Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January: Burn Out and the Creative Process

Oh, January, you are such a difficult month.

At first, I feel exhilarated by a new start.  I am inspired by the clarity of my vision for my new year. I am overcome with motivation- I will accomplish all of my goals/intentions now!  Yay! Let’s go!

Somewhere in all of that fervor, I became derailed.  My energy is not there; I am still recovering from the Thanksgiving/Christmas whirlwind. There is something about that intense energy of producing a holiday and making sure there are *happy* memories that is exhausting. January seems like the right time to cozy up on the couch and recover.

Except life keeps marching on. There is homework that needs to be done. Swim practice to attend.  Deadlines to meet. 

I started to feel really sad and numb, and then scared because I wasn’t sure how to pull out of this.  I mean, just four months ago I felt awesome – kids both in school, working from home, blogging, writing.  Just remembering that feeling helped to put these sad, slumpy feelings into perspective.

I was experiencing burnout.

I think as much as I love working from home, I do feel that there is this pressure to always be hustling.  If I’m not grading papers, managing a client, or creating content for myself, then I am doing laundry, grocery shopping, and running the kids around.  The busier I am, the more worthy I feel.  And this is no way to live (and probably deserves its own blog post).

So I took a week off from blogging to recharge the creative batteries.

I took the kids to see Annie, I went to see Selma, and then went to the movies for a third time that week to see American Sniper.  I didn’t just stop there.  I binge-watched Olive Kitteridge on HBO.  I just soaked in each story, enjoying the complicated characters and their intricate stories.  It was nice just to be still and listen.

Being so goal orientated, I often brush aside the cues my body gives me that I’m overextending myself.  I wanted to spark my creativity without the pressure of results.  I decided to finish the collages that Elizabeth Gilbert talked about onFacebook.

 This quote sums up the project:

This isn't exactly a vision board (although I do think vision boards are a useful exercise.) It's a lot more random than that. It's not about calling in things or goals or dreams. It's more about how I want to FEEL, than about what I want to ACHIEVE. Mostly, it's just about colors and images that appeal to me for reasons that I do not overthink. I just start cutting and then I start gluing, and I trust the process.
When it's over, I have my visual/emotional wish for the New Year.

It was fun to clip the images that I liked without overanalyzing anything, just working from instinct. Then I arranged my images, and it was very clear that I had two separate things going on here: bold images about self-discovery and soft, clean, cozy images with lots of green and white.

I think this is a pretty accurate depiction: going on a journey of self-discovery, nurturing my dreams, and finding inner peace - pretty much what I hope to find in 2015.

Or maybe I just really want a garden, a cozy Pottery Barn bed, and a cruiser bike.

Either way, I think I am ready to move past this bump in the road.

How are you feeling this month?  Does January have you down?  What do you do to get yourself feeling happy again?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Projectile Vomit and Other Dark Moments of Motherhood

I am still recovering from the grossest incident I have experienced in my eight plus years of motherhood.

Poor Thomas had projectile vomit.  Although my recent creative online writing course would encourage me to use vivid imagery to show and not tell you just how disgusting our bathroom was, I will spare you the details.  I will say this: it was akin to a scene from Dexter.  Except I didn’t have the luxury of having laid down a protective layer of plastic to ensure easy cleanup.

Anyway, 24 hours later, and Thomas was fine.  In fact, he was better than fine; it was as if it never happened.

I, on the other hand, was still emotionally scarred on several levels.  Cleaning up that mess was beyond disgusting. (However, Thomas did note my efforts on a very affirmative note: “Hey, Mom.  Good job cleaning up in here.  It looks good.”  It’s nice to feel appreciated.)

And as I watched him sleep throughout the day, I felt scared.  He never gets sick – not even after that time we went to Disney World and he ate crumbs off of the restaurant floor and licked the bus seats. 

It was more than scared; I was in that dark place of being overwhelmed with responsibility of caring for Thomas, yet feeling helpless because there is only so much I can do.  It reminded me of when I was helping Marie through her health issues that I talked about in my Listen to Your Mother show.  

All of those guilty feelings came rushing back: I am not good enough. I should have been able to prevent this.  Why can’t I make this stop?

I was then up to all of my old tricks – washing my hands until they were raw.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot OCD handwashing
Note the red gloves effect

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Vinylux Nail Polish
But check out that nail polish.  I bow down to the magic of Vinylux.

 I bargained with myself that if I bleached the bathroom just one more time, maybe then I would feel like a good mom.  Sick and sad, I know.

It is frustrating to me that as much effort that I have put into working through my issues, it seems like they are just waiting to ambush me when I am feeling fragile.

But I’m wiser now, stronger, too.  I know that one of my biggest triggers is when my kids are sick.  I know that these guilty feelings are often laced with vicious lies.  I can’t prevent everything, and that by no means makes me a bad mother.  Determined not to drop my anchor in this ugly place, I just put one foot in front of the other and hope that the light will shine through soon.  This post by Momastery helped me move throughthis awful bout of mommy guilt by reminding me to be kinder to myself.  Wow, did I need to hear those words.

What is your trigger that makes you feel like you are not good enough? How do you move through it?

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Motherhood moments
Whenever I feel like a bad mom or not good enough, I try to remind myself that there are pure moments of joy where I feel like I am doing it right.
This sleepover was one of those moments.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot inspirational motherhood quote by Arianna Huffington
I love this quote by Arianna Huffington.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hello, 2015!

Hello, 2015!  Am I glad to see you!  Yes, it’s freezing and snowy, but quiet and refreshing after all of the holiday madness.

Once I had my first quiet moment to myself in over 2 weeks, I was able to focus on what I really wanted for 2015.  Sure, I want to write more and live more in the present moment, but when I really searched for what I needed to make any goals, it all boiled down to one word: boundaries.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot happy 2015 quiet and coffee
My first peaceful moment of 2015.

I  feel like I should have this boundary thing down better by now since it seems that every personal goal I’ve made this decade can be traced down to boundaries.  This year I have noticed that creating boundaries is no longer my struggle: it’s keeping them.

 My inner dialogue goes something like this:

“I want to please everyone!”

“I give 0 F’s about pleasing everyone!”

“Well, maybe a few Fs.”

“Erin, you are strong.  You can have boundaries and still be compassionate and kind.”

The struggle is real.

And come to find out, there is a pattern with all this inner-conflict.  Doubt starts to sneak in when I’m not paying attention and starts to whisper passive-aggressive thoughts.  “Are you sure you want to say no, Erin?  Is that really the right thing to do?  Think of those that will be disappointed.”

When the pressure bears down too much and I start to question my self-worth, I explode!  There is a war being waged on my boundaries, and I must protect them!

This Is my house. I must defend it.

I want to be angry with the people who have little regard for what I find sacred, but when I sit quietly and dig deep, I am really just angry with doubting myself.  Then come the waves of self-loathing.

It reminds me of overindulging during the holidays.  During all of the social gatherings (and my introvert-mandated recovery from said social events), it seems like a good idea to loose myself in a batch of wreath cookies and a bottle of wine.  But the only thing that ever really results in that is a bloated tummy, a headache, and a deep contempt for myself.  

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot happy 2015 wreath cookies
All of the wreath cookies.

So my intention for 2015 is to avoid the emotional hangover of becoming misaligned with my boundaries.

I want to cultivate a peaceful strength that does not need to be forceful to be heard or back down when the pressure becomes to great.

I’ve worked really hard to discover my personal boundaries.   Now I want to settle into them and feel cozy and safe; not standing at the door on defense just waiting for someone to break in.

I think the confidence that comes from being comfortable will help reaching my other goals more of a reality.

What are you hoping for in 2015?

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot happy 2015 mumford and sons roll away your stone
This is exactly what I am feeling for 2015.