I don’t really have any pictures to post this week. Instead, I’m going to write a little bit about something I have been really thinking about lately. I am a working mom to a little lovely who just started kindergarten. During the fall semester, I also teach a university class part time. And, I started a new full-time job this school year. And, my husband is working full-time and attending grad school. And, I helped my mom and brother both move to new apartments and helped my dad get my grandmother’s house ready to sell. Plus, I am on several committees and boards in my professional field that take up a bit of my “free” time. Basically, the majority of my time is spent prioritizing how I am going to meet the needs of others. And, I am really happy in the job(s) I have, with the commitments to my family, and my general nature of wanting to help others. I’ve always been the type of person (as a lot of moms are) that puts the needs of others before myself. For sure my daughter dresses much better than I do, and I know that frequently the plans I have take a back burner to whatever is needed by someone I love. And, I am 100% honest in saying that most of the time I am very happy doing that. Seeing my loved ones, coworkers, and friends happy really and truly does create happiness for me too.
But, sometimes we all need to take a step back and say, if I keep going at the pace I am going without any thought to my own needs and desires, I will become a shell of my former self. That may be exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea. It sort of came to me that by not thinking of myself at all, I was doing a disservice those around me as well as myself. I can’t be the best me for others if I do not devote time to myself. I read a book recently called 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things done by Peter Bregman. This is a great quick read, and I highly recommend it. I had several major takeaways from this book, what it mainly did was help me refocus the way I think about my life. I like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for the same reason. While I am generally very happy with my life, I sometimes forget to take the time to enjoy that happiness. And, one of the things Peter Bregman reminded me to do was to focus on my goals–not just for work or my family but for myself as well. So, I decided to key in on a few “just for me” areas that I thought could use some assistance and have promised to devote more energy to them.
1) Writing. I have always loved writing–in many different forms. As a kid I wrote fictional stories, and as a teen I wrote for my high school paper. As an adult, I have taken up several types of writing. I write this blog for one. I’m not sure how many people actually read it (which was never my actual goal), but I enjoy the act of writing it. What I have decided to to is to make the commitment to post once a week and to promote my blog. So, if you happen to be here reading this, you probably found me via a link party. I had no idea what these were at first, but I realized I can get people to actually visit my blog this way (and I get to see their cool stuff too!). And, let’s be honest, checking your stats is a lot more if you know people have actually seen what you’ve spent your time writing, editing, and adding cool photos and graphics to.
I also have been published over a dozen times for journals in my profession. I really enjoy sharing my ideas and seeing them end up in print. I want to continue to do this and actually set a goal of a certain number of publications per year. I’m not sure how many just yet. And, this November for the first time I joined the NaNoWriMo challenge. National Novel Writing Month challenges people to write a 50,000 word piece of fiction. I have started many “books” in my life, but I have never finished one. I am proud to say that this November I wrote an over 50,000 word book with a clear plot line and ending. Actually setting the goal for myself was not something I think I could have done on my own. But the act of posting my words every few days and striving toward a goal pushed me to accomplish something I never thought I would be able to do. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I actually do feel like a winner–as the giant graphic below proclaims me to be. My next goal is to edit the book and see if I want to go any further with it from there. I look forward to the editing process starting after the holidays.
2) Photography. Another hobby of mine is photography. My hubby gave me a lovely Cannon digital DSLR camera a few years ago as a gift. While I get much enjoyment out of taking pictures with it, I know that I am not using it to its full potential. It has always been a goal of mine to learn to use it properly. I even tried to take a couple hours long community college class to learn more. I left it feeling like I knew even less than when I walked in the door. Then, I stumbled upon the fact that I can take FREE online courses in photography through my public library and ed2go.com. Four weeks into the 6 week course I feel like I understand much better how my camera works and what I need to do to take better pictures. I just need to find the time to do practice what I’ve learned. That is another goal of mine (especially when the weather isn’t frigid and snowy as it is right now). In the future, I hope to take a few more photography courses and a few Adobe Photoshop classes as well. I am hoping these skills will not only improve photos for my family, but also for this blog.
3) Friends. Spending time with friends is vitally important to happiness, I believe. And, being able to spend time with girlfriends is something that helps all moms stay sane. While I really enjoy the play date time I have with friends where out kids get to also be friends, there’s something to be said for that just grown-ups, no spouses, girl time. Almost ten years ago when I started my first full-time teaching job, I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a group of friends in my building. A decade later, we are all working in different jobs in different educational settings (still in the same city), and we are all still good friends. We’ve all got kids now and many outside of work commitments, so its hard to find the time and the finances sometimes to get together. What we’ve stumbled upon are Groupon/Living Social Dates. I keep my eyes open for some sort of deal on a fun outing–usually where we make something–and we all agree whether or not we want to participate. Since we have to schedule our crafting session with the vendor, there is a guaranteed time we will all get to hang out together. So far, we’ve painted pottery, painted on canvas (while drinking wine. This is a new trend that caught me by surprise), and our next adventure involves jewelry making. Our outings are frugal and entertaining, and every time I look at what we make, I am reminded of my friends. Plus, we get to hang out just the four of us and really chat, because typically these sorts of outings don’t require you to sit and be quiet like a movie would. Total win-win in my book. We still get together with the kids and the spouses, but these “dates” are just for us. I want to try and do these once very few months if possible. We’ve even talked about setting up our own version of the painting party at one of our houses.
Taking the time to set goals for me that go beyond fitness, professional success, and wife/motherhood is a promise I want to make to myself for the near and far future. After all, I want my daughter to be able to make time for herself someday too.
What do you do to take care of you?