Thursday, October 16, 2014

On my Thirty-Seventh Birthday

Today I turn thirty-seven years old.  Thirty-seven is not a milestone birthday.  It’s not like 25 or 30 or 40.  But something about thirty-seven feels like a milestone for me.

Maybe it’s because I have turned a corner with both kids in school, and I’m working from home.  Maybe it’s because I can practice yoga twice a week.  I don’t know.  But I do know that I feel more contentment and peace than I have in a long, long time. 

I mean not perfect contentment that I imagine I would feel if I were chanting ohm on a secluded mountaintop.  More like less angst-y and restless.

I remember when I started my third decade, I spend quite a few nights waking up and running to the bathroom to dry heave and cry.  At first I thought I had the flu or maybe pregnant. 

When neither turned out to be true, I decided maybe I was unhappy.  But how could I be unhappy?  I was happily married and had a beautiful daughter who was deliciously adorable at two years old.

When I quieted my mind and clocked some serious time at my therapist’s office, I came to the conclusion that I was just letting in too much – too many opinions of others, too many judgments, too many self-harming comments.  I couldn’t honor these outside forces and still have enough energy to raise Marie.

So I started to say no to things that made me feel bad. I said no to thing that made my gut red hot with dread.  I said no to things that made me feel drained and sad.  This was not easy at all.  I mean, saying no kind of goes again first-born daughter code.  There were times when I think it would have been easier to join the witness protection program than face my fears of letting anyone down as I decided to live life on my terms.

Which is what was the stem of all my itchy, uncomfortable feelings of going with a flow that was not meant for me.  So little by little, I created something I had never before experienced: personal boundaries.

I didn’t have the language to explain this transformation until I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speakat Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend.  She called her journey a Quest and talked about how it started with crying on the bathroom floor, knowing that she was not on her right path.  Which led her on journey to answer the question: What have I come here to do with my life? 

what have you come here to do with your life? Elizabeth Gilbert Mommy on the Spot Erin Janda Rawlings

Wait - there was a name for this?  A Quest?!  I thought I was just going about my business trying to find some way to make sure I didn’t implode while raising my daughter.  But yes, when she explained exactly what a Quest is, I was indeed on one of my own.

She talked about how The Quest is filled with self-doubt and uncertainty that there will be trials, but ultimately when finished, fear is shed.

In fact, all the difficulties were inevitable.  Elizabeth shared that she used to pray for changes in her life, but without all the mess and upheaval.

And with that, the past seven years of my life were validated.  I guess I had the preconceived notion that personal transformation would be a blissful journey. Yes, I was making changes that felt like were aligned with who I really was meant to be, but shit, it was hard.  And messy.   And uncomfortable.

But it would have been more uncomfortable to stay and cry and dry heave and live a life on a path that was not for me than to figure out how I fit in this world.

So I am going to celebrate this non-milestone milestone birthday.  With cake.  Champagne.  Family.  Food.

I did it.  I am on My Quest.  And even thought it’s not easy, it feels pretty damn good.

Friday, October 10, 2014

This Week Didn’t Go According to Plan

This week was one of those weeks where I had to concede to the fact I cannot do everything.

I know this sounds really obvious, but I carefully organize my days so I can do *everything*.  My day looks incredibly doable on paper, but it has yet to work out the way I would like it to.

I am juggling a lot of balls while walking on a fine tightrope of balancing life and work, and all it takes is one unforeseen event to cause a misstep and everything goes tumbling.  I try not to get frustrated, especially since it’s only been a month that I’ve been attempting to manage all of my stuff.  And I love all of the stuff I am doing – working with great people at Hay ThereSocial Media, teaching at Walsh College, working on my blog so it’s not like I’m complaining.  But if I could just have 26 hours in a day, I feel my beautifully orchestrated days would become a reality.

 See, when Thomas went off to school fulltime, one of the things I wanted to do was really focus on my writing skills.  And ironically enough, I found HerStories Personal Essay Boot Camp. This has been such a wonderful learning experience, and unlike other attempts to practice the craft of writing, I am actually held accountable with deadlines and group members.

This week our essay is due.  And I’ve been working really hard on it in between everything else.

While I am learning some new storytelling techniques, I think it is interesting that it brought me back to my first love: journaling.  I have been wanting, actually needing, to go back to this form of writing so it feels right.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot herstories personal essay boot camp journal

But that meant not writing the blog post I had wanted to write this week. 

It is always a humbling experience when I set these lofty goals for myself and then have them not happen the way I had envisioned.  But I did find my way back to journaling so maybe it wasn’t that bad of a week.

Next week will be better (although I said that about this week, too). 

How was your week?  Did you finish what you needed to accomplish?  Or did your life take you on a detour?