I never know what might wake me before the alarm clock.
Sometimes it’s a wayward text from Verizon or Joann fabrics. The sound is off, but the vibration from the nightstand is enough to stop the dream waves.
Perhaps it’s my husband. A shift, a shake, a sharp intake of his diaphragm and then me waiting for him to breathe again. Counting the seconds between respirations like I used to with my babies when I was sure they’d die in their cribs. Me hovering and moving my ear to their chest, listening for signs of life and then finally laughing at my foolishness and forever-present anxiety. Their baby bones a contrast to the man who’s occupied my bed with his gentle snores for almost twenty-five years.
Usually, it’s a pet knocking me out of bed. A spoiled German shorthair pointer that puts his feet or man parts on my face when he decides that I’m taking up too much space.
Those are the typical wake-up-too-early nights. A norm, a pattern, a restless comfort.
Then there are the three a.m. moments when words start to swirl in the spaces behind my eyes, and a story is born. Phrases tickle at the synapses and paragraphs crash like a tide until I’m staring at the clock waiting for a reasonable hour to make the happy trip downstairs to my writing desk. The blessing and curse of a light sleeper, and wanna-be writer.
The story that follows has been writing itself for weeks. Taking its time, filling my mind with ideas, mantras, and plans. And I’ve purposefully waited to share it for a reason.
For the two previous years, I have chosen the wrong “word for the year.” I wanted balance and failed twenty-four months in a row. I’m not a procrastinator. I address issues, problems, e-mails, phone calls, and text messages the moment they present.
I don’t want anybody ever to have to wait for me. Without even realizing it, I’ve made others’ lives more difficult and stress-filled, because I’m such a nutcase to be around. Here’s how this is going to play out.
Work: To be all things to everyone, I said yes to almost every appointment. In some instances, that meant seventeen to twenty-hour treks with accumulated e-mail reaching triple digits each day–the Canadian border one day and in the Ozarks the next. I ended 2015 exhausted, with unused vacation days, and still disappointing more people than I helped.
Wait mode for work looks like this:
- Waiting to accept appointments until I’m at home with full view of my calendar
- Waiting and giving myself extra days to answer e-mails
- Asking more questions: Do you need me there or want me there? Can we do this over the phone? Is this account a priority?
- Dropping the anxiety and guilt that accompanies the times I have to say no to an appointment, a project, another teleconference.
Home: Changing habits at home will be more subtle. Taking a breath, sticking a cookie in my mouth, so I don’t pepper my people with questions about homework, assignments, or relationships the moment their shoes hit the kitchen threshold at the end of the day.
Instead, I’ll adopt the W.A.I.T principle–Why Am I Talking? While I’m not typically a conversation hog, I do have the tendency to think ahead when somebody is speaking to me. Always wondering, “How can I fix this? How can I help? Is there travel time involved? Do I need to volunteer? Do they want advice? Do they feel okay about this? Are they hurting? Did I hurt them? OMG! What if I hurt them? Is he hungry? I bet he’s hungry. What should I make for dinner?”
So many words in my head, when I should focus on the amazing person talking to me. I need to pause, wait, ponder. Instead of going into problem-solving mode:
- Have they had time to decompress?
- Am I listening?
- Is what I have to say valuable?
- Is it credible?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it just to hear myself talk?
I practiced while on vacation, and did okay. International travel gets me revved up, and I still snapped at people. But, I was aware and did slightly better on the trip home. Baby steps.
Volunteering: Ask me to help is tattooed across my forehead and the darned ink is red. I need to stop and pause before saying “Sure! I can make a hundred burritos for tomorrow! Shall I bring a cooler of ice and water, too?”
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” ~Brene Brown from Rising Strong
- Do I need to do this, or do I want to do this?
- Am I volunteering because it’s the right thing to do, or because I don’t want to disappoint anyone?
- Am I keeping my boundaries? Will it inconvenience my family?
- Do I have the time and energy to do a good job?
Maybe this will help those of you who are volunteer-happy, too.
Worrying: This is not easy peasy. My mom called me a worrier as a little girl. I’ve learned that the adult version is non-medicated, full-on anxiety. When I feel that knot in my stomach and tightness in my chest, I pledge to pause and make the brain ask better questions.
- Is this problem real or imagined?
- What are the objective facts?
- Are you making up stories in your head again?
- Have you removed the emotion?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen? Do you really think it will?
I almost chose Be Still for my WOTY. You’ve heard about the people in my life who tell me to stop being such a hummingbird. It’s not in my nature, but I seriously considered it. I ruminated for several days until I found this in my Instagram feed – from one of my favorite HGTV celebrities Joanna Gaines. Right below another favorite–Ree Drummond.
But, I’m not gonna wait forever: Where I refuse to dilly-dally:
- Telling my people – I love them, need them, value them, miss them
- Making my dreams come true – writing, publishing, gardening, being self-employed
- Making my home a beautiful and inviting place to live and visit – flowers on the table, bread in the oven
- Cooking and eating good food
- Going on vacations with great friends and family
- Being there when somebody needs me, or knowing when they don’t
- Signing up for a race, going on a hike
- Soaking up the sun or bathing in moonbeams
In true New Year resolution form, it boils down to priorities and mine are decidedly different. If you notice it takes a bit longer for me to respond to comments, answer the phone, respond to a text…you’ll know I’m savoring moments, being mindful, and getting lost in this one precious, wonderful life.
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Summer Day —Mary Oliver
Feel free to follow MamaMick at:
Facebook : Introvert with a side of social
Twitter : Funky thoughts, Royal’s baseball, and College Football
Instagram : For random pictures of weird stuff – encased in artsy filters and hashtags
PS: Starting next week, I’ll be doing something special with my Instagram account. I’d love it if you engaged with me over there!
PSS: Hello new followers! Yes, I’ve noticed you. Please share your comments and personal Words for the Year–I love hearing from you.