Midlife Rebellion (or Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo)

Be warned: If you are young, hip and completely cool, look away. This is an old broad’s lament, with dated references and yesterday’s news, when twittering was something only birds did.

If I’m fortunate, I will be hitting an age that I’ve always thought of as the middle of one’s life. And I may be going off the deep end.

I was raised conservative, Christian and poor. I was raised to be neither seen nor heard, speaking only when spoken to and quieted with a smack across the head. Invisibility was key to surviving my childhood. I carried that skill far into adulthood, testing the waters occasionally outside the mainstream, only to rush back to the camouflage of mediocrity. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become restless and irritable. The status quo makes me nervous – is this it? Even in midlife, I’m a walking cliché.

What is mainstream now, statistically speaking, seems foreign and exotic to me, while other things are starting to repeat themselves. If you live long enough, that seems to happen more frequently. The “Soylent Green” of yesterday is now “The Hunger Games”. The churn is happening faster and faster. Vampires in movies and literature have been through at least three cycles in the last twenty years. Bell bottoms and polyester came back. Apparently bad taste has no decade.

I’ve gotten tired of keeping up and now understand why my grandpa continued to listen to big band music like it was the latest pop sensation. Information, music, trends, culture, politics, books – there’s so much of it and duplication is unavoidable, even if the players are younger. Then one day you read the news and you have no idea who the story is referring to or have never heard of someone just nominated for a Grammy. And it’s okay. I’m part of the “sandwich generation”- raising a young child and helping to take care of aging parents as well. Priorities have changed – I know more about geriatric issues and children’s books and less about American Idol winners.

This brings me around to how I’ve decided to celebrate my midlife urgency. It’s not a “crisis”, which seems like too much of a commitment. I’m exhausted. I really can’t afford to have a crisis. People are counting on me. My bucket list has, in many ways, been emptied. I was always a late bloomer and didn’t settle down until my early thirties, by which time I’d traveled, loved and lost, did my booze and drug experimentation, tried out hobbies and interests. There’s no regrets unresolved, no lost loves that didn’t deserve to be and no desire for death-defying stunts to make me feel alive.

Now this is where being hip, cool and “with it” will make this seem like nothing, no big deal at all. I’m getting a tattoo. Combine my age, my background and my fear of needles and this IS death-defying to me. I find myself trying to justify it to friends who could care less, confessing my plans to people who I know won’t approve, just to get disapproval out of the way. Like any properly trained adult, I did the research, got a recommendation to an artist, weighed the pros and cons and asked myself the hard questions.

It turns out, a lot of middle aged women are getting “inked” (I’m not hip enough to even pull off the terminology). One friend suggested it was a way for women to truly take ownership of themselves in a society that seems intent on telling them what do with their bodies. For me, it is a mark of departure from my first half of life, a mark of departure from where and who I’ve been. It’s a message to myself that moving forward, I am going to be braver and more daring in ways that I’ve only imagined. I won’t be particularly cool or hip, but in my mind, I feel like I did the very first time I got on a plane to go overseas. I was nervous with anticipation, but knew that I was about to embark on a wonderful journey. The journey thus far has been rocky and amazing. I’ve worked through pain, overcome obstacles, and learned to swim on my own. I’m ready for the deep end.

Update: It’s a done deal, folks. See Tattoo Accomplished: The Follow Up. Thanks for all the great comments!

Summer Vacation

I’ve tried to be a good person most of my life. I followed the rules. I used my manners. I brushed regularly.  I felt shame and experienced painful self-consciousness, tried not to speak out of turn, rationalized slights and setbacks, worked constantly to be better, thinner, kinder, and more invisible. I said “yes” when I felt “no”. And I dealt with all the depression that comes from striving so hard to be right and good and never feeling like I was quite good enough (you know – being human and all).

This summer, I took a couple months off from giving a shit about anything. My child is alive and happy. I’m still employed. My husband remains kind and patient with me. Even my garden survived, evolving into a feral jungle of mismatched flowers and surprise vegetables. The other shoe did not drop. The great disaster that I’ve been holding at bay never happened. I’ve decided to give a shit again, but not as much and not necessarily about the same things.

I took a break from writing and read books instead. I took a break from trying to employ proper parenting methods and yelled my head off. I stopped trying to be more attractive, improve my love life, my weight, my hair, my intelligence, my home. I watched dragonflies darting and diving across a Canadian sky. I swam with minnows. I sank my teeth into juicy watermelon. I listened to live music. I walked with my family at dusk and watched my child whiz by on her bike, so exuberant in her newly discovered freedom. I breathed. In and out.

Re-energized and re-focused, I’ve returned with a stronger sense of direction and with some lessons learned. Here is what I learned while my brain went on vacation:

1. If you pull up your Under Armour compression shorts high enough, they work just like Spanx.

2. Put on your sunscreen before you put it on anyone else. Ouch!

3. Don’t try to low block a tall person’s kick in taekwondo unless you like tenderizing your arm.

4. If you are going to weight train until muscle failure at the Y, wait a few before trying to ride your bike home. Thank goodness for helmets.

5. Don’t discuss 50 Shades of Grey with anyone who liked the book (insert retching sound here).

6.  If you make the Mean Green Juice touted in the movie “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”, expect to have kale breath. Ach.

7.  Even when you think no little ears are listening, it’s not a good idea to refer to your cats as “little hairy bastards”.  Your kid will surprise you with their newly acquired vocabulary when you least expect it.

8. No one is indispensable. The world will not fall apart when you stop trying so hard.

9. When you don’t know the answers and you’re stuck, just put your body in motion and your brain in park. You’ll be surprised what emerges out of the fog.

10. If you want to be a writer, write. And there it is.

When Bad is Good

I’ve had to take a time out from my self-absorbed melancholy to focus on a sick child this week. My daughter brought home a virus with a high fever, from that bastion of bacteria and snot, her elementary school. No longer newbies to the high fever (see my March post), 105 has become the new 102 in our household. We’re calmer and once she cleared the strep test, we were able to settle in to wait this out.

There is a silver lining to having my daughter at home during this bout with illness. Yesterday afternoon, she and I sat out in the sun on the deck eating strawberry popsicles and pointing out butterflies to each other (and at least one stink bug). Talking and laughing, we were having one of those magical moments in time that I wish I could freeze forever in my mind. It would be cataloged in my memory along with the mental movie of her as a four-year-old, flying back and forth on our backyard swing set, singing at the top of her lungs – the embodiment of happiness. I knew in that very second that I should not forget this picture, that I should commit it to memory. Someday, when I am on my way out and she is out in the world, I will flip through these savored, kept memories and taste that joy again.

Our moments have been far and few between lately. My daughter is coming into her own as I have been struggling to retain what is my own. She has, in all my efficiency, become something on a “to-do” list to take care of, along with grandma, the cats, my job, my marriage. I’ve been spread pretty thin and have started missing some of the joy that is there, waiting for me to take it in. If only I were forced to stay still and quiet for stroking a fevered forehead. If only I would listen with true, not habitual, compassion and concern. If only I would quickly shuffle through my priorities and come up holding only the truly important ones.

Today we poured through art books, talking about the different painting styles. I’ve never been drawn to visual arts, but I’ve  caught her enthusiasm to learn more and we’ve begun planning a summer of museum-hopping. Even if I wouldn’t wish for illness, it reminds me to make room in our lives for those moments to happen. Unlike the “list”which I go through with grim determination, I come away from these brief interludes energized and hopeful. My daughter is an amazing, resilient person. I can’t imagine how many moments I have missed when I was busy multitasking. What will her memories be of me? I can do better. Life is short and time with your child, even shorter. I’ll still enjoy taking her back to school when she has recovered from this virus. I really enjoy showering without someone yelling dramatically through the door, “Mom, the cat threw up!” But that’s an entirely different kind of moment.

The Patient Gardener

I’ve spent much of the last few weeks working in my garden.  The timing for hard labor and solitary weeding and planting is perfect. I’ve been fending off a depression that has lingered on longer than usual- perhaps the remainder of an impotent winter – little snow and mild temperatures. It feels more like mid-summer rather than spring and I lack a sense of time or purpose.

By happenstance I began to read The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets by Bill Moyers. The book is based on a PBS series of interviews Mr. Moyers did with well-known poets. When I skimmed through his conversation with the poet Jane Kenyon, her words immediately resonated with me. She suffered from depression and spoke of how gardening and being outdoors helped. Aha. This I can understand. She went on to say “When you get to be my age and you’ve lived with depression for a number of years, you begin to have a context for believing that you will feel better at some point.” I have a context for my depression and I know that I come out of it eventually, so advice from well-meaning friends falls flat and serves to isolate me further. I feel like I have to state categorically that they do not need to call a crisis line on my behalf. I’ve lived with it for so long that I no longer view it as a natural enemy, an illness to be cured. On the spectrum of mental disorders in my family, I inherited the sugarless, low fat, decaffeinated, gluten free variety. It’s bland and serves a purpose in my life now.

For me, depression is a signpost to review where I’m at and to acknowledge that I may have gotten off track a bit. It warns me that I need time to take myself out of my life and mull it over. It’s an indicator that I’ve allowed my internal reserves to become depleted. It means I’ve talked too much, helped too much, and said “yes” too often.  It also means that I’ve allowed my unrealistic expectations for myself and others to run rampant throughout my psyche. It’s the indicator to hit the “Pause” button and that’s the challenge. In a world where kids need to be dropped off at school, legal tender must be earned and people and cats must be toted to vet, dentist or doctor appointments, there is no “Pause” button. I become increasingly hostile and maybe a little desperate to step away for a moment or two or three.

And that brings me back to my garden. I get sweaty and covered in dirt, hum manically to myself, occasionally forget and talk out loud to my plants. My knees ache and I can feel the sun searing the back of my neck to medium rare.  A smell of thyme or lilacs drifts by and the robins chirp excitedly as I clear the weeds and expose dirt with easy access to worms. Bumblebees dart and hover over bright purple flowers, butterflies flutter surprisingly close and an occasional dragonfly darts by on its commando mission. A whispered, fleeting thought occurs to me.”This is happiness”. If I say it out loud, will someone tell me that I should make a career of it? If I say it out loud, will someone tell me how they can’t stand getting dirty or the heat or the bugs? If I say it out loud, will I be giving away my not-so-secret hideout, my rehab center, my psychotropic drug? How I wish I could capture those feelings for times when I cannot be digging in the dirt, for those moments when I’ve driving from one errand to the next and feel trapped and frustrated and melancholic. If only to have the “inward eye” of William Wordsworth in the poem, “I wandered lonely as cloud”:

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Only time will evaporate the dark cloud in my head and bring me willingly back into the world. Until then, I must be patient, work the soil and see what grows.

Zen and the Art of Abusing a Prius

I drive a hybrid Prius and unlike many ecologically-conscious people, I am constantly filled with guilt. There is a disappointing lack of self-righteousness that should have accompanied the warranty. A friend described her Prius driving experience as “Zen-like”, saying she enjoyed the quiet gradual accelerating and braking. Replace “gradual” with “on a dime” and “hairpin” and well, that’s my driving technique. Add in “the joy of startling pedestrians who can’t hear your car” and taking off from a stoplight using the “Power” mode button and I’m the world’s worst Prius driver. I like to augment the quiet of the Prius with window rattling music and occasionally rouse myself to make rude gestures at drivers with cell phones glued to their ears. Can you hear me now? Yes, I care about the environment. And yes, I still drive like I’m in my ’72 Monte Carlo, in high school.

Freud divided the human psyche into three parts. There’s the “id” as the instinctual part of the thought process, driven by pleasure, seeking to avoid tension. You know – the fun part. And then there’s the “ego”, the planner, the realistic but wanting to please portion of your psyche. And finally, the “super-ego”, or every disapproving teacher, relative or friend you have ever had. In your head. I’m not sold on Freud, but I like the visualization of absolute chaos that takes place every day in the human brain. Every day Id suggests pizza for breakfast, while Ego sweetly offers pancakes, in the hopes that the shape will placate. Just when Id settles down for a short stack and syrup, Super-ego stomps in and insists that Id have a grapefruit and bran. Id delightfully digs into the pancakes while Super-Ego passive aggressively harrumphs. Poor Ego keeps trying to serve multigrain English muffins in an attempt to keep everyone happy. And that’s your brain at breakfast. Now take it for a drive and see which one takes the wheel.

I’m getting old enough now to see that my inconsistencies, my dichotomous beliefs, my irrational and completely contradictory behaviors are exactly what make me human. I grew up in an “all or nothing” environment which made it much harder for me to accept that I wasn’t a complete and utter failure because I held so many opposing beliefs. I believe in the pursuit of peace on earth, but spent four years running around with an M16 in a Kevlar helmet (I was in the Army, not just randomly doing this). I believe in the idea of community, but find myself avoiding groups of more than three people. I think you should know your neighbors, but only between the hours of say 5 and 6pm and then I’d like them to mind their own business. I totally embrace making ecologically sound choices, but lord, those cloth diapers were a nightmare and sometimes I want a friggin’ grape out of season.

It takes a long time to appreciate and embrace the absurdities in one’s own head. There are a lot of things I don’t like about myself. I wish I were more consistent and logical. It’s a struggle to come to terms with shades of gray and to accept that you are not going to get things right every time. And it really, truly is okay. Sometimes Id likes to drive even though Ego bought the car and Super-Ego is white-knuckling the door handle while shrieking. I probably should pull over until all the arguing stops.

Where Fools Rush In…

Today, on April Fool’s Day, I celebrate my 12th year of being married. No joke. I could not have imagined this life for myself – one of comfort and challenge and complexity. Up until my early thirties, marriage was nowhere in my imagination. I’d seen few successful partnerships in my family and many of the friends who sucked my finances dry by getting married in their early twenties, were on their second marriages. Marriage seemed like an expensive series of registries and rituals that involved ugly dresses. While I understood the “to do” list that got you into a marriage, I had no understanding of the purpose or intent once you arrived at your destination.

It turns out, for me, it’s much more powerful and understated than anything I could imagine. I am a better person with him than I was on my own. We’re not halves of a whole or codependent or anything that makes us less of an individual, but we complement each other and ever so gently push each other towards our better selves. We bicker on occasion about how to get things done – our unfinished kitchen has been an ongoing “discussion” for about five years. He is all about process and I am about results. We can work ourselves up into a heated argument about the best way to even talk about a project. He has to say “Let me finish my sentence” all too often and I have to hold back my impatient “well, get on with it then”.

There are days when I feel overwhelmed and he will walk in the door and I immediately feel like everything is okay. As I’ve grown more thoughtful about marriage, I’ve gotten better at saying that out loud. I’m much more pragmatic and less romantically-inclined these days, and so much that passes for romance sounds false and scripted. But when I can naturally and reflexively tell him that he just made my day better, I start to feel like I get it. Our attention spans are a little shorter these days. It’s easy to go to the next new shiny thing or person. Sometimes you have to stick around and dig in and get to the good stuff. I’ve gotten to a lot of the good stuff – seeing what a great father my husband is, growing and learning and being together as a family.

In order to marry in my husband’s faith, we had to meet with the Pastor for a counseling session. She told us a joke about a wife who complains to her husband “You never tell me you love me.” He says “I told you 50 years ago that I loved you and nothing’s changed.” I laughed, but am so grateful that everything does change. My proclamation of love from 12 years ago does not resemble the love I feel these days. It has become richer with shared memories and simple daily kindnesses. And I celebrate that with gratitude.

Sitting Vigil

It’s 11pm and I’m sitting vigil over a sick child. Sitting with me is my friend Primal Fear and my other pal, Unfettered Access to Googled Medical Information.  As a rule, our child is fortunately healthy. Which makes us freak out just a little bit when she gets sick. It is a reminder of the fallibility of the human body and it reminds us of our powerlessness as parents.

On NPR, I heard an interview with Pamela Druckerman about her book Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. Once again, my defensive parenting hackles are raised because it sounds like just another Why American Parents Suck Treatise. To be fair, I’ve not yet read the book. I’ll be sure to add it to my list of Books I’ll Read About Parenting When I’m Not Too Busy Parenting. Of course, that’s one of the author’s points – that we spend too much time being parents instead of balanced people like, apparently, the French. When your kid is running a 104° F fever though, all leisurely parenting advice goes out the window and we become as feral and protective of our young as any other living creature.

I had a child well into my thirties. My fears and anxieties were already well-developed, cultivated and accepted. Then I had a baby and my familiar catalog of neuroses promptly went out of print, only to be replaced by a revised and updated Wow, Now I Might Screw Up Somebody Else’s Life catalog of fears. When it comes to a child’s health, it becomes less about whether or not they’ve been signed up for too many lessons and more about, are they breathing? It’s a quick distillation of parental responsibilities and biological anxieties. I can’t even allow myself to go to the “what if” place in the middle of illness, because the possibilities seem endless and overwhelming. I’m forced to be present and focused on the problem at hand.

At about 2am, she sits up in bed and begins expressing deep concerns about getting some eggs in her Angry Birds game. I tell her she’s dreaming but she says defiantly that it’s real. I ask her, in my sleep deprived state, if the fever has boiled her brain. Not a proud parenting moment, but at the time, it seemed funny. She lays back down in defeat and falls asleep. I check every half hour. Is she breathing? How high is the fever now? It’s one of the few times I toss off all my intellectual beliefs and pray to a master puppeteer, in the hopes that the random nature of bacteria is actually under someone’s control. I know rationally that I should be praying to the bottle of antibiotics and to my daughter, whose body is fighting off this infection. But I’m no longer rational. I’m missing some serious sleep, which is apparently important, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – although I don’t trust any pyramid that doesn’t include caffeine and chocolate.

By 6am, she’s slept peacefully for 4 hours. I wake up from my uneven slumber and look in on her. She’s rosy cheeked, long lashes closed, mouth open in a quiet snore. I slump against the doorway in relief. The night shift is over.

Practicing Kindness

It’s an angry world out there and my own temperament is not helping. I can launch into a rant quick as a flash regarding politics, why there doesn’t need to be a television everywhere I go, why my child needs to practice piano and why stores don’t sell age-appropriate clothing. I read an article this morning that included comments by Rush Limbaugh regarding congressional testimony by a woman from Georgetown. I was, as always, immediately incensed and thought of not very flattering names I’d like to hurl at Mr. Limbaugh.  I don’t really know his parentage or whether he just has low metabolism, so it would reflect my own ignorance and I’m guessing, not bother him a whit.

If you spend any time reading the online comments under news stories, it seems the world is an angry, misanthropic place full of really scary people bubbling with rage. It’s a skewed view, so I must take a break from reading news, and talk to friends and family to remind myself not everyone is a sociopath. Not everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame at the expense of human dignity and kindness.

Raising a child brings on a level of consciousness that is hard to live with at times. After telling my child that you sometimes have to ignore other people’s rude behavior, an hour later I’m spewing a string of curse words in the car because the driver ahead didn’t use his or her turn signal. Thanks to parenting, I’m aware of how unhelpful it is as I am doing it. I’m assuming awareness is the first step to learning not to rage at every little thing, or it’s just an exercise in self-flagellation.

These days, I’m trying to talk myself out of full rants. Maybe the driver was distracted because they were worried about losing their job, had a fight with a spouse, or were up all night with a sick child. Maybe the person talking loudly on their cell phone about their colonoscopy suffers from hearing loss. Maybe, just maybe, dishes will still get clean if they’re stacked haphazardly in the dishwasher. Maybe my child really can’t hear me when I ask for the 500th time for toys to be picked up. Reflexive thoughts are like muscle memory, if you practice changing your habitual thoughts, you develop a new habit. I know I am not necessarily motivated by the betterment of the world in my daily life. I am, however, motivated by not wanting to feel like an out-of-control festering ball of rage. That simmering anger has to be fed, either by habit or intent. And I’m the one responsible for that.

The American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, writes “Making friends with yourself is making friends with other people too, because when you come to have this kind of honesty, gentleness and goodheartedness, combined with clarity about yourself, there’s no obstacle to feeling loving kindness for others as well.” This is the beauty of practicing kindness towards others – it makes you better at being kind to yourself. Frankly, I don’t care which process comes first. Sometimes it is simply easier to start with others rather than yourself. I realize that this defies the “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others” instruction. Like any other practice, mental or physical, you have to lower your expectations for some down days. If a down day means you focus on being kinder to others, that’s a win, my friend.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Optician

I picked up my new pair of glasses today. The fitting is where I find out that the friendly team at the optician’s office has convinced me that I look fabulous….wearing what now appear to be Groucho Marx glasses. I can see that my white fortysomething friends are all wearing the same style. They must have a special collection for middle-aged white ladies called Delusional. We’re old, we’re pale, we’re overweight, but glasses that give us a Frida Kahlo unibrow might just help.

I’ve worn glasses since the 1st grade and they’re critical to my existence. I suffered through tortoise shell framed circles of submarine glass, 1980’s plate glass that covered half my face, wire frames, plastic frames, blue, red and green frames, not to mention flip down and clip on sunglasses (almost too cool to mention). When I select frames, it’s a crap shoot. I see a big, blurry face with the vague outline of glasses. I  have to rely on the optician and wandering office staff to tell me what looks good. This year, looking like a 1950’s accountant is apparently hip.

The idea that the things we wear and own are an expression of self always strikes me as being very strange. The comedian, Jim Gaffigan, talks about glasses in his standup routine. When the optician asks him what he wants his glasses to say about him, he says “How bout I got a big one?” It’s an amazing marketing ploy, convincing us that our choices can completely relay to others our sense of style and self and um…virility. If true, my glasses and clothes speak the truth: I can’t really tell what’s attractive on me and I don’t care enough to try beyond an initial effort. Sales people and hair cutters and opticians designed my look. And they weren’t working as a team.

What I find attractive and appealing has changed so much over the years. I don’t know if it’s the magic of rationalization or the wisdom of age. My standards of beauty now sound like standards for the Westminster dog show – bright eyes, a lustrous coat, good teeth, a bounce in the step. It’s not sexy, flash-in-the-pan beauty – it’s thoughtful, longlasting beauty. It’s the kind of beauty that radiates from being engaged, from laughing a lot, from introspection and being comfortable with choices made. Eyebrow pluckers and chronic dieters everywhere might suggest that I’ve given up. There’s a ring of truth to that. It’s exhausting trying to meet someone else’s definition of beauty. Even when they pick out your glasses, style your hair and choose your clothes.

The Road to Hell

Mondays used to be a good day to start a new plan. I’d be more organized. I’d be kinder to my child. I’d pack wonderful lunches for my family. I’d buzz through my emails and work tasks. I’d get in a 3 mile run and some weight training right off the bat.

By Tuesday, I’m slumped at my desk, stuffing my face with blue chips and spicy cheese and watching Daily Show reruns. I’m screening my calls, piling dishes in the kitchen and trying desperately to find some real sense of purpose, besides doing the things I “should” be doing.

I’m nothing if not a firm believer in every day being a beginning. I used to fall off the perfectionist wagon and stay off for weeks on end. Now, like eating healthy and exercising, I only let myself go a day or two before I drag my sorry ass back into the life I think I should be living. This is a hard road to travel, this constant battle between good intentions and my baser instincts of sloth and neglectfulness.

I know women, women I admire greatly, for whom this battle seems nonexistent. Their baser instincts involve home cooking and a bustling career and genuine kindness and warmth. I also have friends who seem to have lost the battle and have come to terms with their own limitations – also admirable, as long as you don’t want to sit anywhere when you visit them or meet at a specific time.

By Wednesday, I begin to rally the troops again. I write out the “to do” list, knock out the big tasks that will get me noticed if they’re not done. I do a halfhearted workout at the Y, easily distracted by the grunting weight lifter next to me. I’m afraid he’s going to go into cardiac arrest and I’ll have to remember lifesaving skills from Girl Scouts. I leave the weight room and my workout behind. On Thursday, I rinse and repeat.

I don’t thank any deities when it’s Friday. The highlight of the day is meeting with my trainer and I always get a boost of positivity from our conversation/exercise hour. When I return home, I must reconcile my week. I bend it and rationalize it until it just looks like a much needed slow down. I write my list for the next week. I plan a hard workout over the weekend. I chastise myself for all the things I didn’t do. And by Monday, I have a new plan.

This has been my mode of operation for the last 20 years, a weird ebb and flow of high productivity and complete and utter disinterest in being busy.  Maybe it’s reaching middle age that has caused this cycle to become unbearable. It’s demoralizing and exhausting – these quickly abandoned goals and shifting finish lines. I have decided to make some changes that will limit the “shoulds” in my life so that I can choose how I spend my time and energy. Oh yeah – mama’s got a brand new plan.

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