Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mind Shift (Conclusion)

If you dwell in the mud, you will get muddy.

When I get stuck in a yucky situation, sometimes it's very hard for me to make myself get out of the mud.  When something happens that isn't fair or right, I tend to take it very personally even if it wasn't directly aimed at me.  It all goes back to another one of my modes of operation--I want people to try to treat me the way I'm going to try treat them.

I'm going to try to be nice.  I'm going to try to be respectful when I disagree.  I'm going to try to take your situation and make sense of it.  I'm going to try to be transparent.  I'm going to try to be authentic and real with you, and that often includes a little sarcasm.  I'm going to try to meet you halfway.

And then I'm going to need some time away from you because introverts need to reunite alone with themselves every single day.  

So when I feel like the other person has not given the same effort, I find myself extremely frustrated because I want the people of the world to at least try to be nice, and authentic, and real.  But, I'm having to learn my ideals and expectations are not always the same for everyone else.

We usually have three options when faced with something:  1. Allow the person or situation to frustrate us and remain covered in the mud and feel gross over and over again.  2. Sit in the puddle, but choose to not let it bother us.  3. Get out of the puddle.

Sometimes we are put in puddles that we didn't choose, and that is not fun, healthy, or fair.  Sometimes these puddles are not created by humans--like health issues, life, and aging parents.  But most of the time our puddles are results of choices we've made, or choices made for us by others.  When we return to the mud again and again we are giving ourselves (and others) permission to put us in the puddle.  At that point we need to decide if the mud is going to bother us or not.

I've spent a good portion of this year in the mud.  People deeply hurt my feelings.  Situations stressed me out and made feel helpless.  I put up walls and defense mechanisms.  I chose to be angry about my half-empty glass.  I wanted to wreck some people for being so ridiculous.  I allowed myself to be overwhelmed when life turned hectic.    

But that's not who I want to be, so it's time to stop worrying about the mud and do my best to get out of the puddle.  I approached this school year (because for teachers, we mentally start a new year in August instead of January) with the decision that I was going to be better.  Not perfect, just better.  I was going to choose to do the best I could each day, be prepared, and just roll with what came my way.  I was going to stop assuming the worst about people and situations and remind myself that we are all just sitting in the mud together sometimes.

It's not rocket science and I'm sure most people do this already, but this mind shift has done wonders for my broken heart and stressed out mind.  Choosing to approach the school year with excitement instead of dread.  Cheering on others in their success rather than allowing it to negate my importance and skills.  Voicing my concerns and troubles to a few trusted people instead of stuffing them in and allowing them to fester.  Appreciating those little moments of awesome throughout the day and giving them the attention they deserve.  Sitting in certain puddles and smiling through the yuck.  Allowing myself to avoid certain puddles and choosing to get up and leave other ones when I had done all I was able to do in situations.  Clearly this is not a perfect process, and I still have my moments (like last weekend) when I'm bathing in the mud and not handling it well.    

But if I want to be better, then I need to be better.   

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mind Shift (Part II)

Later on in the afternoon, I told my husband I had been feeling angry about having to cart my daughter around everywhere.  I admit that part of it was my fault because I could have taken care of the physical earlier, but she needed to shoulder some of the responsibility for other things.  And it didn't help that earlier in the week I had asked the girls to do several things, had to make several reminders, and a lot of double-checking during the hustle and bustle.  It just all came together on Saturday afternoon and it was not good.

I don't want to be the kind of person who gets her undies in a bunch when things don't go as planned. I don't want to be angry with my kids when things get crazy on a Saturday.  I want to be able to roll with life when it comes.  It's funny because these things are why I actually plan and try to get ahead each day so there is space and margin for extra and fun thrown in the mix.  

I just also really like having my space and margin and I really don't want to share it. 

And I want to be able to admit out loud that I have feelings, too.  Unfortunately, it also makes feels like I'm a bad person.  Often those rational and crazy thoughts in our heads feel right until you have to say them out loud.  

I want to shoulder a lot of the responsibility in my house--not because I actually want to do all of the things required to make life happen, but because I try to make things better for my people.  Planning removes a lot of the last-second panic, and most people do not function well under panic.  I view planning as a gift of peace and order for those I love.  This is one of my major modes of operation in most of my relationships, jobs, and things I value.  

The problem with this arises when I feel like I have to carry more of the load and people start piling other things on and it becomes too much.  Sometimes this is a result of me taking on too much responsibility, and sometimes it's not.  But when I start feeling like I'm overwhelmed, disrespected, and under appreciated I need to stop, step back, and assess the situation rather than blowing up, shutting down, and destroying all of my exercise efforts with a carb extravaganza.    

I'm sure that there is a real term for this, and you psychology people feel free to help a sister out, but I think most people have major modes of operation that go beyond a simple personality test or type.  For example, a friend of mine has a quick temper, but a deeply-rooted sense of justice.  The majority of her explosions result from feeling like she (or someone in her life) has been mistreated and she is coming to the rescue. It may not always feel like it's the best way to react, but it does come from a good and true place inside of her.  

Being able to recognize peoples' modes of operation has given me insight and has contributed to a mind shift that has helped me give more grace when dealing with difficult people and crazy situations and life.  These modes are often good and important things like protection, justice, rescue, and assistance because I also find that most people want to be good.  One of the reasons gangs are so successful is because they fill in the gaps of peoples' modes.  Children at school often make crazy behavior choices because someone has threatened their modes of operation.  This is a big reason why children often crave order and routine because it often translates as protection and rescue.  

Think about your life and the things that make you feel out of control and crazy.  
Is there a persistent theme or connection?  

to be continued. . . 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mind Shift (Part I).

I decided that after a long summer (and honestly, a hard school year last year) that I was going to hit this school year with an open mind and heart and I was going to stop dwelling on the past and embrace the present.  I have experienced a series of unfortunate events in my both personal and professional lives in the past year, and it was enough to make me slightly jaded and feel the need to return to my friendly antidepressant and a multivitamin last spring.

I spent a good deal of my summer focusing on self-care and trying to find my personal center again.  I began eliminating caffeine after my morning cups of coffee (because, let's be real, the world isn't ready for Mama A to give that up).  I started drinking more and more water.  I made time to exercise and started a new running plan.  I read for fun and I read for professional and creative reasons.   I watched good and interesting shows and documentaries.  I made some progress on the #sweetcampkitchen and also painted my dining room.  I dug into a Bible study and made the time to pray and journal each day.  Chris and I got away for a few days to the most magical place on earth.  I bought an alarm clock and a tiny bedside fan and visited the library for books to avoid screens before bedtime because sleep is precious.  And my sweet husband brought home a pair of Birkenstocks for me because happy, supported feet are necessary for a teacher.

I knew going into this school year we were going to be maxed out on our time with youth group and rehearsals and dance and homework and exercise and the regular household maintenance routines so we don't end up living and looking like a bunch of savages.  We also made the commitment to try to work on our grocery budget--so more eating at home which means more prep, cooking, and cleaning.  I have planned and coordinated and prepped the busy lives of our family of five.  However, I have spent a lot of time reminding and teaching the new schedule to my girls.  They are learning that a busy tomorrow must be prepared for today because this mama does not handle last minute emergencies well.

I had a great start to the school year.  I was encouraged by many people and things, and I had engaging first week lessons.  I'm always happy to see my colleagues and I function best with a routine.  I go go go at work and maximize each minute of the day.  I hit my exercise targets last week and worked through some sore legs.  My girls got to dance each day with the help of my husband.  We followed our meal plan for the week and were making it through each day.  But, I was very much looking forward to a long weekend.  This mama was exhausted by 8:30 each night and ready to catch up on some sleep and get ahead for the coming week.

I was feeling pretty good about the state of affairs until late Friday night.  We had gotten home late and my eldest daughter indicated she only had 6 days of contacts left.  This meant that she would not have enough to make it through the school week and we would need to schedule an appointment for her--hoping we could get her in before the contacts were gone because her glasses are not up to date.  But, it could not be an afternoon at the end of the week because she's trying out for cheer on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  And it was a holiday weekend, so Tuesday was really going to be the best option.

We got up on Saturday morning and took her to get a sports physical at the local urgent care.  It was raining and I was hoping it would be quick.  Unfortunately, it took almost two hours for them to declare she was fine and I always feel like my throat gets scratchy when I'm sitting in there because I'm positive that the contagious people are trying to infect me (and what mama in the world has time for that???)  By the time we got out of there I called to get an eye appointment for her and the only way they could fit her in would be on Thursday morning.  So she will have to go in to school to check out/in to be there for her tryouts after school.  And she was invited to a last minute surprise party for a friend, which was so sweet and we were excited to do, but it was one more thing we needed to do on Saturday.

I found myself getting a little annoyed with her while we were driving around handling her business.  I didn't ask for my Saturday to be filled with running her around and on the phone and making plans and appointments for her.  I didn't have time or the energy to run, and I was still not caught up on my laundry.  I started seeing some of the clutter and mess I had missed during the week, and I was angry that the bathrooms must be cleaned all the time because people keep using them.  And the kitchen floor is still sticky from a spill earlier in the week.  Other things started happening and I told my husband that I was quitting Saturday.

I started dreaming of a cleaning lady who would just handle floors and bathrooms.  I thought about all of my friends at the ECU game and how much fun it would be to be there (even though the Pirates need to get it together).  I wanted carbs and soda and sleep and to tune out the people in my house so I could watch The Walking Dead marathon.  

to be continued. . .                  


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