in my Yoga class. I can engage in meetings at work rather than multi tasking and checking my phone every few minutes. There are so many ways I can engage myself this next year and I believe that is the whole purpose of choosing only word. It creates a habit, rather than a resolution that goes away after a few weeks or months. This habit then will hopefully stay with me on my journey rather than something I have to resolve to again and again.

So as I engage in my blog writing, I am going to commit to writing about what I named this blog: Friends, Family and Feelings on turning Fifty. Most of my recent blogs have been about feelings, but not necessarily on turning fifty. So how does this writing on my One Word fit into my blog? I want my New Year’s resolution to last more than a month or two. I want it to help make me a better person. I don’t want it to be something to try and accomplish in one year. I want my New Year’s resolution to contribute to a better, lasting me. At fifty, you learn that simple ideas can create wonderful things. So a simple word will become my 2015 mantra to living a better life at fifty than at forty or thirty or twenty. My desire to live a happy life, be a better person and positively contribute to the world has evolved as I have aged. Growing older brings wisdom to live a better a life, and purpose knowing that life is not forever.

So, I wish those of you reading this, and all beings, a Happy New Year! I truly hope you come closer to the person you want to be and that you are leaving a legacy of better world. May your dreams become reality, or perhaps may your reality be your dream.
#engaged

Ranting, Karma and figuring out my Funk!

So yesterday I wrote a blog post.  First time I wrote it directly in my iPhone WordPress app.  Normally I use my notes app and then copy and paste.  But I thought why do that when I could just type it right in and skip the whole copy and paste step.  When I went to publish, the app crashed and as of today is still crashed.  I’ve checked from my laptop and the post never made it to the server.  I guess that post will forever be lost. And I guess that’s a good thing.

It must have been Karma.  Although it was honest, it was a bit raw.  See yesterday my husband told me I was depressed.  Now I willingly admit I am in a funk, but depressed?  As I asked for reasons why he thought this, he told me that I complain about even my extracurricular activities like Sigma Kappa and my latest endeavor teaching.  And of course I rant daily about my job.  This got me thinking and those thoughts became my now lost post.

I have to admit, I have been complaining a lot about my volunteer work as well as grading. But in reality, I may not enjoy every aspect about either role, I find that those roles and responsibilities bring me far more joy than sadness or frustration.  And they both bring me a sense of pride and accomplishment.  As I wrote my post yesterday, I came to realize it is overwhelmingly my job that brings me little joy, pride or sense of accomplishment. In my post I ranted about my dislike for my boss and more importantly, the shallowness of what I do on a daily basis, which is to create wealth for a wealthy company.  So maybe Karma was trying to keep me from being so raw about these feelings I have for a place I spend 60 hours a week in the daily grind.  But also the place that provides well for me and my family.  It may not have been the wisest thing to do, posting my raw emotion and disdain for corporate America.

Although yesterday all I wanted was to recover the post and publish it, today with a cooler frame of mind, I am ok that it is lost in iPhone/Wordpress Lost Appland.  I had to vent, and I did.  I had to air my frustrations and I did. But it is probably best that it is not for the world to read.  I see it as writing down all those negative feelings you have, then shredding the paper and throwing it away.  It’s gone and today my focus is on what to do next.

The problem I see is that my passion is to help others, to make the world less divided.  And my job, except for coaching and developing my people, does none of that.  ( I will admit, I love my team!  Came in this morning to a Christmas Gift that was just generous and thoughtful – a Pandora charm – The Wise Owl and a gift to my beloved Sigma Kappa Foundation! they do bring me joy and when I leave I will surely miss them!)  That is really why I do my volunteer work with Sigma Kappa and why I decided to teach – because I want to feel like I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.  I complain because I don’t have the time to really do these two activities well because so much if my time is spent increasing the bottom line of a cash rich company.  But the reality is I have bills.  Bills I created that need to be paid.  So how can I make a living while also doing something that brings me happiness. That makes me feel like I am contributing to the world in a positive way.

In 6 days I will have 12 days away from work.  I am going to do what I am good at and that is lay out a plan.  (I am a planner at heart – thus why I am good at my job). I will need to first come up with all the options. Can I find a job making less, but enough to get by and will that make me happy?  Do I stick to my 5 year plan or can I shave off a year or two by being extremely frugal?  I am not sure today but I hope to have a much  clearer picture by the new year.  Remember my values post, I value responsibility and couldn’t just up and quit without a plan.

The world is an amazing place.  I want to ensure that I use this life I have to create even more amazing things.  And making corporate America wealthier is not an amazing thing.