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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stagnation

I know I'm supposed to be focusing on the positive things in my life.  But, the truth is, a couple of weeks ago I went through a few days of severe depression.  I must write about it because it is my truth.  Just when I think things are going okay, I get sucked back in to the depths of depression.

As I enter my mid-life and face the impending 'change of life' I find myself more sensitive to everything around me.  My hormones are uncontrollable and take over my body and adopt a persona of their own.  It really feels like I am a different person for at least one week per month.

I got fed up with myself and my life.  I think what triggered the downward spiral was seeing that damn paystub from 1994 when I was a working, contributing member of my family.  You see, I lost a lot of my self-esteem when I changed paths in my life, gave up my career, and focused on my family.  It's been over fourteen years since I've had a steady paycheck and worked for 'the man'.

Yes, I've accomplished some personal goals during the last fourteen years.  I've exercised my entrepreneurial muscle a couple of times.  But, I never really stuck with anything.  I feel like time is running out and I'm under the gun.  A couple of weeks ago during the midst of my depressive episode I pretty much adopted the credo of, "I don't care any more".  I just became irrational and just wanted to stay in bed and distance myself from the people I love.  I cried hysterically and was on the verge of seeking professional help.  It was pretty bad.  Luckily, after a few days of cramps, migraines, and an ovary workout I felt better.

But, something is still bugging me.  I feel so empty.  I feel so guilty.  I feel like time is passing me by so quickly and I will leave this earth without leaving my imprint or making a significant contribution.  It is a scary feeling and it gnaws at my happiness.

Something is holding me back from accomplishing what I want.  As much as I say it is important to live and be your authentic self, something inside is judging me and saying how silly and selfish I am.  It is a constant struggle to balance the time I give my family and the time I give myself.  

It is easy to love the people I love unconditionally but it is painstaking to love myself the same way.  As much as I say I deserve to be myself and to love myself, without guilt, something inside of me knows that I am not 100% committed to the idea of it.

These feelings cannot be erased by a day of shopping or a long weekend at the beach, unfortunately.  The remedy is something deeper and harder to grasp.

I will continue to reach for the answer in my journey.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Typical Sunday

Not sure what I'm gonna write about today.  Don't really have anything interesting to say.  But, I kinda want to reflect on why Sunday turns out to be my favorite day of the week.

In recent years I more or less have developed a routine on Sunday.  Not one written in stone, per se, but a general outline of a day that basically includes similar activities from one week to the next.  Of course, there are exceptions but in general it pretty much follows the same pattern.

Normally, I'll wake up around 8:30 a.m. just in time to watch my favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning.  The show lasts from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m..  It covers news of the day and then has about five different stories ranging from politics, science, art, entertainment, and history.  The correspondents are enjoyable and make each story unique and interesting.  I learn so much from this show that I've recruited my 14-year-old son, Nicolas, to watch it with me.  Inevitably there is a story which satisfies his interests as well.  The show ends with a peaceful clip of a moment in nature.  It leaves you in a calm state of mind and sets the tone for what Sunday should be about, a day of rest and reflection.

Most Sundays, if my husband is not working, he will spoil me and the kids and make breakfast for us.  Typically it will include eggs, bacon or sausage, and a bagel or toast.  He will serve me breakfast in bed while I am watching my show.  I am so lucky to have a spouse who, after working a full week at a physically demanding job, will take the time on his only day off to treat his wife to something special.  I am one lucky bitch!

After my show and breakfast in bed I usually spend some time grooming myself.  My tasks range from coloring my hair (once every five weeks), tweezing or waxing my eyebrows, or filing the soles of my feet.  Then, it's off to take a shower.  By noon, I'm ready to tackle an activity that is relaxing and enjoyable.

Depending on the weather I could be reading, painting, writing, or going to the movies.  Or, I may even play video games with the kids.  When the weather is nice I may even just sit on the back deck, listen to music, and work on my tan.  The idea is to enjoy, refresh, and get pumped for the upcoming week.

Because we've had brunch, we'll usually have an early family dinner.  By four o'clock, and depending on the season and the weather, we are sitting down as a family to enjoy a nice Sunday meal.  Today, for instance, we will be having homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs and sausage courtesy of my husband.  He happened to come home yesterday (yes, he worked on Saturday) and made his sauce from scratch.  He invited my mom over and that is what we will be enjoying today for family dinner.  There have been Sundays where I would make roast chicken or an eye-round roast.  During the summer we will cook steak or shish-kebab on the grill.  

After dinner, my mom and I will sit, digest, and play pinochle.  Pinochle is a card game that I've been playing since I was a kid.  My grandfather, whom I called 'Pepa', taught me how to play.  We always played during our visits.  It's funny but one thing that my husband and I have in common is playing pinochle.  It's not a very common game so I think we each thought it was kind of cool that we both liked to play.  I distinctly remember playing in the hospital while I was waiting to be wheeled into surgery for my first C-section.  It helped me cope with my nervousness about having our first child.

When the kids were younger we always made sure that by Sunday night all homework was completed, lunches were made, and everyone was showered and in bed by nine.  Our Sunday routine is like the pretty, tied bow on a gift box.  It wraps up our previous week.  It prepares us for the week ahead where by Monday morning, as we awake to face a new week, a new gift box is ready to be opened.



Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Attraction of Magnets

Good news!

I just found out that Nicolas got into:

The William G. Enloe GT/IB Center for the Humanities, Sciences, and the Arts, more commonly called Enloe High School (EHS).  Enloe is a Wake County public magnet, Gifted & Talented, and International Baccalaureate high school located in east Raleigh, North Carolina.

So, I more or less 'freaked' out two weeks ago when I got notification from Nicolas' eighth-grade counselor that it was time to select courses for ninth grade.  I looked through the booklets of course offerings from the 'base' school versus the magnet school and started to get concerned.  A full panic did not set in but I did start to reflect on Nicolas' journey in the Wake County public school education system.

I recall Nicolas' kindergarten experience.  He attended the base school where his older brother went.  At the time I was unfamiliar with the myriad of options for Wake County parents.  Traditional, year-round, charter, magnet...it was a whole new lingo.  I realized, when after two months into kindergarten and they were still 'testing' kids to see where they were at, that it would be an uphill battle when it came to Nicolas.  He was getting bored and I was getting frustrated.  I knew that he had strong reading ability when he began kindergarten and I also knew he comprehended what he read.  I requested a parent-teacher conference right away to make sure he was being challenged from the start.  I had to fight to get permission for my son to get more than one book out from the school library and to be 'allowed' to go to the non-fiction area and to read higher level books.  Nicolas was one of a few kids who were taken out of the kindergarten class and attended a first grade class for reading.

It was a relief when Nicolas got his first-grade reading teacher, Mrs. Jordan, for his main teacher for first grade.  By that time Mrs. Jordan was familiar with Nicolas' skill level and he could hit the ground running.  By the end of first grade and during a parent-teacher conference Mrs. Jordan encouraged us to look at a magnet school that was better equipped to deal with academically gifted children.  It was then that I immersed myself in the lingo of Wake County public school options.  We entered the lottery for a magnet school.  We did not get in.  Disappointment and concern for Nicolas' future drove me to protest and seek an exception from the school board.  I gathered all of my supporting documentation and made a presentation before the board.  To no avail.  

Nicolas had to attend our base school for second grade.  While our base school changed and he would be attending a brand new school that did not make up for the fact that he ended up having three different teachers within the first month of school!  Second-grade was memorable but for really bad reasons.  I was determined to get Nicolas into the lottery again to attend Hunter Gifted & Talented Elementary School.  Luckily, and with many prayers, Nicolas got in!

Ever since third grade, Nicolas has benefited greatly from the magnet school experience.  He is grouped with kids of the same or greater ability.  He is being challenged by his peers.  He is not the kid that stands out because he is 'weird' or uses adult language.  Nicolas has taken wonderful elective courses like:  Japanese, robotics, poetry, fencing, and acting.

When we received the package of high school course information two weeks ago included was a listing of current teacher recommendations for next year.  Nicolas will be taking all honors courses for English, Science, and Social Studies.  He will also be taking Algebra.  He has a choice of electives ranging from animal science to piano.  He will be immersed with kids whom he's been with since third grade.  He will be challenged by his peers.

Nicolas' older brother is an alumni of Enloe High School.  When Justin attended  Enloe the school was able to flaunt its national notoriety as a top-ranking high school.  Up until 2010, Enloe has consistently ranked within the top 100 high schools in the U.S. according to Newsweek magazine's annual rankings:
Year Ranking
2010 127th
2009 83rd
2008 73rd
2007 56th[1]
2006 59th
2005 52nd
2003 44th  
Hopefully, while Nicolas attends Enloe they will re-gain their notoriety as a national-ranking school of academic excellence.

So, we will revel in the good news of the day and look forward to Nicolas flourishing in a fantastic force-field of academia.








Measuring Your Worth

My oldest son, Justin, was home two weeks ago during his first spring break as a college freshman.  It was great to have him home.  He is a typical young adult who stays up late and wakes up at noon most days.  He was smart enough to go to bed the night before our 9:00 a.m. dentist appointment and didn't give me a hard time when we had to wake up early.  Now that he's over 18, the dentist's receptionist thought it was time for him to fill out the paperwork and I was proud of myself when, as a controlling mom, I stood back and let him handle it.

During the course of the week while he was home I rarely knocked on his door to check on him or interrupt his quality time with his little brother.  I respect that now that he's used to being 'on his own' at college and enjoying the freedom of dorm-life, seeing his mom all the time could get annoying.  I really enjoyed the time we spent on Friday night playing Rockband on the 360.  It is so awesome that my boys actually let me sing while they play drums and guitar.  It was so much fun and I was so happy to spend the time with them.

One day while Justin was home I looked through my 'memory' book.  My memory book consists of a chronological history of my life in a nutshell.  The book includes:  my birth certificate, report cards, class pictures, my 'fish' swimming certificate from the YMCA, awards, PSAT/SAT/LSAT scores, college acceptance letters, the bill of sale to my first car I purchased, love letters and cards from my future husband, and essays and papers written for many an English class.  The reason why I opened the treasure trove at all was to find a postcard that my husband sent me when we were dating.  I vaguely recalled that the picture of the black kitten on the post card had a distinct resemblance to our current kitten, Chloe.  I found the post card and while yes, it was a black cat, the eyes were blue versus Chloe's yellow eyes.  Oh well, I was close.  I still enjoyed sharing the post card with the boys.

The very last document in my memory book was my last pay stub.  I felt compelled to show my son this piece of paper with numbers on it.  I wanted to prove that, yes, your mom, at one time in her life, made a significant financial contribution to this family.  I'm not sure how impressed he was but I believe he is old enough to understand the importance of this document to me.

I went on to explain that in 1994, when I was 29 years old, I made $43,000+ per year.  I was the breadwinner of the family.  Mommy wore the pants in the Taylor family.  I went on to explain that I was a much different person back then too.  I got a major portion of my self-esteem through my career and accomplishments at work.  I also explained that at that time I realized that it wasn't my job that loved me, it was my family that loved me.  My family gave me joy.

While it's been years since I've been the breadwinner and my self-esteem is worn, leaving a well-paying job can be justified when joy is found elsewhere.  By leaving this position I was able to de-stress my life, get pregnant with Nicolas, and expand our family.

I no longer collect a paycheck.  I've created a memory book for each of my kids.  It has become a useful tool when completing college applications.  The value of the memories and accomplishments of my boys captured by these memory books cannot be calculated hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, nor annually.

The price of joy is immeasurable.






I Can See Clearly Now

Holy Crap!

We're a good 12 weeks into the new year and I am already seven blog entries behind in my annual goals for 2011.  I thought posting one blog per week would be a reasonable, achievable goal.  By the end of the year I expect to have at least 52 postings.  Now, I'm playing catch-up.

It's not, really, that I don't think I have anything 'worthy' to write about.  Believe me, I spend most of my sleepless nights composing potential essays in my head.  Those are the nights where I should get my butt out of bed and just go to town on my blog.  For some reason I talk myself into a frame of mind that what I have to say really is of no importance to anyone else but me.  And, for all intents and purposes, this is true.  I must keep in mind that my incentive to start writing this blog was really for my own purpose.  A type of economical, self-therapy.  So, once I remind myself that it is not about how many followers I generate or who (if anyone) actually reads my blog, in the end I realize that Buzz Buckingham is for me.  If you read it and get something of value from it, good for you.

What I'm about to tell you is a blatant example of just how much of a procrastinator I've become as an adult.  Perhaps it is in clear rebellion of my obedient, eager-to-please childhood.  Anyhow, about three years ago I started a vision board.  I heard about it while watching Oprah Winfrey and the benefits of creating a vision board were further reiterated when reading self-improvement, power-of-positive-thinking books like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

I started out using a large, white poster board.  I collected a couple of pictures of me when I looked and felt my best.  I found a picture of my ideal beach house and of tropical locales where I hope to visit.  I composed a declaration which I printed on green paper and pasted at the top of my vision board.  My mission statement is as follows:

I deserve everything I want in my LIFE!

When I was a young girl I enjoyed filling my sketchpad with watercolor seascapes and pencil portraits.  As I got older I enjoyed the abundance of words to reflect my thoughts.
I will continue to discover my artistic talents and explore and communicate my feelings and ideas through fine arts and writing.
I WILL SUPPORT MY FAMILY AS A RESULT OF DOING WHAT I LOVE.

My entire life is a concoction of ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and highs and lows and pre-occupation with weight and body image.
I will find a lifestyle that will sufficiently nourish my body, give me energy, and enable me to feel fully satisfied.
I WILL VISUALIZE MYSELF AS MY IDEAL VESSEL TO FUNCTION COMPLETELY AND LIVE MY LIFE WITH NO EXCUSES.

My various experiences in my life have scarred my attitude and ability to socialize and authentically care about others.
I will continue to heal by keeping an open mind, studying different philosophies, and addressing my painful past.
I WILL TAKE EVERYTHING I LEARN TO SET A POSITIVE EXAMPLE TO MY CHILDREN AND TO THOSE THAT I SURROUND MYSELF.

I am grateful to realize that a life without love and joy is an empty journey.  I am lucky to have reached this enlightenment so early in my life.
I will continue to live my life authentically, be true to my feelings, and become my IDEAL self.
I WILL ENVISION AN ENVIRONMENT FOR MY FAMILY AND I THAT WILL FEED MY DESIRE TO CONTINUE MY JOURNEY.

Yesterday, while cleaning out my supply closet, I came across the vision board which I began to create almost three years ago.  I spent time going through magazines, clipping out words and phrases that caught my eye and have some significance to me.  Some of these finds include: 'create a masterpiece,' 'finding my own identity feels really good', 'get in shape without setting foot in a gym,' and 'peace of mind.'  The words which capture my personality are:  independent, intuitive, smart, and straightforward.  I spent the rest of the afternoon yesterday strategically placing the pictures, words, and phrases on my vision board. 

After three years my vision board is complete.  The words that I generated at that time still hold true today.  I will continue my journey.  I now have a visual representation of where I want that journey to take me.