Getting My Shit Together

A few months ago, I read this fantastic book:

getyourshitHave you read it? Or anything by Sarah Knight? I love her. Yes, she swears a lot (hence my attraction to her work) but she also gives great advice. And although I loved her last book more (The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck), this book came at the right time. A time when I was feeling out of control and needed to get a grip. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, though. Maybe I need to read it again?

Last week at the library, we had a fantastic speaker by the name of Janie Downey Maxwell. She has a blog called Organizational Habits where she discusses what one can do to become more organized. Her talk was called “Organizational Zen” and she not only talked about tools to become more organized (planner vs. calendar) but also how one can find a bit of peace while becoming organized.

I’ve been anxious to hear what Janie had to say. I’ve never felt more out of control than I have this past month. Last week I had an appointment with a surgeon (Dr. Huang) to talk about my pancreas. I didn’t fully understand why I was seeing him before my new gastroenterologist. Huang wants to do a CT scan of my pancreas so he can see it when it’s not screaming at me. Totally smart and completely understandable. I may have a cyst or a pseudocyst or possibly something else sitting on the tail of my pancreas. He very subtly mentioned the rare case of pancreatic cancer, but said there’s no reason to worry right now because they don’t know anything yet and I seem fine at the moment.

Huh.

Ok. I wasn’t too horrified…until I left his office. I went to take one of his business cards and realized that not only this doctor, but everyone in this office were surgical oncologists.  Well….fuck. I’m just glad I didn’t know that BEFORE my appointment.

So…between my health issues and attempting to “fix” Mom’s finances, all of my goals for this year have gone right down the tubes. Our spending moratorium hasn’t gone well since the end of April. We’ve helped my mom out a bit, then had an unexpected car repair and dentist appointment, so out came the credit card from my little hiding place. My goal of running a half marathon again this year is going to go on the back burner. This body just isn’t having it.

After listening to Janie, I decided to finally put forward something I should have done months ago. I often feel overwhelmed by my range of responsibilities, don’t you? I was afraid to write everything down because if I saw it all in black and white then this feeling of drowning would overcome me and a breakdown would be inevitable.

Yet…I’m doing all of it anyway, so why not have a slightly better handle on this crazy thing called life?

Meet my new pencil and planner:

planner

It is time to yank up my big girl panties and stop freaking out and just do it for fuck’s sake. Write it all down.  Every appointment I take my mother to, every appointment I take my son to, and yes, even every appointment I need to take myself to–write it down. The dates to pay my mother’s bills, the dates to pay my bills, the dates to clean my mother’s house–write them down. When to run, when to walk, when to breathe—write it all the fuck down.

But I want to write down the fun stuff, too. The hikes in Acadia National Park I plan to do with my son, the ice cream we plan to eat, the anniversary dinner with my husband, the mini vacation in Bar Harbor, the beach day with friends, my friend’s wedding in New Hampshire. I have to write all of that down, too, because honestly? All that other stuff–the doctor visits, the cleaning, the bill paying–that is what life is really made of.  That’s the shit we *have* to do, but doing the fun stuff is how we are able to carry on and do everything else in life that’s difficult and messy and just plain awful. And I have to be able to see those fun things in my planner. I have to know that all of this hard stuff is not *just* what life is. It has to be more than that, right?

It has to.

 

 

 

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My Staycation

This has been one of the best weeks I have ever lived.

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Hiking up South Bubble in Acadia National Park.

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Hiking the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park.

It wasn’t filled with theme parks or pools or even friends. There was no glamour or glitz or even much money spent. Instead it was filled with large chunks of quality time with my son, mingled with short visits with my family and bits of running and reading and cleaning, combined with one overnight stay in Bar Harbor that included two hikes, two library visits, and two ice cream shop stops (where we indulged in two scoops at each place).

In my opinion, this week has been heavenly. I’m sure my son does not have the same thoughts or memories of this week. He probably remembers that we went to the drive-in theater and got to stay up really late. (“I got to stay up until the NEXT DAY!” he proclaimed to anyone who would listen.) I have no doubt that he’ll remember that I played Halo with him–twice–and I was so frustrated that he ended up calling me “Swear Bear” due to the string of expletives cascading from my mouth when I couldn’t figure out how to walk and shoot at the same time.

My son may remember the hiking we did, but it definitely wasn’t his favorite thing. Yet when we reached the top of South Bubble then climbed down some rocks to “push” Bubble Rock, he was so proud of himself and I was so proud of us. There was no whining (except when we first got out of the car and he realized we were really going to do this hiking thing).  He never fell once going up and we went at his speed. I had a bag full of food and water and we could take our time. We moved to the side of the trail when others came and we just did our thing. Yet once we got into a rhythm, it took us no time at all. We talked about Star Wars all the way up. We played a long game of “Versus” in which we try to pair Star Wars characters against each other and argue about who would win the battle and why. For a few minutes, I convinced him to play “Wildlife Versus” where we paired animals against each other, but that turned into “Wildlife Vs Star Wars” and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty for those poor animals.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

But once we got to the top, we sat down on a ledge to eat our lunch, and my boy got a lot more serious. He said that he felt overweight and maybe we could do more of these types of things so he wouldn’t feel that way anymore. I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and broke into a thousand little pieces. I quickly glued myself back together, gave my boy a squeeze, and told him we could do as many hikes as he likes and probably more than he wants to.

The rest of the hike was mostly pleasant, except for the boy falling twice and skinning his knee a bit, but all in all, it was truly extraordinary. I know that hiking with him won’t always be this good, especially if we add other people into the mix. But I intend to try, and maybe he’ll grow to have a love of hiking or the outdoors. Right now I know that getting hurt is frustrating him and why he hates taking walks or runs. He nearly always gets hurt (much like I did at his age) and we talked about how awkward it can be while you’re growing and sometimes you trip when nothing is there and your bones are growing and expanding and it’s all a good thing. It really is.

And this is what I have to remember. This is all a good thing. Somehow, some way, I have to incorporate what I did and how I felt this past week into my daily life, into my daily working life. I often say how much I love what I do and how fortunate I am to be a librarian. But as the days have gotten closer to going back to work, all I have felt is anxiety and sadness and loss. I broke down and cried yesterday, hoping to just “cry it out” and get it out of my system. I understand all of what I’m feeling. I do. I’m feeling anxious because I know I have a lot of work to catch up on this week and I’ll have more of a set schedule that I have to stick to. The sadness and loss is because I won’t be home with my son and his stress level will also increase because of having to go here and there and not just be with me. And you know, I realize how great we really have it. We do. I may not have summers off, but I get to do something I like and my kid gets to be nearby and spend a few hours at a library each day. A library he considers home. He’s safe. He’s ok.

There have been several tragedies in the area just this week, including the death of a 9-year-old boy in my town and the death of a 22-year-old man who was the son of one of my colleagues.  The families of these two have had a horrendous week. I, on the other hand, was given the gift of a beautiful week with my son. I did not squander it. I enjoyed it and grasped onto as many great moments as I could.

So now I need to stop whining and crying and pick myself up. I need to get my ass in gear and appreciate the job that I have and the work that I do. I need to show my son that life is not only worth living, but can be pretty damn awesome. Even when we have responsibilities to take care of, life can be fulfilling and fun.

Now I’m off to do laundry so I won’t have to go to work in my pajamas…and I might go buy a lottery ticket…just one.

I will not give up the dream!