Friday, July 29, 2011

Post-Pregnancy Ponderings

The house is quiet...Husband took the three loudest middle kids to the store to get new bathing suits for their upcoming swimming lessons. The 17 year old is lounging in a chair, reading Foxtrot. The 5 week old is blissfully napping, after being on a sleep-strike yesterday; if she could walk she would have been on the picket line holding some placard stating her noble reason for refusing to give her poor Mama any rest.

I am drinking a half-caff latte, and have been reading a library book called The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth - Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School. It fits in with my television viewing the past nine months, which consisted partly of Glee and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's interesting to watch shows about high school with my oldest daughter who has never set foot inside one.

A scene from Buffy put it this way:

Buffy: "How was school today?"
Dawn: "Same as usual...a big square building full of boredom and despair."

I wish I'd never been inside one myself, although I still have friends I acquired during those days, and since our school was in Southern California, we were spared the big square building part and were able to walk directly outside from our multi-windowed classrooms.

I was definitely an outsider, but did not really take full advantage of that status. I didn't "fit in", but I also didn't develop my own personality and interests like I could have. I got involved in certain "odd" pursuits like theater, but I never loved that. I spent too much time thinking about my female insecurities and my mostly nonexistent love life. I am praying that the angst that plagued me for the few years before this last pregnancy does not return, and that middle age can be the unschooling adolescence I never had. My interests haven't changed much over the years, and I wish I had a longer record of my progress in visual arts, or my changing thoughts about politics or faith or psychology from those very earliest days.

Despite having quiverful sympathies, I don't think I can go through any more pregnancies and births for both physical and mental reasons. I don't even feel nostalgic or more than a touch melancholy saying that. I got progressively more patient through Moppet 3's early years, but seem to have taken many steps back since that time. I'm in the same ultra-thinly buttered loaf of bread with Bilbo Baggins. My well has run dry because I have had little to no time for solitude, which I need in order to have the energy and strength to take care of the people in my life. This "sounds" selfish, especially from the vantage point of my past self, the Wannabe UberWife and Mother. But underlying this craving for solitude is a true desire to nudge out Guilty, Anxious and Resentful Me, and see more of Patient, Present and Loving Me.

The journal always being open on my new pulpit desk is helping. Since I have been doing visual journaling for so long, I am struggling with writing and doodling on a blank white page. It seems "less than" to me, but things I do feeling "less than" is one of the prevailing themes of my life as a perfectionist. But I am ignoring that feeling and am writing several times a day. My writing is messy enough that I don't have to worry about anyone reading what I would not be worth the struggle for most people, I'm sure. My life and thoughts are sometimes mundane and boring and the writing reflects that. But if I write long enough (which is rare, of course - that lack of solitude thing) I will sometimes break through to more interesting stuff and write with more flow and even a bit of beauty or depth.

I have always been a crappy goal setter, but a few days ago I wrote down a few things I'd like to do before the end of the year. I am definitely a more visionary type. It's easy for me to visualize things and come up with exciting ideas, but following through is difficult. I'm not a great time manager, I can be easily distracted, I often let my emotions dictate what I am going to do. There is also the practical aspect of not understanding how to set goals. It became a little more clear to me years ago when I read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but The Creative Entrepreneur (which is a guide to business planning using visual journaling) helped me understand it best. Understanding it does not mean I have actually made any goals nor achieved any, but hope springs eternal.

The author calls goals Objectives, and says that they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound - acronym SMART. After you determine your objectives, you develop strategies and then tactics. Strategies are how you intend to reach the objective, because there are often several ways to do so - for example, if you are having financial problems, you can 1) make more money by working or investing, and/or you can cut back expenses and spend less. Each of these would have different tactics. Tactics are the specific actions you will take to fulfill the strategies. Isn't this fun? I love all this planning stuff. I have a two-inch stack of cool plans, ideas and schedules I have made for myself, my children or our family over the years, and they have all been grand failures. This doesn't mean I have never accomplished anything, but my path to any accomplishment or finished project or needed change has always been a meandering back road that's not even very scenic.

Anyway, here are the objectives in my journal - not all of them have full tactics lists yet. The timetable for these is by December 31:

1) Have an Art Journal night for friends at my house

- I'm not sure how to go about this I want to teach a "technique" or just put out the supplies and have a free-for-all? Do I want to have actual journaling time and writing prompts, and sharing of writing?

I am also considering starting a writing group using the book Spiritual Journaling, but more likely AFTER the first of the year.

2) Finish mixed media painting I started at least 5 months ago

- Watch art videos for online classes I purchased
- Create sketches, find paintings of poses I can use

3) Lose enough fat so I am satisfied when I look in the mirror. (I don't have a scale...I estimate I have 7-10 lbs of fat to ditch to get where I'd like). Keep building muscle.

- Keep eating intuitively and doing my basic newborn weight workouts every other day until September 20 (when baby will be 3 months old)
- If necessary at that time, start using FitDay again to track eating, get new food scale
- Go back to full-length DVD workouts at that time
- Find a place where I can get my body fat tested, and do so sometime in January...I think I want to be at about 23%

4) Have Moppet 3 reading and doing schoolwork

- Go back to Alpha-Phonics, do 15-20 minutes 5 days per week
- Plan copywork
- Have her read aloud 5-10 minutes 5 days per week

It's getting late now and I am feeling the tired grumpies creeping in. That's my sign to end this here.