I used to be like you.
I used to try to keep my home perfect, my kids perfect, and my life perfect. I used to be obsessed with keeping the house clean, the clothes washed, the groceries bought. I used to go to ALL of the school events and work so hard to discover ALL of the opportunities that were available to me, my kids, and ALL of us as a family. For a lot of years it worked, and I felt like I was making progress...I felt as though I had accomplished something. I lived that way until I was 40 years old. Then, something happened right around my 40th birthday. I looked in the mirror and said to myself, you can never get those 40 years back. I asked myself, “Were they mostly good?" "Which ones would you repeat if you could?"
I took inventory and decided that the best years of my life were spent laughing with friends and family. The best years of my life weren’t because of any particular set of circumstances, or where I lived, or how much money I made, or what I owned. As the years passed and I collected experiences, I also found myself falling into the expected path. The one that is accepted by our society, by our culture. Married, 2 kids, 1 boy and one girl...a house in the burbs.
As the years passed and I had more money and more things, I also observed that my stress level was rising too. I observed less laughter as I reviewed those years of my life. It wasn’t easy getting back to me. It was one step forward two steps back for sure. My decision to reclaim me was deliberate and very slow. Now almost 8 years later, I can say I am about 65% of the way to reclaiming me. I pushed down the obsessive thoughts reminding me to clean the house, water the plants and bath the dogs. It took several years to be able to just walk past a mess, go to bed with dishes in the sink and RELAX. I even bought a little sign that hangs prominently in my office; it says RELAX.
I wondered what I was racing toward? Doing more, and more, and more for everyone around me just left me more, and more, and more empty and exhausted. Time for boundaries! I said goodbye to everyone. I said goodbye to my old relationships to people, and set out on a new course. Addressing them one at a time...and reminding myself ALL the way through, "YOU WILL NEVER GET THIS TIME BACK!" I said goodbye to my church, many so called friends, family, and my old marriage. The work isn’t complete, as you probably guessed; the hardest changes are the ones that stare you in the face on a daily basis...which makes the marriage improvement one of the very hardest challenges to take on. You might think I’ve abandoned my responsibilities, you may even think I’m being selfish. I would say to you, "I simply do not care what you think." And I don’t mean that in a snotty or bitchy way. I am selfish! Because if I don’t take care of me, there will be no me.
My positive contributions to the world will be done and I’m not ready to be done! I embarked on this self-improvement around 40, I read about meditation and free-thinking. I practiced yoga and now daily Zen. I never dreamed that by allowing them in, they would park themselves in my heart whether I liked it or not. They bathed my heart in peace and I had no choice but to practice the very thing that flooded me. I am at peace as I approach my 50th milestone. When others attempt to pull me into their drama, I just release the stress. It is not my problem. I didn’t create this world. I didn’t create the conditions that freak you out. I only can control me and how I react to the things that freak me out! That’s ALL.
I haven’t signed off. I’m more plugged into my presence and my contribution then I have ever been before. My days are long and wonderful and full of life, laughter and meaning. Do I have down moments? Yes. But I don’t allow them to linger for very long. I am very good at brooming them away. Instead of cleaning the outside of my world, I am now obsessed with cleaning the inside of my soul. #lifeisgood