Sunday, 29 May 2011

I am not what I do

I always want to do and be more. I have the kind of personality who always wants to achieve more and I want to be one of those people who make a difference. Throw in some perfectionism, being a dreamer and problem solver, naive optimism and a bit of arrogance and you have a recipe for completely unrealistic expectations of what one person can do. Often these expectations come with total blindness to the lack of energy and exhaustion in my actual life and the very long list of basics I am not managing to keep on top of. I have wondered for a long time why I continually have this tension between my actual life and all the things I wish I could do as well.

Here is a list of the ones flying round my head at the moment:
  • become a child birth educator
  • start selling card making equipment
  • write more blogs and find ways of making them profitable
  • set up a trust aimed at supporting teen mums getting an education
  • start sewing
  • stay home more and make house
  • do a Masters in Applied Social Work
  • start scrapbooking
  • get more involved at church
  • read more
  • stop working and go to playcentre
  • work more and do more at work
  • set up a community garden
  • have another child
  • move to the country so that I am at home and can't do all of the above and have a more simple life.
  • achieve world peace, end poverty, solve the climate change crisis...
All in a day's work?

As you can see there is a lot going on in my head and a lot of it is contradictory. I imagine there are other Mums out there who have similar battles between their reality and what they would like to do. But I wonder whether for me these ideas are partly about not dealing with my reality. If I keep coming up with new things to do I don't have to just be in my life. Instead I am always in a state of discontent thinking up the next thing I want to do, but never actually do. Or maybe it is because I haven't developed an integrated sense of who I am? But what does that mean anyway? Or is it just the fact that women today have so much apparent choice that it almost creates the sense that you should do more, choose more and be more.

Maybe that is it. Maybe the question is whether I am enough without doing more? Just the way I am now. Am I acceptable and okay as I am, without any of the above? And therefore does my identity just come from what I do? What does that say about how I view others? Am I judging others who I think "should" do more? And have I turned this on myself?

Okay enough questions. I hate blog posts that just have lists of questions but as no clarity has been forth coming I will have to leave it at that. But I really would love to hear from other women who wrestle with these questions. Have you made any peace with this?

P.S just discovered the one of our kittens peed on our bed and it has gone through our woollen duvets, sheets and into the mattress. These things put my navel gazing into perspective.

Turn around and face the future

I haven't written for a while. I have been busy. About the time I wrote my last post I made a decision to stop facing backwards with my head and heart in the past and start facing forward, taking what I have learned, scars and all, and get on with living. And since then I have been busy doing just that.

I have started exercising regularly at my local gym. I am hoping to lose a bit of weight and get fit but my main focus is on doing something for me each day and the benefit to my mental state each time I go. I am no good at long term goals, I am all about immediate gratification so it is much more motivating to focus on the benefits I get now, rather than having a weight, dress size or fitness goal. I am actually surprised that I am still going. Usually I lost my commitment almost the day after I commit!

I have also taken the risk of committing to help out with the Mum's spiritual support group at church, called Space. It has been a huge part of me getting better as each week I can spend time with other Mums, be inspired and also commiserate with the struggles of daily life and walking with God. It has given me 'space' to think about God when I was struggling to make any time or space on my own. It is scary to be involved in something at church again but also part of my decision not to focus on my weaknesses or fears but instead to use my gifts and follow my heart and hopefully God will be gracious to me and help me to do it well. It is amazing how freeing it is to stop thinking "Oh I couldn't cope with that", to thinking "I love being part of this and want to help". It is really good to challenge myself not to think I have to do things perfectly but instead to know that by getting involved I can grow and move on in my life.

We have also started house hunting. This has been a huge step as for so long I have felt that any sort of change would be too stressful and life has been in a holding pattern. Since turning in my focus and looking to the future I have had the courage to dream again and get excited about buying our own place. This has opened up my world again and I have almost felt overwhelmed by dreams and hopes and plans for the future. It is such a miracle to me to have a future to even contemplate, and to think that some of the things I used to dream about but had almost given up on, could become a reality is so amazing to me. Depression had threatened to steal all the confidence I used to have in my ability to realise my dreams and I cannot explain what a miracle it is to hope in the future again.

I am also amazed at how freeing it is to no longer be playing a victim role in my life. I used to feel at the mercy of my feelings and felt unable to choose how to deal with different situations. A simple example is food. I used to feel that if there was food out, I had no choice about eating it. Even if I really wanted to eat healthily I felt at the mercy of my desire to eat the food. But since deciding that eating lots of sugary and processed food makes me feel yuck I have been finding it so much easier to say "No thanks" to myself and stick with it. It is actually a bit embarassing to admit but that kind of self-mastery has been pretty foreign to me. And it is so empowering to know I can choose.

I truly believe that freedom is not about doing whatever you want, instead it is the ability to choose to do what is right, despite how it might feel, despite the patterns of the past and despite any fears you might have. I love this new freedom. And I have been so busy enjoying it that I haven't had time to write. But I choose to now and it reminds me how much I have missed it. So hopefully I will be back soon.