Wednesday, May 8, 2019

have you tried...

I am learning.  

It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back to my personal life. 

This morning I was hoping to sit on my new deck, it's so pretty and feels so much safer than the old one.  Yes, I have actually jumped, wiggled and leaned on every bit to insure I felt secure. Unfortunately, the rain that we've been expecting for days has finally moved in and everything is drenched.  

My plan was to plant some flowers, putter around putting things back where they go (translation - out of the kitchen) and just enjoy some sunshine. I've picked up some beautiful lavender plants, I think the sun on the deck will be perfect for them. I also have some seed potatoes to plant in the old wash tub again this year.  Watching them grow was so interesting last year.  It's just going to have to wait until the weekend.  The sun is supposed to return and I will have more time. 

It's okay, I always have a plan B.  

Today it will involve a bit of needlework, I am trying to teach myself that my work is not all that defines me and that I can function quite well without always being deeply involved in work. I had developed a very bad habit, I was spending my home hours working on work and my work hours working on work.  

I think too many of us today define ourselves by how busy we can be.  We've allowed our electronic leashes of the phone and computer to keep us far too connected to our jobs, careers, etc.  Without considering the impact it is having on us. Hubs and I work for the same organization, so many conversations are just extensions of the day to day work.  There is no clear turning off of the light, so to speak. 

I had developed the habit of looking at my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night to see if there was anything that needed immediate attention. 

Hubs is just as bad, if not worse.  He will sacrifice sleep to insure that he is keeping ahead. I admit I have been guilty a time or two of the same thing.  Budget season and reviews are crazy times and I will dig in deep to make it work. And don't get me started on Annual Campaign. 

As I am starting to force these self-imposed, not going to do it stop times on myself I am discovering that I have greater energy to deal with it in it's own space and time. I can be more focused and engaged. And I am enjoying the random moments with family and friends.  We actually stopped the world and enjoyed our oldest grand daughter's spring concert last night.  It was painful when I asked why we weren't told about them to hear, you guys are always so busy working we didn't want to add more.  

What?  I've been missing out on the important things for what??

I need to fill my personal bucket too.  The way I am reasoning this through is that I am sure my employers would not be thrilled if every minute I was at work I was doing personal business, I need to just as jealously guard my personal time from work.  I would never dream of not giving my all to work.  That just isn't who I am, but never think twice about taking my personal time and giving it up.  

There have been a few things lately that have really stirred my thinking.  And it isn't just the fact that nothing is getting done at home and I was constantly struggling to keep up. 

I try to keep an open mind.  To look at all perspectives and ideas.  Sometimes I succeed, other times, I feel it takes me longer to process. 

One of my biggest ah - ha's was one that took a bit of time to simmer and come to life.  I'm not old, but I am definitely not going to be confused with a youngster, I had been hearing more and more of my age peers making the statement "there is no work ethic among the young".  I've been guilty of thinking that myself on more than one occasion.  It was the most recent one that sent me into a tail spin and started unraveling my own thought processes. 

I was beyond furious at the young woman I had taken a chance on.  She had degrees, a skill set, and seemed to be someone that could tackle the job ahead of her.  Three weeks in she quit without notice.  We'd invested time, money, training and grace on her.  Working around her part time job's two weeks notice that turned into three, assisting with things when she couldn't be there, etc.  She left the department looking like someone had dropped a bomb right in the middle of it.  Schedules not done, lesson's not assigned, hiring and disciplinary actions left dangling, it was an absolute horror.  

In my frustration and anger I didn't take her up on her suggestion that she come meet with me to tell me what we had done wrong.  Hindsight being 20/20 I wish I had. Unfortunately her actions caused my entire world to hit a tailspin and increased my own work load to an almost unbearable level. 

During her three weeks with us, I had heard 'I need my time to keep balance", "I am not answering my phone on my off days or when I am doing things with my fiance'", " I don't check my email if I am not at work".  At the time, I wrote it off as youthful defiance, I mean haven't we all had those moments when we were young and learning how life worked?

I took on the task.  I started searching for a replacement, making schedules, finding instructors.  We made it "work".  Sort of.   The extra load was exhausting for me.  And my old school brain kept saying keep going.  In fact my sweet Hubs bought me a bracelet that I wear every day... it's plain silver on the outside with two arrows.  It's the inside that brings a smile to my face.  Hidden from the world it reads "keep f&#king going".

As I filled holes, waited patiently (yeah right!) for my new person to finish where they were at and join us, I was getting more and more frazzled, snippy and plain worn out.  To say my give a damn was breaking would be an understatement.  I mean seriously when you are excited to go take care of a family member having surgery because it meant rest, you have pushed those envelope edges too hard. 

As I sat in Arkansas, chatting with family, taking care of Mom, slowing down and simply being. I think I figured out what that young woman's message was.  It isn't unique to where I work.  It is today's world. Very few of us have the luxury of simply turning off the lights on our job's and going home.  Definite ends don't happen.  Long gone are the days that you walked out of work and barring a true emergency (epic on the scale of a fire, natural disaster, etc) that no one called you.  We live today in a very 24 hour society.  

I get messages from people on our business Facebook messenger at midnight, wanting an answer now.  We shop at all hours, very few places simply stop.  There isn't an end.  

Maybe our younger generation is trying to teach us a lesson.  Maybe the frustration we feel at the "I don't give a damn" attitude is being misinterpreted. Maybe it isn't they don't care?  Maybe it's simply that they are farther along in valuing themselves than the older generation is.  Maybe they have found that key to balance that we all seem to be searching for. 

I can't remember which country, but I read an article not too long ago, that a law had been passed forbidding work to be done in non-work time.  I'm not so sure we need a law for that, but maybe we all need to start balancing our time a bit better, learn from those young folks.  

Personally, after dealing with her job for over a month, I can assure you that I am exhausted.  Passing it off was a blessing.   And there were far too many times that I had my down time hijacked because of things that could have waited.  But once the pendulum had been swung that way, I did not have the personal ability to push it back. 

I wonder if somewhere in the middle, the value of the job and the value of your personal time isn't something we all need to learn and treat both with equal amounts of respect.  While also respecting where all of us are in our journey's. 

I'm respecting myself a bit more.  I'm cooking, cleaning, planting and crafting.  I am doing the things that fill my bucket with more intention.  I want to continue to love my job, I want to continue to be a contributing and sustaining part of the Y fabric.  I cannot do that if I fray my own edges. They I become a cog. I can't show up with joy and energy.  I show up with exhaustion.  

I also want those same ideals to apply to my home life.  I want to savor those long walks with my dog, instead of feeling the need to rush him (knowing that he truly isn't too much longer for this world) because I have somewhere to be and things to do.  I want to eat dinner at home and enjoy the time with my Hubs.  I want to sit in the auditorium proudly beaming at my grand daughter whether she is singing or planing an instrument.  

I want to be 100% present in my world. And not feel guilty for not focusing on work. 

I personally think each of us needs to own responsibility for our happiness.  None of us are cogs in a giant machine.  We are people that need balance, inspiration and rest. 

My favorite line from a show I used to watch with my son is "have you tried turning it off and on again".  It referenced a computer, but I think it applies to people also.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

wasting the moments...

This morning I chose to simply sit for a moment and enjoy my coffee.

It's semi-quiet, Hubs is up and down in his man cave working on - work - he struggles to shut off for even a day.  I can't say much, so do I.  I spent most of yesterday morning dealing with work.  So I really can't say much at all. 

All of that put me a bit behind on the things that I wanted to do yesterday.  But in proper perspective, it simply didn't matter.   It needed to happen. 

Shortly I will hear my Gator making his exasperated humfing sounds at the top of the stairs, his age shows when it is time to travel those silly stairs and he must suffer the indignation of human assistance.  I assure you, he feels it is suffering. I think if he could talk it would be in a very haughty proper English gentleman's accent and he would have no problem telling what insufferable bores we were being while assisting.  Instead, he rolls his eyes and makes those silly humfing noises.  Enough to let us know that he is not impressed with our feeble attempts to provide service. 

Neeko on the other hand is simply chilling. He's moving much slower now, but is still the same mellow, gentle giant he's always been. He just moves at a slower pace and rests a lot more than he used to. 

When they have both decided to wake for the morning (I would say day, but honestly it will probably be an hour or two before nap time) we will take them for their morning stroll.  It used to be a brisk walk, now... it's a barely moving shuffle.  Definitely cannot count that as a daily walk anymore.  Not sure the Fitbit would even register it as movement. It's sad.  Yet at the same time, we are thankful for every single moment they stay with us. 

These past few years have definitely been ones that have driven home the lessons of loss for me.  At the same time they have highlighted the gratitude that permeates every moment. 

Forever now it seems that I have been saying "I'm too busy" "I don't have a moment" and a few other phrases that are very similar.  I don't think that it is the truth.  I think I have created a non-stop mentality, that isn't leaving me room for what is truly important.  

I am trying to start making time.  

I don't want to say scheduling, because that simply means more of the same.  I am working to identify the things that are truly important to me and making the time to do them. 

The repair to the deck was on of those things.  It's been waiting. 

Yesterday was the start of another example.  

The first spring we lived here I noticed a struggling little lilac bush on the edge of the back yard before it rolls down the steep hill that is the majority of my yard. It was so pretty the little baby flowers.  Sadly, our yard has been over run for years before us with invasive honeysuckle.  Every year since I have told Hubs I wanted to get down there and cut out the honeysuckle.  Between illness, rain or heat for 4 years it has gone unchecked.  I was sure I had completely lost the lilac bush and the Rose of Sharon (what survived from my grandson's pruning a few years back) on the other side was definitely looking like it was lost also. 

Hubs and I headed down the steep hill.  The honeysuckle was going down.  

As we cut through honeysuckle and wild raspberries, the thorns tearing at our arms and legs, I was feeling hopeless.  It took a few hours to cut back the honeysuckle, it was so overgrown and killing everything.  Finally, there it was.  

The little lilac bush was still there.  It's in bad shape from having been overrun, but it is still there. 

We also cleared around the Rose of Sharon.  Maybe it will bloom this year.  It's so beautiful. 

There are piles of honeysuckle dying in piles on lawn.  It is not finished.  It is definitely going to be a long term project.  But it's a start.  

We accomplished something that had been waiting for years.  It felt incredible, at least the accomplishment did.  The aches and pains today prove Hubs and I were smart to hire our grandson to deal with the rest of cutting and bagging. 

Having made the decision to just dive in, felt incredible. It felt inspiring.  It felt like it opened more opportunities. It is amazing how much time we waste on television, computer and phone time.  It eats up hours of time.  Hours that we don't realize we lose until far too late. 

Who knows maybe this is the beginning of me finally starting to wrap up some projects.  I love my job.  It does make me happy.  So does my home.  I've been neglecting too much. 

I was hoping to invite one of my friends over for dinner yesterday.  We wanted to grill and visit.  As most of the deck items are stashed in the house, there was no way I was going to subject anyone to that.  Maybe the deck will be finished tomorrow... I need some time with family and friends. 

I love this shift... I hope it continues...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

digging down...

Dirt under the nails, smudges on my glasses.

Finally feels like spring.

Hubs and I finally decided to get our deck repaired.  It wasn't in bad shape as the guys have assured me multiple times since yesterday morning when they started.  In my world, it was terrifying.  I am sure a lot of it is because I am terrified of heights.  Yet it wobbled a bit much for me and the rails simply didn't feel sturdy.  I had panic attacks every time someone leaned back or if we had more than two guests over wanting to sit on the deck.
It is coming together beautifully. The dreary blue has been replaced by the warm earthiness of fresh wood.

Being out in the cool, damp morning looking at the work progressing definitely got me motivated.  That and the fact that my car is "trapped" in the garage - I can't get it out, but Hubs assures me if I need it he can.

Maybe what I need is to be trapped.

The front beds have been weeded.  More of that dreaded English ivy has been pulled up, I truly hate the invasive nature of it.  Killing my trees and climbing up the siding.  Uggh...

I pruned all the trees that I could reach from the ground.  I am not that short so they were not all shrubs.  Although I will need a ladder to finish the rest.  Maybe when the deck is done.

Before I headed out I even managed to transplant most of my indoor plants including the one that I almost killed at work by over-watering it in a moment of not being able to focus due to stress. Hubs has put that one down in the man cave to try and bring it back to life.  The window there is perfect, not too direct of light, perfect to nurture and nurse the plants.

I've been in an odd place for a bit.  One of the reason's I haven't been writing.  I wasn't somewhere that I felt I could write.  Not so much a mental block as an exhaustion block.  The stress of the past few months has been unreal.

It's kind of lead me to feel frozen in place. 

It started thawing when I was in Arkansas to help Mom.  It's the longest I have even been away from Hubs, which was a bit stressful, I missed him.  But it also reset my brain processes and my thoughts.

I took a lot of projects with me, things to keep me busy while she recovered, although I wasn't clear on what would motivate me. I actually found several that completely engaged me.  I move around in what I work on, I have far to many favorites to stick to one. I've been a bit obsessed with yarn work for a good long while, I'm moving back into needlework and smelling all the saw dust has me looking longingly at my saws.  I am also getting ready to tackle learning to make jewelry with my stones that bring me comfort.  Yep... easily distracted.

While I was visiting Mom I helped her get her deck plants planted.  I think that is where the bug started.  Day's later I found a quote about working in soil and how good it is for the soul and the body.  I love to have my fingers in dirt. One of the only things I miss about my old house, is that I no longer have a garden.  It hurts my soul to not be digging in the soul, weeding around the nourishing plants that are waiting to be harvested. Here our deck gets to much sun, container garden's bake.  I could try the lower deck, but then I am simply planting to feed the squirrels, raccoons, opossum and the deer.  That would wear me out.  I love fresh veggies that I have grown.

There are so many things still swirling for me.  I feel like the energy shift is moving towards better.  Life at work is balancing.  I am building an awesome staff team.  At home I am starting to have a burning desire to work on my home, finish projects.  Create our nest.

I actually love cooking again.  It feels like life is starting to become real again.

Was it the dirt under my nails?  The needles sliding slowly through the fabric?  Or maybe it was simply slowing down and putting things into perspective for myself again.  I don't know.  But for the first time in far too long, I feel like me.

I want to celebrate this life of mine that I love.  I want to take care of my home, my Hubs, my everything.  Maybe it was losing Snug?  And dealing through that hurt.  It has dampened my fear of losing the boys.  I know it will hurt, but I also know they are loved, and know that they know they are loved.

I feel a thawing.  I feel walls coming down and joy returning.

The other day I was blessed to participate in an energy class, learning techniques to center myself, to balance and increase my energy flow.  I will definitely be connecting deeper into what I learned.

It's time to get back to creating (I had written work, but it isn't work, it's joy).  To balance out the chaos with the joy and the accomplishments that are waiting.

It's time to dig into more....


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and ...