Getting Started

Who am I? This seems like a simple enough question but it has really gotten me thinking. Deep, introspective, peel off the layers kind of thinking. Why do I do the things I do? Do I have internal markers that are pushing me a certain direction? Why do I care?

All these darn questions started a few years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely lady who later became a dear friend. When you first meet her she seems so sweet in a very nonthreatening kind of way. She is just a really nice lady who is surprisingly easy to talk to. Talking led to a far deeper friendship than I ever would have guessed but this was a new kind of friendship for me. The friend I am talking about is a Life Coach and she has the most amazing way of getting under your skin (in a very pleasant way). You can visit her web page at Soulfulgirls.com .  She is very inquisitive and intuitive. As she innocently chats with you you find yourself sharing things that maybe you’ve never really shared with anyone else before. She calls it peeling the layers of the onion back and that is a pretty good description of our heart to heart chats.

Jackie and Kathleen

It has been through this friendship and many hours of conversation that I started to really look at myself and question what kind of person am I, what is important to me and where does that come from, am I holding myself back from my true potential in some way and if so why? The more conversations we had the more I started to really feel connected to myself. I started to see things differently and as this process happened I realized I saw a lot that I really liked but I also saw stuff that I didn’t like. Once this process started it was like a slow, spring rain, it just kept coming and like the rain that washes off the layers of dust I started to make all kinds of connections. Like a veil being lifted from my eyes I could suddenly see things that made me pause. Some things I was pleased with and wanted to do more of, others I recognized as unproductive and I definitely did not want to choose that again.

Realizing this led me to start my blog, as a way to sort out my feelings and self-discoveries along the way. Things started to connect and come together like a giant jigsaw puzzle frame when it is first completed. “Oh ya, I get it now.” The more layers I discovered the more curious I became, what else was in there for me to examine?

The first real “Ah ha” moment occurred when I shared with her my struggle to make time for myself. At the time I was a stay at home mom to three kids who was trying to get to the gym several mornings a week for a decent workout. What became apparent in our chat was my pattern of behavior went something like this: I would get up and get everyone going for the day, start laundry, take care of the dog, check the backpacks, do the dishes, make the beds etc etc. Then I would sit down and write out a three page to do list for the day that was impossible for one wonder woman to complete in a month much less one day. Then I would pack up my gym bag, head to the gym and workout but the entire time I was there I was thinking about all the stuff waiting for me do to at home so I was less than present in the moment at the gym. Once leaving the gym I would clean up again and rush home now in a near panic at all the important “stuff” that had to be done. Time was never on my side, the race against the clock would push me to tackle several tasks at once and I would rush from room to room trying to get it clean, organized and in control before the kids came home and the real race began. Hours would rush by like minutes and no matter how fast I went or how much I multi-tasked I could never get it all done. Near exhaustion I might sit down for a few minutes and the air would rush out of me like a balloon making my arms and legs feel like cement blocks. If given half a chance I would pass out on the couch only to feel guilty and miserable when I woke up and realized I had failed again and managed to waste precious time. After school the kids and I would rush from homework to chores and then on to after school activities. This was followed by a scramble to fix diner and get the dishes done so everyone could get sent off to bed. By 9 at night I was frustrated, stretched beyond my limited abilities and exhausted.

In our conversations I started to see that if I went to the gym I would “punish myself” by adding even more items to do at home. This would make me feel even guiltier for the time I spent at the gym and make me even more exhausted. Over the years my husband has tried to talk sense into me. He’d tell me that my problem was that I did not know how to be selfish. “Just make time for you and the rest of it will somehow get done” he’d say. My response-“ya right!”

My friend innocently asked me one day “what would happen if you did not get the stuff done on your list?’

“Well, gosh, nothing would really happen” was my response.

“No, really what would happen?” She gently pushed.

“Well, someone might come over and see that I did not have control of things” I lamely answered.

“What happens then?” she pushed.

“Well…… nothing!”

“No, what would happen?” she insisted?

Out of frustration I let it out… “someone might think I was a bad mom.”

“Ah ha! Now we are getting somewhere” she said.

Horrified at the lame answer I had blurted out I tried to retract it. She lovingly told me to look at this. Where was this coming from? Why did I think I had to somehow be in control, the perfect mom? What would happen if I weren’t perfect at this mothering thing?

My answer kind of scared me. “I would ruin my kids. Horrible things would happen to them.”

Well nothing like a little pressure here! Wow. Where in the hell did that come from? Did I really think this? My actions would support this. I was running around like a hamster on a wheel trying desperately to have a nice, organized, clean, loving, decorated, heavenly scent filled home so that I could have happy, well adjusted, loving intelligent, children of good character. If I let go of this for even a morning and let myself go to the gym the pressure would start to build and I would spend the next day or two trying to catch up. I did not like what I saw when I finally looked in the mirror at my peeled back onion.

This was how it started. Once I saw what was really going on I realized I should slow down and take a look at some things. Yes, I wanted to be a good mom, I wanted what was best for my kids, but it was irrational to think that I would ruin my kids if I let myself do something that was obviously good for me like go to the gym and take care of my health. This revelation was overwhelming. I started to see this pattern as it had replayed over and over in my life.

In my mind, subconsciously, if I was doing something that directly benefited my family like work, earn money, take care of the kids, care for the home etc. my time was well spent. My energy was well spent. I was doing what I was supposed to do. If I dared to do something that only benefited me whether it be spent money on me, nurtured a friendship just for me, did something just for fun for me than somehow it wasn’t really OK. Somehow I wasn’t worth it. Again, I did not like the view in the mirror. How had I taken something that was good like a desire to do well for my family and get it so darn twisted up?

Now what? Now that I could see things clearer I was presented with another problem. What do I do about this? My friend suggested I simply rewrite the script that I had been following in my mind. She shared with me that it would be much easier to choose something new now that I could see more clearly what I was doing. She was right but somehow I needed to go deeper.
Why was I following this particular script? Where had I gotten the idea that this is what I had to do as a mother?

While I waged war against this inner struggle something was growing inside of me. It was a need to nurture myself. I had a need to grow and learn and discover.

One day I sat down on a whim and wrote a bucket list of things I would love to do in my lifetime. At first it was really hard to come up with items. I had kind of lost myself over the years and did not even know what I wanted! That realization upset me too. This was ridiculous, I tried harder and suddenly the gates of the dam opened up and the ideas started to flow. I had so many ideas my list ended up several pages long. I got excited and yet this too stirred up emotions I did not recognize at first.

My first thoughts when I looked at my list were oh no, I have not done anything! How did I get to be 45 and not live life! Recognition hit me in the face; here I was beating myself up again. I hit the stop button and got out my pen and paper and went at my list again. This time I wrote down all the stuff I had already done in my 45 years that if I had written a bucket list when I was born I would have put on it.

Before I knew it I had another list several pages long. I had actually accomplished a lot in my 45 years. Many of my biggest dreams had come true. I was happily married to my very best friend. We had a healthy relationship I was really proud of. I had been blessed with three terrific kids; my list went on and on.

Sitting back in my chair I realized when I let myself dream, I had lots of dreams. When I focused on only where I wanted to get, I quickly got overwhelmed and was hard on myself. When I let myself reflect on my life choices, I had successfully made many dreams come true and when I focused on what I had already accomplished I felt really good about myself. It dawned on me that I needed to do much more of this. This exercise was good for me and my soul needed this kind of nurturing.

This is what prompted me to write this blog. I needed to make changes and by connecting my past to my present I could allow myself to dream. I could allow myself to grow and develop. I could spread my wings and fly and I would still be a good mom!

I hope this blog helps you to look at your own life and determine if you are going the direction you want.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list”.

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