A few weeks ago, when I was in the midst of the funk, I read a blog post by Truthwalker. He made mention of how when he is sad porn seems like a good idea, but always leaves him empty. I commented on the post saying that I could relate, only my “porn” seems to be the internet in general (especially Twitter, Facebook, and this blog). I think the internet is wonderful. There are tons of things that I could be doing online that I am not. I have discovered and connected with a lot of excellent writers who have entertaining and informative blogs. I could be reading those. I am interested in using my writing talents to help others. There are tons of resources online that I could be utilizing. I could be researching my novel idea. I could even be searching for conferences and workshops I’d like to attend or classes I might like to take. I could be learning and expanding. If that was what I was doing online I could easily excuse the hours I spend in cyber-space, but for the most part it is not. I’d say that what I do with my time on the internet can only be described as seeking validation.
We all want to be validated. It’s human nature and for most of us the opportunity for this validation is incorporated into our daily lives. The majority of adults spend their days with other adults. They get their “atta boys” and empathy/sympathy from bosses, co-workers, and friends. I have been a stay-at-home-mom now for 5 years. In the beginning, I was a member of a big playgroup and was with other moms almost daily. The group was fun, loving, and supportive. But ever since school entered the equation and the moms in my life have less time, the daily adult interaction I get mostly just happens when Mark arrives home from work. I miss the validation. I miss sharing myself with others (besides my husband who knows all there is to know) and being able to listen. So I’ve recently found that the internet can provide that for me in small doses. The problem is I find myself surfing between email, Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. I send an email and wait for a response. I mention someone in a tweet and wait for a re-tweet. I post an update on my Facebook status and wait for people to “like” it. And finally I check and re-check my wordpress dashboard looking to see if any of my lovely readers have left me a comment. If they do, I am validated. If they don’t, I’m left feeling deflated.
This neediness is something I am ready to let go of. I’m tired of thinking that my worth is measured by how many people approve of me. I want my validation to come from some place else, some place deep inside of me. I want to put my thoughts on paper (or computer screen) and not give a shit if anyone is reading them. I want to tell my truth and not care if anyone accepts it. I want to be convinced from within that I am enough. That’s a click worth waiting for….
Here’s a wonderful video someone posted in their comment! It’s about 15 minutes long, but worth the watch.
The other day I found this article called 8 Strategies to Improve Your Quality of Life on the web. The strategy that jumped out at me was “Find Flow.” That is what I really want to do these days. I want to (as I’ve said before) be present and enjoy my life and my activities fully. There are a lot of moments where I feel this way, engaged and connected, but there are also a lot of moments I find myself thinking about the future and feeling fearful. There is nothing that can put a damper on flow the way fear can.
Thursday night, Mark and I sat together with the TV off and talked. I finally expressed to him the fears that have been going through my head. I never really planned to be a stay-at-home-mom and although I love it, being a one-income family makes me nervous at times. This Spring, Mark’s dept. at work was on the list of those that might be cut. It wasn’t and as far as we know will not be, but the thought of it pushed me out of neutral and into fear. I have faith and try to have patience, but I can’t help but wonder what my career will look like in a few years when both of our girls are in school. I told Mark that I just feel like I need to be doing something but yet at the same time I feel paralyzed. Mark reminded me that I have time to relax and let things happen. The man who used to crack jokes about me going back to work almost daily told me, in essence, to just flow. I like what he said and liked it even more because it came from him.
Later that night I went to sleep and had a really interesting and affirming dream. I dreamed that we were considering taking this big raft/boat down a river. I was in the water and walked over to the place we planned to launch from. The river was raging and I was afraid. The girls did not have life jackets, amoung other things, and I just didn’t want to risk it. As I headed back, Mark’s father (who died in 2005) showed up and said he wanted to go with us on the boat. Since it was his request, I went back over to the launching spot and gazed at the water again. I was still terrified and came up with a solution. I decided we would drive our car along the river to see how rough it was and figure out where we wanted to end our rafting journey. That was when I woke up.
Immediately upon waking I knew what the dream meant. The river was representing my life and that idea about driving the car along to see where it went, is in a way what I’ve been trying to do. Of course no matter how many times I ask myself “What’s going to happen?” and “How will this end up?” I won’t know until I get there. So really the only thing I can do is put fear aside, get on the boat and go with the flow down the river.
So today I had the thought, the one I have often. It goes something like this “If only I could get organized then…..” and it usually ends with me thinking I need to revisit the flylady website and start” shining my sink” and “dressing to shoes.” Somehow keeping a clean house (or a clean workplace) becomes the answer for everything.
When I used to be a teacher and was very unhappy in my job, I’d use that “get organized” idea to keep me hanging on and hanging in. If I could clean off my desk, have beautifully detailed lesson plans, and stick to a schedule than I would be teacher of the year and I’d love every minute in that classroom. I could never seem to do it though. Getting organized just remained out there as some ambiguous goal that if I finally reached all would be right with my world. The only thing that righted that world was leaving it.
These days I am walking this line between stay-at-home-mom and writer. I feel incredibly inadequate at both of them. So I spend a lot of time thinking about cleaning out closets and cabinets, calculating the ways I could entertain my daughters, and trying to allow time for inspiration. I think about what that schedule might look like. The idea of it excites me, makes me think I’m in control…but I never actually write down the schedule and I certainly don’t follow it. Instead I drift along, hoping that I am as perfect in my girls’ eyes as my mother was in mine and that eventually I will be overwhelmed by the urge to start writing this awesome book series that is slowly inching it’s way into my brain. What I really want is a perfect balance of an amazing career and personal life. What I really want is to move with passion through everything in my life, instead of having the desire to organize it.