A deeper, more meaningful life

My crazy brain keeps going all the time. I am a lethal combination of over-achiever, worrier, and worst critic. I do too much and expect too much of myself. I pushed through my days, moving constantly, judging myself by how much I had accomplished by the end of each day.  It was exhausting and I was  never finished. Because there was always a list of things waiting for me the next day. It kept me from ever celebrating the successes, because all I could see was what needed to be done next.

Grumpy McWorrisome

Grumpy McWorrisome

Motherhood took it to the next level. All of the sudden I had twice as much to do with no time to anything. Add to that, the pressure I put on myself to be the best mother possible, it was too much.  I was up until 10 at night cleaning and doing laundry, running over the list of everything I hadn’t gotten to that day. I was miserable and not a very fun wife nor mommy. My only option was to simplify our lives and lower my expectations. And it’s really worked.  I do less and expect less and have never been calmer and more centered.

Taking a step back

The cosmic colonic helped clear a lot of the gray noise crowding my head. It helped me remove many long standing items on the constant to-do list in my brain. It gave me some time and perspective to view my life. I had to admit some hard truths. There were things in my life that I was clinging to that were not working. Likewise, there were things we wanted to be doing, but never got to.

First dahlia of the season!

First dahlia of the season!

Around that time, we did one of those exercises where you and your spouse write down family goals. It was really reassuring to see that Mr. Applebum and I had pretty much the same goals for our family. I consolidated our lists and posted it on the fridge.

Family Goals:

  • Kids receive a good education, in and outside of school.
  • Live well (not rich) and be well prepared for retirement.
  • Time and money are spent on experiences, not possessions.
  • Travel as a family.
  • Be close to extended family.
  • Active people – family walks, swimming, playing sports at home, trips to local beaches, treks to parks and later hiking. Kids spend much time outside, learn healthy lifestyles.
  • Both parents have time to pursue creative outlets.
  • Parents have a common activity that does NOT include the children. Dancing?

I highly recommend you make such a list. We haven’t gotten to all of them, but we’ve made steady progress. It’s really helped us make big decisions. For example, we were discussing whether to pay for a membership at the local YMCA. When we looked at the goals, the decision was obvious. We went for it and it is worth it every month!

Likewise, Mr. Applebum had a business opportunity that was lucrative, but meant a lot of time away from us. When we looked at the goals, we realized it worked against what we wanted.  The opportunity took time and brought money, but bringing in more money is not our priority. We value his time over money, so we passed and felt confident in our decision.

Camping with the little ones.

Camping with the little ones.

Letting go of what isn’t working

This is  a hard one. Most of us hold on to something that isn’t working. Some of us hold on to many things that aren’t working. I have a stubborn streak and tenacity that leads me to stick with things much longer than I should. No matter  how much it’s not working, I will keep trying to make it work. I really believed that if I worked hard enough, I can could change it or fix it. Well, I can’t. And it was leaving me exhausted and cranky.

I had to give up co-op preschool. It was such a difficult decision, I loved the teacher and really believed in the program. But it was too much with both my kids there and I needed more of a break from my oldest. He needed more school, I needed more time away from him. So we found a new school. And it has been the right decision. I loved co-op, but I also love our new preschool. I’m glad that I stopped trying to make the best of a situation that had become almost unbearable.

A small quiet life

We have few regular commitments. No classes or sports, no standing play-dates. We do school, church and the rest is decided as we go. We always find friends to meet up with when we need, but planning too much makes me resistant.

Time spent together outdoors!

Time spent together outdoors!

So I just don’t plan as much and our lives are much richer. We’ve had more quality time with loved ones, more quality family experiences. We don’t have to hurry and we aren’t always late for something.

We get up slowly and have time together before we start our day. I cherish having my son crawl in bed with me for the first twenty minutes of each day. It is our time to connect and be together. He will grow out of it too soon and I’ll miss these close moments. I’m so glad we don’t have to hit the ground running to get us up and out in the morning.

We have found a nice balance between getting out for adventures and quiet time as a family in our pleasant living space.  I honor the commitments that we do make because we are not overscheduled and overwhelmed. We have just enough going on, but are careful to ensure we don’t take on too much.

Living the dream

These are some of the things we have been doing this summer:

  • swimming at the ymca
  • weekly trips to the library
  • bike rides almost daily
  • yoga for me and the mr.
  • many weekend excursions with friends and family
  • I now have the blog and a growing audience for my music mixes. Mr. Applebum has an amazing garden and is making ice cream right this moment.
  • many spontaneous dinners and visits with neighbors. it has really strengthened our friendships, we are having a wonderful summer in our neighborhood.
Mr. Applebum's garden

Mr. Applebum's garden

What are you holding onto that’s not working? What do you need to let go of to clear room for what matters?  What should you be doing, but aren’t?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. linda
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 08:07:50

    Thank you!


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