If you’ve been reading this newsletter a while, you have probably heard me talk about how I felt like I was drowning after my second baby was born. Even though he was so easy and smiley, I felt completely tapped out for months after his arrival. Each day, I woke up in a panic and went to sleep feeling like a wrung-out dishrag.
I know I had a harder time adjusting to motherhood than many, and I know now that there was probably some postpartum depression involved, but I also know that so very many women—whether they’re mothers or not—are walking around with a daily experience of feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed.
And now that the holidays are imminent, that experience of feeling like it’s all just too much to take is more present than ever.
I’m writing this newsletter from the couch at my daughter’s art class (that’s my view of her from between the bookshelves). This is her second year of regular Thursday afternoon art lessons. And for the first several classes, here’s what I would do—park the car, walk her in, wait a few minutes while the drop off rush died down, and then go run errands. As many errands as possible, to be exact. More than once, I’d have to call my husband to go pick her up as I was sitting in traffic, trying to make my way back in time.
Silly, really. I may have gotten a couple things ‘out of the way,’ but at a pretty high price—the rushed, breathless, if-I-just-had-5-more-minutes feeling has a way of tainting at least the next couple of hours.
Now I stay put. I cozy up on the couches set up for parents and enjoy a little time to write or read. I can’t see my daughter, and she can’t see me, but we both know the other is nearby. The class is very old school—there’s always classical or jazz playing in the background, and the kids really go into the zone of concentration. Also, there’s no wifi.
At the end of my free initial conversation with my first coach, I told her I needed to talk to my husband before making a decision about continuing on. Even though I knew I wanted to work with her, knew it in my bones. But it was an investment, and I wanted him to be on board.
When I brought it up with him, that night after the kids were asleep, I had only talked for about a minute when he said, “I support you. Besides, I appreciate the courtesy of talking to me first, but it’s clear you’ve already decided.”
So I swallowed hard and jumped. And so many important things have changed since that day.
Including, my husband. A few months later, he came home and said, “I signed up with a personal trainer today.”
“Oh really?” I said. “That’s great! How often are you going?”
Imagine that you have a shopping bag. It could be paper, plastic or reusable—your choice. Now imagine that there’s a big ole navel orange rattling around in that bag. And the bag is tied to your ankle.
Is this getting weird? Bear with me.
So, you’re going through your day with that bag with the orange strapped to your ankle. It’s just an orange. Not that big a deal. You can hide it for the most part, maybe even forget about it for a while. Until you try to get in the shower. Or roll over in bed. Or jump on to the subway at the last moment and the door closes on your bag.
Why in the heck am I even talking about this? Have I been spending too much time with preschoolers?
This photo is of the Seekonk River, which runs not so far from my house in Providence. The photo is not exactly, but pretty darn close to, the view I see when I’m sitting on my favorite rock.
I get to this spot by walking down my quiet street, crossing a busy boulevard, climbing up a stone wall, following a trail through the woods, walking down a hill through a cemetery, and then following a tiny path. The whole route takes about 15 minutes.
And then I sit on this rock and gaze out at the view a couple minutes. After a little while, I close my eyes and meditate.
(This is an audio recording of the sounds I can hear from this rock—it’s one minute long and makes a nice listening meditation if you have need of such a thing. There’s a little wind noise but I like to think that adds to the authenticity. =) )
Here’s what I haven’t told you yet: At regular intervals in the days leading up to my talk and definitely on the morning of,
I was quaking in my ballet flats.
Seriously. I had an upset stomach. I felt like I was coming down with something. Part of me wanted to sneak out the back door and keep walking.
Why? I mean, what in the heck??! I wanted it, I went for it, I was so psyched. I had done just enough preparing. I loved the folks in the crowd, it was a totally supportive atmosphere.
This past weekend I attended my first blogging and social media conference – Blissdom Canada. Except it was so much more than that. It was a lovefest, really, amongst a tribe I hadn’t realized I was a member of. I laughed, I cried, I learned how to outsmart Facebook’s algorithm, I ate nachos, I made tons of new friends, I chatted until I lost my voice, I gave a talk. And I had a vision.
A pretty big vision. That I’m imagining could come with a nice-sized check. =)
The vision came on the last day of the conference, when I attended a Pitch and Play panel. There were brands in attendance who are currently looking for bloggers to help them tell a particular story about their product, and we were encouraged to pitch them if we thought we and our blogs might be a good fit.
First, a little back story…
Last week I wrote about a different perspective on what’s really going on When the Doubt Shows Up.
I have a cool update on that story that I wanted to share.
(Here’s a brief recap if you didn’t read last week’s post—if you did, feel free to skip this paragraph! This weekend I’m attending Blissdom Canada, a social media conference in Toronto, tomorrow. I’ve been signed up for months and was very clear that I wanted to check it out when I bought all my tickets. Then last week I had a wave of doubt and spent a good chunk of a morning on the phone with the airline trying to change my ticket to come home early. I found out it would cost $600 to do it. What that experience ended up doing was getting me to re-commit to my initial vision of going.)
Next week, I’m flying to Toronto to attend Blissdom Canada—a blogging and social media conference I’ve been half-thinking of attending for years now. I’ve never been to Toronto, and I love the opportunity to put aside some of my many roles (tucker-inner, grocery shopper, dinner planner) and dive into thinking about work. I know I’ll come back refreshed and excited to see my kids, I’ll have gotten some great thinking and some great working done, and I’ll have scratched my itch for seeing someplace new. It’s definitely a win-win.
So why did I spend an hour of yesterday morning trying to change my flight and come back early?
Because this is what happens when I, or you, or anyone, makes a decision based on a true desire:
In my eight years as a freelance writer, my goal was to wow every editor I worked with. I prided myself on turning in extremely clean copy that typically needed little editing. Basically, I wanted to be a dream to work with.
No pressure there, right? Noooooo. None at all. =)
I mean, yes, my intentions were honorable. I wanted to do a good job. But it went further than that. On some level, I needed to do a good job. Desperately. Because being insanely responsive and delivering pristine copy was how I proved my value to myself. It was how I justified being able to make a living doing something I loved, that so many people thought was impossible to do, and to do it out of my home while wearing sweats. If I didn’t knock it out of the park every time, I just felt so danged unworthy.