Nobody Told Me (There’d Be Days Like These)

Let me tell you something that no one told me about summertime. For working moms (and maybe stay at home moms too – I am the former, so that is all I know).

SUMMER SUCKS.

I used to love summers. The slower pace, unstructured days/weeks, vacation travel…

These things that I used to love are now my enemies. I have a shit-ton to do. Who has time to relax and go with the flow??? NOT ME! Well – that’s what I thought until I HIT THE WALL on Monday.

On Monday, I was guilty of doing what I do best:

  1. Having unrealistic expectations
  2. Taking on too much
  3. Trying to control uncontrollable situations

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well – no one got hurt, my partner Jerry dealt with my drama, and I practiced some self-care and realized I needed some alone time to do some “work” on myself. I went for a long walk on the beach, and played my favorite play list REAL LOUD. I finally allowed myself to FEEL some things that I have been avoiding. If anyone out there saw a fast-walking woman crying and then laughing on the Isle of Palms on Monday night – well, you maybe you thought you saw a crazy lady, but really you just witnessed me having the “feels”.

Have you ever fought a nagging feeling? Trying to just “power through” without really getting to the root of the issue? I do this all the time! Then I realize how exhausting it is to play “Whack a Mole” with my emotions – because just like that dang game, that mole pops up somewhere else no matter how hard I hit it. It’s like playing through the pain – I think I can overcome it by just buckling down, by trying harder…working harder. Oh, doesn’t it just sound exhausting??

I have learned some good lessons over the years – and I recognize when my wiring gets me into trouble. I literally can feel it in my body. I am a giver and a doer, and am self-reliant – these are qualities I really like about myself, but too much of a good thing is…not a good thing.

My walk helped me to release that nagging feeling – to finally FEEL it, own it, and start to move through it. At first it felt a little ugly to admit to myself what I was feeling… which is this: I finally realized that on days like Monday, I miss my more simple, carefree life that I had before becoming a full-time mom. In doing so, I brought that darkness out into the light and saw it for what it was – fear. Once I did that, I felt a release – which was followed up with a renewed sense of myself, and something I can only describe as forgiveness – a feeling that helped me to be kinder to myself, and that resulted in some self-confidence and hope that all was going to be ok.

I am pretty sure that every parent feels this way at times. I think is natural and healthy for parents to feel this way – and it felt liberating to realize I can feel this fear while at the same time loving my stepson Eric unconditionally.

My lessons learned:

  1. Expectations: Expecting myself to be a super hero is setting myself up for failure. I felt like a failure on Monday. As much as I admire Wonder Woman – I am not her. I am human, and I need to cut myself some freaking slack. And if you are reading this and nodding your head – you probably could benefit from doing the same thing! Failure is not a kind word. I value kindness, and I value myself – so I am purging the word failure from my vocabulary. I value my ability to do a lot – but I also value myself and my sanity! I can fail (the word fail is totally fine) – I can fail – I have and I will again – and that helps me to learn – but I am not a FAILURE. Nope. Let’s just not use that word to describe ourselves anymore – got it?
  2.  Taking on too much. I have a few remedies for taking on too much:
    • Say “NO.” Without explanation.  “NO” is a one-word sentence. When I feel the need to explain myself, I see the people-pleaser coming out – that person who doesn’t want to disappoint someone, that co-dependent Laurie that takes care of other people at the expense of my own feelings. “No” helps me practice self-care and to continue to break those old habits that did not serve me well.
    • Delegating to someone else. The trick is to allow that person to do it differently and maybe not as well as what you would have done. Because let’s be honest – I know there are a lot of us out there that can get a LOT of shit done, and done pretty well I might add! LOL – see how we can ourselves into trouble?? My friend once said, “I know if I got hit by a bus, my husband would probably feed my kids popcorn for dinner every night, but you know what – he would keep them happy and alive, and that is what matters.” That sentence has stayed with me for years – and helps me keep things in perspective. I know some incredible women who raise the bar HIGH. Expecting their partners, or really anyone else, to be as amazing as they are is… well…see #1!
    • PAUSE. Take a minute to pause and get present. A quick exercise to get present is to go through your 5 senses – what do you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear in this moment? Pausing helps to get perspective – and often when I do, I can catch myself and realize that just because I am busy and “doing” does not mean I am accomplishing something that is meaningful. Pausing helps me connect to the bigger picture – my purpose. If the list of tasks I am trying to work through doesn’t serve that, I can let some things go.

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       I just had to buy this shirt for Eric a few days ago – and now I realize it has some deeper meaning. “Slow Jam” is my new name to taking a few minutes to pause, slow down and get present to what’s happening – just look how happy that sloth is! And how happy Eric is! Lessons to be learned here!!

 

  • Ask for help. Self-explanatory, but usually not top of mind for me. That’s what I did on Monday, and guess what – Tuesday and Wednesday have been a whole lot better!

3. For trying to control uncontrollable situations – this one is tough. For me, recognizing what I am doing is a huge help. If I catch myself, I can sometimes redirect my energy. It sounds corny – but I use music a lot to help me relax and let go of control. Let it Be, Let it Go – whatever it takes!! I literally wear a ring that says, “Let it Be.” I need the constant reminder! Laughter, fun – anything I can do to help me lighten up also helps me to let go of control. Thankfully I have a partner that really helps me with this. Somehow Jerry can make me laugh during these episodes – there’s probably a survival instinct on his part, but hey – if it works, it works. Pausing to help someone else also helps me to gain perspective – and serves as a reminder that the world does not revolve around me. Taking some time to myself to do the “work” – to get to the root of my feelings, and to move through them rather than avoid them – that helps a lot.

 

 

Not quite sure how to sum up – besides to say that I am going to “slow jam” the rest of my week. And I hope you do too!

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A Letter to My Younger Self

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? To talk to a younger version of yourself to tell yourself what mistakes to avoid making? To share your lessons learned with the one person that matters most – yourself – since you truly know what lies ahead?

I recently picked up a copy of “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” where Ellyn Spragins compiled dozens letters written by pretty fabulous ladies like Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, and Trish McEvoy where they each wrote a letter to a younger version of themselves, sharing their love, advice and wisdom. These powerful letters, written by CEOs, fashion designers, political activists, entertainers, Olympic athletes – and a Queen, made me think about how many universal struggles we have as women. We make so many of the same mistakes, share so many of the same vulnerabilities and fears no matter our background, race, age, profession…

Ann Curry tells her 22 year old self that “If you have faith in your real self, you’ll suffer less.” Wise words, Ann. Where were you when I was 22??

Actress Shelley Morrison tells her 30 year old self : “You can’t beat yourself up for what you should have done if you weren’t equipped with the knowledge at the time.” Yes – so true!!

I loved novelist Lisa Scottoline’s letter – because first of all it is a list. Second of all – every item on it is so spot on. Here is one nugget of wisdom from her list: “The little voice you keep ignoring is the only one you should ever listen to.” Right on, Lisa!

I found a lot of inspiration in these letters…but it didn’t really hit home for me until I decided to try to write one for myself. To be honest, I hesitated to post this letter to share it with friends, family and whoever else reads this blog. But in the spirit of risk-taking and being vulnerable, I decided to go for it.

If this inspires you in any way, I really encourage you to do the same for yourself. It is a powerful experience. Share it with someone. Share it with me! Create a dialogue – here or with someone you trust.

A Letter to My Younger Self:

Dear Laurie,

I see you so clearly – so much more clearly that you see yourself in this moment. Stop and notice. Stop and reflect. Stop and take the time to appreciate who you are as the independent, resilient young woman that you already know that you are. Those voices in your head??? You know the ones I am talking about. That is your heart speaking to you. Stop and listen. It’s scary, but the sooner you learn how to do that, the sooner you will build the inner strength to make difficult life choices ahead. Those inner voices are your truth – the core of who you are in your heart. By not listening to them, you are not honoring who you are. Worse yet, the deeper that you bury them now, the harder it will be to hear them later in your life. 

Always remember – your heart is trying to help you – to protect you – to love you. If you don’t know what to do about it, ask for help. I know that isn’t easy for you, but being vulnerable and admitting you don’t have all of the answers is not only normal, but is a good lesson to learn early in life.

One day, you will come to love these values that make you who you are: your capacity to love, your kindness, your hopefulness, your desire to help others. You will also come to find out that those same virtues will be your vices if you lose yourself in your relationships, whether personal or professional. Learn to put yourself first – to love and honor yourself. This is not being selfish. This is being true to yourself. The result will be that you have MORE to give as a healthy, whole, loving, confident person. 

Here’s the thing. Whether or not you figure this out now, you are still going to make mistakes. When this happens – because it is inevitable – forgive yourself. The most loving thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and capacity to love that you do for others. It isn’t easy for you to do – I know this. But learn to let it go. You will have more room in your heart for other things when you do this. Learn from your experiences, and let go of the past. Don’t bury your hurts. Move through them because they are all part of your journey. 

Love,

Laurie