Monday, November 29, 2010

Manic Monday

Manic Monday: a little manic on Monday. free to be Me the rest of the week.

Okay, so I am a little manic on Mondays.

For years, I thought if I was only smarter, more systematic, that if I created enough structure and organization in my life, I could...
  • keep my house clean
  • get all my kid's school projects, forms, applications, etc. in on time
  • pay my bills regularly
  • keep my house filled with groceries
  • have a meal/menu plan
  • save money with coupons
  • stick with an exercise routine
  • register my car
  • call the insurance company
  • live on a budget
then I would be free to...
  • play with my kids
  • sit and have coffee or a glass of wine with my husband
  • write a book
  • get a Master's degree
  • start my own business
  • pick up a hobby
  • run a playshop
  • meet up with friends for lunch
  • host a holiday dinner party
Being a Real Grown-up in Real Life has way too many details for me. Not only are those "have to's" necessary but they are also extraordinarily boring to me. I would wake up every day with this long list of things I hated doing and the list never ended. So, I never was free to move onto the list of dreams. And that =depression for this Jenny.

One day, I decided to start dreaming. In spite of the dozens of books I have on Organizing my Real Life, I had to acknowledge who I really am and THAT woman is not me. I moved on to the part of my life that was LIFE to me. So I went back to school, I met with the other Jenny to work on Unwritten Travels, I started writing a blog. In the mean time, I discovered an exercise that is now one of my favorite things about my life, I tossed a load of laundry in here or there (helped that this was the year my kids and hubby were old enough to wash their own clothes) , the dishes kept getting clean and my children somehow got fed.

Let me tell you, it is fun to be me. So fun, in fact, I lost all sense of structure in my life. I continued to miss due dates on bills, drove around with expired tags for a couple of months, never got the kids signed up for sports in time, forgot to schedule that dental cleaning, and my family ate out all of the time.

That's when being me doesn't feel so fun. It feels like I am trying to do what I want to do while being haunted by the unwritten list of what I need to do. Thus explained my stress, anxiety, and overall crankiness.

Enter Manic Monday. One day. One hour (sometimes as many as 3) dedicated to getting things done. Not because I love making a list or checking things off. Not because having everything in order brings me a deep feeling of contentment. But because I need to be free to live my LIFE.

So, here I am. Looking another Manic Monday in the face. Can I tell you how much I dread this? I have to walk smack into the middle of my stress and anxiety and not walk out of it until at least one of those daunting tasks is complete.

Today I will:
  • schedule the dr. appointment to get Avery's stitches taken out
  • organize child care for my kiddos when I am in training next week
  • schedule my hair appointment
What? Those things don't seem daunting to you? Well, they don't seem so scary to me anymore either. That is the magic of Manic Monday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


freestyle |ˈfrēˌstīl|
denoting a contest or version of a sport in which there are few restrictions on the moves or techniques that competitors employ : freestyle wrestling.

a contest of such a kind, in particular a swimming race in which competitors may use any stroke.

When bathing suit shopping last summer, I narrowed my options down to two: one that looked really cute and one that was very practical for swimming. I, of course, choose the cute one. Because what I really needed was a bathing suit that worked well for sitting on the side of the pool, laying out while reading a good book or visiting with a friend.

I have never been in need of a practical bathing suit because I don't swim. Now, I can swim. Like in order to keep my head above water. But, I don't know how to swim laps. And apparently I have always wanted to because I signed my kids up for swim team so that THEY would have a skill I wish I had.

This summer, I watched my kids succeed and fail as they pushed themselves beyond what they believed they were capable of doing. I was able to visibly observe their self-esteem growing as they overcame their fear of embarrassment and the exhaustion of an hour of practice while also developing a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.

Now we go to the indoor pool on a regular basis, where both of my kids jump in the swim lanes with all the older folks and do their own little exercise routine. I have watched them with great pride and pleasure as well as giving them little tips on how they could improve (keep your legs straight, take bigger breaths, etc.).

I surprised myself last week when I had the desire to jump in the pool and do some laps with my kids. I am a sit in the hot tub kind of girl. I am not a jump in the cold water kind of girl. But I REALLY wanted to swim laps. So, I asked my kids if they would teach me some basic techniques that I could begin practicing. We started with freestyle. That sounds like me, sort of create your style kind of stroke. How could I mess this up? Plus, it looks so easy and relaxing when the kids do it.

I did my streamline like they told me and then began kicking and moving my arms. I was just about to take my first breath when I smashed into the lane beside me. I popped my head up and saw that both of my kids and the life guard on duty were laughing so hard they couldn't breathe. The life guard actually said, "Did you mean to do that?" All of them were hoping that I was trying to be funny, because they wanted to be laughing with me, not at me. So, I laughed along with them...and then continued to bang into the side of the lane three more times. My daughter said, "Mom, you are really good with your legs. How about we try a stroke that only uses legs." I said, "Shouldn't I keep trying this first stroke until I get better?" She said, "Well, it is really your arms that make you look so funny." (Not banging into the side of the lane?)

I was embarrassing my kids more than I was embarrassing myself because I couldn't see what I looked like. So, I told the kids to go play in the big pool while I practiced. Guess what? I didn't get better. The life guard had to stop watching me in order to stop laughing. Even if I was able to get my legs and arms to move the right way and stay in my lane, I still couldn't figure out how to breathe. I was exhausted about 3/4ths of the way to the "finish line."

I have never been the kind of person who is good at something right from the start. There are few things in my life about which anyone has ever said I was "naturally gifted." This meant that whenever I tried something new, instead of feeling better about myself, I often felt worse. I began believing things like, "I'll never be good at anything." and "Other people can do those activities for fun because they don't look like fools while doing them."

The older I get, the happier I am that I have a long history of embarrassing moments in my life. Being used to that feeling, I am able to see all of the reasons why my "freestyle moment" was a good moment instead of slapping an I'll never do that again! label on it.
  • I got in the water with my kids.
  • I was able to offer them an opportunity to be the expert on a subject I knew nothing about. I gained a new respect for their talent and their perseverance.
  • I will check in with myself before tweaking my kid's performance especially when I have never tired to do what I am asking them to do.
  • I showed them that even at 35 years old with a strong self-confidence, I get embarrassed and people laugh at me.
Best of all, I loved it. There was a quietness and a focus under that water that was wonderful. I loved it so much that I am going to try it again. And I hope that every time I try something new, I will bring that much laughter into the world.