Friday, May 28, 2010

DIY Dread

Lately, I find myself thinking "why pay money for this, I can just make it". Problem is, I'm not particularly industrious -- my skills and experience are limited. I also have a fear of things that look homemade. Just look at these outfits my Mom sewed for my sister and cousin -- they scream homemade! The saying "if you want something done right, then pay someone else to do it" exists for a reason. I can spot a DIY a mile away. There's nothing worse then spending a shit load of time and money on supplies to make something that looks like a dog's breakfast. Worse is the shame in having to show it to someone else -- "yeah, I made it myself". However, its those rare times when you've worked hard, saved a ton of money and pulled off something you can be really proud of that are so seductive. The high gives you the confidence to tackle any project. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between.

The other motivator is my desire to be self-sufficient. My dependencies make me really anxious. Nothing lasts, so there's no point counting on anyone or anything. "Do self" is the key to survival. So when an opportunity presents itself, it's hard to resist the challenge. With each skill I acquire, I move that much closer to moving away from the establishment and closer to freedom. K - I've got my head in the clouds here.

I guess it's a matter of balance and priorities again. My 'voice of reason' would say -- yeah, you probably 'could' make this really cool thing, but something else would have to suffer. Is it worth the stress? No. Add it to the list. Accept that it might sit on the list for another 15 years. Someday is okay.

Monday, May 24, 2010

But, it's not fair!!

My kids are constantly comparing what the other has and accusing my partner and I of being unfair -- e.g. "but his piece is bigger", "how come she got to watch that show?" etc. It drives me nuts trying to keep everyone happy. I recently read that it's impossible to be fair -- no one will ever feel they are getting a fair deal, so just give it up already. What's fair is everyone getting what they need. I love this example in the parenting book "Siblings Without Rivalry": Johnny bitches that Susie's pancake is bigger than his. Rather than try to even them up or insist that he's wrong, choose not to go there. Address the need instead -- "it sounds like you're hungry, would you like another pancake?" I love it! Now, if I can only remember it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Perils of Comparisons

I find myself always asking the kids what they liked best about something or other --trying to get them to form opinions and communicate back to me what their 'favourites' are. Why do we make comparisons? Is it to sort out all the stimuli coming at us all day? Why must something be judged relative to something else in order for it to be considered good? Take relationships for example. Most people hate to be compared to someone else. We want to be loved and accepted as we are. At its worst, it's explicit -- "why can't you be more like so-and-so". At its best it's a mispoken request for change. Thankfully, I'm adept enough to know those are fighting words. Yet, it's always there, that inclination to compare. Even if I don't say it, I'm thinking it.

The problem with comparisons is that it can turn you bitter or vain. They'll always be someone out there that's better looking, smarter, nicer, etc. It's pointless to judge what you are and what you have relative to something else. It makes you appreciate what you have less. We think that if we suddenly compare, we'll find something better. It is what it is. We can't change it. We can only change our perception of it.

When it comes to kids, sometimes I use comparisons to motivate -- "I never have to ask so-and-so to help, they always pitch-in". I should know by now that this has the opposite effect. The person on the receiving end rarely thinks "that's true, why can't I be more like that too". It's more like "they love him more, I hate him". And the other person in favour feels pressure to keep it up -- to be more competitive for fear of losing my appreciation.

In the parenting book 'Siblings witout Rivalry', the authors suggest that the key to avoid comparisons is to simply DESCRIBE what you see, what you like, don't like, what needs to be done, etc. rather than using comparisons. Nothing the other sibling is doing or not doing has anything to do with them. Ugh, this is hard. I grew up being constantly compared to my sister. "Why do you always have to be the one to complain, your sister just accepts it." "That's great, it took your sister three tries before she got it."

Whatever the reasoning behind it, it's something I should avoid if I want more peace in my relationships. If love and respect are at the heart of my communication, I'm confident that I'll be able to stop my comparisons dead in their tracks. Golden Rule yet again -- I hate being compared myself, so why would I do it someone else?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

True Love

I'm struggling as a parent these days, trying to help my daughter overcome some pre-schooler 'anti-social' behaviour. While racking my brains for what I can do (I feel like I've tried everything), I suddenly remembered the 'Colic Parole' that I had read when my first born was a new born. In retrospect, it was not colic, I was just an anxious new mother. But it was my first parenting challenge and I remember being really touched by these words. Although we haven't beaten this problem, it has forced me to pay closer attention to my daughter's needs and to get down and feel what she's going through. We have a better connection now -- I can feel the love. And that's all I really need to know -- love will get us through this little blip.

The Colic Parole (sorry, I can't remember the parenting book this is from)

It was the day of the annual baby give-away, when excited couples gathered together to choose the baby that was to be theirs for life. "I have before me a cherubic, loving baby who makes few demands -- a wonderful baby boy", said the auctioneer. "Who will have him?" "We will!" "We will!" "Give him to us!" mothers- and fathers-to-be shouted. The response was so noisy even the usually quiet contented baby began to whimper. The auctioneer banged his gavel for silence.

After much excited talk and negotiation, an eager young couple in the front of the room was awarded the boy. They proudly walked out, carrying him home. Next came a sweet-looking, smiling baby girl with a tiny pink ribbon in her hair. She was awarded to an older, childless couple in the room who had longed for a child for over a decade. And so the day went, with babies being presented, then awarded to the couples who seemed the right match for them.

Finally the auctioneer held up a tiny, screaming, red-faced baby. "I have here a little boy who will cry for months after you take him home. You will lose a lot of sleep. He will seem not to appreciate you ministrations, and you will spend many hours of anguish over him. Do I have any bidders?"

No hands went up. In fact, the room became deadly silent. No one wanted to suffer with such a baby. "Ladies and gentlemen," the auctioneer pleaded, leaning over his podium and peering out into the faces of the couples. "Surely someone wants to have this dear, suffering baby?" People squirmed in their seats and looked at each other, but still no one raised a hand. "Whoever takes this baby will grow with him," said the auctioneer, who was a wise man. "This baby will break his parent's hearts and then remold them to three times larger than they were before. He will teach his parents how to truly love."

A young couple in the very back of the room rose slowly and walked to the front, hand in hand. "We will take this baby, sir," the father-to-be said, a serious look on his face. He reached out tenderly toward the tiny, crying infant and handed him to his wife. Their faces were solemn, because they knew they were taking on a hard job. As they walked from the room holding the baby, he hushed for a moment, as though grateful for their stepping forward.

"That couple will be more blessed than all of the others put together", the auctioneer was heard to say as he put away his gavel for the year. "By choosing to love a baby who isn't lovable, they have surely found the path to true compassion."

And so they had.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't pigeon-hole me!

I'm learning that it's not a good idea to give children labels -- even positive ones. No one's behaviour is ALWAYS a certain way. We all have the potential to behave in a number of different ways and to have a variety of interests.

For children, these labels can become a license to behave a certain way. "Mommy thinks I'm always too rough, so I'll just live up to her expectation of me". Labels can also limit a child's potential. Saying that my son is the musical one in the family might discourage my daughter from ever taking an interest in music. It may seem more efficient to throw our supporting $s behind the child with the most talent, but who says you have to be the best at something in order to get anything out of it? There's room for more than one musician in this family. Labeling might also cause my children to be jealous of and resent eachother -- "Mom and Dad think you're the smartest". Labels allow us to stereotype people instead of treating them as individuals. My daughter is not "a bully". Her behaviour was cruel, but she is still a unique and wonderful person who deserves to be treated with love and respect. And lastly, nobody likes to be labeled -- I roll my eyes everytime my mother tells me that I'm the outspoken and insensitive one. I'm not like that ALL the time. I have a sensitive side that I'm nurturing and I'm learning how to be kinder and gentler with my words. She'll never see this so long as she holds on to these labels.

It's not easy to stop labeling because I think we take pride in figuring each other out and being able to show how well we know one another. But's it's something that has a profound impact on my children's self esteem and on how I treat them. Yes, this is yet another habit I have to curb. Hell, I do this to my partner as well. Luckily he's quick to let me know when I've done it. :-) I think it's easy enough for me to spot with my kids too. No more labeling!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oh how I love to blame and shame him ...

In this relationship book, How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking About it, the worst thing a woman can do to a man is blame, shame and criticize him. According to this book, most women don't realize that men live for pleasing their women. So when women criticize their efforts, it really stings. Here are some of the ways we do it:

overreacting (I CAN'T believe you ...)
not letting him help (forget it, I'LL do it)
correcting (THIS is how you do it)
making unrealistic demands of his time and energy (I need you to ... and ...)
using a harsh tone (I'm so tired of your bullshit)
questioning his judgement (are you going to cook the garlic with the onions?)
withholding compliments (well, it's your JOB to mow the lawn)
showing no interest in his interests (I can't imagine what you see in that)
criticizing his family (your mother is getting on my fucking nerves)
giving unsolicited advice (why don't you ...)
focusing on my own unhappiness (I can't live this way)
expecting him to make me happy (If only you ...)
implying inadequacy (YOU should really be reading this book)
ignoring his needs (you're not really sick)
condescending (you did an okay job with dinner)
comparing (the neighbour's yard looks really nice)
globalizing (all men want is sex)
generalizing (you're always criticizing me)
therapizing (you're trying to make up for your father)
interpreting him (what you really mean is ...)

I remember when I first read this list, I hung my head in shame. There was no way that I treated other people like this yet I was being so abusive to my partner. Then I remembered my next reaction -- well, why the fuck is he so sensitive! I shouldn't have to sugar-coat every fucking word that comes out of my mouth for fear of shattering his pathetic fragile ego. After I calmed down and let it simmer (I always let things simmer), I started to notice his reaction to my words -- that sad, quiet, sullen expression. Words really do hurt. I was unknowingly adding bricks to his wall of resentment. It was a real wake up call for me. What a daunting task at first -- it felt hopeless. Whenever I started to feel it rise up inside me, I *tried* to invoke the process depicted in my very rough flowchart.

Does it work? When I can remember, yes. I'm no longer the habitual bitch. Of course a lot of that has to do with a) how I feel about myself b) my recent spiritual awakening c) the positive influence of some incredibly kind and gentle people in my life. When I slip, I realize it much quicker now and swiftly apologize to make things right again.

The 'golden rule', as utterly simple as it is, works too. Nobody likes to be criticized. Have I ever been criticized and then said "gee, thanks for that, I didn't see things quite like that"? Defensiveness is the knee jerk response we all have. So when some harsh words are on the tip of my tongue, rather than just speak my mind, I try to fast forward to what will happen next -- usually does the trick, when I think of it :-).

Love is more than a word we say to each other. 'I love you' means nothing when you're not treated with love and respect. Relationships really are about being the best you can for the other person.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Choose being kind over being right

If only I knew this stuff in my 20s, it would have saved me years of troubled relationships. I can't even begin to count the number of fights caused by needlessly correcting my partner, not letting go of a position or insisting my way was the only way to do something. Most of the time, the thing we're fighting over is completely irrelevant. In fact, I can't even think up specific examples. Yet I definitely remember the hurt and anger caused by fighting. I like to call them bricks in the wall of resentment. Time to start tearing down the wall. This is no way to live.

Again, this is the Ego rising up to defend itself by making the other person feel small. When I've insisted that I'm right, gotten all steamed up, hurt the other person's feelings and essentially made an ass of myself, it feels pretty lousy, even if I am right. It never feels good to be right at another person's expense. What feels good is making the other person feel good. Even if the other person is wrong, what's the point of correcting them? This is a hard temptation to resist with one's partner. Hopefully I'll catch myself in time -- do I want peace or do I want to be right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How do I love thee?

According to the book "The 5 Languages of Love" most people have a preference towards two of these ways to feel loved. Knowing your and your partner's 'love language' is the key to a successful relationship (according to this book).

1. words of affirmation - compliments, words of encouragement, requests (instead of demands)
2. quality time - sharing, listening, participating in activities together
3. receiving gifts - from little love notes, to big elaborate get-aways
4. acts of service - given, received, completed as requested
5. physical touch - from a small touch on the shoulder to a passionate kiss

This kind of formula appeals to my need to categorize and generalize. Although, I'm not really sure which of these is me or my spouse. Neither of us are big on gift-giving, but that doesn't mean that I don't like to receive little presents now and then. Who doesn't appreciate hearing kind words? And acts of service are pretty much mandatory around here or else the family just doesn't work.

The book says that problems arise when each person in the relationship communicates their love in the wrong language -- their own preference instead of their partner's. So for me, that would mean doing lots of #5 instead of #2. I can see how this miscommunication might happen early on in a relationship, but surely years of marriage should sort all that out? This book seems to say that people fall out of love because they simply don't feel loved according to how they want to feel loved. Perhaps.

Even though I have no trouble speaking up, I don't like to sound demanding when it comes to love -- "do more of this, less of that, touch me here, I like it when ..." It kills it for me. Yes, I want him to read my mind. My brother says that relationships are about being the best you can be for the other person. He's right. Give what you want (but in the right language, of course :-)). So I'll give this a go; what do I have to lose? I can at least feel good about doing something nice for someone other than myself.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's how you play the game

Whatever! It's all about WINNING. Nobody likes losing. In any given competition/game, there will always be more losers than winners, so why subject our kids to this misery? I'm really torn about signing my kids up for competitive activities. Is this a good fit for them or am I just going along with what other families are doing?

It's easy to get down on competition -- it can bring out the worst in some people and create an atmosphere of gloom, dread, and even hostility. But on the plus side, competition can push you to really work as a team and give your best effort. I remember from my old vb days, digging deep and pulling it out. And those times where we didn't keep score were certainly more relaxing, but the play was lousy -- nobody tried, it was just human nature.

Proponents say that competition teaches kids to win and lose gracefully. I think this is where parents have to step in. Sadly many do not. I still remember suffering the gloating of those smug little twits at my figure skating competitions. But was it really their fault when they were told they were good at their sport because they beat everyone else? Is that what makes you good? Or can you feel good about your talent without having to test it against your peers?

What about divisiveness. As an adult I learned to have respect for my competitors. I wonder if children view their competitors as equals or as rivals. I think a lot of that has to do with the attitude of coaches and parents. You'll never catch me egging my kids on to cream the other team.... or will you? Yikes -- I suddenly have images of me doing victory dances and talking smack around my partner whenever I've managed to beat him at anything -- golf, running, video games. I guess I'm not teaching my kids how to win gracefully there :-).

What about the real world. We are forced to compete for resources and also to weather disappointment. Does competitive sport not prepare kids for this? Well, success does not mean triumphing over others. Many people can be successful in the marketplace, yet there can only be one winner in sport and chances are it will not be my child all of the time. There are plenty of disappointments in life they are learning to deal with on a daily basis -- like not getting their own way (OMG, I still have a ways to go with this one myself!)

Physical activity is not an issue now because my young children run and play all the time. However with more and more screen time creeping into our lives, I want to ensure that our kids stay active. I feel pressured to enroll them in sports now so that they can keep up with their peers. My partner still relents about how embarrassed he was being 12 in a class of 5 year olds because his parents enrolled him late for swimming lessons. Of course some competitive sports push children too hard. I know a lot of people whose knees are shot because they played too hard as kids.

It's so hard to decide between being a specialist or a generalist. Growing up, all I knew was figure skating. I feel like I missed out on a lot of team sports and other activities. Then again, I needed to practice four days a week to get any good at it. Mastering a skill can boost self confidence, especially when you've persevered. But what if my 'thing' could have been something else, had I only tried it.

Like with most external rewards, I worry that my kids will become so fixated on the prize that they lose interest on the journey. I worked on two skating programs all year round -- that's all I did. I missed out on not only learning other moves, but how to interpret music with my body -- the very best part of figure skating. I think most people would agree that 'learning for the test' is not education.

Some children take competition in stride. You can see that their self-worth is not tied to outcome. And yet others seem addicted to compeition -- anxious and desperate to please their parents. How can I ensure the former and steer my kids away from the latter?

It's about sending them the right messages -- that success is not victory and that it's more important to compete against yourself then others. I'm going to have to tread these waters lightly by balancing competitive sport with non-competitive activities we can do as a family -- biking, running, swimming, etc. Above all, I'll take my cues from my kids. If the activity is not enriching their lives and is creating undesirable behaviour, then it's over. But if it's their passion and they maintain a healthy attitude about it, then I'm not going to stand in their way. Alright, bring it on! (yikes)

the tendency is to push it as far as you can

I can relate completely to this statement. Everything I do seems to be about extremes. Food, booze, fitness -- it's all or nothing with me. When I like something, I start to play games with myself -- how far can I take this? But have I gone too far with my obsessions? Do I have the will power to stop?

The problem with being obsessed is that I'm never satisfied and I'm never in the present. I start thinking ahead to my next fix, and then when I get it, I'm let down because it's never as good as I imagined -- like what I am feeling this very minute. I seem to forget this feeling of emptiness though because I know that as soon as it subsides, I'll be dreaming about my next snack, drink, run, encounter, etc.

Rather than easing into my 40s, I seem to be collecting more obsessions. Frugality is my latest challenge. I fantasize about more and more ways to pinch pennies -- each scheme more extreme than the next. This aricle on 'out-cheaping' rings true for me. I get a real charge out of it. Funny how the article also says that those with obsessed personalities are more likely to be cheap asses.

So where does this come from? Tolle would say that this is my Ego wanting more. The more I do, the more I am. Or is this just my competitive side, driving myself to do better.... which sounds a lot like perfectionism *sigh*. Maybe it's just a lack of self-discipline?

Pushing yourself sounds nobel. I don't think I'm hurting anyone with my extreme nature. It's just that I have a hard time turning it off. It's tiring. A friend of mine told me that her partner asked her if she had an off switch. This is how I feel. I'd like to be able to turn my mind off once in a while and just enjoy being in the moment instead of concocting my next scheme. I want to be in the peace that only presence can give me.

So how do I stop my obsessions from holding me hostage? I'll give myself credit for being in the awareness stage. I'm not going to give up the things and people that make me happy -- cold turkey doesn't work for me. Turning my focus to the present is what I need to do. Stop for a second -- I'm listening to my breathing, what do I hear, feel, smell? When I'm thinking about what's going on around me, my mind is not wandering. I like this feeling. It's peaceful.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Be a World Class Listener

If it wasn't already obvious, this blog is turning into a collection of self-help take aways. I've read a lot of good material and it usually simmers for a day or two before it's forgotten. So I'm hoping that by paraphrasing these gems, they'll start to become a way of life at some point.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love talks about becoming a World Class Listener. I truly feel that feeling listened to is one of our deepest desires and is at the heart of all good relationships, yet very few people do it well.

A typical conversation with my Dad, who is a terrible listener usually goes like this: I say something and not even five words in, his eyes glaze over. Sometimes it's because he's not interested in the topic, but usually it's because he's waiting for his chance to jump in and turn the conversation on to himself. I do it too. I interrupt and finish other people's sentences so that I can add my two cents.

It completely deflates the other person's joy in sharing and it's a ROYAL DRAG. This is my ego saying "look at me, look at what I did". It not only makes me look pathetic, but creates distance between me and the other person. Why not just listen. Pause. Reflect. And say nothing!

I'm learning from a friend who does this really well. It's not easy for me to focus -- I like to talk! But when I put everything else asside and listen to the words and emotions, I feel really connected to what is being said instead of waiting impatiently for my turn to talk. There's also a quiet confidence with letting someone else enjoy the limelight. I don't need to talk about myself to feel good. Oh, I can't wait to practice this again. Talk to me!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Comfort me with Cabernet

"As I raised the glass to my lips, I stopped. The aroma of the wine rushed out to meet me, and all the smells that I had ever known fell away. ... I moistened my lips with the wine and drank it slowly, letting it coat my tongue and slide from one side of my mouth to the other. The brunello trickled down my throat and out along a thousand fault lines through my body, dissolving them. My second glass tasted like a sigh at the end of a long day: a gathering in, and a letting go. I felt the fingers of alcoholic warmth relax the muscles at the back of my jaw and curl under my ears. The wine flushed warmth up into my cheeks, down through my shoulders and across my thighs." (Natalie MacLean).

OMG! I love words that move me. I must have had a lover in a previous life that was a writer -- a man who wooed me with his prose. I marvel at those who can really write. What an amazing ability to be able to express your passion and capture the hearts of others with simple words. I should start collecting passages like this in a separate blog so that I can get drunk on them. Speaking of drunk, the $7.95 Fusion that I'm drinking at the moment is no brunello, but I'm enjoying it's comfort after a full day. My brood is asleep now, my favourite time of day. The quiet darkness of a Saturday night sooths my soul. Alright, I'm not a writer :-). But I really appreciate the craft.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Problem With Parenting

Being a parent for the past six years has really forced me to grow up -- I am more loving, selfless and wiser than I ever dreamed possible, thanks to motherhood. But there's a dark side to parenting that I feel uncomfortable with. It's about strongly identifying with the parenting role to the point of squelching your child's spirit.

I've read that the problem with roles is that it alters your perception of other people. You treat them as they relate to your role and not as other human beings. Sometimes I feel like I'm really power tripping with my kids. I get carried away with the rule-setting and monitoring. I forget they are people too and deserve respect. As a child, I remember what if felt like being constantly told what to do and feeling shame for falling short of my parent's expectations again and again.

According to Tolle, here's what can happen when the parent role takes over your sense of self:
The parenting function becomes exaggerated -- preventing your child from danger becomes overprotectiveness and interferes with their need to figure the world out on their own. The overbearing continues long after your child grows up because you're so used to being that role, that you can't let go of the need to be needed by your child. And when your adult child thwarts your control or influence you start to criticize, disapprove or try to make the child feel guilty. This is all in an attempt to preserve your parenting role, which is really no longer needed! This also describes the relationship I have with my parents today. I still consult them on way too many decisions and I fret about not having their approval in many areas of my life, such as spirituality.

So, what to do? I don't think it's responsible for parents to usurp their role entirely and be their kid's friend. My job is to help, guide and protect. I just don't want to be an over-bearing and controlling mother, even though part of me feels like it's too late to change.

Give them space -- space to be, is what Tolle suggests. "I know what's best for you" is okay when they are very young, but becomes less and less so as they get older. I don't think most parents realize this. A friend of mine says his job is to prepare his children to leave the nest. Everyone pitches in to make the family work. I remember growing up that my Mom absolved my sister and I of chores because she felt it was more important to focus on schoolwork or our activities -- that if we were successful in life, we'd just pay someone else to do housework. I don't want that for my children. I can see how independence boosts their self-esteem. They feel like their contribution (even if it's small) is valued. I also try to remind myself to consult my kids on family decisions -- not everything, but things that affect them. Again, this has a huge impact on their esteem. I also feel like I'm treating them as people instead of my belongings.

I think the hardest thing for me is to let go of control -- to let them make mistakes. I don't want them to suffer. Yet suffering is essential to growth. Otherwise they'll grow up to be shallow and spoiled. It's like I need my own parent to remind me to back off. If I practice it enough, it will surely stick.

Tolle also advises parents to give their children attention. Not based on what they do, as in feedback or praise, but simply just giving them your full attention when they need it. For me, that is one of life's greatest gifts. I love you, you are important to me, nothing else matters more right now. Presence.

I'm glad that I got these ideas out of my head. I really have the potential to fuck up my kid's life by being a lousy parent. But the ironic thing is that less is more. If I just relax and be myself instead of trying to be a perfect mother, I'll be doing the best for my kids.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I've just been reading up on Facebook Addiction -- people who spend more than an hour a day on it ... hmmmmm. I know I am wasting my time checking in and constantly updating my status. But now my family is starting to get annoyed, which tells me it's a problem. Before I make any decisions on how to break the addiction, I should figure out what I like about FB, what my intentions are and what I can definitely do without.

I enjoy sharing information and I appreciate that my friends share their postings with me. It's my Internet filter. If my friends have found something interesting online, then I'm likely to find it interesting as well.

It's a form of self expression. I come across as pretty serious most of the time, so it's great for me to be able to express my wit and humour. Most of my material is good 'ol family folly that many can relate to.

I've been able to re-connect with some friends that I don't get to see on a regular basis and it feels great to have them back in my life again.

So, what annoys me (other than the fact that it's become an uncontrollable habit).

Boasting: A lot of people use FB to brag about how cool they are. It's so transparent and yet considered acceptable on FB. I'll admit that I did this on one of my status updates and it made me feel pretty small afterwards. I recently showed my partner (who incidentally refuses to join FB) a friend's posting that was a public display of affection. My comment was that it's too bad men don't do it because women really eat that sort of thing up. He said that it wasn't a PDA, it was territorial pissing. My husband, always the romantic. I'll admit I've friended a few ex-boyfriends and have made sure there's a good number of great photos of me and my 'gorgeous' family. I might as well have added captions that read "look at me you stupid fucks -- I found love and happiness in spite of you". K -- time to de-friend the exes now that I've got that off my chest. Perhaps it's as simple as examining my intentions every time I feel the need up post something. I want to add value to other people's life, not clutter up their newsfeeds. Who cares what I am doing anyway? I certainly don't care what most of them are doing?

Need for Approval. I'll admit that soon after I post something, I check to see if someone else 'likes' it or has commented. I'm also curious to read other people's comments to postings, even though I don't know these friends of my FB friends. Rarely do the comments add anything of value -- Look at you! How do you manage? Way to go! Praise junkies, is all I can think.

Oversharing: It's too easy to reveal too much about yourself on FB. It makes me cringe, and a couple of times it's even pissed me off. I'm guilty of it too. Do I really want everyone to know everything about me? Or should I reveal parts of myself to only the people who count in my life?

I don't think I can quit cold turkey, like my sister did. I need some boundaries. One site recommends asking yourself “What did I just accomplish by checking Facebook?” That should at least keep my visit focused, instead of just killing time. I could also keep a list (yes, a list) handy of things I could be doing instead of surfing FB. Maybe I'll commit to only posting/updating my status once a week and see where that gets me. Probably the best thing to do would be to examine my intentions -- it will make me more aware and more likely to do the right thing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Productivity Obsession

Love at first sight. I remember when my Dad brought home this pad of 'Things to Do' lists from the office. From that point, the 'Things To Do' list just became part of me. I can't even imagine life without it. Problem is, I ALWAYS want to be productive with my time -- surprise, surprise, I'm productivity-obsessed. So what's wrong with that? Time is precious after all.

For starters, I have a hard time relaxing, even though I know I should. I haven't watched a movie in ages because I can't bear the thought of wasting two hours doing nothing when there's a shit load of stuff to get done. But I'm on mat leave for fucks sake. What so desperately 'needs to get done'?

The other problem is that the Things To Do List is a major source of dissatisfaction. It never ends. Something gets checked off, and three more things get added. The list is a reminder that I am not being productive with my time. I'm on FB, or shopping or snacking most of the day. The list makes me feel like a failure.

Obviously, I want it to stop. Lately, it's those rare moments when my mind is empty and everything feels so still and quiet that I cherish the most. I love weekends that are 'open' -- no commitments, a vague sense of what needs to get done, but no real plan. I'm able to just enjoy BEING instead of feeling pressured to stick to the plan. I'm tired of living this rat race. I want more fun and spontaneity in my life. So, how to get off this productivity train?

Let's start with where this might be coming from. I think it could be genetic. However, Zukav says that "at its roots 'workaholism' (is that what this is?) is the exploitation of people and circumstances in order to avoid pain. It is a narrow focus on the project in front of you. You do not see others or what they are feeling, except when they affect what you are doing. You do not hear others, or listen to what they are saying except when what they say affects you. Friends, promises and priorities all disappear into the self-satisfying obsessive fixation on your job, career or remodeling project. You are impatient with those who cannot see the importance of what you are doing. Even if what you are doing has significance to others, you do it for yourself. Your agenda is to occupy your attention. You cannot experience what you are feeling and your awareness is fixated on accomplishment. The only emotion that you experience is the temporary satisfaction that comes with completing a project, but that is quickly replaced by the need to accomplish something else. "

JEEESH!!! I'd like to think that I'm not that bad -- that I'm capable of putting the needs of my family ahead of my 'Things to Do List'. And what pain am I avoiding? Maybe I need a shrink to help me sort this out?

I have a friend whose favourite thing is to do nothing. Yikes, I can only imagine. Maybe I need to plan a 'Do Nothing' day and allow myself to NOT feel guilty for a change. Maybe I'll make it Mother's Day this year.

ACCEPTANCE keeps popping up. Yes, life is just one damn thing after the next. Accept that the list will never end. I am not a failure for not getting everything done. It's just the way life is!

Stop signing up for shit. I spend a lot of time investigating fun activities for the family. Extra commitments just stress me and everyone else out. I don't need my partner or best friend to be the voice of reason all the time. I can tell myself that I'm taking on too much. I can stop myself before it starts.

So there -- a promise to myself to do less. I want peace badly, so I think it will stick!