Saturday, June 26, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For.....

So I have this great idea where I will be intentional about embracing the afternoon of my life. I will reassess how I spend my time. I will try to find enthusiasm for things I used to enjoy. I will find time for creative activities. And, while I didn't say this, I'm pretty sure I didn't expect that this journey would have... well... bumps in it. It was all well and good when I hit the "publish post" on my very first entry.

Then this week began and here's what has happened so far.....

This is a holiday weekend --- and a long weekend from work. In the course of one afternoon, I find out that Jim has invited our friend, Alan, and his family to stay with us over this weekend. And, before Alan and crew arrive, one of Jim's old girlfriends will be in town and ---- yep, you know where this is going --- he has invited her over for dinner. The good news is that both sets of guests are lovely. Jim is a great ex-boyfriend. All of his ex-girlfriends are lovely, actually. Well, except for one. I know that we will have a lovely evening and that the slumber party with Alan's family will be lots of fun. But, seriously, both things... in one weekend.... is God somewhere smiling, laughing and pointing His finger at me?

But wait, there's more...

I spent some time this week reflecting on how much of my time is spent on work. Not just being there and doing my job but feeling guilty because I have left something undone to come home. Or checking email when I'm not working. Or, on the flip side, realizing that I haven't done any of Helen's camp paperwork because I've been working.

I am tired of feeling like my position isn't being respected. I am tired of having too much on my plate and not enough soldiers to handle it all. And I am tired of feeling like there are certain expectations of the position that I can't meet. And, then, before I bust from inner turmoil, I talk to my boss. It goes pretty well but involves rambling (from me) and hurt feelings (from my gently put words about his management style and my struggles with them) for him. I leave his office in a rush --- got to pick Helen up from day camp --- and feel terrible. Beyond terrible. Tears streaming down my face, "I'm a whack job, what have I done", terrible. Conversations with Jim and a colleague from work and an email to Rob (my boss) seem to have settled my heart but I still feel badly. And the worst part, I don't know what to do. I'm left wondering... "What in the Hell do I do now"?

Embracing the Afternoon of My Life....

I've probably read "Gift from the Sea", written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1955, at least twenty times. I bought it to take on a trip to Florida when Katie was about 4 years old. That was fifteen years ago. I had no idea then that it would turn into one of the most meaningful books I've ever read. I had no idea that it would help me figure out how to juggle being a wife and mother - and still find space for myself. The timelessness of Anne's words and thoughts have nurtured me, supported and guided me like few others have. It is one of the most important books in my life and stays, permanently, on my nightstand.

I was reading GFTS last week during our annual trip to the beach. I don't know what it is about the beach, but it just seems to feed my soul. I'm almost like an addict - I can never get enough time at the beach. There are certain times when I crave the peace, the pace and the respite I get from listening to the surf, feeling the salty mist on my face and feeling the sunshine just fill me up. I like reading GFTS at the beach - it's like getting two meals at once. During this latest trip, I spent most of my reading time in the 'Oyster Bed' and 'Argonauta' chapters of the book. These chapters talk about a woman's life as her children grow older and seem to need less of her time. It is during this time -- as she and her husband grow older, too -- that a woman moves to the 'afternoon' of her life. The 'feverish pace of the morning' has passed and, at last, there is time for other activities. There are more opportunities to take time for oneself, to try or re-try things that previously had to be put aside.

Reading these words was like discovering that one missing piece to a puzzle. You know the one... you've been searching endlessly for it, convinced that it is lost and then you find it. It's right in front of you, where it has been the entire time. I realized that there were countless things that seem to have gotten lost in the waves of work, parenting, being a wife and just trying to survive it all. Things like spending time journaling, baking and trying new recipes, decorating the house, yoga, taking care of myself. I realized that I wanted to reclaim some of these things -- or keep them lost, if that was where they belonged. I realized that it was time to being embracing - and enjoying - the 'afternoon of my life'. As Anne says in GFTS, "Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, become completely oneself".

But how... How do I find the enthusiasm for doing and being more than just someone who seems like her life is running her? I looked to GFTS. Anne suggests spending time in creative activities. On the ride home from the beach, I came up with some of my own: be intentional, fake it until it becomes real, be more selfish with my time, reassess how and where I spend my time. Be accountable. So I've decided to incorporate these thoughts, ideas, wishes and adventures into a blog. A creative activity that will serve as a framework for the reassessment of my life and priorities. Sure... a blog. Why not?

And so it begins.