May 30th Lesson: It’s Not Too Late for My Little Garden

Garden01

I planted a little garden today. Every summer for the past 10 years I’ve wanted to plant a garden. And I never did it. Digging out the dirt, buying the plants, keeping up with the watering – it just all seemed like so much work. But today I just did it.

The bigger plant is a cabbage. It was suffering in a constricting pot, so I moved it to the ground. Then I went to the local gardening shop and bought some tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, and chives for under $10. I’m happy with my little garden.

I feel like there was so much weight on me in the past and it was a big reason why I never did many little things that should have been no big deal.

Like making a little garden.

My energy was drained each day with daily routines and worries and pleasing people – like my soon-to-be-ex-husband who didn’t appreciate me. My self-inflicted worry and anxiety was a product of the self-doubt and hidden anxiety projected onto me by him.

Why on earth would I want to grow a garden that could possibly not succeed? I was so preoccupied with what could be instead of what is.

I haven’t been able to do much more than get out of bed each day, force myself to blend into society, and help my kids go through the motions of life. What kind of life is that? I don’t have a big urge to do things like skydiving or bungee jumping. I just need to do some little things right now that I’ve always wanted to try.

Today I learned that it’s not too late to start growing the little garden that I always wanted.

And there’s much more to be done…

Stifle Me Not

May 29th Lesson: The Creativity is Coming Back

When I was engaged to be married, I remember being so full of ideas and creative energy. My favorite place to be was the craft store. Pinterest wasn’t even around then, but it didn’t matter because we had MAGAZINES. I clipped out pictures and generated ideas from my own mind for my wedding and my friend’s bridal shower. I found a new love of scrap booking. I made my friend, who was also my roommate all through college, a scrap book as one of her wedding shower gifts. I had an entire room of my house filled with crafty things and scrap booking materials.

After having my daughter, I was going to make a small scrap book dedicated to her. I just found the scrap book and paper, nine years later, in a box that I was cleaning out.

Apparently, my creative energy died somewhere  between getting married and now.

I also used to have another blog, which I started when I was pregnant with my daughter and I kept it going for about four years. I have always loved to write about everything and nothing all at the same time. One day, I just stopped writing. Sometimes I go back and read my old posts and think I was quite funny.

But my motivation for doing anything that took time away from every day routine just sort of went away.

Lately, I want to do stuff. I actually want to write each night after I put my kids to bed. I don’t feel like it’s chore. And tonight I decided that my daughter and I would reuse the empty scrapbook from nine years ago to make a summer scrapbook this year. I got out my big bin of scrap booking supplies and showed her all of the old goodies I had. She loved it. I loved it. It was so much fun. I can’t wait to see how it looks by the end of summer. And there’s other little things that I want to do…

My creativity is slowly returning. After a long hibernation, I can feel new ideas wanting to come out. It’s been so long.

Stifle Me Not

May 28th Lesson: Soaking in the Moments

I’ve been fretting for so long, I don’t know what I’m worried about anymore. I’m unemployed and on the verge of divorce, but I’m still standing and I’m still living each day. I’m getting it done. It’s different than I’m used to, but the sky isn’t falling. I’ve been learning to just take it day by day. People give that advice all the time [insert eye roll], but I never truly thought it was possible. I thought it was just cliche advice that people say when they don’t know what else to say.

I took my kids to visit family this weekend. It was fun and relaxing. I can’t remember the last time I looked back at a holiday weekend and thought it was relaxing. I’m always so busy getting things ready, cleaning things up, and people pleasing that I don’t even have time to soak in the moments. All I know is that I usually prep everything that needs to go in the car (everything from toys to sippy cups to extra clothes and diapers), and then fast forward and I’m exhausted after the kids are in bed with no recollection of how I got there.

The funny thing is, I did all the same stuff today – the prep stuff and the clean up stuff. and everything else in between. And I’m not exhausted. The only difference was that my not-yet-ex-husband wasn’t there. And I just didn’t try so hard, and then I wasn’t resentful toward anyone for not helping me. Normally, I’d prep the bags for the car and my internal dialogue would kick in:

Why do I always have to get everything ready?

What is he doing? 

Why isn’t he helping me? 

Do I really have to tell him exactly what to do? 

But lately, when he’s not around for me to “rely” on, I only have myself and just have to get it done. I’m no longer draining my energy worrying about why no one is helping me. It’s just me! And I’m getting it done!

There are plenty of times when I’ve spoken up and asked for help from him. Sometimes he would automatically help without a word, and sometimes it could turn into a fight. I was often criticized for my tone and told “I can’t read your mind!”

All of this I know. And you know what, I could be harsh toward my husband sometimes, but that harshness didn’t develop overnight. It was a gradual build up frustration and stress and discouragement. And I let even the tiniest of his hurtful words tangle around my already burdensome thoughts to the point of causing myself personal anxiety.

I enjoyed this weekend with my kids. I soaked in the moments (the good and the bad). I was present, and I wasn’t worried about anyone other than me and my kids. I didn’t even realize it until I sat down to write this just now. I’ve been missing out on a lot of moments all because my energy was zapped from worrying about things I’m already doing. The dark cloud that made me doubt myself is lifted.

Today I learned that I’ve been learning to live day by day and soak in the moments.

Stifle Me Not

May 27th Lesson: It’s My Turn

Today is my not-yet-ex-husband’s birthday. We started dating at the end of 2000. Every year since 2001, I have focused all of my efforts on making this day special (and even the entire weekend, since it’s almost always on or near Memorial Day weekend). And since we’ve been married, I typically stress the hell out about what to get him as a gift and have a birthday party for him – make dinner, get a cake, and have his family over to celebrate. Then we would have his sister babysit and go out with friends.

All of my energy focused on him and him only.

Today I did no such thing. I stayed home and pet my dogs and cleaned all day. His mom had him and our children over for his birthday dinner and cake. He brought the kids back in the evening and I almost said “Happy Birthday”. But how awkward is that? Who wants “Happy Birthday” from their not-yet-ex-wife? I’m happy for the day that he was born. If not for that day, we wouldn’t have the smart sassy children that we do today.

This was probably the most relaxing Memorial Day weekend I’ve had in 17 years. It felt weird not to be busy as hell this weekend, but it was freeing at the same time. Learning today that I don’t have to always drain my energy into someone else. It’s my turn after all these years.

Stifle Me Not

May 26th Lesson: Embracing Newness

Yesterday I packed my kids’ bags to go with their father for two days. It’s a bitter sweet moment when they go off with their dad. I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on important moments, and I can’t protect them like the mama bear that I am. On the other hand, I need a breather to stop and have silence and make the thoughts in my head slow down.

They went off with their dad and I embraced the silence. And it made me sad at the same time. But I had a headache, so I embraced it more than usual.

I did a little yard work, showered, and headed to my sister’s house for a nice change of scenery. We got some dinner and then we hung out with some of her friends. They were very nice and welcoming. I got to see my sister in her element and interact with some new and different people. It was a nice distraction from not having my own kids and my state of life-in-transition.

I love home. Home is my comfort zone. But I need to get out and experience new places and people more often. I learned that I need to expand my world a little more. I’ve been wallowing in the comfort of my home and the cycle of my thoughts for long enough. It’s time to embrace some newness.

Stifle Me Not

May 25th Lesson: If I’m Honest with Myself…

I went to pick up my daughter from her last day of school today. I got there a little early in case school let out slightly sooner since it was the last day.

While waiting for my daughter, I was chatting with one of the other moms. Somehow we got on the topic of me being out of work. She asked if I was looking, and I said yes, and she said the restaurant she works at was hiring hostesses.

I was caught off guard. If I had been taking a drink, I would have choked. In my mind, I’ve been making close to six figures for a couple of years now. I had to fight back the reaction to scoff and roll my eyes.

I thanked her and said I considered getting a side job serving until I can get a new job.

The mom looked at me, taking a step back, and says “You served?” Yes, yes I did. I served at a few different restaurants throughout my summers during college. I made good money. It makes your feet bleed, but pays the bills. I got my hands dirty and put up with mean people’s shit quite a bit before earning my degree and making my way into Corporate America.

And then I said something without thinking (which I need to do more often, because when I think too much, it messes me up). I said “Yea, I was thinking about serving for a little bit and take a break from Corporate America. I can’t stand Corporate America right now.”

In that moment, it all occurred to me that I’ve been preventing myself from getting a job.

Not purposely of course. I’ve been applying to quite a few new ones each week and networking when I can. But I believe this is where the law of attraction comes into play (believe in it or  not – I’ve been skeptical myself). You attract what you are.

I do not think I’m ready to just roll into a new gig at ABC Company and make some great strides in the first 6 months to a year. Nope, sounds awful to me. My motivation to please anyone right now (except for myself and my children) is at zero right now.

So today I learned that I may be my own problem in this weekly wild game of job searching. Possibly, no proof yet, but the gut instinct is there. I think I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up so I can move forward with this thing called life.

Stifle Me Not

May 24th Lesson: I have to figure out summer activities ASAP

My daughter’s last day of school is tomorrow. For the first time in, well, ever, I’m not working, my daughter isn’t going to summer camp, and my son is a talking-walking-need-to-wear-him-out machine. I have some activity planning to do or these kids are going to get more than bored, and for the more selfish reason — > I will go insane.

I have been a mom for more than 9 years. I have never really been off of work for more than a week (other than maternity leave) with both kids for an extended period of time.

I know, I know, what kind of mom am I?

Well, I’ve always been of the overworked variety and shared the parenting with my husband. He’s way better at this activity stuff than I am. I’m not used to having to plan anything. Usually, when I’m home, it’s a lazy Saturday morning in front of the TV, maybe some playing in the yard, or a trip to Target or the grocery store. And then it’s Monday morning again and I’m off to the office.

Not this summer. We’re entering Memorial Day weekend on a whole new level.

I’m making a list of things to do with my kiddos. Today I learned that I want this time off to be a blessing, not a curse, and so we’re going to try to make some memories.

Stifle Me Not

 

May 23rd Lesson: Quitting is Not an Option

I got another job rejection today. Via email. That was fun. One minute I’m spending some quality time with my son. The next minute I check the one unread email on my phone and my world crumbles. Again.

Luckily my son went out with his dad today, so I had some alone time to recover.

It goes something like this:

What am I doing wrong? Am I doing something wrong? 

How do I not have a job yet? 

Am I too old? 

Am I overqualified? 

Do I say dumb things? 

How is this happening? What can I do to change it? 

[insert ugly crying face and tears here]

I then get a grip and give myself a pep talk. Every. Damn. Time.

Some days I can take a full day to recover. Some days I take a few hours. Today was about an hour and a half. Then I had to pick up my daughter from school. I can’t pick up my kid at school with a tear-stained face and doom and gloom attitude.

Before I knew it, my son was home from time with his dad and it was dinner time. There was no use in moping around.

Tonight I applied to two more jobs.

I’ve applied to 28 jobs since the beginning of March and have maybe talked to two of the employers. I have not had a face-to-face interview with anyone yet. This is discouraging beyond belief. I went from never having time off and making almost six figures to watching the grass grow each day and making more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches than I have ever thought I would in my lifetime.

One things is for certain that I learned today: quitting is not an option. I have to keep trying for my kids. If it was just me that I was worried about, I may have given up by now. But nope, quitting is not an option.

Stifle Me Not

May 22nd Lesson: It’s Not All About Me

Two nights ago my daughter wanted to talk. Said she felt sad. She’s sad her dad isn’t around every day and night. And I’m sad for her too. Last night, she wanted to talk again. Tears this time. Her dad was around for a couple of hours and then he left. She wished he could stay longer. I’m sad too – for all of us.

Tonight she wanted to talk again. Full blown tears. She’s worried about when we move, she won’t have any friends, she misses her dad, she doesn’t want me to get remarried (even though I’m not dating anyone openly or secretly), and she thinks that I’ll spend more time worrying about her brother than her.

This is harder on her little brain than I realized. Her brain is on overload.

I reassured her that her dad and I will handle the adult stuff and she doesn’t have to worry. I asked her to trust us and we’ll keep her involved and make the best decisions for her and her brother. I could see the weight lifting off of her little shoulders and the anxiety softening from her big blue watery eyes.

This is hard. If I thought there was a chance in hell that he would be a better partner for me, I’d let him back in the door so that this burden wasn’t part of my kids’ lives. All I know for sure is that I don’t hate my parents for getting divorced. I love them the same. And I’m grateful for the new wonderful people that they each ended up marrying. I know my daughter can’t see that now, but she will. I know she will be okay.

She asked me if I cry when she goes to bed. Oh, if she only knew. I just said that I did sometimes. She’s only nine, but she has such an old soul.

My little girl – I want to shield her from everything, but if I do, then she won’t learn from it. She won’t grow from it. I know she has to learn to deal with change and feelings – the good ones and the bad ones. I will help her through it the best I know how.

Today I learned that this new normal is harder on my children than I realized, and it makes me so very sad that it’s not all about me. It would be so much easier if it was.

Stifle Me Not

May 21st Lesson: Cleaning the Mess for Myself

I’ve been letting someone else (not) lead my life for entirely too long. If I don’t do it, who in the hell is going to do it?

Yep. It has become more an more apparent that I thought my not-yet-ex-husband was supposed to do this, that, or the other thing. In the meantime, I could have very well taken the lead, and didn’t. And now here I am, cleaning up what I should have picked up long ago. Learning to do things I should’ve learned long ago.

Today I cleaned out the garage. Do you know how many times I’ve cleaned out the garage in the 10 years that I’ve lived here?

Never. Nope. Not once.

That wasn’t one of my jobs. I just parked in the garage and got annoyed if I didn’t have enough room in the garage. I expected my husband to do it because it was a dirty man job. I worked, and I had my home wife jobs that I did, so why in the hell would I ever clean the garage?

My son was playing in the driveway and I got fed up staring at all the mess and dead leaves in the garage. I  got a lawn bag for leaves, a trash bag for trash, some boxes to categorize things, and got to work. I hung up yard tools, moved the snowblower to the back of the garage (since its May), put all of the toys on one side, cleared off a shelf for gardening items, consolidated things in boxes, and swept out the musty dirt and leaves.

And now I know what crap is in there and what isn’t. I had no idea about half of the stuff that was in the garage. Now it feels like its my garage and not someone else’s.

I also started cleaning up a corner of the basement that is most definitely the mess of my not-yet-ex-husband. It’s where he has dumped his tools and post-project trash for years. It just sits there and collects dust and dog hair and pisses me off every time I pass by it on my way to do laundry. I’m an organized person by nature, but when I know I have nothing to do with a mess, I am hands off and I will let it grow mold before I own it.

The garage cleaning motivated me. I went in the basement to switch a load of clothes and ended up getting a trash bag and some boxes and just started organizing the giant pile of man mess. It’s not done yet, but it’s enough of a start that I have a clear path to finish. Maybe when I’m done the entire basement will feel like it’s mine and not someone else’s.

Today I learned that I can take charge of a mess (even if its not mine) and make it nice for myself. If I don’t do it, who in the hell is going to do it?

Stifle Me Not