Friday, May 10, 2019

SELF CARE, DAMMIT

I said the other day that I've been forced to start arising for the day at 5am because my dog has to go outside.

What I didn't say is that I don't mind that much. I sort of like having a couple hours in the morning to myself before everyone gets out of bed. I feed all 97 of our pets. I have the time to get a cup of coffee and quietly sip it while I wake up -- without having to talk to anyone.  I have time to pull a writing prompt out of the jar and percolate on how I want to answer it. I have time to answer it. I have time for a cup of coffee or two more, if I want.

All in the quietness of the morning -- save for the paws scrabbling across our hardwood floors in Early Morning Kitten Wars.

Some of my teenagers have gotten on this weird sleep schedule which we're in the middle of retraining.  Which meant someone was still awake when I got up at 5am yesterday, ready to talk and vent.  At 5 am. Before I had had coffee. Quietly waking up was not happening. Writing was not happening. Grumpy hormones might have been happening.

So, in the afternoon, I took myself to my favorite coffee shop, laptop in hand -- FOUND A TABLE (Gold, I tell you. GOLD.) -- and wrote.  By myself.

One child was at school with the Teenager Car. One child was at home with nowhere to be. The third child was also at home with no work on her afternoon schedule. I was not expected home.

when are you coming home? the text read. 

What followed was a sad exchange in which the teenager professed boredom, lack of transportation, desire to go to work for which she was not scheduled, and.... oh right, more boredom.

will you be home by 2:30??

I sighed.  A good mom would probably go home. 

probably not. I texted back.

Because sometimes self-care looks like stubborn obstinancy.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

At the beginning of the year, I reflected a lot on the topics that I have felt the most drawn to writing about over the past almost-ten years -- and I sort of revisited them in 2019 versions. I tried to think about where I have been and where I am now -- and how my thoughts have changed and evolved -- or even stayed steady -- in that time. I thought about how I've changed and grown, and where I see myself as still being a work in progress.

My last one, as it made sense in the story arc, dealt with forgiveness.  Both forgiveness of others and forgiveness of myself -- two places that I always feel struggle.

I thought about what forgiveness is and what it does and what it's for. I thought about it opening up a door to being able to have a sense of peace. I thought it being a way to let go of anger and bitterness. I thought about how not finding it becomes a stumbling block to your own healing and your own health.

But, because I knew that I wasn't quite there yet, I didn't really think about what comes after the forgiveness. I think that forgiveness is mostly a requirement for reconciliation to take place. But, I don't always think that reconciliation is necessarily the best next step forward for every situation. Sometimes forgiveness is the precursor to simply moving on, and not to starting over.

In its most recent form in my life, my hurts have stemmed from various manifestations of someone I cared for just not being who I thought they were, or who I wanted them to be. And once that road to forgiveness was walked, nostalgic instincts aside, I found that I was happier with distance. Forgiveness was necessary. Reconciliation was not. And, excepting some nagging regrets, I am happy in that place.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

OLD LADY

So, basically, I sleep like an old lady now.

The problem isn't really me. The problem is my dog, who I love and adore.

Last year, when my kids were all in high school like normal people, I got up at about 5:30 every morning to get them ready for school. So, Lexie (the dog) learned that 5:30 am was breakfast time.

This year, all my kids are in some form of alternative schooling and they no longer have to be at the crack of early. The dog, however, is still convinved that 5am is time for breakfast. She gets up, sits beside my ear, and whines until I get out of bed.  If that doesn't work, she yelps at me.

Mostly, I think it's that she's old and can't go much longer than that before she has to pee.  As a woman with the smallest bladder in the world, I sympathize.

So, my normal wake-up time EVERY MORNING is now 5am.  Which means, if I am going to get any kind of rested sleep at all, I have had to walk back my bedtime to 9pm.

Like an old lady.

Pretty soon, I'm going to be eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

AUTHENTICITY REVISITED

I began last year, after reading a lot of Brene Brown, with a desire for 2018 to be my year of authenticity.  I wanted to be braver. I wanted to be more honest. I wanted to be less afraid of showing people who I was.

I thought that meant being more vocal about it all. I thought it meant shaking off shackles I had put on myself. I thought it meant feeling free to walk my own road without caring what anyone else thought. I thought it meant not apologizing for who I was and being brazen about it.

And then, unplanned things happened in my relationships with people that I didn't feel I could be brazen about. I had real issues that I needed to work through... it's just that this wasn't the space that I could do that in. I didn't want to hurt people. I didn't want to create any more gossip than necessary. And if that's what you were looking for, I think that you were probably frustrated with me.

I had to find different ways... but they were quiet. I needed sounding boards, but I needed sounding boards that would be gentle but honest, understanding but real, supportive but firm. Fortunately, I had those. Some had been in my life for a long time, and some had come into it probably for just that purpose.

At the end of the year, as I looked back on everything that had happened and everything that I had wanted it to be, I felt a sense of failure as I re-read that first entry of the year. The pulling-in that I had done, the self and other protection that I had tried to create -- it seemed like anything but authenticity.

As I think about it now, I think I was wrong. But, I think it was more about my internal authenticity than anything else. It wasn't about being outwardly brazen about who I am. It was about bringing who I am and the values I hold important into an internal balance with the choices I was making and the people I was involved with.

My tangle with authenticity wasn't quite what I expected it to be -- but I think that perhaps it was what I needed it to be.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A BIGGER COMFORT ZONE

I've thought a lot over the past year about uncomfortable emotions.

Anger, hurt, jealousy, sadness, grief.  Even happiness and joy sometimes. 

I think we... or at least I... have a comfort with emotions that lie within the acceptable status quo. I kind of think of it as a loose sine curve that doesn't deviate very far up or down from the axis.  Anything that lies within that curve is cool.  We're good with that. Momentary emotions in either direction.  But the important part is that they're momentary. They quickly cycle back to the norm.

But when emotions get a little more intense, when they pop up or down out of that curve, we get tense and uncomfortable. We don't like it in ourselves. We don't like it in other people. We're impatient for things to "get back to normal."

But... emotions aren't bad. Emotions only feel like they're lasting too long because we are uncomfortable with them -- and what would happen if we weren't?

I've been practicing that over the past year.  I've been practicing not rushing myself out of emotions that feel too intense or too lengthy. I've been practicing acknowledging my hurts and my disappointments and my angers without an expectation that I would just "get over them." I've been appreciating my joys and my highs in ways that would have left me feeling prideful before.

And... I like it. Like building any new habit, it was hard at first... and like any new behavior, it still isn't quite natural. I have to work at staying in it and not rushing back to the safety of the middle.  But, honestly, I like it. I like not having to fix everything. I like creating new expectations for where I have to be -- and I like that the expectations are mine and not what I think someone else needs to be.

So, there you go.