Thursday, May 13, 2010

100th Post

It's hard to believe that this is my 100th blog post.

I want it to mean something.

But my head is full of cobwebs. I feel confused and overwhelmed. I can't seem to sort the significant from the mundane.

It's not always like this. But right this minute, after all these years of living, I feel like I don't have a clue.

I have been riding an emotional roller coaster the past couple of weeks. I participated in two high school graduation ceremonies - I am really gonna miss my seniors - and survived a couple of sad anniversaries. I have deleted text and email messages from two ex-boyfriends I have begged not to contact me while stumbling down the rocky path of a new relationship. I am looking forward to a week of vacation with Nathan in June (paid in full), but there is a lot to do to get ready to go. Meanwhile, I am also trying to figure out how I am going to manage my bills during the month of July, when I will have no income from piano teaching because I have been summoned for a three-week stint as a juror in district court.

All this in addition to my regularly scheduled life.

My daily to-do list is long, and every item is vital. Write morning pages. Add 500 words to the novel. Put in an hour at the gym. Make sure the kids get where they need to go and have what they need. Shop and cook and clean and do laundry. Take care of the dog.


The truth? Okay, not EVERYTHING is a priority. Cooking and cleaning are pretty low on the list most days.

Because there is so much to do, and because it is all up to me, I cram as much as I can into each morning. I rush from one activity to the next, and usually find myself blow drying my hair as my first piano student arrives each afternoon. I feel rushed and depleted before my work day really begins.

The hours pass quickly when I am teaching. My students inspire and rejuvenate me. But I run at high speed until nine or ten o'clock every evening. By that time, although I am physically exhausted, my brain is still wide awake, and sleep is elusive. Most nights I attempt to compensate for this by having a glass or two of wine. This usually helps, but afterwards, I tend to wake up in the wee hours and have difficulty going back to sleep. At some point, I stop fighting, get out of bed, and have a cup or two or three of coffee.

You can see how this might turn into a vicious cycle.

I have other bad habits, too. For one thing, I eat too many hot wings.

Eating ONE hot wing is too many. Officially, I am a pescetarian, which makes anything food item that comes from the flesh of a chicken off limits. Occasionally, though, I lose control; I find myself at Taco Mac seated in front of a huge plate of Three Mile Island wings and an ice cold brew. I pretend that hot wings are vegetables.

Less frequently, I am able to convince myself that bacon is a vegetable, too. Ah, the guilt...

But I digress.

I know I am on a fast road to burnout. Maybe I've already reached the destination. I'm just not sure what to do about it. Because, in fact, I need to do MORE.

I need to write 1000 words a day instead of 500. I need to practice the piano more consistently. I need to find an hour or two each day to work on my jewelry designs; I think I could sell my stuff, and the extra income would really help out. I need to finish the afghan I am knitting for my brother. (It was supposed to be his Christmas present. Last year. I'm sorry, bro.)

I need to deep clean and de-clutter my entire house. I need to do the same in the my garage. I need to arrange for some household and lawn maintenance before the gutters fall off (I'm not exaggerating) and the homeowner's association sends me a letter about the rest. But there's no time. And there's less money.

Sometimes I feel like I am on the verge of coming apart at the seams. It's a cliche, I know. But it really fits.

I haven't managed to come up with any answers. But maybe I should follow my own advice.

Not long ago ago, one of my piano students was playing a work in progress for me. She has been taking lessons at my studio for just a couple of months, and is largely self-taught. Despite this, she is an excellent sight reader, and her sensitivity and musicianship are remarkable. After just a week or two of practice, she was playing this particular piece as nearly perfectly as is humanly possible. I was mesmerized.

Then, towards the end, she stumbled over a note. One little note. An untrained ear probably wouldn't even have noticed. But she whispered to herself: "Stupid."

I couldn't let it slide. I stopped her immediately. Joking, I threatened to wash her mouth out with soap. Seriously, I asked her if she would ever call her best friend "stupid" for making a simple mistake. "No," she replied, sheepish. I told her she should treat herself at least as well as she would treat her best friend. It was a turning point in our relationship.

Now, the question I need to ask myself is this: would I push my best friend to set unachievable goals, then berate her for not accomplishing them?

Of course not.

So I think it's time to back off on myself a little. To set the bar somewhat lower on work days, and to schedule time for some of those other admittedly important things on my days off. To limit the caffeine and avoid alcohol. To stop exercising when my body is screaming in pain and to sleep when it tells me it is tired.

And maybe it wouldn't hurt to eat more hot wings. And bacon.


Carley said...

As your not too smart mother I still feel I have keen insight about you as you're my daughter & I know your traits & inner drive (to the point of exhaustion). You are going to have to allow yourself some slack as all the hard years you've gone through along with all the almost unbearable stress have taken a toll on you in spite of not wanting it to. It's a natural body reaction and in the normal course of events your body is going to demand that you slow down & if you don't it will demand time out and force it on you if you don't maintain a more reasonable schedule for yourself. Moderation has to be the key both with exercise, rest, diet, etc. A candle burning at both ends doesn't last long. I feel uneasy about you & since worry is & has always been one of my unwanted traits within myself I am trying to leave worries at the foot of the cross & let God. I am praying for you that God will give you an inner peace with accomplishing what is reasonable for you & reduce the emotional turmoil within yourself when you expect more than is realistic. We are only human & God doesn't expect the impossible of us so neither should we. This is just our earthly preparation journey where we should do the best we can with what we have & trust in God to know that we have kept the faith & finished the course & at the end we will hear Him say, "Well done & welcome home." He shows mercy on us & we have to show mercy on ourselves when we're doing all we're capable of & He does want us to take care of ourselves as our bodies are a temple unto Him while on this earth. I love you & am so proud of having such a multi-talented daughter that has such zest & zeal for living a full life, but I also want you around for a long time so you can continue to share your talents that God has given you with others. <3

janetburden said...

WOW, Pam!
I could have written that blog entry! I'm not kidding! Except for the pescetarian thing and writing 500 or 1000 words per day, it sounds like exactly what I have been dealing with.
This morning in my prayer journal, the prompt was, "What kind of help would you like from God?"
My response was, "Physical and spiritual health; relief from feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities: kids' needs, finances, undone projects and other projects I need to start doing."
I am home from work today. I took a sick day because I'm exhausted, but really have not felt well for several weeks. I think it's partly grief over my nephew, but also just feeling less than effective in almost every area of my life.
For my part, the reason we haven't gotten together for dinner is that if I ever do have an evening with nothing to do, I go home and do nothing! :) Maybe when school is out?
I'm sorry you're having trouble, but also a part of me feels like maybe I'm not crazy after reading your latest entry!
Love you!

Pam said...

Don't worry, Mom! We'll just keep giving me this little pep talk whenever I need it, and I'm sure I'll be just fine. :-)

janetburden said...

Amazing how alike we are! I am going through so much of the same stuff you are. I am so overwhelmed with trying to keep up with my responsibilities, between kids, work, finances and too many projects to name, I just don't know where to start. Consequently, I don't feel like I ever get enough done and can't even imagine a time when I'll get ahead a little.
In some ways, I think it has to do with being single and trying to maintain a house and the above-mentioned responsibilities; however, there's not enough of me left to do justice to a relationship.
My physical and spiritual health has suffered recently. I need to listen to your mom! :)

Pam said...

Janet, I think you are absolutely correct. But sometimes I have a hard time acknowledging that. I feel guilty playing the single mom card. Because I chose this life, and never once have I regretted that decision. Still, being a single working parent with sole responsibility for running a household and primary responsibility for the raising of children takes its toll. And, silly me, I imagined there would be someone in my life to share these burdens long before now. Because I truly believe that people aren't meant to be alone. So, yes, we should listen to my mom. And maybe work on building a better support network for ourselves. Any suggestions?

Staci said...

I just read your post and your mom's response. Your mom sounds like a very smart woman and I think you should listen to her. I think as moms, most of us put too much pressure on ourselves to accomplish too much. I know that when I went back to work it did not take me long to figure out I could not do all the things I used to. I have had to put a lot of things on hold, like scrapbooking. I have also had to learn to say no, both to my children sometimes and to many other things. It is hard to say no, and I still feel guilty and selfish at times, but there are only so many hours in a day and I'd rather do some things well, than do everything ok. Therefore my kids, husband, church, and work come first and I fit in whatever else I can without running myself into the ground, so to speak. As for your July issue, have faith and God will meet your needs. He kept us afloat for over a year. He can handle a month for you if you will trust and let him. One last thing, single mom's are amazing and I feel sure God has a special reward in heaven for all of you.

Pam said...

Janet, somehow I missed your first comment. I still don't have any answers, but sometimes a day off is all I need to find perspective. It's just hard to find those days! Do what you need to do to take care of yourself; I sure don't want to be another item on your to-do list. When you're ready, call me and we will have a night on the town!

Pam said...

Staci, thank you for the encouragement. You are a good friend. And take heart: summer vacation is almost here! :-)

Debra Becht said...

OK... As usual I have been absent from facebook and blogging however, I made a few minutes for it today. You see, I just spent the weekend away from husband, children and grandchild on a somewhat semi-annual girl weekend. It was as always a wonderful fun-filled, laughter not optional, guilt left at the state line, phenom food required event. Now what is the point of this you may be asking?

Simple: No woman is worth 2 nickels if she is operating on our ever present stress induced burn out mode. That means in spite of all you DO, you are accomplishing nothing more than adding more layers of guilt to that stress lasagna if you do not LET GO of the trivia and details and instead take care of you. Cliche of course but you must first put your own oxygen on before you help otheres on that crashing airplane.

Now Ms. Pam, you are fabulous. You are incredible. You have incredibly high standards for yourself and that is what makes you fabulous and incredible. Now get down off that pedastle that you think you must be on ir order to please others and meet their needs. It is a dangerous place to stand and there is no where to go but down.

Now... Make a list and prioritize it:
Blow off the house cleaning. You don't live in filth.
Money is the root of all evil - just ask me the banker! Do you have anyone who will fund your gutter maintenance on the 30 year plan? If so, do it. It is more important for your mental health than perhaps the impact to pride.

Next, is there anyway to get out of jury duty? If not, perhaps it will not consume all your time. I have found that most of the time, it turns out to be minimal time commitment.

Finally, Love will find you. Yes lady. I believe that just when you aren't looking it will happen. So stop looking and just live. Live like there is no tomorrow. That does NOT mean cram 125,655 more things into the day. It means eliminate 125,654 things from your day because most of those things will matter not at all if you are blessed enough to meet God tomorrow.

Now I will stop preaching to you. Love you lady! Go love yourself.

Pam said...

Wow, Debbie, you have given me a LOT to chew on! Okay, okay. I will make a list as soon as I post this comment. Nathan and I are going on vacation in a couple of weeks and I know it will do me a world of good. I can't get out of jury duty - I was actually summoned in January, and the best I could do was arrange a postponement until July - but, if I am lucky, I will be excused long before the full three weeks. As for love, well, Brian and I are having fun right now, and I'm trying not to think too far ahead. Right now, Priority #1 is finishing my BOOK! So I'd better get started on my 500 words for today. Thank you, thank you for taking the time to write. You have always been a wonderful friend and I am so glad you are in my life again!