Sometimes the process of setting a new goal can shake you up and make you see things more clearly. At least that is what I have been experiencing this past week. I’m taking a writing course, and it is a huge challenge for me. The first thing I realized was that I have been very very bad about setting goals in my adult life. Once I finished graduate school and became a mother, the only goals I had were to fix the next meal, change the next diaper, and...three more times...have the next baby. I’ve been in survival mode and I’ve been pouring my life out for my family and in the process I’ve become a muddle. My one-day-at-a-time existence has allowed eighteen years to slide by, mostly treading the path of least resistance.
Yes, there have been things I’ve learned over the years. I have accomplished some things-most of them domestic. I taught myself to sew with a sewing machine I purchased with wedding gift money. The end result of that effort has been that I’ve made a few wedding dresses and some baptismal gowns for people. People think I’m a seamstress. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am not. I always know I could do better.
I’ve gotten to be a fairly good cook over the years. I make most everything from scratch...even stuff like mayonnaise and occasionally ketchup. I have learned how to can things like green beans and broth and leftover soups. I do allegry-free cooking...So I have definitely not been a slouch in the kitchen.
I can knit...and I’ve made sweaters, socks, hats, ... lace, fair isle patterns on socks. Again, it’s a homey and domestic sort of thing.
I always have the urge to create something...to try something new. I’ve dabbled in so many things: Folk Art painting, crochet, playing the mouth harmonica, playing the guitar, song writing, embroidery, cross stitch...dabble, dabble, dabble.
But a few things have eluded me: Losing weight, making money, and being organized (and not necessarily in that order of priority). And guess where “society” “our culture” --and the inner shoulda-oughta-why-doncha voice-- puts the emphasis? On being thin, on making money, and on staying on top of things. Because unless I can hit those BIG THREE, I am not a success.
But when I focus on the things I am doing well, then the list of things I want to improve on does not seem so daunting. When I let go of what I cannot control, the things I CAN control seems more approachable.
What am I doing well? Being tuned in to my family’s needs...each person. I’m here. We are here together and I love that. My teenagers have a cameraderie with each other that I’m happy to see. We laugh together, we are silly and we also get some learning done each day. I’m sensitive to the special needs of each one and am quick to try to help them find coping strategies to enhance their successes. (Sometimes this is very difficult, especially when people’s needs conflict, or I lack the ideal resources.)
I”m also feeding my family well. Enough said about that.
We make it to Church. We have family prayers. We read the Scriptures together. That’s another area that I am faithful in.
And glory to God, another thing I have learned to do, thanks to my various illnesses, is to delegate! I went from being the mom who does everything herself, to the mom who makes her kids clean the house....and they do a fine job of it, too. So that’s a success.
Where am I falling down on the job? Well, I am a Fly Lady dropout and a weight watchers failure. And I don’t do very well in keeping up with some of the home school paperwork that the state of KY does NOT require me to do, but which I really ought to do better on. So there’s a pattern here, isn’t there? I don’t like structure, I don’t like limits and I don’t like someone else telling me what to do, even if I’ve given them permission to do so. And I’m a muddle at being organized when it comes time to read up on what services my daughter with autism might qualify for, or to find her a new doctor, or to grade last week’s history assignment. I feel pulled in so many directions, and the things I am weakest on fall by the wayside too easily.
But my biggest struggle of all is setting goals for myself. For so many years my goal was always “this is the year I am gonna get skinny” and I’ve limited myself so much in my own self-perception, that I have honestly had to struggle to get past that, and to ask myself “What ELSE do you want?” What do you want, Alana? What is your dream? What do you want for yourself?
That’s the biggest thing I’m getting out of this writng course I’m taking...is learning to ask that question. And learning to sit still, and listen for the answer. In my case, I do some of my best listening at the keyboard. I know this about myself.
Now I just need to get busy and write...and maybe in the doing, I will find the answer.