Saturday, April 21, 2012

Choking and Chaos

My dear DIL has two kids who tend to choke.  She's pretty sure her kids got that genetic trace from their Grammy. I choke. Often. More often than is healthy I find myself halfway done chewing a bite of chicken or pasta or whatever, not sure if it's going to go down or get stuck. Stuck isn't good. I have visions of me, 90 something years old, in a nursing home. Sitting at the table with a dishcloth tucked under my chin, and some sweet aid telling me, "Now Ms. Bev, take small bits. Chew them up all the way before you swallow."

I won't share with you my visions of chin hairs that go unplucked, unshaved legs, and a dozen or so cowlicks in the front of my head that stick up nillywilly day in and day out.

After getting back from a trip to Guatemala and not being caught up, or even rested, I left on an 8 day jaunt with my mother. We covered right at 1000 miles, back and forth between Dallas, to San Antonio and down to southeast Texas. We checked out old homes, some of which are now vacant lots, old schools, and ate a lot of fattening food. It was a great trip, but I came home exhausted. Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally done.

I spent a few days crying a bit, sleeping not enough, eating comfort foods, and talking through it all with my dear husband. After a few days of discussion ad nauseum he very gently told me, "Bev, you tend to create chaos wherever you go. When you're gone I still get everything on the list done, but it's not crazy or rushed, and I don't even have a list."

Keeping in mind that I believe he genuinely loves me, and even misses me, and he later told me he regretted using the word "chaos", I've been thinking long and hard these past few days. He's right. And I think that just might be genetic too.

I've read that 90% of fixing a problem is acknowledging there is one.

Hello, my name is Bev and I tend to lead a messy, over-busy, crammed-to-the-gills life.

He may have also mentioned that I am not an island, that my actions tend to have fallout that affects him, and the rest of our family. Sometimes my poor decisions have a negative affect on those I treasure the most in this world. I don't want to hurt or disappoint those who matter the most to me, but that's what happens when I spend time and energy trying to please or serve others who are not (and should not be), being honest, as high a priority.

Sooooooooo, that leads me to take a long, hard look at why, and what to do about it.

Simplify seems part of the solution. Really, really, really think about what is important to me. What are my main goals for how my time on this earth is spent, and who it's spent for. It's a short list:

God
My husband
My children, their spouses and their children
The rest of my family

That's it. I'm not on that list because hopefully living my life for those four will be fulfilling so that I don't have to find my identity in crafts or activities or physical attributes or a long list of places I've visited. It may just be that if I figure this out, and do it right, there will be time for curling up with a good book, soaking in a tub, or laughing til my sides hurt with those dear to me.

Don and I started out a little family. Five of us (we call ourselves the Fab Five). Those holidays gathered around the table were a bit sad. Now we've grown into 14, soon to be 15. That 15 doesn't include the rest of my family. That's a lot of people to invest in, and honestly it doesn't leave a lot of room for bookclubs and hospitality groups and such. That's just the truth of it. If I want to really stay connected to those who matter most I can't have my circle go much beyond the 15 of us, not at a deep level anyway. I've also noticed the deep level relationships take less time but more commitment while the bookclub, hospitality group level relationships take more time. Ironic I think. Sort of tending to the urgent rather than the important.

Right now I'm going to take a deep breath, gather up the edges of my life and take a look at it all. Think about what is working, what isn't. What needs to be thrown out, who and what needs to be held closer, treasured more, invested in more deeply. What inside me needs to change so that I'm not married to someone who feels like he's married to chaos.

I don't want to live a fast food life - food that is made fast, bought fast, eaten fast. I want a life that is slow cooked, savored and enjoyed with a small circle of those I dearly love. Right now I'm going to take smaller bites, chew them thoroughly, and enjoy swallowing them down to the deepest part of me.

I'll be back. For now I'll post the rest of the Guatemala photos and also those from my trip with my mother. Anything that requires a long thought won't be happening here for now.  We've got some changes in the air, and I'll reveal those as they get closer too. I don't know who said it, but it goes something like this:

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results."

8 comments:

Sarah said...

I love this post, of course :). I want you to follow through--in moderation!!--so you can really, really enjoy your life from here on out. And so you have time to come play with me, because that quilt store I went to today is AMAZING.

One thing, though--I never thought our holidays were sad. The only one I remember not enjoying was when we went to CO for Christmas and had to juggle multiple family groups and be overly calm and polite at Grandma and Grandpa's and didn't have enough time to enjoy our presents until we drove home. Holidays with just the five of us were never rushed, or involved driving all over the area to be with all sides of the family, and that's probably why both Chris and I savor holidays just as our own family now. Being with the entire family is chaos!! Easter just about did me in this year! So I have no "sad" holiday memories, only memories of always having a blast with my own family, with no stress or extended-family drama. Ask Les and Dan--I bet they'll agree!

Sarah said...

And I hope if anybody I'm related to reads this, they aren't isn't offended--I love everybody in our family, I promise :). And if I invite you over for a holiday, know that I'm being genuine ;)

Kelly said...

I think my husband could say the same thing, if he felt that I wouldn't come completely undone. Spending too much time on the less important things in my life, and then being overwhelmed and stressed is definitely not the abundant life God promises us.

When my life focuses on those inside these four walls (and my parents!) it is sweet and I find contentment. Once again you have made me think, as I have seen something of myself in your reflections. Thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

I, too, can relate to everything you've said. I enjoy your blog (and that of Sarah). You two have made me decide to visit a quilt shop in my town, salivate like I've never salivated before (I'm generally not a crafter), and now decide to create a sewing/quilting area in my spare room. I don't know whether to thank you or curse you!!!!!!! Best regards, Karen from Elm Grove, Wisconsin

Bev said...

Karen, I can completely relate. Sometimes I let my projects and Pinterest ideas take over to an unhealthy level, but overall - I've sewn since I was seven years old and it always makes me happy to hear someone else has taken it up. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

hi bev.....what an insightful post with lots to think about. and i so agree. as they say, it's never too late to learn, is it?!
connie

Kim said...

I love genuine people! Again, you have really struck a nerve in me. I love reading your blog. You give people something to think about, aspire to become, and prioritize. All at once, you accomplish this without being "preachy" or wearing a mask. I don't know you in real life but you truly have become a Titus 2 woman in my life! Thanks for sharing your heart and being authentic. :)

Kristi said...

Bev, I learn so much from the sharing of your life. I love that you are still learning. I love that you are still "living" and that involves learning and changing. When we stop any of those things, we stagnate. I think most of us women can relate with the chaos we bring. I'm having to take a look at the stress in my life and start saying no to many of the things I want to call "relaxing!" Realizing that for me, I need lots of down time in my home on the weekends. Just sharing the 4 walls with my hub, and daughter. Makes a huge difference in the quietness of my soul instead of the nervous chaos I feel alot of the time. I appreciate the honesty you share!
Kristi