Getting Things Done – The Weekend Edition

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In theory, the nice thing about a weekend is the ability to blend getting things done and relaxing. In actuality, though, my weekend life doesn’t lend itself well to this.  I still expect it to happen, but then I’m anxious when it’s Sunday afternoon at 2 PM and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  You’d think I’d learn!

This weekend, though, my parents took Gabe with them for the weekend, which left us one kid down. You’d think it would be the younger two who prevented us from getting things done, but it’s not. It’s the combination of the three. Or, rather, the combination of Gabe with Isla. Together, they have an energy that requires…um…managing, shall we say?  Gabe with Jude is fine and Isla with Jude is fine, but Isla and Gabe together is very consuming.  So this weekend was nice for everyone–Gabe got a little one-on-one attention from the grandparents and it was calm enough to knock a few things off our list.

When I say “a few things,” I’m thinking namely of the patio. We laid about a hundred bricks on it, and although it’s still not close to being done, it felt like it took a sudden and substantial leap forward.  We’re stopped right now because we have to cut some concrete and build up a step of sorts, but hopefully we’ll get to that this week so we can continue the good fight.

Also completed were a haircut for me (although I did it myself…) and we finished updating the pictures in the gallery walls. I’m really happy with how they turned out!  I do need to reconfigure the arrangement in the dining room, but that’s a project for another month. I don’t have my head around that yet.

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On Dreams and Concerts and Stores and Photography

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(I’ve been meaning to write this post for nearly a month now and have just never found the time. What better time than during my month of Getting Things Done, right? Interestingly, after some completely unrelated experiences this week, I realized I hadn’t written it yet because there was more to the story that hadn’t happened yet.  All this time, I’ve been feeling like this post was just one more thing on which I was behind, but really, it was right on time.  Go figure.)

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I fear I will have morphed into a 14-year-old girl with this post, but I can’t help it. I went to an Ed Sheeran concert last month and it changed my life.

To defend myself and my slide back into crazy tween fandom, I have to say I’ve never really been to a concert before.  Unless you count Ray Boltz.  Or Jim Brickman.  Do you count those?  Um, no. Please say you don’t.  I mean, Ray Boltz. For real???  That’s only worthy of the term “concert” if you use it with air quotes.

So.  A few years back, I made this list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40. One of them was to go to a real concert.  Earlier this year, a whole slew of my Maine Facebook friends went to an Ed Sheeran concert out east, and my Facebook feed was filled with their rave reviews. It sounded like an amazing concert, and since my first choice isn’t touring right now (P!nk), I decided I wanted to see him.

Lucky for me, he was coming to Summerfest in Milwaukee this summer. Unlucky for me, I never got around to getting tickets.  Summerfest came and went, and once again people had a great time seeing Ed Sheeran in concert and I was not one of them.  Bummer.

When I found out he was coming to Chicago, I jumped at the chance.  I had actually purchased the tickets before I knew what day or time the concert was.  I may possibly have an impulse problem…Maybe…

Anyway, Christina Perri and Passenger appeared with him, and then he came on for the main show. The concert was amazing, the songs were crazy, the arrangements actually blew my mind…Through the whole thing, he (and Passenger, although traffic was bad so we missed Christina Perri) poured their heart into their music.  They took risks, they worked hard, they performed creatively, and all I could think was, I could never do that!

Of course, I could never do that.  The music, the guitar, the way he masterfully used technology to become his own live band, the rapping, the dancing, the crossing genres…none of those things are in my skill set.  But in a more general sense, what a very intimate thing, to strip yourself to your creative bones in front of thousands of people and just put it all out there!  What courage it must take to be yourself, to take risks with what you love, and to do both those things in a very public way.  It was that I was thinking of.  I could never do that.

That made me really sad.

When the concert was over, I remembered how at one point in my life, the world was an oyster for my confident, eager self.  I believed in my passion, believed in possibilities, believed in hard work.  But somewhere along the way, I lost my brave.  I lost my myself.  I don’t know if it happened in the busyness of raising children or my chronic lack of sleep or the heart-wrench of infertility and miscarriage, or the simple passing of time without appropriate self-care.  Now, I question my value rather than standing in it confidently.  I apologize and defer and sacrifice to my own detriment. On bad days, I hardly remember who I am, my identity seeming ambiguous and irrelevant at best.

~

This week, I visited a friend’s soon-to-open store. It’s been a dream of hers for some time now, one I heard in bits and pieces while she did daycare and I tried to get pregnant and we held each other up through the struggles of heartache and the daily grind.  I couldn’t wait to see how she’d arranged her treasures in her site, and when I opened the door and the sheer beauty enveloped me, I felt a lump in my throat.

Partly, it was so stunning, it left me speechless.  I literally had no idea what to say.  Everywhere I looked was a feast for the eyes, her signature all over the biggest themes to the smallest layered details.  My friend is so naturally gifted, and to see this display that had so obviously overflowed out of her abundant gifts left my head spinning.  She wasn’t performing in front of a massive crowd a la Ed Sheeran, but in her own way she was doing just what he did, stripping herself to her creative bones and laying her passions on the line publicly.

Courage!

But I also felt this tiny and unexpected twinge of anxiety, and it caught me off guard.  It happened so fast, just as I walked in the door, that I almost didn’t notice it.  Huh. What was that? I wondered, but I tucked it aside so my excitement over my friend and her store could dominate.

When I left, I thought back on that fleeting emotion.  Anxiety?  Why? I wondered. All of a sudden, several seemingly unrelated parts of my life converged–a friend’s store, the Ed Sheeran concert, anxiety, feeling like I could never do that…

It was all about dreams.

As a young person, I had a lot of dreams for my life. As an adult, however, not a lot of those dreams have come true, or at least they haven’t come true in the way I expected them to.  Partly, that’s a very good thing.  Childhood dreams are fantasies constructed of childish desires. I’ve matured since then, thank goodness.

My adult self dreamed new dreams and better dreams, but when I lost my brave, my dreams shriveled.  I stopped being brave enough to share myself with others.  I stopped believing that my dreams were worth pursuing. I stopped believing I could work hard and accomplish things that mattered. The “justs” slunk into my psyche–I’m “just” a stay-at-home mom, I’m “just” a part-time employee, I’m “just” a piddly blogger.

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A photography forum of which I’m a member had their annual conference this weekend and they live-streamed the event.  I caught a few of the sessions, and one was by internationally acclaimed portrait photographer, Sue Bryce. Her session was all about dreams and who you are as an artist, and she began by asking us what we wanted. I immediately thought, I don’t know! And then she went on to say that a lot of us probably answered, “I don’t know,” and she explained that we really do know, but when we’ve lost touch with ourselves and our dreams, we can’t own it.  She encouraged us to mull over that question and then to bravely state our answer, because no one ever achieves a dream they aren’t willing to own.

I’ve been thinking about that. I’m not entirely sure what my dreams are.  I know they’re not to perform in front of thousands of people or to open a store or to have an international photography business–although I love that the world is rich with people who are living their dreams as examples and inspiration.  But the prospect of finding them again makes my heart beat faster and leaves me a little starry eyed and breathless.

You know–much like the way 14-year-old girls feel when they hear Ed Sheeran sing.  But for entirely different reasons. 😉

It’s funny to me the way things all come together. And as tangible proof of that, one of the things I bought from my friend’s store–before I had figured out any of this– was a beautiful necklace that says, “Brave.”  Go figure!  I think it’s time I got the message!

20 Bricks

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You know that feeling when you lay a bunch more bricks for your patio and think “Wow! I did a lot there!” And then you count up how many you laid and realize it was 20?

Wah wah.

But…it was 20 more than were laid this morning, so that’s good.

In other news, I’ve been thinking that we’re getting something wrong in our life.  We lead a pretty regular life.  We have our struggles and stresses no doubt, but we’re pretty regular.  How come we constantly feel like we’re on the brink of…um…total implosion?  I ask Tahd this regularly. “We’re doing something wrong,” I tell him.  “What is it? What are we missing?”

Today, out of nowhere, an answer came to me.  In words. Which usually seems to mean God is directly telling me something. I’m guessing if I looked back on the handful of those occasions in my life, I’d find those “answer in words” moments were preceded by a long string of helpful whispers my direction which I didn’t notice.  Apparently I’m not fluent in subtleties?

Anyway, the answer was, “Gratitude.” So simple! It was like an immediate “everything clicking.”  Doh! Of course! How did I forget about gratitude???

It’s not that I’m ungrateful so much as it is I haven’t been choosing gratitude. I am thankful in a general sense, but perhaps the antidote to soul-crushing overwhelmedness over trivialities is purposeful gratitude, not just gratitude by happenstance.

So, starting now…I’m thankful I laid 20 bricks. I’m thankful I even had 20 bricks to lay. I’m thankful my children didn’t climb on, knock over, or throw the bricks. I’m thankful that one day–even if it’s a very, very long day off– we’ll have a patio, an entirely unnecessary but lovely thing for a human being to have.

Wrapping Up Loose Ends – Day Six

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Speaking of finishing things and wrapping up loose ends, I bought a nursing bra today, which might not seem like much of a loose end, except I’d put good odds that it’ll be the last nursing bra I ever buy.  After Isla was born, I stumbled onto a style I loved, and since then I’ve accumulated a grand total of 3 of them. They’re expensive, which makes buying a good stock of them gulp-worthy, so I started with one and rotated in others I liked less, and later I bought a second.  After Jude was born and when the first one had wire poking out the corner of one of the cups, I got a third, and I’ve been babying those 3 along ever since.  Two years later, and it’s time for a new one!

If you’ve followed our story for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been very conflicted about how many babies I wanted to have.  I mean, I guess I’m not actually conflicted about how many I want.  I want four. Rather, I’m conflicted about how many pregnancies I’m willing to have.  My current count is 6, and I have 3 kids.  Those odds alone aren’t great, especially given the fact that I’m 37.  But then the last pregnancy was so difficult–exhausting in an other-worldly manner, then uncomfortable, and finally scary when it culminated in preeclampsia and a slightly premature birth occurring through emergency c-section since we had prolonged heart decelerations.

When I think about having another baby, I think first about Jude’s colic and how I’d rather live naked under a rock than endure that again.  But sometimes, especially when reading or watching others’ baby stories or when looking back at newborn pictures, I think “Screw it! I’ll take the colic risk if it lets me have another baby!”

And just about the time I’m ready to tell Tahd I want to go for it, I remember the blood pressure and the threat of seizures and the magnesium sulfate and the arguing and advocating with doctors and all the fear and crying.  I remember the two stories I’ve read online of mamas who seized or stroked around the time of their births and are no longer able to care for their babies.  And that? That is a risk I’m not sure I’ll ever feel okay taking.

I don’t close the door completely.  My doctors did not discourage me, and really, the statistics are good with more than 90% of people going on to have an unaffected pregnancy following a preeclamptic one.  But odds are Jude is my last baby and today’s purchase was my last nursing bra.

In other news, I forgot that I took care of scheduling the first round of doctor’s appointments a few days ago, and this evening I hung things on the wall in the nursery and put things on the overhead shelf. I should take pictures of this, but it was dark by the time I actually did it.  I’ll try to do those tomorrow and update this post.

Also, I’m not fond of the way it looks. It’s a giant, cluttered mess. BUT…I did it, and I can’t figure out how to adjust things so I’d like it better, so I’m calling it done. Maybe in a year or four I’ll change it up.  Maybe…

Day Five – The Teeniest, Tiniest Bit of Progress

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I had an epiphany this weekend.  I realized I’m trying to do two things–keep up with everything in the “Standard American Dream” as well as carve a simpler, more purposeful path.  This was a total face/palm moment.  I mean, what the heck?  How can one person subscribe to two entirely divergent philosophies at the same time?

I’ll tell you how…anxiety! 😉  Trying to do two opposing things at the same time is a perfect recipe for anxiety.  It’s also a perfect recipe for getting nothing done, since when I’m anxious I become inert.

Take Saturday night, for instance.  What I really wanted to do was hang out on the couch with Tahd and either read or watch a movie.  What did we do instead?  Spun my wheels, got anxious about the passing of time, accomplished dribs and drabs of small portions of little tasks, and felt irritated that I never get a chance to relax.  Martyr much?

I don’t relax much.  This is, perhaps, a valid problem.  I go from taking care of the kids all day to dinner chaos to bedtimes, at which point I spend the rest of 50% of my evenings working at an actual job. The other evenings, I try to get caught up on writing and random other projects.  A night of movie watching occasionally wouldn’t be unreasonable. Probably should have just shut off the computer and gave in to the urge!

I have gotten a bit done.  From my master list:

  • Picked out all the gallery photos, uploaded them to Shutterfly.  Will place the order later tonight or tomorrow.
  • Took down the old decor in the living room so I can paint and then decide what to hang instead.
  • Ordered photos for my nephew’s happy mail package

Nothing new on the patio, which was my big hope for the weekend.  I should take pictures of these things so I can document the progress.

Recipe for this week:

  1. not have crazy opposing expectations
  2. actually do something on the patio

    and maybe…

  3. quick finish off everything else…
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